Science: First Birth from Artificial Insemination/World's Longest Space Flight

Published: 1978
Play Audio Archive Story - UPI

Edwin Smith: The birth of Louise Brown that Tuesday night, July the 25th, at Oldham General Hospital in the north of England was the culmination of ten years' work for gynecologist Patrick Steptoe and his partner, Dr. Robert Edwards. It took them that long to perfect the technique of removing an egg from a mother’s womb, fertilizing it in the laboratory and then, the hardest part, replacing it in the womb so that it could grow naturally. For Louise’s mother, Lesley Brown, it was the answer to a prayer, for without the operation she was unable to have children, and the success of this birth has given hope to thousands of women like her. It was at first hoped that Louise could be born totally naturally. Because of the risk of complications, it was decided to deliver her by cesarean section just over a week early. Even so, Louise was a five-pound, twelve-ounce bouncing baby, normal in every way except for the manner of her conception and the publicity which surrounded her birth. She was also a very rich little girl, for one London newspaper was reported to have paid around half a million dollars for the exclusive story of the events of that night.

This is Edwin Smith for Recap 78.

Doug Stanglin: It was 5 minutes after 2:00 p.m. on November 2nd, 1978, when the Soviet capsule carrying two Soviet cosmonauts touched down on the steps of Kazakhstan beneath a billowing red-and-white parachute. The perfect landing capped the world’s longest space flight: 139 days, 14 hours and 48 minutes. As Vladimir Kovalyonok and Aleksandr Ivanchenkov stepped from their capsule, they said the smell of the earth was something they would never forget. They had trouble walking at first and admitted being a bit dizzy; but their regular exercise program in space prepared them for a quick transition to earth’s gravity. It also showed that man can work in space for as long as a year.

The Soviet Union is moving rapidly toward setting up full-time orbital stations and perhaps even factories in space. The move to commercially practical adventures may not be as dramatic as walking on the moon, but it could be as important as when New World colonists quit looking for gold and started planning tobacco.

This is Doug Stanglin in Moscow.