The First Space Race: Launching the World's First Satellites (Centennial Of Flight Series)by Matthew A. Bille, Erika Lishock, James A. Van Allen
The First Space Race reveals the inside story of an epic adventure with world-altering stakes. From 1955 to 1958, American and Soviet engineers battled to capture the world’s imagination by successfully launching the world’s first satellite. The race to orbit featured two American teams led by rival servicesthe Army and the Navyand a/i>
The First Space Race reveals the inside story of an epic adventure with world-altering stakes. From 1955 to 1958, American and Soviet engineers battled to capture the world’s imagination by successfully launching the world’s first satellite. The race to orbit featured two American teams led by rival servicesthe Army and the Navyand a Soviet effort so secret that few even knew it existed. This race ushered in the Space Age with a saga of science, politics, technology, engineering, and human dreams.
Before 1955, the concept of an artificial satellite had been demonstrated only on paper. The first nation to transform theory into practice would gain advantages in science, the Cold War propaganda contest, and the military balance of power. Visionaries such as America’s Wernher von Braun and Russia’s Sergey Korolev knew these fields of endeavor would be affected by the launch of a satellite. Moved by patriotism, inquisitiveness, and pride, people on both sides of the Iron Curtain put forth heroic efforts to make that first satellite possible.
Some aspects of this story, like the Navy’s NOTSNIK satellite project, are almost unknown. Even some details of well-known programs, such as the appearance of America’s pioneering Explorer 1 satellite and the contributions made by its rival, Project Vanguard, are generally misremembered. In this book, authors Matt Bille and Erika Lishock tell the whole story of the first space race. They trace the tale from the origins of spaceflight theory and through the military and political events that engendered the all-out efforts needed to turn dreams into reality and thus shape the modern world.
“[the authors] skillfully utilize more recent historical studies of early Soviet space activities to craft a balanced comparison and sense of interaction between Soviet and US initiatives. Their own original research and interviews address historical questions unresolved in existing accounts. . . brisk and engaging. . . solid and engaging. . . the authors’ enjoyment of their subject shines through, allowing readers to enter readily into their story.”. . . the authors do a good job of bringing together salient elements from a wealth of serious historical writing on the subject in the last decade. This represents the best narrative available synthesizing this story. The authors also make some key contributions that have not been explored before. This is especially true of their discussion of the Navy program known at Notsnik, an effort to build an orbital satellite in the 1950s that was even largely secret from the Navy.”--Dr. Roger D. Launius, Chair, Space History, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution
Meet the Author
Matt Bille is a former Air Force officer who now works on launch systems and space law. He is currently an associate with the global consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton, and he works on space launch, microsatellites, and other space policy and technology projects. He is also a science writer with numerous publications on space, history, and zoology.Erika Lishock has worked extensively as a launch operations engineer on major military satellite programs and has written a number of studies on satellites and launch vehicles. She is currently an associate with Booz Allen Hamilton supporting current and future communications satellite projects. She is also an avid mountain climber and a trainer with Market America, Inc., specializing in concepts of mass customization and one-to-one marketing.
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The First Space Race is the inside story of the efforts to launch the world's first artificial satellite into space. While it was the following competition to land humans on the Moon which later dominated the history books, less material has been published about the events which led to that fateful day when people around the world were able to capture the beeping transmission of Sputnik in common HAM radios. The launching of a spacecraft into orbit - a feat theorized since the 16th century but never before accomplished - had profound implications to governments and people all over the globe. The book starts its narrative in the time of Kepler and Newton, and then quickly progresses to the early efforts of German, Russian, and American rocket pioneers. It then follows the migration of German rocket scientists to both sides of the Iron Curtain after World War II, and describes the efforts within both the USSR and the USA to achieve orbital spaceflight with a wealth of detail. Not only is it clear that the authors collected a tremendous amount of source material - the foreword is written by none other than James van Allen - but in addition to facts, the book includes fascinating accounts of many historical characters. Reading how James Oberg describes the Baikonur launch complex as so desolate it is "a human settlement halfway into outer space", or how Werner von Braun proclaims that "we've firmly established our foothold in space; we will never give it up again" the story becomes one of people and characters; you can almost smell the acrid fumes of rocket-fuel coming of the pages. My favorite quote was that of rocket engineer Kurt Stehling describing the ill-fated TV-3 Vanguard rocket igniting with a "heart-rending, hoarse, whining moan like that of some antediluvian beast in birth pain". This isn't a story of esoteric rocket science theorized in pristine laboratories; it's a story of get-your-hands-dirty engineering with real people who sweat, cry, fear, err, learn, escape prisons, fight ridicule, overcome bureaucracy, and through it all never lose sight of their dreams to reach beyond planet Earth. Whether you are a contemporary space professional trying to learn from these early pioneers, or simply a space enthusiast at heart who enjoys reading about other's who share the dream, this title definitely deserves a place on your bookshelf.