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2017-03-17 04:14 pm

[Mar. 17, 1962]  Our Knights in Shining Armor (Have Space Suit, Will Travel)

[The Journey's "Fashion Columnist" returns with a timely piece on the latest advancement in sartorial science...]


by Gwyn Conaway

Last month, on February 20th, 1962, John Glenn became the second American to leave behind our earthly constraints for the majesty of space.

Less than one year after Alan Shepard’s historic suborbital flight on a Redstone rocket, John Glenn ascended to low Earth orbit in his spacecraft, Friendship 7. He circled the Earth three times at speeds upwards of 17,000 miles per hour, and persevered through the crushing force of nearly eight times the force of Earth's gravity Gs at reentry into our atmosphere.



What a time to be alive! We are witness to human history! This is a milestone in a long journey toward chasing the unknown. Never have I been more certain that we are explorers, creatures of adventure. And what better bedfellow to our curiosity than innovation? For to accomplish his mission, Colonel Glenn required two spacecraft: the bell-shaped Mercury, as well as his formfitting personal capsule – the Mark IV spacesuit.

(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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2017-02-20 02:45 pm

[February 20, 1962] American Made (John Glen and the flight of Friendship 7)


by Gideon Marcus

And the Free World exhales. At long last, an American has orbited the Earth. This morning, Astronaut John Glenn ascended to the heavens on the back of an Atlas nuclear missile. He circled the globe three times before splashing down in the Atlantic Ocean.

It is impossible to understate what this means for us. The Soviets have been ahead of us in the Space Race since it started in 1957: First satellite, first lunar probe, first space traveler. Last year, the best we could muster was a pair of 15 minute cannonball shots into the edges of space. For two months, Glenn has gone again and again into his little capsule and lain on his back only to emerge some time later, disappointed by technical failure or bad weather. Each time, the clock ticked; would the Soviets trump us with yet another spectacular display of technological prowess?

But this morning, everything was fine – the weather, the booster, the spacecraft, and the astronaut. As I went to sleep last night, Glenn woke up. He had the traditional low residue breakfast of orange juice, toast, eggs over-easy, fillet mignon, and Postum, before suiting up and entering the capsule. That was at 5 AM his time (2 AM mine). For five hours, the patient Colonel waited as his Atlas rocket, only recently tamed sufficiently for human use, was prepared and tested for flight.



(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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2017-02-19 12:22 pm

[February 19, 1962] February Thaw (tales from the British fan)


By Ashley R. Pollard

This month's theme is anticipation.

For instance, the anticipation of the coming spring that will soon relieve the winter blues, signaled by the mornings and evenings getting lighter. I no longer get up in total darkness and leave work as darkness descends because now the winter sun sets around five. Instead, I now walk over Westminster Bridge in the gathering twilight. The gloam of the day brightened as Elizabeth Tower illuminates, and the sound of Big Ben asserts the official time with all its authority that its chimes can muster.


https://www.flickr.com/photos/trainsandstuff/31074517774

(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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2017-02-01 09:30 am

[February 1, 1962] Silver Lining (January Space Race round-up!)


by Gideon Marcus

January has been a frustrating month in the Space Race. We are no closer to matching the Soviets in the manned competition, much less beating them, and our unmanned shots have been a disappointment, too. That said, it's not all bad news in January's round-up: stick to it through the end, and you'll see cause for cheer!

(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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2016-12-17 02:16 pm

[December 17, 1961] XMAS COOL (UK report and Drake's Equation)


By Ashley R. Pollard

I find December, in fact all the winter months, a tad difficult because it’s dark in the morning when I get up to go to work, and dark when it’s time to come home. To add to the misery it’s cold too. However, a piece on the misery of Christmas is, I feel, not congruent with the general feeling of excitement and good cheer that emanates from seeing people shopping, and of course the switching on of the Oxford Street lights. A tradition that started in 1954 and seven years later is still going strong.



(Read the rest of Ashley's exciting report at Galactic Journey!)
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2016-12-10 05:07 pm

[Dec. 10, 1961] By Jove! (Jupiter, the fifth planet)



An alien cataloging our solar system for an Encyclopedia Galactica might summarize our home in this brief sentence:

"Solitary yellow dwarf, unremarkable, with a single planet of note; also, a few objects of orbiting debris."

That may strike you as an affront given the attachment you have to one of those pieces of debris (the Earth), but from a big-picture perspective, it's quite accurate. Of all the masses whirling around the sun, the planet Jupiter is by far the biggest. It is, quite simply, the King of Planets.

As we stand on the precipice of planetary exploration, it is a good time to summarize what we know about this giant world, especially in light of recent discoveries made by ground telescopes. Thus, here is the fourth in my series on the planets: Jupiter.

(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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2016-11-30 07:22 pm

[November 30, 1961] Man vs. Machine (November 1961 Space Round-up)

November 1961 been an exciting month for space buffs with several sequels to exciting missions as well as one brand new satellite.



(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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2016-10-31 05:32 pm

[Oct. 31, 1961] A is for Atomic (UK TV Sci-fi... and the Tsar Bomba)


By Ashley R. Pollard

A is for atomic and apocalypse, and this month also for Andromeda. Of the three, the most entertaining is the new TV series on the BBC, called A for Andromeda, written by Frederick Hoyle and John Elliot. Hoyle is an astronomer and noted cosmologist who also wrote the science fiction novel The Black Cloud, while Elliot is novelist, screenwriter and television producer.



(see the rest at Galactic Journey!!)
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2016-10-28 05:38 pm

[October 28, 1961] Heavy Lifting (Saturn C-1 launch)


by Rosemary Benton

It's a great leap forward for the United States. This morning, October 28th 1961, one can open the newspaper and learn about yesterday's launch of the Saturn C-1. Some of us even saw the live coverage of the launch on television, watching as the giant rocket blasted off from Cape Canaveral in Florida and flew 95 miles into the air before plunging into the Atlantic Ocean. A rocket this powerful has never been launched before, and I can only imagine that the scientific community must be trembling like the ground beneath Saturn C-1's S-1 first-stage cluster of nine tanks and eight engines.



It was, quite simply, the biggest rocket ever launched. By far.

(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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2016-10-01 09:38 am

[Oct. 1, 1961] Over and Above (America's surprising lead in the Space Race)



When the news is full of Soviet spacemen and bomb tests, it's easy to get the impression that America's losing the Space Race. The Russians got the first Sputnik, the first Muttnik, the first Lunik. They launched the first two men into orbit; America's two astronauts had shorter missions than most people's commutes. Not a week goes by without some cartoon in the papers depicting a Sickle and Hammer festooning a space station or the Moon.

And yet, are we really behind?

(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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2016-09-13 12:36 pm
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[September 13, 1961] Dry Run (Mercury-Atlas 4)



It's is a red-letter day for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and for America as a whole. For today, we finally got a Mercury space capsule into orbit! The flight, dubbed "Mercury-Atlas 4," began this morning in a blast of fire on a Florida launchpad and lasted one hour and fifty minutes. At its conclusion, the Mercury capsule deorbited and parachuted safely into the Atlantic ocean. By all standards, it was a picture-perfect mission.



Except that there wasn't anyone in the capsule...

(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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2016-08-31 08:41 pm

[August 31, 1961] Look on the bright side (August space round-up)



Did you ever eagerly wait for Christmas only to be disappointed by what you found under the tree (or, for my fellow Jews, under the menorah)? That's what this month must feel like for fans of the American space program. While the Soviets achieved a huge success in August with the multiple orbiting of Gherman Titov, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration had a lousy 31 days.

(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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2016-08-17 08:45 pm

August 17, 1961] Voyages of Discovery (Explorer 12)

[August 17, 1961] Voyages of Discovery (Explorer 12)



Every so often, a discovery comes along that shatters our conception of the universe. Galileo turned his telescope to the heavens and discovered moons around Jupiter – suddenly, it was clear that Earth was not the center of everything. Roentgen and Curie showed that matter was not entirely stable, leading to our modern understanding of physics (and the challenges that come with the harnessing of atomic energy). Columbus sailed to find Asia; instead, he was the first to put the Americas on European maps.

Until 1958, space was believed to be a sterile place, a black void in which the planets and stars whirled. Maybe there was an odd meteoroid or two, and far away, one might find a big cloud of gas, but otherwise space was synonymous with vacuum.

Then Explorer 1, America's first space mission, went into orbit around the Earth. Its particle detectors, designed to measure the free-floating electrons and cosmic rays whizzing around up there, quickly became saturated. Girdling the planet were hellish streams of energy, particles ionized by the sun and trapped by the Earth's magnetic field.



Overnight, our idea of space was revolutionized; a few scientists had speculated as to the existence of the Belts, but the idea was hardly mainstream. More probes were sent up to determine the nature of these belts. Pioneer 5 went beyond far into interplanetary space and sent back news of a solar atmosphere that extended far beyond the shiny yellow bits – a field of particles and rays that went beyond even Earth's orbit. Other probes returned maps of the turbulent region where the sun's field met Earth's.

Space was hardly empty – it was a new ocean filled with waves, eddies, and unknowns to be explored.



Yesterday, Explorer 12 zoomed into orbit, NASA's latest voyager to ply the charged sea of space.

(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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2016-08-15 06:33 pm

[August 15, 1961] SEVEN DAYS OF CHANGE (August's UK report)


by Ashley Pollard

The month of August started with cool weather after a warm spring, which is disappointing for those of us who love to get out in the summer sun and lie on the beach. It is the time when the British newspapers are full of light-weight, fun stories in what is known over here as the 'silly season.'

Such fripperies were ended quite suddenly with an array of news from behind the iron curtain, starting with the announcement of Russia’s second manned spaceflight on Monday the 7th of August.



(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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2016-08-07 09:48 am

[August 7, 1961] Day-O! (Vostok 2 spends day in orbit)



For a few bright weeks, it looked as if the United States might be gaining in the Space Race. Now, the Reds have pulled forward again with a most astonishing announcement: their second cosmonaut, a Major Gherman Titov, orbited the Earth in his "Vostok 2" for an entire day before coming safely back to Earth this morning.

(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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2016-07-22 10:59 am

[July 22, 1961] Into Space – and the Deep Blue (The Flight of Liberty Bell 7)


By Larry Klaes

After three failed attempts just this week, yesterday (July 21, 1961), astronaut Virgil I. “Gus” Grissom finally became this nation’s second (and the world's third) man to reach outer space. Grissom achieved another sort of milestone when his spacecraft unexpectedly sank after splashdown – and almost took the astronaut with it to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean!



(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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2016-07-20 09:28 am

[July 20, 1961] A CULTURAL DIVIDE (A UK fandom report)


By Ashley R. Pollard

This month, our London correspondent looks upon the rifts in the British science fiction community and despairs for the world as a whole...



Fans gathered at The White Horse in the 1950s—before we moved to The Globe

I have previously mentioned that London science fiction fandom is engaged in a feud that started three years ago, but which hasn’t stopped us from all meeting up at the pub once or twice a month for a drink and a chat. The feud is rather boring and has become increasingly tedious with disputes and tempers flaring over trivial things like membership cards -- who needs membership cards anyway?

I mention this again apropos of this month’s title: A Cultural Divide.

For those who don’t know me, I’m a psychologist, and therefore people interest me, and understanding their behaviours is all part and parcel of my job. Still, I’m amazed at what I see happening within fandom when quarrels break out. Given science fiction fans have a lot in common with each other you might think that a sense of community would lessen divisions rather than stir them up.

Still, there’s always a Gin & Tonic with ice and a slice for when things get too hot and bothered in the pub. Besides, as a woman, my opinions are rarely sought by the men who are arguing away over the various trivialities that consume them.

Our perennial fannish tempest in a teapot proved a fine backdrop for the larger one described in C. P. Snow’s famous 1959 Rede Lecture The Two Cultures, which transcript I was able to recently secure, and which I read with great interest in a quieter corner of the pub.



(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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2016-07-12 04:56 pm

[July 12, 1961] Reaction time (The launches of MIDAS 3 and TIROS 3)



My brother, Lou, used to tell me that the only way to beat a bully is to not fight fair. Jump the guy when he’s not looking, and fight like there are no rules. That’ll teach him that you’re nuts and not worth messing with.

He learned this lesson honestly. When Lou was in the navy, he immediately got flak for being Jewish. Someone tried to steal his bunk; Lou rammed the guy’s head into the wall. After that, whenever someone tried to take advantage of Lou, by cutting in the chow line, for instance, another sailor would restrain the miscreant. “Don’t do it! That’s Marcus. He’s crazy. He’ll kill you!”

The problem is that these days, there are just two kids on the block: The USA and the USSR. Each one’s the bully in the other’s eyes. If the Russians decide they can get in a sucker punch, they just might do it to get us out of the way, once and for all.

We have the same option, of course, but it is the avowed intention of our leaders that America will never start a nuclear war. The Soviets have not made such a pledge.

That’s why we have invested so much time and money in developing a strategic nuclear force. We want the Russians to know that we can strike back if they launch an attack, so that any attempt at a preemptive blow would be an act of suicide.

But we can’t retaliate if the first indication we have a Soviet attack is the sprouting of atomic mushrooms over our cities and missile fields.

To that end, we recently finished the construction of the Distant Early Warning (DEW) line, a string of radar installations along the northern coasts of Alaska and Canada. These can detect a missile some ten minutes from target. Still not a very good window of time in which to order a counter-strike.

Enter Midas...


(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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2016-07-10 05:10 pm

[July 10, 1961] The Last Straw (Campbell's wrong-headed rant in the August 1961 Analog)



Has John W. Campbell lost his mind?

Twenty years ago, Campbell mentored some of science fiction's greats. His magazine, Astounding (now Analog), featured the most mature stories in the genre. He himself wrote some fine fiction.

What the hell happened? Now, in his dotage, he's used his editorial section to plump the fringiest pseudosciences: reactionless space drives, psionic circuits with no physical components, the assertion that the human form is the most perfect possible. The world hasn't seen an embarrassing decline like this since Sir Arthur Conan Doyle started chasing fairies.

But this month, Campbell has gone too far. This month, he replaced Analog's science-fact column with a rant on the space race, a full twenty pages of complete poppycock, so completely wrong in every way that I simply cannot let it lie.

(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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2016-06-30 06:17 am

[June 30, 1961] Reaping the Harvest (June 1961 space science results)

June was a busy month for space travel buffs, especially those who live in the Free World. Here's an omnibus edition covering all of the missions I caught wind of in the papers or the magazines:



(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)