Since NASA’s beginning, the NASA History Office has prepared histories, chronologies, and oral history interviews and made them freely available to the public. Explore our trove of aerospace history resources!
The NASA History Series includes over 200 books and monographs on a wide range of topics from rockets and wind tunnels to the psychology and sociology of spaceflight. Many of these books are in e-book formats available to download at no cost.
NASA History’s quarterly newsletter explores major anniversaries from NASA’s past, the historical underpinnings of NASA’s current endeavors, and gives you the latest news in aerospace history research, publications, and upcoming meetings.
For the Fall 2023 edition, the spotlight is on the history of solar system exploration. Articles feature the MESSENGER, VIPER, Clementine, and the Mars Global Surveyor missions, as well as news from NASA's archival collections and a new oral history.
The Summer 2023 edition focuses on NASA’s aeronautics research history and how lessons from the past still guide NASA’s work today. Topics include the ban on supersonic flight over land, the first Shuttle chase teams, the history of NASA's sustainable flight program, and more!
Historians discuss the repercussions of the STS-107 tragedy and how it continues to shape NASA today. Reflections on other aerospace disasters and the safety and leadership lessons that were learned are also included.
In celebration of the 50th anniversary of Apollo 17, articles include the orange soil at Shorty Crater, Engineering Support for the Apollo 17 mission at Johnson Space Center, the mission's science investigations, the crew's visits to Plum Brook Station and Langley Research Center, and more!
Read about the Deep Space Network's role in the Apollo and Artemis Programs, contributions to the Artemis Program by Glenn and Langley Research Centers, the history of evidence for water on the Moon, plus a look at how Apollo 17 astronauts Ron Evans and Gene Cernan created keepsakes of their flight to the Moon for their families.
The annual “President’s Report” is a summary of the U.S. Government’s aerospace activities each year. Mandated by law, it contains information on aerospace activities conducted by 14 Federal departments and agencies, as well as appendices containing historical data on spacecraft launches and budget figures.
NASA sees value in oral history because the process provides significant benefits and plays an important role in capturing and preserving the first-hand experiences of individuals, lessons learned, methodologies, and institutional memory. Oral history participants include managers, engineers, technicians, doctors, astronauts, and other employees of NASA and aerospace contractors who served in key roles in its programs. These oral history interviews ensure that the words of these pioneers live on to tell future generations about the excitement and lessons of space exploration.
Stories from the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA)
When Chris Kraft was a young student fresh out of the Virginia Polytechnic Institute in Blacksburg, Virginia, he didn't know where he was going next. Having lived in Virginia all his life, he thought the local NACA laboratory was too close to home. He wanted a chance to go somewhere different. But the Langley Aeronautical Laboratory in Hampton offered him a position in the Flight Research Division, and a chance to train as an aeronautical engineer. Kraft never looked back and began his long and historic NASA career in 1945.
Born in Birmingham, Alabama, Annie Easley's mother told her, "You can be anything you want to be, but you have to work at it." She later moved with her husband to Cleveland, Ohio, and in 1955 read a story in the newspaper that the NACA Lewis Flight Propulsion Laboratory was hiring "computers." She applied the next day and was hired two weeks later. Faced with the prejudices of the time period, she adopted an attitude of "If I can't work with you, I will work around you. I was not about to be so discouraged that I'd walk away."
Jack Boyd had always wanted to go to California, so when a friend told him the NACA was hiring at their laboratories, he chose the Ames Aeronautical Laboratory near Mountain View. Two weeks after sending in his application, he received a telegram telling him he was hired as an engineer. Because he had studied supersonic aerodynamics, his supervisor put him in a wind tunnel to devise airfoils and begin testing them at supersonic speeds. That simple choice of moving to California began a 73 year long career with NASA.
Betty Love began work at the NACA High Speed Flight Research Station in California as a "computer" in 1952. She later recalled, "Our office was like a library. Only the hum of the Friedan calculators was the noise that you heard. No one spoke. You weren’t supposed to visit with your neighbor. You were supposed to keep your work right in front of you and do that. You weren’t to go down and visit with the engineers." She attained an engineering position herself and retired in 1973, but Betty continued to support NASA by volunteering and preserving the Center's history.
After taking a Civil Service test, Jo Dibella received an offer for a temporary job with the Adjudications Section Social Security Board and moved to Washington, DC, in June, 1937. In early 1938, while working for the Census Bureau, she met someone at a local church concert who told her that the NACA was hiring secretaries. She landed that job and worked for Thomas Neill for 14 years. When Director Hugh Dryden needed a new secretary, she applied and won that position. Jo continued working with Dr. Dryden through the transition of NACA to NASA and until his death in 1965.
Milt Silveira graduated from the University of Vermont in 1951 on a Friday and started work the following Monday morning at the NACA Langley Aeronautical Laboratory. After serving in Korea as a helicopter pilot, he returned to Langley in 1955 and worked on helicopter loads and vibrations. “NACA was an organization that had some of the top people. Most of the time they were the experts in that particular field." Silveira joined the Space Task Group in 1961, moving to the Manned Spacecraft Center, and later retired as the Chief Engineer for NASA in 1986.
The Apollo Flight Journal is a resource for those interested in the Apollo flights to the Moon and covers eleven human flights of the Apollo program, relating the parts of the missions not on the lunar surface.