One of the most important developments of the twentieth century
has been the movement of humanity into space with machines and
people. The underpinnings of that movement---why it took the shape
it did; which individuals and organizations were involved; what
factors drove a particular choice of scientific objectives and
technologies to be used; and the political, economic, managerial,
and international contexts in which the events of the space age
unfolded--are all important ingredients of this epoch transition
from an Earthbound to a spacefaring people. This desire to
understand the development of spaceflight in the United States
sparked this documentary history series. The extension of human
activity into outer space has been accompanied by a high degree of
self-awareness of its historical significance. Few large-scale
activities have been as extensively chronicled so closely to the
time they actually occurred. Many of those who were directly
involved were quite conscious that they were making history, and
they kept full records of their activities. Because most of the
activity in outer space was carried out under government
sponsorship, it was accompanied by the documentary record required
of public institutions, and there has been a spate of official and
privately written histories of most major aspects of space
achievement to date. When top leaders considered what course of
action to pursue in space, their deliberations and decisions often
were carefully put on the record. There is, accordingly, no lack of
material for those who aspire to understand the origins and
evolution of U.S. space policies and programs. This reality forms
the rationale for this series. Precisely because there is so much
historical material available on space matters, the National
Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) decided in 1988 that it
would be extremely useful to have easily available to scholars and
the interested public a selective collection of many of the seminal
documents related to the evolution of the U.S. civilian space
program. While recognizing that much space activity has taken place
under the sponsorship of the Department of Defense and other
national security organizations, the U.S. private sector, and in
other countries around the world, NASA felt that there would be
lasting value in a collection of documentary material primarily
focused on the evolution of the U.S. government's civilian space
program, most of which has been carried out since 1958 under the
Agency's auspices. As a result, the NASA History Office contracted
with the Space Policy Institute of George Washington University's
Elliott School of International Affairs to prepare such a
collection. This is the sixth volume in the documentary history
series; two additional ones containing documents and introductory
essays related to human space flight, including microgravity
research in Earth orbit, will follow.
The documents collected during this research project were
assembled from a diverse number of both public and private sources.
A major repository of primary source materials relative to the
history of the civil space program is the NASA Historical Reference
Collection of the NASA History Office located at the Agency's
Headquarters in Washington, DC. Project assistants combed this
collection for the "cream" of the wealth of material housed there.
Indeed, one purpose of this series from the start was to capture
some of the highlights of the holdings at Headquarters. Historical
materials housed at the other NASA installations, institutions of
higher learning, and presidential libraries were other sources of
documents considered for inclusion, as were papers in the archives
of individuals and firms involved in opening up space for
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