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The Development of Propulsion Technology for U.S. Space-Launch Vehicles, 1926-1991

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Overview

In this definitive study, J. D. Hunley traces the program’s development from Goddard’s early rockets (and the German V-2 missile) through the Titan IVA and the Space Shuttle, with a focus on space-launch vehicles. Since these rockets often evolved from early missiles, he pays considerable attention to missile technology, not as an end in itself, but as a contributor to launch-vehicle technology.

Focusing especially on the engineering culture of the program, Hunley communicates this very human side of technological development by means of anecdotes, character sketches, and case studies of problems faced by rocket engineers. He shows how such a highly adaptive approach enabled the evolution of a hugely complicated technology that was impressive—but decidedly not rocket science.

Unique in its single-volume coverage of the evolution of launch-vehicle technology from 1926 to 1991, this meticulously researched work will inform scholars and engineers interested in the history of technology and innovation, as well as those specializing in the history of space flight.

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Editorial Reviews

Quest

"This meticulously researched work will inform scholars and engineers interested in the history of technology and innovation and those specializing in the history of spaceflight. . . There is much to praise and little to criticize in these two fine volumes on the history of US rocket technology."--Quest
Roger Launius

“It fills what is unquestionably a tremendous gap in the literature of space access . . . does a superb job of tracing the main lines of development of the major rocket technologies. . . This work is a benchmark in the process of the invention of spaceflight and its evolution over time.”--Roger Launius, Smithsonian Institution; Chair, Division of Space History, NASA
Air and Space Power Journal - Capt. Brent D. Ziarnick

“In his excellent book . . . veteran air and space historian, J. D. Hunley argues that it’s wrong because there is no such thing as rocket science. His effort is the most comprehensive general history of the growth of American rocketry we’re likely to see. Hunley’s book is very valuable to those who currently work in rocket development because it allows them to understand the past and perform more effectively in the future. The Development of Propulsion Technology made me proud to be an engineer.”—Air and Space Power Journal
Quest
"This meticulously researched work will inform scholars and engineers interested in the history of technology and innovation and those specializing in the history of spaceflight. . . There is much to praise and little to criticize in these two fine volumes on the history of U.S. rocket technology."-Quest
Roger Launius
"It fills what is unquestionably a tremendous gap in the literature of space access . . . does a superb job of tracing the main lines of development of the major rocket technologies. . . This work is a benchmark in the process of the invention of spaceflight and its evolution over time."—Roger Launius, Smithsonian Institution; Chair, Division of Space History, NASA
From the Publisher

“Anyone aspiring to address this subject in the future must be prepared to reckon with Hunley’s professional shadow. Unquestionably, his companion volumes on other aspects of US space-launch vehicle technology will join this one to form a daunting historical trilogy.”—Air Power History

“This meticulously researched work will inform scholars and engineers interested in the history of technology and innovation and those specializing in the history of spaceflight. . . There is much to praise and little to criticize in these two fine volumes on the history of US rocket technology.”—Quest

“This book is based on Hunley’s total mastery of the literature in relevant fields. Both primary and secondary sources are so vast that integrating and synthesizing them is no small feat.  Moreover, as Hunley points out, the sources are often inconsistent. Thanks to Hunley’s critical examination of the sources, this book will be a valuable reference for historians of American space programs.”—Technology and Culture

Air Power History

“Anyone aspiring to address this subject in the future must be prepared to reckon with Hunley’s professional shadow. Unquestionably, his companion volumes on other aspects of US space-launch vehicle technology will join this one to form a daunting historical trilogy.”--Air Power History
Technology and Culture

"This book is based on Hunley's total mastery of the literature in relevant fields. Both primary and secondary sources are so vast that integrating and synthesizing them is no small feat. Moreover, as Hunley points out, the sources are often inconsistent. Thanks to Hunley's critical examination of the sources, this book will be a valuable reference for historians of American space programs."--Technology and Culture
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781585445882
  • Publisher: Texas A&M University Press
  • Publication date: 7/28/2007
  • Series: Centennial of Flight Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 388
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.50 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author


J. D. HUNLEY’s career as a historian has focused on the history of aerospace technology. He was named a Ramsey Fellow at the National Air and Space Museum for 2001–2002 after serving in history programs for both NASA and the U.S. Air Force. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of Virginia. Now semiretired, he continues to write about the history of America’s space program.
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