A little-known yet critical part of
NASA history Life in Space
explores the many aspects and
outcomes of NASA's research in life sciences, a little-understood endeavor that
has often been overlooked in histories of the space agency. Maura Mackowski
details NASA's work in this field from spectacular promises made during the
Reagan era to the major new directions set by George W. Bush's Vision for Space
Exploration in the early twenty-first century.
first flight of NASA's space shuttle in 1981, hopes ran high for the shuttle
program to achieve its potential of regularly transporting humans, cargo, and
scientific experiments between Earth and the International Space Station.
Mackowski describes different programs, projects, and policies initiated across
NASA centers and headquarters in the following decades to advance research into
human safety and habitation, plant and animal biology, and commercial
biomaterials. Mackowski illuminates these ventures in fascinating detail by
drawing on rare archival sources, oral histories, interviews, and site visits.
highlighting significant achievements and innovations such as space radiation
research and the Neurolab Spacelab Mission, Mackowski reveals frustrations--lost
opportunities, stagnation, and dead ends--stemming from frequent changes in
presidential administrations and policies. For today's dreams of lunar outposts
or long-term spaceflight to become reality, Mackowski argues, a robust program
in space life sciences is essential, and the history in this book offers
lessons to help prevent leaving more expectations unfulfilled.