NYU Space Talks ⎪ Tilmann Siebeneichner: 'How (Not) to Become a Superpower in Space: Spacelab, Europe and the Politics of Post-Apollo, 1972–1987'
Participation in the Post-Apollo program from 1972 onwards offered the European Space Agency a much-desired entry into human spaceflight. Although its contribution, a reusable laboratory called Spacelab, was highly debated within ESA, the Federal Republic of Germany in particular promoted it as a future 'key technology.' Often praised for its utopian efforts, the history of Spacelab in fact marked a significant turn towards a more realistic space policy in Europe, calling into question former efforts for a strictly peaceful and predominantly inclusive exploration of space. Highlighting national rivalries, global confrontations and technological catastrophe, this talk investigates cultural traditions, political rationales and popular receptions that informed Europe’s controversial entry into human spaceflight.