This last year has been one of the busiest and most productive for the NASA History Division on record. This program was established in 1959 to preserve and disseminate a record of agency activities for the public interest. Our efforts continued during 1998 toward collecting, preserving, and disseminating historical knowledge about NASA. We accomplished this by developing a significant collection of reference documents for use by both NASA personnel and the public; providing historical perspective and documentary support for agency executives; and researching and writing NASA history for publication in books, monographs, articles, and reports.


Reference Collection and Research Support:


Information Requests


During the year the NASA Historical Reference Collection answered a record total number of 8,391 research requests from government, educational, and private organizations on all manner of divergent research interests. This required a total number of 4,114 work hours by the office staff. Also during the fiscal year, the History Division provided research services to 418 on-site researchers using its collections. This represents a significant rise in requests from previous years.


A priority during the year was providing background information and documentary records to aid NASA decision-makers in their work. In so doing, the office prepared several types of historical materials:

    1. Lambright, W. Henry. Case Studies in NASA High-Technology Risk Assessment and Management (HHR-67, April 1998, multilith).
    2. Launius, Roger D. "Talking Paper on NASA History Publications" (April 1998).
    3. Launius, Roger D. "Background Paper on NASA Historical Symposia" (April 1998).
    4. Gray, Tara. Animals in Space (HHR-68, June 1998, multilith).
    5. Garber, Stephen J. and Launius, Roger D. A Brief History of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Fact Sheet (HHR-69, June 1998, multilith).
    6. Launius, Roger D. "Talking Paper on American University Symposium, ‘Space Exploration: Our Legacy for the Next Millennium’" (August 1998).
    7. Ohnsorg, Terese K., conceptualized, assembled, and prepared captions for a NASA 40th Anniversary exhibit displayed in the "Great Hall" at NASA Headquarters this fall. The exhibit illuminated key events in NASA’s history from the swearing in of T. Keith Glennan as Administrator and NASA’s early days in the Dolly Madison House to the test flight of the X-38 Space Station "lifeboat" design this past spring (July-August 1998).
    8. Launius, Roger D. "Background Paper on Identification and Disposition of NASA Artifacts To NASM" (September 1998).
    9. Ohnsorg, Terese K., worked with Code L to prepare a CD/ROM project for the STS-95 launch in October 1998. The office provided a fair amount of historical information for the CD/ROM. Terese Ohnsorg also worked with the CD makers to use the timeline on exhibit in the "Great Hall" as the basis for this history section. She also reviewed a video history to identify clips for use in the CD (September-October 1998).
    10. Launius, Roger D. "Background Paper on the History of the Space Station Program" (November 1998).
    11. Launius, Roger D. "Background Paper on Centennial of Flight Commemoration Act" (November 1998).
    12. In addition to the usual large number of information requests, the History Division answered a higher than usual volume of media inquiries on NASA’s 40th anniversary, Jerrie Cobb, John Glenn, and looking toward Apollo 8’s 30th anniversary in December 1998. Specifically, Terese Ohnsorg provided eight Apollo Mission Operations Reports to a publisher in Canada who wants to publish commemorative editions honoring the Apollo missions.

The History Division was also heavily involved in provided historical reference for two major events taking place in 1998, the NASA 40th anniversary and the return to space of John Glenn aboard STS-95 in October 1998:

NASA 40TH Anniversary: One 1 October 1998 NASA turned 40 years old. There were numerous events and publications prepared to support this anniversary.

STS-95 Mission: Because of the historical importance of this mission, the NASA History Division was inundated with requests for information about John Glenn’s earlier flight and about the historical perspective of this mission. The office provide support in numerous areas, as discussed below:


History Division Document Management System (DMS)


The DMS began operating in May 1998, and the bugs are being worked out. This system was procured to help alleviate the press of space in the History Division by imaging discreet parts of the NASA Historical Reference Collection—especially high volume collections which are not added to on a regular basis—and then transferring the hard copies to the National Archives while maintaining the electronic version. We embarked during 1997 on a long-term effort to scan and create in an electronic format a database of historically-significant one-of-a-kind documents currently maintained on paper only in the NASA Historical Reference Collection. This project accomplishes several tasks:

To start the process we requested a review of the viability of placing in electronic form (on-line or on CD-ROM) these materials. We identified several major collections as candidates for placement in electronic form. These included:

We acquired the necessary imaging equipment in March 1998 and began work on the imaging task. At present we are concentrating on the Missions Operations Reports, and are working toward a goal of imaging, accessioning, and making available this entire set of documents.

One of the issues explored this past year is the question of how best to organize the NASA Historical Reference Collection in view of the introduction of the electronic document system. For thirty years the collection had been organized according to a system of paper files each containing disparate items about a single subject. It is a practical system, but it appears it is impossible to perpetuate it electronically. The electronic system lends itself to other structures which lack some of the user-friendly features of the paper folder system. Choosing to break from the folder system will require a major decision and strategies to ensure that items can be located without unrealistic staffing demands. It is not yet necessary to answer this structure question, because the archivists are currently scanning only large documents such as MORs. However, should we ever wish to scan the disparate short items that comprise a typical folder and then add more items to that folder over time, the structure issue must be resolved. This effort was on-going at year’s end.


Administrator’s Files Preservation Project


Archivist Terese Ohnsorg organized and coordinated an effort in 1998 to develop a comprehensive system for the papers of NASA Administrator Daniel S. Goldin. This project, still underway at year’s end, will result in a cataloging of his papers, the creation of an electronic database, and their storage in the Federal Records Center. She worked with the Code A customer to determine specifications for final product, met with HQ Records Manager to establish document disposition procedures, and coordinated with computer personnel to obtain necessary database support. She designed a simplified field structure, from the database presently in place in the History Division, for use in creating database records. On Monday, October 19, Thelma Rowe began work on this project and by all accounts she is doing an excellent job. Additionally, Mark Kahn and Colin Fries, NASA contract archivists, provided support for the Basis Plus database Ms. Rowe is developing for this project.


Oral History Projects


In 1997 the History Division contracted with Steven E. Dick, author of The Biological Universe: The Twentieth Century Extraterrestrial Debate and the Limits of Science (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1996), for a series of oral histories with scientists concerning exobiology. This project has now been completed and provides fifteen transcribed oral histories, as well as tapes and digital documentation, with key people associated the search for life beyond Earth. Dr. Dick completed his work on this effort in Spring 1998, and the oral histories that he prepared are now available for research in the NASA Historical Reference Collection at NASA Headquarters.

On November 5, 1998, in a partnership with the National Air and Space Museum, the NASA History Division held a roundtable discussion with more than eight key members of the Mars Pathfinder team on the way in which they developed the "faster, better, cheaper" approach to space flight that was so successful during their mission. We tape recorded and transcribed this discussion, and are presently reviewing the transcript in preparation for making it a permanent part of the NASA Historical Reference Collection. The roundtable questions were posed by Dr. Howard E. McCurdy, the Charles A. Lindbergh Chair of Aerospace History at the National Air and Space Museum. All of this was set up for the day when the NASM trophy was presented to the Pathfinder team members in a Black Tie affair that evening. A transcript of this oral history is being edited and will son be available for research in the NASA Historical Reference Collection at NASA Headquarters.

Throughout the summer and fall of 1998 student interns Tara Gray (Texas A&M University) and Nick Siler (American University) have been working on a union catalog of oral histories available in the NASA Historical Reference Collection. This work is scheduled for completion early in 1999.



NASA Records Transferred to the National Archives Have Finding Aids Placed On-Line


The NASA History Division placed on-line in 1998 finding aid from the National Archives for materials about NASA. A collection of these are available at URL:


In addition to the finding aids, there is also a tutorial on the location of NASA records that a part of the National Archives Collection.


Personnel Changes


Longtime NASA Chief Archivist Lee D. Saegesser, retired near the end of 1997, and was replaced in March 1998 by Terese K. Ohnsorg. She is responsible for archival duties previously performed by Saegesser, and will also participate in several writing and research projects. Ms. Ohnsorg comes to us from the NASA Scientific and Technical Information (STI) Program, where she was the Contracting Officer's Technical Representative (COTR) for the Center for AeroSpace Information (CASI) operations contract and subsequently Manager of the International STI Program. We warmly welcome her aboard.

Soon after arriving Terese Ohnsorg attended the Modern Archives Institute June 1-12 and a one-day Records Management course June 15. Both were National Archives and Records Administration courses. Classes were held at the National Archives on the Mall and at Archives 2 in College Park. The Modern Archives Institute was attended by about 30 archivists from countries around the world including Hong Kong, Ireland, and Belgium. Six of the archivists were nuns; the faculty noted this was typical. Subjects covered included archival theory and practice, appraisal and acquisition, arrangement and description, archives law, reference, access, photographs, electronic records, cartographic records, film and video, preservation, educational programs, grants, archival management, the Library of Congress, and ethics.


Publication Program:


A very important element of the NASA history program continued this last year to be the preparation of solid, well-researched works on the history of the U.S. civil space program. During the year the NASA History Program published several major new books and other less ambitious publications. These are shown in the list below.


Special Publications



Contractor Reports and Technical Memoranda



Monographs in Aerospace History



NASA History Division Annual Reports



NASA History Division Books from Other Publishers



NASA Historical Publications in the News:


We are most pleased to note that To See the Unseen: A History of Planetary Radar Astronomy (NASA SP-4218, 1997) by Andrew J. Butrica, a history of a little-known but important field in space science, was awarded the prestigious Leopold Prize. The prize, awarded bi-annually by the Organization of American Historians (OAH), is given for the best book written by historians outside academe. Named for 1976-77 OAH president Richard W. Leopold, the prize was first awarded in 1984. To See the Unseen explores the development of radar astronomy within the context of the larger community of scientists, a unique capability brought about over the past 50 years. This history was published by the NASA History Division in 1996 and is for sale for $26.00 (domestic postpaid), $32.50 (non-U.S.) by the U.S. Superintendent of Documents, PO Box 371954, Pittsburgh, PA 15250-7954. FAX: 202-512-2250, Phone: 202-512-1800 (7:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Eastern Time). Order stock number 033-000-01163-6. This book may also be purchased from the NASA Information Center, Code CMI-1, NASA Headquarters, 300 E. Street SW, Room 1H23, Washington, DC 205446-0001, or call 202-358-0000. Order SP-4218, $26.00 hardcover with dustjacket.

We are delighted to mention that the International Academy of Astronautics (IAA) awarded Walking to Olympus: An EVA Chronology, written by David S.F. Portree and Robert C. Treviño and published by NASA, as the winner of the 1998 Luigi Napolitano Book Award. The award was presented in Melbourne, Australia, during the 1998 IAA award dinner. Joseph P. Loftus of the Johnson Space Center accepted the award for NASA.

Although not specifically a NASA work, we are pleased to announce that one of NASA’s contract historians, Dr. Deborah G. Douglas, been selected to receive the AIAA 1999 History Manuscript Award from the American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA). This award is for her recent dissertation, "The Invention of Airports: A Political, Economic, and Technology History of Airports in the United States, 1919-1939," completed at the University of Pennsylvania in the spring of 1998. The manuscript is slated for publication from the Johns Hopkins University Press. Dr. Douglas is presently working at the Langley Research Center on a book for NASA entitled: Finding Practical Solutions: NACA/NASA Langley and the Development of American Aeronautical Technology.

Howard E. McCurdy’s Space and the American Imagination, sponsored by the NASA History Division and published by Smithsonian Institution Press in November 1997 ($29.95, ISBN: 1560987642), has received much favorable attention. The December 12, 1997, issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education noted the book along with a full-color photograph of its dust cover. Publisher’s Weekly, October 27,1997, called it "brilliant" and recommended it for all general audiences. In an editorial in Space News ("Why Has the Station Survived?" January 5-11, 1997, p. 15), John M. Logsdon used the book to make the point that "adventure, mystery, and exploration" remain compelling objectives of the human endeavor in space.

With the December 1997 publication of Mack Herring’s Way Station to Space: A History of the John C. Stennis Space Center (NASA SP-4310, 1997), interest in the Center and its mission over time along the Gulf Coast has reached a higher point than seen in years. Indeed the book has "taken off" in the local market. Ellis C. Cuevas wrote in the January 25, 1998, Sea Coast Echo that "One of the ‘hottest’ books in the area is titled Way Station to Space," and that it "will be read and re-read for generations to come." He added, "My Compliments go to Herring on doing what I consider a great job in bringing everything together about the test site and its history." The Gulf Coast’s Sun Herald published a major story on the book and its author in its January 25, 1998, issue, including a photograph of the book’s striking dust cover.

Since first appearing, Exploring the Unknown: Selected Documents in the History of the U.S. Space Program, has received exceptionally favorable attention. The third volume in the series, was celebrated on July 16, 1998 at a reception marking its release. The featured speakers included Daniel S. Goldin, NASA Administrator; Alan M. Ladwig, then NASA Associate Administrator for Policy & Plans; and John M. Logsdon, Director of the Space Policy Institute at George Washington University and general editor of the volume. About 75 attendees participated in this reception. The NASA Public Affairs Office also issued a press release about this book and how to obtain it. This book is for sale for $41.00 (domestic postpaid) from the Superintendent of Documents. By Mail: Superintendent of Documents, P.O. Box 371954, Pittsburgh, PA 15250-7954. By FAX (202) 512-2250. By Phone (202) 512-1800. Order stock number 033-000-01195-4.


Historical Publications Nearing Publication:


Also during the year, NASA historians worked toward the publication of several other histories on a wide diversity of subjects. Here is a list of major projects presently nearing completion, along with projected publication dates. The dates of publication, of course, may slip due to the exigencies of funding.


Special Publications



Books Published by Other Presses



Contractor Reports and Technical Memoranda



Monographs in Aerospace History



NASA History Division Annual Reports



New NASA Historical Projects Begun in 1998:


In February 1998, the Goddard Space Flight Center contracting office, which handles procurements for NASA Headquarters, awarded a contract for a project history entitled, Grand Tour: A History of Project Voyager. Based on the evaluations of the review committee, the award has been made to Dr. Henry C. Dethloff, Intaglio, Inc., P.O. Box 9952, College Station, TX 77840, telephone, 409-696-7800. Dr. Dethloff’s co-author will be Ronald A. Schorn (former editor of Sky & Telescope).

Also in early 1998 NASA’s Ames Research Center launched a history project—a chance for everyone at Ames to reflect upon their contributions to aviation and space technology. Plans are to have a book—about 300 pages and full of illustrations—published by the Government Printing Office in time for Ames’ 60th anniversary celebrations in December 1999. The archival component of the project involves building databases of documents deposited at the National Archives and Records Center in San Bruno, as well as processing historical materials donated during the history project. Also important in this process is a Web page on the Ames History Project. It is accessible at URL: To work on this Ames history project, the Center has contracted with Glenn E. Bugos. Bugos holds a Ph.D. in the history of technology from the University of Pennsylvania, teaches at the University of California Berkeley, and works as a contract historian for Bay Area businesses. He is assisted by Helen Rutt as project archivist. Her task is to build databases of documents deposited at the National Archives and Federal Record Center in San Bruno, as well as processing historical materials donated during the history project. You may reach Bugos at, or Rutt at They are available by regular mail at NASA Ames Research Center MS 19-1, Moffett Field, California 94035-1000, telephone, (650) 604-0910 [fax], (650) 604-2992.

In May 1998 NASA history awarded a contract to T.A. Heppenheimer for A Technological History of Space Shuttle Development (NASA SP-4232, 2002). This book will describe and analyze the technological development of the shuttle from its earliest years through the first space mission in 1981. An especially important part of this process will be a study of the design of the shuttle and how NASA and industry worked together to develop the vehicle, as well as a review of the shuttle's RDT&E process during the latter half of the 1970s. Although a technological history, this book will also relate the continuing political and budgetary issues in which the shuttle was involved, and will conclude with the first operational flight of the spacecraft in 1981. It will also include as a central part of its analysis the impact, value, and results of the project to the nation. This project is in the contracting phase.

In July 1998 NASA history awarded a contract to Douglas Mudgway for, Uplink/Downlink: A History of the Deep Space Network (NASA SP-4223, 2000). This book will describe and analyze the origins and development of the Deep Space Network (DSN) from its origins as a result of the early years of the planetary science program in the late 1950s, through its current role in the present as the most capable communications system in the world. It will assess the role of this critical communications method for both providing control to planetary probes and a means of obtaining the scientific data collected. We have five chapters completed of a nine chapter work and anticipate delivery of final manuscript in June 1999, with publication in early 2000.

In August 1998 the Langley Research Center awarded a contract to Oran W. Nicks and Henry C. Dethloff for a study, The Langley Research Center’s Transonic Dynamics Tunnel and the Evolution of Aerodynamics (NASA SP-4228, 2000). This will be a relatively small book looking at the question of how aerodynamics research has been accomplished at NACA/NASA by using the case study of the Transonic Dynamics Wind Tunnel at the center. This contract just started in August 1998 and the first deliverables are due in November.

In August 1998 NASA history awarded a contract to Howard E. McCurdy for a study entitled, Faster, Cheaper, Better: The History of an Idea (NASA SP-4107, 2000). This short historical study will analyze the efforts within NASA to change its method of doing business from one oriented toward a large project management model to one that focuses on efforts in which is invested.

In November 1998 NASA awarded a contract to Syracuse University for a symposium/book undertaken under the leadership of W. Henry Lambright. The work is tentatively entitled NASA at the New Millennium: Space Exploration and the National Interest (NASA SP-4108, 2000). This effort will begin as a symposium to be held in the October-November 1999 time frame. The subsequent published volume will be completed and ready for submission for publication by early 2000. The symposium/book will document and analyze the process of decision-making in space policy during the last forty-plus years, with chapters on each of the key issues noted below:

Also in November 1998 NASA awarded a contract for a book to John M. Logsdon (George Washington University). Dr. Logsdon will prepare, John F. Kennedy, Space Policy, and National Priorities (NASA SP-4110, 2001). This project will review in its entirety the evolution of the Kennedy’s administration’s space policy between 1961 and 1963. The contract is presently being finalized for this two year study.

In December 1998 NASA contracted with Roger E. Bilstein (University of Houston-Clear Lake) for a revision to his earlier publication, Orders of Magnitude: A History of the NACA and NASA (NASA SP-4406, 1989).

Also in 1998, but not yet finalized at the end of the year, NASA competed a contract for a project entitled, The Development of Centaur Upper Stage and American Rocketry. This contract should be awarded early in 1999. This is a project history on the Centaur and use it as a case study in how technological knowledge has been advanced, over the history of the agency and its predecessor, discuss the nature and development of technological R&D, and analyze the role of technology transfer in the aerospace arena


NASA History on the Internet:


The NASA History Home Page on the Web is This links to many other NASA sites such as the home pages for NASA Headquarters, the Office of Policy and Plans, the Office of Space Flight, and the Public Affairs Office. We have gotten good feedback on our home page and encourage you to check it out! We also welcome comments on how to improve our home page. See below for more suggestions on finding aerospace materials on-line.

The NASA History Division has also on-line several NASA history publications. These include the following texts, as well as many of the illustrations from the originals:

In addition to these efforts to place published works on the internet, the History Division throughout 1998 added to its presence with a series of other resources placed on-line:


NASA Artifacts Committee Efforts:


During this year the staff of the NASA History Division participated in the determination of several issues affecting the disposition of flight hardware. A joint NASA/National Air and Space Museum Artifacts Committee met to resolve the most difficult of these, the disposition of the Apollo 204 capsule in July 1998. This was one of several periodic meetings taking place each year to discuss the transfer of historically significant artifacts from NASA to the National Air and Space Museum of the Smithsonian Institution. The meeting is chaired by Jack Schmid, Code P, and includes representatives from several other NASA organizations, including the historian. The critical issue of discussion at this meeting was the disposition of the Apollo 204 capsule, stored since 1967 at Langley Research Center. A draft, not a formal, proposal had been send to NASA by the Grissom Memorial Foundation to entomb the capsule at a memorial site in Mitchell, Indiana. This has raised once again the issue of what to do long-term with the capsule. NASM is opposed to such an entombment, believing that it would forever close off access to a very historically significant artifact, yet is sensitive to the difficulties of dealing with the issues surrounding the capsule. The decision at the meeting was to await a formal proposal before making any decisions about the capsule. At the end of the year, there were still no formal proposals on the table for disposition of the artifact.


NASA History Program Review Working Group:


On October 5-6, 1998, the history program held its annual review of our efforts. For several years we have held these periodic reviews by a panel of outside historians, archivists, and other professionals. The review involved a discussion of the following: overview of NASA History Program; history publication program status review; new historical projects; new methods of contracting for NASA historical works to reduce costs and improve results; and outreach services and staff support. We are working on a report and a set of recommendations arising from this activity.

One issue that emerged was concern expressed by some Center history representatives that there be a more clear relationship established between the NASA history function and the NASA records management function, that a formal position be established, and that appropriate guidance be prepared. I have asked Terese Ohnsorg to review of this matter and to preparation a set of recommendations with several of the questions to include:

A second area that requires attention is the establishment of a set of guidelines for the conduct of oral histories within NASA. We must establish standards for the conduct of oral history, both audio and video, as well as the recognized standards for transcription, preservation, and access in both printed and electronic version. This effort must provide recommendations on how best to gain control of the NASA oral histories presently conducted and to ensure their most effective use and dissemination, the possibilities of future technology for the conduct of oral history on video, a set of recommended readings on oral history, and recommendations on next steps in the process. It must also begin the process of developing a "union list" of oral histories held throughout the Agency.


NASA History of Human Space Flight Roundtable:


On November 18, 1998, the NASA History Division cooperated with the Johnson Space Center History Program on a one-day workshop on the history of human space flight in Houston, TX. There are a lot of historical activities underway both here and at JSC, as well as in a variety of other locations, and it seemed appropriate to sit down with the people involved in them and to compare notes and see how we might help each other. We held this as an add-on activity of the American Astronautical Society, which held its annual meeting in Houston in during the same period. That organization has a History Committee also met during the conference, and we all took the opportunity to exchange ideas.

The workshop allowed the people working on the various projects to present to others what they are working on, to get to know one another, and to receive any comments others might have to offer. In that respect the workshop served in part as a data exchange for people working in the area, but also enabled the mapping of research strategies and possibilities for future efforts. The gathering proved highly beneficial to all the people involved in historical exploration. The intent of this workshop would not be to listen to a series of polished presentations but rather to provide an opportunity for substantive discussion of each project’s objectives, available resources, vexing methodological problems, and related historiographical issues. Although most of the day was devoted to discussing these projects, we took the opportunity to gather input on the feasibility of a full-fledged conference on the history of space exploration sometime in the next couple of years, as well as to explore possible future efforts for the development of additional projects and publications.

Special thanks go to Glen Swanson, Bill Larsen, Mike Ciancone, and the Signal Co. personnel for bringing everyone up to date on the JSC oral history efforts. Also special thanks to Steve Doyle for chairing the morning's AAS History Committee meeting and for providing lunch. The JSC Life Sciences Data Archive presentation and the other short updates were very informative and helpful.

The agenda for the meeting was at follows:

10:00 a.m. AAS History Committee—Chaired by Stephen E. Doyle

12:00 a.m. Lunch at Signal Corps

1:00 p.m. Briefing at Signal Corp on JSC Oral History Project—Glen E. Swanson

2:00 p.m. History of Human Space Flight Roundtable—Chaired by Roger D. Launius

    1. Shuttle/Mir History Project
    2. Space Shuttle History Project
    3. Oral History Projects
    4. Documentary History Project
    5. Orders of Magnitude Revision
    6. Soviet Human Space Flight History Project
    7. Center History Projects
    8. Launch Vehicle History Projects
    9. Apollo History Projects

5:00 p.m. Adjourn


NASA Partners with National History Day:


The NASA History Division and the NASA Education Office are partnering with the National History Day for its 1998-1999 effort. NASA agreed to work with the National History Day (NHD) organization, headquartered at the University of Maryland, to hold a series of one-day training seminars for history teachers at each of the NASA Centers. The reason for this effort is that the theme for the 1998-1999 National History Day competition is "Science, Technology, and Invention in History." Accordingly, a partnership between the NHD and NASA seemed appropriate.

NASA co-sponsored one-day training seminars at each Center, with an attendance of about 25 people drawn from the NHD community located in the geographical region served by your Center. These various seminars were held in the October-November time frame, the date for each established in concert with the NHD and the Center Education Office. A boilerplate agenda looked something like this:


Professional Activities:


Members of the History Division staff were involved at several levels in professional activities germane to the aerospace history specialty. The first area was as co-organizers of various professional conferences or symposia. Second, Dr. Roger D. Launius and Stephen J. Garber each participated in conferences and symposia during the year, giving papers and participating in panels. Several staff members also published historical books, articles, and book reviews during the year. A total of 32 articles and several book reviews were published by members of the staff, or NASA contract historians, during the year.


Aerospace History Conferences and Symposia Co-Sponsored by NASA


On 5 June 1998, the NASA History Division co-sponsored a workshop on "Space Policy and Politics" that brought together several scholars who made presentations on specific subjects related to a book., Space Politics and Policy: Practice, Theories, and Evidence, presently underway under the editorship of Peter L. Hays, James P. Lester, and Eligar Sadeh. It is intended as a textbook that would critique the state of knowledge of space policy processes. To this end, textbook chapters examined space policy theories and evidence, and explored space policy issues relevant for twenty-first century space exploration and development of space. The presentations included:

On October 1-3, 1998, the NASA History Division co-sponsored, and Roger Launius and Steve Garber participated in, the National Aerospace Conference at Wright State University, Dayton, Ohio. Focusing on the first century of powered flight, the conference included presentations on three thematic areas: Flight and Society; Flight and Public Policy; and Flight Technology. Roger Launius was co-organizer and thematic chair for "Flight and Public Policy" sessions, at "The World Takes Flight" International Conference on the Development of Aeronautics. He also presented the paper, "A Case of Too Little, Too Late? Aerospace Policy and the Development of Flight in America," at the opening plenary session on October 1; chaired two sessions during the course of the conference, and served as a panelist on Panelist on the capstone session, "The Future of Aerospace." This conference was well attended, with more than 350 present, had more than 50 presenters, received television and print media coverage, and enjoyed broad popularity. Many participants would like to make this an annual, or at least a biennial, event.


NASA History Sessions at Conferences and Symposia


On March 13-15, 1998 the annual meeting of the Business History Conference was held at College Park, MD with the theme of "The Business of Government and the Government of Business." A session on the development of commercial space opportunities at conference included presentations the following presentations: "The Commercial Launch Industry, Reusable Space Vehicles, and Technological Change," by Andrew J. Butrica (X-33 Project Historian); "Space Policy Redefined: The Reagan Administration and the Commercialization of Space," by W.D. Kay (Northeastern University); and "Factors Affecting U.S. Commercial Space Launch Industry Competitiveness," by Craig R. Reed (Lockheed-Martin Corp.). Sylvia K. Kraemer, NASA Office of Policy and Plans provided the comment.

On March 19-20, 1998, the annual meeting of the Society for History in the Federal Government (SHFG) took place at Archives II in College Park, MD, and featured a session on aerospace history. The theme for the SHFG meeting was "Interpreting Federal History: Documents, Artifacts, and Structures," and involved a full range of papers. The "Recent Interpretations in Federal Aerospace History" session included: "Why No ‘Astronauttes’: Gender Bias and Political Priorities in NASA and the Federal Government," Margaret A. Weitekamp, Cornell University; "The Department of Defense and the ‘Holy Grail’ of Affordable Space Launch Capability," Frank Sietzen, Jr., Editor, Military Space, Arlington, VA; and "Political Pragmatism or Visionary Leadership: A Reexamination of President Kennedy’s Apollo Decision," Stephen J. Garber, NASA History Division. There was also a session on the "Possibilities and Pitfalls of Historical Commemoration" on which Diana Hoyt participated from NASA Code Z.


Other Public Venues for Disseminating NASA History


January 8-10, 1998: Roger Launius participated in the American Historical Association Annual Meeting, Seattle, WA.

March 16-18, 1998: Roger Launius, Steve Garber, and Terese Ohnsorg participated in the Mutual Concerns of Air and Space Museums Seminar in Washington, DC.

March 18-19, 1998: Roger Launius participated in the Goddard Memorial Symposium, American Astronautical Society (AAS), Greenbelt, MD.

March 19-20, 1998: Roger Launius and Steve Garber participated in the Society for History in the Federal Government Annual Meeting, Archives II, NARA, College Park, MD

March 20, 1998: Roger Launius presented a lecture on astronomical science and the possibility of space flight after the Bertolt Brecht play, Galileo, by The St. Mark’s Players, St. Marks Episcopal Church, Washington, DC.

April 2-5, 1998: Roger Launius participated in the Organization of American Historians Annual Meeting, Indianapolis, IN.

April 16, 1998: Asif A. Siddiqi, a NASA contract historian writing a history of Soviet space exploration, presented paper entitled, "Russia's Secret Eyes in the Sky: Soviet/Russian Reconnaissance Satellites," at the National Air and Space Museum’s Seminar on Recent Technology.

April 16, 1998: Deborah G. Douglas, NASA contract historian at Langley Research Center writing a history entitled, Finding Practical Solutions: NACA/NASA Langley and the Development of American Aeronautical Technology, gave an address before the Spring Colloquia of the Committee on the History and Philosophy of Science, at the University of Maryland, College Park, entitled, "Failure! ...and Success: Aircraft Structures Research in America, 1929 to 1953."

April 16, 1998: Roger Launius organized, moderated, and participated in a workshop at the National Council on Public History, Austin, TX, concerning the "Possibilities and Pitfalls of Historical Commemorations."

April 19, 1998: Roger Launius participated in a session at the National Council on Public History, Austin, TX, on the "Varied Faces of Public History in the Federal Government."

May 2, 1998: Roger Launius represented NASA at the rededication of the Wright Brothers’ Monument at Kitty Hawk, NC.

May 6-7, 1998: Roger Launius participated in the periodic meeting of the of the First Flight Centennial Commission, Raleigh, NC. As part of the same trip, he also participated on May 8 in an on camera interview about space exploration during the 1960s with BBC documentarians at the Kennedy Space Center, FL, and met with NASA history representative Elaine Liston at the Center.

May 20, 1998: Roger Launius presented the paper, "’Not Too Wild a Dream’: NASA and the Quest for Life in the Solar System," in the session, "In Search of Extraterrestrial Life: Past, Present, and Future," at the 74th Annual Meeting of the Southwestern and Rocky Mountain Division, American Association for the Advancement of Science, Mesa College, Grand Junction, CO.

May 29, 1998: Roger Launius participated in an on camera interview about NASA and space exploration through the years for Canadian Broadcasting Company documentary, Montreal, Canada.

June 3-4, 1998: Roger Launius and Historical Intern Jason Pates participated in the "Second National Space Forum," American Astronautical Society (AAS) and National Space Club, National Academy of Sciences, Washington, DC.

June 17, 1998: Margaret L. Weitekamp, NASA’s American Historical Association's Aerospace History Fellow, spoke at the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum June "Works In Progress" seminar. Her topic was "The Right Stuff, The Wrong Sex: The Science, Politics, and Culture of Lady Astronaut Trainees, 1959-63."

June 24, 1998: Terese Ohnsorg and Roger Launius met with the European Space Agency (ESA) archivist and records management officer. There was a lively discussion of archival principles and practice at NASA and ESA. At ESA, this area is more problematic and archives are more rudimentary because of the difficulty in obtaining consensus among the fourteen member countries. The ESA representative was in Washington attending an international archives association meeting.

July 8, 1998: Roger Launius participated in an on camera interview about Project Apollo for Canadian Broadcasting Company documentary in Washington, D.C.

July 9, 1998: Roger Launius and representatives from NASA’s Office of Legislative Affairs participated in a meeting on the "Centennial of Flight and the Role of Federal Historians," held at the National Air and Space Museum, D.C. A principal area of discussion was the legislation being considered in Congress to create a National Commission on the Centennial of Flight. By the end of the month this legislation had passed the House and was pending in the Senate. Sponsors believe this will pass and go to committee in the fall. They are now very optimistic that the bill will become law. As an Agency with a strong interest in flight, NASA’s Administrator is named in the bill as a member of the proposed commission.

September 3-7, 1998: Roger Launius participated in a session entitled "Pathfinding: Documenting Space Exploration" at the Society of American Archivists annual meeting in Orlando, FL. He gave a paper entitled, "NASA: Saving the Right Stuff."

September 16-20, 1998: Steve Garber gave a presentation on SETI at the Mephistos conference in Minneapolis.

October 5-6, 1998: several members of the History Division staff participated in the annual History Program review at Lewis Research Center, Cleveland, OH.

October 15 1998: Roger Launius, as well as other members of the History Division staff, participated in a reception for NASA & the Exploration of Space (Stewart, Tabori, & Chang, 1998), written by Roger D. Launius and Bert Urich, at the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, DC.

October 15-18, 1998: Roger Launius participated in the Society for the History of Technology (SHOT) annual meeting in Baltimore, MD.

October 16, 1998: the staff of the History Division participated in the NASA 40th anniversary gala hosted by the AIAA at the National Building Museum, Washington, DC.

October 21-25, 1998: Roger Launius participated in the History of Science Society annual meeting in Kansas City, MO.

October 26-November 6, 1998: Steve Garber participated in a no-cost course on the history of aerospace power held by the Office of Air Force History at the Pentagon, Washington, DC.

November 5, 1998: we co-sponsored an oral history with the Mars Pathfinder team at the National Air and Space Museum.

November 11-13, 1998: Roger Launius participated in the "History of the European Space Agency: An International Symposium," at the Science Museum, London, UK. He presented a paper entitled, "NASA and the European Space Agency: The View from Washington," at the conference on November 13.

November 17-19, 1998: Roger Launius and Steve Garber participated in the American Astronautical Society annual meeting in Houston, TX. Both participated in the AAS History Committee meeting on the morning of November 18.

November 18, 1998: The History Division co-sponsored a "History of Human Space Flight Roundtable" in Houston, TX. Steve Garber and Roger Launius participated.


AHA Fellowship in Aerospace History:


The American Historical Association awarded one fellowship for the 1998-1999 academic year; NASA funds this program as a means of fostering serious scholarship in aerospace history. Hugh R. Slotten is the new American Historical Association fellow in the NASA History Division. Dr. Slotten earned his doctorate in History of Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1991 after graduate degrees in Meteorology and History of Science. He has been a postdoctoral fellow at the National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. His book Patronage, Practice, and the Culture of American Science (1994) was published by Cambridge University Press. Dr. Slotten’s fellowship study will be on communications satellites, broadcasting, and policy decision-making in the U.S. from 1958 to 1988. His research will focus on the introduction of international satellite technology resulting from the Satellite Act of 1962 and decisions on domestic use of satellite technology in support of cable television, especially during the 1970s and 1980s. This research will extend his earlier work in AM, FM, and television broadcasting. Dr. Slotten’s book on the subject will be published by the Johns Hopkins University Press.


Thanks to NASA History Division Volunteers


Our thanks to three interns participating in the summer of 1998. Jason Pates is a public policy graduate student from Pepperdine University, Nick Siler is a political science undergraduate from American University, and Tara Gray is an American history undergraduate from Texas A&M University. Welcome aboard!

Our thanks to Eric Jones, who continues to oversee the extensive "Apollo Lunar Surface Journal" covering the activities of the six pairs of astronauts who explored the moon from 1969-1972. The World Wide Web site is located at This site has been mentioned on CNN and warmly reviewed in Air & Space/Smithsonian.

Our thanks also to the following volunteers who prepared other historical information for the World Wide Web, especially Chris Gamble who formatted sixbooks for the Web! H.P. Engel also formatted SP-60 on the X-15 and added photos to the Vanguard history. Kipp Teague organized video pages and created a series of diagrams of NASA launch vehicles. Finally, David Woods and Frank O’Brien created the Apollo 15 Flight Journal. Our thanks to all these voluntees.



Roger D. Launius

NASA Chief Historian

January 7, 1999