Chapter 3

From Spacecraft to Project

[51] When August 1961 began, James Chamberlin, backed by the Space Task Group and McDonnell Aircraft Corporation, had produced the makings of a post-Mercury manned space flight program. The major task, rethinking the design of the Mercury capsule, was finished, although many details had yet to be worked out.1 A Mercury Mark II project had attained a kind of shadow being and had the support of Abe Silverstein, Director of Space Flight Programs in NASA Headquarters. Only NASA's highest echelon remained to be convinced.

So far, the working engineers in STG and McDonnell had been more concerned with an improved spacecraft than with larger goals. To give their ideas substance, they now faced the task of fitting the spacecraft within the framework of a NASA project. This meant finding those larger goals to justify the cost in time and money that turning concept into practice required. It also meant putting together more pieces; a project was more than a spacecraft.

1 Memo, Owen E. Maynard to Chief, Flight Systems Division (FSD), "Comments on Project Mercury Mark II Progress Report Number 1," 7 July 1961; memo, [Maynard] to Chief, FSD, "Comments on Proposal for Project Mercury minimum change capsule, reconfigured capsule and two man capsule," 27 July 1961.

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