US Presidents and the Militarization of Space, 1946-1967

Centennial of Flight Series

Book 19
Texas A&M University Press
Free sample

In the clash of ideologies represented by the Cold War, even the heavens were not immune to militarization. Satellites and space programs became critical elements among the national security objectives of both the United States and the Soviet Union.

According to US Presidents and the Militarization of Space, 1946–1967, three American presidents in succession shared a fundamental objective of preserving space as a weapons-free frontier for the benefit of all humanity. Between 1953 and 1967 Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson all saw nonaggressive military satellite development, as well as the civilian space program, as means to favorably shape the international community’s opinion of the scientific, technological, and military capabilities of the United States. Sean N. Kalic’s reinterpretation of the development of US space policy, based on documents declassified in the past decade, demonstrates that a single vision for the appropriate uses of space characterized American strategies across parties and administrations during this period.

Significantly, Kalic’s findings contradict the popular opinion that the United States sought to weaponize space and calls into question the traditional interpretation of the space race as a simple action/reaction paradigm. Indeed, beyond serving as a symbol and ambassador of US technological capability, its satellite program provided the United States with advanced, nonaggressive military intelligence-gathering platforms that proved critical in assessing the strategic nuclear balance between the United States and the Soviet Union. It also aided the three administrations in countering the Soviet Union’s increasing international prestige after its series of space firsts, beginning with the launch of Sputnik in 1957.

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About the author

SEAN N. KALIC is an associate professor in the Department of Military History at the US Army Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. He holds a PhD from Kansas State University.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Texas A&M University Press
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Published on
May 2, 2012
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Pages
224
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ISBN
9781603446976
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Military / Aviation
History / Military / Nuclear Warfare
History / United States / 20th Century
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Chicago-O'Hare, DFW, LAX, New York–La Guardia. Across the country, Americans take for granted the convenience of air flight from one city to another. The federal role in managing air traffic and the cooperative corporate planning of major airlines mask to some degree the fact that those airports are not jointly owned or managed, but rather are local public responsibilities.

In this unique history of the places travelers in cities across America call "the" airport, Janet R. Daly Bednarek traces the evolving relationship between cities and their airports during the crucial formative years of 1918–47. She highlights the early history of experimentation and innovation in the development of municipal airports and identifies the factors—including pressure from the U.S. Post Office and the military, neither of which had the independent resources to develop a network of terminals—that made American cities responsible for their own air access. She shows how boosterism accelerated the trend toward local construction and ownership of the fields.

In the later years of the period, Bednarek shows, cities found they could not shoulder the whole burden of airport construction, maintenance, and improvement. As part of a general trend during the 1930s toward a strong, direct relationship between cities and the federal government, cities began to lobby

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Little published work has been available on this topic. Now, with Bednarek's insightful and thorough treatment and broad view of the subject, those interested in the patterns of American air travel will have new understanding and those concerned with urban development will recognize an additional dimension.

**The documentary Command and Control, directed by Robert Kenner, finds its origins in Eric Schlosser's book and continues to explore the little-known history of the management and safety concerns of America's nuclear aresenal.**

The documentary will air on PBS's American Experience on January 10th. 

A myth-shattering exposé of America’s nuclear weapons

Famed investigative journalist Eric Schlosser digs deep to uncover secrets about the management of America’s nuclear arsenal. A groundbreaking account of accidents, near misses, extraordinary heroism, and technological breakthroughs, Command and Control explores the dilemma that has existed since the dawn of the nuclear age: How do you deploy weapons of mass destruction without being destroyed by them? That question has never been resolved—and Schlosser reveals how the combination of human fallibility and technological complexity still poses a grave risk to mankind. While the harms of global warming increasingly dominate the news, the equally dangerous yet more immediate threat of nuclear weapons has been largely forgotten.

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Drawing on recently declassified documents and interviews with people who designed and routinely handled nuclear weapons, Command and Control takes readers into a terrifying but fascinating world that, until now, has been largely hidden from view. Through the details of a single accident, Schlosser illustrates how an unlikely event can become unavoidable, how small risks can have terrible consequences, and how the most brilliant minds in the nation can only provide us with an illusion of control. Audacious, gripping, and unforgettable, Command and Control is a tour de force of investigative journalism, an eye-opening look at the dangers of America’s nuclear age.
Since the Wright brothers made their famed flight at Kitty Hawk in 1903, aviation has emerged as the indispensable arm of American military power. In this detailed and informative history, Charles J. Gross traces its development from the technological antecedents of the Wright brothers’ triumph through the air war for Kosovo. Drawing on examples from all periods and all service branches, he explains the roles of politics, economics, and technology in shaping air power in the U.S. armed forces and assesses the actual impact of military aviation on warfare.

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This well illustrated volume offers the first broad history of American military aviation. Military professionals, scholars, civilian government policy makers and planners, members of the media who concentrate on defense matters, and interested members of the general public will all rely on this book as the invaluable guide to the “indispensable arm.”
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