Inventing spaceflight : the years before Sputnik -- Sputnik and first steps into space, 1957-1961 -- Space race : the heroic years, 1961-1972 -- Space in an era of pragmatism, 1972-1989 -- Space in the global era, 1989-2007
Spaceflight has cut a broad swath through the contemporary experience, intertwining with politics, business, foreign affairs, popular culture, science and technology. It has shaped and transformed mankind. This book tells the story of the first half century of space exploration through 140 objects selected from the holdings of the National Air and Space Museum--many of them well known, others less so, but all unforgettable. Among them are the following: spacesuits used by John Glenn and Neil Armstrong; spacecraft, such as the Freedom 7 Mercury capsule, the space shuttle Enterprise and the first privately financed space vehicle, SpaceShipOne, among others; space-related gear: a functional rocket belt from the 1950s; a lunar rover; a Manned Maneuvering Unit for spacewalks; the Mars Pathfinder, and more; space-related collectibles, from a Buck Rogers trading card to a Sputnik music box and Apollo-Soyuz cigarettes; and pop culture depictions of space travel.--From publisher description.