Goddard Engineering and Technology Directorate (ETD) Calendar


The ETD Events Calendar list upcoming engineering seminars, colloquiums, conferences, town halls and other events of interest to the ETD engineering community. Explore a world of knowledge and innovation though a curated lineup of insightful and engaging events. This information supports a journey of discovery, where experts and enthusiasts converge to share ideas, explore cutting-edge technologies and foster a community of collaboration and learning.



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NACA to NASA to Now: Writing the History of an Unparalleled Organization

March 21, 2023 @ 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm


ABSTRACT In 2013 I proposed writing for the 100th anniversary in 2015 of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), NASA’s predecessor agency, a new one-volume synthesis that told its story. It was intended as a basic history of NACA/NASA that traced its origins and evolution to the present. Written in an accessible style, it would be principally of interest to those associated with NASA, but it might find an audience among general readers as well. There had been earlier such histories, most notably Roger E. Bilstein’s Orders of Magnitude: A History of the NACA and NASA, 1915-1990 (NASA SP-4406, 1989), but it was by then some 25 years out of date. For many reasons the NACA anniversary came and went without this book appearing, and fully ten years after first initiated NACA to NASA to Now has recently been published in the NASA History Series. I Like to think it was worth the wait. The Chapters for the book include:

  1. NACA Origins
  2. Making a World-Class Aeronautics R&D Organization
  3. Defeating Fascism
  4. Higher, Faster, and Farther
  5. Becoming NASA
  6. Reaching for the Moon
  7. Exploring the Cosmos
  8. Achieving Reusable Space Access
  9. NASA’s First “A” in an Age of Spaceflight
  10. Toward a Permanent Human Presence in Space
  11. A New Age of Entrepreneurial Space Operations

This presentation will discuss the book, its stories, and its major findings.

Photo of Roger Launius.
Roger Launius

SPEAKER Roger D. Launius is Principal of Launius Historical Services, Auburn, Alabama. Between 1990 and 2002 he served as chief historian of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. From there he moved to the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., where he served most recently as Associate Director for Collections and Curatorial Affairs until retirement in 2017. He is the author, most recently, of The Smithsonian History of Space Exploration: From the Ancient World to the Extraterrestrial Future (Smithsonian Books, 2018); Apollo’s Legacy: The Space Race in Perspective (Smithsonian Books, 2019); Reaching for the Moon: A Short History of Space Race (Yale University Press, 2019); The NASA Archives: From Project Mercury to the Mars Rovers, 60 Years in Space (Taschen, 2019); An Unofficial History of NASA Mission Patches (Thunder Bay Press, 2020); NASA Space Shuttle: 40th Anniversary (Motorbooks, an Imprint of The Quarto Group, 2021); and NACA to NASA to Now: The Frontiers of Air and Space in the American Century (NASA SP-2022-4419, 2023). He was a consultant to the Columbia Accident Investigation Board in 2003 and served on several review boards of the National Academy of Sciences. He is also a recipient of the NASA Exceptional Service Medal and the Exceptional Achievement Medal. He has been a guest commentator on space history for all the major television and news radio networks.


March 21, 2023
3:00 pm - 5:00 pm
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