Broadcast 3170 Michael Ciancone

  • The Space Foundation Conference

  • The Space Foundation Conference

  • The Space Foundation Conference

  • The Space Foundation Conference

The Space Foundation Conference

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Guest: Michael Ciancone; Topics" Mike's new book "Foreword to Spaceflight" plus the IAC upcoming congress and their plans for 2019, NASA, science fiction, education and more.

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We welcomed Michael Ciancone to the program for a two segment 100 minute discussion his new book,  "Foreword to Spaceflight: An Illustrated Bibliography of Pre-1958 Publications on Rocketry and Space Travel" and more.  The book should be available on Amazon (use TSS/OGLF Portal should you purchase it so that Amazon will help support TSS.  See  You can also find out more about the book at the Apogee website,  We started our discussion with our guest, Mr. Ciancone introducing us to his book which is actually an illustrated bibliography focusing on "hundreds of annotated entries that identify  books published before Sputnik on what has been referred to as speculative non-fiction related to the use of rockets for spaceflight." We spent most of the first segment talking about these early books which appeared in many languages and from many countries, not just the space active countries of the US, early Russia then the Soviet Union, and Germany.  Our guest talked about several of the books, how the field changed from before the 1920's to WW1 and then after leading up to Sputnik.  Listeners had several email questions for him including a few asking about the accuracy of the science and engineering in the early writings, spaceflight safety concerns, and one question wondering if any women were authors of these early books.  After the break, Michael provided a tentative answer regarding possible women authors on the list but when the show ended, our guest did additional research and posted what he learned about early women spaceflight authors on the blog so don't miss what he said.

Another question that was addressed dealt with science fiction.  Michael did not include science fiction authors and again stated that the books in the bibliography were speculative non-fiction which he defined for us.  Our guest did mention Arthur C. Clarke who had books on the list and was also a noted science fiction author.  Another listener asked how one might obtain a copy of some of these older books. Don't miss what our guest had to say about access to many of these early publications on spaceflight.  Yet another listener asked if these early books were still in print and this led to a discussion of print versus digital archives and related matters.  This was very interesting so don't miss it.

Hazards of spaceflight, even early human spaceflight though it had not yet happened were discussed by several authors.  As mentioned earlier, safety was brought up.  Listen to our guest describe early safety precautions and considerations.  At this time, Marshall called to inquire about what he saw as a technology lag, that is, how long it took for a concept once it appeared in print to make it to operations.  The slow response time was also factored in for getting people interested in spaceflight and the related fields.  Before Marshall ended his call, I asked how he thought his career had been impacted given his math and engineering education in Oklahoma and Taxes as compared to what he might have experienced had he pursued his education on either coast with more of a space and technology focus and network.  Marshall had some interesting comments regarding this question, all math focused of course.

In the second segment, John from Ft. Worth called to talk about an early book he read that inspired him, "The Real Book About Space Travel" which he said targeted young readers.  This particular book was in Michael's "Foreword to Spaceflight" book and he was familiar with it.  John then brought up an English language book authored b Hermann Oberth, "Man Into Space."  Michael and John talked about Oberth and even translating Oberth' s works to English.  Don't miss this interesting story.

Our next topic focused on the Orion Project and the European Service Module.  Michael explained his role in this project as he serves as the lead for safety and mission assurance for the project.  Our guest talked about Airbus and the different locations in Europe contributing to the project.  A listener asked about differences that might exist in design and engineering between the Europeans and having had the module designed and developed in the US.  Michael's answer was most interesting so don't miss it.  Our guest was also asked about the role of international cooperation in this particular project but other space projects as well.  One thing Michael did say was that there were multiple correct ways to do something.

Listener Bob in Salt Lake City wanted to know if the Service Module could be redesigned or used as a lunar lander.  The short answer was no.  As we were now nearing the end of the program, I asked our guest about his role in the IAC coming event later this year in Bremen, Germany.  Check it out here:  In addition, Michael mentioned that as part of the 50th anniversary of Apollo next year, the IAC will be held in Washington, DC for 2019.  Information on that event is at

Our last caller for the show was Mark from Petaluma who advocated for more quality space education from NASA as well as in our public schools.  Part of what he said drove me to one my education rants.  We talked NASA education and also I brought up the NASA free spinoff book which is an excellent way to see some of what space does for us all.  Before we ended the program, I asked our guest how people could get the book and Michael mentioned the special Russian Addendum contributed by Dr. Asif Siddiqi.

Please post your comments/questions on TSS blog for this show.  You reach Michael Ciancone at NASA JSC or through me.




Mike's new book, "Forward to Spaceflight" and more

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12 Aug 2018 Michael Ciancone
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