Getting Off the Planet - by Mary Jane Chambers and Dr Randall Chambers

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Getting off the Planet is the story of how a group of dedicated scientists, working with some of the nation's finest pilots, prepared for space flight by meticulous research and patient, relentless testing. The book provides a piece of space history largely missing until now. Earlier explorers, whatever the hazards, could count on having Earth's amenities: food, drinking water, breathing air and gravity. Space explorers had to take their life-support equipment with them. They also had to understand and solve the problems of such a mysterious, dangerous place before anyone had ever visited the space environment. For the first time ever, Dr. Randall M. Chambers, space pioneer who designed and conducted many of the earliest astronaut research and training programs, takes the reader behind the scenes and describes significant space flight preparations. Co-author is Mary Jane Chambers, the scientist's wife, who has had a long career as a journalist. When they met as students at Indiana University in 1949, Mary Jane was eyeing a career as a foreign correspondent. Instead, she soon found herself a front row seat at a drama about a different kind of foreign place: outer space. Mrs. chambers has doggedly insisted that GETTING OFF THE PLANET be enjoyable, interesting reading for space fans in all stages of scientific knowledge. She has banished the scientist's usual props: formulas and footnotes and has instead "translated" science projects into understandable language. Together, the authors have also recollected some humorous anecdotes which inevitably occurred during research and training projects. One of the biggest problems was trying to explain to their traditional neighbors why Dr. Chambers spent the night in a tank of water (used to simulate and study weightlessness), or why he competed with a chimpanzee to see who could learn to operate the controls of a spacecraft faster, or why he volunteered to do a lot of high-G centrifuge runs. Staff photographers took pictures of the ongoing experiments to document the studies. The book is richly illustrated with pictures of astronauts, test pilots, scientists and engineering technologists in experimental projects rarely seen before.