Beyond the Atmosphere: Early Years of Space Science

[3] The science managers in the new National Aeronautics and Space Administration of 1958 for the most part had limited experience in the management of science programs. By comparison with the broad program about to unfold, the previous sounding rocket work and even the International Geophysical Year programs were modest indeed. Yet the evolving perceptions of these individuals as to the nature and needs of science would play a major role in the development of the U.S. space science program. At first those perceptions were largely intuitive, growing out of personal needs and experience in scientific research, although a rather extensive literature made the thoughts and experience of others available. In addition, in launching the new program the space science managers had the benefit of the wise counsel of Deputy Administrator Hugh Dryden and Administrator T. Keith Glennan, both of whom had had considerable experience in managing science and technology programs.
Because of the central role played by the concepts of science that NASA managers brought to bear-sometimes consciously, sometimes subconsciously-on the planning and conduct of the NASA space science program, some of those concepts are set forth here at the outset. Moreover, the reader should bear in mind that these concepts are implicit in the author's treatment of space science in this book. The exposition below, while a substantial elaboration of a summary presented to Congress in the spring of 1966, is still highly condensed, and runs the risk of oversimplification.1