409. Memorandum From the President’s Special Assistant (Schlesinger) to the President’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy)1

In view of Moscow’s #15422 (discussing Khrushchev’s apparent acceptance in principle of the idea of a joint moon shot), it would seem important that NASA undertake serious studies as to how lunar collaboration might be worked out. On Tuesday, Harlan Cleveland, Dick Gardner and I met with Hugh Dryden and a number of his colleagues. My impression is that NASA remains rather negative about the whole idea, and that an expression of Presidential interest in their progress in planning for it might be appropriate.3

At present they have under way a paper, prepared at State’s request, analyzing the stages which might be involved in exploring whether collaboration might be possible. This paper is procedural rather than substantive in character. It proposes three stages: [Page 927]

full and serious exchange of information on existing experience with manned space flight;
exchange of “gross information” regarding planning for manned lunar flight;
more specific description by both sides of their manned lunar programs.

The distinction between (b) and (c) was not clear to Cleveland and me, even when explained by Dryden. NASA points out that none of these stages involves significant security problems for us, since we have published a good deal of the information anyway; but that they would all involve more or less significant security problems for the USSR.

The NASA view is that eventual substantive steps would depend on the confidence established by these early procedural steps. The substantive steps, they say, would involve significant security questions for us. And, in general, they were most bearish about the technical feasibility of what they called “integration of hardware”—i.e., the “marriage” of the American and Soviet programs on the “hardware level.” When Cleveland suggested that “integration of personnel” might be an alternative means of carrying out (sorry, “implementing”) the President’s suggestion, the NASA people acted almost as if this were a new thought. However, they rallied gamely and were soon pointing out how impossible this would be too.

Eventually Dryden thought that it might be a good idea to have a General Assembly resolution endorsing the idea of a joint moon expedition, thereby tacitly bringing pressure on the Soviet Union to join up. This suggests that the NASA mind is not totally closed to the President’s proposal. But I would think that a call from you to Dryden and an expression of White House interest in substantive planning as well as in exploratory procedures would be a good idea.

  1. Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Departments and Agencies Series, Space Activities, General, 10/63–11/63, Box 308. Confidential.
  2. Not printed.
  3. On November 9 Schlesinger sent Bundy a second memorandum reading: “I think it might help the current State Department-NASA debate if you could send a memorandum along the following lines to Harlan Cleveland: ‘I trust that Governor Stevenson’s speech in the UNGA space debate will include an adequate follow-up of the President’s moon proposal.’” (Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Departments and Agencies Series, Space Activities, General, 10/63–11/63, Box 308) Regarding Stevenson’s speech, see footnote 3, Document 412.