Category Archives: Cold War Competition

Robert Gilruth and the NACA’s Entry into Space Technology


During the latter part of World War II leaders of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), the predecessor to NASA, had become interested in the possibilities of high-speed guided missiles and the future of spaceflight. It created at the … Continue reading

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The First Commercial Space Activity: Communications Satellites


The first commercial activities in space resulted from the efforts of the telecommunications industry to extend operations beyond the atmosphere almost with the beginning of the space age. Indeed, satellite communication was the only truly commercial space technology to be … Continue reading

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A Chronology of Key Space Anniversaries for 2014


There are many anniversaries every year, some truly significant and others of a more mundane nature. What follows is a short chronology of anniversaries taking place in 2014 relating to the spaceflight community. It is not an exhaustive list, but … Continue reading

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Redirect: Russian/Soviet Space History Discussion


I wanted to alert you all to a blog conversation about a set of recent books on Russian/Soviet space history and culture that is being hosted by the “Russian History Blog.” The conversation, which will continue throughout this week, brings … Continue reading

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Announcing a History of Science Society Session, November 22, 2013: “The Power of Analogies for Advancing Scientific Knowledge”


Several colleagues and I are planning a session at the History of Science Society Annual Meeting in Boston, Massachussetts on Friday morning, 9:00 am, November 22, 2013. The session, “The Power of Analogies for Advancing Scientific Knowledge,” brings together four presentations … Continue reading

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Wednesday’s Book Review: “Keep Watching the Skies! The Story of Operation Moonwatch and the Dawn of the Space Age”


Keep Watching the Skies! The Story of Operation Moonwatch and the Dawn of the Space Age. By W. Patrick McCray. (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2008. xvi, 308 pp. $29.95, ISBN 978-0-691-12854-2.) Sometimes, scientists understand the public’s interest in participating personally … Continue reading

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Wednesday’s Book Review: “Inventing the American Astronaut”


Inventing the American Astronaut. By Matthew H. Hersch. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012. x + 219 pp., illus., notes, selected bibliography, index. ISBN 978-1-137-02528-9. $27.00 (paperback). Matthew H. Hersch takes on an exploration of the work life of the American astronauts … Continue reading

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Eisenhower Revisionism and Sputnik


At present Dwight D. Eisenhower enjoys a presidential stature that ranks just below the greatest of the American presidents, especially Washington, Lincoln, and Jefferson. This has not always been the case. For the last thirty years Eisenhower revisionism has been … Continue reading

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Early USAF Missile Evolution: Atlas, Thor, Titan, and Minuteman Launchers


During the early 1950s all the armed services of the United States worked toward the fielding of ballistic missiles that could deliver warheads to enemy targets, in some cases intercontinental targets half a world away. Competition was keen among the … Continue reading

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The First Three USAF Astronauts


Three of the first seven of America’s astronauts—the Mercury Seven selected in April 1959—came from the ranks of the United States Air Force. They were L. Gordon Cooper Jr. (1927-2004), Virgil I. “Gus” Grissom (1926-1967), and Donald K. “Deke” Slayton … Continue reading

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