Space Bunnies! (July 9, 1959)

It’s time for a Space Race update!  I hear mixed cheers and groans.  Well, it takes all kinds to make a column…

The Soviets have launched a rocket into space, apparently on a sub-orbital path using an equivalent to our Jupiter IRBM, with several living passengers.  They are the dogs, Otvazhnaya and Sznezinka, as well as the first Space Bunny, Marfusa.  The flight apparently took place on July 2, and all animals reportedly returned safely to the Earth.  In fact, if the report be believed, this was Otvazhnaya’s third such flight.  Given the long press delay and the lack of reporting on failures, I take Soviet press releases with several grains of salt.

Still, if it’s accurate, it means that the Soviets figured out animal recovery well ahead of us.  I’d estimate that the Communists are about half a year closer to a manned mission than we are.

Speaking of estimations, take a gander at IMPACT OF US AND SOVIET SPACE PROGRAMS ON WORLD OPINION, hot off the presses of the USIA Office of Research Analysis.  As it says on the tin, it’s a fascinating snapshot of domestic and world opinion of the space program.  It’s short, so do read it.

In particular, I liked the point that Space Race reporting has become more rational, less sensational.  I also enjoyed seeing the breakdown of those nations who feel the U.S.S.R. is ahead in the Race versus those who feel the U.S.A. is in the lead.  The distribution is predictable, I think.

Per the report, virtually all reporting links the space programs of the two superpowers with their military programs, which I think is sensible.  That said, it is my understanding that there is increasing resistance in the U.S. Congress to letting the Army team under Von Braun continue development of the enormous Saturn rocket.  It’s just too big to serve any practical military service, it is said.  If the program is transferred to NASA, our fledgling civilian space program, perhaps we will have a truly inspiring non-military space presence. 

If we can forget what Von Braun’s job was just 14 years ago.  Ah well, “Once the rockets are up, who cares where they come down!” as one wise man has observed.

Image by Starbound

See you in two days!

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