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Historical Studies

in the Societal Impact of Spaceflight

Dust jacket image for Historical Studies in the Societal Impact of Spaceflight

Edited by Steven J. Dick

This volume presents a series of in-depth studies on the mutual interaction of space exploration and society—part of a larger need to understand the relationships between science, technology, and society. After beginning with a study of public attitudes toward space over time, it then moves on to specific case studies of potential “spinoffs” from NASA’s space program in the areas of medical technology, integrated circuits, and the multibillion-dollar industry today known as MEMS (microelectromechanical systems). These studies explicitly raise the difficult questions of what can be considered spinoff and how much of any particular claimed spinoff can be attributed to NASA. Beyond spinoffs, the final part of the volume considers broader issues of space and society, including the controversy over the use of nuclear components in spacecraft, the relationship between NASA and the environment, the impact of applications satellites, and the impact of the Apollo program. Space exploration has also spawned entirely new disciplines, including astrogeology, astrochemistry, and even astrotheology. The final chapter explores the budding discipline of astrosociology.

NASA SP-2015-4803