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Although the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, has become synonymous with the United States’ planetary exploration during the past half century, its most recent focus has been on Mars. Beginning in the 1990s and continuing through the Mars Phoenix mission of 2007, JPL led the way in engineering an impressive, rapidly evolving succession of Mars orbiters and landers, including roving robotic vehicles whose successful deployment onto the Martian surface posed some of the most complicated technical problems in space flight history. In Exploration and Engineering, Erik M. Conway reveals how JPL engineers’ creative technological feats led to major breakthroughs in Mars exploration. He takes readers into the heart of the lab’s problem-solving approach and management structure, where talented scientists grappled with technical challenges while also coping, not always successfully, with funding shortfalls, unrealistic schedules, and managerial turmoil. Conway, JPL’s historian, offers an insider’s perspective into the changing goals of Mars exploration, the ways in which sophisticated computer simulations drove the design process, and the remarkable evolution of landing technologies over a thirty-year period. "A masterpiece of research and writing."— Quest: History of Spaceflight Quarterly "A 'must' for any reader of modern astronomy who wants insights into how the lab conducts its research, solves problems, and handle[s] technological challenges."— Midwest Book Review "A great tale of ambition, mishap and recovery, building on extensive archival research and interviews with JPL managers, scientists and engineers, to deliver a detailed overview of each mission's feats and failures... Exploration and Engineering is a great book for everyone seriously interested in the struggles and achievements of JPL as NASA's centre for Mars exploration."— Sky at Night Erik M. Conway is a historian of science and technology at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology. He is the author of Atmospheric Science at NASA: A History.
Mars has captured the human imagination for decades. Since NASA’s establishment in 1958, the space agency has looked to Mars as a compelling prize, the one place, beyond the Moon, where robotic and human exploration could converge. Remarkably successful with its roaming multi-billion-dollar robot, Curiosity, NASA’s Mars program represents one of the agency’s greatest achievements. Why Mars analyzes the history of the robotic Mars exploration program from its origins to today. W. Henry Lambright examines the politics and policies behind NASA's multi-decade quest, illuminating the roles of key individuals and institutions along with their triumphs and defeats. Lambright outlines the ebbs and flows of policy evolution, focusing on critical points of change and factors that spurred strategic reorientation. He explains Mars exploration as a striking example of "big science" and describes the ways a powerful advocacy coalition—composed of NASA decision makers, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the Mars academic science community, and many others—has influenced governmental decisions on Mars exploration, making it, at times, a national priority. The quest for Mars stretches over many years and involves billions of dollars. What does it take to mount and give coherence to a multi-mission, big science program? How do advocates and decision makers maintain goals and adapt their programs in the face of opposition and budgetary stringency? Where do they succeed in their strategies? Where do they fall short? Lambright’s insightful book suggests that from Mars exploration we can learn lessons that apply to other large-scale national endeavors in science and technology.
On the 20th anniversary of the first human landing on the Moon, President George H.W. Bush stood atop the steps of the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. and proposed a long-range human exploration plan that included the successful construction of an orbital space station, a permanent return to the Moon, and a mission to Mars. This enterprise became known as the Space Exploration Initiative (SEI). The president charged the newly reestablished National Space Council with providing concrete alternatives for meeting these objectives. To provide overall focus for the new initiative, Bush later set a thirty-year goal for a crewed landing on Mars. Within a few short years after this Kennedyesque announcement, however, the initiative had faded into history the victim of a flawed policy process and a political war fought on several different fronts. The story of this failed initiative was a tale of organizational, cultural, and personal confrontation by key protagonists and critical battles. Some commentators have argued that SEI was doomed to fail, due primarily to the immense budgetary pressures facing the nation during the early 1990s. The central thesis of Mars Wars: The Rise and Fall of the Space Exploration Initiative suggests, however, that failure was not predetermined. Instead, it was the result of a deeply flawed decision-making process that failed to develop (or even consider) policy options that may have been politically acceptable given the existing political environment.
"Faster, Better, Cheaper takes its title from the initiative of the same name, which officials at NASA adopted after the high-profile failure of the Mars Observer spacecraft in 1993. Although that expedition was conceived in 1981 as the last in a series of lower-cost missions, its budget by launch had grown from $250 million to more than $800 million. To compensate for research opportunities lost during the hiatus since the last Viking mission in 1976, scientists in 1992 added numerous instruments while technicians added equipment to guard against failure. This effort should have resulted in a more reliable and better-performing spacecraft, and yet, as the Observer approached Mars on August 21, 1993, it disappeared."--Jacket.
Adam Steltzner is no ordinary engineer. His path to leadership was about as unlikely as they come. A child of beatnik parents, he barely made it through school. He blew off college in favour of work at a health food store and playing bass in a band, but after discovering an astonishing gift for maths and physics, he ended up helping a group of scientists land the heaviest rover in the history of space exploration on Mars. This is the story of the teamwork, drama and extraordinary feats of innovation at the Jet Propulsion Lab that culminated in that landing in 2012.
Though more than forty years old, the space age has just begun, and questions about its future abound. What will replace the Space Shuttle? Will the International Space Station justify its $100 billion potential cost? Are asteroids real threats to Earth or just the subject of science fiction movies? Will humans land on Mars? Will the search for extraterrestrial life be rewarded? In Space Policy in the Twenty-First Century, W. Henry Lambright brings together ten top-ranking observers of United States space exploration to address these and other issues relating to the future of the space program. While the U.S. no longer competes with the Soviets for technological "firsts," they argue, ideology and national image remain at the core of space policy, with other factors playing subordinate roles. Reminding readers of the historical highlights, the authors pose searching questions about the priorities and applications of space science, manned vs. unmanned flights, and commercial access to the space enterprise. Contributors include: Christopher F. Chyba, SETI Institute and Stanford University; Ronald J. Deibert, University of Toronto; Daniel H. Deudney, the Johns Hopkins University; W. Henry Lambright, Syracuse University; Roger D. Launius, NASA; Karl A. Leib, Syracuse University; John M. Logsdon, George Washington University; Howard E. McCurdy, American University; Scott N. Pace, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy; and Debora L. VanNijnatten, Wilfrid Laurier University.

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