Fun reading in the Guardian: life and personality of John Conway, the world's most charismatic mathematicianRussians and Americans are employing cosmodromes that are well-separated from the main centers of the civilization.
The #3 country in space research, the Czech Republic (recall that Czechoslovakia was also the #3 country with a man in space, Mr Vladimír Remek, now the Czech ambassador in Moscow), decided that this setup was uneconomic. That's why our modern cosmodrome was built in Prague, in the neighborhood of Žižkov [zhish-koff].
See Google Maps
This decision was made in order to simplify the inflow of cash, fuel, and signatures that are needed for cosmic operations.
The main rocket – the 8th generation of our V-2 program whose mission is to spread bacterial life and plant flowers to several moons of Jupiter's and Saturn's - has been standing in the cosmodrome, inactive for many years. Some tourists were saying that the rocket was harming their view from the Prague Castle; some folks even called it the ugliest "building" in the world. Pessimists were forecasting that the rocket would never take off. The 216-meter-tall rocket was temporarily used as a TV tower and people were getting used to it.
Fortunately, the pessimists were wrong. After lots of preparations and negotiations with the European Union, the rocket took off yesterday. The event wasn't widely publicized in the media. So some amateur videos of the event look priceless.
Here, they were playing with puppies when...:
Cyclists in Žižkov were surprised, too:
Don't worry about their safety. The safety aspects were taken care of by Merlin Martin Marián Pešek, our top security expert, who was watching this launch from his vacations in the Arab world.
A TV staff was just shooting a story about arts in gardens of the Prague Castle but they were distracted:
I decided to embed videos of four different people – from different perspectives – to be sure that some readers won't think that the video is a hoax.
The take-off went fine. Also, the rocket began to spin as expected (some of the videos make it clear that the angular momentum is left-handed; this is a deliberate trick to generate gravity for the crew via the centrifugal force). Private owners are doing fine but when you have enough money, the government money, it's better. A guy named Elon Musk is trying to launch Falcon 9 v1.1 rockets – whose height is just 68 meters. The Czech rocket is more than 3 times taller and much more massive. The acceleration is worse which makes the fuel economy even worse but oil is cheap these days.
To improve the aerodynamic properties, 1/2 of the "crawling baby astronauts" statues by controversial artist David Černý were removed from the rocket. Can you determine which 1/2?
Good luck to the crew.
A good website with such videos is ČeskáRaketa.CZ (Czech rocket).