CHRISTOPHER POTTER    Book Number: 88009    Product format: Hardback

The first photos of the earth seen from the moon prompted a reassessment of what it means to be human. Famously Yuri Gagarin did not meet God in space, but eight years later Buzz Aldrin made a point of celebrating holy communion on the Moon. This fascinating study of the culture of rocket science in the 20th century starts with Charles Lindbergh, who learned to fly in eight hours and joined the hazardous Chicago flying mail service, benefiting from the invention of the parachute, which saved his life on numerous occasions. Next he went after the prize money to be won by the first pilot to fly between Paris and New York. Although his compass stopped working, to Lindbergh's great satisfaction his arrival at the coast of Ireland was only three miles out, and the existential excitement of rising above the earth was even more potent than the prize money. Before long Lindbergh turned his attention to rocket science and joined forces with the pioneer Robert Goddard. For most of the 1920s Goddard had the rocket-building field to himself, but in the 1930s a new world power entered the race. Werner von Braun of the Berlin Institute of Technology was convinced that the men who would walk on the moon had already been born (he was right). Initially a civilian enterprise, his work was soon militarised and von Braun joined the Nazi Party, working at Peenemunde developing V2 rockets. A vast production operation was created near Buchenwald using slave labour, with crematoria for the numerous dead. On 13 June 1944 the first rocket fell on London. Lindbergh in America was sympathetic to the Nazis and lobbied for America's isolationist position, but after the war he visited Buchenwald and was shocked by its barbarity. Russian space scientist Korolev spent the war in the gulag and subsequently spearheaded Russia's high-stakes space race under Khrushchev, culminating in Gagarin's 1961 flight. Finally the author recounts the rivalry between Russia and the US which culminated in the moon landing of 1969. A fascinating cultural and scientific analysis. 456pp, colour and black and white photos.
Published price: £25
Bibliophile price: £2.00

Additional product information

ISBN 9781784974329
Browse these categories as well: Science & Maths, Transport, SPACE BOX

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