As more than 13,000 NASA engineers worked at their daily routines during the mid-1960s, pursuing the "moral equivalent of war" to which President Kennedy had summoned them, the solid ground of common national purpose had already begun to soften under their feet. In 1962 Kennedy dispatched American "military advisors" to Vietnam to help shore up the regime of Ngo Dinh Diem. Before the year was out, the Soviet Union boldly installed bases for nuclear missiles targeted at the United States in nearby Cuba, removing them only after Kennedy called the Soviet bluff and threatened to quarantine Cuba if the missiles were not removed. A year and a month later Diem was overthrown and murdered, and Kennedy lay buried, victim of an assassin's bullet. As civil rights protests began to spread in 1963, murder took one civil rights leader, Medgar Evers, and stalked another, Martin Luther King Jr., finding its mark in 1968. The President's brother, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, would fall to an assassin that same year as he was about to celebrate his victory in the California primary for the Democratic nomination for the upcoming presidential election.
American violence at home, as race-related riots spread from urban ghetto to urban ghetto, was matched by American violence abroad, as air raids ordered over North Vietnam in 1965 escalated into intensive bombing campaigns and massive U.S. troop deployments. Television, which had been acquired by 94 percent of all American households by the mid-1960s, rendered these scenes of violence commonplace and provided a world stage for an outpouring of public protest against U.S. military involvement in Vietnam. The "Counter Culture," "hippies," and the radicalism of the "New Left" underscored the disintegration of the simple bi-polar world of the 1950s, a world of easy contrasts between freedom and communism, rectitude and sin, success and failure.1 In March 1968, President Lyndon B. Johnson-so tough in the battle against the North Vietnamese, so tough in the battle against poverty and race discrimination-formally abandoned any hope of reelection.
 Raising the specter of runaway inflation as costs for the war in Vietnam and the social programs of the "Great Society" mounted, Johnson's economic advisors persuaded the President in 1965 that the budget for the space program would have to be contained. For an ambitious space program to follow the Apollo adventure, there was diminishing enthusiasm outside NASA. In fiscal year 1966 NASA's budget began its downward slide (although actual expenditures for 1966 were the highest of the decade).2 The prospect of national abandonment was only one of the ominous dimensions of the disintegration in the midst of which NASA's Apollo era engineers found themselves.
One of the most momentous changes in the technique of engineering-a change that would have been experienced by these scientists and engineers had they spent their careers with private firms or government agencies other than NASA-has been the development of high-speed electronic computation and data processing devices-the modern computer. NASA's Apollo era engineers agree on the importance of the computer revolution to the changing character of their work as much as they agree on any other single facet of their careers. "The power that a computer gives you in doing design is phenomenal," observes Michael Goldbloom, who spent the 1950s and 1960s working in private industry before joining NASA in 1970. "There are things that you can do in a day today that you used to not be able to do in four or five, six or seven months-things like ... optimizing a given design ... looking at various alternatives.... And the thing that's made it that way is the tremendous revolution that's occurred in microelectronics."
Philip Siebold, who began his career as a junior draftsman for the Martin Company and stayed with the aerospace industry for twenty years before going to work for the Johnson Space Center, remembers engineering when its principal tools were the drafting board and the slide rule. When he began working in 1942 "everybody started on the drawing board. Five years ago you got an engineer out of college and he didn't know what a drawing board was and didn't want to work on one. What he wanted to do was sit at a desk. Now, with CAD/CAM3 coming in ... [drawing] is becoming a big thing again because ... it's not the laborious thing of a big drawing board and pencils ... you're sitting there with a little light probe, and you can make the changes a lot easier. You can play much [sic] more games of getting a picture and twisting it around rather than all the labor of putting it [on paper]. So now people are getting more oriented back to drawing." As for the slide rule Siebold first used, "young people today don't know what one looks like .... Fifteen years ago we went from slide rules to little hand calculators we carried around.... You don't even see those any more. Everybody has a big computer sitting in their office.... You can do a problem today on a computer or a calculator that you couldn't do thirty years ago; it would take me a lifetime to do it."
One of the computer's effects has been a high degree of intermarriage among the subdisciplines of aeronautical engineering and design. Armed with their light pens and instantaneous drawings on computer screens, present-day aeronautical engineers  work with designs that instantly merge changes throughout an aircraft."Designs are being more and more blended," remarks Joe Lipshutz, another NASA veteran of an era (at Ames Research Center) when research into aircraft design concepts was largely a matter of drawing board, slide rule, and models mounted in wind tunnels. "It's getting kind of hard to determine where the wing stops and the fuselage begins.... You are not going to build an airplane now just because it is aerodynamically efficient . . . from an aerodynamicist's point of view." The introduction of computer-assisted design "means that your chances are that the numbers you get out of the wind tunnel and extrapolate ... to the actual flight conditions will get closer to what the final airplane is going to do."
The computer revolution has influenced more than aircraft design; combined with the laser, 4 it has created a new generation of experimental instruments for measuring structural tolerances and dynamic forces. 5 The computer has also brought about an enormous increase in the speed and sophistication with which things like spacecraft trajectories, for example, can be projected and analyzed. Someone like Sarah McDonald, who began working at the Army Ballistic Missile Agency in 1946 before she had even completed her college work in mathematics and physics, has especially clear recollections of the impact of the computer on her own work because she began her career using electromechanical calculators to determine trajectories for the rockets that would culminate in the first manned Moon landing of 1969. "We didn't have much data to establish those trajectories with," so she and others began "some of the first work in . . . defining the methods that were going to be used to land on the Moon." In the beginning "all we had was a Marchant and an old Friden calculator; the most it could do was take a square root, and [the machine] occupied much of a table."
McDonald's colleague at Marshall Space Flight Center, Joseph Totten, who began his working career in the mid-1950s, still keeps his old slide rule in his desk drawer. "I still use it.... I grew up with it and I still like it." But he readily acknowledges the changes that high-speed electronic computation have wrought in engineering. When he first came to work for NASA "the only computers we had were the 'hand cranks' [analog electro-mechanical calculators]," on which he did all of his calculations. "In the middle '50s the computer was something that was in about nine rooms and you couldn't see the end of it. I can remember the first mobile computer that we had. [It] was something about half the size of my desk and it had a bunch of boards . . . and it had a lot of pin holes in it and you put in your pin, worked up your program and then put the pins in to repeat the program on the boards. Then you put the boards in the computer and it could probably run a very simple program."
As Totten and his co-workers labored over stress and structural analysis for the more powerful Saturn booster required to deliver the Apollo spacecraft to the Moon, "anything we had to do had to be done quick. And to do it on the computer meant that you had to take time out to write a big program and then you had to go and get that thing into the computer and then you had to check it out before you could make sure that it was going to run properly.... We were using computers, but you only used computers on really big programs. On the little stuff, we just hand cranked it  out.... Now, hell, you've got hand calculators; you've got programmable memory in them." As he has shifted into managerial work, Totten mostly uses a computer, on his desk, as a word processor and information management device. It is the younger engineers fresh out of school who "are so computer oriented.... They get in here and they can start designing on a computer right away."
How NASA's Apollo era engineers assess the role of the computer in changing the nature of their profession depends somewhat on what kind of engineering they do. For engineers like McDonald, so much of whose work involved crunching numbers, the computer has been absolutely liberating. "You can walk up and down the hall and look at engineers working and a larger percentage of them are sitting at a terminal... they have tools available to them to make some of the menial parts of the job a lot easier, so you're able to do a lot more and broaden your scope." Another of NASA's few female engineers of the Apollo era communicates some ambiguity in her recollection of the progress brought about by the computer. Sandra Jansen began her work at Lewis Research Center in 1947 as one of NACA's small armies of women "computers." Trained, like her co-workers, in mathematics, Jansen spent her early working days reducing data that flowed in from testing facilities and wind tunnels.
While NACA's female computer pools were something of an occupational ghetto, they provided, at the same time, an occupational haven for women with a taste and talent for engineering trying to make a go of it in a male-dominated profession. With the coming of the electronic computers in the 1960s came men with mathematics degrees, men who gradually began to displace the older women. "Those of us with the math, who were trained then to move into the computer field were not discriminated against," and "there were also new younger women that were hired, too." Nevertheless, between the mid-1950s and 1960s the "almost totally female" computing sections were transformed into organizations employing about the same proportion of men and women. Jansen does not speculate about whether the women could have been retrained to adapt to the new technology. It may be that the computer did much more than transform the reckonings that make up much of an engineer's work. Once considered a repetitive, routine chore to be relegated to women, computing-the "high technology" of the 1960s-promoted the emergence of a proto-scientific profession requiring degrees in mathematics for admission. Whether that requirement arose out of the technology itself, or out of the aspirations of a socially mobile generation, is debatable.
The computer revolution, for all its benefits, has left many Apollo era engineers uneasy. Obsolescence is one of their concerns. Notwithstanding its marvels, the computer remains an "appendage of your own brain," reflects Michael Goldbloom. "You have to be completely facile in both designing software and programming it, as well as using it." Only then does it become "a tremendous help." Unfortunately "most engineers of my age, or even younger, that don't become fluent in the use of the computer become obsolete very rapidly." Now even people "who . . . know how to program-are used to using a computer-are not anywhere near as versatile or capable with those systems as a kid that starts playing with it when he's ten or eleven years old."
 Even though NASA's Ames Research Center has been at the forefront of NASA's efforts to develop advanced computational capabilities, some Ames engineers "were slow" to welcome the introduction of computers into their work. "There were some branches the t really d ragged their feet," remembers flight researcher Jim Davidson; they "didn't encourage anybody to take programming classes and these sorts of things." Some of these veteran engineers worry that the growing dependence of modern engineering on the computer is depriving its practitioners of that conceptual training and facility essential to theoretical and experimental creativity. Goldbloom recalls trying to help one of his children with calculus. He realized that "what can happen is you learn the rules so well that you know what to do, but you just don't understand the theory behind what you're doing. And it is very important that you understand the concept and [only] then use the computer as an aid, rather than use the computer and pure clip book method to do a job without understanding the process of what you're doing."
Although Frank Toscelli at Goddard Space Flight Center shares the general amazement at the change in engineering brought about by computers, he too has doubts. Toscelli can remember working on the first Orbiting Astronomical Observatory (OAO, launched in 1966), when "we were supposed to have a computer but decided it would be too complicated, that instead they'd put in some memory device, and this memory device could memorize two hundred thousand bits. We thought that was terrific. Now the memory has trillions of bits and bytes." Nonetheless, Toscelli doubts that computers have done much to advance engineers' conceptual grasp of the phenomena they are designing or operating. "Young people ... are very competent on the computer," he agrees, "but they ... sit in front [of it] all day long and play.... They throw numbers ... in the computer, and they provide a lot of numbers. But there is no connection with the real thing.... Older people know what's going on-the analysis-and the approach to take to a problem." "Engineers coming out of college now ... can leverage themselves by a tremendous amount," echoes Robert Ostrand at Lewis Research Center. "They've got to get some judgment by doing their own work. [Experience] is the only way you can get it."
Jack Olsson, who has remained an active and productive researcher throughout his career, cautions that "you have to be very careful to realize that the computer gives you only what you put in. There's a real tendency to believe that simply because it's in the print-out that it somehow has validity.... The particular area that I was most interested in when I started [boundary layer theory] . . . would never have developed if the computer had been there, because people would have just thrown the Navier-Stokes 6 equations on the computer and found out the solutions numerically.... There are certain ... simplifications to the differential equations which allow them to be integrated in closed-form solution that you can write out on a piece of paper and you don't need a computer; those would never have been developed." Yet "from those equations ... you get real insights into the problems that you never would get out of a computer.... So the computer is OK to fill in the last detail and get very accurate results, but understanding is not enhanced by the computer."
 The computer has become an essential tool of technological change; it is also- as a few of NASA's Apollo era engineers acknowledge-an instrument of human obsolescence as a younger generation of engineers competes for authority and occupational space with older engineers. Whether those older engineers are otherwise threatened by the young is not wholly clear; probably, as in most walks of life, some are and some are not. German-born Werner Posen, who grew up in a culture that readily cast the mantle of scientific authority on engineering, finds the younger generation of engineers "not better and not worse." But Joe Lipshutz, who, during his 30 years working in Ames Research Center's wind tunnels, has seen the computer compete with the wind tunnels, as the arbiter of what will fly, is much more sensitive to the danger of personal obsolescence. Younger engineers, he speculates, are "probably ... a lot smarter than I was twenty-five years ago.... They're a lot sharper. It's scary." But then, he surmises, "we probably scared the old engineers too with what we were taught in school that they were never taught."
Sarah McDonald agrees that the younger engineer has survived a more demanding curriculum, one in which computer proficiency is an essential part: "I wonder," she marvels, "how kids ever pass everything." "We've got some sharp kids coming out of college these days," observes Dan O'Neill, McDonald's coworker at Marshall Space Flight Center; "I don't know if they are brighter, but I think they are exposed to a lot more knowledge and information than I was, and the older people were."
As one listens to these engineers ponder the changes they have seen, one easily recognizes the fairly obvious ones-the computer's inroads and the inevitable hazards of age in a profession that lives on cumulative knowledge. But they think they detect more subtle changes in the content of engineering not only as a technical occupation, but as a profession. "One of the fundamental things" that differentiates his generation from the current generation of engineers, thinks Dennis Whitebread, is that his generation was "rooted with a fundamental concept of engineering.... Today engineers don't ... really perceive their activities as a profession in the same context as doctors, lawyers, and so forth." Professional identity, it seems, has been replaced by careerism. What Whitebread remembers is a profession-perhaps somewhat romanticized over time-in which "there was once more of a humanitarian kind of... engineering.... The engineer was here to produce for mankind"; engineers worked for "the enjoyment of what they are [sic] doing." Professional cohesion has dissipated, in Whitebread's reveries: younger engineers "don't see the need for pursuing professional licenses"; instead, they "only work in engineering for a period of time and they look forward to coupling this with an MBA" and moving ahead in management-which, to him, means abandoning the engineer's ancient calling.
If careerism has replaced the sense of a common calling in engineering, it may be that the circumstances under which engineers work has changed. Several of the Apollo era's engineers detect larger forces at work than differing internal motivations  between younger and older engineers. Careerism may, in fact, be a reasonable response to a decline in the opportunities and rewards for independent, creative work. When William Mclver first went to work at Lewis Research Center in 1957, the year the Soviet Union opened the "Space Age" with its launch of Sputnik 1, "you could come to NASA ... with a bachelor's degree and get involved in a research program right away." At Lewis, "we had very small groups of guys working on really big projects [anal each person working on a project had a significant part in it. I was involved [in] ... free flight rocket experiments.... We actually had to design the rocket engine. We had to do the instrumentation. We had to figure out the fuels. We had to design the burners, the combustion ... the whole shooting match, from beginning to end, reduce the data, do the calculations-everything."
Mclver doubts that similar excitement awaits the new engineer today, one like the "youngster" he met on her way to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory after graduating from a southern university. "She's involved in doing the software for the probability matrices associated with look-up tables and analyzing some data.... The project she's working on is extremely important," but this young engineer has little way of personally appreciating "the magnitude or the importance" of her work. Even if she and other newly minted engineers like her did have an opportunity for more comprehensive involvement in a particular project, McIver is not sure that they could make the best of it because of the fragmented and specialized nature of the education they have received. That is because he thinks they do not "receive the training which would orient them toward research and innovation and conceptualization," the aspects of engineering intelligence that, in Mclver's view, make for the most creative and rewarding engineering.
Implicit in William Mclver's doubts that modern engineers are adequately prepared for creative work is the notion that the most rewarding kind of engineering is research engineering. The premium he places on research derives at least partly from the research culture he entered when he went to work at Lewis, one of the original laboratories of the pre-NASA National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics. As the complex technological challenges of the Space Age shouldered aside the relatively more familiar problems of aircraft design, the amount of creative research that could be pursued comprehendingly by any single engineer-or indeed, encompassed in a basic engineering curriculum-diminished. Jim Davidson began his engineering career at Ames Research Center, another NACA laboratory, in 1944, after a year's stint with North American Aviation. "Aeronautical engineering, when I took it up," he remembers, "was airplanes-subsonic airplanes. And education had to change completely ... for supersonics and space dynamics." As Jack Olsson (whose NASA career also began at Ames before it became a part of NASA) looks back on the past 30 years, the most important change he has experienced has been just this change in emphasis from aircraft to space mission design. A contemporary of Mclver's, Olsson remembers the 1950s as a time when "airplanes [were] as close as you could get to the engineering of what was then almost "science fiction." And "suddenly, the opening of the space era made a great deal of difference for me because I went from airplanes-hypersonic vehicle design-very quickly ... into reentry system design and then, from there, into mission and system analysis."
 Not only research, but all aspects of aerospace engineering, have been consumed by complexity. The change that has most impressed Bob Jones, who has spent his career since 1958 working in propulsion systems for launch vehicles at Kennedy Space Center, is how "relatively simple" the original propulsion systems-like that of Centaur-were "compared to the complexity, redundancy and sophistication of today's systems." Initially "you used to be able to look at an engine schematic and start the engine. Prevalve opens, main fuel valve opens, et cetera.... The H-1 engine [on the Saturn 1B stage] was beautiful. All it needed was a 28-volt signal to the turbine spinner; [it was] solid concrete from then on; it relied on its mechanical [parts]. It didn't need any electrical stuff to operate the machinery." Now "I look at the schematic of the Shuttle Main Engine and I think God, what a dinosaur [I am]. I didn't even recognize the main fuel valve.... The plumbing has gotten more complex, and there's more of it, and the pressures are higher." Nonetheless, the old engineer's touch still has its place: "You still, in many cases, go around with soap solution looking at soap bubbles as a way of leak checking; that's what we were doing in the '50s. They have mass spectrometers now, and they've got ultrasonics; but the fundamental tools are the same-pressure gauges, soap checks. Notwithstanding the fact that "there's orders of magnitude [of] differences in electronics ... we'd say in the old 'propulsion bucket' that 'I don't trust nothing with a wire tied to it."'
The extent to which the technical requirements of the nation's space program can be blamed for the fact that the romance of engineering has been displaced by the complexity, fragmentation, and specialization that accompany the sheer magnitude of modern engineering enterprises is an interesting historical question. When Michael Goldbloom began working for the Sperry Gyroscope Company in 1949 in the automatic controls field, "the way the company was organized, the same group of engineers that did the actual mathematical analysis, what an autopilot should look like, was involved in the circuit design, was involved in systems testing, followed the system out to the field, was engaged in flight testing-in effect, you saw the product, your creation, from womb to tomb." Goldbloom and his fellow engineers experienced "a tremendous feeling of satisfaction in seeing a missile fly with your design built into it." Since those early days of the 1950s, engineering has become "so specialized," argues Goldbloom, "that I don't believe there is any company that has an organizational structure that will allow you to do that. Either you're in analysis, and do the original mathematical, conceptual design of the system; or you're involved in system testing; or you're involved in flight testing in the field. And you don't follow your designs completely through from womb to tomb.... Just like in the medical profession the field has become so complex that it's just more efficient for companies to specialize." The problem is that "for an engineer working in that area I don't believe it's anywhere near as rewarding as the experience that I had when I first started." If Goldbloom had his career to do over again, he would get a doctorate so he could either teach or do research; he would not work for a large company.
 Thomas Swain, a colleague of Jack Olsson's and Jim Davidson's at Ames Research Center, also recognizes that complexity and specialization are partly endemic to modern engineering. When Swain's generation "went to high school, there was just a word called engineering . . . that was a respected field to go into." But now, he asserts, "there's such a huge variety of technologies that people learn about at quite an early age ... there's this tremendous choice out there," and "when kids go into college they are aware of the greater variety of things." At the same time, Swain sees a factor at work within aerospace engineering itself which has contributed to the perception of deteriorating opportunities for significant creativity that can be experienced within an individual's career. That factor is the waning importance of single "breakthroughs" necessitated by serial plateaus in our understanding and command of fundamental technological problems in aerospace research and development.
In retrospect, Swain detects three such plateaus: the first was reached after NACA, with the military as its principal client, mastered the problems of transonic and supersonic flight. By the mid-1950s "the power controls and aerodynamic shapes and so forth" to master "supersonic flight had been conquered." Then came what Swain calls "the doldrums. There was some good routine work going on ... in the wind tunnels. But in the flight research end of it, there was just sort of a plateau, sort of like waiting for the next set of problems to show up." Then the rapid growth of commercial aviation, which has relied heavily on technological developments for military aircraft, generated a significant market for aeronautical research in its own right. Interest in a supersonic transport, vertical and short take-off and landing (VTOL, STOL) aircraft provided "the next set of problems.... So, all of a sudden there were these new areas" that stimulated a "resurgence of the aeronautical technology development" that occurred "when the NACA became NASA." A third new set of problems arose when Ames found itself part of a rapidly expanding new space agency and part of "a much bigger organization" which was "suddenly a source of funds." And NASA meant, once again, "exciting times," prompting many of Swain's colleagues to shift from aeronautical research to space science-as, for example, when Ames was given responsibility for the Pioneer series of interplanetary spacecraft in 1962.7
Abraham Bauer's ruminations also lead to a sense of passages and plateaus. His perspective is undoubtedly broadened by his early years as a chemical engineer and physicist for the Tennessee Valley Authority and Oak Ridge National Laboratory before moving to Ames in 1948. "There are always eras of golden opportunity," he reflects; "we had one, I lived through one ... working on the atom bomb ... ballistic [missiles] ... manned spacecraft ... planetary exploration. How often does a set of opportunities like that come up within one career?" Engineering is partly shaped by "the set of opportunities that are available.... But I can't foresee right now a string of developments of the kind that we've seen in the last thirty years coming along in the next thirty." NASA's Space Station Freedom program, initiated in 1986, will offer "lots of opportunities for carrying out things," but as Bauer sees  them, they won't be "quite as bold and challenging and new as sending a man to the Moon."
Indeed, the event that most unites the memories of NASA's engineers is the mission of Apollo 11, the successful effort to land men on the Moon and return them safely. The event signaled the United States' initial preeminence in space. It was a technical and managerial achievement of high drama and the first such achievement of the new age of television, one that enjoyed extraordinary visibility. Granting the drama, the unarguable technical accomplishment, the global visibility of that achievement-one must measure the Apollo program, if it is to be measured by any way other than its actual monetary cost, by its consequences. The Apollo program is a prime example of an effort by this society to buy knowledge-the "hard" knowledge of science and engineering-for an urgent national, and largely political, purpose: to demonstrate to a world divided by the Cold War that the "free world," and all the ideological and institutional habits with which it was associated, would prevail over communism. Here, too, was the great opportunity for those visionaries, especially among the European emigres, who dreamed of crossing the last frontier of space.
The full historical measure of the Apollo program must be taken not only by the extent to which it realized the aims of both politicians and visionaries, but by the extent to which it improved this country's ability to acquire and use knowledge for broad public purposes in general. Measured by this standard, the processes put in place or solidified in order to achieve the Apollo triumph are as important, for the long run, as the event itself and the undeniable technological "spin offs" frequently used to justify public "investments" of new science and technology. The technological boundaries that had to be crossed before Neil Armstrong could step on the Moon were the simpler ones. (Wernher von Braun is said to have quipped, "We can lick gravity, but sometimes the paperwork is overwhelming.") It was the managerial solutions that were the tough ones, for NASA's Apollo era administrators did not have carte blanche to operate as they chose. A formidable host of accumulated incentives and constraints normally obscured by the innocuous term "public administration" determined the larger consequences of the Apollo program, especially for the men and women who brought their knowledge, and developed that knowledge, to make it happen.
The incentives and constraints that determined the processes by which NASA could and did operate were both inherited and externally imposed. One was the culture of the decentralized in-house research organization inherited from NACA, with laboratories scattered from Hampton Roads, Va., to Moffett Field, Calif. The transfer to NASA during the early 1960s of former Army missile facilities at Redstone Arsenal and Air Force facilities at Cape Canaveral, Fla., and the creation of new NASA installations at Houston, Tex. and Beltsville, Md., ensured that federal administrative centralization (see Introduction) would have to compete with de  centralized laboratories (or "centers") for administrative control of the new space agency. However, an in-house research culture and a decentralized institution were not the only inherited constraints that decided how NASA would go about its work-and thus determine the shape of its engineers' careers.
Another of those constraints stemmed from the widespread public distrust, clearly translated into presidential and congressional politics during the 1950s, of "big government." Coupled with general misgivings about a large government establishment was the deeply rooted American faith in private enterprise which, through the mechanism of a free market, was thought the best guarantor of economic security and a free society. On this usually bipartisan ideological foundation, and partly in reaction to the alleged excesses of the New Deal, as well as a weariness with the massive mobilization required to emerge victorious from World War II, federal policy (enforced by the Bureau of the Budget and its successor, the Office of Management and Budget, established in 1970) required that the government acquire its goods and services from the private sector. What became known as federal acquisitions policy was translated into the dense forest of regulations and procedures governing "contracting out."
Thus was added a third constraint (or, in the eyes of Congress and OMB, incentive), on the way NASA would conduct the Apollo program and its other activities. NASA would do its work not by amassing a large complex of federally owned engineering and fabrication facilities or civil servants (over which NASA had little managerial latitude in any event), but by contracting for the bulk of its hardware and R & D work, as well as support services, to the private sector. (One NASA installation, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Calif., would be wholly a "contractor" operation.) Doing so had the obvious advantage of enabling the civilian space program to harness talent and institutional resources already in existence in the emerging aerospace industry and the country's leading research universities. 8 Contracting out had the additional advantage of distributing federal funding, which was funneled through NASA's centers, around the country and, as a consequence, creating within Congress a political constituency with a material interest in the health-and management- of the space program.
The military services had had the most experience with contracting, since they had acquired equipment and logistics support from the private sector since the early 19th century. More recently, it was the U.S. Army and the U.S. Air Force, which was created out of the U.S. Army Air Forces under the Defense Reorganization Act of 1947 that created the Department of Defense, that had the most experience with contracting to the private sector. As a result of the Army's Manhattan Project and the ballistic missile programs managed by the Air Force's Research and Development Command, both services came to rely on private contractors for advanced engineering and development work-the Air Force going so far as to create the Rand and Aerospace corporations. In 1959 the General Services Administration authorized NASA to use the Armed Service Procurement Regulations of 1947, which contained important exemptions, tailored for research and development work, from the principle of making awards to the "lowest responsible bidder."
 The practice of contracting out and associated acquisitions procedures were not the only body of administrative processes NASA acquired from military experience; equally important was the role of the program as the managerial device for executing the agency's broadly framed mission to explore space and advance aeronautical and space technology. Conceptually and administratively the NASA program was the umbrella under which projects were identified and planned, Congressional authorization and appropriations obtained, private sector sources solicited and evaluated, contract awards made, and contracts administered. Thus the interests of NASA program and project managers became closely intertwined with the interests of actual and prospective contractors. In turn, because programs and projects were managed through NASA's centers, the institutional health of the centers became intertwined with the interests of program managers and aerospace contractors. And, because Congress necessarily attended to constituent interests that included the communities in which NASA's centers and contractors were located, Congressional interest in NASA's programs reached well beyond the degree to which they might meet broad national aerospace policy goals.
Decentralized NASA centers, most with strong in-house traditions, NASA programs, and contracting out together constituted a tightly interwoven triangle of interest that could frustrate the ability of the agency's central managers at NASA Headquarters to forge a single coherent strategy for the civil space program. Most of NASA's Apollo era engineers did not, of course, experience directly the executive frustrations faced by NASA's senior managers during the 1960s and the 1970s. What they did experience was the bureaucratic and political consequences of the center program, and contracting triangle.
NASA's older engineers-those who transferred to the new space agency between 1958 and 1960 from NACA laboratories, the Army Ballistic Missile Agency and the U.S. Navy Research Laboratory and Ordnance Laboratory-share memories of working in in-house (civil service) facilities whose essential mission was research The NACA veterans predominate among this older group, and they measure the character of today's NASA against the remembered qualities of "the old NACA."
Robert Ostrand remembers Lewis Research Center, the NACA's aircraft engine research center in Cleveland, Ohio, during the 1940s and well into the 1960s, as a place whose primary work was technological innovation through research and testing. Ostrand went to work at Lewis in 1947, fresh from the University of Michigan. While at Lewis, during the 1950s, he did graduate work at Case Institute of Technology to earn a master's degree in engineering. The research emphasis of neighboring Case Western's graduate engineering program undoubtedly reinforced the notion, for Ostrand, that the best engineering was research engineering. Like Ostrand, William McIver had been able to obtain his graduate science and engineering degrees from Case Western while he worked at Lewis. During working hours he was able to do the same kind of original research expected of him by Case, an opportunity offered to numerous other Lewis engineers. NACA, observes McIver, was intended  to "promote the aeronautical capability [of the country].... We did the esoteric research and we transferred the technology to the commercial community."
Long-term support for basic research, whether in government or industry, is an act of faith, for it has to compete with more tangible and immediate claims on an institution's budget. It is not surprising, then, that basic research organizations tend to exist on relatively lean diets. "Before 1958," recalls Robert McConnell, a contemporary of McIver's at Lewis, "you never bought anything. If you had to experiment on something, you would cut something out of a blade and experiment that way. [If] you went to buy a 70 dollar item, you'd have to hock your right arm." Even so, working for the NACA at Lewis seemed special; it seemed special because of what McIver remembers as the "esprit de corps and reputation associated with the NACA.... A NACA [Technical] Report was divine; nobody argued with it." And the reason those technical reports seemed so authoritative was that they had been scrutinized and concurred in by NACA's other two laboratories, Ames Aeronautical Laboratory and Langley Research Laboratory. NACA was "just a very proud, very conscientious research outfit."
NASA's older engineers, who shared the experience of working with the NACA at the Ames and Langley laboratories have similar memories. The older they are, the more likely they are to believe that the end of NACA's innocence was brought about not by the creation of NASA in 1958, but occurred during and shortly after World War II. Jim Davidson went to work for Ames in 1944, when, as he recalls it, Ames was full of "people who were very dedicated ... working for very low pay, and there weren't many amenities.... You had this small core of really excellent, dedicated people who were doing work that was quite advanced." Thomas Swain has been at Ames almost as long as Davidson, having arrived there in 1946. The NACA Ames Aeronautical Laboratory he remembers was a place that "was very young.... The average age ... was about 30. Even the management was quite young." There was "a lot of enthusiasm, lots of spirit, a wide range of kinds of people. There were a number of the real scientists involved [in Ames's work] and a lot of practical engineers," and the laboratory was "100 percent civil service." One of the advantages of the young organization was that its "levels of management" were "shallower; there weren't nearly as many steps between the working level and the top level."
Davidson thinks NACA changed with the war; "a lot of people came in who maybe didn't have high academic backgrounds, and there were a lot of . . . bureaucrats running it.... We were on a pretty tight budget. Congress would spend money for expensive wind tunnels, but for other things-even instrumentation-they didn't budget" at adequate levels. There were "days [when] we had to sign in when we arrived in the morning and sign out when we left. Nobody could have coffee machines in the buildings. The building I was in . . . they had one telephone in the hall and the secretary would tell you when you had a telephone call."
As the aviation industry matured in the 1950s, it began to compete, along with universities, for the NACA's more creative talent. Swain attributes the gradual softening of the NACA's research edge to the widening pay differential between private sector and government. At the same time, universities like Stanford were able to offer successful NACA research engineers academic careers, with  "opportunities ... that are above money." Davidson believes that the NACA itself was partly to blame; he had become dissatisfied by the mid-1950s as he came to realize that "a lot of new developments and research were being done in the industry and in the academic community." The change, he thinks, was due partly to "the personnel involved ... what their directions, motivations were," and partly "the money Congress would spend on developing ... flight research vehicles" that NACA would test and develop for the U.S. Navy or the U.S. Air Force.
Nonetheless, there were compensations. Some of the intimacy and unspoiled atmosphere of Ames survived through the 1950s. When Joe Lipshutz began working there in 1957 on a cooperative U.S. Army/NACA program, "we were on the frontier at Ames. There was nothing north of us, and very little east of us.... The whole Santa Clara Valley was desolate compared to what it is today." One could "go to the top of the San Mateo mountains and see all the blossoms in the valley.... You could have a nodding acquaintance with everybody. You could go to certain individuals- these would be very sharp people-and pick their brains quite a bit.... You'd walk up and ask them, 'I've got a problem'.... And now there are as many contractors as there are civil service people on the field. Before ... for all practical purposes, it was all civil service."
Langley Aeronautical Laboratory was the grand doyen of the NACA. What some of Langley's veterans came to call the "Langley tradition" (and their junior colleagues came to understand as the Langley tradition) was virtually synonymous with the NACA. The Langley laboratory that Bill Cassirer went to work for in 1949 to do supersonic aerodynamic research was a place known for "a kind of bare bones living, but . . . almost everybody working to try to solve good research problems, and doing a good job-and the publications that came out of here were high class." Research, not engineering and development, was the organization's principal mission-a mission that, in Cassirer's opinion, became compromised as the NACA began, for survival's sake, to work on "some of the so-called research airplanes, or project airplanes-the X-1 and so on."9
Because it was a research institution, remembers Robert Strong, Langley's "product" was not a particular aircraft, but research reports and technical conferences. The quality of the NACA's reports and conferences was what the NACA's work was measured by, and the organization fostered a keen competition among individuals and groups of researchers, as well as NACA's centers to produce the "best." That meant a certain amount of duplication, as more than one research team or laboratory tackled a problem; the duplication, in the eyes of Strong and another Langley veteran, Charles Stern, was a small price to pay for the competition that stimulated the NACA's creative energies.
The NACA's emphasis on original research could be sustained because good researchers were reinforced by their environment and rewarded with increasing status and authority. While aeronautical engineers working on design, development, and manufacturing in the aviation industry during the 1950s might find themselves working in "bullpens," or rows of drafting tables, Langley aeronautical engineers remembers Stern, could be spared such an indignity. Private or shared offices lent to one's work the atmosphere of an individualized, professional, and original  enterprise. What's more, "everybody in the whole chain of command from me up to the director," recalls Cassirer, "had been a rather outstanding scientist.... It used to be that . . . most promotions were made from within, which meant you went from a branch head to a division chief, then from division chief to associate director, and then finally, director."
The NACA's culture was more than a research culture, however. Its ethos was broad enough to embrace the technicians who could not claim to be involved, except in a supporting role, in the fundamental work of the professional research engineer. Ed Beckwith, a technician who came to Langley in 1953 as an apprentice in the sheet metal shop, laments the passing of NACA with as much energy as his co-workers who were professional engineers. "We had people that you respected. You might not agree with them and they might really tongue whip you, but you respected those people.... Back then," insists Beckwith, "you had big people, [people like] John Stack 10-hard, tough, he knew what he wanted and really went after it." The Langley tradition, for someone like Beckwith, was "competence, respect, and assertiveness-leadership; things that we don't see now."
The perception that what distinguished the NACA was a unique in-house research culture, one that fostered individual creativity and independence of mind, persisted into the post-NASA years, when it continued to be idealized by NASA's younger engineers. Although the nature of Lewis Research Center's work had already begun to shift to more applied, project work by the time John Songyin moved there from General Electric in 1961 (Songyin started out at Lewis working on the development of nuclear electric power systems for space vehicles for the Atomic Energy Commission), this younger NASA engineer imbibed Lewis's NACA identity as a fundamental research laboratory: "It's my perception that, during the NACA days, right up to the time when the NACA became NASA, there was a different kind of atmosphere here, they were more interested in pretty basic phenomena.... It would be looking into the phenomenon of shock waves, whether it be wing foils or shapes of fuselages or around propellers or things like that."
Marylyn Goode, Richard Ashton, and Ed Collins all joined NASA's ranks after 1960, going to work at Langley Research Center. For Collins, the NACA culture persisted well into the 1960s, at least during the period that Floyd Thompson served as director of Langley Research Center (1960-1968). Under Thompson "we had a very research-oriented center." Thompson "was interested in research and wanted researchers to get their due share and notice.... As the other directors came in they were more hardware oriented, more program oriented; research ... they couldn't understand it." Goode and Ashton also acknowledge the "Langley tradition"- only they do so with some ambivalence. That tradition, to Goode suggests "a very, very dedicated engineer who has very little love of material things, but is wholeheartedly interested in his project and his science, and he's the kind ... who walks around looking like a 'nerd,' very intent on his project.... There's some of them still out there." Richard Ashton, a black Langley engineer with an advanced degree in engineering physics, after 19 years had not progressed beyond a GS-12. Although he insists that he is glad he made his career with NASA, his comment on the Langley tradition strikes a sour note: it's "arrogance," he says; "the attitude that we're the  best in the world and no one is better than us ... the feeling that we're superior to everyone else."
Ritual celebrations of the NACA culture-however warranted-might have receded into the backwash of NASA's own institutional life had it not been for the fact that others who completed NASA's initial complement of scientists and engineers came largely from the Navy's research laboratories, from which they brought institutional values similar to those extolled by the NACA group. Transferring directly in 1959 to the new Goddard Space Flight Center, they remember, like their new colleagues from NACA, an intimate, rough and ready, in-house research organization that survived into the 1960s. "I still have the boots that they issued me so we could get to the building if we were first in down the road here," remembers Henry Beacham; "the mud was pretty deep." The first Explorer satellite built at Goddard "went from the building it was built in ... to the test facility ... on a little hand-pulled cart." Getting things done was relatively easy: "It used to be possible to say, 'Gee, this is what we want to do. Let's get together after work and figure out how to do it, propose a new building and get it in the budget in a week's time instead of four years.... We used to take risks, personal risks.... We were bending the rules, but [if] it was the right thing to do and ... we got called on it, we'd just explain it was the right thing to do and we'd go on from there."
Entering Goddard fresh out of college in 1966, Hank Martin has similar memories of problems solved informally by heads bent over a table, or satellites that could be carried in one's hands. "There was a time at Goddard," muses Ernest Cohen, who came to Goddard in 1960, when "if you got an idea, you could run with it. You could build an instrument, or you could do a lot of bootlegging ... getting experiments pushed through that you'd like to see done."
One of the things that makes it easy to get things done in any organization is familiarity and common purpose. That was brought to Goddard by the Navy people was apparent to those who, like Cohen and Frank Toscelli, were not among the original NRL or NOL group. Toscelli remembers Goddard being run by the former Navy people, who quickly moved into the new center's management positions; they "had the previous experience" and "knew each other." At first Toscelli did not mind being something of an outsider because "the work was interesting ... and we were young, and full of enthusiasm." As at the former NACA laboratories, so also at Goddard: the newer staff soon learned to venerate the culture of their predecessors' memory. "I wasn't here in the early years of Goddard," explains Paul Toussault, who did not arrive until 1970; "but talking to people, I can see that it was an exciting time and things got done in a hurry.... The first spacecraft that went to Mars, the firs] planetary spacecraft, which was Mariner 4, from the time of the first concept to the time it actually flew was like a year ... amazing!"
Whether an organization is a private corporation or a public agency, it must market a wanted product or service in order to flourish. Investing in knowledge for its own sake is a long-term proposition, and the conviction that increases in  knowledge are desirable is not widely or demonstrably shared in a democratic society suspicious of the "high culture" claims of intellectuals.11 Historically the federal government has given modest funding to the pursuit of "pure" knowledge through the Office of Naval Research, the National Science Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Humanities; however, not withstanding the claim of disinterestedness with which pure knowledge is distinguished from useful knowledge, even government support of science and the arts and humanities is utilitarian: at the very least there is the expectation that the nation will be somehow enhanced by art, by literature-and very much by science, which conventional wisdom holds to be the wellspring of technological progress.
Advanced technology for national defense has, perforce, dominated the federal government's support of research and technology, and it was the military's approach to managing weapons research and development that led to the managerial device of the R & D "project" and "program." The project (the development of a single entity or system) and the program (a cluster of interrelated projects) became, in effect, products and product lines marketed by the military to Congress and the White l louse. As the NACA was transformed into NASA, the NACA's more modest aeronautical research role-the "service" it provided the military and aviation industry-was rapidly replaced by the need to direct its research and development know-how to specific projects or programs, in particular, the manned sequence known as the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo projects leading to the landing of a man on the Moon in 1969.
The effect of this reorientation of the NACA's and NASA's mission on the careers of its engineers was momentous. The design and execution of a successful project became the measure of success, and all of NASA's people were caught up in the annual need to market the agency's projects and programs to Congress in order to obtain the appropriations necessary to maintain themselves. For the last 20 years, insists Bill Cassirer, one of Langley Research Center's most accomplished research engineers, NASA has been caught up in "developing and engineering," not significant research. "When we decided to go with Apollo, we said ... everything else is just expanding the 'state of the art.' There were no more breakthroughs required for Apollo.... The main effort was monitoring, building, developing, and expanding the database so we could build a pump . . . [so] we could guarantee success when we made the decision to 'Go."' Overhead-facilities, advanced sustaining research, administrative support-corporate costs both mundane and noble, but not billable to a particular project, was harder to come by than appropriations for projects and programs. The tyranny of the project and program system over NASA's organizational life can also be explained by the fact that the project or program became the institutional and budgetary umbrella under which contracts were awarded to firms located around the country in the home districts and states of the members of Congress who voted on the agency's budget year after year.
Many engineers who have spent over a decade working for NASA have come to take for granted the project and program as a way of organizing the agency's work. At Ames Research Center, Thomas Swain supposes NASA has only followed a pattern found in private industry, where the emphasis is on projects, and  manpower needs can be justified only in relation to them. Fred Hauser arrived at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in 1968, at the height of the "boom" times of Apollo. The son of a mechanical engineer for RCA, Hauser's great aspiration is to become a project manager because "if you had to pick one kind of job as being key to NASA ... it is the job of project manager." Langley Research Center, reminisces Richard Ashton, "used to be a big basic research center, but it's not anymore; it's projects, projects.... We are changed from worrying about contributing to man's knowledge of basic research ideas [and] principles to doing very big projects.... This thing is called being 'user friendly'; NASA is changing into a user friendly agency. That means we have to go out and sell ourselves like we have a product ... we have to get customers." The importance of projects and programs is equally evident in Ed Collins's frustration with Langley Research Center's preoccupation with its traditional mission of aeronautical research. Unlike Ashton, Collins thinks Langley did not move far or fast enough to capture projects. Langley's directors did not hustle for "a large chunk of Space Station like Marshall, Johnson, and Goddard [who] have big pieces of it." Langley got "what was left," and "our funding is hurt because of that. We're not on the cutting edge."
Some NASA engineers, however, believe that the added costs of the federal government's project and program system for national R & D are, if not measurable, nonetheless real and substantial. Lacking the promise of ongoing support for a government agency that produces widely appreciated items like national defense, public health, or social security, NASA has had repeatedly to market itself, and never more so than when the "boom" of the Apollo program was followed by the inevitable decline in popular interest that followed the return of Apollo 11. However the elaborate institutional machinery developed to carry out the Apollo program could not easily be disassembled, given the interlocking interests it created among NASA's installations, contractors, and geographic regions represented in Washington.
The Apollo project gave NASA a "job [that] was obviously much bigger than we had people to do. There was almost no limit.... Every center had plenty to do," recalls Werner Posen at Marshall Space Flight Center, "and ... when Apollo was done, we had to really fight for every dollar. It was not clear what NASA's role would be in the long run . . . we were really recognizing that our territory [was] going to be restrained, and constrained." That, in Posen's view, was the origin of "the turf battles that are now raging between centers. Everybody wants to become essential; everybody wants to do something that [would cause] the agency [to] go under if they didn't have you." Michael Goldbloom, who has spent all of his NASA career at Headquarters in the Office of Space Sciences, echoes Posen's observation. During the 1 960s, he remembers "relatively no intercenter rivalry because the problem there was for each center to get enough competent engineers to do the job, and there was more than enough work to go to every center." After Apollo 11, "several things happened: One was the temporary weakening of support for science and technology ... the product of the 1960s and the Vietnam war." With the "downturn of the NASA budget . . . the centers were fighting for a smaller and smaller pie." Had a private corporation faced a comparable market loss, it might have closed a  division. But "that is very difficult to do in a political sense for a government agency. What happened was that each of the centers tried to get a wider and wider charter so that they could retain the bulk of their people.... It wasn't a healthy kind of competition, because centers were fighting for their survival."
The consequences were probably natural. The newer space centers-Johnson, Marshall, and Kennedy-were born of space technology projects, especially for the manned space program (the only program, NASA management insisted, that could command sizable public enthusiasm and appropriations). But the older NACA centers struggled to adjust, their fate temporarily obscured by the largesse of Congress in the initial years of the Apollo project. Chances for good work at Lewis Research Center, where Robert Ostrand had worked since 1947, abounded in the early 1960s as the center's staff "doubled from 2500 to 5000 or so." But when Apollo 11 was over, "a thousand people were out of work." While during the 1970s and early 1980s barely 10 percent of the NASA budget went to aeronautical research, the old NACA centers took more than their share of the NASA budget cuts that set in after 1966 as they watched their 11 percent share of 1965 decline to the 7 percent of 1968.
It took a while for the lesson to sink in. The centers would have to capture portions of NASA's big projects, like Lewis's capture of the Space Station power system in 1984. And they would have to harness "the politicians ... so our politicians know who we are and know why they're our representatives." "What was going to save us in the short term," insists Ostrand, "was politics-nothing else would save us. But in the long term we might get ourselves postured [through projects! so that wouldn't happen again." Aeronautical research would have to be supported with funds diverted from major project assignments for sustaining engineering research. For Ronald Siemans, an engineer at Johnson Space Center, it is no revelation that politics is "a tremendous power," like the politics that accompanies a decision about where to locate a project office. "You've got Texas politicians and you've got Mississippi 12 politicians and you've got Ohio politicians and all that get [sic] into the game."
As public support for the civilian space program remained soft (at least, as measured by NASA appropriations, which have not recovered their 1965 level in constant dollars),13 the number of government employees NASA was able to support continued its steady decline to about two-thirds (in 1988) of the almost 36,000 people on the NASA payroll in 1966. (NASA contractors' employees outnumbered civil servants 3 to 1 in the early 1960s, ballooned to 10 to 1 in 1966, and subsided to about 2 to 1 in the 1980s.14) Faced with deteriorating support, NASA executives had a legitimate desire to protect the centers whose most skilled technical employees were essential to the agency's ability to go about its work. One way to protect the agency's human resource was to use it more efficiently. By designating "roles and missions" for each of the centers, NASA attempted to avoid duplication and ensure that each installation had essential functions related to the particular project work assigned to it. Richard Ashton at Langley remembers that in 1976 "we had a reorganization.... Across NASA there was 'roles and missions' rather than all centers doing everything.... We're going to break the whole NASA stable up into various categories: 'Langley, you do aeronautics: the body, the wings, the fuselage,  etc. Lewis, you will do the propulsion system for it.' They said, 'Marshall, you will do the rockets. Goddard, you will take care of the atmosphere around the Earth and interrogating and doing what have you with the satellites once they are launched. Houston, you are responsible for manned spaceflight, and Kennedy, you are responsible for [launching] the big rockets. Ames, you are doing environmental quality and deep space planetary stuff.' I used to work in aeronomy, the study of upper atmospheres of this planet and other planets-and that went to Ames.... We used to do helicopter research; that left here." (Ames Research Center took over most of NASA's helicopter research.) Part of the intent of the "roles and missions" concept may have been to reduce intercenter rivalry, but institutional specialization has apparently done little to relieve institutional particularism.
Another device was the "matrix" organization of technical work, so that scientists and engineers would be kept fully occupied in their specialties through the phases and transitions between individual projects. However efficient the "matrix" idea may have been from a management perspective, many engineers experienced it as a means of further splintering work that had already become fragmented by the growing complexity of engineering. Through NASA's matrix system (borrowed from industry), engineers are assigned to functional divisions from which they are detailed to particular projects as needed. Their time and work is charged to the projects in a lease-like arrangement that allows the institution to maintain its science and engineering divisions.
Few engineers seem to have welcomed the opportunity for variation in their work offered by the matrix system. Rather, what they experienced was further disintegration. Next to the need to leave engineering for management to "get ahead," the matrix system is Ernest Cohen's biggest complaint. "The matrix system is the system whereby ... instead of assigning you to a project for 40 hours, they say 'you're going to help this project 20 hours a week and this one 10 hours a week and this one 10 hours a week.' The problem comes in when they both want the 20 and 30 percent at the same time." Cohen would like his work better if, when "you wanted to build an instrument, you had a team report every day full time and [that] team works on it." "The way NASA works," observes Bettylou Sanders at Johnson Space Center, "you can't ever take credit for doing one thing because you always have [only] one piece." Perhaps Cohen's and Sanders's discontent comes from misplaced expectations: Paul Toussault at Goddard may accurately characterize work under the matrix system (and allude to its true origins) when he quips: "It's like somebody working in an automobile factory and they work on part of the thing and it goes on."
Hank Martin at Goddard explains the matrix system this way: "You've got a .. . discipline like heat transfer: that's kind of like one column [of engineers] that you've got: heat transfer and power systems, electrical system structures.... And those people are supposed to be smart in those specific systems. Now, where do they apply their smartness? Along the different rows you've got the Space Station project, you've got the Space Telescope project, you've got these other [projects]. So that forms your matrix.... It's not the same thing as working on a focused project with the other people.... You pick up some information, but really appreciating what the other guy is doing . . . and maybe giving up some of your design margin because that  guy is in trouble . . . there was some magic . . . you've been involved since day one and when all is said and done, this thing is in orbit.... [There's] that sense of momentum, that sense of teaming with the other people.... I don't think it happens to all the troops involved because the pieces get broken down into such small parts." Martin thinks there is more behind the matrix system than efficiency. "A lot of the ... way we tend to fragment things," he speculates, "is based on lack of willingness to take risks. If you have that rigid structural breaking down of things, it makes everybody feel a lot more comfortable. It allows you to manage by committee, rather than an individual saying, 'Hey, is my neck on the line?"'
How the matrix system relates to the conservatism that inheres in a compulsive avoidance of risk is something of an imponderable. That kind of conservatism, if George Sieger at Johnson Space Center is right, comes not only from the diminished intimacy with a total project that any individual has; it also comes from a diminished intimacy with engineering that NASA's managers have. Engineers "are [making] constant trade-offs between gaining our objectives and risking the flight system. Management has to be willing to accept that same risk, and unless management recognizes what trade-offs we're making and why we're making them and how we're making them," management is ill equipped to make critical choices. Sieger "can't conceive" of a current NASA manager who has enough of an understanding of the technical issues about any one system to confidently affirm-or overrule - an engineering judgment.
David Strickland, who had a decade of experience building missiles for private industry before joining NASA, thinks the size, complexity, and costs of space projects are to blame for the agency's conservatism. "I blew up Atlases on my watch when I was 35. I use that somewhat figuratively. Atlases blew up, and the next day we went to work and we sat down and figured out why we blew that one up and three months later we tried again.... Nobody was looking down his throat because nobody expected perfection then.... The programs have gotten bigger; therefore, our mistakes get more expensive." That space projects should get "bigger," and thus more costly, is a virtual given in NASA's manned space flight program. NASA successfully argued at the end of the 1970s that the cost of relying on "throw-away" boosters to launch humans into space justified developing the Space Transportation System with its reusable Shuttle orbiter. Since then, the notion that NASA should aim for longer stays in space, which require more complex and costly hardware, has become the widely accepted requirement for any new space undertaking-most notably the Space Station Freedom program.15
Other engineers, like Toussault, who works in NASA's space science program, do challenge the need for size and complexity. Echoing one of NASA's most articulate outside critics,16 Toussault speculates that "NASA usually doesn't like those things [inexpensive spacecraft]; they like big projects, really costly." Each project represents jobs to be protected and turf to tee expanded: "projects-that's life and death to these centers." So long as the project and program system fosters large, multipurpose and expensive missions, there is little incentive for smaller, less complicated and thus more cost effective ones. 17 "Competition," claims Toussault, "is what makes the [space] program go. As soon as you start cooperating, you're  going to have nothing. You're going to start squabbling and shell, the next thing you know, nobody does anything. Everybody takes up their marbles and goes home."
The accumulation of knowledge through basic research is at a disadvantage in a world of R & D projects and programs because basic research cannot guarantee a marketable product in the forseeable future. Nor does the matrix organization of engineering work promote basic research, for the intellectual command of a research problem requires continuity of involvement with that problem. Further militating against basic research in the U.S. government's approach to the acquisition of knowledge is its procurement system, which relies on the contract, which must be awarded for an identifiable product or service. Only the basic research grant, awarded to university researchers by NASA and other federal agencies with research as part of their missions, tolerates the spending of revenues for a process that may not lead to a useful outcome. Thus the constituency for federal grant programs has been largely confined to the universities that benefit from them, while the constituency for federal contracting-U.S. industries and the regions whose economic well-being depends on their profits-has remained a strong material supporter of an ideology that favors private over government enterprise generally
The notion of contracting out was, of course, not novel with the Eisenhower administration. Since the early 19th century the military services had procured goods and services from private suppliers. What the military had not wholly relied on commercial suppliers for was ordnance-hence the U.S. Army's scattered armories, or "arsenal system." The experience of World War II suggested that effective innovation in weapons technology can make the difference between victory and defeat. And in the 20th century innovation in weapons technology was no mere Edisonian enterprise; it required systematic, institutionalized research and development programs.
Ames Research Center's Thomas Swain, who has provided as thoughtful a retrospective on a NACA and NASA career as any of the engineers we interviewed, was able to have something of a global view of the shift to contracting that coincided with the transformation of NACA into NASA. After 1958 "it was obvious" to Swain "that the new organization ... was a different animal. It was now part of a much bigger organization and it was suddenly a source of funds. NASA assumed the role of contractor [to the centers], of providing the motivation and the funding for research and development contracts outside of NASA. The NACA didn't work that way; NACA had very little on the outside; it was almost completely an in-house effort." When Ames was "part of NACA," the center had a certain amount of money which it "pretty much had control over [and] spent as they saw fit [in] in-house coordination with the other centers and NACA headquarters, and with the advice of the various ... technical committees." Then "there was that shift to a different relationship between the centers and the industry. In the fate '40s, the early '50s," recalls Swain, "the companies didn't engage in a lot of exploratory research work they were pretty narrowly directed toward specific airplane projects." But after 1958  "it was not so much outside people coming in for answers, but coming in looking for contracts. Big aircraft companies, Lockheed or Rockwell, would be just as often approaching NASA with proposals for research work that they do, rather than proposing work that NASA do in-house."
Most NASA engineers' experience of the project and program system has been indirect; they have seen the broader institutional dynamics of the agency shaped by the politics of capturing projects and programs to survive, if not flourish. Reliance on contracting was a necessary accompaniment of the government's unprecedented need to harness talented and industrial capacity to carry out its weapons systems programs, for that capacity was located primarily in the private sector. Contracting, observes Bob Jones, who spent much of his NASA career at Marshall Space Flight Center, "goes clear back to the Army versus the Air Force concept, the in-house Army arsenal versus the Air Force contractor" approach to systems development. "I suspect that you have to do that in this country; a program of that magnitude- Apollo-you had to rely on industry to build those things. Marshall built some of the hardware in the old days themselves, as civil servants." But the hardware required for the manned space flight program "exceeded what Marshall Space Flight Center had done. Marshall even contracted the Redstones out."
Jones and others who have worked mostly at Johnson, Marshall, and Kennedy space centers, take contracting for granted as the only way the agency can go about its business and thus a necessary dimension of a NASA career. But virtually all of NASA's older engineers have seen the substance of their careers directly and immediately distorted by the contracting process, and none more so than those who came to NASA in the expectation of doing research. Robert McConnell, a chemist, came to Lewis Research Center in the early 1950s to do materials research. He remembers when he could "work on a thing [research problem] 3 to 5 years, and either you are [sic] successful or-generally you are successful in some degree; we were never unsuccessful.... Maybe you didn't get the answer you were after. You found out something else." Then, in the mid-1970s, he left the section for which he worked when he "saw the writing on the wall ... we did less and less basic research.... We're practically devoid of actually looking into a basic research problem now." As McConnell experiences NASA, "people are more interested in-not [research] finding-but programs. You know, that's the natural consequence o contracting." Lewis Research Center receives "money from NASA Headquarters just like a company receives it from [corporate] headquarters and, therefore, when you say you're going to do something, that's what you're going to do.... Maybe that's the best way ... if that's what they want to do, that's fine; but that's not the environment I came into."
For John Songyin, who did research for the National Bureau of Standards before coming to Lewis in 1961, the 1970s was a period when contracting replaced basic research as the center's approach to engine development. The significance of the shift for him, and many others like him, was that instead of doing engineering work himself, he became a "contract monitor," overseeing the project-dedicated work of contractor industrial engineers. The shift to contracting, which at Lewis "really accelerated in the '80s," meant that there was "less and less real technical work that  we'd be responsible for in-house. We ourselves would not be doing the hands-on kind of work, but overseeing and monitoring the work of contractors." Songyin's job likewise shifted from engineering to project management, which he's "not as thrilled about ... as I was in the early days where I had more hands-on experience." Thomas Alvarin, also at Lewis, once "had a couple of technicians under me.... But at this point, this is just a project office, so mainly the work is contract monitoring." His experience is shared by his Lewis co-worker Matthew O'Day, whose version of what contracting has meant to him is simple: "I like doing the work myself more than giving it to somebody else to do."
The Lewis engineers' difficulty in adapting to contracting mirrors the response of engineers at Langley Research Center, another former NACA laboratory. One after another they complain of the deprivation of inherent interest and excitement of research that occurred as contracting usurped in-house work. "I think contracting is hellified ... it's terrible," exclaims Richard Ashton. "There are a lot of new engineers and scientists coming out of school ... joining the government, expecting to do great things, get hands-on experience. They can't do that because we're contracting the stuff out. Our computer facilities ... we don't have a single NASA employee that works there." Ed Collins, who brought unusual experience for the time in integrated optics to Langley, had hoped to build a small laboratory at the center in the field, but he was told, "Ed, that is not the way we do things at Langley anymore. We're going contracts; all we want you to do is stay technical enough that you can monitor the contract efficiently. We don't want you in a lab."
Bill Cassirer also sees NASA following the Air Force pattern, and thinks the practice of contracting is ruining the agency's ability to do any good research. "At Wright Patterson Air Force Base," he alleges, "they used to do some real good research work early before World War II. And then they suddenly became nothing more than a bunch of contract monitors; they put out nothing of significance for years. 18 We have had some contract monitors here, and the poor guys, they just lose. First of all, you never really assign the sharpest people to the contract monitor [job] because you don't want to tie them down with the burden. The people that you do assign normally have some good ability; but after they have been contract monitors for a couple of years, they've lost that.... It's a great way to lose your research inertia." The transition to contracting sets in motion a cycle which makes it yet more difficult for the government to maintain its own engineering know-how. Engineers like Henry Blackwell at Langley, who tried to maintain their proficiency, found the going tough. Blackwell works in computerized data acquisiton at Langley and has watched a friend of his scooped in a research project. "About the time he'd gotten all of his ducks together to publish, here comes this article by a guy in one of the trade publications, the same stuff! The guy was consistently beating him to publication. Part of it was the procurement cycle: Because he was a glamour boy in the industry, all he had to do was say, 'I need this,' and 2 weeks later, he's got it." Blackwell's friend, on the other hand, "would say, 'I need this,' and then he'd have to draw up this [procurement request! and go out for bids, and evaluate the bids, and then we'd evaluate, and then we'd do this and that and so on . . . a lot of people got discouraged," and, as a consequence, thinks Blackwell, "we've gotten away from the forefront of  innovation, development." His own section "in the last couple of years ... has become proposal and contract writers and monitors ... more or less an extension of procurement." Contracting out may "save the government money. But how about morale? Now industry is just outstripping us." Even if contracting out for engineering could be justified because "good people ... are smart enough to have gone outside to another company and are getting more money than we are," argues Ed Beckwith, the technical people left behind end up providing free training to the lower-level skilled personnel that industry hires. Beckwith claims, "I spend an awful lot of my time training contractors or working with them to do the same job over and over again ... because the contractor keeps pulling in new people [to replace] those people who left."
Marshall Space Flight Center, although not a former NACA center, was an inhouse operation in its earlier incarnation as an Army installation. Like their fellow engineers at Langley, Ames, and Lewis, Marshall's engineers are restive with a system that relies on contractors for engineering as well as support services. Sam Browning began working for the Army Ballistic Missile Agency in 1956 after earning his degree in chemical engineering. By the mid-1960s Marshall had made the transition: "We didn't do a great deal in-house in those days ... which was sad.... I didn't really get to go into the laboratory and get hands-on type stuff, which I would have loved. I had to go visit a contractor's facility, who [sic] was having all the fun.... I came up with the ideas or picked them up from other people, and we secured funding from Headquarters to go fund the activity, and we'd award a contract to some propulsion company." Browning feels a personal loss from having been denied opportunities to accumulate his own experience with advanced propulsion systems-but the loss is not just his. He is currently working on a laser propulsion project that is "almost more research than technology, because we had to establish that you can, in fact, sustain a stable plasma in hydrogen supported by a high-powered laser." The work involves "an awful lot of high-temperature physics and computational flow dynamics, and a lot of other good stuff I don't know much about.... My frustration with that is that I don't understand enough about it to be able to intelligently guide the people who are working on the program."
Although NASA engineers who began their careers working for the NACA or who work in former NACA laboratories appear most sensitive to the loss of in-house research opportunities as a result of NASA's reliance on contracted work, engineers at post-1958 NASA centers (Johnson, Kennedy, and Goddard) are even more aware of the hidden costs of contracting. Paul Toussault and Frank Toscelli at Goddard both lament the loss of "in-house expertise," and do so especially because of NASA's increased reliance on contractors. "If you haven't really done some of the stuff once in your life and really gotten involved with it," insists Toussault, "then I don't see how you're going to be able to be a good monitor of these contracts."
Richard Williams at Kennedy likewise complains about NASA's reliance on contractors; for those who would argue that the nation does not suffer a loss of engineering know-how as a result-it only shifts it to the private sector-he has an answer: "Industry, on its own, is not going to be doing the type of things that we need to be doing." For example, in developing the Space Station, "we ought to be  looking at new and innovative ways of manufacturing, putting this whole thing together. If we don't do it, it's not going to be done." Or there is the notion, a cornerstone of President Ronald Reagan's space policy issued in 1988, that the private sector should take over launch services, for which the government would be a buyer: "Every one of the contractors has come back and said 'it's not commercially economically feasible.... Without government support [we won't do it]." In terms of "overall, long-range benefits, without government support, we're going to lose ground."
It could also be argued that a policy that builds aerospace engineering talent and know-how in the private sector is inherently sound public policy, since the federal government has always had to rely on the private sector to produce essential items during a national emergency. The Apollo program, which relied almost entirely on contracts to private industry, was certainly as much an industry as a government agency's triumph. But failures, such as the 1967 fire on the Apollo 204 spacecraft in which three astronauts perished, inevitably raise questions about the degree of vigilance the government can or will exercise over its contractors, especially if the technical expertise is weighted on the side of industry.19
The issue has persisted, especially at the manned spacecraft centers. The costs of missed opportunities in research are long term and difficult to assess in any event. But at Johnson Space Center and Kennedy Space Center, the two NASA installations with primary responsibility for NASA's largest program, human space flight complex operations with low error tolerance are a fact of daily life; thus, the costs of failure can be immediate and severe. The tragedy of the Challenger accident in January 1986 was felt throughout NASA, but arguably most personally et Johnson and Kennedy Space Centers. Yet it did not take the Challenger accident for one of Johnson's most experienced flight operations engineers to become uneasy about the consequences of contracting for the reliability of space flight operations.
Managers at NASA Headquarters, observed George Sieger in the autumn of 1985, fail to recognize "the synergism that has always existed between operations and engineering; they tend to consider the operating element as a luxury [and thus] feel they can contract out the operating element." But, warned Sieger, "as they move further in that direction, we will find ourselves in the same position of impotence that I think the Nuclear Regulatory Commission ... as well as the Department of Transportation, as well as the military services [are in]." During the aftermath of a serious nuclear reactor fuel cooling misfunction at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania in 1979, Sieger worked for 3 years on post-accident studies with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and a variety of utility operators and contractors. He came away from that experience believing that "the healthiest nuclear plant operator" was Duke Power, because "they do their own design, they do their own engineering. They do not hire an integration contractor to build their facilities; they manage their contracts and then they operate the plant," as do many European utilities. At the heart of Sieger's concern is the belief that contracting out operations severs a vital communications link between managers, engineers, and operators that must be preserved if operations are to be effective and reliable. However, the weakening link between operations and engineering that disturbs Sieger is only part of his larger  concern, which is (as he sees it) the hemorrhage of NASA's hard-won engineering skills to industry. During "the first 25 years of the space program," he argues, "NASA managed to grow a good percentage of the engineers that were necessary to manage the program, and they were good managers. Where they were deficient, they would go out to industry to bring [in] the strong corporate management philosophy." But since the end of the 1970s "we have moved ... away from that philosophy.... We are weakening our overall [technical] base to manage not only the Space Transportation System, but . . . the Space Station program." For Philip Siebold at Johnson, NASA's increasing dependence on contractors has been accompanied by decreasing vigilance over their work. "When we started manned systems" in the early 1960s, he recalls "we were so concerned about the loss of a man that we very much did the whole field. We felt that two sets of eyes were better than one. In the Apollo program," for example, "we were very much in their program.... The reason we had so many inspectors is every time they had an inspection point, we had an inspection point." But "in the last few years we-government-are trying to get away with doing less in company plants.... Today we may only have one [inspector] for every four or five or so of theirs. We look at what they have done, rather than do it ourselves, in a lot of the detailed inspection functions; we do more of a verification and an overlook, [rather] than doing so much of the individual work ourselves."
In 1985 this trend did not particularly trouble Siebold. While he recognized that there was "not less criticality," he was confident that "we have learned to do things better. Our learning curve has gone up, and we have much more redundancy built into the system today." Another Johnson Space Center engineer, Ronald Siemans, was also comfortable with the shift of the critical mass of aerospace engineering expertise to industry through contracting: "We've got many more contractors now involved. They're all getting knowledgable about the systems, where just a year ago, we had nobody who knew anything.... Now you've got many contractors that know about the job, they may not know all the details, but two years from now they'll have had time to study, they'll have had time to get their experts, they'll have had time to hire college graduates out of college. That's what this was all about-to get industry up." But two years turned out to be too long.
That George Sieger had cause to worry was borne out by the Challenger accident that occurred a few months later. At Kennedy Space Center, whose engineers we interviewed after the Challenger accident, that event has heightened their concern about the use NASA makes of contractors-now not only for support service, engineering, and operations, but to essentially manage themselves. "The new contracts that we have," notes Hank Smith at Kennedy Space Center, "they [the contractors] have been given a mission. For example . . . the base operations contract: [the contractor's] mission is base operations. They run the fire trucks, they have the cops. They paint the buildings, they fix the roofs. They do the air conditioning. We define the mission; they accept it. They are responsible for cost management and technical performance. If they don't do good, you downgrade them." Smith is refering to the "mission contract," a logical answer to the need to contract not only for particular end items or levels of effort, as in the case of ongoing services, but for functional areas like building construction and computer maintenance as well. The  mission contract presents no problem for Smith "because there's not a whole lot of criticality to it. Mission contracts for space operations, however, are something else. "The business of Shuttle processing and launching-I think that's just too critical to turn over to a contractor. Management needs to be involved in that processing work. I don't think any one contractor can do the whole thing; it's too big a job."
Not only is the job too big, but accountability is spread too thin. "See," says Smith, the contractor is "responsible to check himself also. Now NASA's ultimately responsible, but I don't think [its responsibility goes] deep enough." He is keenly sensitive to the fact that NASA was held responsible by the media and post-accident inquiries for the Challenger accident. That being so, he thinks NASA must exercise more intensive oversight than what accompanies the mission contract. "In base operations, that's fine; we don't need to be responsible for the fire trucks," allows Smith. "But the intricate stuff-the critical stuff-I think NASA needs to be more involved. I just don't think you can say 'OK, Mr. Lockheed. Everything wonderful?' And he says, 'Oh yeah,' and you walk away. That's just too much."20 But he is resigned: "Management has put down the edict that that's the way it will be." Smith's co-worker at Kennedy, Eleanor Finch, shares his reservations. "Contractors are in business to make money.... And they really don't care a lot of times whether the job gets done or not, nor do they even really know what the job is, sometimes. And NASA needs to remind them of what the job is. Day by day. And that is what the contract monitor role was." Finch says "was," because in the late 1970s the management consulting firm of Booz-Allen Hamilton recommended that Kennedy Space Center substantially reduce the number of contract monitors overseeing day-to-day contract activities. Booz-Allen argued that a great deal of money could be saved if NASA were willing to settle for periodic reports from contractors. NASA's euphemism for reduced supervision is "self-sufficiency," an attribute of Kennedy Space Center's comprehensive mission contracts. Self-sufficiency, explains Finch "means that the contractor can make more decisions on his own without coming to NASA for guidance." She has managed contracts "both ways. You can't get much out of a report. You have to go down there and talk to those people and find out what the heck they're doing." And if you don't like what they're doing, "once you've turned the contract monitor [role] off, it's very hard to turn it around."
Discontent with contracting is by no means uniform among NASA's Apollo era engineers, nor is it apparently a consequence simply of the Challenger accident. There were engineers with whom we spoke, after as well as before the accident, and who had worked at NASA centers with earlier "in-house" traditions, who were content with the system. Both Fred Hauser and Dan O'Neill at Marshall Space Flight Center, for example, say their experience working with contractors has been positive. Hauser has "a lot of confidence in them," while O'Neill "can't think of a single bad experience" he's had with a contractor. Indeed, he finds that "the most fun is being involved with them.... We have, normally, pretty well structured contracts, so we know what they're supposed to do.... Working with the contractor on a problem that you have some interest in ... [on] the evolution of a solution ... can be very exciting." Marshall's Joseph Totten is also comfortable working with contractors, over whom, he feels, Marshall exercises close, reliable supervision.
 In fact, Totten implies that the availability of contractors may be something of a Godsend, since NASA, a federal agency, would have difficulty putting any significant number of technical people on its civil service rolls. "The labor rates," he explains, "are quite a bit different, for one thing. Those people [contractors] can hire lower level journeymen than we can hire.... Our people here are almost of an age that all of them can retire, so that means they're probably at the top of whatever pay level they're at ... whereas a contractor can pay ten dollars an hour and beat us all to get out." Totten takes the global view: "What we have out here is a national facility ... a national asset. Right now, because of the lack of technicians, we cannot utilize it the way it should be utilized." But "eventually," with the help of contracting, "we're going to have to get around to providing that capability.... From the design and from the engineering side, I think we're going to retain that capability." At NASA Headquarters, Langley Research Center, and Ames Research Center, one can also find engineers who have turned into contract monitors and enjoy it. If their working relationship with their contractors is cooperative and productive, contracting, at least for engineering, may provide them access to a level and depth of professional work they might not otherwise have.
Whatever the merits of NASA engineers' views of the steady movement toward almost total agency reliance on contractors, that movement is likely to be sustained by the same rationales that led to government contracting in the first place. So also the other dimension of organizational life at NASA- the expansion of bureaucracy-which is no less likely to persist, inasmuch as it is endemic to any large organization carrying out a complicated enterprise. NASA's engineers complain bitterly of bureaucracy, its frequent absurdities, its incessant drain on one's time and energies, as do most employees struggling against paper barriers, hierarchical protocols, and the shackles of central administration everywhere. On this subject they are merely sections of a larger chorus and have little to add that is peculiar to NASA. But they are not wholly devoid of observations that suggest forces exacerbating the tendency toward bureaucratization in the nation's civilian space program.
One of those forces is procurement-contracting-which contributes its own special mound of paperwork and procedures to comply with the latest federal acquisitions regulations. At Langley Ed Beckwith ventilates vexation: "I'm right now in the throes of trying to get a purchase request through so I can get two contracts without going through a full and open competition." In Langley's procurement organization "they start talking to you about a JOFOC [Justification for Other Than Full and Open Competition]. I didn't know what that was. My memos should not have to go into detail to tell them how I ought to do this to get this contract out. My memo should say this is the reason for that.... Oh, Lord! You can see the frustration!" The reason for sluggishness in the procurement process, explains Henry Beacham at Goddard Space Flight Center, "is fear. Fear of getting a protest on a contract award. After you deal with a couple of them the system tells itself,  'We'll never let that happen again."' And the way to prevent protests on a contract award is to cross every 't' and dot every 'i' in a complex procedure designed to ensure that every eligible individual or firm has been given a fair shake in the scramble for government funds.
On those rare and wonderful occasions when a courageous individual has used "the system" to get something done or, when that was impossible, has circumvented the system, it is because an individual has exercised independent judgment and exceptional powers of persuasion. The ability of an organization to nurture such individuals is an important element in its battle against bureaucratic ossification. But there are some NASA engineers who think their organization has failed to cultivate such individuals, even if they arrived at NASA well equipped to exercise independent judgment and to persuade. Robert McConnell at Lewis Research Center does not think they do. Newer and younger engineers may arrive at NASA with more advanced engineering skills, he concedes, but "in the area of liberal arts, sometimes I find it appalling-their inability to write." And "in some areas, like overall engineering judgment, there seems to be an inadequacy, but I guess you would expect that; it's something that comes with experience."
And then there's the passion for anonymity, the fabled virtue of the civil servant that appears too often as a refuge from accountability. If Hank Martin at Goddard could change anything, he "would change the cover your ass attitude.... It's making no one responsible: 'Well, this committee decided,' or 'it was the consensus of everybody,' so nobody's responsible." Always liable to intense public scrutiny, and with a mission that its critics claim is marginal and thus perpetually in danger of dissolution, NASA may be especially prone to facelessness. Derek Roebling and Bill Cassirer, at places as different as Kennedy Space Center and Langley Research Center, agree that the way NASA has adapted to its political circumstances and environment has much to do with the degree to which it is afflicted by the worst handicaps of a bureaucracy. Roebling sees, most of all, a "cultural change" as the "major" change to have occurred within the agency. With the massive organizational mobilization required to carry out the Apollo program, NASA "became very institutionalized," he asserts, and was soon transformed into a "corporate bureaucracy." More important, "the agency has matured from a small group without an agency culture into another federal agency. I imagine it's probably just as difficult to get things done in the Veterans Administration. We're no longer the laboratory; we're now the administrative kind of thing.... Bureaucratization was carried to extremes in many cases ... [with] increased complexity, less personal responsibility, and more organizational responsibilities achieved through division, multiple signatures, checks and balances, more reviews, more meetings, more formal systems to keep track of different items," and the replacement of "personal responsibility" by "organizational hierarchy."
If the worst excesses of bureaucracy are to be mitigated at all, they will be mitigated by those with the power to establish (or eliminate) administrative procedures, or at least mediate between externally imposed administrative procedures and the organization's own preferred ways of going about its business. This is a role that only NASA's senior management can play. However, NASA's engineers doubt  that their own management are likely allies in the struggle against bureaucracy; perversely, they may be the flywheel in the engine of bureaucracy. Roebling suspects that the agency is increasingly held sway by managers who have distanced themselves from the actual business of working with hardware. NASA has changed "from the small NACA [of the] 1950s, X-series aircraft kind of operation, to this huge conglomeration where you have people who never go within three miles of flight hardware," leaving the organization enmeshed in "an enormous infrastructure of people who are not actively involved" in, and thus unlikely to have a genuine sympathy for, the agency's actual work. A veteran of many years in both the NACA and NASA, Robert Strong believes that if a project has been "well managed" at the start, "once a concept has jelled," it should "more or less flow evenly." Thus he suspects that there is a link between management's remoteness from engineering work and a proclivity to "micromanagement at high levels," which he finds as pronounced at NASA's research centers as at NASA Headquarters.
The association of status with managerial positions may encourage a clubbish self-isolation. Werner Posen compares the hierarchical distances in Marshall Space Flight Center's current organization to the 1950s, when, as branch head, he had regular conversations with Wernher von Braun. He observes: "I don't think that our center directors today talk to people of my level." Posen may also have benefited from a certain clubbishness among emigre Germans at Marshall. Be that as it may, Posen's co-worker at Marshall, Joseph Totten, echoes the view that much of the frustration of bureaucratization in NASA comes from excessive top-down micromanagement, from center managers as well as Headquarters. He concedes that NASA is "a government operation ... public surveillance is always there, and we have to live with that." But he does not "believe we need this reporting in minute detail, [and] we do ourselves a disservice by our top management not letting us have a little more free reign in our activities."
The irony, of course, is that the managers of whom Totten and others complain were, once upon a time, NASA engineers. What happens when engineers become managers? Do they attempt to exercise the same vigilance over detail-a vigilance in which external forces conspire-over the human processes of organizational life as they once did when they were designing aircraft and engines? Ed Beckwith at Langley Research Center is convinced that NASA's management is incapable of resisting external pressures that produce a bureaucratic mentality. "Today," he complains, "even center directors say 'I'm sorry, I can't do anything about that. Headquarters says this or the Congress says this.' You would never hear those [earlier NACA] people say that; you would see smoke. In the management position now, we don't have anybody to respect.... They just sit back and count beans."
The changes NASA's engineers perceive in the agency, its environment, and their careers reflect not only actual changes, but also the experiences and values they have shared during the most formative years of their careers. When talking with those scientists and engineers about "change," one learns, albeit indirectly, about a  common culture the t has been disturbed by events and the passage of time. As these men and women talk about change, they talk about computers, specialization, and fragmentation. And when they talk about NASA as a changing place, their talk often turns to loss: the loss of youthful creativity and energy in a maturing organization struggling with the stultifying forces of bureaucracy, the loss of an innovative research culture transformed by federal policy into a large procurement and contract management organization, and the loss of national purpose behind the peaceful mobilization which once played so great a role in the definition of their lives.
1. For one view of the decade, see Allen J. Matusow, The Unraveling of America: A History of Liberalism in the 1960s (New York: Harper & Row, 1984).
2. Robert A. Divine, Lyndon B. Johnson and the Politics of Space, in Robert A. Divine, ed., The Johnson Years: Vietnam, the Environment, and Science, Vol. II (University Press of Kansas, 1987), pp. 217-253.
3. Computer-assisted design / computer-assisted manufacturing.
4. A device which first appeared in 1960 and amplifies light through the stimulated emission of radiation. Whereas conventional light sources emit light that is diffuse or incoherent, the lazer produces a high-energy, coherent wave phase light used increasingly for micromachining and microsurgery as well "reading" minute measurements and other electromagnetically recorded information.
5. See, for example, Sandra Jansen's account in chapter 3 of the transition from manual calculators to microcomputers used to gauge engine pressures at Lewis Research Center.
6. Equations of motion for viscuous fluids whose molecular viscosity is large enough to make the viscuous forces a significant part of the total force field in the fluid. Derived from Stokes's Law of Bodies moving through viscuous fluids, first formulated by Sir George Gabriel Stokes, British mathematician and physicist (1819-1903).
7. There were three series of Pioneer spacecraft: the unsuccessful Pioneer lunar probes (1958-1960) NASA inherited from the Defense Department Advance Research Projects Agency; the four successful Pioneer interplanetary probes flown from 1960 through 1968; and the successful Pioneer-Jupiter, Pioneer-Saturn, and Pioneer-Venus solar system escape missions launched between 1972 and 1978.
8. For an excellent and brief discussion of the NASA acquisition process, see Arnold S. Levine, Managing NASA in the Apollo Era, NASA SP-4102 (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1982), chapter 4. For background, see Danhof, Government Contracting, and Peck and Scherer, The Weapons Acquisitions Process, loc. cit.
9. See Richard P. Hallion, On the Frontier: Flight Research at Dryden, 1946-1981, NASA SP-4303 (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1984) and Laurence K.  Loftin, Jr., Quest for Performance: The Evolution of Modern Aircraft, NASA SP-468 (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1985), chapter 11.
10. One of NACA's leading aeronautical researchers for transonic flight, Stack joined Langley Aeronautical Laboratory in 1928 and remained with the NACA to be transferred in 1958 with many of his colleagues to the new NASA.
11. For classic discussions of popular American attitudes toward intellectual life, see Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, Francis Bowen, trans. (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1945) and Richard Hofstadter, Anti-lntellectualism in American Life (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1962).
12. Location of NASA's Mississippi Test Facility, acquired in 1961 and renamed the National Space Technology Laboratories (NSTL) in 1974. Site of testing for the Saturn rocket stages and sea-level testing of the Space Shuttle's main engine, as well as environmental and resource work for other government agencies, the NSTL was renamed the John C. Stennis Space Center in 1988 after Stennis, a member of the U.S. Senate for over 40 years and Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee. Stennis was responsible for the establishment of NSTL.
13. "Towards A New Era in Space: Realigning Policies to New Realities," Committee on Space Policy, National Academy of Sciences and National Academy of Engineering (National Academy Press: Washington, D.C., 1988), Figure 1, p. 6.
14. Jane Van Nimmen and Leonard C. Bruno with Robert L. Rosholt, NASA Historical Data Book: NASA Resources, 1958-1968, Vol. I, SP-4012 (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1988), p.118 and NASA Pocket Statistics (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1986), p. C-27). Numbers of contractor employees can only be estimated.
15. See Sylvia D. Fries, 20001 to 1994: Political Environment and the Design of NASA" Space Station System," Technology and Culture, Vol. 29, No. 3 (July 1988).
16. Freeman Dyson, Science and Space, in Infinite in All Directions (New York: Harper & Row, 1988).
17. For an entertaining and pithy account of the costing of government research and development programs, see Norman R. Augustine, Augustine's Laws and Major System Development Programs (New York: American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, 1983).
18. Needless to say, U.S. Air Force system program managers at Wright Patterson might have sound reasons to disagree with Cassirer.
19. See Ivan D. Ertel and Roland W. Newkirk, with Courtney G. Brooks, The Apollo Spacecraft: A Chronology, Vol. IV, NASA SP-4009 (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1978).
20. NASA contracted with Lockheed Space Operations in 1983 to perform Space Shuttle launch and landing activities at the Kennedy Space Center and on behalf of  the U.S. Air Force at Vandenberg Air Force Base, including operation of related ground systems at both launch sites. Lockheed's Shuttle processing contract was the second comprehensive missions contract awarded by NASA; E G & G was awarded a comprehensive base operations contract at Kennedy in 1982.