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T. A. Heppenheimer

T. A. Heppenheimer's picture
Thomas A. Heppenheimer is a frequent contributor to Invention & Technology. He holds a Ph.D in aerospace engineering from the University of Michigan, and is an associate fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. He has held research fellowships in planetary science at California Institute of Technology and at the Max Planck Institute in Heidelberg, Germany.

He has been a free-lance writer since 1978. He has written extensively on aerospace, business and government, and the history of technology, publishing some 300 articles in magazines such as American Heritage and Air & Space. He has also written for the National Academy of Sciences, and contributed regularly to Mosaic of the National Science Foundation. Mr. Heppenheimer also has written twelve hardcover books. Three of them — Colonies in Space (1977), Toward Distant Suns (1979), and The Man-Made Sun (1984) — have been alternate selections of the Book-of-the-Month Club. His Turbulent Skies (1995), a history of commercial aviation, is part of the Technology Book Series of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. It also has been produced as a four-part, four-hour Public Broadcasting System television series, "Chasing the Sun."

Under contract to NASA, Heppenheimer has written that agency's authorized history of the space shuttle. NASA SP-4221, The Space Shuttle Decision: NASA's Search for a Reusable Space Vehicle (1999), explains the Shuttle's origins and early development. In addition to internal NASA discussions, this work details the debates in the late 1960s and early 1970s among policymakers in Congress, the Air Force, and the Office of Management and Budget over the roles and technical designs of the Shuttle. This volume has been reissued in paperback by the Smithsonian Institution Press and has been selected as an Outstanding Academic Title.

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Articles by this Contributor

Articles by this Contributor

For half a century airplanes flew ever faster, ever higher. Then progress abruptly reached its limits—perhaps forever. The reasons are both technical and political.

The town needed water if it was ever to grow into a major city. William Mulholland brought the water from hundreds of miles away, despite big natural obstacles and enormous human ones.

Mechanized picking of cotton transformed the South

In the late 1940s tracking the Soviet nuclear arsenal was an urgent concern for the United States—but the experts thought it was impossible

NASA BUILT A HANGAR 50 STORIES HIGH FOR THE ROCKETS THAT WENT TO THE MOON

HENRY FLAGLER DEFIED THE ELEMENTS TO LAY TRACKS ACROSS THE OCEAN TO KEY WEST— BUT ULTIMATELY THE ELEMENTS WON

AT THE START OF THE 1960s, THE SOVIET UNION LED THE WORLD IN ROCKETRY. BY THE END OF THE DECADE, AS AMERICAN ASTRONAUTS WALKED ON THE MOON, THE SOVIETS COULD BARELY KEEP THEIR ROCKETS FROM EXPLODING. WHAT HAPPENED?

A BRUTAL INDUSTRY GIVEN LIFE BY ONE INVENTION WAS FINALLY MADE HUMANE BY ANOTHER

WHY CREAKY OLD 1960S-ERA mainframes are still being used to keep air travel safe

The aircraft carriers that won the Second World War were the result of two decades of improvisation