The careers of the many men and a handful of women who worked as engineers with NASA during the Apollo decade combine to tell a story-as do most careers-of personal triumphs and disappointments, of growing confidence and creeping self-doubt, of discovery and intellectual frustration. Their careers are also about making one's way through the complexities of organizational life, marked out- like the flags on a strategist's map-by organizational units named and renamed, elevated and diminished, and by innumerable accommodations to personalities and forces beyond anyone's apparent control. In keeping with most engineering careers, many moved farther and farther away from the "hands on," "heads under the hood" experience that attracted them to engineering in the first place. To move up in the NASA organization was, and still is, to move into management.
For those engineers who had worked for the NACA, the shift in career pattern came about as the NACA, an organization charged principally with aeronautical research, was transformed into NASA, designed to be a research and development organization. Then again, an increasing disassociation from engineering practice experienced by upward-moving NASA engineers was compounded by a policy throughout the federal establishment of relying on private-sector firms for engineering research and development, as well as production and routine services. What the lure of management and the increasing shift of NASA's actual engineering work to the private sector has meant for these careers is explored in chapter 6. Also explored in a separate chapter (chapter 5) is a problem of professional identity somewhat special to the Apollo generation: the popular press typically described the successful Apollo venture as the triumph of the nation's scientists. However, those close to the professions of science and engineering certainly were aware that a scientist was not an engineer. How they differed, if in truth or only in  perception, has also helped to shape the careers and outlook of these men and women.
Abraham Bauer came within a hair's breadth of being sent off to war in 1942, after finishing college at the University of Missouri, but was able to get a deferment to work for the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) as a chemical engineer. The effort to produce strong but lightweight materials for aircraft and military hardware was under way there, as elsewhere. The project at TVA that "made the most impression" on Bauer involved "a big electric furnace ... about ten feet in diameter" that "used a carbon electrode sixteen inches in diameter." When "lowered down into the center" of the furnace, "an enormous power source was turned on, with materials in there that were to be processed at high temperatures, and an arc was struck which produced a tremendous amount of heat." Bauer "designed some auxiliary equipment to work on that furnace." He found the project "exciting" and has kept the drawings he made. A related project was an attempt to extract aluminum from "low-grade ores" embedded in clay. "Aluminum was very important during the war to make airplanes, and the Germans were sinking the ships bringing aluminum ore up from South America." The project succeeded, and within two years Bauer was ready to move on.
Bauer had "heard that there was something going on at Oak Ridge, Tennessee ... only a few hundred miles away." With little idea of what they were headed for, Bauer and a friend took jobs with the Eastman Kodak Company, or Tennessee Eastman, a major contractor for the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Tennessee Eastman had been contracted to operate a uranium isotope separation plant "using extremely large-scale mass spectrometers. What you do with a mass spectrometer," explains Bauer, "is ... inject a beam of ions-ions being molecules that have been stripped of one or more electrons-and shoot them into a magnetic field at high speed. And they... travel a curved path in a magnetic field.... The heavier particles swing to the outside, as you might expect; the lighter ones curve more sharply. So you can separate things out according to . . . their particle mass. And that was the technique that was used to separate the uranium 235 from uranium 238.... These devices ... had tracks ... consisting of ninety-six of these mass spectrometer units, each of which was about twelve feet high. And each one of them was operated by a girl who was a technically untrained person. They had people who were called technical supervisors, who wandered around to see if everything was going well, and if they had problems, they helped them to solve them." And Bauer "became that person."
After a while, "these units would fail. They would run for some number of hours and then they would ... break down in one way or another.... They would get pulled out of the big vacuum chamber and pulled into the service area. We were asked ... to inspect them and see what had gone wrong. And we did. And then we made a record of the collected data on why they were failing and then we made inputs back  into the management structure, saying, 'you really ought to change this a little bit, and if you do this, it wouldn't fail there.' So we were trying to get them to run longer before breaking down. And that was important in a production sense because they were very slow producers.... Running all that equipment, you would only get a few grams per week. And so it took a long time to build up a quantity of uranium 235 that they needed in order to make a bomb."
"We gradually became aware of what we were doing. There was tremendous security associated with the place-but right up to the time of dropping the bombs on Hiroshima, the general population in that plant didn't know what was happening.... In fact, there was some concern that there might be a major postwar scandal because ... [it] was regarded as a possible boondoggle. Eighty thousand people down there working-and nothing is coming out. There were some fairly famous physicists who were floating around there. The whole basic design of that plant was based on work at the University of California at Berkeley, and in particular, E. O. Lawrence. So I saw E. O. Lawrence walking around the plant there on one or two occasions, and J. Robert Oppenheimer.... I remember him as being a very nervous individual ... slender ... he looked almost like a hunted animal-he was darting around all the time."
When the war ended in 1945 the Oak Ridge plant was closed down, and Bauer went to the University of Tennessee to teach physics. "Soldiers were coming back by the thousands" and virtually anyone who knew anything about physics-which, by then, included Bauer-was sought out to teach. He was only twenty-six, and many of his students were older than him. When his parents and his sister moved to the West Coast, he tried to join them by getting a position as an instructor in physics at Stanford University or the University of California at Berkeley, but those West Coast institutions proved more picky than the University of Tennessee. Bauer was casting about for other possibilities when he encountered a recruiter from the NACA, and by the summer of 1948, he was on his way to the NACA's Ames Research Center.
Spread out alongside the U.S. Navy's Moffett Airfield, Ames Research Center lies in a rich, aquafer-fed basin that opens at the southern end of San Francisco Bay. Luxurious foliage combines large evergreens with tropical plants that bloom in Chagall colors through much of the year. To the west are the gentle green slopes of the San Mateo mountains, while the eastern horizon is curtained with the rose and ocre undulations of the Santa Clara range, outlined in sunlit yellows and shadows of deep purple and brown.
In this opulent natural setting aeronautical engineers imported from the Langley laboratory were already at work in 1940 when Abraham Bauer arrived, probing one of the fundamental technological barriers that would have to be surmounted not only to refine the technology of intercontinental ballistic missiles, but to enable a guided missile to deliver a human being into Earth orbit and return him unharmed: how to prevent the incineration of the missile and its occupant as it reentered Earth's atmosphere? The initial approach to the problem had come from high-speed, high-altitude flight studies, especially the search for the best design for hypersonic 1 aircraft to be used largely by the military: assuming an engine powerful enough to  propel an aircraft of a given weight and the right shape and construction five times faster than the speed of sound, what ought to be the aircraft's "right" shape, its "right" construction? Before engineers could decide those questions, they had to replicate with models the phenomena of flying objects bursting through the sky at almost unimaginable speeds. This NACA and NASA engineers tried to do at Ames and Langley Research Laboratories throughout the 1950s and early 1960s, designing and building various devices, such as hypersonic wind tunnels and shock tubes.
Bauer was hired by H. Julian (Harvey) Allen, who had recently been brought to Ames to head the laboratory's theoretical aerodynamics section and was, by the time Bauer arrived, in charge of the high-speed research division and Ames's supersonic wind tunnels, where aircraft models were subjected to the aerodynamic flows and pressures of supersonic flight. However, "in the early years of NACA," Bauer recalls, "the great thrust was always to go to higher speeds." That meant hypersonic flight, the understanding of which would become as important for space flight as for high-performance aircraft. Extreme heat and pressures result from the kinetic energy of hypersonic flight, and before engineers could design a vehicle capable of withstanding such extraordinary temperatures, they would have to be able to simulate hypersonic flight. Conventional wind tunnels could not be used because "the gas in the [wind tunnel's] test section was extremely cold and would drop down to the liquifaction temperature of air. If you tried to push it any faster, you'd be getting some liquid air droplets, and, at those low stream temperatures, when the gas recompressed on the face of the model, it still just came back ... to room temperature. One of the features of hypersonic flow that was important to simulate is the hot temperatures ... that are developed in the flow, because the high temperatures affect the flow.... They are responsible for the hypersonic heating that was a primary concern. So the heating problems couldn't really be adequately simulated in ordinary wind tunnels." Bauer remembers that "there were shock tube advocates ... people who worked in shock tubes simulated the thermal part of the flow, but not the aerodynamic part. The people who worked in the wind tunnels simulated the aerodynamic part, but not the thermal."
"Harvey had had an idea to go beyond what wind tunnels ... were ... capable of doing.... He wanted to get up to extremely high hypersonic speeds by using gun-launched models. You put a model of something that you're interested in a gun, and then you put a charge of gunpowder in there and ... shoot it out, and it comes out at several thousand feet per second. That idea was not novel.... The novel idea was to combine that with the conventional ... supersonic wind tunnel, which was built here at Ames and came to be called the Supersonic Free Flying Wind Tunnel.... The gun would be fired, and the model would go shooting upstream through this supersonic air stream and it would result in a very high test velocity."
"There were a number of design engineers who were working to put the thing together, and I was asked to figure out what to do with it when it got put together.... It proved to be an enormously valuable device," simulating both the thermal and the aerodynamic aspects of hypersonic flight, the effects of which were recorded with Schlieren or shadowgraph photography. "For a period of ... about 1950 to 1968, it  was one of the most productive means available of developing an understanding of hypersonic flows.... We did pioneering research in hypersonic aerodynamics, and we were able to do things with this facility that couldn't be approached in any other way."
To simulate the thermal and aerodynamic aspects of hypersonic flight was not, however, to know how to design the nose of a ballistic missile-or manned spacecraft-so that it would not burn up on reentry. Aerodynamicists had known that friction exists at the interface between a solid surface and a fluid, and they called the friction "drag."2 Reducing drag was an important part of making an aircraft aerodynamically "clean," and the shape of the aircraft was what normally determined its drag. Immediately next to the surface of an object moving through air or water lies a thin boundary layer, and the characteristics of the flow of air through this layer-whether it is steady, or "laminar," or whether it is turbulent-determines the extent of friction to which the object's surface is subjected (or its drag) as it moves through the air.3
As aerodynamicists turned to the problem of bodies reentering the atmosphere from hypersonic and high-altitude or upper-atmospheric flight, one of the largest problems that faced them was the reduction of drag, and hence friction and heat, at the aircraft's laminar boundary layer. Conventional wisdom, based on atmospheric flight experience, was that drag would be minimized in slender, streamlined designs. (If more heat-resistant alloys could be found, they, too, would help to overcome the thermal barrier.) That was the approach taken with the experimental rocket-powered X-15 aircraft, begun in 1954 as a joint NACA, Air Force, and Navy project. However, as Harvey Allen puzzled out the problem, he came to the unorthodox conclusion that a reentry body should have a high, not low, drag shape. The streamlined shape of conventional wisdom would absorb half of the heat generated by friction at reentry, but the kinetic energy of a vehicle returning to the heavier lower atmosphere could be absorbed by the "shock layer" of air between the shock wave and the body of the nose, instead of the nose itself, if the nose was bluntly shaped.
So far, so good; still, there were many possible variations on the "blunt" body shape. Bauer and his co-workers in Allen's group began to experiment with various high-drag shapes. "Now the carryover from subsonic aerodynamics had been that bodies should have a favorable pressure gradient-like a sphere-something where the pressure is continually falling from the nose as you go around the sides, that this would help to maintain the boundary layer laminar." Bauer and his fellow research engineers persisted. "We tried a variety of things. We tried bodies that were pointed. We tried pure cones. We tried cones that retained the pointed tip but introduced curvature along the sides so as to keep a favorable pressure gradient. Nothing worked."
Then "one day a blunt piece of plastic accidentally flew down the channel and one of my colleagues, a good friend of mine ... saw the shadowgraph pictures from that shot and he looked at it, and he said, 'Hey, look! This is laminar!"' The piece of plastic had a "flat" shape (actually, it was slightly curved), "and we started making up models that were flat." By the time the NACA was absorbed into NASA in 1958  and the new agency's focus shifted to Project Mercury to launch a man into Earth orbit,4 the blunt-body concept had been refined to the Mercury capsule's nearly flattened bottom end. "We solved problems of the early generation of ballistic missiles," Bauer proudly asserts; "we did tests which led to the selection of shape for the manned space vehicles-Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo." 5
During the 1950s at the NACA's Langley and Ames Research Laboratories, engineers in supersonic aerodynamics and reentry physics worked head to head to increase their understanding, with its urgent practical implications, of supersonic, hypersonic, and transatmospheric flight. They, too, struggled to find the best shape for the first generation of manned space vehicles. Bill Cassirer was drawn to Langley in 1949, after finishing a master of aeronautical engineering program at Cornell University, by the sheer excitement of it all. He was followed there three years later by Charles Stern. Cassirer "had thirteen job offers, which was a lot for those days.... NACA was the lowest in salary." But the NACA had managed to obtain Italy's leading aerodynamicist, Antonio Ferri, through the efforts of the Army's Office of Strategic Services, which brought Ferri to the United States in 1944. Ferri knew a great deal about the progress the Germans as well as the Italians had made in replicating transonic flight in wind tunnels, and the prospect of working with him was more than ample compensation for Cassirer. "It was my plan that I would come down here," to Langley, "if I could work with Tony . . . for about a year or so, and then leave.... Ferri left" (in 1950, to teach at Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute), and Cassirer stayed on. "The reason I stayed was-until I had been here a lot of years-nobody ever told me what I had to do."6
Cassirer concentrated on supersonic aerodynamics research until 1960, when he shifted to reentry physics. Both he and Stern, for whom he was something of a mentor, were working in the early 1950s on the "aerodynamics of shock tube flows." The shock tube was a laboratory device researchers used to generate shock waves by breaking a fragile diaphram between the low-pressure and high-pressure sections of a tube. Both researchers, recalls Stern, and others working with them, were interested in "shock tube boundary layers, shock tube heat transfer, interaction with the main flow of shock, and shock attenuation behavior." Phenomena such as these interested them because they held the keys to understanding "the unsteady flows in experimental ramjets." Cassirer "had been working on unsteady flows in inlets- not necessarily ramjets-but inlets in general. One characteristic of unsteady flow was called 'buzz'.... You get an instability in the flow and a shock wave bounces in and out.... What it is, is an oscillating flow which could easily be termed 'buzz.' The question was, 'what causes those instabilities?' One of the ways to learn about the shocks and shock boundary layer interactions was through the instantaneous unsteady flows associated with shock tubes. So we were using the shock tube as a diagnostic tool to try and learn more about ... 'buzz."'
Cassirer and Stern worked together on shock tube research to gain a better understanding of supersonic engine inlet performance and "buzz" for four years,  until 1956. As the 1950s and ballistic missile research progressed, Stern remembers, '`there began to be interest in the use of the shock tube for simulation of the high energy flows associated with reentry. Two things were taking place simultaneously. Out at Lewis Research Laboratory, a couple of guys were working on similar things to what we were doing-shock tube flows as a means of simulating unsteady flow characteristics and shock boundary layer interactions.... We went into some interesting discussions, and arguments, and fights, and competing reports." Meanwhile, "with the interest in the ballistic missile program came the question, how does one simulate the extremely high energy flow field associated with the reentering missile? Some people up at AVCO [Corporation in Massachusetts] were coming to use the shock tube in a different way entirely, simulating very strong shocks flowing down the shock tube which set up behind them the high energy flow that was characteristic in many respects of ... reentry."
Stern had been at Langley for four years when, in late 1956, he said to himself "'I'm now ready to go out and brave the commercial world and make a lot of money."' The NACA "was a great place to get one's basic training in research.... It well fitted individuals to go out and go into applied research or ... to where one could just, hell, rise a lot faster.... And there was the ballistic missile crisis-they were hiring like mad, and I did get a pretty good offer from AVCO. So I went. At that time [AVCO was] the prime contractor for the Titan ballistic missile nose cone. Martin Marietta was the missile contractor. The big competition was General Electric, for the nose cone of the Atlas, and AVCO, for the nose cone of the Titan. And both were going the direction of ... blunt bodies. And I ... worked about a year in various pieces of what I'll call applied research for AVCO, and got myself involved in this same reentry problem: The matter of how one understands the flow around blunt bodies reentering the atmosphere at extremely high speeds and predicts what's going to happen to them so that one can design survivable nose cones."
Stern remained at AVCO for only a year. "At Langley we were . .. trying to fully understand flow.... I was interested in shock tubes for their use in simulating unsteady flows that would be experienced in engine inlets-I wasn't interested in this engine or that engine.... When I went to AVCO, we were still doing research, but we were now trying to apply it to a specific use.... We were now in the business of trying to build a nose cone that would survive reentry after having been launched on the back of this big Titan missile. I decided that ... I really liked it better at Langley.... I liked the freedom to work in engineering science and not to have to worry about building the device.... So I ... came back to Langley and worked almost exclusively on the aerodynamics and thermodynamics of reentry. We continued some more shock tube work, but it was now finishing up." Because shock waves occur in atmospheric gases, and their first effect is on the physical density and (through altered temperatures) on the molecular composition of the gases themselves, "we were getting into aerodynamics mixed with physical chemistry, where the aerodynamics of extremely high speed flows gets into chemistry and physics."
When Stern returned to Langley in 1958, Cassirer and other Langley researchers had already begun to move into space-related problems of hypervelocity flight and reentry Throughout the Apollo decade, from 1960 to 1970, Cassirer remained in  reentry physics. "We were working on reentry-predicting reentry heating for Apollo.... What our job was, was to predict what heating the... body would experience-both convective ... and friction.... When the second Apollo landed," in November 1969,7 "we were working on making predictions for a manned Mars landing, not the Viking, but the manned Mars landing.... You just keep asking, what's next, what's next. At that time, space looked like it had a limitless future." Perhaps it did, but Cassirer had a hunch that there were still important breakthroughs to be made. In 1969 "people started saying, 'what's new?' I told my guys, 'look, we're going . . . out of reentry and back into high-speed flight-hypersonics."' Recurrent interest during the 1970s and 1980s in hypersonic aircraft and transatmospheric "vehicles" would prove him right.
Other research avenues converged on the problem that faced NACA engineers at Ames and Langley Research Laboratories in the late 1940s and early 1950s. H. Julian Allen's "blunt body" concept promised to reduce the surface heating to which vehicles reentering Earth's atmosphere would be subjected-but not enough to fully protect the interior. Certain materials-like the nickel-chrome alloy Inconel X proposed for the body of the X-15-could endure rapid heating to temperatures above 1000° F without significant losses in strength. There were two possible solutions to the problem: cover the nose cone with a heat sink, or cover the nose cone with an ablative material. The heat sink, which had been used successfully before 1958 on early intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) nose cones, was a highly conductive metal that absorbed reentry heat into a mass sufficient to prevent melting. The principle of the ablative surface-which was less well understood in 1958-was the dissipation of heat through the burning or vaporization of the material covering the nose cone. An ablative nose cone had been tested successfully on the Army's Jupiter-C ICBM in 1957. Ablative or heat sink: the question would have to be solved before NASA could send the first American into space.8
William McIver began working on the reentry heating problem shortly after his arrival at the NACA's Lewis Research Center in 1957. While at Lewis he also worked toward his doctorate in aerospace science at neighboring Case Western Reserve University (which awarded him a Ph.D. in 1964); his thesis was a study of Australiasian tektites, small pieces of glass of uncertain origin first found in Australia and Indonesia. "Tektites are little pieces of glass ... on the order of a centimeter or so ... found all around the world." They "have very little oxygen ... very little water in them. It's presumed that they could not have come from some kind of terrestrial origin because-let's say .. . there is a meteor impact on the Earth ... sand is melted and stuff goes up in orbit and then the wind carries it all around the world." But if textiles were of terrestrial origin, as they "melted in the atmosphere ... they would contain a lot of moisture and oxygen. Well, these things contain very little moisture and very little oxygen. So the theory was that they were actually, as a result of a  meteor impact on the Moon ... splashed from the surface of the Moon, up into cislunar orbit, and then gradually, by the Earth's gravitational field, sucked into the Earth. When these spheres from space enter the Earth's atmosphere, they come down and they melt.... On one side, they show signs of melting on the front ... on the back, they re perfectly spherical "
That was the theory. McIver wanted to test it. "I built a vertical wind tunnel" to simulate the opposing forces acting on an object entering the atmosphere, "the wind blowing up and the gravitational force pulling down . . . that's why you get these ring waves developing" around the object, "because you have the balance of these Opposing forces.... I proved that's how it could have happened."
NASA engineers would debate and test, test and debate, the relative merits of the beryllium heat sink and ablative heat shield right to the threshold of the first manned space launch. "Big Joe," which combined the U.S. Air Force's mighty Atlas ICBM as booster and a full-scale Mercury capsule with an ablative heatshield, was tested successfully in September 1959. It was this combination that sent John H. Glenn, Jr. into orbit on a winter day in 1962.
When David Strickland left the Georgia Institute of Technology in 1944 after receiving a degree in aeronautical engineering (with the help of the U.S. Navy, in which he had served as a missile guidance officer), he went to work in the aircraft industry. "I got involved in the airplane business, since there wasn't any space business at all.... Until the Saturn" launch vehicle, the multistage launch vehicle with clustered engines developed for the Apollo program, "everything that was done in space was done with a . . . derivative of the ballistic missile. And that was sort of ... coincidental.... It could have gone to the automobile industry or anyplace else but the aeronautical industry was the place that it went, because ... everything in space had to go through the atmosphere.... The industry was in place, and it had the kind of technical disciplines, the structures, and the electronics and the communications." A transition from aeronautics to space engineering was a part of Strickland's career, as it was a part of many other aeronautical engineers' careers. After another year in the Navy and a master's degree program at the University of Michigan, Strickland went to work in 1952 at Consolidated Vultee Aircraft Corporation (Convair) in San Diego, Calif. He stayed at Convair until 1958, working as an aerodynamicist on aircraft.
When Strickland went to San Diego, Convair was working on a new fighter-interceptor plane for the U.S. Air Force, the F-102. With its bullet-shaped fuselage, sharp-edged delta wings, and powerful Pratt and Whitney J-57 engine, the aircraft was intended to fly at transonic speeds. However, tests in the NACA's Langley Research Center's wind tunnels showed that it could not pass through mach 1. For the next two years Convair worked on a redesigned prototype that applied the "area rule" discovered by Langley aerodynamicist Richard T. Whitcomb.
 For years aerodynamicists had assumed that streamlining the fuselage of an aircraft was the best way to diminish drag. Puzzling in 1951 over the way shock waves pass over airplanes at transonic speeds, Whitcomb imagined that the total cross-sectional area of a plane's fuselage, and not simply its diameter, was what determined the extent of drag. With Whitcomb's "area rule," the wasp-waist or "coke bottle" came into being as the design solution to the problem of drag at transonic speeds. Convair redesigned its prototype, following the area rule, and, during tests in December 1954, the F-102A proved Whitcomb's discovery. Built for the U.S. Air Force, the F-102 and its more advanced successors became a critical part of the U.S. continental air defense for the next three decades.9 Convair engineers- including Strickland-spent a lot of time at Langley Research Center in the early 1950s.
In 1958 Strickland left Convair to return to Ann Arbor, Mich., where he worked for the Bendix Corporation and hoped to earn a doctorate in engineering from the University of Michigan. But he had married and started a family. "I found after a while that I just wasn't going to do it, so I went back to Convair.... Rather than the airplane division, I went to the astronautics division, whose responsibilities were the Atlas and the Centaur."10 From 1962 to 1965 Strickland worked on advanced projects and the Atlas space launch vehicle for General Dynamics (parent company of Convair). "We carried responsibilities for very major aspects of the Mercury program ... on our relatively inexperienced shoulders, and it didn't faze us.... Atlases blew up, and the next day we went to work and we sat down and tried again. And nobody . . . expected perfection then." In 1965, by now well schooled in the intricacies of sophisticated hardware development, Strickland left industry and went to work for NASA in the first of a series of project and program management positions he held for the remainder of his NASA career.
To make the transition from atmospheric to transonic and space flight, engineers had to try novel vehicle designs and structural materials. Even that need was predicated on their ability to design the "power plants," or engines capable of propelling aircraft or launch vehicles at the speeds necessary to travel faster than the speed of sound, or the thrust ("specific impulse") necessary to burst through the heavy barrier of Earth's atmosphere and gravity. It was, for example, the development of the jet engine in the late 1940s that intensified the search for new aircraft designs and construction materials to minimize air drag and heating during high-speed flight.11
Space travel, especially for long-duration missions to other planets, compounded the technological challenge by demanding highly efficient, minimal-weight integral power and propulsion systems for spacecraft. Common to all high-performance power systems-whether for aircraft, rockets, or spacecraft-was the problem of developing designs and materials that could withstand the unprecedented  temperature extremes and pressures to which such systems would be subjected. Thus much of the critical engineering work done by NASA during the 1960s would be in materials, structures, and heat transfer.
Matthew O'Day's first introduction to Lewis Research Center occurred during his junior year in college, in 1956, when he began working at Lewis as part of NASA's cooperative work-study program. In his coop work at Lewis, O'Day "had worked in a number of areas.... I started out in bearings research, and I worked in icing research." Five years later, with a master's degree from the California Institute of Technology in hand, he returned to Lewis. His last coop work experience at Lewis had been in orbital mechanics; "there's lots of mathematics, physics involved," but it was "an area that I really had no interest in." Instead, he was interested in structures, and found work in Lewis's materials and structures division. "Lewis is NASA's propulsion center, so all of the structures work here was to advance" work in propulsion systems such as "jet engine structures or propellant tanks for rockets."
Achieving the specific impulse necessary for rockets to lift heavy loads into space depends, among other things, on reducing the molecular weight (the sum of the atomic weights of all the atoms in a molecule) of the gases which, when combined with an oxidizer, produce the combustion that pushes the rocket forward. The lower the molecular weight, the more dramatic the increase in the specific impulse of the rocket or launch vehicle. The lowest molecular weights are found in light gases such as hydrogen-and, of course, the oxygen necessary to produce combustion. However, the volume of gas required to fuel any large rocket would be so enormous that efficient gaseous fuels had to be condensed into their liquid states. That required extreme cooling and pressurized plumbing and also produced the same structural stresses of contained liquids in motion, or "sloshing," that forced the makers of ocean-going tankers to build loaffles into their holds. Thus structural engineering continued to pair with thermodynamics or heat physics-since rocket combustion itself created astronomical temperatures-as critical areas of aerospace engineering.
Learning how to handle cryogenic fuels-gases cooled to temperatures below 240° F-was critical to post-World War II work in the United States on intercontinental ballistic missiles and launch vehicles for space missions. American engineers at first relied heavily on German cryogenic technology for V-2 rockets, but by the early 1950s cryogenics had became an established engineering discipline in U.S. industrial and government research centers. Shortly after his return to Lewis, O'Day "got involved with one particular program to test titanium pressure vessels. I had the opportunity to pretty much plan the program.... When you're working with liquid hydrogen, it is kind of a hazardous situation ... so safety issues were a pretty sensitive area. It was relatively basic research ... not only testing pressure vessels, but also testing materials' reactions to cryogenic temperatures." He also worked at "developing instrumentation ... because this was fracture mechanics," and among the things one examines is "the growth of cracks."
 O'Day spent about thirteen years working in Lewis's materials and structures division. "Roughly the first half of that was devoted to the fracture mechanics ... of structures.... We were doing this work" on "cryogenic pressure vessels, working with titanium and aluminum." And then there was " . . . writing reports. We'd finish a chunk of research and, back in those days, that was the only way you'd get a chance to travel-if you put together a paper and presented it at some kind of conference." Modestly, O'Day insists "much of my early work ... was really of a short-term benefit, with a relatively small incremental increase in knowledge of no particular interest to anybody."
Around 1969 O'Day's division "decided to get into another up-and-coming area ... the area of advanced composite materials ... like graphite epoxy, boron epoxy, boron aluminum, and more recently, kevlar epoxy composites." In the process, O'Day turned from "cryogenic testing to ambient temperature testing, and an entirely different category of materials, composites. But again, it was the same type of work: trying to characterize these composites. And one important way of characterizing composite materials" is by "subjecting them to biaxial loading ... as well as putting shear on the structure itself."
By 1978 O'Day was at work on the Centaur liquid hydrogen fueled upper stage. Work on the Centaur had begun in 1956 for the Department of Defense's Advanced Research Projects Agency; combined with the Atlas lower stage, the payload and communications carrying Centaur became a workhorse in the NASA stable of launch vehicles for heavy communications satellites and space probes. "The Centaur ... used welded stainless steel tanks.... We tested steel, using different welding techniques. We made spiral welding tanks and tested those. We were involved not only in fracture mechanics but in stress analysis, so we could have done stress analysis work on model Centaur tanks.... It makes so much sense to me now," reflects O'Day. "Why weren't we doing research to support the Centaur? Why were we testing titanium? Why were we testing aluminum?" Had they written "something that was a definitive stress analysis of a Centaur tank, it would have been used up until today," and "answered a lot of questions that still aren't answered." But around 1977 "Lewis was going through reductions in force and reorganizations and the whole character of the work was changing. My initial desire was to be involved with research. But it seemed like that portion of the work here was being deemphasized, was shrinking, and the area involved with projects was growing."12
John Songyin began his engineering career at the National Bureau of Standards where he went in 1950 after graduating with a degree in mechanical engineering from the City College of New York. For the next three years he worked on "developing strain gauges to get better sensitivity to measure stress and strain." Naval vessels, not aircraft, were the immediate cause of the work. "One of the big problems that we were looking at was the oil tankers during World War II that sailed in the North Atlantic. Due to the cold, a lot of the bulkheads were fracturing.... People were looking at the designs where the bulkheads met, and the kind of cutouts to  allow oil to flow from one hole to the other," to get a better grasp of the "stress concentrations,, in tanker construction. "Most of my work was looking into better ways to increase the sensitivity of strain gauges."
The strain gauge then most commonly used consisted of "fine wires that were attached to structures so that when the structure would strain, this would be picked up by these thin wires" as changes in resistance. "We were looking into other means" as well, "like applying paints of metallic solutions, and looking at the change in strain-how that would affect the change in resistance of this painted-on solution. It was something like that, that eventually developed into printed circuitry. In testing for these strain gauges, we would just take a flat bar stock and paint these things on with the proper kinds of substrates, and then put them into a tensile machine" with a "very optically correct apparatus that gave us the reference points, and then see what the upward change in resistance" was and "how that could be related to the reference change in strain. The strain gauge . . . is very much a basic part of mechanical engineering.... A lot of work was done by mechanical calculators ... that put up such a clatter. Put in something," divide one number by another, "and this thing would churn away and clatter away and then read out these numbers. It was very, very cumbersome. It was only a little better than a slide rule."
Songyin left the National Bureau of Standards in 1953 for New York, where he worked briefly, and unhappily, for an engineering consulting firm "that contracted out to architects and engineers for buildings and institutions." He managed to find another job with General Electric in Evandale, Ohio, "where we worked on jet aircraft and rockets. And that's where I started specializing in ... heat transfer. We were working on military jet engines, [as well as] the nuclear jet engine program too.... But those were essentially paper studies and nothing [to do] with any hardware.... I remember using a lot of the NACA engine data." Then things "started to phase down at GE," while "things were really booming in Cleveland." Songyin served his two years in the Army and moved to Cleveland in 1961 to work at Lewis Research Center, beginning his NASA engineering career doing stress analysis for a new breed of "power plants for space. That was the SNAP program-Systems for Nuclear Auxiliary Power.13 At that time Lewis was devoted to developing technologies with no specific application" but that "we expected would find an application in the near future. One of the things that we foresaw as a mission was interplanetary travel to Mars.... We were concentrating on converting the heat power of a nuclear source to electrical energy."
Songyin's "whole division was working ... on this SNAP project." Some branches studied "the rotating machinery"; others looked at different components, such as condensers and boilers. Still others probed how various aspects of the system should be tested. But growing public concern over fallout from nuclear accidents in, space prompted a search for alternate power systems for long-duration space flight. So "we went from the SNAP system into the Brayton system ... around 1967."
The Brayton system operated on the principle of a "thermodynamic cycle that, instead of using a working fuel that undergoes a phase change from liquid to gas or vapor and then is condensed back into a liquid, just uses a single phase-a gas in this case-which gets heated ... powers a turbine, and then is cooled down in the  heat exchanger. There's no condensation; therefore, no change in flow is involved." In this instance, "the heat of the Sun" provided the energy for the heat cycle. "We used a large mirror which focuses into a cavity, through which the tubes carry the gas, pick up the heat, and deliver the energy to a turbine which turns an electrical generator. The working fluid-the gas-then gets cooled down and gets pumped around and recirculated.
"I concentrated mostly on the heat receiver that gets the reflection from the mirror into this component," shaped like "the frustrum of a cone, which absorbed the heat from the Sun and transferred it to the gas.... The tricky part" was to design the system for "low Earth orbit-like two hundred and fifty miles altitude." The system would be "exposed to the Sun for sixty minutes" and then would be in the shade "for about thirty-six minutes." It would "have to absorb enough energy from the Sun to tide it over during the shade part of the orbit.... The way we did that ... was to use these salts that would melt in the Sun and then give up" their heat as they solidified in the shade.
"A lot of [Songyin's] heat transfer background came into" that work. "Lithium chloride undergoes quite a volume change-something like thirty percent ... as it solidifies and shrinks.... You have to be aware of the pattern of solidification," which produces "voids all over the place. That means when you come back into the Sun, the Sun-with high-intensity solar flux-could be focusing on an area in which there's a void where the salt has shrunk away from the surface, and therefore" there is "nothing to take away the heat of the Sun. Therefore there's a danger of overheating the container and burning a hole in it.... A lot of our attention was" on trying "to control where the shrinkage takes place to insure that there wouldn't be these evacuated areas." Songyin's group tested the design "under 1-g" conditions, "and we figured that if we could control" the shrinkage "under 1 gravity," the system "certainly would work under zero gravity." But the big long-duration mission "never came off. So all of that technology was shelved.... Now  they're talking about" possibly using a Brayton cycle power plant for the Space Station. Some of the Brayton hardware "has been taken off the shelves, out of the mothballs.... I think there are two or three units that were built." After twenty years NASA's "picking up exactly where we left off."
Songyin worked on the solar power system for about five years, into the early 1970s. "At that time we were" also "looking at the Mercury Rankine System," for use in long-duration space missions, "the Rankine being similar to a steam power plant, but instead of water you're using mercury as the working fluid. It goes through the same cycle of boiling and condensing and activating a turbine which generates electricity.... The whole cycle would be closed," and "the same mercury would be circulated." Songyin's own work was devoted to mastering the heat transfer aspects of the Rankine system.
"We were looking into the problem of mercury condensation; we were worried about the effect of zero gravity on ... the condensation of the mercury. My responsibility was to ... come up with experiments that would simulate zero gravity, to give us an idea if whether there really was a problem with zero gravity. This involved experimentation in the lab, here, and also installing a condensation rig in  the bottom bay of an AJ-2 bomber, 14 which went through a zero-G maneuver, and, in those ten to fifteen seconds of zero gravity, to get high-speed photographs and to analyze the droplets to see if we could get better insight into the phenomena of mercury condensation and see if there would be a problem in long-term zero gravity ... conditions.
"We were doing the basic spadework for a mission we thought would be coming.... Our aim there was not tied to any particular schedule leading to launch and takeoff." Songyin's group was attempting to answer the technological questions so that when the mission was identified, and schedules made, the technological answers would be there for the system people to put it all together.
Sandra Jansen has been working at Lewis Research Center longer than most. After earning a teaching degree with a major in math in 1947 from Ohio State University, she worked for a year at various odd jobs. In 1948 she started working at Lewis, where she joined the dozens of women who worked as NASA's human computers, reducing data from hours and hours of tests run in the center's engine research facilities and wind tunnels.
Sandra Jansen's career parallels the rapid evolution of computers from the noisy mechanical desk machines of the 1 940S to the high-speed electronic mainframes and microcomputers of the 1 980S; she has worked "entirely with computers" throughout her career. "I had grown up with them ... worked ... in machine language, in assembly language, in interpretive languages [like BASIC], and then in FORTRAN." In the early 1 950S, "the first things that we had were . . . punch card computers. " Most of the data they worked with came from tests of pressures inside and on the surfaces of engines.
"We had . . . manometer boards [and] . . . people that sat and through magnifying glasses . .. read the level of mercury in those manometer columns." In time, film was developed "that could be taken automatically and kept on a continuous roll, so that you could get a shot here, and then a shot here, and a shot here.... You would sit there, and there was a cross hair that you'd move by hand-maneuverable wheels.... You would cross those hairs at the top of a particular manometer tube, press a button, and that would punch into a card. Then you'd move to the next manometer tube with your cross hairs, punch the button with your foot.... The way in which the data was reduced was all manual, by hand. We had four different ... sections of girls.... Computing at that time consisted of row after row of women ... who sat and did line after line of calculations on desk-top calculators." The women, few of whom had college degrees, "had forms set up for them with instructions as to what to do.
"We had big books of exponential functions and logarithmic functions and of the various trig functions you needed to do your job-the things that you, today, can push one key on a pocket calculator and get." Jansen's job was to "set up those sheets that [the women] used to do their calculations. I was a math major, so I could take the equations and translate them into the various sheets they needed to do their job. They didn't have to do the math; all they had to do was follow the instructions.  I prepared the instructions . . . and the girls who worked there were called computers." Within a few years Jansen was promoted to a job as supervisor "of an office of about twenty people." She was still "setting up the sheets and handing out... assignments ... and tracking to make sure they got done on time." By the mid-1950s the new computer age took root at Lewis, and Jansen began developing programs for electronic computers as part of various research projects, "doing," she remembers, "the same work as the engineers. The first ... that we had were [IBM] 604s, which were punch card coded.... You put your instructions as well as your data in through punch cards. This eliminated the need for people sitting at desk calculators. We learned how to code these equations into these punch card computers."
Meanwhile, the need to obtain increasingly subtle and accurate measurements for more sophisticated test engines stimulated the invention or development of new automated pressure-measuring devices. One device consisted of "hundreds of pressure capsules, little thin membranes ... mounted on the outside of a pressure tank. The tank was maybe two or three feet tall. And coming to the outside . . . of these membranes were plugs . . . that were actually sensing pressure inside the experiment cavity.... They evacuated the chamber down to a very low pressure and then gradually allowed that pressure to rise. And as the pressure on the external side of this capsule and the pressure in the tank became equal, there would be a snapping of the membrane.... Now what they were really sensing was ... the time from the beginning of this change in pressure inside to the end of the change in pressure inside. And they calibrated the time with the pressure." Using a conversion formula, "you could take the time and, with a small equation, come up with what was the pressure."
By the mid-1950s Lewis engineers also developed a central computerized automatic digital data encoder, or CADDE, "the purpose of which was not to sense data, but to record data in an automated manner via land lines from the facilities, without anybody having to write anything down." The CADDE was "not a general purpose computer"; it was developed specifically for Lewis to service several test facilities, including the 10 foot by 10 foot tunnel.
After the first UNIVAC computer (the 1103) 15 arrived at Lewis in 1953, "there was a whole gradual development of continually automating both the acquisition of the data-so that you didn't have to have people writing anything down in the test cells or taking pictures of manometer boards-and the processing of the data by having the more powerful computers ... to do what you needed to do. The new machine did those calculations for the tunnel ... that were being done by the girls with those desk-top calculators" in a moment, instead of in "an hour's or day's or week's ... turn around." The UNIVAC's "primary goal in life was to support [Lewis's] 10 foot by 10 foot wind tunnel ... but you didn't need all of that computer power just to support the tunnel. So extra time was used to do other types of research."
Greater computing power, along with more advanced automated measuring devices, enabled Lewis to centralize test data collection and processing. Data from wind tunnels, and both large and small engine research facilities, could be recorded and "fed by line ... through a central data collector ... put on tape, archived, and  made available directly into the large computers for processing." The growth of electronic, high-speed computation as a new technological discipline was reflected in a change in the organizational location of what would not be much longer, "the girls." When Jansen first went to work at Lewis, she and the other computing women worked in "sections that sat within the R & D divisions. And then . . . sometime in the '50s, there was a conglomeration of all the people into a computer services concept, a division that did nothing but this work."
Remington Rand's UNIVAC (which Jansen says "never became a really popular computer at Lewis") soon gave way to machines produced and marketed by IBM, which moved quickly into commercial computers, sold primarily to the government and defense contractors, after Remington Rand's initial success with the UNIVAC. "About 1956 we got some IBM 650s which were truly open shop type machines .... An engineer who could read and learn how to write a program could sign up for an hour's worth of time on this machine, key punch his stuff up on decks of cards, and run it through, and do the calculations.... We had three of those at our peak ... located in the 8 foot by 6 foot [wind tunnel]. They were so heavily used that . . . if you were really doing some heavy computing . . . you would run at night, you would run on holidays, you would do whatever you needed to get your computer time.... They became very popular, so the IBM world sort of infiltrated here.... Then, when we went for our first major large computer that was going to be truly scientific, and open to the users to write programs in FORTRAN, it was an IBM 704 ''. 16 However, before the 704 was delivered, Jansen left Lewis to have her first child.
"When I left I was working in ... engineering ... developing programs on the computers, and writing reports in basically ... internal engine research. I was actually doing research. I had been given a project, and I was developing the equations and the programs and doing the actual work on the computer.... The last report I wrote was on boundary layer interactions." Both Lewis and Langley Research Centers were working on boundary layers. In Jansen's case, she was investigating the "boundary layer external to . .. the blade rows of the compressor" within an aircraft engine, "as opposed to the boundary layer of the airfoil. The theory is the thing-the fact that you're working with cascades of blades and rotating machinery makes the process much more complex."
Jansen was away from her work for over three years, during which time she was miserable, watching from the outside while "the space program was coming to the forefront in everyone's imagination, and when [Alan B.] Shepard made his first suborbital flight, and [John H.] Glenn made his first orbital flight, and I was not a part of it, it was ripping me apart inside. Everywhere . . . the media talked about how you should be happy just making cookies and taking care of your little children. At that time ... I did not see a way in which I could keep my hand active and still stay home . So it became very difficult for me, because ... I saw a part of history developing through this space program that I wanted very much to be a part of.
"It was not an easy decision," she remembers, "to leave the kids and come back to work." During the three and a half years that Jansen had been away, Lewis "had gone through two generations of computers and had another, a much newer, more powerful, system." When Jansen returned to work in mid-1962, she had a choice of  jobs at Lewis, but decided to go "back into the computing world, because that is where I had felt the most ... satisfied-most productive. I never really felt comfortable as an engineer ... doing the research on my own. I had always felt more comfortable when I was doing the math part of it, and supporting the engineers."
"They had gone through two generations of computers. FORTRAN was still the major language that was used.... I had a lot of brushing up to do, and I took ... in house classes.... It wasn't long before I felt very productive, and I was doing real honest to gosh work." Jansen returned to her old computing section, which was supporting Lewis's large wind tunnels. The laboratory had moved into "nuclear fusion and fission investigations, [so she began] developing some modeling of fusion processes, electromagnetic theories. I actually have a report that I coauthored on some electromagnetic modeling." Gradually her work shifted from theoretical calculations "[to] support of the experimental facilities again.... They were still using the 1103 [UNIVAC], believe it or not ... and they wanted to move the support of the wind tunnels and the test cells into the IBM environment." In time Jansen acquired increased levels of oversight responsibility in Lewis's data systems organization, which "provided all the supports, both real time and post processing, for the wind tunnels and for the experimental facilities that are around the center."
While the advent of high-speed electronic computing diminished the need for women computers, "there was never anyone that was pushed out the gate because of it ... ," insists Jansen. "First of all ... a lot of these people didn't stay long; they'd come out of high school, they would work there for a couple of years, and then got married. And when they got their first pregnancy, they would walk out the gates. So gradually there was a diminishing number.... Some of them went back to school got their math degrees, and ended up being bona fide mathematician computer programmers [working with] the large mainframes." Lewis began to hire people "with math backgrounds and then trained them in the use of computers, because the colleges weren't at that point yet.... This was one of the few areas, back in the '60s where there was a fairly high percentage of women ... in the math area, and the application and use of computers."
Joseph Totten's road to the space age began in Biloxi, Miss., where he went through basic training in the U.S. Army Air Corps at Keesler Field. 17 "As a kid I always had a fascination for aviation, and I built model plane after model plane. My room was well filled with model airplanes all the time. I'd fly them-not the kind that you have a motor in-but the rubber band kind. In those days, I don't believe we had motors ... other kids that I ran around with, we were all doing the same sort of thing." In 1944, fresh out of high school, Totten enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps. A few months after the surrender of Japan on September 2, 1945, he was discharged. He returned to Illinois, where he attended Joliet Junior College and later went to the University of Illinois, finally earning a bachelor's degree in civil engineering in 1954. In between he got married, had his first children, and worked  for a public works company, "designing subdivisions, streets, sewer systems, water systems, designing some small bridges and things like that."
When Totten finished college he returned to the same company for a year, largely out of loyalty to the man who had helped finance his last year in college. Restless for something bigger and better, he then cast about for a job as a city engineer or public works administrator. As a fall-back, he applied for a job with
Douglas Aircraft in El Segundo, Calif. Douglas offered him a job and turned out to be the only company that "would provide any moving expenses for me. So I decided to take that job. My wife and I ... we had two kids and she was pregnant at the time-we took off, went to California." He was the first Totten to leave Illinois. And that, he says, is "how I got into the aerospace business."
He was soon working on the analysis and design of jet aircraft for the Navy, including "the A3D . . . a twin engine attack bomber, carrier based." He also worked "on the A4D . . . still flying today (or a more modern version of it), which is an attack fighter aircraft, and the F4D ... a delta wing airplane ... called 'the Skyray.' They looked like a damn stingray-the planform. They had no normal wingshape to it, just a big delta wing." The Skyray was designed for "speed and maneuverability... an aircraft that would be flying over mach 1; at that time, that was a relatively new field." While he found himself working with "aluminum, and things like that" rather than "working with sand and gravel, and cement [Totten] really didn't have to learn new tricks. The fundamental engineering equations . . . you can apply almost anywhere. It was just a matter of learning a different language-aircraft language rather than civil engineering language."
Toward the end of the 1950s the aerospace industry suffered a downturn. "Budgeting was pretty low and a lot of programs that had been developed were canceled, like the Eagle missile program, the F1OD ... most of the companies were laying people off." Totten decided he did not want to "stay around and get laid off." Besides, the Douglas Aircraft Company had undergone a change in top management which Totten thought was letting the company "go to pot ... there were a lot of us that got very discouraged" with the way the company was being run. So Totten contacted a friend who was working with the Chrysler Corporation, an aerospace contractor in Huntsville, Ala. and the friend put him in touch with Brown Engineering. "The majority of the work that they did was contract to the government providing services in support of the Marshall Space Flight Center." At the beginning of the new year, 1961, Totten returned to the deep South to work for Brown.
The enthusiasm with which Totten began working for Brown Engineering was due in part to his admiration for Brown's president, Milton Cummings, who had interviewed him. "The guy was something else ... a far out looker, you know. He could see things in the future, and he knew how to work things to get to that point.... He was the guy who ... developed the HIC [Huntsville Industrial Center] building complex, which was ... used a lot by NASA in the early days. The HIC was a large cotton mill at one time, and he converted it to office space and laboratories for Brown Engineering and a lot of aerospace companies that were just starting to come into Huntsville.... There were no other large facilities here, outside of the Redstone Arsenal.... Within a year or so, he had the foresight to buy the property."
 Totten had foresight too. "After being in Huntsville a while, l saw where the power was and where the control was, with the government. And so I applied for a job with NASA in 1962. 18... I was a civil engineer, structural ... you're just applying the same laws ... to a different field, that's all.
"Marshall's main work [during the mid-1960s] was the development of the Saturn V," the mighty booster that lifted over 3100 tons-more than a "good sized Navy destroyer"-off the launch pad at Cape Kennedy and nosed the 55-ton combined Apollo command, service, and lunar lander modules into an orbit around the Moon on July 19, 1969. 19 The thundering Saturn was the descendant of liquid-fuel rocket technology foreseen at the turn of the century by Konstantin Tsiolkovski, tested successfully by Robert H. Goddard in 1926, and developed during the 1940s at the Guggenheim Aeronautical Laboratory (California Institute of Technology) and by Wernher von Braun's German Army ordnance group at Peenemuende on the North Sea.
Germany had been stung by the humiliating terms of the Treaty of Versailles (1919), the negotiations for which excluded the German government, and her military leaders ingeniously sought ways to circumvent the treaty's disarmament terms. 20 Those terms forbade Germany to maintain tanks, military aviation, submarines, heavy artillery, or military conscription. At the same time, Britain's use of aircraft and tanks during the Somme offensive (1916) was not lost on the German general staff, which resolved to prepare for the next battle sophisticated, mechanized warfare. These were the seeds not only of the German "blitzkrieg" of World War II, but of the German Army's work, during the 1930s, on rocket research as part of the development of long-range artillery.
Bureaucratic ingenuity played a role as well in the growing importance of the U.S. Army's rocket work at the Army Ballistic Missile Agency in Huntsville, Ala., 21 to the future space program. In 1955, when a select panel chose the Navy's Viking over the Army's Jupiter C as the launch vehicle for the first U.S. satellite program, ABMA persevered with its work on the Jupiter C, maintaining that it was merely testing nose cones for ballistic missile warheads. Again, when, in 1957, the U.S. Air Force won the interservice battle for responsibility for long-range military rocket development, ABMA decided to "leapfrog" the competition by concentrating on large booster development for space exploration. 22 The strategy was inspired, for Wernher von Braun was a space visionary as much as a master of advanced rocket research. (As fortune would have it, the Navy's first entry into the "space race," designated Vanguard, would culminate in a ball of fire on the launch pad. ABMA emerged triumphant after all as its four-stage Jupiter C, Juno I, took the honor on January 31, 1958 of sending this country's first satellite into Earth orbit.)
Thus it was that in 1957 ABMA began work on a large, advanced booster, dubbed the Super-Jupiter, capable of lifting as much as five tons through Earth's gravitational barrier and placing it into Earth orbit-a feat that would require 1.5 million pounds of thrust. For the Mercury and Gemini projects, the first U.S. manned forays into space, NASA had requisitioned boosters from the military services-the Redstone missile from the Army, and the Thor, Atlas, and Titan missiles from the Air Force. By 1960 NASA was ready for its own super-booster program, and ABMA was  ready for NASA. That year, on the ides of March, ABMA opened its doors as NASA's George C. Marshall Space Flight Center.
When Totten left Brown engineering for the Marshall Space Flight Center in 1962, his "first assignment ... was providing stress analysis support for what we, in those days, called advanced designs ... such things as lunar landers, NOVA 23 vehicles.... We worked on a variety of things in support of the advanced designs of that sort, mostly to do with outer space ... vehicles.... I was working on things that were probably another ten or fifteen years down the road." After working on advanced design projects, Totten joined "a group that worked directly with the Saturn IB," the booster that launched the first manned Apollo spacecraft, Apollo 7, in October 1968 and was used again in 1973 to launch crews to the Skylab orbiting workshop. 24 He "started out in stress analysis and then progressed up.... Stress analysis ... was all we did, analyze the designs to make sure they were strong enough.... [Working in the] structures propulsion area, we were pretty much concerned with design, analysis, thermal, and that sort of thing, where we were actually putting stuff on the paper, checking it to make sure it was strong enough to handle the environments that we'd fly through, and then get all the drawings ready to release and send them over to be manufactured." Then, "during the late '60s, [Totter began working] not only the static side of the house, but ... dynamic and vibration analysis, along with the structural analysis." Totten also worked "in the design side of the house ... the design, propulsion, and structural design lab, where all new engines [were] developed [and] all new structures ... new launch vehicles," payloads, and experiments were designed.
Born in the Illinois farm belt, the son of an auto mechanic, Joseph Totten claims that he can "remember the horse and buggy.... I lived through that as a little kid, and I've seen going to the stars. There are not too many people who can say that they've been there."
Sam Browning also came to the space program by way of the U.S. Air Force, which he joined because he "wanted to fly an airplane." And, he says, "I don't want this to sound trite, but I really felt that people ought to serve this country . . . avoiding the draft was not something that occurred to me-another difference between the generation today, and our generation." A native of Birmingham, Ala., the eldest of three boys, Browning was the son of an itinerant carpenter who finally managed to settle himself with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Huntsville. Even though he had had little schooling beyond the eighth grade, Browning's father was "a very talented guy." When the younger Browning declared his enthusiasm for chemistry, his father "pointed out that you have to have a Ph.D to go anywhere in chemistry, and that was long and expensive.... why don't you go into chemical engineering? You'll make a lot more money." And so he did.
Browning's first encounter with the space program was in 1957, when he began working at the Army Ballistic Missile Agency as a coop student while he was studying for a degree in chemistry from Auburn University. "I was in the solid  rocket testing area.... The Army group was divided into the solid rocket group and the guided missile development division-which was von Braun's team." After about a year he realized that while he "was able to put my engineering drawing to good use by designing test pictures ... and working down on the range with the crews installing solid motors, [he] wasn't getting any chemistry or any exposure to ... what I was really going through school after, so I asked for a transfer to GMDD (the Guided Missile Development Division) ... and I came over here and worked in the materials laboratory."
In 1959, Browning graduated from Auburn, where he had been in an advanced ROTC program; he then spent three years in the Air Force. To his dismay, he failed his first physical when entering active duty. As luck would have it "there was an outfit in Sacramento that was tagging the personnel folders of people with degrees in chemistry, chemical engineering ... engineering physics, I guess. So I got tagged to go into the nuclear development, warhead development testing." Browning did classified work at McClellan Air Force Base for three years, learning "a lot more chemistry there than I had in college. And ... a lot of physics.
"We had a few field grade officers ... and a laboratory full of second and first lieutenants with engineering and chemistry and physics degrees." Browning's experience at McClellan helped him to "realize that I could compete with people who had degrees from MIT and CalTech and prestige institutions.... Growing up in the South and going to school at Auburn, I had a little bit of an inferiority complex.... These people ... were well trained, but ... it came down to ... whether you got the job done or not. We had one fellow from MIT who was all thumbs ... in spite of the fact that he was quite well educated." Browning discovered "these are mortals too. I can hang in there with them."
When Browning's stint with the Air Force ended in 1962, he debated returning to his old ABMA organization at Huntsville-which had, by now, become NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center. "I had a hard time deciding what to do when I got out of the Air Force, because I had a chemical engineering degree and an interest in working in the chemical processing industry. I had . . . some experience in the nuclear field, and this terrific interest in NASA and the aerospace business.... I didn't want to come back to Huntsville.... Huntsville was a very small town.... One great thing the Air Force did for me was to expose me to California.... Sacramento is a big, big valley. Most of the days you couldn't even see the horizon. The sky just blended into the horizon somehow, because of the smog.... It was almost an alien culture- Marin [County] ... yuppie type stuff." 25 But as time went on "I learned that I missed the hills around Huntsville."
Nineteen sixty-two was not a bad time for an engineer to be looking for a job. Browning had offers from Babcock and Wilcox, Brookhaven National Laboratories Chemstrand, Monsanto Chemicals, Morton Thiokol, and Pratt and Whitney, "to work on the SNAP reactor program up at their Connecticut Advanced Nuclear Engineering Laboratory." His decision not to take the Pratt and Whitney job was fortuitous, for Pratt and Whitney had to close down their SNAP program within a year. Ultimately the "lure of the Apollo program ... won out over the rest of it and like everybody else I guess who's worked for NASA, I didn't take the highest offer  I got.... I came to work for NASA to be part of the space program and to be back in Huntsville ,, Browning began the year 1963 by reporting to Marshall Space Flight Center, where his first assignment was in the propulsion division. He had been slated "to work on the reactor inflight test stage ... and specifically, the NERVA [nuclear engine for rocket vehicle applications]," but both programs were cancelled the following year. 26 "At that point the section that I was a part of also had responsibility for the RL-10 oxygen, liquid hydrogen rocket engine. And I was simply shifted over to work on the RL-10.... The RL-10 is an engine that was the free world's first . . . oxygen, liquid hydrogen rocket engine, [a] very advanced system for its day, and [it] still is one of the better rocket engines around." 27
In 1964 "a new fellow ... came into the section named J. R. Thompson." 28 Thompson had been working for Pratt and Whitney, and when he arrived at Marshall he was put "to work on the J-2 engine, which was ... still in early development stages." 29 Browning was one of a "pair detailed to work with J.R. developing a math model for the J-2 engine, which was something I had no idea how to go about doing-but J.R. did." Working "in that group through the J-2 engine qualification program" kept Browning busy during late 1965 and early 1966. Once the J-2 engine passed its qualification tests, Browning decided he "didn't really want to get bogged down in tracking paper work on an engine that was now about to move out of the development phase into the flight phase. [He wanted] to stay closer to the new technology part [of Marshall's work], the farther out kinds of things.... There weren't many chemical engineers around, so they tended to assign me to the cats and dogs that came in in advanced propulsion type stuff, which in those days was mainly exotic type propellants." Browning was transferred into the propulsion and vehicle engineering research laboratory, where "we were looking at post Saturn, NOVA class vehicles ... eighteen to thirty million pounds of thrust.... One concept was ... something like two to three million pound thrust engines clustered around a plug nozzle. [Another was the] so-called aerospike nozzle, which has a single annular throat around the periphery of this thing, that might be sixty feet in diameter that, again, had an aerospike nozzle instead of the traditional bell-type nozzle."
Browning's background in chemical engineering had been an "open sesame" to much of Marshall's work in advanced rocket propulsion. For example, he was assigned to a working group investigating the use of fluorine as a rocket propellant to replace oxygen. "We were also looking at new ways to build turbo machinery that would be lower in cost. So I had a couple of studies in low-cost turbo machinery, turbopumps . . We had some contracts out on high-energy propellants, and I monitored those." Before the mighty Saturn V would launch the three-man crew of Apollo 11 on its journey to the Moon in July 1969, Browning was already at work on a NASA venture which actually predated the manned lunar landing mission-a manned orbiting space station.30
But even as the crew of Apollo 11 made its epochal voyage to the Moon, NASA was phasing out production of the Saturn in what would become, after the Challenger accident of January 28,1986, one of its more controversial decisions. In place of the Saturn, the agency began developing a new Space Transportation System, consisting  of a winged, reusable orbiting rocket plane or space "shuttle," an external fuel tank, and two refurbishable, reusable boosters.31 One of the places the Shuttle was expected to go was to an Earth-orbiting space station, which had been a gleam in the eyes of aerospace engineers at Langley Research Laboratory and German rocket engineers working with Wernher von Braun at the Army Ballistic Missile Agency even before NASA was created. Although NASA tried repeatedly-and unsuccessfully until 1984-to obtain White House approval to begin a space station program, preliminary design and definition studies were an intermittent feature of advanced technology work at both Johnson Space Center and Marshall Space Flight Center throughout the 1960s.
When in 1961 NASA formally embarked on the research and development work necessary to carry a man to the Moon by the end of the 1960s, the agency was able to draw on the cumulative efforts of thousands of engineers who had already been mobilized to solve some of the fundamental technical problems that stood between it and triumph. Important groundwork had been laid during the 1950s in the aerodynamics of high-performance (or military) aircraft, guided missiles, electronic data processing, and advanced aircraft engine and rocket research and development. That groundwork was laid by engineers Bill Cassirer and Joseph Totten and others like them, men and women who began their careers in the 1950s.
The early careers of the ten NASA Apollo-era engineers profiled in this chapter reflect the successful mobilization by the United States of the civilian, technical manpower to wage the Cold War. That war had among its principal weapons not only nuclear deterrence (and the ballistic missiles necessary to make the threat of nuclear weapons meaningful), but the air power thought essential to any successful response to any future military "emergency." The Apollo program provided a peaceful corollary to the militarily inspired work being done along a wide front of technological development.
These early recruits into the new civilian army of the Cold War came, for the most part, from the Northeast or Midwest; one came from Alabama and another from the state of Washington. Half were the sons (and one the daughter) of practicing engineers or scientists. NASA support, through undergraduate coop programs or support for graduate work, was instrumental in the training and initial career choice for at least half of these men and one woman. A majority of them started out wanting to go into aeronautical or aerospace engineering, and all who did moved directly into work in NACA laboratories or the Army Ballistic Missile Agency, with the exception of two who worked for several years with large aircraft manufacturers dependent on government orders before going to work for NASA in the early 1960s. Two of the three engineers in this group who did not begin their careers intent upon going into aerospace research or engineering nonetheless were employed by the federal agencies involved in the research and development work. The one woman in the group began her career with training in mathematics and, except for a few years during which she stayed home to care for a young family, did  the same kind of work in the same NASA organization throughout her entire career. (The constancy of her career pattern raises the question of whether, as a woman in a man's profession, once she found a niche she clung to it, or whether alternate opportunities were truly closed to her.)
By the time these engineers were interviewed they had been working for NASA (or the NACA or ABMA) for no less than twenty years, and in seven cases for more than twenty-five years. Did their careers fulfill their initial hopes or expectations? Four had clearly wanted to do research of some kind; only one of those four managed to continue doing fundamental research (in aeronautics) without paying a penalty in "getting ahead." Two gradually shifted into management, moving to NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C. to carry out administrative or Headquarters staff functions. The fourth also moved into management, but project management that enabled him to remain close to the work in instrumenting spacecraft for planetary missions that had intrigued him when he first joined NASA. All four had risen to the ranks of the senior executive service. Two others achieved senior executive rank during their twenty-plus years with NASA; both had started out as enlistees in military pilot training programs, and both spent several years in the aerospace industry working on optimum engine and airframe designs for high-performance aircraft before coming to NASA. One went into technical management (at Marshall Space Flight Center), while the other moved into program management at NASA Headquarters. All but one of these six, whose NASA careers terminated in senior level management rather than the "hands on" work that had drawn them to research and technology in the first place, began their NASA careers as NACA or ABMA veterans.
Of the four of these ten engineers who did not advance into executive positions, one was promoted into a managerial track that could lead to a senior executive position, while three remained in technical occupations. Of those three, one became essentially a contract monitor with little further involvement in actual engineering work; one is involved in structural analysis for the Centaur upper stage manufactured by General Dynamics; and one is adrift on a career plateau, passing through a "career development" program and a study of power generating systems for a space station but, by his own account, "pretty much stuck."
1. A "supersonic" speed is greater than the speed of sound (around 670 miles per hour at sea level, or mach 1); "transonic" describes the range between subsonic and supersonic speeds. "Hypersonic" speeds are greater than five times the speed of sound, or mach 5.
2. The hydraulics engineer knows that the same friction can determine the pressure loss in a pipe or channel.
3. Since much aeronautical research was conducted with scale models in wind tunnels, it was important to be able to extrapolate from models to full-scale aircraft. Working in the field of hydrodynamics, Osborne Reynolds (1842-1912) established  experimentally that the range of velocity at which a flowing fluid will become turbulent depends on the fluid's mass density and viscosity, the size or shape of the conduit, and the velocity of the flow. The numerical ratio reflecting this relationship came to be called the Reynolds number. The use of the Reynolds number has enabled aeronautical engineers to extrapolate from wind tunnel tests of models to actual fullscale construction by ensuring that the Reynolds ratio for the full-scale project equals that of the model.
4. Project Mercury culminated in L. Gordon Cooper's full-day flight of May 15-16 1963, the sixth flight and fourth orbital space mission for the project.
5. For a more complete account of H. Julian Allen's work and its place in the NACA's research program in the 1950s, see Loyd S. Swenson, Jr., James M. Grimwood, and Charles C. Alexander, This New Ocean: A History of Project Mercury, NASA SP-4201 (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1966), pp.55-72, and Edwin P Hartman, Adventures in Research: A History of Ames Research Center,1940-1965, NASA SP-4302 (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1970), passim.
6. For accounts of the research work carried out in the NACA laboratories during the 1950s, see James R. Hansen, Engineer in Charge: A History of the Langley Aeronautical Laboratory,1917-1958, NASA SP-4305 (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1987), and Alex Roland, Model Research: The National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics,1915-1958, 2 vols, NASA SP-4103 (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1985), passim.
7. Apollo 12 was launched on November 14, 1969, toward the second successful manned lunar landing. The mission took ten days.
8. This New Ocean gives a good account of the process of "man-rating" the launch vehicle and spacecraft for the Mercury program.
9. For an account of the area rule and the design of the F-102, see James R. Hansen, Engineer in Charge: A History of the Langley Aeronautical Laboratory,1917-1958, NASA SP-4305 (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1987), pp. 334-339.
10. First contracted to Convair/Astronautics Division of General Dynamics in 1958 by the Department of Defense's Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA), the liquid hydrogen fueled Centaur was intended to serve as a second stage to increase the payload capability of its host launcher and for versatility in complex space missions. Convair was also the U.S. Air Force contractor for the Atlas missile and launch vehicles.
11. For a discussion of high-performance aeronautical developments at the end of World War II, see Roger E. Bilstein, Flight in America, 1900-1983: From the Wrights to the Astronauts (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1984), pp. 178-184.
12. See comments on the growing competition throughout NASA during this period between technology research and project work in chapter 6.
 13. The SNAP program was begun by the Atomic Energy Commission in 1955 to develop nuclear power systems for space vehicles. SNAP-1, designed by the Martin Company, would generate 500 watts of electrical power from the heat of the decaying radioisotope cerium-144. The SNAP series involved the use of both radioisotopic fuel and nuclear fission reactors. The first SNAP power plant launched into space was a 500-watt SNAP 10-Z, placed into orbit from Vandenburg Air Force Base, California, on April 13, 1965. See William R. Corliss, SNAP Nuclear Space Reactors, U.S. Atomic Energy Commission (September 1966).
14. The AJ-2 bomber was a surplus Navy aircraft powered by two reciprocating engines and, for extra speed in combat situations, a J-33 turbojet engine in the fuselage. The J-33 also powered the F-80 fighter.
15. The UNIVAC, or Universal Automatic Computer, was the first general-purpose commercial electronic computer. Developed by J. Presper Eckert, Jr. and John W. Mauchly, the UNIVAC replaced punched card information storage and retrieval with magnetic tape which, driven on reels past read-write heads, could process alphanumeric information at the rate of half a million characters per minute. The Eckert-Mauchly Computer Company was acquired by Remington Rand in 1950. Remington Rand delivered the first of several UNIVACs to the U.S. Census Bureau in 1951. The American public had its first opportunity to be awed by the "genius" of the computer when CBS television showed the UNIVAC as it forecast Dwight D. Eisenhower's 1952 presidential election victory over Adlai E. Stevenson within four electoral votes.
16. The IBM 704 was the successor to the 701, an electronic computer capable or doing high-speed repetitive computations for nuclear weapons and aircraft and missiles design. Aggressively marketed to government laboratories, the first 701 was shipped in March 1953 to the Federal Atomic Weapons Development Center at Los Alamos New Mexico. For a lively and accessible account of the early years of electronic computers, see Harry Wilforst, Breakthrough to the Computer Age (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1982).
17. The U.S. Air Force was created in July 1947, when President Harry S. Truman signed the Armed Forces Unification Act, which established the Air Force as one o three services (the others being the Army and the Navy) under a Secretary c Defense. Primary responsibility for the nation's missile programs was assigned t the U.S. Army's Ordnance Command.
18. The Army Ballistic Missile Agency (ABMA) at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville was transferred to NASA and renamed the George C. Marshall Space Flight Center in March 1960. The ABMA itself had been formed, in 1956, from the nucleus of German missile scientists, led by Wernher von Braun, established in 1950 by the U.S. Arm at Redstone Arsenal as the Ordnance Guided Missile Center.
19. The media was fond of pointing out that the Saturn V was taller than the Statue Liberty and weighed 13 times as much. Roger E. Bilstein, Stages to Saturn:  Technological History of the Apollo/Saturn Launch Vehicles, NASA SP-4206 (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1980), p. 354.
20. After Adolf Hitler's rise to power in 1933, Germany abandoned all pretense of disarmament.
21. The U.S. Army established Werner von Braun and his cadre of German rocket engineers as the Ordnance Guided Missile Center at the Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville in 1950. The installation was recreated as the Army Ballistic Missile Agency in 1956 and took the lead role in the joint Army-Navy work in ballistic missiles that resulted in the Jupiter C launch vehicle. It was the Jupiter C that launched the Explorer I satellite into orbit on January 31,1958, four months after the Soviet launch of Sputnik I.
22. See Bilstein, Stages to Saturn, pp. 11-25.
23. See footnote 2, chapter 2.
24. The nomenclature for the Saturn launch vehicles was altered several times throughout the program. The Saturn 1B first stage booster used eight clustered H1 engines. The H-1 engine, developed by Rocketdyne Division of North American Aviation, Inc., was an uprated version of the original Thor-Jupiter engine, which burned liquid oxygen and a kerosene-based propellant.
25. In the 1980s the expression "yuppie" (young urban or upwardly mobile professional) came into use to characterize a new generation of salaried professionals who were thought to be unusually aggressive, self-centered, and materialistic in their aspirations.
26. Nuclear-powered rocket engines were originally proposed for the upper stage of the Saturn and were developed sufficiently for ground testing in the 1960s. The nuclear-powered engine operated on a fairly simple principle: a small nuclear reactor would heat liquid hydrogen which, as it expanded, would produce thrust. A joint NASA and Atomic Energy Commission project, with Aerojet-General serving as prime contractor, the NERVA was never intended to fly and has not flown. However, radioisotopic thermoelectric generators (RTGs), which substitute for batteries, fuel cells, or solar power sources in furnishing nonpropulsive power for spacecraft, have been used successfully on the Pioneer 10 and 11 and Voyager interplanetary spacecraft.
27. The RL-10 engine was used in the Centaur upper stage and in the Saturn vehicle's upper stage. It was contracted to General Dynamics by the Department of Defense's Advanced Research Projects Agency.
28. James R. "J.R." Thompson, Jr. arrived at Marshall Space Flight Center in 1963 and remained with the center until 1983, when he moved to Princeton, N.J. to serve as deputy director for technical operations at the Princeton Plasma Laboratory. He returned to Marshall in October 1986, as the center's director. A distinguished rocket specialist, he was project manager for the shuttle main engine and vice-chairman of  the NASA inquiry into the causes of the shuttle Challenger explosion on January 28, 1986.
29. Borrowing from the technology developed for the RL-10 engine, the J-2 liquid hydrogen engine went into production in 1963. A fully self-contained propulsion system that could be stopped and restarted in orbit, the J-2 was manufactured by Rocketdyne Division of North American Aviation.
30. For a history of NASA's manned orbiting space station concepts, see Sylvia D. Fries, "2001 to 1994: Political Environment and the Design of NASA's Space Station System," Technology and Culture (July 1988), pp. 568-593.
31. The earliest conceptions of the Space Transportation System (1970-1975) included as well a space tug to move payloads between orbits, a low Earth orbit space station, cislunar space station, shuttle-carried space laboratory module, unmanned large lift vehicle using the external tank and solid rocket boosters, and an unmanned geosynchronous orbiting platform.