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  Astro Turf by M. G. Lord

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Author Topic:   Astro Turf by M. G. Lord

Posts: 344
From: Hudson, MA
Registered: Jul 2005

posted 06-08-2008 09:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Paul78zephyr     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Has anyone else read Astro Turf by M. G. Lord? It's a pretty facinating (and very human) look at the early years of JPL and the aerospace/rocket industry from the point of view of a woman whose father was a JPL engineer in the 50s/60s/70s. Exceptionally well written in my opinion.

(One minor, but interesting [if not extremely coincidental], footnote I learned from this book is that one of the early [1930's era] American rocket pioneers was named Apollo [Apollo Milton Olin Smith - usually referred to as A.M.O. Smith].)

E2M Lem Man

Posts: 793
From: Los Angeles CA. USA
Registered: Jan 2005

posted 06-09-2008 05:47 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for E2M Lem Man     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Yes, the book and her life is all that but also dark in places and times, as her Dad wasn't around during as he was building space probes.

Surprisingly for me - M.G. Lord and I were in the same graduating class in the same year at the same High School. She and I discovered this when we first met last year. No - we don't remember one another (even if I was a big space geek even then) - but we lived close to each other and went to the same schools.

But my Dad was a diesel engineer - not a rocket scientist.


Posts: 1571
From: Atlanta, GA, USA
Registered: Feb 2007

posted 08-31-2010 12:26 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for garymilgrom   Click Here to Email garymilgrom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I was disappointed with this book. It seems like a missed opportunity for an overview of all that is JPL - the people and the missions regardless if they were successful or not.

The book instead focuses on the author's anger at how women were treated in US industry years ago and her anger that the German scientists of Operation Paperclip were never tried for their supposed part in the Nazi organization. She goes on and on about how Wernher von Braun's war record was ignored and about how women in past decades were seen as decoration or as suitable for light work only. Regarding women in the workplace the author fails to see that times have changed and you cannot use today's moral or ethical standards on a decades old organization. The author goes so far as to describe womens' treatment at MIT in the 1800's and at Cambridge University in the 1700's which is surely outside the scope of this book. Regarding von Braun's part in WWII, that is worth discussing but I don't see how it fits into this context (a history of JPL).

What really got me is her description of a launch as a phallic, demonstrably-male event. She further complains that the "feminine components" of a launch, such as the umbilical connecting rocket and pad, are hidden and not featured prominently. She makes this assumption even though she's never seen a launch. That's right, although her JPL contacts urged her to see one to better understand their missions and culture, she did not have the patience for the delays and decided it wasn't that important anyway. To me that translates as a person with her own agenda who refuses to be swayed by others' thoughts or even the facts themselves - not the type of author I think best qualified to write a historical account.


Posts: 1025
From: Denver, CO USA
Registered: Jun 2004

posted 08-31-2010 09:12 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for GoesTo11   Click Here to Email GoesTo11     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Gary, I got much the same impression from ten minutes of skimming through this book at Barnes & struck me as less a memoir than a screed. Glad I didn't waste more time (or any money) on it. Too bad, because there are fascinating stories to be told by people who shared Lord's experience, if they could do so without an agenda.

All times are CT (US)

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