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Defining NASA
The Historical Debate over the Agency's Mission
Defining NASA
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W. D. Kay - Author
Price: $81.50 
Hardcover - 260 pages
Release Date: May 2005
ISBN10: 0-7914-6381-8
ISBN13: 978-0-7914-6381-9

Price: $31.95 
Paperback - 260 pages
Release Date: May 2005
ISBN10: 0-7914-6382-6
ISBN13: 978-0-7914-6382-6

Price: $31.95 
Electronic - 260 pages
Release Date: February 2012
ISBN13: 978-0-7914-8363-3

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Summary Read First Chapter image missing

Examines the politics behind the funding of NASA.

Most observers would point to the 1969 Apollo moon landing as the single greatest accomplishment of NASA, yet prominent scientists, engineers, and public officials were questioning the purpose of the U.S. space program, even at the height of its national popularity. Defining NASA looks at the turbulent history of the space agency and the political controversies behind its funding. W. D. Kay examines the agency's activities and behavior by taking into account not only the political climate, but also the changes in how public officials conceptualize space policy. He explores what policymakers envisioned when they created the agency in 1958, why support for the Apollo program was so strong in the 1960s only to fade away in such a relatively short period of time, what caused NASA and the space program to languish throughout most of the 1970s only to reemerge in the 1980s, and, finally, what role the agency plays today.

“W. D. Kay has written an insightful and thought-provoking history of United States space policy in the twentieth century. Defining NASA is a departure from much historical writing on space, focusing as it does on the larger political and policy contexts within which NASA has operated, rather than following the fortunes of one program, person, or center.” — Technology and Culture

Defining NASA is a valuable and interesting contribution to NASA history that deserves serious consideration by the agency’s current policymakers.” — Isis

"Defining NASA is an interesting march through the agency's history. The book deals with an important and continuing problem in government: how to justify or rationalize billion-dollar investments in research and development. Kay does an excellent job of showing how NASA has muddled through in sustaining the space enterprise over the years." — W. Henry Lambright, editor of Space Policy in the Twenty-First Century

"Questions continue to surround the future of America's space program, and of NASA in particular. In this clear and lively account, Kay explains not only the source of the doubts but also why they persist. His book will be required reading within NASA and space policy circles." — Steven W. Collins, University of Washington

W. D. Kay is Associate Professor of Political Science at Northeastern University and the author of Can Democracies Fly in Space? The Challenge of Revitalizing the U.S. Space Program.

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Table of Contents


List of Abbreviations

Part One: Introduction

1. What is NASA's Purpose?

2. Analytical Framework

Part Two: First Mission

3. Prehistory: Space Policy Before Sputnik

4. NASA: Born Out of Fright (1957–1961)

5. Mission Advanced

Part Three: Second Mission

6. Mission Accomplished . . . Now What?

7. Space Policy Redefined (Again)

8. Dollars, Not Dreams; Business, Not Government

9. Concluding Thoughts



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