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Other titles in the Outward Odyssey: A People's History of Spaceflight series:
Wheels Stop: The Tragedies and Triumphs of the Space Shuttle Program, 1986-2011 (Outward Odyssey: A People's History of Spaceflight)by Rick Houston
Synopses & Reviews
Rewind to the 1950s and ponder: was Americaand#8217;s first satellite really built by a college student? How did a small band of underappreciated Russian engineers get pictures of the moonand#8217;s far sideand#8212;using stolen American film? As the 1960s progressed, consider: how the heck did people learn to steer a spacecraft using nothing but gravity? And just how were humans able to goose a spaceship through a thirty-year journey to the literal edge of our solar system?
Ambassadors from Earth relates the story of the first unmanned space probes and planetary explorersand#8212;from the Sputnik and Explorer satellites launched in the late 1950s to the thrilling interstellar Voyager missions of the '70sand#8212;that yielded some of the most celebrated successes and spectacular failures of the space age. Keep in mind that our first mad scrambles to reach orbit, the moon, and the planets were littered with enough histrionics and cliffhanging turmoil to rival the most far-out sci-fi film. Utilizing original interviews with key players, bolstered by never-before-seen photographs, journal excerpts, and primary source documents, Jay Gallentine delivers a quirky and unforgettable look at the lives and legacy of the Americans and Soviets who conceived, built, and guided those unmanned missions to the planets and beyond. Of special note is his in-depth interview with James Van Allen, the discoverer of the rings of planetary radiation that now bear his name.
Ambassadors from Earth is an engaging bumper-car ride through a fog of head-banging uncertainty, bleeding-edge technology, personality clashes, organizational frustrations, brutal schedules, and the occasional bright spot. Confessed one participant, and#8220;We were making it up as we went along.and#8221;
"Flush with the glow of the 1969 Apollo moon landing, a technological and Cold War political triumph, NASA devoted itself to the space shuttle. This was an advanced vehicle that vastly expanded man's spacefaring abilities and demonstrated the achievements as well as the problems of a complex government program in which (unlike Apollo) money was an object. Journalist Houston (Second to None: The History of the NASCAR Busch Series) writes 10 long, more or less chronological chapters on the 135 flights. Clearly a space buff and not a historian, he fills his account with astronaut biographies, interviews, and quotes; technical details; personal rivalries; and often stormy NASA politics. The Challenger and Columbia disasters receive their grim chapters along with another on the greatest achievement — launching and caring for the Hubble Space Telescope. Readers will find the section on American — Russian space flights absorbing, and will be mourning the end of the shuttle program by the final chapter. America has no manned program in the works, so those curious about the next big step must look to China and console themselves with this enthusiastic portrayal of the heroic age of American space travel." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Infinity Beckoned illuminates a critical period of space history when humans dared an expansive leap into the inner solar system. With an irreverent and engaging style, Jay Gallentine conveys the trials and triumphs of the people on the ground who conceived and engineered the missions that put robotic spacecraft on the heavenly bodies nearest our own. These dedicated space pioneers include such individuals as Soviet Russiaandrsquo;s director of planetary missions, who hated his job but kept at it for fifteen years, enduring a paranoid bureaucracy where even the copy machines were strictly regulated.
Based on numerous interviews, Gallentine delivers a rich variety of stories involving the men and women, American and Russian, responsible for such groundbreaking endeavors as the Mars Viking missions of the 1970s and the Soviet Venera flights to Venus in the 1980s. From the dreamers responsible for the Venus landing who discovered that dropping down through heavy clouds of sulfuric acid and 900-degree heat was best accomplished by surfing to the five-man teams puppeteering the Soviet moon rovers from a top-secret, off-the-map town without a name, the people who come to life in these pages persevered in often trying, thankless circumstances. Their legacy is our better understanding of our own planet and our place in the cosmos.
At first glance, it looks like just another auditorium in just another government building. But among the talented men (and later women) who worked in mission control, the room located on the third floor of Building 30andmdash;at what is now Johnson Space Centerandmdash;would become known by many as andldquo;The Cathedral.andrdquo; These members of the space program were the brightest of their generations, making split-second decisions that determined the success or failure of a mission. The flight controllers, each supported by a staff of specialists, were the most visible part of the operation, running the missions, talking to the heavens, troubleshooting issues on board, and, ultimately, attempting to bring everyone safely back home.
None of NASAandrsquo;s storied accomplishments would have been possible without these people. Interviews with dozens of individualsand#160;who worked in the historic third-floor mission control room bring the compelling storiesand#160;to life. Go, Flight! is a real-world reminder of where we have been and where we could go again given the right political and social climate.
About the Author
Rick Houston, a full-time journalist for more than twenty years, is the author of Second to None: The History of the NASCAR Busch Series and Man on a Mission: The David Hilmers Story and a contributor to Footprints in the Dust: The Epic Voyages of Apollo, 1969and#8211;1975 (Nebraska, 2010). Jerry Ross, a former astronaut, shares the world record for the most spaceflights flown with seven to his credit. He is the author of Spacewalker.
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