As an industry, manned space travel has been in boom or bust for money and attention since the very beginning. In bust times workable ideas lack funding and projects often get to the testing phase or even implementation only to be cancelled before they reach their goals. Oddly enough, booms in funding often produce the same effect: so much money is floating around, and so much prestige is to be gained that many ideas are floated and get some effort put into them before one particular program becomes the focus and much else falls to the wayside.
Hi there. My name is Paul Drye and False Steps is my project blog for a history book of the same name (now published as an ebook!) which looks at the Space Race as it might have been. Beginning with what I think to be the very prehistoric beginning of manned space travel (the so-called Magdeburg rocket of 1932) I aim to trace the ways in which people tried to travel to space and came close to accomplishing it, all the way through Nazi German rocketry, the post-WWII fallow period, the crazy times of Sputnik through Apollo, the second down time of the 1970s, and the gradual revival of human space travel from then into the present day. The focus here is on conventional rocketry, which is to say that what I’ll be examining is near-mainstream as opposed to the more unusual approaches like, say, Project Orion. This is not least because I think the definitive history of that grand, mad enterprise has already been written. But have no fear: the salad days of the 60s and the desperate scramble for money in other times has produced plenty of weirdness even if we just stay on the fringes of what actually happened.
Chapters will be posted here as they’re written, so please feel free to subscribe if you want to read the pieces as they slot into place. Now strap in, make sure your helmet is sealed, and enjoy the ride.
Feel free to contact me by e-mail if you have any questions or suggestions.