How did America’s space program originate?
How and why was NASA formed?
Why did it not become military-controlled?
What roles did the “Space Cadets,” monkeys, and Yorkshire pigs play in getting the U.S. into outer space?
Official histories often make it appear as if nations make enormous decisions based on thorough research and understanding, after formal deliberations among “very important people” at the top of the heap. NASA’s official early history has been told in countless institutional papers, reports, and books. But when the individuals intimately involved in these momentous choices are given voice, as they are in this fascinating book, they tell a different story—one of hops and skips, of intellectual influence rather than personal authority, of personality clashes and chats among colleagues and friends, and of “bootlegged” designs that sometimes led to billion-dollar programs. So it was with the birth of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
Thus, former NASA engineer and space futurist Kenneth (Ken) J. Cox and cultural anthropologist Robbie Davis-Floyd embarked on the project of collecting oral histories—inside stories—not from the well-publicized astronauts, but from the engineers, administrators, and visionaries who worked behind the scenes and were intimately involved in the early development of the American space program. With Frank White’s assistance, they tell the story of how these pioneers shaped the events leading to the formation and early workings of NASA—from the Gemini, Mercury, and Apollo programs to the first Space Shuttle. In this well-crafted book, these Space Stories are told by rocket scientist Guy (Tibby) Thibodaux, spacecraft designers Maxwell (Max) Faget and Caldwell Johnson, attorney Paul Dembling, and the visionary Congressional librarian and space treaty writer Eilene Galloway, both of whom helped to draft the legislation that created NASA in 1958 and the international space policy under which NASA has functioned ever since. Space aficionados will find this book both informative and mesmerizing!