Break­ing the Chains of Grav­ity The Story of Space­flight be­fore NASA

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Amy Shira Tei­tel Blooms­bury £16.99 HB

NASA was cre­ated in 1958, just three years be­fore Pres­i­dent John F Kennedy pledged Tei­tel cov­ers ev­ery suc­cess and fail­ure of to land a man on the Moon by the end of the many launches and tests on the road to the 1960s. How­ever, that was not the space through­out the book, but it’s the be­gin­ning of the story of space­flight. hu­man sto­ries that re­ally stand out – most

In Break­ing the Chains of Grav­ity, no­tably the story of US Air Force flight space-his­tory writer Amy Shira Tei­tel sur­geon John Paul Stapp, who made chron­i­cles the pi­o­neer­ing work of him­self the crash test dummy the sci­en­tists and en­gi­neers for in­creas­ingly dan­ger­ous like Wern­her von Braun de­cel­er­a­tion tests. that even­tu­ally led to Ev­ery­thing is the cre­ation of NASA. metic­u­lously

The early chap­ters re­searched and of the book are an de­tailed, even ad­ven­ture yarn based though the nar­ra­tive around a hand­ful of has a ten­dency to en­thu­si­as­tic am­a­teurs be­come bogged down work­ing away in sheds in end­less com­mit­tees and work­shops. Their and meet­ings. How­ever, ef­forts to con­struct a that’s ul­ti­mately the point. propul­sion sys­tem ca­pa­ble One of the rea­sons for of break­ing free of Earth’s John Paul Stapp tests cre­at­ing NASA was to at­mos­phere while car­ry­ing a the ef­fects of rapid stream­line the pro­gramme, crew saw them strap­ping de­cel­er­a­tion from 632mph al­though, at times, it feels the rock­ets to cars, sleds and air­planes, of­ten power of the story is lost in bu­reau­cracy. with dis­as­trous re­sults! Over­all this is a work­man­like trib­ute to

When the Ger­man govern­ment and the te­na­cious sci­en­tists, fear­less test pi­lots mil­i­tary get in­volved dur­ing World War II, and un­daunted en­gi­neers, who saw ev­ery the story be­comes an en­thralling war-time set­back as some­thing to be learned from, tale of Nazis ver­sus the sci­en­tists. A tale and whose tenac­ity paved the way to the that cul­mi­nates in the cre­ation of the Moon and be­yond. in­fa­mous V2 rocket and the sci­en­tists’ dar­ing es­cape to Amer­ica to con­tinue their re­search dur­ing the Cold War as the US and USSR raced to be the first into space. JENNY WIN­DER is a free­lance sci­ence writer, as­tronomer and broad­caster

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