Cover image for Aiming for the stars : the dreamers and doers of the space age
Aiming for the stars : the dreamers and doers of the space age
Crouch, Tom D.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Washington : Smithsonian Institution Press, [1999]

Physical Description:
xii, 338 pages : illustrations ; cm

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
TL788.5 .C67 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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Sputnik, the moon landing, Mars Pathfinder - these and hundreds of other milestones in the space age are the collective achievement of generations of men and women who dreamed of space travel, invented its technology, and launched an enterprise that has shaped and been profoundly shaped by the history of the 20th century.

Author Notes

Tom D. Crouch is an aeronautics historian and curator. Crouch attended Ohio University, where he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in history in 1966. He also attended Miami University and received a Master of Arts degree in history there in 1968. He later earned a Ph.D in history from the Ohio State University in 1976. In 2001 the Wright State University awarded him with an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree.

Crouch is the author books and many articles, primarily on topics related to the history of flight technology. Crouch was awarded a 1989 Christopher Award for his book The Bishop's Boys: A Life of Wilbur and Orville Wright. In 2005 he won the AIAA Gardner-Lasser Literature Prize for the book Wings: A History of Aviation From Kites to the Space Age.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

From Johannes Kepler's 17th-century drawing board to the Mars Society's Web site; from Apollo XI to Apollo XIII; from Russia's Mir space station (scheduled to return to Earth in bits) to American robots (scheduled to return to Mars, but when?), the story of human endeavors in outer space has plenty of physics and engineering, plenty of drama, plenty of heroism and not a few bits of hubris and folly. Crouch (whose previous work includes The Bishop's Boys, a biography of the Wright brothers) has produced a book far more informative than his gung-ho title suggests: his book explains, very accessibly, the prehistory and history of space flight, mixing accounts of key players (well known and unknown) with relevant technical and political history. Crouch covers not only rocket science pioneer Robert Goddard, but his German counterpart, Hermann Oberth, who in 1923 published Die Rakete zu den Planetenraumen (The Rocket into Interplanetary Space). Another chapter covers the U.S. and Soviet race to recruit ex-Nazi scientists: after Sputnik, a Pentagon spokesman was heard to complain, "We got the wrong Germans!" Wernher von Braun plays a big role in Crouch's account, but so do Soviet space expert Sergei Korolev, Caltech's eccentric experts John Parsons and Theodore von K rm n (who worked to invent better rocket motors) and the able technocrat James Webb, who took the helm of NASA after Kennedy promised the U.S. public the moon. Later chapters deal ably with the space stations of the 1970s, the space shuttle missions of the 1980s and the current use of commercial satellites and unmanned space exploration. Illustrations not seen by PW. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

In this narrative history of the space age, Crouch (curator of Aeronautics, National Air and Space Museum) rounds up the usual suspectsÄKonstantin Tsiolkovsky and Robert H. Goddard, Wernher von Braun and Sergei Korolev. He does a capable job of laying out the story of space travel for a general audience, focusing especially on the contributions these major players made in their lifetimes. He details both the manned programsÄfrom Vostok and Mercury, to Apollo and Soyuz and on through the Shuttle and the International Space StationÄto the major unmanned probes that have been sent to the planets. The only problem with this latest single-volume space history is that it covers the same ground as two other excellent and recent effortsÄT.A. Heppenheimer's Countdown (LJ 5/15/97) and William Burrows's This New Ocean (LJ 9/15/98). Recommended for libraries (both public and academic) not holding either of these earlier works.ÄThomas J. Frieling, Bainbridge Coll. Lib., GA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Crouch, a respected senior curator at the National Air and Space Museum, has written a smoothly flowing, chronological presentation of the accomplishments of the space age, presenting many photographs that heretofore have rarely been seen. This historical treatment of the events and the personnel responsible for them, as well as the development of the technology and the understanding of what was required to meet the space goals of the US and Soviet administrations, is presented in 18 well-illustrated, nontechnical chapters with no equations, three tables, nine pages of notes, a six-page bibliography, and an eight-page index. Half of the book is devoted to events before NASA was founded; it is a little skimpy on recent events, concentrating mainly on the manned space program, although a chapter "Robot Servants and Explorers" is included. Although not as broad and extensive as William E. Burrows's This New Ocean (CH, Apr'99), it is authoritative, easily readable, and entertaining. Recommended for all levels of readers. W. E. Howard III; formerly, Universities Space Research Association

Table of Contents

List of Illustrationsp. vii
List of Tablesp. x
Prefacep. xi
Acknowledgmentsp. xiii
Prologue: Spaceport!p. 1
1. A Plurality of Worldsp. 10
2. The Call of the Cosmosp. 19
3. Raketenrummelp. 39
4. An American Dreamerp. 59
5. Vergeltungswaffe!p. 72
6. "Our Germans"p. 92
7. Selling Space Flightp. 116
8. Fellow Travelersp. 133
9. This New Oceanp. 151
10. Racing to the Moonp. 167
11. The Giant Leap: Geminip. 184
12. The Apollo Erap. 199
13. Men from Earthp. 216
14. Salyut and Skylab: Rooms with a Viewp. 235
15. The Shuttle Erap. 249
16. At Home in Orbitp. 265
17. Robot Servants and Explorersp. 276
18. Outward Boundp. 301
Notesp. 315
Selected Bibliographyp. 325
Indexp. 331