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In Tom Wolfe's book "The Right Stuff" Eisenhower has a meeting with his staff after the USSR launches Sputnik. He speaks of the soviets standing in space with nuclear bombs dropping them, "like kids dropping rocks on passing cars from an overpass." Although "The Right Stuff" was a work of fiction, it was based heavily on fact. The report referred to in the meeting was most likely an actual report entitled:

SPACE HANDBOOK:

ASTRONAUTICS AND ITS APPLICATIONS

It has been reproduced in this hypertext version.

This book is an excellent general reference on space flight. It was written for members of congress with the assumption that the reader had little scientific training. Concepts such as decreasing reaction mass, angle of reentry, and specific impulse are explained using every day examples. Anyone with a reasonable amount of intelligence can quickly absorb the ideas in this text.

This document is also intended to be an historical reference. The number of moons or composition of atmospheres were left as they were in the original report. Many of the facts about the solar system quoted in this work have turned out to be wrong. If you are interested in accurate facts or writing a school science report DON'T USE THIS DOCUMENT! NASA has an excellent page at the Marshall Space Flight Center.

If you are interested in how the space race got started and who was involved, read this book. If you are seeking references to rare documents such as the first time the idea for a communication satellite was published (Clarke, A. C., Extraterrestrial Relays, Wireless World, October 1945.), you've come to the right place. If you are interested in how and why man went into space, read on!.

Thanks,

   John Henry


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