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´╗┐Title: What Need of Man?
Author: Calin, Harold
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "What Need of Man?" ***

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                         Transcriber's Note:

      This etext was produced from Amazing Stories, February, 1961.
      Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that the U.S.
      copyright on this publication was renewed.

                          WHAT NEED of MAN?

                           By HAROLD CALIN

                        Illustrated by SUMMERS

     Bannister was a rocket scientist. He started with the
     premise of testing man's reaction to space probes under
     actual conditions; but now he was just testing space
     probes--and man was a necessary evil to contend with.

       *       *       *       *       *

When you are out in a clear night in summer, the sky looks very warm
and friendly. The moon is a big pleasant place where it may not be so
humid as where you are, and it is lighter than anything you've ever
seen. That's the way it is in summer. You never think about space
being "out there". It's all one big wonderful thing, and you can never
really fall off, or have anything bad happen to you. There is just
that much more to see. You lie on the grass and look at the sky long
enough and you fall into sort of a detached mood. It's suddenly as if
you're looking down at the sky and you're lying on a ceiling by some
reverse process of gravitation, and everything is absolutely pleasant.


In winter it's quite another thing, of course. That's because the sky
never looks warm. In winter, if you are in a cold climate, the sky
doesn't appear at all friendly. It's beautiful, mind you, but never
friendly. That is when you see it as it really is. Summer has a way of
making it look friendly. The way you see it on a winter night is only
the merest idea of what it is really like. That's why I can't feel too
bad about the monkey. You see, it might have been a man, maybe me.
I've been out there, too.

       *       *       *       *       *

There are two types of classified government information. One is the
type that is really classified because it is concerned with efforts
and events that are of true importance and go beyond public
evaluation. Occasional unauthorized reports on this type of
information, within the scope that I knew it at least, are written off
as unidentified flying objects or such. The second type of classified
information is the kind that somehow always gets into the newspapers
all over the world ... like the X-15, and Project Dyna-Soar ... and
Project Argus.

Project Argus had as its basis a theory that was proven completely
unsound six years ago. It was proven unsound by Dennis Lynds. He got
killed doing it. It had to do with return vehicles from capsules
traveling at escape velocity, being oriented and controlled completely
by telemetering devices. It didn't work. This time, the monkey was
used for newspaper consumption. I'm sure Bannister would have
preferred it if the monkey had been killed on contact. It would have
been simpler that way. No mass hysteria about torturing a poor,
ignorant beast. A simple scientific sacrifice, already dead upon
announcement, would have been a _fait accompli_, so to speak, and
nothing could overshadow the success of Project Argus.

But Project Argus was a failure. Maybe someday you'll understand why.

Because of the monkey? Possibly. You see, I flew the second shot after
Lynds got killed. After that, came the hearing, and after that no men
flew in Bannister's ships anymore. They proved Lynds nuts, and got rid
of me, but nobody would try it, even with manual controls, where there
is no atmosphere.

When you're putting down after a maximum velocity flight, you feed a
set of landing coordinates into the computer, and you wait for the
computer to punch out a landing configuration and the controls set
themselves and lock into pattern. Then you just sit there. I haven't
yet met a pilot who didn't begin to sweat at that moment, and sweat
all the way down. We weren't geared for that kind of flying. We still
aren't, for that matter. We had always done it ourselves, (even on
instruments, we interpreted their meaning to the controls ourselves)
and we didn't like it. We had good reason. The telemetry circuits were
no good. That's a bad part of a truly classified operation: they don't
have to be too careful, there aren't any voters to offend. About the
circuits, sometimes they worked, sometimes not. That was the way it
went. They wouldn't put manual controls in for us.

It wasn't that they regarded man with too little faith, and electronic
equipment with too much. They just didn't regard man at all. They
looked upon scientific reason and technology as completely infallible.
Nothing is infallible. Not their controls, not their vehicles, and not
their blasted egos.

       *       *       *       *       *

Lynds was assigned the first flight at escape velocity. They could not
be dissuaded from the belief that at ultimate speed, a pilot operating
manual controls was completely ineffectual. Like kids that have to run
electric trains all by themselves, playing God with a transformer.
That was when I asked them why bother with a pilot altogether. They
talked about the whole point being a test of man's ability to survive;
they'd deal with control in proper order. They didn't believe it, and
neither did we. We all got very peculiar feelings about the whole
business after that. The position on controls was made pretty final by

"There will be no manuals in my ships," he said. "It would negate the
primary purpose of this project. We must ascertain the successful
completion of escape and return by completely automatic operation."

"How about emergency controls?" I asked. "With a switch-off from
automatic if they should fail."

"They will not fail. Any manual controls would be inoperative by the
pilot in any case. No more questions."

I feel the way I do about the monkey, Argus, because, in a way, we all
quit about that time. You don't like having spent your life in a
rather devoted way with purposes and all that, and then being placed
in the hands of a collection of technologists like just so many white
mice ... or monkeys, if you will. Lynds, of course, had little choice.
The project was cleared and the assignment set. He hated it well
enough, I know, but it was his place to perform the only way one does.

It ended the way we knew it would. I heard it all. It wasn't
gruesome, as you might imagine. I spoke with Lynds the whole time. It
was sort of a resigned horror. The initial countdown went off without
a hitch and the hissing of the escape valves on the carrier rocket
changed to a sound that hammered the sky apart as it lifted off the

"Well, she's off," somebody said.

"Let's don't count chickens," Bannister said tautly. Wellington G.
Bannister worked for the Germans on V-2s. He is the chief executive of
technology in the section to which we were assigned at that time. He
is the world's leading expert on exotic fuel rocket projectile
systems, rocket design, and a brilliant electronic engineer as well.
High enough subordinates call him Wellie. Pilots always called him
Professor Bannister. I issued the report that was read in closed
session in London in which I accused Bannister of murdering Lynds.
That's how come I'm here now. I was cashiered out, just short of a
general court martial. That's one of the nice parts about truly
classified work. They can't make you out an idiot in public. Living on
a boat in the Mediterranean is far nicer than looking up at the earth
through a porthole in a smashed up ship on the moon, you must admit.

Well, Bannister could have well counted chickens on that launching.
The first, second and third stages fired off perfectly, and within
fourteen minutes the capsule detached into orbit just under escape
velocity. The orbit was enormously far out. They let Lynds complete a
single orbit, then fired the capsule's rockets. He ran off tangential
to orbit at escape velocity on a pattern that would probably run in a
straight path to infinity. In fact, the capsule is probably still on
its way, and as I said, it's six years now. After four minutes, the
return vehicle was activated and as it broke away from the capsule,
Lynds blacked out for twenty seconds. That was the only time I was out
of direct contact with him after he went into orbit.

       *       *       *       *       *

"Now do you understand about the manual controls?" Bannister said.

"He'll come out of it in less than a minute."

"One can never be sure."

"There's still no reason why you can't use duplicate control systems."

"With a switch-off on the automatic, if they fail?"

"Yes. If for nothing more than to give a man a chance to save his own

"They won't fail."

"The simplest things fail, Bannister. Campbell was killed in a far
less elaborate way."

He looked at me. "Campbell? Oh, yes. The landing over the reef. I had
nothing to do with that."

"You designed the power shut-off that failed."

"Improper servicing. A simple mechanical failure."

"Or the inability of a mechanism to compensate. The wind shifted after
computer coordination. A pilot can feel it. Your instruments can't.
There was no failure, there. The shut-off worked perfectly and
Campbell was killed because of it."

I watched the tracking screen, listened to the high keening noises
coming from the receivers. The computers clicked rapidly, feeding out
triangulated data on the positions of the escape vehicle and the
capsule. The capsule had been diverted from its path slightly by
reaction to the vehicle's ejection. Its speed, however, was increasing
as it moved farther out. The vehicle with Lynds was in a path
parabolic to the capsule, almost like the start of an orbit, but at a
fantastic distance. He was, of course, traveling at escape velocity or
better, and you do not orbit at escape velocity.

       *       *       *       *       *

"Harry. Harry, how long was I out?" We heard Lynds' voice come alive
suddenly through the crackling static.

"Hello, Dennis. Listen to me. How are you?"

"I'm fine, Harry. What's wrong? How long was I out?"

"Nothing is wrong. You were out less than half a minute. The ejection
gear worked perfectly."

"That's good." The tension left his voice and he settled back to a
checking and rechecking of instruments, reactions and what he would
see. They activated the scanner. The transmitting equipment brought us
a view that was little more than a spotty blackness. But I think the
equipment was not working properly. You see, what Lynds said did not
quite match what we saw. They later used the recording of his voice
together with an affidavit sworn to by a technician that our receiver
was operating perfectly, as evidence in my hearing. They proved, in
their own way, that Lynds had suffered continual delirium after
blacking out. The speed, they said, was the cause. It became known as
Danger V. Nobody ever bothered to explain why I never encountered the
phenomenon of Danger V. It became official record, and my experience
was the deviant. It was Bannister's alibi.

We watched the spotty blackness on the screen and listened to Lynds.

"Harry, I can see it all pretty well now," he began. "There's slight
spin on this bomb so it comes and goes. About sixty second
revolutions. Nice and slow. Terribly nauseating to look at. But I'm
feeling fine now, better than fine. Give me a stick and I'll move the
Earth. Who was it said that? Clever fellow. You say I was out about
half a minute. That makes it about three more minutes until
Bannister's controls are supposed to bring me back."

"Yes, Dennis, but what do you see? Do you hear me? What do you see?"

"Let me tell you something, Harry," he said. "They aren't going to
work. They're not wrecked or anything. I just know they aren't worth
sweet damn all. Like when Campbell had it. He knew it was going to
happen. You can trust the machines just so long. After that, you're
batty to lay anything on them at all. But can you see the screen?
There it is again. We're turning into view. I can see the earth now.
The whole of it."

There was silence then. We looked at the screen but saw only the
spotty blackness. I looked from the screen to the speaker overhead,
then back at the screen. I looked about the control room. Everyone was
doing his work. The instruments all were working. The computers were
clicking and nobody looked particularly alarmed, except one other
pilot who was there too, Forrest. Maybe Forrest and I pictured
ourselves in Lynds' place. Maybe we both had the same premonitions.
Maybe we both held the same dislike and distrust of the rest of them.
Maybe a lot of things, but one thing was sure. The papers would never
get hold of this story, and because of that, Bannister and the rest of
them didn't really care a hang about Lynds or me or Forrest or any of
the others that might be up there.

       *       *       *       *       *

It seemed an age passed until we heard Lynds again. The tape later
showed it was no more than half a minute. "Bannister, can you hear
me?" he said suddenly. "Bannister, do you know what it feels like to
be tied into a barrel and tossed over Victoria Falls? Do you? That's
what it's like out here. Not that you care a damn. You'll never come
up here, you're smart enough for that. Give me a paddle, Bannister,
that's what I want. It's no more than a man in a barrel deserves. It's
black out here, black and there's nothing to stand on. The earth looks
like a flat circle of light and very big, but it doesn't make me feel
any better. These buggies of yours won't be any use to anybody until
you let the pilot do his own work. I crashed once, in a Gypsy Moth,
with my controls all shot away by an overenthusiastic Russian fighter
pilot near the Turkish border. Coming down, I felt the way I do now.

"Look at the instruments and remember, Bannister. My reflexes are
perfect. There's nothing wrong with me. I could split rails with an
axe now, if I had an axe. An axe or a paddle. Harry, I'm not getting
back down in one piece. Somehow, I know it. Don't you let them do it
to anyone else unless there are manual controls from the ejection
onwards. Don't do it. This isn't just nosing into the Slot, over the
reef between the town and the island and letting go then, and
beginning to sweat. This is much more, Harry. This is bloody
frightening. Are the three minutes up yet? My stomach is crawling at
the thought of you pushing that button and nothing happening. Listen,
Bannister, you're not getting me down, so forget any assurances. I
hope they never let you put anybody else up here like this. It's black
again. We've swung away."

Bannister looked at my eyes. "It's almost time," he said.

Eight seconds later they pushed the button. Perhaps it would have been
better if nothing happened then. But that part worked. They got him
out of the parabolic curve and headed back down. They fired reverse
rockets that slowed him. They threw him into a broad equatorial orbit
and let him ride. It took over an hour to be sure he was in orbit. I
admired them that, but began to hate them very much. They ascertained
the orbit and began new calculations. Here was where he should have
had the controls on in.

       *       *       *       *       *

The escape vehicle was a small delta shaped craft. The wings, if one
could call them that, spanned just under seven feet. They planned to
bring him down in a pattern based on very orthodox principles of
flight. There remained sufficient fuel for a twelve second burst of
power. This would decelerate the craft to a point where it would drop
from orbit and begin a descent. I later utilized the same pattern by
letting down easy into the atmosphere after the power ran down and
sort of bouncing off the upper layers several times to further
decelerate and finally gliding down through it at about Mach 5,
decelerating rapidly then, almost too rapidly, and finally passing
through the exosphere into the ionosphere. The true stratosphere
begins between sixty and seventy miles up, and once you've passed
through that level and not burnt up, the rest of it is with the pilot
and his craft.

It takes hours. I came down gradually, approaching within striking
distance west of Australia, then finally nosed in and took my chance
on stretching it to one of the ten mile strips for a powerless
landing. I did it in Australia. But if I had not had orthodox
controls, had I even gotten that far, I would have churned up a good
part of the Coral Sea between Sydney and New Zealand. You see, you've
got to feel your way down through all that. That's the better part of
flying, the "feel" of it. Automatic controls don't possess that
particular human element. And let me tell you, no matter what they
call it now--space probing, astronautics or what have you--it's still
flying. And it's still men that will have to do it, escape velocity or
no. Like they talk about push-button wars, but they keep training
infantry and basing grand strategy on the infantry penetration tactics
all down through the history of warfare. They call Clausewitz obsolete
today, but they still learn him very thoroughly. I once discussed it
with Bannister. He didn't like Clausewitz. Perhaps because Clausewitz
was a German before they became Nazis. Clausewitz would not look too
kindly on a commander whose concern with a battle precluded his
concern for his men. He valued men very highly. They were the greatest
instrument then. They still are today. That's why I can't really make
too much out of the monkey. I feel pretty rotten about him and all
that. But the monkey up there means a man someplace is still down


Anyway, after Lynds completed six orbital revolutions, they began the
deceleration and descent. The whole affair, as I said, was very
solidly based on technical determinations of stresses, heat limits,
patterns of glide, and Bannister's absolute conviction that nothing
would let go. The bitter part was that it let go just short of where
Lynds might have made it. He was through the bad part of it, the
primary and secondary decelerations, the stretches where you think if
you don't fry from the heat, the ship will melt apart under you, and
the buffeting in the upper levels when ionospheric resistance really
starts to take hold. And believe me, the buffeting that you know
about, when you approach Mach 1 in an after-burnered machine, is a
piece of cake to the buffeting at Mach 5 in a rocket when you hit the
atmosphere, any level of atmosphere. The meteorites that strike our
atmosphere don't just burn up, we know that now. They also get knocked
to bits. And they're solid iron.

Lynds was about seventy miles up, his velocity down to a point or two
over Mach 2, in level flight heading east over the south Atlantic.
From about that altitude, manual controls are essential, not just to
make one feel better, but because you really need them. The automated
controls did not have any tolerance. You don't understand, do you?
Look, when one flies and wants to alter direction, one applies
pressure to the control surfaces, altering their positions,
redirecting the flow of air over the wings, the rudder and so forth.
Now, in applying pressure, you occasionally have to ease up or perhaps
press a bit more, as the case may be, to counteract turbulence, shift
in air current, or any of a million other circumstances that can
occur. That all depends on touch. It's what makes some flyers live
longer than others. It's like the drag on a fishing reel. You set it
tight or loose according to the weight of the fish you're playing.
When you reel in, the line can't become too tight or it will snap, so
you have the drag. It's really quite ingenious. It lets the fish pull
out line as you reel in. It's the degree of tolerance that makes it
work well as an instrument. In flying, the degree of tolerance, the
compensating factor is in man's hands. In the atmosphere, it's too
unpredictable for any other way.

       *       *       *       *       *

Well, they calculated to set the dive brakes at twelve degrees at the
point where Lynds was. Lynds saw it all.

"This is more like my cup of tea," he said at that point. "Harry, the
sky is a strange kind of purple black up here."

"They're going to activate the brakes, Den," I said. "What's it like?"

"Not yet, Harry. Not yet."

I looked at Bannister. He noted the chart, his finger under a line of

"The precise rate of speed and the exact instant of calculation,
Captain Jackson," Bannister said. "Would you care to question anything

"He said not yet," I told him.

"Therefore you would say not yet?"

"I would say this. He's about in the stratosphere. He knows where he
is now. He's one of the finest pilots in the world. He'll feel the
right moment better than your instruments."

"Ridiculous. Fourteen seconds. Stand by."

"Wait," I said.

"And if we wait, where does he come down, I ask you? You cannot
calculate haphazardly, by feel. There are only four points at which
the landing can be made. It must be now."

I flipped the communications switch, still looking at Bannister.

"This is it, Den. They're coming out now."

"Yes, I see them. What are they set for?"

"Twelve degrees."

"I'm dropping like a stone, Harry. Tell them to ease up on the brake.
Bannister, do you hear me? Bring them in or they'll tear off. This is
not flying, anymore." His voice sounded as if he was having difficulty

"Harry," he called.

They held the brakes at twelve degrees, of course. The calculations
dictated that. They tore away in fifteen seconds.

"Bannister! They're gone," Dennis shouted. "They're gone, Bannister,
you butcher. Now what do you say?"

Bannister's face didn't flinch. He watched the controls steadily.

"Try half-degree rudder in either direction," I said.

Bannister looked at me for a second. "His direction is vertical,
Captain. Would you attempt a rudder manipulation in a vertical dive?"

"Not a terminal velocity drive, Bannister. He said it's not flying
anymore. Lord knows which way he's falling."


"So I'd try anything. You've got to slow him."

"Or return him to level flight."

"At this speed?"

We both looked at the controls now. The ship was accelerating again,
and dropping so rapidly I couldn't follow the revolutions counter.

"Engage the ailerons," Bannister ordered. "Point seven degrees,

Dennis came back on. "Harry, what are you doing? The ship is falling
apart. The ailerons. It won't help. Listen, Harry, you've got to be
careful. The flight configuration is so tenuous, anything can turn
this thing into a falling stone. It had to happen, I knew, but I don't
want to believe it now. This sitting here with that noise getting
louder. It's spiraling out at me, getting bigger. Now it's smaller
again. I'm afraid, Harry. The ailerons, Harry, they're gone. Very
tenuous. They're gone. I can't see anything. The screens are black. No
more shaking. No more noise. It's quiet and I hear myself breathing,
Harry. Harry, the wrist straps on the suits are too tight. And the
helmet, when you want to scratch your face, you can go mad. And

       *       *       *       *       *

That was the end of the communications. Something in the transmitter
must have gone. They never found out. He didn't hit until almost a
minute later, and nobody ever saw it. The tracking screen followed him
down very precisely and very silently. There was no retrieving
anything, of course. You don't conduct salvage operations in the
middle of the south Atlantic.

       *       *       *       *       *

I turned in my report after that. No one had asked for it, so it went
through unorthodox channels. It took an awfully long time and my
suspension did not become effective until after the second shot. I was
the pilot on that one, you know. I got them to install the duplicate
controls, over the insistence by Bannister that resorting to them,
even in the event that it became necessary, would prove nothing. He
even went as far as to talk about load redistribution electric control
design. As a matter of fact, I thought he had me for a while, but I
think in the end they decided to try to avoid the waste of another
vehicle. At least, that might be the kind of argument that would carry
weight. The vehicles were enormously expensive, you realize.

I made it all right, as I said. It took me nine hours and then some,
once they dropped me from orbit. I switched off the automatic controls
at the point where the dive brakes were to have been engaged. This
time, the brakes had not responded to the auto controls and they did
not open at all. I found out readily enough why Lynds was against
opening them at that point. Metal fatigue had brought the ship to a
point where even a shift in my position could cause it to stop flying.

I came down in Australia and the braking 'chute tore right out when I
released it. I skidded nine miles. A Royal Australian Air Force
helicopter picked me up two hours later.

I learned of the suspension while in the hospital. I didn't get out
until just in time to get to London for the hearing. My evidence and
Forrest's, and Lynds' recorded voice all served to no purpose. You
don't become a hero by proving an expert wrong. It doesn't work that
way. It would not do to have Bannister looked upon as a bad gambit,
not after all they went through to stay in power after putting him in.
The reason, after all, was all in the way you looked at it. And a
human element could always be overlooked in the cause of human
endeavor. Especially when the constituents never find out about it.

       *       *       *       *       *

After that, they started experimentation with powered returns. The
atmosphere has been conquered, and now there remained the last stage.
They never did it successfully. They couldn't. But it did not really
matter. What it all proved was that they did not really need pilots
for what Bannister was after. He had started with a premise of testing
man's reactions to space probes under actual conditions, but what he
was actually doing was testing space probes alone, with man as a
necessary evil to contend with to give the project a reason.

It was all like putting a man in a racing car traveling flat out on
the Salts in Bonneville, Utah. He'll survive, of course. But put the
man in the car with no controls for him to operate and then run the
thing completely through remote transmission, and you've eliminated
the purpose for the man. Survival as an afterthought might be a thing
to test, if you didn't care a hoot about man. Survival for its own
sake doesn't mean anything unless I've missed the whole point of
living, somewhere along the line.

Bannister once described to me the firing of a prototype V-2. The
firing took place after sunset. When the rocket had achieved a certain
altitude, it suddenly took on a brilliant yellow glow. It had passed
beyond the shadow of the earth and risen into the sunlight. Here was
Bannister's passion. He was out to establish the feasibility of
putting a rocket vehicle on the moon. It could have a man in it, or a
monkey. Both were just as useless. Neither could fly the thing back,
even if it did get down in one piece. It could tell us nothing about
the moon we didn't already know. Getting it down in one piece, of
course, was the reason why they gave Bannister the project to begin

So Bannister is now a triumphant hero, despite the societies for the
prevention of cruelty to animals. But nobody understood it. Bannister
put a vehicle on the moon. We were the first to do it. We proved
something by doing nothing. Perhaps the situation of true classified
information is not too healthy a one, at that. You see, we've had
rockets with that kind of power for an awfully long time now. Maybe
some of them know what he's up to. When I think about that, I really
become frightened.

       *       *       *       *       *

The monkey, I suppose, is dead. The most we can hope for is that he
died fast. It's very like another kind of miserable hope I felt once,
a long time ago, for a lot of people who could be offered little more
than hope for a fast death, because of something somebody was trying
to prove. There's some consolation this time. It's really only a

This I know, they'll never publish a picture of the vehicle. Someone
might start to wonder why the cabin seems equipped to carry a man.

       *       *       *       *       *

When you're out in a clear night in summer, the sky looks very
friendly, the moon a big pleasant place where nothing at all can
happen to you. The vehicle used in Project Argus had a porthole. I
can't imagine why. The monkey must have been able to see out the
porthole. Did he notice, I wonder, whether the earth looks friendly
from out there.


       *       *       *       *       *

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About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.