The Secret of Apollo: Systems Management in American and European Space Programs (New Series in NASA History)
Stephen B. Johnson
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How does one go about organizing something as complicated as a strategic-missile or space-exploration program? Stephen B. Johnson here explores the answer―systems management―in a groundbreaking study that involves Air Force planners, scientists, technical specialists, and, eventually, bureaucrats. Taking a comparative approach, Johnson focuses on the theory, or intellectual history, of "systems engineering" as such, its origins in the Air Force's Cold War ICBM efforts, and its migration to not only NASA but the European Space Agency.
Exploring the history and politics of aerospace development and weapons procurement, Johnson examines how scientists and engineers created the systems management process to coordinate large-scale technology development, and how managers and military officers gained control of that process. "Those funding the race demanded results," Johnson explains. "In response, development organizations created what few expected and what even fewer wanted―a bureaucracy for innovation. To begin to understand this apparent contradiction in terms, we must first understand the exacting nature of space technologies and the concerns of those who create them."
NASA and the Space Industry JOAN LISA BROMBERG Taking Science to the Moon: Lunar Experiments and the Apollo Program D O N A L D A . B E AT T I E Faster, Better, Cheaper: Low-Cost Innovation in the U.S. Space Program HOWARD E. MCCURDY The Secret of Apollo: Systems Management in American and European Space Programs STEPHEN B. JOHNSON Space Policy in the Twenty-First Century E D I T E D B Y W. H E N R Y L A M B R I G H T THE SECRET OF APOLLO Systems Management in American and European Space
instruction at all levels.80 Lanier concluded that the long lines of communication needed breaking down. Ad hoc means did not suﬃce over the long term or for large projects: ‘‘The usual solution was to allow a great deal of ‘co-ordination’ and ‘liaison’ to be handled informally. Eﬀectively, supervisors unleashed their men and gave the program general direction but let detailed instructions be formulated after the fact. The loose method has been reasonably successful. The next obvious step is to
controlled the personnel. Project managers had little authority and had to negotiate with powerful division chiefs for personnel and support. Burke did not have the authority to force division chiefs to abide by project decisions. For example, when Mariner needed personnel, division chiefs compromised Ranger by transferring some of Ranger’s most experienced engineers to the more glamorous Mariner. Biweekly meetings with the divisions focused on program status and scheduling, not technical
records for each vehicle component. Mercury engineers started their quality control program late, resulting in many component replacements when the Organizing the Manned Space Program 127 capsule or its components failed acceptance tests. Learning from this, Gemini managers began their quality control program right at the start.40 Military models were the basis for most of the STG’s few formal processes early in the program. The Source Evaluation Board was one example, as was the Mock-Up
as Apollo’s Rock of Gibraltar.69 Phillips surmised, ‘‘NASA had developed to be a very, very professional technical organization, but they had almost no management capability nor experience in planning and managing large programs.’’ 70 Phillips turned to the air force for reinforcements and to his most valuable tool from Minuteman, conﬁguration management. In a January 1964 letter to Schriever, Phillips asked for further air force per- 136 The Secret of Apollo Image not available. George