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Chronology of Early Air Force Man in Space Activity

Chronology of Early Air Force Man in Space Activity

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Published by Bob Andrepont

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Published by: Bob Andrepont on Jun 30, 2011
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07/01/2011

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CHRONOLOGY OFEARLY AIR FORCE MAN -IN-SPACE ACTIVITY
1955
-
1960
Prepared byHistorical DivisionOffice of InformationSpace Systems DivisionAir Force Systems CommandUnited States Air Force
 
FOREWORDThe United States Air Force was one of several government agenciesand departments with an interest in the exploration and utilization ofouter space before the creation of the National Aeronautics and Space
'
Administration in 1958.As the management agency for rockets whichhave launched the vast majority of United States space projects, theAir Force is a major contributor to the total national space programwhile responsible for virtually all the nation's military space activity.This chronology records a small portion of Air Force space activity
-
specifically, the planning for manned space flight prior to the estab-lishment of Project Mercury by the National Aeronautics and SpaceAdministration
.
In
his chronology, Air Force manned space flight activity is viewedfrom the perspective of the ballistic missile development agency
-
the Air Research and Development Command's Western DevelopmentDivision, later re -named the Air Force Ballistic Mi'ssile Division.Due to resource limitations at the Space Systems Division historicaloffice, research for this chronology has been generally limited tomaterials available in the files of that office. All documents cited inthe notes which follow each entry are located in the archives of theHistorical Division, Office of Information, Space Systems Division,in Los Angeles
,
California.
A
general note of caution is offered users of this chronology tohelp maintain historical perspective
.
The Air Force Ballistic MissileDivision, and its predecessor organization, had one mission of over
-
riding importance
-
to field a force of intercontinental range ballisticmissiles at the earliest possible moment.This mission was accordedthe nation's top priority in 1955, and any other activity automaticallytook a subordinate position.It could have been no other way
if
therisk of an unfavorable shift in the world strategic balance was to beavoided.Other responsibilities were acquired, and by late 1958execution of assigned space projects was a major portion of theorganization's mission.Even at that point in time, however,theprincipal and overriding priority was still creation of a missile forcefor the nation.This situation should be kept in mind as the readerretraces the steps taken by the Air Force toward a program to put
a
man in space.WDPJanuary, 1965

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