The Coming of Seasat

Research output: Chapter in Book/Entry/PoemChapter


The origin of NASA’s interest in the oceans is tracked from the agency’s early years (1960s) to the launch of the first significant ocean satellite, Seasat, in 1978. This chapter shows NASA Administrator James Fletcher’s role in the 1970s and later (1980s), in pointing NASA toward environmental missions. It discusses NASA’s connection with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and weather satellites and difficulties of the “hand-off” of satellites from development to operations when two or more agencies are involved. Seasat lasted only three months before failing but showed the high value of ocean satellites to various potential users, particularly scientists.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationPalgrave Studies in the History of Science and Technology
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages10
StatePublished - 2023

Publication series

NamePalgrave Studies in the History of Science and Technology
VolumePart F1542
ISSN (Print)2730-972X
ISSN (Electronic)2730-9738


  • James Fletcher
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
  • Ocean satellite
  • Seasat

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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