As seen from the Soviet space probe Vega 1, bright Venus was only a crescent on June 9th 1985, as it released the ball-shaped descent module located at the front of the spacecraft. For two days, the module coasted before entering the upper atmosphere of the planet. At an altitude of 61 kilometers, the ball split into two pieces. One piece continued to fall towards the surface hanging from a parachute. On the ground, it survived for only 56 minutes before Venus’ immense pressure and heat killed it.
I didn’t travel 17 hours from Denmark to Guadalajara (Mexico) to drink tequila and lie on the beach. Instead, I had traversed the 9,600 kilometers (5,900 miles) to spend five days in a congress-center with an air-conditioning system that was a bit too cold for my regular outfit of jeans and a t-shirt. This should have come as no surprise to me; the International Astronautical Congress is an annual event that attracts mainly gray-haired men from aerospace companies and universities around the world who wear black business suits and ties. During the 5-day long event these men are busy swapping business cards, giving presentations and holding meetings – all of which demands an indoor climate substantially cooler than the Mexican outdoors.
I hadn’t brought any business cards; my purpose was to witness the Elon Musks keynote on making humans a multiplanetary species.