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From: (Henry Spencer)
Date: Wed, 10 Mar 1999 16:34:25 GMT

In article <7c5icf$>,
Mark Brader <> wrote:
>Incidentally, the first SF story to feature an artificial satellite
>of the Earth was "The Brick Moon" by Edward Hale, published in 1869.
>I haven't read it, but I understand the satellite was meant for
>navigational purposes.

Correct.  At the time, the long struggle to find a reasonable way of
determining longitude at sea was still recent history, with the widespread
use of chronometers something that had developed within living memory
(Dava Sobel's book "Longitude" is an excellent account of all this), and
alternative concepts were not yet entirely discarded.  The Brick Moon was
conceived as a celestial longitude marker.  The author apparently did not
realize that Earth would rotate under the satellite's orbit; he envisioned
it staying fixed above a given line of longitude.

(He also disregarded the obstacle that bedevilled all attempts to solve
the longitude problem with celestial observations:  the impossibility of
determining longitude in bad weather by that method.)

"The Brick Moon" is very obscure and hard to find.  I was delighted to
discover that the first volume of "Exploring The Unknown" (NASA SP-4407,
the massive collection of space-program historical documents that Dwayne
Day has been involved in editing) reprints it, along with lots of other
good stuff.
The good old days                   |  Henry Spencer
weren't.                            |      (aka

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