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A Photo History of Lebanon's Unremembered Space Race

Between 1960 and 1967, Manoug Manougian and the Lebanese Rocket Society launched the first Arab space program. These are the few remaining clippings and photos of the now-forgotten era from Manougian's private photo collection.
All images from Manoug Manougian's private collection.

I recently spoke to Manoug Manougian, the lead engineer of the first Arab space program and founder of the Lebanese Rocket Society. The organization, which briefly catapulted Lebanon into the global space race, was founded in 1961. It was terminated just six years later, in 1967, due to military pressure and the beginning of the Arab-Israeli war.

Manoug was kind enough to send us these photos and clippings from his personal collection that document this forgotten—and incredible—chapter of Lebanese history. He is one of the few people who has preserved evidence of the Lebanese Rocket Society, as most of it was destroyed when Israel invaded Lebanon in 1978.


The image pictured above is a photo of the 1961 launching of the first of the Lebanese Rocket Society's first Cedar 2 rocket, on a military-sanctioned location overlooking the Mediterranean. It was the Society's first stage-2 rocket.

One year later, in 1962 at the same location in Dbayeh, Lebanon, the Society launched the second of the Cedar 2 Series. From this point on, most of the launches were supervised by army officials, interested parties, and students from the Haigazian University

The launching of the Cedar 2-C, the last of the Cedar 2 series launches, also in 1962.

Here's a picture of the Cedar 3, a 3-Stage rocket, one of the Society's most successful launches.

That was followed by their single most successful venture, the Cedar 4, that was later placed on special postage stamps commemorating 21 years of Lebanese independence, in 1964.

The Daily Star, a Lebanese English-language newspaper that's still running today. Most of the articles on the Lebanese Space Race were removed from their archives and destroyed out of fear of the Israeli invasion of 1967. Dated: Monday, 08/05/1966

l'Orient le Jour, a Lebanese French-language newspaper still running today. The article covers the anticipation of the Cedar 7 launch, one of the final Cedars launched under the leadership of Manoug Manougian. Dated: 04/04/1966

A U.S Information Service publication, coverage of one of the most successful launchings of the Lebanese Rocket Society.

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Lebanon's Forgotten Space Race: In 1961, Manoug Manougian Launched the Arab World's First Space Program @r_aqrabawi