Highlighting men and women across the globe who have dedicated themselves to pushing the limits of space exploration, The History of Human Space Flight surveys the programs, technological advancements, medical equipment, and automated systems that have made space travel possible.
Beginning with the invention of balloons that lifted early explorers into the stratosphere, Ted Spitzmiller describes how humans first came to employ lifting gasses such as hydrogen and helium. He traces the influence of science fiction writers on the development of rocket science, looks at the role of rocket societies in the early twentieth century, and discusses the use of rockets in World War II warfare.
Spitzmiller considers the engineering and space medicine advances that finally enabled humans to fly beyond the earth’s atmosphere during the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. He recreates the excitement felt around the world as Yuri Gagarin and John Glenn completed their first orbital flights. He recounts triumphs and tragedies, such as Neil Armstrong’s “one small step” and the Challenger and Columbia disasters.
The story continues with the development of the International Space Station, NASA’s interest in asteroids and Mars, and the emergence of China as a major player in the space arena. Spitzmiller shows the impact of space flight on human history and speculates on the future of exploration beyond our current understandings of physics and the known boundaries of time and space.
Ted Spitzmiller, retired from the Los Alamos National Laboratory, is a pilot and flight instructor. He is the author of many books, including the two-volume work Astronautics. Spitzmiller began his professional career in the military at the Army's Ordinance Guided Missile School in Huntsville, Alabama. He went on to nuclear weapons training at Sandia Base in New Mexico, where he taught for two years in the Atomic Weapons Training Group. He has worked for IBM, INTEL, and the Los Alamos National Laboratory from which he retired in 2001. Paralleling his profession in computing (he has an MS in Computing Information Systems), Ted has always maintained an intense interest in aeronautics and astronautics as a historian. He holds an FAA commercial pilot certificate for Airplanes, Single and Multi-engine land and sea, with Instrument privileges. Ted is a Flight Instructor (CFII) who has logged over 4,000 hours in more than 60 different types of aircraft. Combining his skills in writing with his knowledge of aerospace, he has had more than 40 articles published in major aviation magazines over the past 25 years.