Astronautics Symposium

Summary Session, 19 February 1957



. . . we in the Air Force believe that the future of Astronautics holds promise for the development of scientific knowledge which will significantly influence and enhance man's knowledge in all fields of science. As this knowledge expands, new philosophies of air warfare will replace the old, new applications of weapon systems will evolve, and the promise of an ultimate vehicle for the maintenance of world peace through air superiority looms bright upon the horizon of a troubled world. This is our military interest in Astronautics, although we certainly do not fail to recognize the peaceful non-military advances in industry, medicine, and the sciences that will surely result from Astronautical exploration.

The role of the Air Force in the vast complex of modern airpower has necessitated strong and dynamic USAF support in the field of Aeronautics. Likewise, our mission demands similar support, particularly during the early stages, in the new era of Astronautics.

Fundamental scientific exploration should be a team effort, it must embrace the entire scientific community. The conquest into space coupled with the almost unbelievable physical, social, and psychological impact of nuclear energy demands that every effort be expended whenever and wherever possible to encourage, stimulate, and expedite our search for basic knowledge. Neither the Air Force nor the Aircraft Industry can afford any degree of technical laxity or obsolescence.

We believe that flight outside the atmosphere is a reality that cannot and must not be minimized. It may be somewhat early to be building space ships but it is not too early to be thinking about exploratory research in this area. We have been doing it for some time by sponsoring research  on new fuels, new propulsion systems, the behavior of people in isolated environments, detection of distant objects, on the effects of high temperatures on materials, on hypersonic aerodynamics and numerous others.

Never before has the age of airpower offered such great potential for all of us. The possibilities hold no limit. The combination of scientific talent, such as that assembled here today, represents a positive step toward the profitable exploitation of these possibilities.

Brig. Gen. H. F. Gregory, Commander,
Air Force Office of Scientific Research

(From opening address, Astronautics Symposium)

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