Ike's Secret Santa - To All Mankind
January 8, 2014 12:15 PM Subscribe
posted by Devonian (22 comments total)
18 users marked this as a favorite
Everyone knows the birth of the Space Race: Sputnik and Vostok gave the Soviets a huge start while the US floundered about with the odd tiny satellite
making it through a cavalcade of explosive fiasco
. Most would say that the first voice from space was that of Yuri Gagarin in 1961. They'd be wrong.
Barely a year after Spunik's 1957 launch, the real first voice from orbit was American and, moreover, that of President Eisenhower. Sent via a tape recorder on SCORE
, a nearly-forgotten milestone in space, the message was broadcast vowing peace on Earth “to all mankind”. That SCORE, the first communications satellite, had been put into orbit
by ATLAS, the first missile capable of delivering nuclear warheads globally, was not mentioned in the message. It didn't need to be.
SCORE worked for twelve days, proving that spacecraft could be controlled by messages from Earth, as well as retransmitting radio anywhere on the planet. For those who love space history, this is common knowledge. Likewise, that SCORE was prepared in extreme secrecy, with only 88 people in on the project and just 35 knowing that it was actually to be launched. Less well known is how far that secrecy was pushed: one man, Travis Maloy of Convair, made secret modifications at night to the rocket and even rigged the engine fuel cut-off system to test as good when it was in fact disabled.
The final hair-raising moment of that secrecy came just after launch, when the rocket veered from the official trajectory and seemed to be going out of control. The down-range engineers who weren't in on the real story, signalled for immediate self-destruct. The Range Safety Officer, the finger on the switch, knew the truth and did nothing