Accession Number:

ADA303832

Title:

The Rise and Fall of Dyna-Soar: A History of Air Force Hypersonic R&D, 1944--1963.

Descriptive Note:

Doctoral thesis,

Corporate Author:

AIR FORCE INST OF TECH WRIGHT-PATTERSON AFB OH

Personal Author(s):

Report Date:

1995-08-01

Pagination or Media Count:

520.0

Abstract:

After 8 years of gestation and 11 years of cultivation, the framework underlying the Johnson administrations decision to cancel Dyna-Soar, Americas only hypersonic boost-glide program, in December 1963 illustrates the ebb and flow of an advanced technology program within the administrative and political context of modem American society. The decision to cancel Dyna-Soar had several significant consequences. Most important, it ended, at least temporarily, the Air Forces opportunity to use hypersonic flight for military missions. The Air Forces inability to persuade Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara and other Department of Defense officials of the wisdom of continuing to build and fly such an advanced transatmospheric vehicle represented the single most important reason for the programs cancellation, overshadowing 11 years of evolutionary development. The complex political-economic-administrative relationship between the Eisenhower and Kennedy administrations, the aerospace industry, NASA, and the Air Force in the late 1950s and early 1960s left NASA as the national leader for hypersonic RD. Dyna-Soar was not a technological failure. It could have flown. On the other hand, Dyna-Soars cancellation marked the collapse of the Air Forces political-economic efforts for a hypersonic boost-glider, illustrating the need for a rapid and clear consensus of purpose, single-minded and politically astute leadership, and the near-term attainment of advanced technology. Once Dyna-Soar was canceled, NASA began to acquire an increasing amount of the Air Forces hypersonic research until its Space Shuttle offered the Air Force another chance for a joint venture equal in scope to Dyna-Soar. However, this time NASA would be the lead organization.

Subject Categories:

  • Manned Spacecraft

Distribution Statement:

APPROVED FOR PUBLIC RELEASE