We are proud to announce the publication of Spies and Shuttles: NASA’s Secret Relationships with the DoD and CIA, by James E. David.
“A pioneering work. David has performed a herculean task.”—Matthew M. Aid, author of Intel Wars: The Secret History of the Fight against Terror
“Reveals the long, complicated, and fascinating relationship between NASA, the Department of Defense, and the intelligence community.”—Jeffrey T. Richelson, author of Defusing Armageddon
Newly declassified documents have revealed the entire story of NASA’s long-suspected ties to the Department of Defense and the Central Intelligence Agency over the past half century. Connections between spaceflight and the intelligence community have been carefully tracked in these documents by James David, curator in the Division of Space History at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.
In Spies and Shuttles, David tracks NASA’s early cooperation—supplying cover stories for covert missions, analyzing the Soviet space program, providing weather and other scientific data from its satellites, and monitoring missile tests—and reveals how these extensive interactions eventually devolved into NASA’s reliance on DoD for political and financial support for the Shuttle.
Today we talk with author James David about his book and the discoveries he made in the process of writing it.
“In its long history, NASA has frequently worked very closely with the national security agencies on a covert basis (and probably still does so today).”
How did you first become interested in this subject?
About 15 years ago, I began seeing the initial declassified records released on NASA’s secret relationships with the DoD and CIA. With a long-standing interest in the history of the intelligence agencies and NASA, I decided to write the first comprehensive history of the subject.
What is the most surprising or unexpected thing you learned while researching this book?
The most surprising thing is the depth and scope of the secret relationships. In its long history, NASA has frequently worked very closely with the national security agencies on a covert basis (and probably still does so today).
You work a lot with declassified state secrets. What do you think about individuals like Edward Snowden and Julian Assange who release still-classified information?
For many years I have advocated more openness in government and a greatly increased effort to release classified records. I fully understand the public’s frustrations with the lack of progress in this area. Nevertheless, I do not support individuals releasing still-classified information except in the most extraordinary circumstances.
To you, what is the most exciting project that NASA is currently working on?
The most exciting project involves the planetary probes sending back new scientific data.
After all of this research, in your opinion, do you think it’s beneficial for NASA to be funded by the CIA and DoD?
The CIA or DoD only funds NASA in the case of a joint project. This benefits NASA because the project receives more resources and CIA and DoD expertise.
What are you currently reading?
I am reading Robert Gates’ Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War.
What are you working on next?
I want to definitively determine whether the Hubble Space Telescope would have been built without the support and permission of the intelligence agencies. The answers are in highly classified records at NASA and several other agencies. I am hoping they will be released soon.