Archives in [or about] Space!

In October 2016, the SCRC brought in an exciting new collection from former NASA employee Martin Sedlazek.  Sedlazek, who trained as an electrical engineer, worked for NASA in numerous capacities from the early 1960s until he retired in 1995. He collected material from the various projects he worked on, including some of the most storied efforts of the agency, such as the Apollo Program and early space station initiatives.

Apollo Configuration Management Manual, Martin Sedlazek NASA Collection, C0293, Box 6, Folder 9, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University Libraries.

Apollo Configuration Management Manual, Martin Sedlazek NASA Collection, C0293, Box 6, Folder 9, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University Libraries.

Researchers who use the collection can follow a particularly fascinating period in the genesis of the International Space Station dating as far back as 1969.  There is a great deal of space station related material that dates from 1984, when President Ronald Reagan “declared GO for [the] ISS [International Space Station] program”[1] The early development of the space shuttle, which allowed multi-use vehicles to take humans into space, is also well documented in reports from the early 1970s.  In an era when the United States is once again looking to take a major leap ahead through human travel to Mars in the coming decades, it is fascinating to look back and see how far we have come and what has been discussed in the last 40 years.

Special collections and archives are not the sole domain of history and English departments – while we have much to offer these disciplines, we have resources (and hope to collect more) to offer science and technology students and researchers as well.  The Harold Morowitz collection, for example, contains the papers of prominent biophysicist and Mason professor Harold Morowitz, including correspondence from James Watson, co-discoverer of the double helix structure of DNA.  Morowitz also corresponded and worked with astrophysicist Carl Sagan, the original host of the television program Cosmos. Stay tuned for more about our collections that are connected to STEM fields. In the meantime, we encourage students and faculty, particularly from the Volgenau School of Engineering and other related programs, to peruse the Sedlazek NASA collection’s finding aid at http://sca.gmu.edu/finding_aids/sedlazek.html, and to come check it out in person!

[1] Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency, “History of the ISS project,” Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency, last modified May 29, 1993, http://iss.jaxa.jp/iss/history/index_e.html.

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