Archive for The Complete Book of Outer Space

The Complete Book of Outer Space – Part 8 of 14

Posted in 08 - Life Beyond Earth, 1953, The Complete Book of Outer Space with tags , on July 11, 2009 by Aaron

Life Beyond Earth
Willy Ley

Noted space and science writer – particularly on the subject of rocketry – Willy Ley has a crack at speculating on the possibility and form of life on other planets. What is most interesting here is the assumptions that were made about Mars and Venus as capable of harboring life.  Just prior to this assertion, Ley comments that observations by each new generation of astronomers whittled away the notion of extraterrestrial life, first on the Moon, and then Mercury.  Perhaps he could have used a bit of circumspection and extrapolation of this argument before telling us that there is plant life on Mars.  However, as always it makes for interesting reading – a time capsule from a period when imagination fueled discovery, not the other way around.

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In a couple of weeks time, namesake of the prestigious Hugo award, Hugo Gersnback speculates on the Exploitation of the Moon.

The Complete Book of Outer Space – Part 7 of 14

Posted in 07 - Legal Aspects of Space Travel, 1953, The Complete Book of Outer Space with tags , on June 27, 2009 by Aaron

Legal Aspects of Space Travel

Man had no even reached space yet, but we were already thinking about the legal issues that it might present.  Chief among these issues was exactly how far out into space does a nation have sovereign authority?  And can anyone claim the moon?  I’m not sure to what extent these questions have been resolved today, but even back then it was considered important enough for the Deputy Director of the United Nations Legal Department to be writing about.  This all brings to mind Robert A. Heinlein’s wonderful collection The Man Who Sold the Moon.

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The next installment in a couple of weeks, famed space writer Willy Ley looks at the possibility of Life Beyond Earth.

The Complete Book of Outer Space – Part 6 of 14

Posted in 06 - History of the Rocket Engine, 1953, The Complete Book of Outer Space with tags , on June 15, 2009 by Aaron

History of the Rocket Engine

A few days late, but here is a lengthy (in the context of this publication), dry but nevertheless interesting article with many pictures about the development of the rocket engine.  Some basic history here as well as a little speculation at the end.  The author was one of the co-founders and, as he points out in the article, one of the principle investors in Reaction Motors Inc., the very first company of it’s kind in the US.

Something I learned from this is that there were people who have legitimate claims to be the first to operate a successful rocket motor prior to Dr. Robert H. Goddard.  One Pedro Paulet is reputed to be the first in 1895, but unfortunately his work couldn’t be satisfactorily verified.

Brief but interesting are his comments at the end regarding the future of the rocket and where mankind will take this technology.  Worth reading and reflecting upon.  Enjoy.

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In a couple of weeks we’ll have a look at the Legal Aspects of Space Travel, by Oscar Schachter.  Quite a prominent figure in international law by all accounts, you can find his obituary from 2003 at the NY Times here.

The Complete Book of Outer Space – Part 5 of 14

Posted in 05 - High Altitude Program, 1953, The Complete Book of Outer Space with tags , on May 29, 2009 by Aaron

The High Altitude Program

The author of this short piece, Robert P. Haviland is an American Astronautical Society Fellow. He wrote several books on space engineering and satellites and such.  Also, in 1969 he was made a Fellow of the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers).  He headed the high altitude program called Project Hermes which at the time of the book, was an active concern.
Some things touched on here are the challenges presented by stage separation and the rotation of the earth, as well as some of the results – at the time, velocity and altitude records were being set.
This must have been a very interesting read. This chapter isn’t speculation or projection, it’s not plans for the near future, it’s about things that were actually happening at that time.  Enjoy.

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In a fortnight, the next installment is a lengthy chapter on the History of the Rocket Engine by James H. Wyld, co-founder of the first company of it’s kind in the U.S. – Reaction Motors, Inc.

The Complete Book of Outer Space – Part 4 of 14

Posted in 04 - Space Suits, 1953, The Complete Book of Outer Space with tags , on May 16, 2009 by Aaron

Space Suits

Dr. Donald H. Menzel then Acting Director of Harvard College Observatory, enlightens us as to the requirements of Space Suits.  Most interesting here are the artists concept illustrations of how they imagine space suits will really look.  Fascinating.

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Dr Menzel was a UFO critic and wrote several books on the subject. He also wrote widely on stellar matters. Check out this Big Bang article he wrote back in 1932 and published in that year’s Popular Science magazine. Courtesy of the Modern Mechanix blog – a very interesting site and kudos to the owner over there.

After reading that article, I’ve just got to pass comment on the supposed redshift vs distance law that astronomer Edwin Hubble originated.  I don’t understand why it hasn’t been abandoned, or at very least come under heavy objective scrutiny.  In actual fact, Hubble himself had misgivings about that particular interpretation of his data.  With the advance of observational techniques in the last half century or so, it has been determined that objects with very different redshifts are physically connected.  See a high redshift quasar in front of a galaxy here, connected objects with different redshifts here and a statistical improbability involving objects with disparate redshifts here.  However, dogma is not abandoned, but rather the new data marginalised, ignored and suppressed because so much hangs on the status quo being maintained.

Next installment on the 29th of May – The High Altitude Program – was written by Robert P. Haviland, director of Project Hermes at White Sands.

The Complete Book of Outer Space – Part 3 of 14

Posted in 03 - Space Medicine, 1953, The Complete Book of Outer Space with tags , on April 30, 2009 by Aaron

Space Medicine In this installment, Dr Heinz Haber discusses the budding science of space medicine and the issues it must address in relation to space travel and exploration.  The problems of air supply and heat exchange are touched upon as are the hazards of high energy particles.  But the major portion of the chapter goes towards addressing the issue of weightlessness.  This was written before man had gone into space, or even experienced zero-g for longer than a few seconds.  The issue is discussed in the areas of physiology, body movement and orientation, and resulting nausea.  As an aside, I have almost completed Ben Bova’s Grand Tour on audio book.  On many occasions throughout the series he talks about the (now well established) effects of zero-g on people new to the experience.  Dr. Haber seems quite on the money with his descriptions of the likely effects of the experience.  So here we are, Space Medicine:

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You can see Dr. Haber in action in a well known Disney documentary from 1957, ‘Our Friend the Atom’ on Youtube.  Recommended viewing, and a great piece of nostalgia. Next up on the 15th of May, Dr. Donald Howard Menzel then Acting Director of Harvard College Observatory, informs us about the requirements of Space Suits.

The Complete Book of Outer Space – Part 2 of 14

Posted in 02 - Station in Space, 1953, The Complete Book of Outer Space with tags , on April 17, 2009 by Aaron

Station in Space

This second chapter of the book is more to do with establishing a program to build towards regular space flight, rather than building a space station.  Written by the famous and legendary Dr. Werhner von Braun, it’s a revealing statement on how near the reality of space travel seemed.  A permanent space station manned by up to 100 people by 1970??  Interesting.

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Next up on the 1st of May, Dr. Heinz Haber from the Department of Space Medicine at Randolph Air Force Base will tell us about, well… Space Medicine as it was understood in 1953.