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Author Topic:   PBS History Detectives: Early Space History
SpaceAholic
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Posts: 3023
From: Sierra Vista, Arizona
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 03-03-2010 10:03 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceAholic   Click Here to Email SpaceAholic     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thought this was interesting as there are many of us with specimens believed to have originated from the Echo program in our collection.

"History Detectives" Investigate the Case of the Mylar Mystery

There is a mystery afoot at Goddard - the case of the mylar mystery to be exact. On January 11, 2010, "History Detective" Tukufu Zuberi, from the PBS show "The History Detectives," came to Goddard to investigate a mystery. "The History Detectives" show asks viewers to submit unusual objects or clues with a possible historical interest and then selects one as the basis of investigating an historical mystery.


In our case, Zuberi had one clue, a small, unassuming, silver sample of mylar with pink residue on one side. The mystery to be solved was whether or not this bit of mylar was from Goddard’s Echo II satelloon project. Satelloons are a combination of satellites and balloons which were constructed out of bright, metallic mylar for increased visibility.

During the early 1960’s, Goddard launched the Echo I and Echo II satelloon projects. The Echo projects were instrumental in letting the world see that the U.S. was a major force in the space race not very far behind Russia. Among the many contributions of the Echo programs are the first voice communication via satellite which was made by none other than then President Eisenhower and the first coast-to-coast telephone call using a satellite. In addition, the Echo programs resulted in advances in atmospheric density, solar pressure, gossamer structures, solar sailing, and transmitting videos via satellites.

History Detective Zuberi turned to retired NASA engineer and self-professed Echo satelloon historian Ron Muller for help in solving the mylar mystery. He received additional assistance in the form of testing from four members of Goddard’s Materials Engineering Branch including Michael Viens, Alejandro Montoya, Debbie Thomas, and Marjorie Sovinski.

So, what did History Detective Zuberi and his Goddard colleagues determine? Was the silver bit of mylar from our Echo II satelloon project? For the answers to these and other questions regarding the case of the mylar mystery, stay tuned to watch a future episode of "The History Detectives" airing on PBS in the summer of 2010.

Editor's note, June 2010: For additional discussion about this episode, see: 'Moon Museum' smuggled on Apollo 12: PBS History Detectives asks 'Who is John F?'

FFrench
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Posts: 3093
From: San Diego
Registered: Feb 2002

posted 06-25-2010 11:59 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for FFrench     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Many thanks to space historian Chris Gainor for alerting me to this show - which I had missed on TV, but just watched online - and its prominent onscreen use of our book "In the Shadow of the Moon" as a reference tool. It's most gratifying to see the book used in this way.

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