marți, aprilie 12, 2011

The lost astronauts

Then, on 28 November 1960, the Bochum space observatory in West Germany said it had intercepted radio signals which it thought might have been a satellite. No official announcement had been made of any launch.
“Our reaction was to immediately switch on the receivers and listen,” said Achille. After almost an hour of tuning in to static, the boys were about to give up when suddenly a tapping sound emerged from the hiss and crackle.

“It was a signal we recognised immediately as Morse code – SOS,” said Gian. But something about this signal was strange. It was moving slowly, as if the craft was not orbiting but was at a single point and slowly moving away from the Earth. The SOS faded into distant space.

As the brothers listened, the cosmonaut experimented with zero gravity. They lost the signal as the cosmonaut prepared for re-entry while whistling a communist hymn. It was only then that President John F Kennedy was awoken at 2am to be given the news that Yuri Gagarin was the first man in space.
Five weeks later, on 19 May 1961, the brothers picked up what is now their most infamous recording, which they claim is of a woman cosmonaut whose ship burned up on re-entry. Then, a few days after this, they picked up a tantalising few seconds of another transmission: “Conditions growing worse, why don’t you answer?” Both recordings are clear and accurately translated.
One fatality that we do know about from those early days was that of Valentin Bondarenko. At 24, he was the youngest cosmonaut. He met his terrible end on 23 March 1961, while in a pressure chamber as part of a 10-day isolation exercise. Bondarenko dropped an alcohol-soaked cotton swab on a hot plate, which – in the oxygen-rich environment – started a fire that ignited his suit. It was 20 minutes before the pressurised door could be opened. Bondarenko was pulled out barely alive, crying “It was my fault”, and died eight hours later, comforted by his best friend, Yuri Gagarin. News of the accident was hushed up until 1986.

Este fascinant articolul.

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