roar! roar!

CHRISTOPHER MCKITTERICK

ROCKETS &
SPACESHIPS

early test of the Juno rocket

After the US ran out of V-2 rocket parts, von Braun and crew began working on completely new ballistic missiles. I just love this image. It evokes such a sense of wonder, that "we can do anything" feel of the '50s. Buck Rogers was still part of the American landscape, and we were going to the stars! The SF of that period reflected this attitude, just assuming that we'd have a human foothold in space within the decade, and be on the way to building an interstellar human empire within the century.

Rocketry was still in its infancy then, and kids could buy books that taught them how to become amateur rocket scientists. I spent a good part of my teenage years trying to do the things Goddard had perfected half a century before. But a kid with no money working in a garage seldom makes decent turbopumps or durable rocket engines.

My most successful liquid-fuel rocket used a pint each of nitric acid and alcohol, and produced enough thrust to rise about six inches before bursting into flame. I then turned to solid-fuel rockets, because my assistants needed to be rewarded for all their help. But solid fuel didn't interest me, and I haven't built a rocket since adolescence. Ah, the Golden Years of SF and rocketry are 12!

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