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COMMITTEE ON SCIENCE AND ASTRONAUTICS
GEORGE P. MILLER, California, Chairman
OLIN E. TEAGUE, Texas
WILLIAM J. RANDALL, Missouri
NEIL STAEBLER, Michigan
JOSEPH W. MARTIN, JR., Massachusetts
CHARLES F. DUCANDER, Executive Director and Chief Counsel
FRANK R. HAMMILL, Jr., Counsel
SUBCOMMITTEE ON NASA OVERSIGHT
OLIN E. TEAGUE, Texas, Chairman
KEN HECHLER, West Virginia
JOE D. WAGGONNER, JR., Louisiana
JAMES G. FULTON, Pennsylvania
NOTE. The chairman of the full committee and the ranking minority member, Hon. Joseph W. Martin, Jr., are ex officio members of all subcommittees.
Dr. Homer E. Newell
Edgar M. Cortright..
Oran W. Nicks.
Dr. William H. Pickering..
INVESTIGATION OF PROJECT RANGER
MONDAY, APRIL 27, 1964
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
COMMITTEE ON SCIENCE AND ASTRONAUTICS,
SUBCOMMITTEE ON NASA OVERSIGHT,
The subcommittee met at 9:20 a.m., in room 214-B, Longworth House Office Building, Hon. Joseph E. Karth, a member of the subcommittee, presiding.
Mr. KARTH. The meeting will come to order.
This morning the NASA Oversight Subcommittee will begin 4 days of open hearings on the Ranger project and related matters. We are very happy to welcome Dr. Homer Newell, NASA's Director of Space Science and Applications, as our leadoff witness. Dr. Newell is a highly respected member of NASA's top management. As a result of his regular appearances before the authorization subcommittee which I have had the privilege of chairing for the last 3 years, we have come to know Dr. Newell well, and we value his friendship.
Project Ranger is only one of many programs which fall within Dr. Newell's jurisdiction. All these programs are complex and sophisticated; they advance the state of the art; and the members of this subcommittee recognize that a certain number of failures are to be expected.
I am pleased to say that most of the projects of the Office of Space Science and Applications have turned out to be highly successful. The Ranger project, however, appears to have encountered an unusual number of difficulties, and it is our purpose during these hearings to explore the reasons for the difficulties. It has been an expensive program, and it is hardly an overstatement to say the results so far have been disappointing.
I would like to say at the outset that it is not our purpose to attempt to second guess the scientists and engineers who have worked hard and long on this frustrating project. While we intend to review the technical deficiencies that may have existed, I think it is fair to say that our primary interest has to do with problems of management.
Everyone is familiar with the authorization and appropriation procedures of the Congress, whereby the overall program of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration for the forthcoming year is considered in some detail. Today, this subcommittee is performing a somewhat different function, generally referred to as the legislative oversight function. There can be no doubt that one of the major responsibilities of the Congress is the vigilant review of performance by the Administration. In point of fact, the Legislative Reorganization Act of 1946 expressly directs each standing committee of the two
Houses of Congress to exercise continuous watchfulness over the activities of the various departments and agencies of the Government. The subcommittee is glad to note that NASA has taken it upon itself to look into the Ranger program on two occasions. The results of these investigations which appear in the reports of the so-called Kelley and Hilburn committees will be reviewed broadly during the present hearings, together with recommended changes. The subcommittee is especially interested in knowing whether, and to what extent, the recommendations contained in these reports have been carried out. A second area of interest goes to the question of the unique relationship which has existed, and continues to exist, between NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The subcommittee wishes to examine management organization and procedures; sound management of JPL is essential, since JPL will, for many years to come, have heavy responsibilities for the lunar and planetary exploration program, of which the Ranger project is but one part. The subcommittee recognizes that there are certain historical reasons for JPL's unusual association with NASA. It is our purpose, however, to consider whether this particular organizational structure which may have been adequate in the past continues to be satisfactory.
Lastly, the subcommittee recognizes that while hindsight is always 20-20, especially on technological matters of this kind, foresight in advancing the state of the art is something else. Therefore, it is not the intent of this subcommittee to deal harshly with anyone; on the contrary, we hope and trust that when this investigation is completed, it will be described as fair and objective. We hope to be able to glean the facts, and in a constructive manner be helpful to all concerned, including the taxpayers of this country.
At this point, too, I think I should like to submit for the record a letter that I received, which was written on April 22, iust last Thursday. The letter is from Mr. Webb, and signed by Dr. Dryden, apparently in Mr. Webb's absence.
DEAR MR. KARTH: As you know, NASA has taken the position with both Chairman Anderson and Chairman Miller that to release the recent internal investigative report on Ranger VI flight would be unwise and not conducive to the most effective workout of our problems with the Ranger program. The report represents the views of an internal NASA review group, but it is only one working document. It is not a definitive agency position. Neither all the program managers, nor the full staff at JPL, nor the RCA company has had an opportunity to examine the report, and its character, which makes it effective for our internal use, may preclude this. Further, we are in the midst of the complex process of setting up a technical program plan to carry out the remainder of the Ranger flight missions. We hope that this plan will be submitted to us within the next several weeks, although we cannot be sure of this.
For these reasons, the Ranger VI report should not become a basis for either conclusion or action by the Subcommittee on NASA Oversight and should not be made available publicly. However, I most certainly want to do what I can to help the committee and you as its acting chairman. Therefore, I have instructed Mr. Richard Callaghan to make the report itself and its background available to you personally. He will arrange for Mr. Hilburn, Deputy Associate Administrator for Industry Affairs and the chairman of the recent review board, together with Mr. Edgar M. Cortright, Deputy Associate Administrator. Office of Space Science and Applications, to bring you a copy of the report and discuss it with you in as much depth as you feel necessary but with the understanding that they will not leave the report with the committee. In this way, I hope you will be sufficiently aware of its contents without causing unnecessary difficulties in the work out of our current efforts.