SP-4209 The Partnership: A History of the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project

 Prologue

The Paine-Keldysh File

 

[1] Air Force One, the President's airplane, was flying westward across the Pacific in late July 1969 toward the anticipated splashdown site of Apollo 11. As man's first visit to an extraterrestrial body neared its conclusion, four men in the plane informally discussed the future of manned exploration in space. President Richard M. Nixon, Secretary of State William P. Rogers, National Security Adviser Henry A. Kissinger, and Administrator Thomas O. Paine of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration all knew that the Apollo program was a watershed, making the first lunar landing and those that would follow the end of an initial phase of space exploration. The age of Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo had been one of national adventure and single-flight spacecraft. The next step into space would call for reusable spacecraft and space stations. One question in particular remained to be answered: Would the character of space exploration change from costly and duplicative competition to cooperation among nations?

The concern for future cooperative space ventures was uppermost in Paine's thoughts. He directed his companions' attention to the desirability of greater substantive international cooperation in space projects, especially with the Soviet Union. Paine argued convincingly for NASA's plans to seek increased multinational space ventures. The President and his advisers agreed that this was a laudable goal, and they encouraged Paine to pursue his contacts with the Soviets.1

Tom Paine, the third administrator of NASA, brought to the agency an abiding belief that the Soviet Union and the United States eventually would have to consider working together, abandoning the competitive nature of space flight. His beliefs concerning the necessity for closer working relationships between the two superpowers went back many years. When he returned to college after World War II, "learning the Russian language was one of the two fields [he] selected for its long-range implications (the other was nuclear energy)."2 As he studied the future of manned space flight and other aspects of man's investigations of the cosmos, Paine became convinced "that the conquest of space [was] a job of such enormity that a new partnership of major nations should be organized with the U.S./U.S.S.R. leaders demonstrating the way. [2] This required, of course, a complete reversal of our previous rationale of U.S./ U.S.S.R. competition as the justification for NASA's bold programs."3 Such an approach had been fine for the 1960s. Paine later reflected on this decision:

. . . I decided - and I hope I made the right decision - that although Jim Webb certainly had done a tremendous job of building up NASA and the program on the basis of the Russian threat, that times had changed. The time had come for NASA to stop waving the Russian flag and to begin to justify our programs on a more fundamental basis than competition with the Soviets.4

Thus, throughout his time with NASA, Paine tried to tone down the competitive aspects of Soviet-American space relations. He concentrated on developing a rapprochement with the Soviets that might spread into other parts of society. He also believed that elimination of the "Russian threat" rationale would force NASA to develop a space program based upon new foundations. This would not mean that competition with the Soviet Union would be eliminated; Paine saw that as a natural aspect of space exploration. However, he thought that it should be a more open, friendly contest. He also expressed the belief that NASA should not "scare the American public with such a competition but . . . do it as a matter of national pride."5 Paine's efforts to establish a new posture with the Soviets began two months before the flight of Apollo 11.

Following his appointment as Administrator on 5 March 1969, Paine renewed proposals made by his predecessors by calling once again for international cooperation in the scientific study of outer space.* The efforts to establish a foundation for cooperative space enterprises during the post-Sputnik years, 1957-69, had been filled with recurring frustrations and dashed hopes (see chaps. I and II). Despite skepticism on the part of some of his staff, at the end of April Paine began official correspondence with the Soviet Academy of Sciences. With his letter to Anatoliy Arkadyevich Blagonravov, Chairman of the Academy's Commission on Exploration and Use of Space, Paine forwarded a copy of the NASA management handbook sent to all potential participants in space scientific studies, Opportunities for Participation in Space Flight Investigations.6

Administrator Paine urged Academician Blagonravov to solicit from his scientific community proposals for experiments to be flown on American spacecraft, with complete assurance that those experiments would be given full consideration based upon their scientific merit. Paine told his Soviet correspondent that "the close collaboration which would be required to [3] integrate Soviet experiments into American spacecraft should engender closer working relationships than we have been able to achieve and establish a basis for still further commonality of purpose and program." Paine hoped that the Soviet scientists would be interested in NASA's plans to place a laser-ranging retroreflector on the moon during the Apollo 11 lunar landing, because this reflector would permit precise measurement of lunar orbital phenomena. Paine concluded by saying, "The participation of Soviet scientists in this and other opportunities will be warmly welcomed. Of course, if the Soviet Academy should find itself in a position to extend similar Opportunities to American scientists, this too would be welcomed."7

Later in May, Paine tried to find a suitable time and place for a conversation with Blagonravov. In a letter dated 29 May, he suggested that "it would be useful if we attempted at an early date to arrange a meeting and informal discussion which could further our mutual interests in cooperative space projects." Such talks had not been possible during an earlier visit by Blagonravov to New York, nor had Paine's own travel plans for Europe during the summer of 1969 afforded a suitable occasion. "However, another opportunity will be presented by the launching of Apollo 11 from Cape Kennedy, now scheduled for July 16. I would be very pleased if you could be there." Sensitive to possible concerns on the part of the Soviet Academy of Sciences, Paine continued, "I appreciate the questions which arise in connection with such an invitation. I assure you that my invitation is offered in all sincerity and entirely for the purpose of permitting you to view an event which is of interest to all of us who are engaged in space programs, and to provide an opportunity for private discussions on the subject of cooperation." While there was the almost certain possibility that such a meeting would be in the public eye, Paine stressed that "steps could be taken to avoid publicity attached to such a visit by you." Therefore, he asked if Blagonravov could accept the invitation.8 Blagonravov declined.9 Undeterred, Paine waited for a more auspicious moment to continue his efforts.

The successful lunar landing became an important element in the course of subsequent discussions of space cooperation between the Soviets and the Americans. Following the landing of Eagle and the pioneering moon walks of Neil A. Armstrong and Edwin E. Aldrin, Jr., on 20 July 1969, the Soviet Union joined the ranks of official well-wishers congratulating the United States. On the following day, Soviet Premier Alexsey Nikolayevich Kosygin took the opportunity afforded by a farewell conversation with former Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey to compliment the Americans on their accomplishment and to express his interest in widening talks with United States officials on the topic of space cooperation.10

The news coverage in the Soviet Union of the Apollo 11 flight was equally warm. Scientist Cosmonaut Konstantin Petrovich Feoktistov typified [4] the public comments in his press and television statements. Hailing the flight as a landmark, he reflected in an Izvestiya article, "This without a doubt is a major development of cosmonautics. . . . The very fact of the first landing of human beings on another celestial body cannot but stimulate the imagination. What recently had been pure fantasy is now a reality."11 Georigy Ivanovich Petrov, Director of the Institute of Cosmic Research, called the mission an "outstanding achievement," while suggesting that more information for each ruble could have been obtained through the use of unmanned, automated spacecraft, a sentiment that still has its supporters in the American scientific community as well.12 The race for the moon had ended.

The first steps toward closer cooperation grew out of a formal exchange of letters between Administrator Paine and the President of the Soviet Academy of Sciences, Mstislav Vsevolodovich Keldysh. A distinguished physicist who had specialized in space mechanics, Keldysh had been among the well-wishers following the return of Apollo 11. He told Paine that he "warmly" congratulated the United States on the successful lunar landing and return, as "this achievement is a great contribution to the opening up of the cosmos in further progress of world science."13 Paine responded with the suggestion that Keldysh might wish to select a delegation of Soviet scientists to attend the briefings at NASA Headquarters in Washington on 11-12 September to discuss the proposed experiments to be carried on the Viking mission to Mars, then scheduled for 1973. The presentations were to include findings of the 1969 Mariner investigations and also a description of the current status of the spacecraft design and planning for the mission. The Administrator was confident that the Soviet scientists would find the briefings informative. Dr. Paine suggested that this occasion could also serve as an opportunity for an informal discussion between "your scientists and a small group of NASA personnel." As before, the Paine rationale for this proposal was to maximize the scientific benefits for the manpower and money expended.

We have just completed a very extensive and detailed planning activity, and have outlined possible courses of action for NASA over the next decades. We would be pleased to discuss these and hope that your scientists would be able to discuss some of the future plans for the Soviet program.

To keep the talks manageable, Paine suggested that they be limited initially to planetary exploration.14

The Soviets did not receive the Paine letter until 3 September; thus, they were unable to take proper advantage of it. Keldysh was nevertheless "very grateful" to Paine for the "courteous" invitation, but he regretted that he could not "gather together a group of Soviet scientists in such a short time to participate in this meeting." Keldysh suggested that the doors not be [5] closed on expanded cooperation and asked for copies of the materials to be distributed at the Viking briefings, "in order that Soviet scientists could develop possible proposals from our side. Later it would be possible to exchange opinions on this question."15

Paine responded in a letter on 15 September with the materials requested by Keldysh. Speaking to the problem of timing, Paine regretted that he had not given the Soviets more advanced notice, "but I believe that this circumstance need not thwart the purpose of my invitation." Paine went further and said, "In order to compensate for your inability to attend the Viking briefing this week, we are prepared to provide a meeting for your people as soon as you can arrange for them to get to Washington." Returning to the theme of his 21 August letter, Paine suggested that such a briefing could also be accompanied with a broader discussion of the respective plans that the Soviet Academy and NASA had for planetary exploration.16

The Academy of Sciences in its subsequent decision not to participate in the Mars landing program in no way rejected the possibility of future cooperative efforts. After a study of the Viking materials, Keldysh responded that immediate Soviet participation in the Viking program was not feasible from their point of view. This response reflected a difference in scientific philosophy and not a put-off for political reasons. Keldysh pointed out that "the investigation of planets by automatic spacecraft requires a complex program of measurement, which determines the flight plan and actual design of the spacecraft. The installation of individual instruments, which in essence would duplicate the measurements planned by your scientists, would hardly be worthwhile."17

As the correspondence between Keldysh and Paine developed, the Space Task Group** presented a report to the President: The Post-Apollo Space Program: Directions for the Future. When President Nixon requested this study on 13 February 1969, the lunar landing of Apollo 11 was a foregone conclusion. Once man had reached the moon, a new set of goals would have to be developed. In the ensuing eight months, the Task Group provided a forum for discussions with governmental agencies, the Congress, and participants from industry, universities, professional societies, and the public. The completed report provided the basis for an informed discussion of the future direction of the American space effort.18 By the time the Space Task Group had completed its deliberations and produced its report, [6] the first moon landing had passed into history; the perspective of the report reflected a new era.

Assessing the international aspects of the Apollo 11 flight, the Task Group stated that the "Achievement of the Apollo goal resulted in a new feeling of 'oneness' among men everywhere. It inspired a common sense of victory that can provide the basis of new initiatives for international cooperation." Looking back on the preceding twelve years of space flight, the report declared that the United States and the Soviet Union had been portrayed widely "as in a 'race to the Moon' or as vying over leadership in space." Candidly, the Task Group reported that "this has been an accurate reflection of one of the several strong motivations for U.S. space program decisions over the previous decade."19 In looking for new goals for the space program, the Space Task Group suggested that international cooperation was one of the themes emerging from the Apollo experience that should be an essential element of future programs:

The landing on the Moon has captured the imagination of the world. It is now abundantly clear to the man in the street, as well as to the political leaders of the world, that mankind now has at his service a new technological capability, an important characteristic of which is that its applicability transcends national boundaries. If we retain the identification of the world with our space program, we have an opportunity for significant political effects on nations and peoples and on their relationships to each other, which in the long run may be quite profound.20

In keeping with the spirit of the Space Task Group's report, Paine transmitted copies of it, together with NASA's more detailed report America's Next Decades in Space, to the Soviet Academy of Sciences. In his cover letter of 10 October 1969, Paine told Keldysh that these documents might "suggest to you as they do to me, possibilities for moving beyond our present very limited cooperation to space undertakings in which the Soviet Union and the United States could undertake major complementary tasks to the benefit of both our countries." Paine added that he would be pleased to initiate discussions should Keldysh feel that "there may now be some reasonable chance for progress." In closing, the Administrator welcomed a visit from Keldysh to the United States, or he was prepared to travel to the Soviet Union. Tom Paine saw the glimmer of hope for a mutual space effort, and he intended to pursue that opportunity.21

The Keldysh response supported Paine's belief that cooperation was possible. Keldysh said that he fully shared Paine's "point of view concerning the advantages of international cooperation and the coordination of plans for scientific investigations which are conducted in space." The Soviet scientist also agreed with Paine that this was an area in which Soviet-American [7] cooperation was of a "limited character" and that there was "a need for its further development." Perhaps a meeting between representatives of the Soviet Academy and NASA would be beneficial, but the preparation for such a meeting would require time. Keldysh expected to be able to address this matter more fully in three or four months. Then "we could return to this matter and reach an understanding on the time and place for our meeting and the schedule. . . ."22 Now that the Soviets seemed to be planning for substantive talks, American government agencies began an internal discussion on what it would mean to engage in such talks. Following the informal conversation aboard Air Force One, the President formed an interagency committee to study the ramifications - positive and negative - that would arise relative to cooperative space ventures with the Soviet Union. The committee was then to present policy alternatives to the White House.*** With the exception of the Department of Defense representatives, the members of this committee favored broader efforts toward cooperation. One suggestion for joint work concerned those areas of manned space activity affecting safety and common flight operations procedures - for example, the development of compatible docking hardware and the standardization of flight control and rendezvous systems to permit the creation of a reciprocal space rescue capability. In such a project, both countries stood to benefit; but clearly both sides would have to exchange much more information if a rendezvous and docking system were to get beyond the talking stage. The candid opinion in Washington, including the State Department, was that there would be no early progress in obtaining such discussions with the Soviets.23

While the interagency committee deliberated, Dr. Paine responded to Academician Keldysh's December letter. The Administrator had hoped for an earlier encounter; now he looked forward to receiving word in the early spring concerning the Soviet preference for a time and place for an initial conference.24 A key step toward a meeting between officials from NASA and the Soviet Academy was an informal dinner in New York City at the Lotus Club, when a serious cooperative proposal was discussed for the first time.

Since Academician Blagonravov was in New York, Paine thought that this was an appropriate occasion for them to become acquainted. It also seemed to be the right time for a "discreet discussion" on joint space ventures.25 [8] The amiable conversation touched on many subjects. Paine mentioned to his guest that Neil Armstrong planned to deliver a paper at the COSPAR**** meetings scheduled for 20-29 May 1970 in Leningrad, and Paine said he hoped that Armstrong would have an opportunity to visit some of the Soviet scientific facilities. Blagonravov responded that the cosmonauts would be pleased to show their American counterpart their facilities and some of the other space-related institutes. Paine then summarized for Blagonravov the substance of his testimony earlier that day on the problems encountered during the unsuccessful lunar flight of Apollo 13. Paine also described NASA's efforts to develop increased foreign participation in the United States space program. During the course of the evening, Paine asked Blagonravov for his views on the possibility of developing joint programs for planetary exploration and for work toward astronaut cosmonaut safety. Along this line, Paine suggested that it might be worthwhile to discuss incorporating compatible docking mechanisms on future spacecraft, such as space stations and shuttles. The latter concern reflected the proposals of the President's interagency committee.26

While Blagonravov did not respond directly, both the Administrator and his Assistant for International Affairs, Arnold W. Frutkin, felt that their Soviet guest could be relied upon to transmit a favorable report on the meeting to the U.S.S.R. policy makers. As Tom Paine was later to reflect, "We had no reasons to expect a favorable reaction" from Moscow, but there was no reason not to try.27 Frutkin, judging from his previous contacts with Blagonravov, felt that some "new signal" was in the works and that it would likely come in response to the Paine-Keldysh correspondence. Frutkin also noted that Blagonravov was not likely to play a prominent role in later discussions. The elder Soviet space statesman had referred several times tohis upcoming 76th birthday.28

Closer cooperation took a step forward at the 13th annual meeting of COSPAR in Leningrad. Soviet Premier Kosygin sent a message that seemed to signify a new trend - "lnternational cooperation in space exploration and in the use of outer space for peaceful purposes must be based upon the development of mutual understanding and trust among the peoples." Kosygin saw that there was "growing cooperation on an international scale in space research," and he noted, "further progress in this field can open up still greater prospects for mankind."29 While Neil Armstrong received an exceptionally warm reception from the predominantly Soviet audience, [9] George M. Low, the Deputy Administrator of NASA, had significant private talks with Soviet officials.

On the second morning of the COSPAR sessions, 21 May 1970, Low met with President Keldysh. The two men began their conversation with an exchange of books. Low presented a new book of photographs taken by Lunar Orbiter, while Keldysh reciprocated with a book on the Soviet space program. Low then told the President of the Academy that NASA officials were still eager to hear of possible proposals for cooperation and that Dr. Paine was prepared to meet him at any time and place. Keldysh said that he had waited until the Academy had something positive to offer. He then indicated to Low that such a proposal likely would be made in the near future. Low assured Keldysh that NASA would give positive consideration to any proposal, underscoring the fact that NASA was "most anxious" to start cooperative efforts with the Soviet Union in space. Summarizing his impressions for the record, Low concluded, "The meeting was pleasant, and communications between us appeared to be good."30 A less formal discussion of this same topic had been undertaken ten days earlier by Dr. Philip Handler of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences during his visit to the U.S.S.R.

Handler later recounted how he became involved in the SovietAmerican space dialogue. "My personal introduction to the possibility that I might play a useful role with respect to Soviet-American cooperation began when I accompanied Tom Paine and Jim Webb to President Johnson's ranch" on 2 November 1968 for the presentation of NASA awards to outgoing Administrator Webb and the Apollo 7 crew. On the flight to Johnson City, Texas, conversation turned to the need for greater international cooperation. Handler recalled, "I pointed out that among my other goals as the new President of this Academy was the development of closer scientific ties between our Academy and that of the Soviet Union." Both Paine and Webb gave him encouragement but warned him not to become discouraged if he did not meet with early success. These men were aware of the long and unfruitful efforts in which NASA had been engaged with the Soviets.31

Before he had an opportunity to talk with the Soviets, Handler saw a movie that influenced his thinking concerning manned space flight.

In the early spring of 1970, . . . I saw a special showing of the film Marooned in which . . . an American astronaut is marooned in orbit, unable to return to earth, and has a relatively limited oxygen supply remaining. While preparations are made on earth for rescue by NASA, a Soviet spacecraft is caused to change its course so as to closely approach the helpless American craft. A Soviet cosmonaut then undertakes a space walk and delivers some tanks of [10] oxygen to the marooned American permitting him to survive until the American rescue is possible.#

About a week before Handler's departure for the Soviet Union, he saw Tom Paine; Marooned was still in the back of his mind. During their conversation, Paine and Handler reviewed various possibilities for cooperation with the Soviets. Paine told him of his correspondence with Keldysh and urged Handler to press the discussion of this subject with the Soviets. Handler later reflected, "it was my clear intention to catalyze the process knowing full well that if I could secure agreement with the Soviet Academy to begin cooperative ventures seriously, from then on the negotiations would have to be directly with NASA."32

The two days that Handler spent in Moscow, 11-12 May 1970, were filled with talks on a broad range of topics relating to the whole realm of cooperation between the two scientific communities. At one point, Handler found an opportunity to discuss the question of space cooperation with President Keldysh, Dzhermen Mikhaylovich Gvishiani (Premier Kosygin's son-in-law and Deputy Minister for Science and Technology), and a group of younger Soviet scientists. Handler's approach was less tactful than that which had been pursued by NASA officials; "I confronted them with copies of a recent article in the New York Times and in Science magazine recounting the rather disgraceful history of their failure to react to the many initiatives offered by NASA." Handler urged closer cooperation by describing the basic scenario of the film Marooned. The fact that "an American film should portray a Soviet cosmonaut as the hero who saves an American's life came to them as a visible and distinct shock."

In response to Handler's general comments that surely the time had come for joint space ventures "for reasons of economy, for reasons of the symbolism it might offer humanity, and to accelerate the pace of space exploration," the Soviets said they were preparing a set of replies to Dr. Paine. Handler understood that the proposals would center on three specific areas. First, the Soviets would suggest a more vigorous program for the exchange of scientific data from space experiments. Second, they would recommend a unified system of communication with spacecraft and ground stations. Finally, they would suggest wider exploitation of both nations' meteorological satellites.33

According to Handler, the suggestion that the two nations work toward the development of a "mutually acceptable single docking mechanism on [11] space stations planned by both groups" caused considerable discussion. After some private conversation in Russian in which some of the young scientists appeared to urge favorable consideration of this idea, Gvishiani and Keldysh quietly told Handler that they were not in a position to give a definitive reply at the moment; they were sympathetic, but would have to refer the matter to higher authorities. The two Soviet officials asked Handler if he could wait for a reply and further if he planned to discuss this proposal with the American press upon his return home; Handler indicated that he would remain silent until he had their reply. The Soviets promised to direct a response to either Paine or Handler at an early date.34

Neither Tom Paine nor Philip Handler could have known then how close they were to a dramatic offer on the part of the Soviet Academy of Sciences. On 11 July, Anatoliy Fedorovich Dobrynin, the Soviet Ambassador to the United States, called Handler at the National Academy of Sciences. Ambassador Dobrynin asked him to receive Ye. A. Belov, the newly appointed Scientific Attache at the Soviet Embassy, who had a message from Academician Keldysh. At the subsequent meeting, Belov, having just arrived from Moscow and reading from his own handwritten notes, discussed a number of the questions that had been left open after the May talks with Handler. He also brought specific word from Keldysh that the Presidium of the Soviet Academy, in consultation with other appropriate groups, was prepared to discuss common docking mechanisms for space stations.35

The message from Keldysh indicated that the Soviet Academy would be pleased to respond favorably if the National Academy issued an official request for a discussion of cooperation in space. The Soviet message to Handler could be interpreted as an indication that the Soviet space scientists thought that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration was subordinate to the National Academy of Sciences, just as their Institute of Space Research is a subdivision of the Soviet Academy.## However, Handler perceived the Keldysh request differently. The National Academy provided a "comfortable channel" of communication through which the Soviets could [12] indicate their interest in cooperative discussions. If the American government was serious in its suggestions, then the proper agency, NASA, would address the matter formally. Handler subsequently wrote an explanatory letter on behalf of the National Academy of Sciences to the effect that further discussions should be conducted between the Soviet Academy and NASA.36 Meanwhile, Administrator Paine sent the official response for the United States, clarifying the role of the space agency: "As the government agency responsible for civil space activities, NASA has direct responsibility for any discussions with Soviet officials regarding actions we might take together to assure compatible docking systems in our respective manned space flight programs."37

Should the Soviet Academy agree to discuss this subject, Paine continued, the Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston, as a preparatory measure, would welcome, in the near future, two Soviet engineers; these visitors would have the opportunity to examine NASA's current designs for docking mechanisms and to discuss future docking concepts. The next step would be joint talks between responsible officials from NASA and the Soviet Academy. Paine saw important benefits from such discussions. "If we can agree on common systems, and I foresee no particular technical difficulty, we will have made an important step toward increased safety and additional cooperative activities in future space operations." The Administrator then referred to his recent decision to resign from that post for personal reasons. He assured Keldysh that his decision would in no way alter NASA policies concerning space cooperation. "Thus, you should understand our past and current correspondence as official rather than personal, although this matter has my wholehearted support."38

Paine followed his 31 July letter with another on 4 September 1970, in which he told the President of the Soviet Academy that NASA was still interested in common docking equipment. The Administrator restated his invitation for a visit to Houston by Soviet technical experts and suggested that the Academy officials might wish to consider the idea of a test flight in which a Soviet spacecraft would rendezvous and dock with the American space laboratory Skylab, then scheduled for launch in 1973. Paine said that NASA felt it would be feasible to install a Soviet docking fixture in the multiple docking adapter on Skylab. Explaining subsequently the motivation for this suggestion, Paine commented, "The Skylab docking proposal was made so that we could convince the Soviets of the reality of our proposal. We made this specific to avoid initiating prolonged general discussions in which everyone agreed to 'cooperate' but nothing actually happened."39 While Paine did not expect the Soviets to accept this particular proposal, he did hope that it would elicit workable counter-proposals and discussions. [13] To give Keldysh and his associates a better idea of the nature of Skylab, Paine enclosed a summary description of the space station in his letter.40

Paine and Keldysh were moving rapidly toward the same goal. Paine's letter of 4 September crossed in the mail with a letter of the 11th from Keldysh. Keldysh indicated that the "leadership of the U.S.S.R. Academy of Sciences understands the entire importance and timeliness" of discussing a compatible rendezvous and docking system. "There is no doubt that a positive solution of this question would constitute an important contribution by Soviet and American scientists to the cause of space exploration in the interests of world science and the progress of all mankind." To get the talks under way, the Soviet Academy proposed preliminary discussions in Moscow scheduled for either October or the latter half of November - which is to say, the Soviets wanted to meet either before or after the "October" Revolution holidays in early November.41

Turning to specific items to be discussed at a joint meeting, Keldysh listed four topics for consideration. First, there were questions associated with the alternative spacecraft configurations for a rendezvous and docking mission. Second, it was necessary to enumerate the flight procedures to be standardized for such a mission. Third, a decision was needed on the type and number of technical groups to work out the hardware requirements. And finally, time should be set aside to consider plans for future working sessions. "I hope, my dear Mr. Paine, that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration will find our proposal completely acceptable and will promptly inform us of the precise date for the beginnings of the talks."42

Paine's resignation became effective on 15 September, and the task of responding to the Keldysh letter fell on the Acting Administrator, George Low. On 25 September, Low reaffirmed the continuing official desire to hold talks with the Soviets. "As Acting Administrator, I shall be continuing Paine's efforts to find ways in which we can develop cooperation between our two countries in space research beyond its present limited extent." In accepting the Soviet invitation to send NASA personnel to visit Moscow, Low suggested that the 26th and 27th of October would be satisfactory.43

Turning to the agenda proposed by Keldysh, which was acceptable to NASA, Low defined the approach the Americans would like to follow in discussing those subjects. Under the first item, the Americans would expect to exchange views on possible mission profiles, the types of spacecraft to be employed, and the kinds of docking systems that might be developed. Within the scope of the second topic, Low said NASA would be prepared to share background on operating procedures, docking hardware, communications links, interconnecting ground systems, spacecraft atmosphere, and crew transfer techniques. The third subject for discussion, working groups, [14] would afford the two sides an opportunity to consider the best way to approach the technical areas listed in the second agenda item. Under the final topic, plans for future work, Low thought it would be appropriate to arrange for an early review of the working group findings. While waiting for the Soviet reply, the Americans prepared for a journey to Moscow. Five men were selected to make the trip: from NASA Headquarters, Arnold Frutkin; from the Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston, Director Robert R. Gilruth; Glynn S. Lunney, Chief, Flight Directors Office; and Caldwell C. Johnson, Chief, Spacecraft Design Division; and from the Marshall Space Flight Center, George B. Hardy, Skylab Program Office. Keldysh answered Low's letter with a telegram confirming the acceptability of the 26th and 27th of October for a meeting.44 The next step was a flight to Moscow.


* Paine had served as Deputy Administrator from 5 Feb. to 7 Oct. 1968, at which time he became Acting Administrator, effective with the resignation of James E. Webb.

** The Space Task Group consisted of Vice President Spiro T. Agnew, Chairman; Secretary of the Air Force, Robert C. Seamans, Jr.; Administrator of NASA, Thomas O. Paine; Science Adviser to the President, Lee A. Dubridge; and the following observers: U. Alexis Johnson, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs; Glenn T. Seaborg, Chairman, Atomic Energy Commission; and Robert P. Mayo, Director, Bureau of the Budget.

*** This committee, formed in the latter part of 1969, consisted of representatives from the Department of State, the Department of Defense, the Office of Science and Technology, the Space Council, and NASA. State coordinated the activities of the committee, even though the department had basically played an advisory role in the earlier NASA discussions with the Soviets.

**** The International Committee on Space Research, or, as it is probably more widely known, COSPAR, is a subdivision of the International Council of Scientific Unions (ICSU) to which the United States belongs through the National Academy of Sciences.

# The motion picture was based upon a novel of the same title by Martin Caidin published by E. P. Dutton, 1964. The adventure story was set in the era of Project Mercury, while the 1969 screenplay by Mayo Simons was set in the Apollo period with a crew of three, not one as Handler recollected.

## The National Academy of Sciences, established 3 Mar. 1863 by congressional charter, has enjoyed a close relationship with the Federal government, but it is not an official body. Instead, it is an organization of distinguished scientists who act in an advisory capacity to governmental agencies. The Academy does not have laboratories of its own, but seeks to stimulate scientific research for the public welfare through existing university and government facilities. The Academy of Sciences of the U.S.S.R. is, on the other hand, an official government institution. The Soviet Academy, which traces its beginnings back to 1725, performs a number of significant roles. Among them is a direct involvement in higher education, and many of the Academy's institutes grant academic titles and graduate degrees.


1. Thomas O. Paine, "Man's Future in Space," 1972 Tizard Memorial Lecture, Westminster School, London, 14 Mar. 1972, p. 4; and Paine, ". . . For all Mankind: Space Progress to the Year 2000" (typescript, NASA HQ History Office Archives), p. 5-2.

2. Paine to Edward C. Ezell, 12 July 1974; and interview, Paine-Eugene M. Emme, 3 Aug. 1970.

3. Interview, Paine-Emme, 3 Aug. 1970.

4. Interview, Paine-Emme, 3 Sept. 1970.

5. Ibid.

6. Paine to Anatoliy Arkadyevich Blagonravov, 30 Apr. 1969, with enclosure: Opportunities for Participation in Space Flight Investigations, NASA-NHB 8030.1 (Washington, 1967).

7. Ibid. According to Arnold W. Frutkin, "Whenever we invite proposals for experiments on our spacecraft by U.S. or foreign scientists, we now include the Soviet Union as a routine matter and invite them to submit proposals along with the others," NASA News Release, HQ, "Background Press Briefing, U.S. and USSR Cooperation in Space," 13 Oct. 1970, p. 3. "Proposals for flight investigations from scientists outside the U.S. should be sent first to the official national space agency in the scientists country. After review, this organization will then forward the endorsed proposal to NASA where it will go through the same evaluation and selection as a US-originated proposal," NASA, Opportunities for Participation in Space Flight Investigations, p. III-3.

8. Letter, Paine to Blagonravov, 29 May 1969.

9. TWX, Blagonravov to Paine, 10 July 1969.

10. NASA, Astronautics and Aeronautics, 1969: Chronology on Science, Technology, and Policy, NASA SP-4014 (Washington, 1970), p. 233.

11. U.S. Congress, Senate, Committee on Aeronautical and Space Sciences, NASA Authorization for Fiscal Year 1971: Hearings on S. 3374, 91st Cong., 2nd sess., 1970, p. 1038. See also Blagonravov, "Apollo 11 and the Soviet Lunar Programme," Spaceflight 11 (Dec. 1969): 414-416.

12. NASA, Astronautics and Aeronautics, 1969, p. 233.

13. Mstislav Vsevolodovich Keldysh to Paine, message [July 1969].

14. Paine to Keldysh, 21 Aug. 1969. The Viking launch was subsequently slipped to 1975 because of budgetary restrictions, NASA, Astronautics and Aeronautics, 1970, NASA SP-4015 (Washington, l971), p. 11.

15. Keldysh to Paine, 5 Sept. 1969, as telegraphically transmitted by the American Embassy in Moscow, 9 Sept. 1969.

16. Paine to Keldysh, 15 Sept. 1969.

17. Keldysh to Paine, 12 Dec. 1969.

18. Paine to Keldysh, 10 Oct. 1969.

19. Space Task Group, The Post-Apollo Space Program: Directions for the Future, Space Task Group Report to the President, Sept. 1969,

20. Ibid., p. 7.

21. Paine to Keldysh, 10 Oct. 1969.

22. Foy D. Kohler, memo for record, "Memorandum of Conversation," Dec. 1969, as cited in Dodd L. Harvey and Linda C. Ciccoritti, U.S.-Soviet Space Cooperation (Coral Gables, Fla., 1974), p. 270; and Richard LeBaron, "U.S.-U.S.S.R. Space Cooperation," Oct. 1973 (typescript, NASA HQ History Office), p. 17. LeBaron cites Kohler's memo as a State Dept. memorandum. See also Keldysh to Paine, 12 Dec.

23. LeBaron, "U.S.-U.S.S.R. Space Cooperation," pp. 18-21; Robert F. Packard to Staff Committee, Space Task Group, "International Implications of the Space Program for the Next Decade," 4 June 1969; and William P. Rogers to Richard M. Nixon, "International Space Cooperation," 14 Mar. 1969, with attachment, "New Initiatives in Space Cooperation," 10 Mar. 1969.

24. Paine to Keldysh, 20 Feb. 1970.

25. Paine to Ezell, 12 July 1974.

26. Frutkin, memo for record, "Paine-Blagonravov Meeting 4/24," 12 May 1970, p. 1.

27. Paine to Ezell, 12 July 1974.

28. Frutkin, memo for record, 12 May 1970,

29. NASA, Astronautics and Aeronautics: 1970, p. 176.

30. George M. Low, "Notes Concerning Trip to the Soviet Union, May 19-24, 1970," p. 3.

31. Philip Handler to Ezell, 9 Oct. 1974.

32. Ibid.

33. Handler to Paine, 28 May 1970; Handler to Ezell, 9 Oct. 1974; and Handler, "Trip Report" [n.d.].

34. Handler to Paine, 28 May 1970.

35. Handler to Paine, 29 July 1970; and Handler to Ezell, 9 Oct. 1974.

36. Handler to Keldysh, 29 July 1970, in which he emphasized that "Dr. Paine's communication quite properly constitutes the official invitation on the part of the Government of the United States to embark upon the negotiations you requested through your Embassy." Paine had sent another letter to Keldysh on 30 June 1970 saying that he planned to be in Europe during July and that perhaps he could meet with Keldysh. This letter got lost in the confusion caused by the Handler conversation with Keldysh as to which agency represented the U.S. space program-NAS or NASA; and Handler to Ezell, 1 and 19 Nov. 1974.

37. Paine to Keldysh, 31 July 1970.

38. Ibid. Paine sent Handler a handwritten note: "It is important in my view to keep our momentum in US-USSR space cooperation and to let Keldysh know that my leaving will not affect our position. Hence this note to him." Paine to Handler, 31 July 1970.

39. Paine to Ezell, 21 July 1974.

40. Paine to Keldysh, 4 Sept. 1970.

41. Keldysh to Paine, 11 Sept. 1970. Keldysh to Handler, 10 Sept. 1970 contained basically the same substance: "In consideration of the statement in your letter on July 29 of this year that T. Paine's proposal to conduct negotiations. . . constitutes in fact the official proposal on the part of the Government of the United States, we have sent to Mr. T. Paine a reply confirming our positive attitude toward that question."

42. Keldysh to Paine, 11 Sept. 1970.

43. Low to Keldysh,25 Sept. 1970.

44. TWX, Keldysh to Low [n.d.] , as cited in Low to Keldysh, 21 Oct. 1970.


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