Page images

employed on the job, in that usually several different jobs are charged for any single individual's time.

Mr. KARTH. I am sorry for the extended interruption. Would you care to proceed?

Mr. WEBB. My last sentence was, "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." Its responsibilities have similarly grown from management of a $50 million budget to that of a $250 million annual program that contains most of the Nation's lunar and planetary exploration effort. The present contract is the bridge between the past and the future, and partakes of both. For example, it still retains the concept of mutuality that reflects the former emphasis on independent research rather than on major developmental responsibility. It also provides a transition to the future in its manpower and subcontract controls.

By the fall of 1963 both NASA and CIT/JPL organizations had matured to the point that a better form of contract for their joint effort was emerging, but not everyone in both organizations could identify the precise features or agree on exactly how to clarify the necessary new relationships.

Mr. KARTH. Are there any special connotations you apply to thatyou say "not everyone"?

Mr. WEBB. Yes, the connotation is that these are both large and complex organizations with many individuals who are extremely expert in one area and may feel they are also expert in others. I am saying it is very hard to get a consensus among highly qualified technical people, and there are still differences of opinion with respect to these matters. I think the top management of both organizations is in very close agreement.

Mr. KARTH. Are there still some difficulties in identifying these areas between top management-for example, you and Dr. Pickering? Mr. WEBB. Absolutely. That is why we have suggested to them that they undertake to implement the contract and let us observe how they do it, before they sign it, which they can do under the present contract, because we would like to see precisely how they identify this.

I would like to say, Mr. Chairman, that in NASA or in JPL or any other large organization, when the top management begins to make basic changes in relationships, people down the line have to accommodate themselves to these changes. Whether or not everyone can accommodate to them is always a question to which management must address itself. Sometimes it is very hard for management to take steps that people down the line might want to put off. We are simply saying, "Show us how you expect to operate under it, and we will then see if we have a clear meeting of the minds," because there does, as Mr. Gurney has elicited from this questioning, there does have to be a change from the past. We are not going to continue as we have been. That means people have to change, groups have to be reorganized.

Mr. KARTH. The worry I have is that these changes are so cumbersome under the existing relationship that they are very difficult to come by. I recall the Kelley report, for example, which is not necessarily ancient history but not exactly modern history, either, pointed out some very serious deficiencies, and I don't speak now of design but of management deficiencies.

I was wondering whether or not the procedure by which you arrive at unanimity of opinion, or opinion at least which effectuates some changes, is so cumbersome that maybe we ought to think seriously about recommending some other method.

Mr. WEBB. I do not think so, Mr. Chairman. I think what I am trying to say is that as JPL moves to operate under the new contract, they will have to do a number of things differently than they have in the past, and the California Institute of Technology will have to do a number of things differently than they have in the past. This will affect human beings, and there are many people in both organizations who can think of various other ways the end might be accomplished. We in top management of those organizations have agreed on this particular way. We want to see how well it can be implemented, because it is, after all, only one way, but it is a good, practical, direct way and is not encumbered with a lot of difficult and cumbersome procedures.

Mr. KARTH. Is there any possibility, Mr. Webb, that if Ranger 7 fails in its objective that Rangers 8 and 9 might be canceled?

Mr. WEBB. I would like to turn to Dr. Seamans on that, but I will first express my own view.

I think we ought to fly the three remaining flights. I think we have a good possibility of obtaining pictures of the moon from those three flights. We have made the investment; nobody has come up with any better way of getting those pictures. I think in all of these matters we have the problem of when to make a flight. I can remember very well in the first manned Mercury flights there was considerable opinion that we ought to have 1 more year of experimenting with monkeys and centrifuges before we sent a man up. There was concern in many groups. Dr. Seamans and I and our associates had to take the responsibility, and we had complete latitude to do so. We made the decision, and made the flights.

I think there is no way to eliminate the element of risk in any flight, and the best way we can realize the investment we have made is to make those flights. This is my personal view.

Mr. KARTH. I would agree with that, unless Dr. Seamans disagrees. Dr. SEAMANS. No, I agree. I would add we have a conservative policy on these launches, and if Ranger 7 should fail we would want to carefully investigate why it failed so that we could maximize our chances on Rangers 8 and 9; but I would certainly expect we would go ahead with all three.

Mr. KARTH. The fact of the matter is, however, that if Ranger 7 does fail, and we sincerely hope that it shall not, you would have a considerable amount of time then to reevaluate Ranger 7 and the reasons. why it did fail because, as I understand it, Ranger 8 would not fly until probably the spring of 1965. Is that a proper understanding?

Dr. SEAMANS. No, the present target schedule that we have for the Ranger 7 is late June; this is a very tight schedule, incidentally, and one that is subject to review right up until the completion of all the testing at JPL. Ranger 8 is targeted at the end of this year, or early next year fitting in right after the Mariner shot.

That is the schedule, but that might be altered if Ranger 7 fails. We might want to take longer before going ahead.

Mr. KARTH. At a very minimum, you would have approximately 6 months.

Dr. SEAMANS. That is correct.

Mr. KARTH. Thank you very much.

Mr. WEBB. Mr. Chairman, you might remember that the first Mariner failed, and we went off in a short time with the second one which succeeded, so there are lots of factors that have to be taken into consideration.

Mr. KARTH. I am sure the committee understands that.

Mr. WEBB. Shall I proceed.

Mr. KARTH. Yes, sir.

Mr. WEBB. The total NASA-wide personnel ceiling, for all its operations, was stabilizing at under 35,000 while the missions it was undertaking were becoming more complex. Several of these missions had been assigned to JPL, and the NASA-CIT-JPL contract represented a long-range investment in our national space preeminence. JPL's role was that of technical manager of these projects, using the highest quality tools and facilities NASA and industry could provide. The role of CIT was to manage the Laboratory to assure us a maximum utilization of all resources while maintaining flexibility to meet the challenges of new tasks and changing workloads, and to provide the intellectual stimulus and a favorable atmosphere for university scientists' participation so necessary to creative technical scientific and management approaches. The NASA role was twofold: To provide a sound headquarters managerial mechanism to concert with CIT and to provide any necessary headquarters technical direction of the projects underway. It was with these roles in mind that discussions began last fall, the target being the development of a new contract by midyear. The process of management relations has been evolutionary and reflects the best thinking of both NASA and CIT. For example, the following positive management actions have been taken over the past 18 months by CIT and JPL:

Development of an internal laboratory organization that recognizes the heavy project responsibility at JPL.

Establishment of an independent quality assurance and reliability office.

Institution of improved material and real property accounting and control procedures.

Improvements of physical security systems.

Development of contracting procedures for JPL that call for stronger review by CIT and also reflect NASA practice.

Installation of streamlined accounting, budgeting, and reporting systems in the areas of financial and manpower management. Mr. KARTH. Might I ask at this point whether or not all of these recommended changes, if I may refer to them as such, have been proposed by JPL or whether it is a combination?

Mr. WEBB. They have been an evolutionary development. I should say that we in NASA have pressed very hard for every one of these, because we saw problems arising from the current practice.

Mr. KARTH. So these are NASA proposals?

Mr. WEBB. Not altogether. You see, JPL is not a monolithic organization. There are people there who also saw these necessities, but I think the management was engaged in a very heavy workload and

in some cases hoped all of this wouldn't have to be done while they were carrying the full, heavy technical workload.

I think by and large we have done them together, but most of them have come out of difficulties which arose from current practices and which we posed as problems requiring solutions.

Mr. KARTH. I wonder if you or Dr. Seamans could furnish for the subcommittee's benefit the reasons why the most optimum-type qualityassurance programs had not been in effect at JPL.

Mr. WEBB. Do you want to speak on that, Bob?

Dr. SEAMANS. I am not sure I can tell you why. I can tell you what happened.

Mr. KARTH. Is there a difference in philosophy, Dr. Seamans? NASA may feel very strongly about extensive and elaborate testing, for example, whereas JPL's philosophy may not require such elaborate, extensive testing.

Dr. SEAMANS. First, I will talk about quality control and then about testing.

Following the Ranger V failure, we and JPL thoroughly checked on the quality control practices and found that the individual divisions at JPL had been given a very large degree of autonomy in their parts selection and, as a consequence, the JPL set up a whole new office for quality control and reliability.

This has been strengthened very considerably since then, so now there is a group of over a hundred people who must pass on the parts that are used in the spacecraft by JPL.

Mr. KARTH. Is this because their whole program had been more or less "think oriented"?

Dr. SEAMANS. Yes, it was a highly decentralized operation where the individual divisions one for guidance control, another for communications, and another for spacecraft fabrication, another for propulsion-were given great independence, and each division was not benefiting sufficiently from the work of the other.

The project engineer who had a very small office could not, himself, determine whether all the thousands of parts that were being used were properly tested.

Mr. KARTH. So up to this time, JPL was pretty much on their own. Dr. SEAMANS. They have considerably strengthened this operation in the last year and a half, since the Ranger V failure, and they now have a good quality control office and good procedures for quality control.

The other matter that you brought up is that of overall system testing, and here it is our feeling that there must be very extensive overall tests, first of the prototype and then of the final flight article, and JPL agrees in part with this.

The real question is how far to go in this testing to reproduce completely or as best you can on the ground, the kind of conditions that are going to be met in the mission itself. It is certainly my own strong view that you should go as far as you can reasonably can to have a test of the spacecraft in the mission environment with the fewest aids to get through these tests. I think this becomes more and more true as a program has flight difficulties. You must become again more conservative as difficulties arise and carry out good, complete mission system tests. But this doesn't say that this wasn't done at all by JPL.

32-445 0-64- -16

They actually had quite an extensive test program, as I know the committee is aware by virtue of the testimony last week.

Mr. KARTH. Well, there seems to exist a rather strong difference of opinion not only as to the adequacies of the testing, but whether or not additional testing to the degree that NASA has suggested, of the type that Mr. Webb has suggested in his letter, would really be beneficial or detrimental and dangerous to the program. This causes some concern on the part of the committee, as I am sure you would recognize.

Dr. SEAMANS. I look at this as an evolutionary process we are going through in this country, learning the best way to test and the best way to launch. I think you have to have the attitude that whenever you take two things apart, even mechanical things, when you put them together again there is a chance that something will go wrong. All of these problems in the final analysis are essentially mechanical in nature. You can bend a pin in a connector-all kinds of rather obvious straightforward things can get you into difficulty. A small piece of metal can get inside a connector and shorts out two leads that kind of thing.

On the Apollo program, we are going to great lengths to put together the total Apollo-Saturn vehicle inside of the complex 39 assembly building, and after it is all checked out to take it with the umbilical plugs still connected out to the launch pad for fuel and launching. These are the strenuous measures we are taking, and we don't think that on the Ranger we have gone as far as we can in this regard. We are going to review the plans that come in from JPL and the program office very, very carefully before we approve going ahead with the next Ranger flight.

Mr. KARTH. Of course, even some of the NASA people assigned to the project felt that there was an overamount of criticism in this area, and that some of the suggested changes in overall systems testing could not be accomplished or, if it were, it might prove to be detrimental rather than advantageous.

Dr. SEAMANS. I absolutely agree with that, but our role as general management is to review these things with a beady eye in every case to assure ourselves that everything is being done that should be done.

Mr. KARTH. Were they reviewed with the technical team that is aboard the project or were they reviewed without the advice and consent and discussion with that technical team?

Mr. WEBB. The instruction to the board, Mr. Chairman, was to take a tough-minded, hard look at what the technical team had found in their examinations, but not to stop with that but go further into any matters that would help general management decide these matters. I think again this is a clear illustration of the fact that these boards are not charged with looking at the full perspective of the total Ranger project or the full perspective of JPL. They are charged with finding any and everything that could have contributed to failure so we can fix it, and to be very tough in their expression of this and not to be mindful of the sensitivities or sensibilities of individuals who may have been involved.

Mr. KARTH. You mean later on discuss these with the project people? Mr. WEBB. The board in each case takes into account the work of the technical groups that have been involved, but they don't go back and

« PreviousContinue »