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The First Space Race: Launching the World's First Satellites (Centennial Of Flight Series) based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
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.