Page images

Mr. KARTH. Your people there really worked as bodies as opposed to a team?

Mr. HORNER. They were working in many different organizations of the laboratories as individuals.

As regards the reasons for difficulties in the flight program, we have been sufficiently involved to understand that the Ranger flight objectives are perhaps the most difficult attempted in any space project to date. With the large number of sequential operations, each dependent for its success on the flawless accomplishment of all previous operations, and this in the harsh environment of vibrations and accelerations produced by the launch vehicle and the radiation, temperature, and vacuum characteristics of cislunar space, it is scarcely surprising that success to date has been limited.

As I have described the Northrop participation in the program, you will note that one of the major functions of our design review for the implementation of the block V spacecraft was to recommend design changes to insure a spacecraft reliable and capable for the block V mission. Since the final configuration of this spacecraft was still under discussion at the time of cancellation, the adoption of our recommendations was never resolved.

Mr. KARTH. Have any of these recommendations been incorporated in block III?

Mr. HORNER. I don't have information on which to base an answer, sir.

With respect to the block III spacecraft, in performing our function of providing professional staff, we do not have responsibility in any way for configuration control and therefore have no information that permits a comment as to the engineering changes that have been made. It seems to me, however, simply on the basis of flight performance to date, that the integrity of the design has been substantially proven, and we should look forward with some confidence to a successful mission in the remaining flights.

I will be glad to try to answer any further questions which you may have.

Mr. KARTH. Have your people brought to your attention any specific areas where they think the failure occurred and the reasons for such failure?

Mr. HORNER. No, sir. It would be very inappropriate for them to do so under the circumstances.

Mr. KARTH. What system of management do you use at Northrop, or would you have used on block V-the matrix, project, or a combination?

Mr. HORNER. We were facing the problem of doing the program on relatively short leadtime in order to maintain established launch dates. We felt that it was very important to have a very comprehensive control mechanism. The Ranger project was provided within itself a very large fraction-more than 90 percent of the total resources provided to complete the project.

Mr. KARTH. So you use the project system?

Mr. HORNER. Yes, sir.

Mr. KARTH. Do you use the project system of management on all of your contracts of any substantive nature?

Mr. HORNER. No, sir; it varies quite a good deal, depending on the nature of the project and its relative maturity at any one time. Generally speaking, as a project becomes more mature, it becomes more desirable to consider a functional type utilization of your personnel. We have found it desirable to use project management in the early stages of a complex project.

Mr. KARTH. In the early stages?

Mr. HORNER. Yes.

Mr. KARTH. Are you saying that you change systems of management in the middle of the stream, so to speak?

Mr. HORNER. We have on some projects. The easiest example to use is where you have a high-production-rate problem; for example, on typical defense airplane or missile programs. I think it is very common in our industry to use project type management during the development stages and convert to a functionalized management system in the production stages.

Mr. KARTH. I see. Are there any further questions?

(No response.)

Mr. KARTH. I have no further questions at this time, Mr. Horner. I want to thank you very much for appearing before the subcommittee. If, at a later date, we might find it necessary to get further information from you, we hope that you will honor our request.

Mr. HORNER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, I will certainly be glad to do what I can.

Mr. KARTH. The meeting is adjourned. The next meeting of this subcommittee will be at 10 o'clock Monday morning, when Mr. Webb and Dr. Seamans will be here.

(Whereupon, at 12 noon, the subcommittee adjourned until 10 a.m., Monday, May 4, 1964.)


MONDAY, MAY 4, 1964



Washington, D.C.

The subcommittee met at 10 a.m., in room 214-B, Longworth House Office Building, Hon. Joseph E. Karth, a member of the subcommittee, presiding.

Mr. KARTH. The subcommittee will come to order.

This morning the subcommittee is privileged to have with us Mr. James E. Webb, Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and Dr. Robert C. Seamans, Jr., the Associate Administrator.

First of all, Mr. Webb and Dr. Seamans, we want you to know that we apologize for taking you away from what we know is a very busy schedule, but we have called you because we are sure you can help us in our present endeavor, and we hope this investigation will be helpful to the Ranger program.

You have a prepared statement, Mr. Webb. I wonder if I could ask you to accede to the same practice as the other witnesses. That practice has been for the members to ask questions as the witness proceeds through his formal statement. Otherwise, some of our questions might be forgotten.

Mr. WEBB. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Shall I proceed?

Mr. KARTH. Yes, Mr. Webb.


Mr. WEBB. Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee, I would like to begin by thanking the chairman for his courtesy in scheduling this hearing so that both Dr. Seamans and I could be present without having to cancel several long-established commitments outside of Washington. We appreciate this opportunity to answer those questions still outstanding in your review of Project Ranger, and especially the Ranger VI. NASA, JPL, and the representatives of RCA and Northrop have given exhaustive testimony on the history and background of the project, on its relation to the total lunar and planetary exploration program, on details of its design, testing, and flight, and on its management. Dr. Seamans and I are prepared to discuss such aspects of this testimony as you may feel warrant further consideration.


In the 5 years NASA has been in existence, and especially since 1961, our concept of teamwork has grown and matured. I am convinced the major advances in space technology or space science today can most surely and rapidly result from a proper melding of the best elements of Government, universities, and industry.

May I interpolate there, Mr. Chairman, my own appreciation of the strong support your committee has given to this concept of the marriage of Government, universities, and industry to produce total national strength in this field.

The individual efforts and creative contributions, and the teams that evolve from this interplay are dynamic, not static. The individual commitments and the team membership changes, and the role of each team member changes in response to the stimulus and challenge of the task at hand. Each efement supplies values that the others may lack, and it is a major task of space agency management to build these capabilities for individual participation and these flexible teams in such a way that they can contribute to the maximum.

The entire NASA program is carried forward by such teams, and Project Ranger is no exception. The university element is provided by California Institute of Technology as Laboratory manager and by university scientists and investigators such as Kuiper and Urey. The industry element is provided by contractors who produce and supply materials and components, by the subsystem contractors, and by the engineering support groups. The Government element is represented by NASA, specifically the Headquarters Office of Space Sciences and Applications, the field Western Operations Office, and the JPL residency.

This team has not succeeded in obtaining high-resolution pictures of the lunar surface, but I am convinced that it has put in motion a process that will succeed. This team has undertaken a most difficult engineering and development task and has delivered some major results. I point to the important Mariner fly-by and to the success of Ranger VI in impacting the moon within a few miles of its aiming point. Chairman Miller spoke to this point last Monday, and I agree with him that this team deserves congratulations.

I would like to summarize the history of NASA's relationships with one part of this team, the California Institute of Technology and JPL, and to sharpen our focus here on the roles the team members have in the overall program.

On January 1, 1959, the physical plant called the Jet Propulsion Laboratory was transferred from U.S. Army (Ordnance Corps) to NASA ownership. The staffing and operation of this facility was at that time the responsibility of the California Institute of Technology under contract to the Ordnance Corps. The contract was phased out in an orderly fashion over the next year.

Simultaneously, a new contract between NASA and California Institute of Technology provided for continuation of the JPL operation under NASA direction and funding, with the several areas of propul sion, advanced research, and deep-space exploration as its missions. The 3-year contract was designed to conform as closely as possible to the previous Army contract in order to minimize the effect of the transfer upon the still-continuing defense effort and to quickly and

easily bring the unique technical competence of the Laboratory to bear upon the pressing new problems of the space age.

The successor contract came into effect on January 1, 1962, and runs until December of this year. It incorporates changes and modifications that reflected the relationship at the time of its negotiation during 1961. It is important to remember that JPL has grown from a 2,600-man research and development group in 1958 to a 4,000-man complex in 1964.

Mr. KARTH. I wonder, Mr. Webb, if I could ask at this point whether or not JPL has, in fact, been transformed from a scientific laboratory to a manufacturing-oriented laboratory?

Mr. WEBB. I would say categorically it has not, but the problems of the relationship between this advanced scientific and engineering research function, the level at which it operates, its relationship to California Institute of Technology, and its further relationship which NASA has sought with the other universities in the west coast area, are still in an evolutionary state. One of the things we must work out for full success is a relationship which will produce a climate within which the ablest scientists and engineers on the university campus play a full part in the programs and they are prepared and willing, individually, to participate in this program. This is a part of the dynamics of the situation. I should like to say categorically that JPL has not been transformed into a manufacturing or contract management agency.

Mr. KARTH. There has been an increase of approximately 1,400 personnel at JPL in recent years. The thought that occurred to me was, since the people at JPL envision Cal Tech as one of the important. links in the total chain, and the fact that they would rather remain as they are as opposed to becoming a true NASA center, such as Lewis and Goddard and Langley, one of the reasons may be that they can draw on Cal Tech for things that might otherwise not be available, such as trained personnel. Can you tell me if these 1,400 people did in fact come from Cal Tech, or whether these people were primarily enlisted from industry?

Mr. WEBB. We could give you a breakdown, but my impression is that very few of them have, in fact, come from Cal Tech, that the expansion has been more in the project-directed area such as Mariner, Surveyor, and Ranger. The previous function which Dr. Pickering spoke about to your committee, and which we are also interested in, is very much as it was with some increased participation by members of the faculty working with their graduate students. In my view, there is not enough such participation, and I am interested in an increased relationship there as we experiment in how this laboratory can best fit in with the team as I am in any other factor here.

I think, Mr. Chairman, we are working rapidly as this space program develops to understand and to be able to execute these large research and development projects. I do think we have a very real problem ahead of us over, let us say, the next 10 years in developing the kind of relationship that takes the problems, exposes them in their true complexity to the largest number of able minds, and then includes some kind of screening process by which those who become interested, are prepared to work, and are the best qualified to do the work, can somehow be selected out.

« PreviousContinue »