About the Editor
Steven J. Dick is the Chie Historian or NASA andDirector o the NASA History Division. He workedas an astronomer and historian o science at the U.S.Naval Observatory in Washington, DC or 24 yearsbeore coming to NASA Headquarters in 2003.Among his recent books are
Societal Impact o Spacefight
(NASA SP 4801, 2007, edited with Roger Launius),
Critical Issues in the History o Spacefight
(NASA SP 4702, 2006, edited with Roger Launius),
The Living Universe: NASA and the Development o Astrobiology
(2004, with James Strick), and
Ocean Joined: The U.S. Naval Observatory
(2003). Dr. Dick is the recipient o the NavyMeritorious Civilian Service Medal, two NASAGroup Achievement Awards, and the 2006 LeRoy E.Doggett Prize or Historical Astronomy o theAmerican Astronomical Society.On the back cover: Fity years ater the Space Agebegan, the International Space Station orbits theEarth. It is the result o a cooperative eort o 16nations led by the United States.
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here is no doubt that the last 50 years havewitnessed numerous accomplishments inwhat has oten been termed “the newocean” o space, harkening back to a longtradition o exploration. Earth is now circled bythousands o satellites, looking both upward intospace at distant galaxies and downward toward Earthor reconnaissance, weather, communications, nav-igation, and remote sensing. Robotic space probeshave explored most o the solar system, returningastonishing images o alien worlds. Space telescopeshave probed the depths o the universe at manywavelengths. In the dramatic arena o humanspaceight, 12 men have walked on the surace o theMoon, the Space Shuttle has had 119 ights, and theInternational Space Station—a cooperative eort o 16 nations—is almost “core complete.” In addition toRussia, which put the frst human into space in April1961, China has now joined the human spaceightclub with two Shenzhou ights, and Europe isreadying or its entry into the feld as well.
Ater 50 years o robotic and human space-ight, and as serious plans are being implemented toreturn humans to the Moon and continue on to Mars,it is a good time to step back and ask questions thatthose in the heat o battle have had but little time toask.What has the Space Age meant? What i the SpaceAge had never occurred? Has it been, and is it still,important or a creative society to explore space? Howdo we, and how should we, remember the Space Age?On the cover: The Space Age begins. Top let: Atechnician puts the fnishing touches on Sputnik I inthe all o 1957. Top middle and right: The SovietUnion launched Sputnik I the frst artifcial Earthsatellite on October 4, 1957. Bottom: Explorer 1 America’s frst Earth satellite was launched January 31, 1958. Pictured let to right are WilliamH. Pickering, director o the Jet Propulsion Laboratorythat built and operated the satellite; James A. vanAllen o the State University o Iowa who designedand built the instrument that discovered the VanAllen Radiation Belts; and Wernher von Braun,leader o the U.S. Army’s Redstone Arsenal teamwhich built the frst stage Redstone rocket thatlaunched Explorer 1. The photo was taken at a pressconerence at the National Academy o Sciencesbuilding in the early hours o February 1, 1958.