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Based on interviews with participants of the high-altitude balloon programs of the 1950s and 1960s, the author captures the drama of a small fraternity of daring, brilliant men.
NASA's history is a familiar story, one that typically peaks with Neil Armstrong taking his small step on the Moon in 1969. But America's space agency wasn't created in a vacuum. It was assembled from pre-existing parts, drawing together some of the best minds the non-Soviet world had to offer. In the 1930s, rockets were all the rage in Germany, the focus both of scientists hoping to fly into space and of the German armed forces, looking to circumvent the restrictions of the Treaty of Versailles. One of the key figures in this period was Wernher von Braun, an engineer who designed the rockets that became the devastating V-2. As the war came to its chaotic conclusion, von Braun escaped from the ruins of Nazi Germany, and was taken to America where he began developing missiles for the US Army. Meanwhile, the US Air Force was looking ahead to a time when men would fly in space, and test pilots like Neil Armstrong were flying cutting-edge, rocket-powered aircraft in the thin upper atmosphere. Breaking the Chains of Gravity tells the story of America's nascent space program, its scientific advances, its personalities and the rivalries it caused between the various arms of the US military. At this point getting a man in space became a national imperative, leading to the creation of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, otherwise known as NASA.
Throughout flight's first 100 years, Purdue University has propelled unique contributions from pioneer educators, aviators, and engineers who flew balloons into the stratosphere, barnstormed the countryside, helped break the sound barrier, and left footprints in lunar soil. Wings of Their Dreams follows the flight plans and footsteps of aviation's pioneers and trailblazers across the twentieth century, a path from Kitty Hawk to the Sea of Tranquility and beyond. The book reminds readers that the first and last men to land on the moon first trekked across the West Lafayette, Indiana, campus on their journeys into the heavens and history. This is the story of an aeronautic odyssey of imagination, science, engineering, technology, adventure, courage, danger, and promise. It is the story of the human spirit taking flight, entwined with Purdue's legacy in aviation's history.
Who were the men who led America's first expeditions into space? Soldiers? Daredevils? The public sometimes imagined them that way: heroic military men and hot-shot pilots without the capacity for doubt, fear, or worry. However, early astronauts were hard-working and determined professionals - 'organization men' - who were calm, calculating, and highly attuned to the politics and celebrity of the Space Race. Many would have been at home in corporate America - and until the first rockets carried humans into space, some seemed to be headed there. Instead, they strapped themselves to missiles and blasted skyward, returning with a smile and an inspiring word for the press. From the early days of Project Mercury to the last moon landing, this lively history demystifies the American astronaut while revealing the warring personalities, raw ambition, and complex motives of the men who were the public face of the space program.
An exploration of the changing conceptions of the iconic Space Shuttle and a call for a new vision of spaceflight The thirty years of Space Shuttle flights saw contrary changes in American visions of space. Valerie Neal, who has spent much of her career examining the Space Shuttle program, uses this iconic vehicle to question over four decades' worth of thinking about, and struggling with, the meaning of human spaceflight. She examines the ideas, images, and icons that emerged as NASA, Congress, journalists, and others sought to communicate rationales for, or critiques of, the Space Shuttle missions. At times concurrently, the Space Shuttle was billed as delivery truck and orbiting science lab, near-Earth station and space explorer, costly disaster and pinnacle of engineering success. The book's multidisciplinary approach reveals these competing depictions to examine the meaning of the spaceflight enterprise. Given the end of the Space Shuttle flights in 2011, Neal makes an appeal to reframe spaceflight once again to propel humanity forward.
Locked in a desperate Cold War race against the Soviets to find out if humans could survive in space and live through a free fall from space vehicles, the Pentagon gave civilian adventurer Nick Piantanida’s Project Strato-Jump little notice until May Day, 1966. Operating in the shadows of well-funded, high-visibility Air Force and Navy projects, the former truck driver and pet store owner set a new world record for manned balloon altitude. Rising more than 23 miles over the South Dakota prairie, Piantanida nearly perished trying to set the world record for the highest free fall parachute jump from that height. On his next attempt, he would not be so lucky. Part harrowing adventure story, part space history, part psychological portrait of an extraordinary risk-taker, this story fascinates and intrigues the armchair adventurer in all of us.
Through essays on topics including survival in extreme environments and the multicultural dimensions of exploration, readers will gain an understanding of the psychological challenges that have faced the space program since its earliest days. An engaging read for those interested in space, history, and psychology alike, this is a highly relevant read as we stand poised on the edge of a new era of spaceflight. Each essay also explicitly addresses the history of the psychology of space exploration.

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