by Art Chantry ( email@example.com)
everybody in america knows that we landed on the moon FIRST (except those conspiracy theorists with their incredible and elaborate claims of hoax). but, not many of us know that, even though we got the first MAN on the moon, we weren’t the first country to actually REACH the moon. that distinction goes to them dang soviets. 50 years ago today (sept. 14, 1961), the soviet spacecraft “luna 2″ (whatever happened to “luna 1″?) reached and landed on the moon. well, anyway, it crashed directly INTO the moon like a bullet. BLOOP!
luna 2 looked like a clumsy cross between sputnik and the ‘nomad’ space probe on star trek. the photos of it are marvelous – it’s a round metal ball (two halves with a clearly visible seam) and an array of antennae and wires sticking up from the top like a fright wig.) you swear you can see dents in the spherical surface as well. it was made of aluminum and manufacturing processes were notorious sloppy and crude in the old soviet russia. those dents really look like they’re actually there. for all intents and purposes it looks like a reclaimed metal ‘world globe’ taken from a local library and cleaned and re-fitted for space.
but, what i personally found fascinating (cuz i’m a graphic designer) is the “payload” of luna 2. yes, it had some scientific merits – it measured for magnetosphere and atmosphere, etc. (none to speak of). but, primarily, it’s mission was to litter. yup, LITTER the surface of the moon. as it crashed into the surface of the then utterly pristine and un-befouled atmosphere and landscape of our lovely moon, it jettisoned out onto the surface of the virgin planetoid a number of flyers and banners and pieces of paper declaring the arrival of the u.s.s.r. FIRST and only! it also popped out a couple of ‘bucky ball’s’ covered in tin foil (looking like a silver soccer ball). it, too, was covered with propaganda (advertising) announcing the presence of the ussr (from the planet earth). that stuff is in all likelihood still sitting exactly where it landed – in perfectly preserved condition (i imagine) as well.
when khrushchev visited eisenhower a few weeks later, he gave “i like ike” some copies of the garbage they tossed on the moon’s surface – just to drive us americans bonkers. it was one of those truly great cold war moments – ‘litter for victory!’
ever since then, whenever we (or they) get to the moon, we leave behind a great deal of evidence of our presence – a lot of it intentional. not just abandoned equipment like rovers and spacecraft and assorted ‘space garbage’ (and little silly flags on sticks), we also leave behind tire tracks, footprints, holes, sewage, bacteria, golf balls, frisbees, assorted pop culture and an entirely replaced atmosphere. what little ‘air’ the moon’s gravity was able to hold onto originally was all blasted off and replaced with rocket fumes from our arrivals and departures from our landings. so, the moon’s current atmosphere is man-made exhaust – more litter.
this stuff i’m picturing is what the original soviet advertising litter looked like. even though it’s garbage and litter and therefore aesthetically and morally evil – it’s kinda cool looking. we always think russian stuff looks cool (just like they think our cheezy stuff looks cool.) i often try to look at russian stuff and try to imagine it with english lettering instead of cyrillic type. it’s amazing how uncool it suddenly appears in my mind’s eye.
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