[iii] The NASA Historical Data Book Series provides a statistical summary of the first 20 years of the National, Aeronautics and Space Administration. NASA finances, personnel, and installations, 1958-1968, are covered in the first volume; while the second and third volumes provide information on the agency's major programs and projects for 1958-1968 and 1969-1978, respectively.
Congress established the civilian space agency in July 1958, when it passed the National Aeronautics and Space Act. NASA opened its doors the following October. The new organization was charged not only with expanding man's knowledge of the universe, but also with such monumental tasks as sending man to the moon. The story of NASA's first decade is one of enthusiasm, competition, growth, and success. Congress, the White House, and the public largely supported the young agency fiscally and morally. But after Apollo 11's exciting lunar landing and Neil Armstrong's first steps onto the moon in 1969, the attention of many of NASA's supporters turned elsewhere. The, space agency would survive its second decade, but not with big budgets and large-scale programs.
President Richard M. Nixon urged NASA to build on the knowledge and experience of its first 10 years to develop programs that would lead to the solution of practical problems on earth. There would be no space spectaculars during the 1970s. Personnel cuts, minimal budgets, and more sober objectives would flavor the decade.
Like Volume II, this book covers NASA's six major program areas: launch vehicles, manned spaceflight, space science, space applications, tracking, and aeronautics and space research. Chapter 1 examines the expendable launch vehicle technology inherited from the first decade and looks at plans for the reusable Space Transportation System. The manned spaceflight story, chapter 2, starts with the successful Apollo lunar program and its follow-on projects, Skylab and Apollo-Soyuz, and likewise takes a look at the future of the Shuttle, whose approach and landing tests ended the decade. In chapter 3, the researcher will be guided through the many physics and astronomy and planetary projects of the 1970s that left investigators with a wealth of data on our near-earth environment and that of more distant worlds. Weather satellites, communications systems, and earth resources programs are outlined in chapter 4. The story of the resurgence of aeronautics at NASA is told in chapter 5. Tracking and data acquisition - its evolution on the ground and subsequent transformation into a satellite system - is the subject of chapter 6.
Each of the six chapters is divided into three sections. A narrative introduction, which includes information on the management of the, program, is followed by [iv] budget tables. These tables provide a fiscal history. The bulk of each chapter is devoted to describing the programs and flight projects. Major programs are subdivided into projects; for each flight a data sheet provides a physical description of the spacecraft and information on scientific experiments, participants, and contractors.
The authors of the series have made no attempt to interpret the events; instead they have provided only facts and figures. We do not expect you to read the entire series or even an entire volume, but we do hope that students, managers, and other users will find this series to be a quick reference to the first two decades of NASA activities, and that it will heir) them answer their specific questions.
Volumes II and III were prepared under contract, sponsored by the NASA History Office. The author is indebted to the staff of that office for their assistance, patience, and criticism.
Linda Neuman Ezell