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First in Space: The Army's Role in U.S. Space Efforts, 1938-1958

Descriptive Note:

Technical Report

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US Army Command and General Staff College Fort Leavenworth United States

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From 1938-1958 the Army, largely through the Ordnance Department, engaged in a continuous effort to develop missile and upper atmospheric research technologies. With contributions of organizations such as the Jet Propulsion Laboratory JPL and the Army Ballistic Missile Agency ABMA, the Army launched the first U.S. satellite, Explorer I, atop a Jupiter-C missile in 1958. Although multiple umbrella organizations such as the Advanced Research Projects Agency ARPA and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration NASA attempted to consolidate early space and missile efforts, inter-service rivalries coupled with political perceptions of the Cold War to inhibit a joint conception of military space. Despite its demonstrated successes in space and missile technologies, the Army struggled to find its place in the air-atomic world and ultimately lost its early leadership role in these fields.

Subject Categories:

  • Unmanned Spacecraft
  • Military Forces and Organizations

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