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Breaking the Chains of Gravity

Bloomsbury Breaking the Chains of Gravity

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Breaking the Chains of Gravity: The Story of Spaceflight before NASA

By: Amy Shira Teitel

NASA's history is a familiar story, culminating with the agency successfully landing men on the moon in 1969, but its prehistory is an important and rarely told tale. America's space agency drew together some of the best minds the non-Soviet world had to offer. At the end of World War II, Wernher von Braun escaped Nazi Germany and came to America where he began developing missiles for the United States Army. The engineer behind the V-2 rocket, von Braun dreamt of sending rockets into space. Ten years later his Jupiter rocket was the only one capable of launching a satellite into orbit.

The National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics and the U.S. Air Force, meanwhile, brought rocket technology into the world of manned flight. NACA test pilots like Neil Armstrong flew cutting-edge aircraft in the thin upper atmosphere while Air Force pilots rode to the fringes of space in balloons to see how humans handled radiation at high altitude.

Breaking the Chains of Gravity looks at the evolving roots of America's space program--the scientific advances, the personalities, and the rivalries between the various arms of the United States military. After the Soviet launch of Sputnik in 1957, getting a man in space suddenly became a national imperative, leading President Dwight D. Eisenhower to pull various pieces together to create the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

"Teitel illuminates the foundations of American spaceflight with this exceptional and detailed 'prehistory' of the field fascinating new territory, filled with a galaxy of lively characters." - Publishers Weekly

"This is a good treatment of the origins of the US space program." - CHOICE magazine

"Breaking the Chains of Gravity tells the story of how we began to explore the cosmos the lessons we had to learn the hard way and shows why space exploration even today remains anything but routine." - Bobak Ferdowsi, Flight Director, Mars Science Laboratory,

"The Space Race wasn't all about tall, silvery rockets and moon landings. Before America and Russia squared off in an expensive race for glory, a number of quirky, inventive personalities pursued their own goals, with little support. Often facing ridicule for ideas that seemed outlandish to most, they nevertheless laid the foundations for humanity's greatest achievements. Amy Shira Teitel ably chronicles these early efforts to reach beyond our home planet." - Francis French, author of IN THE SHADOW OF THE MOON,

"Teitel delivers on detail, such as the exploits of supersonic-flight pioneer Chuck Yeager." - Nature

  • Published: 01-12-2016
  • Format: Hardback
  • Edition: 1st
  • Extent: 304
  • ISBN: 9781472911179
  • Imprint: Bloomsbury Sigma
  • Illustrations: 8pp color section
  • Dimensions: 5 5/16" x 8 1/2"

Author Amy Shira Teitel is a lifelong space-history nerd who has turned her schoolgirl fascination with the Apollo missions into a career researching the minutiae of spaceflight's history.

Amy started writing for the public with her blog, Vintage Space. She has also written for a number of other online and print publications including Discovery News Space, Al-Jazeera, The Guardian and Universe Today. She runs a thriving YouTube channel (also called Vintage Space), and has appeared on the Discovery channel, the Military channel, SyFy, and the Science channel, and she is a host on DNews, Discovery Channel's online daily news show. Amy was also an embedded journalist on the New Horizons team, bringing the excitement of humanity's first mission to Pluto to the space-loving public.


  • Model: 9781472911179
  • 5 Units in Stock
  • Manufactured by: Bloomsbury


This product was added to our catalog on Monday June 19, 2017.





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