Jason Torchinsky is a guest blogger on Boing Boing. Jason has a book out now, Ad Nauseam: A Survivor's Guide to American Consumer Culture. He lives in Los Angeles, where he is a tinkerer and artist, started a webcasting company, and writes for the Onion News Network. He lives with a common-law wife, five animals, too many old cars, and a shed full of crap.
I'm still all hopped-up on moonwalk sauce today, so I thought it would be worthwhile to take a moment to consider the other end of the Space Race-- the Soviets. After all, without a competitor, it's not really a race, now is it?
At the beginning of the 1960s, a betting man would have likely put his cash down on a hammer and sickle getting planted into the lunar regolith before Old Glory. It makes sense-- the Soviets had a hell of a space program, which, by certain metrics (endurance, space station systems) can still be considered the best in the world.
But they didn't get to the moon
. They came close-- closer than most people realize-- and for years they denied they were even trying. They were close to scooping the US's Apollo 8 trans-lunar flight (they did get some turtles to fly around the moon)
, they had a massive moon rocket
, a one-man lander
, and an impressive mother ship
-- but they didn't have the money, time, or, really, leadership to get it all together.
In the end, they had too many technical problems with the N-1 moon rocket (it had many engines that had to all work together-- a technical nightmare), and just not enough money or time to fix it. They did eventually get lunar samples returned robotically, and sent some delightfully jalopy-like lunar rovers
to the moon. These rovers were long suspected to have had human (midget or child) drivers
, so, who knows, maybe they did get some comrades up there after all.
Anyway, as we happily remember Buzz and Neil, spare a thought for our lovable loser pals. Things would have been lots more exciting if they made it up there, too, and I bet we'd still be there now if there was a Moskvaluna next door to Moon-Newark.
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