This is a book about a remarkable institution. It captures the soul of the place and the work of the people who made it what it is today. The NASA Ames Research Center and its people have made a great many important contributions to both the aeronautical and space missions of NASA. In the early years, the focus of the center's work was in the area of high-speed flight and ultimately led to the creation of the superb fighter aircraft that were used toward the end of World War II ...
This is a book about a remarkable institution. It captures the soul of the place and the work of the people who made it what it is today.
The NASA Ames Research Center and its people have made a great many important contributions to both the aeronautical and space missions of NASA. In the early years, the focus of the center's work was in the area of high-speed flight and ultimately led to the creation of the superb fighter aircraft that were used toward the end of World War II and in the Korean conflict. The continuation of the effort to understand how objects move rapidly through the atmosphere resulted in the development of the blunt-body atmospheric entry concept, which was used first on military ballistic missiles and later on the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo spacecraft. And, continuing this tradition, Ames played a large part in the development of the reusable thermal protection system of the Space Shuttle. Also, it was recognized very early that high-speed flight stressed the human body and that understanding biological mechanisms and human physiology was important. This led to the contributions made by people at Ames to aviation safety, space medicine, and space biology. The interest in biology also stimulated thinking about the origin of life itself and resulted in the strong participation of people at Ames in the search for biological activity on Mars with the Viking landers.
These examples of the development of various interests at Ames illustrate the astonishing versatility of the people who have worked there. It is not unusual to find someone mentioned in this book who started a career as an aeronautical engineer and completed it with a distinguished reputation in a completely different field-for example, geophysics. Fundamental to the ability to do this is a clear recognition that it is most important to seek for the explanation of things from the most fundamental theoretical viewpoint. The people at Ames have always seen to it that the atmosphere conducive to fundamental theoretical studies exists. In recent years, this circumstance caused the creation at Ames of one of the most advanced computer centers in the country.
Throughout the history of Ames, its people have made important contributions to national security. It is no accident therefore that the U.S. Army's Aviation Research and Development Laboratory is located at Ames and that this laboratory has been an important factor in the history and development of the research center.
For those who know Ames, this history of one of the country's most interesting and important research institutions may seem woefully incomplete. In charting the growth and expanding interests of Ames Research Center, many of its research contributions have indeed been omitted. This book attempts to sketch a broad outline of Ames's technological achievements within the context of its operational and managerial development. This perspective has produced a narrative covering almost 40 years, in which the major changes Ames has experienced are clearly defined, traced chronologically, and analyzed for their various effects upon the research center.
246 pages and over 40 photos and illustrations. Hyperlinked contents for easy navigation. Includes an Ames Research Center update and overview by John A. Greene.
Elizabeth Muenger holds a B.A. in English Literature from Oberlin College and an M.A. and Ph.D. in European History from the University of Michigan. Her research interests include the study of civilian-military relations in Great Britain and Ireland, recent European military history, and the history of technology. Prior to her association with NASA she taught at Stanford University