© 2018

NASA Spaceflight

A History of Innovation

  • Roger D. Launius
  • Howard E. McCurdy

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xxiii
  2. Roger D. Launius, Howard E. McCurdy
    Pages 1-32
  3. John M. Logsdon
    Pages 185-214
  4. John M. Logsdon
    Pages 237-265
  5. Howard E. McCurdy
    Pages 291-319
  6. Roger D. Launius, Howard E. McCurdy
    Pages 379-395
  7. Back Matter
    Pages 397-402

About this book


This book presents the first comprehensive history of innovation at NASA, bringing together experts in the field to illuminate how public-private and international partnerships have fueled new ways of exploring space since the beginning of space travel itself. Twelve case studies trace the messy, risky history of such partnerships, exploring the role of AT&T in the early development of satellite technology, the connections between the Apollo program and Silicon Valley, the rise of SpaceX, and more. Some of these projects have succeeded, and some have failed; all have challenged conventional methods of doing the public’s business in space. Together, these essays offer new insights into how innovation happens, with invaluable lessons for policymakers, investors, economists, and members of the space community.


NASA and US politics economics of the space race innovation and space technology in the 20th century spaceflight and economic policy aeronautical and astronautical economics development of satellite technology history of the Apollo Guidance Computer NASA and the history of computing history of Landsat history of the Discovery Program management of the International Space Station civil space policy public-private partnerships in space policy

Editors and affiliations

  • Roger D. Launius
    • 1
  • Howard E. McCurdy
    • 2
  1. 1.AuburnUSA
  2. 2.American UniversityWashington, D.C.USA

About the editors

Roger D. Launius has written or edited more than thirty books on aerospace history, most recently Historical Analogs for the Stimulation of Space Commerce (2014), and Space Shuttle Legacy: How We Did It and What We Learned (2013).

Howard E. McCurdy is Professor in the School of Public Affairs at American University, USA. He is the author of numerous works on the national space program, including Inside NASA (1993), Faster, Better, Cheaper (2001), and Space and the American Imagination (rev. ed. 2011).

Bibliographic information

  • Book Title NASA Spaceflight
  • Book Subtitle A History of Innovation
  • Editors Roger D. Launius
    Howard E. McCurdy
  • Series Title Palgrave Studies in the History of Science and Technology
  • Series Abbreviated Title Palgrave Studies in the History of Science and Technology
  • DOI
  • Copyright Information The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2018
  • Publisher Name Palgrave Macmillan, Cham
  • eBook Packages History History (R0)
  • Hardcover ISBN 978-3-319-60112-0
  • Softcover ISBN 978-3-319-86781-6
  • eBook ISBN 978-3-319-60113-7
  • Edition Number 1
  • Number of Pages XXIII, 402
  • Number of Illustrations 8 b/w illustrations, 33 illustrations in colour
  • Topics History of Science
    US History
    Public Policy
    US Politics
    Economic Policy
  • Buy this book on publisher's site


“This book offers an amazingly comprehensive, exquisitely detailed history of our space program, told in a series of programmatic vignettes. Launius and McCrudy have done a masterful job of pulling together a narrative that touches on technology milestones and decision points that shaped our nation’s past and pending future in space. It is especially noteworthy in that key technology developments are discussed in the broader context of national policy, highlighting not only the engineering considerations, but also the sometimes larger-than-life personalities behind some of our space program’s greatest accomplishments. It should be required reading for all students of aerospace history and space policy.” (Mark J. Lewis, Director of the Science and Technology Policy Institute, Institute for Defense Analyses, USA)

“This book is a virtual singularity. Launius and McCurdy are the gold standard of space history and space policy scholarship, and they have assembled a notable group of historians and policy analysts to trace NASA’s role in the development of high technology. They offer fascinating commentary on what has been done to date, as well as an indispensable reference for managers, administrators, and practitioners planning the next stage in America’s space enterprise. Pointing to future trends in aerospace policy and scholarship, it will be an authority for decades to come.” (Richard P. Hallion, Florida Polytechnic University, USA)