HTS Guest Speaker Matthew Hersch
Matthew Hersch, Postdoctoral Fellow, Huntington-USC Institute on California and the West will deliver a presentation entitlted "The Man in the Gray Flannel Spacesuit: America's Corps, 1959-1979." Below is the abstract for his talk.
Despite periods of celebrity, astronauts have nearly always been “organization men”: middle class strivers expert in managing the demands of large institutions. As celebrities in a growing government agency, astronauts of the 1960s balanced a determination to meet the expectations of their superiors with a desire to gain more control over their work and lives. Despite occasional professional and personal stumbles, their culture remained largely unchallenged for half-a-decade, as successive groups of astronauts accepted and reinforced the standards of conduct, professional outlook, and workplace dynamics of the earliest spacemen. The arrival of scientists into the astronaut corps in the late-1960s undermined the authority of NASA’s pilot-astronauts and signaled a fundamental shift in both national space policy and the space workplace. Having enjoyed unprecedented celebrity and authority in the 1960s but no longer in the spotlight, astronauts of the 1970s adjusted to a work culture that placed them more firmly under the control of NASA management and demanded new skills of negotiation and adjustment. Meanwhile, NASA increasingly sought to capitalize on the public fascination with space travel its astronauts had inspired.