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Astronomy - Popular Astronomy | Spies in the Sky - Surveillance Satellites in War and Peace

Spies in the Sky

Surveillance Satellites in War and Peace

Norris, Pat

Jointly published with Praxis Publishing, UK


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  • Describes the single most important contribution satellites have made to humankind in the 50 years since Sputnik 1
  • Takes a unique approach to the anniversary of the dawn of the Space Age
  • Focuses on the little-known military dimension of the Space Age
  • Weaves a novel combination of history, politics, defense studies, science, technology and human interest

In this book, Patrick Norris responds to the 50th Anniversary of the dawn of the Space Age – the launch of Sputnik 1 – with a review of the most important historical applications of space science for the benefit of the human race during that half century, focusing on the prevention of nuclear war. In developing this story Norris illuminates a little-known aspect of the Space Age, namely the military dimension. The author introduces the concepts of the Cold War nuclear standoff and mutually assured destruction, shows how spy satellites developed and recounts the problems of using them to verify arms limitation treaties. He addresses the oft-cited conclusion that the Moon landings and the ‘race to the Moon’ were side effects of the Cold War, by describing what he believes was the more important event – the use of military satellites to keep the Cold War from becoming a ‘hot war’. Today military satellites represent 25 percent of all satellites in orbit; they are just as important now in preventing regional nuclear conflict as they were in preventing global Armageddon more than 30 years ago.

Content Level » Popular/general

Keywords » Cold War - Space Age - Sputnik - military satellites - nulcear war prevention - satellites - science

Related subjects » Engineering - Extraterrestrial Physics, Space Sciences - Mechanical Engineering - Popular Astronomy

Table of contents 

Sputnik.- After 50 years—satellites in our daily lives.- Cold War nuclear stand-off.- Spy satellites.- Problems of verifying an Arms Limitation Treaty.- The road to SALT-I.- SALT-II.- The other Cold War nuclear powers—China, the UK, France.- After the Cold War—regional tensions.- What the future holds.

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