SP-4310 Way Station to Space


- Chapter 9 -

Toward Full Utilization



[187] The New MTF

The Mississippi Test Facility (MTF) continued its free fall from the Moon despite progress toward becoming a multi-agency space and environmental center. But, before the MTF hit mud-bottom and was reduced to caretaker status, Stennis, Balch, and the scrappy little NASA-contractor organization packed up their dwindling resources and started climbing out of the deep post-Apollo budget hole. The climb out was not easy, because the pit was dug for them by others also trying to save their hides from early extinction.1

Indeed, the MTF competed with Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) engineers and Edwards Air Force Base (EAFB) backers to snag the prized Space Shuttle Main Engine (SSME) test program, a sustaining propulsion project that would last for decades. MTF Director Jackson Balch, who developed new and far-reaching interests in the environmental and oceanographic scientific world, knew the Space Shuttle test program was critical to the MTF. It was a [188] source of operating funds to "stay alive" until the fragile MTF scientific center could mature. Without NASA's support, the probability that the small, fledgling federal-state agency associates could last at the remote location on the Mississippi Gulf Coast was highly unlikely.2

In this atmosphere of an all-out NASA family feud, a unique multi-agency installation blossomed and grew into a stable environmental-oceanographic center, sustained by the thunderous, continued roar of NASA's new generation of rocket engines. Although the new center was growing in many directions, Balch felt helpless in controlling the march toward full utilization.3


The Shuttle Decision

Upon joining the MTF team, Roy Estess's assigned task was to put together and present a proposal to perform developmental and proof testing of the SSME at the MTF. Even more importantly, Estess had the personal goal of doing a good job to please Balch, his tough boss. As many who worked for Balch knew, there was no greater pressure than to have their boss watching and waiting impatiently for a "perfect outcome" of an assigned task.4

Nevertheless, Estess took his assignment with confident determination born out of his role in the most recent successful testing of the Saturn V second-stage S-II rocket. As an aerospace engineer, Estess had a hard time understanding Balch's lack of enthusiasm for what was destined to be the nation's next major rocket program.5

After all, the giant test complex was built and von Braun had promised to "captive fire large space vehicle systems...for the next 25-50 years." If all [189] went well, the reusable Space Shuttle would be the country's workhorse in space for the foreseeable future. Both the enthusiastic Estess and the reluctant Balch knew that testing the engines for the shuttle would provide the MTF with the "bread and butter" to carry the facility into the future.6

To Estess's dismay, Balch announced that he would accompany him to NASA Headquarters on 11 December 1970 for the young engineer's shuttle engine test program proposal to the NASA Site Evaluation Board, known as the "Thompson Committee." On the way to the New Orleans airport for the flight to Washington, Balch asked Estess, "What have you been doing the past year?" Estess replied, "We've put together this presentation," trying to hand a copy to his boss. "I'm not interested," Balch dramatically replied. After a few minutes, Balch asked for a copy and began to read it.7

As Balch thumbed the pages of the proposal, he began to "grunt," signalling that he was displeased. When he reached the meat of the presentation, he "shuddered" and shook his head. Balch asked, "What is this?" and "Why do you say this?" During the flight to Washington, Balch's mood got worse.8

When the pair arrived at their hotel, Balch declared that the presentation the next day was "going to be a disaster." After being thoroughly shaken by his boss, Estess joined Balch for breakfast the next day in the hotel coffee shop. Not a word passed between Estess and Balch, who was intently reading The Washington Post. At the Headquarters, they waited in an anteroom while their bosses from the MSFC gave their pitch. The MSFC presenters emerged from the conference room and glared at Balch and Estess, who were preparing to go in. The MSFC delegation was angry because they asked the Headquarter's officials for permission to review the MTF pitch and were denied, nor were they allowed to sit in the conference room while Estess presented his proposal.9

Inside, Estess suffered further intimidation, when Balch, taking a chair at the rear of the room, left Estess alone before the formidable NASA managers, and their engineering staff, at the long, horseshoe-shaped, walnut conference table. Floyd L. Thompson, Site Evaluation Board chairman, came over to [190] Estess and made him feel welcome, saying in a congenial tone, "Hey, this is a relaxed atmosphere. We just want to hear what you have to say." When the panel began asking questions, Estess felt relaxed for the first time.10

Estess's presentation that day included these favorable points: the lowest costs for facility modification and delivery of liquid hydrogen to the test stands, centralized rocket engine capabilities, and use of the dual position B-1/B-2 test stand for orbiter testing and future single-engine needs. The main focus of Estess's presentation centered around the use of the A-1 and A-2 S-II test stands already equipped for liquid-hydrogen fuel. Although exact costs were not available at the time of the presentation, the study estimated that the MTF overall costs would be lower than at the MSFC or EAFB sites. Essentially, the MTF test stands needed to be modified "down" to accommodate single engines, since they were used during Project Apollo to test an entire rocket stage with approximately twice the thrust capability of the SSMEs. Estess estimated the test stand modifications at $7.9 million.11

The MTF's extensive supporting facilities, test experience, existing acoustic-buffer zone, and community support were factors Estess also pointed to as giving the MTF advantage over the other two sites. In his pitch, the importance of the propellant barges, used for transportation and storage; the cryogenic facility; and the high-pressure gas facility was also stressed. The MTF's test experience was another factor Estess highlighted. He reminded board members of the 43 test firings during the Apollo program, with only five aborts. This experience amounted to 2,475 man-years of rocket test experience accumulated by MTF personnel, and no test delays ever occurred due to lack of support services. The 125,442-acre acoustic-buffer zone provided the land needed to absorb the noise and sound-pressure levels that shuttle engines generate.12

Estess provided detailed data that dramatically demonstrated the local communities' willingness to support the NASA program. Important to the NASA decision makers were the changes that were made in local area municipal and commercial facilities. For example, the bonded indebtedness in the towns surrounding the Mississippi NASA site increased from $1 million in 1962 to $20 [191] million in 1969. School buildings increased by 40 percent and housing units by 101 percent. The investments by these communities to accommodate NASA now had the opportunity to pay dividends. Estess was able to use up-to-the-minute figures to illustrate that NASA encouraged the communities to make these improvements, a point not lost on officials in the room. As a former center director of the Langley Research Center, Chairman Floyd Thompson had intimate knowledge of the need for community support of governmental activities.13

As the presentation went on, the board members asked more questions, but Estess confined his presentation to the allotted time, a little over an hour. At the conclusion, Thompson approached Estess and said, "You've obviously done a great job. We might just tell you we think it's the best presentation we've had out of the three places." Relieved, Estess headed for the door. Balch came up from his seat in the rear of the room and exchanged pleasant good-byes with the members, beaming as if he had given the presentation himself. Balch then slapped Estess on the back and said, "You did a good job." Balch had given Estess the supreme tribute, and that was all the young engineer ever wished to receive.14

Unbeknownst to Balch and Estess, they had a "friend" in Washington, one who had the ear of the Site Evaluation Board. Jerry Hlass, the Headquarters's manager responsible for construction of the MTF, was working on his master's thesis at George Washington University. His study, "Search For A Role For A Large Government Facility," addressed the question of "what to do about [the] MTF." Hlass, like many others within NASA, knew the Space Shuttle program was the Agency's best chance at a long-range propulsion program. He also knew the site selection process was under way to perform the sea-level testing of the SSME, with a possible adjunct program to static-test a cluster of engines that would power the shuttle orbiter. Although Hlass's thesis included alternative uses of the MTF, such as environmental endeavors, a major portion of his study dealt with his own research on why the MTF should be utilized for shuttle engine testing.15

[192] In his usual thorough and logical manner, Hlass went to great lengths to compare the three test sites under consideration--the Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC), the MTF, and the Edwards Air Force Base (EAFB). He detailed facilities, costs, and community support, and included comparison charts with matrix diagrams showing pros and cons of the test sites. One chart showed the MTF with nine "value points," while the MSFC and the EAFB had only four points each. Hlass's study concluded that the MTF was the best and most economical place to conduct tests of shuttle engines. With knowledge of Hlass's background, steeped in NASA facilities at the MTF and elsewhere, Hlass's Headquarters's colleagues on the board asked for his advice during the selection process. Ultimately, Hlass was named to head the construction program for Space Shuttle facilities nationwide.16

On 1 March 1971, the Board announced that the MTF was selected for the "sea-level testing of the rocket engines to power the Space Shuttle." The announcement said that some 1,200 development and acceptance tests, beginning in 1973 and continuing through 1979, would be done at the MTF. After 1979, an estimated 45-50 sustaining engineering tests per year would be conducted on the engines. The announcement was obviously good news, as the Space Shuttle program had a longevity not bounded by a particular mission, such as Project Apollo. The fact that the shuttle was reusable provided a plus for those who remembered the "throw-away" aspects of the big Saturn V rocket stages, which fell into the oceans after they were spent.17

The MTF was now assured of a future in propulsion testing for decades, if President Nixon and the Congress agreed with the NASA planners who were proposing the Space Shuttle as the next logical step after Project Apollo. Another year would pass before the Nixon Administration made a firm decision for NASA to go ahead with the Space Shuttle. In retrospect, it is clear that Nixon's support of the shuttle program was directly connected to his need for support by powerful southern congressional leaders. Their support was needed for obtaining the critical funding for tens of thousands of jobs connected to Nixon's other programs in the Congress. After all, the shuttle program would mean some 7,000 jobs, many in the "Deep South" at the same locations that proved so politically rewarding during Project Apollo. The huge [193] aerospace complex in California, where the shuttle would be built, was also critical to the President's political plans. The MTF received additional help, in landing the Space Shuttle program from Senator Stennis and other members of the Congress. In fact, it was James E. Fletcher (1919-1991), NASA Administrator on 5 January 1972 when the green light was given to proceed with the shuttle program, who said Stennis's influence in Congress "saved the shuttle" from being scrapped by the budget-conscious Congress.18

Many believe the decision to bring the shuttle program to the MTF in 1971 was the most crucial single event in the center's entire history. According to Roy Estess, in the end, the MTF "...was the best place to do the job." Furthermore, Estess maintained that one could not "...discount politics; John C. Stennis cast a long shadow in those days."19


$10 Million Set-Aside

While awaiting the outcome of the Space Shuttle site- location decision, the eyes of NASA-MTF and the Headquarters managers turned to Capitol Hill, as debate over a $10 million set-aside fund heated up. Senator Ellender of Louisiana and Senator Stennis introduced a bill in the Appropriations Committee in the summer of 1970 to "set aside" funds from NASA's appropriations for research and program management (R&PM). The funds would be used at the MTF and the Slidell Computer Complex preparing the facilities to accommodate environmental programs. Actual use of the funds was held up in 1971 when Nixon vetoed the entire Independent Offices and Department of Housing and Urban Development Act--the source for NASA's funding.20

[194] On 16 February 1971, George Low, acting NASA Administrator, wrote a memorandum outlining agency policy for using "wisely and expeditiously" the $10 million set-aside funds from fiscal year 1971 R&PM appropriations. The memorandum was distributed to Eberhard Rees, director of the MSFC in Huntsville, Alabama; Robert Gilruth, director of the Manned Spacecraft Center (MSC) in Houston, Texas; Robert Piland, director of the Earth Resources Laboratory, and Balch, manager of the MTF. The memorandum also went to key Headquarter's officials such as William "Bill" Lilly, Office of Manned Space Flight (OMSF) comptroller. The set-aside funding bill of Ellender and Stennis angered NASA managers nationwide, since the funds were taken from salaries and operating costs agencywide. Low's memorandum attempted to dictate use of the funds, saying that monies included in the MTF proposal represented increases in capital assets at the MTF, and, as such, fell outside congressional intent. In truth, the MTF did plan to use most of the funds to build specialized laboratories and facilities to accommodate and attract environmentally oriented agencies. Among the projects planned were an indoor hydroscience facility, outdoor flood plane, chemical laboratory, and giant fish tank. These projects were designed to help the MTF and Slidell Computer Complex prepare for environmental work.21

When the Low memorandum dictating use of the set-aside funds was received, an unknown recipient forwarded copies to Stennis and Ellender, who were angered at the actions of NASA Headquarters and, most especially, George Low. In fact, the senators were so upset they fired off an "official night letter" telegram on 20 February 1972 to Low. The telegram began, "To our dismay we have just learned that NASA decided to re-examine and to redesign several aspects of the plan for expenditure of the $10 million set-aside for movement of various environmental and space missions to MTF/Slidell." The message then went on in terse and brawny terms saying, "It would be a tragedy if, as a matter of policy, NASA were to place so severe a straitjacket on the funds as to forestall the very alterations by which the basic institutional and technical services of which the legislation speaks can be offered to the [195] [Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), United States Geopgraphical Survey (USGS), and NASA]." The telegram concluded by "urging" Low not to place an overly restrictive interpretation on "our" set-aside amendment.22

On 24 February, Willis Shapley wrote a memorandum to the associate administrator for the Office of Manned Space Flight at NASA Headquarters, the office that governed the MSFC and the MTF within the chain of command. The memorandum urged prompt initiation of the approvals needed for the proposed MTF environmental projects. Shapley directed that the requests be processed through channels as "expeditiously as possible." NASA seemed caught between trying to deal with the maverick MTF organization, within its traditional chain of command, and Senators Ellender and Stennis. NASA's urgent need to secure support in the Congress for the proposed Space Shuttle, and other programs that faced possible elimination or serious cuts, complicated their resolution of the "MTF problem."23

To make sure no further delays, restrictions, or misinterpretations of their legislation occurred, Ellender and Stennis added "clarifying language" in the set-aside appropriations bill to remove any question regarding NASA's authority to accomplish the projects needed at the MTF. In addition to the new language, the Senators also extended the time constrictions during which the funds could be obligated for the facility to 30 September 1971.24


Recycling The Missile Base

Once the set-aside controversy was settled, Balch and the MTF engineers used their skills to help the new research scientists build the promised laboratories. The engineers and scientists formed an interesting team. The government agency scientists knew the kinds of laboratories they needed, but had no idea how to build them. On the other hand, the NASA engineers had proven themselves by building the unique test facilities in the Mississippi [196] swamp, but had little knowledge of the environmental sciences. Working together, both scientists and engineers created a hydraulics laboratory in a warehouse; a remote sensing fisheries impoundment facility in the S-II vertical checkout building; a marine, atmospheric, and environmental laboratory in the Component Test Facility building; and an outdoor flow basin and flood plain simulation facility from the spill-off water system of an S-II test stand.25

The new work for the idle MTF engineers was welcomed by many, but some found the relationship with their strange new science partners not as satisfying as testing the giant Saturn rockets. Doug McLauglin, North American Rockwell test engineer, found himself building boat docks for use by Mississippi State University and Louisiana State University personnel to perform ecological studies along the Pearl River. Boyce Mix, assistant manager for the S-IC test program, studied environmental science and made trips to the Atchafalaya Swamp, Louisiana, to tend ground-truth data platforms. Ted LaMunyon stayed busy going on "acquisition trips" around the country, which included going to the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) for pipe and railroad tracks and the University of Miami for a surplus boat that was traded for a much-needed satellite receiving dish.26

Several test engineers found employment with the new onsite scientific agencies, contributing their firsthand knowledge of the MTF and expertise in engineering. Robert Piland appointed Wayne Mooneyhan as deputy of the new Earth Resources Laboratory and Alex Peresich joined the laboratory's staff. Glade Woods and Walt Gandy joined the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). O.J. Howe, General Electric (GE) engineer, went to work for the National Data Buoy Program office. Many other skilled and talented GE contractor personnel assisted the new agencies.27

[197] In a major effort to make the new tenants, or "resident agencies," welcome and to get them acclimated as soon as possible, Balch offered his NASA personnel's expertise to assist the newcomers. He formed a Project Liaison Group and placed his Facilities Office Chief, A.J. "Jack" Rogers, Jr., in charge. Balch also offered the resident agencies assistance in contracts, legal, and public affairs, and financial management services. The majority of the time, the MTF manager gave freely of his resources. He kept his hands out of the "programmatic" pursuits of the agencies; however, Balch did exercise his landlord rights when issues involved the entire facility.28

On numerous occasions, Balch called the heads of the agencies to the main conference room to host and impress a "prospective" newcomer. Balch would proudly go around the table introducing the agency heads, calling out their titles, "This is Dr. Han Tai, director of the [onsite EPA] office...and this is Mr. Stevenson, director of the National Marine Fisheries Laboratory." If Balch did not think a title was sufficient to impress a guest, he embellished it. He was well known for conferring advanced degrees on people "on the spot." He did not think twice about escorting a "VIP" visitor into the laboratories or offices of the agency chiefs to show off the new MTF environmental cooperative. When he was tied up, Balch delegated the task to people in his organization that he believed had good technical knowledge, but more importantly, had "social graces" and were able to impress and dazzle visitors with their personality. When they were escorting visitors, Balch admonished his lieutenants to "just flash the office, step into the door, wave your arms, and move on. Don't let them see inactivity or question you about details. Make them believe there is a lot of diverse and important work going on."29

In truth there was a lot of work going on, as the transition from "a single-mission, space-dedicated, production-type installation into one having many missions of research, development, and operations in both space and environmental activity" accelerated at the MTF. In fact, Balch proudly boasted to Mississippi Governor John Bell Williams in June 1971 that the "new MTF" concept was still in an experimental phase, but its validity was being "demonstrated each day." In Balch's battle cry for "full utilization," he called on the [198] Governor to join him in developing the "new MTF" by stressing that "...the opportunity exists now for the development of federal-state communication in the very complex world of environmental management to a degree not previously possible."30

At the time Balch was urging Governor Williams to actively join the MTF effort, divisions of the following agencies were already onsite or were firmly committed to join the MTF consortium. These included the Department of Interior's USGS and the Earth Resources Observation Systems (EROS) regional office; the Department of Commerce's NOAA National Data Buoy Program Office, Remote Sensing Engineering Development Office, the Experimental Field Test and Integration Center, and the National Oceanographic Instrumentation Center.31

Also committed to the MTF consortium were the EPA's National Pesticide Monitoring Laboratory, National Pesticide Chemical Regulation Laboratory, and Water Quality Laboratory for the Lower Mississippi River Basin; NASA's Earth Resources Experimental Laboratory, MTF (host agency), Manned Spacecraft Center, and the MSFC; the Department of the Army's Munitions Command's Hazards Evaluation Office; and Mississippi State University and Louisiana State University (both under contract or grant).32

Although the new agencies began sending advance personnel to the MTF, the total population of the site, which was more than 6,000 in the summer of 1965, had dropped to slightly more than 900. Most testing personnel went to work for the site support contractors or the new agencies, or they sought employment in the local communities. Jobs in the aerospace industry were scarce everywhere because of the nationwide cutbacks occurring in the NASA program. Many rocket engineers were unable to find jobs when they presented their specialty experiences and credentials obtained while testing rockets at the MTF.33


[199] Steel City

With the transition from rocket testing to space and environmental research under way, Balch and his staff continued searching for additional resident agencies. In at least one instance, however, their "fishing expeditions" for new business hooked an unwelcome tenant. In the spring of 1971, the U.S. Army was engaged in a 12-year ammunition production modernization program. The classified program was code-named "Steel City." Senator Stennis, as chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, heard about the Army program and he learned that the Army plans called for a large ammunition manufacturing complex.34

Stennis suggested the Army consider locating at Camp Shelby, an Army installation south of Hattiesburg, Mississippi - about 60 miles north of the MTF. However, the Army Corps of Engineers, already familiar with the MTF, advised the Army site selection personnel to look at the NASA installation. On 16 April 1971, when the Army advance team was escorted to the MTF by the Corps of Engineers, a long "love-hate" relationship began between NASA, Senator Stennis, and the U.S. Army ammunition plant.35

With the new space and environmental concept beginning to flourish at the MTF, Balch felt his "marketeers" could now be "selective" in their search. He wanted agencies that were compatible and would not overwhelm the smaller agencies with size or federal funding. The Army's Steel City complex, with its main mission manufacture of a modern version of the 155-millimeter artillery round, was clearly not compatible with organizations trying to save the planet from environmental pollution and those conducting science "for the benefit of mankind."36

The Army envisioned the huge manufacturing complex costs at $500 million, with employment of approximately 1,200 people, a mammoth undertaking that Balch thought could easily "overwhelm" the work of the smaller onsite MTF agencies. Privately, Balch feared that once Stennis landed the big Army plant for the MTF, the Senator would lose interest in...



Aerial view of the Mississippi Army Ammunition Plant (MSAAP) at the National Space Technology Laboratories (NSTL) just prior to the plant's dedication on 31 March 1983. (SSC-88-350-134).

Aerial view of the Mississippi Army Ammunition Plant (MSAAP) at the National Space Technology Laboratories (NSTL) just prior to the plant's dedication on 31 March 1983. (SSC-88-350-134).


...supporting the MTF space and environmental concept. Balch also felt the plant would bring "blue collar" jobs, which would not be a good mix with the advanced-degree scientists working for the smaller onsite agencies.37

The Army found the MTF location attractive, especially since the northern half (7,000 acres) of the "fee" area was available. The Army would have preferred to "swallow up" the MTF activities and even said the SSME testing program could "possibly" be moved to Merritt Island, Florida. NASA, however, had already made its decision to test the SSMEs at the MTF. The Army wanted to locate its plant at the MTF to obtain Stennis's blessings and, in doing so, secure necessary funding from the Senate Armed Services Committee - chaired by Stennis.38

[201] Balch, focusing his energies on putting his own NASA house in order, persuaded Dr. George Constan, former manager of the Michoud Assembly Facility, to help him in a number of managerial tasks. Constan, serving as liaison to the Army and NASA Headquarters, handled the details concerning the location of the huge munitions facility. Balch also appointed Doug Howard to serve as "project officer" to follow the project with Constan.39


Managing The Change

As the MTF environmental complex materialized, Balch made his own organization more compatible with the multi-agency concept. Although his personnel often made light of Balch's many organizational changes, adjustments were necessary for meeting the demands placed on NASA by the many diverse tenants.40

One of the first adjustments was changing the contractual nature of the installation. During the rocket-testing years, GE was the only MTF support contractor, handling both technical support and site maintenance chores. Balch and members of his staff thought the $64 million GE contract during the Project Apollo was too big and expensive for the new multi-agency arrangement. They felt that multiple contractors might be more attentive to the new agencies.41

Since Balch was happy with the superior technical support available from GE, he decided to just split the GE contract into two parts. Now there would be a general site maintenance contractor and a technical support contractor to assist NASA and the new agencies. The two contracts were intended to minimize GE's responsibilities, and, therefore, allow for certain needs to be met by means of "specific task" contracts. The site maintenance (institutional) contractor was "site operator," supporting facility maintenance and plant engineering. The MSFC encouraged the MTF to make these changes, since they agreed with the overall concept. In many instances, Balch favored the sophisticated contractors over his own [202] civil service staff, as the reorganization kept an experienced, technical agency available for use, in lieu of the traditional civil servants.42

Global Associates of Oakland, California, was awarded the Operating Services (site maintenance) contract and began working at the MTF on 12 July 1971. GE went to work under its new "Technical Support Services" contract on 1 August 1971. The GE contract included engineering services, data support test and instrumentation, and scientific laboratory support. Both contractors were required to be responsible to the resident agencies, as well as NASA.43

During this period of readjustment, the MSFC elevated the MTF's position, giving Balch a direct line to the MSFC director and changing Balch's title from manager to "director." This move was done partially because the MSFC felt the MTF needed the new status designation to better cope with its new concept; also, the MSFC acted at the insistence of Senator Stennis, who wrote to NASA complaining that the "MTF was inhibited to function properly" because of "layers of bureaucracy." MSFC Director Eberhard Rees, wrote to NASA Administrator Fletcher, recommending the change in status and asking Fletcher to call on other federal agencies to join the MTF consortium. Apparently Rees, Balch's former MSFC boss and his friend, recognized the political, as well as the scientific possibilities of the growing complex. Rees also a fair idea that the SSME testing would occur at the MTF in the not-too-distant future. Prior to 11 May 1972 and the approval of the MTF's new charter, Balch would communicate with the MSFC Industrial Operations office on most issues, but some were reserved for direct communication with the MSFC director.44

With the new charter, Balch styled the space and environmental complex to interact with the resident agencies and operate with its own "project office," which he called Applications Engineering (AE). He also formed an "Installations Operations" office. Balch asked William L. "Bill" Grafton, a respected engineer, to help organize the AE project office, and Waldo Dearing, Balch's chief administrator, to help organize the Installation Operations Office.45

[203] Balch wanted his onsite NASA organization to be the focal point of MTF interaction with all federal and state agencies resident at the MTF and the Slidell Computer Complex. He also felt that the AE office should provide the channel by which space technology could be applied to the work of the resident agencies. He deeply felt that the MTF could be of service to NASA and the nation by demonstrating to "the world" the uses and importance of space technology. By having the AE office actively operating in a "marketplace" of science, Balch thought a synergism would take place and research could cross bureaucratic, governmental, and disciplinary lines.46

Indeed, the AE mission was to (1) engage in projects to demonstrate space applications of NASA technology; (2) manage accomplishment of selected tenant-assigned projects and experiments; and (3) seek appropriate arrangements with other NASA centers to involve NASA-wide experience at the MTF. Balch felt so strongly about the AE mission that he assigned Henry Auter to serve as AE director and several of his best engineers and NASA "university-educated" scientists to work in the office. As a result, AE was divided into three elements: Technology Transfer and Utilization, headed by Roy Estess; Technology Applications, led by Larry Hopkins; and the Environmental Systems Development Team, directed by Dr. William "Billy" Wolverton. Others assigned to AE were Ken Daughtrey and John Ivey; Robert "Bobby" Hegwood; Robert "Bobby" Junkin; Lelyn Nybo; Rebecca "Becky" McDonald; and William "Bill" Montgomery.47

An innovative management tool devised by the Balch team was the MTF method of recovering costs incurred by the resident agencies. NASA Headquarters was concerned about the "accounting" process from the very beginning. Although all federal agencies, and even state agencies to some extent, were part of the same federal system, congressional funding, in addition to national and state laws, applied to the accountability of public funds used at the MTF. The managers of the new onsite agencies were promised that their tenancy at the MTF would "save money," and they could put most of their funding into scientific programs and not into expensive facility operations.48

[204] Balch and his financial managers spent many hours determining a fair and equitable system for recovering and sharing the costs of exploring science. The system they devised charged resident agencies for the additive costs associated with their tenancy and their particular type of work. With this system, agencies were only charged for the added costs that NASA would not have incurred as the sole MTF occupant. With relatively small-sized agencies participating, these charges seemed appropriate for the tennants, as well as NASA. As the number and size of the agencies grew, the charge system came under fire from other agencies, NASA Headquarters, and even a congressional investigative committee.49


The Restless Warrior

One of Balch's personality quirks did not allow him to ever let business matters "settle down" for long. One might argue, however, that the creation of the multi-agency governmental complex in remote Hancock County in southwest Mississippi required the continuous and arduous work of Balch. After all, the experiment was undertaken far from any technological complex, such as the Research Triangle Park in North Carolina.50

Balch cultivated yet another political ally, Senator John L. McClellan, chairman of the Committee of Governmental Operations and a ranking member of the Appropriations and Judiciary Committees. Arkansas was part of the MTF federal-state structure because of "shared interests" with Mississippi and Louisiana. Arkansas Governor Dale Bumpers took a special interest and introduced the programs to his political allies. McClellan extended an invitation to Balch to come to Washington and give testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee in reference to a bill allowing for an Interstate Environment Compact. Balch seized the opportunity, hoping that exposure before the senate committee would further the cause of the MTF. Arkansas was part of the MF federal-state structure because of "shared interests" with Mississippi and Louisiana. Arkansas Governor Dale Bumpers took a special interest and introduced the programs to his political allies.51

[205] Balch took annual leave on 21 April 1971, the day of the senate committee meeting, so the personal views he would be expressing could not be questioned by his NASA bosses. He even told the committee he was testifying as a "private citizen," surprising McClellan and other committee members, who thought he was there as a government representative. Balch used a chalkboard, a Balch presentation trademark, to illustrate his points. McClellan warned Balch, in a jovial way, that his marks on the board might not be recorded properly for the record.52

Balch went on with his presentation to the committee, using the chalkboard just as he had many times in his own office. He pointed out the need to monitor and inventory the environment, and he alerted the senators to the problems government agencies addressing these environmental matters had in "communicating" with each other. He also used the opportunity to explain to the congressional panel how well the various agencies at the MTF worked together in sharing information. He emphasized the point that the same system of cooperation could be applied in other parts of the country, covering the nation with installations that could exchange useful information. Balch stressed that environmental information needed to be developed in an atmosphere where an "alderman in Pass Christian, Mississippi," could use data produced from technology developed by federal and state agencies to make decisions in his own hometown. The most important aspect of his appearance before the Judiciary Committee came from the realization of his critics that he would take his case to the highest places in the land.53

After the Washington presentation, Balch brought in state officials from Arkansas as part of what became a tri-state consortium for environmental research. He gained assistance from a new political supporter, U.S. Representative Trent Lott, a Republican elected to the House of Representatives to fill a vacancy left by the retirement of Bill Colmer in 1972. Lott was no stranger to the MTF, becoming familiar with it as Colmer's administrative assistant. Lott had personal friendships with a number of the federal agency heads and employees, and he shared "ownership" status of the MTF since his hometown was on the Mississippi Gulf Coast in Pascagoula.54


[206] Space Shuttle Approved

The slowly developing space-environmental structure at the MTF was bolstered when President Nixon announced his plans to go ahead with a $5.5 billion program to develop the Space Shuttle. Although the January 1972 announcement was made by Nixon at his Western White House in California, a state with a dense concentration of aerospace industries, the benefits were strongly felt at the NASA test site in Mississippi where the new Space Shuttle engines were scheduled to be static-fired. NASA had already made an internal decision in March 1970 to perform the shuttle testing at the MTF. Nixon's decision also meant that the giant external Space Shuttle fuel tanks could be manufactured at the Michoud Assembly Facility (MAF) in New Orleans, a super economic boost for the Gulf Coast area.55

As plans for the new Space Shuttle unfolded, NASA Administrator Fletcher visited the MTF in March of 1972, met with Balch, and commented on the MTF's future as a shuttle test site and on the importance of the environmental research under way. In a speech at Stennis International Airport in Hancock County, Fletcher predicted that shuttle testing would only bring in about 200 new jobs, a smaller number than the previous projections of approximately 800-1,000 jobs. He said space would not be "de-emphasized" by NASA, but he observed that a main purpose of the MTF would be to explore the Earth's resources for new uses by man.56

Less than a month following Fletcher's March visit, NASA Headquarters announced on 20 April 1972 that the Space Shuttle would be powered by solid rocket motors, as well as liquid-fueled engines. The decision to use both motors and engines meant that the boost phase of the shuttle would be propelled by simultaneous operation of its solid propellant motor and the high-pressure, liquid-oxygen and liquid-hydrogen main engines attached to the orbiter craft. Since NASA's internal selection of the MTF for testing the main engines, the Space Shuttle's engine configuration definition ensured a good piece of the reusable spacecraft [207] action for the Mississippi site and left the door open for possible manufacture and test of the solid rocket motors. NASA also announced its decision to place program management with the MSFC, giving them responsibility for development, production, and delivery of the main engines, solid rocket motors, and external tanks.57

With Balch's main interest in environmental and space application programs, the MSFC set up a small Space Shuttle resident office at the MTF to manage the test program, with no protest from the MTF director. Balch was content to have the program managed by the Shuttle Engine Program Office in Hunstsville, Alabama, with the MFT playing a lesser, but important, test support role. Robert "Bob" Bush, who successfully managed the S-II test program during the 1960s, was named the MTF test program resident manager. Boyce Mix, who served as assistant S-IC manager during the Saturn V testing, was Bush's deputy. Joining Bush and Mix were Ted LaMunyon, Bill Spradlin, Jim Taylor, and Doug Howard. The office officially began operations on 17 July 1972.58

An important part of the MTF facility maintenance support contract with Global Associates was a special Space Shuttle support element headed by Doug McLaughlin, formerly in charge of the North American Rockwell group at the MTF. Other experienced Saturn test program engineers on McLaughlin's staff were Patrick "Pat" Mooney, J.S. "Steve" Dick, and David Caldarelli. The Global organization responded directly to Bush and the MSFC resident office and was responsible for activation, maintenance, and test support operations. The group received high marks for its performance from the MTF management organization, as well as from the MSFC resident office.59

Two "different worlds" existed at the MTF when the shuttle program began in the early 1970s. Colorful signs went up at the gates to the test complex that read "NASA's George C. Marshall Space Flight Center, Shuttle Test [208] Complex." The engineers in the shuttle complex were overjoyed to be back in the business of testing rockets. The scientists, with the NASA-Manned Spacecraft Center, ERL, and other resident agencies, meanwhile, were busily engaged in innovative research in space applications and environmental research. The facility was growing again with "shuttle and science" producing an energy-charged atmosphere of excitement.60


Synergism At Work

After years of waging an unrelenting campaign to establish a "scientific Utopia," Jackson Balch's impossible dream became a reality. By the end of 1972, a number of federal and state agencies were at the MTF, pooling their talents and resources on programs of mutual interest. Although relatively small in employee numbers, the resident offices at the MTF were national and regional in scope, and most were engaged in scientific research to study and protect the environment, a prominent issue on the nation's agenda.61

By spring 1973, in addition to NASA, 16 federal and state agencies and universities were in residence at the MTF. They represented the Department of Commerce (DOC), the Department of Defense (DoD), the EPA, the Department of the Interior (DOI), State of Mississippi, Louisiana State University, and Mississippi State University. These cabinet-level agencies and state institutions had located elements at the MTF and were using satellite data, airborne sensors, automated ocean buoys, laboratory instruments, computers, and other scientific devices especially designed and built at the Mississippi facility to study their space-, ocean-, and Earth-oriented projects.62

As Balch predicted, during his struggle to bring the varied elements to the MTF, both chiefs and employees spent many hours discussing the possibilities [209] of joint projects to help each other in their research endeavors. Representatives of NOAA, the State of Louisiana, Mississippi State University, EPA, Department of the Interior, and NASA regularly gathered after work to compare notes. Often from these informal exchanges came joint programs sharing expertise and technologies.63

One of the many cooperative investigations by the MTF space-environmental consortium was the Skylab Oceanic Gamefish Project carried out by NASA and NOAA in August 1973. The purpose of the oceanographic fact-finding mission was to relate stocks of sport fish, such as marlin and sailfish, to ocean features detected by advanced sensors carried aboard orbiting satellites and specially equipped aircraft. NASA's ERL and NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service Engineering Laboratory, both located at the MTF, collaborated on the highly visible project. Skylab was America's first space station, using a spent S-IVB stage as a laboratory housing the astronauts and approximately 50 experiments. An advanced multi-spectral scanner onboard the Skylab conducted a number of Earth resources experiments in agriculture, oceanography, hydrology, geology, and geography. William "Bill" Stephenson, head of the NOAA fisheries laboratory, was principal investigator for the project. The mission was launched by a Saturn V rocket using S-IC and S-II boosters static-fired at the MTF. For the first time, the MTF had a role in a spaceborne mission.64

The project was conducted in the northeastern Gulf of Mexico with NASA and NOAA directing over 100 volunteer charter fishing boats. "Sea truth" data were gathered by the boats as the big Skylab, with its sophisticated Earth resources sensor, recorded data as it flew over its Gulf of Mexico target. The Skylab measurements were complemented by data from the NOAA-2 satellite, two NASA aircraft with sensors - flying at altitudes of 10,000 and 20,000 feet, and nine instrumented research vessels operating in the Gulf. The Skylab Oceanic Gamefish Project demonstrated how elements of the federal government could work with private entities such as charter boat fishermen to gain useful scientific information for the "user" community. Studies [210] conducted afterward showed that gamefish could be tracked using combined space and ocean data.65

Many other projects combining the use of satellites, aircraft, and earth-based data were conducted by the MTF agencies. ERL worked with the states of Louisiana and Mississippi, local universities, and, in some cases, local communities conducting research investigations in the application of remote sensing to resource management. The ERL also developed techniques and sensors that gained national and international attention in the field of remote sensing. The "Lab," as the organization was referred to at the MTF, also cooperated with the DOI Earth Resources Observation System (EROS) office at the MTF. The EROS office was directed by Gary North, a young manager who became a favorite of Jackson Balch. Robert Piland, having organized the ERL, returned to Texas, turning the reins of the laboratory over to Wayne Mooneyhan. The National Park Service found satellite-derived information invaluable in its inventory programs of the national parks and its study of the stresses people inflict on park ecosystems. Dr. Garrett Smathers, director of the Park Service's element at the MTF, had as many as 33 onsite scientists. The National Weather Bureau's Lower Mississippi River Forecast Center, directed by the respected Clarence Vicroy, settled in the Slidell Computer Complex, using computerized digital simulation models and satellite and aircraft data to better predict flooding.66

Some agencies at the MTF pursued projects that daily affected people and institutions around the nation. The EPA's Pesticide Monitoring Laboratory analyzed soils, agricultural crops, and wildlife samples from all 50 states. The laboratory also developed new techniques using aerial and satellite observed data in its program. EPA Laboratory Director Dr. Han Tai was internationally known for his creative work in the field. The NOAA Data Buoy Program Office developed and deployed instrumented buoys to measure oceanographic and meteorologic parameters in the Gulf of Mexico and along the Atlantic and Pacific coastlines. These buoys telemetered data back to the mainland via communications satellites. Captain Peter Morrill, Data Buoy's first director at the MTF, and a later director, James "Jim" Winchester, were pioneers in the development of the automated buoys, or "ocean platforms," that provided early [211] warning predictions for hurricanes, storms, and other adverse ocean weather.67

A strong thread of competence ran through the resident agencies during the 1970s. Many key personnel came to the MTF with NASA or with its contractors during the Project Apollo era and transferred their expertise to the new onsite agencies. This relationship was a binding agent when the various agencies began working together and sharing scientific knowledge in joint endeavors.68

The synergism that Balch predicted came about with the multi-agency arrangement. The combined knowledge gained was carried to all parts of the country. Indeed, knowledge gained by several agencies from their collective experience in space and environmental matters at the MTF spread around the world. A Russian scientist and member of the U.S.S.R. Academy of Sciences faculty, Yevgeniy Federof, brought his entire staff to the MTF to study the multi-agency center in action. The Russians were especially interested in Jim Winchester's data buoy project, as were scientists around the world. They recognized that the project was more adept at measuring parameters "thousands of miles in space," than just a few feet beneath the ocean's surface.69

Obviously pleased by the attention his multi-agency "brainchild" received in its heyday, Balch described the consortium's work in glowing terms. "We have something here that many university research centers do not have," Balch bragged. "We provide accountable services to our agencies so that they can go about their business, doing their own thing, tending to their own projects without interference." No one involved with the multi-agency concept at the MTF doubted Balch's sincere devotion to its success.70


[212] Solid Rocket Sidepaths

Although the MTF seemed to enjoy a charmed life during the early 1970s, not all proposals for future growth came to fruition. One such unsuccessful venture was an attempt to manufacture and test the Space Shuttle's solid rocket motors at the MAF and the MTF. The proposal was initiated by a major aerospace company, a number of legal business leaders, and the state of Mississippi. The Lockheed Propulsion Company of Redlands, California, was one of four companies entering bids on the project; the company specified it would perform the work at the MAF and the MTF. To make their bid even more attractive, Lockheed proposed to use local subcontractors for 60 percent of the work. Other companies bidding for the solid rocket motor contract were Thiokol Chemical Corporation, Brigham City, Utah; Aerojet Solid Propulsion Company, Sacramento, California; and United Technology Center, Sunnyvale, California.71

Even with the MTF's work population showing modest growth to 1,127 employees in October 1973, the workforce was far from its heady peaks of 6,000 employees during Project Apollo. When officials in the local communities heard of the upcoming solid rocket motor manufacture and test program, they pulled out all stops in an effort to support their political delegations and sway NASA to make a decision favoring the MTF. After all, the new solid rocket motor program would bring about 800 new jobs, divided equally between the MAF and the MTF. The program would mean a boost of over $400 million for the southwest Mississippi and southeast Louisiana economies.72

An impressive delegation of elected officials, business people, and community leaders from the Gulf Coast area organized a trip to Washington, D.C., in October 1973 to petition for "full utilization" of the MTF, Slidell Computer Complex, and MAF. The group was careful not to publicly pressure NASA or their congressional delegations into "choosing Lockheed" for the solid rocket motor contract. Mississippi Governor William "Bill" Waller and State Senator Martin Smith led the Mississippi group, while U.S. Representative Lyndy Boggs and Senator Russell Long led the Louisiana group. Others in the delegation included long-time NASA-MTF supporters [213] Leo Seal, Jr., and Roy Baxter, Jr. Senators Stennis and Eastland hosted the meeting in Eastland's office, with all five Mississippi representatives present. NASA Administrator James C. Fletcher and White House representatives were also in attendance. The contract was scheduled for awarding in November 1973.73

Even after the lobbying effort and a meeting in Eastland's office, Thiokol, not Lockheed, was awarded the solid rocket motor contract. Many members of the Gulf Coast community were instantly angered and urged Lockheed to protest the contract. After all, just a few years earlier NASA announced that the MTF was "the nation's foremost propulsion test site." Gulf Coast officials accused NASA of favoritism because Administrator Fletcher's home was in Utah. To add fuel to the fire, U.S. Senator Frank Moss, chairman of the Aeronautical and Space Sciences Committee, was also from Utah. Governor Waller led the angry verbal protest. State Senator Martin Smith, who worked hard in the lobbying effort before the contract was awarded, also issued strong public statements against NASA.74


The National Space Technology Laboratories

The reaction of the Mississippi-Louisiana congressional delegations was swift and angry, and, perhaps, helped set the stage for future favors for the MTF. The 17 congressmen asked for a "full, detailed report on why NASA selected Thiokol Chemical Corporation for the solid rocket motor contract." The award was not overturned, but the calls for "full utilization" of the MTF by Stennis, Lott, and other political and community leaders kept the pressure on NASA to continue to keep the Gulf Coast complex on the front burner.75

On another front opened by Balch in his campaign to expand the "new MTF," State Senator Martin Smith became closely associated with the move at the State capital to see the MTF reach its full potential. Smith introduced a resolution in March 1974 asking the Mississippi congressional delegation to seek [214] "fuller use" of the MTF. The decree requested that the name of the MTF be changed to the "Gulf Coast Space Technology Center," and requested that the MTF be "established as a separate and independent installation, reporting directly to NASA Headquarters." Quickly approved by both houses of the state legislature, the resolution was signed by Governor Waller and forwarded to Mississippi's congressional delegation. In Washington, it did help ignite the process that resulted in the MTF's name change and a new status for the installation.76

In Washington, Senator Stennis acted swiftly on the resolution from the Mississippi Legislature. He told NASA's Fletcher that he was disappointed the MTF had not reached "full utilization" and even questioned NASA's overall management ability because of "mishandling" of the MTF situation. Stennis wondered if NASA was inept in all of its business and in other programs under its management. In answer to Stennis's criticism, Fletcher commissioned a trusted, former associate administrator for Organization and Management, Richard McCurdy, to go to the MTF for an in-depth management survey. The "McCurdy Report," generally complimentary of the Balch management, made two recommendations to Fletcher: (1) publicly assure NASA's commitment to the MTF's long-term future, and (2) change its management relationship, allowing better access to NASA Headquarters. The report did not recommend the site's independent status, which Balch felt was needed. Instead, McCurdy suggested that the management chain of command be connected to the Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston, Texas, rather than to the MFSC.77

Fletcher informed Stennis on 24 April 1974 that he proposed to take immediate action to assist the MTF. The NASA Administrator went one step further when he told Stennis he was appointing a former astronaut, Russell L. "Rusty" Schweickard, director of User Affairs in the Applications Office at NASA Headquarters, where he would be charged to work closely with the MTF to develop full utilization.78

Determined to get immediate action, Stennis did not wait for the bureaucratic process of assistance to take effect at the MTF. Even before hearing of Fletcher's intentions, Stennis on 19 April 1974, in a stern letter to the NASA [215] Administrator said the "MTF should report directly to NASA Headquarters, as is the case with other NASA centers. For my part, I'll not be satisfied with less." The issue of "independence" from MSFC was apparently settled at this point. On 24 April, Fletcher proposed a meeting with Stennis to discuss "a more appropriate and descriptive designation for [the] MTF."79

With the long battle for a new and approved status for the MTF within the NASA family nearing an end, all that was left was the selection of an appropriate name. The name, the "National Space Technology Laboratories (NSTL)," was actually crafted in a joint effort between Balch and Stennis's staff members. Martin Smith's "Gulf Coast Space Technology Laboratories" played well to the Mississippi Legislature, but it lacked a broader appeal. Balch dreamed of the installation becoming "national" in scope. All parties concerned felt "space technology" must be used in the name because much of the work at the MTF was in the development and study of space technology. Finally, the new field installation was a "national laboratory," akin to the officially designated federal laboratories.80

On 14 June 1974, NASA announced the creation of the National Space Technology Laboratories (NSTL). Fletcher, obviously relieved to have the "MTF matter" finally over, said that the "NSTL has developed into an installation where highly qualified capabilities exist for conducting remote sensing, environmental, and related research through technology application. These capabilities have been enhanced in recent years by the location at [the] NSTL of research and technical activities of several other government agencies. The success of this expansion in relation to these mutually supporting activities has led me to decide that NSTL will have a permanent role in NASA's space applications."81

Senator Stennis predicted that "efforts to increase the use of [the] NSTL by NASA and other federal agencies [would] now be more successful than ever before." He also noted that the installation would become an equal partner with other NASA installations and report directly to NASA Headquarters. Stennis said, "I have long been convinced that it was a major obstacle to the facility's growth to work through the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama." At the [216] end of the exciting day of the "NSTL" announcement, Balch lit up his pipe, smiled, and quietly mused to a handful of his associates that "it will be kind of nice to be a member of the club."82


The Navy Consolidation Move

The NSTL "opened" for business as an independent field installation with a number of big items on its plate. Balch and his small NASA staff of 68 civil servants had to deal with all the administrative matters attached to becoming independent: chain of command channels, management relationships, legal, financial, personnel, public relations, and many other details. The role of "host agency" to the environmental family took on new meaning with new responsibilities. Activation of the Space Shuttle Test Complex was critical to NASA's space program. The Mississippi Army Ammunition Plant (MSAAP) was beginning to loom as a big ticket item for the Balch group to deal with. But none of the actions facing the new NSTL team was more consuming, or more important to the direction of the installation - which now numbered 1,370 people - than the coming of the Navy's oceanographic operations to the NSTL.83

The early seeds of the Navy move dated back to 17 June 1968, when three technical project people from the Naval oceanographic office visited the site. The visit was to evaluate the MTF's facilities and capabilities to handle large-scale scientific programming, and data analysis and reduction. The Navy was interested in using the Mississippi facilities for data reduction of information collected from numerous "points and sources." Many oceanographers became familiar with the MTF during Project BOMEX (1968 and 1969). Probably the most influential scientist was Dr. James Wakelin, Chairman of the President's Commission on Oceanography. Wakelin became a proponent of the MTF at the White House and in his associations with other Washington-based oceanographers. At the same time, NASA Administrator James Webb had [217] a sense that "oceanography," like space exploration in the early 1960s, would capture the interest of the scientific community. As a result, Webb instructed members of his Headquarters staff to assist in locating oceanographic programs at the MTF. Captain Robert Freitag of NASA Headquarters worked with Van King in early efforts to attract oceanographic programs.84

On an early "exploratory mission," Balch learned that Rear Admiral J. Edward Snyder, Jr., Oceanographer of the Navy, was looking for a. suitable location to consolidate the Navy's various oceanographic research and operations elements. By the early 1970s, these Navy elements were headquartered at Suitland, Maryland, and scattered about the Washington, D.C. area. As the second largest employer in the Washington area, with 38,000 employees, the Navy was looking for a place to relocate some of its people to comply with an overall decentralization move under way. When informed of the Navy's possible interest in relocating, Balch immediately became involved in attracting them to the growing MTF consortium.85

Balch was not interested in bringing the Navy's entire oceanographic program to Mississippi. The research group, later known as the Naval Ocean Research and Development Activity (NORDA), numbered approximately 400 highly trained and educated researchers. Balch hoped to lure about 80 "Navy headquarters and managers" personnel to his facility. He felt that approximately 800 members of the Naval oceanographic office, which was the operations element of the oceanographic program, could be housed at the MAF facility in nearby New Orleans. The Louisiana congressional delegation, especially Senator Long, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee; and Representative Herbert, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, were highly supportive of the idea. Stennis was informed of these developments and elated to learn of the Navy's interest in relocating to Mississippi. Such a move could help in reaching the goal of "full utilization." At that time, Stennis was chairman of the powerful Senate Armed Services Committee and known to have the ability to "make things happen" in Washington.86

[218] Stennis stuck to his policy of helping to bring those programs to Mississippi that were in the "best interest of the country." He stated that he would not exert any influence on the Navy move until the action was approved and cleared through the Navy and the DoD. Admiral Snyder concurred with Stennis's policy, he stated "There was no political pressure. Senator Stennis didn't even know we had chosen it [the NSTL] until we told him." On the other hand, one of Snyder's point people for the relocation, Captain James Ayers, Commander of the Naval Oceanographic Office, said "considerable" congressional pressure existed for moving his agency's operation to the NSTL and the MAF. "Senator Stennis should get credit for lighting the fire," Ayers noted. Navy Secretary J. William Middendorf, II, said he would not make a decision on the move "based on politics"; instead, he wanted to study the financial aspects of the move.87

Snyder quietly told associates that the NSTL was by far the best possible place in the country to relocate the oceanographic offices. "I could not in my wildest dreams find a place like [the] NSTL," he said. "The site is absolutely perfect." Snyder was especially pleased with the 125,442 acre acoustic-buffer zone that would form a protective barrier for oceanographic programs critical to national defense. "Without the buffer zone," Snyder said, "we would not be interested."88

Admiral Snyder and Johnnie Stephens, an assistant, visited the NSTL 21-22 May 1974 for a 2-day planning session with Balch. At that time, the strategy was for the Navy to locate research and development at the NSTL and operations personnel at the MAF. Balch favored this plan, which obviously met with the approval of Senators Long and Hebert of Louisiana, as well as Senators Stennis and Lott of Mississippi.89

The first "official" announcement that the move was being considered was on 14 November 1974, when Lieutenant Commander Sandra Snodderly, Navy public affairs officer, said "a possible move of the office has been under study for five years." She noted that several sites were under consideration and that a decision would not be made until early 1975. Captain Ayres confirmed that the Navy was considering a move of its oceanographic elements [219] to the NSTL and the MAF. Although hopes were high in the Gulf Coast communities and in New Orleans, a long and tedious battle erupted between the Mississippi-Louisiana and Maryland political and community factions. The Navy relocation battle finally wound up with two cases in federal court, a General Accounting Office investigation, and congressional hearings. In fact, the federal court cases were still not settled until long after the Navy relocated in the summer of 1975.90

The Gulf Coast communities played an important role by helping acquaint Washington decision makers and the 1,200 Navy oceanographic employees with the positive aspects of the area. Stennis, knowing how important community support was to any enterprise, privately asked George Schloegel, vice-president in charge of marketing for Hancock Bank, to assist the Navy in making its move. Schloegel made many contributions to the Gulf Coast through the Jaycees and other community-oriented organizations. At that time, Schloegel was president of the Gulfport School Board. He had worked closely with his boss, Leo Seal, Jr., as a strong advocate of the NSTL and other programs promoting progress on the Gulf Coast. Admiral Snyder, who was convinced that the NSTL was the best place in the country to consolidate the Navy's oceanographic program, met with Schloegel and worked closely with him and other Gulf Coast leaders for over a year during the relocation period. During the early months of planning for the possible move, the Slidell Chamber of Commerce also worked hard to help bring about the Navy relocation.91


A Shuttle Engine Ignites

The Navy move almost overshadowed an important milestone at the NSTL. The first ignition test of an SSME occurred without fanfare. Just 3 days after Jackson Balch announced he was retiring on 24 June 1975, the new Rocketdyne test team counted the system down and ignited the engine. Although the test lasted no more than 1 second and was described as just a "sneeze," the short firing signalled a return to propulsion testing after 4 years and 7 months. The reactivated Space Shuttle Test Complex was now ready [220] to begin its long and difficult task of testing the 470,000-pound-thrust SSME engines as part of their development for use on the new reusable space vehicle.92

The first test, commonly referred to as a "hot test," was conducted by the Rocketdyne Division of Rockwell International Corporation, under the auspices of Bob Bush's NASA-MSFC resident office at the NSTL. In addition to Bush, Boyce Mix, Ted LaMunyon, and Bill Spradlin made up the NASA "official" crew. Doug Howard and Jim Taylor were detailed to the onsite MSFC office from the Balch organization. The NASA-MSFC onsite team was joined later by David "Dave" Martin and Dianne Ezell. Rocketdyne had sent 24 experienced test engineers in December 1974 from the West Coast to augment its test team. Paul N. Fuller, a veteran rocket test manager, headed the capable Rocketdyne team as Resident Manager. Fuller began his career in rocket testing with the Redstone rocket program in 1953. Rocketdyne also shored up its experienced personnel by transferring Roscoe Nicholson, member of the Apollo/Soyuz launch vehicle team, from the KSC back to Mississippi. As head of Test Operations, Nicholson called on several of his former Saturn V colleagues. One of the "key guys" answering Nicholson's call was Leland "Lee" English, an experienced test engineer who became a stalwart for Rocketdyne.93

Engineers gained confidence for the "hot test" earlier in the month with a successful "fuel blow-down" on 3 June. In that test, the countdown marked one of a series of preliminary tests for the SSME prior to a main-stage testing planned later in the summer of 1975. The blow-down test involved a checking of the large, liquid-hydrogen engine's pumps and other components using the engine's actual propellants. The test was preceded by another liquid test using liquid nitrogen. In addition, a Countdown Demonstration Test (CDT), an important readiness check where crews complete all objectives except ignition, was accomplished before the first hot-testing was done. The SSME test program went on from its humble beginning in 1975 to become one of the premier rocket test...



A remote camera captures a close-up view of a Space Shuttle Main Engine during a static test-firing at the John C. Stennis Space Center. (SSC-81-201-1).

A remote camera captures a close-up view of a Space Shuttle Main Engine during a static test-firing at the John C. Stennis Space Center. (SSC-81-201-1).


[222] ...programs in history. Hundreds of rocket tests were conducted, breaking every record previously set in the propulsion business. In fact, the work of the SSME test crews was largely responsible for the center becoming known later as NASA's "center of excellence" for propulsion testing.94


Balch Era Ends

Jackson Balch ended his decade of leadership on 31 July 1975 during a period of action and change similar to the supercharged days of activation when he arrived in May 1965. The SSME program had begun, bringing the NSTL back into the rocket-testing business. The space and environmental consortium also continued to grow with additional agencies, and plans for the giant munitions complex were nearly completed. But, even more noteworthy to the future history of the installation, Balch's idea to bring part of the Navy's oceanographic element to the NSTL swiftly blossomed into a governmental upheaval of enormous proportions, far greater than even the "impossible dreamer" (Balch) imagined.95

Balch first took over when the old MTF was suffering from management disarray. His daring and innovative management techniques saved the struggling MSFC stepchild during a near-death "moment of despair" in February 1970 when NASA Headquarters threatened to shut the facility down. When a weary Jackson Balch announced his retirement, the future of the space and environmental facility he had envisioned was ensured.96

The "emotionally" exhausted Balch had split with Admiral Snyder on the Navy relocation. When the two brilliant leaders first met, they were of one accord on the "partial" Navy move to the Mississippi facility. But, when Snyder found that he had support for locating the entire oceanographic complex at the NSTL, he went for the whole deal. Balch feared the total naval contingency would "overpower" his multi-agency space and environmental concept. "The military and the others [civilian agencies] don't mix," he said. Balch only wanted the research oceanographers to "share" in the consortium. Snyder, with much stronger political and governmental support, wanted complete consolidation of his oceanographic center. Balch contended, however, that the Navy move was not the reason for his retirement. For those who knew him personally, this [223] dedicated man had, in reality, given his all-spiritually, mentally, and physically-to the premise of "full utilization" for the NASA site in Mississippi.97



1. James R. Hansen, Spaceflight Revolution, NASA Langley Research Center From Sputnik To Apollo, NASA SP-4308, (Washington, 1995), pp. 429-431; Jackson M. Balch, Memorandum For The Record, "Prepare Downmoding Plan," 13 August 1970; Maria Watson, "Balch Recalls Progress At Hancock Test Facility Site," The (Biloxi/Gulfport, MS) Daily Herald (henceforth referred to as The Daily Herald), 24 July 1975.

2. Roy Estess, interview by Henry C. Dethloff, SSC, Mississippi Oral History Program, University of Southern Mississippi, vol. 444, 1991, p. 7, SSCHRC; NASA George C. Marshall Space Flight Center, America's Space Transportation System, "The Shuttle Era," and "The Space Shuttle Main Engine" (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office 740-049/144 Region No. 4, 1977), Stennis Space Center Historical Records Collection, Stennis Space Center, MS (henceforth referred to as SSCHRC); John Seiley, interview by Johnny Mann and Rex Cooksey, video history, October 1991, SSCHRC.

3. "MTF-Reports Of Its Death Grossly Exaggerated," The Daily Herald, 20 August 1972; "Stennis Pledges Greater Utilization For MTF," The (Jackson, MS) Clarion-Ledger (henceforth referred to as The Clarion-Ledger) 20 February 1974; "Balch Leaving NASA, Auter Assumes Post," The Daily Herald, 21 July 1975; Kenneth Reich, "Promise Dies-Space Cutback: Instant Poverty For Boom Town," The Los Angeles Times, 22 April 1970; John C. Stennis to Bryce Harlow, 4 February 1970, SSCHRC.

4. Estess, interview by Dethloff.

5. Estess, interview by Mack Herring, SSC, 7 July 1995, tape in SSCHRC.

6. Estess, interview by Dethloff; NASA-SSC Public Affairs Office, "Roy Estess Biography," 1995, SSCHRC; Roger E. Bilstein, Stages To Saturn, A Technological History Of The Apollo/Saturn Launch Vehicles, NASA SP-4206 (Washington, 1980), pp. 222-233.

7. Estess, interview by Dethloff.

8. Ibid.

9. Ibid.

10. Ibid.; Estess, interview; See Hansen's Spaceflight Revolution, pp. 81-85, for biographical description of Floyd L. Thompson. Hansen's sketch does not delve into the Langley director's old-fashioned "gentlemanly" demeanor.

11. Estess, interview by Dethloff; Estess, interview; Roy Estess, "NASA Mississippi Test Facility Shuttle Engine Test Presentation," 11 December 1970, SSCHRC.

12. Ibid.

13. Ibid.

14. Estess, interview.

15. I. Jerry Hlass, interview by Henry C.Dethloff, The Mississippi Oral History Program, University Of Southern Mississippi, vol. 437, 1991, SSCHRC, pp. 15-22, SSCHRC; I. Jerry Hlass, "Search For A Role For A Large Government Test Facility" (Master's thesis, School of Engineering and Applied Science of the George Washington University, June 1971), pp. 60-75; Hlass, interview by Mack Herring, Long Beach, MS, 14 December 1995.

16. Hlass, interview.

17. Joe Jones, NASA-MSFC News Release, 1 March 1971, SSCHRC; NASA-MSFC Public Affairs Office, "Space Shuttle Decisions," Response To Queries (RTQ), 15 March 1972, SSCHRC.

18. Roger Launius, "NASA And The Decision To Build The Space Shuttle, 1969-1972," The Historian, 57 (Autumn 1994). Wilbur B. Breuer, Race To The Moon, America's Duel With The Soviets (Praeger Publishers: Westport, CT), 1993, p. 202; Frank Macomber, Copley News Service, "Ford Defended Space Program," The (New Orleans, LA) Times-Picayune (henceforth referred to as The Times-Picayune), 19 October 1974; Ted O'Boyle, "Space Shuttle Plan To Help Test Facility," The Daily Herald, 6 January 1972; Jonathan Spivak, "Space Agency May Shun Cape Kennedy Site, Launch $6 Billion Space Shuttle Elsewhere," The Wall Street Journal, 3 December 1970.

19. Boyce Mix, interview by Mack Herring, SSC, 16 January 1996; NASA-MSFC News Release, "Shuttle Facts," 1974, SSCHRC; Estess, interview.

20. NASA Headquarters, Office Of Legislative Affairs, "Senate Debates 1971 Second Supplemental Appropriations," vol. X, no. 46, 18 May 1971; Congressional Record - Senate, S7052, 17 May 1971, pp. 3-6; "Bill Would Give MTF $10 Million," The Clarion-Ledger, 10 December 1970; "Bill Will Provide Test Facility Funds," The Birmingham (AL) News, 9 December 1970.

21. Memorandum, George M. Low to Associate Administrator For Manned Space Flight, "NASA Policy On The $10 Million Set Aside For The Mississippi Test Facility," 18 February 1971; Telegram, Harry H. Gorman to Eberhard F.M. Rees, "$10 Million Set Aside For The Mississippi Test Facility," 18 February 1971; Telegram, Allen Ellender and John Stennis to George M. Low, 20 February 1971; Memorandum, Willis H. Shapley to Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight, 21 February 1971.

22. Ibid.

23. Memorandum. Willis H. Shapley to Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight, 21 February 1971.

24. Senator Ellender, May 1971, on the Senate floor read letters, detailing plans and projects needed at the MTF, from Robert M. White, NOAA administrator, William D. Ruckelshaus, EPA administrator, and acting director of the Department of the Interior. Congressional Record, S7052, 17 May 1971, pp. 3-5.

25. Boyce Mix, interview; A.J. "Jack" Rogers, Jr., interview by Mack Herring, SSC, 8 December 1994; Jackson M. Balch, interview by Gateway Production, 10 December 1974, audio tape in SSCHRC; Jackson M. Balch to Governor John Bell Williams, 28 June 1971, SSCHRC; Jackson M. Balch to James T. Shepherd, "New MTF Charter," 14 January 1971; Jackson M. Balch, testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, S. 907, "A bill to consent to the Interstate Environment Compact," 21 April 1971, SSCHRC.

26. Mix, interview; Ted LaMunyon, interview by Steven Patterson, Mississippi Oral History Program, University of Southern Mississippi, vol. 409, 1992, pp. 20-22, SSCHRC; Ted LaMunyon, interview by Mack Herring, Picayune, MS, 16 January 1996.

27. E.G. "Glade" Woods, interview by Dr. Charles Bolton, SSC, 1 December 1992, Mississippi Oral History Program, University of Southern Mississippi, SSC, 1 December 1992, vol. 435, 1993, pp. 7-8, SSCHRC; O.J. Howe, interview by Mack Herring, Waveland, MS; NSTL Capabilities Document, "Configuration of NSTL, and Earth Resources Laboratory," SSCHRC, pp. 6, 46.

28. A.J. "Jack" Rogers, Jr., interview by Steven Patterson, SSC, 4 October 1991, Mississippi Oral History Program, University of Southern Mississippi, vol. 386, 1991, pp. 16-18, SSCHRC; Director's Office Files, "Activities In Residence At Mississippi Test Facility," meeting agenda on overall situation at MTF, ud, circa 1973.

29. Estess, interview by Mack Herring, SSC, 7 July 1995.

30. Jackson Balch to Governor John Bell Williams, 28 June 1971; This letter, authored by Balch, contained a good explanation of Balch's philosophy and an account of activities under way at the MTF. The letter to Williams is a valuable document to researchers, because Balch explained his intentions for the space-environmental complex in a written document rather than at a chalkboard, where it could be erased.

31. Ibid.

32. Ibid.

33. Blanch R. Robinson, "NSTL Personnel Strength," 1975, SSCHRC. Of all records pertaining to roller coaster fortunes of the MTF, actual personnel records tell the story most accurately. One can trace a high of over 6,000 people working at the MTF, summer of 1965, to a low of about 900 employees in 1971. Portions of these personnel records can be found in SSCHRC.

34. Department of the Army, memorandum, "Availability of Land and Facilities at NASA Mississippi Test Facility," 23 July 1971, SSCHRC; R.H. Curtin, Memorandum For The Record, "Possible Use Of MTF For Army's Steel City," 14 February 1973.

35. NASA-MTF Director's Files, "Factors Concerning Steel City At Mississippi Facility, 1 February 1973, SSCHRC.

36. Harry Owen to Governor Bill Waller, 29 December 1972, SSCHRC.

37. Ibid.; Also see "Factors Concerning Steel City At Mississippi Test Facility," point "10," where several negative reasons are listed regarding construction of the Army plant at the MTF.

38. U.S. Army Army Munitions Command, "Feasibility Study, Mississippi Ammunition Complex, Mississippi Gulf Coast, 28 May 1971, SSCHRC.

39. When Jackson Balch found that Senator Stennis was determined to support the Army's plans to build an ammunition plant on the northern part of the MTF, he supported the move. To do so, Balch helped develop an environmental impact study, and encouraged community and media support.

40. Jackson Balch, Memorandum to Office Chiefs, "Reorganization Planning," 28 December 1971, SSCHRC.

41. Ibid.

42. Ibid.; Dr. F.S. Schultz to Jackson Balch, 3 January 1972, SSCHRC.

43. W.H. "Waldo" Dearing to J.N. Foster, "Revised Summary Listing Of MTF Contract Activities," 21 November 1972, SSCHRC.

44. MSFC, "MTF Charter 0501," 28 December 1971, SSCHRC.

45. MSFC, "MTF Charter 0502," 11 May 1972; Memorandum, Balch to Office Chiefs, 28 December 1971.

46. Ibid.; Applications Engineering, NSTL Capabilities Document, "Configuration of NSTL," p. 6, and "NSTL Industrial Community," p. 10; November 1975.

47. Ibid.; Applications Engineering, NSTL Capabilities Document, 10 November 1975.

48. I. Jerry Hlass, Management Concept And Structure Of The John C. Stennis Space Center, A Multiagency Federal Laboratory, (SSC, MS: Graphic Arts Department, 1995), pp. 10-16.

49. Ibid.

50. Senator John L. McClellan to Jackson Balch, 27 April 1971; Congressional Record, 92nd Congress, vol. 117, 23 February 1971; Michael Barone, Grant Ujifusa, and Douglas Matthews, The Almanac Of American Politics, 1972, pp. 31-33;

51. Ibid.

52. Congressional Transcript, The Senate Judiciary Committee, "Statement of Jackson Balch, Manager, Mississippi Test Facility, National Aeronautics and Space Administration," 21 April 1971, SSCHRC.

53. Ibid.

54. Office of Senator Trent Lott, "Trent Lott Biography," Washington, DC, 1995, SSCHRC.

55. "Nixon Orders Go For Space Shuttle," The Clarion-Ledger, 4 January 1972; NASA-MSFC News Release, 1 March 1972, SSCHRC; "Ford Defended Space Program," The Times-Picayune, 9 October 1974; All the testing plans were subject to congressional approval and funding. See Roger Launius's article, "NASA And The Decision To Build The Space Shuttle," The Historian, vol. 57 (Autumn 1994), for an excellent presentation of the political and economic ramifications of the Space Shuttle decision.

56. "Engine Testing Next On Test Site Agenda," Picayune Item, 24 April 1972; "Environmental Research Seen For MTF," The Times-Picayune, 25 April 1972.

57. Jim Lambert, Jr., "Viewpoint," Picayune Item, 24 April 1972; Eberhard Rees to Dale Myers, "Selection of Test Sites For Inclusion in the Space Shuttle RFP," 11 February 1972.

58. Jackson M. Balch and J.T. Shepherd, "Memorandum of Agreement Between The Mississippi Test Facility and Program Management (MSFC)," 8 October 1971; Henry F. Auter, Memorandum For The Record, "Meeting With William Brown, Engine Program Manager," 28 October 1971; Boyce Mix, interview by Mack Herring, 19 January 1996; Jackson M. Balch, Memorandum For The Record, "NSTL-MSFC Readiness Review," 18 November 1974, SCCHRC; Jackson M. Balch to James T. Shepherd, "New MTF Charter," 14 January 1971.

59. Doug McLauglin, interview by Mack Herring, SSC, 18 January 1996; Bill Spradlin, interview by Mack Herring, SSC,19 January 1996.

60. Roscoe Nicholson told the author during informal discussion in the SSC barber shop just before Nicholson retired in 1988, "We have two different worlds here [on site]; we don't keep up with the politics. We leave that up to you guys over there." Nicholson was speaking of the great differences in the preoccupations of rocket testing personnel in the Test Complex and the daily administrative work carried on in the Laboratory and Engineering Complex. This division of work at the SSC was even more apparent when the oceanographic and environmental agencies were in their infant stages in the 1970s.; NASA MTF, "Pocket Wallet Facts, ud circa 1972.

61. See "The New MTF," 1973, from the Auter Collection at SSCHRC for an excellent study of the MTF philosophy.

62. Executive/Directors Files, "MTF Mission Assignments Of Agencies In Residence", 23 April 1973, SSCHRC.

63. Captain Peter A. Morrill, interview by Steven Patterson, Mississippi Oral History Program, University of Southern Mississippi, vol. 442, 1993, pp. 9-11, SSCHRC.

64. NASA-NOAA Joint News Release, "Skylab Astronauts, Fishermen Join In Ocean Game Fish Experiment," 24 July 1973, SSCHRC; "Record Number Of Sport Fishing Boats Expected To Take Part In Skylab Project," The Daily Herald, 4 August 1973.

65. "Over 100 Fishing Boats Take Part In Skylab Space-Experiment," The Pensacola (FL) News-Journal, 6 August 1973; "Astronauts Salute Gulf Fishermen," Mobile Press-Register, 8 August 1973.

66. Gil Webre, "MTF's Role In The '70s: Space Technology," The Times-Picayune, 8 July 1973; "MTF Mission Assignments of Agencies In Residence, 1973," SCCHRC.

67. Ibid.; Director's Office Log, "Significant Events," 1971-1975, SSCHRC.

68. The success of such projects as the Skylab Oceanic Experiment, BOMEX, JSC-ERL satellite and airborne surveys in Louisiana, NOAA data buoy hurricane predictions, and successful projects conducted with the Mississippi State University and Louisiana State University attests to the competence of the engineers and scientists who have been involved in the work of the MTF-NSTL space-environmental complex.

69. NASA Administrator James Fletcher lauded the work of the consortium on 14 June 1974 when he announced the change in name and status of the MTF to the NSTL.; See also "MTF- Reports Of Its Death Grossly Exaggerated," The Daily Herald, 20 August 1972.

70. Jackson Balch, interview by Gateway Productions, 10 December 1974; Jackson Balch's management of the space-environmental complex comes very close to the classic study of the American life in Democracy In America, by Alexis de Tocqueville. See the chapter of de Tocqueville's work entitled, "Why The Americans Are More Addicted to Practical Than To Theoretical Science."

71. "Officials Told Lockheed Proposal Will Be MTF Boom," Picayune Item, 14 October 1973.

72. "Officials Push Full Utilization," Picayune Item, 17 October 1973.

73. Ibid.

74. "Smith Blasts Von Braun," Picayune Item, 24 March 1974.

75. "Thiokol Bid Explanation Urged," South Mississippi Sun, 30 November 1973; "GAO Space Pact Probe Urged," The Times-Picayune, 30 November 1973; "Job Given Utah Plant Opposed," Times-Picayune, 7 December 1973; "Politics, Cost Juggling Alleged In Space Shuttle," The Clarion-Ledger, 6 December 1973.

76. "Legislators Urge Use Of NASA Test Site," The Sun-Herald, 31 March 1974; NASA-MTF Public Affairs Office, "Newspapers Tell MTF Story," 1 March 1974, SSCHRC.

77. "Stennis To Investigate Use Of NASA Facility," The Daily Herald, 2 April 1974; John C. Stennis to James C. Fletcher, 19 April 1974; James C. Fletcher to John C. Stennis, 24 April 1974; William D. Carey, "Getting On With It: a management study of the MTF," 31 January 1974, SCCHRC; James McCurdy, "Management Survey of NASA Facilities in Mississippi and Louisiana," 22 April 1974, SCCHRC.

78. Stennis to Fletcher, 19 April 1974.

79. Ibid.; Auter Collection, "The New MTF."

80. Auter Collection, "The New MTF"; See also Eli Ginzberg, James W. Kuhn, Jerome Schnee, and Boris Yavitz, Economic Impact Of Large Federal Programs: The NASA Experience (Salt Lake City: Olympus Publishing Co., 1976) pp. 27-47 and pp. 153-172.

81. NASA Headquarters Management Notice, 14 June 1974; NASA Headquarters News Release, 14 June 1974, SSCHRC.

82. "Stennis Announces MTF Reclassification," (Bay St. Louis, MS) Sea Coast Echo, 20 June 1974.

83. George Low to Jackson Balch, 14 June 1974; Conference Notes, George Low, Jackson Balch, Rusty Schweickart, others, "Creation of NSTL," 18 June 1974, NASA Historical Reference Collection (henceforth referred to as NHRC); Edgar C. Kilgore visit to NSTL, 27 June 1974; Jackson Balch, Edgar Kilgore, John Mathews, and Waldo Dearing Meeting Notes, "NASA Headquarters, Field Installations," 27 July 1974, NHRC; Acting U.S. Attorney General to George Low, "interest in use of NSTL," 16 July 1974, SSCHRC.

84. Roy L. Bullock, "MTF Utilization Data," executive study, attachment 2, tab B, 1968; King, interview.

85. Admiral J. Edward Snyder, Jr., interview by Texas A & M University, "Living History Series," circa 1977-78, pp. 64-65; Mike Causey, "Senators Split On Navy Shift," the Federal Diary, Washington (DC) Post, 8 April 1975.

86. Jackson M. Balch, Memorandum For The Record, 26 September 1975; "Ocean Lab May Come To Gulf Coast," Daily Herald, 14 November 1974.

87. Snyder, interview by Texas A&M; "Nothing Official On Navy Agency," Picayune Item, 17 November 1974.

88. George Schlogel, interview by Mack Herring, Gulfport, MS, 2 February 1996.

89. NSTL Briefing Book, "Significant Actions;" King, interview; Jackson Balch, interview by Gateway Productions, circa 1974; audio tape in SSCHRC.

90. Maria Watson, "Oceanographic Office May Locate At NSTL," Daily Herald, 14 November 1974.

91. Schloegel interview.

92. NASA-SSC Test and Engineering Directorate, "A-1 Test History, 22 December 1994, p.1; SSC History Office, History Outline, "Chronology," October 1991; "First Shuttle Engine Test Series Completed," The Times-Picayune, 25 June 1995.

93. "Engineers Arrive To Activate Test Facilities," The Daily Herald, 19 December 1974; Jackson M. Balch and W.R. Lucas, "MSFC/NSTL Memorandum of Agreement For Space Shuttle Program," 20 February 1975; Steven Isakowith, Space Shuttle Launch Systems, p. 253; Nicholson, interview by Charles Bolton, The Mississippi Oral History Program, The University of Southern Mississippi vol. 404, 1992, pp. 16-18, SSCHRC; Mix, interview.

94. A-1 Test History, SSCHRC.

95. Maria Watson, "Balch Recalls Progress At Hancock Test Facility Site," The Daily Herald, 24 July 1975.

96. Edmund R. Gray and Herbert G. Hicks, "The Mississippi Test Facility: A Study In Organizational Viability," (Baton Rouge, Louisiana State University, LA, May 1971).

97. "Balch Leaving NASA; Auter Assumes Post," The Daily Herald, 21 July 1975.