NASA's First 50 Years: Historical Perspectives; NASA 50 Anniversary Proceedings

NASA's First 50 Years: Historical Perspectives; NASA 50 Anniversary Proceedings
NASA's First 50 Years: Historical Perspectives; NASA 50 Anniversary Proceedings
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In this volume, a wide array of scholars turn a critical eye toward NASA’s first 50 years, probing an institution widely seen as the premier agency for exploration in the world, carrying on a long tradition of exploration by the United States and the human species in general. Fifty years after its founding, NASA finds itself at a crossroads that historical perspectives can only help to illuminate.

On 29 July 1958, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the National Aeronautics and Space Act, creating the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), which became operational on 1 October of that year. Over the next 50 years, NASA achieved a set of spectacular feats, ranging from advancing the well-established field of aeronautics to pioneering the new fields of Earth and space science and human spaceflight. In the midst of the geopolitical context of the Cold War, 12 Americans walked on the Moon, arriving in peace “for all mankind.” Humans saw their home planet from a new perspective, with unforgettable Apollo images of Earthrise and the “Blue Marble,” as well as the “pale blue dot” from the edge of the solar system. A flotilla of spacecraft has studied Earth, while other spacecraft have probed the depths of the solar system and the universe beyond. In the 1980s, the evolution of aeronautics gave us the first winged human spacecraft, the Space Shuttle, and the International Space Station stands as a symbol of human cooperation in space as well as a possible way station to the stars. With the Apollo fire and two Space Shuttle accidents, NASA has also seen the depths of tragedy.


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Table of Contents


Acknowledgments ...xi
Introduction  by Editor Steven J. Dick  ...xiii

PART I: NASA at 50

  • Chapter 1 // Michael D. Griffin
    • NASA at 50 …1
  • Chapter 2 // Howard E. McCurdy
    • Inside NASA at 50 …11

PART II: Crosscutting Themes

  • Chapter 3 //  Robert R. MacGregor
    • Imagining an Aerospace Agency in the Atomic Age …31
  • Chapter 4 // W. Henry Lambright
    • Leading in Space: 50 Years of NASA Administrators  …49
  • Chapter 5 // J. D. Hunley
    • Space Access: NASA’s Role in Developing Core Launch-Vehicle Technologies … 79
  • Chapter 6 // John Krige
    • NASA’s International Relations in Space: An Historical Overview … 109
  • Chapter 7 // Linda Billings
    • Fifty Years of NASA and the Public: What NASA? What Publics? … 151

PART III: Aeronautics

  • Chapter 8 // Anthony M. Springer
    • NASA Aeronautics: A Half Century of Accomplishments …183
  • Chapter 9 // Robert G. Ferguson
    • Evolution of Aeronautics Research at NASA … 205
  • Chapter 10 // Richard P. Hallion
    • The NACA, NASA, and the Supersonic-Hypersonic Frontier … 223

PART IV: Human Spaceflight and Life Sciences

  • Chapter 11 // John M. Logsdon
    • Fifty Years of Human Spaceflight: Why Is There Still a Controversy? …275
  • Chapter 12 // Stephen B. Johnson
    • From the Secret of Apollo to the Lessons of Failure: The Uses and Abuses of Systems Engineering and Project Management at NASA … 287
  • Chapter 13 // Michael J. Neufeld
    • The “Von Braun Paradigm” and NASA’s Long-Term Planning for Human Spaceflight …325
  • Chapter 14 // Maura Phillips Mackowski
    • Life Sciences and Human Spaceflight … 349

PART V: Space Science

  • Chapter 15 // Laurence Bergreen
    • Voyages to Mars …375
  • Chapter 16 // David DeVorkin
    • The Space Age and Disciplinary Change in Astronomy …389
  • Chapter 17 // Joseph N. Tatarewicz
    • Planetary Exploration in the Inner Solar System … 427
  • Chapter 18 // Michael Meltzer
    • NASA’s Voyages to the Outer Solar System …453
  • Chapter 19 // Andrew J. Butrica
    • Deep Space Navigation, Planetary Science, and Astronomy:  A Synergetic Relationship …479

PART VI: Earth Science and Applications

  • Chapter 20 // Edward S. Goldstein
    • NASA’s Earth Science Program: The Space Agency’s Mission to Our Home Planet …503
  • Chapter 21 // James R. Fleming
    • Earth Observations from Space: Achievements, Challenges, and Realities …543
  • Chapter 22 // Erik Conway
    • Earth Science and Planetary Science: A Symbiotic Relationship? …563

PART VII: NASA’s Role in History

  • Chapter 23 // Steven J. Dick
    • Exploration, Discovery, and Culture: NASA’s Role in History … 587

About the Authors …663
Acronyms and Abbreviations …677
The NASA History Series …687
Index …699


This would be a valuable resource for scientists, engineers, students, and space enthusiasts.


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National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Office of Communications, History Division
  • Dick, Steven J.
Key Phrases:
  • NASA SP 2009 1704
  • NASA History Series
  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration
  • History of National Aeronautics and Space Administration
  • Astronautics
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