August 7, 1959 – COL Ivan Bananapants

On August 7, 1959, the unmanned spacecraft, Explorer 6, is launched into orbit from the Atlantic Missile Range in Cape Canaveral, Florida.  Taking over 40 minutes, from a height of 17,000 miles, and at speeds in excess of 20,000 miles per hour, Explorer 6’s photocell scanners transmit back a crude picture of the planet Earth.  This photograph by a U.S. satellite is commonly regarded as the first “planetary selfie” though it was so crude it really could have been anything.

First_satellite_photo_-_Explorer_VI * First “planetary selfie”.

Not to be outdone, the then U.S.S.R. launched their new monkey piloted spacecraft, Oppression 7, a month later on the same mission.  Due to pressure from the Kremlin, Russian scientists did not have time to mount photocell scanners to their spacecraft, but instead hastily taught their monkey pilot, COL Ivan Bananapants, how to operate a common personal camera.  Upon his return to earth, COL Bananapants’ photos were reviewed, but all were found to be unusable.  Only two photographs were of the planet Earth, but Mars had photobombed both.  The remainder of the film roll were selfies of COL Bananapants making annoying duck lips.

Though initially welcomed back to the U.S.S.R. as a hero, COL Bananapants was shunned by the public and soon descended into alcoholism.  Four months later the KGB picked him up under suspicions of espionage and he spent his remaining years delousing the inmates of a Siberian hard labor camp.  Stories among inmates of the camp claim that he was haunted to his last days by his failed mission and on clear nights he would venture into the camp courtyard and throw his feces at the moon.

COL Ivan Bananapants *Only known photo of COL Bananapants.  His space selfies were destroyed to avoid humiliation.

 

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