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Space News / Remembering the Beatles

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Date Host George Noory
Guests Leonard David, Chuck Gunderson

Award-winning space journalist Leonard David has been reporting on space activities for over 50 years and is the co-author of Buzz Aldrin's "Mission to Mars." In the first half, he discussed some of the most recent and strange stories about space, including the Chinese lunar landing, the collapse of the Arecibo Observatory, and moon anomalies. While astronaut Aldrin had not spoken much to David about UFOs, he did say he was fascinated by a "monolith"-like feature on the surface of the Martian moon, Phobos. Japan is planning to launch a mission to Phobos in the next few years, David reported, and he is hopeful they will get a clear picture of this mysterious object. Regarding the search for extraterrestrial life, with so many possibilities, he is optimistic that some evidence will be forthcoming during his lifetime.

David considers the collapse of the Arecibo space telescope in Puerto Rico to be unfortunate and wonders if it might have been saved had it been better maintained over the years. Yet, the island had undergone hurricanes and earthquakes in recent times, and some of Arecibo's funding had been cut. China has a new telescope facility called FAST, and he believes their space exploration efforts (like a recent sample-return robotic mission to the Moon) are on the rise. Japan has had some rather innovative achievements, too, with its current asteroid retrieval mission. Russia is also planning on increasing their exploration plans, he added, plus private and entrepreneurial space efforts have been game-changing.

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In the latter half, Beatles expert Chuck Gunderson talked about the popularity of the Beatles in the United States on this, the 40th anniversary of the death of John Lennon. He recounted the various concert performances and inside stories of what happened on their tours and why the band still remains relevant even after 50 years. While their first tour of America in 1964 was wildly successful, the band was not an overnight success as they had been toiling in Britain for several years prior, he pointed out. Some 72 million viewers saw the Beatles on their first appearance on the Ed Sullivan show. Their American tour was very chaotic, as they traveled to 24 cities within 30 days. Allegedly, the psychic Jeane Dixon predicted the band would die in a plane crash while on this tour.

The Beatles' 1966 tour of America was marred by Lennon's comments to the British press that they were "more popular than Jesus," which was taken out-of-context stateside and led to "Beatle Bonfires" of their records and sermons against then. The '66 tour was their last, ending at Candlestick Park in San Francisco. Reminiscing about Lennon's death, Gunderson said he first heard the news the night it happened in 1980 when Howard Cosell announced it on Monday Night Football. Lennon was only 40 at the time, and it's hard to imagine all the contributions he might have made if he'd lived for another 40 years. After his murder by Mark David Chapman, celebrities started paying a lot more attention to their security and the problem of rabid fandom, Gunderson noted.

News segment guests: John M. Curtis, Chuck Coppes

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