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Race to Oblivion

A Participant's View of the Arms Race

Herbert F. York

Chapter 6: SPUTNIK


Information

CONTENTS 5

CONTENTS
Table of Contents57Missile-Gap Mania125
INTRODUCTION78The McNamara Era147
Prologue: Eisenhower's Other Warning9PART TWO: UNBALANCING THE BALANCE OF TERROR171
1The Arms Race and I159MIRV: The Multiple Menace173
PART ONE: TOWARD A BALANCE OF TERROR10The Defense Delusion188
2The Race Begins: Nuclear Weapons and Overkill2711Other Lessons from the ABM Debate213
3The Bomber Bonanza4912The Ultimate Absurdity228
4The Elusive Nuclear Airplane60A Glossary of Acroyms241
5Rockets and Missiles75Index245
6Sputnik106

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6

SPUTNIK

Of all the symbols in the mythology of terror which has propelled the arms race, Sputnik is the most dramatic. The successful launching of the Soviet satellite was inflated by design and circumstance far out of proportion to its real technological and strategic significance into a specter of menace which haunted America for years. It became the crucial psychological landmark in the course of postwar arms develop. meet, affecting almost every facet of defense operations.

In August, 1957, the Russians launched a test ICBM on a trajectory that took it the length of Siberia. The launch we. conducted in secret, and thus only small "in" groups both here and in the U.S.S.R. which had been following the Soviet pro. gram were immediately aware of it. To such people in this country it was a disturbing event, though not at all a surprise. When it was subsequently announced, its meaning was not immediately clear to the public at large. Less than two months later, on October 4, 1957, the Russians successfully launched the first artificial satellite into orbit. Sputnik was there for all to see and hear, and its name became a part of the language of all civilized men. A wave of shock and consternation swept the United States and most of the rest of the world. Even the small "in" group that had been following the Soviet missile program as it had been gradually


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revealed through intelligence-gathering means (such as the U-2) was surprised by the suddenness with which this event followed the first long- range-missile launch. To almost everyone else it was unbelievable that the Russians, "those Asiatics" as Truman had called them, could have beaten the United States in this field of highly sophisticated technology.

Very little was known at that time about the state of Soviet science and technology, and what was known did not adequately prepare us for what had happened. The historic Russian passion for secrecy, greatly enhanced by the paranoia of the Soviet government in Stalin's later years, had completely concealed Soviet progress (as well as lack of progress) from the eyes of the world. Even the results of research in pure science had been only partially and reluctantly made known. Travel to Russia by Western scientists had been virtually prohibited until 1954, when the first post-Stalin thaw began. Visits of Russian scientists to the outside world had been similarly restricted, and even the scientific academies were out of touch with each other. The Russians had often claimed that they had been first with many inventions, but it was "obvious" that these were just idle boasts ("obviously" even in the cases where it was true!). About the only Russian invention Westerners were generally aware of was the two-seater farm tractor, whose main function seemed to be to replace the church social as a place where Red Pioneer boys could meet collective-farm girls. Even true-blue Western Communists did not think of the U.S.S.R. as very progressive in technology. To most of the rest of us, Russia was as mysterious and remote as the other side of the moon and not much more productive when it came to really new ideas or inventions. A common joke of the time said that the Russians could not surreptitiously introduce nuclear bombs in suitcases into the United States, because they had not yet been able to perfect a suitcase. The Russian achievement of a nuclear explosion in 1949 and a thermonuclear device in 1953 should have alerted us, but the circumstances surround-


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ing these events were unclear, and it was soon taken for granted that they had stolen "the secret of the bomb" from us.

True enough, the Korean War had revealed the existence of some good fighter aircraft, and the first small exchanges of scientific visits after the death of Stalin had begun to reveal a scientific program of high quality. But a few swallows don't make a summer, and the general picture of the Soviet Union as a basically backward country had not yet begun to change. Thus everyone was shocked, and the reactions of the sophisticated and the unsophisticated differed only in degree.

Sputnik I had weighed 183 pounds. It was followed on November 3 by Sputnik II, which weighed 1,120 pounds and carried the dog Laika as its passenger. In early December, the United States attempted to orbit a three-pound satellite. This was to have been lofted by the Vanguard rocket mentioned earlier, but that system failed to do so. On January 31, 1958, the United States did succeed in orbiting its first satellite, the Explorer I, using the Juno (Jupiter C) rocket booster. Explorer I weighed thirty-one pounds. The second and third

American satellites, both launched in March, weighed 3 pounds and thirty-one pounds respectively. In May, the Russians launched Sputnik III, weighing 2,925 pounds.

These huge differences in weight served to worsen consider" ably the general consternation that pervaded all levels of American society and government. It was widely felt that the Russians must be on to some secret that had evaded us. The fear grew that all this might have some profound effect on our real national security as well as on our prestige. Feeble attempts by the White House to allay our fears by likening the whole matter to a basketball game in space only made thing. worse. Nearly everyone saw Sputnik as a problem that must be solved and as a challenge that must be met. This situation soon was christened the "missile gap." This name was as simple and catchy as it was misleading, but the truth was so complex that it could not at the time overcome appearances,


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not even in the mind of an observer with no special ax to grind. Now that enough years have passed so that passions have cooled and the truth has become clear, it is very worthwhile to examine the whole matter anew in order to learn how misleading appearances can be in this kind of situation.

Rather than just one gap, there were a number of important differences or gaps between the programs and accomplishments of the two great powers. There were both a missile gap and a quite distinct space gap, and each of these gaps in turn included separately a time gap and a weight or payload gap. All of these gaps had their origins in differences in how and when the two programs began.

The largest Soviet rockets were designed for use as intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) whose purpose was to deliver atomic weapons to targets a quarter of the circumference of the world away. The largest rockets under development in the United States had the same purpose. At the time the over-all size of our rockets was fixed, hydrogen-bomb development in the United States had reached a point such that we could fairly accurately predict the size of the warhead needed to produce a one- megaton explosion and hence we could with some assurance also select the rocket size needed to deliver such a bomb. The Soviet decision with respect to size appears to have been made sometime earlier than we made ours, well before the Russians had any practical experience whatsoever in thermonuclear weaponry. Therefore they had to be very much more conservative in their approach to the size question, and, as a result, they chose to build a rocket weighing about twice as much as ours and having about twice our thrust. This factor of two worked against us in the first phases of the space race, but ultimately worked in our favor in the missile race.

As we now know, by the time the numbers of deployed ICBMs became a significant factor in the strategic balance be-


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tween the two superpowers, the United States was well ahead of the U.S.S.R. I believe the greater size of the Russians' first ICBM simply made it so difficult to manufacture and deploy that they decided not to do so immediately. Soon after, they did achieve a missile suitable for mass deployment, but even then it took them most of a decade to make up for lost time and catch up with us. None of this was obvious, unfortunately, from those parts of the space race that the public could see and understand. And even those privy to the details could not then have predicted the Russians' failure to exploit their early lead. The Soviet leaders made things more confusing by deliberately using their genuine early space lead to imply an ICBM threat (nonexistent) against the U. S. even as early as 1958.

Besides this factor of two or so in size of booster, two other matters similarly affected the situation. First, we had deliberately decided against using our largest rockets for launching scientific satellites during the 1957-58 International Gem physical Year. Well before Sputnik we had initiated programs designed to use our largest military rockets for launching military satellites (the names Samos and Midas will be recalled by early space-program watchers), but we had specifically ordered that the scientific IGY satellite program not be allowed to interfere with any of our military programs. Therefore we used the specially designed Vanguard and the bootlegged Jupiter C to launch our first satellites. These were much smaller than our large ICBM boosters, in terms of both booster weight and rocket-engine thrust. The Russians, on the other hand, made no such division between their missile pro. gram and their space program, and they used the same very large booster for each. Thus, in the satellite exhibition all the world was watching, they were using their biggest rockets and we were using two of our smaller ones.

But even that isn't the whole story. A satellite booster system ordinarily consists of two or three stages. The perform-


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ance and sizes of these various stages must be carefully matched to each other in order to optimize the payload. In an optimal situation, the commonly used liquid-fuel rockets can put into orbit a payload whose weight is equal to one or two percent of the thrust of the first-stage rocket booster. The Jupiter-C system which was actually used to put up our first satellite was off optimum and, in addition, used relatively low-performance solid-propellant upper stages. As a result, its ratio of payload weight to booster thrust was an order of magnitude below this optimal value. The Russians were also off optimum in their first satellites, but not quite so far. All of these factors worked in the same direction and thus combined to produce the very large one-hundredfold weight gap between the first few United States satellites and the first few Soviet satellites. By the time we finally got our big boosters working on space applications only a year or so later, this huge temporary gap was reduced to its true value of about twofold.

There was also a time gap, which further confused things. The Russians achieved a long-range flight with an ICBM in August, 1957. We did not achieve the same sort of range until the first full- thrust Atlas launch in December, 1958. Thus, one could say that at that time there was a time gap of sixteen months between the two missile programs. Similarly, if we look at the dates of the first manned orbital flights, April 12, 1961, for Yuri Gagarin and February 20, 1962, for John Glenn, we get a time gap of ten months in these earliest stages of the two man-in-space programs. However, if we look at what happened when we both got beyond the experimental phase and into the operational phase of the program, we find, as is now very well known, a very different story. We deployed a strategically significant missile force well ahead of the Russians, and they did not catch up until almost a decade later. Likewise, we landed a man on 'the moon in July of 1969, and at this writing we still don't know when they will do the same, or even if they will. Thus, despite appearances and Russian


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attempts to exploit these appearances, there was no strategically significant missile gap at the time of Sputnik, and when one did develop several years later it was very much in our favor. Sputnik did reveal a space gap, but the real space gap was quite different from the apparent one.

Yet whatever the differences were between the reality and the appearances, the consternation of the American people was real, deep, and widespread. After the first shock, strong reactions set in at all levels and in most segments of American society. After a first futile attempt to belittle the whole affair, the White House caught the general mood and created new organizations and realigned old ones, with the twin purposes of rectifying the past mistake and preventing the occurrence of new ones like it. The Department of Defense did likewise. In the wake of these moves a new wave of scientists and engineers (including me) went to Washington to assume various official positions and replace or reinforce those who had "allowed Sputnik to happen."

The Senate and the House of Representatives created new special committees for similar purposes. The Senate Armed Services Committee, its Preparedness Subcommittee, the Government Operations Committees, the powerful Joint Committee on Atomic Energy, and others all held extensive hearings for the purpose of examining the situation in detail.

Each of the three military services, inspired by a potent mixture of genuine patriotic concern and simple crass opportunism, offered itself up as the means for solving the immediate problem. NACA, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (actually a group of laboratories), did the same, and some in the Atomic Energy Commission suggested that they (like the Joint Committee) stood ready to take the lead in the matter.

The defense industry generally, with an even more potent mix of the same motives, generated a host of new ideas and inventions and dredged up a number of old ones, all for the


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purpose of reestablishing America's technological leadership in the world and making some money in the process.

The fourth estate quite generally, but especially the kept press of the missile and aviation industries, did its best to keep public concern at a fever pitch and severely castigated whoever it thought was at fault.

PTA's and school boards and university trustees all came to the conclusion that inadequacies in the quality and quantity of science education were the root causes of the whole mess. And as a result the status and salary of nearly all science teachers and professors markedly improved.

Very few, if any, of these science teachers and professors lied about the very tenuous connection between Sputnik and whatever they were doing. But almost all of them were most content with the supposed lessons Sputnik taught, and grim hints could be heard about where the Russians stood in everything from the development of giant accelerators for high-energy nuclear physics to research on the sex habits of the tsetse flies.

After a few weeks of hesitation, the White House reacted positively and sought advice from a broad spectrum of leaders in scientific, technological and other relevant fields about what it all meant and what should be done about it. One of the immediate results of this review was Eisenhower's decision to establish the President's Science Advisory Committee (PSAC), under the chairmanship of James R. Killian, and to establish the position of Special Assistant to the President for Science and Technology, with the same Dr. Killian as its incumbent. (There had been a Science Advisory Committee in the White House Office ever since the Truman administration, but its style of operation and the intensity of its effort were so completely changed that today's committee is best thought of as being established after Sputnik.) Killian had earlier chaired the important Technical Capabilities Panel which made a review of the technological side of our defense posture, and had


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also been one of the leaders in the Gaither Panel which had conducted a review of our strategic weapons situation just the previous summer. 1 also participated in a small way in the Gaither Panel and first met Killian during that activity. Killian provided a near-perfect match between the President and other key administrative figures on the one hand and the members of PSAC and other principal scientists and engineering figures on the other hand. He seemed to know precisely what questions to ask the scientists and how to organize their efforts to produce valid answers and usable advice quickly. He was equally skillful in translating this advice into terms that statesmen and high officials could understand and act on.

James B. Fisk of the Bell Telephone Laboratories and Robert F. Bacher of the California Institute of Technology were Vice-Chairmen of the committee. They and practically all of the rest of the members of PSAC had had distinguished careers in pure science. Most had been involved in the administration of important segments of the United States science and technology program (both Fisk and Bacher had held high positions in the AEC in its formative days, and another member, General James H. Doolittle, was at the time the Chairman of NACA). Most of the members had been involved in major projects (radar, atomic weapons, and rockets) during World War II, and most had been members of major advisory committees operating at other high levels of government (for example, I. I. Rabi had been Chairman of the predecessor PSAC, and Kistiakowsky, Wiesner, and I had been members of the Von Neumann Committee). During the first few months after it came into being, from December, 1957, through February, 1958, PSAC was in almost continuous session.

For all practical purposes, the committee was given a free hand to investigate and advise on any scientific and technological matters which the committee itself might decide important. However, in those first months PSAC also concen-


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trated on the twin goals of determining what to do about the immediate situation and how to prevent its recurrence. It reviewed and analyzed the current technological situations both in the United States and in the Soviet Union, and it advised the President and others as to what in its judgment the Sputniks really meant. Herbert Scoville, then responsible for scientific intelligence at the CIA, regularly sat with the committee in order to assure direct access to all available information concerning Soviet and other foreign technological programs. Working closely with defense officials, but independently of them, the committee reviewed existing programs and urged some changes in them and in their relative priorities. It reviewed some of the flood of new ideas the Soviet successes in space had inspired and urged further study and consideration of some and rejection of others. It studied the whole broad matter of the status, support, and quality of scientific research and of science and engineering education in the United States, and it gave advice which set in motion a number of far-reaching changes in the relationships between government and education of all kinds and at all levels.

Working directly with the new Secretary of Defense, Neil H. McElroy, and with Quarles, then the Deputy Secretary of Defense, Killian and other members of PSAC helped to establish ARPA, the Advanced Research Projects Agency, and helped to arrange my subsequent participation in its direction. ARPA, as we shall see, played an important role in helping the Defense Department keep its house in order in the first months after Sputnik. Working directly with Doolittle and Hugh L. Dryden, PSAC played the major role in designing the plan for transforming NACA (the National Advisory Committee on Aeronautics) into NASA (the National Aeronautics and Space Administration). General Doolittle was the NACA Chairman, and Dryden was its chief operating officer. Dryden became the Deputy Administrator of NASA after it was established by the Congress later in 1958, and Doolittle became one of the mem-


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bers of the National Space Council, another one of the organizational responses to Sputnik.

In retrospect it is clear that PSAC did an extraordinarily important job and exercised good judgment. The organizations which were created largely through its intervention or with its help continue to exist to this day and continue to do the kind of thing that Killian and PSAC outlined for them in those first few months. Most of the programs which PSAC endorsed ultimately did bear fruit and performed useful functions. And we have managed quite well without those programs which PSAC rejected in those early months. It seems very likely that without PSAC the United States in the first frantic responses to the shock of the Russian successes would have undertaken a larger number of ill-advised programs in a more disorganized fashion than we actually did. It is of course not possible to know precisely what the consequences of such additional ill-considered reactions would have been in any detail, but, analogizing from what happened as a result of the excesses that did occur, it seems certain that much money would have been wasted and that genuinely necessary programs would have been slighted and perhaps even left undone.

Meanwhile, in the Department of Defense, similar but more extensive organizational changes were being undertaken for the same purposes. As we have already seen, even before Sputnik, interservice rivalry had led to a quite unnecessary duplication of large, expensive weapons-systems programs. The science and technology apparatus of the Defense Department, especially that part of it in the Office of the Secretary of Defense itself, had proved to be not quite adequate for handling the situation. The frantic reaction Sputnik produced in the military services and among their contractors threatened to cause the situation to get still further out of control. McElroy and Quarles, working with Killian and his committee as well as with their own advisers, generated several new organizational ideas designed to strengthen their ability to man-


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age what threatened to be a very explosive situation. As a first step, they established a new planning and operating agency directly under their control within the immediate Office of the Secretary of Defense. It was called ARPA, the Advanced Research Projects Agency. Roy W. Johnson, a former General Electric executive, was selected to be the first Director of the new agency. Rear Admiral John Clark was named Deputy Director, I was named Chief Scientist, and a few weeks later Lawrence Gise became our Chief Administrative Officer. We began operation in February of 1958 on an unofficial basis, and about one month later we received from the Congress the charter needed to give us a proper legal status. At first ARPA was given two assignments. One was specific: to assume authority over all military space programs. The second was more general and therefore more difficult: to initiate such programs and actions as seemed necessary to avoid another "Sputnik"-- i.e., another situation in which the United States suddenly v found or even seemed to find itself far behind the principal military competition in some important branch of technology. A third assignment involving taking over the authority and responsibility for the development of the anti-ballistic-missile was also briefly considered. This last was, however, rejected at the behest of the ARPA management itself.

ARPA carried out the first assignment with a reasonable degree of success from the time of its conception in February, 1958, until the fall of 1959. By that latter date, other, better means for controlling the interservice rivalry in this area had come into being and the military space program was parceled out in a rational way among the military services. (Mostly, of course, to the Air Force.)

ARPA carried out the second assignment in part by establishing a number of research and development programs in fields which at the time seemed to be both worthy of support and in danger of falling between the stools insofar as service interest in them was concerned. The most important of these


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at the time was Project Defender, actually a collection of new ideas, proposals, and research programs related to missile defense.

During the first two years of its life a number of highly placed persons, including General Schriever and former Assistant Secretary of Defense Clifford C. Furnas, called for the abolition of ARPA, but it continues to this day to work on similar programs. The nature of these programs has changed slowly over the years. Some older programs have been transferred to the services as the march of events made that possible, and new ones have been started when that seemed necessary.

In addition to creating ARPA as a kind of ad hoc "quick fix" solution to the problem, the Department of Defense pro" posed a number of more fundamental organizational changes designed to strengthen its ability to cope with the kind of frantic struggles for new roles and missions that had followed in the wake of Sputnik. The proposals were generated during the early part of 1958 in the executive branch and were enacted by the Congress in the fall of that year as the Defense Reorganization Act of 1958. From the point of view of technology and the arms race, the most important element of that act was the establishment of the position of Director of Defense Research and Engineering. This director was to report directly to the Secretary of Defense and was to function generally at the same level of authority and responsibility as the three service Secretaries. This meant he was to have not only the kind of staff responsibility the other Assistant Secretaries of Defense had, but, in addition, real and direct authority over all research, development, test, and evaluation programs in all components of the Department of Defense, specifically including the three services as well as the new ARPA. I was appointed to the post of Director after two or three other serious candidates turned the job down. (I served under McElroy for the remainder of his term as Secretary of Defense, under


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Thomas S. Gates for all of his, and, briefly, in the new Kennedy administration, under Robert McNamara. I resigned then to return to the University of California and was replaced by Harold Brown.) I managed to recruit a number of very fine assistants, including Howard Wilcox, John Rubel, Jack Ruina and Eugene Fubini. Together, with the full support of the Secretary of Defense and with the absolutely essential cooperation of PSAC and its chairmen (at first Killian, then Kistiakowsky, and eventually Wiesner), we gradually got the situation more or less under control. Most of the programs we authorized in that first year or so were ultimately successful, though not always on time and never for the price originally estimated. A few of the programs we authorized were later canceled when it became evident that either they were not really necessary or they were not technically feasible in terms of the then current state of the art. Given the need to be reasonably prudent, and the natural tendency in that position to make some allowance for erring on the side of military safety, I believe our batting average was not too bad. More important, a full decade later, I am not aware of any important program that we disapproved or discontinued where we have any reason to be sorry we did.

The Congress reflected the shock and consternation of the public generally. Its reaction was further complicated by partisan politics.

The Senate, after what appeared to be a few false starts, organized a special committee to look into the matter. It was chaired by Lyndon Johnson, then the Majority Leader. The House similarly established a series of special committees, leading eventually to what is now known as the House Science and Astronautics Committee. Each of these committees held hearings over a period of several years in an effort to come to grips with the problem. They considered the legislative proposals being made by the White House for the establishment of the civil space agency and for the reorganizations in


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the Department of Defense as discussed just above. Out of this came the legislation which arranged for the transformation of NACA into NASA, as well as the Defense Reorganization Act of 1958 which confirmed the establishment of ARPA and established the office of Director of Defense Research and Engineering.

They considered the programs proposed by these new agencies as well as the programs of the already well-established agencies. They listened to a broad range of witnesses: government officials, high civil servants, contractor personnel, outside advisers and opinion leaders generally. Very early, Lyndon Johnson's committee developed a list of seventeen actions it considered to be essential to maintaining the national security. A number of them related directly to strictly military matters and were designed as a response to the possible "true" missile gap. These included strengthening and dispersing the forces of the Strategic Air Command (SAC), accelerating the installation of a ballistic-missile early-warning system (BMEWS), accelerating all of the missile programs that were close to operational readiness (Atlas, Thor, Jupiter, and Polaris), and intensifying research and development work on the anti-ballistic-missile (ABM). Of special interest nowadays, the Johnson Committee also called for development work on "manned missiles" and on a rocket engine capable of producing one million pounds of thrust. These last two items served no firm military mission at the time, but they did lead directly to the moon landing of 1969.

This seventeen-point list was imperfect, and some of the phraseology supporting it was a bit farfetched, but in retrospect I believe it was superior to any similar list of proposed-action items generated anywhere else in the government at the time. Nearly every one of its proposals was ultimately adopted, and that cannot be said of similar lists prepared by, for instance, the armed services themselves. I find this fact a very reassuring commentary on the relative wisdom of legislators


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and statesmen vis-à-vis experts (in this case, military men and technologists ).

Except for the space-flight items, most of these seventeen actions had been urged by a Senate committee chaired by Stuart Symington the year before, but Sputnik had not yet happened and so they evoked very little response at that time.

The powerful Joint Committee on Atomic Energy saw its primacy as legislative custodian of the most advanced scientific programs in the country threatened by the dawn of the space age. Some of its members first reminded everyone that they had been right in the argument with J. Robert Oppenheimer over the hydrogen bomb eight years before and also in the argument over the nuclear submarine more recently. They then went on to suggest that the right way to solve the current crisis was through further applications of atomic energy, and they volunteered to assume the legislative responsibility for the entire area. They formed a subcommittee on outer-space propulsion, and they promoted the establishment of a Division of Outer Space Development in the U. S. Atomic Energy Commission. Majority Leader Johnson's actions prevented them from achieving over-all responsibility for space, but they have continued to promote the use of atomic energy as the solution of real and imagined space problems ever since that time. These nuclear solutions include the application of nuclear energy to both rocket propulsion and the production of auxiliary power. It does seem likely that someday nuclear energy will be used for space propulsion, probably in connection with interplanetary flights, and it also seems likely that someday the SNAP (Space Nuclear Auxiliary Power) series of large power plants may become useful in providing power for long-duration flights and for various kinds of equipment that may have a high power demand. But even now, ten years later, most such applications are still premature, and of course in the first year or so after Sputnik they were much more so. They represent classic examples of attempts to find a problem


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to fit a solution. This approach has in recent years come to characterize a great deal of the work of the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy as well as of the Atomic Energy Commission itself.

Like almost everyone else, the AEC's contractor laboratories receive inspiration from Sputnik. Immediately after that satellite was launched, General Kenneth E. Fields, the General Manager of the AEC, happened to visit the Livermore Laboratory. At that time I was the director of the laboratory, and like so many others I was under the spell of Sputnik and willing to take advantage of its message in a good cause. I played a recording we had made of Sputnik's "beep, beep, beep" as background music during a session in which I pleaded with Fields for some additional budgetary support. I have forgotten what I wanted the additional support for at the time, and I don't know if I ever got it, but I vividly remember the scene itself. Similarly, several years later, Edward Teller, in his perpetual rear-guard battle against nuclear-test bans, solemnly warned, "The probability that a nuclear gap exists right now in addition to a missile gap is frightening and real." In that same time period he was asked what we would find on the moon when we got there and he flatly predicted, "Russians."

Other elements of the bureaucracy even more remote from space and Sputnik discovered how to exploit the missile gap and the resulting public demand that "somebody do something." Thus, we find those responsible for education doing such things as inventing and promoting the National Defense Education Act. Surely we need better education whether we have defense crises or not, but putting in that extra word made the idea sell better; calling it the National Sputnik Education Act would have been, I suppose, too obvious. Similarly, the people with a special interest in and responsibility for highways invented and promoted the National Defense Highway System. I think both of these were intrinsically good ideas, but


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it is unfortunate that they had to be connected to the missile gap via the word "defense."

The advertising revenue of the aircraft-missile-space press comes almost exclusively from aerospace and related companies searching for new personnel and new contracts, and so it is not surprising that these trade journals did their very best to keep the nation's fears and concerns at a fever pitch. Both in editorials and in supposedly expository articles, they castigated anyone in the executive branch of the government or anywhere else who even hinted at moderation. They predicted the direst future with fleets of Soviet space bombers hanging suspended over the United States and with the Hammer and Sickle plunged into the very cores of the moon and the planets. They conjured up an endless series of other gaps such as the nuclear-airplane gap I discussed earlier. They presented as fact such news items as "Soviet Boost Glide Bomber probably will be towed to 80,000 to 100,000 feet by a ramjet tug." They stated without qualification that the U.S.A.F. Skybolt program was in a race with a similar Soviet program. The missile press also made an outrageous play on words. Science-fiction writers and others had spoken of the conquest of space as one might speak of the conquest of Everest. But the very existence of this phrase was offered as proof of what was going to happen to us all if we didn't wise up. The missile press seemed to have a very simple editorial policy: "If it puts more money into the aerospace business, it's good; if it doesn't, it's bad." Anyone wanting to see examples of dollar patriotism at its worst should read the articles and look at the ads in the various missile journals published during the first two years after Sputnik.

Individual professional men and their societies were not above exploiting the Sputnik fever in their own "good causes." Academic scientists quite frequently in approaching government agencies for funds started out by reminding everyone either of what the Russians were doing or of what we might find them doing if only we knew more about it. I attended a


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small meeting with President Eisenhower concerning a proposal for a new very large, very expensive nuclear physics accelerator, since built. The briefer, who was not from the laboratory making the proposal, spent most of his time describing the Soviet programs in this very same field. Every word he said was true to the best of his knowledge, and he posed no lurid direct threats to us. Even so, this approach does not seem so different underneath from that of the rocket-industry leader who, in support of expanded spending in his field, said that "tomorrow the country that controls the moon will control the earth."* Similarly, language teachers pointed out ad nauseam that much of the important information needed to "catch up" was printed in foreign languages; and on that same basis, computer-software salesmen sold large development programs designed to achieve machine translation of documents.

And the U. S. Soaring Team (gliders) reported after their 1958 International Meet that the U.S.S.R. was making concerted efforts to capture leadership in this field, and they quoted Russian participants as warning, "Wait until 1960."

* A Vice-president of the Glenn L. Martin Company, as quoted in Aviation Week, Feb. 10, 1958.


NUCLEAR POLICY STUDIES: GRAPHICS & TEXTS: LINKS:
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"Comprehensive Test Ban" [28 February 1996] and a 21 June 1996 addendum on China's CTB policy. The Acheson-Lilienthal Report [16 March 1946]: Report on the International Control of Atomic Energy. Re CTB

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