Saturday, March 10, 2007

Have been reading Dark Side of the Moon.

Notes: After writing about the bomb, Gerard DeGroot was looking for a more upbeat tale. He undertook then the composition of a book about the 1960s quest to reach the moon. But upbeat gave way as he learned a deeper story about the fortunes made on the space race. And the short-cuts made that cost lives.

Prehistory first: The importance of the view of space promulgated by entrepreneurs. Simulated trips to Venus and Mars at Transportation Pavilion at 1939 World’s Fair. The lesson of the failure to turn space into enterprise..Goddard comes off as petty and short on such vision. And not too original. And not a good publicist. Was hurt by poor treatment by press in early going. Did not share ideas with the community of scientists. 'Ended up in something of a void.' Still have to get to that Auburn field [now a golf course] where he first practiced his rocketry.

Early Von Braun comes across pretty much like Tom Leher painted him. Being a Nazi was convenient to his doing rocket science. His cronies too. Over 1300 rockets were fired at London, causing 2700 killed there. 20,000 concentration camp inmates died in the process of building and maintaining the mostly underground rocket labs. Hitler spend the equivalent of $500 m on the project. That was about ¼ of the entire cost of the Manhattan Project. 'Our most expensive project was our most foolish one,' said Speer.

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