Category The Secret of Apollo

Reforms and Results

Dutch physicist J. H. Bannier, former chairman of the CERN Council, headed ESRO’s external review. Bannier’s commission recommended strengthening project management by giving project managers control over technical spe­cialists and control over expenditures, ‘‘within well defined limits, in the same way as . . . the technical aspects of the work’’ were controlled. The com­mission also recommended that ESRO have more responsibility to issue and monitor contracts to relieve the Administrative and Financial Committee of trivial duties. It also advised separating policy decisions at ESRO headquar­ters from day-to-day project management and technical duties at ESTEC. Director-General Bondi defined new financial rules in November 1967 to en­sure a minimum 70% return of funding to member countries from ESRO con­tracts. By 1968, ESRO had implemented the bulk of the commission’s recom­mendations.50

Financial problems with the TD project and industry’s assertiveness spurred ESRO’s internal review, which focused on improvements to project implementation. Director-General Bondi initiated ‘‘urgent actions,’’ leading to the development of a working paper by Schalin, an ESRO headquarters ad­ministrator. Schalin’s paper, presented to the ESRO Council in March 1968, presented a blueprint for improving procedures for ‘‘forecasting, preparing for and implementing major projects in ESRO.’’ Basing his paper on ‘‘previ­ous efforts and a recent visit to NASA,’’ Schalin proposed changes to project cost estimation, contracting procedures, and project control.51

To improve cost estimation, Schalin proposed a version of NASA’s phased project planning, along with project cost-estimating formulas that GSFC ad­ministrators were developing. Schalin noted that on TD-1/2, ESRO and the MESH consortium did not develop reliable cost estimates until one year after contract award. On other contracts, a stable estimate did not occur until 75% of the funds had been committed. Schalin proposed that ESRO spend 5-10% of the total project cost for project definition and design phases to develop accurate cost estimates prior to final contract decision. He recom­mended adoption of Project Definition and Detailed Design Definition phases between feasibility studies and the development contract award. Both phases would use competitive study contracts lasting six to twelve months, using either fixed-price or cost-plus-fixed-fee contracts.

Schalin realized that past experience was the most reliable guide for early forecasts. With little experience, ESRO’s forecasts were problematic. NASA, on the other hand, had developed spacecraft cost-estimating formulas with a purported accuracy of 10-20%. ESRO administrators evaluated cost-estimat­ing techniques from GSFC and the Illinois Institute of Technology Research Institute, finding that ESRO spent a higher proportion of funding on admin­istration and less on hardware than did GSFC. This surprised ESRO admin­istrators, who had expected that their costs would be less than those of the United States. Instead, this ‘‘Atlantic factor’’ represented ESRO’s more difficult communication problems.52

Finally, Schalin recommended substantial changes to ESRO’s project con­trol methods. He noted that HEOS-A had developed extensive project con­trol procedures, which TD-1/2 implemented only after a huge underestimate. Schalin proposed a stronger contract support organization, in conjunction with rigorous change control based on detailed specifications, implemented through a network plan with work breakdown structures tied to the account­ing system. Schalin’s paper became the starting point for ESRO’s project man­agement reforms.53

By fall 1968, the Bannier committee’s organizational reforms and Schalin’s recommendations took effect. ESRO managers restructured the budget and introduced a new financial plan. ESTEC managers found that for current projects, ‘‘HEOS A2, being essentially a repeat, and the Special Project [TD-1], being further advanced, cannot be fully adapted to the new procedures.’’ For these, ESTEC increased the project manager’s authority with ‘‘extra staff con­trolling cost and contract matters.’’ It also provided more technical support

to project teams and implemented a ‘‘combined network/work package/cost control system.’’54

After considering the “possibility for the Organisation taking over the prime contractorship from industry,’’ TD-1 managers added twenty-three full-time personnel to the project, including eight for a new Project Con­trol Section, bringing the total to fifty. In addition, TD-1 used part-time staff from the technical divisions — the equivalent of forty full-time employees.55 Managers divided the MESH consortium’s tasks into 600 work packages, monitored on a monthly cycle of ‘‘data collection-processing-presentation- interpretation-decision.’’ For HEOS-A2 and ESRO-IV, which were follow-up projects to HEOS and ESRO-II, ESTEC managers used phased planning, al­though without competition.56

Phased planning crystallized into full-fledged procedures in June 1969, with the release of ESRO’s Phased Planning for Scientific Satellite Projects Guidelines. ESRO management intended phased planning to provide ‘‘clear and logi­cal build-up stepwise of information for management decisions’’ that maxi­mized project insight, yet minimized project commitment up to the deci­sion points. The guidelines defined six phases: mission studies, preliminary feasibility studies, project definition and selection, design and detailed defi­nition, development, and operations. For each phase, ESRO defined specific processes and products, which organization was to produce them, and who was to decide whether to proceed. By November 1969, ESRO’s Administra­tive and Finance Committee translated the phased planning guidelines into new procedures for satellite contracts. ESRO used the full phased planning procedure on its next satellite, COS-B.57

A second major initiative sponsored by Director-General Bondi was the development of a management information system (MIS). In August 1968, Bondi approved a proposal to establish an MIS Study Group. The study group’s efforts converged with ongoing activities at ESTEC to develop a proj­ect control system.58

Two MIS models stood out as particularly relevant: the Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES, the French space agency) chart room, and the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) MIS. The CNES chart room was entirely manual, where the chart room itself was the ‘‘data bank’’ of histori­cal, statistical, operational, and project information. MSFC’s system was an

Hoernke’s analogy of engineering and project control.

example of a fully computerized MIS that handled inventory, PERT project information, parts and reliability data, and videotape and library collections.59

To help determine what kind of system would be appropriate, MIS Study Group member H. Hoernke compared the concept of project control to the more general concept of control in engineering. He defined five components of an engineering control system: the process to be controlled; the sensor; the collator, which compares ‘‘what is taking place with what should be taking place’’; the memory, which records the standard for what should be hap­pening; and the effector, which changes the process toward the standard. On projects, various organizations performed the functions of the sensor, collator, memory, and effector. In his analogy, the project control group acted as the collator of data collected by various teams, and management acted as the effector.60

By November 1968, ESTEC personnel decided to use the IBM PMS 360 pro­gram for project control.61 This restricted management information to items compatible with the PMS program, including cost and schedule information stored in work breakdown structures. The IBM program could print a num­ber of standard reports, which Hoernke described in his assessment. In that same month, Hellmuth Gehriger of the ESTEC Contracts Division proposed to extend his division’s work to include “management services.’’ In early 1969, ESTEC management approved his proposal to create a Management Services Section, which would perform research on managerial problems, recommend standards, keep statistics on management performance, and aid ongoing pro­grams. Gehriger also proposed that this group, eventually called the Project Control Section, perform operations research and systems analysis studies.62

The MIS Study Group found numerous cases of redundant information generation, haphazard use, inconsistent levels of detail, and widely varying implementation of procedures and automation within ESRO. It concluded that creating an MIS would be a formidable task but provide substantial bene­fits. Aside from standard arguments that an MIS would improve management performance and organizational efficiency,63 the MIS group also argued for an MIS for political reasons. Foreseeing a possible merger with ELDO and CETS, the group deduced, ‘‘When two or more organisations merge, it is clearly the one that has the more organised structure that is at an advantage.’’ The group stated, ‘‘To control its contractors, ESRO must at least be as efficient as indus­try in managing the information problem.’’ It thought ‘‘ESRO should play a leading role in getting industry used to advanced management techniques.’’ In the opinion of group members, an MIS would give ESRO a distinct advantage in the coming bureaucratic battle.64

With Bondi’s endorsement, the MIS Study Group decided to develop a ‘‘semi-integrated system’’ where each ESRO facility would have its own com­puter system. This had the advantage of virtually ensuring the “rationalisation of information’’ at that site but the disadvantage of potentially promoting in­formation barriers between ESRO sites. A fully centralized system at Paris, the group believed, would be very complex and would politically generate ‘‘high resistance,’’ both from ESRO personnel at other facilities and from the national delegations.65

The resulting distributed computer system, called the Planning, Manage­ment, and Control (PMC) System, began operation in January 1971. At the be­ginning of a project, managers and engineers entered financial and schedule information, coded as work package numbers tied to the accounting system. The system generated reports, including internal budgets, plans, differences between plans and actual events, and changes to plans.66

At ESTEC, the Project Control Section of the Contracts Division ran the PMC System. The section’s director, Hellmuth Gehriger, became a vocal man­agerial theorist. He believed that project control was rapidly developing into a science. The project manager determined what had to be ‘‘project con­trolled,’’ and the project controllers determined how to manage the projects. Gehriger used the critical path method to schedule tasks in the phased plan­ning cycle and produced planning and control documents and information

The ESRO Planning, Management, and Control System.

flows to closely monitor project cost and schedule. From reported status in­formation, project control personnel prepared a Key Event Schedule Trend Analysis report that monitored schedule trends for slippage, a sign of im­pending technical and cost difficulties. Under Gehriger’s guidance, the Project Control Section developed a sophisticated management scheme that adapted American managerial concepts to the European context.67

ESRO management did not give its project managers complete control. In December 1969, the head of ESTEC’s Satellites and Sounding Rockets Depart­ment proposed that ESTEC assign all project personnel to his department, thereby giving him and the project manager control over all project person­nel. ESRO Director of Administration Roy Gibson refused. Although Gibson agreed that ESTEC’s use of manpower was ‘‘extravagant,’’ he did not “recom­mend the same cure.’’ Gibson believed that the proposal would ‘‘lead to the

Satellites and Sounding Rockets Department becoming an independent state within a state.’’ Instead, Gibson argued for better coordination of manpower within a matrix system. This accorded with the opinion of the head of the Personnel Department, who noted that the ‘‘home division’’ contained the ‘‘reservoir of knowledge’’ required for projects.68

Over the next four years, ESRO managers struggled with the division of authority between the project manager and the technical divisions. ESTEC established a new Programme Coordination Division to coordinate person­nel between the projects, the technical divisions, and the European Space Operations Centre. After difficult negotiations, ESTEC Director Hammar – strom issued a directive that required project managers to create and review a support plan twice each year and to request support from technical divisions through standardized forms.69

ESRO’s financial and political crises of 1967 and 1968 spurred a series of or­ganizational reforms. Under pressure from national delegations and Director – General Bondi, ESRO managers followed a path well trodden by the U. S. De­partment of Defense and NASA. ESRO adopted phased planning to provide management decision points and better cost estimates. For the TD project, it was too late to implement phased planning, so instead ESRO created the Project Control Section and implemented configuration management tech­niques, which ESRO used on all later programs. By 1971, the ESRO MIS was partially operational at ESTEC under Gehriger’s Project Control Section. ESRO personnel looked forward to the impending merger with ELDO and CETS, believing they had the organizational advantage.

The merger would soon take place, spurred by ELDO’s failure as well as the opportunities and hazards ofthe American shuttle program. On Spacelab, the Europeans’ contribution to the shuttle, the new ESA changed from being NASA’s junior apprentice to being NASA’s partner. To make this partnership work, NASA would require even further ‘‘Americanization’’ of European man­agement methods.

The NASA School of Hard Knocks

In the summer of 1961, JPL engineers prepared the first Ranger spacecraft for flight. Having successfully passed through a series of structural, electrical, and environmental tests, Ranger 1 was scheduled for launch in July. After two hardware component failures in the spacecraft and one in the launch vehicle delayed the launch, the Atlas-Agena took off in August. Within minutes, engi­
neers found that the Agena upper stage did not ignite, stranding Ranger 1 in Earth orbit. The spacecraft operated properly but burned up in Earth’s atmo­sphere on August 30. Ranger 2 launched in November. Its Agena also failed, placing Ranger 2 in a low orbit, from which it soon disintegrated in the Earth’s atmosphere. The air force launched an investigation of the failures and pres­sured Lockheed for solutions.54

Ranger 3 was the first of JPL’s Block 2 design, which included new science experiments as well as a television camera to take lunar surface photographs for Apollo. In January 1962, the air force’s launch vehicles placed Ranger 3 on a trajectory that would miss the Moon, but JPL decided to operate the spacecraft as close as possible to the normal mission. While performing the first-ever trajectory correction maneuver (firing thrusters to change the space­craft’s course), a reversed sign between the ground and flight software re­sulted in the spacecraft’s course changing in exactly the opposite direction from that desired. Two days after launch, the spacecraft computer failed, end­ing the mission prematurely.55

Launching in April 1962, Ranger 4’s computer failed almost immediately after separating from Agena. This made the spacecraft blind and dumb-able to send no data to Earth and unresponsive to commands. Its trajectory was nearly perfect; the spacecraft crashed onto the Moon’s surface three days later. Although NASA and the newspapers proclaimed the mission a great success, which it was for the air force’s launcher, it was a complete technical failure for JPL. Engineers hypothesized that the failure was due to a metal flake floating in zero gravity that simultaneously touched two adjacent electrical leads.56

JPL next scheduled its two Mariner R spacecraft for launch. The first launch on July 22 failed after five minutes, when Atlas’s guidance system malfunc­tioned. Air force and General Dynamics engineers traced the problem to a missing hyphen in a line of software code. Mariner 2 launched in August and successfully flew past Venus in December. Its outstanding performance kept Congress and NASA headquarters from losing all confidence in JPL.57

Burke and his team made several changes to Ranger’s design and organi­zation between Ranger 1 and Ranger 5. On early flights, division chiefs inter­fered with spacecraft operators, so Burke reserved authority to command the spacecraft to project managers and engineers. Engineers also added redun­dant features to the spacecraft. Despite proof that heat sterilization compro-

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Ranger. The failures of the first six Ranger flights led to NASA and congressional pressure to strengthen project management. Courtesy NASA.

mised electrical component reliability, lunar program chief Cliff Cummings maintained NASA’s sterilization policy. In any case, Ranger 5’s components had already been subjected to sterilization. Project engineers formed investi­gation groups to study interfaces and spacecraft subsystem interactions. They also added a system test to check interfaces and interactions between the spacecraft and flight operations equipment and procedures.58

These changes did not completely resolve the project’s problems. Ranger 5 launched in October 1962 and began to malfunction within two hours. This

time, the power system failed, losing power from the solar panels. Shortly thereafter the computer malfunctioned, and the battery drained within eight hours, causing complete mission loss. The spacecraft’s disastrous failure con­vinced JPL and NASA headquarters managers that the project was in serious trouble. Both launched investigations.59

The headquarters investigation board’s findings left no doubt that JPL’s organization and management of Ranger were at fault. They criticized JPL’s dual status as a contractor and a NASA field center, noting that JPL received little or no NASA supervision. Project manager Burke had little authority over JPL division chiefs or the launch vehicles and no systems engineering staff and showed little evidence of planning or processes for systems engineering. JPL’s approach-using multiple flight tests to attain flight experience-had strong traces of its army missile background. The board believed this “mul­tiple shot’’ approach was inappropriate. Spacecraft had to work the first time, and testing had to occur on the ground, not in flight. The board character­ized Ranger’s approach as ‘‘shoot and hope.’’ Supervisors left design engi­neers unsupervised, and design engineers did not have to follow quality as­surance or reliability recommendations.60 The Board’s position was clear: ‘‘A loose anarchistic approach to project management is extant with great empha­sis on independent responsibilities and individual accomplishment. . . This independent engineering approach has become increasingly ingrown, with­out adequate checks and balances on individual actions. Pride in accomplish­ment is not a self-sufficient safeguard when undertaking large scale projects of international significance such as JPL is now undertaking for NASA.’’61

JPL’s rapid growth also caused problems. From 1959 to 1962, JPL’s budget grew from $40 million to $220 million, while its staff grew from 2,600 to 3,800. Most of the new budget went into subcontracts, yet JPL’s business manage­ment capability did not expand accordingly. Often JPL personnel ‘‘failed to penetrate into the business and technical phases of subcontract execution.’’ This was due in part to JPL’s ‘‘two-headed’’ nature, as a contractor to the gov­ernment, and as a de facto NASA field center. NASA did not require JPL to use NASA or Department of Defense regulations, treating it as a contractor. On the other hand, NASA headquarters did not supervise JPL tightly like a con­tractor, because of its quasi-field center status.62 Ranger managers had neither

the authority and resources to carry out their mission nor the oversight that might lead to discovery and resolution of problems.

Failure in the race for international prestige was no longer acceptable to NASA headquarters.63 The board recommended strengthening project man­agement, establishing formal design reviews, eliminating heat sterilization, assigning launch vehicles either to NASA or to the air force, instituting a fail­ure reporting system, clarifying Ranger’s objectives, and eliminating extra­neous features. To spur JPL into action, the board recommended that NASA withhold further projects until it resolved Ranger’s problems.64

JPL Director Pickering quickly replaced lunar program chief Cummings with Robert Parks and project manager Burke with former Systems Divi­sion chief Harris Schurmeier. He gave them the authority that Cummings and Burke only dreamed of: power over division chiefs in personnel matters. He also created an independent Reliability and Quality Assurance Office with more than 150 people and gave this office authority over the engineers.65

Schurmeier instituted process changes to strengthen Ranger’s systems en­gineering. He levied an immediate design review, adopted Mariner’s failure reporting system, and ensured that engineers took corrective action. Schur­meier also instituted Mariner’s system of engineering change control and de­sign freezes. Ranger expanded the use of its Design Evaluation Vehicle to test component failure modes and inter-subsystem ‘‘cross-talk and noise.’’ Schur- meier required that engineers plan and record each test on new test data sheets. Ranger 6 also adopted conformal coating, a method to cover all ex­posed metal wiring with plastic to preclude short circuits from floating debris. NASA headquarters and JPL delayed the next Ranger flight until early 1964 to ensure that the changes took effect.66

During 1963, JPL scheduled no launches but concurrently worked on Ranger 6, Surveyor, and Mariner Mars 1964 (MM64). MM64 was JPL’s next planetary project, planned to launch in November 1964 to fly by Mars. Ad­ministrative mechanisms for Ranger 6 and MM64 converged during this time, while managers paid relatively little attention to Surveyor, which JPL con­tracted to HAC.67

The first test of Ranger’s enhanced management was Ranger 6’s launch in January 1964. Whereas Ranger 5 had fourteen significant failures in testing prior to launch, Ranger 6 had only one subsystem failure during its life cycle testing, boding well for its future. The only hardware that caused trouble was the single new major element, the television camera from Radio Corporation of America (RCA). Ranger 6’s launch was flawless, except for an unexplained telemetry dropout. So too were its cruise and midcourse correction. Expecta­tions rose as Ranger 6 approached its final minutes, when the spacecraft was to take pictures just prior to crashing onto the surface. Reporters, engineers, managers, and scientists waited anxiously in a special room at JPL during the last hour for the first pictures to be broadcast. None ever came. Pickering, who arrived just prior to Ranger 6’s impact, was humiliated, saying ‘‘I never want to go through an experience like this again—never!”68

Investigations ensued, followed this time by congressional hearings. JPL’s board isolated when the failure had occurred and which components had failed. Board members could not determine the cause of the failure but none­theless recommended engineering changes to deal with the several possible causes. NASA Associate Administrator Robert Seamans assigned Earl Hilburn to lead the headquarters investigation of the troubled program. Hilburn’s re­port claimed that the spacecraft had numerous design and testing deficien­cies and called for the investigation to be expanded to the entire program. Project personnel vehemently disagreed with the tone and many specific rec­ommendations. JPL incorporated some minor changes but refused to modify its testing practices.69

Minnesota congressman Joseph Karth headed the congressional investiga­tion, which focused on JPL’s status as a contractor and NASA field center as well as its apparent refusal to take direction from NASA headquarters. Con­gress recommended that JPL improve its project and laboratory management. Pickering complied by strengthening project management, but he hedged on hiring a laboratory operations manager to assume some of his responsibili­ties. When NASA Administrator James Webb refused to sign JPL’s renewal contract unless it complied, JPL finally hired Maj. General Alvin Luedecke, retired from the air force, as general manager in August 1964. While the suc­cessful flight of Ranger 7 in July 1964 finally vindicated the troubled project, NASA managers became concerned with JPL’s third program, Surveyor.70

By late 1963, JPL managers spotted trouble signs as Surveyor moved from design to testing. Despite indications of escalating costs and slipping sched­ules, personnel limitations and preoccupation with Ranger and Mariner pre­vented JPL managers from adding personnel to Surveyor.71 However, NASA headquarters managers held a design review in March 1964 to investigate.

The headquarters review uncovered difficulties similar to those on Ranger. Surveyor’s procurement staff at JPL was ‘‘grossly out of balance’’ with needs, far too small given that the project consumed one-third of JPL’s budget. The review team recommended that both JPL and HAC give project managers more authority over the technical staff. It also recommended that JPL have ‘‘free access to all HAC subcontractors,’’ that JPL schedule formal monthly meetings with HAC and the subcontractors, and that JPL’s Reliability and Quality-Assurance Office closely evaluate hardware and testing. HAC’s man­agement processes also received criticism. The HAC PERT (Program Evalua­tion and Review Technique) program did not account for all project elements, leading to inaccurate schedule estimates. HAC’s change control system, in­herited from manufacturing, was unduly cumbersome. Most critically, HAC did not ‘‘flag impending technical problems and cost overruns in time for project management to take corrective action.’’72

JPL engineers began their own technical review in April, using twenty ex­perienced Ranger and Mariner engineers. Their primary finding was the in­adequacy of HAC’s systems engineering. HAC divided the spacecraft’s tasks into one hundred discrete units, instead of the eight to ten subsystems typical for JPL. JPL found that many groups ‘‘showed a surprising lack of informa­tion or interest’’ about the impact their product had on adjacent products or on the spacecraft as a whole. The spacecraft’s design showed HAC had per­formed few trade-offs between subsystems, leading to a complex design. This led to reliability problems because HAC’s design had more components and critical failure points than necessary.73

The design reviews came too late to fully compensate for three years of in­attention. In April 1964 the first lander ‘‘drop test’’ came to a premature end when the release mechanism failed and the lander crumpled upon ground impact. JPL management responded by increasing JPL’s Surveyor staff from under one hundred in June 1964 to five hundred in the fall of 1965. In the meantime, five independent test equipment and spacecraft failures doomed the second drop test in October 1964.74

HAC partially complied with NASA recommendations — it strengthened

its project organization in August 1964. JPL resisted the headquarters pres­sure to change, but after some pointed letters from Office of Space Sciences and Applications head Homer Newell, and not-so-subtle pressure from Con­gress and Administrator Webb, JPL relented and “projectized” Surveyor and its other programs. Both JPL and HAC added personnel and improved bud­geting, scheduling, and planning tools. JPL created the Project Engineering Division, which assisted flight projects in ‘‘launch vehicle integration, system design and integration, system test and launch operations and environmental requirements.’’75

JPL reassigned engineers from Ranger and Mariner to Surveyor, and it in­stituted an intense program of contractor penetration. While JPL stated that this led to a clearer picture of problem areas and a better relationship be­tween JPL and HAC, HAC engineers and managers frequently viewed it as an exercise in educating JPL personnel, instead of letting them fix the pro­gram’s myriad problems. In 1965, HAC estimated that approximately 250 JPL engineers were at HAC’s facility on any given day. Numerous changes led to months of intense contract negotiations between the two organizations.76

Surveyor’s problems caught Congress’s attention, leading to a House in­vestigation in 1965. The subsequent report identified “inadequate prepara­tion’’ and NASA’s inattention as the primary problems, resulting in ‘‘one of the least orderly and most poorly executed of NASA projects.’’ Congress did not believe further changes to be necessary but severely criticized NASA for its past performance. The investigation concluded, ‘‘NASA’s management per­formance in the Surveyor project must be judged in the light of a history of too little direction and supervision until recently.’’ Nonetheless, five of Surveyor’s seven flights eventually succeeded.77

Ranger and Surveyor were JPL’s trial by fire. Embarrassing failures and cost and schedule overruns plagued early efforts in both programs. They humbled JPL and provided leverage for Congress and NASA headquarters to impose their will on JPL. JPL managers and engineers learned that they needed strong project management, extraordinary attention to design details and manufac­turing, change control, and much better preliminary design work before com­mitting to a project.

When Pickering finally agreed to change JPL and its processes, Jack James’s

Mariner project provided the model. JPL survived its early managerial and technical blunders on Ranger and Surveyor primarily because of its solid suc­cesses on Mariner. Jack James’s strong project organization, backed by pro­gressive design freezes and change control, made Mariner a much different organization than Ranger or Surveyor. Based on the Mariner model, later projects would earn JPL its reputation as the world’s leader in the art of deep space exploration.

Systems Management and Its Promoters

Four social groups developed and spread systems management: military offi­cers, scientists, engineers, and managers. All the groups promoted aspects of systems management that were congenial to their objectives and fought those that were not. For example, the military’s conception of ‘‘concurrency’’ ran counter in a number of ways to the managerial idea of ‘‘phased plan­ning,’’ while the scientific conception of ‘‘systems analysis’’ differed from the engineering notion of ‘‘systems engineering.’’ Academic working groups pro­moted by scientists and engineers conflicted with hierarchical structures found in the military and industry, and the working groups’ informal meth­ods frustrated attempts at hierarchical control through formal processes. The winners of these bureaucratic fights imposed new structures and processes that promoted their conceptions and power within and across organizations.

In the early 1950s, the prestige of scientists and the exigencies of the Cold War gave scientists and military officers the advantage in bureaucratic com­petition. Military leaders successfully harnessed scientific expertise through their lavish support of scientists, including the development of new labora­tories and research institutions. Scientists in turn provided the military with technical and political support to develop new weapons.18 The alliance of these two groups led to the dominance of the policy of concurrency in the 1950s.19

To the air force, concurrency meant conducting research and development in parallel with the manufacturing, testing, and production of a weapon. More generally, it referred to any parallel process or approach. Concurrency met the needs of military officers because of their tendency to emphasize external threats, which in turn required them to respond to those threats. Put differ­ently, for military officers to acquire significant power in a civilian society, the society must believe in a credible threat that must be countered by mili­tary force. If the threat is credible, then military leaders must quickly develop countermeasures. If they do not, outsiders could conclude that a threat does not exist and could reduce the military’s resources. For the armed forces, ex­ternal threats, rapid technological development, and their own power and re­sources went hand in hand.

Scientists also liked concurrency, because they specialized in the rapid cre­ation of novel ‘‘wonder weapons’’ such as radar and nuclear weapons. Even when scientists had little to do with major technological advances, as in the case of jet and rocket propulsion, society often deemed the engineers ‘‘rocket scientists.’’ Scientists did little to discourage this misconception. They gained prestige from technical expertise and acquired power when others deemed technical expertise critical. Scientists predicted and fostered novelty because discovery of new natural laws and behaviors was their business. Novelty re­quired scientific expertise, whereas ‘‘mundane’’ developments could be left to engineers.

While the Cold War was tangibly hot in the late 1940s and 1950s, American leaders supported the search for wonder weapons to counter the Communist threat. Although very expensive, nuclear weapons were far less expensive than maintaining millions of troops in Europe, and they typified American prefer­ences for technological solutions.20 Military officers allied with scientists used this climate to rapidly drive technological development.

By 1959, however, Congress began to question the military’s methods be­cause these weapons cost far more than predicted and did not seem to work.21 Embarrassing rocket explosions and air-defense system failures spurred criti­cal scrutiny. Although Sputnik and the Cuban Missile Crisis dampened criti­cism somewhat, military officers had a difficult time explaining the apparent ineffectiveness of the new systems. Missiles that failed more than half the time were neither efficient military deterrents nor effective deterrents of congres­sional investigations. The military needed better cost control and technical reliability in its missile programs. Military officers and scientists were not par­ticularly adept in these matters. However, managers and engineers were.

Engineers can be divided into two types: researchers and designers. Engi­neering researchers are similar to scientists, except that their quest involves technological novelty instead of ‘‘natural’’ novelty. They work in academia, government, and industrial laboratories and have norms involving the pub­lication of papers, the development of new technologies and processes, and the diffusion of knowledge. By contrast, engineering designers spend most of their time designing, building, and testing artifacts. Depending upon the product, the success criteria involve cost, reliability, and performance. Design engineers have little time for publication and claim expertise through product success.

Even more than design engineers, managers pay explicit heed to cost con­siderations. They are experts in the effective use of human and material resources to accomplish organizational objectives. Managers measure their power from the size and funding of their organizations, so they have conflict­ing desires to use resources efficiently, which decreases organizational size, and to make their organizations grow so as to acquire more power. Ideally, managers efficiently achieve objectives, then gain more power by acquiring other organizations or tasks. Managers, like engineers, lose credibility if their end products fail.

As ballistic missiles and air-defense systems failed in the late 1950s, mili­tary officers and aerospace industry leaders had to heed congressional calls for greater reliability and more predictable cost. In consequence, managerial and engineering design considerations came to have relatively more weight in technology development than military and scientific considerations. Man­agers responded by applying extensive cost-accounting practices, while engi­neers performed more rigorous testing and analysis. The result was not a ‘‘low cost’’ design but a more reliable product whose cost was high but pre­dictable. Engineers gained credibility through successful missile performance, and managers gained credibility through successful prediction of cost. Be­cause of the high priority given to and the visibility of space programs, con­gressional leaders in the 1960s did not mind high costs, but they would not tolerate unpredictable costs or spectacular failures.

Systems management was the result of these conflicting interests and ob­jectives. It was (and is) a melange of techniques representing the interests of each contributing group. We can define systems management as a set of orga­nizational structures and processes to rapidly produce a novel but dependable technological artifact within a predictable budget. In this definition, each group appears. Military officers demanded rapid progress. Scientists desired novelty. Engineers wanted a dependable product. Managers sought predictable costs. Only through successful collaboration could these goals be attained. To suc­ceed in the Cold War missile and space race, systems management would also have to encompass techniques that could meet the extreme requirements of rocketry and space flight.

The American Challenge

The European fear of gaps between themselves and the superpowers derived from changed political, military, and economic realities after World War II. Germany was devastated, occupied, and dismembered. Italy was torn between its Fascist past, the resistance movement led by the Communists, and the Catholic Church. France had been defeated by Nazi Germany, then riven by hostilities between the Vichy regime, Charles de Gaulle’s Free French, and the Communist Party. Britain was victorious, but the war depleted its treasury and exhausted its people. By contrast, the Soviet Union’s armies advanced into and remained in Central Europe. The United States emerged from the war with sole possession of the atomic bomb, a booming economy, and growing resources. The Soviet Union and the United States became the superpowers, relegating Western Europe to second-tier status.

Many American diplomats believed a strong, united Europe was the best means to defend against Soviet military expansion or internal chaos that might lead to Communist takeover. To strengthen the German economy without antagonizing France, American diplomats in 1947 offered the Mar­shall Plan to European countries on the condition that they work together to allocate funds. This led to the creation of the Organization for European Economic Cooperation, which later became the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The Communist coup in Czechoslo­vakia and the Berlin blockade inaugurated negotiations that led to military cooperation with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in 1949.1

European leaders also sought to cooperate with each other, apart from the United States. France decided to control German ambitions by forming a strong alliance with its historic enemy. The Low Countries, which needed a strong European economy with which to trade, and the Italians, who needed an outlet for unemployed workers and access to technology and natural re­sources, combined with France and West Germany to form the European Coal and Steel Community in 1950. The same countries agreed to the Common Market in 1957, which lowered mutual tariff barriers and created the large market they believed critical for economic growth.

Nuclear technology development also benefited from European integra­tion. Physicists Pierre Auger of France and Edoardo Amaldi of Italy led efforts to create a European laboratory for high-energy physics research to com­pete with U. S. physics researchers. European research leaders agreed to create CERN in February 1952 to develop a large particle accelerator and support­ing facilities. The need to distribute and control uranium for nuclear reactors led to the creation of EURATOM in the 1957 Treaty of Rome that created the Common Market. Despite these European efforts to enlarge their market and pool resources for nuclear technology, American developments in electronics and computers, and the American and Soviet development of rocketry and missiles, appeared to keep the superpowers several steps ahead.2

In 1964, French journalist Jean-Jacques Servan-Schreiber wrote a book that served as a manifesto to European governments and industry: The American Challenge. He described the penetration of American industry into Europe and argued that the cause was not ‘‘a question of money.’’ Rather, the United States had developed better and more widespread education, leading to more flexible policies and management. As he put it, ‘‘Europe’s lag seems to concern methods of organization above all. The Americans know how to work in our countries better than we do ourselves. This is not a matter of ‘brain power’ in the traditional sense of the term, but of organization, education, and train­ing.’’3 Significantly, he illustrated American dominance by using the examples of the computer and aerospace industries.

Servan-Schreiber had influential readers on both sides of the Atlantic. U. S. Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara thought ‘‘the technological gap was misnamed,’’ believing it to be a managerial gap. Europeans needed to develop their educational systems. McNamara noted, ‘‘Modern managerial education — the level of competence, say, of the Harvard Business School—is practically unknown in industrialized Europe.’’4 West Germany’s defense minister, Franz Josef Strauss, also agreed with the French journalist, believing the technology gap was due to advances in space technology, computers, and aircraft con­struction, three areas he thought decisive for the future. Because large corpo­rations performed the majority of research and because of the large domestic market, American companies had the advantage of scale over their European competitors. Strauss’s solution was to create an integrated European com­munity with common laws and regulations and to pool European resources. European countries needed to launch large, multinational high-technology projects to provide opportunities for European corporations to work on big research and development endeavors.5

Both Servan-Schreiber and McNamara believed that their societies needed more and better management. According to McNamara, ‘‘Some critics today worry that our democratic, free societies are becoming overmanaged. I would argue that the opposite is true. As paradoxical as it may sound, the real threat to democracy comes not from overmanagement, but from undermanage­ment. To undermanage reality is not to keep it free. It is simply to let some force other than reason shape reality.’’6

Servan-Schreiber’s views were similar: ‘‘Only a deliberate policy of reinforc­ing our strong points — what demagogues condemn under the vague term of ‘monopolies’ — will allow us to escape relative underdevelopment.’’ But he did make one allowance: ‘‘This strategy will rightly seem debatable to those who mistrust the influence and political power of big business. This fear is justi­fied. But the remedy lies in the power of government, not in the weakening of industry.’’7 Given the economic and military importance of technology devel­opment, Servan-Schreiber and others accepted the risks of government and business power.

Academic analysts of the technology gap used more sophisticated means to reach similar conclusions. Analyses by the OECD generally recommended increases in the number and scale of integrated European high-technology projects. The technology gap ‘‘is not so much the result of differences in tech­nological prowess, except in some special research-intensive sectors,’’ said economist Antonie Knoppers, ‘‘as of differences in management and market­ing approaches and—possibly above all-in attitudes.’’8 He believed the dis­parities were in ‘‘middle or lower levels’’ of management. Economist Daniel Spencer believed that a ‘‘more fruitful way of assessing the technological gap’’ was ‘‘to define it as a management gap’’ because American managers were ‘‘alert to opportunities created by the research of a military or nuclear or space type.’’9

Officials debated about the existence of the gap, its causes, and solutions. British leaders worried about an American “technological empire’’ and a ‘‘brain drain’’ of technical experts to the United States. The French feared the loss of economic and cultural independence. German leaders worried that the gap exposed flaws in German education and management. American poli­ticians minimized the significance or existence of a technological gap, shift­ing the argument to differences in culture and management. In 1967, Presi­dent Lyndon B. Johnson sent Science Advisor Donald Hornig to Europe with a team of experts to study the problem and asked the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to explore new cooperative ventures with the Europeans to ease their fears. All agreed that European countries needed educational reforms to bridge the various gaps. This would take a while to ac­complish, so in the meantime, the most obvious idea was to mimic American management methods on large-scale technology programs.10

In the early 1960s, space launchers beckoned as a particularly fruitful field for integrated efforts. Developing space launchers would eliminate European dependence on the United States to launch spacecraft and also aid national efforts to develop ballistic missiles. A multinational launcher program would teach European companies to manage large programs and spur Europe’s edu­cational system to become more responsive to advanced technology and man­agement. Many advantages would accrue, if Europeans could overcome their differences.

Testing Concurrency

Whatever preferences Schriever and his team had for rapid development, they insisted upon flight tests to detect technical problems. ICBMs were extremely complex, and some failures during initial testing were inevitable. Testing would uncover many problems as it began in late 1956 and 1957.

Missile testing differed a great deal from aircraft testing, primarily because each unpiloted missile flew only once. For aircraft, the air force used the Un­satisfactory Report System, whereby test pilots, crew members, and mainte­nance personnel reported problems, which were then relayed to Wright Field engineers for analysis and resolution. The problem with missiles was the lack of pilots, crew members, and maintenance personnel during development testing. Instead, manufacturers worked with the air force to run tests and ana­lyze results.23

Because each ICBM disintegrated upon completion of its test flight, flight tests needed to be minimized and preflight ground testing maximized. The high cost of ICBM flight tests made simulation a cost-effective option, along with the use of ‘‘captive tests,’’ where engineers tied the rocket onto the launch pad before it was fired. R-W engineers estimated that for ICBMs to achieve a 50% success rate in wartime, they should achieve 90% flight success in ideal testing conditions. With the limited number of flight tests, this could not be statistically proven. Instead, R-W thoroughly checked and tested all compo­nents and subsystems prior to missile assembly, reserving flight tests for ob­serving interactions between subsystems and studying overall performance. Initial flight tests started with only the airframe, propulsion, and autopilot. Upon successful test completion, engineers then added more subsystems for each test until the entire missile had been examined.24

By 1955, each of the military services recognized that rocket reliability was a problem, with ARDC sponsoring a special symposium on the subject.25 Statis­tics showed that two-thirds of missile failures were due to electronic compo­nents such as vacuum tubes, wires, and relays. Electromagnetic interference and radio signals caused a significant number of failures, and about 20% of the problems were mechanical, dominated by hydraulic leaks.26

Atlas’s test program proved no different. The first two Atlas A tests in mid- 1957 ended with engine failures, but the third succeeded, leading eventually to a record of three successes and five failures for the Atlas A test series. Simi­lar statistics marked the Atlas B and C series tests between July 1958 and Au­gust 1959. For Atlas D, the first missiles in the operational configuration, re­liability improved to 68%. Of the thirteen failures in the Atlas D series, four were caused by personnel errors, five were random part failures, two were due to engine problems, and two were design flaws.27

Solving missile reliability problems proved to be difficult. Two 1960 acci­dents dramatized the problems. In March an Atlas exploded, destroying its test facilities at Vandenberg Air Force Base on the California coast. Then, in December, the first Titan I test vehicle blew up along with its test facilities at Vandenberg. Both explosions occurred during liquid propellant loading, a fact that further spurred development of the solid propellant-based Minute – man missile. With missile reliability hovering in the 50% range for Atlas and around 66% for Titan, concerns increased both inside and outside the air force.28

While the air force officially told Congress that missile reliability ap­proached 80%, knowledgeable insiders knew otherwise. One of Schriever’s deputies, Col. Ray Soper, called the 80% figure “optimistically inaccurate’’ and estimated the true reliability at 56% in April I960.29 That same month, Brig. Gen. Charles Terhune, who had been Schriever’s technical director through the 1950s, entertained serious doubts:

The fact remains that the equipment has not been exercised, that the reliability is not as high as it should be, and that in all good conscience I doubt seriously if we can sit still and let this equipment represent a true deterrence for the Ameri­can public when we know that it has shortcomings. In the aircraft program these shortcomings are gradually recognized through many flights and much train­ing and are eliminated if for no other reason, by the motivation of the crews to keep alive but no such reason or motivation exists in the missile area. In fact, there is even a tendency to leave it alone so it won’t blow up.30

ICBM reliability problems drew air force and congressional investigations. An air force board with representatives from ARDC, AMC, and Strategic Air Command reported in November 1960, blaming inadequate testing and train­ing as well as insufficient configuration and quality control. It recommended additional testing and process upgrades through an improvement program. After the dramatic Titan explosion the next month, the secretary of defense requested an investigation by the Weapon Systems Evaluation Group within the Office of the Secretary of Defense. A parallel study by the director of De­fense Research and Engineering criticized rushed testing schedules. In the spring of 1961, the Senate Preparedness Investigating Subcommittee held hear­ings on the issue. The members concluded that testing schedules were too optimistic. With technical troubles continuing, its own officers concerned, and congressional pressure, Schriever’s group had to make ICBMs operation­ally reliable. To do so, the air force and R-W created new organizational pro­cesses to find problems and ensure high quality.31

Solving ICBM technical problems required rigorous processes of testing, inspection, and quality control. These required tighter management and im­proved engineering control. One factor that inadvertently helped was a tem­porary slowdown in funding between July 1956 and October 1957. Imposed by the Eisenhower administration as an economy measure, the funding reduc­tion slowed development from ‘‘earliest possible’’ deployment (as had been originally planned) to ‘‘earliest practicable’’ deployment. As noted by one his­torian, this forced a delay in management decisions regarding key technical questions related to missile hardware configurations, basing, and deployment. This, in turn, allowed more time to define the final products.32

Reliability problems were the most immediate concern, and AMC officers began by collecting failure statistics, requiring Atlas contractor General Dy­namics to begin collecting logistics data, including component failure statis­tics, in late 1955. In 1957 AMC extended this practice to other contractors, and it later placed these data in a new, centralized Electrical Data Processing Cen­ter.33 R-W scientists and engineers statistically rationed a certain amount of ‘‘unreliability’’ to each vehicle element, backing the allocations with empiri­cal data. They then apportioned the required reliability levels as component specifications.34

Starting on Atlas D, Space Technology Laboratories (STL)-the succes­sor to R-W’s GMRD-scientists and engineers began the Search for Critical Weaknesses Program, in which environmental tests were run to stress com­ponents ‘‘until failure was attained.’’ The scientists and engineers ran a series of captive tests, holding down the missile while firing the engines. All compo­nents underwent a series of tests to check environment tolerance (tolerance for temperature, humidity, etc.), vibration tolerance, component functions, and interactions among assembled components. These required the develop­ment of new equipment such as vacuum chambers and vibration tables. By 1959, the Atlas program also included tests to verify operational procedures and training. STL personnel created a failure reporting system to classify fail­ures and analyze them using the central database.35

Environmental testing, such as acoustic vibration and thermal vacuum tests, detected component problems. The failure reporting system also helped

Подпись: Image not available.

Atlas D launch, October 1960. Atlas reliability began to improve with the D series. Courtesy John Lonnquest.

identify common weaknesses of components. Other new processes, such as the Search for Critical Weaknesses Program, looked for problems with compo­nents and for troublesome interactions. These processes identified the symp­toms but did not directly address the causes of problems. For example, some component failures were caused by a mismatch between the vehicle flown and the design drawings. Solving problems, as opposed to simply identify­ing them, required the implementation of additional social and technical pro­cesses. Engineers and managers created the new social processes required on the Minuteman project, and from there they spread far beyond the air force.

ESA, ‘Spacelab,’ and the Second Wave of American Imports

By 1972, European space programs were in the most severe of their many political crises. ELDO’s first Europa II launch had failed, and an international commission was investigating the organization’s many flaws. German and Italian leaders backed away from their commitments to ELDO. The United States offered the Europeans a part in the new shuttle program as a way to cut development costs and to discourage the European launcher program. In addition, the United States sent ambiguous signals to European governments on its willingness to launch European communications satellites. All Euro­pean governments agreed on the criticality of satellite telecommunications, but ESRO’s charter did not allow commercial applications, and the telecom­munications organization CETS had no satellite design capability. A sense of crisis pervaded negotiations among the European nations concerning their space programs.

Each of the member states of ELDO, ESRO, and CETS confronted the myriad problems and opportunities differently. The United Kingdom deci­sively turned its back on launch vehicles in favor of communications satel­lites. British leaders believed it wiser to use less expensive American launchers, so as to concentrate scarce resources on profitable communications satellites. Doubting that the United States would ever launch European satellites that would compete with the American satellite industry, French leaders insisted on developing a European launch vehicle. German leaders became disillu­sioned with launchers and were committed to cooperation with the United States. Because of their embarrassing failures on ELDO’s third stage, they wanted to acquire American managerial skills. Italy wanted to ensure a ‘‘just return’’ on its investments in the European programs by having a larger per­centage of contracts issued to Italian firms. For smaller countries to partici­pate in space programs, they needed a European program.

The result of these interests was the package deal of 1972 that created the ESA. Britain received its maritime communications satellite. France got its favorite program, a new launch vehicle called Ariane. Germany acquired its cooperative program with the United States, Spacelab, a scientific laboratory that fit in the shuttle orbiter payload bay. The Italians received a guarantee of higher returns on Italy’s investments. All member states had to fund the basic operations costs of the new ESA and participate in a mandatory science program. Beyond that, participation was voluntary, based upon an a-la-carte system where the countries could contribute as they saw fit on projects of their choice. European leaders liquidated ELDO and made ESRO the basis for

ESA, which came into official existence in 1975. ESTEC Director Roy Gibson became ESRO’s new director-general and would become the first leader of ESA.70

Two factors drove the further Americanization of European space efforts: the hard lessons of ELDO’s failure, and cooperation with NASA on Spacelab. By 1973, both ELDO and ESRO had adopted numerous American techniques, leading to a convergence of their management methods. On the Europa III program, ELDO finally used direct contracting through work package man­agement, augmented by phased planning to estimate costs. ESRO managers had done the same in the TD-1 program and in ESRO’s next major project, COS-B. ESRO’s two largest new projects, Ariane and Spacelab, inherited these lessons.

For Ariane, ESRO made CNES the prime contractor. CNES had responsi­bilities and authority that ELDO never had. ESRO required that CNES pro­vide a master plan with a work breakdown structure, monthly reports with PERT charts, expenditures, contract status, and technical reports. CNES would deliver a report each month to ESRO and would submit to an ESRO re­view each quarter. CNES could transfer program funds if necessary within the project but had to report these transfers to ESRO. ESRO kept quality assurance functions in-house to independently monitor the program. Reviewers from ESRO required that CNES further develop its initial Work Breakdown Struc­ture, which was ‘‘neither complete nor definitive,’’ and specify more clearly its interface responsibilities. The French took no chances after the disaster of ELDO and fully applied these techniques, as well as extending test pro­grams developed for ELDO and for French national programs such as Dia – mant. French managers and engineers led the Ariane European consortium to spectacular success by the early 1980s, capturing a large share of the com­mercial space launch market.71

While Ariane used some American management methods,72 Spacelab brought another wave of American organizational imports to Europe. This suited Spacelab’s German sponsors, who wanted to learn more about Ameri­can management. NASA required that the Europeans mimic its structure and methods. ESRO reorganized its headquarters structure to match that of NASA, with a Programme Directorate at ESRO headquarters, and a project office at ESTEC reporting to the center director. The NASA-ESRO agreement

required that ESRO provide a single contact person for the program and that this person be responsible for schedules, budgets, and technical efforts. Con­trary to its earlier practice, ESRO placed its Spacelab head of project coordi­nation with the technical divisions such as power systems, and guidance and control. ESRO used phased project planning, eventually selecting German company ERNO as prime contractor. ERNO contracted with American aero­space company McDonnell Douglas as systems engineering consultant, while NASA gave ESRO the results of earlier American design studies and described its experience with Skylab.73

To ensure that the program could be monitored, NASA imposed a full slate of reviews and working groups on ESRO and its Spacelab contractors. NASA held the Preliminary Requirements Review in November 1974, the Subsystems Requirements Review in June 1975, the Preliminary Design Review in 1976, the Critical Design Review in 1978, and the Final Acceptance Reviews in 1981 and 1982. Just as in the earlier ESRO-I and ESRO-II projects, NASA and ESRO instituted a Joint Spacelab Working Group that met every other month to work out interfaces and other technical issues. Spacelab managers and engi­neers organized working sessions with their NASA counterparts, including the Spacelab Operations Working Group, the Software Coordination Group, and the Avionics Ad Hoc Group. European scientists coordinated with the Americans through groups such as the NASA/ESRO Joint Planning Group. The two organizations instituted joint annual reviews by the NASA admin­istrator and the ESRO director-general and established liaison offices at each other’s facilities.74

ESRO did not easily adapt to NASA’s philosophy. From the American view­point, ESRO managers could not adequately observe contractors’ technical progress prior to hardware delivery, so NASA pressed ESRO to ‘‘penetrate the contractor.’’ NASA brought more than 100 people from the United States for some Spacelab reviews, whereas in the early years of Spacelab, ESRO’s entire team was 120 people. Heinz Stoewer, Spacelab’s first project manager, pressed negotiations all the way to the ESRO director-general to reduce NASA’s con­tingent. According to Stoewer, NASA’s presence was so overwhelming that ‘‘we could only survive those early years by having a close partnership be­tween ourselves and Industry.’’75

NASA engineers and managers strove to break this unstated partnership

and force ESA76 managers to adopt NASA’s approach. During 1975, NASA and ESA engineers worked on the interface specifications between Spacelab and the shuttle orbiter. During the first Spacelab preliminary design in June 1976, NASA engineers and managers criticized their ESA counterparts for their lack of penetrating questions. To emphasize the point, NASA rejected ERNO’s pre­liminary design. ESA finally placed representatives at ERNO to monitor and direct the contractor more forcefully.77

One of the major problems uncovered during the Preliminary Design Re­views was a large underestimate of effort and costs for software develop­ment. These problems bubbled up to the ESA Council, leading to a directive to improve software development and cost estimation. ESTEC engineers in­vestigated various software development processes and eventually decided to use the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s software standard as the basis for ESA software specifications. ESA arranged for twenty-one American software engineers and managers from TRW to assist. TRW programmers initially led the effort but gave responsibility to their European counterparts as they ac­quired the necessary skills. With this help, software became the first subsystem qualified for Spacelab.78

Another critical problem was Spacelab’s large backlog of changes, which resulted from a variety of causes. Organizational problems magnified the tech­nical complexity of the project, which the Europeans had underestimated. One major problem was that ESA allowed ERNO to execute ‘‘make-work’’ changes without ESA approval. ESA, whether or not it agreed with a change, had to repay the contractor. Another problem was the relationship between ESA and NASA. The agreement between the two organizations specified that each would pay for changes to its hardware, regardless of where the change originated. For example, if NASA decided to make a change to the shuttle that required a change to Spacelab, ESA had to pay for the Spacelab modifica­tion. This situation occurred frequently at the program’s beginning, leading to protests by ESA executives.79

Spacelab managers solved their change control problems through several methods. First, they altered their lenient contractor change policy; ESA ap­proval would be required for all modifications. Second, ESA management re­sisted NASA’s continuing changes. In negotiations by Director-General Roy Gibson, NASA executives finally realized the negative impact that changes to the shuttle had on Spacelab. As ESA’s costs mounted, NASA managers came to understand that they could not make casual changes that affected the European module. The sheer volume of changes to Spacelab reached the point where ERNO and ESA could not process individual changes quickly enough to meet the schedule. In a ‘‘commando-type operation,’’ ESA and ERNO negotiated an Omnibus Engineering Change Proposal that covered many of the changes in a single document. ERNO managers decided to begin engineering work on changes before they were approved, taking the risk that they might not recoup the costs through negotiations.80

Technical and managerial problems led also to personnel changes at ESA and ERNO. At ESA, Robert Pfeiffer replaced Heinz Stoewer as project man­ager in March 1977, while Michel Bignier took over as the program director in November 1976. At ERNO, Ants Kutzer replaced Hans Hoffman. Kutzer, who was Hoffman’s deputy at the time, was well known as the former ESRO – II project manager and a promoter of American management methods. After his stint at ESRO, Kutzer became manager of the German Azur and Helios spacecraft projects. For a time, ESA Director-General Roy Gibson acted as the de facto program manager because of Spacelab’s interactions with NASA, which required negotiations and communications at the highest level.81

ESA and ERNO eventually passed the second Preliminary Design Review in November 1976 by developing some 400 volumes of material. The pro­gram still had a number of hurdles to overcome, of which growing costs were the most difficult. Upon ESA’s creation, the British insisted that ESA, like ESRO, have strong cost controls. For a-la-carte programs such as Spacelab, when costs reached 120% of the originally agreement, contributing countries could withdraw from the project. Spacelab was the first program to pass the 120% threshold. After serious negotiations and severe cost cutting, the mem­ber states agreed to continue with a new cap of 140%. Eventually, ESA de­livered Spacelab to NASA and the module flew successfully on a number of shuttle missions in the 1980s.82

The transfer of American systems engineering and project management methods to ESA was effectively completed by 1979, with the creation of the Systems Engineering Division at ESTEC, headed by former Spacelab project manager Stoewer. According to Stoewer, one of the System Engineering Divi­sion’s main purposes was to ensure ‘‘more comprehensive technical support to mission feasibility and definition studies.’’ The Systems Engineering Division established an institutional home for systems analysis and systems engineer­ing, which along with the Project Control Division ensured that ESA would use systems management for years to come.83


ESRO began as an organization dedicated to the ideals of science and Euro­pean integration. The CERN model of an organization controlled by scien­tists, for scientists, greatly influenced early discussions about a new organiza­tion for space research. However, space was unlike high-energy physics in the diversity of its constituency, the greater involvement of the military and in­dustry, and the predominance of engineers in building satellites. Engineering, not science, became ESRO’s dominant force.

From the start, ESRO personnel looked to the United States for manage­ment models. Leaders of ESRO’s early projects asked for and received Ameri­can advice through joint NASA-ESRO working groups for ESRO-I and ESRO- II. The United States offered ESRO two free launches on its Scout rockets but would not allow the Europeans to launch until they met American concerns at working group meetings, project reviews, and a formal Flight Readiness Re­view. On HEOS, executives and engineers from the loose European industrial consortium led by Junkers traveled to California for advice, where Lockheed advised much closer cooperation, along with a detailed management section in its proposal. ESRO’s selection of the Junkers team by a large margin made other European companies take notice, leading to tightly knit industrial con­sortia that at least paid lip service to strong project management.

When ESRO’s member states refused to let ESRO carry forward its surplus in 1967, they immediately caused a financial crisis. Significant cost overruns on TD-1 and TD-2, along with strong pressure to develop telecommunications satellites by issuing a prime contract to industry, spurred ESRO to beef up its management methods. ESRO adopted from NASA models phased plan­ning, stronger configuration control, work package management, and an MIS at each ESRO facility.

American influence persisted through the 1970s. On Spacelab, NASA im­posed its full slate of methods onto ESA. Some, such as contractor penetra­tion, ESA initially resisted, before technical problems weakened the Euro­peans’ bargaining position. ESA managers and engineers eagerly adopted other methods, such as software engineering, once they realized the need for them. These became the standards for ESA projects thereafter.

Europeans created an international organization that developed a series of successful scientific and commercial satellites, captured the lion’s share of the world commercial space launch market, and pulled even with NASA in technical capability. To do so, they adapted NASA’s organizational methods to their own environment. In the process, ESRO changed from an organiza­tion to support scientists, into ESA, an engineering organization to support national governments and industries. ESA’s organizational foundation, like that of NASA and the air force, was systems management.


The Premier Planetary Spacecraft Builder

While Ranger and Surveyor floundered, the Mariner project showed JPL’s technical and managerial abilities at their best. After the successful flight of Mariner 2 (also known as Mariner R) past Venus in 1962, JPL targeted Mari­ner 3 and Mariner 4 at Mars, planning to launch during the next opportunity in November 1964.78 Together, they composed the MM64 project, which ex­tended methods adopted from Mariner R and Ranger.

MM64 manager Jack James used committees established on Ranger to help coordinate across the contributing organizations: JPL, Cape Kennedy, Lock­heed, and Lewis Research Center. Four committees coordinated guidance, control and trajectories, tracking and communication, launch operations, and launch vehicle integration. They had no official authority but made recom­mendations to project management. Headquarters named JPL the project management institution to which the other organizations reported.79

James improved communication between the project office, JPL’s techni­cal divisions, and external organizations. Mariner managers and engineers extended the concept of the hardware interface to include operational and management interfaces, including the spacecraft, launch vehicle, space flight operations, project and technical division management, science instruments, and operations. James enlisted the cooperation of JPL technical divisions by creating the Project Policy and Requirements document, which served as a ‘‘compact between the JPL Project Office and the JPL Line Management for execution of the project.’’ Each project manager met weekly with division rep­resentatives to consider ‘‘the most serious problems facing his particular area.’’ JPL also added a monthly meeting with division managers to ensure that they

By 1964, JPL learned by experience the typical profile of engineering changes and, con­sequently, how better to predict costs and schedules, as shown in this change request chart for Mariner Mars 1964. Adapted from From Project Inception through Midcourse Maneuver, vol. 1 of Mariner Mars 1964 Project Report: Mission and Spacecraft Develop­ment, Technical Report No. 32-740,1 March 1965, JPLA 8-28, 32, figure 20.

were familiar with Mariner’s problems and that they released personnel to work on them. These measures ensured sufficient attention to Mariner and made JPL’s matrix structure work.80

Change control had been one of James’s innovations on Mariner R, and he formalized it for MM64. The change control system expanded to include progressive ‘‘freezing’’ of specifications and interface drawings as well as hard­ware, culminating in a final spacecraft design freeze in January 1964 and a support equipment freeze in June 1964. After a freeze, changes could be made only through a change board, which allowed only modifications required for mission success. Project managers kept statistics on changes, noting that the majority of the project’s 1,174 changes occurred at subsystem interfaces and in subsystems that contained state-of-the-art equipment.

Project managers also formalized other processes developed first on Mari­ner R. MM64 management added requirements for parts screening, problem reporting, in-process inspection, comprehensive documentation, and “rigor­ous status monitoring.’’ The managers continued environmental tests, sys­tem tests, and quality assurance procedures developed from Corporal through Ranger. James also continued the Mariner R practice of the ‘‘P list.’’ Any problem making the P list received special attention, with ‘‘the most effective people available’’ assigned to solve the problem.81

James monitored progress through the use of three sets of schedules and through regular and special reports. The primary schedule reported top-level events and milestones in Gantt (bar) chart format to headquarters. The sec­ondary schedules consisted of Gantt charts for each subsystem, major com­ponent, or task. JPL managers called their third set of schedules flow charts, which represented the flow of all of the equipment destined to be integrated in the system test.82 These network charts ‘‘resembled PERT in format and intent’’ but were “intentionally not so extensive as to require handling by a computer.’’ Network flow charts showed the project’s critical path and sched­ule interactions of all subsystem components, integrated and updated from data supplied by JPL’s divisions. The project required updated schedules every other week, in conjunction with a formal report that compared progress with the schedule. Every two weeks, project personnel compiled the data on manual sort-cards that managers manipulated to discern trends and financial implications. Managers monitored some 1,100 flow chart events.83

When combined with the experience of JPL’s engineering staff, Mariner’s organizational techniques ultimately yielded success. Mariner 3 launched in November 1964, only to be declared dead within nine hours. The problem was in the design of the launch vehicle shroud protecting the spacecraft, de­signed by NASA’s Lewis Research Center. JPL took charge of the investigation and quickly developed a solution, leading to the flawless launch of Mariner 4 on November 28. Although the spacecraft had some in-flight difficulties, JPL engineers guided the craft to a spectacular conclusion in July 1965, as the spacecraft beamed 21 pictures of Mars back to Earth, as well as analyzing Mars’s atmosphere. JPL’s success contrasted sharply with five Soviet failures to reach Mars.84

Later Ranger and Surveyor flights confirmed that JPL had dramatically im-

proved its spacecraft management and engineering expertise. Ranger’s last two flights, in February and March 1965, were technically superb. Between June 1966 and January 1968, JPL launched seven Surveyor spacecraft to land on the Moon, five of which succeeded.85

Surveyor’s management underwent significant changes late in the project. In September 1966, JPL managers changed the task structure of the HAC con­tract to a new system known as work package management,86 which realigned cost accounting and monitoring of tasks ‘‘to the individual performing groups in the contractor’s organization.’’ Along with the work breakdown structure, JPL required that HAC submit monthly financial reports with more detailed technical, cost, and schedule information. JPL and HAC management met once per month to cover these topics, with a further ‘‘consent to ship’’ meet­ing scheduled prior to the shipment of each spacecraft to review its test his­tory and problems. HAC and JPL managers developed a thorough ‘‘trouble and failure reporting system’’ that they considered innovative enough to pub­lish a special report on it. The process recorded all test anomalies, required failure analysis by cognizant engineers, involved independent assessments by HAC and JPL organizations, and provided status of failure reports and actions categorized by mission criticality.87

The Mariner Venus 1967 program (MV67) further formalized JPL’s man­agement and systems engineering. Taking advantage of this, MV67 used the MM64 design as a baseline. Project manager Dan Schneiderman, former spacecraft systems manager for Mariner R and MM64, defined a new manage­ment approach at the beginning of the project in a document entitled ‘‘Project Policy and Requirements.’’ He froze the entire MM64 design at the outset, re­quiring change control for any modifications necessary for the Venus mission. The project used three test models: one for antenna and development test­ing, another for temperature control testing, and the third for flight hardware environmental qualification. Engineers also used the qualification model for simulation and command checking during mission operations. Quality as­surance and reliability engineers screened parts, tracked and analyzed failure reports, performed failure mode analyses, verified test procedures, and wit­nessed tests.88

Schneiderman gave the spacecraft system engineer substantial responsi­bility, including preparation and publication of design specifications books for the flight and test equipment. Subsystem engineers supplied “functional specifications” for their subsystems and support equipment. The spacecraft system engineer also maintained current interface and configuration draw­ings and mediated ‘‘disputes arising out of disagreements between subsystem circuit designers.’’ Change control procedures and subsequent design modifi­cation lists were also that engineer’s responsibility. The system manager, the spacecraft system engineer’s supervisor, ran periodic reviews, which included the spacecraft systems interface and subsystems design review, the spacecraft hardware review, the spacecraft preshipping acceptance review, the launch readiness review, and quarterly headquarters reviews.89

MV67’s managers and engineers also trained spacecraft operators through the testing process. System testing checked interfaces between subsystems, be­tween the spacecraft and the launch vehicle, and between the spacecraft and the mission operations system and operators. JPL engineers found that they could train mission operators prior to flight by involving them in the inte­grated system testing at JPL and on the launch pad. The mission operations team members communicated with the spacecraft during these tests using their normal commands and equipment, and they ran compatibility tests with the Deep Space Network. Mariner 5, launched in June 1967, arrived at Venus in October. It functioned well, returning data from its atmospheric experi­ments.90

Later JPL managerial innovations included separation of configuration control paperwork and project scheduling from the system engineer. This routine work was given to a separate Project Control and Administration organization. JPL ultimately required all engineering change requests to in­clude cost and schedule impacts along with the technical changes, in effect recreating a version of the air force’s configuration management.

JPL went on to pursue new missions to Venus, Mars, and Mercury. Even­tually there were the famous Voyager missions to Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. The laboratory’s success showed the maturity of its processes and experience. JPL’s preeminence in deep space exploration was undisputed.


Social and technical concerns drove the development of systems manage­ment. The dangers of the Cold War fed American fears of Communist domi­nation, leading to the American response to ensure technological superiority in the face of the quantitative superiority of Soviet and Chinese military forces. Military officers and scientists responded to the initial call by creating nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles as rapidly as possible.

Technical issues then reared their ugly heads, as the early missile systems exploded and failed frequently. Investigation of the technical issues led to the creation of stringent organizational methods such as system integration and testing, change control, quality inspections and documentation, and configu­ration management. Engineers led the development of these new technical coordination methods, while managers intervened to require cost and sched­ule information along with technical data with each engineering change.

The result of these changes was systems management, a mix of techniques that balanced the needs and issues of scientists, engineers, military officers, and industrial managers. While meeting these social needs, systems manage­ment also addressed the extreme environments, danger, and automation of missile and space flight technologies. By meeting these social and technical needs, systems management would become the standard for large-scale tech­nical development in the aerospace industry and beyond.


European Rocketry and the Creation of ELDO

Development of rockets began before World War II in a number of Euro­pean countries. Most important was the German program leading to the A-4 ballistic missile, better known as the V-2. Like other early rocket projects, it originated with amateurs in the late 1920s. Just prior to Hitler’s ascension to power in January 1933, Army Ordnance coaxed young engineering student Wernher von Braun to be the technical director of its rocketry program. Army Ordnance drew a veil of secrecy over the project, and the Nazi regime soon began to pour large sums into it. Von Braun’s team successfully developed the A-4 rocket, which terrorized the populations of Antwerp and London in 1944 and 1945. Although its military impact was limited, it caught the attention of military technologists around the world.11

After the war, each Allied power acquired German rocket technology and experts. The United States acquired the lion’s share of both, with rocket parts for more than sixty A-4s and program leaders including von Braun and Arthur Rudolf. The Soviet Union acquired a large number of technicians, a few of the leaders, and parts for some twenty A-4s. With German assistance, Brit­ain launched three A-4s in October 1945 from a site near Cuxhaven. The French acquired a small group of experienced Germans from Peenemunde, who began working at Vernon on an A-4 derivative vehicle and a new rocket engine.12

In March 1949, the French Directorate for Armament Studies and Fabrica­tion decided to build Veronique, a single-stage, liquid-fueled sounding rocket. From 1951 to 1964, French engineers extended the design, improving altitude performance from 2 to 315 kilometers. They initially tested this unguided rocket in southern France, later testing it at Hammaguir in the Algerian desert under the direction of Col. Robert Aubiniere.13

After the 1956 decision to build an indigenous nuclear force, missile de­velopment expanded rapidly. French engineers began development of larger rockets capable of placing a small satellite in orbit. In 1960 the French state rocket consortium, Societe pour l’Etude et la Realisation d’Engins Balistiques (SEREB [Society for Study and Development of Ballistic Engines]), concluded that it was possible to build such a rocket, eventually known as the Diamant. The French created their own space agency to fund the launcher project, while SEREB developed the stages and the military tested them. With some assis­tance from Col. Edward Hall, the U. S. Air Force officer who initially devel­oped the Minuteman intercontinental ballistic missile, these efforts came to fruition with France’s launch of a small test satellite in November 1965 from Hammaguir, making it the third country to launch a satellite.14

The British were also active in rocket design and in the development of nuclear weapons to place on rockets. They tested their first fission bomb in 1952 off the coast of Australia and their first fusion weapon in May 1957 over Christmas Island. From the late 1940s on, they developed a number of missiles, including air-to-surface, surface-to-air, air-to-air, and ship-to-air weapons. When in 1954, U. S. Secretary of Defense Charles Wilson offered to collaborate with the British on a ballistic missile, the British expressed interest and began their own studies. The Americans allowed the formation of agree­ments between the British company DeHavillands and Convair on the missile structure, and between Rolls Royce and North American Aviation for the en­gines. Based on these agreements, the British developed a large liquid-fueled rocket known as Blue Streak.15

It soon became apparent to the British, as it had to the Americans, that liquid-fueled rockets were poor weapons because of their immobility, cum­bersome logistics, and long preparation time to launch, which made them vulnerable to a Soviet first strike. American missile efforts quickly surpassed those of the British, and in 1956 the United States offered to place Thor missiles in Britain five years sooner than Blue Streak would be available. British offi­cials accepted the offer in 1958, and to avoid duplicating Thor’s capabilities, increased Blue Streak’s required range to 2,500 miles. In April 1960, British military leaders canceled Blue Streak in favor of purchasing American air – launched Skybolt missiles and sea-launched Polaris missiles.16

Blue Streak’s cancellation as a weapon led British officials to consider its potential as a satellite launcher. Technically this was feasible. The key ques­tions were political and economic. First, the British had sunk £60 million into the project, which needed £240 million more. Such large expenditures would divert scarce funds and technologists from other scientific and technological endeavors. Second, the technology could be obsolete by the time it was com­pleted. On the other hand, Britain would no longer depend on the United States to launch satellites, an important advantage if communication satellites became commercially viable. Prime Minister Harold Macmillan wanted to use Blue Streak to forge closer relationships with France. Needing French support to join the Common Market, Macmillan calculated that a joint launcher pro­gram with France would smooth Britain’s application process. Supported by the American leaders, who continued to favor European integration, he de­cided to approach the French in late I960.17

The French reaction was cautiously optimistic. French military leaders ex­pressed keen interest in gaining access to inertial guidance technology and nose cone reentry technologies. Because the United States prohibited the ex­port of these technologies to France, this could have been a fatal objection. In other words, if the French insisted on acquiring inertial guidance and re­entry technologies as part of the deal, there would be no deal. Unexpectedly, French President Charles de Gaulle threw himself behind the project, even without the military technologies. De Gaulle saw the project as a means to fulfill French technological ambitions, using space and nuclear programs to create a permanent “technological revolution’’ to support a strong and inde­pendent France. Because the project supported this goal, he supported the project. In a meeting with Macmillan in January 1961, he agreed to join the project and to jointly approach other European governments, under the con­dition that the launcher’s second stage be French. Macmillan and de Gaulle scheduled a conference the next month in Strasbourg to broach the subject with other governments.18

The Germans accepted an offer to build the launcher’s third stage. This gave them the opening to rocketry that they would not undertake alone be­cause of the Nazi V-2 heritage. That left the question of the Italians, who were already building sounding rockets under American license and had just begun their own launch program with a sea-based launching platform in collabora­tion with the United States. The British, who were by fall 1961 desperate for an agreement because of their financial problems, put substantial diplomatic pressure on Italy to join. Negotiations produced the convention for ELDO in March 1962, with Italy to build the satellite test vehicle.

Britain paid a heavy price for its desperation, stuck with 38.79% of con-

tributions to the £70 million Initial Programme, scheduled for completion by the end of 1965. France, Germany, and Italy paid 23.93%, 18.92%, and 9.78%, respectively, and Belgium and the Netherlands paid 2.85% and 2.64% to build the ground and telemetry equipment. The convention came into force in Feb­ruary 1964 after Britain, France, and West Germany ratified it.19

ELDO’s structure emphasized national interests. Because ELDO based con­tributions on existing programs, Britain and France insisted upon managing their stages through their national government organizations, according to their own procedures. ELDO provided but did not control the funding. Be­cause member states contributed funding in fixed proportions but spent it according to costs, each country had a built-in incentive to increase costs to recoup its investment. For example, if Belgium overran its budget by 50%, it would contribute only its 2.85% share to that overrun.20 Member states severely circumscribed ELDO’s authority, rendering cooperation difficult at best. The job of the Secretariat required delicate negotiation skills, a fact rec­ognized in the appointment of Italian ambassador R. Carrobio di Carrobio to the post. When ELDO came into official existence in February 1964, Carrobio would need all of his diplomatic talents.

The Creation of Configuration Management

The Minuteman project was the critical turning point for air force ICBM pro­grams. First, its use of solid propellants instead of troublesome liquids greatly simplified and decreased the dangers of ICBM launch operations. Second, the Minuteman assembly and test contractor, Boeing, brought to the Inglewood complex a new management technique that would become the centerpiece of the air force’s R&D management process: configuration management. The combined effect of solid propellants and configuration management was a dramatic improvement in ICBM reliability and cost predictability.

By 1957, a solid-propellant alternative to troublesome liquid-fueled ballis­tic missiles such as Atlas and Titan became feasible. Col. Ed Hall, Schriever’s propulsion manager, had, along with R-W and a number of contractors, been studying solid propellant technology for some time and had evidence to show that it could be developed for large-scale ICBMs. Hall pointed out to Tech­nical Director Charles Terhune that solid-propelled rockets did not involve costly, time-consuming, and dangerous liquid-propellant loading procedures. Although liquid-propelled rockets had higher performance, it took several hours to prepare them for launch. Solids, on the other hand, could be launched within seconds; once loaded with propellants and placed in their launch configuration, they were ready to go with the push of a button. Hall now had evidence to show that solids, which heretofore could perform ade­quately with only a small size, could now be manufactured and perform ade­quately on a much larger scale, making solid-propellant ICBMs feasible.36 Solid propellants eliminated dangerous liquid-propellant loading operations that destroyed launch pads and killed workers. This in itself was a tremen­dous advantage. However, the use of solid propellants did nothing to fix subtle problems associated with unintended component interactions resulting from poor designs, or worse, resulting from flight hardware that did not match any­one’s design.

On Atlas and Titan test flights, engineers found that a number of test fail­ures resulted from mismatches between the missile’s design and the hardware configuration of the missile on the launch pad. In the rush to fix problems, the launch organization, contractors, or air force had made modifications to missiles without documenting those modifications. To fix this problem, STL personnel and air force officers developed a reporting procedure known as configuration control to track and connect missile design changes to missile hardware changes. Because these often involved manufacturing and launch processes, configuration control soon controlled process changes as well.37

While inspired by problems endemic to ballistic missiles, configuration control drew from the Boeing Company’s aircraft programs. The air force learned about configuration control through the Minuteman project, where Boeing was the assembly and test contractor. Boeing’s quality assurance pro­cedures used five control tools:

1. formal systems for recording technical requirements

2. a product numbering and nomenclature system for each deliverable contract item

3. a system of control documents with space for added data on quanti­ties, schedules, procedures, and so forth

4. a change-processing system

5. an integrated records system38

In addition, Boeing’s ‘‘change board’’ ensured that all affected departments reviewed any engineering or manufacturing change and committed appropri­ate resources to effect it. The air force soon saw the importance of this process innovation and made it into a critical new management process, with its own organization and staff.39

Boeing’s processes supplanted the concept of the ‘‘design freeze.’’ The de­sign freeze was an important milestone in aircraft development, the point when engineers stopped making design changes so that hardware could be built to that design. Once the design was frozen, engineers or operators could make design changes only by submitting a formal change request. Engineers then made sure that corresponding changes were made to the hardware and the production facilities.

Ballistic Missile Division (BMD, successor to the WDD) officers and STL engineers used configuration control to coordinate changes and ensure the compatibility of designs and hardware. The key to configuration control was the creation of a formal change board with representatives from all organi­zations, along with a formal system of paperwork that linked specifications, designs, hardware, and processes. Although initially linking design drawings to hardware, BMD officers and R-W engineers soon realized that by expand­ing configuration control to include specifications and procedures, they could control the entire development process.

Through configuration control, systems engineers linked specifications to designs, designs to hardware, and hardware to operational and testing pro­cedures. Engineers brought proposed changes to the configuration control board. Air force officers soon linked configuration control to contracts, tying engineering changes to contract changes. The air force established configura­tion control in the fall of 1959 on Minuteman; soon, configuration control had been extended to its other space and missile projects.40 Officers and managers vigorously promoted configuration control because of its utility in linking engineering, management, and contracts.

By the early 1960s, the coordinating role of STL and The Aerospace Cor­poration 41 had evolved into a procedure called systems requirements analysis, in which technology development was managed through the control of re­quirements. For example, at the highest level a requirement would be written to develop a ballistic missile system to deliver a one-megaton payload over 5,000 miles with an accuracy of 1 mile. Systems engineers divided this re­quirement into at least three statements at the next level. These three would then be broken down into numerous requirements to create hardware compo­nents, operating procedures, and so on. Major programs involved thousands of requirements, corresponding to thousands of components and procedures. Systems requirements analysis made the design traceable to requirements of increasing specificity.42

Detailed requirements analysis, and more importantly, configuration con­trol, found a powerful advocate in Col. Samuel C. Phillips, who in 1959 re­placed Col. Ed Hall as the manager of Minuteman.43 Phillips, who graduated in 1942 with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Wyoming, had steadily worked his way up the air force’s hierarchy as a skilled technical manager. After serving as a pilot in Europe in World War II, he started in 1950 as a project engineer at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. Through the 1950s, he held an assortment of positions, including electron­ics officer for atomic weapons tests at Eniwetok Atoll, chief of operations at the Armament Laboratory at Wright-Patterson, project officer for the B-52 bomber, chief of the bombardment aircraft division, chief of the fighter mis­siles and drones division, and eventually, logistics chief and materiel director of Strategic Air Command in England. Phillips was quiet, forceful, and tactful, and he brought the tools developed by Schriever’s team to Minuteman.44

In 1959, managers at Boeing, or possibly Phillips himself, realized that by a simple extension of configuration control, they could gain financial as well as technical control over the project.45 The idea was simple. All a project man­ager had to do was compel engineers to give cost and schedule estimates along with any technical change. If the engineer did not give the informa­tion, the project manager rejected the change. With this added information, the project manager could predict and revise the project’s cost profile, along with its schedule. This also allowed the manager to track the performance of each engineer or group of engineers — he could now hold them accountable to their own estimates. Managers tied the process to specific design configura­tions and eventually to the hardware itself. In addition, procurement officials and industry managers could write contracts against specific design configu­rations and negotiate cost changes based upon each approved change. Phillips and others transformed configuration control into “configuration manage – ment,” a critical managerial tool to control the entire development process. Others soon recognized its utility, leading in 1962 to the creation of general regulations and guidelines for configuration management.46

Through configuration management, and also because of its solid- propelled rocket design, Minuteman boasted an enviable development record, coming in on cost and on schedule. Because of Minuteman’s much better reli­ability and launch-on-demand capability, the air force soon phased out most liquid-propellant missiles as weapons. Higher performance made liquid – propellant missiles excellent satellite launchers, and they and their descen­dants performed well in this role. In their capacity as launchers, the Atlas, Titan, and Thor-Delta vehicles attained reliability exceeding 90% from the mid-1960s through the 1990s.47

Configuration management — along with further attention to quality through inspections, training, and associated documentation—became an organizational pillar of the air force’s management system. Its importance can hardly be overstated. Managers from the turn of the century through the 1950s had searched for ways to predict R&D costs and to control scientists and engineers. Configuration management achieved this control on develop­ment projects, as it allowed accountants and lawyers to tie technical modifica­tions to contract modifications, including costs. Configuration management enabled government to control industry. However, the government officials who wielded the authority had make clear distinctions between those doing the controlling and those being controlled. To do this, they would have to modify the anomalous position of R-W.