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Transcript of the Meeting Audio
Collage of Saturn 1B Launch; Sputnik; NASA Leadership Triumvirate; James E. Webb; and Centaur Rocket Collage of Centaur Rocket Engine and table meeting


A Historic Meeting at the White House on Human Spaceflight

On 20 November 1962, President John F. Kennedy held a meeting with NASA Administrator James Webb, Director of the Bureau of the Budget David Bell, and several other people to discuss the human spaceflight program. The meeting was prompted by a number of recent events, most notably press reports that NASA was not devoting enough attention to the Apollo lunar landing program and the possible requirement for an additional supplemental appropriation of over $400 million to NASA’s current budget.

During the meeting, Kennedy, Webb, Bell, and several members of Webb’s staff discussed issues related to human spaceflight and the need for more money. The discussion was surprisingly wide-ranging and energetic.

This meeting is a window into the role that human spaceflight played in international and domestic politics in the early 1960s. It also provides insights into the thinking of high-level government officials about spaceflight, their personal interactions, and the cooperation and conflict of their organizations.

The meeting was recorded, but the recording was not released until August 2001. It is of relatively high quality when compared to other presidential recordings from the era, but it is still rather difficult to discern and understand the various voices. This transcript was prepared by Dwayne A. Day with assistance from Glen Swanson, John M. Logsdon, and former NASA Associate Administrator Robert C. Seamans.


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Updated November 5, 2002
Steve Garber, NASA History Web Curator
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