Broadcast 351 (Special Edition)

19 Jun 2005 Chuck Walker
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Chuck Walker, author of "Atlas: The Ultimate Weapon," was the guest for this Space Show program. Mr. Walker began the interview by letting us know why the Atlas ICBM was the ultimate weapon and why it was so important for both the military and the early days of our space program, including Project Mercury. We talked about the various versions of the Atlas, its stainless steel components and construction, it safety record, Mercury astronauts and their flights, the use of a Russian engine in a 90's version of the Atlas, and much more. We went into the cost of the Atlas program, the differences in the way the Atlas team worked together to design, engineer, build, test and fly the Atlas as compared to the workings of today's industry. Mr. Walker even speculated that we might not be able to do something like the Atlas in today's aerospace industry. Because of a question from a listener, we discussed making the Atlas and other important large construction projects such as the Golden Gate Bridge and Hoover Dam ---- with a slide rule and no computers! This developed into an interesting end of show conversation with our guest and chat user John from Montana. Listen to this program. Atlas is important for a variety of reasons. For example, if we want to move forward to being space-faring in all that is meant by this term, then we surely need to know where we came from. By understanding programs and great feats such as Atlas, the men and women that brought them into reality, and the type of programs used to bring these developments to us all to benefit the world (Atlas helped keep the peace in the Cold War, make no mistake about it and it was the Project Mercury launch vehicle), we can certainly build on this background and foundation to go forward. As our guest said several times during the show, not too many of the senior Atlas team are still around. We need to listen to what Chuck Walker and others like him have to share with us. It can only benefit us in our quest to become space-faring. If you have questions or comments for Mr. Walker, please send them to me at drspace@thespaceshow.com and I will forward them to him. His book is available at your favorite bookstore and online book store.

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