TAPE 1, SIDE 1
MR. COLLINS: Last time, we concluded with an initial account of some of your early activities as a member of PSAC and some of the panels that you served on. I believe we discussed the panel which was to assess the current US space program at that time, which was very fledgling. One thing I was impressed about, both with the Space Assessment Panel and Missile Assessment Panel, was the very short time frame within which one was charged with the task and a recommendation was rendered.
DR. YORK: Just a couple of weeks.
COLLINS: It seems like a fairly large responsibility to come up with a recommendation within a couple of weeks.
YORK: Well, in some ways it is. On the other hand, it didn't have the sort of details in it that other reports would have, and it was not so much a recommendation as it was a judgment of the situation. We did work very hard to produce those judgments. That is to say, we worked days and some evenings and probably some weekends as well, interviewing people. I do recall von Braun coming in to the Executive Office Building, and also the people from the Vanguard program, and spreading out these great blueprints on the floor, and pouring over them in the halls of the building, while von Braun and who was it from Vanguard, it was the head of the program?
COLLINS: I forget his name.
YORK: Well, that's one of history's ironies, isn't it? The other program went first. Getting briefed by them about what they were doing; that was with regard to the space side of it. On the missile side, we knew more about it to start with. That is, we were Kistiakowsky, myself and who was the third person, was it Piore?
COLLINS: McCrae, I think.
YORK: McCrae, on the missile side. We already knew a lot about that from our activities, each of us from our activities on various other panels, particularly in the case of Kistiakowsky and I, the von Neumann panels and the Air Force Science Advisory Board. So there we had a big head start and didn't have to do quite so much to make judgments about it.
COLLINS: I think this was the first instance for you in which your judgments were to be directly conveyed, in essence, to the President. Did that sort of carry any special feeling?
YORK: Yes, but mainly that of stimulus. I mean, we wanted to do it and get it right.
COLLINS: In terms of the Missile Assessment Panel, you mentioned in your book Atlas, Thor, Titan and Jupiter, but there was no mention of the Minuteman idea. Had that come to the fore at all at that time?
YORK: Well, it's just about that time, and I can't tie it together. I'm just not sure. I was aware of Minuteman, and the notion of a multistage solid ICBM had been in the air for at least a year or two before Sputnik, but it was still in a fairly primitive state, and we on the von Neumann Committee, the successor to the Teapot Committee, did hear annually a briefing on that subject. But my recollections are that the briefing for instance in '56, whenever that might have been, or early '57 was still not very promising. It took further work on solid rockets, further work on the Polaris type system, and the most sophisticated analysis of what solid rockets could do, to push this thing over the top. In addition to that, the payload had to be reduced. It was evident that we couldn't build a useful solid rocket that would deliver the kind of payload that we were planning for the Atlas or the Titan. An interesting upper limit on the size that was always in the back of people's minds and ultimately turned out to be one of the design criteria is that the largest piece of the Minuteman had to be transportable on the American highway system, and that set an upper limit, which I can't recall exactly but it's in the range of 75,000 pounds for the largest piece. If you imagine a three stage rocket with that kind of limitation for the largest stage, then the payload it can deliver is substantially smaller than the payload that Atlas could deliver. So the development of nuclear weapons at Los Alamos and Livermore, the development of lighter weight thermonuclear weapons also played a role in setting the stage for the Minuteman. The thing that I believe I remember, is that a Minuteman design with real potential was developed in connection with the Western Development Division, that is General Schriever's operation, at just about the time Sputnik went up. I think that it came a little earlier, and that it hit Washington after. The idea of Minuteman came to Washington at about the same time as Sputnik. I can't remember just sitting here whether Sputnik played an important role in hurrying up the decision to go ahead with Minuteman or not. There was a particular colonel involved with this that makes an interesting story which again I can't dig it out of my own memory, but I believe his name was Hall, does that name mean anything to you?
YORK: He was an Air Force colonel, but he was the kind of person who managed to make other people angry. I mean, he was the kind of person who created controversy, and the fact that he was involved, that he was sort of the center of the Minuteman effort within the WDD tended to complicate matters. Now, that's been written down. I don't think I ever knew it correctly. If one was actually tracing the history of Minuteman there'd be that extra matter, that the particular person who was pushing it was the sort of person that creates controversy as well as useful ideas, and I'm not even sure where the controversy was, between WDD and the Army, or whether it was between WDD and the Navy, because that was a three way competition in those days.
COLLINS: For this Missile Assessment Panel, do you recall, did you stick to the technical questions of the ability of these systems to succeed as defined, or did you consider strategic implications as well?
YORK: Well, we always had strategic implications in the background. I mean, we didn't shy away from them. In other words, we didn't limit ourselves to asking and answering technical questions. That's in general. I'm now talking about McCrae, Kistiakowsky and myself. At this particular time, I think that we were primarily answering technical questions, although this is the time when the Titan II is coming into the picture, and a number of the technical features of the Titan II were important for strategic reasons. That is to say, the Titan II was the first wholly inertially guided system and the strategic idea there simply is that it's independent of ground facilities which might be blown up, and furthermore, it had hypergolic fuels, which means that it can be stored loaded and be ready to go on shorter notice, which again is a strategic consideration. Kistiakowsky, McCrae and I were all people involved in a way that would make us very much aware of questions like that, so that we were influenced by strategic considerations, and probably thought of ourselves as perfectly capable of making judgments about things like that. But the primary purpose, our primary judgments at that time were to say how the programs were going.
COLLINS: You were on one of the other panels that you served on, that you designated, Blueprint for Space, it was unclear to me from your discussion. You indicated that you assessed the broader range of possible activities in space. Where did the emphasis lie? Was it on the manned element, was that what you saw as being a featured element in terms of goals, or was it to be more of the unmanned activity?
YORK: Well, it was both, and I don't know how to make a balance, but there was plenty of notion about man in space, but Killian especially brought in a note of both adventure and caution at the same time. The ultimate goal of the space program was the exploration of the universe, certainly including by man. On the other hand, the atmosphere of those times was one in which there'd been a lot of over-promising and a lot of embarrassment when these promises weren't met, so that there was caution with respect to not promising too much in the short run. It was Killian's idea, it was Eisenhower's idea, and I guess it was an idea shared by all of us, that the sky really was the limit in the most literal sense. But at the same time, one didn't want to promise things too soon, and so somewhere in that first document there is a timetable, but the timetable is not given in terms of years. It's given in terms of words like--"sooner, later, much later." I think I wrote that timetable, and at any rate, it's taken from another timetable that I'd written during the same period, for use within ARPA and some distribution outside of ARPA, I think to Congressional committees, in which there were years stated there. I think that my estimate, for instance, for going to the moon was some time between ten and twenty years after that date, which was the spring of '58. Now, my recollection of Eisenhower's views about going to the moon, which I think were not formed just at this particular moment but over a period of time were that the moon was a logical goal, but he was especially sensitive about making these promises. So his view--and now I'm mixing different periods together, because I had a long talk with him about it after he was no longer President--was that he didn't like the fact that Kennedy had said, "We're going to go to the moon in this decade." Eisenhower thought that was a wrong promise, not because we shouldn't go to the moon but because you shouldn't promise things like that so concretely, and he felt that the right way to do this--and I can almost hear him saying this in his own words as I tell you--is that we should first develop the large boosters, we should get along with having men in space, the Mercury type program which he'd approved. I believe he thought, and a lot of the rest of us thought too, that somehow a space station was one of the steps on the way to the moon. Now, that turned out to be wrong, but Eisenhower thought that we should push all of these steps--big rockets, manned space flight and space station, but that we shouldn't be making a promise about what necessarily followed only after you had done all of those things, that that was just too far to make a promise. Now, as I say, I'm mixing things which happened in the spring of '58 and things which came from conversations I had with him probably in '62 and '63, five years later. But we were very definitely interested in all of that. Your original question, was it mostly unmanned or manned--the things we talked about were both unmanned and manned, but certainly the big money that we were thinking of was related to manned.
COLLINS: One thing that struck me about that discussion, you detailed the groups of people that you talked with in developing this blueprint, but one notable absence was what you might call the scientific community, who might be interested in doing scientific work.
YORK: Well, yes and no. For example, we did talk with a man named Rosen from NRL. There were a couple of people from there. We talked with them. We talked with Bill Pickering, who in some sense represented some of that. Then, in our own group there were a number of physicists and other scientists who felt themselves perfectly capable of thinking about science in space. Ed Purcell, for example, one of the younger ones, had a great deal to do with that report. Maybe he was the chairman of the writing group or something, do you know anything? That's the one about space.
COLLINS: Purcell was the chairman.
YORK: Yes. And Purcell himself thought about these things. Now, you know, we didn't go broader afield, but I think we already felt that we had, from the point of view of pure science, some grasp of it. But as I say, in addition to that, we did talk with many scientists. I wish I could think of the other names. There were a couple of people that we often saw in pairs, I mean Rosen and someone else from NRL.
COLLINS: It might have been Herb Friedman.
YORK: We did talk with Friedman. Then we talked with someone who went over to NASA and early on headed up the scientific office in NASA.
COLLINS: Homer Newell?
YORK: Yes. We talked with Homer Newell. That's the man whose name I was looking for. Then somewhere in there, we talked with Ernst Stuhlinger, who was sort of the chief scientist with von Braun. So we did talk with scientific types, and beyond that I don't know who Purcell might have been talking with up at Harvard, because by that time I was primarily in Washington and not talking with people back home, Livermore anyway. But Ed Purcell and others spent most of their time back at their home base, and you know, I'll just guess that probably Purcell talked with quite few people about the strictly scientific side. We probably talked mostly with rocket types, but another important person--again maybe not part of the answer to your question about science, but who was the man who became the first deputy head of NASA and who had been head of NACA before?
COLLINS: Hugh Dryden.
YORK: Yes, Hugh Dryden. Jimmy Doolittle was in that picture, because he was chairman of the NACA and was an important figure in all of this. That's not part of the scientific question. And Jimmy was a member of PSAC. So we had a mixture of people who had been long involved and people who were new, and that included both science and engineers.
COLLINS: Maybe this is more an intuitive process, but I'm interested, in this particular instance you were really drawing in a lot of information, and how one sorts it out and comes up with a well organized prioritized blueprint for what you want to do strikes me as an intellectual problem. I wonder if you have any comments on that process?
YORK: Well, you know, I think the process is basically ad hoc, and heavily verbal. Certainly in my case, when I worked through something like that, it's very largely from talking with people, and only secondarily from reading, from reading reports, especially when you have a short time scale like that. Someone else might have done it entirely differently. But I handle a situation like that just by talking with people.
COLLINS: But in terms of assessing what's said to you and what's important--
YORK: You make judgments about the people, and that's one of the advantages of talking with somebody is that you can actually look at them, and you make impressions which may be prejudicial, but in terms of how serious they look and whether you think you can trust them or not, the same way as if you were buying a used car from someone. None of these people come in out of nowhere. I mean, somebody else always knows them, somebody that you know always knows them and many people, including me, do form fairly quick judgments about the reliability of someone else and the good sense of someone else. So that plays a role.
Ernst Stuhlinger was the guy I was trying to remember. But very early on I discovered, oddly enough, that von Braun didn't really understand orbits. I mean, he occasionally gave briefings that involved orbits, including very early on ideas about using the heavy planets as slingshots, you know, that sort of thing, but he didn't understand that at all. Stuhlinger understood it, and was able to calculate all these things, obviously had explained it to von Braun. But one of the more peculiar episodes is that I was talking with Wernher and we were in Washington, and we were talking about the possible interest of highly elliptical orbits, and there was a blackboard there and so he said yes or something like that, so he drew the earth, a little ball, and then this big elliptical orbit, but the earth was at the center of the ellipse. I thought it was just a careless mistake on his part, you see, so I erased it and I drew it with the earth at one of the foci of the ellipse, and for an elongated ellipse that's entirely different. The earth's tucked up against one end. "No," he says, erases it and puts the earth back in the middle. It wasn't like, in my view, the same as George Bush putting Pearl Harbor Day in September, it was more fundamental. I mean, von Braun just didn't understand how these orbits work. Stuhlinger understood it fine. The special thing about von Braun was his ability to bring together a group of otherwise disparate people, you know, to bring together Stuhlinger and all these other guys he had, and build a rocket that would actually go into an ellipse orbit. But he himself, of course, usually denied he was a scientist. Von Braun was no scientist, no mathematician either, strictly an engineer. Although you know, people called him a scientist, and I do remember sitting in meetings with him, Congressional hearings or something, when the Congressmen are asking Wernher to explain the boundaries of space, you know, and he starts talking about the atmosphere as being one boundary. You know, it's kind of a practical question of, space begins where satellites can fly at least a few orbits. "No, no, no, Dr. von Braun, what's the outer boundary of space?" Lord knows what kind of an answer they wanted, but Wernher started trying to talk about relativity and so forth. He just had no accurate concept of those things at all.
COLLINS: That's a case where it was clearly within your expertise to make a judgment about somebody's capabilities. I was interested by an account you related with respect to the nuclear arms test ban panel in which you began to have some doubts about the appropriateness of this group of people to make these particular kinds of assessments.
YORK: Yes, that was different. Right.
COLLINS: So what I'm plumbing here is, the boundaries at which one is comfortable making assessments, and these two case in a sense indicate that.
YORK: Yes. Well, what was the name of that panel that wrote that report on space? "Space the Endless Frontier" or something?
COLLINS: No, that was much earlier. Your book is BLUEPRINT FOR SPACE but I don't know whether that was the official title or not.
YORK: I think it's an important document. It's one you ought to take a good look at in any history like this. I mean, I don't see it referenced at all. I don't know even whether Sally Ride in this more recent review referenced it or not, because there's an awful lot there in the way of a statement about what there is to do, as I say, including going to the moon. Maybe it is called "Blueprint for Space." I was trying to get a copy of it recently and couldn't find one. I'd like to see an original one, not just a xerox or something. It's one I wish I had myself but I don't seem to.
COLLINS: We can pursue this question about the role of advisor and what the foundations and framework of it are, but with respect to the panel, was there any part of the panel review activity that considered or began to consider the organizational questions?
YORK: At the same time as this general plan called "Blueprint for Space" which was being prepared for the public was being worked out, there was constant discussion about organization. The President's intuition from the start was that we should separate civilian from military space, and I think he had two or several main stimuli. One of them was that he had just come through all this long period of interservice rivalry, you know, causing him problems. I mean, causing unnecessary duplication of programs, unnecessary expenditures, but very hard to control because there was such force behind the various factions. So he had felt for a long, long time that the activities in the development of big rockets were not adequately under control, and he was anxious to get them under control. He was anxious to get as much of that as possible out from the Pentagon, which is where this interservice rivalry problem was especially severe, and also where people were making what he regarded always as exaggerated claims about the role of rockets and space in the futures of each of the services and strictly in the national defense. Eisenhower wanted these things somehow separated. He wanted a situation in which the notion of manned space flight as an end in itself didn't get complicated by questions of what military requirements for something else might be. Killian and most of the others in the committee I think either shared that view from the beginning, or at least came to share it.
COLLINS: You're talking generally about the President's Science Advisory Committee.
YORK: Yes, and trying to talk about Eisenhower's own views, so that the notion that there should be separately a civilian space program and a military space program is a view that from my own perspective, was already there when I arrived on the scene in December.
COLLINS: Do you recall, was it in an explicit part of this Blueprint document or was that more?
YORK: No, that Blueprint document was written the following spring. I don't remember the date for it, but it was well into the spring, and by the time it was finished I was already over in ARPA, so there'd been a lot of water over the dam by the time that was done. Now, at that same time, there was this question of organization, and Killian handled that partly working with the committee, but he also dealt separately with other people on that question. You know, Jimmy Doolittle was a member of the committee, but I think that Killian, and Doolittle also talked with Killian wearing his hat as chairman of NACA, and there were some other people from NASA besides Hugh Dryden, and then there was somebody from some organization which was the predecessor of the current organization Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautical something. But it was a predecessor organization, and there were some people from there that Killian talked with, and then he talked with Rockefeller and Brundage in the White House staff, because Rockefeller had long been interested in questions of organization. So Killian played a role both as chairman of PSAC and working with the committee that wrote that Blueprint and so on, but then he also dealt separately with other people wearing his special assistant's hat. The notion that there would be two programs was almost in the nature of a given. The notion that it should be NASA built on NACA was not a given, as far as I know, but was a sort of a natural. I mean, one did look at other possibilities, like using one of the AEC laboratories, or starting totally from scratch, or something like that. But given NACA's previous work, and the way that NACA was able to relate to other government agencies, and NRL was another one, the notion of putting something together, taking NACA and building on it, came fairly early.
COLLINS: We can pursue more of those questions. I also wanted to touch on another panel which you mentioned as part of your early PSAC activity, which was to, as you put it in the book, "monitor and advise on classified space programs." Was it an offshoot of the Technology Capabilities Panel?
YORK: Yes. That panel existed before Killian's PSAC. What I believe, I'm not actually 100 percent, but Edwin Land provided the intellectual leadership in that panel over many many years, including until quite recently, and that panel had many different lives, so to speak. During the period of the Killian-Kistiakowsky-Wiesner PSAC, it was a panel of PSAC, but before Killian came in, I don't know its status. It may have been a free standing panel. It must have been tied into the White House somewhere but I'm not sure where.
COLLINS: Right. I find it interesting that there was a fairly significant overlap between the Blueprint for Space committee and this committee to monitor, in a sense, classified programs. What significance would you place on that overlap in members?
YORK: Well, only that many of the things you have to know in order to participate effectively in either of those panels are the same thing. You have to have some appreciation for the basic space transportation technology, and then the basic command and control and communications systems that are necessary. Those would be the big things, because on the classified side, you know, things like the development of huge cameras and so on are an essential part of it all. Your data transmission systems, data systems, those tend to be specialized but not unrelated. It's no accident that some of the principal advisors on the classified side were from the astronomical community. The question is, how do you really go about making good telescopes? Because from the point of view of optical reconnaissance, you have to look at an object from 100 miles away and that means a real classy telescope. I mean, the camera is a telescope.
COLLINS: I guess what I'm treating here is a too close reading of your book. These other panels were more or less assessment panels, but this one you indicated was to monitor and assess, and I'm curious why the additional verb in there.
YORK: Well, let's see. I'm not sure why I stuck it in. But let me say that the Land Panel in all of its various manifestations took a very proprietary view of its responsibilities, and Land always was digging in there with the various agencies that were doing this work to make sure they were doing it right. He was not simply looking at what they do and then telling the President that he thought it was good, bad or indifferent. He was right in there, you know, dealing with the heads of the agencies involved, CIA or whoever else, and making sure they knew what he thought about what they were doing. So it was somewhat more of a hands-on panel, I think it's fair to say it was somewhat more of a hands-on panel than most of the others were. I don't know why I stuck in the word "monitor." I just often use two verbs where one will do. You know, monitor and assess. But they kept close tabs on it, that's a fact, and that's probably what I was trying to reflect. And ongoing. Some of these others were just an assessment at a certain time, and the Land Panel had been a very active panel before I ever heard of it. As you say, it comes out of the 1954 period, and after I left, I knew it was still going on, after I really had very little connection with that Land and some of the principals involved in this were still engaged in that same activity. In fact, I'm not sure when it stopped, if indeed it ever did. Land is still alive and the panel may have become a PFIAB panel at a later time. The President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board--I don't know its status. Or it may have been connected with NRO, if, as they say, there is any such thing as NRO. That's what Admiral Turner says "If there is an NRO, then this is what you can say about it."
COLLINS: What role or connection did all this activity have with the National Security Council? Was there any attempt to brief them fully on this kind of activity?
YORK: Yes, but only periodically, and typically it would be Killian with one or two other persons. I mean, the National Security Council and PSAC never met together. But Killian would meet with them, because Killian and Kistiakowsky too were virtually like members of the Cabinet, and had close relations with National Security. But the National Security Council at that time, (and at all times,) is the President, the Secretary of Defense, Secretary of State, Director of the CIA, Secretary of the Treasury. It may be expanded at times so that certain others sit with it, but that's the basic National Security Council. Then there is a National Security Council staff and a National Security Advisor. Now that's (Brent) Scowcroft. Then there's a couple of hundred people who are his staff. Well, at that time, the staff function was much smaller than it is now. The number of people on the staff was smaller, and the role of the head of the staff was less also. I'm not sure who it was at that time. Was it General Persons or was it Gordon Gray?
COLLINS: I don't know.
YORK: Well, Mac Bundy was the first of the really influential National Security Advisors, because in the Eisenhower time, Eisenhower was his own National Security Advisor. Then he had Andy Goodpaster as his military aide, and then on technical questions he had Killian and Kistiakowsky. The National Security Council then was more like the original idea, that is to say, the National Security Council was the members of the Cabinet, a subset of the Cabinet. And yes, they did meet with them periodically. Killian with one or two other people, sometimes me but sometimes others, Purcell or probably George Kistkiakowsky often, met with either the Cabinet or the Security Council, but now I mean the real Security Council, and briefed them on these various things that we'd been talking about. I think they must have briefed either the whole Cabinet or the whole Security Council on the Blueprint for Space, for instance, on the plans for building NASA. And on the military space programs as they were developed. So there was a connection, but it was more a Killian connection, than a PSAC connection. I think some of the people even had dual appointments. It's possible that somebody like Spurgen Keeney actually worked both for the Security Council and for PSAC, and incidentally that continued right on. I think in the Carter Administration, John Marcum worked both for Brezhinski and for (Frank) Press in the seventies--and if there was anybody in the Killian time, it was probably Keeney.
TAPE 1, SIDE 2
COLLINS: I think we can go on and talk about your ARPA activities a little bit. One of the values of having an ARPA was for, as you express in your book, for intellectual authority, as opposed to just the political resources that the Secretary of Defense already had at his disposal.
YORK: Yes. In addition to just the kind of authority that an organization chart has. One of the points I made was that at that time there was so much confusion, if a particular organization had knowledgeable people, that helped, really knowledgeable people within it, that helped a great deal in their turf battles with other organizations.
COLLINS: Was this more than a case of making the Secretary of Defense better informed, or was it in essence a kind of rhetorical strengthening of their position?
YORK: Well, it was to make the office of the Secretary of Defense a place where there was more solid and reliable information, so that makes the Secretary more informed and the Deputy Secretary more informed and so on. It makes it possible for them to be more decisive in the fundamental sense of making their own decisions, instead of just accepting the decisions of some more remote staff.
COLLINS: I guess what I assume your statement in part was getting at was also the perception of being well-informed.
YORK: Yes, but at that time, at that particular time and perhaps always but certainly at that particular time, the perception won't last very long unless the reality backs it up. I think that's generally true. On the other hand, you can probably bluff more easily today maybe than you could at that time, because at that time everybody knew things, that there was something wrong and the world was out of shape and there was something to be understood and there was something to be done. So the role of the expert as part of a bigger and more general group was different, was colored by that.
COLLINS: With respect to staffing, I was intrigued by the number of corporate people, mostly brought in on temporary appointment. Why the heavy emphasis on corporate people?
YORK: Well, who else? We were dealing much more with the engineering side of rockets, missiles, command and control systems, all of that, than with any scientific questions. So the likely place to find people was at aerospace companies and electronics companies that had laboratories or you know, development sections dealing with advanced technology. At least that's how it seemed at the time, and in retrospect seems the same. That was the logical place to look. It's possible we might have found more people in university engineering departments if we'd looked harder, but we did do our main searching in industry, that's right.
COLLINS: Which struck me as perhaps a bit curious. I think part of your value was the sense that you were viewed as independent of that particular interest group, if you will.
YORK: Yes, because Livermore was not a profit making organization.
COLLINS: Right. So it struck me as interesting that you primarily sought people from industry as opposed to universities.
YORK: Yes, that's what I did. But it seemed to me that was the logical place to look. At Livermore, although it was partly University of California, it is more closely connected to a certain group of industries than it is to the academic world, and that's true today, too. If you go up to Livermore and you ask who the visitors are, they're much more liable to be from Boeing than from Stanford. Now, they will be from both. But if somebody goes on a trip somewhere, it's more likely to be to RAND or to Pantex or to Bell Labs than it is to be to the University of X.
COLLINS: To pursue this a little farther, as someone trained in physics and having a broad view of the fundamentals of science, you felt capable of evaluating any number of scientific and engineering projects.
YORK: Yes, it was sort of my naivete and chutzpah there, but yes.
COLLINS: So with respect to staffing again, were the positions in your judgment requiring someone who needed specific familiarity with the subject matter, specific familiarity with organizational and managerial relationships, or perhaps someone like yourself who had a broader understanding of the science?
YORK: Well, we were looking for young people who were broad-gauged but in those industrial laboratories and development centers. So we were looking for people who were broad-gauged, and some of them were more scientific and some of them were more like engineers. I immediately think of Sam Batdorf as someone who came to us from Lockheed, but Sam was a physicist with a searching mind. Sam was always looking for the sort of the frontiers of where science and technology met, and there were other people in the group who were expert at something like how to make chemical fuels or something like that. Or people who knew inside and out the electronics that, at that time, went into making radars, detection systems, communication systems, microwave systems of all kinds, but particularly radars, and in a way, and I'm not sure how to make this clear or even how to say it well, it was a simpler world then. I mean, 1958 was very different from 1988 in terms of that kind of technology, and while we did integrate these technologies, they were not as heavily integrated as they are today. So it really was easier. Fundamental questions played a bigger role than engineering details in 1958. Nowadays the engineering details have been elaborated to such a degree that in order to lead a program, you really have to have a widespread knowledge of those details, whereas in 1958, the person who knew the fundamentals was able to provide the principal top level guidance.
COLLINS: That's a nice observation. One of your principal activities when you came into ARPA, as you did with these other panels, was to assess projects.
YORK: Yep. We had many proposals before us.
COLLINS: In terms of reviewing projects or proposals, there seems to be two criteria there at work, in terms of how they fit into broad goals and objectives, and their specific approach to implementation.
YORK: Whether they were sensible, feasible, affordable, and so on. There are feasibility questions and then there are goal questions, yes.
COLLINS: As I've asked before, I'm curious about the process of review. Did this involve this staff of people that you drew from industry?
YORK: Yes, we reviewed all these things, and I did my part of the job very largely orally. I just kept constantly talking to the people on my staff and having them tell me what they thought about what was coming in, more than by reading these documents through.
COLLINS: How did proposals come to you? Did it become knowledge that if you had something to do with space, you automatically sent it through to ARPA?
YORK: Well, yes, but they also came from the services. Ultimately a proposal has to be some kind of a fancy legal document that talks about money and people and so forth, but at that particular time, things were faster moving than that, so that leadership people from all of these industries came in in person to talk about what their capabilities were and what they thought ought to be done, and to give a briefing. They might have some other person giving the briefing, but McDonnell from what's now McDonnell Douglas, McDonnell himself came in, Old Man McDonnell. Both Donald Douglas Jr. and Sr. came in. Pat Hyland, who was the head of Hughes Aeronautical, came in. Both Si Ramo and Dean Wooldridge came in, so that the top leadership of these firms came in, and in some cases, for instance, (and Ramo would be such a case,) he would give the briefing himself. In other cases they would bring an executive vice president or chief of a laboratory or something like that to give a briefing. They might come by themselves or they might have the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for R and D bring them in. There were all these different ways to bring forward ideas. But the role of the personal visit by the leading figures was number one.
COLLINS: This obviously represents a fair amount of implicit and explicit political pressure on you in certain directions. How did you grapple with that?
YORK: You know, it probably helps to be naive. I thought and operated on the basis that ARPA's technical assessments alone would resolve all these issues, so that's practically always what I did, and only rarely faced up to it in a truly political way. For example, I've actually written of some of those that came to my mind, and are easiest to express, but when we finally realized that we had a surfeit of activities in certain fields, we then did realize that closing down something that's already going does involve more issues than just the strictly technical questions, and that can be politics in the broadest sense. You're dealing with government agencies, Congressmen, labor unions, executives-- but when those things became very serious, I usually worked them out with either the Secretary or the Deputy Secretary. I didn't try to handle the most difficult political, really political questions on my own. And I recall Tom Gates and I meeting with Nixon, when we were on the verge of cancelling the Jupiter program in Michigan. I've written about that. Another one I wrote about because it was so memorable is when the Governor of Oklahoma and essentially the entire delegation came into my office to make it clear that they regarded the matter of the Boron Hydride Plant at Muskogee, Oklahoma, as a very important issue.
I was naive about these things, and my attitude was that an honest assessment will handle all these questions, and so I literally did proceed exactly that way.
COLLINS: This brings to mind the question of how you worked with Roy Johnson and John Clark in this respect, and more generally with the assessment activity.
YORK: Well, I had a little more experience than Johnson. Clark had a lot of experience with military technology, but a different kind. We worked--at the beginning especially--by seeing each other almost every day, and sitting down and talking about some of the main questions on the agenda. But I think that they both did a lot the way I just described to you. That is to say, Johnson probably, like me, did an awful lot of his work by having conversations with leading figures in defense and aerospace industry, and leading figures in the Pentagon--the other Assistant Secretaries for R and D, the military chiefs of R and D and so on. It was very fluid at first. There were constant staff meetings. As things became better developed and the staff became bigger, as the people we'd been recruiting out in the aerospace and electronic industries actually showed up and began to get their feet on the ground, then written reports came to be a more important part of the thing, because Roy Johnson did operate in a more formal manner than I did. But it began to be clear also that there were some differences there. He, for example, immediately thought that the idea of shooting a whole Atlas into space--Project Score--would be a great propaganda coup for the USA, but I felt that it was too transparent. He felt that this young man from Livermore just doesn't understand about public opinion. I'm not sure he understood it either but I know that he thought I didn't. So he went merrily on his way with this Score Project, and there's a big LIFE MAGAZINE picture of him with Benny Schriever, out here in San Diego at Convair Astronautics. (You can almost see that building from here). In the picture he's writing his name on the side of this Atlas which is about to be put into orbit.
COLLINS: In terms of the decison-making process, with respect to deciding whether to accept a proposal or continue with a program, how did that work with Johnson? Was it essentially your decision and then he ratified it?
YORK: Well, sometimes. But again, as ARPA developed, things changed. At first there was only me. Later on, he brought in some other people whom he sometimes used when he felt that I might not give him the "right" answer, and so there was some conflict in that regard also. But he very seldom made decisions without consulting with somebody, and if they were technical, he would normally consult with me. But as I say, as things developed, he developed some other, one or two other people who he felt confident with and whom he dealt with more or less separately and of course he always dealt with Admiral Clark. I don't remember much about that. But there was one guy from the spook community that he liked to work with named Bill ?, later got into a lot of trouble. Now, that dealt with a fairly narrow set of issues. But then there was another guy with whom the chemistry worked out very well, and Roy developed a feeling of confidence with this guy, too, but I can't think of his name.
COLLINS: In your book you alluded to difficulties with Johnson, involving his working relationship with the White House and Killian.
YORK: Yes. As time went on, there were more and more things where he didn't take my advice, and for some reason or other was persuaded by someone else that something ought to be done. Generally my advice and any advice from Killian would be pretty much the same anyway, partly because we saw a lot of each other, and partly because we saw the problems in the same way to start with. I mean, Killian and I were likely to come to similar conclusions even if we didn't talk about it with each other. A lot of those differences were as I implied with Project Score, where Johnson would either do something because in his judgment the public relations looked better, or do something because he was persuaded by the military. He came to believe that there really was an urgent need for a military man in space, something which I always had doubts about. I was open to discussions about it but I was never persuaded, and neither was Killian and certainly neither was Eisenhower. So Eisenhower, Killian and I were all of us taking a dubious view with respect to military claims about the utility of space all sorts of purposes and the role of man in space. Johnson was, in my terms, taken in by people who persuaded him that the future of warfare lay in space. There were people who felt that extreme about it. And I won't say that Johnson accepted everything that they said, but after Johnson had been there six months, he was the director, I guess no director would turn to his chief scientist for all judgments about everything, and he started making his own judgments. And you know, the deeper he got into making his own judgments, the more differences developed between him on the one hand and both Eisenhower and the PSAC group (and me) on the other hand. Those were somewhat separate, but Eisenhower personally didn't particularly care for him, and Killian didn't care for him either.
COLLINS: ARPA was created as a result of perception of organizational problems in space and whatever, and when we got together in December, I recall that you mentioned that McElroy thought that the organizational failure was the reason for the U.S. falling behind (or seeming to) in the Space Race. I was wondering what your perception of this was.
YORK: Well, it was partly true. Probably everyone who looked at it had a somewhat different view of where the failure was, but in my view--one of the things I left out of MAKING WEAPONS, TALKING PEACE, because I ran out of space in the book, the technical people simply were too weak. It's not just that the organization wasn't right, but the people in it weren't right, and those in a way are tied together. You can't make the right organization out of the wrong people. And if you look at who was there, you found people largely from sort of classical R and D, people from the petroleum industry, for instance. The Assistant Secretary of Defense for R and D at that time was a man in his early seventies named Paul Foote who really was losing his grip, and whose background had been the automobile industry or the petroleum industry. If anybody had the title "Missile Czar," he was the chief, head of the Guided Missile Office, kind of an independent office, a man named Holaday. It was a very small office and Holaday himself, I think, was from Standard Oil of Indiana or something like that. So the only good man in the Pentagon, the only good technologist to have any rank in the Office of Secretary of Defense at that time was Donald Quarles, and even he was quite conservative. He did understand the modern questions, but he was very conservative in the way he approached them. He had come from the Western Electric Company and had been the president of the Sandia Corporation before he moved into the Pentagon. But he was the ablest person by a good margin in the Office of Secretary of Defense. The head of Atomic Energy, and therefore the chairman of the Military Liaison Committee, was a retired general named Loper, Herbert Loper, called Doc Loper, and he was really over the hill with respect to these technologies. I don't really know what his background had been. The man who was essentially the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Intelligence was an elderly retired Marine general who, as far as I know--I may be doing them all an injustice because I never got to know them awfully well--had no idea about satellites, communications intercept techniques, in any close way at all. So the people in OSD who were responsible for the programs that had the large high tech content were all people from some past or from some non-high tech component of whatever activity was involved, and with only relatively weak staff type authority, and just not the right people for coping with this kind of problem. They couldn't provide the Secretary of Defense with the intellectual authority that he needed in order to force conclusions on the services. So the interservice rivalry, in a way, just couldn't be handled by such a weak central staff. Interservice rivalry was a problem, because the Army, the Navy and the Air Force were each able to invent reasons for why they should be building this rocket or that satellite, and they were each able to describe missions that could be handled better if they had this rocket or that satellite, and each of them had a laboratory or a group of contractors associated with it that was expert in some of these areas. There just was confusion, chaos, unnecessary duplication at the highest level. There's no such thing as unnecessary duplication at the research level, or if there is it's not very important. You get two guys thinking deeply about something, and there's usually no point in cutting it down to just one, simply because they're both thinking about the same thing. But when you have, the most egregious example to talk about was the competition between the Thor and the Jupiter, which were very similar billion dollar programs where you needed at most one such rocket, and you had two. Indeed you can make a case you didn't even need one. And the reason we had two came about as I said. The Army and the Air Force were each able to describe missions. They each had facilities which had capabilities in building these devices. There was no one in the Office of the Secretary of Defense who could argue with them. So, even though it was very early recognized, (by very early I mean certainly by '55 or '56,) that we didn't need both a Thor and a Jupiter, there was no way to get rid of one of them, no way to handle that issue. We saw the same thing coming again in space in lots of areas. For instance both the Army and the Air Force were making maps, and then the Navy has a Hydrological Office, so that we had more people working on making maps than we needed. There was another place where there was unnecessary duplication. Another instance. There were all kinds of instances like that.
COLLINS: In your book you convey quite well this type of role that ARPA played, in assessing programs and looking at issues of duplication. What role did it have in examining the programs as they went along? Did they play any role in that kind of oversight?
YORK: Well, certain programs it took over, and therefore in the course of normal adminstration, of R and D, it had continuing oversight. In one area, space, ARPA got in and then got out after only about one year, but in the program that was generally described in the beginning as Defender, which was a collection of research activities relating to missile defense, they sponsored a lot of work which they continued over a very long period of time, and in the course of that long term sponsorship, they maintained a continuing relationship to the research activity that's of the usual sort. On more than an annual basis, they updated themselves on everything that was going on and what the possibilities were, and they did it in all the ways that are available. People came in and briefed them. They went out to the field to look. You know, documents and progress reports were submitted, proposals for expansion or new projects were submitted and read and so forth. So ARPA didn't just--in the early days, there was this flood of proposals which ARPA assessed, and then picked from among them, and then the projects that were then undertaken, they followed in the usual way.
COLLINS: I think we can probably move on to your new role as DDR and E, fairly soon, six months or nine months after you'd come into ARPA.
YORK: Nine months, yes.
COLLINS: I guess at this point NASA had come into existence.
YORK: By the time I was DDR and E, NASA was going and Keith Glennan was the administrator.
COLLINS: What was the nature of your contact with Keith Glennan?
YORK: I saw him often, both when I was chief scientist of ARPA and when I was DDR and E. When I saw him when I was chief scientist at ARPA, I was Roy Johnson's chief scientist. So although, I always spoke my own mind about those things, not quite so freely perhaps--well, surely not so freely as when Ibe came DDR and E--there was this sort of basic conflict between NASA and ARPA about roles and missions at the high end, that is to say large rockets and man. Roy Johnson's view was that those were essential military activities, and Keith Glennan's view is that the Space Act of 1958 gave him a set of responsibilities to explore space and so forth, that it ought to be carried out with large rockets and men. So there was this conflict. And my view and the view of Killian was that basically, it was NASA who needed men in space and who needed large rockets in order to carry out its mission, and not ARPA. Now, the question who has the missions doesn't entirely solve the question of who builds the rockets, because many NASA missions were being carried out with Atlases, and Atlas was an Air Force rocket which NASA obtained on a vehicle by vehicle basis as needed. So that didn't, the question about the roles and missions didn't solve the matter of who would build the rockets, I mean didn't absolutely settle it, but in the case of future systems, it seemed to me and to most others that the agency that had the primary requirement and mission should be the agency that built them. The fact that in the past it had been possible to use military hardware for NASA missions didn't answer the question for all time, didn't mean that in the future the military should always build the rockets and NASA should simply be a user. So a conflict built up, in which you know, the way it moved eventually Roy Johnson and most of the people at ARPA accepted the military view, because it would put them in a more interesting position. And I accepted the PSAC and (call it) the White House view that no, the visible missions for large rockets and for man in space were NASA missions. So there was somewhat of a confusing relationship there, and I had already started to explore the question of leaving the Pentagon, when the DDR and E job came up. You know, I can't tell you for sure whether I had talked with Don Quarles, who was still the Deputy Secretary, about it or not, but I think I probably had. So I was thinking about leaving some time after about a year, and I don't for sure know what I would have done, but my relations with Roy Johnson were becoming more strained than I've written in my own memoirs.
COLLINS: You were talking about, you're considering leaving before you were moved up to the post of DDR and E. I guess this calls for a little editorializing on your part, and that is, it seems like, given the fragility of NASA as an organization, something that had just come into being, the support of someone in your position was really critical to the organization.
YORK: It may have been. Glennan says things of that nature. He doesn't say it as strongly as maybe you've implied, or maybe as the truth is, but Glennan does talk about his problems with Johnson, and about the more positive relations with me, both when I was in ARPA, when it was a delicate matter, and when I moved on to be DDR and E. Of course, then Johnson left--no surprise. Johnson and I did have fundamentally different views about space, and the near term and mid-term future. He did think, he was persuaded by the military that, there were military uses in the classical sense, for space, that battles were going to be fought in space and that even battles on the ground were going to be controlled from space and so on. I find it hard after all these years to put the right words to this idea, but the idea was that space was just one more theatre and that it would be, within the middle term, talking about five and ten years out, the question of whether we or the Russians were the most capable men at putting men in space would be decisive with respect to military power on the ground. That I didn't believe. I believe that 25 years have shown that I was right, or that those of us who felt otherwise were right, but those kinds of ideas were coming from everywhere. Now, there were specific individuals who talked boldly about those things, like Medaris in the Army and Bouchet in the Air Force and others. There were others like Schriever who were more cautious, who didn't make crazy statements that are easy to find and quote, but who nevertheless felt that space belonged to the military and there really was no point in having either ARPA or NASA mucking around in it. There was very serious consideration at the top of the Air Force of changing their name to the United States Aerospace Force. There were all kinds of things like that were going on. There was, as you probably know, a large space medicine institution.
COLLINS: Resuming after a brief pause, we were discussing your service tensions.
YORK: ARPA helped to solve some of the unnecessary duplication problems in the Pentagon and some of the unresolved administrative issues, but at the same time created new ones with respect to NASA.
COLLINS: I think rather than dwell on certain elements of your role in DDR and E which were covered pretty well in your book, I want to go to the end of your tenure, and there's a little discussion in your book about the space program as the transition to the Kennedy Administration came about.
TAPE 2, SIDE 1
COLLINS: After the election in the fall of 1960, there was a review of the space program that resulted in the so-called Wiesner Report. I'm wondering whether you had any involvement or knowledge of that activity, this assessment of the space program at that time?
YORK: Well, I don't recall something called the Wiesner Report, but under McNamara's direction we prepared our own views about what was needed in the way of space transportation in the foreseeable future, and we participated with NASA in a joint study of the same question, with that work being done mainly by (John) Rubel. I stayed just three months into the new administration in order to help with the transition. McNamara ordered all kinds of reviews and studies, and one of the reviews and studies that he ordered was with respect to what kind of boosters did we need. And it was often put in terms of what family of boosters did we need, both from a Defense perspective and from a national perspective. But as I mentioned, Rubel was my principal deputy but also he had from the beginning been heavily involved with strategic and space questions. So Rubel handled that question.
COLLINS: What was his background?
YORK: Rubel came from Hughes Aircraft, and was a bright guy who learned things rapidly, and so he knew the aerospace missile technology from the perspective of Hughes Aircraft and the programs that they had had there, which included satellite developments. It included small short range missiles, smart missiles, smart in the terms of those days.
COLLINS: How had he come to your knowledge?
YORK: Oh, Rubel? You had remarked earlier about how we recruited for ARPA by going out to the aerospace and electronics industries. When I became DDR and E we did the same thing again. Except with a difference, and that is that in the case of ARPA, those people were employed by IDA rather than by the government, the first ones who came in, because ARPA didn't, because they didn't have to have that kind of authority that required government employment. But in the case of when I was DDR and E I recruited a new layer of people. We were not looking for so many, but we were looking for people who would then take on authority and responsibility, assistant DDR and E's we called them, in several areas--tactical, strategic, space, air defense. Jack Ruina was the one we got for air defense. And I found them in various places. I found Jack Ruina in the Pentagon in the Air Force. His immediate predecessor who worked for me only for a brief time had been a consultant to the top level of the Pentagon before I came in. That was Hector Skifter. Of the others, one came from RAND, one came from Hughes, I forget where the others came from now. I solicited ideas from Killian, from Jim Fisk, from others, from Ramo, and I actually met with a group of aerospace executives and a group of electronics executives, told them what we needed, asked for their suggestions. And Rubel came out of that process. I did not know Rubel before.
COLLINS: I see. I think in these first early months of the Kennedy Administration, NASA and DOD did some what were called memoranda of understanding about what would you want, and I do believe there was one signed with respect to the booster question which essentially said, neither DOD nor NASA will understand a large development without consulting with and working with the other one.
YORK: Could be. I don't remember that.
COLLINS: I'm interested in this document that I brought forward and whether you might have comments on one particular aspect ofit. It's dated 8 May 1961, signed by James Webb and Robert McNamara, to the Vice President. And it's entitled "Recommendations for a National Space Program and Goals," and one element of this that I found particularly interesting is some of the goals that obviously were derived from what had been discussed in the late fifties. But there's language in here about the state of the aerospace industry that I found very interesting, and let's see if we can find some of the language here. Before we discuss that, this document acknowledges--I think it was perhaps one of the first times--that one is pursuing manned space activity or space projects in general for national prestige. I don't know that I'd ever seen it characterized that boldly in Eisenhower--
YORK: Perhaps not, but the notion of prestige was always there. And in a peculiarly negative way. I mean, the notion was that our prestige would be damaged if we let the Russians do these things first. So the notion of prestige was always there. But Eisenhower, Killian and Kistiakowsky were not the kind of people who would accept prestige as the sole reason for doing something on this scale. With them I think it's fair to say prestige could be a fine dividend but there had to be a better reason than simply prestige alone.
COLLINS: Okay. I'll read a little here--a section called "Space Projects for Prestige." "All large scale space projects require the mobilization of resources on a national scale. They require the development and successful application of the most advanced technologies. They call for skillful management, centralized control, and unflagging pursuit of long range goals." This notion of centralized control is expanded upon later on in the document.
Resuming again after a brief pause, on the planning aspects of the space program, I was starting to quote from one part of the document. I'll jump to a related part of the document now, page 10. It talks about the Soviet achievements and how these reflect a national commitment over a period of time and centralized control, and here it says, "In that decade, the decade of 1950-60, as witness the great expansion in US sponsored research and development and especially for large scale defense programs, enormous strides have been made, particularly in our space efforts and development of related ballistic missile technology on a crash basis. We have, however, incurred certain liabilities in the process. We have over-encouraged the development of entrepreneurs and the proliferation of enterprises. As a result key personnel have been thinly spread. The turnover rate in US defense and space industry has had the effect of removing many key scientific engineering personnel from their jobs before the completion of the projects in which they were employed. Strong concentrations of technical talent needed for the best work on difficult tasks have been seriously weakened. Engineering costs have doubled in the past ten years." So there's a suggestion here in this document that somehow, the industry especially needs to be trained, made stronger and more focussed on national problems, and I'm curious whether that was a sentiment that you shared, and what the general feeling was about this issue at the time.
YORK: Well, I don't remember what I thought at the time, but I agree with it in retrospect. I probably agreed with it at the time also. There really were more different companies than we needed. There were a lot of people who would be with one company and then discover that the way to get rich is to spin off and make your own company and get stock options in addition to salary--so there was an awful lot of movement of people, and an awful lot of nervous energy going into creating new companies and moving around among old ones. I recall that from the time, so I agree with those remarks.
COLLINS: What seems to me suggested here, and what came out of conversation with Bob Seamans and his perception of the situation, was that there was an interest on the part of the Department of Defense in more centralized control. In other words, how do you deal with this problem? What's the role of the Department of Defense in the problem?
YORK: How you deal with it is another matter. My comments were that I agreed with the statement of the problem.
COLLINS: Right. Do you recall considerations of how one might have dealt with this issue?
YORK: No, the only recollection I can conjure up at the moment is that we accepted it as just part of the American system, which in net was a good and powerful way of getting these things done, but which had certain imperfections as well and this was one of them. You know, there was a tendency to resist new people coming in and saying, "My garage is as good as anybody else's garage and I can do your research program there." We tended to look at the established organizations as being more reliable, and places of more promise.
COLLINS: Was there any sense in which the established organizations were perceived as not being as responsive as they might have been to some of these goals?
YORK: Well, there was always a certain amount of tension between government and industry, just as there is today, in which we have certain requirements to meet, and the industry wants to help us meet those, but then they have their own separate requirements, making profits, staying in business, and there are certain conflicts (that may even be too strong a word). There are certain tensions and differences between what the government wants and what industry wants that come out of that.
COLLINS: Yes, I guess one element that should have caught my eye here was this insinuation that centralized planning and control was one answer to this.
YORK: That may have been McNamara and Webb talking to each other about how to coordinate their activities. I'm not clear from this document what anybody meant by centralized planning and control. McNamara was new to the Pentagon at the time this was written. He may very well have been concerned about centralized planning in the Pentagon. The two of them may have been concerned about centralized planning in Washington. I don't think that necessarily the use of the words "centralized planning" here refer to anything special about industry, although I mean, I see your quote. They're talking about problems created by the fact that industry is too diverse and disperse. But their inspiration to talk about centralized planning may have been the government itself.
COLLINS: One final question. One of the traditional characterizations of the McNamara reign at DOD was his introduction of more rigorous accounting procedures.
YORK: Yes, planning management. He was a professional manager who was proud of it. And wanted to introduce modern concepts of management and planning into the Defense Department's activities. So these references to centralized planning may very well just simply be reflections of McNamara's idea that things had been too chaotic before he came along. That it was part of his mission to straighten out this chaos.
COLLINS: I think I mentioned before, one of my other interests is the RAND Corporation and its early history. This is the period when there was a substantial influx of RAND personnel into DOD, including Charlie Hitch and one of your assistants--
YORK: Yes, Paxson came from there.
COLLINS: Right. Do you recall anything specific about their contributions or general philosophy that would fit in with the McNamara philosophy?
YORK: Well, it did fit better, because RAND had enjoyed a good relationship with the Air Force, and the Air Force was its customer, not the Department of Defense, all along. But McNamara was the sort of a person who idealized the role of planning and operations analysis, and so I think that the RAND type of thinking got a boost with McNamara.
COLLINS: With that as background and your experience with DOD over the previous two or three years, did you see this as something that could be fruitful in terms of moving DOD in the direction--
YORK: Yes, except that I've always been suspicious of operations analysis, and concerned that it would take an exaggerated role.
COLLINS: Do you have any further comment about the McNamara style and its effectiveness?
YORK: It's another way of running the Pentagon. It's not the only way of doing it, and especially in 1960, the past style would probably have produced a similar result, but it's one good way of running things. It was inevitable that the style for running the Pentagon would have to be parallel with the general ideas in America about management and adminstration and so on, and McNamara was very much up on all of those things, so that he brought some inevitable modernization in approach to the Pentagon.
COLLINS: What were your reactions to the evolving character of the space program? By the time you were ready to depart I think it was clear that a major buildup was in the offing.
YORK: Well, actually there was no buildup. The program that we had was pretty much the program that I expected when I was there. Except for the lunar program, except for going to the moon, everything else that's happened is more or less what I thought would happen. And as I said earlier, I thought we'd go to the moon, I just didn't think we'd do it in the sixties. I thought we'd do it in the seventies. So really, I think the program that you see, that you saw, you see even today, is the direct extension of the one that was set up before McNamara and Webb.
COLLINS: But it was given different emphases, as you suggest.
YORK: Well, the military side certainly didn't change. I mean, except for going to the moon, there was no really big change. The idea that the million and a half pound rockets, were all set, the Mercury program to be followed by the Gemini program was all set, and on the military side, the reconnaissance and surveillance and communications, that was all set. But I say that with some force, because I remember making analyses for McElroy about what the space traffic was going to be for the next ten years, how many launches you'd need per year, and I don't know where on earth I could put my hands on those numbers, but in retrospect they were really quite accurate. There were other people insisting that the space traffic was going to go way up. And that same mistake keeps being made over and over again. You know, even before the Shuttle, there were estimates of space traffic that were enormous. And my view is that no, that's not right. I think I know how many satellites there are going to be per year, and my recollection is that my predictions way back then were very good.
COLLINS: We've briefly discussed the transition of the civilian space program from Eisenhower to Kennedy, and we've indicated that there was strong continuity within the military program.
YORK: Yes. The biggest single difference is that in the Eisenhower years, we talked openly about our plans for the military program: reconnaissance, early warning, communications, infra-red, the use of infra-red detectors for early warning of missile launches, but McNamara in the very early part of his administration made an edict saying, we're not going to talk about that any more. So people stopped talking about reconnaissance satellites, surveillance satellites and so on.
COLLINS: Do you recall the rationale for that?
YORK: Yes. At least in part, it had to do with avoiding provoking reaction on the part of the Soviets. McNamara felt, and perhaps correctly, that if we didn't boast about the fact that we were going to run overhead surveillance that would reduce the chances of the Russians taking some kind of direct counter action like the construction of anti-satellites and so on. So the main uses of satellites had to do with penetrating the Iron Curtain. McNamara's view was that it's a little provocative to be talking about doing this, surveillance and intelligence in particular, and if we'll just shut up about it, we will have a better chance of carrying it off. Even in retrospect I wouldn't say that that's obviously true, but the thrust of the idea is right. You know, less provocation means less likelihood of retaliation or reply. So that's one of the big differences. Nowadays, people say that it was only Carter who talked about reconnaissance satellites, and we still don't have very clear discussion about the role of infra-red satellites in surveillance, but we talked about all those things, up until McNamara put the lid on. So Eisenhower was the first President to talk about those things, not Jimmy Carter.
COLLINS: I think we can end on that note.
COLLINS: Okay. Thank you.