© 2019

Ronald Reagan and the Space Frontier


Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xvi
  2. John M. Logsdon
    Pages 1-11
  3. John M. Logsdon
    Pages 13-23
  4. John M. Logsdon
    Pages 25-41
  5. John M. Logsdon
    Pages 43-55
  6. John M. Logsdon
    Pages 57-70
  7. John M. Logsdon
    Pages 71-85
  8. John M. Logsdon
    Pages 87-100
  9. John M. Logsdon
    Pages 101-119
  10. John M. Logsdon
    Pages 121-139
  11. John M. Logsdon
    Pages 141-148
  12. John M. Logsdon
    Pages 149-169
  13. John M. Logsdon
    Pages 171-192
  14. John M. Logsdon
    Pages 193-209
  15. John M. Logsdon
    Pages 211-225
  16. John M. Logsdon
    Pages 227-240
  17. John M. Logsdon
    Pages 241-252
  18. John M. Logsdon
    Pages 253-270
  19. John M. Logsdon
    Pages 271-287
  20. John M. Logsdon
    Pages 289-305

About this book


When Ronald Reagan was elected in 1980, limits on NASA funding and the lack of direction under the Nixon and Carter administrations had left the U.S. space program at a crossroads. In contrast to his predecessors, Reagan saw outer space as humanity’s final frontier and as an opportunity for global leadership. His optimism and belief in American exceptionalism guided a decade of U.S. activities in space, including bringing the space shuttle into operation, dealing with the 1986 Challenger accident and its aftermath, committing to a permanently crewed space station, encouraging private sector space efforts, and fostering international space partnerships with both U.S. allies and with the Soviet Union. Drawing from a trove of declassified primary source materials and oral history interviews, John M. Logsdon provides the first comprehensive account of Reagan’s civilian and commercial space policies during his eight years in the White House. Even as a fiscal conservative who was hesitant to increase NASA’s budget, Reagan’s enthusiasm for the space program made him perhaps the most pro-space president in American history.


Ronald Reagan United States Space Program Space Exploration Reagan Administration NASA National Space Policy American exceptionalism space policy Challenger disaster Senior Interagency Group for Space Gil Rye presidential decision-making International Space Station space commercialization private sector space activities space shuttle program National Security Council Soviet Union space program Rogers Commission international space partnership

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Space Policy InstituteThe George Washington UniversityWashington, DCUSA

About the authors

John M. Logsdon is a world-renowned historian and analyst of space issues. He is the author of John F. Kennedy and the Race to the Moon (Palgrave, 2010) and After Apollo? Richard Nixon and the American Space Program (Palgrave, 2015), both of which are award-winning, definitive accounts of presidential space policy. He is Professor Emeritus at The George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs and founder of its Space Policy Institute.

Bibliographic information

  • Book Title Ronald Reagan and the Space Frontier
  • Authors John M. Logsdon
  • 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) 2019
  • Publisher Name Palgrave Macmillan, Cham
  • eBook Packages History History (R0)
  • Hardcover ISBN 978-3-319-98961-7
  • eBook ISBN 978-3-319-98962-4
  • Edition Number 1
  • Number of Pages XVI, 419
  • Number of Illustrations 2 b/w illustrations, 14 illustrations in colour
  • Topics Popular Science in History
    US History
    History of Science
    Political History
    History of Technology
  • Buy this book on publisher's site


“John Logsdon’s Ronald Reagan and the Space Frontier is a foundational work that should be consulted by anyone who wishes to delve deeply into NASA history and civil space policy in the 1980s. … it will be an essential work for professional historians and political scientists interested in late 20th-century presidential space decision-making.” (Michael J. Neufeld, Quest, Vol. 27 (1), 2020)

“This volume is a tutorial on the leadership and legacy of Reagan’s space interests, details that should be instructive to all those in the space community eager to fathom today’s presidential pronouncements about  America’s space agenda.this new book from Logsdon adds to the author’s legacy of space policy observations.” (Leonard David, Leonard David's Inside Outer Space,, May 29, 2019)