domingo, 29 de marzo de 2015

One-way mission

In 1962 [...] a story ran in a Sunday newspaper supplement called This Week suggesting that the USSR was considering sending a cosmonaut on a one-way lunar landing mission. That same year, according to space historian Dave Dooling, Missiles and Rockets, Aviation Week & Space Technology, and Space Engineering all detailed a similar mission proposal making the rounds at NASA. The “one-way, one-man” lunar expedition was the brainchild of a pair of Bell Aerosystems engineers, John M. Cord and Leonard M. Seale. “It would be the cheaper, faster and perhaps the only way to beat the Russians”, Cord is quoted as saying. Dooling points out that intelligence data gathered at that time suggested that the Soviets would be capable of landing a craft on the moon as early as 1965. (The United States landed on the moon in 1969.)

Neither the Soviet nor the American version proposed leaving the sad spaceman to die on the moon. Someone would come pick him up in one to three years—just as soon as they figured out how to do it and built the hardware. A total of nine launches would follow his own, delivering a living module, communications module and equipment, construction equipment to build the modules, plus the 9,910 pounds of food, water, and oxygen he was projected to consume while waiting around for his ride.

And who would agree to go? “It is sincerely believed,” wrote Cord and Seale, “that capable and qualified people could be found to volunteer for the mission even if the return possibilities were nil.”

Mary Roach, Packing for Mars: the curious science of life in the void. Norton, 2010. pp. 166-7.

viernes, 6 de marzo de 2015

Rompieron los libros incomprensibles

Arrasado el jardín, profanados los cálices y las aras, entraron a caballo los hunos en la biblioteca monástica y rompieron los libros incomprensibles y los vituperaron y los quemaron, acaso temerosos de que las letras encubrieran blasfemias contra su dios, que era una cimitarra de hierro.

Jorge Luis Borges, Los Teólogos. Obras Completas v. 1. Emecé Editores, 2004. p. 550.