Single Stage to Orbit: Politics, Space Technology, and the Quest for Reusable Rocketry

Overview

While the glories and tragedies of the space shuttle make headlines and move the nation, the story of the shuttle forms an inseparabe part of a lesser-known but no less important drama?the search for a reusable single-stage-to-orbit rocket. Here an award-winning student of space science, Andrew J. Butrica, examines the long and tangled history of this ambitious concept, from it first glimmerings in the 1920s, when technicians dismissed it as unfeasible, to its highly expensive heyday in the midst of the Cold War,...

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Single Stage to Orbit: Politics, Space Technology, and the Quest for Reusable Rocketry

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Overview

While the glories and tragedies of the space shuttle make headlines and move the nation, the story of the shuttle forms an inseparabe part of a lesser-known but no less important drama—the search for a reusable single-stage-to-orbit rocket. Here an award-winning student of space science, Andrew J. Butrica, examines the long and tangled history of this ambitious concept, from it first glimmerings in the 1920s, when technicians dismissed it as unfeasible, to its highly expensive heyday in the midst of the Cold War, when conservative-backed government programs struggled to produce an operational flight vehicle.

Butrica finds a blending of far-sighted engineering and heavy-handed politics. To the first and oldest idea—that of the reusable rocket-powered single-stage-to-orbit vehicle—planners who belonged to what President Eisenhower referred to as the military-industrial complex.added experimental ("X"), "aircraft-like" capabilties and, eventually, a "faster, cheaper, smaller" managerial approach. Single Stage to Orbit traces the interplay of technology, corporate interest, and politics, a combination that well served the conservative space agenda and ultimately triumphed—not in the realization of inexpensive, reliable space transport—but in a vision of space militarization and commercialization that would appear settled United States policy in the early twenty-first century.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Editorial Reviews

Times Literary Supplement - D. M. Ashford

A history of one particular aspect of US space history—the attempt to develop a single-stage-to-orbit launcher... it is a story of muddle and waste... Butrica provides a competent and readable account of this debacle, which concentrates on the small research vehicle, DC-X.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801873386
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
  • Publication date: 10/28/2003
  • Series: New Series in NASA History
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 1,051,588
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Andrew J. Butrica, a historical consultant, is the author of, among other works, To See the Unseen: A History of Planetary Radar Astronomy, which won the 1998 Richard W. Leopold Prize awarded by the Organization of American Historians.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Chronology
Introduction 1
Pt. I The Conservative Agenda for Space
1 The Reagan Revolution 13
2 Commerce on the High Frontier 29
3 Space Warriors 47
Pt. II The Quest
4 X-30: The Cold War SSTO 65
5 Space Visionaries 83
Pt. III The Space Ship eXperimental
6 Launching the SSX 101
7 The SDIO SSTO Program 122
Pt. IV Spaceship Wars
8 W(h)ither SSTO? 155
9 The Disorder of Things 172
10 The Clipper Graham 191
Conclusion 209
Appendix 221
Notes 223
Bibliography Essay 257
Index 261
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