This weekend (Friday and Saturday) is the Spacefest at the Museum of Flight in Seattle, Washington. I’ll be doing a lecture and book signing on Saturday from 1-2 PM. Note, however, that you’ll have to pay the $20 admission fee to the museum in order to attend.
In light of the recent success of The Martian at the box office, I recently had some book-related thoughts at USA Today on how realistic it is, in terms of NASA ever sending anyone to Mars.
I’ve set up a new petition at this site, for those who want to send Congress a message and try to fix the NASA authorization bill. For background, read this op-ed at USA Today. Note that I am now displaying signers’ names.
For those who have been waiting for an electronic version, it is now available at Google Play, currently priced at about eight bucks. For those who don’t do Google, I’ll be getting it up for Nook and Kindle (and possible iTunes) as well in the next few days.
I’ll be signing books at the Barnes and Noble in Manhattan Beach, CA on Rosecrans from noon to four on Friday, February 28th.
There was an error in the initial edition of the book. Since it’s print on demand, we can fix it with a revision, and we’ve done so, so anyone purchasing a book from here on out will be getting “First edition, Revision A.” The initial eBooks will be this version.
Here’s the link.
Working on the e-versions now.
I just approved the final for the book, and have ordered a few dozen. It should be available at Amazon in three weeks or so, in time for Christmas. Thanks all for your patience. I’m very happy with it.
I have a proof of the book — you can see a picture of it here.
It has a few typos, so I’ll be uploading a new version this week, at which point I’ll approve it and it will become available print on demand, though it may take a week or three to get into the distribution channels (like Barnes and Noble stores, and it will probably have to be ordered there, so you might as well just order on line).
Amy Shira Teitel writes that Apollo 8 was not done for the purpose of inspiration, though that was a huge side effect.
Here’s what I wrote in the book:
…despite all of the precautions, NASA did demonstrate its willingness to risk the lives of its astronauts, when in a daring mission, it won the space race in December of 1968 with the Apollo 8 mission around the moon. What was daring about it?
The previous April, there had been a partial disaster during an early test of the new Saturn V rocket, whose express purpose was to send astronauts to the moon. It suffered from the same “pogo” problems that had earlier afflicted the Titan, almost shaking the vehicle apart during ascent, with some structural failure in the first stage. Two of the second-stage’s five engines failed, and the single third-stage engine failed to reignite in orbit. Von Braun’s team went to work to sort out the problems, and a few months later, after some ground tests, declared it ready to fly again. NASA was under some pressure because there were rumors that the Soviets were going to send some cosmonauts to circumnavigate the moon with the Zond spacecraft by the end of the year (they had already sent some animals on such a trip).
While it wouldn’t have been a loss of the space race, the goal of which was to land on the moon, and not just fly around it, being beaten to that next first would have been another blow to the national psyche after Sputnik and Gagarin, and the first space walk. The lunar module wasn’t ready yet, and not expected to be until the spring of 1969, so NASA decided to scrap their plan of doing an earth-orbit rehearsal, and instead decided to go for the moon on the very next flight of the Saturn V, and without another unmanned test flight despite the problems on the previous flight. They were willing to throw the dice, and the astronauts (Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and Bill Anders) were willing to risk their lives, because it was important. The whole purpose of the program was to demonstrate that our system was superior to the Soviets, and to be afraid to fly would have rendered it pointless. It is hard to imagine today’s NASA taking such a risk with its astronauts’ lives, because nothing NASA is doing today is perceived as being sufficiently important.
[Cross posted at Transterrestrial Musings]