DESTINATION MOON: A History of the Lunar Orbiter Program
 
 
CHAPTER II: TOWARD A LIGHTWEIGHT LUNAR ORBITER
 
Establishing Management Arrangements
 
 
 
[29] The Office of Lunar and Planetary Programs within the Office of Space Sciences acted as coordinator of the various activities required by a new lunar orbiter program. Langley, once it had assessed its ability to undertake a [30] major unmanned deep space project to obtain lunar photography, began to develop formal plans for conducting such a project. It used the 'guidelines established in General Management Instruction 4-1-1, effective as of March 8. 1963.

General Management Instruction 4-1-1 covered planning and Implementation of NASA projects and was part of an agency-wide management reform which NASA Administrator James E. Webb had initiated in October 1962. GMI 4-1-1 specifically "prescribes the policies and procedures for project management within NASA with respect to the manner in which projects are planned, approved and implemented."31 These applied to NASA Headquarters, the field centers, and JPL.

Under GMI 4-1-1 a program was defined as "a related series of undertakings which continue over a period of time (normally years), and which are designed to accomplish a broad scientific or technical goal in the NASA Long Range Plan; e.g., Lunar and Planetary Exploration ..."32 The appropriate Program Office (i.e., Office of Space Sciences) had the responsibility of carrying out-the program. Supporting the program activity was the project, which, within a [31] program., was "an undertaking with a scheduled beginning and ending...."33

Within the project was the system "one of the principal functioning entities comprising the project hardware within a project or program." The system consisted of a number of subsystems, each a functional entity within it. Lunar Orbiter was such a system.34

The GMI 4-1-1 established four basic policies applicable to a program: 1) Project Initiation, 2) Project Approval, 3) Project Implementation, and 4) Organization for Project Management. Of these the second required that for any given project a Project Approval Document (PAD) be drawn up. This document would give a brief description of the proposed project's scope, of its assignment and its system management responsibility, and of the resource requirements by fiscal year. The Associate Administrator of NASA (in this case Seamans) had to approve the PAD before any steps to implement the project could be taken.35

Once the Associate Administrator had signed the PAD, the third policy came into effect. The first major step in implementing a new project was the drafting of the Project Development Plan (PDP), which the respective [32] Program Director (in this case Homer E. Newell, Director of the Office of Space Sciences) had to approve. The PDP had to describe in specific terms the technical, financial, procurement, and management arrangements for the project. It had to state clearly the assignment of managerial responsibilities and authority, manpower, and facilities and the procedure for funding.36

Finally the fourth policy stated that "the organizational pattern for a given project to system will be determined on a case-by-case basis. The centers or Headquarters Offices having project and system management responsibilities will be described in the Project Approval Document approved by the Associate Administrator. The detailed assignment of responsibility and authority will be described in the Project Development Plan."37

The policy of Organization for Project Management also established the roles which Headquarters and the field centers would play in a given project. Headquarters held the following specific responsibilities:

1. Establishment of objectives and policy guidelines.
 
2. Allocation of resources and provision for reprogramming.
 
3. [33] Provision of decisions and resources not within the scope of approved Project Development Plan or not otherwise within the field center authority.
 
4. Performance of inter-project coordination.
 
5. Evaluation of overall performance and accomplishment of project objectives.38

The brief, foregoing explanation of GMI 4-1-1 will enable the reader to assess how Langley went about preparing for the Lunar Orbiter Program during the course of 1963 up to August 30. During March the Langley Research Center formulated a Project Approval Document for a lightweight orbiter. It was assisted by Scherer and Shoemaker at NASA Headquarters and by the studies which STL and Bell-comm had conducted.

On March 25, 1963, the Project Approval Document was finished. Floyd L. Thompson and Sherwood L. Butler, the Langley Contracting Officer, submitted it to Associate Administrator Robert C. Seamans, Jr., together with a procurement document on this date. At the same time Langley also finished drafting a preliminary Project Development Plan, which it sent to Deputy Associate Administrator, Office of Space Sciences, Homer E. Newell at the end of March.39

[34] The Office of Space Sciences faced several major management decisions at this time which Influenced the initiation of a new lunar orbiter program. Among these OSS had to decide what action to take on a lunar orbiter in the face of a projected shortage of funds in FY 1964. At the time that OSS submitted its FY 1965 budget estimates, it held that the initiation of a new orbiter project was not financially realistic.40

However, Langley's quick assessment of its ability to take on the orbiter project enabled the Deputy Director of OSS, Edgar M. Cortright, to recommend to OSS Director Homer E. Newell that it be initiated. Cortright's recommendation was not based only on Langley's assessment. Following the submission of the FY 1965 budget estimates his office received new-information which made it more feasible to decide on a start for a new lunar orbiter project.

First, the Office of Manned Space Flight had endorsed the orbiter, and OSS had made a tentative analysis of its ability to meet the needs of the manned program. Secondly, Cortright had assessed through numerous meetings with people from OSS, OMSF, JPL, and the Goddard Space Flight [35] Center (GSFC) that an orbiter project was definitely needed and feasible.41

He outlined to Newell the major factors to be considered in the lunar orbiter decision:

1. The STL-type lunar orbiter had been studied by OSS, OMSF, Bellcomm, and LRC and had been found to be feasible and desirable.
 
2. One successful orbiter would be worth dozens of successful Ranger TV impacters.
 
3. Langley could provide the management within its present ceiling, if necessary, and was highly motivated to do so.
 
4. The orbiter would be a new start and would probably have its share of unforeseen problems. The technology was not quite "off-the-shelf" and the schedule for a 1965 launch would be tight.
 
5. The Apollo Program might plan a photo-reconnaissance mission capability.42

In view of these and other decisions pending on the Ranger program extension and the Mariner B flight, Cortright concluded that the Office of Space Sciences should "initiate the lunar orbiter project at 1.7 million in FY 1963, and 27.9 million in FY 1964. Contract award would await Congressional action on FY 1964 funds. Retreat is therefore possible." 43 A new start could be absorbed if the Block V Ranger were dropped. (Cortright recommended [36] that it and subsequent Ranger blocks be dropped.) The $99 million programmed for Ranger would more than cover orbiter needs in FY 1965 since they would be about $71 million.44


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