bok_rev_gillespi - Dan Gillespie ESD.30 Due 2 April 2007...

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Dan Gillespie ESD.30 Due: 2 April 2007 Book Review: The Reluctant Space-Farers: A Study in the Politics of Discovery This book, written in 1965 by Frank Gibney and George J. Feldman, examines the implications of America’s space effort, “in particular as they affect areas of life not normally regarded as ‘scientific’” ([1]p. 5). Written during the Apollo program, over four years before the successful moon landing, it gives insights into the expectations held by the authors for what space exploration would mean to the nation, and the world. Although much of their analysis is well thought out and supported by facts, their conclusions are quite opinionated, and their self declared “capstone thesis”, that the space exploration effort would eventually replace war (p. 156), is extremely optimistic and has proven over time to be too idealistic. In this commentary on the space program several themes become clear: strong support for the space effort; anger at Eisenhower’s slow start in space and his decision to separate military space efforts from civilian efforts; high regard for the Soviets’ ability to blend the military, political, and scientific aspects of space into a single effort which the authors regard as highly successful; and a strong belief that space exploration is the key to America’s future success. Their conclusion is the possibility that space exploration can unite the world and make war obsolete. Gibney and Feldman possess an almost fanatical support for the space effort, referred to consistently as the “Space Discovery” (always capitalized), meaning “the total process of innovation, experiment, and application directed to the exploration and use of outer space” (p. 2). They believe it will have a beneficial effect on “every aspect of our lives” (p. 8), from national survival to our “seek-and-strive” mechanism which is currently fulfilled in some by religion (p.7). Followed to its logical conclusion, the Space Discovery would focus the nation away from wasteful distractions, allowing it to solve problems and ultimately replace war. Although this book addresses some decisions, it is not about decision-making. Instead it deals with vision; with a view of where the decisions made in the US space program would lead America and the world. The vision is based on the technological gains made, but also on many “non-scientific” factors.
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The authors’ involvement in the space program was in the political realm. Frank Gibney,
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bok_rev_gillespi - Dan Gillespie ESD.30 Due 2 April 2007...

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