Space Exploration in the United States

A Documentary History

by Thomas Gangale


Richard Nixon had a speech prepared to use in case disaster struck the Apollo 11 mission in 1969, stranding the astronauts on the moon. Fortunately, Apollo 11 was a success.

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Cover image for Space Exploration in the United States

November 2019


Pages 323
Volumes 1
Size 7x10
Topics American History/Science and Technology

This select volume of historical documents is organized chronologically, spanning from 1914 to the present. Divided into eight chapters, it includes a narrative introduction to each historical period.

This collection of historical documents provides insight into the history of the United States in its pursuit of the peaceful uses of outer space, with emphasis on the manned space program of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, as well as commercial American activities supporting human spaceflight in the early 21st century.

Rocketry and space technology have served varied goals throughout the Space Age: pure research, as well as research applied for national security, national prestige, and commercial profit. There have been varied actors as well, among them individuals supported by philanthropists as well as governments, intergovernmental organizations, international consortiums, and for-profit corporations.

This book focuses on space exploration, and in particular, human space exploration, leading to the questions, "Why have humans gone into outer space in the past?" and "Why will they do so in the future?" These documents help readers to examine the variety of fascinating answers to those questions.


  • Provides readers with a broad overview of the U.S. history of human spaceflight from its beginnings to the present, and of the early 20th century rocketry that preceded it
  • Provides a basis for in-depth studies of more specific topics in U.S. space history via source documents
  • Presents the technocratic and commercial development of space technology as a push-pull relationship in which each propels the other into the future
Author Info

Thomas Gangale holds a JSD in space, cyber, and telecommunications law from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, an MA in international relations from San Francisco State University, and a BS in aerospace engineering from the University of Southern California. As a U.S. Air Force officer, he provided contract and technical management on the Gambit, Hexagon, and Boost Surveillance and Tracking System programs as well as for payloads on the STS-4 and STS-39 missions. He is author of four published books, including The Development of Outer Space: Sovereignty and Property Rights in International Space Law (Praeger, 2009).

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