Into the Black


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JPL and the American Space Program, 1976-2004

Peter J. Westwick

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In the decades since the mid-1970s, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, has led the quest to explore the farthest reaches of the solar system. JPL spacecraft—Voyager, Magellan, Galileo, the Mars rovers, and others—have brought the planets into close view. JPL satellites and instruments also shed new light on the structure and dynamics of earth itself, while their orbiting observatories opened new vistas on the cosmos. This comprehensive book recounts the extraordinary story of the lab's accomplishments, failures, and evolution from 1976 to the present day.
This history of JPL encompasses far more than the story of the events and individuals that have shaped the institution. It also engages wider questions about relations between civilian and military space programs, the place of science and technology in American politics, and the impact of the work at JPL on the way we imagine the place of humankind in the universe.

Peter J. Westwick is Olin Fellow, International Security Studies, Yale University. His first book, The National Labs: Science in an American System, 1947-1974, was awarded the Book Prize of the Forum for History of
Science in America in 2004.

"Westwick’s analysis explains why the Jet Propulsion Lab behaved as it did, what forces shaped it, and what impact it had on its external environment. He tells the complete story of the lab with candor and impartiality."—Alex Roland, Duke University

"Westwick has written a very comprehensive history of a high-performance organization, one that has made major contributions both technologically and to the public’s imagination."—John M. Logsdon, Space Policy Institute, George Washington University

"This is a fascinating history of a truly great institution.  The Jet Propulsion Laboratory is, as it were, the 'shadow in time' of the people who led it: Pickering, Murray, Allen and Stone. This book weaves the character of each of these leaders into a coherent and understandable picture."—Hans Mark, University of Texas at Austin

"Comprehensive, rich and revealing. . . . [An] impressively well-crafted history. . . . I can unreservedly recommend Into the Black to historians and to students and practitioners of aerospace studies."—David H. DeVorkin, American Scientist

"Westwick raises and explores an impressive number of issues, with impressively thorough references to publications and archival material. . . . Many professionals will find this book useful for their own research. . . . More casual readers will enjoy this well-written history full of telling and amusing anecdotes."—Noriss Hetherington, Historical Studies in the Physical and Biological Sciences

"A valuable addition to the libraries of historians of modern science, space, and the military-industrial-academic complex. . . . Westwick has woven a fascinating story, one that Isis readers interested in the context of modern science will find unusually insightful and well written."—Stephen Johnson, Isis

Winner of the 2006 Eugene M. Emme Astronautical Literature Award given by the American Astronautical Society (AAS).

Winner of the 2008 Gardner-Lasser Aerospace History Literature Award, given by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.
ISBN: 9780300184198
Publication Date: November 30, 2011
416 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
24 b/w illus.