Media Casualties Mount
Administration Split On Europe Invasion
Administration In Crisis Over Burgeoning Quagmire
Congress Concerned About Diversion From War On Japan
Pot, Kettle On Line Two...
Allies Seize Paris
Gore Book Sales Tank, Supporters Claim Unfair Tactics
Satan Files Lack Of Defamation Suit
Why This Blog Bores People With Space Stuff
A New Beginning
My Hit Parade
Instapundit (Glenn Reynolds)
James Lileks Bleats
Winds Of Change (Joe Katzman)
Little Green Footballs (Charles Johnson)
Eject Eject Eject (Bill Whittle)
Alan Boyle (MSNBC)
Space Politics (Jeff Foust)
Space Transport News (Clark Lindsey)
NASA Space Flight
A Voyage To Arcturus (Jay Manifold)
Dispatches From The Final Frontier (Michael Belfiore)
Personal Spaceflight (Jeff Foust)
The Flame Trench (Florida Today)
Rocket Forge (Michael Mealing)
COTS Watch (Michael Mealing)
Curmudgeon's Corner (Mark Whittington)
Tales of the Heliosphere
Out Of The Cradle
Space For Commerce (Brian Dunbar)
The Speculist (Phil Bowermaster)
Spacecraft (Chris Hall)
Space Pragmatism (Dan Schrimpsher)
Eternal Golden Braid (Fred Kiesche)
Carried Away (Dan Schmelzer)
Laughing Wolf (C. Blake Powers)
Chair Force Engineer (Air Force Procurement)
JesusPhreaks (Scott Bell)
Nanobot (Howard Lovy)
Lagniappe (Derek Lowe)
Geek Press (Paul Hsieh)
Redwood Dragon (Dave Trowbridge)
Turned Up To Eleven (Paul Orwin)
Cowlix (Wes Cowley)
Quark Soup (Dave Appell)
Assymetrical Information (Jane Galt and Mindles H. Dreck)
Marginal Revolution (Tyler Cowen et al)
Man Without Qualities (Robert Musil)
Knowledge Problem (Lynne Kiesling)
Cut On The Bias (Susanna Cornett)
The Funny Pages
Cox & Forkum
Day By Day
Happy Fun Pundit
Amish Tech Support (Lawrence Simon)
Scrapple Face (Scott Ott)
Quasipundit (Adragna & Vehrs)
England's Sword (Iain Murray)
Daily Pundit (Bill Quick)
Daimnation! (Damian Penny)
Z+ Blog (Andrew Zolli)
The Kolkata Libertarian
Midwest Conservative Journal
Protein Wisdom (Jeff Goldstein et al)
Dean's World (Dean Esmay)
Yippee-Ki-Yay (Kevin McGehee)
Spleenville (Andrea Harris)
Random Jottings (John Weidner)
On the Third Hand (Kathy Kinsley, Bellicose Woman)
Inappropriate Response (Moira Breen)
Inadvertent Comic Relief
Warblogger Watcher (Cowardly Anonymous Idiotarians)
Other Worthy Weblogs
Ain't No Bad Dude (Brian Linse)
A libertarian reads the papers
Anna Franco Review
Ben Kepple's Daily Rant
Dropscan (Shiloh Bucher)
End the War on Freedom
Insolvent Republic of Blogistan
James Reuben Haney
Mind over what matters
Page Fault Interrupt
Sand In The Gears(Anthony Woodlief)
The Blogs of War
The Fly Bottle
The Illuminated Donkey
What she really thinks
Where HipHop & Libertarianism Meet
Zem : blog
Space Policy Links
The Space Review
The Space Show
Space Frontier Foundation
Space Policy Digest BBS
USS Clueless (Steven Den Beste)
Unremitting Verse (Will Warren)
World View (Brink Lindsay)
The Last Page
More Than Zero (Andrew Hofer)
Pathetic Earthlings (Andrew Lloyd)
Spaceship Summer (Derek Lyons)
The New Space Age (Rob Wilson)
Rocketman (Mark Oakley)
Site designed by
Did Ike Say "After You"?
For those interested in some of the arcana of military space history, over at sci.space.policy, in reference to yesterday's Fox News column, Matte Bille posted:
It is a good article, but I must point out part of the premise is incorrect. Rand writes,
UPI columnist Jim Bennett responds:
Here's what I said about it in my chapter in the Hudson Institute book 2020 Forecast (2001):
I don't personally have a lot of first-hand knowledge of the issue, but there's a comments section below for anyone interested in discoursing on it further. I'm off to an all-day meeting.
And by the way, today is the forty-fifth anniversary of Sputnik.
[Update on Saturday afternoon]
Len Cormier comments at sci.space.policy
All of this occurred pre-NASA. In 1956 and 1957, there were only two staff members in the National Academy of Sciences IGY Earth Satellite Office--Gil Reid and myself (plus secretaries). To the best of my knowlege, the decision to continue solely with Vanguard rather than Jupiter was entirely influenced by the strong desire to have the U.S. IGY satellite launch vehicle to be derived from a research rocket (Viking) rather than from a military ballistic missile (like the Redstone).
Based on this, and the consensus apparently reached in the comments section, it is indeed too strong to say that it was actually Administration policy to let the Russians go first, though it also seems that they weren't particularly upset about it, either, at least until the public impact became clear. I'll put an erratum in my Fox column next week.
This discussion (particularly Len's comment) also shows the clear historical value of capturing the memories of people who were there, while we still can.Posted by Rand Simberg at October 04, 2002 08:05 AM
I must respond that Jim Bennett's assertion rests on a very shaky foundation. Because the Feed Back report noted that there was a political benefit to having the USSR launch first does not mean this became US policy. The declassified NSC meeting minutes concerning the subject don't mention it, and Quarles statement to Eisenhower disproves it, since Quarles was in charge of US satellite efforts for DoD and therefore would have been in on any plan to letthe USSR launch first.Posted by Matt Bille at October 4, 2002 08:30 AM
Bille says "Donald Quarles pointed out to Ike after the fact that "the Soviets have unintentionally done us a good turn," by establishing the freedom of space, but that's evidence the US was surprised, not that it
(part 2) The Quarles quote characterizes the Soviet's motivation as unintentional. How does that disprove that we didn't intentionally try to provoke it? As for the lack of NSC discussion, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. I will grant that if the US was hoping the Soviets would launch first, this was probably a stronger driver in 1954 than in 1957; by the latter date, I suspect the prospect of the IGY-related scientific satellite launches were seen as mitigating the overflight problem substantially. However, the overflight issue was certainly an issue in any consideration of possible orbital activity prior to IGY.
I'll be very interested in reading the Bille book when it comes out. I hope it gives due regard to the Eisenhower Adminsitration's motivations in protecting the existing, classified space program started in 1954, which have gotten much less attention than they deserve in standard histories.Posted by Jim Bennett at October 4, 2002 11:14 AM
All I know is that since the Russians were the first into space this caused our space program to produce some of the best footage of rockets blowing up into colorful fireballs.Posted by Hefty at October 4, 2002 12:18 PM
There are significant errors in Mr. Bennett's assertions. For instance, his claim that "This project eventually delivered the satellite reconnaissance system generally known by the title of its civilian spinoff (and cover), Tiros." contains several errors. First, Tiros was a weather satellite, not a reconnaissance system. Second, it was not a cover for anything. Third, the path from the Feed Back report to Tiros is certainly not a straight one. Feed Back did not progress very far for quite awhile and when it did get going, it spawned the Air Force's Advanced Reconnaissance System (ARS). After several renamings, that program became the Samos reconnaissance satellite. If one wants to be really picky, you can trace Tiros back to Feed Back. But the problem is that Feed Back proposed a television-based reconnaissance system. The Air Force rejected such a system in 1956. Tiros did not really get started as a television-based weather satellite until 1957, and then as a US Army (not Air Force) project. It only really advanced as a NASA program in 1959.
If the author wants to draw a path from Feed Back to an operational satellite program, then the proper path is to the actual reconnaissance satellites, both overt and covert, such as Samos and CORONA.
Furthermore, if the author wants to draw a path from Feed Back to political policy, then he needs to visit the intervening steps, which included, most importantly, the National Security Council, but also the National Academy of Sciences and even the CIA. And most importantly, he must look at the role played by Donald Quarles. Yet he makes no mention of those steps or the documentary evidence that they produced.
Furthermore, I am slightly surprised by Bennett's comment: "Matt Bille is not going to get to the bottom of this matter with the aid of the NASA History Office. I doubt that NACA or NASA had access to the national security information and documents that dealt with the issue of first overflight before the fact. Why would they? They had absolutely no need to know, and this was one of the nation's central national security secrets."
I think that Mr. Bennett misunderstands the role of the NASA History Office. The History Office itself sponsors research, allowing an author to go where the evidence is. They do not simply provide documents. In addition, they have many documents collected from non-NASA/NACA sources, such as the Eisenhower Presidential Library. These have been collected by their own staff and donated by other researchers (such as myself). If he wishes to pursue this subject, I strongly suggest that he visit the office himself and use their collection. They are open five days a week, from 8:30-4:30.
I strongly suspect that Mr. Bennett is unaware of the considerable number of documents that have been declassified on this subject (many at my request) that have pretty much put this issue to rest. In particular, the relevant documents from the Eisenhower Presidential Library were declassified starting in 1995 following my submission of Mandatory Declassification Review requests. Most of the relevant documents were released within a year of my requests, with the rest trickling out over the next several years. In addition, the State Department declassified a large number of National Security Council records around 1997. These contained much useful information on this subject and have been available for several years now. They can be accessed at the Eisenhower Library in Abilene Kansas, the National Archives Archives II facility in College Park, Maryland, and in the NASA History Office.
I also think that Mr. Bennett may be unaware of the considerable amount that has already been written on this subject. I suggest that the author read the following:
Dwayne A. Day, "Cover Stories and Hidden Agendas: Early American Space and National Security Policy"
Michael J. Neufeld, "Orbiter, Overflight, and the First Satellite: New Light on the Vanguard Decision"
Both essays are contained in: Reconsidering Sputnik: Forty Years Since The Soviet Satellite. Edited by Roger Launius, John M. Logsdon, and Robert W. Smith. Harwood Academic Press.
In addition, I suggest looking at my chapter on this subject in Eye in the Sky, edited by Dwayne A. Day, John M. Logsdon, and Brian Latell. Smithsonian Institution Press.
Finally, for information on how Feed Back was actually enacted within the Air Force, I suggest looking at a memoir written by former Air Force Captain James Coolbaugh in an issue of the Journal of the British Interplanetary Society that I edited several years ago. I do not have the citation at hand, but can look it up.
The documentary record on this is very clear and there is a very good chain of evidence. There also do not appear to be any missing documents that we are aware of based upon the existing documentation.
The documents that we do have make a pretty strong case. If one is going to argue that the US "wanted" the Soviet Union to be first in space, then one must provide an equally strong chain of evidence. But drawing a line between two distant points does not constitute proof. Handwaiving in history is not allowed.Posted by Dwayne A. Day at October 4, 2002 03:08 PM
Leaving aside the extensive sources quoted above by both sides, which I simply do not have the time to delve into, to me, the proposition that we wanted the Soviets to be first in space sounds a bit too much like sour grapes for to be true.
My principal purpose in discussing Feed Back and its consequences was to point out that US space policies prior to Sputnik were driven primarily by the existing classified recon satellite activities and the need to protect them, part of which involved precluding a Soviet propaganda campaign against overflight. The creation of NASA cannot be understood properly except in this context. My understanding of Eisenhower Administration attitudes is influenced by conversations I had with the former Feed Back team leader, Stuart Kreiger, subsequently co-founder of Planning Research Corporation, who I came to know when he served as Chairman of American Rocket Company in the late 80s. I made several only very partly successful attempts to obtain the Feed Back report through FOIA at that time, at his urging. As it was still classified, he was only willing to discuss its effects on subsequent decisions in somewhat elliptical terms. However, it was clear to me that many people involved in the program were strongly concerned about the innocent overflight issue and were prepared to accept a Soviet first flight as an acceptable solution. From the description of the evidence he has obtained and reviewed, I will agree that Mr. Bille has indeed done the research into available national security documentation and I have no reason to believe that he is wrong in stating there is no evidence to support the theory that the Eisenhower administration had a policy to deliberately provoke the Soviets into launching first, or to deliberately delay US IGY activities to that effect. I continue to believe that the Eisenhower Administration's initial complacency over Sputnik stems primarily from satisfaction over the resolution of the overflight issue. The Quarles quote would seem to support that interpretation. There may have been a bias (never riased to policy) against a first US flight during the period prior to agreement on the IGY approach. Unless further evidence comes to light, (and it would be surprising if there were any such evidence) Mr. Bille's research has disproven the speculation to the effect that there may have been an active, official policy to make a Soviet first flight happen.Posted by Jim Bennett at October 5, 2002 08:23 AM
It is good to see Mr. Bennett's comments. A copy of the Feed Back report can be found in the NASA book Exploring the Unknown, Volume 1. We had an older version of the report at that time. Shortly after it came out, we obtained a complete version.
But Feed Back is not the key here. The key is the documents that followed, particularly the National Security Council documents, all of which have been declassified and which are referenced in the works that I previously cited. As I noted, this subject has been pretty much put to bed by myself and Michael Neufeld. But although we closed it, there were several there before us. Most notably, Stephen Ambrose wrote about it in the early 1980s, Walter McDougal covered it in his very important book The Heavens and the Earth, and Cargill Hall wrote about it in Exploring the Unknown, Volume 1. They had the broad outlines, but not the key documents. We acquired them later (ca. 1996-1999), but they pointed us in the right direction.Posted by Dwayne A. Day at October 6, 2002 06:37 PM
I think the point of whether or not we knowingly wanted the Russians to be first is a mute point by the fact that we proved to be mostly unsuccessful at building rockets at that time. It would have been on thing if we had designed and built a known working rocket that we could have launch at any moment. Except that we were waiting for the Russians to go first to create precedent concerning space bound over flight. But before Sputnik and further after Sputnik the space program produced failure after failure. I think the American public sentiment at the time, that we failed, was quite justified when everyone had to witness Vanguard I turning into a rubble heap on a live nationally televised broadcast.Posted by Hefty at October 7, 2002 11:06 AM
Post a comment