Category Archives: History

Immediate Outcomes from the Columbia Accident in 2003


The loss of the Space Shuttle Columbia on February 1, 2003, signaled the beginning of an important policy debate about the future of human spaceflight. NASA grounded the shuttle fleet, appropriately so, at the time of the accident, but wanted to return … Continue reading

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Wednesday’s Book Review: “Print The Legend”


Print the Legend: The Life and Times of John Ford. By Scott Eyman. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999. With Print the Legend I have now read five different biographies of John Ford, the auteur director best known for his … Continue reading

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What Happened to the Space Shuttle Columbia on February 1, 2003?


NASA personnel and leaders had a celebration planned on February 1, 2003, for the return of Columbia and its crew after the successful completion of STS-107. STS-107 had been launched from the Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A on January … Continue reading

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Recalling the Challenger Accident Thirty Years Ago


Thirty years ago on January 28, 1986, NASA and the nation suffered loss of the space shuttle Challenger during launch from the Kennedy Space Center. Many Americans had been excited about this mission, even more than those that had gone before, … Continue reading

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Wednesday’s Book Review: “Antarctic Destinies”


Antarctic Destinies: Scott, Shackleton, and the Changing Face of Heroism. By Stephanie Barczewski. London, UK: Hambledon Continuum, 2007. I have been interested in Antarctic exploration for many years and have read a broad range of books. Antarctic Destinies is focused … Continue reading

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Wednesday’s Book Review: “The Mosquito Crusades”


The Mosquito Crusades: A History of the American Anti-Mosquito Movement from the Reed Commission to the First Earth Day. By Gordon Patterson. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2009. Today Florida is viewed as a semi-tropical paradise, one in which … Continue reading

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Pancho Villa and the Rise of American Military Aviation


By the end of the first decade of the twentieth century the United States Army had begun to perceive, albeit reluctantly, the significance of military aircraft to the conduct of warfare. This realization led to the establishment of a military section … Continue reading

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Wednesday’s Book Review: “Single Stage to Orbit”


Single Stage to Orbit: Politics, Space Technology, and the Quest for Reusable Rocketry. By Andrew J. Butrica. (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003). Andrew Butrica’s book, while more than a decade old, is still germane to the current space … Continue reading

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Is there such a Thing as American Exceptionalism?


I was struck by the discussion of American exceptionalism that became a running sub-theme of the recent American Historical Association annual meeting in Atlanta. It seems there is no way to square the perspections of exceptionalism presented everywhere with the … Continue reading

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Wednesday’s Books Review: “The National Labs”


The National Labs: Science in an American System, 1947-1974. By Peter J. Westwick. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2003, xii, 403 pp. $49.95, ISBN 0-674-00948-7..06 To help win the cold war the United States created a set of research institutions throughout … Continue reading

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