Beyond the Atmosphere: Early Years of Space Science

 
 
CHAPTER 4
 
INTERNATIONAL CONTACTS
 
 
 
[45] From the panel's labors gradually accumulated an array of answers to important questions that had previously been intractable. As noted earlier, published results began to attract attention in the United States. The sounding rocket program also aroused interest abroad. At the panel's 13 June 1950 meeting, Sydney Chapman, renowned geomagnetician from the United Kingdom, joined the discussions. From that time international contacts gradually broadened, as Chapman became a frequent participant and visitors from Belgium, Australia, Japan, and Canada came. In the fall of 1952 the Royal Society's Gassiot Committee-a committee concerned with upper atmospheric research-proposed an international meeting on that subject, to be held at Oxford the following August. At the conference the Europeans heard the U.S. program and results discussed in detail, while the Americans became aware of a growing interest among scientists from other countries. By publishing the proceedings in book form, the British stole something of a march, giving panel members occasion to reassess their own publication program.25
 
At this very period early plans for a "Third Polar Year"-a worldwide cooperative program of geophysical investigations-were taking shape (chap. 5). Van Allen and other panel members had already been considering the possibility of conducting rocket soundings in the vicinity of Fort Churchill, Canada. The author proposed at the panel's January 1953 meeting that a "full fledged operation of Northern latitude firings be organized for the Third Polar Year 1957-1958" and presented objectives and requirements for such a program at the following meeting.26 In October 1953, Joseph Kaplan, chairman of the U.S. National Committee for the International Geophysical Year (the new name for the Third Polar Year), and Sydney Chapman, chairman of the International Committee for the IGY, both approved the idea of an IGY rocket program. Kaplan reported that the panel would be asked to serve as advisory committee to the National Academy of Sciences' National Research Council for the rocket phases of the IGY program, but very shortly thereafter the academy established its own Technical Panel on Rocketry.27 To coordinate planning and preparations for firings at Fort Churchill-after some negotiations Canada formally extended an invitation to the United States to set up a rocket launching range there-the panel formed a Special Committee for the IGY (SCIGY). Hearing of the Research Council's Technical Panel on Rocketry, the panel transferred SCIGY to the academy's technical group.28 SCIGY's membership was then expanded slightly to the following:
 
H E. Newell, Naval Research Laboratory, Chairman
J. W. Townsend Jr. Naval Research Laboratory, Executive Secretary John Hanessian, Jr., National Academy of Sciences, Recording Secretary
[46] K. A. Anderson, State University of Iowa
Warren Berning, Ballistic Research Laboratories
L. M. Jones, University of Michigan
R. M. Slavin, Air Force Cambridge Research Center
N. W. Spencer, University of Michigan
W. G. Stroud, Signal Engineering Laboratories 29
 
The military services permitted their employees to take part in the IGY program and undertook to provide logistic support for shipboard operations and for setting up an Aerobee tower and a Nike-Cajun launcher at Fort Churchill. The Army was in overall charge of the U.S. rocket contingent at Fort Churchill, while the three services shared the expenses. But additional funds were needed. Accordingly, Van Allen submitted on behalf of panel members a budget, request to the IGY committee for more than one and a half million dollars, about 15 percent of America's total planned budget for the IGY.30 The costs of the program were defrayed by both the military services and the IGY budget.
 

 
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