Satellite meteorology in the cold war era: scientific coalitions and international leadership 1946-1964
Callahan, Angelina Long
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In tracing the history of the TIROS meteorological satellite system, this dissertation details the convergence of two communities: the DOD space scientists who established US capability to launch and operate these remote sensing systems and the US Weather Bureau meteorologists who would be the managers and users of satellite data. Between 1946 and 1964, these persons participated in successive coalitions. These coalitions were necessary in part because satellite systems were too big—geographically, fiscally, and technically—to be developed and operated within a single institution. Thus, TIROS technologies and people trace their roots to several research centers—institutions that the USWB and later NASA attempted to coordinate for US R&D. The gradual transfer of persons and hardware from the armed services to the non-military NASA sheds light on the US’s evolution as a Cold War global power, shaped from the “top-down” (by the executive and legislative branches) as well as the “bottom-up” (by military and non-military scientific communities). Through these successive coalitions, actor terms centered on “basic science” or the circulation of atmospheric data were used to help define bureaucratic places (the Upper Atmospheric Rocket Research Panel, International Geophysical Year, NASA, and the World Weather Watch) in which basic research would be supported by sustained and collaboration could take place with international partners.