Krafft Ehricke’s Extraterrestrial Imperative

Krafft Ehricke’s Extraterrestrial Imperative
Krafft Ehricke’s Extraterrestrial Imperative

What if you believe in something with all your heart and it still doesn’t come true? If you’re Krafft Ehricke then you tell everyone that you can and hope that all together you can make it happen. At least that’s the message from Marsha Freeman’s semi-biography “Krafft Ehricke’s Extraterrestrial Imperative“. Though reading this book may tell you only a bit of Ehricke’s life, it will tell you a lot more about his dreams that he apparently worked toward, with all his heart.

Krafft Ehricke was a compatriot of Wernher von Braun. Both were Germans who brought the V2 rocket into production. After the war, Ehricke joined the German rocketeer group that travelled to the US. There he made significant contributions to the US space program especially with the Centaur upper stage. It, together with the Atlas rocket, made the solar system accessible to humankind. It was also a crowning achievement of Ehricke’s.

While this book provides a little more description of Ehricke’s life, it’s mostly a collection of Ehricke’s efforts to keep space exploration alive. With the Apollo program funding starting to decrease in 1965, Ehricke apparently took it upon himself to advocate for continued and even augmented expenditures.

He describes the Moon as Earth’s seventh continent. He continually vouchsafes space as being a resource to counter the limits to growth dogma of the 1970s. He also wrote of three Laws of Astronautics; the first being that the only limits of humankind are ones placed by himself. The book’s author uses lectures, documents and letters to support this impression of almost frenzied desire to get humankind space bound.

Accompanying these are many illustrative examples of technical solutions; fusion reactors to support life on the Moon, automated vehicles to prepare landing surfaces on the Moon, and, a fictional account of a trip from low Earth orbit to the Martian surface, and back of course. Together, these show a person keenly interested in and technically capable of getting humanity space bound.

This book does great credit to Ehricke’s extraterrestrial imperative. But, it reflects only on this part of his life. As we know, this part, to have humans space bound, remains for humanity to accomplish. As well, the technical capability remains. Still humanity looks for the necessary desire to make it happen. This book has many logical, reasonable, rational arguments for putting people into space.

Yet, these are from a person writing them 40 years ago. Many of the arguments remain and we are still Earth bound. So while the book has some description of Ehricke and a lot of Ehricke’s passion, it is a reflection of what was and adds little to current initiatives to return people to space.

It is surprising to many that the Apollo program began winding down long before a human stepped upon the Moon’s surface. Yet, many recognized the implication of this retreat and sought to do something about it. Marsha Freeman’s book “Krafft Ehricke’s Extraterrestrial Imperative” describes one man’s passionate efforts to keep this dream alive. Sadly, it is still a dream, shared by many but no more real than from many years ago.

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The Astronaut’s Cookbook

Astronaut's Cookbook Review
Astronaut's Cookbook

If there’s no bread, then eat cake. Some say this diet plan would satisfy everyone’s dreams. But up in space there are many more challenges to consider. Yet, with the potpourri of space farers from across the globe and all their unique culinary tastes, it’s not surprising that space flight excels with special treats. Charles Bourland and Gregory Vogt’s cookbook , The Astronaut’s Cookbook – Tales, Recipes, and More acknowledges this and serves up the directions for many culinary delights.

Space-flight challenges are well known. Cramped quarters, lack of fresh air and non-existent cooking equipment turns every normal kitchen duty into a trial. This book shows how NASA rose above these challenges to provide flavour, texture and safety during the many meals that can span a traveler’s repetitive months in space.

But, this book is called a cookbook for a reason. Though it provides great detail on the issues regarding food selection, most of the book consists of actual proven recipes. Even with a typical NASA batch constituting hundreds of pounds of material so as to make samples for testing, evaluating and using, this book aims for normal family size servings of about 6 to 10. Delicious sounding treats like Skylab Butter Cookies, Space Shuttle Black Beans and Leroy Chial’s Chinese Cold Peanut Noodles pop out from the pages. Some, as in the later, are attributed directly to a particular astronaut’s desires. Others may be more politically inclined, such as the mentioned Russian borscht (recipe not included).

A reader could use the recipes directly as a chance to eat like an astronaut. Even better though, if you’re thinking of an extended camping trip or a vacation well away from fast food restaurants, then these recipes may give you great ideas on what to bring and how to prepare it. Also, you might be helped by the notes on food spoilage and the methods that NASA uses to keep the astronauts fit as fiddles.

The emphasis on NASA isn’t surprising as both authors worked there. This confirms the apparent authenticity that continually pops up through the pages with pictures of snacking astronauts, stories about smuggling corn beef sandwiches or trying to get Twinkies across the Soviet border. So even if you’re not planning on going into space or spending months at an analog research station, this book has interesting facts, entertaining recipes and the potential for the beginnings of a wonderful evening. If that’s not enough, the last chapter considers probable astronaut food plans for multi-year flights to Mars and back. With all this, it makes for quite a space themed cookbook.

Whether in the mood for non-crumbly cake or long-lasting rye bread, the food’s flavour and variety play a big part in an astronaut’s menu. “The Astronaut’s Cookbook – Tales, Recipes, and More“, by Charles Bourland and Gregory Vogt lets you sample the same food that they do and could also prepare you for the long voyage away from readily running water and fresh air.

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