Taylor Rose receives NASA Fellowship in Aerospace History

August 27, 2020

Taylor Rose has been awarded the Fellowship in Aerospace History, funded by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The Fellowship includes a stipend of $21,500 supporting advanced research in aerospace history. 

From the AHA’s Perspectives in American History:

Taylor Rose is pursuing his PhD in history at Yale University, where he focuses on US history, environmental history and humanities, Native American history and Indigenous studies, history of technology, history of science, and geography. His project, “Wasteland, Rangeland, Homeland,” will link aerospace history with the history of contested territory in the American West, especially the Nevada Test Site. With this project, he would like to interrogate the legal, political, and material infrastructure of real estate and restricted airspace that underlay domestic US military expansion in the mid 20th century. He tells Perspectives that three factors influenced policy makers’ decision to locate a test site in Nevada. First, it was near the “warm political and economic climate that surrounded the burgeoning aerospace industry of Southern California.” Second, the legally ambiguous status of Nevada’s former public domain land made it easy for Congress to quickly and efficiently designate the land for military use. Finally, he explains that the “desert environment mattered as well, but not always in the way that advocates expected when they proposed to site weapons-testing proving grounds in the Southwest.” The region’s landscape offered up ample natural runways, but the arid, windswept, dusty environment posed serious challenges to sensitive machinery and a pilot’s chance of survival in case of an airborne emergency. 

Rose argues that, by situating the narrative of the Nevada Test Site in the region’s longer political-economic, legal, and environmental history, “Wasteland, Rangeland, Homeland” will reorient our understanding of the origins of nuclear weapons testing. His primary goal for the fellowship is to spend time in the National Archives and Records Administration’s College Park, Maryland, facility.

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