Space Medicine: A Critical Factor in Manned Space Flight
THE U.S. SPACE PROGAM is rooted in large part in the concepts development of Army and Air Force ballistic missile programs. These, in turn, benefited from the German rocket development that took place during World War II. The space program was also rooted in part in the experience of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, which, since 1915, had been engaged in basic aeronautical research for manned flight. By 1950, rocket-powered research airplanes of the X-series as well as propulsion studies for the military brought manned flight to the edge of space. The crystallization of space exploration as a national objective in the United States resulted from the strategic surprise of the launching of Sputnik on October 4, 1957.
In the month after the launching of Sputnik, President Dwight D. Eisenhower established the Presidents Scientific Advisory Committee (PSAC) to provide science with a voice within the executive branch. It was headed by Dr. James A. Killian, president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.1 In March 1958 the President's Committee on Government Organization, which included his scientific adviser, recommended that a new civilian agency be created to pursue an aggressive space program. The scientific reasons behind this recommendation were explained in a White House white paper released on March 26, 1958, with a statement by the President.2
This white paper listed four elements that gave "importance, urgency, and inevitability to the advancement of Space technology." They were (1) the compelling urge of man to explore and to discover; (2) defense considerations; (3) the factor of national prestige; and (4) the new opportunities for scientific observation and experiment offered by space technology, which would add to man's knowledge and understanding of the earth, the solar system, and the universe.
Because the opportunities were so numerous scientists from many countries would want to participate, and it was suggested that the International Geophysical Year offered a model for international exploration of space. A timetable—not broken into years—listed various types of investigation under these broad headings:
l. Early. Physics, geophysics, meteorology, minimal moon contact, experimental communications, and space physiology.
2. Later. Astronomy, extensive communications, biology, scientific lunar investigation, minimal planetary contact, and human flight in orbit.
3. Still later. Automated lunar exploration, automated planetary exploration, and human lunar exploration and return.
4. And much later still. Human planetary exploration.3
The administration's bill for the establishment of a space agency was submitted to the Congress in April 1958. After lengthy deliberations on Capitol Hill, the National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958 was enacted by the Congress and signed by the President. It became law on July 29, 1958.5 According to the act, space activities would be directed toward peaceful purposes for the benefit of all mankind, leaving military responsibility in space to the Department of Defense. Dr. T. Keith Glennan, president of the Case Institute of Technology, was named first Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and Dr. Hugh L. Dryden was named Deputy Administrator. This was in August 1958.
The organizational nucleus of the new space agency was the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), of which Dr. Dryden had been Director. NACA had focused upon basic aeronautical research for 43 years. During recent years the application of rocket propulsion research to manned flight had led to the development of the X-series aircraft, of which the X-15 became the best known.6 Through the year following Sputnik, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, under the chairmanship of Dr. James H. Doolittle (who was also a member of PSAC), gave considerable attention to the problem areas that needed research to make space technology a reality.7
1. Other members of the original committee were: Dr. Robert F. Bacher, Prof. of Physics. C.I.T.; Dr. William O. Baker. Vice President (Res.), Bell Telephone Laboratories; Dr. Lloyd V. Berkner, President, Associated Universities. Inc.: Dr. Hans A. Bethe, Prof. of Physics, Cornell Univ.; Dr. Detlev W. Bronk. President. Rockefeller Inst. for Medical Sciences, and President, National Academy of Sciences; Dr. James H. Doolittle, Vice President, Shell Oil Co.; Dr. James B. Fisk, Exec. Vice President, Bell Telephone Laboratories; Dr. Caryl P. Haskins, President, Carnegie Institution of Washington: Dr. George B. Kistiakowsky, Prof. of Chemistry, Harvard Univ.; Dr. Edwin H. Land, President, Polaroid Corp., Dr. Edward M. Purcell, Prof. of Physics and Nobel Laureate, Harvard Univ.; Dr. Isidor I. Rabi, Prof. of Physics. and Nobel Laureate, Columbia Univ., Dr. H. P. Robertson, Prof. of Physics, C.I.T.; Dr. Jerome B. Wiesner, Director, Research Laboratory of Electronics, M.I.T.; Dr. Herbert York, Chief Scientist, Advanced Research Projects Agency, Dept. of Defense; Dr. Jerrold R. Zacharias, Prof. of Physics. M.I.T.; Dr. Paul A. Weiss. Rockefeller Inst. for Medical Sciences.
2. Introduction to Outer Space: an Explanatory Statement, dated Mar. 9 and released Mar. 26, 1958, prepared by the President's Scientific Advisory Committee with a statement by the President. The president said: "This is not science fiction. This is a sober, realistic presentation, prepared by leading scientists."
3. Ibid., p. 14.
4. Ibid., p. 20.
5. See Allison Griffith, The National Aeronautics and Space Act: A Study of the Development of Public Policy (Washington, D.C.: Public Affairs Press, 1962).
6. Eugene M. Emme, Aeronautics and Astronautics, An American Chronology of Science and Technology in the Exploration of Space. 1915-1960 (Washington, D.C.: NASA, 1961), pp. 1-l00. See also Jerome Hunsaker, "40 Years of Aeronautical Research," and James H. Doolittle, "The Later Years," both in Final Report of the NACA , 1958 (Washington. D.C.: NACA, 1959).
7. The NACA was composed of 15 members, including representatives of the military services. See George W. Gray, Frontiers of Flight (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1048).