356. Report by the Ad Hoc Committee on Space to President-Elect Kennedy1

[Here follow Section I, Introduction; Section II, The Ballistic Missile Program; Section III, Organization and Management; and Section IV, The Booster Program.]

V. Military Space Programs

We have a large military space program in being and continuing to grow. In addition, each of the three major military services plus the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) is clamoring for a major role in space. The organizational hiatus posed by these conditions is treated elsewhere in this paper.

There are important and unique uses of space for national security and in support of our treaty alliances throughout the world. There are also important uses of space systems for arms-control purposes.

There are also many uses of space for military purposes which are now in the planning or study stage which, if allowed to continue, will jeopardize the value we can derive from valid military space programs. It is necessary that these projects and concepts be eliminated at an early date.

In absence of treaties preventing all nations from exploiting space for military advantage, the United States’ policy on this matter must be that we take no new action which will foreclose development of space systems in support of our legitimate military needs.

The most urgent and immediate use of space systems for military purposes is for surveillance and target reconnaissance over the land masses of the world with particular emphasis on the Sino-Soviet bloc of nations. The technical progress we have made in this area will be discussed separately. This program is presently organized with a special [Page 799] security organization in such a manner that our other military space programs and plans are subordinated and to an extent interfered with. This can and must be corrected.

Perhaps the most disturbing and potentially dangerous part of the space program is the international aspect of the Samos and Midas programs. Our present policy concerning the use of these devices is criticized in an article by G. Zhukov—“Space-Espionage Plans and International Law”—published in the English edition of International Affairs in October of 1960. This publication originates with the Soviet Society for the Popularization of Political and Scientific Knowledge. It is suggested that members of the incoming administration read this article and seriously consider taking emergency steps to salvage the Samos program from destruction by international political action on the part of the Soviets. Many suggestions have been advanced in this connection. One such suggestion is that we unilaterally announce the Samos flights to the U.N., invite U.N. inspection (technical details of inspection to be defined by the U.S.), and that we make available the data obtained from Samos to all the nations of the U.N. The urgency of arriving at a new solution to the Samos international relations problem is of the highest order of priority for our national security.

The U.S.A.F. provides 90 percent or more of the resources and physical support required by the space programs of other agencies and is the nation’s principal resource for the development and operation of future space systems, except those of a purely scientific nature assigned by law to NASA.

In view of the likely need of large boosters for military purposes, the military establishments have a vital interest in the development of such boosters. This emphasizes again the necessity of a really effective national effort for the development of large boosters. The question should be re-examined whether this program should or should not be carried out entirely by a civilian agency.

[Here follow Section VI, Science in Space and Space Exploration; Section VII, Man in Space; Section VIII, Non-Military Applications of Space Technology; and a Summary of Recommendations.]

  1. Source: Johnson Library, Vice Presidential File, Space and Space Program. Confidential. The members of the Committee were Jerome B. Wiesner (Chairman), Kenneth BeLieu, Trevor Gardner, Donald F. Hornig, Edwin H. Land, Maxwell Lehrer, Edward M. Purcell, Bruno B. Rossi, and Harry J. Watters. The full text of the report is printed in Exploring the Unknown: Selected Documents in the History of the US. Civil Space Program. Volume I: Organizing for Exploration (National Aeronautics and Space Administration History Office, Washington, D.C., 1995), pp. 416–423.