A Ball, a Dog, and a Monkey by Michael D'Antonio
1957 - The Space Race Begins

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A Ball, a Dog, and a Monkey tells the remarkable story of America's first efforts to succeed in space, a time of exploding rockets, national space mania, Florida boomtowns, and interservice rivalries so fierce that President Dwight Eisenhower had to referee them.

When the Soviet Union launched the first orbital satellite, Sputnik I, Americans panicked. The Soviets had nuclear weapons, the Cold War was underway, and now the USSR had taken the lead in the space race. Members of Congress and the press called for an all-out effort to launch a satellite into orbit. With dire warnings about national security in the news almost every day, the armed services saw space as the new military frontier. But President Eisenhower insisted that the space effort, which relied on military technology, be supervised by civilians so that the space race would be peaceful. The Navy's Vanguard program flopped, and the Army, led by ex-Nazi rocket scientist Wernher von Braun and a martinet general named J. Bruce Medaris (whom Eisenhower disliked), took over. Meanwhile, the Soviets put a dog inside the next Sputnik, and Americans grew more worried as the first animal in space whirled around the Earth.

Throughout 1958 America went space crazy. UFO sightings spiked. Boys from Brooklyn to Burbank shot model rockets into the air. Space-themed beauty pageants became a national phenomenon. The news media flocked to the launchpads on the swampy Florida coast, and reporters reinvented themselves as space correspondents. And finally the Army's rocket program succeeded. Determined not to be outdone by the Russians, America's space scientists launched the first primate into space, a small monkey they nicknamed Old Reliable for his calm demeanor. And then at Christmastime, Eisenhower authorized the launch of a secret satellite with a surprise aboard.

A Ball, a Dog, and a Monkey memorably recalls the infancy of the space race, a time when new technologies brought ominous danger but also gave us the ability to realize our dreams and reach for the stars.

About Michael D'Antonio

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As part of a team of journalists from Newsday, MICHAEL D’ANTONIO won the Pulitzer Prize for his reporting before writing many acclaimed books, including Atomic Harvest and The State Boys Rebellion. He has also written for Esquire, The New York Times Magazine, and Sports Illustrated. He lives in Miller Place, New York.
Published September 18, 2007 by Simon & Schuster. 320 pages
Genres: History, Computers & Technology, Travel, War, Professional & Technical, Science & Math, Business & Economics, Education & Reference. Non-fiction

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Ahead lay the formation of NASA, the beginning of the manned space program and momentous triumphs almost obliterating the fumbled beginning, when the failure of a Vanguard rocket launch allowed critics to cry, “Flopnik.” Recovers for a new generation the thrill of a pioneer quest and the spirit o...

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Entertainment Weekly

Photo Gallery 12 'Don't typecast ME!' roles Inside TV Oscar producers on Boobs Song: You missed the joke ...

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The Space Review

The modest level of public attention recently afforded to the birth of the Space Age, ranging from an occasional TV news piece to a special section of the New York Times’ ScienceTimes section last Tuesday, will reach a crescendo this Thursday on the 50th anniversary of the launch of Sputnik.

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