From Jars to the Stars

From Jars to the Stars

How Ball Came to Build A Comet-hunting Machine

Book - 2010
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FROM JARS TO THE STARS:HOW BALL CAME TO BUILDA COMET-HUNTING MACHINEHow did a company best known for its glass jars hit a comet 83 million miles away? The answer encompasses technical expertise, heroic dedication, a maverick scion of an industrial giant's faith in the power of technology, Hitler's infamous V-2 rocket, speakers destined for a Hall & Oates summer concert tour, and the search for life's origins.From Jars to the Stars presents an inside look into the backgrounds, character and motivations of the men and women who actually create the spacecraft on which the American space program rides.From Jars to the Stars tells a timeless story of science, engineering, politics and business strategy intertwining to bring success in the brutal business of space. The book is a readable, lively account of one of mankind's great modern achievements. It is a story about people, foremost those who achieved the mythic with the $330 million Deep Impact mission, which smashed an impactor spacecraft into the comet Tempel 1 on July 4, 2005 when the icy wanderer was as far away from Earth as the sun. But Deep Impact is only part of the story.From Jars to the Stars puts Deep Impact into the greater context of humanity's continuing search for its origins via the senses of scientific spacecraft. It explores the improbable beginnings of Ball Aerospace, which built the comet hunter, and the evolution of the American space agency that paid for it. Based on interviews with more than 100 people and exhaustive documentary research, the book breaks new space-historical ground with the story of a group of University of Colorado students who built a "sun seeker" for the noses of sounding rockets studying the home star. The device set precedent for nearly all modern spacecraft.It also tells the story of how Ed Ball, scion of the Ball Brothers Company of Muncie, Indiana, ended up owning a space business in Boulder, Colorado through freak coincidence. From Jars to the Stars explores both the personalities and the technologies behind Ball's first spacecraft, the Orbiting Solar Observatory launched in 1962. The Ball orbiter prepares the ground for Deep Impact, showing readers how much -- and how little -- changed across four decades of American space exploration.From Jars to the Stars goes on to show how Ball Aerospace, the most interesting company in the aerospace business, evolved into an organization capable of building a comet hunter. It describes the development of the American space enterprise as it went from emphasizing big-budget "gigabuck" missions to "faster, better, cheaper" spacecraft of the sort Ball specialized in. The story pays special mind to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the world leader in interplanetary space exploration and Ball's partner on the mission. It was often a rocky marriage.The Deep Impact team nearly faltered: NASA was twice on the verge of scrapping the mission as technical and money problems mounted. But against the odds, and with a primary telescope that came up blurry in space, Deep Impact met its mark. The surviving flyby spacecraft sent home images and data of an explosion that shed new light on comets, which probably seeded life on Earth and, scientists believe, are a key to understanding how the solar system evolved.The book shows vividly that robotic space missions, which have supplied humanity with vastly more scientific value than those involving astronauts, are indeed manned: the people just happen to stay on the ground.Man against natureFrom Jars to the Stars is intended for mass consumption. It is at its essence, "man against nature," with nature taking the form of a 20-billion-ton comet. It is written in a layman's style intended for a general reader unafraid of tackling a book that will inform as well as entertain, and stands to attract interest well beyond healthy prospective markets in Colorado and among space aficionados.
Publisher: Denver, Colo. : Earthview Media, 2010
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780982958308
Branch Call Number: 338.76291 N298f 2010
Characteristics: 327 p. : ill. ; 23 cm


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