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Home Vintage Political Cartoons USA Contacts Moon, 1946

USA Contacts Moon, 1946

Man Contacts The Moon



The boistrous, productive post-war period in the US really didn't hit its stride until the 1950s.   Returning soldiers returned with medical and psychological difficulties, into a land of strife, wartime deprivation, and unemployment.    On January 10, 1946, only a handful of months after the end of World War II, men from the Evans Signal Laboratory turned their wartime radar equipment up at the skies and blasted a 1/4-second pulse of radio waves at the moon.  Two-and-a-half seconds later, they heard the moon "beep" back.  This was eleven years before Sputnik would actually go to space to 'beep' back at humanity, so the 1946 event was effectively the first time man reached out and touched the surface of another planet.

The newswires buzzed with the story of mankind's reach beyond its own atmosphere, but by February a hard-hearted political cartoonist turned his eyes away from the skies and looked around himself, not happy with what he found.  "Man's Inhumanity To Man" reads a tagline on the astronomical newspaper, held by a grumpy and thoughtful moon while a goofball Earth begs for a response.

Yes, you're looking at 1946's view in the mirror, but it could easily be today's headlines: housing problems! Car accidents!  Divorce, fatalities, selfishness and greed rampant!  We're just out of a war and employee strife are above-the-fold issues -- who cares about contacting the moon?

If the scientists and astronomers of the 1940s had listened to this pessimistic view of how mankind should spend its time, NASA wouldn't exist today, and the spectre of losing a US space program has been haunting us for several years now.    Neal deGrasse Tyson would like to remind you that funding NASA is a small investment with huge returns, and if the dire look at humanity had dissuaded innovators of the 1940s from pointing their equipment at outer space, the affluence of the 1950s might never have happened.