Infinity Beckoned illuminates a critical period of space history when humans dared an expansive leap into the inner solar system. With an irreverent and engaging style, Jay Gallentine conveys the trials and triumphs of the people on the ground who conceived and engineered the missions that put robotic spacecraft on the heavenly bodies nearest our own. These dedicated space pioneers include such individuals as Soviet Russia’s director of planetary missions, who hated his job but kept at it for fifteen years, enduring a paranoid bureaucracy where even the copy machines were strictly regulated.
Based on numerous interviews, Gallentine delivers a rich variety of stories involving the men and women, American and Russian, responsible for such groundbreaking endeavors as the Mars Viking missions of the 1970s and the Soviet Venera flights to Venus in the 1980s. From the dreamers responsible for the Venus landing who discovered that dropping down through heavy clouds of sulfuric acid and 900-degree heat was best accomplished by surfing to the five-man teams puppeteering the Soviet moon rovers from a top-secret, off-the-map town without a name, the people who come to life in these pages persevered in often trying, thankless circumstances. Their legacy is our better understanding of our own planet and our place in the cosmos.
List of Illustrations Foreword Acknowledgments Introduction 1. Beach Brainstorm 2. What If… 3. Dead at Birth 4. Failure to Communicate 5. Halt the Work, Destroy All Materials 6. There and Back Again 7. Sitting Cosmonauts 8. Cauldron of Contradictions 9. Buy-In 10. "Prepared Area" 11. Laying Eggs (Somehow) 12. How Low Can You Go? 13. Three Mistakes 14. Devil from Redondo 15. The Boy to Be Beaten 16. How to Buy a Computer That Does Not Exist 17. Downsurfing 18. Gulliver’s Travels 19. Too Much Too Soon 20. Scientific Charity 21. Last Man Home 22. Bonneville, Notch Rock, Double-Squirt, Sudden Death 23. Post-Mortem 24. Sons of a Bitch 25. The Sum of All Nations 26. Hang Time 27. The Rules of Resigning 28. Wonders Never Cease Sources
Jay Gallentine is a space historian who strives to tell never-before-heard stories of the space age in a lightheartedly appealing, readable, and nontechnical style.
"Based on numerous interviews, Gallentine delivers a rich variety of stories involving the men and women, American and Russian, responsible for such groundbreaking endeavors as the Mars Viking missions of the 1970s and the Soviet Venera flights to Venus in the 1980s. . . . Their legacy is our better understanding of our own planet and our place in the cosmos."—Lunar and Planetary Information Bulletin
“In this lively and memorable journey, Jay Gallentine captures the amazing people behind history’s robotic explorers, who journeyed where no machines had gone before.”—Andrew Chaikin, author of A Man on the Moon and A Passion for Mars
“Jay Gallentine has written a truly engaging account of lunar and planetary exploration in the halcyon days of the 1970s and 1980s, when scientists and engineers were boldly pushing into the unknown. . . . [He brings] to life the struggles, triumphs, and disappointments of the first great era of deep space exploration. Highly recommended.”—Asif Siddiqi, author of The Red Rockets’ Glare: Spaceflight and the Soviet Imagination, 1857–1957
“Infinity Beckoned is a stirring account of [the robotic race to the moon, Venus, and Mars] and its bobs and weaves over more than thirty years as both nations expanded knowledge of the solar system, expended resources for science, and competed for stature on the world stage.”—Roger Launius, associate director for collections and curatorial affairs at the National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution
“With Infinity Beckoned you’ll read a big piece of history you never even knew was there.”—Jeffrey Kluger, coauthor of Apollo 13