Posts Tagged ‘1960’

The space race was big news and in 1960, Komarov was picked, a Soviet test pilot and aerospace engineer, he was picked to be a cosmonaut. He was going to be one of the first man to go into low-earth orbit; alongside him was Yuri Gagarin, he was the first human that went into space.

The USSR decided to be brave several years later or just criminally reprehensible. They wanted to capture a docking between two Soviet spaceships in space. The Soyuz 1 would carry one cosmonaut and a second would have two more and one in space both spaceships would dock. The men would then switch spacecrafts and one would return to earth, a plan doomed from its very creation.

Soyuz 1 was to be Komarov’s craft, he knew it was doomed and so did a great many but the officials were going ahead with it regardless. Komarov knew it was pretty much a suicide mission, he also knew however that if he backed out his friend Gagarin was next to go in.

Komarov and Gagarin both showed up on April 23rd, 1967. This is the same year the US lost three astronauts in the Apollo fire. Gagarin apparently made strange demands and demanded a pressure suit, some through he may have intended to delay the launch. The mission went off according to the plan, well until Soyuz 1 made it to space. The ship did not operate properly and did not have enough fuel, one of the solar panels was compromised and when the capsule set for descent the parachutes did not open.

The parachutes failing and then their back-up entangling with a canopy meant to fill the larger spelt the demise of Komarov. The exact conversation has never been disclosed by the USSR, an unofficial account says in a sate of hysteria when he spoke with Alexsei Kosygin, a high ranking official, who cried with him saying that he was a national hero. He had a brief call with his wife about what to tell their children and they both plummeted through Earth’s atmosphere. It hit the ground with the force of a 2.8 ton meteorite. Some also say that he died screaming and cursing the people who contributed to his death.

His charred and unrecognisable body was then recovered and given an open casket, state sponsored funeral with military honours. It is worth mentioning again at this stage the stories about the alleged conversations and curses are speculation and probably just urban legend. What is worth mentioning is his incredible bravery and contribution to science and the exploration of space.

Fallen Astronaut.jpg
By NASA – Original image at http://history.nasa.gov/alsj/a15/as15-88-11894HR.jpg Another: http://images.jsc.nasa.gov/luceneweb/caption_direct.jsp?photoId=AS15-88-11894, Public Domain, Link

 

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So its that time! Time to look at communication, specifically an old over-the-horizon radar system called the Duga from the former Soviet Union (Russia/Ukraine for the purposes of this article.) Over The Horizon (OTH) or Beyond The Horizon (BTH) are radar systems for long range use. Most were used in the 1950’s and 1960’s because they were early warning systems, just think about the Cold War and the idea of it being a necessity; the ones I am looking at here are the Duga system but they were used all over the world and still are, if modern reports online are correct. I am no expert so correct me where you can if I get things wrong.

The system operated from July 1976 up until December 1989, there were two deployed in Chernobyl and Chernihiv. Chernobyl is in the Ukraine and Chernihiv is Siberian. They were powerful and appeared without warning, sounding like a repetitive tapping on 10Hz, they became nicknamed by the listeners as the Russian Woodpecker.

They seemed to pop up pretty randomly and could interrupt legitimate broadcasting and all variations of stations. Complaints were sent in about them but I can’t imagine it being easy to prevent them. Some of the radio and television users began including blockers in the circuit to try and filter out interruption.

The first type of Duga was built in the Ukraine and did successfully detect rocket launchers from 2,500 kilometres. With its success they worked on the larger project. The first signal was picked up in 1976 and amatuer radio users gave it the name woodpecker, some people had reported it as early as 1963. Regardless of the date the Russian Woodpecker was traced back to the Soviet Union. The sources were found in Kiev, Minsk, Chernobyl, Gomel and Chernihiv but eventually narrowed down through speculation has been made that there was more than one transmitter. Wireless World, 1977 muses that along with the OTH system the Russians might be trying to utilise radar returns or another source that worked along side it, or around two or more spots.

I wondered if this was plausible or were we just putting more technical knowledge to that in retrospect or are we accepting that NATO might not have been entirely accurate? The NATO name for DUGA-1 is quoted as STEEL YARD, some sources also use STEELWORK. It is officially recorded name may well be different but not disclosed for security purposes.

Some points of interest are that they realised when listening that it was not used as a form of jamming because Moscow and pro-Soviet Stations were also caught by it, so it couldn’t be reliable enough for that. The signal used three repetition rates of 10Hz, 16Hz and 20Hz, but the most common was 10. They used a fairly wide bandwidth, usually 40Khz.

An attempt to stop the signals causing interruptions came along, one of the ways was tor try and use signals at the same pulsing rate, people formed a club called The Russian Woodpecker Hunting Club. The transmissions slowed down in the 1980’s by 1989 they had disappeared. This slow down and eventual end does coincide with the Cold War closing down, the official end being 8th December 1971 when the Soviet Union ceased to exist. Another factor in the close would be a further advancement in early warning systems, satellite systems are far more advanced and less likely to be affected by adverse weather.

The original Duga system was experimental and it lies outside of the Black Sea port of Mykolaiv in southern Ukraine. It was restored in 2002 after it was badly damaged by fire. As of October 2013 there is a possibility to visit the Ukrainian site via tour operators for Chernobyl who know how to get the correct paperwork.

For those who like modern reference here are some ways the Duga has been imported into modern media.

If, like me, you enjoy games like Metro Last Light or S.T.A.L.K.E.R then you may already know this… Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant is a heavy feature in S.T.A.L.K.E.R and specifically around the nuclear accident. The Duga array is in Clear Sky after the main campaign game. It is in the fictional city of Limansk-13 you can see it and visit it in game. The ‘Brain Scorcher’, a military installation, is inspired by the idea that Duga-1 was used for mind-control.

Call of Duty:Black Ops the map ‘Grid’ is placed in Pripyat and the array can be seen in game there too.

A documentary by Chad Garcia looks into the Chernobyl disaster and the potential links to the structure. The documentary interviews people directly involved in the building and operation of the installation.

An 18 acre site of land in Waterbury, Connecticut, USA that had a theme park based around passages from the bible. In 1984 the theme park closed down and there is now a project, ongoing, to restore it. It was a concept of John Baptist Greco, of Waterbury, who wanted an attraction that would replicate the Bethlehem and Jerusalem of the biblical era. It was to be a place of peace for any colour, race or creed. During its peak in the 1960’s to 70’s it had upwards of 40,000 visitors on an annual basis, it was sadly left unfinished when Greco died in 1986. It has since fell into a state of disrepair.

It is featured on the website Roadside America along with warnings about exploring it, especially if you are not up to date with your tetanus shots.

July 201 saw another dark spot in the area’s history when the rape and murder of a 16 year old female brought a renewed media interest to it. In 2013 the land was brought with a plan to be renovated, and 22nd December 2013 the new cross was lit up on the site.

 

HolyLand

 

HolyLand“. Via Wikipedia.

Two former radio amateurs gave 50 years worth of interest (and still ongoing) for space conspiracy enthusiasts. In the 1960’s they claimed they had recording that showed the Soviet Space program covered up the deaths of Cosmonauts. These claims have met with rebuttals and the interests continues but that’s why I think it’s a great one for this blog.

They claimed to have monitored transmissions from the Soviet Sputnik program and Explorer 1. They said this included other recordings, like the sounds of a lost cosmonaut who was dying. 28th November 1960, one of those was also an SOS signal that was moving away from the Earth’s orbit and their information was picked up by a Swiss-Italian radio station who took them on as their space experts.

They also made a further claim that they had heard of a female cosmonaut yelling “I am hot” amongst other parts of that transmission. They stated that this was the sounds of her transmitting before she burnt up.

In total they had released nine recordings over a course of years:

  • May 1960, a manned spacecraft reporting its going off course.
  • 28th November 1960 the faint sounds of an SOS transmission as a spacecraft left orbit.
  • February 1961, the recorded sounds of a cosmonaut suffocating.
  • April 1961, capsule recorded orbiting Earth three times before it entered Earth’s atmosphere and this was days before Yuri Gagarin took flight.
  • October 1961, a cosmonaut looses control of his ship and goes into deep space.
  • November 1962, a capsule misjudges re-entry bouncing off the Earth’s atmosphere it then goes out into space.
  • November 1963, a female cosmonaut dies during re-entry.
  • April 1964, another cosmonaut killed when their capsule burns up in the Earth’s atmosphere.

People that have analysed this have stated they are dubious that certain protocol appears to have been ignored during those transmissions, for instance that the cosmonauts had not identified themselves during those transmissions. You could of course argue that burning up in space is a pretty good reason to forget this right?

There seem to be a lot of grammatical errors, or errors in sentence construction when it was generally accepted that the Soviet’s would only use highly trained and educated native speakers but again you could argue that panic would ensue and even the most articulate of people are going to loose that.

The technology the Soviet’s were using may well have been sending dogs into space but there is no suggestion they had enough technology to be putting a manned craft out of the orbit by that stage.

Another factor that was given to consideration, and perhaps this is the one that might convince me – with all the other countries listening into the space race and monitoring these transmissions why hadn’t the professionals found them too? The other countries would have little to no reason to avoid giving up that information as they were all in the race so-to-speak. So why did it fall to two amateur radio enthusiasts who self-taught themselves to get such potentially controversial details out into the public?

I also listened to a brilliant podcast and presentation by Brian Dunning, Skeptoid about this and felt it was a great tale for the blog.

Jacksonville, Florida, is home to an odd brown, brick school infamously known as the ‘Devil’s School’. It’s original and official name is/was Duval Country’s public school No 4. The hauntings allegedly began when a furnace exploded back in the 1960’s, it killed half the students, some faculty members and the janitor.

It was said it’s victims were very active in their haunts, teachers refused to work there and it was forced to shut for a brief time. A priest was called in to exorcise demonic presences but that wasn’t enough, and it seems to have secured it’s grizzly place in history.

The principal was a cannibal, if students fell asleep in class they were sent to him and never seen again.  He had a closet in the office he had converted into meat lockers.

Let’s not forget the janitor, a janitor supposedly went on a rampage and slaughtered a number of children.

In reality what can be found out is that it has had more than one name, it was a vacant building that could be used by local transients and kids would hold “initiation” rights there for their various clubs.

A fire did occur, in 1995, most likely due to it’s homeless visitors and not due to anything paranormal. There seem to be no documents to support the deaths, or strange occurrences, just a lost of hearsay. It’s been marked for destruction as part of a local development plan. I put this one down as a series of local tales and urban legends.