Ambassadors from Earth: Pioneering Explorations with Unmanned Spacecraft

Ambassadors from Earth: Pioneering Explorations with Unmanned Spacecraft

by Jay Gallentine
     
 

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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Drawing on original interviews with key players and bolstered by previously unpublished photographs, journal excerpts, and

Overview

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Drawing on original interviews with key players and bolstered by previously unpublished photographs, journal excerpts, and primary source documents, Jay Gallentine delivers a quirky and unforgettable look at the lives and legacy of the people who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 “Grand Tour” of the ’70s and ’80s, they yielded some of the most celebrated successes and spectacular failures of the space age.

Confessed one participant, “We were making it up as we went along.”

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.

Editorial Reviews

Rob Manning

“Gallentine's book weaves highly accessible and rich tales of the lives of some of the passionate pioneers behind these space machines. Flooded with details that reveal the contingent and fragile nature of these adventures, Ambassadors from Earth reminds us that behind the scenes in these exciting enterprises are genuine human beings who struggle to make something work. Read this and be inspired.”—Rob Manning, Jet Propulsion Laboratory Program chief engineer
Louis Friedman

“An exciting, engrossing tale of the early days of space flight—capturing the human drama with its inside look at the competitors in the space race reaching for the Moon, Venus, Mars and beyond. It’s like listening to the stories of the sailors on Captain Cook’s voyages as they discovered new worlds.”—Louis Friedman, executive director, the Planetary Society
Publishers Weekly
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. (Nov.)
Journal for the History of Discoveries - Dale A. Stirling

"An intriguing and essential read on the history of unmanned space programs and especially the tug-of-war between the United States and the Soviet Union for space supremacy in the late 1950s and the decade of the 1960s."—Dale A. Stirling, Journal for the History of Discoveries
NPR

"Ambassadors is written in an accessible and engaging style, introducing readers to behind-the-scenes players most of us have never heard of."—Russell Lewis, NPR

— Russell Lewis

Air & Space Magazine

"[Ambassadors from Earth] offers an accessible account of the U.S. and Soviet planetary missions of the Space Race era, as well as the more widespread efforts of more recent times."—Roger Launius, Air & Space Magazine

— Roger Launius

Spaceflight

"Utilising original interviews with key players, bolstered by never-before-seen photographs, journal excerpts, and primary source documents, 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."—Philip Corneille, Spaceflight

— Philip Corneille

Quest

"This book provides a wonderful way of renewing interest in the pioneering contributions of the robotic space programs pursued by the United States and the Soviet Union."—De Witt Douglas Kilgore, Quest

— De Witt Douglas Kilgore

NPR - Russell Lewis

"Ambassadors is written in an accessible and engaging style, introducing readers to behind-the-scenes players most of us have never heard of."—Russell Lewis, NPR
Air & Space Magazine - Roger Launius

"[Ambassadors from Earth] offers an accessible account of the U.S. and Soviet planetary missions of the Space Race era, as well as the more widespread efforts of more recent times."—Roger Launius, Air & Space Magazine
Spaceflight - Philip Corneille

"Utilising original interviews with key players, bolstered by never-before-seen photographs, journal excerpts, and primary source documents, 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."—Philip Corneille, Spaceflight
Quest - De Witt Douglas Kilgore

"This book provides a wonderful way of renewing interest in the pioneering contributions of the robotic space programs pursued by the United States and the Soviet Union."—De Witt Douglas Kilgore, Quest

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780803249233
Publisher:
UNP - Nebraska Paperback
Publication date:
06/01/2014
Series:
Outward Odyssey: A People's History of Spaceflight Series
Pages:
520
Product dimensions:
8.70(w) x 5.70(h) x 1.40(d)

Meet the Author


Jay Gallentine is a space historian who strives to tell never-before-heard stories of the space age in a lightheartedly appealing, readable, and nontechnical style.

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