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

This good report from the Administrator of NASA 2 is in response to your request made in November to study and report on possible projects for substantive cooperation with the Soviet Union on outer space. The report represents a consensus among NASA, State, Defense, CIA, the Science Advisor, and the Executive Secretary of the Space Council.

In brief, the report contains guidelines to govern negotiations with the Soviet Union that have a reasonable chance of success, yet protect our national interests. It proposes a graduated approach calculated to develop mutual confidence, exchange information, and lay the foundation for consultative planning of specific projects. Careful consideration has been given to cultivating favorable Congressional and public attitudes. The specific proposals now being considered all relate to a joint program of unmanned flight projects to support a manned lunar landing.

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No immediate public action is recommended because we are in need of Soviet performance on present agreements. We will continue to show interest, through the existing Dryden-Blagonravov channel, in obtaining a positive Soviet answer to the proposals for cooperation already made by President Kennedy and by you. Meanwhile, we will watch the performance of the Soviet Union under existing agreements.

The Administrator is keeping this program under his continuing personal review and clearly understands your interest in it. He will keep you advised of progress and may call upon you for further initiative sometime around the first of May; by then the Soviet Union will have had ample opportunity to make clear its intentions.

Attached (Tab A) is a National Security Action Memorandum for your signature, giving your general endorsement to the report and recommendations.3

Signed and Approved4


Speak to me

McGeorge Bundy 5
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, National Security Action Memorandums, NSAM 285. Confidential.
  2. The report, “USUSSR Cooperation in Space Research Programs,” is ibid., NSAM 271. It was forwarded to the President by NASA Administrator James Webb under cover of a January 31 memorandum which is printed in Foreign Relations, 1964–1968, vol. XXXIV, Document 22.
  3. NSAM 285, issued March 3, is printed ibid., Document 25, together with other documentation on USUSSR space cooperation during the Johnson administration. In an October 9, 1967, memorandum to Vice President Humphrey, the Executive Secretary of the National Aeronautics and Space Council painted a “gloomy picture” of Soviet cooperation to that point but recommended that the United States continue to approach the Soviets and not become “discouraged with the small amount of progress made in past attempts.” (Ibid., Document 61)
  4. The President signed this option.
  5. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.