Republishing Robert Perry's excellent history Origins of the USAF Space Program is one way that the Space and Missile Systems Center's History Office hopes to contribute to the Air Force's 50th Anniversary observances. Originally published in 1962 as an addendum to the first periodic history of Space Systems Division, the book was classified SECRET until 1990, when it was declassified by the Center's Security Office. It was cleared for public release by the Center's Public Affairs Office in 1995.

One reason this book is a good choice for a 50th Anniversary publication is that it ties together the birth of the US Air Force and the birth of the US space program. It traces the evolution of the military space program from one of the most important visions of the Air Force's founders at the close of World War II to a developmental program competing- -often unsuccessfully- -for funding from the Eisenhower administration. Later historians have examined the space program in the same era and have probably benefited from the additional perspective of a quarter-century. For example, most historians now would probably grant Eisenhower and his administrators more subtlety, vision, and statesmanship than did Perry and his contemporaries, who were still smarting from the initial triumphs of the Soviet space program. Nevertheless, few historians have presented such a wealth of detail about the emergence of the military space program as part of the emergence of the US Air Force, and few have explained so well the significance of those details.

In Perry's history, we can find the first indications that the Air Force's space and missile programs taking root in Los Angeles would achieve an importance out of all proportion to their resources during and after the Cold War. Origins of the USAF Space Program attempts to analyze how and why the program's leaders found themselves still

laboring at the foundations after a decade of vision and dedication. We who have been fortunate enough to witness how profoundly the program influenced the outcome of the Cold War can also appreciate what solid foundations they laid.

Harry N. Waldron

Chief, History Office

Space and Missiles Systems Center

August 1997