MANAGING THE MOON JOURNEY
JAMES E. WEBB AND APOLLO
As the first explorers of space, astronauts garnered most of the public
attention. But the sheer scale and complexity of the moon journey required
many extraordinary individual contributions.
A special challenge of the Moon project was management. At its peak, more
than 400,000 people in NASA, universities, and industry worked on Apollo
and the supporting human and scientific exploration programs. The effort
was the largest and perhaps most technically daunting engineering enterprise
In 1961, President Kennedy selected James
E. Webb to succeed Keith Glennan as Administrator of NASA and
to guide a program that would require the talents of nearly every community
in the nation.
An experienced manager, attorney, and businessman, Webb had served as
Director of the Bureau of the Budget and as Undersecretary of State in
the Truman administration. Webb also served as president and vice president
of several private firms and served on the board of directors of the McDonnell
Aircraft Company. Only three months after Webb's appointment to NASA,
President John F. Kennedy stated the national goal of landing a man on
the Moon before 1970. Webb served until October 1968, departing just months
in advance of the historic moon landing. Under his leadership, NASA transformed
space exploration from a partly-realized dream to one of the greatest
American success stories.