Broadcast 751 (Special Edition)

06 Aug 2007 Dr. Mike Gruntman
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Dr. Mike Gruntman was the guest for this Space Show program. First, please be aware that this interview had substantial phone line noise which could not be cleared up during the call or show processing. We do apologize for any inconvenience this "noisy" conversation causes you. We began the program by discussing his award winning book published by AIAA, "Blazing the Trail: The Early History of Spacecraft and Rocketry." AIAA has just completed a second printing of the book with a substantial price reduction. Also, for those of you who are AIAA members, if you buy it from AIAA, you get the AIAA discount. This is a superb book and I recommend it as one of the needed space reference and informational books. We then shifted our focus to Dr. Gruntman's new book, "From Astronautics to Cosmonautics." In this book, Mike tells the important story of two pioneers of space exploration, Robert Esnault-Pelterie and specifically, Ary Sternfeld. These two pioneers brought us the words astronautics and cosmonautics. As Mike explained, the term astronauticcs is well documented but the history of the word cosmonautics is poorly known and Ary Sternfeld is largely forgotten. As Mike discussed with us, this book tells the story of the two words and describes the unusual life of Ary Sternfeld who was a pioneer rocket engineer, ideologically a socialist/communist, a Jew, and one who went to the Soviet Union but soon encountered discrimination and all sorts of problems as did other minorities in the old Soviet Union. Dr. Gruntman received several listener questions about Ary Sternfeld, asking if he could be compared to the German rocket scientists from World War II such as Wernher von Braun. You will find the response by Dr. Gruntman to be most interesting on this subject. We also discussed why bright people make dumb choices as exampled by Sternfeld choosing to live in the USSR with the discrimination, etc. During the next segments of the discussion with Mike Gruntman, we talked about space education, ideas on how to improve it, science and math education starting in K through 12 and on into middle school, high school and college. Mike described successful space engineering programs and suggestions for improving our space science and engineering education, especially in light of how dependent the US has now become on space and space based resources. Dr. Gruntman's website where you can learn more about his books, papers, and projects is, a a site dedicated to astronautics, spacecraft design, space technology, and the history of astronautics. Please send your comment and questions to Mike at or use the information provided for contacting him through his website. Both books are available through his website,, other online book stores and your favorite book store, plus the AIAA bookstore.