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?and#160;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.and#160;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;
"Gallentine, a film and video engineer and a lifelong space buff, tells tales about the exciting early days of unmanned space exploration in this sprawling account. From Sputnik through James Van Allen and his assistant George Ludwig's discovery, with a tape recorder, of massive amounts of radioactivity above the atmosphere, to the two Voyager missions with their gold-plated Rosetta stones, many lifelong space buffs will know Gallentine's story by heart. What makes his account special is the amount of access he had to Van Allen and Ludwig, who shared previously unknown details of their early collaboration. Gallentine is also very well informed about the movers and shakers in the Soviet space program and its epic achievements. Some readers may be put off by Gallentine's informal tone (his use of 'egad' makes it sound as if he just stepped out of The Music Man) as well as by his re-creation of conversations and even thoughts. It would have helped, too, if Gallentine had tied past lessons to future space exploration. Nevertheless, many space buffs, especially young ones, should find this a satisfying narrative. 50 photos and illus." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Ambassadors from Earth
reminds us that our first mad scrambles to reach orbit, the moon, and the planets were littered with enough histrionics and cliff-hanging turmoil to rival the most far-out sci-fi film. But it all really happened!
Drawing on original interviews with key players and bolstered by previously unpublished photographs, journal excerpts, and primary source documents, Jay Gallentine delivers a quirky and unforgettable look at the lives and legacy of the people who conceived, built, and guided our first unmanned spacecraft and planetary probes. From the Sputnik and Explorer satellites of the late 1950s, to the thrilling Voyager and#8220;Grand Tourand#8221; of the and#8217;70s and and#8217;80s, they yielded some of the most celebrated successes and spectacular failures of the space age.
Confessed one participant, and#8220;We were making it up as we went along.and#8221;
Gallentine fearlessly clambers to the bottom of a surprisingly bitter controversy over who first developed the technique of using gravity to steer a spacecraft. Also of special note are his candid discussions with James Van Allen, the discoverer of the rings of planetary radiation that now bear his name.
Humanityandrsquo;s first reusable spacecraft and the most complex machine ever built, NASAandrsquo;s Space Shuttle debuted with great promise and as a dependable source of wonder and national pride. But with the Challenger catastrophe in 1986, the whole Space Shuttle program came into question, as did NASA itself, so long an institution that was seemingly above reproach. Wheels Stop tells the stirring story of how, after the Challenger disaster, the Space Shuttle not only recovered but went on to perform its greatest missions. From the Return to Flight mission of STS-26 in 1988 to the last shuttle mission ever on STS-135 in 2011, Wheels Stop takes readers behind the scenes as the shuttleandrsquo;s crews begin to mend Cold War tensions with the former Soviet Union, conduct vital research, deploy satellites, repair the Hubble Space Telescope, and assist in constructing the International Space Station. It also tells the heart-wrenching story of the Columbia tragedy and the loss of the magnificent STS-107 crew.
As complex as the shuttle was, the people it carried into orbit were often more soandmdash;and this is their story, too. Close encounters with astronauts, flight controllers, and shuttle workers capture the human side of the Space Shuttleandrsquo;s amazing journeyandmdash;and invite readers along for the ride.
Browse more spaceflight books at upinspace.org.
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