[Sep. 30, 1960] Discoverer 15 and a preview for October

It’s the end of the month, and that means a sneak preview at what’s in store next month on the Journey.  There is also a bit of space news I missed.  Things are now moving fast enough in the world of rockets that it’s easy to fall behind!

For those following along at home, here’s what’s coming out in October.  Items that I plan to review are listed in bold:


October 1960 IF Science Fiction

October 1960 Analog

October 1960 Fantasy and Science Fiction

October 1960 Amazing

October 1960 Fantastic


Starfire, Robert Buckner

Men into Space, Murray Leinster


I aim at the Stars


The Twilight Zone

The Flintstones

2nd, 3rd, and 4th Presidential Debates


Geek Girl Con

Here’s a recap of this month’s digests and how they fared against each other:

F&SF was the clear winner at 3.75 stars.  Both Galaxy and Analog trailed far behind, both at 2.75 stars.  F&SF also had my favorite story: From Shadowed Places.  There were 23 authors across the three books; two of them were women.

Now for the Space News:

Looking back through my newspapers, I see that the Air Force got off another Discoverer on September 13.  This fifteenth in the series of capsule-return spacecraft was the third success in a row.  Like its predecessors, it was launched into a polar orbit (as opposed to the East-West orbits used for civilian shots), with an apogee of 787 km and a perigee of 217 km.  17 orbits later, the capsule began its reentry somewhere over Alaska.  Though the airplanes deployed to recover the capsule did not manage to catch it in mid-air, the probe was later found drifting in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Christmas Island.

Now here’s the interesting part.  The capsule carried no biological payload (as usual), but it did carry instruments being “tested for later reconnaissance satellites,” namely MIDAS, the missile-launch detector, and SAMOS, the official Air Force spy sat program.  This is the first time the Air Force has admitted what I’ve suspected all along–that Discoverer is really a testbed spy sat.  One of the articles I read went on to say that the capsules will be carrying monkeys sometime soon.  Don’t hold your breath.  Discoverer never had anything to do with the manned space program.

Thus ends September.  Here’s looking at a busy October!

13 thoughts on “[Sep. 30, 1960] Discoverer 15 and a preview for October”

  1. In this era of “sick” humor, there’s already a joke making the rounds about the Von Braun thing:

    “I Aim at the Stars, but Sometimes I Hit London.”

  2. The only thing I’m aware of that you might have missed is a new Andre Norton that’s coming out. Shadow Hawk. But it looks like it’s a historical and not science fiction or fantasy.

      1. You don’t care for Norton?!  I thought her three Solar Queen books rocked, and the two Time Traders books, and several of her others.

        She seems to have only turned to SF in the last five or six years; before that she wrote mostly historical fiction, I think.  But she’s been turning out a *lot* of SF recently, and in my opinion almost all of it of superior quality.

    1. The bookstore had Leinster’s “The Wailing Asteroid” on the shelf when I was there last week.  I went ahead and bought it.  It was printed this year, so it might be his latest.

      Leinster may never be counted among the first rank of SF writers, but he almost always turns out a decent, readable story.  I really liked “The Wailing Asteroid”; it seemed to be, hm, “less pulpy” than most of his writing, and I felt it was well worth the 35 cent cover price.

  3. Top Cat hasn’t reached my local broadcast market yet, but we’re scheduled for the first Flintstones episode next week according to the TV program listing in the newspaper.  They even had a short promotional article about it a couple of weeks ago.  Made it sound like it was a children’s show, though.  A relative who has seen some of the studio cuts is adamant that it’s *not* a children’s show; he says it’s “like the Honeymooners in suburbia.”  Which is sort of hard to imagine, but he’s in the LA film industry, and I think it’s rubbing off on him…

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