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  Star-Crossed Orbits: Inside The U.S.-Russian Space Alliance (James Oberg)

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Author Topic:   Star-Crossed Orbits: Inside The U.S.-Russian Space Alliance (James Oberg)

Posts: 1282
From: Smithfield, Me, USA
Registered: Mar 2005

posted 05-23-2014 10:11 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for MCroft04   Click Here to Email MCroft04     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'm just reading this wonderful book and can't help but think about John Young's book ("Forever Young") when Mr. Oberg is writing about safety on Mir.

But what really intrigues me is the statement on page 141 that the reason a Mars bound satellite burned up in the Martian atmosphere was not because of confusion between English and metric units, but because of poor decisions by NASA managers. How was NASA management able to deceive so many? Perhaps someone else can shed more light.

Star-Crossed Orbits: Inside The U.S.-Russian Space Alliance
by James Oberg

Ever since Sputnik, we have been locked in a space race with the Russians. With the end of the Soviet era the relationship has evolved into a collaborative one, albeit with strong competitive underpinnings. With the building of the International Space Station, the strains in the alliance are beginning to show.

This volume is a detailed, investigative history of the U.S.-Russian space relationship from a long-time NASA insider turned commentator. Oberg describes, from the points of view of key individuals both inside and outside the program, the strengths and weaknesses that each side has brought to the partnership, the original hopes and promises for its benefits, and its triumphs and disappointments.

Proficient in Russian and a frequent visitor to that country, Oberg reveals for the first time the extent of the greed, corruption, and covered-up setbacks that have marked the devolution of the Soviet space program to its recent virtual collapse. He covers the U.S.-Mir venture, and NASA's reluctance to learn from its lessons.

Ultimately, Oberg examines the prospects for the International Space Station, a project that he believes was begun with good intentions, but is in danger of running aground. With the Russians unable (or unwilling) to build their pieces of the station, NASA must assume more and more responsibility for it in an era when their "faster, cheaper, better" philosophy is already wearing very thin. Recent losses such as the Mars Observer are nothing compared to the disasters that could befall a cheaply built space station.

This is a story told with a balanced perspective. Oberg has extensive contacts within NASA and is considered a leading expert in the Russian space prgram. While he is still enthusiastic about many of NASA's goals, he is also able to take an informed critical stance on the space program's shortcomings.

"Star-Crossed Orbits" is full of the technology and space lore that space buffs love; but it also contains colorful characters, political intrigue and timely discussion of international space issues, making it an appealing book for the general reader.

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill Trade; 1st edition (October 17, 2001)
  • ISBN-10: 0071374256
  • ISBN-13: 978-0071374255


Posts: 4613
From: Geneva, Switzerland
Registered: May 2006

posted 05-24-2014 12:50 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for cspg   Click Here to Email cspg     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
If it's a wonderful book, then I guess I'll have to read it again...

What I remember of it was the continuous motto "NASA should have known better; NASA should have done this or that" etc. It went on and on and on. More like NASA bashing than anything else.

With the benefit of hindsight, it's easy to criticize. But maybe the facts are correct, it's just the style that, well, went off course!


Posts: 1282
From: Smithfield, Me, USA
Registered: Mar 2005

posted 05-24-2014 08:47 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for MCroft04   Click Here to Email MCroft04     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Like I said, it reminded me of John Young's book, so Oberg is in good company. I like reading about the different personalities. As one who was part of many different organizations during my career, I see the same old personalities, whether it's a group sending humans into space or one trying to find oil and gas.

But I'm more interested in the comments about the crash of the Mars satellite. Almost everyone, even non-space enthusiasts, know about the screw up with English and metric units. Now I'm told that was fabricated to cover the truth. I'd like to know more.

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