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A History of the Kennedy Space Center Hardcover – August 12, 2007


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In the 1950s the marshy, mosquito-infested lowlands of Florida, christened Cape Canaveral (place of the cane), began to be covered with concrete for ICBM launching pads. As authors Lipartito (Constructing Corporate America: History, Politics, Culture) and Butler (Manufacturing the Future: A History of Western Electric) relate, although Americans remember the cape and its control center, the Kennedy Space Center, as the site of media circuses surrounding early manned space missions, between 1958 and 1967 several hundred unmanned rockets blasted off into the Florida skies, sometimes two a day. NASA divided its early years on the cape between fighting turf battles with the military and moving tons of earth to fill in the marshes. As the authors describe, many of the space center's early administrators—notably Kurt Debus, who had worked on the V-2 rocket with Werner von Braun at Peenemünde—were hands-on engineering types who eventually gave way to professional administrators. Writing fine, vivid prose, Lipartito and Butler wisely avoid concentrating on the hot-shot astronauts, focusing instead on the center itself and on the dedicated men and women behind the scenes who worked on the engineering required to lift a rocket out of Earth's gravity and made the American space program a success. 97 b&w illus. (Aug. 12)
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Review

"A valuable addition to studies of NASA field centers." - Stephen P. Waring, University of Alabama, Huntsville, and author of Power to Explore: The History of NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center 1960-1990 "A good characterization of the history of KSC... well written and easy to read." - L. D. Solid, retired vice president and general manager of Rockwell International's Space Systems Division, Florida Operations"
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 496 pages
  • Publisher: University Press of Florida; 1st edition (August 12, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0813030692
  • ISBN-13: 978-0813030692
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.4 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #782,557 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Retired NASA Spacecraft on January 25, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you are interested in the politics between KSC and the Headquarters and other NASA Centers during the Shuttle Program, this book provides a good insight. If you are interested in understanding how the KSC operated and made a success of several prior programs and the early Shuttle Program, this is not the book. This book portends to be "A"" history of the Kennedy Space Center (KSC). However, it is really the politics of the Shuttle Program during the initial planning and after its arrival at KSC in 1979. It document this history to a degree. However, due to some very serious omissions of content, it is not an overall history of KSC. Some of these omissions are: (1) The Gemini Program which was assigned to KSC in 1965 and the effect that it had on the follow-on programs such as Apollo and Shuttle was mentioned only in passing; (2) expendable Launch Vehicles that were launched from the Cape Canerval Air Force Station that supported the unmanned science are barely mentioned, (3) the European Space Agency's (ESA) Spacelab comes in with little history although KSC contributed a considerable amount of engineering and operational experience to the ESA; (4) during the Shuttle facility development period, the Design Engineering Directorate under Ray Clark provided the primary KSC technical support to ground systems development, design, and installation but very little is said of the tremendous effort required to accomplish that task: (5) the contribution of the Shuttle Project Office and its leader, Dr. Robert Gray or "Mr KSC", to the external interfaces is not mentioned..Read more ›
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By W.M. on October 8, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Although a fairly well-written book, there are some glaring weaknesses, some of which have already been discussed. There are also a number of factual errors, most glaringly by mis-stating the number of flights in Project Mercury as seven (it was six). Although the exploration of internal and external NASA politics is useful, it is far too expansive for a place in a general history of this nature. Ultimately, this was an ambitions project that got sidetracked, with less than thrilling results. A decent political history, but not recommended for the average space buff.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Doris on May 23, 2008
Format: Hardcover
The other reviewer is right,it is "A" history. If you want to learn History of the Kennedy Space Center, save your money, buy something else.
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Format: Hardcover
It was President John F. Kennedy who inspired a nation to invest and strive towards leaving planet Earth and setting foot upon the Moon. The process was undertaken by NASA whose launch facility at Cape Canaveral, Florida, was to be renamed the Kennedy Space Center after the man most responsible for directing the federal government to achieve such a historical and momentous task. Co-authored by Kenneth Lipartito (Professor History, Florida International University) and Orville R. Butler (Associate history in the Center for History of Physics at the American Institute of Physics), "A History Of The Kennedy Space Center" is an informed and informative history of the center, including the methods and technologies developed for preparing, testing, and launching spacecraft over the past 45 years of the center's operation. A 496-page compendium of detailed information, "A History Of The Kennedy Space Center" is enhanced for the reader's appreciation with the inclusion of 97 illustrations, copies notes, an essay on sources, and a comprehensive index. No personal, community, or academic library American Space and Astronautics history collection can be considered complete or comprehensive without the inclusion of "A History Of The Kennedy Space Center"!
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5 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Terry Sunday TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 19, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"A History of the Kennedy Space Center" is a very good book about the evolution of spaceflight launch operations at "the Cape"--a largely unknown, undocumented and unappreciated aspect of the exciting space missions that make the headlines.

There are many excellent books in print about the design, manufacture and flight of unmanned and manned NASA spacecraft. Many of them are stories about building and testing the hardware, filled with engineering details and scientific minutia sure to satisfy the most fanatic technophile. "A History of the Kennedy Space Center" is different. Its subject is limited to the operations that take place at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) from the time an aerospace contractor delivers a space vehicle to the Cape until it is launched, weeks, months or (in some cases) years later. This is the story of the "wrench turners" and "pad rats" who toil unsung behind the scenes to prepare spacecraft for launch, and of the various types of organizations that NASA has tried over the years--mostly unsuccessfully--to make the pre-flight process faster, simpler, cheaper and safer.

During the Apollo era, former German ex-V-2 engineers held most supervisory positions at the Cape. They brought with them from Peenemunde a "hands-on" engineering tradition with very tight working relationships between the hardware designers and testers, and between factory and field personnel. As the Apollo program showed (notwithstanding the Apollo 1 launch pad fire), this approach was right for the lunar program, and was a major factor in America's defeat of the Soviet Union in the "moon race." However, in later years, the experienced Germans retired, and the "hands-on" tradition faded as less-experienced managers decided they could manage better without getting their hands dirty.
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