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

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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.


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.


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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780160849657
  • Publisher: US National Aeronautics and Space Admin
  • Publication date: 7/7/2010
  • Edition description: First, First hardcover edition
  • Pages: 776
  • Product dimensions: 6.60 (w) x 9.60 (h) x 2.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Steven J. Dick was the Chief Historian for NASA and Director of the NASA History Division. He worked as an astronomer and historian of science at the U.S. Naval Observatory in Washington, DC, for 24 years before coming to NASA Headquarters in 2003. He is the author of numerous books, including The Biological Universe (1996) and Life on Other Worlds (1998). Among his recent books are Remembering the Space Age (NASA SP-2008- 4703, 2008), a book of 50th anniversary proceedings for which he served as editor; America in Space: NASA’s First 50 Years (with Neil Armstrong et al., Abrams, 2007); Societal Impact of Spaceflight (NASA SP-2007-4801, 2007, edited with Roger Launius); Critical Issues in the History of Spaceflight (NASA SP-2006-4702, 2006, edited with Roger Launius); The Living Universe: NASA and the Development of Astrobiology (with James Strick, Rutgers University Press, 2004); and Sky and Ocean Joined: The U.S. Naval Observatory, 1830–2000 (2003).


Dr. Dick is the recipient of the NASA Exceptional Service Medal, the Navy Meritorious Civilian Service Medal, the NASA Group Achievement Award for his role in NASA’s multidisciplinary program in astrobiology, the NASA Group Achievement Award (2008) for the book America in Space, and the 2006 LeRoy E. Doggett Prize for Historical Astronomy of the American Astronomical Society. He has served as Chairman of the Historical Astronomy Division of the American Astronomical Society, as President of the History of Astronomy Commission of the International Astronomical Union, and as President of the Philosophical Society of Washington. He is a corresponding member of the International Academy of Astronautics. Minor planet 6544 Stevendick is named in his honor.

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Table of Contents


Table of Contents:

Acknowledgments xi

Introduction // Steven J. Dick

Chapter 1 // Michael Griffin

NASA at 50

Chapter 2 // Howard E. McCurdy

Inside NASA at 50

Chapter 3 // Robert R. MacGregor

Imagining an Aerospace Agency in the Atomic Age

Chapter 4 // W. Henry Lambright

Leading in Space: 50 Years of NASA Administrators

Chapter 5 // J. D. Hunley

Space Access: NASA’s Role in Developing Core Launch-Vehicle Technologies

Chapter 6 // John Krige

NASA’s International Relations in Space: An Historical Overview

Chapter 7 // Linda Billings

Fifty Years of NASA and the Public: What NASA? What Publics?

Chapter 8 // Anthony M. Springer

NASA Aeronautics: A Half Century of Accomplishments

Chapter 9 // Robert G. Ferguson

Evolution of Aeronautics Research at NASA

Chapter 10 // Richard P. Hallion

The NACA, NASA, and the Supersonic-Hypersonic Frontier

Chapter 11 // John M. Logsdon

Fifty Years of Human Spaceflight: Why Is There Still a Controversy?

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

Chapter 13 // Michael J. Neufeld

The “Von Braun Paradigm” and NASA’s Long-Term Planning for

Human Spaceflight

Chapter 14 // Maura Phillips Mackowski

Life Sciences and Human Spaceflight

Chapter 15 // Laurence Bergreen

Voyages to Mars

Chapter 16 // David DeVorkin

The Space Age and Disciplinary Change in Astronomy

Chapter 17 // Joseph N. Tatarewicz

Planetary Exploration in the Inner Solar System

Chapter 18 // Michael Meltzer

NASA’s Voyages to the Outer Solar System

Chapter 19 // Andrew J. Butrica

Deep Space Navigation, Planetary Science, and Astronomy:

A Synergetic Relationship

Chapter 20 // Edward S. Goldstein

NASA’s Earth Science Program:

The Space Agency’s Mission to Our Home Planet

Chapter 21 // James R. Fleming

Earth Observations from Space:

Achievements, Challenges, and Realities

Chapter 22 // Erik Conway

Earth Science and Planetary Science: A Symbiotic Relationship?

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