SP-4310 Way Station to Space

 

- Chapter 1 -

Decision for Mississippi

 

 

The Challenge

[1] Before 25 October 1961, few people in America knew that the piney woods and cypress swamps along the Pearl River in Hancock County, Mississippi, would be transformed into a futuristic rocket-testing facility and become a vital part of' America's Apollo lunar landing program. People living along this river received the news in disbelief when the announcement came over the radio, and again later as stark headlines in morning newspapers proclaimed, "Uncle Sam to Testfire Moon Rockets in State.''1

The rocket-testing facility was a part of President John F. Kennedy's space exploration challenge to the American people. Just five months to the day before the announcement to build the test facility in Mississippi, President Kennedy (1917-1963) stood before a joint session of Congress and delivered what has been billed as his second State of the Union Address-this one entitled "Urgent National Needs"-exclaiming .support for freedom around the world, and casting the Apollo program as a battle [2] between ''freedom and tyranny.'' The President ended the speech with, ''I believe this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal. before the decade is out. of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to Earth." These words became the rallying battle cry for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the promoters of a strong civil space program.2

The Apollo program, entrusted to NASA by Kennedy, was America's answer to early Soviet successes in space. Sputnik 1, launched by the Soviets on 4 October 1957, struck at the heart of American pride, causing a rise in national ire and an apparent will to respond no matter what the cost.3

Mississippi Senator John C. Stennis (1901-1995)( D-Mississippi ). aroused by Sputnik, was an early supporter of the American space program. Filled with national pride, and believing that his home state had the ability to answer the President's call, Stennis gave America's space program high priority. President Kennedy called on Stennis to encourage congressional passage of increases for space-related spending. Senator Stennis became an ardent advocate of the space program and a steadfast defender of the testing facility established in his home state. Recognition of his dedication came when President Ronald Reagan (1911- ) honored him in 1988 by renaming the Mississippi facility the NASA John C. Stennis Space Center (SSC).4

 

A Distinguished Lineage

The roots of the SSC can be traced to the earliest days of modern rocketry in pre-World War II Germany, and in this country to the red-clay bottom land at the toot of Green Mountain along the Tennessee River in northern Alabama. The Apollo program fulfilled the dreams of famed rocket scientist Dr. Wernher [3] von Braun (1912-1977) and other space enthusiasts who long envisioned peaceful exploration of space as the greatest adventure ever to be attempted.5

Von Braun and his team of German and American rocket scientists, engineers. and technicians assembled in 1950 at the U.S. Army's Redstone Arsenal near Huntsville, Alabama, to fashion the rocket boosters that would launch humanity's greatest technological adventure-a voyage to the Moon. A critical part in preparing the rockets for spaceflight was the static, or ground, testing of the rockets before they were committed for launch. Von Braun and his German colleagues learned from their very earliest experiments in Germany that much time, energy, and cost could be saved by thoroughly testing the rocket booster hardware before sending it skyward.6

It was this philosophy of rocket testing that dictated the absolute need for the rocket-testing facilities in Mississippi, which would become a national proving ground for the first and second stages of the giant Saturn V Moon rockets. The managers of the rocket-testing program in Alabama and in Mississippi were members of the "original von Braun team" of German rocket technicians who pioneered modern rocketry during the 1930s at Hitler's facility at Peenemunde on the Baltic Sea.7

Von Braun, born in Wirsitz, Germany, on 23 March 1912, conducted his first practical rocket experiment when he was a youngster living in Berlin. By age 13, von Braun developed a genuine interest in rockets and space travel. In 1932, he earned a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering at the Berlin Institute of Technology. and at age 20 entered the University of Berlin. In 1937, von Braun became technical director of the Peenemunde Rocket Center.8

At Peenemunde, von Braun's organization concentrated on developing the A-4 long-range ballistic missile, which later saw operational use under the better known designation "V-2." In the closing days of World War II in 1945, [4] von Braun, with over 100 of his colleagues, fled the rocket center to avoid being captured by the Russians. The fleeing rocket scientists decided to surrender to the Americans in hopes of resuming their research in a safer, more temperate environment. Joseph Stalin. Premier of the United Soviet Socialist Republics, on learning that von Braun had surrendered to the Americans, allegedly said, "This is intolerable. We defeated the Nazi armies and occupied Berlin and Peenemunde, but the Americans got the rocket engineers."9

After World War II, von Braun and his colleagues were sent to the United States in what was known as ''Project" or "Operation Paperclip." The American Army was at a loss as to what to do with the captured rocket scientists. Consequently, the Germans were settled at Fort Bliss, Texas, where, for the next few years, they shot off old V-2s, played soccer, and dreamed of putting a satellite into orbit.10

While the Germans were in Texas, the Soviets were busy developing boosters and other hardware for use in a missile and space program. In describing this period of inactivity in Texas, von Braun said: "The United States had no ballistic missile program worth mentioning between 1945 and 1951. Those six years during which the Russians obviously laid the groundwork for their large rocket program were irretrievably lost."11

The Army used the advent of the Korean War in 1950 to gain support for a missile program and the von Braun team was moved to Huntsville, Alabama, as part of that expanded effort. Once in Huntsville, the Germans began working with American scientists, engineers. and technicians on a familiar task-developing missiles for military use.12

Von Braun's leadership qualities and his abilities as a team builder helped develop the working relationships needed to mold the Germans and the Americans into one cohesive team. Von Braun was a tall, muscular man who stood out in a crowd with a natural charisma that seemed to draw the [5] attention of anyone with whom he came in contact. His associates and employees marveled at his ability to remember names and recalled that he expressed an interest in their work and personal pursuits.13

 

A National Goal

During the latter part of the 195()s, Texas Senator Lyndon B. Johnson (1908-1973)(D-Texas) emerged as a key figure in the planning and development of American space policy. He called for a congressional review of the American space program and spearheaded a drive in Congress to create NASA out of the old National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). President Eisenhower signed a bill into law on 29 July 1958, supporting this change and creating the powerful new civilian space agency. The conversion officially took place 1 October 1958.14

With NASA up and going, additional resources were needed to conduct the proposed space program. NASA first set out to acquire the highly successful von Braun rocket development team at Redstone Arsenal. Initially, the Army balked and offered a counterproposal that would allow the team to work for NASA on an as-needed basis. The Army's proposal was not acceptable to NASA. A firmer commitment to fulfill its mission as an organization dedicated to the "peaceful exploration of space" was needed at NASA. Finally, the Army transferred the 4,000-person Army Ballistic Missile Agency (ABMA) Development Operations Division at Redstone Arsenal, along with the Saturn program, to NASA in July 1960. President Eisenhower christened the new NASA George C. Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC), in Huntsville, Alabama, named after the respected general who had been Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense, and author of the Marshall Plan.15

With the transfer, NASA acquired the big booster capabilities it sought, and von Braun and his colleagues at the ABMA Redstone Arsenal prepared elaborate plans for the development of large rockets for spaceflight. Von Braun was a consistent advocate of an accelerated program to land an [6] American on the Moon as soon as possible. In Washington, however, the Eisenhower Administration preferred a much more measured approach, as the President did not believe spectacular space achievements were the overreaching ingredients of successful international politics.16

 


U.S. President John F. Kennedy

U.S. President John F. Kennedy set the pace for America's entry into the space race with his famous "second" State of Union address, which included, " I believe this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the Earth." (SSC Portrait File).


 

In his 1960 presidential campaign, John F. Kennedy criticized the Eisenhower Administration's lack of attention to the space program. In his campaign speeches, Kennedy stressed the "missile gap," and in his 1961 inaugural address, the new President promised bold, new initiatives "to get this country moving again." Kennedy assigned Vice-President Lyndon B. Johnson the responsibility for space activities and James E. Webb was named NASA Administrator. Webb possessed strong leadership qualities, business savvy, and experience in governmental affairs.17

Kennedy might have continued a conservative approach to space matters, but Sputnik and the ill-fated Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba raised the stakes in the Cold War. Eager to restore America's prestige, Kennedy admitted his mistake in not being better prepared for the Cuban invasion, and he met with people who asked tough questions about how to shift the space program into high gear. Following one such meeting in April 1961. Kennedy drafted a [7] memorandum to Vice-President Johnson that set the nation on its course to the Moon. In the memorandum, he asked Johnson, chairman of the Space Council, to conduct a complete survey of the country's space program. Kennedy also questioned the nation's ability to compete with the Soviets, and he asked how the United States' space program could excel. Kennedy questioned the quality of efforts to develop "large boosters" and asked Johnson to recommend directions the country should take to ensure early operational capacity. He asked if the United States could beat the Soviets in establishing a laboratory in space, completing a trip around the Moon, landing a rocket on the Moon, or sending a man to the Moon and back to Earth. Kennedy left no doubt that he believed the nation should mobilize in order to beat the Soviets to the Moon.18

Indeed, the memorandum to Johnson placed executive expediency on the development of "rockets and boosters," and it stressed that increased effort, strict timetables, and total commitment to a lunar landing mission should be made. Kennedy's memorandum was used in the years to come to justify the monumental decisions by scientists and engineers to plan, build, and operate giant new facilities for the manufacture, test, and launch of Apollo program rockets.19

After receiving the President's memorandum. Johnson conferred with scientific, political, and business leaders about a response to the President. He consulted Wernher von Braun, who responded that the country had an "excellent chance" of beating the Soviets to the Moon. Von Braun even predicted optimistic target dates of 1967 or 1968.20

Johnson then polled political leaders and searched for supporters. The Vice-President relied on Senator Robert Kerr (D-Oklahoma), chairman of the Senate Aeronautical and Space Sciences Committee, to help calm concerns of other congressional leaders about the usefulness of the lunar landing program. Meanwhile, Johnson responded to the President's memorandum with an "interim" report recommending a lunar landing. As President Kennedy studied Johnson's report, the nation was lifted by the successful [8] suborbital flight of Navy Lieutenant Commander Alan B. Shepard, Jr., on 5 May 1961. The Redstone rocket that Shepard flew had been developed by the von Braun team and was little more than a souped-up version of the V-2. Shepard's flight lasted only 15 minutes, with five minutes in the ream of space. This flight, however, marked the first time an American had been in space, and, more importantly, the entire nation and half the world watched the flight on television.21

One of the most interested observers was President Kennedy. In fact. it was the Shepard flight that convinced Kennedy the nation was ready for this bold new endeavor. Kennedy announced on 25 May 1961 that the time had come to go to the Moon. The countdown began for a landing on the Moon before the end of the decade.22

 

The Space Crescent

The lunar landing program breathed life into the 'New South" notion first proposed by southern newspaper editors and businessmen following the Civil War. Prior to President Franklin D. Roosevelt's (1882-1945) New Deal, economic change in the New South was non-existent, except for the emergence of textile and steel mills and the enlargement of a few Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean ports. For all practical purposes, World War II was, for the New South and especially Mississippi, a "watershed" in terms of industrialization and economic growth.23

During World War II, the tripartite partnership that developed between the aviation industry, the military air arm, and NACA continued into the jet and guided-missile age. Many military airfields built in the South during the 1930s became permanent fixtures. These military installations attracted aerospace industries from California and the eastern seaboard states. The [9] Southern States grew steadily in importance after 1950 with the addition of the Army's Redstone Arsenal in Alabama and the Long Range Proving Ground in Florida. Both were established as the only feasible locations for many of the dangerous tests leading directly into the chemical rocketry of the ballistic missile years. Transformed by President Kennedy's challenge, the New South gave way to the "Space Crescent," an economic system driven by technology.24

NASA knew from the outset that massive manufacturing plants and test, control, and launch facilities would be needed for the giant space vehicles. When the decision was made to implement the Apollo program and go to the Moon, work was under way in Huntsville on a 1.5-million-pound-thrust Saturn I booster. Plans were also being drawn for a much larger booster called the "Advanced Saturn." The new booster, which became known as the Saturn V, was designed to produce 7.5-million pounds of thrust. Conceptual studies were being made for a super rocket, with 12- to 20-million pounds of thrust. known as Nova. Such a rocket could be used for a direct, round-trip mission to the Moon.25

To land on the Moon, scientists at several NASA Centers studied three basic schemes: (1) Direct ascent using Nova (go to the Moon and return without orbital rendezvous either in Earth or Moon orbits); (2) Earth-Orbit Rendezvous (EOR) (scheme whereby the major components would be assembled in Earth orbit, with a launch to the Moon from the orbit); and (3) Lunar-Orbit Rendezvous (LOR) (maneuver whereby the craft travels into orbit around the Moon, lands on the Moon's surface, and returns to dock with a mothercraft orbiting around the Moon for the return trip to Earth). After two years of study and debate, LOR was chosen as the method for the lunar mission and Saturn V as the launch vehicle.26

It was soon apparent that even the extensive Huntsville MSFC missile-testing facilities were not adequate for testing a Nova-class rocket. Furthermore, Huntsville could not support the rocket booster production schedules required by the rigid timetable of a Moon mission. Serious [10] acoustic and possible blast-safety restrictions made expansion of the test facilities at the MSFC in Huntsville prohibitive, thus, the manufacture and test phases were done elsewhere.27

In June 1961, NASA and Department of Defense (DoD) teams embarked on a joint venture to evaluate feasible rocket-testing sites. Before choosing the testing site, however, the joint NASA-DoD teams selected a launch site, a site to manufacture space-vehicle stages, and a site for a spaceflight laboratory. Cape Canaveral, Florida, was chosen as the rocket launch site, with a public announcement to that effect on 21 August 1961. First called the Launch Operations Complex, in late 1963 the Cape Canaveral site was renamed the John F. Kennedy Space Center (KSC), commemorating the late President's devotion to space exploration.28

On 7 September 1961, NASA selected the government-owned Michoud defense plant near New Orleans, Louisiana, for manufacturing the large space-vehicle stages. The complex spread over 846 acres, offered access to inland waterways, and provided 1,869,020 square feet of floor space. At the beginning of World War II, the Michoud site was selected as a shipyard to build cargo vessels, and a deep-water channel was dredged to link the shipyard with the intracoastal waterway. The shipyard plan was abandoned when the type of ship to be built was replaced by another design.29

NASA then announced the "space flight laboratory" would be located in Houston, Texas, on 1,000 acres of land made available by Rice University. The new Texas laboratory would house the Space Task Group, previously located at Langley Field, Virginia. The Texas location, only 35 miles from the Gulf of Mexico, became the Manned Spacecraft Center (MSC), with responsibility for development of the spacecraft, mission control, and astronaut training. In 1973, the MSC was renamed the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center (JSC) to honor the man that many considered one of the founding fathers of America's space program.30

[11] When the rocket-testing site selection was made in August 1961, the location of the test facility in Mississippi completed a southern, crescent moon-shaped arc, which soon became known as the "Space Crescent." The crescent stretched across the Gulf States, from Houston, Texas, to an apex at Huntsville, Alabama, over to Cape Canaveral, Florida, with the test site located in Hancock County, Mississippi, on the Pearl River.31

The location of four new space facilities, in Florida, Louisiana, Texas, and Mississippi, specifically to support the Apollo program flowed from solid reasoning. A great number of airbases had been located in the southern states to take advantage of the warm climate and longer periods of fairweather flying. These same conditions were needed for testing and launching rockets. The great size of the rockets dictated that they be transported by water along interconnected routes, and the South possessed these in abundance. Finally, powerful southern Democrats with seniority in the Congress obviously had a political bearing on the development of military and space enterprises in the South.32

The Space Crescent was to have far-reaching effects on the southern region for many years to come. Money and jobs flowing into the area during fiscal years 1962 and 1963 amounted to almost $2.5 billion, which accounted for one-fourth of America's space budget. During these same two years, over $260 million were committed to construction of the Mississippi test site. The new Mississippi facility created approximately 9,000 new jobs, generating a total annual income of $65 million in southern Mississippi and Louisiana.33

 

Search For the Test Site

The search for a site to test rockets for the Apollo lunar landing program was complex and difficult, but speedily executed. An ad hoc site selection committee was assembled at the MSFC to evaluate possible areas in which to test Saturn and Nova-class rockets. The committee was comprised of two members from NASA Headquarters, with the rest of the members from various elements [12] of the MSFC. Their diverse technical backgrounds and expertise proved invaluable in judging the merits of the many sites under consideration.34

The committee convened for the first meeting on 7 August 1961, and drafted criteria for the first test site location based on the following assumptions: the Michoud defense plant would be the assembly site for Apollo's Saturn engines (boosters); all production, research, and development vehicles would be tested by the stage and development contractors; Saturn (and Nova) launches would be at the Atlantic Missile Range at Cape Canaveral, where the program schedules would have the highest national priority; and the transportation of related materiel would be by water.35

The site selection committee also determined that the ideal test site had to meet these requirements: isolation from populated communities (because of the noise associated with the boosters); accessibility by water and highway; availability of utilities; supporting communities within 5() miles; and a climate permitting year-round testing. The committee .screened all existing government facilities fitting the selection guidelines and then eliminated several hundred by map studies. When the committee considered water transportation and isolation criteria, the list was further reduced to 33 potential sites. Additional investigation cut the proposed list to six finalists: New Orleans (at a site 34 miles southeast of the city on the Bayou La Loutre peninsula); Brownsville and Corpus Christi, Texas; Cumberland Island, Georgia; Eglin Air Force Base, Florida; and the Pearl River site in Mississippi.36

Members of the committee made some onsite inspections between 9 August and 17 August 1961 in order to improve their existing evaluations. The Pearl River site was among those designated for closer examination. Although not a member of the selection team, von Braun appointed Bernard Tessman, a German colleague at Peenemunde and Deputy Director of the MSFC Test Laboratory, to go on the site evaluation trip to Mississippi Tessman recalled how unsuspecting the residents were of the intentions of the investigating team. "We made some trips through the Pearl River [site] by boat with the district engineers. We met some people, but they were all so friendly and invited us for a cup of coffee and would ask questions." Tessman said he was...

 


[
13]

A 1961 map shows the location of the Mississippi rocket testing site, 45 miles east of New Orleans, along the East Pearl River in Hancock County, MS.

A 1961 map shows the location of the Mississippi rocket testing site, 45 miles east of New Orleans, along the East Pearl River in Hancock County, MS. The 13,800-acre "fee" area, or the fenced-in main portion of the rocket site, is shown in the center. The 125,071-acre acoustic buffer zone extends outward about six miles. (Originally published in the Mississippi Monitor).


 

[14] ...''shocked'' when he visited the Pearl River site. He described it as a wilderness. Tessman recalled that ''it was bad back in 1935 in Peenemunde, but Mississippi was even worse for me, because you couldn't walk, you know. Everywhere was water and mud."37

After the respective visits, the committee devised an elaborate point system to compare individual features of the six finalist sites. From these calculations, the Pearl River site emerged as the preferable location by a "significant" margin. The final report concluded that the Mississippi site was best because of its location on navigable water, proximity to the Michoud plant in New Orleans (35 miles), sparsely populated area, and closeness to support communities. These findings were forwarded to NASA Administrator Webb on 26 August 1961.38

NASA maintained the decision was based purely on the merits of the Pearl River location. Not everyone agreed, and some suggested that Senator Stennis exerted influence on NASA. Stennis's former press secretary and assistant, Rex Buffington, verified that Stennis often spoke of how he asked Senator Kerr, a powerful supporter of the space program, to consider locating some space enterprises in Mississippi.39

A.J. "Jack" Rogers, Jr., who later became Chief of Operations at the SSC, remembered yet another version of the site selection process. Rogers, a native of Gulfport, Mississippi, recounted an incident that occurred at the MSFC when he was a young engineer. Rogers occupied an office near the conference room where the meeting of the site evaluation committee transpired. During a coffeebreak, Rogers talked to an acquaintance who served on the committee and showed him the Pearl River site on an old Standard Oil roadmap, an area Rogers traveled as a youngster. Rogers believed the coffeebreak incident caused the Pearl River site to be added to the list of six finalists. All of these stories regarding the selection could be true. Stennis certainly had the political clout to influence the decision, and the Rogers incident could have pinpointed the setting along the Pearl River. In any event, the choice proved to be a sound one.40

[15] Not everyone was convinced the Mississippi location was the best choice, or that NASA even needed the facility. Karl Heimburg (1912-1997), director of the Test Laboratory at the MSFC and an associate of von Braun since 1943, believed that one additional test stand, to static fire the hydrogen-fueled second stage of the Saturn V, could be built at Huntsville for $21 million. The additional test stand would solve the "whole problem,'' Heimburg said, at a savings of $175 million Heimburg s opinion, however, considered only the requirements of the Saturn V first stage-not those of the Nova rocket, a concept not fully discarded until 1962. Such a rocket could not be tested in the heavily populated Huntsville area. Moreover, without a new site, future production testing would be limited.41

In the face of Heimburg's dissenting view, Tessman defended the Mississippi choice. He stated that he was ". . .personally happy. . .that we have the facilities in Mississippi because, after our time. there are some others to come." Tessman then said, "I still hear Wernher von Braun say, 'Tess, don't plan only for today; plan for the future generations."' Indeed, von Braun, in a letter to George Alexander of Aviation Week, revealed that the real purpose of the Mississippi facility was to provide the United States with the capability for captive test firing large space vehicles for "the next 25-50 years."42

With the discussions and evaluations finished, the committee concluded its work, forwarding a report to NASA Administrator Webb on 26 August 1961. The public release on 25 October 1961 announcing selection of the Pearl River site came as a surprise to practically everyone. NASA confirmed that it "had moved" to acquire 13,500 acres in southwest Mississippi as a test site for Saturn V and Nova-class vehicles. People in the Pearl River area were shocked to learn that NASA intended to acquire easement rights to about 128,000 acres surrounding the test site, taking in 103,000 acres in Pearl River and Hancock Counties, Mississippi, and 25,000 acres in St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana, The announcement awakened the residents of the sleepy communities along the Pearl River, and left them in a quandary of momentous proportions.43

 


Notes

 

1. "Uncle Sam To Testfire Moon Rockets In State," The (Jackson, MS) Clarion-Ledger (henceforth referred to as The Clarion-Ledger), 26 October 1961.

2. Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1962), pp. 403-405; Also see Daily Journal of Werhner von Braun, 1962 "Telephone Conversation Dr. von Braun/Dr. Holmes," 21 November 1962.

3. Roger D. Launius, NASA: A History of the U.S. Civil Space Program (Malabar, FL: Kreiger Publishing Co., 1994), pp. 24-26, 56.

4. Roger E. Bilstein, Stages to Saturn: A Technological History of the Saturn Launch Vehicle (Washington, DC: National Aeronautics and Space Administration SP-4206, 1980), p. 70; "NASA Dedicates John C. Stennis Space Center," Lagniappe, 29 August 1988, located in the Stennis Space Center Historical Records Collection at Stennis Space Center, MS (henceforth referred to as SSCHRC).

5. Erik Bergaust, Wernher von Braun (Binghampton, NY: Vail-Ballou, 1976), pp. 48, 146, 200; For additional information see Ruth G. Saurma Dr. Werhner von Braun Biographical Data and The German Rocket Team: a Chronology 1927-1980, (Huntsville, AL: MSFC Historical Records Collection, 1990). For information regarding transfer of the Development Operations Division of the Army Ballistic Missile Agency to NASA see "U.S. Congress and Senate Committee on Aeronautical and Space Science," 86th Congress, 2nd Session, Transfer of von Braun Team To NASA (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1960).

6. Ibid.

7. Bergaust, Wernher von Braun, pp. 62, 204; Biographical information of von Braun: see John Martin Scott, Countdown to Encounter: von Braun and the Astronauts (Huntington, IN: Our Sunday Visitor, 1979); Wiley Ley, Rockets, Missiles, and Men in Space (New York: Viking Press, 1968).

8. Ibid.; Paul O'Neil, "The Splendid Anachronism of Huntsville," Fortune, June 1962.

9. Walter Wiesman interview by Mack Herring, Huntsville, AL. January 1962, notes in " Mack Herring's Personal Journal," p.16, SSCHRC. For a description of "Project" or "Operation Paperclip", see Clarence G. Lasby, Project Paperclip (New York: Antheneum, 1971);, "Bill Winterstein interview by Mack Herring, Picayune, MS, April 1963,notes in "Mack Herring Journal," p.22, SSCHRC.

10. O'Neil, "The Splendid Anachronism of Huntsville."

11. Ibid.; Dr. Roger Launius interview by Mack Herring, telephone, December 1994. The author learned additional information about the von Braun team in Texas during a telephone conversation with Roger Launius, December 1994.

12. Bergaust, Wernher von Braun, p. 177.

13. Launius, NASA: A History, pp. 32-35; Doris Kearns, Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream (New York: Harper and Row, 1976), pp. 144-45.

14. Launius, NASA: A History, p. 29-32.

15. Launius, NASA: A History, p. 34; John M. Logsdon, "The Decision," Look, special edition, 1969.

16. Launius, NASA: A History, pp. 34-35.

17. Ibid, p. 55.

18. William Manchester, One Brief Shining Moment (Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1983), pp. 227 and 233; Barbour, Footprints on the Moon, p. 6; Launius, "Memorandum for the Vice President, 20 April 1961," NASA: A History, pp. 173-74; Nancy Gager Clinch, The Kennedy Neurosis (New York: Grosset and Dunlap, 1973), pp. 185-86.

19. Launius, NASA: A History, pp. 60-63.

20. Ibid.

21. W. Henry Lambright, Powering Apollo: James E. Webb of NASA (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1995), p. 182; Al Hall, ed., A Giant Leap for Mankind, vol. 4 of Man in Space (Los Angeles: Petersen Publishing Company, 1974), pp. 128-29; Lawrence Suid, "Kennedy, Apollo, and the Columbus Factor" (paper presented at American University, Washington, DC, October 1993), pp. 15-16, SSCHRC.

22. Hall, A Giant Leap, pp. 128-29.

23. George B. Tindall, The Emergence of the New South 1913-1945, vol. 13 of A History of the South (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1967), pp. 70-71, 730-31; John R. Skates, Jr., "World War II as a Watershed in Mississippi History," Journal of Mississippi History, vol. 37 (May 1975), pp. 131-42.

24. Loyd Swenson, Jr., "The Fertile Crescent: The South's Role in the National Space Program," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 71 (January 1968), pp. 382-87; Edward R. Ling, Sr., The Space Crescent: the Untold Story (Huntsville, AL: The Strode Publishers, 1984), p. 24.

25. Bilstein, Stages to Saturn, p. 60-74.

26. Ibid.

27. Ibid.

28. Kennedy Space Center, Kennedy Space Center Story (NASA Kennedy Space Center, FL: Kennedy Space Center Publications, 1972), p. 4.

29. NASA-MSFC News Release, 21 June 1961, SSCHRC.

30. Henry C. Dethloff, Suddenly Tomorrow Came... A History of the Johnson Space Center (Washington, DC: National Aeronautics and Space Administration, SP-4307, 1993), pp. 39-43; Swenson, "Fertile Crescent," pp. 386-87.

31. Swenson, "Fertile Crescent," p. 388.

32. Ibid.; Ad Hoc Selection Committee, "Launch Vehicle Test Site Evaluation," 26 August 1961, SSCHRC.

33. Swenson, "Fertile Crescent," p. 388.

34. Ad Hoc Committee, "Test Site Evaluation."

35. Ibid.

36. Ibid.

37. Heimburg and Bernard R. Tessman, interview by Dr. Charles Bolton, Huntsville, AL, Mississippi Oral History Program, University of Southern Mississippi, transcript vol.399, 6 March 1992, SSCHRC.

38. Ad Hoc Committee, "Test Site Evaluation."

39. Rex Buffington, telephone interview by Mack Herring, Starksville, MS, December 1994, note in SSCHRC.

40. A.J. Rogers, Jr., interview by Mack Herring, December 1994, SSCHRC.

41. Heimburg and Tessman, interview.

42. Ibid.; Wherner von Braun to George Alexander, 23 December 1965, SSCHRC.

43. NASA-MSFC News Release, 25 October 1961, SSCHRC. It is important to note that the NASA Press Release dated 25 October 1961 reflected "round" numbers when it stated that "The National Aeronautics Space Administration today moved to acquire some 13,500 acres in Southwest Mississippi as the site of a static test facility for Saturn and Nova-class launch vehicles. In addition, NASA will acquire easement rights to about 128,000 acres surrounding the test site, taking in 103,000 acres in Pearl River and Hancock Counties in Mississippi, and 25,000 acres in St. Tammany Parish in Louisiana." Because NASA used approximate numbers for the acreage in this press release, some confusion remains as to the actual number of acres acquired. As reflected in I. Jerry Hlass thesis, "Search For A Role For A Large Government Test Facility," pp. 5-6, the specific number of acres that were finally acquired were "13,428," which were "purchased in fee simple" and the acoustic buffer zone contains "125,442 acres...of which 7,568 acres were purchased fee simple and the remaining 117,874 acres were acquired by perpetual easement." Through the years, however, it has been the "rounded" numbers that were most frequently referred to by NASA officials in public speeches and statements. Because of the differing accounting of the acreage, SSC officials conducted a survey of the fee area and buffer zone land in 1996. The results of this survey, found in the Environmental Impact Statement for Engine Technology Support for NASA's Advanced Transportation Program, which states that the fee area is 13,800 acres and that the buffer zone is 125,071 acres. However, the SSC NASA Chief Counsel's office obtained a slightly different version of these acreages from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in February 1997. According to the Corps of Engineers the acreage in the fee area is 13,800.15 and in the buffer zone the acreage is 125,011.26.


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