5 SEPTEMBER 1958, Page 7

A FRIEND WHO is a veteran member of the British

Interplanetary Society has approached me in a state of indignant amusement about a Sunday Tittles article. The writer, reporting the current Astronaufical Congress in Amsterdam, main- tained that until a year ago people attending these do's were visionary amateurs, not worth a sensible man's attention; but that, now that success had been attained, those who went could be regarded as respectable. My friend says that in fact his Society has been represented by'qualified scientists at these Congresses since they started seven or eight years ago, and that perfectly hard-headed rockets with practical problems have been going Up, if not high, since 1944. My own quibble is different : whether or not one has much enthus- iasm for space travel it seems a new low in smugness actually to claim credit for not taking it