As its name suggests, the seminar deals with the development of the manned lunar missions. It deals in the first few weeks with man's dream of going to the moon, starting with the Ancient Greeks, moving up through the renaissance, and then on to the twentieth century. Science fiction is on the reading list for the first few weeks, including Jules Verne's "From the Earth to the Moon". These readings are really good. The second half of the course deals directly with the leadup to the Apollo missions and their effects on spaceflight, society, and world politics.
The course has a moderate reading load. Not insubstantial but at the same time not overwhelming. The readings are largely from popular, non-technical science/politics related sources. This is the first course I have taken here which has books that have graced the best-seller lists in the last few years.
The weekly discussions are definitely most interesting. All the readings allow for animated conversation. Topics ranged from whether the WW II rocket scientists were war criminals, to whether it is right to return to the moon, to which rocket would have been the best to use for the lunar missions.
Professor Stengel really knows his stuff in this area. As you probably know already, he worked on the Apollo program and other space related programs for a large part of his career. He is a most approachable professor and is great fun to talk to during the seminars. One definite morale booster for this class came from the many different types of cookies Mrs. Stengel baked for each seminar. At the end of the semester, the Stengels had us all over for dinner at their home.
The workload is not enormous. As I recall, we had three or four papers last year. One major paper and the others minor (3-5 pages). Definitely a very workable load. Grading is somewhere between fair and generous for the most part. Emphasis is placed on the final paper.
########## "The Field Trip" ##################
The high point of the course last year, (I took it the first year it was offered) was a field trip to the Wallops Island launch facility in Virginia. This was a two day trip over the spring break. It was a lot of fun. We got to see all the launch sites, bunkers, and rocket displays they had there. Definitely a major plus point to this otherwise fascinating course.
Well, that about covers everything. This is probably the most interesting course I have taken here at Princeton. I highly recommend it to everyone. If you have any questions, feel free to give me a call at X7685.
Isaac Boxx. '99. November 6, 1996.Copyright (c) 1996 by Isaac Boxx. All rights reserved. Used with permission.