[FPSPACE] The Soviet Mars Probe and the Cuban Missile Crisis
Wed, 17 Jan 2001 13:59:27 -0500
In light of the events surrounding the Cuban Missile Crisis
being brought back into the light by the film Thirteen Days,
I wanted to reinvestigate the story of how a Soviet Mars flyby
probe launch on October 24, 1962, supposedly contributed to
the hightened tension of that event.
Previously my oldest source on the event was from Kenneth
Gatland's 1973 book titled Robot Probes (Macmillan). In the
book on page 169, Gatland mentions the 1962 incident from an
unidentified US Goverment report.
Then I found this information on the Web:
1962, Oct. 24: Russian satellite explodes.
On 24 October a Russian satellite entered its parking orbit,
and shortly afterwards exploded. Sir Bernard Lovell, director
of the Jodrell Bank observatory wrote in 1968:
"The explosion of a Russian spacecraft in orbit during the
Cuban Missile Crisis... led the U.S. to believe that the USSR
was launching a massive ICBM attack."
The NORAD Command Post logs of the dates in question remain
classified, possibly to conceal the reaction to this event.
Its occurrence is recorded, and U.S. space tracking stations
were informed on 31 October of debris resulting from breakup
of "62 BETA IOTA".
I thought the Soviet Mars probe incident was bad enough,
but then to learn that the US launched *two* ICBM tests
from Florida and VAFB during the Crisis along with an
above-ground nuclear test in the Pacific Ocean and I had
to wonder just how seriously the Mars probe event was taken?
Can anyone here finally begin to clear up how the US reacted
to this event?