Publisher: Progressive Management
Publication Date: March 29, 2016
Binding: Kobo eBook
Professionally converted for accurate flowing-text e-book format reproduction, this excellent new book from NASA presents a series of in-depth studies on specific subjects on the societal impact of spaceflight. It represents an effort to understand the mutual interaction of space exploration and society—part of a larger need to understand the relationship between science, technology, and society. Emphasizing the importance of public attitudes toward space, the volume opens with sociologist William Sims Bainbridge's study of the impact of space exploration on public attitudes.
"Spinoff" is the first aspect that comes to mind for most people who think at all about the impact of space exploration, those technologies that are thought—wrongly or rightly—to have emanated from the space program. Part II consists of case studies of specific potential spinoffs and explicitly raises the difficult questions of what can be considered spinoff and how much of any particular claimed spinoff can be attributed to NASA—thus the interrogatory "Spinoff?" title for this section rather than the usual declarative "Spinoff." Though NASA claims many spinoffs and publishes an annual Spinoff report, it seldom parses its claims very finely. The three chapters in this part aim to do just that. Bainbridge's study of medical technology reinforces the judgment of social scientists who wrote 30 to 40 years ago that spinoffs are a problematic concept: they may not reflect the most important channels by which NASA contributes to scientific and technological progress, even if they do provide coherent stories to communicate with the general public about the history of space exploration.
Andrew J. Butrica tackles the oft-made claim that NASA played a major role in the early development and use of integrated circuits. In particular, he addresses a specific question: What was the role of NASA in improving the manufacture of integrated circuits during the Apollo era?