This official NASA history report - converted for accurate flowing-text e-book format reproduction - provides a comprehensive history of the Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) in Huntsville, Alabama from its formation through 1990, covering the von Braun era, the Apollo moon landing program and the Saturn rockets, including the incredibly successful Saturn V moon rocket, Space Shuttle development, the Challenger disaster in 1986 and the subsequent recovery, Spacelab, Hubble Space Telescope, and the early days of the Space Station program (which would become the ISS). This is an engaging and somewhat opinionated view of these crucial space efforts, providing a unique perspective from those at the Marshall center.
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Contents: Chapter 1 - Origins of Marshall Space Flight Center * Chapter 2 - The Center in the Saturn Years: Culture, Choice, and Change * Chapter 3 - Crafting Rockets and Rovers: Apollo Engineering Achievements * Chapter 4 - The Marshall Reconstruction * Chapter 5 - Between a Rocket and a Hard Place: Transformation in a Time of Austerity * Chapter 6 - Skylab: Competition and Cooperation in Human Systems * Chapter 7 - Beyond "The Gate of Heaven": Marshall Diversifies * Chapter 8 - The Space Shuttle: Development of a New Transportation System * Chapter 9 - The Challenger Accident * Chapter 10 - The Recovery: Investigation and Return to Flight * Chapter 11 - Spacelab: International Cooperation in Orbit * Chapter 12 - The Hubble Space Telescope * Chapter 13 - Space Station: A Visionary Program in a Pragmatic Era * Chapter 14 - Conclusion 1960-1990
From the Introduction: "A broad approach to the Center’s history is necessary because Marshall has always been complex, even enigmatic. In six years of research we have talked to people at Marshall and elsewhere in NASA, and have heard interpretations of the Center that are often strikingly contradictory. Some outsiders criticize Marshall as having a closed culture, impervious to penetration from the outside; most Marshall veterans see their Center as open, seeking interaction with other groups at every opportunity. Outsiders sometimes describe Marshall’s management as authoritarian; insiders typically see top officials as responsive to ideas from lower-ranking experts. Some see Marshall’s history as a prosaic tale of bureaucratic growth and inertia, common to NASA; others see a story of unique organizational culture. Howard McCurdy’s recent book Inside NASA examines NASA’s evolution and shows how early dynamism fell victim to increasingly complex limitations and tightening budgets. Not surprisingly many of his interviewees were Marshall veterans. Yet Marshall’s team of German rocket experts and American engineers was unique in the annals of space pioneering, and the Center’s first 30 years led to space science and engineering achievements of unparalleled breadth. Marshall has been at the forefront of the frontier of space, but it has also been a center of controversy. In its first three decades, NASA had three major crises: the Apollo fire in 1967, the Challenger disaster in 1986, and a crisis of confidence in the late 1980s in which initial shortcomings of the Hubble Space Telescope and questions about Space Station planning and funding focused national attention on NASA’s uncertain future. Marshall was at the margins of the Apollo fire investigation, but at the center of the crises of the 1980s."