615. Memorandum From the Assistant Administrator for International Affairs, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Frutkin) to the Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs (Williams)1


  • US Action toward South Africa

Since the conference you called in your office on impending South African questions, I have discussed this matter with Mr. Webb and wish to confirm the position I took for this agency in that discussion.

NASA fully appreciates the importance attached to a political crisis in relations with South Africa and has moved with the utmost dispatch to establish the agreed substitute facilities in three other locations. Delays in the Spanish area, over which we have had no control, make it possible that the South African situation might become critical before we are prepared to shift ground support coverage for the critical Apollo and Surveyor programs from South Africa to Spain. The US would then have to decide whether (1) to press a confrontation with South Africa and risk a delay in the manned lunar program, or (2) to delay the political confrontation in order to assure continuity in the lunar landing program.

Obviously two considerations of great national importance are involved, both involving major national commitments before the world. The decision as to which should be given precedence, in the circumstances which exist at the time, must, we believe, be made with the full knowledge of the President.2

Arnold W. Frutkin 3
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, NSAMs, NSAM 295, U.S. Policy Toward South Africa. Secret. Copies were sent to McGeorge Bundy, to the Department of State’s Acting Director of International Scientific and Technological Affairs Herman Pollack, and to NASA Administrator James E. Webb
  2. On December 16, Komer sent Frutkin a memorandum asking for the earliest date on which the alternative tracking facilities in Spain could be completed. He also asked for information on how NASA had prepared to assure continuity in the lunar landing program in the event of a confrontation between the United States and South Africa precipitated either by the Rhodesian crisis or by reactions to the coming ICJ decision in the South West Africa case. (Ibid.)
  3. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.