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Something New Under the Sun: Satellites and the Beginning of the Space Age Hardcover – November 7, 1997

ISBN-13: 978-0387949147 ISBN-10: 0387949143 Edition: 1998th

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 300 pages
  • Publisher: Copernicus; 1998 edition (November 7, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0387949143
  • ISBN-13: 978-0387949147
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.8 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,839,516 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


...I found this a gripping read. As Suomi remarked, "How hard we worked!" Having read Gavaghan's book, you can believe it, of him and all the other pioneers. To fight their way through technical, budgetary and bureaucratic obstacles, and to produce the prototypes of satellites we take for granted today, the scientists and engineers needed superhuman dedication. It is fitting that their efforts be acknowledged, admired and recorded for posterity. -- New Scientist, Charles Sheffield

About the Author

Helen Gavaghan is a science writer and editor who has lived in Washington and London. She has a degree in Biophysics and a fascination with the world of space.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Mark Gibson ( on August 25, 1998
Format: Hardcover
I really enjoyed this book's combination of technical (but not too technical) and personal detail. Not only did the book cover the birth and infancy of satellite technology it gave us a good luck at the personalities behind it. My criticism is that the book doesn't go far enough - it doesn't bring the story up to the present day. I realize that this is a daunting task but it would be useful to provide a context - to examine how far we've come. For example, a comparison of modern satellites and their predecessors would be very telling. The book examines just the initial years - more information on satellite development in the 60's and early '70s would put things in a better perspective. On a minor note, I would have preferred a standard bibliograpy and footnotes rather than the detailed bibliography that we're confronted with. There have been many books written about the early manned space program but not enough written on early unmanned efforts. And among those books, most focus on the interplanetary probes, making this book a welcome addition to the study of man's early forays into space.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Edmund K. Parowski on September 29, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
On 4 October 1957, the Soviet Union launched the first artificial satellite into earth orbit. It was named Sputnik, which can be translated from the Russian as "fellow traveler" (Chertok 2006). It was soon itself to have many fellow travelers. Helen Gravaghan's Something New Under the Sun explores the history of this sputnik, the United States' reaction, and subsequent United States satellite programs relating to navigation, meteorology, and communication. This book, more than most, requires a complete reading from "Preface" through "Notes and Sources" in order to gain an understanding of the material presented. The majority of the book is derived from an extensive range of interviews that are listed in the "Acknowledgements" section and it is here that the book is strongest, revealing many intimate details of the personalities, technologies, and bureaucracies that shaped the first years of the Space Age. The weakest chapter of the book, unfortunately intended as a tribute to Sergei Korolov, the Great Designer of the Soviet space program, occurs when she does not draw as heavily on her interviews, but instead on "secondary sources". The personal recollections that she educed from her interview subjects put a very human face, in fact many human faces, on the accomplishments of the early days of artificial satellites and are an important addition to the history of the space program.

The intimation that Gravaghan's project has strayed from its original intent comes in the preface where she reveals that the initial objective was to write a book that would cover the "history of every kind of civilian application satellite, from every country, from before the launch of Sputnik up to the 1990s.
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