I very much enjoyed this book. Think of it as a substance-rich, original on every page exploration of how the space program interacted with the environmental movement, and also with the peace and “Whole Earth” movements of the 1960s. Most of all it is a social history of technology. If I heard only that description I might think this is a mood-affiliated load of recycled crud, but in fact it is the best non-research-related book I’ve read in the last month. Here is one excerpt:
“There is the problem of designing and fitting a spacesuit to accommodate their particular biological needs and functions,” explained one NASA official during the fall of 1960. The Apollo spacesuit, added another spokesperson more than a decade later, “would be damaging to the soft structures of the feminine body.” There was also the issue of bodily waste. By the mid-1960s the space agency had already spent millions of dollars developing a urinary collection device that slid over each crewman’s penis, but the female anatomy, NASA administrators claimed, presented additional engineering difficulties in the weightlessness of space. “There was no way to manage women’s waste,” argued NASA’s Director of Life Sciences, David Winter. “If you can’t handle a basic physiological need like that, you can’t go anywhere.” The national media became obsessed with this particular issue, publicizing NASA administrators’ concerns to the broader American public.
Recommended, pre-order it here.