SP-4310 Way Station to Space


- Chapter 7 -

The Winds of Change



[123] While his engineers were focused on testing Saturn rockets bound for the Moon, Jackson Balch set out on a journey in search of a new mission for the Mississippi Test Facility (MTF). Before the search was completed, the expedition extended beyond the hills of Huntsville, through the halls of Congress, and past the closed doors of the Nixon White House. To the consternation of his bosses, the pied piper of Devil's Swamp lured prospects from all over the world to window-shop at the new crossroads of science in Mississippi.1

As the MTF engineers were celebrating America's first lunar landing, an ill wind was brewing in the Caribbean Sea that would change many of their lives forever. On 17 August 1969, a powerful hurricane named Camille struck the Gulf Coast with a devastating blow that left hundreds dead and thousands homeless. The morning after, the NASA-MTF team raised American flags on site in a symbolic gesture of determined solidarity with their coastal neighbors. The Gulf Coast residents and NASA employees set out to rebuild their homes and to undertake a search for new MTF missions.2

[124] The final Gemini mission on 15 November 1965 was of more than passing interest to the space team in Mississippi. When Astronauts James A. Lovell, Jr., and Edwin E. Aldrin, Jr., splashed down in the Atlantic Ocean after a highly successful Gemini 11 orbital flight, the NASA-MTF space workers knew their time at bat in Project Apollo was not far off. The big push to finish testing the S-II-1 continued on 30 December 1966 with a full-duration firing of 363 seconds.3

The activity at the MTF quickly shifted from construction-activation to the operation phase as projects were finished and workers began leaving the site. The giant S-IC-T, a test version of the Saturn V first-stage booster, arrived on site and was installed in the dual B-1/B-2 test stand on 23 October 1966. The huge first-stage booster was the free-world's largest and most powerful rocket. Designed to lift the 6-million-pound Apollo/Saturn V space vehicle off the pad and send it to the Moon, the S-IC was 138 feet long and 33 feet in diameter. The booster stage generated 7.5 million pounds of thrust and was the most powerful rocket ever built in America. The first-stage booster was test-fired at Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) 15 times and later brought to the MTF to check out the massive B-1/B-2 test stand and its supporting systems. By the end of 1966, the "big Bertha" was being put through prestatic test checkouts by a Boeing Company aerospace team. A research and development stand at the MSFC static-fired the first three Saturn flight stages. The Saturn V rocket stages were tested by both NASA and Boeing personnel in the MSFC Test Division's facilities. At the same time, the big dual stand in Mississippi was being scheduled for acceptance testing of these flight stages.4

With three Saturn V stage test stands in Mississippi, a sense of ownership in America's space program prevailed at the MTF within the teams representing NASA, General Electric (GE), North American Aviation (NAA), and Boeing. As in any program of such great magnitude, moments of sadness were experienced, along with feelings of triumph. For example, the MTF workers were saddened by the accidental deaths of seven workers during construction of the facility. The MTF team also shared in a national tragedy 27 January 1967, when an accidental fire broke out in the Apollo 1 spacecraft [125] and quickly killed the astronaut crew during a routine ground test of the three-man craft at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC). The three astronauts, Virgil L. Grissom, Edward H. White II, and Roger B. Chaffee, distinguished themselves earlier in the Mercury and Gemini programs. The aftermath of the accident caused further upheavals in NAA's management and manufacturing processes. For the first time, the focus of attention or "long pole" of the Apollo program shifted from the S-II to the Apollo command module, where investigators found numerous problems in the design and manufacture of the lunar-bound craft.5

Meanwhile, the Boeing test team was anxious to get its program at the MTF under way. The team approached the first flight-stage test with the high degree of confidence they developed while working with Heimburg's experienced MSFC rocket crews. The main purpose of the first S-IC-T tests was to check out the big B-1/B-2 test stand and its supporting facilities. Only the B-2 position (east side) of the test stand was activated for testing, leaving the B-1 available for use in case of an accident on the B-2 side.6

In addition to using the giant test stand for the first time, NASA and the Boeing team were concerned about the noise the big S-IC would produce with its 7.5-million-pound thrust. The MTF acoustic-buffer zone extended 6 miles from the test stand in every direction, and NASA did not expect the sound would be excessively loud beyond the buffer zone. The flame-deflector bucket on the B-2 side of the dual position S-IC test stand was pointed due north, with the nearest community of any size, Picayune, located north by northwest of the test complex. NASA knew, however, that the monstrous S-IC booster was as noisy as it was powerful, producing 211 decibels of sound at the base of the test stand.7

Knowing that its testing program depended on public acceptance, NASA continued its acoustic studies, which were initiated in December 1962. The U.S. Weather Bureau and GE personnel operated the MTF Acoustics Laboratory where data were recorded and analyzed for prediction of sound [126] propagation. GE personnel sounded a giant acoustic horn, and the Weather Bureau sent balloons aloft carrying instruments for predicting sound-level propagation to the surrounding communities.8

The acoustics experts set up measuring devices in the communities surrounding the MTF. The specialists sounded the giant horn several times simulating the test-firing sound levels; recorded the sound levels; and also sent weather balloons aloft to measure atmospheric conditions. The resulting data were fed into computers to determine a sound profile of the area. These tests were done because atmospheric conditions have a direct and major effect on sound travel and intensity. A temperature inversion can cause sound, which normally goes up into the atmosphere, to bounce back to the ground.9

The MTF initiated an additional acoustics study before the first test-firing of the S-IC-T. This study was to determine how far away from the test stand observers should be when exposed to the noise of the static-firing. The resulting statistical data enabled acoustics experts to determine the effects on human hearing of long-term exposure to rocket-testing noise levels. The viewing area was 5,200 feet from the test stand and 20 volunteer employees were accepted for testing. The MTF medical clinic, operated by GE, tested the volunteers' hearing levels before the S-IC-T test to form a baseline. On the day of the static- firing, volunteers were in the viewing area, along with a doctor and nurses from the clinic in case any employee felt undue discomfort. The volunteers were the only employees whose ears were unprotected the day of the firing. Other unprotected observers were located over 7,500 feet from the S-IC-T test stand at the Central Control Building.10

Despite precautions taken by NASA, local concerns about the noise levels persisted, partially caused by media misinformation. A national newspaper even ran a story that read, "During test runs, the 7.5-million-pound-thrust first [test] stand will generate screaming torrents of noise strong enough to kill or maim unprotected persons within five miles." Newspaper reports such as this helped justify the large buffer zone, but did nothing to allay fears of those who had true concern for the rocket test-firing noise. NASA wanted people in the area [127] to be aware of the test, so the loud noise of the S-IC-T test-firing would not frighten them. Most media cooperated with the MTF Public Information Officer (PIO) and informed the public of the test with accurate news stories and radio/television bulletins.11

With tanking tests and systems checkouts completed, the day of the first S-IC-T static test in Mississippi arrived. More anxiety existed outside the blockhouse than inside; the independent Boeing team was confident their first 15-second test would be successful. Balch held a prefiring meeting in his office with Lelyn "Lee" Nybo, MTF's meteorologist and acoustics expert, giving staff members a briefing on predicted sound propagation in the area. Heimburg, down from Huntsville to view the firing, attended the briefing. Nybo told Balch that noise from the short test-firing would not be a major concern in the communities because of the short duration of the test. With the benefit of data gathered by the Weather Bureau and Acoustics Laboratory, Nybo did point out that weather conditions on that March day were not "ideal." Heimburg wanted to go ahead with the test, citing his "all-weather" testing experiences in Huntsville.12

With Boeing's test conductor James Dezzo at the console, the giant rocket roared to life at 5:21 p.m. and the sound thundered across the piney woods for 15 seconds. A brilliant red and orange flame streaked out from the base of the flame-deflector bucket into the air. Unlike the invisible S-II liquid-hydrogen and liquid-oxygen flame, the RP-1 kerosene and liquid-oxygen flame was so bright it produced huge flashes of light as the five F-1 engines rumbled and clattered. The low-frequency sound produced by the test-firing was heard as far away as Picayune, Mississippi, and the sound waves shattered a plate-glass window in a downtown Picayune bank building.13

Even though the first firing was only 15 seconds, the test lasted long enough for engineers to record approximately 850 measurements of the rocket-stage performance and it proved the dual B-1/B-2 test stand's operational readiness. These measurements included aspects such as stress, engine temperatures and thrust, propellant tank temperatures and pressures, vibrations, and propellant flow rates. The test stand's giant flame-deflector bucket....



The first stage of the huge Saturn V rocket undergoes a hot firing on the B-2 stand in support of America's lunar landing mission during the Apollo program in the 1960s.

The first stage of the huge Saturn V rocket undergoes a hot firing on the B-2 stand in support of America's lunar landing mission during the Apollo program in the 1960s. The first stage was powered by five F-1 engines that produced more than 7-1/2 million pounds of thrust. (SSC-67-2537C).


....proved efficient, with water rushing through its systems at the rate of 300,000 gallons of water per minute. Postfiring checkouts evaluated the overall effect of the static test on the rocket stage. These checkouts, similar to prestatic test-firing checkouts, indicated that few overall changes were observed. A second and final test of the S-IC-T at the MTF was planned.14

The second S-1C-T test was conducted by Boeing 17 March 1967 for 60 seconds, giving NASA the confidence to pronounce the MTF "fully" operational. With this designation, the facility was ready to begin its appointed task of acceptance testing of the first and second stages of the Apollo/Saturn V space vehicle, a process that was to go by all too quickly.15

[129] Just 5 days after the S-IC-T readiness test was completed, Balch arranged a meeting on 22 March 1967 with Senator Stennis and von Braun to discuss the "future of [the] MTF." The meeting was the first of many between Stennis and von Braun - two men who had great influence on the developing Mississippi site. Von Braun noted that he expected the declining MTF workforce would level off at "about 2,600" and this would negatively impact local communities. Von Braun's meeting with Stennis thus validated Balch's earlier December 1966 warning to Stennis that NASA had no plans for the MTF after the Saturn V test programs were completed.16

Von Braun had his hands full directing the launch vehicle program for Project Apollo and had little time left to worry about the future beyond the lunar landing. He not only had the MTF development and operational testing to worry about, but the versatile scientist-manager also was deeply concerned with the S-IVB third stage of the giant Saturn V, with its intricate instrument unit, and the integration of the entire vehicle.17

Balch was relieved of a great deal of pressure when the S-II and S-IC stages were static-fired, signalling the MTF's operational readiness. He and his staff spent hundreds of hours in meetings devising a tight, quality- and product- reliability program, utilizing the combined expertise of NASA, Air Force, and contractor personnel. At the same time, Balch was faced with the loss of one of his close advisors, Gordon Artley. As the activation phase drew to a close, Artley moved on to head up a similar activation program at the KSC.18

With Artley leaving, Balch placed his capable deputy, Henry Auter, in charge of the permanent test organization - the Test and Quality Evaluation Office. Balch appointed Auter because he was an experienced and competent MSFC test engineer. Before coming to the MTF, Auter headed up the Electrical Systems Branch in Heimburg's Test Division. At the MSFC, he helped build the Interim Test Stand that was the site for testing the Redstone rocket that launched the free-world's first satellite. Auter was also a key member of the test team that tested the Mercury-Redstone rocket that launched the first American into space. Henry Auter not only had the support [130] of Balch, but he also had Heimburg's complete confidence. This relationship between Heimburg and Auter helped bridge management differences existing between Balch and Heimburg.19

Balch and Auter assembled an excellent group of engineers, most were from the MSFC, to help manage the Saturn V stage testing. These managing engineers included men such as Mike Myers, chief of the S-IC Branch; Leslie B. (Boyce) Mix, S-IC assistant manager; Bob Bush, S-II Branch manager; Myrl Sanders, chief of the Engine Branch; and William L. Hopkins, chief of the Evaluation Engineering office. Other talented engineers who went on to become MTF leaders were James E. "Jim" Coward, Kenneth R."Ken" Daughtrey, Roy Estess, James H. "Harry" Guin, Robert B. "Bobby" Hegwood, Floyd C. Herbert, William D. "Doug" Howard, Teddy M. "Ted" LaMunyon, Darden W. "Wayne" Mooneyhan, William G. "Bill" Spradlin, James L. "Jim" Taylor, and Earl G. "Glade" Woods.20


The Search

Once the strong test organization was in place and the North American Rockwell and Boeing test teams gained even more experience static-firing the rocket stages, Balch found his task as manager becoming more "routine." The restless manager now had time to explore the future of the budding Mississippi Test Facility. Although there was nothing "secret" about the long-range threat of the MTF's inability to survive beyond Project Apollo, Balch was apparently the only official within the NASA hierarchy who perceived this threat.21

Two factors became apparent to Balch when he studied the future viability of the MTF: (1) static-testing of the Apollo/Saturn V stages was scheduled to terminate in December 1970, and (2) the MTF was operating considerably below full capacity and would likely continue to do so. Balch perceived these factors as detrimental to his organization's survival, and he saw no funded NASA programs in the immediate future that would bring work to the MTF. [131] Part of the problem manifesting itself during 1967 was the cyclical nature of the rocket-testing operation. During the 5-day period around a static-firing, the MTF personnel would work above full-capacity operation (overtime work was required). During the period between firings, however, facilities and personnel were not being used at full potential. In the early stages of his campaign, Balch referred to the MTF as "underutilized." Later, Stennis joined Balch in an all-out quest to gain "full utilization."22

Balch found that his MSFC bosses had little concern for the MTF not having a mission beyond testing the Saturn V stages in 1970. Balch's colleagues at the MSFC were reluctant to assist because they wanted future programs to be located there. The MSFC managers were so caught up in Project Apollo, they were planning extended lunar exploration and other deep-space programs such as a Mars mission, and they were not concerned with Balch's immediate plight. Besides, most NASA Headquarters planners felt that a lunar landing would herald future space programs and funding would then be generated for the Agency.23

Balch, however, felt the lunar landing would be the "beginning of the end" of a major national effort in space exploration. He believed the escalation of the Vietnam War and the threat of rising inflation would change the nation's priorities, shifting attention and focus away from the space program. Balch also recognized that a growing concern over degradation of the environment existed in the United States. Many Americans saw a need for national measures to preserve the country's natural resources. Balch became an early advocate for the revival of a national conservation program, and he gained support from prominent regional and national conservationists.24

Once Balch recognized that no future mission was planned for the MTF, he began a search for new missions for the facility. Balch's motivation apparently came from his intense desire to succeed as a manager and his moral and patriotic desire to continue the MTF's usefulness. He wanted the MTF to be perceived as beneficial to (1) America's taxpayers, who furnished the funding; (2) the people of the local area, who gave up their land and funded the [132] improvements in their communities; and (3) the MTF employees, who gave up jobs elsewhere to stake their futures in the new installation.25

Like Artley, Balch was a charismatic, spellbinding individual. In addition, he often stated that he not only motivated his own staff, but he captivated and inspired others outside his organization to work hard to achieve mutual goals. Balch was also an intimidating and threatening force to those who opposed his views and actions - many of whom were his own bosses and colleagues in the NASA chain of command.26

When Balch could not find allies at the MSFC or NASA Headquarters to help promote his cause, he called his staff together to inform them of the post-Apollo dilemma facing the MTF. He rented a suite of rooms at the Ramada Inn in Waveland, Mississippi, for an "all day" meeting in December 1967. At the meeting, Balch asked his staff to join him in brainstorming future plans for their organization. At the beginning of the meeting, Balch told the assembled staff members (about 15 people) that no new programs were planned for the MTF beyond the lunar landing. To some, the lack of future plans at the MTF was surprising and shocking news. On a portable chalkboard, he recorded the ideas the group proposed to keep the base viable after the Project Apollo testing ended. Most of the ideas included new rocket testing missions. In keeping with the brainstorming nature of the meeting, the ideas also included such radical proposals as withdrawing from the MSFC and forming a separate NASA field center. The idea of a separate center, however, was discarded by Balch and most of the staff, because the majority of those present thought the MSFC was needed to furnish funding for future basic operations.27

The December meeting was the first act in Balch's offensive to gain new missions for the MTF, and it was an introduction to his tenacious planning ability. The session, which many mark as the beginning of the search for a new mission for the MTF, started at 8:00 a.m. and went on until midnight. After the offsite staff meeting, Balch held another meeting with the NASA employees in the big conference room of the Engineering and Administration building. He told the standing-room-only crowd that "nothing" was planned [133] for the MTF after completion of the Saturn V testing. At this point, Balch directed Wayne Mooneyhan and Roy Estess to wind down their work at the onsite test complex. This directive was issued so Mooneyhan and Estess would be able to join Balch in the director's office and begin assisting in the search for new business for the facility.28

The timing of Balch's initial forays into the world of science and technology outside NASA could not have been better planned. NASA, and especially its managers, were enjoying a great deal of publicity due to international attention by the news media. The Mercury and Gemini programs ended successfully, and the mammoth undertaking of Project Apollo had captured the public's imagination. Balch used this attention to open doors in his search for new MTF business. His position as manager of a major NASA installation gave him an instant introduction to heads of federal and state technical organizations, university presidents, and to politicians seeking to help their constituencies.29

At first, Balch sought to find future missions within the NASA organization, hoping that von Braun would be sympathetic to the MTF cause. Having already been rebuffed by lower ranking members of the MSFC management, Balch hoped von Braun would want to preserve the MTF for future rocket testing and other propulsion development projects. The MTF manager found the idea of "[walking] away" from the multimillion dollar MTF facility an unacceptable action for NASA. Unfortunately, the MSFC engineers looked at the MTF as a "mass of brick and mortar" to be managed and operated as a "blue collar" test plant with a handful of engineers. Balch, on the other hand, saw the facility as a "living, breathing" scientific center with the potential to conduct almost any sophisticated technical program.30

Balch thought the open-minded von Braun would see his viewpoint. To this end, Balch presented a proposal in 1967 to von Braun and his staff that involved the consolidation of all rocket testing, including the J-2 engine, the F-1 engine, and the S-IV-B stage, at the MTF. He further recommended that all post-test [134] checkout be done at the MTF. According to Balch's proposal, this move would fill the inactive periods between tests and would save NASA $17 million per year on Saturn program operating costs. Von Braun referred Balch's proposal to a study committee at the MSFC, where it was disapproved.31

The rejection more than likely took place because von Braun was so deeply involved in the upcoming lunar landing. Consequently, von Braun delegated the decision on Balch's proposal to his staff with the intention of referring to it after the first lunar landing. Balch said von Braun, however, was "sympathetic" to the MTF cause and "looked the other way" so that Balch could pursue new missions without any hinderance. Balch came to realize that his MSFC colleagues wanted to ensure their own survival and had little interest in saving NASA $17 million per year, if in doing so, the plan threatened the future of MSFC. Most of the MSFC and NASA Headquarters personnel felt the public would rally around NASA after the first lunar landing with funding for future programs.32

Balch's response to the apathetic attitude regarding the future of the MTF was to solicit advice from E.W. "Van" King, a man he brought from Huntsville to work at the MTF. Balch knew that King had been successful in obtaining new missions for the Army Rocket and Guided Missile Agency at Redstone Arsenal. Balch told King he wanted him to first head up the MTF Site Operations Office as a "temporary move" and that the office would be a "holding place" for King until a more formal Future Projects office could be set up.33

The MTF Site Operations Office was similar to an Army post's Engineering Office. In King's words, the office "ran itself," due to the experienced people selected for management positions. Heading up the branch functions were: Eugene A. Burke, Safety Office; Waldo Dearing, Base Operations Branch; William L. "Willie" Shippey, Range Operations Branch; and A.J. "Jack" Rogers, Jr., Facilities Engineering Branch. King devoted most of his time to studying the technical market nationwide to see which functions and agencies would be suitable for the MTF. The capable staff in the Site Operations Office also provided logistical support to help Balch analyze the potential of future prospects.34

[135] One of the first moves Balch made toward the goal of full utilization of the MTF was to encourage the onsite research staffs from Mississippi State University and Louisiana State University to assist in lobbying for new technical and scientific business. The two universities conducted a total of eight onsite projects, using the GE data reduction facilities. Through the universities, Balch and his staff met a number of scientists with connections to the Governors of Louisiana and Mississippi.35

As Balch, King, and other selected staffers began searching in 1968 for new missions outside of NASA, Senator Stennis was drawn more and more into the struggles occurring at the MTF. King remembered working closely with William "Bill" Spell, Stennis's pointman for the Department of Defense (DoD) and for the MTF. Spell, an attorney, was an excellent political public relations man. Balch described him as Stennis's "Machiavellian aide." Spell and Balch quickly became close friends, sharing a dream to see the new MTF emerge as a fully utilized scientific utopia.36


The Community Joins Balch

By mid-1968, with a few members of his staff and the office of Senator Stennis on his marketing team, Balch moved to recruit key community leaders to help in the push for new business. After all, the investments for expansion and improvements that the local communities made to meet the massive influx of the MTF personnel were in danger as the site population began to decline in 1968. The towns in the immediate area had increased their bonded indebtedness from less than one-half million dollars to more than $25 million in less than 5 years. With the installation's Construction and Activation phases completed and the test teams becoming more proficient in their work, the employee population dropped from 6,401 in the summer of 1965 to 2,970 Operations Phase personnel in mid-1968. The occupancy rate of new apartment buildings in the towns around the MTF dropped to 50 percent. The whopping $72 million payroll in 1965 also dropped accordingly. The community leaders, who worked so hard to accommodate [136] the test site, were stunned as they watched their investments in the space enterprise dwindle daily.37

The economic boom lasted only 3 years before it began declining so dramatically. Community leaders were astonished to see their new MTF neighbors moving out in droves. In fact, the employment curve dropped almost as fast as it had gone up just 3 years earlier.38

National news had a special kind of validity for the local business people. News from afar appearing in long-standing, reputable publications attracted the attention of local investors, as well as their national lenders and counterparts. For example, an article in The Wall Street Journal generated serious anxiety within the local business community, at NASA Headquarters, and, to NASA's chagrin, in the office of Senator Stennis. The pessimistic article was exactly what Stennis did not want to read in such a prestigious national publication.39

The noted business and financial journal carried a headline that read "No Work Slated After '69 for NASA Base In Lower Mississippi That Cost $315 Million." The part most remembered by readers was the line that referred to the MTF as a space-age "white elephant."40

The "story behind the story" regarding the "white elephant" article beautifully illustrates how Balch searched for new assignments. He used every tool available to him as a manager. Since Balch knew that Stennis and his bosses at NASA Headquarters read The Wall Street Journal every day, Balch told Mack Herring, MTF PIO, that he would like to read a big headline in The Wall Street Journal about the underutilized condition of the MTF. Herring discussed the matter with his GE counterparts on site and at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. GE, through its public relations staff, "leaked" the news tip to The Wall Street Journal and enticed a reporter to come to the MTF to do a story. One of the large supporting facilities, the Component Test Facility, was built but never used. This facility was planned and built by the MSFC for testing Saturn, and other rocket components. Balch made sure a big padlock with chains was placed on [137] the empty building's front door and that The Wall Street Journal's reporter was escorted to see the new, but as yet, unused facility. The Wall Street Journal story was the first direct use Balch made of the news media to carry his message.41

The "white elephant" story had the intended results Balch was looking for. The Picayune Chamber of Commerce announced it was launching a campaign to find new business for the MTF when the Project Apollo testing ended. The Chamber cited The Wall Street Journal story as the reason for their planned search. A copy of the resolution by the Chamber was sent to Senator Stennis, further aggravating him with evidence of the decline of the NASA project in his home state. In response, Stennis sent a strong letter to NASA Headquarters urging them to take steps to secure future work for the MTF beyond the Project Apollo era.42


MTF Busy Testing, Planning Future

Despite the commotion in the media predicting a bleak future for the test facility, employees charged with static test-firing the mighty rocket stages for the Project Apollo continued their tests. Roscoe Nicholson, a North American Aviation (NAA) engine expert, said, "The test complex was another world. We left all of the politics up to the guys in the E&A [Engineering and Administration] building." And Nicholson was right. With the pressure to test the rocket stages and ship them to the KSC for launch, the MTF test crews had little time to worry about the future.43

The work situation at the MTF was like two different worlds, with the buildup of testing for the Project Apollo program and Balch's quest for new missions. The NAA and Boeing test teams conducted 6 static firings in 1967, 9 in 1968, and 11 in 1969. These tests included eleven S-II and nine S-IC flight stages. Newspapers around the state noted the bustle with their front page news stories, was in March 1968, all three test positions were "filled" with three Saturn V stages.44



An S-II stage of the Saturn V rocket is hoisted into the A-2 test stand at the Mississippi Test Facility.

An S-II stage of the Saturn V rocket is hoisted into the A-2 test stand at the Mississippi Test Facility. This was the second stage of the 365-foot-tall rocket which was powered by five J-2 engines. (SSC-67-701C).


[139] On the other hand, at the time of the rocket "full house" at the MTF, Balch was painting a bleak picture of the operation in his dealings with Stennis. Reacting to Balch and the community leaders in the area, Stennis on 15 March 1968 requested that Balch brief him on the plans that NASA had for the base beyond the Apollo program.45

While the MTF continued testing rockets, NASA Administrator Webb also requested that Balch brief him on the status of the MTF so he would be better prepared to discuss the installation's future with Stennis. Webb contracted with Dr. Mary Holman, a professor at George Washington University, to assist him with a study and recommendation of a future path for the MTF. Holman, with the help of NASA Headquarters and the MTF personnel, prepared Webb for the meeting with Stennis. In her report, Holman observed, "If the nation decides that it wants to drastically reduce its resource allocation for the exploration of space, the level and structure of employment in the area (around the MTF) can be expected to return to the posture that existed there in 1960." Holman further commented that this economic reversal would not happen if "alternative employment opportunities were provided."46

Webb, not wanting to lose the support of Stennis in the Congress, began to make plans to assist Stennis (and Balch) in the search for other MTF missions. The Senator wrote Webb following a spring meeting and requested that monthly meetings be set up to evaluate the "serious" situation at the MTF. Somewhat satisfied, Stennis released a statement to the press indicating that Webb had assured him NASA was "diligently searching" for other government business and work for the MTF.47

With the Stennis announcement and NASA's early success with an MTF-tested stage on the Saturn V vehicle - the Apollo 4 flight on 9 November 1967 - spirits of the Balch organization were boosted. Work was apparently progressing well for the MTF on both of its fronts of endeavor, in the test complex and in its search for a new mission. Balch continued his correspondence with Stennis and added other important political friends to his cause. A close ally of Stennis, U.S. Representative William Meyer "Bill" [140] Colmer (1890-1980), a Democrat from nearby Pascagoula, Mississippi, became familiar with Balch's campaign and began helping in the House of Representatives. Colmer added an important voice because of his position as chairman of the powerful Rules Committee. In that office, Colmer was able to set the legislative agenda of the House of Representatives.48

Another political friend who came to Balch's aid was Mississippi Governor John Bell Williams (1919-1983), who took office on 16 January 1968. Williams was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1946 to 1967. As Governor, he made use of his experiences and friendships to encourage the MTF's future. After taking office, Williams launched an ambitious program through the state legislature, and his administration is credited with phenomenal growth in business, commerce, and manufacturing, which is unequalled in any other period in the state's history.49

Balch's plans for new programs at the MTF fit perfectly into Williams's own economic schemes for the state of Mississippi and they developed a special relationship, becoming close personal friends. Williams appreciated the technical expertise of NASA and became a "space buff," visiting the MTF to view static-firings and traveling to Florida to see Saturn launches.50

Van King, acting on behalf of Balch, was the first MTF staff member to get Governor Williams's attention; consequently, King was responsible for bringing a major oceanographic program to Mississippi. He was studying the U.S. scientific market, looking for future MTF projects, when he began to realize the country seemed infatuated with the study of oceanography. He felt that the MTF, located on navigable water leading to the Gulf, had the potential to host agencies and programs involved in oceanography. When Williams was elected Governor, King solicited the help of Mack Herring, PIO, to gain an introduction to the Governor.51

[141] Working through Williams's public relations officer, King and Herring drafted suggested remarks, with an emphasis on oceanography, for Williams to consider in his inaugural address. The remarks were extremely bold for a new venture, with a statement of intention that said an effort should be made to "establish the state of Mississippi as a front line contender with California and Florida as the leader in oceanography from the standpoint of biological science, deep-water submersion, and to back this capability with the technology in the new market." The draft remarks also suggested that the Governor form an advisory group on "oceanography, geological industries, and environmental sciences." Although Williams did not use much of the material in his address, the thought was planted in his mind, and he did take action, along with the MTF, in implementing many of the suggestions. The move to bring Williams closer to the MTF paid off as Balch's search continued.52



Van King's belief that oceanography held promise for the MTF proved to be right on target in 1968 when he discovered that a former MSFC boss and associate was organizing a major oceanographic study in the Atlantic Ocean. Dr. Joachim P. Kuettner of the Environmental Science Services Administration (ESSA) was former chief of the MSFC Saturn Projects Office, where King served as his deputy before joining Balch at the MTF. Kuettner was named by ESSA as director of a large-scale oceanographic and meteorological experiment called Barbados Oceanographic and Meteorological Experiment (BOMEX). The experiment was the most intensive scientific investigation over a large ocean area ever undertaken. BOMEX served as a pilot project to provide better understanding of the world's atmosphere and oceans, concentrating on the interaction of air-sea energies in the oceans.53

[142] King approached his long-time associate and friend, Kuettner, who was looking for a competent hardware agency to provide logistics and data reduction for the massive multidiscipline project. With Balch's blessings, King was able to offer experienced data specialists and use of the MTF's vast data services and facilities. Because of King's previous work with Kuettner at the MSFC, the new partnership was initiated with a high degree of trust. The MTF was given the task to design, install, maintain, and operate a computerized data management system for BOMEX. Balch immediately appointed King as BOMEX project manager. GE, with its expertise in data systems and data reduction, was given the contract to provide the data systems. The initial announcement was made 24 October 1968, launching the MTF on its first significant new mission and giving it a "foot in the door" in the scientific world of oceanography.54


Apollo Journey Begins

While part of the MTF was gearing up for its role in BOMEX, the rocket test teams began seeing their work come to fruition with Apollo/Saturn V flights into space. The first unmanned Saturn V flight, Apollo 4 (AS-501), took place 9 November 1967. That flight was followed by another unmanned mission, Apollo 6 on 4 April 1968. The first manned Apollo mission came on 11 October 1968, when the orbital flight of Apollo 7 proved the reliability of a spacecraft that had undergone major redesign and modifications since the tragic fire of Apollo 1 on 27 January 1967. Astronauts Walter M. Schirra, Don F. Eisele, and Walter Cunningham became the first Americans to fly in the new craft. These flights provided satisfaction and confidence for thousands of Americans involved in Project Apollo since its inception in 1961.55

NASA went through months of study and serious deliberations before a decision was made to go "all up" and send astronauts on the Apollo/Saturn V [143] vehicle's first flight to orbit the Moon. Although the Apollo 8 mission was planned as a lunar-orbital flight only, the mission was considered a giant step toward a lunar landing. The flight called for all rocket stages, the spacecraft, and the Earth support systems to work together for the first time. Although there were problems encountered on the flight of Apollo 6 (AS-502), results of the MTF static test-firings of the rocket stages used for Saturn V provided the necessary confidence for this first manned flight of the Apollo 8 vehicle.56

Indeed, the MTF test crews watched the proceedings at Cape Kennedy closely. They felt their reputations were at stake when the countdown for the Apollo 8 mission began on 15 December 1968 at 7:00 p.m. as electrical power began flowing into the giant Saturn AS-503 vehicle. About 200 members of the launch team began going over their checklists in the firing room. A million gallons of liquid oxygen, liquid hydrogen, and other propellants were pumped aboard. Astronauts Frank Borman, James A. Lovell, Jr., and William A. Anders entered the command module, and the hatch was closed at 5:34 a.m. on 21 December. They were ready and the world was watching as the final minutes ticked down to liftoff.57

Balch, accompanied by Terry Malone, senior photographer and protocol officer, traveled to Florida to witness the launch. Malone remembers that dawn was breaking when the mighty Saturn V roared to life at 7:51 a.m., and seconds later was thundering past the service tower. Shock waves reverberated across the sandy, palmetto beaches as the 365-foot-tall space vehicle left the launch pad and began its roll program to escape the Earth's atmosphere. "I saw all of the Saturn V launches," Malone said, "but none were as beautiful as Apollo 8." The first- and second-stage rockets tested at the MTF performed flawlessly during the ascent phase of the mission, placing the Apollo crew in parking orbit around the Earth. During the second orbit, CapCom Mike Collins (at the Houston Control Center at Johnson Space Center) gave the command, "you are go for TLI [translunar injection]." Lovell calmly said, "Ignition," and the S-IVB ignited for its second burn, sending the Apollo 8 crew on their way to the Moon. The crew [144] remembered that the mission was like embarking on a "journey to God's workshop." At 4:59 a.m. on Christmas Eve, Apollo 8 entered an elliptical orbit around the Moon.58

While in orbit, the crew of Apollo 8 performed a number of technical experiments, but perhaps what they did in their "spare time" had the most far-reaching effects on the people at home on planet Earth. During a telecast on Christmas Eve, astronaut Lovell described the Earth as a beautiful, fragile ball. They sent black-and-white television pictures of the famous scene of the Earth rising across the lunar landscape. In contrast to the bluish-white colors of the Earth, astronaut Lovell said, "The vast loneliness is awe-inspiring and it makes you realize just what you have back there on Earth." Color photographs of the Earthrise brought back by the crew became a symbol of the growing worldwide environmental movement.59

The scenes televised to an estimated half-billion people aroused great wonder, giving people on Earth an opportunity to vicariously explore what no one had ever seen before. Before going off the air, astronaut Bill Anders began sending a Christmas message to the people on Earth: "In the beginning God created the Heaven and the Earth." At the conclusion of the biblical creation story, Commander Borman added, "And from the crew of Apollo 8, we close with good night, good luck, a Merry Christmas, and God bless all of you - all of you on the good Earth."60

Jackson Balch witnessed the launch and returned from Cape Kennedy to follow the mission at his southern colonial home nestled under huge live oaks on the beach at Pass Christian, Mississippi. Balch released a message to the local press: "It is hard for us who have worked so closely to this fascinating program for so many years to really comprehend just what Apollo 8 means now, or what it will mean in generations to come. But one thing is for sure. We are all very humble to have had a part in such a prominent moment in the history of man." Balch thanked the people of the Mississippi Gulf Coast for their support, referring to them as "part of the team."61


[145] On Earth And Sea

With spirits high after the huge success of Apollo 8, Balch and his teams approached the new year (1969) with great optimism. After all, the MTF had its "plate full" with continued testing of Saturn V rocket stages and preparations for its scientific role in Project BOMEX. In March, the MTF hosted a number of U.S. scientists from government, industry, and the academic community to discuss experiments that would be conducted in Project BOMEX. Since BOMEX was the largest geophysical experiment ever conducted in terms of data collected, the project drew some of the most noted scientists to the MTF conference. They included Dr. Kuettner, BOMEX director; Dr. Joshua Holland, chief scientist for Air-Sea Interaction Experiments; Dr. Robert Fleagle, chairman of the National Academy of Science; Dr. Arnold Glaser, BOMEX scientific coordinator; and William Maloney, Naval Oceanographic Projects scientific coordinator. Of course, Balch was pleased to meet the nation's top oceanographic and environmental scientists. BOMEX was indeed what King envisioned when he brought the project to Balch's attention - an opportunity to display the MTF to the nation's most prominent and influential scientists. In addition, Balch was assured that the MTF would get its share of credit when given the assignment to handle public information for the program. As Project BOMEX progressed, Balch made many contacts in the worlds of oceanography and environmental science; many later took up residence at the MTF for permanent studies.62

As the time neared for the start of BOMEX, the MTF organization for the project began to take shape. Working with GE and other NASA-MTF elements, King recruited a number of qualified personnel. Balch assigned three of his best technical personnel to assist King: E.G. "Glade" Woods, Alex Peresich, and Dan Blenis. All three were engineers in the Saturn V Test Complex. Paul T. Mowery, manager of the MTF data processing and handling facilities, was named by GE to head the company's support effort - about 50 engineers and technicians.63

Governor Williams, cognizant of the possibility of future business in oceanographic research, worked with the MTF and Project BOMEX in a number of ways. With the Governor's unqualified support, King arranged for the state...



Glade Woods, NASA's Barbados Oceanographic and Meteorological Experiment (BOMEX) field manager, left, and Wayne Masters, GE, check out the BOMEX Data Acquisition System (data logger) designed at the Mississippi Test Facility (MTF) to record data from sensor inputs during the landmark multiagency project conducted in 1969. (SSC-69-5811).

Glade Woods, NASA's Barbados Oceanographic and Meteorological Experiment (BOMEX) field manager, left, and Wayne Masters, GE, check out the BOMEX Data Acquisition System (data logger) designed at the Mississippi Test Facility (MTF) to record data from sensor inputs during the landmark multiagency project conducted in 1969. (SSC-69-5811).


...port at Gulfport to be the staging area for installation of data acquisition equipment for five BOMEX scientific vessels. The nearby Navy Seabee Center in Gulfport was used to store equipment and furnish logistical support for the vessels.64

Even more news came with the Mississippi State University announcement that NASA awarded the institution a $300,000 grant for space and environmental studies to be performed on campus and at the MTF. All of this pleased Stennis, who commented that BOMEX was a forerunner to even larger ocean projects from which the entire state and its universities would benefit. As predicted by Van King, Project BOMEX had its intended result - the MTF had found at least one new mission.65

With many MTF personnel scattered over 90,000 square miles of the Atlantic Ocean gathering data for Project BOMEX, space engineers on shore turned their eyes to the east coast of Florida and the NASA launch facility - Cape Kennedy. There, on 16 July 1969 at Launch Complex 39, stood the giant [147] Apollo/Saturn V vehicle that thousands of NASA colleagues had built and tested for humankind's most daring exploration - a manned landing on the Moon. Among the 6,000 invited guests and over one million public visitors present to witness the grand event along Florida's white sandy beaches, were Jackson Balch and a number of his employees and community friends. Many of the MTF personnel took leave from their jobs and drove their families the 600 miles to Cape Kennedy to see the launch. Others joined friends and neighbors and watched the spectacle on television at their homes.66

The day of the launch, all eyes were riveted on the gleaming 364-foot-tall, white Saturn V rocket. Atop the 36-story space vehicle were three astronauts: Neil Armstrong, Edwin Aldrin, and Michael Collins. Armstrong described their feelings, "As we ascended in the elevator to the top of the Saturn that morning, we knew that hundreds of thousands of Americans had given their best effort to give us this chance. Now it was time for us to give our best." Armstrong's remarks were illustrative of the appreciation felt by the astronauts toward the men and women who prepared the vehicles for their flights.67

Apollo 11 lifted off for the Moon in classic style at 9:32 a.m., just milliseconds past its scheduled time. After the launch, Balch said, "nothing less than perfection could have launched Apollo 11 on its history-making voyage with such flawless precision. The dramatic flight is especially significant to all of us because two of the major elements of the Saturn V vehicle - the S-IC and the S-II stages - were checked out and proven flightworthy at the MTF." Four days later the astronauts were circling the Moon in the command module Columbia. Armstrong and Aldrin entered the lunar module Eagle, and a few minutes later Armstrong announced, "The Eagle has wings," and he began his descent to the Moon's surface.68

The lunar landing provided high drama unequaled in the history of flight. People all over the world listened as the astronauts descended to the surface. Eagle skimmed across a cluster of large boulders, and its spidery legs seemed to reach out and trip over the obstacles. In the Eagle's cramped cabin, Armstrong steered the lunar module toward an open, flat patch of moonscape, while Aldrin called out velocities and heights as surface dust swirled into...



On 16 July 1969, American astronauts Neil Armstrong, Edwin <<Buzz>> Aldrin, and Michael Collins lift off from the Kennedy Space Center atop the mammoth Saturn V rocket on their way to the Moon during the Apollo 11 mission. Apollo/Saturn V booster stages were tested and certified for flight at Mississippi Test Facility. (SSC-94-202-8).

On 16 July 1969, American astronauts Neil Armstrong, Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin, and Michael Collins lift off from the Kennedy Space Center atop the mammoth Saturn V rocket on their way to the Moon during the Apollo 11 mission. Apollo/Saturn V booster stages were tested and certified for flight at Mississippi Test Facility. (SSC-94-202-8).


[149] ...view. At 4:17:40 p.m. 20 July 1969, the Eagle dropped 5 feet in a one-sixth-gravity free fall, and its four talons touched the lunar surface. A blue "lunar contact" light came on in the cabin, while at Mission Control in Houston there was total silence. Then, Armstrong's calm, testpilot's voice came over the radio monitors, "Houston, Tranquility Base here, the Eagle has landed." The fuel gauge on the console showed 20 seconds of fuel left in the Eagle's tanks.69

A few hours later, at 10:56:19 p.m., Armstrong cautiously placed his foot on the Moon as he stepped off the lunar module and said: "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." 70

Back on Earth, the MTF employees and their neighbors followed the lunar expedition on television and celebrated the victory they shared with the astronauts on the Moon. Bob Bush, Saturn S-II manager, invited a number of his friends and fellow workers to share the experience. Among those at the Bush residence were A.J. "Jack" Rogers, Jr., Harry Guin, and Mike Meyers, all major contributors to the testing and flight certification of the Saturn V launch vehicle. As the night wore on, the MTF crew even wrote their own tribute to Apollo 11 in the form of a poem that chronicled their exploits at the MTF while testing Saturn. The next day, upon "sober" reflection of their literary work, the Mississippi crew declared that the poem was not ready for publication.71


From The Gulf: An Ill Wind

The astronauts emerged from their quarantine, after returning to Earth, to a "Salute to the Team" celebration at the Rice Hotel in Houston, Texas. The 14 August 1969 luncheon preceded planned parades, banquets, and other celebrations in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C. The Houston affair was requested by the crew for the NASA and contractor employees and was attended by 750 people. Frank Borman, Apollo 8 commander, served as master of ceremonies. NASA Administrator Thomas Payne, Wernher von Braun, Robert Gilruth, Kurt Debus, George Mueller, Sam [150] Phillips, and other space notables were there to help the Apollo 11 crew honor the team responsible for the successful mission. Several contractor employees from the MTF attended the celebration.72

At the same time, an ominous weather system was developing in the Caribbean sea; it was first noted in the MTF Hurricane Log on Friday, 15 August 1969, at 5:00 a.m. The storm was 20.8 degrees N and 83.7 W, with a windspeed of 65 miles per hour, and it was named Camille by the Hurricane Center in Miami. Gene Burke, MTF's safety officer, declared "Condition IV" at 9:20 a.m. and initiated the early preparations called for in the site's emergency plan. By Sunday morning, 17 August at 9:00 a.m., the hurricane was 200 miles southeast of New Orleans with windspeeds of 160 miles per hour - making the storm a category 5 hurricane. The MTF emergency crews were working as fast as they could, securing the hydrogen and oxygen barges and tying down loose objects. A steady stream of evacuees from the Gulf Coast began arriving at the MTF's south gate, seeking shelter from the approaching hurricane.73

By 10:00 p.m. Sunday, 1,063 evacuees were registered with Bud Lovell, GE emergency coordinator; they were bedded down in the empty offices and hallways of Building 1100. At 11:05 p.m. Hurricane Camille roared ashore, with its eye passing over the Bay of St. Louis. The MTF employees, who did not evacuate the Gulf Coast, described the evening hours in nightmarish fashion, with stories of howling winds, tearing lumber, flying bricks, and rushing, thunderous waves of sea water crashing down on their homes. All communications to and from the Gulf Coast were blown out by the 200-mile-per-hour winds or washed away by a terrifying 27-foot tidal wave.74

The NASA and contractor MTF employees watched for dawn to see what wrath Camille had wrought to their homes and family members who "rode out" the hurricane along the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Jackson Balch brought his wife Janet and two of their children to the MTF for safety, while he remained at home in Pass Christian with two of his sons in order to protect his property. The morning after Camille, Balch led his sons out of the rubble of their once beautiful home and crawled over a mountain of debris [151] piled high on the bridge that crossed the now placid Bay of St. Louis. On the west side of the bridge, they made their way down Highway 90 toward the NASA test site.75



1. Edmund R. Gray and Herbert G. Hicks, "The Mississippi Test Facility: A Study In Organizational Viability," occasional papers, no. 4, College of Business Administration, Louisiana State University, May 1971, pp. 20-24.

2. Alice Etheridge, "Least We Forget, Camille and MTF," GE MTSD Booster, vol. 7, no. 16, 17 August 1970, Stennis Space Center Historical Records Collection, Stennis Space Center, MS, (henceforth referred to as SSCHRC).

3. Al Hall, ed., Man In Space: A New Environment, vol. 2 (Los Angeles: Peterson Publishing Co., 1974), pp. 128-137.

4. Test & Quality Evaluation Office, MSFC-MTF, "Test Program Summary For Saturn V/Apollo Program S-IC Stage, 29 October 1970, pp. 1-5, 22, SSCHRC.

5. A Hall, ed., Man In Space: The Power And The Glory, vol.3 (Los Angeles: Peterson Publishing Co., 1974), pp. 52-63.

6. Mike Wright, "Saturn V Project Posed Monumental Challenge To Center," The (MSFC) Marshall Star, 25 April 1990, p. 3, SSCHRC; I. Jerry Hlass, "Search For A. Role For A Large Government Test Facility," (master's thesis, George Washington University, June 1971).

7. NASA-MTF Press Release, 13 March 1967, SSCHRC.

8. Ibid.

9. Interview, Lelyn Nybo by Mack Herring, Waveland, MS, 2 October 1995.

10. NASA-MTF News Release, 13 March 1967, SSCHRC.

11. William E. Howard, "Mississippi Moon Base," The New York Times, 8 November 1963.

12. Interview, Myron L. Myers by Mack Herring, Waveland, MS, 2 October 1995; Nybo, interview.

13. NASA-MTF News Release, 3 March 1967, SSCHRC; Interview, Myers.

14. Test & Quality Evaluation Office, S-IC Branch, "Test Program Summary, Saturn V/Apollo Program, S-IC Stage," 29 October 1970, pp. 22-23. SSCHRC.

15. Ibid.

16. NASA-MTF Director's Office Files, "Significant Actions, Changing MTF Utilization," 22 March 1967, SSCHRC, p. 1.

17. Edgar M. Cortright, ed., Apollo Expeditions To The Moon; Wernher von Braun, "Saturn The Giant," (Washington, DC: NASA SP-350, 1975), pp. 41-57; See also Roger Bilstein, Stages To Saturn, A Technological History Of The Apollo Saturn Launch Vehicles, pp. 347-377; Jackson Balch briefing to Gen. Sam Phillips, NASA-MTF transcript, August 1966, SSCHRC.

18. Jackson Balch briefing.

19. NASA-MTF Manager, Memorandum To All Employees, "Provisional Personnel Assignments," 1967, SSCHRC.

20. NASA-MTF Manager, Memorandum To All Employees; Gray and Hicks, "A Study In Organizational Viability," pp. 24-25.

21. Gray and Hicks, "A Study In Organizational Viability," pp. 20-21.

22. Ibid., 22-24.

23. Eberhard Rees, speech to Huntsville, AL, Chamber of Commerce, 14 October 1966.

24. E.W. King, interview by Mack Herring, Pass Christian, MS, 5 October 1995; "NASA Chief Issues Christmas Message," The (Biloxi/Gulfport, MS) Daily Herald (henceforth referred to as The Daily Herald), 23 December 1966.

25. Gray and Hicks, "A Study In Organizational Viability," pp. 26-30; King, interview.

26. King, interview.

27. A.J. "Jack" Rogers, Jr., interview by Mack Herring; Interview, Ted LaMunyon, interview by Steve Paterson, Mississippi Oral History Program, University of Southern Mississippi, vol.409, June 1992.

28. Ibid.

29. See Loyd S. Swenson, Jr., James M Grimwood, and Charles C. Alexander, This New Ocean, and John Barbour's Footprints On The Moon, for accounts of Project Mercury program; See Henry C. Dethloff's Suddenly Tomorrow Came...A History Of The Johnson Space Center (Washington, DC: NASA SP-4307, 1993) for evidence of success of Projects Mercury and Gemini.

30. Gray and Hicks, "A Study In Organizational Viability, p. 31; King, interview; Roy L. Bullock, "Mississippi Test Facility Utilization Data," NASA Headquarters executive study, attachment 2, 1968; SSCHRC.

31. King, interview; Jackson Balch to distribution, "Provisional Personnel Assignments," 1966.

32. King, interview; Gray and Hicks, "A Study In Organizational Viability."

33. Gray and Hicks, "A Study In Organizational Viability."

34. King, interview; Bullock, "MTF Utilization Data," attachment 3.

35. Bullock, "MTF Utilization Data," attachment 3.

36. King, interview.

37. "Space Age: Boom Or Bust," U.S. News & World Report, 27 September 1967; James C. Tanner, "No Work Slated After 1969 For NASA Base In Lower Mississippi," The Wall Street Journal, 10 January 1968.

38. NASA-MTF Staff, "Key Press Announcements Tell MTF Story," briefing book prepared for Sen. Stennis by Balch and his staff.

39. Tanner, "No Work Slated...", The Wall Street Journal.

40. Ibid.; Balch wanted to call attention to underutilized facilities at the MTF. Since he was prohibited from talking to NASA Headquarters managers and Sen. Stennis by his MSFC bosses, Balch knew a "leaked" story in the The Wall Street Journal would inform those that he wanted to know about the situation at the MTF.

41. Ibid.

42. "Chamber Seeks New Uses For Test Site," The Picayune (MS) Item (henceforth referred to as the Picayune Item), 7 March 1968.

43. Nicholson interview.

44. Test and Quality Evaluation Office, "S-II Stage History Summary," p. 13, SSCHRC; "S-IC Stage History Summary," p. 11, 11 December 1970, SSCHRC; "Start of Busiest Year At MTF Signaled By 18-Second Test Firing," The Slidell (LA) Times (henceforth referred to as The Slidell Times), 1 February 1968; "First Full House Reported In Test Stands At Test Site," Picayune Item, 7 March 1968.

45. John C. Stennis to Jackson M. Balch, 15 March 1968, SSCHRC.

46. NASA-MTF Director's Office Files, "Significant Events, Changing Utilization," James E. Webb to Jackson M. Balch; Dr. Mary Holman, "Economic Impact Study," 1968, SSCHRC.

47. John C. Stennis to James E. Webb, 19 July 1968, SSCHRC; Letter requesting Harry Finger, NASA Headquarters, meet monthly with Bill Spell of Stennis's office to evaluate the "serious" situation at the MTF.

48. William Meyers Colmer, Biographical Directory Of The United States Congress, 1774-1989 (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1989) p. 811; The Almanac Of American Politics, p. 424.

49. Cecil L. Sumners, The Governors Of Mississippi (Gretna, LA: Pelican Publishing Company, 1980), pp. 136-138; Interview, Ann Westendorf by author, Huntsville, AL, 31 August 1995.

50. Ibid.

51. King, interview; E.G "Gale" Woods, interview by Charles Bolton, Mississippi Oral History Program, University of Southern Mississippi, vol. 435, 1993, pp. 7-8, SSCHRC; For further information regarding Colmer's connection to the MTF, see the William Colmer Papers (1963-1970), McCain Archives, University of Southern Mississippi, 2nd accession, boxes 100, 109, 117, 127, 139, 150, 205, 206.

52. "Governor Williams Dies," The Jackson (MS) Daily News, 27 March 1983; King, interview; E.W. King, Jackson Balch, and Mack Herring, "Mississippi's New Frontier," draft remarks for Governor John Bell Williams's inaugural address, January 1968.

53. Ben Davidson, "The Barbados Oceanographic And Meteorological Experiment," Bulletin Of The American Meteorological Society, vol. 49, no. 9, September 1968; See Swenson, Grimwood, and Alexander, This New Ocean, for good biography of Joachim P. Kuettner, Van King's mentor, Wernher von Braun associate, and scientific director of Project BOMEX, pp. 171-172.

54. NASA-MTF News Release, 24 October 1968, SSCHRC; NASA-MTF News Release, 15 November 1968, SSCHRC.

55. Cortright, ed., Apollo Expeditions To The Moon; Wernher von Braun, "Saturn The Giant," p. 55; George M. Low, "The Spaceships;" Al Hall, "The Power And The Glory," Man In Space, vol. 3 (Los Angeles: Petersen Publishing Company, 1974), pp. 96-144; "MSFC Role in Orbital Operations - Agenda: Items for Discussion, Technical Staff Meeting," Daily Journal of Dr. Wernher Von Braun, 13 December 1961.

56. Roger D. Launius, NASA: A History Of The U.S. Civil Space Program (Malabar, FL: Kreiger Publishing Company, 1994), pp. 89-90, 207-210.

57. Henry C. Dethloff, Suddenly Tomorrow Came... (Washington, DC: NASA SP-4307, 1993), pp. 171-173.

58. Roger E. Bilstein, Orders Of Magnitude, A History Of The NACA And NASA, 1915-1990 (Washington, DC: NASA SP-4408, 1983), pp. 88-91.

59. John Barbour, Footprints On The Moon (New York: American Book-Stratford Press, Inc., 1969), pp. 139-155; Peter Ryan, The Invasion Of The Moon, The Story Of Apollo 11 (Middlesex, England: Penguin Books Ltd., 1969), pp. 33-34.

60. Hall, Man In Space, pp. 40-57; Barbour, Footprints On The Moon, pp. 139-155.

61. Jackson Balch, "Flight To The Moon Truly The Efforts Of Thousands," The Daily Herald, 31 December 1968.

62. NASA-MTF News Release, "News From BOMEX," 27 March 1969, SSCHRC.

63. NASA-MTF News Release, 15 November 1968, SSCHRC.; GE MTSD News Release, 22 October 1968, SSCHRC.

64. "Oceanography Conference In State April 10," The Daily Herald, 27 March 1969; "NASA Makes MSU Research Grants," The Natchez (MS) Democrat; "Gulfport Seabees Store Material For BOMEX," The (Jackson, MS) Clarion-Ledger (henceforth referred to as The Clarion-Ledger); Editorial, "Ocean Research Program Offers Vast Potential For Mississippi," The Clarion-Ledger, 14 April 1969.

65. "Mayor, Governor Authorize Holiday," The Clarion-Ledger, 18 July 1969; Malone, interview; Hall, Man In Space, pp. 124-129.

66. John Noble Wilford, "Apollo 11: On The Moon," Look Magazine, 1969, unnumbered pages.

67. Ibid.

68. Ibid.

69. Ibid.

70. Ibid.; Barbour, Footprints On The Moon, pp. 204-205; Michael Collins, Liftoff, The Story Of America's Adventure In Space (New York: Grove Press, 1988), p. 8.

71. Robert "Bob" Bush, "30th Anniversary History Roundtable," SSC video history, 25 October 1991, SSCHRC.

72. Edwin E. "Buzz" Aldrin, Return To Earth, (New York: Bantam Books, 1974) pp. 25-51.

73. NASA-MTF Emergency Coordinator, "Hurricane Log: Camille," 15-18 August 1969, SSCHRC.

74. Jackson Balch to Howard Slayden, "MTF Activities Related to Hurricane Camille," 18 September 1969.

75. Reporters of The (Biloxi/Gulfport, MS) Daily Herald: The Story of Hurricane Camille (Gulfport, MS: Gulf Publishing Company, 1969); John C. Tullett, Camille (Biloxi, MS: Loma Enterprises, 1969); Jackson Balch told author of experiences during the night of 17 August and early morning hours of 18 August 1969. Many other employees suffered injury, damage, and death in families related stories to author of instances of injury, damage, and death suffered in their families as a result of Camille. In fact, the author's home in Long Beach, MS, was demolished.