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A fascinating look at the space race and what the future held, written in 1959.

A fascinating look at the space race and what the future held, written in 1959.

The article, reprinted by Forbes, is amazingly detailed, optimistic, yet also cool-headed about the future. For example, consider this quote about the future of manned spaceflight:

NASA has ordered from the Rocketdyne Division of North American Aviation a rocket engine with as much thrust in its single chamber as all eight Rocketdyne engines going into Saturn. Glennan has estimated that the gargantuan engine will have cost over $200 million before it is ready for its first flight in 1963. A second effort, almost as costly as this engine, is the highly publicized Project Mercury, aimed at sending a man in a capsule on a few trips around the earth. This is a first that NASA does not have much hope of winning. NASA cannot have its astronauts trained and its recovery techniques perfected much before 1961, and a Russian will doubtless be out there before that. [emphasis mine]

The author also discusses planned probes to the Moon and Venus, the effort to develop new powerful rockets and their engines, and even ion engines!

What I find most fascinating about this article, however, is how it reveals the seeds of the future American Soviet-style big government space program that would dominate American space exploration for the next half century. At the time this was written, American society normally left this kind of activity to private enterprise. The author himself assumes that any future work in space will be designed and built by private companies, and that is where his focus is when he discusses the ongoing efforts in 1959 to get the United States into space.

At the same time, however, he does not seem to believe that is possible for private enterprise to run the show.

Space operations require the creation of larger industrial complexes than ever before worked together in peacetime.

Though he assumes almost all design and construction will be done by private companies, competing against each other for government and private contracts, he also expects the work to be coordinated and supervised by the government. Sadly, that assumption, common then and even now, eventually led to NASA being in charge, with private enterprise ceasing its effort to compete for the profits that space potentially holds.


Conscious Choice cover

Now available in hardback and paperback as well as ebook!


From the press release: In this ground-breaking new history of early America, historian Robert Zimmerman not only exposes the lie behind The New York Times 1619 Project that falsely claims slavery is central to the history of the United States, he also provides profound lessons about the nature of human societies, lessons important for Americans today as well as for all future settlers on Mars and elsewhere in space.

Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space, is a riveting page-turning story that documents how slavery slowly became pervasive in the southern British colonies of North America, colonies founded by a people and culture that not only did not allow slavery but in every way were hostile to the practice.  
Conscious Choice does more however. In telling the tragic history of the Virginia colony and the rise of slavery there, Zimmerman lays out the proper path for creating healthy societies in places like the Moon and Mars.


“Zimmerman’s ground-breaking history provides every future generation the basic framework for establishing new societies on other worlds. We would be wise to heed what he says.” —Robert Zubrin, founder of founder of the Mars Society.


All editions are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all book vendors, with the ebook priced at $5.99 before discount. The ebook can also be purchased direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit, in which case you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.


Autographed printed copies are also available at discount directly from me (hardback $24.95; paperback $14.95; Shipping cost for either: $5.00). Just email me at zimmerman @ nasw dot org.

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