Part II. The New Ranger
The reprogramming decisions of December 1962, along with shifting the scientific emphasis of the Block III missions once more toward support of Project Apollo, saddled NASA Space Sciences Director Homer Newell with a number of pressing tasks. There was the unpleasant duty of notifying sky science experimenters that their instruments were eliminated from Rangers 6 through 9. There was the requirement of completing, then implementing, the remaining experiment—the RCA television cameras. And finally, there was the necessity of setting, if the revised project was to mesh neatly with the complete NASA lunar program, the number and scientific content of the Ranger spacecraft planned to follow these flights.
GUARANTEEING SUPPORT TO PROJECT APOLLO
At the Senior Council Meeting of the Office of Space Sciences on January 3 and 4, 1963, Newell acquainted all of his field center directors with the changes in policy made in December. Six months before, he had assured them that the requirements of space science would take precedence aver those of Project Apollo in all of the unmanned missions for which he was responsible. 1 Now, because of intervening events, he said, the Office of Space Sciences would further support the manned lunar missions by removing from the unmanned flights whatever secondary experiments might interfere with this goal. Ultimately, NASA intended to rely upon manned technology to explore the moon for Science. 2
On January 21 Ranger’s experimenters were notified of the scientific cancellations on the Block III missions. Ranger Program Chief Cunningham handled the task as diplomatically as possible in a meeting at JPL, announcing that although sky science experiments were to be eliminated from Rangers 6 through 9, the experimenters and their instruments would remain a part of the project. NASA Headquarters intended to reschedule them as soon as possible in later Ranger missions. Although "the majority of the experimenters were understandably disappointed," Cunningham informed Newell, "they appeared to appreciate the program problems" entailing the cancellations. 3
The imaging objective of Rangers 6 through 9 and the tentative requirements for Project Apollo were defined soon afterwards. On January 28 Ranger television experimenters Harold Urey, Gerard Kuiper, Eugene Shoemaker, and others convened at JPL to consider these matters in view of the preceding changes. The best photographs of the moon taken through telescopes on earth afforded a resolution at the lunar surface on the order of 300 meters (1000 feet). "Significantly better" pictures of the surface taken from Ranger spacecraft, the group decided, demanded an improvement by at least an order of magnitude, or by a factor of ten. But pictures with a resolution of 30 meters, though of value to planetary science, would not afford the closeup detail of surface slopes needed to confirm the landing gear design of the Apollo lunar module. For that purpose the experimenters settled on a best resolution at the surface of 1.8 to 3.0 meters (6 to 10 feet) in the final frames. That much resolving power was claimed for the telephoto cameras in RCA’s television subsystem, and that was to be the goal. The experimenters advised NASA and JPL project officials that the trajectories prepared for the first day of each Ranger launch period should permit achieving this resolution without any terminal maneuver of the Ranger spacecraft. 4 If the needs of Project Apollo differed greatly from this anticipated imaging goal, it was up to, Apollo’s managers to specify them.
On March 1 the Office of Manned Space Flight issued a completely revised Requirements for Data from Unmanned Spacecraft in Support of Project Apollo, this time based on prior consultation and cooperative planning with the Office of Space Sciences. 5 The data needed from Newell’s unmanned lunar missions were carefully defined. Ranger’s television resolution at the moon’s surface was deemed sufficient to confirm the design of the landing gear. Beyond considerations of design, however, Apollo required other "critical" information about the intensity of radiation and the distribution of micrometeoroids in cislunar space, and on lunar surface features and contours, to determine actual probabilities of failure. NASA, the report noted, could only proceed confidently if there was "less than one percent probability¼ of disaster" involving the loss of a crew.
Because design of Apollo’s command, service, and lunar landing modules already had begun but could be altered to some extent later, the time to provide this information was extended until the fall of 1965. And, rather than ordering compliance, the Office of Manned Space Flight tactfully "requested that the Office of Space Sciences review the document and state its plans for obtaining the data..." If all of the information could not be obtained in time, the Office of Space Sciences could state "the limits of expected capabilities¼ so that new means of obtaining data may be generated or, as a last resort, the requirements for support from the unmanned program may be changed." 6
Newell and his Lunar and Planetary Program Director Oran Nicks were reasonably confident that the unmanned projects could provide Project Apollo the specified data. However, the slow progress of planning for Apollo’s scientific experiments and objectives, particularly at the Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston, the field center responsible for the manned lunar mission, increasingly concerned them. 7 Having committed the Office of Space Sciences to support Apollo engineering, at least for the near future, they expected a quid pro quo: Apollo’s astronauts to explore the moon for science. In Washington, the Office of Manned Space Flight might agree, but its manned Spacecraft Center had yet officially to endorse that objective.
At the Manned Spacecraft Center there was little evidence of any scientific planning. Holmes and Low at Headquarters set down the policies and plans for Project Apollo, Center Director Robert Gilruth and his associates in Houston were responsible for allocating and supervising the enormous engineering tasks of manned lunar flight and completing the designs of Apollo machines. As specified in the Requirements Document, engineering for Apollo allowed no tolerance for failure. The colossal repercussions for NASA and the nation that would follow the loss of a crew were simply unacceptable; guaranteeing the safety of the astronauts dominated all considerations. Consequently, Gilruth seemed to be saying to space scientists: "Wait until the Apollo machine is perfected and the hazards to man are calculated before discussing any program of experiments."
The continued neglect of science in Project Apollo offended others who counted themselves among the nation’s scientific spokesmen. Increasingly in 1963 some influential scientists began to criticize Apollo’s pervasive engineering flavor. Caltech President Lee A. DuBridge, speaking before a Panel on Science and Technology of the House Committee on Science and Astronautics in January, declared it imprudent to send jet pilots to the moon just to "look around." If they were to return without any scientific information, the program would not be "worth I percent or even a tenth of a percent of our national budget¼ " Space science was the proper goal. NASA and the Congress, he observed, had to have "a broader and deeper view toward the space program than only to beat the Russians ... to the moon." 8 The former president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science Warren Weaver and the chemistry Nobelist Linus Pauling joined with DuBridge to berate the competitive aspects of the program and the low station accorded science, and to discuss other uses that could be made of Apollo funding.
Philip Abelson, Director of the Geophysical Laboratory at the Carnegie Institution and editor of the influential Science, the journal of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, published a mordant editorial on the subject. Surveying the rationale advanced to justify Apollo, he pronounced the propaganda value of placing a man on the moon vastly overrated. "Interest in lunar exploration will be sustained only if there are important military implications, exciting scientific accomplishments, or technological fallout." The advantages of a military base on the moon or new technology for civilian uses, he asserted, did not justify the immense costs of the program. Scientific exploration of the moon, though certainly justified, had "been accorded, a secondary priority in the lunar program. This has been indicated in the attitude surrounding presentation of the new budget to Congress and underlined by the decision not to have a scientist in the first lunar astronaut crew," Unmanned vehicles, on the other hand, could explore the moon at a cost "on the order of 1 percent of the cost of the manned variety¼ A reexamination of priorities," he insisted, "is in order." Warming to the task in a speech at the University of Maryland a few days later, Abelson declared that science had been "used" by NASA "as a ‘front’ for technological leaf raking" in Project Apollo." 9
Of course, in the spring of 1963, Apollo did have its influential scientific friends. Physicist James Van Allen, astronomer Lyman Spitzer, chemist Willard Libby, and geneticist Joshua Lederberg, among other luminaries who had worked with Newell’s team, 10 supplied a testimonial statement in support of the manned lunar landing. But their colleagues merely pronounced pro-Apollo scientists "captives" of the space agency. Worse, the Office of Space Sciences commanded neither the funds nor the flight opportunities necessary to satisfy both sides in the escalating scientific contention over Project Apollo. 11 Even Holmes’ declaration that Apollo’s mission objectives included "manned scientific exploration of the moon" 12 failed to allay the suspicions of the unmanned enthusiasts. After two years of Apollo planning, scientists like Urey expected action, not words, from the space agency. NASA Administrator James Webb, hoping to discourage what he judged to be intemperate attacks, fueled them instead by publicly criticizing, among other scientists, Caltech President DuBridge and Warren Weaver, Vice President of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. These gendernen, he said, set single motives for exploring space above all other considerations; their misgivings were thus "magnified out of all proportion to reality." 13
Deprived of a major role or voice in Apollo, many scientists had begun to perceive its awesome budget as a malignant tumor, consuming such other, more favored scientific endeavors as unmanned lunar exploration. Future Ranger missions were still programmed for scientific purposes. If some measure of scientific favor and healthful balance could be restored, it remained for Homer Newell and the Office of Space Sciences to achieve it.
PLANNING IN THE FACE OF CHANGE
Plans made at NASA Headquarters in the summer and fall of 1962 called for five additional RCA television missions, Rangers 10 through 14, to be launched in 1964, followed in 1965 by at least four more hard-landing capsule missions, Rangers 15 through 18. Designated Blocks IV and V, respectively, these JPL-built spacecraft were scheduled to be flown to points on the moon of interest to Ranger’s scientific clients. On October 3, 1962, the Office of Space Sciences authorized JPL to begin the design of flight hardware for the Block IV vehicles, 14 but a week later, on October 11, the objectives were modified.
Meeting at Headquarters on October 11, Seamans, Newell, Holmes, and Pickering placed more emphasis on Apollo’s requirements for lunar data. 15 When Newell publicly announced the extension of Project Ranger a few days later, he observed that the additional television missions would "increase the probability of obtaining lunar surface detail information that could be used in the manned landing system design." 16 The proposed hard-landing capsule missions still under study remained committed to scientific objectives. The Office of Space Sciences instructed the Aeronutronic Division of the Ford Motor Company, having already developed the seismometer capsule for the original Rangers, to commence work on a prototype capsule that could hard-land a small photo-reconnaissance television camera on the moon's surface. 17
More Ranger missions might furnish lunar data for Apollo's engineers as well as planetary scientists, but neither of these groups was expected to pay for them. Homer Newell and the Office of Space Sciences had to arrange for the funding. Prospects for obtaining that money in Congress unquestionably dimmed on October 18, 1962, when the flight of Ranger 5 brought the entire project into question. The subsequent delay and requalification of the Block III Rangers 6 through 9, furthermore, increased the costs of this portion of the project from an anticipated $64 million to $118 million, and cut heavily into existing funds that might otherwise have been programmed for the follow-on missions. Without doubt, if the needed funds were to be had, Congressman Karth and his colleagues in the House Subcommittee on Space Sciences and Advanced Research and Technology would have to be assured that Ranger’s problems were solved.
Newell, Cortright, and Nicks considered these and other matters during the Ranger reprogramming meeting at NASA Headquarters on February 12 and 13, 1963, when they approved of the changes and plans proposed by JPL for prosecuting Rangers 6 through 9. They were unquestionably anxious for the success of these and other flights to follow. But the Ranger spacecraft was no longer the novel design it had been in 1959 and 1960. And as the Kelley Board had pointed out, the serial production of some eight or ten more Rangers was a task best suited to an industrial firm rather than a university-affiliated research and development laboratory. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, results thus far seemed to indicate, had had a hard enough time designing and building the first five machines.
At JPL, Sparks and Schurmeier agreed with their NASA colleagues to engage an industrial firm both to furnish engineering support on the Block III and IV Rangers and to fabricate all of the Block V spacecraft. Although the large number of temporary trailers located at JPL would have to be increased even further to house the necessary contractor personnel, industrial capabilities could be expected to alleviate the manpower shortage at JPL, permit Schurmeier’s project office to devote maximum attention to rebuilding the Block III machines, and meet the demands of producing and qualifying large numbers of Ranger spacecraft.
At the Ranger Quarterly Review in Pasadena on February 19, more of the details were defined, and the Block IV schedule of activities was established: mission objectives were to be available on March 4, spacecraft preliminary design on April 15, and final drawings were to be finished and the procurement of hardware initiated on July 1, 1963. The rationale for so large a number of lunar impacting television missions planned for Ranger, already a sore point with many planetary scientists, was also reviewed—and found wanting. NASA and JPL officials decided to reduce Block IV from five to three television flights (Rangers 10 through 12), to be launched in July, August, and September 1964. The number of Block V hard-landing capsule spacecraft, to be built by a contractor, was increased from four to six (Rangers 13 through 18), all to be launched in 1965. 18
In keeping with the planning to date, Pickering furnished Headquarters or bringing an industrial contractor into the with the Laboratory’s proposal "for Ranger Program." It called for the competitive selection of a qualified firm, and, in the first phase of a two-phase contract, the assignment of their personnel at JPL to provide engineering support in Project Ranger during the fabrication and testing of the Block III and IV vehicles. If the work was judged acceptable, the firm would become the spacecraft system contractor in Phase 2, responsible for the assembly, test, and launch of the six Block V vehicles. JPL would continue to provide technical direction through Schurmeier’s project office. Given the proposed launch dates, Pickering advised NASA, a Source Evaluation Board made up of NASA and JPL personnel had to be formed "as soon as possible" to select the contractor. 19
Time was indeed crucial, and not only for the reason of Ranger’s schedule. Newell and Cortright had to appear before Congress in two weeks to testify in favor of the fiscal 1964 authorization for the Office of Space Sciences. The naming of a contractor to assist JPL would complete action on the Kelley Board recommendations for Project Ranger and buttress the case for proceeding with Ranger Blocks IV and V, but soliciting bids and awarding the contract on a competitive basis as urged by JPL could not possibly be accomplished before the hearings began. Newell and Cortright consulted NASA Deputy Administrator Robert Seamans. Time could be money in this instance, and together they decided on a sole-source award to the Northrop Space Laboratories in Hawthorne, California.
Northrop was presently building Ranger’s attitude control system and the central computer and sequencer for the Block III spacecraft; in the opinion of NASA’s leaders, it was also a qualified firm, and was conveniently located near JPL. Moreover, a number of Northrop engineers recently released when a missile contract had been cancelled by the Air Force were available for immediate assignment, and Northrop Corporation's Senior Vice President Richard E. Horner, responsible for the division in question, had once been NASA’s Associate Administrator, and knew JPL. 20 Of course, more disinterested observers might have seen the sole-source contract as a dubious practice in the public interest, but this consideration was overlooked as NASA officials sought immediately to complete the actions called for by the Kelley Board.
On March 5, Pickering was summoned to NASA Headquarters in Washington. There Newell and Seamans informed him of NASA’s decision to proceed with a sole-source award. Surprised and dismayed, Pickering protested. JPL was not opposed to contracting the Ranger work—indeed it had proposed such a move a year earlier and had no special objection to Northrop-but this kind of Headquarters fiat, he asserted, had never before been exercised under the terms of the NASA-Caltech contract and operating agreement. It left the Laboratory with no voice whatever in choosing the firm with which it must work, and it put NASA at some disadvantage in pricing the contract. Seamans and Newell were unmoved; Pickering’s objections were overruled. NASA intended to direct the unmanned lunar program, and Northrop had been selected as the firm to participate in Project Ranger.
Upon returning to Pasadena, Pickering hesitantly considered appealing the decision. 21 After talking further by phone with Cortright and with his own advisors, however, he dropped the idea. It could only strain relations even more between the space agency and its one contract-operated laboratory. Aware of the reluctance to proceed on the West Coast, Newell dispatched a terse letter to Pickering on March 8: Confirming the decision reached in the meeting at Headquarters on March 5, "the Jet Propulsion Laboratory is directed to immediately issue to the Northrop Corporation¼ a Letter Contract," to be made final "as expeditiously as possible, establishing the Northrop Corporation as Ranger spacecraft system contractor" for the follow-on missions." 22
That afternoon NASA publicly announced the selection of the Northrop Corporation. The estimated $2-million Phase I contract, the statement declared, assured JPL industrial assistance in the "work related to the Rangers to be launched through the end of 1964." Eventually, NASA expected Northrop to be "assigned complete spacecraft system responsibility for the Ranger program in a Phase 2 effort, beginning with Rangers to be launched in 1965." 23 In Pasadena, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory issued Letter Contract 95059 to the Northrop Corporation.
MAKING A CASE FOR MORE RANGERS
In the spring of 1963, when the space agency was asking for a budgetary increase from its current $3.7 billion to a new $5.7 billion, Newell and Cortright faced tough questions about Project Ranger in the appropriations hearings before Joseph Karth’s subcommittee. The questions focused on the performance of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The problems uncovered in Pasadena appeared to be "probably as much management as technical" in nature, Chairman Karth observed. Exactly what management problems, he inquired "were brought to your attention by the Kelley report,...and what has been done about it?" 24 Cortright reviewed the findings and recommendations of the Kelley Board, and recent changes at JPL, and did his best to defend the overall performance of the Laboratory. The award of a contract to the Northrop Corporation to assist JPL in Project Ranger, Cortright affirmed, completed action on these recommendations.
Committee members, nevertheless, remained skeptical. Newell and Cortright were faulted for the delay in engaging industrial support for Project Ranger until four months after the Kelley Board report became available. 25 When they left the hearing they could not be certain that the $90 million requested for Project Ranger in fiscal year 1964 would be approved. Indeed, NASA officials appearing before other committees and subcommittees in the House of Representatives found themselves on the defensive as well, and by the end of the week reports were circulating that the agency might face a reduction in its budget for the first time. 26
Reservations about Ranger and its objectives were not confined to Washington. In the spring of 1963, some project engineers in Pasadena had also begun to join experimenters who openly questioned the wisdom of more Ranger television missions. Deloyce Alcorn, recently appointed JPL Block IV Spacecraft System Engineer, raised the issue with Ranger Spacecraft System Manager Wolfe. Considering the proposed objectives and the design of the Block IV spacecraft, Alcorn mused, "the apparent reason for the missions is becoming less and less clear. The scheduled launch dates dictate [that these] spacecraft incorporate only slight improvements and the addition of three or four experiments. If there are one or two successful Block III flights, the value of Block IV is extremely questionable. If there are no successful Block III flights, does it make sense to launch more of the same machine?" 27
Ranger’s objectives had often been a sore point with Durke, and they were fast becoming a source of concern to his successor, Schurmeier. On March 18 Program Chief Cunningham sent JPL the wording of the objectives preferred at NASA Headquarters. The mission objective of Ranger Block III was to return "television pictures of the lunar surface which will be of benefit to both the scientific program and the U.S. manned lunar program. These pictures should be at least an order of magnitude better in resolution than any available earth-based photography. Should the requirements of the manned lunar program conflict with the scientific requirements, every consideration will be given to meeting the manned lunar program needs." The fundamental objective of the Block IV Ranger missions was "to acquire significant new knowledge of the moon. Specifically, the objective is to obtain by means of high quality television photography and by means of non-visual techniques, new and useful data concerning the lunar topography, environment, and composition." 28
Schurmeier was satisfied with the Block III objectives, which hewed closely to the wording agreed upon at NASA Headquarters in December 1962. But he was disturbed that the objectives for the follow-on Block IV did not specify support of Project Apollo, as expressed in the public announcement of these flights. 29 Without such a specification, these missions might also become a center of friction between Ranger’s scientists and Apollo’s engineers. On April 1, 1963, Schurmeier submitted to NASA Headquarters his own attempt at wording the objectives. The television pictures returned to earth by the Block IV Rangers 10 through 12, he insisted, should be recognized as benefitting "both the scientific program and manned lunar program." 30
During the following week Cunningham and Nicks considered JPL’s recommendation. Although space science had been the motive for extending Project Ranger and proposals for secondary experiments already had been solicited, the original announcement of the Block IV missions could not be denied. On April 8 Schurmeier welcomed the final wording approved by Nicks:
The primary objective of the Ranger Block IV flights is to obtain television pictures of the lunar surface which will be of scientific significance, and which will contribute to the United States manned lunar landing program. These pictures should be of higher quality than those of Block III and should provide coverage of as many sites as possible within the Ranger spacecraft capability.
The secondary objective is to obtain by means of non-visual techniques significant new and useful data concerning the lunar topography, environment, and composition. 31
A few days later, in choosing the nonvisual secondary experiments for the Ranger Block IV spacecraft, NASA’s Space Science Committee passed over sky scientists in favor of their planetary colleagues. The Committee selected James Arnold's gamma-ray spectrometer and Walter Brown’s pulse radar as the scientific passengers to complement the RCA television cameras. In making known their choice to Homer Newell, however, Committee members expressed misgivings over "the subordinate role in which the non-visual experiments have been placed" in the "objectives established for these flights" by the Office of Space Sciences. 32
As though responding to these misgivings, Newell observed a few days later before the American Society of Newspaper Editors that opinion was divided over the merits and motives of NASA's space science program. The program was now viewed variously as advancing knowledge, sowing the seeds for future applications, or supporting either the manned flight program or military efforts. Newell, consistently in character, asserted: "Such discussions [imply] that the science program would be different if the motivation was different. However, it is our conviction that the kind of research that best supports any of these objectives is a good, sound, scientific program." 33
On April 25 Newell added to the fretful Ranger experimenter Harold Urey that it was too soon to tell conclusively whether pictures of the moon’s surface would prove of greater scientific value than nonvisual experiments. "We have asked the Space Science Board [of the National Academy of Sciences] a number of times for its recommendation in this area, and each time the answer has been that first priority should go to obtaining pictures." Undoubtedly, there would be "many questions about the lunar surface that will not be answered by the taking of pictures, and that, indeed, in the long run will be more important scientifically than the early pictures are likely to be. These measurements," Newell pledged, "will most certainly be made in the course of the [Ranger] program, and they will be made just as soon as we have the opportunity to do so."
Newell also explained to the Ranger scientists that they were to be given greater opportunity at JPL to influence the design and use of their experiments. That included Arnold and Brown on the nonvisual gamma-ray experiment and the radar surface properties experiment, as well as the experimenter team associated with the television cameras on Ranger Block IV. "In this block of Rangers, then, we will be placing greater emphasis on scientific measurements, and it is our understanding that the experiments selected are those that you and our other advisors would like to see done." 34
The next day Newell notified JPL Director Pickering of the additional experiments selected by the Office of Space Sciences for Ranger Block IV, and of his desire to see that these instruments not be subordinated to television photography in the conduct of the missions. "While I concur in the importance of the television system," he said, "it should be recognized that we have not deemphasized the importance of obtaining scientific measurements which can be provided by non-visual experiments. In light of these reservations, we will want to discuss possible modifications of the existing [Block IV] objectives with your Ranger Project management." 35
Schurmeier was truly disturbed. Inconstant project objectives modified at the insistence of Ranger’s scientists, he was certain, had contributed mightily to Burke’s woes a year before. Jack James, the Mariner R manager, could unreservedly agree with the sentiments that Schurmeier expressed in an immediate telegram to his NASA counterpart, Cunningham:
The mission objectives are the guiding statement for all elements of the project. They should be clear, concise, and unambiguous. If they are unclear or fail to resolve known issues, then various people or organizations will necessarily interpret them differently and as a result, confusion, inefficiency, misunderstanding, and often hard feelings will reign.
If there are multiple objectives they should either be stated in the proper priority order or if they are equal it should be so stated...
As problems arise throughout the course of a project ... the mission objectives are referred to as an aid—in fact the controlling criteria-for the proper tradeoff in specific decisions. 36
If the Office of Space Sciences failed to appreciate this rationale and intended to change the Block IV objectives, then, Schurmeier was also certain, Project Ranger could expect serious trouble once again. But if Schurmeier hoped for help from Cunningham, he hoped in vain; by late spring of 1963 Ranger Block IV was beyond all help from NASA or JPL.
LUNAR ORBITER AND CONGRESS INTERVENE
For some time Edgar Cortright, Newell's deputy at Headquarters, had been keenly interested in a lunar orbiter—a spacecraft placed in orbit about the moon, capable of mapping its surface and conducting other scientific experiments. Original plans had called for JPL to modify the automatic Surveyor lunar softlanding machine to meet the requirements of an orbiting vehicle. However, these plans had been scrapped during the reprogramming meetings in December 1962 when JPL reported that the technical demands of such a conversion militated against Surveyor orbiter, and that the Laboratory, furthermore, was in no position to provide the manpower needed for another flight project. 37
On April 25, 1963, considering the prospects of future unmanned flight projects, Cortright argued to Newell that the time was ripe for beginning a lunar orbiter. The Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, he observed, could provide the management "and is highly motivated to do so." Also, the Apollo project might plan a lunar photoreconnaissance mission if the Office of Space Sciences did not, 38 and, as far as surface coverage was concerned, one successful orbiter would be worth "dozens of successful Ranger TV impacters." Under the circumstances, Cortright recommended that Ranger Bock IV be canceled and that Block V be continued at a reduced level of effort, as a backup in case the Surveyor Project faltered and it became "necessary to press Ranger into service at some later date." Among other advantages, this course would save $50 million in fiscal year 1964, permit the start of a lunar orbiter, and cushion the budget shock in the event of a "Congressional cut." 39
In Pasadena, where manpower was still very much at a premium, Schurmeier faced difficulties of his own in meeting commitments on the approved Ranger Block III, let alone Block IV. Even with 63 of an eventual 125-man contingent of engineers from the Northrop Corporation already in residence by the end of May, he had barely enough men to requalify Rangers 6 through 9 at JPL and RCA. These Rangers commanded priority; Schurmeier and JPL Lunar and Planetary Program Director Robert Parks agreed that if they were to be completed on schedule, Ranger Block IV had to be delayed. 40
On June 17 they made that recommendation to Newell, Cortright, and Nicks during a budget review meeting in Washington. Though unaware of the thinking at Headquarters, Schunneier and Parks' findings coincided neatly with Cortright’s suggestions. A few days later Schurmeier announced the resulting decision to all project personnel. "As an outcome of the current budgeting and reprogramming activities being conducted¼ with Headquarters," he said, "it has been mutually agreed that the Ranger 10 schedule will be slipped six months. The timing of flights subsequent to Ranger 10 has not been established... A moratorium should be placed on Block IV work. All possible effective effort should be applied to Block III." 41 With or without industrial support, Block IV was barely alive.
On June 27 the ax fell on the quivering remnants. Karth’s subcommittee sent the budgetary authorization for the Office of Space Sciences on to the House Committee on Science and Astronautics. The report recommended that Ranger's fiscal 1964 budget be slashed from the $90-million requested to a sum of $65million. "Of the five Ranger spacecraft already launched," Representative Karth stated in announcing the disallowance, "none has been a¼ success. The so-called Kelley report on the Ranger Project casts grave doubts upon the adequacy of the management of this project, both by NASA Headquarters and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory¼ The subcommittee feels that in view of the poor record of Ranger to date, Congress should be given reasonable assurance of success before going forward full speed with more spacecraft." 42
Newell and Cortright knew that the full Committee and the House itself could be expected to endorse Karth’s report. They also believed that the Senate was unlikely to restore the funds—a belief soon substantiated when the Senate concurred in the House authorization. On July 2 and 3, JPL officials again flew to Washington to present their recommendations for the future of Project Ranger. Given the increased costs, the anticipated budget cut, scheduling difficulties, and the similarity between the two blocks of television missions, Schurmeier and Parks advised canceling Ranger Block IV. However, they urged continuing the Block V hard-landing capsule missions with launches in 1965 and 1966. Cortright, Nicks, and Cunningham presented that same recommendation to NASA Associate Administrator Robert Seamans a few days later, on July 9, advising as well that a lunar orbiter project be authorized. Seamans agreed. Indeed it was most desirable, he said, that NASA "have both a Ranger Block V and an Orbiter Program." 43
On Monday, July 15, Newell formally notified Pickering. The extremely tight fiscal situation and the potential of the Surveyor and Orbiter programs, he explained, caused NASA to direct the Laboratory to "terminate all efforts [on] the impacting TV missions beyond Block Ill." Maximum effort would be devoted to Rangers 6 through 9, with the intent of achieving a flight success by early 1964. Work on Ranger Block V could proceed; however, he also instructed JPL to "evaluate the implications of terminating the Ranger Project after Block III,¼ and to prepare a plan to handle this eventuality..." 44
Shortly thereafter, NASA announced commencement of the Lunar Orbiter Project, to be managed by the Langley Research Center. Designed to photomap the moon’s surface at a resolution equivalent to the best Ranger pictures, Lunar Orbiter would both benefit science and permit Apollo’s managers to select appropriate landing sites. One successful orbiter would furnish "1/2-million times the area coverage of a Ranger TV impacter." Orbiters rather than Rangers were to "take over [moon] flight photography in 1965 and beyond." 45
Planetary scientists expressed no overt dismay at the passing of the Ranger follow-on television missions. James Arnold and Walter Brown both anticipated selection of their nonvisual experiments for flight in Ranger Block V. But the mood in Congress offered small comfort for the future, and Ranger’s pathetic record still engendered recrimination among scientists and engineers. Science summarized: "The House Committee’s rough handling of Ranger certainly reflects a new militancy in judging NASA’s plans and performance,... five straight failures not only embarrassed the space agency and frustrated the scientists who had worked hard on the Ranger experiments, but also disappointed the scientific community at large." 46
Chapter Thirteen - Notes
The hyphenated numbers in parentheses at the ends of individual citations are catalog numbers of documents on file in the history archives of the JPL library.
1. See Family Relations in Chapter Ten of this volume.
2. NASA Notes on the meeting of the Office of Space Sciences Senior Council, January 3-4, 1963, p. 13 (2-404b).
3. NASA memorandum from William Cunningham to Homer Newell, subject: "Non-visual Bus Experiments on Rangers 6-9," February 15, 1963 (2695). This action is confirmed in NASA Summary Minutes of the Meeting of the Space Sciences Steering Committee, February 18, 1963 (2-1763); and in the letter from Homer Newell to William Pickering, February 28, 1963 (2-184a).
4. Summary of the Ranger Experimenters Meeting held January 28, 1963, prepared by Harold Washburn, February 6, 1963 (2-661a). This is confirmed in NASA Summary Minutes of Meeting No. 3-63 of the Planetology Subcommittee of the Space Sciences Steering Committee held on March 5-6, 1963, prepared by Verne Frykland, pp. 9-11 (2-1771).
5. See " Family Relations " in Chapter Ten of this volume.
6. NASA Office of Manned Space Flight, " Requirements for Data from Unmanned Spacecraft in Support of Project Apollo, " March 1, 1963, pp. 1-2 and passim, (2-1362).
7. NASA Memorandum from Homer Newell to James Webb, March 26,1963 (2-376).
8. United States Congress, House, Committee on Science and Astronautics, Panel on Science and Technology Fifth Meeting, Proceedings before the Committee, 88th Congress, 1st Session, 1963, No. 1, pp. 50-51.
9. Philip H. Abelson, "Manned Lunar Landing," an editorial in Science, April 19, 1963, Vol. 140, p. 259. Maryland speech in "Moon Project Attacked As Costly 'Leaf-raking'," Washington Evening Star, April 27, 1963, p. 1.
10. Walter Sullivan, "Manned Moon Flight Supported In 8 Scientists' Report to Critics, " The New York Times, May 27, 1963, pp. 1-2.
11. For his part, in the absence of activity in Houston, on June 5 Newell established a Manned Space Science Group as a new division within the Office of Space Sciences. Headed by geologist and Ranger experimenter Eugene Shoemaker, the Group reported to Newell institutionally, and to Brainerd Holmes and the Office of Manned Space Flight functionally. It would be responsible "for planning scientific training and the selection of astronauts, and recommending experiments for manned science explora tion" of the moon. NASA Summary of the Office of Space Sciences Senior Council Meeting held June 5, 1964, prepared June 27, 1963, p. 14 (2- 1051). Because Newell's office did not control Project Apollo, however, the Move produced few noticeable results. See also, Newell's testimony in United States Congress, House, Committee on Science and Astronauts, 1966 NASA Authorization, Hearings before the Committee, 89th Congress, 1st Session, 1965, No. 2, Part 1, p. 144; and the appeal of Newell and Gastric to critics in Robert J. Gastric and Homer E. Newell, "Why Land On the Moon?" Atlantic Monthly, Vol. 212, August 1963, pp. 41-45.
12. "3.1 Mission Objectives," Apollo System Specification, Office of Manned Space Flight Program Directive (M-D M8000.001), May 2, 1963, p. 3-1.
13. NASA News Release, text of the address by James E. Webb, Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, at the Second National Flight Forum Symposium, Hartford, Connecticut, May 15, 1963 (2-2077). Weaver had authored the critical article, "What a Moon Ticket Will Buy, " Saturday Review, Vol. 4 5, August 4, 1962, p. 3 8. Webb earlier had asked DuBridge not to commit himself to an adverse position before considering all aspects of Project Apollo. See the letter from James Webb to William Pickering, with a copy of a letter from Webb to Lee DuBridge, June 29, 1961 (2-1452a&b).
14. TWX from Edgar Cortright to Robert Rodney, Western Operations Office of NASA, Santa Monica, October 3, 1962 (2-1180).
15. See "NASA's Lunar Objectives Reconsidered" in Chapter Ten of this volume.
16. NASA News Release No. 62-220, subject: - Five New Rangers Added to Space Sciences Program," October 15, 1962 (2-2410).
17. Letter from James Burke to William Cunningham, subject: "Ranger Lunar Facsimile Capsule Project," November 15, 1962 (2-265).
18. Allen E. Wolfe, Notes on the Ranger Quarterly Review held February 19, 1963 (2-1546); Official NASA Flight Schedule of February 28, 1963 (2968); JPL Interoffice Memo No. 170 from William Pickering to Senior Staff, Section Chiefs, and Section Managers, subject: "JPL Lunar and Planetary Launch Schedule," March 1, 1963 (2-430).
19. Letter from William Pickering to Edgar Cortright, February 20, 1963 (2185a).
20. NASA Memorandum for the Record by Robert Seamans, subject: "Important Factors Relating to the Selection of Northrop Corporation as the Ranger Contractor," March 7, 1963 (2-233 4); interview of Oran Nicks by Cargill Hall, August 26, 1968, p. 2 (2-761); Edgar Cortright's testimony in United States Congress, House, Committee on Science and Astronautics, 1964 NASA Authorization, Hearings before the Subcommittee on Space Science and Advanced Research and Technology, 88th Congress, 1st Session on H.R. 5466, 1963, No. 3, Part 3a, pp. 1599-1600; "Northrop Ranger Award," Aviation Week and Space Technology, March 18, 1963, p. 26.
21. Unsent letter from William Pickering to Robert Seamans, March 7, 1963 (2-308a).
22. Letter from Homer Newell to William Pickering, March 8, 1963 (2-183).
23. NASA News Release No. 63-50, subject: "NASA Selects Ranger Industrial Firm," March 8, 1963 (2-1365).
24. U.S. Congress, 1964 NASA Authorization, p. 1599.
25. Ibid., pp. 1600-1601.
26. A. P. Alibrando, "Space Agency Faces Possibility of $500-Million Slash in Budget," Aviation Week and Space Technology, Vol. 78, March 18, 1963, p. 30.
27. JPL Interoffice Memo 313-738 from D. Alcorn to Allen Wolfe, subject: "Ranger Block IV Mission Objectives," March 7, 1963 (2-1578); see also similar sentiments expressed in JPL Interoffice Memo from Raymond Heacock to Charles Campen, subject: "Ranger Series Reprogramming," June 27, 1963 (2-1383).
28. Letter from William Cunningham to Harris Schurmeier, March 14, 1963 (2-18a).
29. See "New Management and New Objectives" in Chapter Eleven, and Planning in the Face of Change " in Chapter Thirteen of this volume.
30. TWX from Harris Schurmeier to William Cunningham, April 1, 1963 (2- 1579).
31. Letter from William Cunningham to Harris Schurrneier, April 8, 1963 (2- 1580).
32. NASA Summary Minutes of the Meeting of the Space Sciences Steering Committee on April 15, 1963, prepared by Jean LeCompte, pp. 1-3 (2- 1768); also letter from Homer Newell to William Pickering, April 26, 1963 (2-699); and letter from Homer Newell to William Pickering, June 19, 1963 (2-291).
33. Homer E. Newell, address to the American Society of Newspaper Editors, April 20, 1963, as cited in a preparation of the NASA Special Communications Staff, Office of Technology Utilization and Policy Planning, Comment on the National Space Program, July 1, 1963, p. B-121 (5-218).
34. Letter from Homer Newell to Harold Urey, April 25, 1963 (2-2337).
35. Letter from Homer Newell to William Pickering, April 26, 1963 (2-180).
36. TWX from Harris Schurmeier to Walter Jakobowski and William Cunningham, April 25, 1963 (2-1593).
37. NASA memorandum from Benjamin Milwitzky to Oran Nicks, subject: "Surveyor Program Discussions, 17 December 1962," January 8, 1963 (2374).
38. At Headquarters, Joseph Shea in particular, a deputy to Office of Manned Space Flight Director Brainerd Holmes, was skeptical whether Ranger and Surveyor would be able to provide Apollo support data in time, and he proposed substituting a manned Apollo lunar orbiter project in their place.
39. NASA memorandum from Edgar Cortright to Homer Newell, subject: "Recommended Reprogramming within the Office of Space Sciences, April 25, 1963 (2-1774).
40. JPL Interoffice Memo #3151-20 from Allen Wolfe and J. B. Berger, subject: "Minutes, Ranger Spacecraft Review Held 12 June 1963, " June 18, 1963 (2-1313); see also James D. Burke, "Ranger Contingency Plans," June 12, 1963 (2-1612).
41. JPL Interoffice Memo from Harris Schurmeier to Distribution, subject: " Ranger Block IV Schedule, " June 24, 1963 (2-1374).
42. Cited in Bill Sumner, " Ranger May Be Unhorsed: House Unit Puts Squeeze on JPL Expansion Plans," The Independent [Pasadena], June 27, 1963, P. C-1.
43. NASA Memorandum to the File from William Cunningham, subject: " Ranger Review with Associate Administrator, " July 12, 1963 (2-718).
44. Letter from Homer Newell to William Pickering, July 12, 1963 (2-190); see also, interview of William Cunningham by Cargill Hall, March 6, 1968, p. 2(2-474).
45. NASA Memorandum for the Record from Edgar Cortright, subject: "Some Comments on the NASA reorientation of the Ranger Program," July 15, 1963 (2-179); and Edgar Cortright's testomony in United States Congress, House, Committee on Science and Astronautics, 1965 NASA Authorization, Hearings before the Subcommittee on Space Sciences and Applications, 88th Congress, 2nd Session, on H.R. 9641, 1964, No. 1, Part 3, p. 1575; see also, Edward H. Kolcum, "Three Ranger Hard-Landing Flights Eliminated; Four Others Delayed, " Aviation Week and Space Technology, Vol. 7 9, July 29, 1963, pp. 17-18.
46. John Walsh, "NASA Ranger Misfortunes Attract Attention of Congress to Problems of Spacecraft Sterilization," Science, Vol. 141, July 12, 1963, p. 140.