This first comprehensive history of the Kennedy Space Center, NASA's famous launch facility located at Cape Canaveral, Florida, reveals the vital but largely unknown work that takes place before the rocket is lit. Though the famous Vehicle Assembly Building and launch pads dominate the flat Florida landscape at Cape Canaveral and attract 1.5 million people each year to its visitor complex, few members of the public are privy to what goes on beyond the final outcome of the flaring rocket as it lifts into space. With unprecedented access to a wide variety of sources, including the KSC archives, other NASA centers, the National Archives, and individual and group interviews and collections, Lipartito and Butler explore how the methods and technology for preparing, testing, and launching spacecraft have evolved over the last 45 years. Their story includes the Mercury and Gemini missions, the Apollo lunar program, the Space Shuttle, scientific missions and robotic spacecraft, and the International Space Station, as well as the tragic accidents of Challenger and Columbia. Throughout, the authors reveal the unique culture of the people who work at KSC and make Kennedy distinct from other parts of NASA. The authors pay particular attention to ""operational knowledge"" developed by KSC - the insights that came from using and operating complex technology. This work makes it abundantly clear that the processes performed by ground operations are absolutely vital to success.
Kenneth Lipartito is professor of history at Florida International University and author or editor of five books including Constructing Corporate America: History, Politics, Culture. Orville R. Butler is an associate historian in the Center for History of Physics at the American Institute of Physics and coauthor, with Stephen Adams, of Manufacturing the Future: A History of Western Electric.