NASA at 50… Plus 5

August 2, 2013

So many kids growing up in the United States dream of being astronauts, and flying through space. Many adult Americans can remember where they were when the Eagle landed, or when (sadly) the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded. You know you’re invested in American culture when you can successfully use the phrase, “Houston, we’ve had a problem” in a social conversation.

HoustonProblemImage: In NASA’s Mission Control in Houston, Texas, in April 1970, there definitely was a problem with the Apollo 13 mission. Here, the Gold Team, directed by Gerald Griffin (seated, back of head to camera), prepares to take over from Black Team (Glynn Lunney, seated, in profile) during a critical period of the Apollo 13 mission to save it– and all the astronauts on board– from disaster. Source: NASA. Read a first-hand account by Apollo 13 Commander, Jim Lovell, of all the “problems.”

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is the reason why we have these touchstones in American culture.

NASA at 50: Interviews With NASA's Senior Leadership ISBN: 9780160914478On July 29, NASA celebrated the 55th anniversary of its founding in 1958; the agency has been doing its job passionately for the last fifty-five years.

When NASA hit its fiftieth anniversary, NASA issued commemorative volumes in 2009. NASA at 50: Interviews With NASA’s Senior Leadership takes a look at the new direction senior management wants to guide the agency towards after its first successful half-century.

It really is interesting for readers to look back at NASA’s storied past on this memorable occasion. NASA added to this retrospective  with the companion volume, NASA’s First 50 Years: Historical Perspectives. However, space exploration fans will be eager to learn more about NASA’s future as well as its past, and that’s the purpose of this book.

NASA's First 50 Years: Historical Perspectives; NASA 50 Anniversary Proceedings ISBN: 9780160849657Since NASA’s fiftieth anniversary “found an agency in the midst of deep transition” as Steven Dick, NASA’s chief historian noted, the interviews in NASA at 50: Interviews With NASA’s Senior Leadership review the high points in that transition. Obviously, there’s solid coverage of the end of the Space Shuttle Program, but the text also covers senior management’s thoughts on their work with the new project called Constellation. Constellation includes multiple elements, such as the new launch vehicle Ares I, a human capsule named Orion, and the lunar lander Altair.

The two reporters from NASA’s Johnson Space Center, Rebecca Wright and Sandra Johnson, interviewed twenty-four members of senior NASA management to get their perspectives and subject matter expertise on the various program agendas planned for the coming years. The authors included questions directed to the general public more than you might suspect. For example, “Why would you encourage anyone to work for NASA?”, and “Do you find that aeronautics will continue to be a part of NASA in its future?” would appeal to anyone who is interested in working for NASA in years to come; the answers are given in plain, accessible language. Portraits of the interview subjects and an extensive index are included. Policy specialists, aerospace engineers, aerospace engineering and physics students and space exploration fans will all enjoy and take value from NASA at 50: Interviews With NASA’s Senior Leadership.

Coming Home: Reentry and Recovery From Space ISBN: 9780160910647Another book for aeronautics and space exploration fans to explore while celebrating NASA’s fifty-five years is Coming Home: Reentry and Recovery From SpaceIt’s mainly a historical perspective of the technical aspects of shuttlecraft re-entry and recovery after landing. Although the authors used really plan, direct language when writing, the concepts covered are fairly high-level aeronautics for non-professionals to understand. For example:

“Even the CEV, a program that returns to a capsule concept with a blunt-body ablative heat shield and parachutes (or perhaps a Rogallo wing) to return to Earth (or perhaps, the ocean), proved a challenge for engineers” (p. x).

It’s probable that this volume would mainly be of interest to aeronautics and electrical engineers and physicists, or students or policy analysts of those fields, whose area of interest is space exploration. Since the language is so simple, though, I could imagine an ambitious high-school student who is interested in space reading this too, although she or he might need to research some of the tougher concepts (e.g., ablative in any sense other than grammatical cases). Coming home with a safe reentry and recovery was certainly of interest to the Apollo 13 crew!

If you do choose to celebrate NASA’s fifty-fifth anniversary, maybe the best celebratory method (in addition to eating cake) is to read more about NASA. Find out their next steps, and cheer them on in their quest to further science by:

“Explor[ing] the earth, solar system and universe beyond; chart[ing] the best route of discovery; and reap[ing] the benefits of Earth and space exploration for society” (About NASA, Web site).

How can I find these NASA publications?

You can find all the books mentioned here at the GPO Online Bookstore. While you’re at it, you might want to pick up a set of five full-color NASA bookmarks: NASA Space Shuttle Bookmarks: Atlantis, Challenger, Columbia, Discovery, Endeavour to keep your place in these books. Just like party favors, right?

  • Order by Phone: Call our Customer Contact Center Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5:30 pm Eastern (except US Federal holidays). From US and Canada, call toll-free 1.866.512.1800. DC or International customers call +1.202.512.1800.
  • Visit our Retail Store: Buy them at GPO’s retail bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401, open Monday–Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., except Federal holidays, (202) 512-0132.
  • Find them in a Library: Search for them in a Library.

Federal Depository Librarians:

About the author(s): Our guest blogger is Jennifer K. Davis from GPO’s Library Services & Content Management Division that supports the Federal Depository Libraries Program (FDLP). Editor: Government Book Talk Editor-in-Chief and , GPO Promotions & Ecommerce Manager, Michele Bartram.


Keeping the Kids Entertained… and Educated

December 27, 2012

This week as holiday breaks from school and winter weather keep the kids indoors, parents are looking for ways to keep them entertained–and educated– at the same time.

Fortunately, many Federal agencies this year provide the perfect solution with publications that are both fun AND educational, and with which the kids might actually learn something besides how to shoot down some “Angry Birds” on their new tablet! ;-) From dinosaurs to fossils, freedom runners to astronauts, these fun facts will prove more fascinating than fiction.

Here are a few that I (and my eight and six year-old nephews) particularly enjoy:

     Junior-Paleontologist Junior Paleontologist Activity Book, Ages 5-12, Explore, Learn, ProtectFor the kid who thinks dinosaurs are dynamite

In this illustrated color booklet, a child can learn about ancient life, complete fun activities, and explore some of the 230 national parks that preserve fossils and offer a look into the distant past.

And after completing the age-appropriate activities in this book, your child can then go online to request his or her free Junior Paleontologist badge from the National Park Service.

 Junior-Explorer-Geology-Fossils Junior Explorer Geology and Fossils Activity Book
For the kid who wants to be a “rock star”>/p>Fossils are the “rock stars” in this activity book as well. Includes fun facts, a crossword puzzle, and activities about rocks and fossils for explorers ages 8 to 12, along with a free Junior Explorer Certificate from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

Introduces basic kid-friendly concepts about geology, types of rocks and formations, and a glossary of terms. Focuses on Earth features– rock formations, canyons, caves, craters and more– that formed over long periods of time and that cannot be replaced as humans remove and make use of them, and the role of geologists to manage these non-renewable natural resources.

It also lists great public lands managed by the BLM that tourists can visit and explore these fossil-rich landscapes.

 Underground-Railroad-Activity-Book Discovering the Underground Railroad: Junior Ranger Activity BookFor the child who wants to change the world

Provides activities for children ages 5-12 to learn about the history of the underground railroad and the Emancipation Proclamation.

Children who finish the age-appropriate activities can send in to the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Program to receive a free Junior Ranger badge from the National Park Service.

Gently covers topics including: the meaning of freedom and slavery; the hardships and daily life of slaves; the importance and travel routes of the “Underground Railroad;” safe refuge choices; key dates and laws relating to slavery and emancipation; and key figures including Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglas and abolitionists Levi and Catharine Coffin, among others.


Celebrating-Space-Shuttle_30-Years
Waving-Astronaut
Celebrating 30 Years of the Space Shuttle programFor the kid or teen with stars in his or her eyes

For older kids, teens and adults with stars in their eyes (and dreams of space), this could be the book for them.

A tribute to everything accomplished during NASA’s Space Shuttle program’s 30 years of operation, this colorful book is chock-full of stunning color photography and interesting facts of every shuttle mission and its crews, from deploying the Hubble Telescope to the inspirational Sally Ride, the first American woman in space.

From its first mission on April 12, 1981, to its last, on July 21, 2011, the Space Shuttle program defined NASA and served as an inspiration to future engineers and astronauts worldwide.

Beginning with the orbiter Columbia and continuing with Challenger, Discovery, Atlantis, and Endeavour, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Space Shuttle has carried people into orbit; launched, recovered, and repaired satellites; conducted cutting-edge research; and helped build the largest human made structure in space, the International Space Station.

All of these books can also be found at the following locations:

  • Buy it at GPO’s retail bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401, open Monday–Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., except Federal holidays, (202) 512-0132.
  • Find it in a federal depository library.

Hopefully, these books will help our readers beat the winter blahs as families have to stay indoors due to the weather.

After all, as this famous (albeit anonymous) quote says: “Education is the best gift you could ever receive, because once you have it, no one can ever take it from you.

About the Author:  Michele Bartram is Promotions Manager for GPO’s Publication and Information Sales Division in Washington, DC, and is responsible for online and offline marketing of the US Government Online Bookstore (http://bookstore.gpo.gov) and promoting Federal government content to the public.


Vote for the top Government news story of 2011

December 26, 2011

2011 was a momentous year in Federal Government-related news and as such, it was a banner year for important Government publications, as demonstrated by our 2011 Year in Review collection available from the U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO).

But which Government news story was the most significant, in your opinion? Vote in our poll below, and then see the publications that follow that relate to these important stories:

Note 1:As of January 27, 2012, this poll is NOW CLOSED with the final results showing above, but feel free to click on the SHARE THIS link to pass on the results to others.
Note 2: This is a non-scientific user poll. Results are not statistically valid and cannot be assumed to reflect the views of the Government Printing Office customer as a group or the general population.

Following are the Federal Government publications that relate to each of these important 2011 stories:

2011 News Story   Related Federal Publication(s)
9/11 tenth anniversary   Ten years have passed since that tragic day, but the memories are still strong. 2011 saw some excellent publications about that day, including a 10th anniversary edition of Pentagon 9/11 and a reprinting of the 9/11 Commission Report, all of which you can find in our 9/11 Collection: A Decade of Remembrance.

Assassination of Osama bin Laden  FBI Terrorism Research and Analysis Project (TRAP) A Navy SEALS team located and killed Osama bin Laden this year, the mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks and many other Al Qaeda and insurgent terrorist attacks. This 2011 publication, Terrorism Research and Analysis Project (TRAP): A Collection of Research Ideas, Thoughts, and Perspectives, V. 1analyzes causes and possible responses to terrorism as presented at the FBI Terrorism Research and Analysis Project (TRAP) Symposium of international academics and law enforcement personnel.

Death of North Korea’s Kim Jong Il   The recent death of North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Il, marks an uncertain time for the Korean Peninsula and the entire region. North Korea: A Country Studyreviews the history and the dominant social, political, economic, and military aspects of contemporary North Korea before this.

Deep Water BP Gulf oil disaster report  Deep Water: The Gulf Oil Disaster and the Future of Offshore Drilling, Report to the President, January 2011 In January of this year, the National Commission on the BP (British Petroleum) Deep Water Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling released its controversial Deep Water: The Gulf Oil Disaster and the Future of Offshore Drilling, Report to the President, January 2011. This best-selling publication offers the fullest account available of what happened in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20, 2010 and why, and proposes actions, changes in company behavior, reform of government oversight, and investments in research and technology that will be required to avert future disasters.

End of the war in Iraq  Battleground Iraq: Journal of a Company Commander There is an interesting White House timeline about the Iraq war at the end of which is a link to the Joining Forces initiative with which one can express one’s support for the troops. GPO’s bookstore has a number of books about Iraq, but two stand out as best-sellers. Battleground Iraq: Journal of a Company Commander gives a realistic account by Major Todd Brown of his experiences as a U.S. Army company commander in Iraq from April 2003 to March 2004. Hard Lessons: The Iraq Reconstruction Experienceexamines the Iraq reconstruction experience, and provides 13 take-away lessons for future contingency relief and reconstruction operations.

  • Buy them in our online bookstore:

a)      Battleground Iraq: Journal of a Company Commander

b)      Hard Lessons: The Iraq Reconstruction Experience

Japan earthquake and tsunami  Field Operations Guide for Foreign Disaster Assessment and Response Natural disasters were big in the news this year, and the Federal Government was involved in responding to them, from the National Guard in the U.S. to foreign response teams overseas. For example, in response to the tragic earthquake and resulting tsunami and nuclear reactor problems in Japan, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), deployed a Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) that included disaster response experts, urban search and rescue teams, and nuclear experts from the U.S. Department of Energy, Department of Health and Human Services, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The Field Operations Guide for Disaster Assessment and Responseis used by USAID’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) for DART teams and other disaster assistance personnel when responding to foreign disasters like the Japan situation.

Last Space Shuttle flight  NASA and Space Shuttle publications including "Wings-in-Orbit" 2011 marked the end of NASA’s three-decade long space shuttle program when, on July 21, the final space shuttle mission ended with the shuttle Atlantis rolling to a stop at its home port, NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. NASA has published a number of terrific books about the program which you can find in our NASA and Space Shuttle Publications, along with a new set of beautiful color bookmarks, one for each shuttle and the best-selling Wings in Orbitbook.

U.S. economy and the Federal budget  Books about Government and Politics, including the Federal Budget and the Economy It seems every newscast this year has covered the US economy, Federal Government budgets and deficits and differing opinions about options to address them. You can find the President’s original budget submission published this year and subsequent analyses and responses to it in our collection of Books about the Government and Politics, including the Federal Budget and the Economy.

How can you find even more Federal Government publications? We have assembled many collections of Federal publications on our year-round Gift Guide and in our Special Collections page on GPO’s online bookstore.

About the Author: Michele Bartram is Promotions Manager for GPO’s Publication and Information Sales Division and is responsible for online and offline marketing of the US Government Online Bookstore (Bookstore.GPO.Gov) and promoting Federal government content to the public. 

 


Wings in Orbit: An Interview, Part II

July 28, 2011

On Tuesday, we posted the first of a two-part interview about Wings in Orbit: Scientific and Engineering Legacies of the Space Shuttle, 1971-2010, a new book published by NASA to mark the ending of the U.S. Space Shuttle Program. Here’s Part 2 of that interview with Robert Crippen, the pilot of the Space Shuttle Columbia’s first orbital flight into space, Dr. Helen Lane, Editor-in Chief of Wings in Orbit, Wayne Hale, Executive Editor, and Dr. Kamlesh Lulla, Co-Editor.

 GovBookTalk: Wings in Orbit is beautifully illustrated. Do you have a favorite photograph or other image?

 Bob Crippen: My favorite is the cover shot of the Orbiter in space.

 Helen Lane: Every person involved with this book has a favorite, so there are at least 300 favorites, depending on who you asked.  I was so involved with each graphic that it is impossible to decide.  One of the privileges of working for NASA is the wonderful images and our graphic artists.  We had two outstanding artists to provide these images.

However, I am partial to the first protein crystal, shown on page 433, and the flight of the 747 carrying the orbiter over the desert, page 109. The photos of preparing the Space Shuttle for flight at the Kennedy Space Center are fantastic, but because we had to reduce the size, we did not get the full benefit.  All the photos and many of the graphics are available online through the Johnson Space Center or Kennedy Space Center.

Kamlesh Lulla: In my view, the Space Shuttle provided the scientific community with stunning views of our own home planet. It captured both the natural beauty and human drama: the book contains examples of both. My favorite image in the book is oil fires inKuwait, imaged by the Shuttle crew during a 1991 flight.

Wayne Hale: I particularly like the one of the Shuttle silhouetted against the sunrise colors of the atmosphere.  But there are so many beautiful illustrations, it is hard to pick out just one.

GovBookTalk: From your perspective, how has the Shuttle program advanced space exploration and how will that be reflected in NASA’s future endeavors?

Bob Crippen: It has shown we can operate on a frequent basis of sending crews in space, but more important it has shown the broad range of tasks that humans can accomplish in space.  That knowledge will be invaluable in planning our next major goal in human space flight.

Helen Lane: The focus of the book was the legacy of the Space Shuttle – what would it be remembered for in 10 years.  So much as been made of its failures that we wanted to explore its accomplishments, unlike most of the popular writings.  It is a complex story.  However, I think there are several aspects that changed human space flight forever, and maybe international relationships.

The Orbiters can easily take six and sometimes more people into space.  The Shuttle began when theU.S.was opening up technical jobs to women and minorities.  The Space Shuttle provided the golden opportunity to expand the astronaut core to these folks, plus a wide variety of careers from physicist to astronomer to medical doctors.  No other nation has done that.  Now, it is totally accepted that anyone with the talents, health, and desire can go into space – see the commercial space programs.

The Space Shuttle era moved from the competition (Space Race) between countries to collaborations.  As astronaut Mike Foale (p. 144) said, “When we look back 50 years to this time, we won’t remember the experiments that were performed, we won’t remember the assembly that was done.  What we will know was the countries came together to do the first joint international project, and we will know that that was the seed that started us off to the moon and Mars.”  There were many countries, including our former enemies,Russia and Japan, along with the Europeans involved in the space shuttle.  We flew folks of many nationalities, religions, and cultures.

Many today say it is the Hubble.  The Space Shuttle enabled the Hubble Space Telescope to perform well, leading to major discoveries.  However, through our work with Hubble, we learned to do big construction and repair projects in space.  The Space Shuttle taught us that the human is extremely capable of completing complex tasks in space.  Now, it is accepted that we can do this, but 30 years ago most thought that it was only the dreams of the science fiction writers.

The human, plant, and animal research provides the bases for belief that humans can survive long space flights, probably leading to long-duration stays, including growing their own food.  However, the research provided a warning too – from changes in space craft components, e.g. atomic oxygen, along with orbital debris and radiation, much of which we learned from entering space 135 times.

Finally, 135 re-entries taught us a lot about high attitude hypersonic flight, a must to enable  complex vehicles to come back to earth, manned or unmanned. Prior to the Shuttle program, there were calculations that provided models.  Now, we have real data to use for future modeling of space craft re-entry back to Earth.

Kamlesh Lulla: I agree with Helen. In addition, it is important to remember that each Shuttle mission was a mission to planet Earth. It was both a scientific laboratory and an in-orbit classroom for researchers and educators around the globe.

Wayne Hale: The Shuttle was envisaged as merely one part of a space infrastructure that would eventually lead to missions to myriad places in the solar system.  Since the Nation decided not to invest in the infrastructure to go farther, we learned the most we could from the shuttle; how to operate in space with large teams of people; how to fly safely through planetary atmospheres on the way to and from space.  These are all valuable lessons which will allow future endeavors in space to be successful.

GovBookTalk:  Now that the book is done, what are your feelings about it – and about the Space Shuttle program as well?

Bob Crippen: I am very proud of the book and the Space Shuttle program.  Both are major accomplishments and everyone involved can be proud of the results.

Helen Lane: As with most of the folks that worked in the Space Shuttle program, it is a bittersweet ending – the ending of the longest human space program using these vehicles over and over again in the extremely dangerous environments of space. So I am both sad and proud of working for NASA.

Wayne Hale: It was a privilege to be a part of history; to be a team member trying to do something difficult – nearly impossible – and extraordinarily valuable in the largest sense of the word; historic.  I feel nothing but pride and a sense of gratitude for being part of it.

Kamlesh Lulla: I believe new opportunities will emerge as this era comes to an end. We will continue our journey!

To browse a copy of Wings in Orbit online, click here: http://books.google.com/books?id=aEZo8dHqJbIC&printsec=frontcover&dq=wings+in+orbit&hl=en&ei=kOYeTs3ABYrV0QHi4PDXAw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CDAQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q&f=false

To purchase a print copy, click here: http://bookstore.gpo.gov/collections/wings.jsp

To purchase Wings in Orbit as an eBook, click here: http://books.google.com/ebooks?id=aEZo8dHqJbIC&dq=wings%20in%20orbit&as_brr=5&source=webstore_bookcard

To find it in a library, click here: http://www.worldcat.org/search?qt=worldcat_org_all&q=wings+in+orbit


The History and Legacy of the Space Shuttle

April 25, 2011

Did you know that Rush and Judy Collins both wrote songs about the Space Shuttle? That excess Shuttle propellant is used in a small device that burns through and safely ignites the explosives within land mine casings? That Varicella-Zoster virus, the causative agent of chicken pox and shingles, appeared in the saliva of asymptomatic astronauts while in space, leading to development of a rapid, sensitive test that doctors could use to diagnose shingles and facilitate early antiviral therapy? These are just a few of the remarkable facts packed into a spectacular new book from NASA: Wings in Orbit: Scientific and Engineering Legacies of the Space Shuttle. Published to coincide with the ending of the Space Shuttle program, Wings in Orbit is a beautifully illustrated and information-filled collection of essays on just about every aspect of this long-lived and amazingly productive scientific and technical achievement.

After a through review of the history of the Shuttle program, including the Challenger and Columbia accidents and the role of the Shuttle in national security, Wings in Orbit goes on to cover its engineering aspects, scientific discoveries, social, cultural, and educational legacies, industries and spin-offs), and testimonies from the famous and not so famous about the Shuttle and its role in human spaceflight.

I’m not a real space buff, but I found this book totally absorbing. Also, it’s profusely illustrated with color photos and diagrams, although the photo that most intrigued me was totally monochromatic – a shot of Mt. St. Helens just after the colossal eruption of May 18, 1980. Absent the caption, I would have supposed it to be a photo of the moon or Mars – a striking tribute to the power of nature and the unblinking eye of the Space Shuttle.

You can get a taste of Wings in Orbit here, purchase a copy here (and I understand that at least one major book chain may be stocking it), and browse in a copy at a library.


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