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NASA's First 50 Years: Historical Perspectives; NASA 50 Anniversary Proceedings (ePub eBook)

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.
2009: 776 p.; ill.
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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