In the clash of ideologies represented by the Cold War, even the heavens were not immune to militarization. Satellites and space programs became critical elements among the national security objectives of both the United States and the Soviet Union.
According to US Presidents and the Militarization of Space, 1946–1967, three American presidents in succession shared a fundamental objective of preserving space as a weapons-free frontier for the benefit of all humanity. Between 1953 and 1967 Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson all saw nonaggressive military satellite development, as well as the civilian space program, as means to favorably shape the international community’s opinion of the scientific, technological, and military capabilities of the United States. Sean N. Kalic’s reinterpretation of the development of US space policy, based on documents declassified in the past decade, demonstrates that a single vision for the appropriate uses of space characterized American strategies across parties and administrations during this period.
Significantly, Kalic’s findings contradict the popular opinion that the United States sought to weaponize space and calls into question the traditional interpretation of the space race as a simple action/reaction paradigm. Indeed, beyond serving as a symbol and ambassador of US technological capability, its satellite program provided the United States with advanced, nonaggressive military intelligence-gathering platforms that proved critical in assessing the strategic nuclear balance between the United States and the Soviet Union. It also aided the three administrations in countering the Soviet Union’s increasing international prestige after its series of space firsts, beginning with the launch of Sputnik in 1957.
What Readers Are Saying:
“Anyone wanting to understand current US military space policy must appreciate the logic pursued by successive US presidents in the two decades following the end of the Second World War. Sean Kalic has done an admirable job in piecing together the history of early US involvement in the militarization of space. His book serves as a useful addition to our understanding of this critical period.”--Paul Stares
“Kalic has written a book that analyzes US military space development, policy, and presidential involvement, which has not previously been done. The level of detail will benefit both military space experts and students of military space. He identifies a common theme among US presidents during this period: the use of space for photoreconnaissance, early warning, intelligence gathering, communications, navigation, and weather data collection. Indeed it is worth noting that subsequent presidents until Reagan followed this path. The importance of recognizing the use of space for these military purposes cannot be overstated.”--Matthew Mowthorpe, Ministry of Defense, United Kingdom
“Concise and provocative, this book is certain to be a standard reference for students of postwar US defense, space, and science policy.”—R.P. Hallion, Choice
"Overall, Kalic provides an important contribution to our understanding of the origins of U.S. space policy and the role of presidents in the militarization of outer space."--Carah Ong, University of Virginia Miller Center
“It offered a good history of national security space policy, especially at the level of presidency, supplanting the works that were already available because they were either outdated or focused on a narrow question. The author of this work has undertaken a broad review of the documentary record and written a well-crafted narrative that relates the unfolding of the subject. Moreover, the writing is both adequate and the material is logically presented. It presents a fully articulated discussion of presidential space policy in the 1950s and 1960s based on good documentary sources, sound analysis, and strong writing.”—Roger Launius, blog
"...a worthy addition to any space enthusiast's library."--Everett Dolman, The Journal of American History