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On the Lebanese Rocket Society


#1

It begins with an image we discover in a book. The image is of a stamp with a rocket on it. The rocket bears the colors of the Lebanese flag—an image we don’t recognize, we don’t understand. It does not belong to our imaginary.

What does it show—a weapon, a missile, a rocket for space exploration? Is it serious or just a fantasy? Did the Lebanese really dream of participating in the conquest of space? It’s hard to believe and rather surreal. We ask our parents, our friends … No one remembers anything, no one knows what we’re talking about.

It is 2009 and we begin our research. A web search for “Lebanese rocket” yields only images of war, specifically Hezbollah missiles targeting Israel and Israeli missiles targeting Lebanon. When we search for “rocket” or “conquest of space,” we find many images, but no trace of our Lebanese rocket. But we do find some useful information.

The adventure began in the early 1960s, when a group of students from Haigazian University in Beirut, led by their mathematics professor Manoug Manougian, designed and launched rockets into the Lebanese sky. They produced the first rocket in the region. While the United States was preparing to send its first Apollo rocket into space, while the USSR was on the verge of launching the first manned spaceflight, Manougian and his students began their research on rocket propulsion. A crazy challenge for a tiny country!

Read the full article here.