Mike Hodel's Hour 25

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September 2003

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Index to our previous shows

  • September 28, 2003 - Guenter Wendt
  • Shows from August, 2003
  • Shows from July, 2003
  • Shows from June, 2003
  • Shows from May, 2003
  • Shows from February, 2003
  • Shows from January, 2003
  • Shows from December, 2002
  • Shows from November, 2002
  • Shows from October, 2002
  • Shows from September, 2002
  • Shows from August, 2002
  • Shows from July, 2002
  • Shows from June, 2002
  • Shows from May, 2002
  • Shows from April, 2002
  • Shows from March, 2002
  • Shows from February, 2002
  • Shows from January, 2002
  • Shows from December 2001
  • Shows from November, 2001
  • Shows from October, 2001
  • Shows from September, 2001
  • Shows from August, 2001
  • Shows from July, 2001
  • Shows from June, 2001
  • Shows from May, 2001
  • Shows from April, 2001
  • Shows from March, 2001
  • Shows from February, 2001
  • Shows from January, 2001
  • Shows from November - December, 2000
  • Shows from September - October, 2000
  • Shows from July - August, 2000

  • This Week - Guenter Wendt    -    Listen to this show

    On Sunday - September 28th, 2003 - our guest on Hour 25 was Guenter Wendt, the last man that the Apollo astronauts saw before leaving for the Moon.

    Guenter Wendt at the South gate entrance to the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station with the flag he fought to install. Picture Copyright © 2001 by Robert Godwin.  All Rights Reserved.     Persons like myself who grew up in the 60's watching the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo astronauts fly into space became familiar with all the activities that occurred before a human could be launched on a rocket. The lengthy check-out and fueling of the booster, the astronauts' walk out to the van that would take them to the launch vehicle, the controlled chaos of the astronauts getting into their spacecraft, and the last minute checks after the astronauts were in their spacecraft. All leading up to the fire and thunder when another American rocketed into space.

    One of the constants in all of that was the presence of Guenter Wendt. His name came up in the TV coverage of every launch. Who was this man, I wondered as a boy, who was there on each flight to make sure that everything on the pad went off like clockwork?

    As time went on and as I learned more about the history of the space program I learned more about Guenter Wendt and what he did as the Pad Leader for Mercury, Gemini and Apollo. I even learned that bad joke that so many of the astronauts used as they got ready for launch, "I vonder vhere Guenter vent?" I knew that Guenter Wendt had to have a bunch of great stories about the space program and knew that he was someone I'd love to have on Hour 25.

    Guenter has written a book about his experiences in the American space program, The Unbroken Chain, and it is a must read for anyone who is interested the history of spaceflight and for anyone who wonders what would have to be done to recreate the capabilities that took us to the Moon in less than a decade.

    But one of the things that sets Guenter's book apart from most of the books you might have read about the space program is that he doesn't focus on the astronauts or other famous people. His book tells the story of the workers. The people who risked their lives working day in and day out with rockets filled with toxic and explosive chemicals. The people who didn't become celebrities, but whose dedication to the job was just as great as any of the more well known personages. His is a personal story about the 'everyday Joes' who formed an unbroken chain that made it possible for us to go to the Moon. It is told with warmth, humor and genuine good spirit. It is a story that needed to be told. I'm glad he did.

    As you can imagine, Guenter's book is most highly recommended.

    A while back I was able to meet Guenter and chat with him for Hour 25. It was great fun. He has a wealth of stories and loves to share them. But more than that, it was my privilege to spend some time with him and learn how the workers of the American space program were able to do the tremendous things they did in such a short span of time. Guenter is a rare and special person and it is my special pleasure to be able to share that interview with you tonight.

    Cover for Guenter's book The Unbroken Chain,  Copyright © 2001 by Russell Still.  All Rights Reserved.  Click here to go to the Web Site for Apogee Books.     Guenter and Gene Cernan during a Pre-Launch test for Apollo 17.

    Good Reads

    Cover for the Outre magazine, Number 33,  Copyright © 2003 by Filmfax, Inc. All rights reserved.  Click here to go to the Filmfax/Outre Web Site      This certainly has to be the "Year of Mars". A small fleet of spacecraft are approaching Mars carrying with them three separate vehicles that will land on that planet's surface. Mars had its closest approach to Earth in the last 50,000 years this summer. New data continues to flow in from the spacecraft currently orbiting Mars. And Outre magazine has published a special edition celebrating the role of Mars in space exploration, film and popular culture.
    Outre magazine is well known for the wide range of subjects that they cover, from B-movies to pop culture, from science fiction to scientific speculations. It is always great fun to read, but the current issue is a special treat. Between the covers of this magazine you'll find articles about Mars in film, the Disney TV show Mars and Beyond, Ward Kimball, the Mars of Edgar Rice Burroughs, the Mars Attacks cards, Martian themed toys and much more.

    All in all, this is a great issue of Outre and is not to be missed if you have ever looked up at Mars in the night sky and dreamed of what we might find there. Recommended!

    One of the challenges facing Science Fiction today is that much of the classic literature of the field is currently out of print. Many of the legendary stories that did so much to shape Science Fiction just cannot be found, unless you haunt used book stores or on-line auctions. This means that many of the people who are just discovering Science Fiction don't have easy access to the classic stories. And if those persons seek out the classics, how are they to decide just which ones are the classics when there have been thousands of stories published during the last century?

    I'm not sure what the complete answer is to the question posed above, but I do know where you can start your search for the classic stories of Science Fiction. TOR books has recently reprinted a classic anthology that was compiled by the Science Fiction Writers of America back in 1970, The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Volume One, 1929-1964.

    This book is a compilation of stories that the SFWA members voted as the all time best stories in the field. Between the covers of this book you will find stories by some of the most famous writers in our field, stories that shaped the nature of Science Fiction, stories that show how Science Fiction can do things other types of literature can't do, stories that are... well, truly great reads.

         Cover for Volume One of the Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Published by TOR Books, Copyright © 1970, 1998 by the Science FictionWriters of America, All Rights Reserved.  Click here to go to the TOR Books Web Site.

    For more information about the Science Fiction Writers of America be sure to go to their Web Site.
    TOR books is to be congratulated for bringing this anthology back into print and for putting it out in a very nice hardbound edition that deserves to be on the shelves of just about every library in the country. This book is the real deal, the mother load, the treasure trove of Science Fiction. If you haven't read this book, then don't miss it. If you read these stories years ago, you'll enjoy picking up this book and rediscovering the special wonder that is Science Fiction. This book gets my highest recommendation.

    Listen to this show

    • Click here to listen to the entire show. {1:43:27}
    • Click here for the show's intro music.{0:41}
    • Click here for the show's opening. {28:54}
    • Click here for our interview with Guenter Wendt. {1:12:03}
    • Click here for the show's closing.{1:49}

    • Click here for an index of all Shows on our site.
    Click here if you have a problem hearing the show and you're using Internet Explorer.

    If you enjoyed this show and would like to know when other interviews are uploaded to the Hour 25 web site, then send an email to me at wwjames@earthlink.net and I will add your name to the free Hour 25 Newsletter mailing list. That way you'll get a brief notice in your email every time a new show gets uploaded to the web.

    The Great Hour 25 Disk Crash of 2002 - On-Going News

    As a result of our recent hard disk crash the Hour 25 newsletter mailing list has vanished into the digital darkness. It would be very helpful if subscribers to the Hour 25 Newsletter would resend their email addresses to me {wwjames@earthlink.net} so I can reconstitute the Newsletter mailing list. {If you have done this "post-crash" then I have your email address and you don't need to do anything.} New editions of the newsletter will start coming out "real soon now".

    In the same vein, if you previously sent in an entry for the Karen Willson Five Word Challenge, now would be a good time for you to fish around in your "sent mail" folder and resend your entry. Or come up with a new one and send it in. {And please put "Five Word Challenge" or some approximation thereof in the subject line of your email to make it easy for me to keep track of your entry.}

    Links for more information relating to this week's show

    Guenter Wendt
  • You can find out more about Guenter Wendt at his official Web Site.
  • Go here to read Guenter's official biography from the KSC Web Site.
  • You can read at interview with Guenter at this Web Page from the Space.com Web Site or at this Florida Today Web Page.
  • In an attempt to preserve the Oral History of the Moon Landings, NASA has done a series of interviews with the persons associated with the Apollo Program. They make fascinating reading. You can read Guenter's contribution to the Apollo Oral History Project here.
  • Guenter's book, The Unbroken Chain, was published by Apogee Books. Those folks have been doing some really wonderful space books - we'll talk about some of their other books in the coming weeks - and I cannot give them too much praise. Their books are always filled with loads of information, well written and packaged with CD-ROMS or DVDs that extend the books far beyond the normal constraints of book publishing. Way to go guys! Keep up the great work! To find out about the other books that they have done, and to learn about some of the books they have planned for the future, you should go to their Web Site.
  • And if you enjoyed this interview with Guenter Wendt and would like to know when other interviews are uploaded to the Hour 25 web site, then send an email to me at wwjames@earthlink.net and I will add your name to the free Hour 25 Newsletter mailing list. That way you'll get a brief notice in your email every time a new show gets uploaded to the web.

    Space News - Various
  • You can learn more about the now completed mission of the Galileo spacecraft by going to the Project's Official Web Site, this JPL Planetary Missions Web Site or this Web Site at the National Space Science Data Center.
  • More information about the SMART-1 Lunar Mission can be found at this Web Page created by the European Space Agency.

    Space News - The Shenzhou Project
  • The Encyclopedia Astronautica is a fabulous reference source for information about various space projects, including China's current activities. You can read more about the upcoming launch of the Shenzhou 5 spacecraft at their Countdown to the Launch of Shenzhou-5 Web Page. You can read more about the Shenzhou spacecraft and view many pictures of it at their Shenzhou Web Page. Check our their Chinese Space Station Web Page or their Chinese Lunar Base Web Page to learn about China's plans for Space Stations and Lunar exploration in the coming decades.
  • Scientific American has recently published a very good article about the upcoming Shenzhou mission, written by James Oberg. You can view an on-line version of that article here.
  • On-going news about China's space program can be found at this recently revised Space Daily Web Site.
  • Click here to go to the Go Taikonauts! Web Site, an unofficial web page covering the Shenzhou project and other aspects of China's space program. {Please note that this Web Page has not been updated in over a year.}

    Space News - The Columbia Accident - On-Going

          The Columbia Accident Report
  • You can read the Report of the Columbia Accident Investigation on-line or download it by going here. {You will also find a link there in case you want to order a hard copy.}

          The Smoking Gun
  • Ongoing testing by NASA seems to have found the "smoking gun" in the Columbia accident. {At least as far as the technical problems go. For information about NASA's management problems, see the news item below.} Tests found that a foam impact on the leading edge of the Shuttle's wing would blow a 16 inch hole in that structure as well as cracking and damaging other parts of the Shuttle's wing. For more information check out these stories from the Orlando Sentinel, Florida Today, Reuters, Spaceflight Now and The Houston Chronicle.

          The Management Problem
  • Be sure to read this story from the Orlando Sentinel which discusses previous Shuttle missions where foam from the ET damaged the Shuttle's TPS and NASA's approach to dealing with this problem in the future.
  • During the Apollo 13 accident the words of Flight Director Gene Krantz, "Failure is not an option", set the tone for what NASA would do and went a long way toward getting the crew safely back to Earth. But during the flight of the Columbia things were quite different. Linda Ham, the head of the Mission Management Team, was not interested in getting better data about the result of the foam impact or coming up with a crash program to rescue the Columbia astronauts because, as she said, "I don't think there is much we can do". Read more about this shocking revelation at this report from the Washington Post and at this story from the Florida Today Web Site .
  • Be sure to check out this story from the Florida Today Web Site which details a long history of unresolved safety issues affecting the Shuttle.

         Concerning Future Developments
  • For an interesting assessment of the Orbital Space Plane project, be sure to read this report by Jeffrey F. Bell. You might or might not agree with him, but his calculations certainly give you something to think about.
  • More information about the Orbital Space Plane (OSP) can be found here, another view about the OSP can be found here and another opinion about this project can be found here.

         On-Going Coverage and Reference Sources
  • The Columbia Accident Investigation Board Web Site is a good source for information about the results of the on-going investigation into the loss of the Columbia.
  • NASA has a Web Site with information about the loss of the Columbia, the on-going investigation into this accident, the crew and other related subjects.
  • CAD Digest has a very good compilation of information about the Columbia accident.
  • Florida Today has a Web Site with updated coverage of the loss of the Columbia.
  • This NASA Web Page contains pictures of the crew of the Columbia along with other pictures from their mission. {Audio files from STS-107 can be found here and video files can be found here.}
  • You can find the Press Kit from the STS-107 mission here.

    Space News - Mars - On-Going
  • For more information about the Mars Exploration Rovers be sure to check out the MER Web Site at JPL or this Mars Rover site at Cornell University.
  • To learn more about the Mars Express mission you can go to this ESA Mars Express Web Site, this Mars Express Web Page from JPL, this NSSDC Mars Express Web Page, or this Web Page from Mars News.Com.
  • For more information about the Beagle 2 Mars Lander be sure to check out the Beagle 2 Official Web Site, the ESA Beagle 2 Web Page or this article about Beagle 2 from Astrobiology Magazine.
  • Images of the Beagle 2 landing site as seen from the Viking Orbiter and Mars Global Surveyor can be viewed here {Part 1} and here {Part 2}.
  • For more information about the Exploration of Mars be sure to go to the JPL Mars Exploration Site, the Center for Mars Exploration at NASA Ames, or the Mars Missions Web Site at the Planetary Society.
  • Information about the data returned by previous Mars missions can be found at this Mars Web Page at the NSSDC.
  • Information about the Phoenix Mission to Mars can be found at this Press Release from the University of Arizona. You can view a 3D picture of the Mars Phoenix spacecraft here.
  • For more Mars news be sure to check out the Mars News.Com Web Site.
  • Percival Lowell did much to shape our ideas about Mars in the early years of the 20th Century. You can learn more about his work by reading this on-line copy of his 1895 book Mars.

    For On-Going Updates on Space News
  • The Reusable Launch & Space Vehicle News Web Site Web Page that is part of the Hobby Space Web Site is a really good place to watch for news about, well... Reusable Launch Vehicles and related subjects. I check it out just about every day and often find news there that doesn't show up anywhere else. Give it a look. {And while you're there be sure to check out some of the site's other pages. Wow! Is there a lot of information there.}
  • The Space Today Web Site is a great place to find space news from all over the 'net.
  • The Spaceflight Now Web Site carries real time information about current space missions and presents a lot of space and astronomy news. This is the place I go to when I want up to the minute information about current space missions. Do I need to say more?
  • The NASA Watch Web Site is another great place for getting information about current space missions. Check there also for news about other 'goings on' within NASA. Highly recommended.

    ISS News
  • The Florida Today Web Site has a very interesting report about the causes of the ISS budget problems and their impact on the space program. It makes very interesting reading.
  • Click here to view the press kits for various ISS missions.
  • Check out the NASA International Space Station Web Page or the Boeing Web Page to learn more about this project.
  • A great source of news about Russian space activities, including their work on the ISS, can be found at the Russian Space Web.
  • Do you wonder where the Space Station is right now? You can use your browser to view real time maps showing the location of the ISS by going to this link at the NASA Space Link Web Site or here at the Johnson Spacecraft Center. Please note that your browser must support Java to make use of this satellite tracking software.
  • You can find out when the ISS - or many other spacecraft - can be seen from your location by going to this NASA Web Page. Please note; your browser must support Java for this application to work.

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