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  Ambassadors from Earth: Pioneering Explorations with Unmanned Spacecraft (Jay Gallentine) (Page 1)

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Author Topic:   Ambassadors from Earth: Pioneering Explorations with Unmanned Spacecraft (Jay Gallentine)
Jay Gallentine
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From: Shorewood, MN, USA
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posted 11-23-2004 10:47 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Gallentine   Click Here to Email Jay Gallentine     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This is my first post to cS, which is exciting for me. It is also exciting to say I've just learned that I have been selected to write a book about space probes.

My book is not about the planets, directly.

It's about the people who create these electronic doodads and send them aloft.
It's about humans solving problems.
It's about the stresses of the design and construction processes.
It's about how probe missions consume the emotions, taking a toll on families, friendships, lives. It's about how things change.

I could, with one eye shut, name every Apollo astronaut and the missions they flew -- but I sure couldn't tell you which genius came up with the Pathfinder airbag idea. How did anyone figure out how to slingshot a probe around some handy planet to pick up speed? Who tore their hair out to get the Galileo unfolded and working? Who decided how to best armor up the Venus landers? How did they test it? I aim to find out.

So... here's the deal. Did you work on one of them? Any of them at all. Or, do you know anyone who did/does? If so, do you have any stories you feel are worth sharing? I'd love to hear from you!

Please e-mail anytime to jay at firingroom dot com

Thank you very, very much!

Philip
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posted 11-24-2004 10:46 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Philip   Click Here to Email Philip     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Well Jay, a lot of people in history come to mind, whose contribution to science made spaceflight possible (Foucault, Harrison, Kepler, Lagrange, Newton, Goddard, Einstein, Hoyle, etc.) but let us really focus on the early 1960s, an exciting era when the very first space probes were launched.

(Remember: an unmanned space probe is a very sophisticated thing so a lot of people are involved in spacecraft & mission design, engineering & scientific instruments, guidance & control, onboard propulsion, power supply, computers & data handling, telecommunications, launch vehicle integration, Earth-based support systems, etc.)

A few "key-figures" come to mind:

William A Pickering
First director of JPL - Jet Propulsion Laboratory ...and those who came after him

John R Scull
gyroscope applications for guidance & control

Max Faget + Harvey Allen + Alvin Seiff
Oblique heat-shield designs

Charles E Kohlhase + Charles Hall + Edward Stone
Trajectories for Pioneer & Voyager projects

Edmond C Buckley + Eberhardt Rechtin + Gerald M Truszynski
Radio navigation, Telecommunications & Deep Space Network on Earth

Bruce Murray + Robert Leighton + Cal Broome
Imaging science & camera development

and many "modern day" planetary scientists to analyze the returned data.

Trying to find out who's active on today's designs (within NASA)? For instance, check who got the NASA medal for Distinguished Service and Exceptional Service, check the departments of planetary science of many universities.

Extremely exciting subject! (I hope many other cS members will join in this discussion.)

Alan
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posted 11-26-2004 06:13 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Alan   Click Here to Email Alan     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Interesting subject indeed, but even most of the scientists & engineers listed above already deceased... "The Planets" double-DVD made by BBC Television is the best series I have ever seen on planetary exploration and BBC made it at right time so they still interviewed Gerry Soffen and other great planetary explorers. Is the book on 'modern day' scientists only? Otherwise contact the Planetary Society!

Jay Gallentine
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posted 11-26-2004 01:07 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Gallentine   Click Here to Email Jay Gallentine     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hi Guys, THANKS for the replies and great input!

True, there will be many, many people worth discussing who are already deceased. However, these people had colleagues, relatives, neighbors, or other contacts who might be able to provide some interesting anecdotes or other insights on the various probe missions.

While I don't plan on too much detail on the likes of Newton and Einstein, all suggestions are welcome. Philip has provided an excellent set of names to add to the list. I am all about telling of the 'backroom' people who solved problems and made things happen.

Thank you for keeping the discussion going!

Philip
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posted 11-26-2004 03:01 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Philip   Click Here to Email Philip     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Well I guess you're right, the BBC documentary was made at a crucial moment in time and it's certainly 'a must have DVD' if you're interested in planetary exploration. Talking about 'Unmanned exploration probes' is talking about 'People'... the list goes on & on (industry, universities, etc.). Well, more recent engineers & scientists working on robotic missions at NASA-JPL & NASA-Ames which come to mind include: Chris McKay, Rob Manning, Matthew Golombek, Andrew Mishkin, Steve Squyres, Pete Theisinger, Jim Graf, Jim Erickson, Donna Shirley, Nagin Cox, and many more.

Jay, also take a look at this weblink of the Cassini Imaging team.

All the best with the book, keep us updated so we can request (signed) copies!

spaceuk
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posted 12-04-2004 05:33 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for spaceuk     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
If you're going do a book of this sort you will have to speak with Russian engineers - especially the lunar, Venus and Mars probe engineers - if they are still alive.

Philip
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posted 12-04-2004 07:01 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Philip   Click Here to Email Philip     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Yes indeed Phill, I can point out some Russian engineers involved in both Mars and Venus exploration:

Armold Selinanov, Mikhail Marov, Yuri Surkov, Vladimir Merminov.

Here are some weblinks.

Jay Gallentine
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From: Shorewood, MN, USA
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posted 12-10-2004 06:56 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Gallentine   Click Here to Email Jay Gallentine     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hi Everyone, sorry to be out of touch on this topic!

The truth, actually, is that I have had to overhaul three major appliances in three weeks! I've had it with appliances!

Anyway, there has been good progress so far. There is much to do before I actually begin writing anything!

There is a structure already laid out and the Russians definitely play a large part. There will also be coverage of some of Japan's more notable efforts.

At this point, I am finalizing my infrastructure: A system for recording conversatins, contacts management, a binder system for the missions and people, that sort of thing.

I have had a couple of nice conversations with some major players in the space probe effort. Everyone has been quite wonderful to speak with and seems enthusiastic! I love it!

I have a feeling that my raw information will be heavy on the 'recent' stuff, just due to the passage of time and the passage of those involved. I'll have to work to uncover new and enlightening information on missions long past!

I have been adding the names posted here to my Contacts database and will be attempting to get in touch with as many people as possible. Everyone is welcome to submit whatever names they feel are worthy. Please keep those names coming!

You may also e-mail me directly at jay at firingroom dot com

...For sure, my greatest concern is doing justice to the Russian achievements in light of the distance and language obstacles. Anybody speak Russian?

Many thanks again to all those who have posted with comments and suggestions. I have a strong feeling that over the course of this project I will rely greatly on the moral support from collectSPACE people!

Wehaveliftoff
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posted 12-13-2004 09:29 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Wehaveliftoff   Click Here to Email Wehaveliftoff     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The University of Arizona has a lunar and planetary lab, which employs people who've been in charge of the Viking missions, amongst others.

Philip
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posted 12-21-2004 01:07 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Philip   Click Here to Email Philip     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Also take a look at these profiles.

Jay Gallentine
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posted 01-06-2005 04:09 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Gallentine   Click Here to Email Jay Gallentine     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Well, work is progressing slowly but surely here. I have approximately three interviews lined up here this month.

That leads me to my questions:

Is there anything anyone would like to ask a specific person associated with unmanned space probes?

Or any questions in general?

Please let me know who the person is, along with the question. I can't guarantee I'll find that person and ask, but it would be good to know what you folks are thinking about.

Don't be afraid to suggest something 'obvious'. There's a lot of ground I have to cover!

micropooz
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posted 01-15-2005 12:27 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for micropooz   Click Here to Email micropooz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
You may want to interview Bob Farquhar at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab. He is the guy that came up with the gravity assist trajectories that have made so many of our planetary probes a success. Truly an unsung hero.

Philip
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posted 02-10-2005 11:23 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Philip   Click Here to Email Philip     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Here are some very interesting Who's Who weblinks.

Jay Gallentine
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posted 03-25-2005 09:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Gallentine   Click Here to Email Jay Gallentine     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hi Folks, a little update here, and a bit of a dilemma for me as well...

To stay on schedule, I need to draft a chapter approximately every other month. That is definitely working faster than I ever have before, but by focusing on the goal and steering clear of distractions I think I can probably do that. Chapter 1 should be in a decent draft stage by the end of this month.

There have been many thrilling conversations with people, including those who have worked on the Mars rovers, on back to the beginnings of unmanned exploration. There have also been some curious politics revealed. Some people won't talk to me until I read the book they wrote, which seems fair enough. There also seems to be a sort of general 'us versus them' attitude towards manned spaceflight, especially when it comes to the dollars allocated for each. One person went as far as to say something along the lines of, "But it's good for JPL to be given less than they want; it keeps them working harder." I'm spending time on the project every day and pleased with the progress.

I have something of a conundrum I would appreciate people's input on. I have been an avid collector of space memorabilia for about twenty-five years. Most of it sits in drawers because I either don't have the space to display it, or I'm scared to death of it being touched by sunlight. My personal disease, I guess.

If I sold off some of the nicer pieces, it would directly translate into a better finished book. I'd be able to travel more, talk with more people, and spend more time on it. I might even be able to hire a transcriptionist to save me hours and hours of tedious typing.

Some of this space stuff I hardly ever look at. I guess I keep it around because someday I'll be older, my kids will have moved, and I'll be able to take more time to enjoy it more. Probably. But in the even longer run, I'd prefer to have a better book. The book is more important than The Stuff.

If some of these items were in the hands of other collectors, the pieces would undoubtedly receive more attention and be cause for more enjoyment than by just sitting in my drawer with me knowing it's there.

With all that I suppose it's obvious, but I'm stuck nonetheless. Any thoughts?

Philip
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posted 03-26-2005 10:50 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Philip   Click Here to Email Philip     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I also have noticed that some collectors in my vicinity tend to sell their original NASA brochures & photos because most of it becomes available online or in electronic format. Personally I prefer to hold the book itself rather than reading an online .pdf file. Writing your book will certainly be satisfactory once you'll be pleased with the end result and if funds towards that goal are a problem, I'm always willing to buy some pieces from your space collection.

Jay Gallentine
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posted 05-06-2005 10:06 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Gallentine   Click Here to Email Jay Gallentine     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I would like to report on a most memorable trip: three days in Iowa City, Iowa speaking with Dr. James Van Allen. When I'd originally called Dr. Van Allen and asked for an interview, he said he'd like to see what I wanted to speak about. I spent the next several days focusing myself and ultimately communicated to him approximately eight pages of 'Talking Points', I called them.

"I had expected a more mature line of questioning," he told me the next week, when I phoned to follow-up. It was his way of saying they weren't good enough. I needed to read a couple of his books and rethink the plan. That was in March.

A month ago, I pitched my latest version of Points and also proposed an in-person visit: not only was Iowa City only about five hours from me by car, it was my Alma Mater, and I hadn't been back in years. I said, "I guess I think it's a bit funny that I walked past your office three times a week for Astronomy Class and never knocked. Now here I am petitioning for some time!"

He thought it over and I was much relieved to get a thumbs-up on the whole thing. So this past Tuesday morning I put on a tie, loaded up audio tape and a change of socks, and started driving.

I had the privilege of staying with a friend of mine whom I've worked with on a few movie projects. He teaches at the University, but his 'real' job is trying to get these movie projects made. David is a great storyteller, and so every morning and evening we'd reconvene to discuss how it was going with the interview. Was I getting what I wanted? How to interpret some of JVA's more generalized answers? What did I need to go back and clarify? I wish I could have that guy along for every interview!

And then the other thing to shake out well was access to the Van Allen Papers Collection at the Main Library. They have done a bangup job of processing many, many of his personal papers and organizing them into a system of folders and boxes that I only wish I had going for all my own stuff! So that would occupy me for the first half of each day, as Dr. Van Allen was perpetually busy until after lunch. The materials there also provided fodder for additional questions about the projects as they were in progress.

Now here's something that was kind of funny. My last two years at the U of Iowa, I worked in the basement of this Main Library, in sort of a handyman capacity. I did everything from put up shelving to (repeatedly) rescue books from some of the numerous roof leaks the building has sustained. True story: my first brush with the Special Collections department was while on this job, in 1991. The roof was leaking again and they needed me to go into the 'secure' part of the archives and move a bunch of things around. It was a real rush job, priority one. Important cleanup. One LARGE collection in general caught my attention: a great assortment of 1970s British publications showing women dressed as schoolgirls being stripped and spanked by 'administrators' -- ! This stuff needed to be kept out of the rain?

Anyway, on Tuesday here, the Special Collections lady asked if I had trouble finding the place and I said no, I was a student and even worked in this same building. She was quite amused at that and asked who I'd worked for. So I told her, and twenty minutes later who walks into the reading room but my old bosses Gary and Pat. I hadn't seen them in thirteen years and there they still were in the basement of the library! We exchanged handshakes and hugs and generally talked at a volume unsuitable for use in such a prestigious department as we were in. And then it was back to the thrilling paperwork in front of me! With permission from the Department, I was allowed to read off of the papers into a tape recorder, enabling me to essentially reproduce many hundreds of documents.

With half an hour until JVA I'd walk up the hill and get a sandwich, before ambling across the street to Van Allen Hall. I'd also pick up some bottled water to help both our throats - he'd be talking for three hours, and I'd already been talking for the entire morning. To myself!

An hour and a half into the second day Van Allen suddenly proclaimed, "The pace needs to change, Mr. Gallentine, as you've not yet gotten me beyond 1958!" It all turned out okay, but was an amusing comment, nonetheless. He had also looked me up in the University Alumni Directory and noted with interest that my father had also attended Iowa.

James Van Allen does not seem to let emotions get in the way of his work. If the experiment still doesn't work right, or the booster rocket just blew up, well, tomorrow is another day. And his days were packed, but never long - when in town, he always made sure he was home in time for dinner and would turn off the work in his head as soon as he'd left the office. Time to be The Family Man for Abigail, "'Mission Control' I called her," he said, until the kids went to bed. Then he was usually off to a corner of the living room and his desk for a spot of work away from work. But eight hours of sleep a night were mandatory, so not too long at that desk. There was always the office again the next day.

Eleven pages of questions and clarifications... they came and went. At the end of it all, I thanked Dr. Van Allen greatly for his time and reminded him that there are many of us all around the globe who celebrate his work and his accomplishments and still follow what he does. We think he's the king. All the Good Doctor could do was beam and say aw shucks, that means so much to him. And for a man who lives by numbers and data, I figure that was admitting a lot.

To sum up, Dr. Van Allen seems to be doing quite well for a man in his nineties. He still drives his Jeep Cherokee to work every morning, and still brings his own lunch - so you can work right on through at your desk, he'd have you know. He answers his own phone and does his own Xeroxing. And, stashed within reams of paper and books and pipe-smoking accessories is a small leather binder called 'Problems'. When one comes to him, it goes here: in a rumply, cursive hand. And when he gets his answer - and Dr. Van Allen always gets his answer at some point - it is transferred to an empty page in the latest series of snap-ring binders filed safely in another part of the cluttered office. There, are all the problems he's solved. And even though they're no longer problems, he still needs to keep track of things.

Philip
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posted 05-08-2005 07:34 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Philip   Click Here to Email Philip     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Great report Jay! Did you get his autograph?

Jay Gallentine
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posted 05-08-2005 10:56 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Gallentine   Click Here to Email Jay Gallentine     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Yes indeed, Dr. Van Allen was very generous to autograph one of his books, along with a reprint of his Time Magazine cover. He said he 'had no idea' that cover was going to come out and was quite pleased with it!

I also mentioned that many, many of us were still cheering him on and greatly appreciated his work. He responded with a broad smile and a comment about how nice that was to hear!

Robert Pearlman
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posted 05-08-2005 11:11 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Jay, not only does your account of meeting Dr. van Allen bring across your excitement of interviewing him, but increases my own anticipation to read the final product. Your writing style is humorous and delightful. I found myself smiling throughout.

What an amazing opportunity, to spend such time with a pioneer in his field. I wil be eager to learn his views on the history of the early space program as conveyed by yourself.

Were there any surprises, either based on your own understanding or what you had read during his discussion of his work?

Philip
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posted 05-09-2005 05:11 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Philip   Click Here to Email Philip     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Well as Robert said, the book will certainly sell to some cS forum members, myself included!

Indeed Dr. Van Allen is a remarkable man, when you see footage of JPL engineers and scientists gathering in front of TV screens, watch carefully in that crowd and you'll certainly notice him (true for Mariner series, Pioneer, Voyager, etc.).

Jay Gallentine
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posted 05-10-2005 10:50 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Gallentine   Click Here to Email Jay Gallentine     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks for the notes! I wanted to respond in short order to Robert's question, although to give the best answer I really should get everything transcribed first. There are surely some things I've forgotten.

These are the biggest surprises that I recall:

- Dr. Van Allen was on a ship in the Pacific Ocean when he heard the news of Sputnik 1. Over three hours elapsed between his hearing of the news and going to investigate it. Three hours!! I thought about it all night and went back the next morning with that issue at the top of my list. I said, "I think I figured out what that is. That's disappointment, isn't it?" and Dr. Van Allen initially denied feeling disappointed. "Oh, I was just quite happy for them," he told me. But later, Van Allen acknowledged that he actually had been disappointed.

- No matter what was happening at the Lab, when Dr. Van Allen was in town (which sounds like it was about three weeks out of any given month), he always left work on time to be home for dinner and an evening with the family. He always saw his kids off to bed, even if his nose was going to be in the middle of a problem later on.

- The status of the University of Iowa as, really, a world-class collection of physicists and engineers who built up not only the finest collection of minds, but a standards-setting machine shop to actually produce the interplanetary experiments they designed. Yes, that was IOWA CITY, once voted by Playboy Magazine as a 'Top Ten Party School'. IOWA CITY I said, only single-digit miles from Amish Communities and endless cornfields. Van Allen's reply? "Physics work the same in Iowa City as they do anywhere, Mr. Gallentine."

...those are what come to mind right off the bat!

Jay Gallentine
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posted 06-07-2005 11:20 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Gallentine   Click Here to Email Jay Gallentine     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
In the course of transcribing Dr. Van Allen's interview, I have come to this interesting bit. We were talking about his impressions of Von Braun, and it sidetracked into Dr. Van Allen's take on a manned flight to Mars. The line following the bracketed tape-time is my question:

[26:07] And he did always want to go to Mars...

Oh of course, oh yeah he wanted to send people to Mars, in fact in this book he proposed a squadron of seven spacecraft with seven people in each spacecraft sort of a flotilla of spacecraft, to Mars, it was a pure engineering study, there's never and it's a good job, I mean it's unassailable...

[26:38] So he's not just dreaming blue sky...

Oh yeah he had a plan to do it, the only thing he lacked was the money. He also lacked a purpose which is sort of an interesting point I think, it still is the case -- there's no identified purpose for a Mars mission. Human mission to Mars, which is in any way commensurate with the effort and the cost. That's my position.

[27:02] It's just pointless to send people to Mars?

Absolutely. It appeals to people's spirit of adventure, there's no doubt about that, I agree with that of course, but if you wanna talk about a hard-nosed purpose which is worth half a trillion dollars, is it worth half a trillion dollars to send three people up for the thrill of going there? Oh, pretty hard to defend that as a national purpose I think.

---

We went on to talk about the economy of gathering data from unmanned probes versus manned missions. He proclaimed the value of the unmanned probes to be 'a thousandfold' over anything with people aboard.

Just food for thought.

In other news, I visited my son's first-grade class today for 'Career Month' and spoke about this book I'm working on. I took along lots of pictures and whatnot to show. I had expected to have at least part of their interest, but I can say with great excitement that these kids were absolutely glued to stories of exploring the solar system. They heard about how the Mars Rovers landed with airbags and their jaws hit the floor. Next they heard about Stardust gobbling a load of comet-tail, and a singular gasp filled the room. And when I told them how Voyager is so far away it took a picture of the whole solar system... well, that shocked the lot of them! I capped everything with the Golden Records and the hope they offer, which wrapped things up nicely. The teacher, incidentally, had never heard of any of this stuff, and seemed to have as many questions as the kiddos!

Rip
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posted 08-20-2005 03:19 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rip   Click Here to Email Rip     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Dear Jay, I've read this string with mounting excitement, so much so that in the end I just had to Furl it. (Check out furl.net people to discover a great asset for all writers and researchers.)

I'm writing a book myself about the history of the IGY, so although like everyone else I'm impatient to read yours, I also know how very long it takes. After all I interviewed the great JVA myself nearly 20 years ago... And like every interviewer when I uploaded my (pre-digital) tapes onto the computer I realized how many questions I FAILED to ask!

For the moment let me just ask whether you asked him any details about the famous IGY dinner party. I'm about to write to him myself but it could simplify things if I had more to go on. Main thing being, for me, what time of day did he call "Mission Control" with the news that she had, what, six guests for dinner that evening? And second, what did she give them?

Jay Gallentine
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posted 08-20-2005 11:28 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Gallentine   Click Here to Email Jay Gallentine     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hi RIp, hey that's quite interesting to hear about!

You know, I just found out there is a patch for the USS Glacier that has the IGY rockoon experiments depicted on it. If I find these for sale anywhere I will pick one up for you.

I didn't spend much time on the dinner party itself, but I am happy to forward you my transcription of what we talked about. It was the basic stuff of who was there and the gist of the conversation. I'm afraid I don't have the answers to your great questions, but you know if you get them I'd like to know myself!

Send me your e-mail address and I'll pass what I have along to you!

It will be nice to commiserate about our progress!

Jay Gallentine
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posted 09-21-2005 08:58 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Gallentine   Click Here to Email Jay Gallentine     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Well, things are coming along well enough. I have completed interviews with a few people from the University of Iowa's 'Dream Team' that put together Explorer and the early Pioneers. Really great people with fascinating stories.

My writing has gotten so far as to cover the Luna 3 flight. All I can say about the Russians is that in light of everything working against them (namely, their own government), it's amazing that anything was accomplished at all. What's even more amazing is the string of truly groundbreaking accomplishments. I'm exaggerating here, but with little more than cast iron and bailing wire they amassed a record of outer space accomplishments that had the United States virtually wetting their pants in frustration. The did it with little to no money, they did it in the wake of Stalin's purges, which affected the space program really to a man. Oh, what the Soviets could have accomplished if not for this. These people worked endless hours, sometimes on overturned boxes for desks, multiplying five and six-digit numbers by hand in order to come up with proper flight trajectories. Mistakes were always subject to belittlement and shame from the bosses upstairs. Launch schedules were dictated more by events such as the Revolution's anniversary than actual readiness of flight hardware. Khrushchev's endless whims: "How about something in time for the Italian Elections? How about something to top it?" For heaven's sake, these are workers who occasionally had to go home and take apart their grandfather clocks to procure delicately small parts like springs and gears.

I stand in utter amazement at their persistence, their work ethics, their accomplishments. If I only could have spoken with those who have already gone due to weak hearts from the gulags, poor health care, vacant nutrition, treacherous accidents.

To date there are about eighty or so readable, decently drafted pages covering approximately 3-4 chapters, along with an introduction. Every couple of weeks I speak with someone else who offers up more thrilling stories that seemingly few have heard. With any luck, and a whole heck of a lot of revisions and additions, their stories will come out!

Thanks to all you cS folks for helping me stay in there.

Jay Gallentine
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posted 11-14-2005 09:27 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Gallentine   Click Here to Email Jay Gallentine     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Here's my situation: I'm working my way through the U.S. Ranger program. Chapter Six. It's been fairly decent progress. After I get Ranger done, I'd like to go back and revise the last few chapters.

It's easy to get basic facts on a mission, but hard sometimes to find out more about the 'lower-level' people involved, and even harder to find anecdotes about them. For example, I was quite surprised to find the information I did about the early Soviet Luna flights. Thanks to Sven Grahn! But then I go looking for what I can find on Venera 1 and just fall off a cliff. This transition from OKB-1 to the Lavochkin just has my undies in a bunch.

Strong points of the manuscript so far: Decidedly 'from the bottom looking up' at the probe missions; low-tech, long on human difficulties.

Weak points: rapidly running out of anecdotal Soviet material. I have VG Perminov's 'The Difficult Road to Mars', also Roald Sagdeev's 'Making of a Soviet Scientist' but need MUCH more on day-to-day operations.

What I also need: someone with an extensive back issue collection of 'Spaceflight' (I recently subscribed and should have done it a year ago!). I also need to find an elaborate history of the Lavochkin Design Bureau. I need Russian friends at Lavochkin and RKK Energia who speak English! I am now listening to Russian tapes every day in the car, but that won't be enough.

Happy Discovery of the Month: Looks like Valery Kubasov of ASTP worked on the early Mars probes, and he's going to be in Texas next year at the Sims/Hankow show. I met him two years ago, and he was a great guy, although the language barrier was a bit formidable. I'm thinking about going to the next show and trying to spend all the time I can with the Russians!

Thanks to everyone for their kind words and support. When the time comes, I will be interested to know if anyone cares to have a crack at the manuscript to tear it apart for historical accuracy!

Philip
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From: Brussels, Belgium
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posted 11-15-2005 05:01 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Philip   Click Here to Email Philip     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks for the impressive update!

Jay Gallentine
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Registered: Sep 2004

posted 12-13-2005 10:21 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Gallentine   Click Here to Email Jay Gallentine     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hi Folks, little update here.

These are some of my largely random thoughts as the project continues.

I will not be able to go in-depth on every probe mission. I am trying to shine a spotlight on particular missions that were of significance, and have some interesting material to report on. If I try to do a chronology, it is not only necessary, but will take years and years.

There's no way all my writing can come from original, first-person primary sources. I actually tried to do that with Explorer I-IV, and it is turning out well but took months. That sort of pace and it will never be finished!

I am combing through a large variety of sources for whatever information I can find, and then trying to contact some of the key people involved so I can ask them some specific followup questions to clarify or get a 'How did you feel when' sort of sense. I will not be able to do an exhaustive top-to-bottom interview with everyone.

For the missions, I'm trying to find 1-2 people who are in a position to lead the reader through what happened. This gives us all a focal point and makes it easier to stay on top of the events.

I'm off the pace again - after one year, still stuck in the early sixties. I spent a few months spinning my wheels, however, figuring out the best way to put a chapter together. I am much more efficient with time these days. Every spare minute goes to the text.

I continue to be amazed with the stories I'm finding. The experiences are there, I just need to put it together well!

Thanks for reading!

Jay Gallentine
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From: Shorewood, MN, USA
Registered: Sep 2004

posted 02-19-2006 06:40 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Gallentine   Click Here to Email Jay Gallentine     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hi there folks, just a little update, here!

With a third of the time having passed before deadline, I've completed - wouldn't you know it - about a third of the book. It first went out to a couple of close associates for a general thumbs-up/thumbs-down sort of response. After passing muster there, I did another round of proofing, then sent it out to the people I'm writing about. To do this I printed up the chapters in a single-sided, double-spaced format, then went to Kinko's and bound them up. They accompanied a letter to the recipient inviting them to liberally comment directly on the text, add things that came to mind, or take issue with parts they didn't like. A postage-paid envelope was included for each recipient to just drop the text in the mail and send it back. So far no replies, but I'm still fidgety over what they will say! I think it wise for them to have a go at the material. I would hate for my facts to be wrong someplace and apologized for in later editions. After this phase, I will incorporate their suggestions and then send out several copies to some trusted reviewers who have no real interest in the space program. They'll be a real acid test for how it all reads.

I'll tell you something funny that happened. I took these manuscript packages to my local post office to mail. The clerk looked at the top one and said, "Wow, Doctor James A. Van Allen. Hmmm, he sure sounds important!" I pointed at the label and told her, "Yeah, he is. Notice how his address is 'The Van Allen Building'?! Her eyes grew wide as she went off into gales of laughter.

After that all went out I sort of sat on my couch for a day, wondering, 'what do I do next?' Of course I KNEW what to do, that was look at a probe chronology and begin researching whatever program came next. I'm back in the groove now (I THINK...), but there was still some transition time there because I'd stopped writing to zip through a proofing stage, then get all this stuff printed and packed up, along with the releases that people need to sign and send back along with the manuscript itself.

I keep saying this, but the more I research the more I am absolutely floored by all the great work these people have done towards exploring and understanding our universe. Truly magnificent, selfless efforts. These folks don't do it because of the paycheck - rather, because it is in their nature to explore.

Thanks again for all your support everyone.

Philip
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From: Brussels, Belgium
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posted 02-21-2006 10:49 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Philip   Click Here to Email Philip     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Superb Jay... what else can I say?

Jay Gallentine
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From: Shorewood, MN, USA
Registered: Sep 2004

posted 03-07-2006 07:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Gallentine   Click Here to Email Jay Gallentine     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have a bit of a request: could anyone, perchance, put me in touch with author Jeffrey Kluger? I find myself needing to speak with him regarding someone he and I have both interviewed.

E-mail: jay at firingroom dot com

Thanks very much!

Jay Gallentine
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From: Shorewood, MN, USA
Registered: Sep 2004

posted 06-24-2006 08:46 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Gallentine   Click Here to Email Jay Gallentine     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Sorry I haven't updated in quite a long time.

By now, I am almost beginning to feel I can knock this thing off. There is much to do, but I am slowly bridging the gap between Pioneer 10-11 and Voyager, whose Neptune encounter will effectively end the story I tell.

Writing in mostly a chronological fashion, I got to Gary Flandro's 1965 discovery of the outer planet alignment. Just exactly who discovered what and when rather ignited a decades-old controversy, to my complete surprise. And the more I read, the more I realized a distinct chasm between Flandro and one Michael A. Minovitch, who, like Gary, worked JPL part-time while finishing Grad School. If anyone knows where Minovitch is, I'd love to chat him up.

Working on that aspect of Voyager got me headfirst into Voyager proper; heck I've been waiting three years to write about this mission and all of a sudden I really really wanted to leave everything else for now and have at it. My attempts to write the Voyager story cast harsh light on how much I really DIDN'T know. So I put the Macintosh away for a while, called up Bud Schurmeier to begin getting his version of things, and started through four books somebody at Amazon was able to scrounge up on the flights.

Working my way through, I'm picking out the ten or twelve things that interest me most about the project. I think this mission will then call for something of an outline on those points, and how they will fit in amongst other flights still to tell of. Pioneer at Saturn, Mariner 6 and 7 and UC Berkeley's Holy War with JPL over something called an Infrared Spectrometer. The Soviets and their difficult road to Mars. The Veneras to Venus and their unlikely ties to popular culture, bringing robotic Soviet spacecraft to our 1970's living rooms when Steve Austin had to go and stop the Venus Death Probe. Oh, what great stuff!

Thanks to all for cheering me on all this time. Many thanks are particularly overdue to Philip Corneille, whose constant e-mail encouragement and help is as incomprehensibly magnificent as Voyager 1's Family Portrait. I was going to wait and thank people in the book proper, but Philip deserves credit sooner than that. He has also begun nudging me to lay my hands on more pictures for the finished work. He has tracked down miniscule details like who in the world made Mariner 3's nose cone - issues wrapping me in flypaper at 11pm when I'm trying to get the facts right.

After finishing the Voyager reading, I will conduct a couple of key interviews, then lay out how it went from an idea, to a full-blown development project, to a victim of budget cuts, to a virtual backroom secret-handshake pledge to reach Neptune whether NASA gave money for it or not. That is next.

Jay Gallentine
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Posts: 264
From: Shorewood, MN, USA
Registered: Sep 2004

posted 09-05-2006 08:00 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Gallentine   Click Here to Email Jay Gallentine     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Exciting to see the series formally announced! Many thanks are due to Colin Burgess and Robert Pearlman for their assistance and encouragement. I have not actually met Colin or even spoken to him on the phone despite two plus years of work and constant e-mails each week. Someday soon, yes!

I have approximately one calendar year until the entire draft must be turned in.

The book has evolved into three basic 'acts':
Act 1: Sputnik/Explorer
Act 2: Ranger
Act 3: Voyager

The big surprise to me, really, is Ranger. I began writing about Ranger figuring it'd be six pages of filler on this early program to impact the Moon. However Ranger has come to be something of a landmark, when JPL and NASA first learned how to run a space program - and work together. A real turning point. As one of the JPL'ers recalled, "We were making it up as we went along!"

To best illustrate the evolution of unmanned missions, I've covered, in one form or another, every program from Sputnik 1 through Ranger 9. After that, some things get skipped, but covering every single flight will only bog down the text.

By the end of this year I 'should' be finished with the Voyager section, which I am ending coverage of at the Neptune encounter. Then, the task will be going back to insert the more groundbreaking flights, including Venera and Viking. Text about Pioneer 10-11 will probably be relatively sparse, as these flights have been magnificently covered in other works.

But I am giddy with the original research to date, and will work hard to make this project worthy of reading.

Jay Gallentine
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Posts: 264
From: Shorewood, MN, USA
Registered: Sep 2004

posted 10-24-2006 09:29 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Gallentine   Click Here to Email Jay Gallentine     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Getting settled in on Voyager, here. I've laid out the Grand Tour origins, and it's all meeting with good reviews so far from my little band of brave reviewers. Now I'm covering the 'TOPS' technology effort that led to the Grand Tour proposal. From there it's a look at the original proposal getting shot down by NASA as being too grandiose. This would have included a flyby of Pluto - fun to think of what might have been.

I've had many good interviews relating to Voyager - many of these folks are still at JPL, and of course both crafts continue to operate wonderfully. With any luck - and a lot of revisions - I hope to give proper credit to some of those involved.

The main title is now properly set: 'Ambassadors from Earth'

...I'm still in search of a sub-title. I was liking 'Pioneering Explorations with Unmanned Spacecraft,' but it's coming across as too windy. Hmm. I'll get it nailed down one of these days!

Thanks again for all your support everyone.

DavidH
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From: Huntsville, AL, USA
Registered: Jun 2003

posted 10-25-2006 10:54 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for DavidH   Click Here to Email DavidH     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Oooh, I like the title!

Congrats on the progress you're making. I can't wait to read this book!

ColinBurgess
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From: Sydney, Australia
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posted 10-26-2006 02:38 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for ColinBurgess   Click Here to Email ColinBurgess     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
A Series Editor for the Outward Odyssey series on the social history of space exploration, I'd certainly welcome any thoughts anyone might have for a suitable subtitle for Jay's book, which is part of this incredible, upcoming series. So get those creative juices flowing, folks, and pass them along on this forum - it'll be fun to see what people come up with (and of course Jay and I may suddenly find ourselves with the perfect book subtitle!)

Mike Dixon
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From: Kew, Victoria, Australia
Registered: May 2003

posted 10-26-2006 04:02 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Mike Dixon   Click Here to Email Mike Dixon     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
"Probes to the Planets..."?

ColinBurgess
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From: Sydney, Australia
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posted 10-26-2006 05:16 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for ColinBurgess   Click Here to Email ColinBurgess     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I should really have pointed out ahead of any suggestions that this book is meant to cover the history of unmanned or robotic satellites and planetary probes, from Sputnik through to what's going on today - but mostly on the pioneering days and the mighty Voyager planetary tour. It's a sweeping canvas to be sure, but one that Jay is covering with great skill and competence and a sublime writing style.

ColinBurgess
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From: Sydney, Australia
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posted 10-28-2006 06:15 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ColinBurgess   Click Here to Email ColinBurgess     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks Mike; any other suggestions for a possible subtitle for the book?

Mike Dixon
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From: Kew, Victoria, Australia
Registered: May 2003

posted 10-28-2006 06:41 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Mike Dixon   Click Here to Email Mike Dixon     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
To be perfectly honest, I didn't mind Jay's initial subtitle ...seemed to "flow" well.


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