Chief rocket engineer of the Third Reich and one of the fathers of the U.S. space program, Wernher von Braun is a source of consistent fascination. Glorified as a visionary and vilified as a war criminal, he was a man of profound moral complexities, whose intelligence and charisma were coupled with an enormous and, some would say, blinding ambition. Based on new sources, Neufeld's biography delivers a meticulously researched and authoritative portrait of the creator of the V-2 rocket and his times, detailing how he was a man caught between morality and progress, between his dreams of the heavens and the earthbound realities of his life.
In the 1930s, rockets were all the rage in Germany, the focus both of scientists hoping to fly into space and of the German armed forces, looking to circumvent the restrictions of the Treaty of Versailles. One of the key figures in this period was Wernher von Braun, an engineer who designed the rockets that became the devastating V-2. As the war came to its chaotic conclusion, von Braun escaped from the ruins of Nazi Germany, and was taken to America where he began developing missiles for the US Army. Meanwhile, the US Air Force was looking ahead to a time when men would fly in space, and test pilots like Neil Armstrong were flying cutting-edge, rocket-powered aircraft in the thin upper atmosphere.
Breaking the Chains of Gravity tells the story of America's nascent space program, its scientific advances, its personalities and the rivalries it caused between the various arms of the US military. At this point getting a man in space became a national imperative, leading to the creation of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, otherwise known as NASA.
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.
In Eisenhower's Sputnik Moment, Yanek Mieczkowski examines the early history of America's space program, reassessing Eisenhower's leadership. He details how Eisenhower approved breakthrough satellites, supported a new civilian space agency, signed a landmark science education law, and fostered improved relations with scientists. These feats made Eisenhower's post-Sputnik years not the flop that critics alleged but a time of remarkable progress, even as he endured the setbacks of recession, medical illness, and a humiliating first U.S. attempt to launch a satellite. Eisenhower's principled stands enabled him to resist intense pressure to boost federal spending, and he instead pursued his priorities-a balanced budget, prosperous economy, and sturdy national defense. Yet Sputnik also altered the world's power dynamics, sweeping Eisenhower in directions that were new, even alien, to him, and he misjudged the importance of space in the Cold War's "prestige race." By contrast, Kennedy capitalized on the issue in the 1960 election, and after taking office he urged a manned mission to the moon, leaving Eisenhower to grumble over the young president's aggressive approach.
Offering a fast-paced account of this Cold War episode, Mieczkowski demonstrates that Eisenhower built an impressive record in space and on earth, all the while offering warnings about America's stature and strengths that still hold true today.
"Celebrates a bold era when voyaging beyond the Earth was deemed crucial to national security and pride."
-The Wall Street Journal
Restoring the drama, majesty, and sheer improbability of an American triumph, this is award-winning historian Craig Nelson's definitive and thrilling story of man's first trip to the moon. At 9:32 a.m. on July 16, 1969, the Apollo 11 rocket launched in the presence of more than a million spectators who had gathered to witness a truly historic event. Through interviews, 23,000 pages of NASA oral histories, and declassified CIA documents on the space race, Rocket Men presents a vivid narrative of the moon mission, taking readers on the journey to one of the last frontiers of the human imagination.
From the Trade Paperback edition.