Issue # -28
Your daily dose of comical confusionism to leave gravity behind !
NASA AND THE OCCULT The Obscure Roots of the NASA Space Exploration Programme Association of Autonomous Astronauts
Intersects tactIcs and exIt strategIes for MovIng In several dIrectIons at once
The origins of NASA and its space programme can be found within the most obscure aspects of the Second World War. At the time nations were competing with one another to build the most effective rockets.
From Peenemünde to Mittelwerk and White Sands
n Germany, from the 1930s onwards Hermann Oberth and his team , which included Wernher Von Braun, were already constructing and experimenting with small rockets. Wernher Von Braun undertook several experiments on rocket engines for the German army beginning in 1932, and in 1934 he presented his doctoral thesis on rocket propulsion. In 1937, he joined the Nazi party and became director of tests at Peenemünde. In 1940, he joined the SS as Untersturmführer. He was promoted three times by Himmler, finally becoming Sturmführer in 1943. Von Braun developed and completed several experimental models, including the V2/A4 rocket. These German activities during WWII fostered a growing interest within the American military in rocket research. At the beginning of 1943, the experimental engineering division of the Army Air Force Material Command provided Todor Von Karman, Hungarian expatriate and director of the Guggenheim Aeronautical Laboratory (GALCIT) of the California Institute of Technology (CALTECH) with reports from British sources of missiles capable of flying a distance of approximately 200 km. In a letter dated 2nd August 1943, Von Karman gave the army his analysis and comments on the German programme. Two weeks later, the Peenemünde site was bombed. Hans Kammler, the main SS architect of the concentration camps, was given the task of moving production to the tunnels of Mittelwerk, making use of forced labour from the satellite camp of MittelbauDora. Kammler also took charge of the construction of installations at Jonastal and Riesengebirge for research on nuclear arms and a version of the intercontinental ballistic missile which evolved from the V2.
n 1944, Himmler persuaded Hitler to place the V2 programme under the direct command of the SS and to put Kammler at its head. Von Braun was part of a leading team of rocket experts, supervising the engineers, the civilian workers and the detainees of Dora. His stay there was short; he was under observation as suspicions grew that he was a defeatist who was capable of absconding. The construction of the V2 rockets caused more deaths than their use as weapons of war. Four thousand were fired, mainly at England and The Low Countries. In 1944 and 1945, more than 10,000 prisoners lost their lives at Dora.
In 1945, Wernher Von Braun and his team were brought to The United States as a result of Operation Paperclip. Hans Kammler disappeared during the last days of the war. Remaining finally responsible for aerial research and for the SS, he is believed to have organised various programmes of Nazi UFOs, V3, V4, V7... in the region of Mittelwerk and in the frontier region between Poland, the Czech Republic and Germany. Some authors, such as Nick Cook, in The Hunt for Zero-Point Energy, suggest that he too would have been sent to the USA as part of Operation Paperclip. Though this has never been proved, it has been suggested that the Nazi counsellor played by Peter Sellers in Stanley Kubrick’s film Dr. Strangelove may have been inspired by his character. Von Braun became head of the guided missile projects for the Army at Fort Bliss in Texas.
Association of Autonomous Astronauts
Intersects Tactics and Exit Strategies for Moving in Several Directions at once
Sex, Rockets and Black Magic
n California during the War, young engineers working on propulsion, John W. “Jack” Parsons, Frank J. Malina, Ed Forman, alongside their mentor Todor Von Karman at CALTECH founded the Aerojet company concerned with propellant rockets. The group was quickly forced to move its test facility far from the main campus at CALTECH to the Arroyo Seco region in Los Angeles County. This site, and the research they conducted later, became the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), with Frank Malina as second director between 1944 and 1946. This still exists, and is the structure on which NASA was founded in 1958. At the end of 1945, the rockets became too large for the buildings of Arroyo Seco, so the trial base was moved to White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. It is here that the WAC Corporal rocket probe became the first rocket to reach 50 miles (80 km) altitude in October 1945. However, as part of the Hermes Project, Von Braun and his team worked on reconditioning V2 rockets that had been sent from Germany to White Sands. On 16th April 1946, the first V2 was launched at White Sands. Fifty seven launchings would follow. Realising that research on rocket technology was being taken up by the ex-Nazis and being steered towards weapons of war, the young engineer Malina and his colleagues, who disapproved of this new direction, re-assessed their careers and thus sold their share in Aerojet Company. Jack Parsons, explosives expert and a charismatic figure in the group, was leading a strange, parallel life. Passionate about black magic, in 1942 he became Grand Master of the Agape Lodge, the Californian branch of the Ordo Templi Orientis (OTO) of Aleister Crowley, then an ageing, errant occultist and heroin addict, living off his disciples and gifts.
ith the money he acquired, Parsons bought a large manor house where secret rituals, sex and the magic of the order were practised. He welcomed and housed demobilised soldiers, as well as artists and budding young science fiction writers, such as Robert A. Heinlein, who was actively campaigning for the control of supranational nuclear weapons of mass destruction, and Ron L. Hubbard who later became the founder of the Church of Scientology. After having played the role of scribe in the secret rituals of Jack Parsons (the “Babalon Working”), Ron Hubbard swindled him in 1947 in a mutual affair concerned with the location of yachts, and left with his second wife Sarah Elisabeth Northrup. The money he stole from Parsons contributed largely to the publication in 1950 of Dianetics, the basis of the doctrine of Scientology, which he presented as a bridge between cybernetics and the general semantics of Alfred Korzybski which was popular at that time in the science fiction world (see also The World of A. by Van Vogt). However, Parsons met Marjorie Cameron, whom he saw in a vision as his “Secret Woman”, sorceress and muse, potential mother of “Moon Child”, as conjured up by Aleister Crowley.
clash of interpretations with Aleister Crowley resulted in Parsons breaking off with the OTO. Parsons went on to work for Hughes Aircraft (Howard Hughes’ aerospace company). In his writings from 1950 he anticipates a number of the social, moral and ethical dilemmas of the second half of the 20th century. In 1952, while he was under surveillance by the FBI, and before he could go to Mexico with his companion as he intended, Parsons died in an unexplained explosion in his laboratory. A crater on the hidden face of the moon is named after him. Marjorie Cameron continued to pursue her career as artist and muse of occultism, while acting as “sorceress” for Kenneth Anger in his film The Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome, or for Curtis Harrington in his Night Tide. Frank Malina did not follow Parsons in his adventures concerned with the OTO. In 1947 he left to join UNESCO in Paris, though he had to leave his post because of MacCarthyism. He launched himself into a cinetic art career alongside Nicolas Schoffer and Abraham Palatnik and in 1967 founded the Leonardo Journal of Arts, Science and Technology (olats.org), known internationally today.
Intersects Tactics and Exit Strategies for Moving in Several Directions at once
Association of Autonomous Astronauts
From Nazi to NASA
n 1950 Von Braun was nominated technical director of the Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama, occupied with the development of guided missiles. He was instrumental in the creation of the Redstone missile, the first guided ballistic missile of the American army, which was used in 1961 to launch the first American astronauts into space. A born-again Christian, he obtained American citizenship in 1955. In the 1950s, the army missile programme was seeking to promote the idea of space travel to the American public, and wanted to ensure adequate financial support for the space programme. Walt Disney, an early supporter of the Nazi-American movement, and a key figure in the hounding of the “witches” of Hollywood’s MacCarthyism since 1947, joined Von Braun to sell to earth-bound audiences the idea of space. By conveying to them visions of space in simple terms which nevertheless carried the authority of science, they encouraged their audiences to give themselves over to the illusion. An approach geared towards childhood and centred round the family allowed the simple message to spread. Thus Von Braun worked on Disney TV programmes such as Man in Space and Man and the Moon in 1955, and then Mars and Beyond in 1957. At the same time, the creation of Disneyland in 1955 is a monument within the history of the human imagination, establishing an environment in which people enjoy being manipulated, and where subjects willingly acquiesce to be confined within an artificial illusion of power and autonomy. At the same time Von Braun became director of research at the Agency for ballistic missiles of the American army. He oversaw the development of the Pershing and Jupiter missiles, while taking a decisive role in the launch of the first artificial US satellite (Explorer 1) in 1958. He joined NASA in 1960 and became director of the Marshall Space Flight centre between 1960 and 1970. He directed the manned flights Mercury, Gemini and Apollo. Even though the programmes were transferred to a so-called civilian organisation, they were still devoted to either science or space exploration. The Apollo missions were conducted as military offensives, upholding ideological domination and global nuclear war, while the great media spectacle created the illusion of a mission of peace for humanity. The successful collaboration of Walt Disney and Wernher Von Braun was deeply emblematic, for it represents a historic moment and the start of a new era of geopolitical domination beyond the Planet. It marks the chemical marriage of the spirit with the technologies of war, the concept of cosmic war and the birth of a new military-entertainment complex.
Outer Space/Inner Space
s artists, we cannot interest ourselves directly in the scientific or technological within its positive sense. The same goes for the political, which we also cannot envisage in its positive, performative, normative and rhetorical deployment. What interests us and therefore motivates and informs all our work, is certainly the collusion between the political and the technological in their constant effect on the psyche as both active and retro-active. Thus: what is the psyche of the machine and what is its impact on the psychic machine and how does this relate to the outside, to outside space, to the general, the real, and that which relates to the mental, the interior, the fiction, the autofictions, the psychopathology, hallucinations, sleep, somnambulism, delirium, the symptom, the gaps? How then do these two orders, outer space and inner space, which we can re-encrypt in the motor dualism of the Western gestalt of “subject/object”, “subjective/ objective”, lead us towards a gestalt which is «more capable of engaging itself» in that which we have to perceive; namely, the reality of reality, which, today, consists of generalised protheses? The drive of the conquest of space towards an externalised human space, a sister planet, even a deserted one, is not the end. As in Herbert’s Dune, a desert which we will have terraformed, by modifying the atmosphere so as to grow trees, make lakes and enjoy a total fauna of large deer and chickens, but rather the universe of … yet another opposite? In reality the idea behind the conquest of space is not to transform an arid desert into a temporary biodiversity, replete with fauna and flora, suitable for humans to settle in, but to transform our habitable biodiversity which is already well populated into a device where interior space – be it the intellect, science, psychopathology, architectural planning, or civil and military ingenuity – will have completely colonised the exterior space. And this exterior space in its turn is taken over by the artificial – unexpected, born of visions and deliriums, capable of being converted into positive dynamics of transmental knowledge, packaged and applied, “made public” and effective: but which, in its turn, once the world is fully mechanised, mapped out, concreted, transformed, that is to say fantasised, zombified, “pure process of automated influence” – total exteriorisation of latency and incarnate psyche, so that the exterior space becomes once again (or simultaneously) the interior space. In the process of becoming again, which is, literally the turning and backfiring of the crank. However, the machinery remains, the car, computation, a total externality of which humans are the prostheses, the well-named human resources.
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See you in space !