The Space Task Group-Getting Started

The first meeting of the STG was set for March 7. It was a “principals only” gathering. Attending as the Department of Defense (DOD) member was Secretary of the Air Force Robert C. Seamans, who had been assigned by Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird to be his surrogate on the STG. In formal organizational terms, this role might more appropriately have been filled by Director of Defense Research and Engineering Johnny Foster as DOD’s senior science and technology official, but Seamans had been a top official in NASA from 1960 to 1968 and the Air Force also managed the bulk of DOD’s space activities. This made Seamans’s assignment logical. Others attending were Vice President Agnew, science adviser DuBridge, and NASA Acting Administrator Paine, whose nomination for the permanent position had been announced the previous day.

The principals agreed to appoint a senior staff representative from each of their organizations “to lead and coordinate the necessary studies.” This “Staff Director’s Committee” was to carry out the bulk of the STG work. Staff representatives included Homer Newell, seconded by Milt Rosen, from NASA; Russell Drew from the Office of Science and Technology (OST); Jerome Wolff from the vice-president’s office; and Nevin Palley from DOD. Palley worked for Foster, not Seamans. The group also agreed to include as high-level STG “observers” Robert Mayo, director of the Bureau of the Budget (BOB), who was already at the meeting; Glenn Seaborg, chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC); and Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs U. Alexis Johnson. Reflecting on the meeting, Paine felt that it had gotten “the new administration’s review of the U. S. space effort off to an excellent start: the right problems were addressed, the urgency of timely decisions recognized, and a reasonable process for reaching wise con­clusions organized.”3