Lebanese Rocket Society: Elements for a Monument. The Golden Record

Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige

In the early 1960s, in Lebanon, a group of students of Haigazian, an Armenian University, led by a professor of mathematics, Manoug Manougian, designed and launched many “rockets for exploration and space study”. Later, this program expanded, with other researchers joining them and with the Lebanese Army supervising the project. The Lebanese Rocket Society was born.

The project had no military character and was aimed at promoting both science and research.

This experience stopped suddenly in 1967 and has since been completely forgotten.

The Golden Record

Sounds of Earth and of Lebanon

As of 1962, the group of the Lebanese Rocket Society had installed, at the tip of the rockets, a transmitter which broadcasted the message, “Long Live Lebanon!”, on the waves of the Lebanese national radios throughout the launching and the flight of the rocket. This information published by the press at the time echoes, in our imagination, the U.S. space probes such as Phoenix and, above all, Voyager 1 and 2 which, in 1977, also launched messages, engraved on golden records, intended for would-be extra-terrestrials; they consisted in a selection of sounds meant to “establish a portrait of the diversity of life, of history and of culture on Earth”, a kind of message of peace and friendship.

The first probes will only arrive close to a star in 40 000 years.

The Golden Record from the Lebanese Rocket Society is a golden record on which was engraved a soundtrack created on the basis of sound archives dating back to the 1960s, and inspired by the memories of the various Lebanese scientists who shared in the adventure. The sounds chosen reflect a given time in the history of the 1960s, when the world was politically divided in two blocs; when it seemed there was a progressive and revolutionary alternative; and when the revolutionary movements seemed to be interconnected. Space research was one of the great symbols of that period. It was also the epoch of Pan-Arabism, the epoch of the great Arab dream.

“This is a present from a small, distant world; a token of our sounds, our science, our images, our music, our thoughts and our feelings. We are attempting to survive our time so we may live into yours.”

Extract from the official communiqué of President Jimmy Carter, installed in the Voyager probes on June 16, 1977.
Accurate graphic reading of all the sound editing and mixing used to create the Golden Record of the Lebanese Rocket Society.