Part I. The Original Ranger
Despite the redefinition of Project Ranger, Burke's problems with the development of the spacecraft were hardly over. Indeed, in 1961, although NASA and JPL had the policy and plans for a concerted attempt at sterilizing spacecraft for deep space missions, 1 the first results on Project Ranger proved truly disquieting. The Aeronutronic Division of the Ford Motor Company, experimenting with the new procedures, encountered increased component failures in the Ranger seismometer capsule subsystem after heating to the JPL specifications. This subsystem, the heart of the planetary science package on the Block II Rangers, demanded far-reaching advances to protect the delicate instruments from the high impact loading and stresses involved in a rough landing on the moon. Even after deceleration by retrorocket, the capsule would strike the lunar surface with a residual velocity of 61 meters per second (136 miles per hour), with a force of 3000g. The sterilized seismometer, battery pack, and communications equipment had to survive that shock and operate at least for the two-week duration of a lunar day.
LUNAR SPACECRAFT DEVELOPMENT- STERILIZATION IN PRACTICE
Frank Denison at Aeronutronic had expected a rash of technical difficulties even without sterilization, and the expected development problems did materialize, especially for the radar altimeter that was to trigger separation of the capsule subsystem, the solid propellant retrorocket that would slow the seismometer capsule, and in the capsule itself In May 1961 Aeronutronic began drop-testing sterilized lunar seismometer capsules encased in their balsawood impact li6ters. in the Mojave Desert. Five capsules released from an aircraft over both flat and rocky surfaces produced disappointing results. Those that fell on rocks failed to operate. After modifications, engineers conducted more impact tests in October. The seismometer operated after impact, but malfunctions occurred in the sterilized electronic equipment inside the survival sphere. 2 Prospects appeared slim that the capsule weight and performance requirements could be met in time for the January 1962 launch date of Ranger 3, now only three months away. At NASA Headquarters, dismayed with the progress to date, Oran Nicks ordered Cummings and Burke to strengthen technical direction of the Aeronutronic work, and produce a detailed recovery plan for the time remaining. 3
On November 6, 1961, Aeronutronic reorganized its Ranger capsule project team. Donal B. Duncan replaced Frank Denison in charge of capsule development. Ranger spacecraft systems manager Wolfe led a contingent of JPL personnel to the Aeronutronic facility in Newport Beach to assist in the recovery effort. For its part, NASA Headquarters issued waivers of heat sterilization for some sensitive electrical components in the survival sphere. In his recovery plan submitted to Nicks on November 9, Burke affirmed that the outstanding technical problems associated with the radar altimeter, retrorocket, and capsule were under control. Tests in succeeding weeks, including impact tests of operating seismometer capsules, supported that observation, 4 but the ability of the seismometer and batteries to withstand the cold temperature of a two-week "lunar night" appeared questionable. And if heat sterilization and glove-box assembly of the lunar capsules inside clear plastic containers had proved a demanding and time-consuming task for Aeronutronic, they were magnified when applied to the Ranger 3 spacecraft at JPL (Figure 49). 5
Fig. 49. Sterile Assembly of a Seismometer Capsule at Aeronutronic
Except for the lunar capsule handled separately at Aeronutronic, JPL's technical divisions heat sterilized all of the subsystems for Ranger 3 in a special oven in the new environmental test laboratory. Division Chiefs immediately reported major problems-in particular with electronic components: the heat rendered cabling brittle, reduced the tensile strength of soldered joints, and caused capacitors to leak. After assembly in July 1961, Ranger 3 entered system tests. The results were positively disturbing. "Component failure rates," JPL advised NASA, "are much higher...than those recorded on the proof test model. This is almost the exact reversal of the experience noted on the Ranger 1 and 2 program. The only difference between the Ranger 3 proof test model and the flight spacecraft is heat sterilization." The report continued: "Although no failures are directly traceable to heat damage, it is felt that heat sterilization does shorten the expected life of electronic components and circumstantial evidence seems to bear this out." 6 At the same time, engineers in the Systems Division noted that heating the Ranger 4 bus had resulted in "warping the structure... This, however, can be compensated for by suitable shimming." They had also found a wire in the ring harness "to be parted near a splice. This damage occurred sometime during the sterilization process." 7
Practical experience hardly encouraged confidence in the new procedure or in its implications for reliability. Granted, the procedures had been devised after a short test program with selected components in 1960; but, surprisingly, no one at JPL or NASA had foreseen the deleterious results that heat sterilization could have for the spacecraft when applied on a full-scale basis. Although lacking firm evidence that this requirement caused the equipment failures, JPL now requested and received more waivers from NASA Headquarters on heat sterilizing certain crucial components. Among them were the capsule batteries, various transistors, capacitors, explosive-actuated switches, and the retrorocket and spin motor propellant, igniter, and squib. More and more it appeared that the moon would have to tolerate some bugs from the earth.
Ranger 3 completed systems tests after all failed parts had been carefully requalified and replaced. NASA accepted the machine for shipment to Cape Canaveral in late November 1961. Cummings informed NASA Associate Administrator Robert Seamans of those parts that had been excluded from heat treatment, and of achievement in the NASA spacecraft sterilization program to date. "The degree of decontamination attained," he explained, "is the result of a major effort which has added substantially to the cost and to the risk of the mission, it is likely that the sterilization procedures have compromised spacecraft reliability; however, there is insufficient data to positively confirm this suspicion. Though complete sterilization has not been achieved, the total possible contamination level [remaining] is known to be small. 8
At a minimum, heat sterilization appeared to have affected the life expectancy of many electronic components. After hours of subsystem and system testing, no one could be certain exactly how many more hours of life remained in Range 1 The lunar capsule and its retrorocket had just qualified for flight and should properly undergo more tests. Furthermore, the failure of the Ranger 2 mission in November raised questions about the need for improving the Atlas-Agena B launch vehicle to ensure its reliable performance. Existing flight schedules simply did not afford time for this work. Should the launch of Ranger 3 be delayed to provide it?
Burke discussed the matter with Cummings, Kautz, and Wolfe, as well as with others at the Laboratory. The Atlas-Agena, scrutinized and modified, seemed likely to perform properly. Burke and his fellow JPL engineers were also satisfied that the spacecraft would work. The mission was, after all, a lunar flight of only three days, and they could be sure of that much component lifetime. Prevailing sentiment remained heavily disposed to launching Ranger 3 on schedule. Even if the capsule subsystem itself failed to perform precisely as planned at the moon, valuable experience would be gained for the first time with the spacecraft by the deep space tracking net, and in space flight operations-through exercising the spacecraft in its midcourse correction and terminal maneuvers. 9 Two more flights remained in which to secure the lunar science objective. Feeling an additional urge to make haste, the JPL officials knew that the Soviets had yet fully to demonstrate these important techniques on a deep space mission.
JPL Director Pickering summarized the situation for Seamans on November 15: "The elaborate real-time operations involved in determining the orbit, computing and executing the in-flight maneuvers and commands, and returning the lunar TV data cannot properly be simulated without a flight, he wrote. "We must weigh carefully the value of early experience in these areas against a postulated improvement in the capsule subsystem" that might obtain by delaying the mission. 10 On December 28, 1961, one month after Ranger 2 had burned to a cinder in the earth's atmosphere, in a meeting of NASA and JPL officials at Headquarters, Burke presented the case for launching Ranger 3 on schedule, regardless of the costs to science. He argued forcefully that the advantages in proceeding to launch outweighed the potential disadvantages. The launch vehicle, spacecraft, and deep space tracking net were ready. And should the retrorocket or the capsule electronics fail at the moon, he asserted, NASA still would have the engineering and operational experience gained in a flight there. Oran Nicks, Director of the Lunar and Planetary Program Office, disagreed. Because of the questionable performance of the capsule subsystem, he urged delaying the launch to qualify this key scientific experiment. But Burke's position carried as Cortright, Newell's Deputy Director in the Office of Space Sciences, concluded that Ranger 3 would launch on schedule. 11
Though science could still be acknowledged as the primary lunar objective, the decision to launch Ranger 3 as planned was a victory for Ranger's designers and engineers-in Pasadena. They would have the opportunity to surpass the Russians on the one hand, and to test the Ranger spacecraft and flight support operations through a complete lunar mission on the other. Space science, at least in the form of the lunar seismometer experiment, would have to take its chances. Nicks accepted the edict, but thought it a distortion of the Block II objectives downgrading space science in favor of engineering.
AFTER THE APOLLO DECISION: WHAT SCIENCE AND WHERE?
On December 1, 1961, the Space Sciences Steering Committee in the Office of Space Sciences reshuffled the experimenters for the visual imaging television package aboard the remaining Ranger flights, 3 through 9. To Urey, Kuiper, and Shoemaker, chosen a few months before in October, 12 the Steering Committee now added Ray Heacock and Edwin Dobies of JPL's Space Sciences Division. JPL Space Sciences Division Chief Hibbs was appointed "convener" of the entire group. 13 Oran Nicks informed JPL Lunar Program Director Cummings that by this change NASA hoped to encourage these scientists to operate together as a "team" from development of the television system at RCA through analysis of the lunar pictures after the mission. He asked Cummings to integrate this scientific cadre directly into the project management structure, and to show that assignment in the Block III Project Development Plan. The blending of scientists and engineers begun in the Office of Space Sciences in Washington was to be extended to the field center project level. 14 At the same time, the Office of Space Sciences also considered the possibility of more science in Project Ranger.
The scientific loss in the first Ranger missions, along with the commitment of the Block III Rangers 6 through 9 to Apollo, had brought Homer Newell numerous complaints from NASA space science experimenters around the country. 15 Even more distressing, perhaps, was the increasing tendency of the aerospace trade journals, the press, and many space agency personnel to represent all of NASA's unmanned lunar flights as engineering missions in support of the manned lunar landing. 16 With these conditions straining more than ever NASA's relations with the nation's scientific community, Newell determined to remain true to the principle of inquiring science. JPL, among several other field installations, reported to the Office of Space Sciences, not to the Office of Manned Space Flight. As long as Newell had anything to say about it, wherever weight and space permitted, science would be accommodated in NASA's unmanned lunar and planetary projects. 17
But where to find the spacecraft for deep space missions with sufficient weight and space available to meet the demands of experimenters in 1962-1963? The postponed Surveyor lunar soft lander, experiencing development problems in both the spacecraft and its Centaur launch vehicle, was out of the question. And the head of the Mariner R project at JPL had successfully fought off attempts to add more experiments to this first planetary mission to Venus. But the four Ranger Block III television spacecraft, on which Burke's project engineers were busily programming extra weight and space for redundant engineering features, did remain. Though their objective might be acknowledged as Apollo support, some of the sky science experiments lost on Rangers 1 and 2 conceivably could be added here. Granted, a time limit of sixty-five hours on measurements during a flight to the moon would be a severe drawback. Among those anxious for another change, however, such data were much to be preferred to no data at all.
Out at JPL some months earlier, Burke and Hibbs had collaborated in producing a proposal of their own for three sky science experiments to go along with the primary television package on Rangers 6 through 9. Submitted to Headquarters in August 1961, the three experiments made up a package designed to evaluate the radiation hazards to man between the earth and the moon's surface. Supplementing the return expected from the television system, they would thus support Project Apollo. 18 The Space Sciences Steering Committee evaluated the JPL plan on August 21, and asked Newell's Lunar and Planetary Programs Division to conduct a review and return with recommendations.
On September 26, while the Steering Committee's request was still in Newell's Division, the Ranger Block III Project Development Plan was issued. It specified that the three secondary sky science experiments would be "considered" for inclusion on Rangers 6 through 9. But at JPL Burke and Hibbs assumed that the experiments slated for possible inclusion would be theirs, and they permitted parts procurement and fabrication of these machines to proceed apace so as to meet the established specifications and schedules. Then, early in 1962, because of a shortage of skilled manpower at JPL, Burke and Hibbs decided that the three experiments could not be completed in time for all of them to fly on Rangers 6 through 9. Ranger 6 would incorporate only one experiment along with the television package, a Neher ion chamber. Ranger 7 would incorporate two, the ion chamber and geiger counters. Rangers 8 and 9 would carry three, the first two plus tissue-equivalent dosimeters if they could be prepared and delivered on time. On February 5, Burke reported the change to Nicks at Headquarters. 19
Burke's news arrived in Washington just when the Office of Space Sciences was deciding upon its objectives in the years ahead, especially the role of space science in the unmanned lunar program. To Newell and his staff, Burke's reduction in the number of sky science experiments for Rangers 6 through 9 was tantamount to another downgrading of space science in favor of spacecraft engineering. The reduction, after all, seemed to be justified only by a requirement of meeting a flight-test schedule for the Ranger machine. Newell and his staff thus saw the issue of whether to approve Burke's sky science experiment prospectus in terms of a single fundamental question. Given existing and anticipated funds was it better to perfect the spacecraft and launch vehicles, then pursue science, or should the technology and space sciences be pressed simultaneously? Taken up during February, the question was, Nicks later recollected, most difficult to answer.
Charles Sonett, Chief Scientist in the Lunar and Planetary Program Office, pointed out that the Ranger spacecraft bus had been specifically designed to accept a variety of add-on scientific instruments. The space, power, and weight available on Rangers 6 through 9, he maintained, could in fact support more than the few experiments recommended by JPL. 20 The Space Sciences Steering Committee, moreover, had not given final approval to the space experiment recommendations of Burke or scientists elsewhere. If only to relieve some of the pressure from space scientists for more flight opportunities, the committee would likely endorse the addition of some experiments on Rangers 6 through 9. Besides, not one Atlas-Agena launch vehicle or Ranger spacecraft had as yet been proved through a complete mission. No one could be certain which flight might succeed first. 21 Nicks recalled that the scientist, "if he saw a spacecraft launch and work successfully, and it didn't carry anything but engineering telemetry [would have] said: ‘I was right,...just look at the free trip I could have had.’ On the other hand, if [the scientist] worked very hard and got a good set of instruments on board and it went splash in the ocean, he was frustrated because he wasted all that time." 22
Newell, Cortright, and Nicks, sure that scientists should at least be given the chance to acquire fundamental knowledge at the earliest time possible, concluded that Rangers 6 through 9 as well as other Office of Space Sciences lunar missions would develop the technology and support the interests of space science and Project Apollo, all at the same time. A few months later Newell announced the objectives of his NASA bailiwick: The Office of Space Sciences would be devoted to the "scientific exploration and investigation of outer space." Its flight missions would "contribute to basic knowledge," then "support manned space flight," and finally, encourage "social, political, and economic growth," in that order. 23
On February 28, 1962, William Cunningham, newly appointed Ranger Program Chief in Nicks' Lunar and Planetary Program Office, picked up the phone and called JPL. He told Burke that the matter of secondary experiments for Rangers 6 through 9 was still open. It would be discussed further by the Space Sciences Steering Committee within the next few weeks. Meantime, JPL would resubmit to the Steering Committee a formal proposal for the secondary experiments it desired. 24
SCIENCE REASSERTED IN PROJECT RANGER
Burke was first dismayed, then incensed by what he perceived to be a sudden 180-degree turnabout in the objectives for Ranger Block III. Although he had steadfastly emphasized the immediate importance of creating and demonstrating the spacecraft technology, Burke had also acknowledged in Project Ranger the eventual primacy of planetary science. The moon, after all, was the ultimate subject of interest. 25 The new Ranger missions had been planned, represented, approved, and thus far prosecuted as a single-purpose endeavor to return pictures of the lunar surface for use in the design of the Apollo lunar lander. The three additional sky science experiments had happily complemented that objective, but three extra experiments were all the project office had programmed to design and pay for. Nevertheless, Cunningham had explained, more such experiments were now to be considered. With all restraint apparently gone by the boards at Headquarters, it seemed to Burke as if all science in Project Ranger was to be re-determined in the laissez faire manner of the Ranger 1 and 2 era.
"The question of what auxiliary experiments Rangers 6 through 9 will carry," Burke tersely notified JPL Deputy Director Brian Sparks, "has been reopened by Dr. Sonett...The timing is bad because JPL schedule and documents show the issue already decided, work proceeding accordingly." 26 Any support that Sparks or Pickering might provide in forestalling these plans would be appreciated. To Cunningham, Burke reiterated the critical problem of timing. Whatever experiments might be considered, whether they had anything to do with the moon or not, the status of these spacecraft had, back in September 196 1, been fixed to meet the NASA flight schedule: 27
*While Rangers 7, 8, and 9 were planned as identical spacecraft, their designs could be
altered slightly to incorporate improvements, based on the dates of hardware delivery.
But the planning for more science continued at Headquarters.
On March 13, 1962, NASA's Lunar and Planetary Programs Office evaluated all the proposals for more secondary experiments. A total of nine sky science instruments had been submitted for consideration, including the three recommended by JPL. Of these, only the JPL tissue-equivalent dosimeters were found inappropriate for referral to NASA's Space Sciences Steering Committee. The next day, the Steering Committee tentatively agreed to the entire ensemble of eight experiments. 28 Burke talked again with Cunningham in an attempt to have Headquarters reconsider the issue. Such a large number of experiments, he argued, could be expected to create new weight and power problems on the spacecraft. Adding them now would jeopardize existing schedules, project costs, and the stated NASA flight objectives. Schedules and costs aside, there just wasn't the manpower. Operating under a ceiling of 3500 total personnel at the Laboratory was straining the Space Sciences Division as well as the other technical divisions to the breaking point. 29 The large number of JPL engineers required to plan and integrate the design changes for so many experiments simply did not exist. But Cunningham could not be swayed. Afterward, Burke complained to Cummings: "Cunningham says that all other [NASA] satellites are handled the Sonett way [through the SSSC]," adding bitterly, "if they wanted to do an exercise like this, they had half of 1961 ... and now it is pretty late." 30
On March 20, 1962, Nicks formally advised Burke of the findings of the Space Sciences Steering Committee, and requested him "to take steps to integrate these experiments into the spacecraft bus." If the unsolicited Vela Hotel experiment on Rangers 1 and 2 had aroused the project manager's worst fears, the addition by NASA of eight "trinkets" on Rangers 6 through 9 confirmed them. To Burke, Headquarters had determined upon a course of action for science without regard for its engineering implications, and expected the JPL project office obediently to carry it out. Two more aeronomy experiments, he learned moreover, were also being considered. A final NASA decision on the precise number would be made before the end of the month. 31
By now news and rumor of these events were abroad at the Laboratory. Burke found himself on the receiving end of distress phone calls and memos from irate JPL engineers. Believing the project office had agreed to intemperate demands, Charles Cole, Chief of the Engineering Mechanics Division, was blunt and to the point: "We wish to remind you," he wrote crisply, "that the engineering problems attendant to the location and installation of science systems on the spacecraft are many (temperature control, structural and mechanical design, and space availability) and the constraints are unusually severe. This Division has not planned for the manpower or funds to carry on either an effort to ascertain the feasibility of incorporating proposed additional experiments or the ‘hard design’ required for approved experiments." 32 Beset with technical problems in the Atlas-Agena and light-weight Block II spacecraft, and trapped in the crossfire between scientists and engineers on the Block III missions, Burke was emphatically angry.
On March 28, 1962, Burke attended a meeting convened at NASA Headquarters to settle problems of integrating the secondary experiments on Rangers 6 through 9. Lunar and Planetary Programs Director Oran Nicks, his Chief Scientist Charles Sonett, and Ranger Program Chief Cunningham were there along with the Deputy Chief of the JPL Space Sciences Division, Manfred Eimer. 33 Burke, purposefully composed, summoning all the logic and persuasion at his command, suggested that Headquarters simply did not understand the severe problems involved at the project level. With the available manpower and time limits, he argued, so many scientific experiments could be added to the spacecraft only at the expense of engineering reliability, which posed a direct threat to mission success. Eimer followed, explaining that the JPL Space Sciences Division would be forced to subcontract for manpower simply to supervise and qualify theft experiments for flight Such use of inexperienced personnel would also increase the risk in the science area. 34
For Nicks, incredulous, this was the last straw. Burke's intransigence and continued resistance in the face of Headquarters decisions were inexcusable. The leaders of the Office of Space Sciences had set as a policy the service of pure science. That included flying scientific experiments while at the same time developing the space technology. Good scientific results, precedent already suggested, could be secured even in the event of a partial failure of the space flight hardware, and in any case Ranger had been purposely designed to permit add-on experiments. But perhaps most disturbing, the Lunar and Planetary Programs Director now faced what he considered a direct and crucial challenge: Who, in effect, was in charge of the program, the space agency or the contractor? More to the point as viewed by Nicks, if NASA wanted leopard skin upholstery in the Ranger spacecraft and would pay for it, then that was precisely what JPL-Caltech would provide. Mincing no words, Nicks told Eimer and Burke that the secondary experiments would fly on Rangers 6 through 9. He did not request but instructed Burke to reexamine the problems and present a plan for integrating these instruments on April 9, at the next Ranger Quarterly Review meeting. 35 Convinced at last that his reasoning could not possibly prevail, Burke submitted.*
* Burke, it seems clear, essentially viewed the issue in terms of what it meant to the project rather than what it meant as an institutional matter. Yew later he reflected: "The Ranger [Block II] effort already was in serious technical trouble. That was the key thing. And what skilled manpower we could command was busy fixing the technical troubles that existed...But...I just couldn't understand, I couldn't comprehend the thinking which would suddenly load on eight additional ‘trinkets’ with all their demands and interactions right at the moment when we were perhaps approaching our first [flight] payoff." (interview of James Burke by Cargill Hall, January 27, 1969,p. 14,2-1391.)
Led by Nicks, Sonett, and Cunningham, Headquarters was well represented at the JPL Ranger Quarterly Review meeting. Burke and Eimer presented their plan and reviewed the prospective problems of including the eight sky science experiments on these Ranger missions. Manpower to support this work could be contracted for with a local vendor. The existing flight schedule then could be maintained, they averred, if NASA phased in the new experiments after the launch of Ranger 6, as shown in Table IV. 36
Agency and scientist
|Ranger 6||Neher ionization chamber||Caltech/JPL: H. V. Neher, H.R. Anderson, W.S. McDonald|
|Rangers 7, 8 and 9||Neher ionization chamber||Caltech/JPL: H. V. Neher, H.R. Anderson, W.S. McDonald|
|Geiger counter assembly||Caltech/JPL: H. V. Neher, H.R. Anderson, W.S. McDonald|
|Electron flux measurement||Applied Physics Laboratory: G. F. Pieper|
|Low-energy solar proton detector||Ames Research Center: M. Bader|
|Dust particle detector||Goddard Space Flight Center: W. M. Alexander|
|Search coil magnetometer||JPL: E. J. Smith|
University of California at L.A.: T. A. Farley
Space Technology Laboratory: N. Sanders
|Low-energy proton measurement||Goddard Space Flight Center: G. P. Serbu, R. E. Bourdeau|
Table IV. Ranger Block III Sky Science
After discussion all around, NASA personnel agreed to the plan. 37 Burke told Nicks that despite past objections he would "proceed aggressively in the attempt to get them aboard. However," he added, "by placing this demand on the personnel and resources of the Laboratory, we may jeopardize not only other JPL efforts but also the higher-priority [Apollo] objectives within the Ranger Project itself." Unless directed otherwise, the main goal of the JPL project office would "continue to be the production of high-resolution lunar pictures at the earliest possible date..." 38 To help meet that goal, he asked that Headquarters set a priority among the sky science experiments, thus allowing project engineers some basis for treating unforeseen "interference problems." 39 But perhaps because priorities are frowned upon in science, where each area of inquiry is claimed to be equally worthy, Nicks and Sonett refused, saying that they would "review any conflicts and settle each on its own merits." 40
On April 23, 1962, the Space Sciences Steering Committee gave final approval to the sky Science experiments. 41 Aware that Burke and his associates still doubted the wisdom of the decision, Newell personally notified Pickering of the Space Sciences Steering Committee's findings. The Steering Committee, he assured Pickering, had "discussed the relative importance of these experiments to the stated objectives of this follow-on program. The primary objective of these flights is to obtain data of significance to the manned lunar effort, and it is believed that good measurements in lunar space as well as in the lunar environment will be of great value in this regard. It is certain," he added in closing, "that the Space Sciences program will benefit from these added experiments." 42
MODIFYING RANGER FOR MORE SPACE SCIENCE
In the weeks that followed, JPL engineers designed a universal bracket for the spacecraft bus capable of supporting most of the experiment sensors and their associated electronics. Three of these brackets would encircle the hexagonal frame of each machine. They subcontracted for the data automation system to receive and process the scientific telemetry for transmission to earth stations. 43 Assisted by the JPL Space Sciences Division, the experimenters set about the design, fabrication, and bench testing of their separate instruments as rapidly as possible, for the first flight units were scheduled to be delivered to JPL at the end of July 1962. 44
The time element, as it affected preparation of these experiments, remained the source of justifiable concern. Several of the instruments, the Space Sciences Division cautioned in mid-June, might not meet flight acceptance standards under this tight schedule. 45 When reviewed by JPL division representatives on June 25, that outcome appeared highly probable. To protect the spacecraft against faults in the hastily prepared instruments, the engineers recommended the electrical fusing of each experiment separately. 46 Despite objections from some of the experimenters, Burke authorized this change in early July, at the same time rejecting the proposal of another group of disgruntled engineers who pressed for a single fuse in front of the power lead to all of the sky science experiments. If one of the experiments shorted and went up in smoke on the way to the moon, he agreed, it would not be permitted to take the spacecraft with it. 47 Television pictures of the lunar surface, in the absence of Headquarters directives to the contrary, remained the primary objective.
The electrical power needed for all of these scientific experiments, however, proved to be a far more crucial problem than the potential malfunctioning of any single one. On July 13 Burke learned from Spacecraft System Manager Wolfe that, contrary to initial estimates, Ranger’s two trapezoidal solar panels appeared unable to produce sufficient electrical power to operate both the spacecraft and all the scientific instruments. The project office faced a choice: an attempt could be made to adapt the larger, rectangular Mariner R solar panels to the new Ranger machines in the time remaining, or the number of secondary experiments would have to be reduced. Given Headquarters determined commitment to space science, Burke could agree with Wolfe that the latter course had to be viewed as a "drastic option" (Figure 50). 48
Fig. 50. Placement of Sky Science Experiments on Ranger Block III Spacecraft Showing Solar Panel Requirements
Pending the outcome of more definitive tests, and keenly sensitive to Headquarters feelings at this point, Burke delayed notifying Cunningham of the problem. To suggest now that scientific instruments might have to be removed might be construed as another attempt by JPL to thwart explicit NASA orders. But by the end of the month, a power shortage existed. As Burke explained to JPL Deputy Director Sparks, available power was marginal for Ranger 7, and definitely inadequate for Rangers 8 and 9, which-beyond the scientific experiments-had also to support a 2300-megacycle communications ranging experiment for the Deep Space Network. Under existing schedules, moreover, the Mariner R solar panels could not be adapted in Project Ranger before the flight of Ranger 9. Headquarters had to be informed of this development. If schedules were to be met, the number of secondary experiments had to be drastically reduced. 49
This time Burke delegated the task. On August 2, Wolfe notified Ranger Program Engineer Walter Jakobowski, his counterpart at Headquarters, of the results of JPL’s power review. 50 A few days later Cunningham arrived at JPL to evaluate the situation personally. He promptly concurred in the JPL findings. Without the larger solar panels, electrical power for most of the experiments was simply unavailable. Cunningham agreed to present a full report at the next meeting of the Space Sciences Steering Committee, and also to include recommended priorities for the experiments based on their (1) value to Project Apollo, (2) test performance, and (3) suitability for. removal at a late date without disrupting the primary mission objective. 51
On August 23, 1962, Cunningham conveyed the disturbing news to John F. Clark. Now Chief Scientist in Newell's Office of Space Sciences 52 and newly appointed Chairman of the Space Sciences Steering Committee, Clark learned that NASA could delay flight schedules until the Mariner R solar panels could be modified and procured for use on Ranger 7, or, if it wished, the space agency could remove some or possibly all of the secondary experiments. Cunningham reminded the scientist that "acquisition of knowledge of lunar topography, sufficient for the determination of gross effects on lunar landing vehicles" was the primary objective of this block of Ranger missions. As though encouraging a choice of the second option, he observed that the fields and particles experiments were "a secondary scientific objective." 53 In the matter of project priorities and objectives, Burke clearly had an advocate at Headquarters.
If the JPL project office had won the support of the Ranger Program Chief in the matter of secondary sky science on Rangers 6 through 9, the entire episode had unquestionably misdirected energies, raised undue expectations, and strained relations all around. It had also cost irretrievable time that might otherwise have been spent on Rangers 3, 4, and 5, plagued as they were with problems of weight, a lack of redundant subsystem components, and heat sterilization with its effects on fabrication and testing. 54 To be sure, the question of the secondary sky science was placed on the agenda for reconsideration by NASA's Space Sciences Steering Committee, but it would eventually be settled out of court by the lunar missions that had already begun rising from Cape Canaveral towards the moon.
Chapter Eight - 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 "When and How to Sterilize Spacecraft" in Chapter Four of this volume.
2. TWX from James Burke to Benjamin Milwitzky, subject: "Ranger Project P-32-P-36 Status as of 30 September 1961," October 19, 1961 (2-1459); see also, Final Technical Report: Lunar Rough Landing Capsule Development Program (Newport Beach, California: Aeronutronic, a Division of Ford Motor Company, February 20, 1963) (2-1758).
3. Letter from Oran Nicks to Clifford Cummings, October 26, 1961 (2-256a).
4. Letter from James Burke to Oran Nicks, November 9, 1961 (2-339); Final Technical Report: Lunar Rough Landing Capsule Development Program, (Newport Beach, California: Aeronutronic, a Division of Ford Motor Company, February 20, 1963) (2-1758), p. 3-140.
5. Sterilization procedure is contained in JPL Interoffice Memo from Rolf Hastrup to Distribution, subject: "Procedures for Sterile Assembly of RA3 in SAF, "July 10, 1961 (2-1133).
6. Space Programs Summary No. 37-12, Volume It for the period September 1, 1961, to November 1, 1961 (Pasadena, California: Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, December 1, 1961), pp. 14-15.
7. Ibid., p. 16.
8. Letter from Clifford Cummings to Robert Seamans, January 2, 1962, p. 3 (2-454b); history of JPL sterilization procedures in JPL Interoffice Memo ERG #228, from Ranger Project Office to Frank Goddard, subject: "Ranger Sterilization Experience," April 5, 1963 (2-659b); and in A Review of Space Research (Publication 1079, the Report of the Summer Study conducted under the auspices of the Space Science Board of the National Academy of Sciences at the State University of Iowa, June 17-August 10, 1962. Washington: National Academy of Sciences-National Research Council, 1962), pp. 10-25 and Appendix III.
9. Cf., JPL Interoffice Memo from James Burke to AD Concerned, subject: "RA-3 Schedule," November 21, 1961 (2-2519); and JPL Interoffice Memo from Marshall Johnson to Allen Wolfe, subject: "On the Launching of Ranger 3, " October 30, 1961 (2-1163).
10. Letter from William Pickering to Robert Seamans, November 15, 1961, p. 2(2-1464).
11. NASA memorandum from Oran Nicks to Edgar Cortright, subject: "Plans for Ranger 3 Review Meeting on December 28 at JPL," November 21, 1961 (2-1483); telephone interview of James Burke by Cargill Hall, August 3, 1972.
12. See "Space Science and the Original Ranger Missions" in Chapter Four of this volume.
13. Letter from Homer Newell to William Pickering, December 8, 1961 (2-251).
14. Letter from Oran Nicks to Clifford Cummings, December 27, 1961 (2-1471). Rationale is discussed in "Briefing for Space Science Panel of the President's Science Advisory Committee," by Homer Newell, April 2, 1962, p. 11
15. Letter from Homer Newell to Donald Hornig, November 15, 1961 (2-2130).
16. See, for example, "JPL Speeds Lunar Work for Apollo," Missiles and Rockets, November 27, 1961, p. 100; also the statement by NASA Deputy Associate Administrator Thomas Dixon on February 21, 1962, as cited in United States Congress, House Committee on Science and Astronautics, Astronautical and Aeronautical Events of 1962, NASA Report to the Committee, 88th Congress, 1st Session, 1963, p. 19; and "Unmanned Lunar Program to Aid Apollo," Aviation Week and Space Technology, July 2, 1962, pp. 160, 163.
17. Newell's position is summarized most succinctly in his letter to Representative Joseph Karth, April 10, 1962 (2-897).
18. "Mission Objectives and Design Criteria Ranger P-53 Through P-56 Spacecraft (RA-6 through RA-9), " in Ranger Spacecraft Design Specification Book Spec. No. RL-2-1 10 (Pasadena, California: Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, November 8, 1961 ), pp. 1, 5 (2-1124); cf, Hugh L. Dryden, "Future Exploration and Utilization of Outer Space," Technology and Culture, Volume 2, No. 2, Spring 1961, P. 124.
19. Letter cited in JPL Interoffice Memo from James Burke to Clifford Cummings, subject: "Ranger 6-9 Scientific Experiments," March 14, 1962 (2-1235); see also "P53 (RA-6), P54 (RA-7), P55 (RA-8), and P56 (RA- 9) Spacecraft Design Characteristics and Restraints Design Characteristics, " in Ranger Spacecraft Design Specification Book, Spec. No. RL-3-110A (Pasadena, California: Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, February 12, 1962) (3-1549).
20. Interview of Charles Sonett by Cargill Hall, May 1972; and interview of Walter Jakobowski by Cargill Hall, August 26, 1968, p. 1 (2-760).
21. Gerhardt Schilling, Sonett's predecessor, explained: We ran "a scientific program," and there was "pressure from the academic community to participate. Even if a flight was only partially successful, or even unsuccessful with regard to the mission objective, we might get some results from a scientific instrument and thus avoid complete failure (there were precedents in the early space program). "Letter from Gerhardt Schilling to Cargill Hall, June 23, 1970 (2-1979).
22. Interview of Oran Nicks by Cargill Hall, August 26, 1968, p.5 (2-761).
23. Prospectus: NASA Office of Space Sciences Long Range Plan (Washington: National Aeronautics and Space Administration, November 1962), p.1 (11-54).
24. TWX from William Cunningham to James Burke, March 1, 1962 (2-1233).
25. See "Space Science and the Original Ranger Missions" in Chapter Four of this volume; and James Burke, note on science in Ranger (2-2487 ).
26. JPL Interoffice Memo from James Burke to Brian Sparks, subject: "Ranger Project Status Report No. 48, " March 2, 1962 (2-1314).
27. Letter from James Burke to William Cunningham, March 6,1962 (2-1234).
28. NASA memorandum from William Cunningham to Charles Sonett, subject: "Scientific Experiments for Ranger Missions P-53, P-54, P-55, and P-56," April 18, 1962 (2-646).
29. Letter from Abe Silverstein to William Pickering, October 12, 1961 (3- 363). More engineers than anticipated had been needed for Marshall Johnson's space flight operations, others had been assigned to a Surveyor lunar orbiter study, and more were to be detailed on loan to assist Joseph Shea in the Office of Manned Space Flight at Headquarters. JPL Interoffice Memo No. 83 from Brian Sparks to Senior Staff, subject: "Task Group for Dr. Shea," March 8, 1962 (3-440).
30. JPL Memo from James Burke to Clifford Cummings, March 14, 1962 (2- 1235).
31. Letter from Oran Nicks to James Burke, March 20, 1962 (2-683).
32. JPL Interoffice Memo from Charles Cole to Clifford Cummings and James Burke, subject: "Science Experiments, Ranger Follow-On, "March 21, 1962 (2-1238).
33. NASA memo from William Cunningham to Charles Sonett, April 18, 1962 (2-646).
34. See JPL Interoffice Memo from Raymond Heacock to Gordon Kautz, subject: "Ranger Follow-On Scientific Experiments," April 13, 1962 (2- 2067).
35. See the letter from James Burke to William Cunningham, April 2, 1962 (2- 1241).
36. NASA memo from William Cunningham to Charles Sonett, April 18, 1962, p. 5 (2-646).
37. Confirmed in a letter from James Burke to William Cunningham, April 13, 1962 (2-684).
39. At the outset of Project Ranger, the JPL project office and Space Sciences Division had established priorities among the scientific instruments; see "The Vega-Ranger: Where Planet and Sky Science Meet" in Chapter Three, and "Space Science and the Original Ranger Missions" in Chapter Four of this volume.
40. JPL Interoffice Memo from James Burke to William Pickering, Brian Sparks, and Clifford Cummings, subject: "Ranger 6-9 Bus Experiments," April 18, 1962 (2-1244). Determining the relative significance among differentiated fundamental research competing for government support has always been a source of contention, and as a rule establishing priorities has been consistently refused by the spokesmen of science. See Daniel S. Greenberg, The Politics of Pure Science (New York: the New American Library, Inc., 1967), pp. 231-241. As Homer Newell explained NASA's policy to an approving Space Science Panel of the President's Science Advisory Committee: "Having chosen the various scientific areas of interest and importance, we do not attempt to establish relative importances among the areas unless forced by limitations of resources to do so. Such comparative evaluations are extremely difficult and highly subjective, being in effect choices between apples and pears." Homer E. Newell, " Briefing for Space Science Panel of the President's Science Advisory Committee, " April 2, 1962 (11-58).
41. NASA Summary Minutes of the Meeting of the Space Sciences Steering Committee held on April 23, 1962 (2-647).
42. Letter from Homer Newell to William Pickering, May 4, 1962, p. 2 (2-260).
43. Space Programs Summary No. 37-16, Volume VI for the period May 1, 1962, to August 1, 1962 (Pasadena, California: Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, August 31, 1962), p. 13; Space Programs Summary No. 3 7-17, Volume I for the period July 1, 1962, to September 1, 1962 (Pasadena, California: Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, September 30, 1962), p. 28.
44. As indicated earlier in this chapter, hardware delivery for these spacecraft had been firmly fixed by NASA.
45. JPL Interoffice Memo from S. Rothman to Distribution, subject: "Status Report Ranger Follow On (7-9), " June 22, 1962 (2-1262).
46. JPL Interoffice Memo from Allen Wolfe to James Burke, subject: "RA 7-9 Experiment Status, " June 26, 1962 (2-1263).
47. Interview of James Burke by Cargill Hall, January 27, 1969, p. 14 (2-1391).
48. JPL Interoffice Memo from Allen Wolfe to James Burke, subject: "Review of Power Deficiency for Rangers 8 and 9, " July 13, 1962 (2-1278).
49. JPL Interoffice Memo from James Burke to Brian Sparks, subject: "Ranger Project Status Report No. 69, July 27, 1962 (2-1314).
50. JPL Interoffice Memo from Allen Wolfe to James Burke, subject: "Recommendation on RA 7-14 Power," August 2, 1962 (2-1268); NASA Memorandum to the File from Walter Jakobowski, subject: "A Ranger Power Budget; B. RCA Funding Status," August 2, 1962 (2-643 ).
51. NASA memorandum from William Cunningham to Oran Nicks, subject: "Trip Report of August 7-8, Jet Propulsion Laboratory," August 16, 1962 (2-1175); see also the letter from James Burke to William Cunningham, August 10, 1962 (2-1272).
52. Clark replaced Sonett as Chief Scientist in the spring of 1962, after Sonett moved from Headquarters to become Chief of the newly formed Space Science Division at NASA's Ames Research Center in California. NASA Announcement No. 5-5, "Appointment of Associate Director and Chief Scientist, Office of Space Sciences, " May 23, 1962.
53. NASA memorandum from William Cunningham to John Clark, subject: " Non-Visual Bus Experiments for Ranger Follow-On Missions, " with attachment "Ranger Follow-On Scientific Experiments, " August 2 3, 1962 (2-688).
54. " It was not only the time, " Kautz recalled, "but he [Burke] knew the tradeoff that was being made in dedicating himself to get those [experiments] on in accordance with the directive that had been made. I think it was a known sacrifice, and I'm not at all sure that Headquarters ever really knew of the effort that was made to get them on in good faith. " Interview of Gordon Kautz by Cargill Hall, December 17, 1971, p. 3 (2-2246).