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Access—no single word better describes the primary concern of the exploration and development of space. Every participant in space activities—civil, military, scientific, or commercial—needs affordable, reliable, frequent, and flexible access to space. To Reach the High Frontier details the histories of the various space access vehicles developed in the United States since the birth of the space age in 1957. Each case study has been written by a specialist knowledgeable about the vehicle described and places each system in the larger context of the history of spaceflight. The technical challenge of reaching space with chemical rockets, the high costs associated with space launch, the long lead times necessary for scheduling flights, and the poor reliability of the rockets themselves show launch vehicles to be the space program’s most difficult challenge.

An excellent book for those wanting to understand the development and importance of U.S. launch vehicles. -- Air Power History

The breadth and depth of the essays provide a very detailed view of U.S. launch vehicle programs and how they got to where they are today. . . . A must-have addition to any space flight professional’s or enthusiast’s library. -- Astropolitics

The people, contractors, and government organizations that improved launch systems, and the means they developed to put payloads into orbit. . . . Highly recommended. -- Choice

Brings together analysis of numerous important issues in the history of space access. -- Journal of Military History

A must-read for anyone interested in space history. -- Liftoff

This valuable contribution to the field of aero-space literature is a comprehensive discussion of the political and social influences on the development of launch vehicles. -- McCormick (SC) Messenger

A valuable contribution to the field of aerospace literature. A comprehensive discussion of the political and social influences on the development of launch vehicles. -- Michael L. Ciancone

Details the history of U.S. rockets and propellants from World War II to modern space flight when there were amazing advances in fuels, engines, targeting, materials, and rocket bodies. -- Military Review

Brings together the leading names in space and aeronautics to study major launch vehicles of the twentieth century. -- Science Book Board

If this book can contribute to make access the top priority again then its specialist case studies will have formed a bridge from the past to a new future in space. -- Spaceflight

Until now, no single book has addresses the parallel and intersecting histories of American launch vehicles. . . . Includes a chapter on every American launch vehicle used to access space since 1957: Atlas, Delta, Titan, Minuteman, Saturn V, Centaur, and the shuttle. -- Technology and Culture

Publication Date



The University Press of Kentucky

Place of Publication

Lexington, KY






Launch vehicles, Astronautics, United States


Aerospace Engineering

To Reach the High Frontier: A History of U.S. Launch Vehicles
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