Encyclopedia Astronautica
Eisenhower



weisenho.jpg
Eisenhower
Credit: NASA
Eisenhower, Dwight David (1890-1969) President of the United States, 1953-1961; began development of Jupiter, Thor, Atlas, Titan, Polaris, and Minuteman - the foundation of US access to space. His distrust of of the military led him to create NASA to handle space programs.

Eisenhower was president of the United states between 1953 and 1961. Previously he had been a career U.S. Army officer and during World War II was Supreme Allied Commander in Europe. As president he was deeply interested in the use of space technology for national security purposes and directed that ballistic missiles and reconnaissance satellites be developed on a crash basis.

Eisenhower was a practical Midwesterner who understood the US military from every angle. When the Soviets launched the Sputnik, Eisenhower knew that the heavily classified American rocket and space programs - Atlas, Titan, Polaris, and Minuteman, and the Corona spy satellite - far surpassed what the Soviet Union could do in every technical area. He knew that the only reason that Soviet rockets could orbit larger payloads was that they had to build bigger rockets because they had not been able to miniaturize atomic bombs and electronics, or produce lighter alloys for the rocket structures, as the Americans had. He knew that the missile gap - the supposed numeric superiority between Russian and the United States in missile production - didn't exist. But a lot of this information he couldn't or wouldn't convey to the public, and the clamor for him to do something was deafening.

From his long experience with the military, and the inexorably growing power of what he called the military-industrial establishment, he also knew that giving the job to the military services was not an option. They would squabble endlessly between themselves - each service already had its own planned satellite, man-in-space, and man-on-the-moon projects in the works. Furthermore, when the inevitable budget priorities came up each year, any scientific space projects would be cut back or cancelled before any pet military projects.

So in April 1958 Eisenhower proposed to Congress to create a civilian space agency, the National Aeronautics and Space Agency (NASA), using the existing 8,000-strong National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) as its basis. He would rip out of the military those parts of it that were mainly devoted to fundamental rocketry or space research. Most notable of these were the Army's Jet Propulsion Laboratory at Caltech and von Braun's rocket team at the Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama.

Ongoing research projects were cancelled or transferred to NASA. These included the Air Force's million-pound-thrust F-1 rocket engine, Centaur high-performance upper stage, Pioneer moon probes, and Man-in-Space-Soonest orbital manned capsule; the Army's Explorer satellite, Saturn I heavy launch vehicle, and Project Adam suborbital manned capsule; and the Navy's Vanguard booster and satellite with the Able upper stage.

The military was still allowed to pursue its own purely-military space programs. The utilitarian military spy and communications satellites, and the Titan rockets used to launch them were relatively uncontroversial. But there was a persistent military effort for a manned role in space or to deploy combat spacecraft in orbit. Over the years these would include the DynaSoar and Manned Orbiting Laboratory manned satellites; a dizzying array of manned spaceplanes and interceptor spacecraft; many generations of unmanned space weapons; and shaping of the specification for the space shuttle.

The wisdom of Eisenhower's choice was indicated by the fact, that despite the expenditures of hundreds of billions of dollars on these projects, not one of them reached the flight-in-orbit stage. When the budget crunch came, military space projects were always the first to go.

Birth Place: Denison, Texas.


Born: 1890.10.14.
Died: 1969.03.28.

More... - Chronology...


Associated Countries
See also
Associated Manufacturers and Agencies
Bibliography
  • Launius, Roger D, NASA Chief Historian, NASA History Office Home Page, Web Address when accessed: here.
  • Gray, Mike, Angle of Attack: Harrison Storms and the Race to the Moon, Penguin Reprint edition, 1994.

Eisenhower Chronology


1955 March 19 - . LV Family: Vanguard. Launch Vehicle: Vanguard.
  • Plan for a United States satellite in the International Geophysical Year - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Eisenhower. Spacecraft: Vanguard 2. Summary: Dr. Alan T. Waterman of the National Science Foundation presented President Dwight Eisenhower with a plan to implement the United States' portion of the International Geophysical Year satellite experiment..

1955 July 29 - . LV Family: Vanguard. Launch Vehicle: Vanguard.
  • Eisenhower approves earth satellites for IGY - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Eisenhower. Spacecraft: Vanguard 2. Summary: President Eisenhower endorsed the IGY proposal for the launching of small earth-circling satellites..

1955 December 1 - . LV Family: Delta. Launch Vehicle: Thor.
  • Missile programs get highest priority. - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Eisenhower. Summary: President Eisenhower assigned highest priority to ICBM and Thor and Jupiter IRBM programs..

1957 October 9 - . LV Family: Vanguard. Launch Vehicle: Vanguard.
  • Vanguard supported by Eisenhower. - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Eisenhower. Program: Vanguard. Class: Technology. Type: Navigation technology satellite. Spacecraft: Vanguard 1. President Eisenhower in a White House press release congratulated the Soviet scientists on SPUTNIK I. He gave a brief history of the development of the U.S.-IGY satellite program and pointed to the separation of Project Vanguard from work on ballistic missiles.

1957 November 7 - . LV Family: Redstone. Launch Vehicle: Redstone.
  • Eisenhower enunciates science policy. - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: von Braun; Eisenhower. President Eisenhower in major address on science and security announced that scientists had solved the problem of ballistic missile reentry and showed the nose cone of an Army Jupiter-C missile which was intact after a flight through space. He announced the creation of the office of Special Assistant to the President for Science and Technology and the appointment of James R. Killian, president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, to the new post.

1957 December 4 - .
  • NASA precursor. - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Eisenhower. Summary: The American Rocket Society's proposal for an Astronautical Research and Development Agency, which was presented to President Eisenhower on October 14, 1957, was announced..

1958 January 12 - .
  • Eisenhower proposed to Russia that outer space should be used for peaceful purposes. - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Eisenhower. President Eisenhower, answering a December 10, 1957, letter from Soviet Premier Nikolai A. Bulganin regarding a summit conference on disarmament, proposed that Russia and the United States '. . . agree that outer space should be used for peaceful purposes.' This proposal was compared dedicate atomic energy to peaceful uses, an offer which The Soviets rejected.

1958 February 3 - .
  • Russia links ICBM abolition to nuclear weapon ban. - . Nation: USSR. Related Persons: Eisenhower. Soviet Premier Nikolai A. Bulganin in a letter to President Eisenhower stated that the Soviet Union "is ready to examine also the question of the intercontinental rockets if the Western powers are willing to reach agreement to ban atomic and hydrogen weapons, to end tests thereof, and to liquidate foreign military bases in other nations' territories. In that case, an agreement on the use of outer space for peaceful purposes only would unquestionably meet no difficulties."

1958 March 5 - .
  • NACA to be strengthened - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Eisenhower. President Dwight D. Eisenhower approved the recommendations of his Advisory Committee on Government Organization that the "leadership of the civil space effort be lodged in a strengthened and redesignated National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics," and that legislation be enacted to "give NACA the authority and flexibility" to carry out its expanded responsibilities.

1958 March 27 - . LV Family: Redstone. Launch Vehicle: Redstone.
  • ARPA assigned space project role. - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Eisenhower; McElroy. President Eisenhower gave his approval to the plans for outer space exploration announced by Secretary of Defense Neil H. McElroy. The Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) was to undertake several space projects including the launching of certain earth satellites and five space probes as a part of this country's contribution to the IGY program. The Air Force Ballistic Missile Division was authorized by ARPA to carry out three lunar probes with a Thor-Vanguard system, and lunar probes utilizing the Jupiter-C rocket were assigned to the Army Ballistic Missile Agency.

1958 April 2 - .
  • Eisenhower proposed the establishment of NASA - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Eisenhower. President Dwight D. Eisenhower, in a message to Congress, proposed the establishment of a National Aeronautics and Space Agency into which the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics would be absorbed. The new agency would conduct the civilian space program through research in its own facilities or by contract and would also perform military research required by DOD. Projects primarily military in character would remain the responsibility of DOD. Additional Details: here....

1958 July 29 - .
  • National Aeronautics and Space Act - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Eisenhower. Summary: President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958, Public Law 85-568, which established the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)..

1958 August - .
  • Eisenhower assigns the manned space flight program to NASA. - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Eisenhower. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury; Project 7969. Summary: President Eisenhower assigned the responsibility for the development and execution of a manned space flight program to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. However, NASA did not become operational until October 1, 1958..

1958 August 8 - .
  • T Keith Glennan and Hugh L Dryden nominated to be Administrator and Deputy Administrator of NASA - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Glennan; Eisenhower. T. Keith Glennan, President of Case Institute of Technology, and Hugh L. Dryden, Director of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, were nominated by President Dwight D. Eisenhower to be Administrator and Deputy Administrator of NASA. The Senate confirmed their nominations one week later.

1958 December 3 - .
  • Jet Propulsion Laboratory transferred to NASA - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Eisenhower. By Executive Order, President Dwight D. Eisenhower transferred the Jet Propulsion Laboratory JPL, a government-owned facility staffed and operated by the California Institute of Technology, from Army to NASA jurisdiction. The new JPL radio telescope at Camp Irwin, Calif., called the Goldstone Tracking Facility, was capable of maintaining radio contact at distances of up to 400,000 miles and was the first of NASA's deep-space tracking stations.

1959 October 21 - . LV Family: Saturn I. Launch Vehicle: Saturn I.
  • Transfer to NASA of the Army Ballistic Missile Agency's Development Operations Division - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: von Braun; Eisenhower. Program: Apollo. After a meeting with officials concerned with the missile and space program, President Dwight D. Eisenhower announced that he intended to transfer to NASA control the Army Ballistic Missile Agency's Development Operations Division personnel and facilities. The transfer, subject to congressional approval, would include the Saturn development program.

1959 November 2 - . LV Family: Saturn I. Launch Vehicle: Saturn I.
  • Transfer of Saturn I project to NASA announced. - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: von Braun; Eisenhower. Program: Apollo. Summary: President Eisenhower announced his intention of transferring the Saturn project to NASA, which became effective on March 15, 1960..

1959 December 6 - . LV Family: Saturn I. Launch Vehicle: Saturn I.
  • Plan for transferring the Army Ballistic Missile Agency and Saturn to NASA - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Glennan; von Braun; Eisenhower. Program: Apollo. The initial plan for transferring the Army Ballistic Missile Agency and Saturn to NASA was drafted. It was submitted to President Dwight D. Eisenhower on December 1 1 and was signed by Secretary of the Army Wilber M. Brucker and Secretary of the Air Force James H. Douglas on December 16 and by NASA Administrator T. Keith Glennan on December 17.

1960 January 14 - . LV Family: Saturn V. Launch Vehicle: Saturn V.
  • Super booster program to be accelerated - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Glennan; von Braun; Eisenhower. Program: Apollo. President Dwight D. Eisenhower directed NASA Administrator T. Keith Glennan "to make a study, to be completed at the earliest date practicable, of the possible need for additional funds for the balance of FY 1960 and for FY 1961 to accelerate the super booster program for which your agency recently was given technical and management responsibility."

1960 October 4 - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral.
  • Thor-based LV 100th launch. - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Eisenhower. COURIER I-B active communications satellite successfully placed into orbit by Thor-Able-Star launch vehicle from Cape Canaveral. After completing one orbit it received and recorded a transcribed message to the United Nations by President Eisenhower transmitted from Fort Monmouth, N.J., and retransmitted it to another earth station in Puerto Rico. This marked the 100th launch of the Douglas Thor, military and scientific combined, and a Thor record of 60 percent of the U.S. satellites boosted into orbit.

1969 March 28 - .
  • Death of Dwight David Eisenhower - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Eisenhower. Summary: President of the United States, 1953-1961; began development of Jupiter, Thor, Atlas, Titan, Polaris, and Minuteman - the foundation of US access to space. His distrust of of the military led him to create NASA to handle space programs..

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