Countdown: A History of Space Flight / Edition 1

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Overview

T. A. Heppenheimer's acclaimed chronicle of rockets, politics, and the pioneers who dared to reach beyond humanity's limits.

"The most comprehensive, up-to-date, and best written history of space flight there is."-The Times (London)

"A lively account of the development of space activities in the U.S. and the Soviet Union . . . as good a one-volume overview of space as exists."-Scientific American.

"Countdown is by far the best history of space flight I have ever read. It is detailed, lucidly written for the layman, and full of fascinating stories.-Adrian Berry, Daily Telegraph.

"Science writer Heppenheimer's readable account provides a timely historical overview of the early visionaries, the engineers, and the geopolitical forces that placed men on the moon and created today's aerospace industry. . . . A thoughtful analysis that is highly recommended.-Library Journal.

"By far the most significant and technically insightful account of the ventures into the space environment I have seen. . . . [Heppenheimer] concentrates unerringly on key elements, both technical and managerial, in this account of man's initial space ventures."-Lee Atwood, Former president and chairman, North American Aviation Corporation.

"Like a skilled artisan, Heppenheimer weaves social, political, scientific, technological, military, and economic threads of the history of space flight into a tapestry that reveals fascinating patterns and themes."-Publishers Weekly

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A lively account of the development of space activities in the U.S. and the Soviet Union . . . as good a one-volume overview of space as exists."-Scientific American

"If you've already got loads of books on the history of space flight, great news: you can give them all to Oxfam . . . All you need now is this, the most comprehensive, up-to-date and best written history of space flight there is."-The Times (London)

"By far the most significant and technically insightful account of the ventures into the space environment I have seen."-Lee Atwood, former president and chairman, North American Aviation

"By far the best history of space flight I have ever read. It is detailed, lucidly written for the layman, and full of fascinating stories."-Adrian Berry, Daily Telegraph

Lee Atwood
By far the most significant and technically insightful account of the ventures into the space environment I have seen. . . . [Heppenheimer] concentrates unerringly on key elements, both technical and managerial, in this account of man's initial space ventures..
Dale D. Myers
A fascinating, detailed comparison of the people and programs, the triumphs and failures of the two major space-faring nations; well presented and well told..
Andrew Chaikin
A hundred years ago, a brilliant Russian schoolteacher had a vision of human beings overcoming gravity to venture beyond their home planet. Today, astronauts and cosmonauts live together in space for months on end. What happened in between is a story of phenomenal ingenuity and perseverance by some of our century's greatest engineers, scientists, and explorers. No one is better equipped to tell that wondrous tale than Tom Heppenheimer. Combining an expert grasp of technology with a historian's perspective on world events, he weaves the story of space flight through the unfolding of the twentieth century. It's all here, from the early rocket experiments of Goddard and von Braun, to the Cold War race to the moon, to the era of international cooperation in space. This truly impressive book conveys the power that has lifted humanity off the earth—not only rockets, but people who dared to reach beyond their own limits..
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Like a skilled artisan, Heppenheimer Turbulent Skies weaves social, political, scientific, technological, military and economic threads of the history of space flight into a tapestry that reveals fascinating patterns and themes. He portrays technological brilliance mingled with colossal errors in judgment, the interplay of teamwork and bitter rivalry, the juxtaposition of the noblest and most venal national and personal goals, while presenting the still-unfolding story of humanity's greatest adventure. Key to the story are individuals who, though often operating behind the scenes, like Sergei Korolev, the founder of the Soviet space program, shaped intra-national and international events. Marked by comprehensive primary source and documentary research, and drawing on a trove of information not available before the fall of the Soviet Union, Heppenheimer'ss chronology is rich in scientific and technological detail, though readers will have to follow the book's extensive bibliography for a more complete picture. This is primarily a well-told story of humanity's quest to reach the cosmos, and of the very human individuals who, for good or ill, have left their mark on that great endeavor. May
Library Journal
The end of the Cold War has brought with it sweeping changes in both the American and the former Soviet Union's space programs, which received their primary impetus from the post-World War II nuclear stalemate but today are justified mainly on the basis of international cooperation. Science writer Heppenheimer's readable account provides a timely historical overview of the early visionaries, the engineers, and the geopolitical forces that placed men on the moon and created today's aerospace industry. Drawing on newly available Russian sources, the author places both Russian and American programs in their historical contexts, demonstrating that the two superpowers undertook their respective expensive manned programs mainly for the sake of prestige. However, he reluctantly concludes that, having failed in developing any support beyond the sponsoring governments, manned spaceflight may not have a future beyond the current U.S.-Russian joint space station venture. In contrast, he notes, the real achievements of space research are embodied in the advancements in communications technology and meteorology that are so ingrained in our daily lives. A thoughtful analysis that is highly recommended for academic and large public libraries.Thomas J. Frieling, Bainbridge Coll., Ga.
Kirkus Reviews
Once the exclusive province of science fiction, space flight is now the stuff of sober (though hardly dull) history.

Heppenheimer (The Coming Quake, 1988, etc.) begins his survey with Tsiolkovsky, Oberth, and Goddard, the early-20th-century pioneers of rocketry. Their work came to fruition in the German V-2 missile, the foundation on which both the Soviets and Americans built their space programs after WW II. The military applications of rocketry were the primary attractions to both countries, especially the Soviets, who after the war found themselves playing catch-up with the US. Stalin made it a national priority to create nuclear weapons and to find a way to deliver them to targets in America. It was his home-grown rocket scientists, led by Sergei Korolov, who made the breakthrough, symbolized by the launch of Sputnik I in 1957. That event pushed the space race into high gear—leading to the Apollo program and everything that has followed. Heppenheimer shines the light as much on the backstage movers and shakers as on the astronauts themselves, a logical choice given his contention that the real gains of the space program have been achieved by robot probes and other uncrewed vehicles, which are now so reliable and commonplace that the public hardly notices their launches. Drawing on newly released material from Soviet archives, the book gives the most complete look to date at the problems and accomplishments of the Russian space effort. While Americans were first on the moon, the Soviets have concentrated on orbiting space stations, learning more about the long-term effects of weightlessness on the human body. Heppenheimer ends with a forecast of our near future in space, including more manned flights to the moon.

Well-written, full of fascinating character studies and incidents, this is a solid, useful reference on what may be the defining accomplishment of our era.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780471291053
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 3/29/1999
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 420
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

T. A. HEPPENHEIMER, Ph.D., has written extensively on aerospace, business, and the history of technology. A frequent contributor to Discover, Forbes, Nature, Omni, and American Heritage magazines, he is the author of six previous books, including Turbulent Skies: The History of Commercial Aviation (Wiley). Dr. Heppenheimer divides his time between Fountain Valley, California, and West Palm Beach, Florida.

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Table of Contents

Wonder-Weapons and Prison Camps: Rocketry Under Stalin and Hitler.

Ingenious Yankees: The Rise of America's Rocket Industry.

Racing to Armageddon: The Superpowers Begin Their Missile Programs.

The Mid-1950s: Spacecraft, Planned and Imagined.

"The Russians Are Ahead of Us!": The Space Race Begins.

A Promise of Moonglow: Space in the Wake of Sputnik.

Afternoon in May: Kennedy Commits to the Moon.

High-Water Mark: The Manned Moon Race.

Lunar Aftermath: Space Stations and the Shuttle.

Electrons in the Void: The Unmanned Space Programs.

Space in the Eighties: The Efforts Falter.

Renewal and Outlook: Commerce and Cooperation in Space.

Notes.

Bibliography.

Index.

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