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Bernard Schriever and early US military spaceflight

Doyle , G. (2017) Bernard Schriever and early US military spaceflight. PhD thesis, University of Reading

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Abstract/Summary

This thesis explores the life and work of General Bernard Schriever, principally with regard to his work introducing intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) into United States Air Force (USAF) service during the 1950s, and his related efforts to develop systems for manned and unmanned military spaceflight. It situates his life and work in the early Cold War of the 20th Century, and through exploitation of the Schriever Archive at the Library of Congress in Washington DC, and recently declassified US Government documents, principally those released by the National Reconnaissance Office, it seeks to explore his understanding of the strategic context of his work. It posits that to introduce a technically advanced system into military service, it is necessary to evaluate both technical and non-technical risks to progress, and to possess or achieve sufficient administrative control to reduce those risks and improve overall programme maturity in both domains. By considering Schriever's successful introduction of ICBMs into USAF service and his management of the early USAF reconnaissance satellite programmes, it demonstrates his understanding of all three facets of progress. It then examines two areas where Schriever failed to achieve his stated goals, firstly in his attempts to develop a military manned spaceflight programme in parallel with the national programme being run by NASA and secondly in respect of his advocacy for space weaponization. In each case, it shows that Schriever's failures can be explained by insufficient progress along one or more of the identified lines of activity. Recently declassified US Government sources, and the Schriever archive in the Library of Congress, which includes unpublished book-length manuscripts by Schriever and co-authors, are used to corroborate his views. The thesis concludes by critiquing the analytic model used and suggesting alternative sources that might shed further light on Schriever's work.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Supervisor:Gray, C. and Sloan, G.
Thesis/Report Department:Graduate Institute of Politics and International Studies
Identification Number/DOI:
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Politics, Economics and International Relations
ID Code:71366
Date on Title Page:2016

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