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On October 4, 1957, taking the whole world by surprise, the Soviet Union launched its Sputnik satellite into the starry heavens and the great Space Race was on. In the decades that followed, the post-Sputnik boom pitted the U.S. and Soviet space programs against each other in a race for headlines, hasty glories, and real prizes. It was a marathon plagued by misinformation, suspicion, and rumor. And while the headlines have endured in our patriotic memory, the hidden consequences of hollow triumphs still shape our...
On October 4, 1957, taking the whole world by surprise, the Soviet Union launched its Sputnik satellite into the starry heavens and the great Space Race was on. In the decades that followed, the post-Sputnik boom pitted the U.S. and Soviet space programs against each other in a race for headlines, hasty glories, and real prizes. It was a marathon plagued by misinformation, suspicion, and rumor. And while the headlines have endured in our patriotic memory, the hidden consequences of hollow triumphs still shape our attitudes and beliefs today, in an era of so-called cooperation.
With great fanfare, this 36-year Space Race officially ended in 1993, and in its place the U.S.-Russian space alliance was born. But beneath all the official rhetoric of a bold new era of space exploration, the "marriage made in the heavens" has been fraught with the same pitfalls of misunderstanding, suspicion, and high-level chicanery that started with Sputnik--souvenirs of the misperceptions and delusions of the Cold War that threaten to drag down the alliance and the space programs of several other nations with it.
In Star-Crossed Orbits, space veteran and best-selling author James Oberg combines riveting personal memoir with top-notch investigative journalism to tell the complete untold story of the U.S.-Russian space alliance, describing the strengths and weaknesses of each side and revealing, for the first time, the full story of Russia's decaying space program, the dangerous secrets it kept from its American partners, and the ultimate cost of NASA's all-too-often self-imposed ignorance about its "space partner."
A space sleuth with unparalleled access to official Russian archives, facilities, and key individuals, Oberg leads the reader through the attics of the Russian space program to uncover the greed, corruption, and covered-up setbacks that have brought the program to virtual collapse. He describes the U.S.-Mir venture and NASA's reluctance to learn from its lessons. He explores the "jewel in the crown" of the alliance, the International Space Station, a project begun with the best intentions, but which is now in danger of running aground on reefs of self-delusion. Finally, in an impassioned plea, Oberg urges the alliance to "break free of the star-crossed orbits of misperception that bind us to the ground." Only then, insists the author, will we be truly allied, with a reach that can grasp the stars.
"Space is empty, but it is not a blank slate. Travelers there must carry their own air, food, and water, but they also carry the heavy burden of their history. They carry with them what they know, or think they know, about each other. So for the last half century, as Russia and America pioneered the space frontier beyond the physical boundaries of their home planet, they interacted with each other in a context that was rooted firmly back on Earth."from the Introduction
Tensions have run high between the U.S. and Russian space programs since Sputnik first winked across the night sky in 1957. Thirty-six years later, after a chilly race for space, the U.S.-Russian space alliance was born. And while the alliance aims for a bold new era of space exploration and cooperation, this "marriage made in the heavens" has been plagued from the start by misunderstanding, suspicion, high-level chicanery, and outright official lies.
Now, space shuttle veteran and Russian space program expert James Oberg provides an authoritative and comprehensive look inside the history of the relationship between the U.S. and Russian space programs, and the current state of "cooperation" that exists between the two. In a compelling narrative, interweaving policy analysis, technical description, and no small amount of human drama, Oberg tells the complete untold story of this shaky marriage for the first time, revealing the dangerous secrets that threaten to tear the alliance apart.
|Chapter 3||Decaying Orbit||51|
|Chapter 4||International Orbits||65|
|Chapter 5||Origins of the Partnership||83|
|Chapter 6||Mir Breakdowns||97|
|Chapter 7||Mir Screw-Ups||115|
|Chapter 8||The Mir Safety Debate||133|
|Chapter 9||Rescue and Recovery||149|
|Chapter 10||Lessons Learned and Unlearned||165|
|Chapter 11||Soyuz Secrets||185|
|Chapter 12||ISS in the Wilderness||199|
|Chapter 13||Culture Gap||215|
|Chapter 14||Staking Out the Orbit||231|
|Chapter 15||Follow the Money||249|
|Chapter 16||ISS Opens||261|
|Chapter 17||Last Days of Mir||277|
|Chapter 18||Day-by-Day in Orbit||295|
|Chapter 19||Future Orbits||309|
Posted December 7, 2001
This is a brilliant book! The author takes you into the grimy diplomatic/political heart of the US/Russian space cooperation, and shows you the REAL story behind all the happy talk from NASA. It's full of great personalities, funny and absurd facts, great insightful observations from a real pro who knows his subject. Every diplomat, politician, technology person, and common citizen should read it before we embark on any more international technology cooperations. Oberg's writing is sparkling and splendid, never turgid, technical, and boring like most space books. I hope it wins the Pulitzer Prize!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.