NASA's efforts to establish a life sciences program to support the accelerated space program after 1961 produced conflict with two external groups. Certain spokesmen for the scientific community viewed the decentralized life sciences program as evidence that NASA was subordinating basic biomedical research to biotechnology and flight medicine. Air Force officials who were interested in space, and their allies in Congress, viewed the same phenomenon as an effort to build up NASA's inhouse biomedical capabilities at the expense of the Air Force's bioastronautics program. In short, NASA was caught between one group of critics who thought it was doing too little in life sciences and a second group who thought it was doing too much.
NASA AND THE LIFE SCIENCES COMMUNITY
NASA's relations with the scientific community were generally satisfactory Many scientists, particularly physicists and astronomers, saw in the space program genuine opportunities for expanding the scope of research in their fields. With physical scientists like Dr. Homer Newell in key administrative positions, their research interests early received high-level support.1 In addition, prominent scientists served on advisory committees for the agency. Indicative of NASA's willingness to seek the advice of reputable scientists was the agency's support for the Space Science Board. The board operated under the auspices of the National Academy of Sciences, but received most of its financial support from, and provided most of its advisory services to, NASA. 2
By contrast, scientists who viewed themselves as spokesmen for the Scientific community in its dealings with federal agencies, the Congress,  and the President were generally critical of NASA and its management of the Space program. They most often expressed their views through formal bodies such as the President's Science Advisory Committee and ad hoc advisory groups such as the Wiesner committee. Although their views were not necessarily shared by the majority of practicing scientists, and groups like the Science Advisory Committee had no real authority over NASA, some of the critics were close to the President and the National Aeronautics and Space Council and their opinions received serious attention in Congress.
The President's Science Advisory Committee was the principal forum through which scientific criticisms of Project Mercury were aired. It supported several investigations into NASA's management of that project and made clear, early on, its position that the space program should be "geared to the interests of science" rather than manned flight and that NASA should function as a "research-oriented space agency" rather than one oriented toward engineering and operations.3 Influential present and former science advisors, such as George Kistiakowsky and Jerome Wiesner, were opposed to the manned program and urged Presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy not to support it. In early 1962, the Science Advisory Committee played a major role in raising public concern over an alleged ' bioastronautics crisis" and in the subsequent scrutiny of NASA's life sciences programs. Concurrently, NASA was reorganizing its life sciences programs to make them more responsive to major space programs.4
The bioastronautics crisis surfaced in February 1962 with the publication of a report by the Science Advisory Committee's Bioastronautics Panel. The panel had been organized in August 1961 in line with recommendations in a report prepared under the direction of Donald Hornig. Politically, the panel was created to answer questions raised by Congressman Emilio Q. Daddario in March 1961. Daddario, who favored a strong military space program, had called for a "central bioastronautics authority" and a "comprehensive national program" in bioastronautics. He had asked for a "prompt study" of the nation's capabilities and requirements in bioastronautics and had en joined NASA to delay further expansion in this area until such study was completed.5
In spite of its scientific pretensions, the February 1962 report of the Bioastronautics Panel gave little attention to research and development issues. It focused on questions of organization, management, and coordination, and found NASA's life sciences programs `'totally inadequate" Shortcomings included the decentralization of life sciences components, the absence of a biomedical administrator at "the highest administrative and decision-making levels," the "lack of coordinated use of government personnel and facilities," especially those in the military services, and  reliance on "part-time advisory groups,' as a substitute for "full-time effort by competent people." The panel recommended:
1. Appointment of "a national leader in biomedical sciences" as a deputy to the associate administrator, with "responsibility for long-range planning of the biological phases of a national program" in bioastronautics.
2. Coordination between NASA and the Department of Defense to ensure use of "DoD biomedical personnel and facilities in the conduct of project Gemini and Apollo."
3. Cooperation between NASA and the DoD to "build up national biomedical competence in fields essential to a long-range program," with the DoD having major responsibility to "fund and encourage the development of a long-range basic research program."6
The first and third recommendations were partly contradictory. Further, the timing of the report was unfortunate, as the agency was in the midst of a reorganization. Whatever the rationale, the report created a flap. Although it did not mention the National Aeronautics and Space Council, it implied that the council had been ineffective in overseeing the total space program. Like NASA, the council had no high-level biomedical scientists.7 Its staff (which reported directly to the President, was chaired by the Vice-President, and was nominally responsible for overseeing both civilian and military space programs) was disturbed by the report and urged action to avoid ``embarrassing council members."
The National Aeronautics and Space Council took no immediate action in response to the Bioastronautics Panel report, presumably because it preferred to keep out of the fray during annual authorization hearings. Congress could be expected to take up these issues soon. Because NASA was reviewing its life sciences program, the council may have preferred to see whether NASA would make an effective response. Finally, the council was aware that NASA and the DoD were engaged in informal coordination of bioastronautics when the panel report appeared; and it may have been reluctant to take any actions that might interfere with these negotiations.
NASA's management of its life sciences programs did not become an issue during the FY 1963 authorization hearings. Congress was more interested in overlaps between NASA life sciences and DoD bioastronautics Programs Nonetheless, several NASA witnesses sought to justify the decentralization of life sciences programs.8
Although Congress paid little attention to NASA's internal arrangements' the National Aeronautics and Space Council continued to do so In June 1962 the council's executive secretary, Edward C. Welsh, asked Seamans what NASA was going to do about the Bioastronautics Panel's recommendations particularly those related to appointment of a high-level biomedical administrator. To emphasize his interest, Welsh submitted  a list of biomedical scientists whom he considered qualified to serve such a position.9
Seamans reviewed the situation and concluded that finding an individual "with competence in fields ranging from fundamental biology to life support technology" was unlikely. Followed to the extreme, he argued, such a rationale would warrant deputy associate administrators for propulsion, electronics, and a variety of other disciplines that cut across program lines." He decided the problem was not that a decentralized life sciences program hindered the agency's work, but that it gave NASA "a fragmented image" that was not reassuring to the outside bioastronautics community." Biomedical scientists probably wanted a high-level biomedical position not to enhance the space program, but to represent their own interests. Consequently, in his reply to Welsh, Seamans temporized."10
Welsh let the issue rest for the time. In the interim, however, the Space Science Board joined the President's Science Advisory Committee in recommending a 'focal point" for NASA's life sciences programs. In early August 1962 the board held a summer study in which "Life Sciences Management" was a matter of special interest. A special committee recommended that the NASA Administrator 'appoint a scientist of highest competence and soundest reputation" in the life sciences to a position as a deputy to the associate administrator, with responsibility and authority to make decisions that would contribute to effective internal and external coordination" in the life sciences and augment support for research and technology relating to the life sciences."11 The committee members doubted that NASA management would give serious attention to life sciences unless a life scientist held a high-level administrative position. 12
In conveying these recommendations to Webb through Seamans, Executive Director Norton Nelson of the National Academy of Sciences apparently tried to minimize the scientific concern over this matter, but he did express the firm conviction that it would be in the best interests of both NASA and the biomedical community if the recommendations were adopted. At the least, appointment of a senior biomedical advisor" to review all NASA 'projects that relate to the life sciences" would defuse the criticisms expressed by a rather small, but vocal group" of biomedical scientists.13
Webb, Seamans, and Dryden again concluded that a deputy to the associate administrator for life sciences was inconsistent with NASA's "broader programs. Webb informed Nelson that the absence of a life sciences office had "not proven to be an obstacle." Rather, existing arrangements had made the life sciences more "responsive to the needs of the program directors." However, Webb recognized a need to improve  NASA's relations with the scientific community and would give serious consideration to hiring a life sciences consultant.14
Additional pressure for a life sciences spokesman came from an unexpected quarter In October 1962, David Vinson, executive secretary of the Texas Academy for the Advancement of Science, complained to Vice-president Johnson that, in the view of some members of the prestigious Aerospace Medical Association. NASA was accepting too much ``guidance" from academic life scientists. Vinson urged that NASA pay more attention to the "industrial life scientists'' who were acquainted with the practical, operational" problems of spaceflight. In direct contrast to the Bioastronautics Panel, he criticized NASA for not making greater use of life sciences consultants. Although Vinson's views were repudiated by the president of the Aerospace Medical Association, Webb could not ignore the advice inasmuch as it had reached the Vice-President's desk.15
The concerns expressed by Nelson and Vinson reawakened the interest of the National Aeronautics and Space Council. In November 1962, Welsh again suggested to Seamans that NASA create a high-level life sciences position. This, Welsh said, "might accomplish the dual purpose of strengthening your staff and stilling criticisms" from the scientific community. Seamans refused, repeating earlier arguments, but added that he recognized that NASA's "relationship with the biological and medical professions is not altogether satisfactory" and conceded that "a consultant to general management" might be a "beneficial step."16
NASA's top management was still considering the matter when, in January 1963, an event at Ames tipped the balance. In late 1962, Webb Haymaker, life sciences director at Ames, had hired Ralph Gerard, a University of Michigan physiologist, as a life sciences consultant. By the time Gerard started work, Haymaker had resigned. After a month's investigation' Gerard concluded that the life sciences effort at Ames was a shambles and cited inadequate coordination, absence of direction from NASA Headquarters, and unjustified research as major problems. He sent copies of his report to Ames Center Director Smith DeFrance and to Seamans. Although DeFrance dismissed the report as the product of an opportunist,'' it received Webb's attention and served as one more reminder that serious problems existed in the life sciences.17
In an effort to deal with these various criticisms, Webb hired (in April 1963) Dr. Nello Pace, a University of California physiologist, as a temporary consultant to the associate administrator. Webb asked Pace to examine NASA's overall life sciences program and make recommendations concerning organization and management.18 Pace served in this capacity from July to November 1963.
Pace's findings and recommendations, contained in eight reports, differed little from the conclusions reached in earlier external reviews. Pace  observed problems of communication between research-oriented life scientists and development- and operations-oriented engineers. He found that NASA's support for life sciences research in colleges and universities was minuscule compared with the support given to physical sciences and engineering.19 He found that both the Manned Spacecraft Center and Ames had inadequate basic biomedical research capabilities and were led by biomedical scientists whose research abilities were in doubt. 20
Pace's major recommendation was that NASA create a Directorate of Biospace Missions, whose director would be a deputy to the associate administrator and coequal to the program associate administrator. He would retain the Directorate of Space Medicine within the Office of Manned Space Flight, to be responsible for medical support operations. The biospace missions director responsible for life sciences research and development would represent NASA life sciences in dealings with external agencies, but would have no authority over medical operations in support of manned spaceflight.21
Pace made some useful observations, but failed to do his historical homework (a common failing among those who reviewed NASA's life sciences programs). The projected biospace missions office did not differ significantly from the Office of Life Science Programs and NASA's management viewed the record of the latter as one of failure. A comparable office would be "on the outside looking in" and would not "fit into the direct operating structure of the agency."22 Equally important, Pace failed to indicate what this new directorship would mean for NASA's other two life sciences programs. The biosciences and biotechnology and human research offices were functioning, and NASA management was not willing to make an abrupt "about-face" and eliminate them. Seamans did not implement Pace's recommendations.
By the time Pace completed his assignment (November 1963), the "bioastronautics crisis" was over and NASA was receiving little criticism from the scientific community. NASA, the Defense Department, and the Air Force had made significant progress in their bioastronautics negotiations. This removed the major source of congressional concern over life sciences management. The opposition of the public scientists was further blunted by the success of Project Mercury. When Pace submitted his final report, NASA had completed six successful manned orbital missions in which biomedical support had obviously been adequate.
The scientific issue was also defused by internal changes. By November 1963, NASA had succeeded in separating its biological programs from its medical-operational ones. The biosciences office was established and under the leadership of Dr. Orr Reynolds. An exclusively biological flight program, Biosatellite, had been authorized. While the Manned Spacecraft Center was becoming the locus for medical research, Ames was emerging  as the center for biological and medical investigations. Affirming this, NASA had appointed Dr. Harold Klein, a biologist, to head the Ames program. For these and perhaps other reasons, NASA enjoyed a hiatus from public scientific criticism from late 1963 to early 1967
NASA AND THE MILITARY SERVICES
NASA's relations with the military services might have been completely cordial had the Air Force had no aspirations in space and no bioastronautics program of any consequence. The National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958 took account of military interest in space by directing NASA to refrain from unnecessary duplication of existing military facilities and provided for coordination between military and civilian space programs.23 Moreover, NASA inherited from the NACA personnel who were accustomed to working closely with military personnel and to providing research and development support for military aeronautics projects.24 Finally, NASA's managers recognized that they needed military support to achieve their objectives in space.
The Air Force, however, was determined to establish an active role for itself in space. Space-oriented Air Force generals, such as Bernard Schriever, Roscoe Wilson, and Thomas White, were adamant in their belief that a civilian space agency could not satisfy military requirements. They envisioned a program in which NASA would be responsible for unmanned, science-oriented space activities, while the Air Force directed the manned effort. Although they resigned themselves in 1958 to NASA management of Project Mercury, they continued to plan through 1963 for a military space program. Because the Air Force had unparalleled capabilities in bioastronautics, Air Force officials made space biomedicine the heart of their argument for a military manned program.
The Air Force had provided most of the biomedical support for Project Mercury and could reasonably expect to play a comparable role in subsequent manned programs. But as the Manned Lunar Landing Program evolved, the Air Force found it had no firm commitment that assured a role in it. Indeed, NASA was reluctant to rely too much on Air Force support and was striving to establish its own independent life sciences program. 25
The Air Force, however, was not willing to be shut completely out of Space With the support of allies in Congress, it began in 1961 to press for a Coordinated bioastronautics program. The initial impetus came during FY 1962 NASA authorization hearings, when, at the behest of Congressman Daddario, Congress directed NASA to fully utilize Air Force bioastronautics facilities. Daddario reviewed this issue in August 1961 and  concluded that NASA's response could best be described as "an indisposition" to use the "skills and facilities already at hand." He reminded NASA Administrator James Webb that NASA was obligated to provide Congress with "a specific plan. . to effectuate coordination of the civilian and military bioastronautics program." 26
For obvious reasons, officials of both the Air Force and NASA wanted to satisfy Congress. They disagreed about the level at which the agencies should coordinate joint concerns. Air Force officials favored direct negotiations with NASA, whereas NASA's managers preferred to negotiate at the Department of Defense level. 27 Seamans and Secretary of the Air Force John Rubel discussed bioastronautics on several occasions between October 1961 and February 1962, but were unable to agree on an appropriate course of action.28
Webb and Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara temporarily resolved this impasse when they signed a series of agreements that established procedures for coordinating NASA and Department of Defense space programs. One agreement was related to bioastronautics. Webb and McNamara agreed that NASA should specify the operational characteristics and bioastronautics requirements" of the Manned Lunar Landing Program. However, NASA and the Defense Department were to jointly determine and formulate the bioastronautics R&D plan needed to support the MLLP." Finally, the Defense Department, on the basis of 'goals and requirements" prescribed by NASA, would "formulate detailed plans, manage, technically direct, and conduct" in-house bioastronautics research and development programs in support of the Manned Lunar Landing Program. 29 In short, the Webb-McNamara agreements provided for bioastronautics coordination at the Defense Department level
Subsequently, Seamans directed Brainerd Holmes to work with his military counterparts to form a "joint DoD/NASA bioastronautics planning study group," which would prepare an 'integrated NASA/DoD research, development, and operational support plan to meet the requirements of the Apollo, Gemini, and Dynasoar programs in the field of bioastronautics."30 Although the agreement still indicated coordination at the Defense Department level, the emphasis was on areas of particular interest to the Air Force. Nevertheless, specific agreements concerning NASA-Air Force coordination in bioastronautics were not negotiated, or at least not quickly enough for Congress and the National Aeronautics and Space Council. When the FY 1963 authorization hearings commenced in late March 1962, Daddario and others were still not satisfied that NASA intended to fully utilize Air Force facilities. Several items in NASA's budget request seemed to unnecessarily duplicate Air Force capabilities.
One item that received an inordinate amount of attention was NASA's request for funds to establish a primate colony at Ames. This was a critical  element in the center's long-range plan to establish a biomedical research Capability and entice leading biomedical scientists to work there. It would satisfy scientists' repeated complaints that NASA was not adequately supporting its manned program with primate research Internal biopolitics also underlay the request: Ames viewed the primate colony as a way to gain a lead over the Manned Spacecraft Center in the area of medical research. 31 Daddario reasoned that NASA could easily obtain all the primates it needed from the Air Force's major-and underutilized-primate colony at Holloman AFB, and Congress struck the request from the budget.32 That the resolution of this basically technical issue had required congressional action reaffirmed the need for increased coordination and cooperation between NASA and the Air Force. Specific agreements between the two agencies would contribute to the timely and efficient resolution of such technical matters at a more appropriate decision-making level.
Members of Congress were also concerned that NASA's continuing efforts to build up its life sciences capabilities would intensify competition for a severely limited supply of available talent. Congress had expressed on earlier occasions (FY 1958, 1961, and 1962 authorization hearings) the fear that this would lead to two weak and inadequately staffed life sciences programs rather than one strong one. The Air Force and its congressional allies were also worried that NASA, with its lunar landing commitment, would appear more attractive than the Air Force to civilian biomedical scientists. They anticipated that, at worst, NASA would "pirate" Air Force civilians or, at best, obtain life sciences recruits who might otherwise have joined the Air Force. NASA's recruiting efforts in the late summer of 1962 seemed to confirm this fear, since it appeared to be making a special effort to recruit in areas where the Air Force had bioastronautics facilities (e.g., Dayton, Ohio). Although NASA was forced to back down in these efforts and was urged by Congress to work out joint recruiting with the Air Force, its recruiting efforts led to increased pressure for a coordinated civilian-military bioastronautics program.33
Negotiations between NASA and the Air Force continued to languish, and at the FY 1964 authorization hearings, Daddario again questioned NASA's continuing buildup in the life sciences. He recalled that in 1960 and 1961, NASA spokesmen had asked for only a "small nucleus" of life Scientists who would complement, rather than compete with, the Air Force bioastronautics program. In 1958 Clark Randt had assured him that NASA's personnel complement in the life sciences (professional scientists and engineers) would not exceed 90. Yet in 1963 the agency was requesting authorization to increase that number to roughly 100. How, Daddario asked, could NASA do this, given the limited supply of bioastronautics Specialists' except at the expense of military bioastronautics programs?  Answering his own question, he cited figures which revealed a high rate of attrition among military life scientists.34
Daddario was juggling statistics to make his case. He insisted that all of NASA's life sciences personnel be considered as a unit, though more than half were involved in biological and biomedical activities that did not contribute directly to manned spaceflight and did not duplicate military efforts In addition, his attrition rates were drawn from all three services Since the Army and the Navy had no need to maintain active bioastronautics programs, attrition among their bioastronautics personnel was to be expected. In reality, the Air Force, which had the only active bioastronautics program in the military, had experienced no attrition. Nonetheless, Daddario made his point, and Congress made significant reductions in NASA's FY 1964 budget requests in all three life sciences areas. 35
The Executive Branch, too, expressed concern over the bioastronautics situation. Vice-President Johnson and the National Aeronautics and Space Council were particularly disturbed by the February 1962 report of the Bioastronautics Panel, which criticized NASA for failing to coordinate its life sciences programs with those of the military services. In August 1962, Johnson requested from both Webb and McNamara 'a written statement. . . on the status of coordination" in bioastronautics.36 NASA's reply, prepared by Dryden, and that of Air Force Secretary John Rubel, cited considerable informal coordination (high-level correspondence) but very little formal coordination. There was much talking and studying, but little action.37
In spite of Johnson's concern, the two agencies made little progress in forging agreements over the next five or six months. At the end of the year, Edward Welsh suggested that NASA's internal organization might be contributing to the problem The appointment of a high-level life sciences spokesman, in addition to satisfying the scientific community, might speed up negotiations with the military services. NASA, in contrast to the Defense Department and the Air Force, he said, had no life scientists in positions of authority.38 This, of course, was correct None of NASA's three separate life sciences spokesmen had the authority needed to work out substantive agreements with other agencies.
By early summer of 1963, NASA management had accepted that direct negotiations with the Air Force and immediate, substantive agreements related to bioastronautics were imperative.39 In June, NASA and the Air Force set up a joint committee on space medicine and bioastronautics. In August, negotiators agreed on the details for a joint coordinating committee. Both agencies agreed to use this committee as a basis for integration" of life sciences activities related to the approved flight program requirements of the X-20, Gemini and Apollo Programs." In addition,  NASA and the Air Force agreed that the committee would work out plans for avoiding duplication in the use of facilities and awarding of contracts. 40
This committee provided a forum through which the two bioastronautics programs were brought into alignment. Significant agreements included a computerized life sciences information exchange (ILSE), criteria for allocating research and development responsibilities and awarding contracts' procedures for coordinating the research of the separate NASA centers with those of the Air Force Aerospace Medical Division, policies for integrating the respective program budgets, and liaison offices in the respective organizations.41 The negotiations were so successful that NASA and the Air Force presented joint space medicine-bioastronautics budgets to Congress for FY 1965 and 1966, with no public disagreements over priority in bioastronautics.
By the end of 1964, as NASA prepared for the first manned flight of the Project Gemini series, the agency had resolved its outstanding problems related to management of life sciences programs. Internally, it had established administrative arrangements that ensured life sciences support for major space programs. By establishing a Life Sciences Directors Group, the agency seemingly had found a way to maintain the integrity of its headquarters organization, while providing for coordination among its decentralized life sciences components. Management had reached workable arrangements for dividing life sciences responsibilities between Ames and the Manned Spacecraft Center, for providing decisive leadership at both centers, and for clarifying lines of communication with headquarters.
NASA had also survived trenchant criticisms from the scientific community By placing the Ames program under the direction of a biologist and administrator, encouraging the development of biological programs at Ames, and assigning Ames project management authority for Biosatellite, NASA had given biological scientists an institutional focus for their research interests. In the decision to appoint Nello Pace as a consultant' the agency received specialized advice and indicated its willingness to listen to recommendations from the scientific community. It managed this without making any commitments to implement such recommendations or to alter the orientation of its overall programs. In short, NASA management dealt deftly and adroitly with its external critics, responding to their expressions of concern without letting those concerns undermine the agency's plans for organization.
Finally, NASA had concluded its conflict with the Air Force, while again  maintaining its organizational integrity. It did so only under pressure from the legislative and executive branches of government. Yet the compromises to which it agreed did not significantly reduce its authority over space programs. Indeed, NASA actually benefited. While it formally recognized the Air Force's interests in bioastronautics and gave the Air Force primary control over human research and biotechnology, NASA received formal assurances of regular and timely support from the Air Force. In addition, NASA was freed from having to commit significant funds to advanced human research and biotechnology, and instead could fund the areas that were of most immediate public concern space biology and space medicine
While the agency benefited from these agreements, life sciences, as an integrated, cohesive program, did not. First, NASA endorsed compartmentalization of the life sciences, which created a gulf between the biological side of the space program and the medical-operational side. In effect, space biology and space medicine were to develop as separate, rather than complementary, programs. Second, by agreeing to accept Air Force priority m human factors and biotechnology, NASA stifled the growth of its third life sciences area. While the NASA biotechnology and human research program continued to operate, it had no major flight program on which to focus and no clear mission. Finally, by creating the Life Sciences Directors Group, NASA bypassed the thorny problem of top-level life sciences representation. While this decision reduced internal strife and promoted program coordination in the short run, it did not provide long-range viability to the life sciences program.