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Amazing stories of the space age true tales of Nazis in orbit, soldiers on the moon, orphaned Martian robots, and other fascinating accounts from the annals of spaceflight.
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Award-winning science writer and documentarian Rod Pyle presents an insider's perspective on the most unusual and bizarre space missions ever devised inside and outside of NASA. The incredible projects described here were not merely flights of fancy dreamed up by space enthusiasts, but actual missions planned by leading aeronautical engineers. Some were designed but not built; others were built but not flown; and a few were flown to failure but little reported-

A giant rocket that would use atomic bombs as propulsion (never mind the fallout), military bases on the moon that could target enemies on earth with nuclear weapons, a scheme to spray-paint the lenses of Soviet spy satellites in space, the rushed Soyuz 1 spacecraft that ended with the death of its pilot, the near-disaster of the Apollo 11 moon landing, the mysterious Russian space shuttle that flew only once and was then scrapped--these are just some of the unbelievable tales that Pyle has found in once top-secret documents as well as accounts that were simply lost for many decades.

These stories, complimented by many rarely-seen photos and illustrations, tell of a time when nothing was too off-the-wall to be taken seriously, and the race to the moon and the threat from the Soviet Union trumped all other considerations. Readers will be fascinated, amused, and sometimes chilled.
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Pyle (Blueprint for a Battlestar: Serious Scientific Explanations behind Sci-Fi's Greatest Inventions, 2016), a science writer for NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, shares a collection of lesser-known and formerly classified stories that reveal a more complicated trajectory to today's scientific accomplishments than most realize. Some stories are harrowing, like how a blocked fuel line in Apollo 11's lunar module almost caused NASA to abort the mission just as the astronauts were making their historic descent. Several of the stories involve influential German scientist Wernher von Braun, a founding father of military rocketry who worked for the Nazis but was then enlisted by the U.S. Army to develop nuclear missiles. Von Braun helped to popularize the ideas of a manned space station and mission to Mars, fanciful at the time but nevertheless prescient. At times highly technical and complete with schematics only NASA nerds can love, this compendium of space-age what-ifs, false starts, and backstage drama will attract readers in search of a deeper understanding of humanity's quest to conquer space.--Comello, Chad Copyright 2017 Booklist
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Table of Contents
Forewordp. 7
Chapter 1Nazis in Space: Project Silverbirdp. 9
Chapter 2Red Moon: Countering the Communist Threat on Earth and in Spacep. 21
Chapter 3Das Marsprojekt: Red Planet Armadap. 35
Chapter 4Project Orion: We Come in Peace (With Nuclear Bombs!)p. 55
Chapter 5LUNEX: Earth in the Crosshairsp. 69
Chapter 6The Wheel: An Inflatable Space Stationp. 81
Chapter 7Venusian Empire: NASA's Mars/Venus Flyby Adventurep. 91
Chapter 8Blue Gemini: Weaponizing Orbitp. 109
Chapter 9Flirting with Death: The Terrifying Flight of Gemini 8p. 121
Chapter 10Manned Orbiting Laboratory: How to Design, Test, and Never Fly a Space Programp. 129
Chapter 11Apollo 11: Danger on the Moonp. 147
Chapter 12The First Space Shuttle: Project Dyna-Soarp. 157
Chapter 13Beyond the Edge of Space: The X-15Bp. 169
Chapter 14The Sad, Strange Tale of Soyuz 1p. 185
Chapter 15The Turtlenautsp. 201
Chapter 16Falling to Earth: The Dangerous Science of Reentryp. 211
Chapter 17Funeral for a Viking: The End of Viking 1p. 219
Chapter 18Saving Skylab: Cowboys in Spacep. 233
Chapter 19Near Misses: Danger Stalks the Space Shuttlep. 249
Chapter 20Showdown in Space: Firearms on the Moonp. 263
Chapter 21Buran: The Soviet Union's One-Flight Wonderp. 279
Chapter 22Major Matt Mason: A Man for the New Space Agep. 291
Acknowledgmentsp. 299
Notesp. 301
Indexp. 325
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