Exploring the Unknown Selected Documents in the History of the US Civilian Space Program Volume 3 by John M Logsdon

One of the most important developments of the twentieth century has been the movement of humanity into space with machines and people. The underpinnings of that movement—why it took the shape it did; which individuals and organizations were involved; what factors drove a particular choice of scientific objectives and technologies to be used; and the political, economic, managerial, and international contexts in which the events of the space age unfolded—are all important ingredients of this epoch transition from an Earthbound to a spacefaring people. This desire to understand the development of spaceflight in the United States sparked this documentary history series. The extension of human activity into outer space has been accompanied by a high degree of self-awareness of its historical significance. Few large-scale activities have been as extensively chronicled so closely to the time they actually occurred. Many of those who were directly involved were quite conscious that they were making history, and they kept full records of their activities. Because most of the activity in outer space was carried out under government sponsorship, it was accompanied by the documentary record required of public institutions, and there has been a spate of official and privately written histories of most major aspects of space achievement to date. When top leaders considered what course of action to pursue in space, their deliberations and decisions often were carefully put on the record. There is, accordingly, no lack of material for those who aspire to understand the origins and evolution of U.S. space policies and programs. This reality forms the rationale for this series. Precisely because there is so much historical material available on space matters, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) decided in 1988 that it would be extremely useful to have a selective collection of many of the seminal documents related to the evolution of the U.S. civilian space program that was easily available to scholars and the interested public. While recognizing that much space activity has taken place under the sponsorship of the Department of Defense and other national security organizations, the U.S. private sector, and other countries around the world, NASA felt that there would be lasting value in a collection of documentary material primarily focused on the evolution of the U.S. government’s civilian space program, most of which has been carried out under the agency’s auspices since 1958. As a result, the NASA History Office contracted with the Space Policy Institute of George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs to prepare such a collection. This is the third volume in the documentary history series; three additional ones detailing programmatic developments with respect to space transportation, space science, and human spaceflight will follow. The documents selected for inclusion in this volume are presented in three major chapters, each covering a particular aspect of the utilization of space capabilities and the unique characteristics of the space environment. These chapters address: (1) communicating via satellite; (2) observing the Earth from space for practical purposes (Earth science will be covered in a later volume); and (3) the various ways in which space activities have had economic impacts. Volume I in this series covered the antecedents to the U.S. space program, as well as the origins and evolution of U.S. space policy and of NASA as an organizational institution. Volume II addressed the relationship between the civilian space program of the United States and the space activities of other countries, the relationship between the U.S. civilian and national security space and military efforts, and NASA’s relationship with industry and academic institutions. As mentioned above, future volumes will cover space transportation, space science, and human spaceflight.

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Bibliographic Information


Exploring the Unknown: Selected Documents in the History of the U.S. Civil Space Program, Volume III: Using Space (The NASA History Series)


National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Author), John M. Logsdon (Editor), Roger D. Launius (Contributor), David H. Onkst (Contributor), Stephen J. Garber (Contributor)


3rd Edition


CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (February 2, 2014)


634 pages


ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1495405524

ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1495405525