NER Washington forum; Dr. Werner Von Braun
Lord the sound you are hearing is that of America's first successful space satellite Explorer 1 rocketed into space just 10 years ago. The subject of this edition of NE our Washington forum a weekly program concerned with significant issues in the news. I'm National Educational radio's public affairs director Vic Sussman. It was little more than 10 years ago the Russians had already launched Sputnik 1 on October 4th 1957 and the United States was desperately trying to catch up and follow suit. So on January 30 first one thousand fifty eight at ten forty eight p.m. The order was given in the blockhouse at Cape Canaveral. The words firing command flashed the signal to ignite the sixty eight foot Jupiter sea a small rocket by today's standards generating only eighty three thousand pounds of thrust. In contrast to the Apollo project Saturn 5 with its seven and a half million
pounds of power but the tiny Jupiter C had more than the 31 pound explorer one satellite writing on it. It had the hopes and dreams of the United States Army a team of technicians and scientists writing with it and it had the hopes of millions of Americans who wanted America to be part of the leap into space. There had been many failures so many failures in fact that the Army had taken to issuing what were called contingency press releases. These were news releases that told in advance that a rocket had crashed or exploded on the pad or malfunctioned. There were blank spaces near the bottom for reporters to fill in the time and date. There was even a joke around Cape Canaveral that many children mimic the countdown in a special way. Ten nine eight seven six. Damn why do you count that way sonny when the joke because the little boy. That's the way my daddy does it. He works at Cape Canaveral but the tiny explorer one ended all that. On that clear Florida night a rumble was heard in a blaze fired the
evening air. A rumble that was heard around the world and a blaze that was to light the way to the stars. Explorer 1 was placed in orbit. The Army had many successes after that and the entire American space effort saw one triumph after another. But the tiny Explora one has not been forgotten. Indeed it is still in orbit though silent. It has traveled one and one third billion miles in space explorer 1 is expected to come home in flames sometime this year perhaps just about the time men will be stepping out onto the surface of the moon. And neither have the men who put explorer one into orbit been forgotten. There were five key men heading the hundreds who worked on the project. Recently these men came to Washington to be honored by the army. They were presented with medallions by Secretary of the army Stanley resort. The five were Dr. Vern Yvonne Brown Dr. James Van Allen Major General John medallists Thomas morrow and Dr. William Pickering. On the day of the presentation Dr. Von
Brown and Dr. Pickering spoke to the National Press Club Dr. William Pickering head of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology spoke first. Dr. Pickering listed American space triumphs and told where we stand now at the end of this first decade Let's take a quick look at the box score in space. The U.S. has put about. 500 vehicles into Earth orbit in the USSR about two hundred fifty. We have had 13 successful missions to the moon. The USSR has had eight and our reconnaissance spacecraft have obtained perhaps 100000 photographs of them on the USS Bataan about 100 the U.S. has had three successful missions Divinia planets and five attempts. And Russia successfully landed an instrumented package on Venus after an estimated about 19 attempts. We've accumulated nearly 2000 hours of manned space flight time compared with about 500 for the US as our astronauts perform multiple
rendezvous and docking operations the Soviets have demonstrated one automatic docking. We've logged about 12 hours of extra extra vehicular activity. The Soviets about 20 minutes. And yet despite this impressive record following a slow start of public interest in the national space program has dropped alarmingly. A recent opinion poll ended and ended in the congressional record shows that space is trailing in the sense of urgency shown in the popular mind as compared with water and air pollution. Job training and poverty measures and other projects for those pearled only half thought that the U.S. should continue its competitive posture in space. Thirty percent thought that the government is spending too much in space activities. Has space lost the impact of its initial glamour. Must we return to the public apathy that prevailed before Explorer 1. Must we lose our technological momentum and the continued
continuously continuation of research effort that we have achieved at considerable cost during what is probably the most scientifically productive decade in the history of our culture. These sobering questions must be weighed against the disturbing situation in Asia. The mounting international pressures against our monetary structure the alarming impact of social unrest at home. Nevertheless the decline of popular excitement over space does not mean a cessation of our programs. The US needs constant discovery innovation and exploration in science and technology to maintain our creativity to develop new new products and markets and to help sustain a growing and increasingly affluent population. Above all planetary exploration is in the national interest and it is important that we commit a fair share of our resources to this phase of space research. During the 1960s we developed the technologies and prove the feasibility of automatic unmanned flight equipped.
And we solved the basic problems of both manned and unmanned space flight. During the 1970s we must exploit these capabilities to explore some of the fascinating scientific rebels concerning the history of our solar system. We must go out into the solar system and begin the real exploration of our sister worlds. We must address ourselves to the overwhelming question of the uniqueness of man. Dr. William Pickering of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology. Then Dr. Verna Von Brown now director of the George C. Marshall Space Flight Center for NASA's took the podium at the National Press Club. Dr. Von Brunn expressed his hopes and fears for the space program. We are marking the 10th anniversary of America's entry into space. The United States was left standing up the post when this piece age started October 4 1957 with a dramatic
longshots Russia Sputnik 1 in the short time lead by Sputnik number two. We had to run like hell to catch up. But I believe the achievements of the 10 years since Explorer have left little doubt about this nation scientific and technological competence. Once the United States did accept the challenge to apply its technology to speed applications and space aspirations an all out effort followed. There was a new physical and scientific from Tia. And this mystery has captured the imagination of a pioneering people. Because of the determination and the resources to develop the space to set been one of the finest decades in American history a space as peace efforts slowly gained momentum over the years. One scientific and technological advance followed another in rapid fire.
Arnett. Man himself followed his own instruments into Earth orbit. The fall of the species began man's explorations where restricted to earth and his spirit was constrained by a feeling of physical impossibilities. Now he was free of this restraint and Mark confident of his abilities. Because men have stepped out into space from the highest plot to all of science and technology event gendered. There's a widespread altitude to DD that anything is possible. And with each new scientific advance other avenues become open for exploration. The second decade of the species age thus are shut in and more abundant opportunities and stilled Ouida knowledge to capitalise upon them from the feasibility standpoint. The prospects for space exploration where never more practical.
And yet as we gather here to commemorate the nation's first milestone in space this disturbing similarity of the situation to day to the circumstances in 1957 before the launch of Sputnik number one. Three topics that are up most in our thoughts today reflect the war as we had more than a decade ago. First a deep respect for Soviet science and technology a little knowledge of their plans and a prevention that the Russians when mine die a months that are within our reach in the unexplored Cornus of the solar system. Second the necessity for explaining the goals and value of space science and technology in down to our terms. So the public interest and support of long rience programs will not waver. And third the annual program approval and funding process.
If you will pardon the personal references I can bring the present circumstances into sharper focus by citing the work loads at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the Marshall Space Flight Center. Bill Pickering was one of the country's earliest advocates of a space program. He and his associates at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory are responsible for brilliant achievements in Nunan planetary exploration. However most of their science programs have been completed since the launch of Explorer 1 GPL us come on to complete its work in the early explorers satellite series. In the process pioneered deep space probes to the region of the moon. The series of rain just piece craft which gave us the first closeup photographs of the moon has ended. The last of the Soviets which touched down softly to investigate the moon's surface was launched only of this months and
again a striking success. Five GPL Marinus piece craft have been launched to Venus and Mars giving the world a man's first close up look at both of these planets. The only approved planetary only now flights remaining on GP else once busy agenda out to Marinus piece craft scheduled to be launched to Mars in 1969 and JPL has developed an extremely high competence and planetary exploration and the nation can be proud of its scientific contributions. It only adds to their steam to note that Bill and his cohorts have worked with a shoestring budget. But gentlemen if the present trend continues. Bill Pickering will be one of the most heavily decorated scientifically Doesn't this country on the unemployment line. Now how the other fellow's doing. In contrast to our five
planetary flights the USSR has launched from 15 to 20 planetary spacecraft weeing from a thousand to three thousand pounds each with launchings and every Mars and Venus up what you need except one thousand nine hundred sixty. Now they may not been as successful in all that tries but you just see the momentum. Surely you tried hard. Even if in many areas they are not only a second best but first. Not as planetary missions to date have been modest in size and cost but they have established an unquestionable record of leadership. As we enter the second decade of the specie age we are just getting into position to move ahead with a much larger and more evolving planetary peanuts. The sat on five launch vehicle which was recently flight tested with full success and which would be used to boost our three man Apollo spacecraft to the moon could also send two highly
sophisticated on manned Voyager spacecraft. Each 20000 pounds of weight to the planet Mars in a single launch. And these piece craft could not only map the planet Mars with a resolution comparable to that are spectacular and not orbit us but most importantly they would include landing spacecraft that could also settle the increasing question of whether or not Mars is an abode of life. Now you know off Goss that Congress eliminated the Voyager program from the fiscal year 1968 budget and it is not in the fiscal year. 1069 budget either. Approval was asked instead for less ambitious program which would include to organise to be dispatched to Mars in 1971 to transmit photographs for about six minutes. Moss Landing Craft wing about 150 pounds as compared to 20000 would be sent to Mars in 1973 by an intermediate launch vehicle. The
instruments which would be parachuted through the thin Martian atmosphere would hopefully send us televised photos of the terrain and treat readings of wind and temperature conditions but they would not be able to search for life forms. We can still hope however that those of us here who teamed up with the Jupiter see in the explorer in 1958 can get together again with the Saturn 5 and voyage up the Lords as soon as funds become available. The Soviets have just recently demonstrated their planetary capability when they parachuted a species craft into the atmosphere of Venus. Frankly I would not be a very bit surprised if there Frost soft landing on Mars would be performed by US Soviet spacecraft maybe even a 1969 depriving the United States once again of an historic scientific first. On the other hand we haven't exactly been sitting on our hands. As you
know the Apollo 5 flight last week provided a successful test of the lunar module's descent and Asin stages to be used for landing on and taking off from the new NA surface. The flight marked the 15th consecutive successful flight of a Saturn launch vehicle. We were pleased with the results off detail launch vehicle studies of the propellant dump test which the remaining liquid hydrogen liquid oxygen propellant were removed from the stage after orbit had been attained. Now this is an operation quite vital to our so-called rock shell program and the Apollo applications program. And there's also the possibility that hour upon astronauts may want to practice rendezvous with the spent orbiting SRB stage on a man sat on one B flight in the near future. This could not be they could not be in this experience of the stage venting of wobbling. Let me just ask of the Marshall Space Flight Center
for the last few years has been the development of three south of the Saturn launch vehicles three times the Saturn one this out and one B and the Saturn 5. This development work is almost complete it and all sat on SA becoming operational. The additional launches of the Saturn one be and and three launches of the Saturn 5 out scheduled for this calendar year five launches of the 7 5 alone are scheduled for 1969. If all goes well by the ninth launch of the sat on five we hope to achieve the goal of Amandla another landing within this decade. The bulk of NASA's budget for the past few years has gone into Project Apollo. Unmanned little non-ending is the greatest technological challenge this country ever had. The mercury in Gemini manned space flight programs and the range of Soviet and will orbit programs have all peeved the way for Project Apollo.
Amanda without ending has been a clearly defined will that has served like a magnet to draw up Baard diversified efforts into a more closely knit framework. When the school was established in 1961 the end of the decade seemed a long way off now. We have just 23 months for the completion of this mammals project. Because of reduced budgetary levels has not been able to plan for post Apollo projects with any degree of certainty has attempted to contract for long only time I Dems to hold open the option of continued production of the Saturn one be in the south on 5 at the rate of two each year to each per year. Frankly this rate is almost too low to sustain the efficiency and interest of organizations in the program. It is too little to maintain the progress and momentum so PM staking their quietness Peace program over the
past decade. The dismantling of the high competence build up over the years at JPL and at the Marshall Center has already begun. Those organizations already losing valuable highly trained people because of the insecurity and the lack of challenging work for them to do. And we faced a grim reality of even further reductions and cut backs. However sound like a calamity how all of that is not my intention. The exploration of space has proven its was and has become deeply ingrained into the everyday fabric of our society. It has indelibly be placed its imprint upon our science technology communications international law and cooperation education economics and even religious thought. Having once entered the species age I cannot visualize a man withdrawing from it as long as he has vision imagination reason at the time a nation
in the press of funding needs for all programs of the federal government. I am certain that the space program when I come close will come in a close examination in Congress during the coming months. I believe that Nastasia record of accomplishment and the ability of its management management will be up well under that scrutiny. In determining what our space program should be doing the coming years. I hope that the members of Congress will give careful consideration to where we are today in space at the end of our first decade where we could be 10 years from now by building on the accomplishments of the past. Dr. Avorn Yvonne Brown after Dr. Von Brown and Dr. Pickering finish their formal addresses the press club as it always does with its guest speakers held a question and answer period. First Dr. Von Brown was asked what the chances were of a man being placed on the moon during this decade.
Well I think the chances are very good. We at the MASH I'll send on our two sisters send us in Houston and keep Kennedy feel this is a hard obligation and we're just doing our darndest to make it possible. I would see unless a program such as a me just set back of the magnitude of the Apollo in February of last year. I personally am convinced that we would be there before the end of 1969. Then in a lighter moment a question was put to Dr. William Pickering. What did he think of flying saucers. The question brought this response. There are some fundamental physical laws in the universe. Many of the reports of flying saucers allegedly violate these fundamental physical laws and I'm afraid I'm a disbeliever. Dr. William Pickering Dr. Von Brown was then asked a non-technical question
What should American astronauts do if they were attacked and boarded by hostile space men. First the audience reaction. Well I would say yes the weebly incident is a measure to shoot shoot back. I. I. The questions became more serious as the luncheon went on. Dr. Von Brown was asked how early Could the next manned flights be both with the Saturn one be and with Saturn 5. Well the first manned Apollo flight will be with the one be there's no question about it. It will be our first manned up tunnel flight and it's scheduled for late this summer.
If our next Sat on five fly it presently is scheduled for March is a successful of the first one. We may consider mending flight on five. Number three and this could fly lead in one thousand sixty eight. But this decision will not be made before all the data from a successful flight for the second set on fire in Von Braun was then queried on the extent of a security risk to the United States and the free world. If the Soviets achieve a superiority in space I think that's a pretty sweeping question and I can might give my house only and rather general terms I think Speace just like. Yes peace all the oceans all land has. Not a military feature on a military dimension all by itself but you can can conduct military
operations are operations of military significant in all four. I think to surrender space to any other paua even if that power for the moment we're not. Indicate a predominant military interest in the saying would be like seeing in the in the early and early years of human civilization that man isn't interested in setting sail and go across the US. Or it would have been the same seeing us seeing in 1900. We as a nation are not interested in participating in the venture aviation. I think it is for this reason that space exploration is necessary. We have to have in knowledge ability in space science and space technology
so that if the need arises we can convert it into a military potential. Even if for the time being this is not planned. Finally Dr Von Braun was asked about the Apollo applications program. Well as an Apollo applications imply is the basic idea is to apply hardware generate it within the framework of the mainstream Apollo program. This country's commitment to attempt to land a crew of astronauts on the moon in this decade for purposes other than that we leave it to and not lending it. Early in the Apollo program when we were asked how many launch vehicles and how many species crashed must we build in order to have a viable program of landing astronauts on the moon non-knowledge off what it would really take was pretty poor. We didn't know how many setbacks we had to
expect. And so we made a decision which was based on the best judgment available at the time. To build 12 off the small town one bes 50 in the Big South and fives and a total of 21 Apollo spacecraft in support of this program. In the mean time we have come down the road by quite a while. We have. We had very successful flights with our Apollo spacecraft unmanned so far we have demonstrated that they can take that they can safely re-enter at speeds corresponding to the return speed from the moon. We have flown us out on five and had a full success on the very last try although we stacked all stages one on top of another something on heard often a program of this complexity and now two weeks ago we were even successful with trying out the last
remaining element of the Apollo program. The Lunar Module Bhaag the vehicles that will land astronauts on the not surface and enable them to return to an orbit around the moon. And this flight again was a full success. So we are now becoming mildly optimistic that we can possibly take a few flights out of the program and take shortcuts. For example it looks like it may not be necessary to fly and not the unmanned flight with a new non module. That was definitely in the program until about three weeks ago. It looks now that we may be able to skip it. All data haven't come in yet but it looks promising. I have mentioned already a little in the south on 5. We really didn't know how well the thing would fly and so we really had not great hopes of ever finding courage enough to a manned flight number three. Well again if I would to the second site on Firefly it would do as well as the
first one. We may get bold enough to do it after all. Dr. Vern Yvonne Brown speaking along with Dr. William Pickering at the National Press Club. You've been listening to any Our Washington forum a weekly program concerned with significant issues in the news. This week it's been a look at explore A-1 and the men behind it. This program was produced for a national educational radio by WMU FM American University Radio in Washington D.C. technical direction by Stephen children fry. I'm n e our public affairs director Vic Sussman inviting you to listen again next week for another edition of E.R. a Washington forum. This is the national educational radio network.
- NER Washington forum
- Dr. Werner Von Braun
- Producing Organization
- WAMU-FM (Radio station : Washington, D.C.)
- National Association of Educational Broadcasters, WAMU-FM (Radio station : Washington, D.C.)
- Contributing Organization
- University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
- AAPB ID
- Episode Description
- 10th anniversary of United States space exploration. On Jan. 31, 1958, Explorer I was launched. Developers included Dr. Werner Von Braun and Dr. William Pickering, who speak to National Press Club in this recording.
- Series Description
- Discussion series featuring a prominent figure affecting federal government policy.
- Public Affairs
- Media type
Host: Sussman, Vic S.
Producing Organization: WAMU-FM (Radio station : Washington, D.C.)
Producing Organization: National Association of Educational Broadcasters, WAMU-FM (Radio station : Washington, D.C.)
Speaker: Von Braun, Wernher, 1912-1977
Speaker: Pickering, W. H. (William Hayward), 1910-2004
- AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 67-24-49 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
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- MLA: “NER Washington forum; Dr. Werner Von Braun.” 1968-02-26. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. March 3, 2024. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-vq2s921w>.
- APA: NER Washington forum; Dr. Werner Von Braun. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-vq2s921w