Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Nerd History: The Lost Cosmonauts

Conspiracies just aren't as much fun unless there are Soviets involved.

Back in the 1950s, as the space race was heating up, when the USSR sent Sputnik and Laika up into orbit, two brothers in Italy were listening in on the broadcasts. Achille and Gian Battista Judica-Cordiglia recorded, among other things, Laika's heartbeat during the dog's orbit, so they knew what they were doing. Then there was a fateful day in 1960, when they were tipped off to another broadcast. Assuming it was a satellite, they nearly threw in the towel until they were able to key in on a morse code transmission of "S.O.S." over and over again, as it slowly faded away. This would be strange in itself if the brothers had not intercepted a transmission months later of a man supposedly wheezing and trying to get his breath. Later, following the brothers made what was arguably their most famous recording - one of a Russian woman this time, communicating with someone on the ground, becoming increasingly panicked as something is happening before the transmission abruptly ends.

So what's the deal here? The Soviets certainly did their share of secret stuff, and while there's no hard evidence of the Soviets having lost cosmonauts in the late 1950s and early 1960s...well, the evidence we do have is fairly convincing. I suggest reading this detailed Fortean Times piece as well as listening to the actual recordings via Skeptoid, where Brian Dunning offers a plausible skeptical opinion about this history mystery.

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