Chapter 9

A Taste of Success

[193] While Gemini's first spacecraft and launch vehicle were moving toward their mating on complex 19 at Cape Kennedy, the Gemini Program Office itself was coping with another kind of move. The permanent home of the Manned Spacecraft Center at Clear Lake, though not quite finished, was ready to be occupied. GPO began shifting its desks from the old Veterans Administration building in downtown Houston to the new campus-like setting near Clear Lake on 6 March 1964. Shortly after the transfer had been completed, Program Manager Charles Mathews announced a reorganization of GPO. Major changes reflected the growing stress on schedules and testing as Project Gemini poised on the verge of its first flight. Project Administration changed its name to Program Control.* Scott H. Simpkinson left Mathews' staff to take charge of a new Test Operations Office dealing with reliability and quality assurance as well as test planning and evaluation.** Launch Vehicle Integration became Vehicles and Missions, divided into vehicle development and mission planning offices, plus a [194] new integration office to keep tabs on spacecraft/launch vehicle and spacecraft/target interfaces.*** The Spacecraft Management Office simply changed its name to the Spacecraft Office.**** The Houston-based strength of the program office had now reached 117; GPO also maintained representatives at Martin in Baltimore and Lockheed in Sunnyvale, California, as well as resident manager's offices at McDonnell in St. Louis and Kennedy Space Center at the Cape.# This was the organization that, with only minor changes, saw Project Gemini through to its end.1 Before that happy end, however, there was the more immediate matter of Gemini-Titan 1.


* The former chief project administration, André Meyer, became Mathews' senior assistant; Major Richard C. Henry transferred from the Washington program office to head the new GPO Program Control Office; George MacDougall stayed as second-in-command and acting head of production engineering; Walter Wolhart headed cost engineering; and James E. Bost program engineering.

** W. Harry Douglas came from the Spacecraft Office as deputy manager and acting head of reliability and quality assurance; Charles K. Williams ran test planning; and Victor P. Neshyba, test evaluation.

*** Willis Mitchell remained manager; Jerome Hammack became deputy manager and acting head of vehicle development; Wyendell B. Evans, of mission planning; and Lewis R. Fisher, of systems integration.

**** Duncan Collins continued as manager and also acting head of electrical and electronics sub-office, with Homer Dotts as his deputy manager and acting chief of the structural and mechanical suboffice. Guidance and control was the province of Richard Carley, and Kenneth Hecht was responsible for escape, landing, and recovery.

# The Martin-Baltimore representative was Harle Vogel, and the Lockheed-Sunnyvale liaison was A.B. Triche. Wilbur H. Gray was head of the Office of the NASA Resident Manger at McDonnell throughout the program, ably assisted by Andrew Hoboken; the 48-person office focused mainly on engineering and quality control. Walter Kapryan was resident manager at the Cape.


1 MSC Announcement No. 64-64, "Reorganization and Personnel Assignments of the Gemini Program Office," 3 April 1964; MSC Telephone Directory, January 1964; "Major Move to Clear Lake Begins February 20," MSC Space News Roundup, 8 Jan. 1964.


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