371. Letter From Vice President Johnson to President Kennedy1

Dear Mr. President:

At the National Aeronautics and Space Council meeting on March 21, 1962, consideration was given to the merits of assigning the highest (DX) priority to the Apollo space program. Administrator Webb had requested that this matter be taken up by the Council, so that appropriate recommendation might be made to the President.

It was made clear by Administrator Webb that, if such priority were assigned, it would be employed only to the extent necessary and only to those elements in the program which would otherwise be delayed in performance and which would consequently postpone a successful manned lunar flight. He stated further that NASA was prepared to remove the Mercury program from the DX priority list by the end of calendar year 1962, and also that the Agency planned to drop from such list all elements of the Saturn project, except those applicable to the Apollo program.

Based upon the premises referred to in the preceding paragraph, Defense and NASA urged that recommendation be made by the Council to the President that a DX priority be so assigned. State and AEC concurred, with the statements that they agreed with the urgency and importance of the program and had no objection to the assignment of a DX priority to it. The Chairman also expressed his agreement with these views.

In light of this unanimity, I respectfully advise that it is the sense and the recommendation of the Council that the highest (DX) national priority be assigned to the Apollo space program.

I do this with the expressed understanding that this recommendation is intended to be of assistance to you in this policy matter and is not a means to short-circuit or otherwise take the place of any essential procedures which may be required in the matter of assigning priorities.


Lyndon B. Johnson
  1. Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Meetings and Memoranda Series, NSAM 144, Box 335. No classification marking.