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Lost Cosmonauts?
January 18, 2008 10:17 PM   Subscribe

Lost cosmonauts is a site detailing the radio site at Torre Bert, set up by Italian amateurs in 1959 to monitor the beginnings of the space race. The Torre Bert station was regarded as a legitimate tracking station, however they then released recordings of dying cosmonauts which were quickly denounced as exaggerations, or outright conspiracy. In 1991 Pravda admitted that Gagarin was not the first cosmonaut .

Torre Bert is a pretty rich field for conspiracy theories, for more reading try here, or here.
posted by scodger (40 comments total) 31 users marked this as a favorite

 
Thanks. I've never heard of that one. It's pretty 'out-there.'
posted by sswiller at 10:27 PM on January 18, 2008


Creepily compelling--thanks for this.
posted by retronic at 10:32 PM on January 18, 2008


Argh, those recordings flipped all my switches and gave me a serious case of the heebie jeebies. I guess when your making it up its easier to crank the 'creepy' dial to eleven.
posted by adamt at 10:43 PM on January 18, 2008


Scodger, this is a very interesting post ... thank you!!


But! Your last link, on the sidebar, contains one of the most disturbing "news" photos I've seen -- headline something like "Dog gives birth to mutant creature that resembles human being". Man. That photo is going to stick with me into the wee hours, let me tell you.
posted by anastasiav at 10:46 PM on January 18, 2008


Some additional notes by a Swedish tracking veteran: "Notes on the space tracking activities and sensational claims made by the Judica-Cordiglia brothers".
posted by effbot at 10:47 PM on January 18, 2008


(oops, I carefully hovered over all the links, but somehow missed that you'd already linked to Grahn's site anyway. guess I shouldn't post before breakfast...)
posted by effbot at 10:50 PM on January 18, 2008


i didn't know this, thought the first woman cosmonaut behind the "cosmonauts" link was valentina tereshkova. america's first seven astronauts in the mercury program were so well documented, there couldn't have been anything like that over here...could there? our astronauts are unflappable in the face of impending doom, witness the "roger that" from the pilot of the shuttle columbia when he must have known he was heading south instead of east.

space exploration should be conducted by robots instead of people, safer, and even more important, cheaper. we can't afford to shoot people into space, and the brave people who are willing to undergo this are more valuable on the ground anyway.
posted by bruce at 10:58 PM on January 18, 2008


The female cosmonaut recording wasn't so creepy, she seemed pretty calm through the whole thing, actually, although she gets more distorted towards the end (possibly equipment overheating?)

What got to me was the breathing clip. It might just be because I'm sitting here alone in the middle of the night listening to it, but that laboured, wheezy breathing with the weird electronic sounds behind it was creeping me right the fuck out. I couldn't listen to the whole thing, I was afraid it'd change to become even worse, or start talking to me or something.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 12:47 AM on January 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


In 1991 Pravda admitted that Gagarin was not the first cosmonaut .

Is there any better evidence to support this? Any other publications with other sources? Any other people who were in the old Russian space organization who say the same things?

Because Mikhail Rudenko is just one old engineer who might need cash, Pravda is not the great Party mouthpiece it used to be, and, in any event, the web site you link to is not related to that Pravda and so could never "admit" anything in the sense you imply (confessing something on behalf of the Russian government).

And these Italian brothers? They have recordings but no one else, and no other government, picked up anything?

It all sounds very crop circles to me.
posted by pracowity at 1:30 AM on January 19, 2008 [2 favorites]


Maybe my literal mind is missing the joke here, or something, but..

I'm supposed to believe that the Soviets tried for a sub orbital flight three times, failed each time, and then decided, "screw it, let's just go for orbit, maybe we'll get lucky." Then, accomplishing the orbital flight, they'd try again before claiming the propaganda victory (1 in 4 being such attractive odds).

I guess most people don't appreciate how much more difficult orbit is. To begin with, sub orbital flight requires a Delta-v around 1.4km/s, low earth orbit requires a Delta-v of 10km/s. You also have to burn off all that orbital speed somehow. It is much, much harder!
I certainly don't fully appreciating the issues involved, but the point needs to be stressed regardless.

I can certainly believe the Soviets were capable of cover up - lots of interesting stories have come to light in the last 15 years - but this stuff is pretty far out. 9/11 was controlled demolition type far out, that is.
posted by Chuckles at 1:37 AM on January 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


Here is an interesting site on Phantom Cosmonauts. I first read it way back, when I was a little taken in by the 1999 hoax/documentary on Ilyushin..
posted by Chuckles at 1:58 AM on January 19, 2008


Who was on the moon 20 July 1969? A chimp named Boris 409.
posted by pracowity at 2:35 AM on January 19, 2008


What got to me was the breathing clip. It might just be because I'm sitting here alone in the middle of the night listening to it, but that laboured, wheezy breathing with the weird electronic sounds behind it was creeping me right the fuck out. I couldn't listen to the whole thing, I was afraid it'd change to become even worse, or start talking to me or something.


Gee, I wonder why... could it be because you were LISTENING TO SOMEONE DIE!!!!

Cause, yeah, that's great for laughs.

Maybe I'm just overly sensitive, but linking someone's dying breaths on the freaking internet is inhuman. Just utterly, inexplicably inhuman.

Just saying.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 3:24 AM on January 19, 2008 [3 favorites]


You're overly sensitive.
posted by Optamystic at 3:36 AM on January 19, 2008


Fake
posted by A189Nut at 3:53 AM on January 19, 2008


Has a human being ever died in space? I don't know why this question is important to me, but it is. I want to know the name of the first human to die outside of Earth's atmosphere.
posted by Faint of Butt at 4:50 AM on January 19, 2008


The Light Fantastic let me be the first to welcome you to the intertubes.
posted by Tullius at 5:12 AM on January 19, 2008


Faint of Butt, it would either be Michael J Adams, or the crew of Soyuz 11: Vladislav Volkov, Georgi Dobrovolski and Viktor Patsayev. Adams was in a sub-orbital flight, Soyuz 11 after separating from an orbiter module.
posted by scruss at 5:30 AM on January 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


Obvious bullshit, and I wish the post had been worded differently—"they then released recordings of dying cosmonauts which were quickly denounced as exaggerations" makes it sound like their recordings were what they purported to be and they were wrongly denounced. Grahn has it exactly right:
I think that the Judica-Cordiglia brothers did run a tracking station and picked up signals from various spacecraft. However, for some reason they thought that they needed sensational stories maintain their image of a "hot-shot" operation. Once they over-interpreted some receptions and made fantastic claims they were "trapped" and had to continue to produce sensations...

In general the Judica-Cordiglias never seemed to understand that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence to be believed. They never have produced such extraordinary evidence..details about reception frequencies, log books etc.
i didn't know this

And you don't know it now, because it isn't true. Come on, bruce, you're as old as I am, you know better than to believe whatever you read on MetaFilter.

Maybe I'm just overly sensitive, but linking someone's dying breaths on the freaking internet is inhuman.

You are probably overly sensitive, but the "dying breaths" thing is all in your imagination. You didn't hear anyone die, you succumbed to the ooga-booga nonsense of the Judica-Cordiglias.
posted by languagehat at 6:21 AM on January 19, 2008 [2 favorites]


I'm guilty of jumping to the conclusion this was real until getting to the Cecil Adams link. Straight Dope hasn't steered me wrong before. Even so, I usually use snopes.com for confirmation of rumors. This time around tho, searches there come up with bupkus.
posted by ZachsMind at 6:36 AM on January 19, 2008


"Dog gives birth to mutant creature that resembles human being"

That's likely a puppy with a condition called "walrus puppy", where a puppy has a huge amount of fluid under the skin. Sort of a "mutant creature", I guess.

I love the campfire story nature of this site, and while I think there probably were a few Apollo 1-type accidents in the Soviet space program, I more or less agree with languagehat.
posted by biscotti at 6:41 AM on January 19, 2008


I think there probably were a few Apollo 1-type accidents in the Soviet space program

I used to think this, but it's been over 15 years since the fall of the Soviet Union, and I'm pretty sure it would have come out by now, like so many closely guarded secrets of the USSR.
posted by languagehat at 7:14 AM on January 19, 2008


At last, the origin of the Astro Zombies can be told.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:20 AM on January 19, 2008


"ooga-booga nonsense..."

I love that phrasing! Ha!
posted by RenMan at 7:28 AM on January 19, 2008


At last, the origin of the Astro Zombies can be told.

I think you mean the Cosmozombis (Космозомби).
posted by languagehat at 7:38 AM on January 19, 2008


I've always wondered why the Soviets didn't try a suborbital flight first. It is easier, and a relatively safe way of testing the systems. It makes no sense whatsoever that after three failures at suborbital they would say "Hell with it. Let's just go orbital." Besides, so much of the secret history has come out...why not this if it really happened? Couldn't be embarrassment, after the Nedelin disaster, you can't get much worse than that.

I think I first read about this years ago when I was a kid, some relative who read the National Enquirer saved an article it for me because she knew I liked space stuff. It wasn't very credible then either.
posted by Mcable at 7:40 AM on January 19, 2008


Previously.
posted by dersins at 7:50 AM on January 19, 2008


Vladimir Komarov.
posted by squalor at 8:01 AM on January 19, 2008


witness the "roger that" from the pilot of the shuttle columbia when he must have known he was heading south instead of east.

That was just a quaint way of saying 'fuck that'.

But anyway:There's a conspiracy theory in there somewhere, but I don't know whether to blame women or men or Jews or Muslims or Hindus or Buddhists or Mormons or royalists or antiroyalists. Who is blowing up whom?
posted by pracowity at 9:13 AM on January 19, 2008


First SEAL in space hooyah!
posted by pax digita at 10:11 AM on January 19, 2008


Ghosts Of American Astronauts
Mekons, 1988

Up in the hills above Bradford
Outside the Napalm factory
(They're floating above us)
Ghosts of American Astronauts
Glow in the headlights beam

It's just a small step for him
It's a nice break from Vietnam
(Filmed in a factory)
Out on the back lot in Houston
Who says the world isn't flat

John Glenn drinks cocktails with God
In a cafe in downtown Saigon
(High above them)
Ghosts of American Astronauts
Are drifting too close to the sun

Chorus:

A flag flying free in a vacuum
Nixon sucks a dry Martini
Ghosts of American astronauts
Stay with us in our dreams.

posted by koeselitz at 10:58 AM on January 19, 2008 [2 favorites]


Maybe Jügderdemidiin Gürragchaa was secretly loyal to the faith of his fathers and thus beat Onizuka to the coveted first Buddhist in space title? Of course, chances are some mountain yogin was making regular lotus-position jaunts centuries earlier from a launch site near Kailash.
posted by Abiezer at 11:04 AM on January 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


space exploration should be conducted by robots instead of people, safer, and even more important, cheaper. we can't afford to shoot people into space, and the brave people who are willing to undergo this are more valuable on the ground anyway.

Going shopping at the mall should be conducted by mail-order instead of driving in private cars, safer, and even more important, cheaper. We can't afford to let people die in traffic accidents, and the brave people who are willing to undergo this are more valuable at home with their family anyway.

Seriously, I just don't get this canard. We're fine with letting people walk, ride bicycles, drive in cars, and fly in airplanes yet, somehow, orbital velocity above the atmosphere should be considered verboten? Man has been going into space regularly for almost half a century and the process is getting cheaper all the time. Given that NASA's entire budget is far less than 1% of the federal budget, we can clearly afford a government program. Plus, before you know it, every day rich guys (as opposed to super-rich guys) will be buying seats on private spacecraft and staying in orbiting private space stations.
posted by LastOfHisKind at 1:41 PM on January 19, 2008


In 1991 Pravda admitted that Gagarin was not the first cosmonaut

The story is from 2001, and it's from pravda.ru which is not the Pravda newspaper of the Communist party and often runs stories at a Weekly World News level of reliability, although it does also run wire stories and stuff picked up from regional Russian media. Regardless, Pravda has no official status either as a state or party organ, and has not for 16 years.
posted by dhartung at 1:51 PM on January 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


space exploration should be conducted by robots instead of people, safer, and even more important, cheaper. we can't afford to shoot people into space, and the brave people who are willing to undergo this are more valuable on the ground anyway.

Thankfully, that's not your decision to make.
posted by humannaire at 4:02 PM on January 19, 2008


Dammit, I wanted the cosmonaut to be named Major Tomovich.
posted by norm at 6:25 PM on January 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


Seriously, I just don't get this canard.

Screw safety. If people want to volunteer for one-way missions to space, I say let 'em. But the purpose of space missions is research, isn't it?

Instead of sending the Spirit and Opportunity robot cars to Mars, imagine Nasa had sent two manned one-way missions with a couple of suicidal astronauts to drive cars around Mars until they ran out of supplies. So far, the robots have been pretty successful. What would the manned missions have been able to do that would have made it worth sending suicidal fighter pilots instead of robots? What sort of very expensive extra infrastructure would have been needed to keep those pilots there--still doing good work and still eating, drinking, pissing, shitting, and breathing--long enough to make it worth sending them instead of robots?

With robotic tools and instrumentation only getting better and better per payload kilo, shouldn't Nasa look at every mission and wonder whether it could be done just as well remotely? Do you want Nasa to send people even if it means less money left in their budget for other existing or potential (if they only had the money) research programs?
posted by pracowity at 2:33 AM on January 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


The Mars rovers, for all they've achieved, are basically just digital cameras on wheels. Scientists on Earth are trying to determine whether life exists currently or existed previously on Mars by interpreting black and white photographs taken by Spirit and Opportunity.

I'm pretty sure if we sent just one scientist with a rock hammer, a bunsen burner, and a microscope to Mars instead, we'd already know whether we're alone in the universe or not.
posted by steef at 6:19 AM on January 20, 2008


But anyway...

Has there ever been a SubGenius in the NASA space program? NO. I cry discrimination! I demand that NASA put Bob Dobbs on a space shuttle right this very minute, then send him out into space and kill him. I know he's already dead, but that's never stopped us before.
posted by ZachsMind at 2:42 PM on January 21, 2008


Do you want Nasa to send people even if it means less money left in their budget for other existing or potential (if they only had the money) research programs?

Sometimes, yes. Research without human experience is just rote knowledge.

To me, the most important next step is figuring out a cost-effective and practical method to move us up there.
posted by humannaire at 6:10 PM on January 21, 2008


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