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Tindallgrams

The following is a lightly-edited extract from an interview of astronaut T.K. Mattingly by Rebecca Wright for the NASA Johnson Space Center Oral History Project on 6 November 2001. Mattingly:

You know, our purpose was to go land on the Moon, but somehow ... the angst that went with that Apollo 8 mission was far more electrifying. I remember after the first set of briefings, I remember going home one night ... (thinking) it's like no one had ever thought about going to the Moon. We've been in this program for how many years, and yet people are asking questions that are almost like, "Does anyone know where the Moon is and how to find it?" And here we're supposed to be going.

... There were so many questions, and every one of them needed an answer ... Bill [Howard W. Tindall, Jr.] ... started having these meetings. His initial charter, as I understand it, was just see if you can figure out an order that we can answer these questions in, because we can't do it all at once. Let's do the most important ones first. So we started having these meetings. That kind of put some sanity and sense to it. It created this thing we called Tindallgrams. Because Bill Tindall would listen.

These meetings would go on sometimes two days, and they would be (from) eight in the morning until eight in the evening, whatever it took. Room filled with people. Not always a lot of decorum. Bill was after answers. It was nowhere near as a collegial environment as you see in some organizations today. But they were after what was right, and everybody was passionate about. Everybody was young so they were kind of brash and there wasn't a lot of patience anywhere. So some of those meetings were very, very colorful. Some of the characters were colorful. At the end of this, you were just inundated with all of this stuff you've heard. And now what?

And the next day you would get this two-, maybe three-, page memorandum from Bill Tindall written in a folksy style, saying, "You know, we had this meeting yesterday. We were trying to ask this. If I heard you right, here's what I think you said and here's what I think we should do." And he could summarize these complex technical and human issues and put it down in a readable style. I mean, people waited for the next Tindallgram. That was like waiting for the newspaper in the morning. They looked forward to it.

I just remember that I've always talked to people about this amazing skill. One day I was talking to Malcolm Johnson, who was an MIT guy and had been a very close friend of Bill Tindall's. He says, "I've got a complete set. Would you like one?"

I said, "You're kidding. Yes."

So Malcolm went and made a copy for me of the complete unexpurgated set of Tindallgrams, which I unfortunately have in storage right now, but that's one of my prize possessions. Bill was just ... I don't know if ... You folks probably didn't start this program in time to talk with him.

WRIGHT: No; but we hear the same comments from everybody that talks about him.

 

The following seven collections do not comprise a complete set of Tindallgrams. They are downloaded from a posting by Robert Pearlman at collectSPACE. Descriptions by Pearlman are included.

Tindallgrams - Lunney ( 24 Mb PDF, 380 pages). This well-organized collection was originally labeled 'Lunney' and includes both an index and an introduction by Malcolm Johnston of the Charles Stark Draper Laboratory. This set may have been assembled by Johnston, a friend of Tindall's, shortly after Tindall died in 1995. It may also be the set Mattingly mentions receiving from Johnston.

Tindallgrams - JSC (23 Mb PDF, 525 pages). This collection was scanned by Glen Swanson when he was historian for Johnson Space Center.

Tindallgrams - 1967, KSC (35 Mb PDF, 233 pages). Part 1 of 4 from a set labeled "KSC". The scan quality is not great.

Tindallgrams - 1968, KSC (31 Mb PDF, 464 pages). Part 2 of 4 from a set labeled "KSC". The scan quality is not great.

Tindallgrams - 1969, KSC (8 Mb PDF, 153 pages). Part 3 of 4 from a set labeled "KSC". The scan quality is not great.

Tindallgrams - 1970, KSC (3 Mb PDF, 39 pages). Part 4 of 4 from a set labeled "KSC". The scan quality is not great.



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