A History of the Kennedy Space Center / Edition 1

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Overview

This first comprehensive history of the Kennedy Space Center, NASA's famous launch facility located at Cape Canaveral, Florida, reveals the vital but largely unknown work that takes place before the rocket is lit. Though the famous Vehicle Assembly Building and launch pads dominate the flat Florida landscape at Cape Canaveral and attract 1.5 million people each year to its visitor complex, few members of the public are privy to what goes on there beyond the final outcome of the flaring rocket as it lifts into space. With unprecedented access to a wide variety of sources, including the KSC archives, other NASA centers, the National Archives, and individual and group interviews and collections, Lipartito and Butler explore how the methods and technology for preparing, testing, and launching spacecraft have evolved over the last 45 years. Their story includes the Mercury and Gemini missions, the Apollo lunar program, the Space Shuttle, scientific missions and robotic spacecraft, and the International Space Station, as well as the tragic accidents of Challenger and Columbia. Throughout, the authors reveal the unique culture of the people who work at KSC and make Kennedy distinct from other parts of NASA.

 As Lipartito and Butler show, big NASA projects, notably the Space Shuttle and the International Space Station, had much to learn on the ground before they made it to space. Long before a spacecraft started its ascent, crucial work had been done, work that combined the muscular and mundane with the high tech and applied the vital skills and knowledge of the men and women of KSC to the design of vehicles and missions. The authors challenge notions that successful innovation was simply the result of good design alone and argue that, with large technical systems, real world experience actually made the difference between bold projects that failed and innovations that stayed within budget and produced consistent results. The authors pay particular attention to "operational knowledge" developed by KSC—the insights that came from using and operating complex technology. This work makes it abundantly clear that the processes performed by ground operations are absolutely vital to success.

 

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

In the 1950s the marshy, mosquito-infested lowlands of Florida, christened Cape Canaveral ("place of the cane"), began to be covered with concrete for ICBM launching pads. As authors Lipartito (Constructing Corporate America: History, Politics, Culture) and Butler (Manufacturing the Future: A History of Western Electric) relate, although Americans remember the cape and its control center, the Kennedy Space Center, as the site of media circuses surrounding early manned space missions, between 1958 and 1967 several hundred unmanned rockets blasted off into the Florida skies, sometimes two a day. NASA divided its early years on the cape between fighting turf battles with the military and moving tons of earth to fill in the marshes. As the authors describe, many of the space center's early administrators-notably Kurt Debus, who had worked on the V-2 rocket with Werner von Braun at Peenemünde-were hands-on engineering types who eventually gave way to professional administrators. Writing fine, vivid prose, Lipartito and Butler wisely avoid concentrating on the hot-shot astronauts, focusing instead on the center itself and on the dedicated men and women behind the scenes who worked on the engineering required to lift a rocket out of Earth's gravity and made the American space program a success. 97 b&w illus. (Aug. 12)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813030692
  • Publisher: University Press of Florida
  • Publication date: 8/28/2007
  • Edition description: First
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 496
  • Sales rank: 1,213,687
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Kenneth Lipartito is professor of history at Florida International University and author or editor of five books including Constructing Corporate America: History, Politics, Culture.

 

Orville R. Butleris an associate historian in the Center for History of Physics at the American Institute of Physics and coauthor, with Stephen Adams, of Manufacturing the Future: A History of Western Electric.

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