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Table Of Contents

The Metamorphosis
The Venerable Order of the NACA
Glennan: Welcome to NASA
The Public Eye
The First NASA Inspection
Following the NACA Way
Carrying Out the Task
The Tracking Range
Shouldering the Burden
The End of the Glamour Days
Change and Continuity
The Organization
Thompson's Obscurantism
The Shift Toward the Periphery
The Brave New World of Projects
Uncharted Territory
The "Mad Scientists" ofMPD
The ABCs ofMPD
The Solar Wind Hits Home
The MPD Branch
Out of the Tunnel
The Barium Cloud Experiment
The Search for Boundless Energy
A Hot Field Cools Off
The International Geophysical Year and the V-2 Panel
The "Sub-Satellite"
Something the Whole World Could See
Big Ideas Before Congress
Assigning Responsibilities
A Burst Balloon
"Anything's Possible!"
The Hegemony of Active Voice
An Unsung Hero
Brown's Lunar Exploration Working Group
The Rendezvous Committees
Houbolt Launches His First Crusade
The Early Skepticism of the STG
Mounting Frustration
COMPARISON OF LANDER SIZES
A Voice in the Wilderness
The LOR Decision
Skipping "The Next Logical Step"
Manned Orbital Research Laboratory
Keeping the "R" Alive
Understanding Why and Why Not
To Behold the Moon: The Lunar Orbiter Project
The "Moonball" Experiment
The Source Evaluation Board
The Boeing Team
The "Concentrated" versus the "Distributed" Mission
"The Picture of the Century"
Mission More Than Accomplished
In the Service of Apollo
Langley's "Undercover Operation" in Houston
The Simulators
The Apollo Fire Investigation Board
The Cortright Synthesis
The Stranger
The Reorganization
New Directions
Critique from the Old Guard
Abbreviations
Notes
Index
The Author
The NASA History Series
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Spaceflight Revolution 1995 NASA

Spaceflight Revolution 1995 NASA

Ratings: (0)|Views: 10 |Likes:
Published by Eric Miller
Spaceflight Revolution is the sequel to James Hansen's excellent book on the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics' Langley Aeronautical Laboratory from 1917 to 1958, Engineer in Charge--but with a twist. Whereas the earlier book dealt almost exclusively with aeronautics, Spaceflight Revolution deals specifically with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's successor to the Langley Aeronautical Laboratory -- the Langley Research Center -- and its important contributions to spaceflight from 1958 to 1975.

Hansen painstakingly, evenhandedly, and affectionately depicts Langley's transition from aeronautical research to an increasingly projects-oriented focus on space-related support efforts. These ranged from Project Mercury, which first put an American in space, through the launching of the Echo satellite, the management of the important but little-known Scout rocket program, and the successful crusade for the lunar-orbit rendezvous concept so critical to the Apollo program, to the lunar orbiter project and other service to Apollo and to the space station. Hansen appropriately notes their significance. But he clearly regrets the shift in emphasis they imposed on Langley away from basic, in-house research to project management. Thus, in an epilogue that almost amounts to a capsule history of Langley since 1975, he is obviously pleased to report that the end of the Cold War has brought a resurgence of aeronautics at Langley.

These comments do not imply that Hansen lets his own enthusiasms lead him to a one-sided approach. Far from it. He is careful to report both sides of a reorganization of the center that embodied the spaceflight revolution. The organization imposed on many of Langley's old hands by Edgar M. Cortright, director from 1968 to 1975, allows Hansen to offer many insights about Langley based not only on his extensive research for this book but on that for the earlier volume. The result is that the two books form a sort of Hegelian whole in which Engineer in Charge presents the thesis, Spaceflight Revolution's twelve chapters offer the antithesis, and the epilogue to the latter constitutes the synthesis.

A short review cannot begin to do justice to the surprising breadth and rich texture of this treatment of but seventeen years in the life of only one of NASA's many centers. Not even one of the new space centers in NASA (such as Johnson, Marshall, and Goddard), Langley managed to make many significant contributions to the space effort. In what is probably the most thorough account we are likely to get on lunar-orbit rendezvous, Hansen depicts the initial skepticism that greeted this Langley proposal. He then goes on to explain the tortuous path by which it came to be adopted as the way America got twelve astronauts to the moon and back and to outline the consequences that decision had on the space station.

To mention but one other topic, Hansen's fine account of the highly successful Scout rocket program reveals its initial growing pains and should give pause to those who advocate the current NASA philosophy of "faster, better, cheaper" without consideration of the problems it can sometimes pose.

Of course, no history is without errors. This one has few that I caught, but Hansen has astronaut Neil Armstrong crashing a Lunar Landing Training Vehicle (LLTV) at NASA's Flight Research Center in California when the event actually took place in Houston, Texas. He uses this incident to point out the limitations of the LLTV as compared with Langley's ground-based simulator, the Lunar Landing Research Facility. In fact, the very hazards of the LLTV were one of its strengths. Armstrong has said he was never comfortable flying the vehicle but it provided indispensable training for his actual landing on the moon. Langley's simulator, well described by Hansen, was also important because it enabled the astronauts to practice maneuvers they would not have dared to perform in the LLTVs.
Spaceflight Revolution is the sequel to James Hansen's excellent book on the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics' Langley Aeronautical Laboratory from 1917 to 1958, Engineer in Charge--but with a twist. Whereas the earlier book dealt almost exclusively with aeronautics, Spaceflight Revolution deals specifically with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's successor to the Langley Aeronautical Laboratory -- the Langley Research Center -- and its important contributions to spaceflight from 1958 to 1975.

Hansen painstakingly, evenhandedly, and affectionately depicts Langley's transition from aeronautical research to an increasingly projects-oriented focus on space-related support efforts. These ranged from Project Mercury, which first put an American in space, through the launching of the Echo satellite, the management of the important but little-known Scout rocket program, and the successful crusade for the lunar-orbit rendezvous concept so critical to the Apollo program, to the lunar orbiter project and other service to Apollo and to the space station. Hansen appropriately notes their significance. But he clearly regrets the shift in emphasis they imposed on Langley away from basic, in-house research to project management. Thus, in an epilogue that almost amounts to a capsule history of Langley since 1975, he is obviously pleased to report that the end of the Cold War has brought a resurgence of aeronautics at Langley.

These comments do not imply that Hansen lets his own enthusiasms lead him to a one-sided approach. Far from it. He is careful to report both sides of a reorganization of the center that embodied the spaceflight revolution. The organization imposed on many of Langley's old hands by Edgar M. Cortright, director from 1968 to 1975, allows Hansen to offer many insights about Langley based not only on his extensive research for this book but on that for the earlier volume. The result is that the two books form a sort of Hegelian whole in which Engineer in Charge presents the thesis, Spaceflight Revolution's twelve chapters offer the antithesis, and the epilogue to the latter constitutes the synthesis.

A short review cannot begin to do justice to the surprising breadth and rich texture of this treatment of but seventeen years in the life of only one of NASA's many centers. Not even one of the new space centers in NASA (such as Johnson, Marshall, and Goddard), Langley managed to make many significant contributions to the space effort. In what is probably the most thorough account we are likely to get on lunar-orbit rendezvous, Hansen depicts the initial skepticism that greeted this Langley proposal. He then goes on to explain the tortuous path by which it came to be adopted as the way America got twelve astronauts to the moon and back and to outline the consequences that decision had on the space station.

To mention but one other topic, Hansen's fine account of the highly successful Scout rocket program reveals its initial growing pains and should give pause to those who advocate the current NASA philosophy of "faster, better, cheaper" without consideration of the problems it can sometimes pose.

Of course, no history is without errors. This one has few that I caught, but Hansen has astronaut Neil Armstrong crashing a Lunar Landing Training Vehicle (LLTV) at NASA's Flight Research Center in California when the event actually took place in Houston, Texas. He uses this incident to point out the limitations of the LLTV as compared with Langley's ground-based simulator, the Lunar Landing Research Facility. In fact, the very hazards of the LLTV were one of its strengths. Armstrong has said he was never comfortable flying the vehicle but it provided indispensable training for his actual landing on the moon. Langley's simulator, well described by Hansen, was also important because it enabled the astronauts to practice maneuvers they would not have dared to perform in the LLTVs.

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Published by: Eric Miller on Mar 23, 2014
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