Many people place the beginning of the American space program at 7:28pm, October 4, 1957 – the moment the Soviet Union launched the first satellite, Sputnik I, into orbit. This event prompted the United States to open up its own crash program to put first a satellite, then later, human beings, into space. The primary motivating factor for all this, was the fear of missiles being the primary delivery system for nuclear warheads at the height of the Cold War. Our guest in this episode –Nicholas Michael Sambaluk
– makes the case for another perspective on the Eisenhower Administration’s decision to engage in space exploration. In his book The Other Space Race: Eisenhower and the Quest for Aerospace Security
(Naval Institute Press, 2015), Sambaluk describes the checkered history of the Dynamic Soarer Space Glider Bomber – a.k.a. “Dyna-Soar,” a heat-resistant single seat-space shuttle that was intended to guarantee American aerospace superiority. Though ultimately canceled, the Dyna-Soar program’s legacy continues to this day in the form of the SR-71 Blackbird reconnaissance Aircraft, the Space Shuttle, and future orbiting space vehicles. Sambaluk is an associate professor of strategy at the Air University, at Maxwell Air Force Base, in Montgomery, Alabama.