Submitted by taoyue on Sun, 01/23/2011 - 17:21
Deke! U.S. Manned Space: From Mercury to the Shuttle
by Donald K. “Deke” Slayton with Michael Cassut
New York: Tom Doherty Associates, 1994.
“America’s Chief Astronaut Speaks Out at Last!” The publisher isn’t
exaggerating with that tagline. This autobiography reads like it came
straight from Deke Slayton’s mouth, complete with copious usage of his
favorite expletive “goddamned.” I’m sure some of it has been smoothed
over by the cowriter, but it still reads like practically a transcript of
the taped conversations. The language is short and punchy, just like the
way Deke spoke.
Michael Cassut made a risky decision to leave Deke’s words largely
unpolished and intact. It works. Deke’s voice really comes through in the
book, and we appreciate his accomplishments all the more for it.
Submitted by taoyue on Thu, 06/15/2006 - 16:00
Microsoft Flight Simulator virtually buckles you in the pilot seat
without having to shell out $100 an hour to rent a Cessna. Orbiter has
taken the trail blazed by the long-since discontinued Microsoft Space
Simulator (1994), and paved it into a multi-lane expressway. With
Orbiter and its add-ons, you can (virtually) strap yourself into the
astronaut's couch for $20 million less than it costs to fly along on a
Soyuz mission to the International Space Station. In some ways, it's
better. You can get a flying license and actually control a plane, but
even the billionaire space tourists are mostly just sightseeing. This is
truly a geeky thrill that will not be available for decades to come.
Such is the power of Moore's Law. In Apollo 13, Tom Hanks
proudly describes a computer that fits in a single room and has a
megabyte of memory. Film critic Roger Ebert remarked that he was typing
his review on a more powerful computer than the one that guided a
spacecraft to the moon. Well, now, we have so much computer power that
we can calculate trajectories, render realistic 1280x1024 images of the
spacecraft at over 25 fps, and emulate every hardware function
of the Apollo Guidance Computer, fast enough for the original software to
run in real time. That's progress.
Submitted by taoyue on Sun, 02/06/2005 - 15:00
Frau im Mond (1929)
(Woman in the Moon)
directed by Fritz Lang
Woman in the Moon (Frau im Mond) is one of Fritz Lang’s
forgotten films. Never finding the critical acclaim that other Lang
pictures did, this film has mostly been relegated to the annals of
historical rocketry films, sandwiched between Georges Méliès' whimsical
A Trip to the Moon and the post-V2, pre-Sputnik
Destination Moon, penned by science-fiction great Robert Heinlein.
Woman in the Moon is perhaps best-known for having popularized
the 3-2-1-liftoff countdown.
[...] The viewer
runs through the whole sequence of emotions that accompanied the Apollo
moonshots of the 1960s and 1970s: thrill in anticipation of the launch,
wonder at weightlessness, and wistfulness as the pioneers watch the earth
Watching Woman in the Moon is likely to send shivers up the
spine of the space enthusiast. The science depicted in the film has an
impressive pedigree — the technical sections are attributed to Dr.
Hermann Oberth, the father of German rocketry and mentor of Dr. Werner
von Braun, creator of the V-2 ballistic missile and later head of the
Saturn rocket program.