THE FORGOTTEN STORY OF THE ZAMBIAN SPACE PROGRAM OF 1962
geez, what they lacked in technology, infrastructure, and engineering they made up for with sheer determination.
One of the problems of looking for the bizarre in history is that, after a while, you’ve read everything before: mermaid funerals in the Hebrides, tick; bats used in bombs against Japan, tick; Roman legionaries in China, tick… But then every so often something comes along that is fresh and that has completely escaped your notice and suddenly life feels worth living again. That, anyway, was the emotion that Beachcombing had when he read last week about Zambia’s attempt in the early 1960s to enter the space race. Beach writes ‘Zambia’ that would be wild enough, but actually this was Edward Makuka Nkoloso, a Zambian high school science teacher who became head of the National Academy of Science, Space Research and Philosophy, an organisation that naturally EMN founded.
His ten Zambian astronauts and a seventeen-year-old African girl are poised for the countdown. [EMN] said: ‘I’ll have my first Zambian astronaut on the moon by 1965. My spacemen are ready, but we’re having a few difficulties…we are using my own firing system, derived from the catapult.’ Mr. Nkoloso continued: ‘To really get going we need about seven hundred million pounds. It sounds a lot of money, but imagine the prestige value it would earn for Zambia. But I’ve had trouble with my space-men and space-women. They won’t concentrate on space-flight; there’s too much love-making when they should be studying the moon. Matha Mwamba, the seventeen-year-old girl who had been chosen to be the first coloured woman on Mars, has also to feed her ten cats, who will be her companions on the long space flight… I’m getting [the astronauts] acclimatised to space-travel by placing them in my space-capsule every day. It’s a 40-gallon oil drum in which they sit, and I then roll them down a hill. This gives them the feeling of rushing through space. I also make them swing from the end of a long rope. When they reach the highest point, I cut the rope – this produces a feeling of free fall.’
- THE FORGOTTEN STORY OF THE ZAMBIAN SPACE PROGRAM OF 1962 - anarchtype, 2012-02-09, 01:26