In this second installment of the Epic Fails series, explore the many failures that made up the Space Race, paving the way for humanity’s eventual success at reaching the stars. Today, everyone is familiar with Neil Armstrong’s famous words as he first set foot on the moon: “one small step for man; one giant leap for mankind.” He made it look easy, but America’s journey to the moon was anything but simple. In 1957, when the Soviet Union launched Sputnik, the world’s first satellite, into orbit, America had barely crossed the starting line of the great Space Race. Later that year, our first attempt was such a failure that the media nicknamed it “Kaputnik.” Still, we didn’t give up. With each failure, we gleaned valuable information about what went wrong, and how to avoid it in the future. So we tried again. And again. And each time we failed, we failed a little bit better. The Epic Fails series by Erik Slader and Ben Thompson explores the humorous backstories behind a variety of historical discoveries, voyages, experiments, and innovations that didn’t go as expected but succeeded nonetheless, showing that many of mankind’s biggest success stories are the result of some pretty epic failures indeed.
Ben Thompson is the author of twelve books on various awesome historical subjects, including the Guts & Glory and Epic Fails series, and has been a popular history blogger for over fourteen years. He has appeared on television programs for The History Channel, Discovery, and The American Heroes Channel, given talks and presentations at dozens of schools, conferences, and conventions, occasionally runs a podcast and a YouTube channel, and has appeared in print articles for outlets such as Cracked, Fangoria, Soldier of Fortune, and The American Mustache Institute. Ben’s work received awards from the National Parenting Publications, the International Literary Organization, and the Parent’s Choice Group, but the thing he’s the most proud of is that he can occasionally beat the Star Wars Trilogy arcade game with a single quarter.
Erik Slader is the writer and creator of “Epik Fails of History” a blog (and podcast) about the most epic fails… of history. He first started the site back in 2012 and has since co-authored four published history books, including ‘The Wright Brothers: Nose-Diving Into History’ and ‘The Race to Space: Countdown to Liftoff’. He has a Bachelor’s Degree in Digital Media, once managed a comic book shop, has a weakness for fancy coffee as well as retro video games, and currently lives in Green Cove Springs, Florida with too many cats.