How Outer Space Made America: Geography, Organization and the Cosmic Sublime

How Outer Space Made America: Geography, Organization and the Cosmic Sublime

Daniel Sage

Language: English

Pages: 192

ISBN: 1472423666

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


In this innovatory book Daniel Sage analyses how and why American space exploration reproduced and transformed American cultural and political imaginations by appealing to, and to an extent organizing, the transcendence of spatial and temporal frontiers. In so doing, he traces the development of a seductive, and powerful, yet complex and unstable American geographical imagination: the ’transcendental state’. Historical and indeed contemporary space exploration is, despite some recent notable exceptions, worthy of more attention across the social sciences and humanities. While largely engaging with the historical development of space exploration, it shows how contemporary cultural and social, and indeed geographical, research themes, including national identity, critical geopolitics, gender, technocracy, trauma and memory, can be informed by the study of space exploration.

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State of the Union address to both houses of Congress, Kennedy presented a radically ambitious vision of American space exploration, which centered upon a plan for American human lunar exploration by the end of the decade. While the speech built upon earlier comments made by Kennedy and Johnson regarding the necessity for America to take a lead in outer space, it more directly emerged out of a consultation review. This review, instigated at President Kennedy’s request by Vice-President Lyndon

within NASA; more thorough reviews of critical flight elements, audited by the NRC; and a cut in the Shuttle flight-rate to ensure time to resolve problems. What was being proposed was hardly a deviation from NASA’s systems management. Traumatizing Spacefligh 147 In a concluding thought after the recommendations, the Commissioners then reiterated the imperative that to foster confidence (through systems management) requires the release of messianic, hopeful affect. Specifically, NASA’s

American (geo)politics. This popular subset of high Protestant belief, while far from unified, tends to share certain common ideas: (i) Christians and Jews are ‘Chosen People’ from ‘Promised Lands’; (ii) life on Earth can be divided into epochs or ‘dispensations’ (iii) Jesus and the anti-Christ will arrive on Earth in the next epoch—‘Christ’s millennium’; (iv) Upon his arrival, God will judge humanity during an apocalyptic war between Jesus and the anti-Christ called ‘tribulation’; (v) Jews and

thought-action in spacetime, where, as Anderson (2004) puts it, the capacity to experience the ‘not yet’ (p749) is suspended. The evolution of American spaceflight might appear to 160 How Outer Space Made America some the antithesis of boredom, but, as Jorgensen (2009) suggests, the American humanization of outer space has gone hand in hand with endless repetition (of middle America): The August 1969 Life Special Issue, released to commemorate the landing, wants to produce sympathetic

Remarks at Edwards Air Force Base, California, on Completion of the Fourth Mission of the Space Shuttle Columbia, July 4th [Online]. Available: http://www.reagan.utexas.edu/archives/speeches/1982/70482a. htm [2/2/14] Reagan, R. (1986) Transcript of President Reagan’s News Conference, Washington Post June 12th, p. A18 Redfield, P. (2002) The Half-Life of Empires in Outer Space, Social Studies of Science, 32(5-6), 791-825. Reistrup, J. V. (1967a) Senate Report Blasts NASA as Negligent, Washington

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