F.or the first issue of the Observer Magazine of 1965, John Davy went on a tour of locations involved with the US moon-shot program, ‘the most breathtaking venture in history’ (‘Target moon’, 3 January 1965).
He found Lem (the Lunar Excursion Module) ‘squatting, shiny and new, in a hangar on Long Island… it looks precisely like something that has crept off the cover of a back number of Astounding. ‘
At the Manned Spacecraft Center near Houston, Davy ‘climbed into one of the 7,000lb Gemini spacecraft, which is hooked up for training purposes to a vast, winking computer’.
After a dig at the rival cosmonauts – ‘who seem to be fired into orbit after a year’s training or even less’ – we moved on from the epochal nature of what was planned and focused on eating and going to the loo.
Day 1’s 2,500-calorie pack was ‘sugar frosted flakes, sausage patties, toast squares and orange-grapefruit juice’, which suggested they were sending children up first. Day 3 was ‘beef pot-roast, carrots on cream sauce, toasted bread cubes, pineapple cubes, tea’.
There were no specific details of the ‘ingenious clip-on device called the Hydro John Urinal Mark I’, and a similar vagueness about the Hydro John Water Closet: ‘The use sequence simulates earthbound procedure with additional features which are extremely conducive to psychological acceptance . ‘ The additional features included ‘avoidance of manual activity’ (ie no paper).
Other devices included ‘a clockwork razor with a built-in vacuum cleaner to prevent the cabin filling with snippets of weightless beard’. Those straight-edged Americans sure were worried about those commie beards, even in space.
What was the moon going to be like? ‘Astronauts may find a surface covered with mile-deep dust, or a filigree rock like reindeer moss, or “fairy castles” of cemented dust, or something like expanded foam,’ wrote Davy.
The moon, as any fule kno, is made of cheese. It’s a wonder they made it at all.