This is the definitive history of mankinds exploration of space. It examines the epic events that shaped the era and provides appropriate insight into the wide-ranging impact that this endeavour has had on technology, politics, and society. The book provides enough detail to satisfy the serious enthusiast, but without the minutia that so often blocks the casual reader. To accomplish this, Astronautics is presented as two books, each covering a particular phase of mans progress. "Book 1 - Dawn of the Space Age" chronicles mankinds desire to know more about the cosmos and his dreams of reaching into its depths. It describes the initial discoveries, inventions, and engineering innovations that became the foundation of rocket technology. It follows the two pre-eminent countries in their quest for the 'ultimate weapon' that would provide the path to space. It describes the decisions that resulted in the first artificial satellite programs in the United States and the former Soviet Union. It follows the events that shaped the initial thrust into space as represented by the first Soviet Sputniks and the shocked response by the Americans.
It details the belated and often failure prone launches that humbled a great nation. The book describes the first attempts to reach the Moon and the planets and explains the techniques and physics involved. It illustrates the engineering requirements of the first manned spacecraft and the selection and experiences of the first spacefarers. Each chapter of each book analyses a topic so that readers can achieve a relatively complete understanding of a special interest area without the need to ferret information from multiple chapters. However, each chapter and each book is linked to the whole by a careful interconnection of a set of themes.
Ted Spitzmiller has worked for the Los Alamos National Laboratory for over 25 years. He lives in Rio Rancho, New Mexico.