Systems Management in American and European Space Programs
Author: Stephen B. Johnson
Pubpsher: JHU Press
How does one go about organizing something as complicated as a strategic-missile or space-exploration program? Stephen B. Johnson here explores the answer—systems management—in a groundbreaking study that involves Air Force planners, scientists, technical specialists, and, eventually, bureaucrats. Taking a comparative approach, Johnson focuses on the theory, or intellectual history, of "systems engineering" as such, its origins in the Air Force's Cold War ICBM efforts, and its migration to not only NASA but the European Space Agency. Exploring the history and politics of aerospace development and weapons procurement, Johnson examines how scientists and engineers created the systems management process to coordinate large-scale technology development, and how managers and military officers gained control of that process. "Those funding the race demanded results," Johnson explains. "In response, development organizations created what few expected and what even fewer wanted—a bureaucracy for innovation. To begin to understand this apparent contradiction in terms, we must first understand the exacting nature of space technologies and the concerns of those who create them."
THE MARRIAGE OF CADMUS AND HARMONY is a book without any modern parallel. Forming an active link in a chain that reaches back through Ovid's METAMORPHOSES directly to Homer, Roberto Calasso's re-exploration of the fantastic fables and mysteries we may only think we know explodes the entire world of Greek mythology, pieces it back together, and presents it to us in a new, and astonishing, and utterly contempory way.
The story of Ken Johnston's archive of historic NASA photos and his decision to go public with evidence of the manipulation of those images from the Apollo moon missions is the stuff of legend in the alternative history community. The basic story is that Ken discovered a disturbing situation in the secret halls of our hallowed space agency. At the Lunar Receiving Laboratory, Ken was the Director of the Data and Photo Control Department, responsible for all the photographs and data generated by the contributing scientists from around the world. He also produced and edited the NASA Lunar Sample Information Catalog for each of the Lunar landing missions. One day, Ken enters the room where he sees strange activity. Given that he feels a sense of responsibility for the integrity of the NASA collection, he inquires as to what is going on. He spoke with several people who called themselves "strippers" because they were stripping out details in lunar images that might be hard to explain. That day, they were at the task of painting out the stars in particular lunar images. The unusually lame excuse given was that the stars in the lunar sky would "confuse people." This was alarming for Ken to discover. He found out also that "smudging out" anomalies on images was commonplace. Ken's story could be counted as a minority report in NASA's branded panorama of American heroics. The US Government and the American people had allocated significant financial and other resources toward the goal of reaching the moon at the behest of our young President Kennedy. The idea was to see what was there, to share that information to the world, and elevate the knowledge of mankind. To discover that the artifacts of that effort might have been manipulated was highly disappointing. It is this scenario being asserted by Ken Johnston, the very human being, who at one time, had watch over the chain of evidence.
Jennifer Wunder makes a strong case for the importance of hermeticism and the secret societies to an understanding of John Keats's poetry and his speculations about religious and philosophical questions. Although secret societies exercised enormous cultural influence during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, they have received little attention from Romantic scholars. And yet, information about the societies permeated all aspects of Romantic culture. Groups such as the Rosicrucians and the Freemasons fascinated the reading public, and the market was flooded with articles, pamphlets, and books that discussed the societies's goals and hermetic philosophies, debated their influence, and drew on their mythologies for literary inspiration. Wunder recovers the common knowledge about the societies and offers readers a first look at the role they played in the writings of Romantic authors in general and Keats in particular. She argues that Keats was aware of the information available about the secret societies and employed hermetic terminology and imagery associated with these groups throughout his career. As she traces the influence of these secret societies on Keats's poetry and letters, she offers readers a new perspective not only on Keats's writings but also on scholarship treating his religious and philosophical beliefs. While scholars have tended either to consider Keats's aesthetic and religious speculations on their own terms or to adopt a more historical approach that rejects an emphasis on the spiritual for a materialist interpretation, Wunder offers us a middle way. Restoring Keats to a milieu characterized by simultaneously worldly and mythological propensities, she helps to explain if not fully reconcile the insights of both camps.
An engrossing read, Critical Issues in the History of Spaceflight is a volume consisting of scholarship on the current state of the discipline of space history presented in a joint NASA and NASM conference in 2005. The essays presented in the book question such issues as the motivations of spaceflight, and the necessity, if any, of manned space exploration. Though a highly informative and scholarly volume, Critical Issues in the History of Spaceflight is thoroughly enjoyable for readers off all different backgrounds who share an interest in human spaceflight.
The history of NASA's Apollo program from Earth orbital missions to lunar landings in a propulsive nonfiction narrative. Only now, it is becoming clear how exceptional and unrepeatable Apollo was. At its height, it employed almost half a million people, many working seven days a week and each determined that “it will not fail because of me.” Beginning with fighter pilots in World War II, Maurer traces the origins of the Apollo program to a few exceptional soldiers, a Nazi engineer, and a young eager man who would become president. Packed with adventure, new stories about familiar people, and undeniable danger, Destination Moon takes an unflinching look at a tumultuous time in American history, told expertly by nonfiction author Richard Maurer.