March 9th…..

On March 9, 1961, the Soviet Union launched a mannequin named Ivan Ivanovich into space aboard Sputnik 9 to test radiation levels, pressure regulators, and communications equipment in preparation for Yuri Gagarin’s orbital mission a month later. Ivan’s “observations” about space were just a bit peculiar. In programming Ivan’s voice box (to test the craft’s communications systems), the Soviets initially wanted him to recite technical details of the flight, but rejected the idea lest American intelligence intercept the messages and conclude Ivan was on a spy mission. They also opted not to play a recording of a man singing, for fear NASA radio monitors would think they’d stumbled upon an astronaut in the throes of space madness. At last, they decided on a transmission perplexing enough to shroud the nature of the test flight, yet not so obscure as to seem deliberately encrypted. During his orbit of Earth, Ivan at times broadcast choral music, and periodically recited a recipe for borscht.

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