Review: more tales from the Space Age
by Jeff Foust
|Neither Brodsky nor Lamb were major players in America’s race to the Moon or other aspects of the Space Age, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t have some interesting stories to tell.|
Another interesting aspect of the book is the discussion of the strong relationship Lamb had with Lyndon Johnson. Lamb first met Johnson in the late 1950s, when the then-senator, a political patron of the medical center, visited the facility and had Lamb create a pocket-sized record of his most recent electrocardiogram, something Johnson was quite fond of. Johnson visited the center on a number of occasions thereafter, including after become vice president, and Lamb became a part of his circle of friends, with frequent trips to LBJ’s Texas ranch.
Bob Brodsky didn’t ground a Mercury astronaut or become fast friends with the vice president, but in On the Cutting Edge he describes a long and varied career in engineering, including work on a number of space projects. The book is comprised of a number of anecdotes from his career, from graduate school through retirement. Those tales includes stories of work on rockets and satellites while with Aerojet in the 1960s, research and teaching experiences as a professor at Iowa State University in the ’70s, and more space projects at TRW in the ’80s.
Among the book’s highlights was the work he performed in the early 1960s to design a lifeboat, featuring inflatable structures and a parawing, for a space station then on the drawing boards for circa 1970. It turns out that it was an idea ahead of its time both then and more recently, as Brodsky discusses his efforts to generate interest in the concept for use on the ISS in the last decade. More successful was a later effort to recognize astronautical engineering as an academic discipline independent of aeronautical or aerospace engineering.
Neither Brodsky nor Lamb were major players in America’s race to the Moon or other aspects of the Space Age, nor do they claim to be in the books. However, that doesn’t mean that they don’t have some interesting stories to tell from that era in history. For those curious to learn more about that time—and even share a laugh or two—both Inside the Space Race and On the Cutting Edge offer some enlightenment and entertainment.