To a Distant Day: The Rocket Pioneers

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“Insightful, instructive, and definitely worth the read.”—Greg Andres, Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada

“As someone who has been teaching a course on space exploration for many years and has visited most of NASA’s space centers, I have found plenty of new and valuable material in To a Distant Day. . . . I recommend the book to all who wish to know more about the conditions, people, and discoveries between 1890 and 1960 that ...

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Overview


“Insightful, instructive, and definitely worth the read.”—Greg Andres, Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada

“As someone who has been teaching a course on space exploration for many years and has visited most of NASA’s space centers, I have found plenty of new and valuable material in To a Distant Day. . . . I recommend the book to all who wish to know more about the conditions, people, and discoveries between 1890 and 1960 that led to the space age.”—Pangratios Papacosta, Physics Today

Although the dream of flying is as old as the human imagination, the notion of rocketing into space may have originated with Chinese gunpowder experiments during the Middle Ages. Rockets as both weapons and entertainment are examined in this engaging history of how human beings acquired the ability to catapult themselves into space.
Chris Gainor’s irresistible narrative introduces us to pioneers such as Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, Robert Goddard, and Hermann Oberth, who pointed the way to the cosmos by generating the earliest wave of international enthusiasm for space exploration. It shows us German engineer Wernher von Braun creating the V-2, the first large rocket, which, though opening the door to space, failed utterly as the “wonder weapon” it was meant to be. From there Gainor follows the space race to the Soviet Union and the United States, giving us a close look at the competitive hysteria that led to Sputnik, satellites, space probes, and—finally—human flight into space in 1961.
As much a story of cultural ambition and personal destiny as of scientific progress and technological history, To a Distant Day offers a complete and thoroughly compelling account of humanity’s determined efforts—sometimes poignant, sometimes amazing, sometimes mad—to leave the earth behind.

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Editorial Reviews

Quest

“As much a story of cultural ambition and personal destiny as of scientific progress and technological history, To a Distant Day offers a thoroughly compelling account of humankind’s determined efforts—sometimes poignant, sometimes amazing, sometimes mad—to leave Earth behind.”—Quest
Journal of The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada - Greg Andres

"To a Distant Day is not simply about scientific and technical developments. It provides insight into the social and political context of the early rocket pioneers and how progress emerged amidst competing egos, political pressures, and technical challenges. . . . Insightful, instructive, and definitely worth the read."—Greg Andres, Journal of The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada
Physics Today - Pangratios Papacosta

"As someone who has been teaching a course on space exploration for many years and has visited most of NASA's space centers, I have found plenty of new and valuable material in To a Distant Day. . . . I recommend the book to all who wish to know more about the conditions, people, and discoveries between 1890 and 1960 that led to the space age."—Pangratios Papacosta, Physics Today
Booklist - Roland Green

“Let us hope for as good a companion volume taking the story to the shuttle and space-station era and the emergence of space powers other than Russia and the U.S.”—Roland Green, Booklist
Technology and Culture - David R. Self

"Since the dawn of time, mankind has looked skyward and longed to travel the heavens, to feel the glow of distant stars, to explore the celestial bodies of our galactic neighborhood, and to venture beyond this earthly cradle. Chris Gainor's work, To a Distant Day, tells of the engineers, the scientists, and the explorers who realized the ancient dream and ventured from Earth."—David R. Self, Technology and Culture
davidreneke.com - David Reneke

"Chris Gainor's new book, To a Distant Day, recreates the colorful history of how rocketry came to be."—David Reneke, davidreneke.com
Publishers Weekly

When mankind first made the leap into space in the late 1950s, one commentator compared it to life crawling out of the primordial goop onto land. In this wide-ranging study, technology historian Gainor (Arrows to the Moon: Avro's Engineers and the Space Race) takes readers from ancient Chinese experiments with gunpowder to Robert Goddard's epiphany in his cherry tree when he was 17 and the thrilling moment Yuri Gagarin became the first man in space. Much of Gainor's book will be familiar to die-hard space buffs, but he has dug out shiny nuggets with which to dazzle readers, such as that the assassin of Czar Alexander II was a rocket buff and that the countdown was first used by director Fritz Lang in his film Frau im Mond(Woman in the Moon). Gainor overlooks some worthwhile research, such as recent revelations that 13 women almost had a chance to join the early U.S. space program. On the whole, this is a detailed, deftly written history that should appeal to all would-be rocketeers, whether launching from fields on weekend afternoons or just dreaming of space in a comfortable chair. Photos. (Apr.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Booklist

“Let us hope for as good a companion volume taking the story to the shuttle and space-station era and the emergence of space powers other than Russia and the U.S.”—Roland Green, Booklist

— Roland Green

Physics Today

"As someone who has been teaching a course on space exploration for many years and has visited most of NASA's space centers, I have found plenty of new and valuable material in To a Distant Day. . . . I recommend the book to all who wish to know more about the conditions, people, and discoveries between 1890 and 1960 that led to the space age."—Pangratios Papacosta, Physics Today

— Pangratios Papacosta

Journal of The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada

"To a Distant Day is not simply about scientific and technical developments. It provides insight into the social and political context of the early rocket pioneers and how progress emerged amidst competing egos, political pressures, and technical challenges. . . . Insightful, instructive, and definitely worth the read."—Greg Andres, Journal of The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada

— Greg Andres

Technology and Culture

"Since the dawn of time, mankind has looked skyward and longed to travel the heavens, to feel the glow of distant stars, to explore the celestial bodies of our galactic neighborhood, and to venture beyond this earthly cradle. Chris Gainor's work, To a Distant Day, tells of the engineers, the scientists, and the explorers who realized the ancient dream and ventured from Earth."—David R. Self, Technology and Culture

— David R. Self

davidreneke.com

"Chris Gainor's new book, To a Distant Day, recreates the colorful history of how rocketry came to be."—David Reneke, davidreneke.com

— David Reneke

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Product Details

Meet the Author


Chris Gainor, a historian of technology, is the author of Arrows to the Moon: Avro’s Engineers and the Space Race, Who Killed the Avro Arrow?, and Canada in Space: The People and Stories behind Canada’s Role in the Exploration of Space. Alfred Worden was an Apollo 15 astronaut.
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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations     viii
Foreword     xi
Preface and Acknowledgments     xv
Acronyms and Abbreviations     xxi
Space Dreams and War Drums     1
Tsiolkovsky and the Birth of Soviet Astronautics     18
Robert Goddard's Solitary Trail     36
Hermann Oberth and Early German Rocketry     53
Von Braun, Dornberger, and World War II     70
Rockets, Balloons, and the Right Stuff     89
Korolev and the First ICBM     109
The Military-Industrial Complex     126
Sputniks and Muttniks     144
The Birth of NASA     163
Man in Space Soonest     182
Epilogue: July 16, 1969     207
Sources     211
Index     219
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