The Union Jack on the Moon
Great story. Loved the detail and the illustrations of the time. And the author is dead on about solid versus liquid prpulsion. I interviewed several members of the German rocket team (the ones who developed the V-2 in World War II and went on to work for the US Army and NASA) and their preference was to develop liquid fuel over solid fuel because of the inability to control – ie speed up or shut off – for once it is lit the solid booster goes until it explodes or shuts down.
However, liquid propulsion was in its infancy, as the author states, and solids were some 2,000 years old.
I don’t think the plan would have worked. Too many dangerous techs that would have to be proven in space – like steam propulsion for stearing I don’t think that would have worked in the extreme temperatures in space would counteract the steam or it would freeze and give off little thrust. World War II and the aerospace advances of the experimental aircraft programs had to come first for large program management and advanced technology.
Such a good piece. I wish more people would do this type of writing for these sites and leave the bottle rocket jokes on the playground.