NASA in the South Symposium

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Symposium in recognition of the Apollo 50th Anniversary and Alabama Bicentennial
University of Alabama Huntsville Campus - March 28-29, 2019

Federal spending for the space program during the Cold War had a transformative effect on the southern United States. NASA funding for the Apollo program alone constituted an investment of $25 billion (in 1960s dollars) or nearly 4% of the federal budget at its peak in 1965. NASA’s decision to construct most of its major new facilities in the South – including those in Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, and Texas – also represented a major investment worth more than $2.5 billion in the fiscal years 1962 and 1963 alone. Beyond the initial investment, the presence of those vast, federally funded technology development centers continues to exert a major influence on Southern society and politics. With so many of its development, manufacturing, and management centers situated in the South, southern politics and society have also profoundly impacted NASA’s organizational culture causing it to “speak with a southern accent.” As Loyd S. Swenson Jr. argued in his 1968 essay on the topic, the South deserved much of the credit for developing the technology for the Apollo program. However, there was also a hope that the “reaction engines for space” might compel the region to “leave behind reactionary thought.”

The purpose of this symposium is to examine the economic, social, and political impact NASA has had on the South over the past 60 years and to explore how that southern ‘accent’ has affected the development of NASA’s organizational culture, technology development, and programmatic goals. The intention is to publish a selection of the papers as an anthology.

Topics for consideration include, but are not limited to:

  • Gender/Labor/Race/Environmental Studies
  • Aerospace Tourism – Museums
  • LBJ, Carter as Southern presidents and NASA policy
  • Impact on STEM education at regional academic institutions
  • Impact on/of Southern politics
  • "Southernness" of NASA Organizations
  • Immigration to the South
  • Impact of the Cold War and international cooperation
  • Development of the new sun belt middle class
  • Infrastructure for technology development
  • Development of aerospace industry across the South
  • Impact of work on various programs – Apollo, Shuttle, ISS, Hubble, etc.
  • Impact of Congressional seniority system on funding/development
  • Oral histories and archival collections

Submission Procedures:
If you wish to present a paper, please send an abstract of no more than 400 words and a short biography or curriculum vita, including affiliation by January 1, 2019 to Brian C. Odom at or Stephen P. Waring at

Individual Presentations or Roundtable Proposals Due on January 1, 2019

For more information contact:

Brian Odom
Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Alabama


  • Workflow Status: Published
  • Created By: Kayleigh Haskin
  • Created: 04/20/2018
  • Modified By: Kayleigh Haskin
  • Modified: 04/20/2018


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