[ix] The Goddard Space Flight Center is a truly remarkable place. From its humble beginnings in borrowed offices, Goddard has developed into an impressive, sprawling campus that supports the work of over 11,000 people. In only forty years, the Center has successfully launched over 200 scientific satellites that have investigated everything from the Earth's ozone layer to gamma ray bursts from distant reaches of the universe. Its work has also covered every aspect of space science experiments, from developing theory to building the spacecraft, instruments and launch vehicles, to operating and tracking the satellite in space, and finally collecting, analyzing, and disseminating the data to the international scientific community.
At the same time, Goddard has played an important role in developing communications, weather and Earth resources satellites. Its Wallops Island facility has been central to the sounding rocket, balloon and aircraft research NASA has conducted over the years. Goddard's tracking and data networks have involved up to 24 countries, and it has successfully managed numerous international projects in Earth and Space Science.
An illustrated book of this length could not possibly do justice to the history of this remarkable place. The history of Goddard is far too complex and far too rich to be covered adequately in a book even twice this length. All this book attempts to do is convey the basic story and character that has made Goddard the special place it is today, in terms the general public can understand. The hope is that readers will come away from this book with some sense of how Goddard evolved, what its strengths and challenges were, what it has accomplished, why that is important, and where it is headed from here.
Every person who worked at Goddard deserves to have their name mentioned in this book, because every single person played a critical role in making the Center's accomplishments possible. By the same token, every project should have its full story told, because each project was its own adventure, and no two were alike. Unfortunately, there simply isn't space. The projects and events included here have to serve as examples, therefore, of the unique talent, dedication, and spirit of innovation that was present in every project, directorate, and era of Goddard, and have made the Center what it is today.