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The full and, until this book, untold story of why the space shuttle Challenger blew up begins with the earliest days of manned spaceflight. Joseph Trento takes us into the heart of NASA and seven administrations to show how an agency that once stood for the best in the American spirit as well as science and technology was forced to "make a deal with the devil" in order to survive.

Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson had fought to keep space primarily an arena for civilian exploration and development. NASA was a brilliantly run civilian space agency that presided over the greatest (and most expensive) technological feat in history - putting men on the moon. But during the Nixon years a series of political, not scientific, decisions meant that NASA began to lose the battle against military dominance, one it had been fighting since its inception.

Trento interviewed every single administrator of NASA as well as more than seventy of its key officials, scientists, and major players in government, industry, and the Pentagon. The compelling and tragic story of the rise and fall of the space programme names and marshals engrossing detail.

Unrivalled by any other postmortem book or inquiry, Prescription for Disaster reveals:

• How NASA, a uniquely successful agency that had resisted pressure for premature man- ned flights and placed the safety of astronauts above all other considerations, became tragically changed under a series of administrators and people in government, the military, and indus- try who forced through a series of fatal com- promises for the worst possible reasons.

• How solid-booster propulsion was chosen over the vehement objections of men like Wernher von Braun and the other scientists who had led NASA to victory.

• How billions of dollars were thrown away in NASA's desperate attempt to buy the Pentagon's support for the shuttle.

This, and so much more, makes up the complex and often horrifying account of a great tragedy.

hardcover
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