40. Memorandum for the Record1


  • International Space Cooperation

I attended a debriefing today2 given by Herman Pollack on discussions which took place at this week’s meeting at the Space Council. According to Mr. Pollack the Space Council had a very lively discussion of whether the U.S. was making the best use of its space program in the international field.3 The implication of the various remarks made at the meeting seemed to be that the U.S. had been playing a fairly passive role in space cooperation and ought to do much more. Mr. Pollack is seeing Ed Welsh of the Space Council staff this afternoon about setting up an interdepartmental working group which will conduct a fundamental review of international space cooperation. Mr. Pollack will suggest that the question of export of space technology be handled by one group while all other aspects of space cooperation be handled by a second group. Mr. Pollack apparently thinks that G/PM might handle the export of space technology while SCI would take the leadership on all other aspects.

The State Department had evidently gone to this session of the Space Council prepared to take the initiative in suggesting a basic review of space cooperation but was pre-empted to some extent by Vice President Humphrey. The Vice President expressed concern that European industry gets the benefits of technological spin-offs from the U.S. space program at a bargain basement price, not having to pick up [Page 86] the tab for basic research which is done in the United States. Mr. Webb pointed out that technology is sold to Europeans by U.S. industry on the basis of cash on the barrel head. Secretary McNamara charged into this subject in a major way with sharp criticism of present restraints on the export of technological information. He maintained that we should restrict export of information only to a narrow range of subjects having to do with capabilities to acquire a nuclear delivery capability.4 Moreover, the Government should not let business determine the nature of cooperation with European industry. Government cooperation would be preferable in some instances and, in particular, there should be a pro rata charge of the R&D element of technological information, a cost often borne by the U.S. Government. Secretary McNamara also suggested that rather than ask each country what its interest was in the space field we should look at each country’s technological capacity and then push them to use this capacity to the limit in the space field. In response to a question from the Vice President as to whether this was “positive disarmament” Secretary McNamara replied that it was since at the present time many countries felt they should make technological progress through military hardware programs. A divergence to a space program would be wholesome for all concerned.

It was also mentioned by Mr. Pollack that Leonard Marks will come up with a proposal for exploitation of space technology. This proposal will obviously have a close relationship to the working groups which Mr. Pollack anticipates will be established.

  1. Source: Department of State, S/PC Files: Lot 72 D 124, Scientific and Technological Development 1966. Confidential. Drafted by James E. Goodby (S/P) on March 25.
  2. March 23.
  3. Discussions at the meeting also linked the space program to nuclear weapons, according to an account Webb wrote to McNamara on April 23: “In connection with our brief conversation, at the March 23 meeting of the National Aeronautics and Space Council, about the problems of stimulating foreign involvement in space technology as a means of diverting energies from the development of nuclear weapon systems, I suggest that we both take steps to indicate to our staffs the importance of this objective.” (Letter from Webb to McNamara, April 23; National Aeronautics and Space Administration, NASA Historical Reference Collection, Files of the Office of International Affairs) Webb raised the same issue with U. Alexis Johnson in an April 26 letter: “The rapid advance of vehicle technology in Europe may be outdating some of our controls and concerns and may warrant our focusing on a very few critical items still left to us, such as advanced guidance and reentry systems. Indeed, the basic reason for restricting vehicle technology at all is its supporting role in nuclear weapons delivery. If we could focus our controls upon the weapons themselves, we might even hope to free vehicle technology for maximum stimulus of space activity abroad.” (Letter from Webb to Johnson, April 26; ibid.)
  4. In an April 29 letter to U. Alexis Johnson, John S. Foster, Jr. of the Department of Defense cautioned, “Although DOD is alert and receptive to new opportunities in the military space programs, our cooperative efforts must necessarily be highly selective.” He detailed joint ventures with the United Kingdom and Canada and said that Australia soon might also be a partner, but stated: “We should pay particular attention to the need for avoiding the export to the French of booster technology….France’s role in the international space organizations, ELDO and ESRO represent special problems.” McNamara wrote to Webb on May 14: “As you know, I strongly support international cooperative ventures in space. I have directed my staff to be as liberal as possible regarding the release of space technology for payloads and other support items.” (Ibid.)