Walter A. McDougall
Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars
Smithsonian Institution

I. Introduction: Nature and Relevance of History

A. Varieties of Space History

There are as many potential varieties of space history as there are varieties of history. At the risk of offending individual sensibilities, they can be broken down. The first category of historians (and the most familiar to the general public) includes the chroniclers of the first two decades of exploration of space. Such historians are drawn primarily from the ranks of journalism and concentrate largely on the manned missions of the U.S. and the U.S.S.R., especially during the putative space race of the 1960s. Such historians write the books that are most exciting to the general public but least interesting to professional historians. Nonetheless, whatever the academic value of their labors, the journalistic historians of the space age go far to create the public enthusiasm that is apparently vital in a democracy for a healthy civilian space program.

A second variety of space historians encompasses the technical or "nuts-and-bolts" historians of technology. These writers have described in detail the evolution of rocketry, telemetry, guidance, and all the other engineering techniques that comprise astronautics. Such historians frequently are former space program participants and/or are sponsored by NASA's own history program. Devotees of technical history often dismiss the more popular histories of journalists or political historians because of the generalists' lack of technical expertise. To a degree, such a view is valid‹ problems of causation in the history of technology often are warped by writers unfamiliar with the technical constraints on policy.

Space age history analyzed as history of science forms a third category. Like all modern technology, spacecraft evolved initially because of advances in pure science‹ whether the mathematics of orbital mechanics, the chemistry of high-energy cryogenic fuels, or the physics of solid state electronics. Once satellite launching became routine, space science (the continuing pursuit of all our familiar sciences from the laboratory of space) stimulated revolutionary advances in numerous fields. For example, the astronomical and astrophysical discoveries alone are epochal. To the historian of science, such developments constitute the stuff of space age history, and the engineering feats of the rocketeers pale by comparison.

Finally, there are the historians who focus on the impact of space technology and exploration on political, social, and economic issues. To be sure, the interests even within this group are numerous and include the impacts of space activity on: international strategy and law, government science policy and organization, domestic economies and social change, even cultural and religious values. But these social-scientist space historians represent only one group among many, and works from other historians are indispensable for defining the precise nature of the phenomena that social scientists presume to trace through the "cloud chamber" of society.

This paper focuses on issues of interest to the latter group of historians, whose approach is most relevant to the users of this book.

B. Definition of History

History is a multifarious discipline and hence can be defined only in the broadest and least distinctive terms. History encompasses quite literally everything that human beings have ever done, thought, or experienced. As an academic discipline, history represents the art (not science) of establishing and explaining past events; its scope is therefore potentially limitless. The problem in history is not divining which issues historical research can help us understand or what questions it can help us answer; rather, the task is pruning out all the data and questions of less relevance to whatever problem is at hand. Therefore, history can be described as a discipline of selection, and ultimately the value of a given historical work is defined by what material is left out.

C. The Historical Method and Space Technology Research

The unique comprehensiveness of history (vis-a-vis other disciplines) in regard to Shuttle technologies constitutes a great handicap and a great advantage. History's fluid and empirical nature acts as the handicap of the historical method in a project analyzing the past and future social impact of technology. The historian seeks the particular, not the general, and tries to identify and explain those qualities that make a given phenomenon different from all others. On the other hand, the social scientist seeks to identify and explain those qualities that make a given phenomenon like others. Thus, the historian views with suspicion precisely the sorts of models or general laws that represent the very building blocks of the sociologist, economist, or political scientist. To the historian, it is never self-evident how a given datum ought to be understood in a historical context, because both the event and the historian are unique. Consequently, a given fact never will carry the same weight for two different historians nor be subject to the same interpretation. Without probing more deeply into the epistemological vagaries of historical work, analysts simply should keep in mind that history represents a product of the imagination, even of instinct. Of course, historians try to gather data on the past in a more or less scientific fashion, but arranging and making sense of the raw material is not an act of calculus dictated by some general theory or model, but rather an act of creation molded by the historian's insight into the unique circumstances of the historical moment.

The above qualities create difficulties when historians work with other social scientists or analyze events as current as the space program.

Nevertheless, the nature of history also produces an advantage. History is an integrative discipline. By training and instinct, the historian tends to: integrate knowledge about the various classes of human endeavors (political, economic, social, intellectual) at a given historical time and place; break down historical phenomena into constituent parts, according to those same classes; and then relate the parts to the whole. As a result, the alert historian naturally would: become familiar with the chronological history of space technology and policy; think at once of the political, economic, and other factors relevant to the origin and growth of the technology; and finally seek to establish empirically the causal links among such factors. Therefore, technology, in the context of this paper, would not be a "given" to be applied to "political life" or "the economy," but rather would become a mediator within the complex organism of the nation.

By way of introduction, a final issue must be addressed: the troublesome question of history's role in aiding analysis of the future social impact of relevant Shuttle-derived technologies. After all, history focuses on the past. Most historians are skeptical of historical study even of events that occurred during the last thirty years, believing it impossible to obtain perspective and adequate sources on such recent happenings. Thus, the entire space age lies outside the "proper" realm of historical study, and historians take professional risks when they concentrate on the space age. But the Shuttle and its social impact lie in the future. Other social sciences may claim some predictive capabilities (though even these are suspect), but history certainly cannot stake out the future as its domain. (Or can it? One can argue that, to the extent we can creatively study the future at all, the appropriate approach is not the social scientists' crude extrapolations and models, but precisely the historian's imagination and sense for the unexpected in human affairs.) How can the historian help society to think about space technology? And how does the advent of the Shuttle and its ancillary technologies help society in turn to think about history? The answers require imaginative, in addition to mechanical, analogical thinking.

D. Summary of Two Approaches

There are thus two historical approaches to the "Shuttle and society" question. The first approach encourages and organizes materials for the study of space technology in the past (i.e., to and through Sputnik and up to the present). The second approach begins with the Shuttle and derived technologies and seeks analogies in historical time, literally firing up the imagination about the types of changes made possible by space technology in the political, economic, scientific, social, and philosophical/ethical life of humanity over the next half century.

II. The History of the Space Age

A. Justification

The writing and teaching of the history of the space age (conventionally dated from 1957) must assume increasing importance as the impact and promise of space technologies grow and as young people become increasingly removed from our space heritage. Consider that current undergraduates were born after JFK urged us to go to the Moon (May 25, 1961) and barely recall Apollo 11.

The history of the space age possesses great value for contemporary college students, because it requires a basic awareness of the fundamental origins of our own technological and international environment. To understand the evolution of space policy and technology, the student must become familiar with the roots and course of the Cold War, the origins and nature of nuclear weapons and strategic missiles, the logic of the arms race and the interplay of international rivalry and technological progress, the policymaking process in the U.S. and the U.S.S.R., the values and style of government that make the U.S. distinctive, and the exceedingly great power of the modern state to change society‹for better or worse‹by force-feeding science and technology. Traditional history courses (regardless of sub-discipline) do not necessarily inform the contemporary college student about how the world got to be as it is. But seminars or lecture series focusing on the dawn and development of the space age educate students in precisely the areas of knowledge that equip them to think effectively and analytically about the contemporary world.

B. Themes and Issues

The history of American and world space policies embraces a number of themes that are critically important in this age of perpetual technological revolution, including:

(1) Cooperation vs. competition among nations in space. Space seemed a natural arena for international cooperation in the late 1950s and early 1960s, yet the space race was born of Cold War military rivalry. Throughout the space age, the dream of a united humanity in space has confronted the reality of competition for security and prosperity‹and the blunt facts that competition breeds funding and that technology develops most efficiently when in the hands of coherent national teams.

(2) Regulations vs. laissez-faire. Soon after the launch of Sputnik, the United Nations formed a standing committee to regulate space activities and/or draw up principles of behavior. Many observers hoped for an international space agency and a detailed Magna Charta for space law, but the politics of the U.N. and of great-power technology investment weigh against such close regulation. Space law negotiations formulated some laudable principles and some pragmatic agreements on lesser issues, but the great powers understandably have opposed U.N. control of their technologies.

(3) Military vs. civilian control. During the past twenty-five years, space technology has been applied to military and civilian uses. An important issue is which government agencies should control development and/or use of the technology. The Soviets never have made false distinctions, but the more sensitive Americans have, with some complicated results. To understand the likely impact of the Shuttle, one must thoroughly study the history of bureaucratic and interservice rivalry for control of missile and space technologies.

(4) Science vs. engineering. The world's space programs began as scientific and military enterprises, but soon the engineers predominated over the pure scientists, and space science has been a stepchild ever since. The contrasting attitudes and mindsets of scientists and engineers and their impact on policy constitute an important element of space history.

(5) Prestige vs. applications. What are the motives for large investments in space technology, and do they conflict with each other? What does the history of various space policies suggest about the societies and political cultures that produced them? Whether applications satellites, military systems, or scientific ventures, practical space programs often are less able to command funds than technological projects designed to serve prestige or political purposes, be it Apollo or the Chinese "East is Red" satellite.

(6) Technological determination vs. political choice. How can societies control the evolution of space technology in the last analysis? Is there a deterministic element in space exploration, and if so, what is its origin‹international competition, the innate human desire to explore, the patterns of growth produced by technology, creation of powerful "military-industrial complexes," or some other factor?

These issues are by no means reducible into "good" and "bad" sides, or even into "realistic" and "idealistic" approaches to space policy and potential futures. Rather, our traditional preferential yardsticks are unreliable. "Cooperation" stifles rapid growth; "regulation" kills investment; "civilian control" is illusory when identical systems can be put to military or civilian uses; and "militarization" of space is not a priori a bad thing in any case. In fact, for all these issues in space history‹issues that will challenge the Shuttle and that must be understood in the historical context‹there are sound cultural values supporting both sides of the debate. Thus, the study of the history and future of domestic and international space policy constitutes a useful tool for analyzing some of the most crucial dilemmas confronting late twentieth century society.

(C) Selected Research Topics

Specific historical problems suitable for classroom study and research include: (l) the origins of Sputnik and Russian astronautics; (2) the impact of Sputnik on U.S. science policy and society in general; (3) the roots and organization of the U.S. space program; (4) the decision to go to the Moon; (5) the struggle by the U.S. Air Force in the 1950s to control the space program; (6) the impact of Apollo on the space program and society as a whole; (7) successes and limitations of international law and cooperation in space; (8) the origins of the Space Shuttle; (9) the administrative history of NASA and its relations with other agencies, the aerospace industry, and universities; and (10) the history and goals of the Soviet, French, European, Japanese, Chinese, and/or Indian space programs.

(D) Space Age History and the Future

Finally, the whole point of the historical exercise is to comprehend the current political environment in which the Shuttle operates. What is the organizational, international, and programmatic context of the Shuttle, Spacelab, and other related systems? After all, this age still represents the infancy of spaceflight. Barring war or a scientific Dark Age, world operations in space will increase exponentially over the next fifty years. For now, policymakers still are functioning in the formative years, when the patterns and rules of the space game are being established. If the Shuttle is to elevate the space age to maturity‹and if "the child is the father of the man"‹ then policymakers must understand the history of the early decades in space in order to be sensitive to its offspring.

III. The Future as History: Analogical Approach

A. The Use and Abuse of Analogy

What does the space age mean to humanity? How can the world possibly grasp the impact of the revolution precipitated by space technology and resultant pioneering of the limitless medium of space? In 1962, Bruce Mazlish addressed this question, and almost two decades later, it is difficult to improve upon the logic and imagination of "The Railroad and the Space Program: An Exploration in Historical Analogy." This book must constitute the starting point for discussions of the use of analogy in judging the current and future impacts of space technology.

Historical analogies are irresistibly enticing. The most natural mental processes incline human beings toward conjuring up like things and situations from experience as a means of processing current data acquired through our senses. For space law, analysts find it impossible not to think of the Law of the Sea or the Antarctic Treaty. For space exploration in general, one thinks of the Spanish voyages of discovery. For control of new and forbidding technologies, how can one resist the analogy of the atomic bomb and nuclear power? Yet, all analogies are vain except for purposes of narrow illustration‹ or to explain how past statesmen themselves may have been influenced by the same analogies. Mazlish correctly identified the space phenomenon as more than a "new frontier," a "new technological breakthrough," or a "new battlefield among nations." He viewed space exploration as a technological complex that came to represent a social invention, as society was forced to restructure itself in many ways to accommodate the new technology. And in searching for a historical analog to the space social invention, Mazlish concluded that the coming of the railroad was most fitting. No other previous invention so changed the very proportions of space and time and power as the railroad. This is a subtle and complex analogy, which Mazlish and the other contributors to his volume examined in depth. Unfortunately, historical analogy is abused far more than fruitfully used. Facile comparisons to Columbus do a disservice to history and to the effort to understand the space phenomenon. But flexible and nuanced consideration of past explorations and inventions can provide insights into possible future paths.

B. Analogy and Imagination

How can an instructor employ analogies like the railroad and its impact on American history to understand the Shuttle-derived technologies and their impact? The answer includes the exercise of historical judgment to temper and stimulate the imagination about the possible pace of change and existing barriers to change, as well as to anticipate novelty, rather than assume continuities. Some examples:

(1) Item: The Space Shuttle. Potentials: Rapid increases may occur in the volume of space activity in fields where practical payoff is assured. Great decreases in cost-per-pound of launches may be possible, and tolerance for discretionary and risky enterprises may increase as well. The Shuttle is a likely stimulus to terrestrial technology and industry. Analogs: The advent of seaworthy "workhorse" merchant vessels, such as the Dutch fluit of the seventeenth century, is analogous to the Shuttle. Trade in Asian spices or South American metals is not similar to Shuttle space transport, but the coming of economical bulk shipping does represent a useful analog. Space likely will provide little in the way of precious cargo; the Shuttle provides the boon of ready access to a new environment, which in turn will permit greater economic division of labor and differentiation. This compares well to the effect of bulk transport in cereals, in the Baltic Sea in early modern times, and in trans-Atlantic shipping of American grains in the 1870s. Both times the new transportation capability altered world economic patterns (in the early case, with great stimulus for West European economic modernization ).

(2) Item: Spacelab and Space Telescope. Potentials: These scientific projects may produce untold revelations about the universe, and data may multiply literally a thousand times at a blow. Spacelab should provide a cheap, flexible, reusable facility for experiments impossible on Earth, generating a substantial increase in the capability and efficiency of space-based R&D in materials processing and basic science. Analogs: The Galilean telescope also enlarged the universe many times and changed forever mankind's view of the world and the cosmos, producing profound scientific, philosophical, and religious changes. Other such "eye openers" would include the Pacific voyages of Cook and Darwin and the advent of spectroscopy.

(3) Item: Space applications satellites. Potentials: A communications revolution promises a "satcom center" (with possible computer links) in every U.S. home, thanks to communication satellites with functionally limitless capacity. Hundreds of cable television stations could supply instant gratification of every visual/audio desire (but with what moral and cultural effects?). For the Third World, satellites can offer direct broadcast television for education and propaganda purposes. Landsat will produce economic benefit from new applications of remotely sensed geophysical data. Analogs: The common comparison for the communication satellite revolution is the advent of the Gutenberg printing press in the fifteenth century; the cultural revolution that followed needs no elaboration. But another analog usually overlooked is the invention of the linotype machine in the late nineteenth century, which brought the penny press to the masses. Combined with universal education, mass journalism changed the politics and culture of Europe and America as few other innovations.

C. Summary

In all these analogies, one still must be very careful to understand the differences between the historical environment in which the changes occurred and the historical environment in which the Shuttle operates. The most important difference applicable in every case is, perhaps, the all-powerful role of the state, "Leviathan," in the funding, organization, and execution of space activities. The likely effects of space technology would seem more predictable as a result of state control; in fact, a monopolistic state, for various reasons, also may stifle the revolutionary potential of space technology. Would the printing press have spread freely throughout Europe if a single state had been in monopolistic possession of the technology? One has cause to wonder‹great cause.

Appendix Two materials provide insights from two experienced instructors who have integrated space into history courses.

Appendix Two

Teaching Experiences and Syllabus

Walter A. McDougall
Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars
Smithsonian Institution

I. Teaching Experiences

I have had two experiences teaching space history. The first experience resulted from a stretching of a lecture course in twentieth century diplomatic history up to 1968. Among the new lectures were two directly involved with the relationships among international politics, war, and government organization for the promotion of technological change, and also how World War II and the Cold War accelerated the pace of scientific and technological development. Lectures also addressed the origins and impact of Sputnik around the world, describing the immense and diverse effects of Sputnik on politics, economics, and diplomacy in Asia and Europe as well as the U.S.A. and U.S.S.R. The students were very enthusiastic and grateful for the knowledge; they thirst for postwar history.

My second experience was a freshman/sophomore seminar on "The Dawn of the Space Age" at the University of California at Berkeley. Interest in the seminar was widespread‹about twenty-five students sought the fifteen places.

The class discussed a specified historical problem associated with space history each week. The syllabus was compiled from hundreds of pages of original government documents I had collected during research trips to NASA and the Presidential libraries. The students were fascinated by the government documents, but unable to do much in the way of primary source criticism. Students also had difficulty thinking historically about the evolution of space policy; they constantly wanted to discuss the future, such as space colonies, industrialization, and weaponry.

Students researched and submitted term papers on the following topics:
(1) Effects of history on the prospects of future space programs;
(2) The media and space;
(3) Management of the aerospace industry;
(4) Solar power satellites and the energy crisis;
(5) Perceptions of the enemy in nuclear strategy‹the case of Sputnik;
(6) Communist ideology and the space policy of the U.S.S.R.;
(7) Space technologies and disarmament;
(8) NASA/DoD relations, present and future;
(9) A history of communications satellites; and
(10) Long-term effects of Apollo on the U.S. space program.

II. Syllabus

University of California, Berkeley Course: The Dawn of the Space Age Instructor: Dr. Walter McDougall


Twenty-three years ago the first man-made object escaped the Terran biosphere. The Russian Sputnik I changed the world as no other event since 1945. In the very near future we will enter the age in which there will always be human beings‹first some, later many‹living permanently in space. As is the case in all human breakthroughs into unexploited technological, geographical, or ecological "terrain," long-range patterns of use and management of outer space technology evolved according to policies and programs that reflected the historical setting of the "breakthrough" years. This seminar will examine the historical origins of the space age and United States space policy, seeking those patterns that define the present and constrain the future of humans and machines in space. Major themes are the tensions between cooperation and competition in space; military vs. civilian control; conflict among scientific, economic, military, and prestige motives; and the larger issue of choice vs. political or technological determinism in human affairs. Requirements for the course include curiosity about the origins of the contemporary world, a willingness to do a large amount of reading . . . and imagination.

Class Schedule

Week 1: Class: "The Shadow of WWII: Cold War and Technology"
Reading: Hammond, chaps. 1-4; von Braun, chaps. 1-5.

Week 2: Class: "The Shock of Sputnik: The Domestic Setting"
Reading: McDougall, pp. 1-64; von Braun, chaps. 6-7; William, introduction and chap. 1.
Paper: "The Psychology of Sputnik"

Week 3: Class: "Foreign Policy Fallout: U.S., Europe, and the Third World"
Reading: Daniloff, chaps. 1-4; Eisenhower, chaps. 8-10; McDougall, pp. 65-89; Hammond, chap. 5.

Week 4: Class: "The Missile Gap: U S. Organizes for the Space Age"
Reading: McDougall, pp. 90-177; Killian, pp. 20-39, 55-150, 237-261; Anderson, chaps. 1-2.

Week 5: Class:"The Birth of Project Apollo"
Reading: Logsdon, pp. 1-130; McDougall, pp. 178-189.

Week 6: Class: "The Military in Space: Strategy in the Missile Age"
Reading: Brodie (entire); York (entire); McDougall, pp. 190-217.

Week 7: Class: "The Space Race and Its Critics"
Reading: McDougall, pp. 218-242; Etzioni (entire); Vladimirov (entire).
Paper: "The Space Debate: What Was at Stake?"

Week 8: Class: "Space Law: From Sputnik to the Space Treaty"
Reading: McDougall, pp. 247-374; Lovell (entire); Bloomfield, chaps. 6-7.

Week 9: Class: "The Human Side: Astronauts and the Public"
Reading: Wolfe (entire) or Collins (entire); Anderson, chaps. 3-5.

Week 10: Class: "Space Politics: The History and Future"
Reading: Bloomfield, introduction and chap. 8; McDougall, pp. 375-393.
Paper: Essay on a space topic of your choosing (e.g., the European space programs, the Russian military space effort, the organization of Intelsat, the NASA international program, the politics of aerospace contracts).

Required books

Frank Anderson. "Orders of Magnitude. A History of NACA and NASA ."
Bernard Brodie. "Strategy in the Missile Age."
Paul Hammond. "Cold War and Detente. The American Foreign Policy Process Since 1945." John Logsdon. "The Decision to Go to the Moon."
Bernard Lovell. "The Origins and International Economics of Space Exploration."
Walter McDougall. Xeroxed syllabus.
Tom Wolfe. "The Right Stuff."
Herbert York. "Race to Oblivion."

All of the above, plus:
Lincoln Bloomfield (ed). "Outer Space, Prospects for Man and Society."
Nicholas Daniloff. "The Kremlin and the Cosmos."
Dwight Eisenhower. "Waging Peace 1956-1961."
Amitai Etzioni. "The Moon Doggle."
Louis Halle. "The Cold War as History."
James Killian. "Sputnik, Scientists, and Eisenhower."
Leonid Vladimirov. "The Russian Space Bluff."
Wernher von Braun. "History of Rocketry and Space Travel."

Report on a Yale University Course and the Course Syllabus

Alex Roland
History Department
Duke University

I. Report on the Course

The idea and title for this course came from the students of Yale, specifically the students of Calhoun and Jonathan Edwards colleges. These students sponsored the course as part of Yale's college seminar program that can bring outside teachers into the university to teach courses that are of interest to the students but are not normally available in the catalogue. At the request of the students, I prepared a tentative course syllabus and went to Yale to meet with a student committee. To my surprise, the students asked me to increase the reading for the course; I later learned that they did this to ensure that the course would appear sufficiently rigorous to survive the close scrutiny that the Yale faculty normally gives to courses offered by outsiders. As it turned out, the reading for the course was probably more than the students could handle.

At Yale's suggestion, the course was limited to a maximum of eighteen students. Students submitted sixty-nine applications, and most included a summary of the students' reasons for wanting to take the course. A wide variety of majors was represented, with the heaviest representation in the physical sciences and engineering.

The most remarkable characteristic of the students was their naive but insatiable enthusiasm for the topic. All were by definition post-Sputnik babies (born in 1958 or later), children of the space age and products of its climate. The Apollo program occurred at the formative period in their lives, and it affected them deeply. They looked on the space program uncritically‹in fact without much serious thought at all‹as a boon to mankind and an indispensable national adventure from which we should not retreat. The course informed and chastened this enthusiasm, but was powerless to either dampen or deter it. The students were space cadets when we started and space cadets when we finished.

As the course description explains, the twelve weekly meetings addressed three principal topics. The first two classes examined the origins of space activity and the creation of NASA. The middle eight meetings reviewed NASA activities in the Apollo era from a variety of perspectives, such as politics, management, technology, science, and international cooperation. The goal here was to demonstrate how complicated such a program is and how many variables influence decisions. The last two class meetings were devoted to the history of NASA since Apollo and the future of the American space program. A fluke in scheduling produced a thirteenth meeting, which we used to review the course and try to summarize American space policy.

If this course is taught again, instructors should add or substitute class meetings devoted exclusively to the American military space program and the Russian space program (perhaps including brief surveys of Japanese, Chinese, and European programs).

The class met once a week for two and one-half hours. Lectures at the beginning of each class provided background information and put the reading in context. Then the students who had book reports due made their presentations. General discussion followed for the remainder of the available time.

Often lectures were longer than would have been preferable, because available literature did not adequately present all the material to be covered. The students tended to summarize books rather than criticize them, leading to overly long and unanalytical book reports. The discussions were always lively and productive.

The course had no examinations. Grades were based on the book reports, class discussions, and a term paper of 15-25 pages. The syllabus called for two papers, but in practice all the students prepared a preliminary paper at mid-semester for instructor critique. The preliminary paper then became the basis of a more refined and sophisticated final paper. Paper topics included the decay of Skylab, exobiology, the military uses of the Space Shuttle, radiation hazards to astronauts, nuclear auxiliary power in space, life support systems, and remote sensing.

Although some of the topics originally proposed by the students were naive, simplistic, or impractical, most students settled on worthwhile subjects with a minimum of counseling. As would be expected, the quality of papers varied (though most were good or better). In general, the engineering and physical science majors had more difficulty mastering the techniques of historical analysis than other students, tending to focus descriptively on events without considering in sufficient depth how and why the events had happened. Still, most of the students gained at least a familiarity with the historical analysis method, and some even developed a modest facility for the approach .

The student response to the course was enthusiastic, and student evaluations were uniformly high. That analysis mirrors my own response: I think the course was a rewarding and worthwhile experience for me and the students.

A critique of the course would have to note that materials were the major problem. There is no good text that collects the material covered by the course, so the readings were assembled from a wide variety of sources that taxed the holdings of even so fine a repository as the library at Yale. Most college libraries couldn't begin to provide all the readings listed in the syllabus.

Even at Yale the reading arrangements were not entirely satisfactory. Because the students had to go to the library to read reserve materials, students were often inconvenienced, or even precluded from doing the required reading on time. Furthermore, not all of the assigned readings were as effective as anticipated. The reading list thus should be revised somewhat, and more of the material should be in a form that the students could buy or at least take out of the library.

The scarcity of materials also affected the preparation of research papers. For many of the students in this course, a constraint on the selection of a term paper topic was the availability­ or rather absence‹of adequate source materials.

In conclusion, this experience at Yale suggests that space activity is a valid and fruitful topic of study that taps considerable student interest, especially among the generation currently in college. The greatest obstacle to presenting such a course is the paucity of published materials for reading and research.

II. Syllabus

Yale University
Course: NASA and the Post-Sputnik Era
Instructor: Alex Roland


This description and syllabus set out the purpose and structure of the seminar and list the required reading. Students will be responsible for completing the required reading before each class meeting. In addition, each student will report sometime during the semester on one of the books listed for report on the syllabus. The instructor will report on the books listed for the second seminar meeting as well as any other books for which there are no student volunteers.

The instructor will introduce each seminar meeting with a brief lecture, followed by one or more book reports of ten to fifteen minutes to be made by students. The remainder of the meeting will be given over to discussion.

In addition to the readings and book reports, each student will prepare two research papers on topics chosen by the student and approved by the instructor. Proposed topics should be submitted to the instructor for approval at the third class meeting.

Grading will be based on class participation, book reports, and the two research papers.

This course will examine the U.S. civilian space program from its inception in the wake of Sputnik up to the present concerns with the Space Shuttle and harvesting the practical returns on America's space exploration, research, and development. The objective is to evaluate the program and the national policies it has represented, measure its impact on the contemporary world, and consider its future course and implications. Is the Moon landing, as Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., has suggested, likely to be viewed by future generations as the most important event of the twentieth century, or was it, as Amitai Etzioni has asserted, merely a "moon-doggle," lacking both significance and worth?

Since NASA is the vehicle and the embodiment of America's space program, it will be the focus of the course. The first two classes will examine how and why the space agency was created. Emphasis will be given to the strategic considerations that led to the development of large launch vehicles and to the military and political considerations that brought the United States into a space race with the Soviet Union. The military origins and implications of space travel complicated the establishment of NASA and have continued in the ensuing years to cast an ominous shadow over America's commitment to the peaceful uses of outer space.

The next eight seminar meetings will examine the Apollo program, with which NASA and the American civilian space program are still most widely associated. Each meeting will deal with one factor of Apollo decisionmaking and policy formulation. The result will be a composite of the disparate and often conflicting considerations that shaped the Apollo program. Meeting three will examine the politics of Apollo, from the Cold War enthusiasms behind the decision to go to the Moon to the Vietnam War and the greening of America that made the Moon mission look to some like a misguided squandering of national treasure. Meeting four on the technology of Apollo will contrast what some have called the greatest technological feat of modern times with the degree to which most of the technology required was actually available at the outset. Meetings five through nine will treat the communities and institutions that affect or are affected by the NASA program, ranging from the White House, the Department of Defense, and Congress through the aerospace industry, the public, and the scientific community. Meeting ten will deal with the space programs of foreign countries, especially the Soviet Union, and the record of international cooperation in space.

With this grounding in the how and why of the American civilian space program, the seminar in the final two meetings will examine the program since Apollo, evaluate the first twenty years, and look at the prospects for the future. Meeting eleven will be built around the conceptual tools proposed in Raymond A. Bauer's "Second-Order Consequences," an attempt to look beyond the obvious and immediate impact of NASA's programs. The final meeting will use an assessment of the space program to date as a tool for predicting the future. Among the major issues to be addressed are the contrast between the tangible and the symbolic results of the program, the relative growth of military activities in space, and the merits of civilian space activity as a national undertaking.

(1) Background to Sputnik

Early rocket technology; the German rockets of World War II; the development of ICBMs in the Cold War; the International Geophysical Year, 1957-58; the technology of spaceflight.

Reading: Frank W. Anderson, Jr. "Orders of Magnitude: A History of NACA and NASA, 1915-1976." Washington, 1976.

(2) Sputnik and the Birth of the American Space Program

The reaction of Eisenhower, Congress, the military, NACA, the scientific community, the press, and the public; drafting and passage of the Space Act.

Enid Bok Schoetle. "The Establishment of NASA." In: Sanford A. Lakoff (ed). "Knowledge and Power: Essays on Science and Government." N.Y., 1966, pp. 162-270.
Edwin Diamond. "The Rise and Fall of the Space Age." Garden City, N.Y., 1964, chaps. 1-2.
Herbert York. "Race to Oblivion: A Participant's View of the Arms Race." N.Y., 1970, chap. 6.
Gabriel A. Almond. "Public Opinion and the Development of Space Technology." In:
Joseph M. Goldsen (ed). "Outer Space and World Politics." N.Y., 1963, pp. 71-96.

Book Reports:
Alison Griffith. "The National Aeronautics and Space Act: A Study uf the Development of Public Policy." Washington, 1962.
Mary Stone Ambrose. "The National Space Program, Phase I: Passage of the National Aeronautics and Space Act." American University, M.A. thesis, 1960.

(3) The Politics of Apollo

The space race; the Apollo decision; manned vs. unmanned spacecraft; criticisms of Apollo; Congressional budget cuts.

Philip A. Abelson. "The Space Race." American Psychologist. Vol. 19, 1964, pp. 39-45.
Alton Frye. "Politics: The First Dimension of Space." Journal of Conflict Resolution. Vol. 10, March 1966, pp. 103-16.
Mose L. Harvey. "Preeminence in Space: Still a Critical National Issue." Orbis. Vol. 12, 1969, pp. 959-83.
Vernon Van Dyke. "Pride and Power: The Rationale of the Space Program" Urbana, Ill., 1964, chaps. 8-10.
Book Reports:
John Logsdon. "The Decision to Go to the Moon: Project Apollo and the National Interest." Cambridge, Mass., 1970.
Amitai Etzioni. "The Moon-Doggle: Domestic and International Implications of the Space Race." Garden City, N.Y., 1964.

(4) The Technology of Apollo

An engineering problem of known dimensions: launch vehicle, spacecraft, communications, astronauts.

John Noble Wilford. "We Reach the Moon." N.Y., 1969, chaps. 10-13.
John Logsdon. "Selecting the Way to the Moon: The Choice of the Lunar Orbital Rendezvous Mode." Aerospace Historian. Vol. 18, June 1961, pp. 63-70.
Hilliard W. Paige. "Technology of Manned Return from Outer Space." Journal of the Franklin Institute. Vol. 267, 1959, pp. 103-18.
S.F. Hoffman. "Large Rocket Engines for Space Vehicles and Missiles." Journal of the Royal Aeronautical Society. Vol. 65, 1961, pp. 321-31.
Nicholas E. Golovin. "Systems Reliability in the Space Program." Industrial Quality Control. Vol. 20, May 1964, pp. 20-30.

Book reports:
Courtney G. Brooks, James M. Grimwood, and Loyd S. Swenson. "Chariots for Apollo: A History of Manned Lunar Spacecraft." Washington, 1979.
Charles D. Benson and William Barnaby Faherty. "Moonport: A History of Apollo Launch Facilities and Operations." Washington, 1978.

(5) NASA and the Executive Branch

NASA relations with the White House, especially the National Aeronautics and Space Council, the Office of Management and Budget, and the President's Special Assistant for Science and Technology; NASA's relations with other federal agencies, especially the Department of Defense.

"White House Superstructure for Science." In: William R. Nelson (ed). "The Politics of Science." N.Y., 1968, pp. 107-23.
Alan L. Dean. "Mounting a National Space Program." In: "Science ond Resources: Prospects and Implications of Technological Advance." Baltimore, 1959, pp. 219-27. Van Dyke. "Pride and Power," chaps. 3, 4, and 12.
Diamond. "Rise and Fall of the Space Age," chap. 7.
Erlend A. Kennan and Edmund H. Harvey, Jr. "Mission to the Moon: A Critical Examination of NASA and the Space Program." N.Y., 1969, chap. 10.
Hugo Young, Bryan Silcock, and Peter Dunn. "Journey to Tranquility." Garden City, N.Y., 1970, chap. 7.

Book reports:
James R. Killian, Jr. "Sputnik, Scientists and Eisenhower: A Memoir of the First Special Assistant to the President for Science and Technology." Cambridge, Mass., 1977.
George B. Kistiakowsky. "A Scientist at the White House: A Private Diary of President Eisenhower's Special Assistant for Science and Technology." Cambridge, Mass., 1976.

(6) NASA and Congress

Congressional committee structure on space matters; oversight; policy formulation; the budgetary process; interest group politics.

James R. Kerr. "Congress and Space: Overview or Oversight." In: Nelson. "Politics of Science." 1968, pp. 176-89.
Thomas P.Murphy. "Congressional Liaison: The NASA Case." Western Political Quarterly. Vol. 25, 1972, pp. 192-214.
Kennan and Harvey. "Mission to the Moon," chap. 12.
Eileen Galloway. "Scientific Advice for Congress: Analysis of Three Proposals." In: Lakoff (ed). "Knowledge and Power." 1966, pp. 359-76.

Book reports:
R. Cargill Hall. "Lunar Impact: A History of Project Ranger." Washington, 1977.
Thomas P. Jahnige. "Congress and Space: The Committee System and Congressional Oversight of NASA." Claremont Graduate School and University Center, Ph.D. dissertation, 1965.

(7) The Management of Large Scale Technology

Contracting with the aerospace industry; management practices within NASA.

H. L. Nieburg. "In the Name of Science." Chicago, 1966, chaps. 10-17.
Wernher von Braun. "Management of Manned Space Programs." In: F.E. Kast and J.E. Rosenzweig (eds). "Science, Technology, and Management." N.Y., 1963, pp. 246-63.

Book reports:
James E. Webb. "Space Age Management: The Large Scale Approach." New York, 1969.
W. Henry Lambright. "Governing Science and Technology." N.Y., 1976.

(8) NASA and the Public

"If we can go to the Moon, why can't we . . .?" Public perceptions and misperceptions of NASA and the space program; the astronaut as hero.


Any one of the books from the book report list, plus: Michael P. Richard. "Space and Public Opinion." Sociology and Social Research. Vol. 49, 1965, pp. 437-45.

Book reports:
Norman Mailer. "Of a Fire on the Moon." Boston, 1970.
Tom Wolfe. "The Right Stuff." N.Y., 1979.
Michael Collins."Carrying the Fire: An Astronaut's Journeys." N.Y., 1974.

(9) NASA and the Scientific Community

Big science vs. small science; who controls: NASA or the scientific community; scientists vs. engineers vs. managers; basic vs. applied research.

Reading: ,br>Donald A. Strickland. "Physicists' Views of Space and Politics." Public Opinion Quarterly. Vol. 29, 1965, pp. 223-35.
Norriss A. Heatherington. "Winning the Initiative: NASA and the U.S. Space Science Program." Prologue. Vol. 7, 1975, pp. 99-107.
Gordon J.F. MacDonald. "Science and Space Policy: How Does It Get Planned?" Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. Vol. 23, May 1967, pp. 2-9.
William F. Pickering. "Selection of Space Experiments." American Scientist. Vol. 54, 1966, pp. 103-109.
William F. Pickering. "Grand Tour." American Scientist. Vol. 58, March 1970, pp. 148-55.
Ian A. Mitroff. "On Doing Empirical Philosophy of Science: A Case Study in the Social Psychology of Research." Philosophy of the Social Sciences. Vol. 4, 1974, pp. 183-96.
Ian A. Mitroff. "On the Norms of Science: A Report of a Study of the Apollo Moon Scientists (1)." Communication and Cognition. Vol. 7, 1974, pp. 125-51.
Lyman Spitzer, Jr. "Beginnings and Future of Space Astronomy." American Scientist. Vol. 50, 1962, pp. 473-84.

Book reports:
Homer Newell. "Beyond the Atmosphere: The Early Years of Space Science." Washington, 1980.
National Research Council, Space Science Board. "Opportunities and Choices in Space Science, 1974." Washington, 1975.

(10) International Cooperation

The space programs of other nations; American policies on joint activities in space; the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project.

Arnold Frutkin. "International Cooperation in Space." Englewood Cliffs, N.J., 1965.

: Book reports:
Edward Clinton Ezell and Linda Neuman Ezell. "The Partnership: A History of the Apollo- Soyuz Test Project." Washington, 1978.
Don E. Kash. "The Politics of Space Cooperation." Lafayette, Ind., 1967.

(11) NASA After Apollo

Aeronautics; space science; Earth applications; Skylab; the Space Shuttle; the impact of space; meteorology, communications, Earth resources.

Raymond A. Bauer. "Second-Order Consequences: A Methodological Essay on the Impact of Technology." Cambridge, Mass., 1969.
Allan H. Brown. "The Post-Apollo Era: Decisions Facing NASA." Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. Vol. 23, April 1967, pp. 11-16.

Book reports:
Mary A. Holman. "The Political Economy of the Space Program." Palo Alto, CA, 1974.
Frederick I. Ordway, Carsbie C. Adams, and Mitchell R. Sharpe. "Dividends from Space." N.Y., 1971.

(12) The Future of the American Space Program
The relation of the military and civilian programs; space as a discretionary government activity; the Space Shuttle.
NASA. "Outlook for Space: Report to the NASA Administrator." Washington, 1976. R. Jeffrey Smith. "Shuttle Problems Compromise Space Program." Science. Vol. 206, Nov. 23, 1979, pp. 910-14.

Book reports:
Gerard K. O'Neill. "The High Frontier: Human Colonies in Space." N.Y., 1976.
Arthur L. Levine. "The Future of the U.S. Space Program." N.Y., 1975.