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NASA and the Space Industry

, 264 pages

11 b&w illus.

October 2000



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NASA and the Space Industry

Few federal agencies have more extensive ties to the private sector than NASA. NASA's relationships with its many aerospace industry suppliers of rocket engines, computers, electronics, gauges, valves, O-rings, and other materials have often been described as "partnerships." These have produced a few memorable catastrophes, but mostly technical achievements of the highest order. Until now, no one has written extensively about them.

In NASA and the Space Industry, Joan Lisa Bromberg explores how NASA's relationship with the private sector developed and how it works. She outlines the various kinds of expertise public and private sectors brought to the tasks NASA took on, describing how this division of labor changed over time. She explains why NASA sometimes encouraged and sometimes thwarted the privatization of space projects and describes the agency's role in the rise of such new space industries as launch vehicles and communications satellites.

Joan Lisa Bromberg is a visiting scholar in the History of Science, Medicine, and Technology Department at the Johns Hopkins University. She is the author of Fusion: Science, Politics, and the Invention of a New Energy Source and The Laser in America, 1950-1970.

"As well as being an interesting read, NASA and the Space Industry demonstrates the effect that lack of clarity in space policy can have on the development of private sector space capability."

"A much-needed overview of a subject of great importance."

"An important study of a neglected aspect of NASA's history, that is, its relationship with the aerospace industry, which it helped bring into existence. Bromberg is particularly good in her nuanced discussions of how innovations and new ideas flowed back and forth from the agency to industry, and how the flow was influenced by large changes in the economy and polity."

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