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  NASA/NASM Conference: "Societal Impact of Space Exploration"

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Author Topic:   NASA/NASM Conference: "Societal Impact of Space Exploration"
Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 27327
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 06-06-2006 02:42 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Some readers may have noticed the entry for this event on our calendar, but the NASA History Division recently debuted its conference website and opened registration.

While the September 19-21, 2006 conference should be of general interest to most readers (given the topics discussed on collectSPACE) special interest may be merited for a paper by Dr. Margaret Weitekamp entitled "Witnesses to History: Space Memorabilia as Evidence of Space Program’s Impact on American Culture". Her abstract reads as follows:

quote:
As curator of the Social and Cultural Dimensions of Spaceflight collection at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum, I propose to explore the implications of space memorabilia as evidence of the societal impact of space exploration on American culture. Using specific examples from the National Collection and citing scholarship on material culture, this paper will explore how space memorabilia serve alternately as evidence of the social history of space exploration, as fodder for the booming business in creating and collecting such items, and as unexpected “museum pieces,” now that space workers, collectors, and their heirs are donating these valuable ephemera to museums across the country.

The social history of the space program is a history “from the bottom up” of the massive mobilization of people whose work made the big science technologies and programs of space exploration possible. Those who worked on space projects, either as NASA employees or as contractors, were often rewarded or recognized through the presentation of commemorative items (e.g., pins, patches, stickers, or more substantial objects). Such mementoes served to maintain morale, support work quality, and sustain momentum, while also marking their owners as participants in and witnesses to history. Furthermore, because space work often required the relocation of entire families—and the creation of new communities—space memorabilia can also remind us of the larger contexts in which this effort was embedded. The widespread impact of the space program on a significant segment of the American workforce can be seen through an examination of space memorabilia. The collection of space memorabilia by the general public and by cultural institutions, two other topics that will be explored in this paper, offers two other ways that such ephemera illustrate the societal impact of space exploration.


I have registered to attend and plan to report on Dr. Weitekamp's paper (among others') here on collectSPACE. In addition to this one session, other notable speakers include: Roger Launius, NASM Chair, Space History; Shana Dale, NASA Deputy Administrator; Andrew Chaikin; James Hansen; and Ron Miller.

KC Stoever
Member

Posts: 1009
From: Denver, CO USA
Registered: Oct 2002

posted 06-07-2006 12:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for KC Stoever   Click Here to Email KC Stoever     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It sounds fascinating, Robert. I hope they publish the proceedings.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 27327
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 07-26-2006 02:08 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
As an introduction for those who may have missed this thread back in June or a reminder for those who did, the following conference is fast approaching:
quote:
Societal Impact of Spaceflight Conference
NASA History Division and NASM Department of Space History
September 19-21, 2006
Ring Auditorium, Hirshhorn Museum
Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.

On September 19-21, 2006, the NASA History Division and the National Air and Space Museum will host a conference in Washington, D.C. on the societal impact of spaceflight. The purpose of this symposium is to undertake a broad overview of the societal impact of spaceflight both nationally and internationally. The symposium is divided into six major sections:

  1. Societal Impact of Spaceflight in Context
  2. Catalyzing Events
  3. Commercial and Economic Impact
  4. Applications Satellites, the Environment and National Security
  5. Educational, Social, Political: Local and National Impacts
  6. Philosophical and Cultural Impact: Our Place in the Universe
Some of the featured speakers include:
  • Andrew Chaikin, Independent Author
  • Steven J. Dick, NASA Chief Historian
  • Alexander Geppert, Freie Universität Berlin
  • James R. Hansen, Auburn University
  • John Krige, Georgia Tech
  • De Witt Douglas Kilgore, Indiana University
  • W. Henry Lambright, Syracuse University
  • Roger D. Launius, Smithsonian Institution
  • John M. Logsdon, George Washington University
  • M. G. Lord, Independent Author
  • Howard E. McCurdy, American University
  • Wendell Mendell, NASA Johnson Space Center
  • Philip Scranton, Rutgers University
  • Asif A. Siddiqi, Fordham University
  • Peter Westwick, Yale University
  • Margaret A. Weitekamp, Smithsonian Institution
This conference is free and open to the public, but early registration is recommended. Please see here for more information, the formal agenda, and logistics materials.

KC Stoever
Member

Posts: 1009
From: Denver, CO USA
Registered: Oct 2002

posted 09-21-2006 07:24 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for KC Stoever   Click Here to Email KC Stoever     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I got a kick yesterday -- during the final session of the afternoon on curating space memorabilia -- to see final image: the homepage for collectSPACE. The speaker described cS approvingly as "more than a collectors' site. It has become a community."

In the brief period allotted for questions, Andy Chaikin was passionate in defense of collectors and urged an oral history approach to curating even space ephemera--get the collectors to tell their stories.

Fascinating talk.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 27327
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 09-21-2006 07:28 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I greatly regret not having been able to attend. The delay launching STS-115 (and the subsequent trips back and forth between KSC and Houston) caused my planned trip to DC to be canceled.

I hope to get permission to present one or more of the authors' papers on collectSPACE.

cspg
Member

Posts: 4046
From: Geneva, Switzerland
Registered: May 2006

posted 09-21-2006 08:48 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for cspg   Click Here to Email cspg     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by KC Stoever:
It sounds fascinating, Robert. I hope they publish the proceedings.

Well, NASA History Office has started a new series under the SP-4700 number, two have been published so far, and both are proceedings of a symposium for SP-4701 and and a conference for SP-4702. See NASA History website.
So, hopefully they may publish a book about this conference as well.

Chris.

cspg
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Posts: 4046
From: Geneva, Switzerland
Registered: May 2006

posted 09-22-2006 01:14 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for cspg   Click Here to Email cspg     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by KC Stoever:
It sounds fascinating, Robert. I hope they publish the proceedings.

I received confirmation that indeed a book will be published. However, not all papers will be included, only the best ones.

Chris.

KC Stoever
Member

Posts: 1009
From: Denver, CO USA
Registered: Oct 2002

posted 09-22-2006 10:57 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for KC Stoever   Click Here to Email KC Stoever     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'd love to see some of the papers published online here. That's a great idea.

Another idea, sparked by Chaiken's at the conference, about collecting oral histories from collectors: Why not start a separate topic field devoted to collecting anecdotes and stories about cS members' collections?

NASM curators could read through the cS posts, even click on links when provided that picture the collections, and arrange oral histories (or simply use the written accounts) when they have a sense of the size of the undertaking.

Kris

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 27327
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 09-25-2006 10:27 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Dwayne Day, who posts here from time to time, contributed an overview of the conference to The Space Review: Exploring the social frontiers of spaceflight

I further regret having missed this conference and look forward to any and all resulting projects and publications.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 27327
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 01-31-2008 01:56 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by cspg:
So, hopefully they may publish a book about this conference as well.
New from the NASA History Office:
quote:
Societal Impact of Spaceflight

Edited by Steven J. Dick and Roger D. Launius
(Washington, D.C.: NASA SP-2007-4801), pp. 680+ xv, hardcover.

Since the dawn of spaceflight, advocates of a robust space effort have argued that human activity beyond Earth makes a significant difference in everyday life. Assertions abound about the "impact" of spaceflight on society and its relationship to the larger contours of human existence.

Fifty years after the Space Age began, it is time to examine the effects of spaceflight on society in a historically rigorous way. Has the Space Age indeed had a significant effect on society? If so, what are those influences? What do we mean by an "impact" on society? And what parts of society? Conversely, has society had any effect on spaceflight? What would be different had there been no Space Age? The purpose of this volume is to examine these and related questions through scholarly research, making use especially of the tools of the historian and the broader social sciences and humanities. Herein a stellar array of scholars does just that, and arrives at sometimes surprising conclusions.

How to order: Please contact the NASA Center for AeroSpace Information, 7121 Standard Drive, Hanover, MD 21076, 301-621-0390, help@sti.nasa.gov, Online Order Form, Document ID: 20080007234, Title: Societal Impact of Spaceflight. The price code is EA5 (Within U.S. $25.00 plus $2.00 shipping and handling: Outside U.S. $50.00 plus $17.00 S&H).

This book also may be purchased from the NASA Information Center, NASA Headquarters, 300 E Street SW, Room 1H23, Washington, DC 20546-0001, (202) 358-0000. Order NASA SP-2007-4801.


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