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When telescopic observation had found nothing on the near side (Roger Boscovich had established by 1753 that it lacks even an atmosphere), the far side still remained as a preserve for whatever we did not yet know but had for so long felt we must believe. It was the coup de grвce of the men behind the Soviet space program to go to the other side and see for themselves, and while they could not have said as much what they were in fact doing was checking to make sure that there was no atmosphere there, no vegetation, no seas or grottoes or beasts with legs like camels, no spirits.
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