Chapter 2

Aviation Medicine: Tap Root of Space Medicine1

BEFORE THE INTERNATIONAL GEOPHYSICAL YEAR and the launching of Sputnik there had been uncertainty as to the roles and missions of the Army, Navy, and Air Force in the exploration and exploitation of space, as well as in missile development from which space technology derived.2

In August 1958 after passage of the National Space Act, President Eisenhower assigned NASA the mission of manned Space flight to be carried out as a national objective at the earliest feasible time. To accomplish this goal, NASA was to receive support from all the resources of the Nation, including military medical resources. Short of a sudden defense emergency, this reservoir of aerospace medical strength would support the NASA mission of manned space flight.

1.  The NASA terminology space medicine and the U.S. Air Force terminology aerospace medicine are used interchangeably in the present discussion. Bioastronautics is the Air Force term for the total complex of scientific disciplines, including medicine, necessary to support manned flight and manned space flight, and is used in that context in the present study.

2.  Ballistic missiles had been given highest national priority in the race for first-generation ICBMs and IRBMs. See Eugene M. Emme, ed., History of Rocket Technology (Detroit: Wayne University Press. 1964).

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