Broadcast 1632 (Special Edition)

09 Oct 2011 Dr. George H. Ludwig
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Guest: Dr. George Ludwig. Topics: Cosmic ray hardware for first U.S. satellites, Explorer 1, 3, the Van Allen Radiation Belts & more. You are invited to comment, ask questions, and discuss the Space Show program/guest(s) on the Space Show blog, http://thespaceshow.wordpress.com. Comments, questions, and any discussion must be relevant and applicable to Space Show programming. Transcripts of Space Show programs are not permitted without prior written consent from The Space Show (even if for personal use) & are a violation of the Space Show copyright. We welcomed Dr. George H. Ludwig to the show to discuss his new book, "Opening Space Research: Dreams, Technology, and Scientific Discovery." Dr. Ludwig was the person who designed and built the actual cosmic ray experiment hardware that flew in this country's first satellite, Explorer 1. During our first segment, Dr. Ludwig started out with a quick overview of the early history of high altitude space research using early rockets, balloons and later rockoons. From the point of the opening of the space age with Sputnik 1 on Oct. 4, 1957, he told us the inside story of building the cosmic ray research equipment, Dr. James Van Allen and his work, the politics and policies used to select the Navy Vanguard rocket for our first satellite launch. He also told us that both President Eisenhower and Premiere Khruschev did not realize the significance of Sputnik but eventually Khrushchev came to realize it much quicker than Ike and thus started to capitalize on the propaganda value associated with Sputnik. We also talked about the U.S. not wanting the military involved in space as these early space projects were to be part of the international cooperative science year known as the International Geophysical Year (IGY) of 1957-58. Another point made by our guest was that aviation was 54 years old at the time of Sputnik 1 and the field was pretty far advanced. He said now we have been in space for 54 years, we have been to the Moon, the planets, deep space, we have large orbiting telescopes, satellites, and we are expanding our knowledge about the universe. He compared the two 54 year periods with one another as an interesting point of common reference. In the second segment, we spent more time discussing the significance of the IGY and this early space and satellite period in our space history, we talked about the early rockets used after WW2 include V-2s, the Aerobee and others, then the high altitude balloons and the rockoons. Dr. Ludwig also went through the pros and cons with both the Vanguard and the Orbiter programs and as you will hear, there were good reasons to select the Vanguard which ultimate proved to be a successful launcher. Anthony asked some questions about Apollo astronauts and the Van Allen belts, then later he inquired about Van Allen radiation type belts around Jupiter and the other planets. In the third segment, we talked about some of the challenges faced by Dr. Ludwig in designing and making this hardware, including miniaturization, the need to consume very low levels of power, and the need to have sufficient data storage. Don't miss what he has to say about meeting these challenges. Later in this segment, he talked about the Cold War situation and the experiments to blow a nuclear bomb up in space to see if we could develop hardware and systems to detect incoming Soviet weapons. In this discussion, he explained the Argus program. One of the points he made through the interview was the amount of time it took to develop these projects. For example, he said Argus was done in 77 days. Explorer 3 was 80 days. We compared that to the time it takes to do something today. Post your comments/questions on the blog URL above. You can email Dr. Ludwig in care of me. To buy his book, visit www.agu.org/books. You can also call (202) 462-6900.

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