Giant Leaps Symposium (session 1), "Apollo: Reflections and Lessons” - MIT AeroAstro
JOHN F. KENNEDY: I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal before this decade is out of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth.
KAYONE CHITOLIE: They just had the courage to do what they had to do and get the job done. And that's how we should try and live our lives every day as a people.
ASTRONAUT: 30 seconds and counting.
KATHERINE REILLY: Apollo 11-- when they went to the Moon, it was just a first for mankind. It takes a lot of people to make something miraculous happen.
ASTRONAUT: Three, two, one, zero. All engines running. Lift off. We have a lift off, 32 minutes past the hour.
CORAL SABINO: It's taught us so much-- knowing that we can go farther, knowing that we can learn this much more about things that we know practically nothing about.
ASTRONAUT: 60 seconds. I've gone 30 seconds [INAUDIBLE]. Okay, engine stop. There's been a quality day here. The eagle has landed.
AL WORDEN: I have to say, I was not a little kid growing up on a farm in Michigan that looked at the sky and said, I'm going to go to the Moon someday. I never thought that was a possibility.
BUZZ ALDRIN: When the option came to apply for the astronaut program, I knew that I didn't meet the test pilot trained requirement. But I thought, maybe it's a good idea to apply anyway to see what happens.
AL WORDEN: Only 24 guys got to go, but those guys never would've made it if it hadn't been for the thousands of others behind them.
DR. WILLIAM WIDNALL: When people ask me what that experience was like, I reached back to Middle Ages times when the big project that everybody could see might have been building, say, the cathedral at the chart. It was this enormous thing that the whole community was behind, and the thousands of people of various skills working on this huge project which was rising out of the fields that could be seen as far as the horizon.
RICHARD BATTIN: We were called by the spacecraft contractor. And he said, understand there's going to be a computer in here. He says, how big is it? We looked around. We saw all of this electronics stuff. What should we tell him? I said, well, and somebody said, well, tell him a cubic foot.
So that became the design principle, that you had to build a computer that would do the job but would fit inside the space of a cubic foot.
DON EYLES: We didn't have computer monitors or anything of that sort whatsoever. We basically dealt with paper, and that's what we stared at when we were trying to think about the software and the mission. So you knew that the answer was in there if you had a riddle to solve, and you had to find it, but you knew it was in there.
BUZZ ALDRIN: It taught us to approach a plan with continuity and flexibility. It inspired the world. I almost look back and seem a little naive at the time. We were pioneering, and it was exciting as hell to be a part of whatever it was.
CHUCK VEST: Apollo hit me and most people very deeply emotionally.
NEIL ARMSTRONG: It's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.
CHUCK VEST: But it also had a very pragmatic side, if we set a very precise, well understood goal that humans can achieve.
DON EYLES: What goal could be more universal than saying, I see that thing up there. I'd like to grasp it. I'd like to get my boots dirty on it.
AL WORDEN: To me, the legacy of Apollo has nothing do with going to the Moon. The legacy of Apollo is that we can do anything we want to if we put our minds to it.
DANIELLE WOOD: We face problems now that are harder, in a sense, than Apollo, because sometimes, there's a lot of uncertainty about what the problem actually is.
SPEAKER: You'd throw up your hands and you'd say, global warming, what can we do about it? It's too far gone.
JEFFREY HOFFMAN: When we talk about ending hunger, what would that mean? I mean, what is the requirement? How do you know if you've done it?
ERIKA WAGNER: I think to say that we need an Apollo-like program for solving the issues of, say, energy and the environment is to say that we need a coordinated effort that drives energies in a very particular direction.
WILFRIED HOFSTETTER: It will consist of many, many Apollo-like efforts in many different areas to finally solve this challenge.
CHUCK VEST: In that speech, President Kennedy also said, we choose to do these things not because they are easy--
JOHN F. KENNEDY: --but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win.
CHUCK VEST: We need that kind of thinking, that kind of inspiration again.
ERIKA WAGNER: There's a real need worldwide to educate a generation that can come and meet these grand challenges.
BRETT BETHKE: Developing a technology just for research sake is not enough. You really need to take that idea and allow it to improve people's lives.
CHUCK VEST: This generation coming on now is going to have enormous opportunities. If we put our faith in them, I'm absolutely confident that it will be well placed.
DANIELLE WOOD: One of the interesting things about Apollo is the idea that we were able to do something really fantastic in the '60s that we're not exactly able to do today.
ASTRONAUT: Descending standby for [INAUDIBLE].
DANIELLE WOOD: And people in my generation really feel that that should be corrected, that we shouldn't have gone backwards.
EMMI TRAN: I'd like to see people living on the Moon. That'd be so cool.
KAYONE CHITOLIE: It's a whole new world out there, and to actually set up and live there and have a regular lifestyle like on Earth-- that would be incredible.
KATHERINE REILLY: Beyond our solar system, we don't really know what it's like out there. We don't know if there's another planet like ours. We don't know if there's really life out there, whatever kind of life it might be.
LARRY YOUNG: The giant leap that we should be making now is not do we send humans back to the Moon or onto Mars, but how do we send them there?
WILLIAM GERSTENMAIER: We're going to move on to the next challenge, which is to go back to the Moon. And it's not to go there and touch the Moon like we did before, but this time we're going to go to the Moon with the intent of staying.
ERIKA WAGNER: Going to the Moon is what my parents' generation did and what we should do again. But it's really saying, how do we go beyond that?
BUZZ ALDRIN: Time's a-wasting. I think we've been marking time a little bit in low Earth orbit. The objective is to get to the surface of Mars in a stepping stone way.
DR. WILLIAM WIDNALL: One of the lasting contributions of Apollo, I think, was that picture that was sent back that Christmas Eve of Earthrise over the Moon's horizon.
ASTRONAUT: In the beginning, God created the heaven and the Earth. And the Earth was without form and void.
DR. WILLIAM WIDNALL: Here was this blue planet with white clouds looking very fragile, and indeed, it is.
ASTRONAUT: And God said, let there be light, and there was light.
ERIKA WAGNER: By standing outside of the Earth and looking back, we learn new things. These first pictures coming back from Apollo really drove Earth Day and the environmental movement.
CORAL SABINO: Knowledge is power. Knowing certain things can help you to go on to learn even more things, and it's just a never ending chain of learning and just collecting this information and intellect. And it's just amazing.
WILLIAM GERSTENMAIER: So my challenge to all of us is, how do we take that spirit of Apollo, that excitement we felt during Apollo, and now have that same excitement, that same spirit to keep us moving forward to solve problems we don't even know about today?
EUGENE CERNAN: Here man completed his first exploration of the Moon. May the spirit of peace in which we came be reflected in the lives of all mankind.
PRESENTER: Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Ian Waitz [INAUDIBLE].
IAN WAITZ: It's my pleasure to welcome all of you and to open this symposium on behalf of MIT, the School of Engineering, the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, our faculty, staff, and students, and our sponsors, Charles Stark Draper Laboratory, Lockheed Martin, Orbital Sciences Corporation, and the Boeing Company.
The video that we just saw captured many of the themes of this event, but I'd like to open by providing a little bit more context for the discussions that we've planned for today and more context for some of the events that have happened over the last several months this spring and events that will continue after these events end today.
Behind me is an image of a telegram that represents a special milestone for MIT, and it's printed in the program guides so that you can read it for yourself. It was sent on August 9, 1961, shortly after President Kennedy's famous speech that we saw a bit of. It was sent to the person who, at the time, held my position as head of the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics. That was Charles Stark Draper, also known by most people as Doc Draper.
The telegram announces that MIT has been selected as the first team member for Apollo, and that we're given the challenging task of designing the guidance control and computer systems that will get us from Earth to the Moon. We were given $4 million for the first year. In today's dollars, that's equivalent of about $30 million. So it was a very sizable sum.
However, this wasn't the start of MIT's relationship with Apollo. It was only an important milestone. At that same time, a former student and professor, Robert Seamans, who we had a commemoration of yesterday, was serving as NASA's Deputy Administrator.
And there were many other activities that we'll hear about today that led up to that point. And we will also hear today about what happened after this milestone. And our connection to Apollo was extensive, and it included educating 12 of the Apollo astronauts, including four of those who walked on the surface of the Moon.
Given MIT's very special relationship to Apollo, we saw the coming anniversary of the 40th anniversary of the Lunar Landing as a great occasion to look back on the history of Apollo and to try and extract lessons from that as we look forward to future challenges in aerospace.
And the visual metaphor that we adopted for that here is the Earthrise image from Apollo 8, taken by Bill Anders, that we just heard discussed in the video as well. And we use this as a visual metaphor, along with the idea that perspective was everything.
And I think we all understand that when the world vicariously stood on the Moon and looked back at the Earth and out to the heavens, our perspectives of all three of those things changed. And likewise, we hope today, as we look back on history and we stand here today and we then look out to the future, that our perspectives will change.
And we've sought to extend the metaphor yet further for aerospace, not only looking out at the future of aerospace exploration, but also looking at Earth and air transportation and some of the challenges of energy and environment and the role that aerospace plays in connecting our world and in providing Earth sensing to better understand our world.
Finally, one of the greatest and perhaps the greatest outcome of Apollo was the role that it had in inspiring people-- not just engineers and scientists, but all people around the world. And we sought today to look back on the leaders of Apollo and to share with luminaries of today and who we hope will be our future leaders, many of the students here at MIT, this inspiration.
So throughout the spring, there have been a series of events. We started with a women in aerospace symposium where we brought some top doctoral students to MIT to exchange views about their research and interact with one another and others. And that was jointly hosted with the Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences.
As part of that, we had Yvonne Brill, who's a pioneer in space propulsion of 60 years in the industry, and she presented our Lester D. Gardner Lecture. We hosted Sally Ride for the Cambridge Science Festival and had 1,000 middle school kids come and interact with faculty, staff, and students at MIT to get engaged in engineering and science activities.
And we also hosted an aerospace program in the Saturday Engineering Enrichment and Discovery Academy, which is run out of our School of Engineering outreach office, and that's for Cambridge and Boston area high schools. And yesterday, of course, we had the special commemoration of Bob Seamans.
Tomorrow, we have opportunities for lab tours and research to look at some of the great things happening now at MIT. And there's posters and demonstrations set up in the reception area. Finally, we've teamed with the MIT Museum and the Boston Museum of Science and developed a set of traveling exhibitions which will go and be moved around to high schools long after this event ends.
So there's been a series of events, of which this is the main piece. I'd like now to turn to today's agenda. We'll begin the morning with a look back at Apollo through the eyes and words of those who made it a reality. Then in the afternoon, we'll focus on the future of air transportation and space exploration.
And finally, tonight, we have a wonderful celebration at Symphony Hall, produced by Keith Lockhart and the Boston Pops, and it is standing room only. It should be a very great show, and I look forward to seeing you there. The image I'd like to leave you with is a little bit different, and that's this one.
Apollo has inspired many people in many different ways. One of the ways that inspiration's expressed at MIT is through a tradition of what we call hacks, where interesting things are staged by unnamed students in the dark of night. And because of its prominence, the Great Dome features frequently in those hacks.
And also because accessing the roof at night and installing a large piece of equipment involves some degree of engineering and organizational challenge, these are regarded with a sense of pride by many at MIT. And this picture shows a recent hack that was put on the Dome two weeks ago, again by some unnamed students.
And it's some evidence of the continuing and lasting impact and the excitement that our students and faculty and staff still hold for Apollo. And it's with this MIT tradition that I'm pleased to introduce our president, Susan Hockfield.
SUSAN HOCKFIELD: Thank you, Ian, for a stirring introduction to today's events, but I want to thank Ian and his colleagues most emphatically for their genius in bringing us all together to celebrate a marvelous achievement of human discovery and invention.
I want to welcome this wonderful crowd of Apollo fans to MIT. And I want to offer special thanks to our remarkable array of speakers. Some of you have traveled very great distances to join us, and each of you participating today adds a deep, personal resonance to the importance of the events we're here to celebrate.
Ian acknowledged our generous sponsors, but I want to add my own personal and institutional thank you to Jim Shields and all of our colleagues at the Draper Lab. Doc Draper, as most of you know, stands in the very first rank of MIT legends, along with the MIT instrumentation lab that he founded.
Since his lab spun out from MIT in the early 1970s as the Draper Laboratory, MIT and the Draper Lab have remained deeply linked in spirit through a shared commitment to first class engineering, to national service, and to educating the next generation of pioneering engineers.
The Draper Lab's support for education takes a whole host of forms, but not least among them is their sponsorship of 50 fellowships a year which fund graduate students enrolled in MIT programs.
And as many of you understand, graduate students play the important binding function. They carry information and insights between labs, and they knit the cross-institutional collaborations that are so critical for innovation. For all that and more, thank you to Jim and the Draper Lab.
Ian introduced the idea that perspective is everything. So let me talk about what the Apollo program means from our perspective here at MIT. In fact and in spirit, the Apollo program expresses exactly what we do here-- discovery and invention.
The ambition to reach the Moon and beyond reflects the same impulse that has driven every scientist since the beginning of time-- the drive for discovery through exploration-- same force that inspires all of us. It inspires a powerhouse like Professor Maria Zuber in her own quest to reveal the secrets embedded in the Moon's gravitational fields.
The intellectual rocket of discovery is powered by disciplined human curiosity. Getting to the Moon married the ambition of discovery with the pinnacle of invention, the capacity of human minds to define a problem, design a solution, and using the great lever of engineering, irrevocably shift the definition of impossible.
For those of a certain generation, the Moon landing completed a suspense-filled saga that began more than a decade before. When I took on the presidency of MIT, I said at the time that I got here by way of Sputnik. I expect others here may also owe their lifelong interest in science and engineering to that first little satellite.
I was six years old at the launch of Sputnik 1, and I, to this day, vividly remember the thrill of it-- not the threat of Soviet supremacy, but the excitement of knowing that through sheer hard work and ingenuity, human beings would one day get to the Moon.
As we all know, Sputnik revolutionized American attitudes about science and engineering. The nation decided that it needed more scientists and engineers, and the National Defense Education Act was born-- a massive commitment to expand science and engineering education. And we needed NASA and the Apollo program.
And those commitments inspired a generation of students who embraced mathematics, engineering, and science, who raced to MIT and other schools, where they prepared themselves to do great things in service to the nation and the world-- great things like inventing the route to the Moon and beyond.
Now, I'm hardly the first to suggest that America could use a galvanizing cause like the race to the Moon today. The intertwined crises of energy and the environment represent the defining challenges of this generation-- challenges that could offer a powerful impetus to action-- and I believe that they must.
But it's important to acknowledge some of the many ways that the combined challenges of rapidly increasing energy demand, energy security, environmental degradation, and climate change do not resemble the Apollo mission.
While the Moon landing was an engineering problem with clear boundaries, today's challenges seem literally boundless and extend far beyond engineering into the less clear-cut universe of policy and politics. Apollo relied on a tight team of experts. Today's challenges involve changing the behavior of billions of human beings.
At President Kennedy's behest, we would accomplish the mission to put people on the Moon within a decade, and we would recognize with certainty when it succeeded. But no matter how brilliantly we address today's challenges, they will last for the rest of our lives and beyond.
Clearly, the boundaries for today's problems are different and daunting, yet their potential to inspire is very real. At MIT, we see it in many ways. We see it in the students behind our Vehicle Design Summit who united with their peers from other universities around the planet to design a car for the developing world that gets 200 miles to the gallon.
We see the spark of inspiration in the 1,500 members of our student-led Energy Club, which launched what is now one of the country's premier conferences on energy issues, and which, I should point out, was started by one of our speakers today, David Danielson, now the founding program director of ARPA-E.
And we see it in the extraordinary inventiveness of our faculty, for advising everything from novel battery materials and solar cells to next generation nuclear power and sustainable approaches to air transportation.
I take great encouragement from our new administration in Washington and our president's commitment to restore science to its rightful place. He's already restored the Office of Science Advisor to the President to its rightful stature, and it's a great honor to have John Holdren among our speakers today, an MIT Aero Astro alumnus.
With creative minds in high places, the odds of success increase dramatically. Ultimately, as a nation, we'll need to see today's challenges not through the dreary, gray lens of impending diminishment and compromise, but rather illuminated by the powerful beacon of American ingenuity.
If we unleash the same engine of innovation that took us to the Moon and powered the computer and the biotech revolutions, energy and its environmental consequences could become a driving force for economic growth and a unifying national inspiration.
As educators and scientists, policymakers and engineers, we need to help more young people see these problems as theirs and to feel in these great challenges the kind of inspiration my generation experienced in the race to the Moon-- the kind of inspiration that made science and engineering feel exciting and important, that made us believe that the sky was no longer the limit-- the kind of inspiration that will drive young people today to reach for the sun.
Thank you for joining us for Giant Leaps, a celebration of the Apollo mission to the Moon and beyond. Thank you.
IAN WAITZ: Thank you, President Hockfield. It's now my pleasure to introduce Jim Shields. Jim is the president and CEO of the Charles Stark Draper Laboratory and is the host for this morning's session reflecting on the lessons of Apollo. And as you heard from Susan and will hear more from Jim, we have a shared history-- our department and the Draper Laboratories-- that started back with Apollo.
And it's thus particularly fitting that Jim is in this role of host for this session. So thank you, Jim. Jim joined Draper Labs in 2001, and he's been president and CEO there for the past three years. Prior to that, he was their vice president for programs. And prior to joining Draper, he had a 28 year career at the Analytic Sciences Corporation.
He's an expert in integrated multi-sensor navigation analysis, weapon system performance analysis, and information management systems development and logistics management. And I'm pleased to share that he earned his graduate and undergraduate degrees from our sister department in electrical engineering and computer science here at MIT. Welcome, Jim.
JAMES SHIELDS: President Hockfield, Professor Waitz, distinguished panelists, special guests, on behalf of Draper Laboratory, it's a real pleasure to welcome you in introducing the session that focuses on the history and lessons of Apollo. It's appropriate for Draper Laboratory and MIT's aero and astro department to collaborate on this symposium, since as Ian mentioned, at the time of Apollo, we were the same organization.
The laboratory was founded in the 1930s as the instrumentation laboratory within the department by the legendary Professor Charles Stark Doc Draper. Doc is generally acknowledged as the father of inertial navigation, and he believed that engineering education needed a hands-on component.
And therefore, he established the Contract Research Instrumentation Laboratory to provide opportunities for students of the department to see and work on real world problems. So our shared commitment to education is a longstanding one.
By the time that the Apollo journey began nearly 50 years ago, Doc, MIT, and the Instrumentation Laboratory were well established as the nation's thought leader in guidance, navigation, and control. In early 1961, NASA turned to MIT to determine if lunar missions were possible.
Three months later, President Kennedy made his famous speech that we just heard where he declared that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal before this decade is out of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth.
The first contract awarded by NASA for the Apollo program was to the Instrumentation Laboratory. And Ian showed you the telegram announcing that. To let you know how things have changed, this contract was only one page long, a situation we would never see today.
Three weeks into the contract, in his first meeting at the lab, James Webb, the NASA administrator, wanted to know how long it would take to develop the guidance, navigation, and control system. With his usual aplomb, Doc's enthusiastic reply was, you will have it when you need it.
Then to demonstrate his confidence that the system would work, Doc volunteered to fly on the first mission and run the system himself. Doc was serious. In a reasoned letter to Bob Seamans, he laid out the rationale for why he should be one of the first astronauts. He would know the GN and C system inside and out, and would be the best person to do the in-flight troubleshooting and repair.
He wrote, quote, "If I am willing to hang my life on our equipment, the whole project will surely have the strongest possible motivation," unquote.
Of course, it's important to realize that Doc was already 60 years old and not nearly in as good of shape as the existing cadre of NASA astronauts. Ultimately, the laboratory designed and built the guidance system, the flight computer, and wrote the software that took the lunar module to the Moon and back. The GN and C system performed flawlessly in all missions, and there was not a single failure.
In 1973, MIT divested the Instrumentation Laboratory to create the independent, not-for-profit Draper Laboratory that was established to do R&D in the national interest by demonstrating first of a kind solutions to some of the country's hardest technical problems, including defense, intelligence, space, and today, bioengineering, and energy.
Draper has maintained an active role in space, playing a major role in every human spaceflight program since Apollo. We have also continued the commitment to advance technical education that was the reason for our creation. Susan mentioned the fact that we support significant numbers of graduate fellowships, and we also support research projects at leading universities.
Draper Fellows-- our graduate education program-- take classes on a campus near to a Draper facility, and they do their thesis research on the Draper project supervised jointly by a Draper staff member and an academic advisor. Through these programs, the laboratory maintains a very close working relationship with the aero and astro department here at MIT.
Over the years, the majority of the Draper Fellows and much of the sponsored research has been with the department. This past year, 17 Draper Fellows studied in the department.
We have an exciting day ahead of us, so let's get into it. Our first session, entitled Apollo-- Reflections and Lessons-- we will be hearing from the luminaries who made this important accomplishment happen. One of the speakers in this session will be Dick Battin, who was a close associate of Doc. And he'll tell us how MIT and the Instrumentation Laboratory were in position to be awarded the first contract of the Apollo program.
It's my pleasure to introduce Dr. Jeffrey Hoffman, who'll be the moderate for the session. Dr. Hoffman is Professor of Aerospace Engineering at MIT and a former NASA astronaut who has made five space flights, becoming the first astronaut to log 1,000 hours of flight time aboard the space shuttle.
Jeff was the payload commander for STS-46, the first flight of the US/Italian Tethered Satellite System, coordinating both the scientific and operational teams working on this project. He's performed four spacewalks, including the first unplanned contingency spacewalk in NASA's history STS-51-D in April, 1985, and the initial repair rescue mission for the Hubble Space Telescope in December, 1993.
He worked for several years as the astronaut office representative for extravehicular activity, working on tests of advanced, high-pressure spacesuit designs and of new tools and procedures needed for the assembly of the International Space Station. Dr. Hoffman spent four years as NASA's European representative before joining the MIT faculty in 2001, where he teaches courses on space operations and space systems design.
He's also director of the Massachusetts Space Grant Alliance, responsible for statewide space-related educational activities, designed to increase public understanding of space and to attract students into aerospace careers. I'd like to invite Jeff and all our panelists to come up to the stage, and we'll get into the session.
JEFFREY HOFFMAN: Well, while everybody is taking their seats, and I believe Mr. Sorensen is going to be coming in, I'll just give a brief introduction. As you all know, this afternoon, we're going to be looking ahead towards the future-- giant leaps that face us-- but this morning is devoted to looking back and celebrating the 40th anniversary of Apollo and the role that MIT played in this.
The way we've organized the panel-- you have the listing of the panel members in alphabetical order-- we've tried to organize it thematically so that we will start with Theodore Sorensen, who saw from the unique perspective of inside the Kennedy administration how the US as a nation got involved in Apollo. And then Richard Battin will talk about how MIT got involved in Apollo.
After that, we're going to look at two of the critical vehicles. I think you're next, and then Aaron and Joe, Jack and Chris. We'll look at two of the critical vehicles with Aaron Cohen and Joe Gavin, who were responsible for the developments of the command and service module and the lunar module, respectively.
And then finally, we will look at the operations with Jack Schmidt and Chris Kraft, who have unique perspectives of operations on the surface of the Moon and, of course, the surface of the Earth in mission control.
So that's the plan. Alex, if you could help Mr. Sorensen up. And while we're getting ready for Mr. Sorenson's remark, I just have two other things-- a special word of thanks to Professor David Mandel, who founded and heads our space policy group. And he played a critical role in the early organization of this panel. Thank you, David.
And then, just a note to all of the audience that there will be an opportunity for questions and answers after the break. And what we're going to ask you to do in order to speed things up is at the end of the first session with everybody talking, we will be making available four by six cards. And we'll ask you to write out your questions, hand them in, and then we'll organize the answers during the break, which will take place right outside.
I'm not going to give extensive introductions, because in the interest of time, we have all of the biographies, as you know, printed in the program. So with that, Mr. Sorensen, we'll turn it over to you, and thank you very much for being with us.
THEODORE SORENSEN: Well, thank you.
Thank you. That's very kind. I want to thank everyone for being here. I want to also thank all those participating in this program who participated in America's exploration of space. What you did for our country and its national security will remain paramount for centuries to come.
In 1936, Franklin D. Roosevelt and his race for re-election said in a speech, sometimes those who participate in government ask whether it's worth the cost. And the answer is that what is most important is this-- the biggest reward is the sense of sharing and participating in what is important to their generation.
Those of you in this program and otherwise who participated in America's space effort participated in something of the utmost importance to our country and our generation. I am able to, in the old southern expression, make a claim of kinship at MIT and have that claim recognized.
When I think of MIT, I think of Jerry Wiesner, who was my very close friend and colleague in the Kennedy White House, and whose contribution to this country, as well as this Constitution, is recognized by all.
Less known publicly is the fact that MIT's Paul Samuelson was a quiet, informal, confidential advisor to President Kennedy on the economy, and met frequently with the president and me without those meetings being publicized in the first year or more of the Kennedy administration.
That Department of Economics also produced my son-in-law, a rising star in the economics field, who I'm happy to tell you is going to be here this fall as a visiting professor. And I urge you all to get to know him. Ben Jones is his name, and he's a wonderful human being as well as economist.
I also was asked by MIT Press 40 years ago or so to deliver a series of lectures, which I did give here. They were published by MIT Press as a book, entitled Watchmen in the Night-- Presidential Accountability After Watergate.
So for all those reasons, I have a special place in my heart for MIT. And I'm very proud to be here today, very lucky, because I am not a scientist and don't claim to have the expertise that all those participating in this conference will have.
But I did read some years ago about a United States senator, a lady who had agreed to give a speech to the American Petroleum Association for $50,000, and said that she would not only provide the speech, but for the question and answer period, she would provide both the questions and the answers.
And I decided that was a system that I could usefully employ. And so I have, if I am able to read it-- if I can find them-- provided my own questions. And I will provide those questions and answers to you. Mr. Sorensen--
You can call me Ted. Number one-- why is it that you, as a non-scientist, was selected by President-- were selected by President Kennedy to organize the response to the Yuri Gagarin flight-- first Soviet cosmonaut-- which was the opening round, so to speak, in the global competition in space, which was part of the competition between the American and Soviet systems in the Cold War at that time?
Why Sorensen, who was not a scientist? I think the answer to the question is that the president relied upon me in so many areas as a skeptic, as a questioner, as a lawyer and Unitarian who was raised asking questions. And a lot of questions had to be asked.
And that was exactly the role I played two days after the Gagarin flight when I gathered in my office-- not many steps down the hall in the West Wing from the Oval Office-- I gathered the best experts on that question in my office to see if we could provide an answer.
Number two-- would you consider the tens of billions that were then spent ultimately to send a man to the Moon and to bring him back safely to Earth-- would not that money have been better spent to fight poverty or to advance health and education and less spectacular scientific projects in this country?
The answer is perhaps that money would have been better spent on those other objectives, but I do not believe for a minute that in the context of that time, the height of the Cold War competition with the Soviet Union, the Congress would have appropriated those billions for health and education and less dramatic scientific projects.
And it was only because of the drama, so to speak, of the lunar landing that the president was able to galvanize and unite a space effort that up to that time had not only been lagging in scientific accomplishment, but had become something of a joke, with late night television comics repeatedly showing pictures of space US space rockets after a countdown fizzling or blowing up on the launching pads.
So yes, the money-- it did cost an enormous amount of money, but I still believe that money was well spent.
Number three-- it is often said that the space race and the lunar landing in particular were a matter of Cold War competition with the Soviets and greater prestige for the United States. Is not the prestige-- it sounds a little bit like face-- a rather thin basis for such an enormous effort and expenditure?
Again, one must cast your mind back to that particular time and the peculiar nature of that particular national security challenge. The Soviet Union and its communist allies around the world were intent not only on expanding that every opportunity, their influence, and their borders, but also of winning the world, especially the so-called third world of new and developing countries to their cause, to their banner, whether in the United Nations or in other councils of the world.
And they believed that one way of doing that was to demonstrate that they had superior scientific, technical, industrial, and other means of advancement, and the Gagarin flight in itself. And President Kennedy knew that, and he said a message of congratulations to Soviet chairman Khrushchev.
The Gagarin flight in itself was an important point in convincing neutrals and undecided leaders of the third world that communism must really have something to it if it could accomplish this marvelous feat. And Kennedy knew the United States had to have an answer.
Number four-- why did the Kennedy team not reduce the cost and risk by putting a robot on the Moon instead of a man? That question was raised at the time by Jerry Wiesner and his committee on science and technology.
It was considered, and the recommendation was made that while every effort had to be made to reduce the risk to the life of the man or men sent to the Moon, that nevertheless, a human being is still the greatest computer ever invented. It has powers of observation and judgment that no robot containing a computer could possibly match.
And I'm sorry that I wasn't here for the presentation by Neil Armstrong and others, but I still think that that is correct, that the drama as well as the findings of humans on the Moon were an important part of the project and of Kennedy's accomplishment.
Number five-- when President Kennedy declared his intentions to a joint session of Congress, what was the congressional reaction? Huh?
That was about it.
I was there in the House. It was a joint session. And Congress reacted with stunned disbelief. And the president, as a good speaker can, sensed that his audience was not with him. And it was the only time in his presidency or major career that I know about that he deviated from the written text before him and began to extemporaneously remind the Congress that it had a major role-- that it had to provide the money and the authority and the support.
And he gave a little riff, which you will find in that speech, or in the films of that speech, where he said it's not just we're going to put a man. All of us will be on that trip to the Moon. It's going to require the participation and the work and the support of all of us.
And he even talked a little bit about contractors and labor unions and educators and others must take part. And you in the Congress also must do that part. And that initial disbelief in time gave way to support from Congress, which-- yes, it waxed and waned depending on how the program was doing, but ultimately, Congress went along.
Number six-- was this JFK's greatest and proudest achievement? In terms of permanent effect on America and the world, probably it was. As he said, we must sail on this ocean of space. And we will, and we have ever since, and we will be forever after.
But whether it ranked with the fact that his very cool leadership in the Cuban Missile Crisis, which historians still call the 13 most dangerous days in the history of mankind, his leadership prevented the world from being blown up or poisoned into extinction. That was an accomplishment which, were it not for that, you and I wouldn't be here talking about it today.
And the fact that he declared on June 11, 1963, to the entire country via television that centuries of discrimination and segregation on the basis of race which treated black Americans as second class citizens were to end and were to be prohibited by law, turned around after all those centuries-- America's principles, I'm sorry to say-- policies, practices on race.
And surely in moral terms, that was an even greater contribution to the role and history of this country than space and the lunar landing, as important as they were.
Number seven-- what would JFK think about US activities in space today? He of course would be gratified that so much is taken for granted. And so many direct and indirect benefits are common today. Everybody has a cell phone based on satellites. Everybody reads weather reports based on the whole new meteorology equipment.
And there are medical findings. There are transportation possibilities. The range of benefits from space are enormous, and he would find some gratification in that.
But he would be disturbed, frankly, that his plea from the very beginning that outer space be a preserve of peace is now being endangered-- that the militarization of space, which was one of the very reasons he set out to assure American mastery of space was to prevent its military occupation by the Soviet Union, which would have been a nightmare had the Soviets been able to use their lead in space exploration to not only colonize but establish military bases in outer space.
And the fact that the United States has, in the last decade, talked more and more of the military uses of space, I think, would discourage him greatly. And he would be hoping to renew that effort on space as an area of scientific discovery and advancement not for the US alone, but to be shared with others.
He wanted US to succeed in space in part that we could cooperate with the Soviets in space. Their lead was clear. They dismissed his suggestion that we explore space together, because the United States at the time had no bargaining chips, no cards on the table, no reason to pay any attention. And that changed only after the US space effort began in serious as a result of Kennedy's speech in April, 1961.
Number eight-- should the United States soon return to the Moon or go to the planets? I am not an expert today on either the cost of such programs or our ability to afford them, given the trillion dollar hit that the budget has taken as a result of means to counter the collapse of the economy in this country and all over the world.
I do know that President Kennedy felt comfortable in proceeding with the space program, in part because we were at that time reducing unemployment in this country. He was increasing the minimum wage for those at the very bottom of the economic ladder.
And he felt that such an expenditure in terms of the national interest would in time justify itself and could be afforded. And whether that is possible today when wages are stagnant and unemployment is rising and the budget is deeply in the red makes quite a different context.
Number nine-- is the Apollo model the vest for some other new massive project in space or science?
Again, for the same reasons, I would ask, is the Apollo model applicable today, bearing in mind that competition with the Soviets, identification of the space effort as a national security priority of the justification for bringing together the most and the best of the scientific and engineering talent in this country on that one project because of those national security implications as well as the difference in the economic context that I mentioned make it unlikely that the same approach to a scientific project today would work.
There has been some talk about returning to the Moon as well as exploration of the planets. There was an apocryphal story that President Bush at one time had said, well, that was nothing, Kennedy going to the Moon. Now we're going to go to the Sun.
And someone said to him, Mr. President, you can't do that. The sun is a burning ball. You can't land men on the sun. And he said, no, we thought of that. We're going to go at night.
Number 10-- this is not my question, but a question-- if you haven't heard it, you're going to hear it, because we heard it a lot. If the United States could put a man on the Moon in eight years, why can it not solve world poverty or cancer in four? Or why did my plane from New York to make a 44 minute trip yesterday sit on the runway for 44 minutes before it even took off?
Scientists are accustomed, I am certain, to arguments by wrong analogy. Before it was space, it was the Manhattan Project. Scientific genius collaborated at an intense rate on the Manhattan Project to produce the first breakthroughs on nuclear weapons.
And I'm sure those scientists who worked on that project-- one of them happened to be a friend of mine-- wearied of hearing for thereafter, well, you did all that in a few years. Why can't you solve problem x or problem y in a few years? The answer is because it's totally different, because different projects require different timetables.
And in the political economic sphere, the Marshall Plan saved West Europe from communism in the years after World War II. And in my time in Washington in the early 1960s especially, we grew weary of people saying, well, let's have another Marshall Plan. Do this the Marshall Plan way.
Well, the Marshall Plan reserves a lot of credit for the recovery of West European countries, but they had Democratic societies, free market economies, a great deal of infrastructure there on which to build, and to try to say that could be replicated in far less positive parts of the world was simply another misargument by a selection of the wrong analogy.
In the early Roosevelt days, my father's hero, George W. Norris of Nebraska, was responsible for the TVA, which pulled together the natural resource efforts of several Southeastern states and provided a rebirth of agriculture, urban development, industrial development, and the economies in general of what had been, during the Depression, a very poor and broken down part of the country.
And again, people would say, well let's have another TVA. Why not have a TVA for India? Why not have a TVA for Venezuela, and so on? Again, those arguments simply misapply one set of information. So those of you who are expert in the space area are going to have to become accustomed to hearing people ask the question, if the United States could go to the Moon in eight years, why can't it solve some other massive problem in that time or a lot less, and simply put up with those questions.
Finally, question 11-- what is, for all of you in the audience, the next great giant step or global breakthrough in which scientists can be of help? It might be in the space area. It might be in the medical area. I hope it's in the arms and political area, in the abolition of weapons of mass destruction, not only nuclear, but biological, chemical, and all the rest.
It was the scientists of this country who first recognized that the solution of the splitting of the atom unleashed terrors even more than unleashing constructive energy possibilities. It was the scientists who gathered at Pugwash from many countries of the world who recognized that man's development of ways in which to live together had to keep pace with and get ahead of man's ability to destroy each other.
That's what I hope all of you will be engaged in. Thank you very much.
JEFFREY HOFFMAN: The next speaker, Dick Battin-- again, the biographies are in the program, but I just want to add one little thing which is not in the program, which I think is very significant, and that's that Dick Battin taught his first class at MIT, which was a freshman mathematics class, back in 1946-- 63 years ago.
The first time he taught the class which he currently teaches, which is astrodynamics celestial mechanics, was 1961. He is still teaching that course. It's one of the most popular courses in our department. The room is always packed when he teaches it. So in addition to all the other accomplishments that you have made, I think that's absolutely extraordinary. So Dick.
RICHARD BATTIN: He said it all. I don't have to say anything now. I would like to talk a little bit about how MIT got involved with the Apollo program. You have to realize that in those days and probably still today, MIT was not allowed to bid on any project. They could only do things if they were asked to do them.
Let's look back at 1957. These were not luxurious accommodations for the MIT Instrumentation Laboratory. We had Hood Milk Corporation merged with the Whittemore Shoe Polish factory, and Doc Draper's offices up at the top. Those railroad tracks are still there-- probably not the same tracks, but the same location across Mass Avenue.
Then in that same year, the Russians launched their Sputnik on October 4, 1957. This is a model of the Sputnik. And it actually-- it used to, until it all wore out, play the Soviet national anthem when you pressed a button.
But it did inspire the country to start to worry about whether we're doing anything in space. Those of us who were at the laboratory at the time decided that we could use some of the money from the ballistic missile division of the United States Air Force to fund a Mars mission.
Now, how could we do that? Well, we had a contract with the Air Force that allowed us to spend a certain percentage of that money on whatever it was that we thought was a valuable thing to do. So we decided that we would build a spacecraft.
And here it is. We call it the Mars probe. It was going to be launched and then pass by the planet Mars and then returned to Earth. Now, it has all the things you would expect to find on the spacecraft. It has solar panels. It has a thruster to make velocity corrections. It had an attitude control system with the gyro so that you could move the spacecraft and point it in the direction that you wanted for that particular time.
It had a sextant for making angle measurements between the lines of sight to planets and the stars. And it had a digital computer. None of these things, of course, had really been done-- especially the digital computer. The mission was a round trip mission from Earth to Mars, and as you can see, it is quite a long trip.
This is the outbound portion. And then to come back, you return to Earth after an extra orbit of the sun. You had to do that in order to keep the launch velocities something reasonable. So it was more than a three year program. And the flyby at the planet Mars was certainly not a three dimensional-- well, it's not a two dimensional problem. It was a three dimensional problem.
What you were trying to do is to match up the outbound and the return velocities. And you have to do that by a pass by of the planet Mars. Now, so here was the mission-- three year round trip. The onboard self-contained navigation was going to be splashed down in the Gulf of Mexico, and the payload would be fished out. It actually had shark repellent on it so that it couldn't be accidentally swallowed by a vermin.
And this was the model which was on display now at the Draper Laboratory. This little device. We took it to Washington to try to sell it to the new NASA. And we got to do some of the pieces, like we could work on the computer. But the rest of it was just-- in fact, when we were doing the flyby of Mars, I felt uncomfortable.
I went to talk to the Smithsonian astronomers and ask them if they'd like to help. And their response was, you really don't know what you're talking about.
They said, you don't even know where Mars is. And of course, they were right. It was off by about 20,000 miles in error. But they didn't realize that we were going to be navigating on board and not navigating this thing from the Earth.
We did make the press. "MIT Project May Solve the Life-on-Mars Mystery." And there are the guys that worked on it-- Mil Trageser, Hal Laning, and a much younger me. And then we realized that the computer was the major problem. How would we design a small computer and its memory in 1960 to survive a three year round trip to Mars-- no data uplink, no in-flight service?
Well, that was the question. But then came 1961. Now 1961 was the 100th anniversary of MIT. How many of you knew that? It was also the 100th anniversary of our Civil War. And it was also the 100th anniversary of Christine [? Shu, ?] who was my grandmother.
So a lot of important things were celebrated in 1961.
Apollo, the Greek god of light, was really America's program for orbital and lunar landing operations. I tried to get NASA to use that, but I didn't make much headway.
It's also, of course, the year of the Challenge. On May 5, Alan Shepard made his first flight. Then, 20 days later, President Kennedy, on the basis of that single little lob shot, decided that we were going to go to the Moon. And 11 weeks later, on August 10, MIT was awarded the first NASA prime contract for Apollo.
There is an interesting piece of numerology. 1961 has two prime factors-- 53 and 37. 5 plus 3 is 8. That's for the month of August. And 3 plus 7 is 10, and that is exactly when the contract was signed.
I appreciate that, because it did not come easy, and I couldn't fudge anything.
Why was MIT chosen to do the guidance, navigation, and control? Well, turns out that Jim Webb, who was a NASA administrator, was a good friend of Doc Draper's. He was not any kind of an engineer, but as he pointed out to us, he was very good at getting money out of Congress. And that was the important thing for him to do. He would have other people make mechanical decisions.
So here's the way the conversation with Kennedy-- can you develop the Guidance and Navigation System for Apollo? Jim Webb to Dr. Draper-- the answer is yes. When will it be ready? When you need it. That's pretty good scheduling. And how do I know it will work? He says, I will go along and operate it for you.
Was it Doc Draper's phone call with Jim Webb, or was it the Bob Chilton memo? Who is Bob Chilton? Well, let's take a look at what he said. He wrote a memo. Bob Chilton, at the time, was the head of the flight dynamics branch of Langley Field. And he wrote a letter to the chief of the flight systems division in 1960-- November 7.
And he was talking-- you can read that for yourself. I won't read it to you. But they were saying that the self-contained navigation augmented by the MIT Mars probe was just the kind of thing that they needed to put in play for the Apollo spacecraft.
Apollo spacecraft had to navigate itself. If it lost all contact with the ground, you could say goodbye to it, unless they could find some way to come home. And so it was very important that we have that capability.
Now, Bob Chilton's memo is kind of interesting. It was stamped confidential. Everything in those days was confidential, including the trig tables that I was working on. They were stamped confidential. Bob gave me his original carbon copy of this letter. And imagine that-- we're going to be sending men to the Moon and we don't even know how to make copies of things without making carbon copies.
Why was the onboard navigation a basic requirement for Apollo? Because the Russians might not play fair. They might jam the communication links.
What happened to the Mars probe? Well, it never flew. But the computer work made it-- the computer for the Mars probe was the basis for the Apollo guidance system probe. Here is that computer, a photograph of it, not an artist conception. And has the dimensions of about a cubic foot, and it weighs about 70 pounds, powered by what would take to put on a 60-watt bulb.
How many computers? Well, this is kind of interesting. And that is that on-- one each for the command module and for the lunar module. And remember, there will be no in-flight repair, no built-in redundancy, no uplink from the ground. Many possible single-point failures, but quality control people could not calculate the mean time between failures because the AGC never had a failure. It never failed in flight. You take it out of a box, and if it works, it will always work.
And I would like to just emphasize what this thing was used for. There is Apollo 11-- July 1969. There are the people who flew it, and those photographs were taken not recently, but back in the early days. The Apollo 11 crew. And there is the emblem, the eagle, and the little statement that said that the eagle has landed.
And I'll stop there.
JEFFREY HOFFMAN: While Aaron Cohen is coming up, I'll just say one other little thing that is not in the bio. In 2005, we invited Aaron to come and be a visiting professor here at MIT. And he and I led a-- we teach an aircraft engineering, systems engineering course.
And somebody had made the suggestion-- well, the shuttle looks so much like an airplane. Maybe we should devote one semester to studying the systems engineering of the shuttle, because in addition to being the manager of the command and service module, Aaron was also the manager of the space shuttle Orbiter.
So Aaron called up all of his subsystems managers, most of whom had retired, living out in ranches in West Texas or wherever-- hey, this is Aaron. I got one more job for you on your subsystem. We need you to come to-- would you like to come to MIT and talk to the students about what you did, how you designed it, and the systems engineering that was involved?
Every single subsystems manager that you called, plus Chris Craft, of course-- but you were not a subsystems manager. You were in a special category. But every single one of them came and did it, which I think says a lot about the respect and genuine affection that everybody who's ever worked with Aaron still feels. So Aaron, it's a delight to have you here.
AARON COHEN: Thank you. Good morning. I'm truly honored to be here today sharing this platform with my very good friends from the days of Apollo and Mr. Sorensen, who served with distinction during the Kennedy administration, where the story of Apollo all began.
It is very appropriate in my mind that this event marking the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing and safe return of the crew be held at MIT. Apollo 11 did not just happen. Many significant and extraordinary contributions were made by the women and men working at MIT, as well as the graduates of MIT.
And there's so many, it's hard to name them all. But you heard from Dick Battin, who's a graduate of MIT. Pretty soon, you'll hear from Joe Gavin, who was responsible for the design development of the lunar module and was a graduate of MIT. And of course, Buzz Aldrin, who received his PhD at MIT. And by the MIT Instrumentation Lab, now known as the Draper Labs.
Dr. Robert Seamans led the way for Apollo, and his great abilities in engineering and management carried the day for the program. I personally did not know Dr. Seamans during the early period of Apollo, but in later years, I became associated with him on National Academy of Engineering panels. And we had many discussions about Apollo and the people of Apollo.
One of those persons is Dr. George Miller, who was a very close colleague of Dr. Seamans, serving as head of the Apollo program in Washington while Dr. Seamans was deputy administrator of NASA. A key program decision was made to test the Saturn V launch vehicle in an all up configuration, which George strongly advocated.
Dr. Von Braun was very much against testing in this manner. An argument ensued, but in the end, George prevailed. And this is a fact-- Dr. Von Braun later told many people that George had been correct and had it not been for George's insistence, that Saturn would not have been ready in time to meet the Apollo 11 deadline.
I know from conversations with Dr. Seamans that he would want Dr. Joe Shea to be recognized as an outstanding systems engineer and also as a outstanding professor at MIT.
I would like to share with you a little Apollo history involving Joe Shea and myself. While he was serving as the Apollo program manager at the Johnson Space Center, I had the position of assistant division chief in the systems engineering division. Joe gave me a very important task-- to define and resolve the interfaces between all elements of the Apollo program.
This included the mechanical, electrical, and functional interfaces between the command and service module, the lunar module, between these elements of the launch vehicle and between all elements of the launch complex. He and I visited each NASA center as well as the contractors.
At the Marshall Space Flight Center, he introduced me to Dr. Von Braun and explained to Dr. Von Braun that I was Aaron Cohen, and I was going to resolve all the interface control documents, called ICDs. Dr. Von Braun said he thought that was great, but what was an ICD?
I must say, probably lot of you don't know what an ICD is, but Dr. Von didn't know what it was either. And he said, I must say that this lack of knowledge or appreciation of the importance of interfaces took me by surprise. One of my most cherished documents from my years working on Apollo is a memo written by Dave Hoag of the MIT Instrumentation Lab, dated May 19, 1965, in which he discusses my assignment and saying that the MIT instrumentation lab would support me in the fullest.
He concluded his memo, which was sent to 40 members of his staff-- he said, I quote, "I personally want to support Cohen to the fullest. Please help him clean the Augean stables," referring to one of the tasks given to Hercules in Greek mythology. Dave Hoag understood the importance of interfaces, especially in a complex machine such as the Apollo spacecraft with its many parts.
Doc Draper was already a legend in the field of inertial navigation and guidance. And the laboratory was already famous in developing inertial navigation and guidance systems. The inertial guidance and navigation system is composed of an inertial measurement unit onboard computer, and an Apollo's case, an optical system.
Program manager George Lowe said, and I quote, "if you had to single out one subsystem being the most important, most complex, yet most demanding in performance and precision, it would be the guidance of navigation subsystem." And as you heard, Dr. Richard Battin led this activity Draper labs and told you the efforts that went into the design and development of the system. And I'm sure many of the people who worked with Dick are here today.
I would be remiss if I did not take a moment to pay my respects to my good friend Chris Kraft. Chris not only was the man who developed the mission control at the Johnson Space Center, but also had the managerial and technical insight to see that the correct people were put in charge of [INAUDIBLE] jobs, and then allowed them to solve their problems and do their jobs.
The road to Apollo 11 was marked by both tragedy and triumph. After several successful flights, the program was ready for an Earth orbital manned flight termed Apollo 1, or Apollo spacecraft 204.
During a command and service module test on the launch pad on January 27, 1967, there was a fire in the cabin, which resulted in the loss of three crew members-- Gus Grissom, Roger Chaffee, and Ed White. After the grief, grieving, and shock, a very detailed investigation concluded that the fire was caused by the cabin environment of 16 pounds per square inch of 100% oxygen, a great deal of flammable materials, and an undetermined ignition source.
I was named to a team headed by astronaut Frank Borman, which spent about four months at North American Rockwell in Downey, California. Recently, very recently, I had an opportunity to visit with Frank and relive some of those experiences we shared in the redesign activity.
There were many changes made to the command service module to make it more reliable and safer. The most important changes were to eliminate the flammable materials, but also since we never could identify the ignition source, we took great care to protect the wires from being damaged, thus avoiding a spark that could cause a fire.
Overall, there were more than 100 changes made, along with a major weight reduction program on the command module in order to make the command module compatible with the weight limitations of the parachutes used for landing.
One of the major changes involved with the cabin hatch and the cabin environment-- originally Apollo had an inward-opening hatch, but this was changed to an outward-opening hatch during the redesign. At the time of the accident, the inward-opening hatch required that the cabin pressure be greater than the atmospheric pressure at 14.7 pounds per square inch.
The command module had an atmosphere of 100% oxygen at 16 pounds per square inch. At 100% oxygen at 16 pounds per square inch, even stainless steel will burn. As George Low, then the program manager at the Johnson Space Center, commented, as incredible as it may be, we have all been blind to this potential problem. Therefore, it was mandatory that the cabin environment be changed.
While out at Downey, I received a call from George instructing me to form a team to solve this problem. I chose a high level engineer, a North American named [? Dane ?] Levine, a medical doctor in the astronaut corps named Joe Kerwin, and a Johnson Space Center engineer named [? John C. ?] Carroll, who by the way, was also a graduate of MIT.
The results of our study determined that henceforth, Apollo would fly in space with a pure oxygen atmosphere of five pounds per square inch. But on the launch pad, the cabin atmosphere would be 60% oxygen and 40% nitrogen at 16 pounds per square inch. This met both the flammability and physiological requirements.
It took ingenuity to change the cabin launch environment on the pad to the cabin environment in space. I'm very proud of the solution our team developed to solve this critical problem. After the hiatus of 21 months since the 204 fire, we were ready to fly again. Apollo 7 was launched as an Earth orbital mission on October 11, 1968, and was very successful.
The next event was a major triumph for the Apollo program. Apollo 8 was one of the most exciting and bold adventures that I personally experienced during my years at NASA. To leave the gravitational field of Earth and travel to the Moon and perform a lunar orbital mission and return to the Earth safely was very bold.
I'm sure that Chris Kraft-- I know that Chris Kraft had a great deal to do with flying this mission, and I'm sure that he will describe it to you. My role in this mission came from George Lowe again, when he asked me to form a very detailed comparison between spacecraft 106, which was being prepared for Apollo 11, and spacecraft 103, which we would use for Apollo 8, pending approval.
I remember taking my report, dated August 13, 1968, to George Lowe at his home late on the evening prior to his flying to Washington headquarters, the headquarters in Washington, so that he could take it with him to obtain approval for the mission. And as they say, the rest is history.
The missions of Apollo 9 and 10 proved out all aspects of the Apollo system, and we were ready for Apollo 11. The road to Apollo 11 was now paved, and the great adventure in space would be undertaken. When I look back on Apollo 11, I go through each subsystem and marvel, and just marvel how we managed to perform the mission.
And to the young people in the audience who are wondering what to do to prepare themselves to work on a program such as Apollo, I say first, from my experience, let me say you have to be fortunate enough to find yourself at the right place at the right time when such a program is undertaken.
And as Dr. Seamans and many others have stated so clearly and often, the Apollo program was such a success because it did have complete support from the public and from the president and eventually, from Congress. I think this may be very difficult to achieve in the near future for many different reasons.
But I do leave the students with one challenge-- the brilliant young minds at MIT should work on why we need to go explore outer space. Dr. Harrison Schmidt, our astronaut, has worked on the use of helium 3 for energy. I am not sure this is the solution, but things like this need to be explored to see if we can find a useful purpose to explore space. And I think the brains of the young students at MIT are good to do that.
I would like to leave you with two thoughts. One is that the peak spending year of the Apollo program, which was in the nature of a race to the Moon, the NASA budget amounted to about 0.8% of the gross national product, or about 3.85% of the total federal budget. The total expenditure for the program was $24.5 billion in 1970 dollars.
This expenditure also included much of the infrastructure that NASA has today, such as the Johnson Space Center, the Marshall Space Flight Center, and the Kennedy Space Center, along with many test facilities.
Finally, the next time we go to the Moon, I think we will learn just how difficult it was to perform Apollo 11. Thank you very much.
JEFFREY HOFFMAN: The next speaker is going to be Joe Gavin, whose baby was the lunar module, which was the first, and I guess is still the only human space vehicle which never had to fly through an atmosphere. It was an absolutely unique vehicle, totally critical to the success of Apollo. And Joe, we're looking forward to hear what you have to say.
JOSEPH GAVIN: Well first, I should tell you that in my graduate year, Bob Seamans was a newly hired teaching assistant. And I think something started there. And Doc Draper was my thesis advisor. Of course, I didn't see much of him, because he was down in the basement building gun sights for the Navy.
Well, let me start by complimenting John Houbolt, because he was the one who advanced the idea of the lunar orbit rendezvous, which in my view was really the basis for success in the whole Apollo mission. And one of the things that got us a good position in the competition for the lunar module contract was the fact that a group at Grumman under Tom Kelly had done a very definitive study that, in my view, absolutely proved the merit of lunar orbit rendezvous.
And that's about all I'm going to say about the missions, other than the fact that the lunar module worked every time. I'll say that again. It worked every time, particularly in the improvisation--
--in the improvisation in Apollo 13. And what you didn't see on TV-- or maybe you did see it on TV, but you didn't see it in the movie, and that was the long periods of time when nothing was supposed to happen. And indeed, we hoped nothing would happen.
Well, let me talk a little bit about the contract, because it was a uniquely conceived incentive fee contract. And allegedly, there was tradeoff space between performance, schedule, and cost. Well, it didn't take us long to figure out that it didn't quite work that way-- that performance was absolutely the first priority, schedule would come next, and cost was a derivative of the first two.
Now, this leads to what I consider a very basic axiom which most bureaucrats and politicians don't like to recognize. And that is that if you're going to do something that's truly novel, there isn't anybody who can tell you how long it's going to take or how much it's going to cost. Now that, I think, is one of the basic truths. Certainly, we at Grumman learned that.
Now, there were some other problems in the beginning. We had built and were building some airplanes for the Navy that had rather complex electronic systems in them. But the airborne electronics of that era just was not good enough. But even worse than that was the fact that we who had grown up in the aircraft industry were in the position of not being able to flight test the vehicle before delivery.
Now, this was a truly frightening consequence of the way the Apollo program was going to work and the fact that the lunar module was never going to operate in the atmosphere. And this led to the establishment of an extraordinarily extensive ground testing at five levels between the basic circuit and the full vehicle.
And I'll give an example of that. And we learned several things from that. I'm not sure learned is the right word, because I cannot remember when some of these things were vocalized. The first one was-- there is no such thing as a random failure. If indeed the design has been done properly and the environment is understood, there has to be a reason for the failure which you can find and which you can fix.
And in the course of the 10 years of Apollo, we recorded something over 14,000 anomalies from various test programs-- from all the test programs. Of those, only 22 defied analysis. And in the case of those 22, we changed something anyhow.
I mentioned that it was an extensive test program. In fact, some things were re-tested when later examination led us to believe that we hadn't really accomplished what we set out to do. Now, in the way that, similarly in aircraft, we'd had a structural drop test-- after we discovered how flexible the structure of the lunar module was, we wanted, and we finally convinced NASA that we should drop test a lunar module that had all systems fired up. So that we can see whether any of the circuits would be interrupted by a structural flexibility.
Well, of course, no circuits showed any sign of difficulty. But we did discover one minor structural thing. It probably wouldn't have made any difference if we hadn't found it. But at least there was one tiny result from the test. In addition to the fact that it reassured us.
Another example, the idea was derived was that one should take absolutely nothing for granted. And there's an interesting example of that. A young engineer working on the instrument panel said to himself one day, we're using these standard and toggle switches-- which have been used for a long time in aircraft-- and I don't really know what's inside that case. So he took about a dozen to the manufacturing floor, had them opened. And interestingly enough, in about a third of them, there was a little ball of free solder. Now in one g, perhaps that stayed at the bottom of the case. But in zero g, who knows what it might have done to the switching.
Now we had to have a test, obviously, to determine which of these switches were good, and which should be discarded. And so we arranged to shake them at the proper frequency. And we discarded about a third of the switches in stock.
Another axiom that we came across was, do not ever change anything that works.
For at least half a dozen years, we had been operating the glycol system in the lab with amazing lack of difficulty. But some months prior to Apollo 11, a routine check revealed that we had some flexible crystals, little needle-like crystals in the glycol. Nobody had ever seen these before. And we thought, well, we'll filter. So we set up some filters. Transfused the fluid out of the lens through the filters, and back into it. And the more we filtered, the more crystals we found.
And time was getting short. And what we did-- I'll skip to the answer-- was we made up some fluid that looked a little bit like pulpy orange juice. And we ran the ground test rig for two successive missions. And I went to the three-day before lunch meeting to clear the vehicle as being ready for flight with a number of-- I think there were five small vials, going from clear fluid to the stuff we had tested in the ground rig. And so Apollo 11 went to the moon with not exactly orange juice, but something pretty close to it in the fluid system. And of course, it worked, which was a great relief.
Another thing that was developed during the course of this program-- and this was something that evolved over some time-- was working very intimately with our major subcontractors. Now we had some major subcontractors doing things that hadn't been done. The descent engine at TRW had deeper throttling than anything that had been done prior to that.
United Technologies produced a backup system for the MIT primary guidance based on strap down as opposed to gimbal gyros. And RCA came through with a rendezvous radar that was, I think, the first solid state, completely solid state radar.
Having brought up the term solid state, I should say that we were limited by NASA in how far we could apply that technology. It was allowed only when nothing else would do. Consequently, we built most of the communication gear the old fashioned way-- little pieces all soldered together. And let me tell you, we spent more hours trying to get the yield up on those components. You wouldn't believe it.
And in the course of this, we had worked more closely with the contractors than any of the aircraft programs had been. And we worked at three levels-- engineer to engineer, contract administrator to contract administrator, and executive to executive. Because you had to have the same feeling of motivation, and schedule recognition at the subcontractor as we did at the prime.
Oh, there are so many other anecdotes that I could give of things that we discovered along the way, and found that we had to do things differently to get this machine-- each one of which, when launched, was brand new and never hot-fired as a vehicle.
And in closing, I want to recognize some of the people who worked on the program. And I'd like the first slide, first of my slides, the only slide.
Now this is a plot of manpower vs. date. You don't have to read that. It goes from the beginning of the program to the end, over there. One of the interesting things is this slope right here.
We were under great pressure to get the job moving faster. Because after all, we were starting a year behind the command and service module. And we discovered that under those conditions-- you remember, these are the days of big IBM mainframes. None of the modern technology and engineering design. But we could add people, just about 200 per month, and have an efficient operation.
Now Engineers are really not a commodity. You've got to get the right person in the right slot with the right group leader. And you hope that they're compatible. And sometimes this takes some juggling. But I think for-- there's probably a similar slope in today's engineering where you can't do better than a certain number. I would point out that that notch at the top represents the change in activity during the recovery from the results of the fire in the command module. And I'd also point out that this difference right here is the amount of overtime that we worked.
Now, NASA was always on our shoulders because we had too much overtime. But this was something that Grumman had had a lot of experience in. And I believe that we really had a more efficient operation, running overtime as we did.
But the point I make here is that we had a system where the group leaders could take care of their people. In other words, a group leader could send a man home for a day. And this was very important because it gave the people who were under the pressure to produce-- the feeling that the company did care for their good health, and for their family problems. A lot of the people here were basically from young families. And as most of you will remember, young families have emergencies. And we did accommodate those from time to time.
So the point here is that there were some people who made major contributions, and a lot of people who made very minor contributions. But all of those contributions were important. We had a core of engineering and shop people, technicians, mechanics that I thought of as the tried and true. People we had worked with the years, and where the word who was absolutely acceptable. That is, if somebody said something, it was understood and meant.
But we had a lot of motivated recruits because we had to build up very quickly. It took some time for some of the recruits to figure out how Grumman worked. We did finally produce an organization chart, which was probably good for about three days. And looking back at it, The thing that made everything work-- and it wasn't my idea-- was an early morning, 7:30 in the morning stand up meeting where the leaders of various groups came together. And the point was that if you were in trouble, as a group leader, waiting on somebody else, this was the place to get some action.
It was all done orally. And we had some people who kept track of the schedule, and the sequence of which things were done. But I really believe that that stand up meeting cut down the length of time that many things would have taken.
Well, I could go on with many other anecdotes, but I think I've given you some flavor of how we faced a truly novel undertaking, and managed to bumble our way through it. Thank you.
MODERATOR: There's a lot of question about how to do the bookkeeping, but I'll just say that Jack Schmidt was the last human being to step down onto the surface of the moon. I'll just relate one other anecdote, which I'm sure you've forgotten many, many years ago. In 1978, when I was in a new class of astronauts, a lot of the older astronauts were invited to come and talk to us. And you came. And I think you were a senator at the time, at '78, right?
JACK SCHMITT: As a matter of fact, I was.
MODERATOR: OK. So in any case, your advice to us was, you're not going to be astronauts forever. Pay some attention to what you're going to do afterwards. And there we were, new, young recruits. We couldn't even imagine what it was like to fly in space, much less the fact that our careers would someday have to go elsewhere.
But after my fourth spaceflight, I remembered your words. And sure enough, here I am at MIT. So I just want to thank you for your good advice.
JACK SCHMITT: Thank you.
MODERATOR: And we look forward to hearing what you have to say.
JACK SCHMITT: Well, thank you, Jeff. How often do people remember advice you've given them? It's amazing.
It's a great pleasure to be with you, the audience, the young people that are here, and certainly with my former colleagues. And I hope still colleagues, in various ways. And this is the first opportunity I've had to, I believe, meet Mr. Sorensen. And I enjoyed your remarks extremely well. It really was a pleasure to be here with you.
What I'm going to do is very quickly-- maybe a slight change of pace here-- is take you through-- and I mean quickly-- the sequence of events that go with an Apollo mission. This happens to be the Apollo 17 mission. But apologies to Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin who are here that I don't have the same set of pictures for their mission.
But the Saturn V was the basis of the success of our operating. Really, without it, the heavy lift that it provided, we would not have been able to do what we did. And everything was big about the Saturn V. Over 360 feet high, and 6.8 million pounds fully fueled, 7 and 1/2 million pounds of thrust at liftoff. And of course, the building that it came out of fully constructed was at the time the largest enclosed space in the world, since superseded I believe by the Mall of America in Minneapolis.
And just to give you some perspective, in the lower right there that red object is a very large fire engine.
Now, launch. People often wonder what it was like. And they tend to forget that you don't reach the full four g loading that you do after two minutes and 45 seconds. And it's mainly a vibration experience. And in order to have that experience, I recommend you drive your pickup truck if you have one, F150 hopefully. And drive it over or down a railroad track that still has ties. And that'll give you some perspective of the kind of vibration that we were experiencing.
Our mission left two hours and 40 minutes late because of a computer programming issue. And so we accumulated a great deal of Florida ice, frost if you will, on the side of our coal fuel tanks and oxidizer tanks. And you can see-- if you look carefully, you'll see some of that ice coming off the side of the vehicle. And indeed, most of it came off during this very heavy vibration.
This picture of the Earth, it was the first real opportunity I had-- and the three of us had-- to look back and see what we had left. I took this from 34,000 miles away on the, of course, the first day of our trip to the moon. Where we were headed actually for Apollo 17, this picture was-- actually, mostly, this part of it is the far side of the moon. You don't get to see that very often unless you're doing some things as students you shouldn't be doing.
The valley of Taurus-Littrow is right there. This is the Serenitatis Basin. It's about 740 kilometers long. Neil and Buzz will recognize their landing area right there. And just over the horizon would be where Apollo 16 landed. The valley of Taurus-Littrow, about 50 kilometers long, and about seven kilometers wide. That's the command module, Aaron. If you can see it right there in the middle of the picture. This picture taken from the left-hand window of the famous lunar module that worked every time. Thank you, Joe. And our landing point was going to be right there.
This valley is deeper than the Grand Canyon of the Colorado. This South Massif is 2,100 meters high. The mountains over here get up to just slightly less than that. The lunar module that worked every time is shown here. And I guess the most important part of this picture is-- many years ago, I believe it was in Sydney, Australia, a young man asked me, why did we put pizza on the landing gear? And Joe, that's a question I couldn't answer. And I had forgotten they were even pizza.
A well-dressed geologist-astronaut, and include and even a pilot-astronaut if you have to have them along. Whereas what you see here, the total Earth weight of this outfit plus yours truly inside was about 370 earth pounds. But on the moon, with 1/6 gravity, that's of course only about 61 pounds. And so that made it very, really quite easy to move across the surface. I was able to use a cross-country skiing technique. And was able to get up to easily six kilometers an hour. And if I needed to, even faster than that. Just striding above the surface, of course, not on it.
The pictures that you have seen of Apollo were taken with this Hasselblad camera that you see mounted on the chest here. And next time we go back, I surely hope that we have a smaller camera than that. And the only difficulty we all really had, physical difficulty, was working with these gloves. The forearm muscles get tired quite quickly if you don't discipline yourself.
And now, Jeff and his colleagues, and working with the space station construction have finally learned that you can do a lot more training with your forearms than we did. And that's going to be extremely important, along with hopefully some bright young MIT student coming up with a far better designed glove than we have even today.
The scientific side of the mission our mission, of course, and the last three missions was the real raison d'etre of going again and again to the moon. This is one of the large boulders that we examined, and actually gave us an age date on the age of the Serenitatis event. And if you look very carefully, some of you may be able to see the lunar module that worked every time sitting there in that light-colored spot just to the right of the peak of the boulder at station six.
These boulders left boulder tracks as they rolled down the mountain. And here you see the near edge of the track for this large boulder, and my footprints going down into the track. Out of sight, and up the other side. The nice thing about those footprints is they'll stay in recognizable form for about a million years. Not bad, you know.
Leave your footprints in the sands of time for a million years, might even be 2 million years. The only erosion that's going on here are the impact of small meteorites. And they garden, stir up about a centimeter or two of soil in about that length of time. Again, if you want to leave your footprints in the sands of time, I strongly recommend the moon rather than Washington.
Return for us was quite-- it was a little more exciting, maybe, than normal. We had left the earth at 25,000 miles an hour. But in order to make up that two hours and 40 minutes that we sat on the pad, and to make sure the Navy was at the right place to recover our spacecraft-- or we got to right where the Navy was, I guess is a better way to put it. We had come back at 36,000 miles an hour into the atmosphere. And landed actually in the Pacific within one minute of the planned landing time. Chris will remember that. And really a remarkable tribute along with the pinpoint landings of the last of all the missions except for Apollo 11. And that's a different story Chris may talk about.
The navigation to the moon and in deep space-- clearly related to what Doc Draper, and Dick Battin, and the crew did just was unbelievable. I still think it was magic. But it worked. And with the lunar module, it worked every time.
Now, I'd like to finish up here with just giving you my perspective of what the keys to success of Apollo were. And actually, this builds on something that Neil and I began to discuss in 1975. And this is my current list. And I'm willing to revise it. In fact, I've already had some ideas on how to do it.
But you begin, of course, with a sufficient base of technology. And that technology came from World War II, the Cold War activities going on, and then some very important decision that Dwight Eisenhower made. Not only with the creation of NASA, and the early development of the technology for weather satellites, and communications satellites-- but in January 1960, he specifically and personally wrote T. Keith Glennan, the administrator of NASA, and told him to get started on a super booster-- which became the Saturn V. Eisenhower also insisted and finally was able to get the Army to move Von Braun's group over into Nasa. So that groundwork, those foundations really made it possible for there to be a credible challenge to a generation to land on the moon before the end of the decade of the 60s's.
The reservoir of young engineers and skilled workers has to be as critical, if not more critical than any other component. The average age of the vast majority of Joe Gavin's employees, and the employees in NASA, was between 20 and 30 years old. And you've got to remember that. It is just absolutely critical to have the stamina, imagination, motivation that comes with young people.
And if your agency has an average age, as NASA does today, of about 50 years, you probably are starting out with a problem. And you need to figure out how to fix that. And ours of course was the Sputnik generation that has already been discussed. And by the way Homer Hickam's book is one that, if you haven't read it-- October Sky, originally titled Rocket Boys, is a very important contribution to that understanding.
There was at the time a pervasive environment of national unease, in part because of the campaign of 1960, as Ted will remember. The missile gap was a part of that campaign. And probably there was not as much of a missile gap as people thought there was. Because the individual services were indeed dealing with the special needs for the delivery of weapons by ballistic missiles. But nevertheless, the unease existed.
There was the catalytic event, building on Sputnik of course, of Gagarin's flight. That brought focus. And we had an articulate, and trusted, persuasive president in John F. Kennedy to articulate the goal. There were also very importantly adequate reserves, management reserves of funding.
The story goes, and I think it's largely correct-- and I've seen some of the numbers that the George Lowe, and others at headquarters at the time were estimating that the cost of actually landing on the moon, not the subsequent costs of continuing the flights, would be somewhere around-- the average was probably around $8 billion. And Jim Webb said, well, we're going to double that. And that's what he asked for. And so we basically had a management reserve of 100%.
Now you'll never get that today. You can't get any management reserve to speak of today. But it is extraordinarily critical to reduce program risk and human risk in any kind of complex program of this kind. And the OMB and Congress of course are key to ensuring that that reserve would be there.
And you need a culture of liberty, as we had in the United States at the time, and hopefully we'll continue to have. That allowed tough, and competent, and disciplined management to let people do their job. And that's already been mentioned by Aaron. And that's extraordinarily important. These young people can do the job if you give them the framework in which that job can be done, and the flexibility to get it done.
And that all really came into focus. Most of it was already there prior to the 204 fire that has been mentioned. But it really started to be focused after that fire. And we had the right system in place to make Apollo 11 successful. And I would just add at the final, saying that deep space operations still require these keys to success.
The legacy of course for Apollo is in many different forms. The Cold War political goals of Eisenhower and Kennedy were met. Soviet Union leadership was intimidated, if you've ever talked to emigres about it. And that made the Strategic Defense Initiative of Ronald Reagan more credible to them than maybe even was to people in the United States. And US pride and confidence was enhanced. All of us who traveled the world after our missions found that other peoples were extraordinarily encouraged by their future.
Now, did we follow up on that as we should? Probably not. But at the time, that had happened. And it is a legacy that could be reinforced in the future.
The cultural legacy, there was certainly a neutral evolutionary status of the human species in the solar system. We now know that we can live on the moon, and almost certainly on Mars as well. The resources are there for humans to live independently of the Earth once established. Rapid improvement of the human condition on earth came with the acceleration of technological expansion.
We developed future terrestrial energy and environmental improvements. NASA was one way to look at going to the moon, or going into space as-- it's a exercise in the conversion of energy from one form to another. And believe me, we learned how to convert energy from one form to another. And that technology permeates world's society today. And we also, as Aaron has mentioned, discovered a resource, a potential resource on the moon. Helium 3. That may well satisfy some, not all, but some of the Earth's needs for electrical power in the future.
Space settlement resources also were identified. We tend to forget about that. But the hydrogen, oxygen, water, and food that can be produced on the moon gives us the flexibility for future activities in space without the cost of lifting those resources from the gravity well that we call the Earth.
With the scientific legacy, a first order understanding of the origin and evolution of the moon. That understanding really relates directly to the early history of the Earth-- that period of time, and the first 700- 800 million years of Earth history when life was beginning on this planet. And our insights are far more robust than they were previously about the environment in which that life had to evolve.
Of course with this first order understanding the moon, we had the basis for comparative planetology. That is the comparison with the other planets, the terrestrial planets in particular. And in that is a record of the history of the inner solar system-- the impact history of the inner solar system. And as I've already mentioned, it's a guide particularly to the early history of Earth and Mars. And we had this delineation of the potential-- lunar resource potential that I mentioned.
And that's not too shabby. For a program that was clearly not designed with the science of the moon in mind, we got a hell of a lot out of it. And unfortunately, that is not even fully recognized within the scientific community today.
And so ladies and gentlemen, let me thank you very much for your attention. Thank you for your attention to our colleagues here. It's been a great ride, and I hope it's not over yet. Thank you very much.
MODERATOR: And finally, Chris Kraft. A legend in his time. And I'll just also remind you of one piece of advice that you gave us as new young astronauts. And that was, you of course had gone already through the Apollo program, and had now taken the space shuttle program to the point of first flight. And you reminded us that the first flight of a new vehicle is a very unique time, and that we should pay very close attention because we were probably not going to get to see another one again. I hope we see another one while we're still around. But again, I thank you for your advice, and for all the support that you've given us over the years.
CHRIS KRAFT: Thank you.
Thank you for having me. It's a pleasure and an honor to be here at MIT. I came to honor the people, the knowledge, and the ingenuity of this great institution. Without it, we would never have gone to the moon. As a matter of fact, we wouldn't have done many things in space. The people that Stark Draper developed here when he built the IMUs and the computers were fundamental to the advancement of everything we did in this country, and particularly in spaceflight.
So when you think about MIT, you think about Stark Draper, you think about Davy Hoag, Malcolm Johnston, Dick Battin, and really a whole host of other people that reside in this part of the world. Certainly, the work they did on all of those elements I just mentioned were fundamental to going to the moon, and going into space.
I was going to say when I stood up that I'd rather just stand up here and tell stories. I'll tell one. Because it reminded me a lot of some of us long-winded people. When I went to New York City to a ticker tape parade for the last flight of Mercury. We were in the Astor Hotel. And up on the dais was a number of people, including my boss, Walt Williams, sitting next to Herbert Hoover. He had been brought down out of the attic, probably, where he lived in the hotel.
And I noticed he looked over at Walt, said a few words to him. And I asked Walt after it was over. And I said, what did he say? And he said, he asked me who was speaking next. And I told him it was Jim Webb. He said he reached over, and turned off his earphones, and said wake me up when he finishes.
So if you want to go to sleep, go ahead. It's OK with me. Joe, I wanted to tell you. There was a solder ball still left in Apollo 14.
And these people here at MIT figured out how to-- with that small amount of erasable memory, and they're ability to phone it up from the ground by command to wire around that switch. And we were able to finish the flight because of them. So you weren't perfect.
When I used to go to Grumman, they used to call me the wire cutter. Because they would have all these problems with the caution and warning system, and I'd say, just cut the damn wire.
Usually worked, too. Also, Hammer worked on a sky lab. I said hit it with a hammer, and it worked.
I wanted to say that also when I stood up was that-- I'm last. And that's normal for me because as an operator, I was always stuck with everything that anybody didn't know what the hell to do with, and we're still going to launch it.
So I'm used to used to that. People ask me, what is the difference between flight control, and the people at the Cape Canaveral. And I said, well, they put it on the pad. They check it all out. And when they find out it doesn't work, they go get another piece, put it in there, and fix it, and then you start the countdown again. When you give it to me, that damn thing is there. I can't change it. I can't fix it. I've got to fly what you gave me. Remember that. That's the crux of flight control. You have to fly what you got. No time to stop and fix it. Not entirely true today in the space lab.
In the early years of spaceflight, before we really got started in this thing-- you have to remember that we were struggling with the ability of the human being. We did not know that man could do a job at zero gravity. 95 to 98% of the medical community in this country thought that the eyeballs would pop out at zero g. That the man would swallow his tongue.
And I heard things like 24 hour ulcers where the man was going to bleed to death on the pad, and we had to be able to get to him in three minutes. Getting to a spacecraft in three minutes when you don't allow any people on the pad is a tough order. I had one doctor that proposed that we get a helicopter, put a key in the marman clamp on Mercury, so that he could undo the clamp, go ahead near with the helicopter, and get the astronaut out. I never thought that was a very good idea.
As you recall, on the first Redstone abort, first air Redstone flight, we had on animal flight. And the chimpanzee was sitting on the pad. And we launched him. And before we could get rid of the escape tower, the engines shut down early. And it threw the spacecraft and the chimpanzee off into space with a 17 g kick in the fanny. And that was quite a jolt to our instruments, and the spacecraft, and the chimpanzee.
And every doctor in this country wanted us to take 45 chimpanzees to the Johnsville Centrifuge, and test them to destruction. Meanwhile, Mr. Gagarin flew. And so they backed off of that, and said, well we guess man can survive in space. So that was a shock to us, to have Gagarin fly before we did. And it was because we had made some errors in the Redstone launch. But then, on May the 5th, Alan Shepard flew for his first 15 minute flight, and six minutes of zero gravity.
The world response to those two flights was phenomenal. The Russians, when Gagarin flew, put it on page 37 of their newspaper. The next day, it was on headlines in the paper because the rest of the world went bananas, as you recall. Or maybe you don't. Maybe some of you in this audience don't recall that the rest of the world did go bananas.
And it was at that point in time, as Mr. Sorenson said, that Mr. Kennedy had been thinking about this, and challenged the United States to go to the moon. I remember that day very clearly. I thought he had lost his mind.
Here I was at Cape Canaveral. Had not launched John Glenn yet in the space. Did not know how to do orbit determination, from the ground with radar. But suddenly, being in charge of flight operations, as well as being the flight director at that point, I now had to come up with the orbital mechanics of how you go back and forth to the moon. And that was to me a hell of a challenge.
So at that point I realized, and still do today, that spaceflight is inextricably entwined with politics. Just remember that as we try to make some decisions in what we're going to do in the next program, and what we're going to do, and what Mr. Augustine is going to come up with that he wants Mr. Obama to sign the check for.
It is entwined. In fact, even Christopher Columbus, my namesake, found that out back in 1400's. That he had to get Isabelle to cash her chips before he could go explore the West. And that's the way it's probably going to be forever. We have to do the political along with the engineering. I think we can figure out the engineering.
And I point out to you again that-- just because I remember it. That when Mr. Kennedy said, we're going to go to the moon in this decade. It had us all going back to read Jules Verne. And find out about direct ascent, Earth orbit ways of doing it, and some guy named White. White at the Langley Research Center, and his boss, Hewitt Phillips, invented lunar orbit rendezvous. Mr. Houbolt was the salesman.
But there is where the beauty of great engineering comes from. It was that time period when we started thinking about how we were going to land something on the moon. And Bob Gilruth and I were writing back and forth in a Gulf Stream. And he said, can you imagine that we're going to take the Redstone rocket-- if you can imagine that. What the Redstone rocket-- remember what that looked like, with the capsule on top. And that's what we're going to land on the moon when we do direct ascent.
That didn't make a heck of a lot of sense. And that's when all these young men came up with the idea of a bug, of separating it, taking only it down to the surface. And that bug at that point in time only included one person. But we figured he better have a playmate to go to the lunar surface. Because he might fall down like a turtle, and not be able to get back up in that space suit.
I don't know whether Neil remembers that or not, but I'm sure he was glad to have Buzz along to get him if he fell down.
The story I could tell about the television system on Apollo would also be interesting. I'll tell you that later because you don't want to sit here all day and listen to my stories.
Now what this then led Mr. Kennedy's decision was, it led to the Gemini Program. Which we quickly put together because we didn't know how to maneuver in space. We didn't know how to rendezvous in space. We didn't know how to dock in space. We didn't know how to do EVA. We didn't know how to spend 14 days in space. And we didn't know how to do a guided re-entry from space. And Gemini did all of that for us. And we did that whole program in two years, with 12 flight. I'd like to remind people working on Constellation today.
I won't go into a lot of details. A lot of people, several people have mentioned the tragedy on the fire, of the fire on the pad. That was a horrible day for me. Horrible day for everybody that had anything to do with spaceflight. Those noises still ring in my ear. But I want to say that without the fire on the pad, we would never have done Apollo 11. In fact, I'm not sure we would have ever done Apollo. Because it was just a lousy spacecraft. We didn't know a lot. We were running too fast.
Two weeks after the fire, we had a meeting with George Lowe, and put down 125 different things we wanted to do differently on the spacecraft. And we did every one of them before we flew again.
In the summer of 1968, when we conceived Apollo 8-- everybody talks about the Saturn V. I want you to know that the second Saturn 5 flight had a major problem in all three stages. Pogo in the first stage, a residence in the second stage, and the third stage would not re-fire because it froze in space.
And yet, when we decided to go to the moon on Apollo 8, we used the Saturn V the next time to send man there. I'll remind you of that also because it took one hell of a lot of guts to make up your mind you were going to do that. And we need some of that today. We need some guts. If we're going to do a space program, we are not going to do it without ever having that kind of thought process in our brains.
The flight of Apollo 11 was indeed a tremendous event. Fantastic experience. One in which was-- there was so much exhilaration that you'd be hard to cut it, except with a knife. It was a time of celebration for all of us. But it was a time when we recognized that there were many legacies of Apollo. And that's where I'll try to close.
Apollo told us we could do anything we set our mind to. In this country, anything. If we know what we want to do, where we want to go, and have the commitment to get it done. There are many people that say today, if we can go to the moon and bring man safely back in 10 years as we did in Apollo, we can do anything. The problem I have with that is they do not recognize what that means. We need a commitment, a dedication of everybody in this country who matters to make those kinds of things happen. That's what we had for Apollo.
Every lady, old lady in the country that did wire bundles for us in the vehicle and on the harnesses realized how important it was, what they were doing, and how important it was to the future. That man's life depended on what they did. That's just a part, a small element. But that's the kind of feeling you had to have throughout the country. From the president down, Vice President Johnson, the Congress, everybody that signed the check. The OMB. OMB. OMB. Those are the guys that sign the check today. We have to have a commitment to do whatever this country sets out to do. That's the legacy of Apollo.
So thank god. Let's get on with whatever the next program is. Thank you.