DESTINATION MOON: A History of the Lunar Orbiter Program
Congress Questions NASA on Orbiter
[49] NASA's new Lunar Orbiter Program began while Congress was conducting annual authorization hearings. During August 1963 top NASA officials waged an impressive fight for more funds for an orbiter. They had to answer queries from the House Committee on Appropriations concerning their move to initiate a new orbiter project when the Surveyor Orbiter Project already had authorization and funds. The Committee claimed that NASA had channeled much of the money into other projects and that this attested to their higher priorities. Almost nothing had been I spent on the Surveyor Orbiter.1 The Committee seemed to think that NASA's lack of progress on its original concept of the Surveyor Orbiter and its development of a new lunar orbiter concept for a different project at Langley meant that it did not consider the mission of an orbiter as important as it wished Congress to believe.

Seamans, Dryden, Newell, and Cortright from NASA [50] Headquarters, and Pickering from JPL all provided testimony to clarify NASA's position on the Surveyor Orbiter and the urgent need for a lightweight lunar orbiter which could obtain vital data for the Surveyor Lander and Apollo programs. After their testimony before the Senate Committee on Aeronautical and Space Sciences, the Senate restored the proposed $28.2 million in funds for FY 1964 for an orbiter which the House had deleted from its authorization bill. Both houses reached a compromise late in August and authorized a total of $20.0 million for an orbiter.2

Appropriation hearings pertaining to the lunar orbiter project were scheduled to begin on October 18, but the Office of Space Sciences relied upon the approved authorization as a reasonable assurance that funds would not evaporate after the Lunar Orbiter Program was under way.