Born: 1921-05-24. Died: 2013-01-11.
D. Brainard Holmes was involved in the management of high technology efforts in private industry and the federal government. He was on the staff of Bell Telephone Labs, 1945-1953, and at RCA, 1953-1961. He then became deputy associate administration for Manned Space Flight at NASA, 1961-1963. Thereafter he assumed a series of increasingly senior positions with Raytheon Corp., and since 1982 chairman of Beech Aircraft.
Dyer Brainerd Holmes (24 May 1921 – 11 January 2013), known professionally as D. Brainerd Holmes, was an American engineer and business executive. He was perhaps best known for directing NASA's manned spaceflight program from 1961 to 1963, when John Glenn made the pivotal first US orbital spaceflight, but Holmes was also the president of international defense contractor Raytheon. He retired from that post in 1986.
Holmes studied engineering at Cornell University, receiving a degree in electrical engineering. He first worked for Bell Labs and Western Electric, then moved to RCA, becoming heavily involved in military contracting with that firm. He helped to develop the Talos antiaircraft missile, and the electronic heart of the Atlas missile. He was part of the team that developed the US Ballistic Missile Early Warning System, and was therefore highly visible in government circles. In 1961, in response to the Cold War fears that had been fueled by the October 1957 Soviet launch of the Sputnik satellite, US President John F. Kennedy had publicly vowed that his government would put a man on the moon, and safely return him to Earth, before the end of the decade. Mr. Holmes was hired to get it done.
The US effort was first known as Project Gemini, and later became known as the Apollo program. Holmes directed four space missions of these programs during his two-year tenure. Possibly due to tensions with NASA Administrator James E. Webb over the extent of his authority to shape and schedule the various facets of the space program, he left in 1963 to become an executive at Raytheon. At that company he is credited with helping develop several of that company's missile developments, including the Patriot antiballistic system.
Holmes’ leadership in the space program was highlighted by TIME magazine in 1962, wherein he was quoted: "When a great nation is faced with a technological challenge, it has to accept or go backward. Space is the future of man, and the US must keep ahead in space."
At Raytheon, Holmes became a top executive, and was its president when it developed the Patriot missile in the 1970s. He also served as chairman of the Beech Aircraft Corporation after it was acquired by Raytheon in 1979. Honors and recognitions
After Holmes was selected to lead the ballistic-missile-tracking program at RCA, Elmer Engstrom, the company president, told an interviewer, "The problem with systems engineering is to find people with a special knack for marrying men, machines, tactics and everything else into one large system. We could see right away that Holmes had the knack."
Holmes was featured on the 10 August 1962 cover of TIME magazine, featuring the series Reaching For The Moon.
NASA official Robert R. Gilruth compiled a history of that administration during his tenure. Gilruth had worked hard to persuade Holmes of the merit of a lunar-orbit rendezvous as part of the Moon-landing project, and he wrote of this time that the project's success owed much to Holmes' management-team approach, in which NASA officials "argued out our different opinions" before a course was set. He wrote, "A less skillful leader might have forced an early arbitrary decision that would have made the whole task of getting to the Moon virtually impossible."
Holmes was nominated in 1977 by Raytheon for membership in the National Academy of Engineering. He was a member of the Electronics section of that group. Personal life
Holmes was a resident of Wellesley, Massachusetts at the time of his death, but he died in a hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, due to complications of pneumonia. He was survived by his wife, Mary Margaret England Wilkes Holmes. He had two children from a previous marriage and three step-children at the time of death. He has 5 grandkids from his second marriage.
As general manager of Radio Corporation of America's Major Defense Systems Division, Holmes had been project manager of the Ballistic Missile Early Warning System. Congressman G. P. Miller (D.-Calif.) succeeded the recently deceased Congressman Overton Brooks of Louisiana as chairman of the House Committee on Science and Astronautics.
NASA Administrator Webb announced major organizational changes and top-level appointments to become effective November 1. The reorganization should provide a clearer focus on major programs and allow center directors to have a louder voice in policy making. The new appointments included the following Directors of major program offices: Ira H. Abbott, Office of Advanced Research and Technology; Homer E. Newell, Office of Space Sciences; D. Brainerd Holmes, Office of Manned Space Flight; and an as yet unnamed Director of Office of Applications Programs. Also, Thomas F. Dixon was appointed Deputy Associate Administrator; Abe Silverstein was named Director of the Lewis Research Center, and Robert R. Gilruth was chosen Director of the Manned Spacecraft Center.
A major reorganization of NASA Headquarters was announced by Administrator James E. Webb. Four new program offices were to be formed, effective November 1: the Office of Advanced Research and Technology, Ira H. Abbott, Director; the Office of Space Sciences, Homer E. Newell, Director; the Office of Manned Space Flight, D. Brainerd Holmes, Director; and the Office of Applications, directorship vacant. Holmes' appointment had been announced on September 20. He had been General Manager of the Major Defense Systems Division of the Radio Corporation of America. The new Directors would report to Robert C. Seamans, Jr., NASA's Associate Administrator.
At the same time, Robert R. Gilruth was named Director of the Manned Spacecraft Center to be located in Houston, Tex. The Directors of NASA's nine field centers would, like the newly appointed program Directors, report to Seamans.
In a memorandum to D. Brainerd Holmes, Director, Office of Manned Space Flight (OMSF), Milton W. Rosen, Director of Launch Vehicles and Propulsion, OMSF, described the organization of a working group to recommend to the Director a large launch vehicle program which would meet the requirements of manned space flight and which would have broad and continuing national utility for other NASA and DOD programs. The group would include members from the NASA Office of Launch Vehicles and Propulsion (Rosen, Chairman, Richard B. Canright, Eldon W. Hall, Elliott Mitchell, Norman Rafel, Melvyn Savage, and Adelbert O. Tischler); from the Marshall Space Flight Center (William A. Mrazek, Hans H. Maus, and James B. Bramlet); and from the NASA Office of Spacecraft and Flight Missions (John H. Disher). (David M. Hammock of MSC was later added to the group.) The principal background material to be used by the group would consist of reports of the Large Launch Vehicle Planning Group (Golovin Committee), the Fleming Committee, the Lundin Committee, the Heaton Committee, and the Debus-Davis Committee. Some of the subjects the group would be considering were:
NASA Associate Administrator Robert C. Seamans, Jr., commented to D. Brainerd Holmes, Director, Office of Manned Space Flight, on the report of the Rosen working group on launch vehicles, which had been submitted on November 20. Seamans expressed himself as essentially in accord with the group's recommendations.
Robert R. Gilruth, Director of the Manned Spacecraft Center, transmitted the procurement plan for the Mark II spacecraft to NASA Headquarters for approval. This included scope of work, plans, type of contract administration, contract negotiation and award plan, and schedule of procurement actions. At Headquarters, D. Brainerd Holmes, Director of Manned Space Flight, advised Associate Administrator Robert C. Seamans, Jr., that the extended flight would be conducted in the last half of calender year 1963 and that the rendezvous flight tests would begin in early 1964. Because of short lead time available to meet the Mark II delivery and launch schedules, it was requested that fiscal year 1962 funds totaling $75.8 million be immediately released to Manned Spacecraft Center in preparation for the negotiation of contracts for the spacecraft and for the launch vehicle modifications and procurements.
D. Brainerd Holmes, NASA Director of Manned Space Flight, outlined the preliminary project development plan for the Mercury Mark II program in a memorandum to NASA Associate Administrator Robert C. Seamans, Jr. The primary objective of the program was to develop rendezvous techniques; important secondary objectives were long-duration flights, controlled land recovery, and astronaut training. The development of rendezvous capability, Holmes stated, was essential:
D. Brainerd Holmes, Director of the NASA Office of Manned Space Flight, announced the formation of the Manned Space Flight Management Council. The Council, which was to meet at least once a month, was to identify and resolve difficulties and to coordinate the interface problems in the manned space flight program. Members of the Council, in addition to Holmes, were: from MSC, Robert R. Gilruth and Walter C. Williams, Director and Associate Director; from Marshall Space Flight Center, Wernher von Braun, Director, and Eberhard F. M. Rees, Deputy Director for Research and Development; from NASA Headquarters, George M. Low, Director of Spacecraft and Flight Missions; Milton W. Rosen, Director of Launch Vehicles and Propulsion; Charles H. Roadman, Director of Aerospace Medicine; William E. Lilly, Director of Program Review and Resources Management; and Joseph F. Shea, Deputy Director for Systems Engineering, Shea, formerly Space Programs Director for Space Technology Laboratories, Inc., Los Angeles, Calif., had recently joined NASA.
NASA issued the Gemini Operational and Management Plan, which outlined the roles and responsibilities of NASA and Department of Defense in the Gemini (Mercury Mark II) program. NASA would be responsible for overall program planning, direction, systems engineering, and operation-including Gemini spacecraft development; Gemini/Agena rendezvous and docking equipment development; Titan II/Gemini spacecraft systems integration; launch, flight, and recovery operations; command, tracking, and telemetry during orbital operations; and reciprocal support of Department of Defense space projects and programs within the scope of the Gemini program. Department of Defense would be responsible for: Titan II development and procurement, Atlas procurement, Agena procurement, Atlas-Agena systems integration, launch of Titan II and Atlas-Agena vehicles, range support, and recovery support. A slightly revised version of the plan was signed in approval on March 27 by General Bernard A. Schriever, Commander, Air Force Systems Command, for the Air Force, and D. Brainerd Holmes, Director of Manned Space Flight, for NASA.
Senior officials from NASA Headquarters, Marshall Space Flight Center, and the Manned Spacecraft Center will sit on a Management Council to insure the orderly and timely progress in the manned space flight programs. The Council under the chairmanship of D. Brainerd Holmes will meet at least once a month to identify and resolve problems as early as possible and to coordinate interface problems between the various Offices.
A presentation on the lunar orbit rendezvous technique was made to D. Brainerd Holmes, Director, NASA Office of Manned Space Flight, by representatives of the Apollo Spacecraft Project Office. A similar presentation to NASA Associate Administrator Robert C. Seamans, Jr., followed on May 31.
D. Brainerd Holmes, NASA's Director of Manned Space Flight, requested the Directors of Launch Operations Center, Manned Spacecraft Center, and Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) to prepare supporting component schedules and cost breakdowns through Fiscal Year 1967 for each of the proposed lunar landing modes: earth orbit rendezvous, lunar orbit rendezvous, and direct ascent. For direct ascent, a Saturn C-8 launch vehicle was planned, using a configuration of eight F-1 engines, eight J-2 engines, and one J-2 engine. MSFC was also requested to submit a proposed schedule and summary of costs for the Nova launch vehicle, using the configuration of eight F-1 engines, two M-1 engines, and one J-2 engine. Each Center was asked to make an evaluation of the schedules as to possibilities of achievement, major problem areas, and recommendations for deviations.
NASA announced the realignment of functions under Associate Administrator Robert C. Seamans, Jr. D. Brainerd Holmes assumed new duties as a Deputy Associate Administrator while retaining his responsibilities as Director of the Office of Manned Space Flight. NASA field installations engaged principally in manned space flight projects (Marshall Space Flight Center Manned Spacecraft Center, and Launch Operations Center) would report to Holmes; installations engaged principally in other projects (Ames, Langley, Lewis, and Flight Research Centers, Goddard Space Flight Center, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and Wallops Station) would report to Thomas F. Dixon, Deputy Associate Administrator for the past year. Previously most field center directors had reported directly to Seamans on institutional matters beyond program and contractual administration.
In announcing a realignment of the structure of the Office of Manned Space Flight, Director D. Brainerd Holmes named two new deputy directors and outlined a changed reporting structure. Dr. Joseph F. Shea was appointed Deputy Director for Systems, and George M. Low assumed duties as Deputy Director for Office of Manned Space Flight Programs. Reporting to Dr. Shea would be Director of Systems Studies, Dr. William A. Lee; Director of Systems Engineering, John A. Gautrand; and Director of Integration and Checkout, James E. Sloan. Reporting to Low would be Director of Launch Vehicles, Milton Rosen; Director of Space Medicine, Dr. Charles Roadman; and Director of Spacecraft and Flight Missions, presently vacant. Director of Administration, William E. Lilly, would provide administrative support in both major areas.
In a reorganization of OMSF, Director D. Brainerd Holmes appointed Joseph F. Shea as Deputy Director for Systems and George M. Low as Deputy Director for Programs. All major OMSF directorates had previously reported directly to Holmes. In the new organizational structure, Director of Systems Studies William A. Lee, Director of Systems Engineering John A. Gautraud, and Director of Integration and Checkout James E. Sloan would report to Shea. Director of Launch Vehicles Milton W. Rosen, Director of Space Medicine Charles H. Roadman, and the Director of Spacecraft and Flight Missions (then vacant) would report to Low. William E. Lilly, Director of Administration, would provide administrative support in both major areas.
Testifying before the Subcommittee on Manned Space Flight of the House Committee on Science and Astronautics, D Brainerd Holmes, Director of Manned Space Flight, sought to justify a $42.638 million increase in Gemini's actual 1963 budget over that previously estimated. Holmes explained: 'This increase is identified primarily with an increase of $49.9 million in spacecraft. The fiscal 1963 congressional budget request was made at the suggestion of the contractor. The increase reflects McDonnell's six months of actual experience in 1963.' The subcommittee was perturbed that the contractor could so drastically underestimate Gemini costs, especially since it was chosen without competition because of supposed competence derived from Mercury experience. Holmes attributed McDonnell's underestimate to unexpectedly high bids from subcontractors and provided for the record a statement of some of the reasons for the change: 'These original estimates made in December 1961 by NASA and McDonnell were based on minimum changes from Mercury technology ..... As detailed specifications for subsystems performance were developed ....... realistic cost estimates, not previously available, were obtained from subcontractors. The first of these ....... were obtained by McDonnell in April 1962 and revealed significantly higher estimates than were originally used. For example: (a) In data transmission, it became necessary to change from a Mercury-type system to a pulse code modulation (PCM) system because of increased data transmission requirements, and the need to reduce weight and electrical power. The Gemini data transmission system will be directly applicable to Apollo. (b) Other subsystems have a similar history. The rendezvous radar was originally planned to be similar to ones used by the Bomarc Missile, but it was found necessary to design an interferometer type radar for low weight, small volume, and to provide the highest reliability possible. (c) The environmental control system was originally planned as two Mercury-type systems, but as the detail specifications became definitive it was apparent that the Mercury ECS was inadequate and, although extensive use of Mercury design techniques were utilized, major modifications were required.'