Space and the American Imagination / Edition 2

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Examining popular images that have helped motivate the most ambitious civil space program in the world, Howard E. McCurdy argues that the spacefaring dream tapped into several of America's most deeply rooted cultural ideals: the limitless frontier, the heroic explorer, the romance of aviation, and progress through technology. He also shows how space advocates, playing on the public's Cold War fears, convinced politicians that control of space meant control of the earth. Their campaign helps to explain why President Kennedy approved the expensive Project Apollo, leading to the space program's most visible success, the 1969 moon landing. Forty years after the launch of the first orbiting satellites, U.S. achievements in space have fallen far short of the hopeful visions encouraged by Chesley Bonestell's paintings in Collier's magazine and television shows such as Star Trek. In Space and the American Imagination, McCurdy contends that the gap between expectations and reality led to waning public support for the space program and argues that such gaps typically arise when public policy debates are obliged to entertain as well as inform.
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Editorial Reviews

Science Fiction Studies

A very useful study for those interested in fictions about space travel and exploration.


An interesting work for all space fans.


An interesting work for all space fans.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801898686
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
  • Publication date: 3/22/2011
  • Edition description: second edition
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 408
  • Sales rank: 1,050,367
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Howard E. McCurdy is a professor in the School of Public Affairs at American University; author of Faster, Better, Cheaper: Low-Cost Innovation in the U.S. Space Program, Inside NASA: High Technology and Organizational Change in the U.S. Space Program, and The Space Station Decision: Incremental Politics and Technological Choice; and coauthor of Robots in Space: Technology, Evolution, and Interplanetary Travel, all published by Johns Hopkins.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Introduction Imagination 1

Chapter 1 The Vision 11

Chapter 2 Making Space Flight Seem Real 33

Chapter 3 The Cold War 60

Chapter 4 Apollo: The Aura of Competence 93

Chapter 5 Mysteries of Life 120

Chapter 6 The Extraterrestrial Frontier 154

Chapter 7 Stations in Space 181

Chapter 8 Spacecraft 207

Chapter 9 Robots 236

Chapter 10 Space Commerce 268

Chapter 11 Back on Earth 291

Conclusion Imagination and Culture 308

Notes 325

Index 385

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