Breaking the Chains of Gravity: The Story of Spaceflight before NASA
NASA's history is a familiar story, culminating with the agency successfully landing men on the moon in 1969, but its prehistory is an important and rarely told tale. To explore that era, science communicator and blogger Amy Shira Teitel wrote a new book, Breaking the Chains of Gravity, that she will discuss, as well as touching on the future of spaceflight.
One story about that prehistory that Teitel will illuminate is the first airplane-inspired spacecraft in history, and that's not the Space Shuttle. In the early 1950s, the U.S. Air Force adapted a German design for a bomber and turned it into a spaceplane concept called Dyna-Soar. In spite of the Air Force's best efforts, significant efforts from pilots like Neil Armstrong, the future first man on the moon, and even interest from NASA, Dyna-Soar was cancelled before it left the ground. Teitel will tell its story, from its roots in Nazi technology to its unveiling in Las Vegas in 1962 and unceremonious cancellation a year later. But in a way it lives on; the research from this program fed into the Space Shuttle that inspired a generation.
Teitel is a lifelong space history nerd who has turned her schoolgirl fascination with the Apollo missions into a career researching the minutiae of spaceflight's history. She started writing for the public with her blog, Vintage Space, and has written for a number of other online and print publications, including Discovery News Space, Al-Jazeera, The Guardian and Universe Today. She runs a thriving YouTube Channel (also called Vintage Space), and has appeared on the Discovery Channel, the Military Channel, Syfy, and the Science Channel. Teitel is a host on DNews, Discovery Channel's online daily science news show. She also is an embedded journalist on the New Horizons team, bringing the excitement of humanity's first mission to Pluto to the space-loving public.
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