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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.
An engrossing read, Critical Issues in the History of Spaceflight is a volume consisting of scholarship on the current state of the discipline of space history presented in a joint NASA and NASM conference in 2005. The essays presented in the book question such issues as the motivations of spaceflight, and the necessity, if any, of manned space exploration. Though a highly informative and scholarly volume, Critical Issues in the History of Spaceflight is thoroughly enjoyable for readers off all different backgrounds who share an interest in human spaceflight.
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.
‘Terrific and enthralling’ New Scientist Fifty years ago, in July 1969, Apollo 11 became the first manned mission to land on the Moon, and Neil Armstrong the first man to step on to its surface. He and his crewmates, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins, were the latest men to risk their lives in this extraordinary scientific, engineering and human venture that would come to define the era. In Apollo 11: The Inside Story, David Whitehouse reveals the true drama behind the mission, putting it in the context of the wider space race and telling the story in the words of those who took part – based around exclusive interviews with the key players. This enthralling book takes us from the early rocket pioneers to the shock America received from the Soviets’ launch of the first satellite, Sputnik; from the race to put the first person into space to the iconic Apollo 11 landing and beyond, to the agonising drama of the Apollo 13 disaster and the eventual winding-up of the Apollo program. Here is the story as told by the crew of Apollo 11 and the many others who shared in their monumental endeavour. Astronauts, engineers, politicians, NASA officials, Soviet rivals – all tell their own story of a great moment of human achievement.
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.

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