Spaceflight: A Concise History (The MIT Press Essential Knowledge series) (Paperback)

Spaceflight: A Concise History (The MIT Press Essential Knowledge series) By Michael J. Neufeld Cover Image
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A concise history of spaceflight, from military rocketry through Sputnik, Apollo, robots in space, space culture, and human spaceflight today.

Spaceflight is one of the greatest human achievements of the twentieth century. The Soviets launched Sputnik, the first satellite, in 1957; less than twelve years later, the American Apollo astronauts landed on the Moon. In this volume of the MIT Press Essential Knowledge series, Michael Neufeld offers a concise history of spaceflight, mapping the full spectrum of activities that humans have developed in space.

Neufeld explains that “the space program” should not be equated only with human spaceflight. Since the 1960s, unmanned military and commercial spacecraft have been orbiting near the Earth, and robotic deep-space explorers have sent back stunning images of faraway planets. Neufeld begins with the origins of space ideas and the discovery that rocketry could be used for spaceflight. He then discusses the Soviet-U.S. Cold War space race and reminds us that NASA resisted adding female astronauts even after the Soviets sent the first female cosmonaut into orbit. He analyzes the two rationales for the Apollo program: prestige and scientific discovery (this last something of an afterthought). He describes the internationalization and privatization of human spaceflight after the Cold War, the cultural influence of space science fiction, including Star Trek and Star Wars, space tourism for the ultra-rich, and the popular desire to go into space. Whether we become a multiplanet species, as some predict, or continue to call Earth home, this book offers a useful primer.

About the Author

Michael J. Neufeld is Senior Curator in the Space History Department of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. He has appeared on History Channel, PBS, NPR, and BBC programs, and is the author of the award-winning The Rocket and the Reich, Von Braun, and other books.

Praise For…

There is almost nothing more difficult for a historian than writing a brief synthesis of a major subject of study. Success in doing so is always something to be celebrated, and this concise history of spaceflight by Michael J. Neufeld deserves celebration for offering a dandy short overview.—ISIS Journal
Product Details
ISBN: 9780262536332
ISBN-10: 0262536331
Publisher: The MIT Press
Publication Date: October 16th, 2018
Pages: 248
Language: English
Series: The MIT Press Essential Knowledge series