Oral History Transcript — Dr. John E. Naugle
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Interview with Dr. John E. Naugle
John Naugle; August 20, 1980
ABSTRACT: Detailed review of Naugle's rural life in Wyoming and Montana, college years at the University of Minnesota, entrance into particle physics and eventual entrance into balloon studies of cosmic rays and high energy physics. Bulk of the interview recalls Naugle's experiences at Minnesota, research at Convair and long association with NASA first as scientist and then primarily as administrator working on development of lunar and planetary missions and major astronomical missions including Ranger, Viking, Voyager and HEAO.
DeVorkin:To start off, Dr. Naugle, I know you were born February 9, 1923. I know nothing more about your family. You were born in South Dakota in Belle Fourche. Could you tell me something about the origins of your family, your background, when your family came to the United States, what the background of your father and mother was?
Naugle:Well, on my father's side, the family apparently came to the States from the area called the Palatinate between Germany and France, and apparently came over around 1730 to 1750. They settled for a time in Pennsylvania and then moved through Indiana, Virginia, and my father was born in the Ozarks. Then in about 1910 or so, they moved out West, and my father homesteaded out there. My mother's side is primarily Irish. I don't know precisely when they came over. My impression is that they came over in the 1850's at the time of the massive Irish migration. They settled in Missouri. My mother was born in Missouri. Her father was a carpenter, built houses and things like that. Then her family moved out into the Black Hills, again about the same period of time. She left high school about half way through and became a school teacher. My father went through about the 4th grade, but as they were moving across the country in a covered wagon, he dropped out of school at that time. So he finished his schooling in the 4th grade level and then became a rancher in Montana. I was born in Belle Fourche, South Dakota, but that's just across the border from Montana, and the ranch was actually in Montana. The post office was Ridgeway, Montana, and I was raised there until I was 12 years old, and went to a one room country school where they had all eight grades in one room. At one time there was the magnificent population of 14 students, as I recall.
DeVorkin:What were your father's full name and your mother's full maiden name?
Naugle:My father's full name was the same as mine, John Earl Naugle. I'm a junior. My mother's name was Delphi Hall Naugle, that is, her maiden name was Hall.
DeVorkin:Are you the only child?
Naugle:No. I have a brother and sister who are twins. They were born in 1929.
DeVorkin:What occupations have your brother and sister followed?
Naugle:Well, my sister is still in Belle Fourche and she teaches in the local high school there. My brother was in the service for some period of time, in the Air Force. Then he left and became a farmer in Iowa, and has just recently sold his farm in Iowa and has moved down into Missouri and has a farm down there.
DeVorkin:Did your mother continue teaching after you were born?
Naugle:Not after I was born. She taught some after her and my father were married, but she didn't teach after I was born. After the twins had left and gone off to school, then she went back and taught for a year or two.
DeVorkin:What was your early home life like? Did you have any reading that you particularly remember or any direction from your mother or father or family environment that brought you into science?
Naugle:Well, not really into science. She had a library, of course, as a teacher. And she started teaching me when I was very young, reading to me and so forth. My father, while he had no formal education, was very intelligent, and very good in mathematics. I started school when I was five. I skipped a grade. I did two grades in one year, and so I graduated from high school when I was 16. I graduated from school in 1935 when I was 12.
DeVorkin:What about your home reading? Is there anything in particular you recall from your reading?
Naugle:I read a lot of the Jack London stories, the Zane Grey stories, and I read everything that was available at home and in the school library.
DeVorkin:Anything particularly in science that you recall?
Naugle:No, I really didn't. Well, there were some books that my mother had that showed the planets and things like that. I can remember the book. It was a red book but I can't remember the name of it. I must have read that when I was five or six or seven, something like that. I really didn't get into science until I was in high school. I had very good high school physics and mathematics teachers.
DeVorkin:What were their names?
Naugle:Tolletson and Johnsonbaugh.
DeVorkin:What was the name of the high school?
Naugle:Belle Fourche High School. I came back into Belle Fourche for high school. The nearest town to the ranch was 40 miles away; it had no railroad and in those days no telephone. Belle Fourche was the nearest town that had a railroad, so when you got ready to go to high school, you had to go into town.
DeVorkin:Did you commute actually daily?
Naugle:No. Oh, my no! To go those 80 miles in those days was a major trip. If it happened to rain, it was an all day's job, and if it didn't rain it was at least two or three hours. When I got ready to go to school we bought a house in town, and my mother and I and my brother and sister moved into town. Then they started grade school at the same time that I started high school.
DeVorkin:Your first contact with science, what was it like? You said it was a physics teacher that inspired you. Was it physics in particular?
DeVorkin:Was it the experimental side of physics?
Naugle:Well, it was experiments theory of physics. We studied mechanics and electricity. We learned DC current theory as I recall in high school. And then I also studied chemistry from this teacher. There were two teachers. There was Johnsonbaugh who also taught music, taught violin. He was a very good violin player. He taught me mathematics.
DeVorkin:How many people were in this high school? It must not have been very big.
Naugle:Oh, the high school class was like 50 to 75 people, I guess, and there were probably 400 students in the high school.
DeVorkin:Certainly during high school, at some time you were thinking about college. Was this preordained, that you would go to college?
Naugle:No, it was not preordained. My mother tended to propagate her life onto her children, and so she wanted me to become a rural school teacher. So I took a year of postgraduate or post-high school training in Gillette, Wyoming, which gave me a certificate to teach country high schools in Wyoming. But then after that I went to work in Belle. I didn't teach, didn't really want to. It was not the sort of thing that I wanted to do, and of course by that time, World War II was on. I went to Gillette in the fall of '39. When I came back in '40 the Germans had invaded the Low Countries and World War II was on. It was pretty clear to me that war was coming. And so I worked there in Belle, at three places. I worked in an electrical shop that sold electrical appliances. Then I worked at a filling station, and I worked in a Safeway Store. Then I went into the service in 1943.
DeVorkin:That was as a draftee?
Naugle:Well, I had one of those typical experiences. I set out to join the Navy, and went "back East" to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, to join the Navy. In between the time I had signed up in Belle and the time they swore me in, they had stopped all enlistments in the Navy. So I came trudging back, and then I waited until I was drafted. My dream was, in those days, was to join the Air Force and become a pilot.
DeVorkin:What was the origin of that dream?
Naugle:Oh, it was watching airplanes fly. I was interested in anything mechanical; cars and trains.
DeVorkin:Did you have that experience on the farm at all?
Naugle:Oh yes. To a certain extent. One of the first things that my father bought was a one cylinder engine. It has a flywheel and a single cylinder, and it's cooled by water. It was a standard gasoline engine. But at that age it was a fascinating thing. I always was the one who started it up. My mother used it to wash and my father used it to run a grindstone to sharpen the blades for the mowing machine. We used horse drawn mowing machines to cut hay and so forth. You know, this was a fabulous machine, it had great red wheels that you'd crank to start it up, and you'd see the piston moving back and forth. It had a governor on it. You could see how that worked, and the valves were open in front. By the age of six or seven, I knew the basic principles of how an automobile engine worked. Of course, it was still the day of the Model T Ford, and one of the great sports was to take a Model T Ford coil apart. It must have had a mile of very thin copper wire wound between layers of wax paper, you know, which was what delivered the spark. And again because that was a simple machine, you learned how that operated.
DeVorkin:This is before you were in physics in high school, but then when you got to high school, did you already know the principles before you got there?
Naugle:I knew some. No, I can't say that I really knew the electrical principle. I really began to learn those in high school. Now, as I say, I didn't get into the Navy.
Naugle:So then, because my eyes were sort of borderline, to be the 20/20 that you'd have to be to get in the Air Force, I decided when I was drafted — you had a choice then to go into the Navy or the Air Force — that I probably had a better chance of getting in the Army Air Force than I did in the Navy Air Force. So I joined the Army and wound up in the infantry, and then I discovered that I'd done well enough on the tests so that I was eligible for ASTP. And so I put in an application for that. That was a time when you could go into your local Air Force recruiter and take the test, and if you passed the test then you could transfer to the Air Force. So I did that. I did quite well on those tests, and transferred into the Air Force in the fall or in December of '43. So I went down to Miami and became a cadet, and then when they folded up the cadet corps, they shipped us all back to the infantry again. But it was that experience that really convinced me that I wanted to go into college. I met some people that had been in college. I started studying. I started taking a correspondence course from the Army.
DeVorkin:Was this partially because, by the examinations you took in the Army, you were placed into a distilled class in Miami?
DeVorkin:And you met people with college training.
Naugle:Yes, I met people with college training. I found that my abilities were the same as theirs. Then I went back into the infantry, went overseas, went into the Battle of the Bulge with the 106th Division and promptly got captured.
DeVorkin:You got captured?
Naugle:Yes. And spent six months in a German prison camp, and was fortunate there because in some of the books that they gave us they had MATHEMATICS FOR THE MILLIONS.
DeVorkin:Now, you said you also took correspondence courses. This was before you were captured?
Naugle:I started taking them before I was captured. I took a course in trigonometry and a course in analytic geometry.
DeVorkin:These were Army correspondence courses?
Naugle:Yes, the Army Air Force Educational Institute, I think. They had booklets. And when I was in the Army, I was in a communications platoon, and there you had to learn a certain amount of basic electricity. That was where I learned AC currents and magnetism and how transformers worked and things like that. Well, then I came back.
DeVorkin:Were there any traumatic experiences while you were in the concentration camp?
Naugle:Well, yes. The whole experience was kind of traumatic. Oh, I must have gotten down to 125 pounds, I suppose. Three of us tried to escape, and one of us was killed in that. It could easily have been me. That was a very traumatic experience. I did a lot of reading. I read Oliver Wendell Holmes, THE AUTOCRAT OF THE BREAKFAST TABLE.
DeVorkin:They gave you these books, the Germans?
Naugle:Yes. Well, I don't know that the Germans did or whether they came from the Red Cross, but they were in English.
DeVorkin:So you read Holmes.
Naugle:Yes. And I kept a diary. I wrote a diary of the whole experience. And then, I came home in '45, got married in December, '45, and entered the University of Minnesota in January of '46.
DeVorkin:Did you know the woman you were to marry before the war?
Naugle:Oh yes. In fact one of the jokes around the family is that we were born in the same bed. Now, we didn't know this and we didn't meet each other until we were in high school. But at the period of time when we were born, they didn't have a hospital, and so women who were pregnant would go into town where some women were operating what they called a "lying-in" house or place. And they would take care of them. My mother operated one for a period of time at our place in Belle. Women would come and stay there until it came time for the delivery, and then the doctor would come to the house and the baby would be born there. We didn't realize this until we were taking our kids and showing them this place. I said, "That's the house where I was born," and my wife said, "Isn't that odd? That's the house where I was born." You know, it was a place where I suppose 90 percent of the ranch women had their babies there during that period of time.
DeVorkin:So you knew her in high school?
Naugle:I knew her in high school. We went to the same church.
DeVorkin:What was her maiden name?
Naugle:Her maiden name was Hale. Ethel Hale.
DeVorkin:What church did you attend?
Naugle:We attended the Baptist Church.
DeVorkin:How did you come to decide on the University of Minnesota?
Naugle:There were two things. It was the closest large Big Ten University. I was tremendously impressed by the Golden Gophers at that time. I used to listen to them play football on Saturday afternoon radio. Those were the days of Bernie Berman, and they were riding high. When my physicist friends bitch about the football team, I sometimes tell them, "Hell, that's the basis on which I chose the college that I went to." My wife at that time was studying nursing at Kahler in Rochester, Minnesota. It's the nursing branch of the Mayo Clinic and she worked at the Mayo Clinic there.
DeVorkin:You were supported on the GI Bill?
Naugle:Yes. We were married in December and my wife continued to work. She didn't graduate from Mayo's until the next August, 1946. Then she came up and we lived in Minneapolis for the next ten years.
DeVorkin:Yes, you worked there after your degree.
DeVorkin:Did your family, father and mother have anything to say about your going to college?
Naugle:My mother wanted me to get all the education I could. There was no question about that. College to them was kind of beyond the realm of their experience. My mother was happy if I got through high school and took this teacher's certificate so I could teach high school. As she had come along as a young girl as a schoolteacher you were kind of at the forefront of the intellectual environment, in the West, in those days. You know, the schoolteacher and the preacher were the people who had the education. Occasionally you'd get a sheepherder who'd come from back East who was educated, and who for some reason or other had come West. But very few of those ranch families in that area had finished grade school. Most of my generation finished grade school but probably only 50 to 75 percent of the ranch kids finished high school. The ones who went on and did college work were very few.
DeVorkin:So you decided for Minnesota. Was there any choice about major? You were sure it was physics?
Naugle:No. In fact I didn't start in physics. I started in electrical engineering. When I was in high school, I do have to back off and say that it was my intention to go on to college.
DeVorkin:At that time.
Naugle:At that time and I had in mind going into civil engineering, and there was a very good school: Rapid City School of Mines, which is near Belle. I guess my folks were probably disappointed that I didn't go to that, because you went to that and automatically had a good job in the mining end of geology. In later years, they wanted me to come back and teach there. I guess they even wanted me to come back and be president of it at one time. But by that time, I was sophisticated enough to know that I wanted something more than that. I wasn't sophisticated enough to know that I probably should have gone to Cal Tech or MIT or something like that. But I got a very good education at the University of Minnesota, and when I came back East, particularly when I got involved in NASA and began to really work with people from other institutions, I found that the training that we got at that particular period at Minnesota was very solid in the fundamentals of physics and in the fundamentals of the way that you conduct research. So I had gotten quite interested in electronics.
DeVorkin:Through your war experience.
Naugle:Yes, through my war experience, so when I came to Minnesota, I entered electronics, and then, of course, with all the interest in nuclear physics from the bomb and so forth, I began to get interested in that. There was a very strong cosmic ray group at Minnesota.
DeVorkin:When did you first hear of them? You started taking a standard course in physics, is that correct?
Naugle:Well, I read about them. I read an article by Victor Cohen about the work that was going on.
DeVorkin:Where did you read this article?
Naugle:In the MINNEAPOLIS STAR AND TRIBUNE. Now, I also went to work for a consulting engineer.
DeVorkin:While you were a student?
Naugle:While I was a student. I guess I started that in the spring of '46. And that got me involved in mechanical engineering and chemical engineering.
DeVorkin:So you still had a broad spectrum of possibilities.
Naugle:Yes. At that time, I was really wrestling between three possible careers, as I think back on it, if you want to know. One was a career in science and engineering. One was a career in psychology. And the other was a career in writing. All three of those, very very much interested me, and I kind of mucked around in all three of them in college. But, I went through the first three quarters, the first year, in electrical engineering, and I began to have the feeling that if I studied physics then I would have the background and I could go into any particular branch of engineering that I wanted to.
DeVorkin:Did anyone advise you on this? Did you talk to any of your teachers or fellow students?
Naugle:Not really on the basis of that decision. I really decided to do that on my own. I went in and I talked to an old white haired professor there who was professor of optics, but I didn't get anything out of him in the sense that was specific. He said, "Well, you should be good in math because physics is a lot of math." Later on when I got into the physics department and got to know it, I found out that I probably talked to the poorest person. I mean, he wasn't doing any research. He came in and he taught his optics course and he did a good job and he went home. He was a tenured professor, and that was all. He wasn't interested in research, wasn't involved. He had kind of retired. That's a good way to put it.
Naugle:But on the other hand, he didn't completely turn me off. So, I switched my major then to physics in the fall. I started taking sophomore physics and I missed the first quiz and I didn’t do too well on the second quiz.
DeVorkin:Was there any reason for that?
Naugle:No, I don't remember. I think I didn't study. Anyhow — I was called in by my professor, John Williams. John Williams was a very good lecturer. He was one of the most amusing and sharp lecturers that I've ever come across. He taught physics with demonstrations. His demonstration was always good for a drink in the local bar. That was the way he would always introduce these things. But he later came back to Washington. He was an Atomic Energy Commissioner and had played a fairly major role in the Manhattan Project. He'd been at Los Alamos during the war, and so he brought all that to the course. Well, I got my act together and studied physics. I got B’s I guess, B's and A's, and I continued to work for this consulting firm for a period, and they my wife came and she spent a year at Minnesota, took up public health nursing and became a public health nurse out in Chicago County. That's the first Swedish settlement, and they still spoke Swedish there when she went. She was the first public health nurse, and Swedes were by no means convinced that this was a good thing, or that it was a good thing to have somebody who wasn't a Svenska and didn't speak Svenska. But we moved out there and I commuted back and forth, 40 miles in the morning and 40 miles in the evening.
DeVorkin:You had a car or used public transportation?
Naugle:No, I car pooled with a couple of people there.
DeVorkin:Your physics wasn't going great guns at that time?
Naugle:Well, it wasn't — no. It was fair. Then, in '48, I guess it was, I would periodically go over and see what jobs were available, and I discovered there was a job working in the physics department scanning nuclear emulsions; looking for cosmic rays. And so I went chugging up and met a woman by the name of Phyllis Freier. She was very methodical, she had you come in and look through the microscope and find these heavy particles and measure them.
DeVorkin:That was your first contact with research then?
Naugle:Yes, that was my first contact with research.
DeVorkin:You later on refer to a very important balloon flight in that very year that was the first contact with a primary heavy particle.
Naugle:Well, that was when heavy primaries were discovered, by the Minnesota and the Rochester group. They were discovered I suppose in the spring of '48. But at first I wasn't at all sure that I'd gotten a job, and she called me in and it turned out she had been very happy with me. So I went to work in the fall of '48.
DeVorkin:So that was just a little bit after.
DeVorkin:When they made those balloon flights, was this something that you became aware of in the physics department?
Naugle:Oh yes. Along with the pictures of the cosmic rays that you could see in the emulsion, they had pictures of the balloons. That was a very active period at Minnesota. After the war, they had attracted a number of first class physicists. There was Williams. There was Al Nier. Eddie Ney, Frank Oppenheimer. Al Nier was the person who had isolated uranium-238, and brought it back. And then they showed it to be the component of uranium that fissioned, and of course then he played a major role in the project.
DeVorkin:Ney was there?
Naugle:Ed Ney, yes. Ney was a Student of Al Nier. And then of course during the war they all left. Nier came back East and I think worked at Columbia, and Ney came back and worked at University of Virginia with Jesse Beams, in the ultra-centrifuge. And Williams went to Los Alamos. After the war Charlie Critchfield came back. He had been at Los Alamos, had worked with Gamow, and was a theoretical physicist. Frank Oppenheimer, Robert Oppenheimer's brother was there.
DeVorkin:A number of these people are the people who were involved in the balloon flight.
Naugle:Yes. Well, when I entered the cosmic ray project, the staff included Ed Lofgren who was sort of head of it, and devised many of the gadgets; the cameras and the cloud chambers and so on and so forth. Ed Ney was involved in it. Phyllis Freier, Frank Oppenheimer. Phyllis was a graduate student at that time but she was the one who was looking through the microscope and saw the heavy particle.
DeVorkin:She'd been given a number of first authorships on those early years.
Naugle:Yes, Ney and Oppenheimer and Lofgren were working with cloud chambers, and these nuclear emulsions were kind of new. The English had been using them.
DeVorkin:Who initiated them actually at Minnesota?
Naugle:Well, I honestly don't know for sure, but the story was they got them in, and they had Phyllis, who was a bright young graduate student. They got her a microscope and said, "Why don't you play around with these? We can hang these on these balloon flights."
DeVorkin:They were pretty simple affairs at that time.
DeVorkin:Do you know if there are early probes like these important ones in '48 through '51 that have been preserved?
Naugle:I have not seen them over there. I don't know if they have.
DeVorkin:I mean in Minnesota?
Naugle:Well, we had preserved everything at the time I left. Phyllis is still there.
DeVorkin:She would be the one to contact?
DeVorkin:That's what I was searching for.
Naugle:Well, there are several things that come to mind on that. For the old cloud chambers that they used, Eddie Ney is probably one of the few people around who worked with them and would know how to make one of those things work.
DeVorkin:That's very important.
Naugle:Now, Nier turned over the tube that you collected the uranium in to the Smithsonian, and it apparently got lost. Ney and Nier and I and our families always get together in the spring. They come back for the Academy meetings, so you have three generations there. Nier was Ney's godfather, and Ney was my godfather.
Naugle:Ney was my advisor, my thesis advisor. Yes, the intellectual godfather. Nier always tells all the terrible things that Ney did. Ney always tells all the terrible things that I did and so forth.
DeVorkin:Well, we've established how you first came in contact with your research, with nuclear emulsions. At that time what was the state of the art of the nuclear emulsion, not research but the emulsions themselves? Were these all Ilford at that time?
Naugle:Those were Ilford C-2 emulsions at that time.
DeVorkin:They were readily available even just after the war?
Naugle:Well, this was 1948, and they were readily available. We ordered them from Ilford. Kodak was also making some at that time, but never really succeeded. Those C-2 emulsions would record alpha particles at minimum ionization, as I recall. They would not record minimum ionization alone so we would fly a stack — they were on glass — to study the heavy particles. You would fly a stack of glass plates. The emulsions in those days were usually 200 microns thick, and you would follow the particles through the stack, and that would give you the angle that they came from, and from the geometry, you could get the flux. You could count what we called delta rays. If you've ever looked at a heavy particle in an emulsion, it looks like its got whiskers on it. And those are the little electrons that are knocked out. And so you'd count those, and you could kind of separate iron, and then there was a big gap, and carbon, nitrogen and oxygen, and then you could detect slow protons, and we studied "stars:" the disintegrations. That was what I did. I did my master's thesis on the rate of formation of stars.
DeVorkin:Right. I was surprised when I first saw that title. I didn't think you were doing stellar evolution. Then I realized you were in particle physics.
Naugle:Yes, it's particle physics. We called them stars. Then of course the other thing that was going on was that Occialini and Powell had just discovered the pi/mu meson. They did that on a mountain top in Switzerland, and it was that discovery which was so important in theoretical physics. Who was the Japanese who had predicted the meson?
Naugle:Yes. They had found the mu meson before that, but the mu meson was inconsistent, because it didn't interact with nucleons.
Naugle:Well, then in the nuclear emulsion they found the pi meson, which was the meson that interacted with nuclei, and then you had this interesting pi/mu decay. Shortly thereafter, Ilford developed what they called electron sensitive emulsions, and these were emulsions that could detect particles at minimum ionization. So then you could see pi/mu electrons.
DeVorkin:Now, let's see if I have that straight. The first Ilfords you were talking about could not detect the event?
Naugle:It couldn't detect singly charged particles at minimum ionization.
DeVorkin:At minimum. But these later ones could.
Naugle:They could, yes.
DeVorkin:Now, this is '50, '51?
Naugle:Yes. Now, you could see a pi come in. You could see pi/mu decay in a C-2 emulsion, because when the mu left, it was slow enough so that you could see the track, but you couldn't see the electron when the mu decayed into the electron. When you got the G-5 emulsion, then you could see the electrons, and you could see protons at minimum ionization. You could see mu electrons at minimum ionization. And then, in these disintegrations, you could begin to see the large numbers of mesons that were formed, and of course one of the big questions at that time was whether or not you could produce mesons multiply; if two nucleons collided, did you always just produce one meson? And what if you saw many mesons coming out of a star? Did that mean that you'd had several collisions? And then you could calculate how many collisions you might see in the heaviest nuclei you had which would be silver. And so there was a lot of work on that. That was one of the chief problems that were being worked on.
DeVorkin:You were working on these types of problems.
Naugle:Yes. Our bread and butter work was to study the heavy primaries. Their flux, their angular distribution.
DeVorkin:This particular PHYSICAL REVIEW paper that I've opened to, "The Heavy Nuclei of the Primary Cosmic Radiation," this was with Freier, Anderson, Naugle and Ney.
DeVorkin:That is certainly one of your major works.
DeVorkin:How was the work organized? Did you actually fly the balloons yourself? What was your role in that?
Naugle:Well, the balloon business actually came out of the work of Picard. You know, Picard was the balloonist and was at Minnesota. Some of the details here I don't know, but at the time General Mills had a research laboratory, and for some reason which I never really could find out because later on I got curious about it myself, they went into the balloon business.
DeVorkin:That is curious.
Naugle:Now, in quite a different way, Picard's balloons were heavy fabric rubber covered balloons. General Mills started out to use the new plastic film to make the balloons.
DeVorkin:They actually manufactured them?
Naugle:They actually manufactured them there. They certainly manufactured the balloons. I don't think that they manufactured the plastic. I think they probably got that from DuPont.
DeVorkin:3 M was right there?
Naugle:Or 3M. I don't remember. I don't have any memory of it. We used a lot of 3 M tape, but I don't recall Minnesota Mining being involved in the Balloon business.
DeVorkin:Did you have any contact with any particular people at General Mills, so that we would know what the direction was there? Any names you remember who were involved, with the funding or with the balloon support?
Naugle:Yes. Charles Moore and William Huch of General Mills Aeronautical Research Laboratories. There's quite a history of the balloon project, and I'm not the one that should give you that, but I can give you some names and some directions, some things that went on there, because they did affect the physics department of Minnesota. But yes, Bill Huch and Charlie Moore were the people who flew the balloons. They had a project office there. Winzen was at General Mills, and I think played a major role in getting things started, and then he moved out and started his own company. But at the time I was there, General Mills was flying the balloons, and it was a dicey game. You know, sometimes you'd put a payload together, work six months on it, or a year, and the balloon would break on takeoff. The working principal here was that these balloons were like a sack. The bottom was open, and so you'd lay them out flat. You'd have a place to hold them down and a bubble, and then you would put helium in and you'd get a tight bubble which would be about a third of the volume of the balloon, or something like that. Then you'd have this whole train laid out, and the balloon might be 300 feet long in those days, much longer than that now. And then you'd lay out the long nylon rope with the payload on it, you'd have a truck at the end of it. Then you'd lay it out downwind and when you got all ready to go you'd release the balloon, the bubble, and the bubble would start up, and it would lift the 300 feet of plastic. It would then pick up the load line, and it would tend to peel back over the load. And so you'd move back with the vehicle, keeping the load line tight, and carry your load along, usually. And then, when the whole thing was erected, you'd cut the rope and the load would take off. And if you had everything right, it would go on up, and if you didn't have everything right, it might come back down again. It was very sporting.
DeVorkin:Did they simply add on your experiments, or were these flown specifically for your work?
Naugle:Well, in the early days they were flying cloud chambers and the emulsion package would be a small thing, about like a standard Kodak package now.
DeVorkin:But they had their own research interests, in addition to yours?
Naugle:You mean General Mills?
DeVorkin:That's what I meant, yes.
Naugle:They were doing research on balloons, on timing devices, on gadgets to measure pressure and things like that.
DeVorkin:So that they were interested in the balloon technology?
Naugle:They were interested in the balloon technology. They were not doing cosmic ray research.
DeVorkin:Or any other type.
DeVorkin:It almost sounds like a mini-NASA, in a way, a precursor.
Naugle:Well, a lot of the things that I learned there stood me in good stead at NASA, later on. Now, Minnesota was not the only group that was using balloons there. The University of Rochester and the Minnesota group collaborated in the discovery of heavy particles. The University of Chicago, under Marcel Shein, had an emulsion group and was doing work on cosmic ray research. Bradt and Peters was the people at Rochester.
DeVorkin:Were they all doing this with General Mills balloons?
Naugle:Yes. In the very early days, in '48, they flew the balloons out of Little Falls, Minnesota. There was an old Army camp up there and they did that to get away from the heavy airplane traffic around Minneapolis. One other item of interest. The balloons in the summer would go West at the altitudes that we were flying, and in the winter they would go East. We worked there because that was a good place, although later on, they moved the scene much closer to Minneapolis. So, there were two areas of work there. The one group and most of the money was going into cloud chamber research. It was very difficult. To make a cloud chamber work at altitudes really took some ingenuity. You had to maintain constant temperature. You had to expand it and you had to flash a light and all of that was developed there at Minnesota by Ney, Lofgren and Frank Oppenheimer.
DeVorkin:But your primary work was with nuclear emulsions, rather than with cloud chambers?
DeVorkin:I'm interested in your development primarily at this stage. You started out as an undergraduate. You continued as a graduate student at Minnesota. Was there any question that you'd go someplace else?
Naugle:In hindsight, I probably would have done better to have gone someplace else to do my graduate work.
DeVorkin:That's just standard philosophy, you mean.
Naugle:Yes, standard philosophy. But I was heavily involved. You know, I had a family by that time, and I could get a Master's thesis in a year and I could get a PhD thesis. I got the PhD in something like three years. I went from Bachelor's to getting my PhD between '46 and '53.
DeVorkin:So you were very happy and interested in particle physics and there were no other choices.
Naugle:Yes. Well, the other thing that happened was the bread and butter work. We had an ONR contract and the bread and butter work was to study the heavy cosmic rays. It was of some interest to the Navy as a possible health hazard, because ultimately aircraft might operate up in that region. And I suppose, in the back of people's minds, it was even an interest in ultimate space programs and so forth.
DeVorkin:Was it in the back of your mind at that time?
Naugle:Not really, no.
DeVorkin:Your group had no contact with any of the rocket work that was being done at NRL, or was that much later?
Naugle:That was later.
DeVorkin:You had no contact then with rockets.
Naugle:No. I had contact with a group at NRL under Morris Shapiro that was doing emulsion work. We had contact with them. But that's a later phase of it. When the electron sensitive emulsions came in, we began to get into the business of looking for mesons, strange particles and high energy interactions, and there was a kind of a game of looking for the most energetic cosmic rays that you could find. You know: "What was the high energy end of cosmic ray spectra?" That was the game that we played, and I did my PhD thesis on very high energy nuclear interactions.
DeVorkin:You were doing two things. You were looking for a diurnal variation in the rate of star formation.
DeVorkin:You were looking at the sun as a source?
DeVorkin:And at first you and others all thought that you had found that diurnal variation. There was a slight difference between day and night. But then later on, you realized that that wasn't the case. Do you recall that at all, that series?
Naugle:Oh yes. There was a lot of work looking for diurnal variations. And I suppose if you went back and looked at that now, you might find that it really was a real effect and was connected with solar cosmic rays.
DeVorkin:But for a while there, people thought that what you had seen really didn't balance out?
DeVorkin:But that wasn't a very serious thing, was it? In that case, there was no great setback for you?
Naugle:No, by and large, the bulk of the work that we turned out at that time at Minnesota in the emulsion group was very solid.
DeVorkin:Is this your thesis, "The High Energy Phenomenon in Nuclear Emulsions"?
DeVorkin:Then you published a paper on it with P. S. Freier.
Naugle:Yes. Phyllis and I worked together there for eight years, I guess, from '48 to '56 when I left Minnesota. We worked very closely.
DeVorkin:You're definitely talking about high energy stuff there.
Naugle:Yes. Those half a dozen events or so were the highest energy events, and it became clear to me that there was a limit to what you could do in nuclear emulsions. So I put that aside, both because I left Minnesota, and because of the nature of the emulsion. When you got to high velocities, relativistic effects shrank everything down into a narrow cone. The lifetimes of strange particles were extended, and it wasn't for another ten or fifteen years, when people went to spark chambers, and entirely different techniques, that you could begin to go to work on real high energy physics again. Of course, the other thing that came along at the same time was the Bevatron out at Berkeley, and when the Bevatron came in, that put the cosmic ray meson physics out of business. With three or four scanners, and Phyllis and I working, we would find a pi meson, only once a day or something like that. And we then took a stack of emulsions out to the Bevatron, exposed them to the Bevatron, and in 30 minutes, you could find more mesons and know what their energy was and their charge and so on. You could do more in 30 minutes with those kinds of emulsions than you could in a month using cosmic rays as a beam.
DeVorkin:So clearly, your interest was directed toward studying particle physics, and you were less interested in the true statistics of what was going on out in space.
DeVorkin:You simply wanted a source.
Naugle:Well, really, it was both. We were interested in what the origin of cosmic rays was. Did they come from the sun? What was the process by which they got accelerated into these high energies? Those were the key fundamental questions. But the thing that really interested me was the mesons, the interactions. I thought I was really onto something, at one time there, because in analyzing one of these high energy events, I found a large number of what we called "tridents." You'd see a high energy track of a high energy particle, and then all of a sudden you'd see three; a pair had formed. It appeared that what you were seeing was direct pair production by an electron. An electron would interact in the field of a nucleus, and directly produce a pair, instead of producing a photon and then the photon going on some distance to produce a pair. And so I did a fair amount of work studying and understanding this phenomenon. There was a theorist who'd done work and had predicted tridents. But it appeared to us that we were seeing them at 100 times the rate at which they were predicted. It finally dawned on me that what we were seeing was not direct pair production, but that we were seeing a photon produced. Because of the relativistic effect, and the fact that the electrons were at such a high energy that they traveled essentially in a straight line, this photon would travel right along with the electron, and then it would ultimately, at a reasonable distance, interact with the field and produce a pair, and it would just appear in the emulsion right on top of the track.
DeVorkin:So it was a real effect. It was just a question of interpretation.
Naugle:Yes. But it was frustrating, because it would have been much more exciting to find a very large cross section for diurnal production of an electron position pair by an n electron.
DeVorkin:Was this while you were working on your PhD or afterwards, during your research associate ship?
Naugle:Sort of right at the time. I think I had written my thesis, and then thought some more about it, and then realized it, and then when we published the article, the article is accurate. Incidentally, if you look at the papers, you'll find that a lot· of the people were seeing tridents and talking about them in the general literature in this time. And then after we published this paper
DeVorkin:"High Energy Phenomenon in Nuclear Emulsions"
Naugle:— the trident business died.
DeVorkin:So you stopped it.
Naugle:Yes. Everybody realized then what was going on.
DeVorkin:That was '54, wasn't it?
Naugle:Yes, it would have been '54, because I did my thesis in '53.
DeVorkin:You continued on as a research associate for a while, and that was still in particle physics.
DeVorkin:Did you take on any administrative responsibilities in the production of this research?
Naugle:There were two things that I did. I began to teach. I taught my last year that I was there. Phyllis had a baby and so was only working part time. So by the time I left, I was pretty much running the emulsion lab, hiring and firing the scanners and supervising their work. I developed a whole new procedure. We went to the large emulsions, the 10 x 12 inch emulsions. We normally worked 2 x 4 inch emulsions, but when we went to these larger ones it took something like a week to develop them. You had to do all the development at low temperature. When Ilford went to the G-5 emulsion, they did a couple of things. They made them electron sensitive and they made them much thicker. You could get 500, 600 micron thick emulsions. And then they developed what they called pellicles. They were sheets of emulsion without glass backing. That meant that you could trace a particle or you could follow it through its whole history through the stack, whereas before, you'd go through a little hit of emulsion, then a lot of glass, a little bit of emulsion, a lot of glass. Many times the interactions would take place in the glass, and it was very frustrating. After they invented this several problems developed. You had the emulsion which would be some 600 microns thick. You would have to package it, and it was similar to heavy celluloid. It was shiny, and it was flexible, but had a reasonable structure. So you had to package that and maintain the orientation of it, and then, when you brought it back, you had to put it onto glass to process it because when you put it into water it would swell and it would increase in thickness from 600 to maybe 1000 microns. The reason that you operated at cold temperatures was that not much development would take place at low temperatures, so you wanted the developer to diffuse in at low temperature. Then after you had this thing saturated with emulsion, you would try to warm it rapidly and have the development take place.
DeVorkin:That's quite sophisticated.
Naugle:Yes, it was. Then you fixed it. You had to get the silver out. An enormous volume of silver came out and the 600 micron emulsion would shrink down to about 200, 250 microns. Then you wanted to preserve the angles or to reconstruct the angles. You wanted to be able to study Coulomb scattering. That was the way you measured the momentum, and so you'd count the grains, and you'd measure the small angle scattering. Between those two things you could measure the velocity and mass and charge of the particle. But subjecting an emulsion to all of that was quite a thing.
DeVorkin:You were in charge of that in the later period?
DeVorkin:That plus the scanners. You left in '56. Now, was there a particular reason for your leaving?
Naugle:Well, of course, I'd done all my graduate and undergraduate work there at Minnesota. I had a family. I needed to make more money. The policy there was that you shouldn't go on and teach at the place where you'd done your undergraduate and graduate work. By staying on and doing my graduate work there, I had already kind of violated one of the codes of the Minnesota group. And so I felt that I ought to get out and do something different. Critchfield had left and gone out to Convair, and set up a scientific research group, and he wanted me to join him there.
DeVorkin:Oh, I see.
Naugle:So I decided to go out and do that, and that's where I really got into the space business. I had gotten into it. I'd begun to realize that it might be something quite exciting out there, by virtue of the work that Helliwell had done on whistlers in which he had shown that apparently electromagnetic waves could propagate along the magnetic lines of force from pole to pole. That required particles and, you know, it looked interesting. So I went to Convair, and I was in charge then of the physics group.
DeVorkin:Now, Critchfield brought you directly?
DeVorkin:He knew you had administrative abilities, or research abilities? What did he have in mind?
Naugle:Well, he knew that I was a good research physicist. And he liked me, and I guess I had demonstrated some administrative ability at that time at Minnesota. I could get along with people. I could get things done. I could keep half a dozen women reasonably happy and working together and not at one another's throats and so forth. Jokingly I've said I really became an administrator the first time we hired a scanner and I quit looking through the microscope and making my own measurements. I became faced with the problem of how do you feel with data that somebody else takes for you? And how are you sure that it is accurate and that you can really trust it? It was a problem.
DeVorkin:I know, exactly. So you went to Convair. You said this was where you were getting very interested in space because of the whistler phenomenon?
Naugle:Yes. I was interested in it from that standpoint.
DeVorkin:Was this the search for additional charged particles, or were you getting interested in geomagnetic phenomena?
Naugle:Well, additional particles. Now, I went there in '56, and I started really working on upper atmosphere research, and I pulled a little group together, and we started flying our own balloons.
DeVorkin:Where did you fly them? Convair was in San Diego, wasn't it?
Naugle:Yes. We actually flew them from the Marine base there, Camp Pendleton.
DeVorkin:That's a big big area.
Naugle:Yes. We had a big area, had to have a big area. That was one of my first big administrative victories; to get permission to launch balloons. I remember that I had to write a letter to the White House. I had to write to somebody and I got a letter back from somebody in the White House, in order to get permission to fly. We were supported by Convair money, but I had to get a dollar a year contract from the Navy so I went to my old friends there.
DeVorkin:Who were your old friends there?
Naugle:Well, Mel Ross was there and Bill Wright.
DeVorkin:Where did you have contact with them?
Naugle:While at Minnesota. We've skipped a whole host of things that happened at Minnesota which are peripheral, but I think they're significant in a sense.
Naugle:First of all, in about 1950 or '51, the group at Minnesota included John Winkler who had come from Princeton and joined them, and they took on a big balloon development contract; Critchfield, Ney and Winkler. We used to write poems about them to the tune of "Winken, Blinken and Nod" — "Christchfield, Ney and Winkler, sailed off on their balloon —" (Laughter) This was strictly to develop balloons. They took it on partly because they felt that they could get some equipment for Minnesota, and that they could develop balloons and they could do this for a year or two. They would essentially go into applied research for a little bit, and it would be good for facilities, money, and balloon technology. They could improve the reliability of balloon technology. This was an Air Force contract and the reason for the government interest was to use balloons to carry cameras over Russia. This was before the days of the U-2. So the contract had to be classified, and they classified certain rooms so that you couldn't go into them. This was the time of Joe Weinberg and Frank Oppenheimer and the "Communist threat."
DeVorkin:That would be Robert Oppenheimer in that case?
Naugle:Well, no, Frank. Frank was the one who was the Communist, who they called up in the middle of the night, and who had told the faculty and his friends at Minnesota, "No, I've never been a Communist." And they came down and swore, "No, Frank has never been a Communist" and then they called him up in the middle of the night and he said, "Yes, that's true," to some reporter, ''What you've found out is true," and so, not only was Frank a Communist but it turned out he had lied to his fellow faculty members. And of course Joe Weinberg was supposed to be "Scientist X," and that really tore up the physics department. There were a lot of good graduate students that left. They fired Frank. They fired Joe Weinberg. And then we got into all the problems with the classified business and the graduate students got up in arms, you know, and argued, "You shouldn't have classified projects." So I always felt that we were precocious at Minnesota. We went through a lot of the turmoil that a lot of the universities went through in the sixties; we went through in the early fifties.
DeVorkin:The McCarthy Era.
Naugle:It was tragic because Frank Oppenheimer was a very good lecturer. He was a lousy teacher, however! He was fantastic at building enthusiasm and getting good graduate students and all of that. This was also the "beginning of the self-testing era where you tested the professor. And so they tested Frank — I'd taken his course at the time — and one day he came in the class and he said, "Well, as near as I can tell, outside of the fact that you couldn't read what I wrote on the board, and couldn't understand what I said, you all thought I was a pretty good teacher." Weinberg was, in my judgment, a fantastic teacher. He had the ability to use and to get across the concepts of quantum mechanics and wave theory. In one summer quarter, in three or four weeks or something like that, I gained from him a very good intuitive feeling for quantum mechanics and what it was all about — the correspondence principle and all that. Well, that episode tore up the Minnesota department. Critchfield and Ney and Winkler spent all their time working on balloons. Phyllis was still a graduate student and I was a graduate student. Frank McDonald out at Goddard was a graduate student at the time. And we used to bitch a little bit that the only time we ever saw our advisor was when we had to go and get our forms signed, at the end of quarter, so we could continue in graduate school. There was a period when I did most of my research entirely on my own. Ney did read my thesis, but there really wasn't a senior faculty advisor. On the other hand, in hindsight it was very good, because we all learned to formulate our research projects. We did our own thing. We built our hardware. We arranged for the balloon flights and so on and so forth. The people who went through that were much better equipped to go out and become principal investigators in their own right, than the people for instance who worked on the Van de Graaf, who started out sweeping the floor and steadily worked up in the hierarchy and then at the end of the time wrote their thesis on whatever nuclear cross...; section they were working on at the time. One other thing that I should have put in: after working for a couple of years and having 30 or 40 people involved in the project, the Air Force told them, on the 1st of August, that on the 1st of September they were going to cancel the contract.
DeVorkin:This is what year?
Naugle:That would have been about '54, '55, I don't remember exactly. It was after I got my thesis. And so there was a great trauma. They had to let a number of people go, and Ney vowed that he would never take another military contract, and he never has. He vowed that he would never muck around in any classified work again, and he never has. You know, all of the things that the universities faced in the sixties, Minnesota faced – at least in the physics department — in the fifties. They learned their lesson and kind of backed away from it at the time. There is one other thing. It doesn't concern me, but Phyllis Freier was a very good physicist. Had she been a man, she would have gone rapidly up the scale. She was not a man. She was married, and her husband who was on the faculty. When he went to work on the faculty, they very graciously or very ungraciously allowed her to stay on as a research associate for 20 years. And then, when Equal Rights for Women came along, they finally made her a faculty member. She's begun to be finally recognized for what she was, which was a first class physicist.
DeVorkin:I'm glad you mentioned that. I wasn't sure what her role was. She's still at Minnesota now?
Naugle:She's still at Minnesota. She's the one who hired me in off the street and started me on my research career. Then Ney played a major role. Ney and I have been friends for years.
DeVorkin:So you decided to move to Convair.
DeVorkin:Certainly there you probably had more funding. You were principal investigator, in a way?
Naugle:I didn't try very hard to find a university position because when I left Minnesota I was thoroughly disenchanted with the academic world. I kept the minutes of the faculty meetings and bound and carried them to San Diego and back to here. I finally did throw them away, I guess, when I made one of the moves, but I kept them with the understanding that if I ever decided I was going to go back to the academic world, I would get out those things and read them. Because we spent every Wednesday afternoon discussing crap. There was one old boy there, the theoretical physicist, and 75 percent of the words in those minutes were associated with problems with the God damn library. And what had happened was that they'd built a new wing on the department and put a new library in there.
DeVorkin:The department had its own library?
Naugle:Yes. And he, thinking that he would be wise, put his office right next to the library, so he could just turn around there and find any book he wanted. That was fine. But that was also the time of the veterans' explosion on campus, and he suddenly discovered that the library was full of people studying. The hallway outside the library was full of people talking about the latest quiz. And he was just utterly wiped out. He tried to keep the students out of the library. Well, you can't do that, you know. Students have to use the library.
DeVorkin:What's his name?
Naugle:Ed Hill. There's a fantastic story behind him, because he was an early radical, and went to Russia in something like 1921 or '22. He became very disillusioned, came back, withdrew into a shell of physics, and was a very good teacher, one of the best teachers, one of the best organized lecturers. We reproduced his lectures as books. Just the way he presented them; they were very good. But he never had an opinion; never spoke a word about anything other than physics. He was just completely wiped out by that. The pettiness of the faculty just soured me, so I wanted to try something different. It seemed to me that it might be well, looking ahead, to see if you could conduct basic research, real good basic research, in a different environment. And here I had Critchfield, who was a great figure at Minnesota, and had set up this basic research lab. It was funded. It was the heyday of John J. Hopkins and General Dynamics. I don't know if your memory goes back to the fancy ads that they put out, but John J. Hopkins was acquiring companies. He started General Atomic. So I went there, and San Diego's wonderful place. You could go swimming. Your family came down. You had martinis for lunch. You swam at the beach.
DeVorkin:Convair was right on the beach there, wasn't it? Or at least it was right on 101?
Naugle:Well, the original Convair was right on (Highway) 101, right next to the airport. The Scientific Research Lab was attached to the headquarters, in the building called The Rock. In those days, 101 came right down past Convair, and past the airport, and then on the left hand side as you came down into San Diego, there was a building that had no windows in it, and so it was called The Rock. But there was no place to have a laboratory there, so they had taken over an ex-school for the laboratory, and there I started a balloon program to measure the ionization in the atmosphere.
DeVorkin:At this time, were you getting more interested in the atmosphere?
Naugle:Well, I went into things that I felt were pertinent to projects that Convair was working on. Convair was working on the Atlas, so they needed to know what the dust content was in space and in the atmosphere.
Naugle:So I started that. Well, then in '57, Sputnik flew, and we set up a tracking station to track Sputnik. By that time I was thoroughly involved. But even before that, Frank McDonald and I had started a small sounding rocket project, to study dust and X-rays and particles.
DeVorkin:Where did you get the rockets? Were they from Convair?
Naugle:This was funded by Convair with I, R and D funds that Convair got. I didn't realize it at the time.
DeVorkin:I, R and D?
Naugle:Yes, Industrial Research and Development. When I got there I thought that I was going to an enlightened company that recognized the value of research and was putting hard company money into research. Well, it turned out that Lockheed and Douglas and Boeing were all forming little science research labs since there'd had been a change in government policy which had said that these companies could charge research off against debt. That could be a burden item, I guess. And so in reality, we were living off of government money.
DeVorkin:Soft money, yes.
Naugle:Yes. For the first year it was great. Convair was building 104's and 106's like mad, and they took off over the lab, and every time one of them fired off, we said "There's another million dollars in the General Dynamics treasury." A lot of us were coming there from universities and so forth. It was a lot of fun. So I was getting a balloon program going, and then Frank came, and we started this rocket program. We got Army Nike rockets and then we purchased Nike-Asp rockets. The project was called Clover Leaf. With the Nike-Asp we put together a little recovery system. The reason it was called Clover Leaf was that the sides of the thing popped up, and it was supposed to whirl in kind of like a helicopter.
DeVorkin:Increase its drag and keep it from being destroyed?
Naugle:Yes. It was less complicated than a parachute. We were ultimately going to fly it out of Ft. Churchill to study Aurora particles and that sort of thing.
Naugle:Fort Churchill in Canada. That was where I really began to learn the space business, because I had to find out how you put rockets together, and that was where I first found out that there was something called the NACA, and that they had studied through mathematical computer programs how you could calculate the trajectory of a rocket. I learned about that. We went to fly from White Sands, and I was horrified to find, when I got there, when I wanted to get permission to fly, that they were not worried about whether I could find this little package or not. They were worried about being able to hit the God damn range with the rocket! Occasionally the rockets went ape and landed down in Mexico.
DeVorkin:That's right. They'd been doing that for quite some time. You mentioned the ballistics aspect of it. You had no contact with astronomy or anything up to this time, with celestial mechanics or anything like that?
Naugle:I had no contact with astronomy at that time. You know, other than just what I read. I knew a little bit of solar physics, because I began to get involved. I did a lot of reading when I first went to Convair, trying to decide what I wanted to get into. And I wanted to get into the space business, and the most comprehensive book at that time was a book by White, and it was a compendium where several different people write chapters. It had a chapter by Nelson Spencer and one by H. Friedman on solar physics. There was a chapter or two in it on micro-meteorites, cosmic dust and cosmic rays.
DeVorkin:But ballistics was getting to be a problem for you. You wanted to be able to predict things.
DeVorkin:That still wasn't at the level where you needed any celestial mechanics yourself. That was something that was already well built into the Nike?
Naugle:Well, it was not at all sophisticated. It was sophisticated aerodynamics, but the physics was just plain ballistics; the sort of thing you could calculate really in sophomore physics. One other thing I should note. When we got there, San Diego was really an intellectual desert. There was San Diego State Teachers' College which didn't even have the PHYSICAL REVIEW.
Naugle:I couldn't get my hands on any back issues of the GEOPHYSICAL JOURNAL or THE PHYSICAL REVIEW other than the ones I brought with me. Scripps was there but Scripps was oceanography. The University of California wasn't there. And so, I can remember a real panic. I had gotten myself off in some God damn wasteland, and how was I going to keep up and find out what the hell was going on?
DeVorkin:Critchfield was there, though?
Naugle:Yes. Critchfield was there.
DeVorkin:He didn't have these concerns?
Naugle:Well, he was there. He came in as a vice-president for research. He had a research assistant, and of course he had his own library. We lived off of his PHYSICAL REVIEWS and my PHYSICAL REVIEWS there. For the first six months or so, we spent ordering books and getting a library and finding out how the hell you operated in a situation like this.
Naugle:Yes. Again it was an enlightening phase of my life.
DeVorkin:Meanwhile you found out that the hard money you'd hoped was there was not there.
Naugle:After we'd been there about a year, things began rapidly to go downhill. The Air Force started cutting out contracts. Convair started cutting back. All the laboratory equipment that we were going to build suddenly vanished. We found that we couldn't get money for it. And it suddenly became apparent that we were expected to go out and get contracts. So, I said to myself, "This is no place for healthy basic research." The basic reason that they got us in there was that the aerospace business was becoming very complicated. Convair had thought that they would get the whole contract for the ICBM. The Atlas, the nose cone and so on and so forth. Well, you know, they were pretty good people to build the Atlas in a production line, but they didn't get the contract for the nose cone. G.E. got the contract for the nose cone. Convair had been criticized because they didn't have any PhD's. And so they first of all got a fancy advisory committee there. Incidentally, I found out later — I went back and looked at it in later years — that of all people, Henry Kissinger was on that advisory group. That's where Critchfield came in. He was on it. Teller was on it. Ed Ney was on it. Fred Whipple was on it. This was a group. They said, "What you really want to do is get a research lab here. You need to get some scientists here and in order to get scientists; you're going to have a research lab." So that led to the Convair Scientific Research Lab.
DeVorkin:But that kind of formation was not for the long term?
Naugle:No. Well, then we flew our rocket and it didn't work. Then we flew it again, and I was dumb. The first time it didn't work. We lost telemetry at 3 seconds, so we thought we had some kind of a telemetry problem. Well, then we fired it again. I bought three rockets and that had taken all my research funds. And I discovered that, on the second firing, when we dug the rocket out of the ground and we got the pictures, one picture shows the rocket going up and the payload sitting at right angles going alongside of it. The thing had broken in two.
DeVorkin:How did that happen?
Naugle:The rocket wasn't strong enough, where you joined the payload onto the rocket. It was flexible. And if you have a flexible rocket, then it bends, and the more it bends the more force there is, and it broke. I had contracted with Aerospace Development Corporation to build the rocket and they were responsible for that.
DeVorkin:That was their name, Aerospace Development Corporation?
Naugle:Yes. They were a little company. I don't know what ever finally happened to them. But that made me furious, and I fired them, which was an unheard-of thing to do.
DeVorkin:You mean the subcontractor?
Naugle:Yes. Usually you said, "Well, gee, that's too bad, let's go back and do it again." But I fired them partly because I didn't have any more money, but I figured, since I didn't have any more money, I might just as well. So I canceled the contract, which shook them and shook Convair and shook other people that were working with me. But I simply came back and sent out a letter that said we were canceling the contract.
DeVorkin:Was that the last rocket work you did at Convair?
Naugle:That was the last rocket work that I did at Convair. And by that time, that would have been in '57 Sputnik had gone up.
DeVorkin:Right. Were you quite excited about that?
Naugle:Oh, I was excited. I was horrified. Of course, I knew or thought I knew, and I guess it was true, what the Atlas could do if you used it to launch satellites. And so when I looked at the size of the satellite that the Russians had put up, I said, "My God, that means the Russians have got a working ICBM." And at that time, the Atlas still had not gotten off the pad, let alone fly.
DeVorkin:What about the Jupiter-C? Did you know about its development?
Naugle:I knew about the Jupiter-C development, but not in a lot of detail.
DeVorkin:But at least what you were familiar with wasn't ready yet.
DeVorkin:And that was the shocker.
DeVorkin:Was that really what Sputnik meant to a lot of people in the industry?
Naugle:Well, it didn't mean that. It really shocked people who, I guess, didn't have access to intelligence information or know what the Russians were doing, which I didn't. I had secret clearance because the Atlas was a classified missile but no access to intelligence data.
Naugle:The Sputnik meant that the Russians were capable, much more capable than anybody was willing to give them credit for. It made a lot of us very mad that they got the first satellite into orbit. That was a very irritating thing.
DeVorkin:Had you pushed for orbiting space work at all?
Naugle:Yes. When I came into Convair, I had said, "Gee, you know, you ought to be thinking about satellites. You could do all sorts of things in satellites."
DeVorkin:You said this through Critchfield, or directly to the management?
Naugle:No, I said that to Critchfield, and tried to get piggy back packages onto the Atlas, to hitch-hike them. I couldn't get them on. I was told that it wasn't (possible). And that was one of the things that made me mad. By that time I'd started to come back to Washington to get permission to launch balloons.
DeVorkin:To launch them from Camp Pendleton?
Naugle:Yes, right. Then when we started working on our sounding rockets, I had to go to White Sands, and also I had to come back to ONR. We actually launched our sounding rockets under an ONR contract that the University of Iowa had. That was the legal way that we got onto the range.
DeVorkin:So you had contacts with James van Allen at that time?
Naugle:Oh yes. I knew van Allen well. Frank McDonald was with van Allen, and Frank came out and spent a year with me at Convair, and that's when we put together this sounding rocket.
DeVorkin:I'm just curious, at Convair you also started hearing about the theory of the whistlers, and did this get you thinking along the lines of the radiation belts that might exist up there, the regions of ionization?
Naugle:Well, no. It got me thinking that there were ions up there. And one of the things that I was going to try and do when I went out there was to get into whistler research. Well, it turns out that San Diego's about the worst possible place to get into whistler research.
DeVorkin:So that never developed?
Naugle:That didn't develop. But after van Allen observed the radiation belts, then that opened up a whole area. It was clear to me that by flying emulsions you could tell what the particles were. You could get their angular distribution. And by moving emulsions relative to each other, you could study the variation of the radiation with altitude. So I wanted to do that. So I came back to Washington and made a formal proposal, and it was turned down by somebody in the Air Force. In those days there was ARPA and the name of the game was trying to keep track of who had the ball back there in Washington; who did you see to get something done in space. It was an utter madhouse.
DeVorkin:This was just in the immediate post-Sputnik era?
Naugle:Yes, between October and October. (1957-1958) It was a real madhouse. I came back and talked to some Colonel. He'd been very friendly, but then he didn't put my package on. He put Stan Freden and Steve White's package on, and they hadn't even been in the cosmic ray business. But they were at Los Alamos. Freden's now out at Goddard. So they got on a piggyback flight and they showed that there were protons. And the people in ARPA told me that it just wasn't politically good to put me on because I was at Convair. Well, that made me terribly mad. Then about that time they formed NASA.
DeVorkin:Could you give me the name of the person who made that decision?
Naugle:I don't remember any more. It was some Colonel and he never went anywhere. He was somewhere in the Pentagon. But they put Los Alamos on because at Los Alamos they had clearance and so forth. They formed NASA and they formed what was called the Beltsville Spaceflight Center at that time.
DeVorkin:Did you have any input in the formation of NASA?
Naugle:No, as a matter of fact, I was very surprised. The first person who mentioned the fact that the NACA might become the Space Agency was the chief engineer of Convair by the name of Sparky Sieboldt.
DeVorkin:I've heard that name.
Naugle:I knew NACA as the "good grey agency," they were flying little sounding rockets, but they didn't have the image, to me, of the Space Agency.
Naugle:Well, NRL did. They had sounding rockets. Huntsville did. And as a matter of fact, by that time, from flying our sounding rockets, I'd got acquainted with the rocket group at NRL. In those days you compared notes, "would this work?" How accurately could you predict where a Nike Cajun or a Nike Asp would go?"
DeVorkin:Who did you have contact with at NRL?
Naugle:I had contact with John Lindley.
DeVorkin:With Hagen or Carruthers or any of those people?
Naugle:I knew Krause because he had offered me a job back then. But by that time, Krause had left and gone out and formed the Lockheed Scientific Research Lab. I talked to John Lindley. I talked to Jim Kuperian and Talbott Chubb, I guess. They were flying sounding rockets off of St. Nicholas Island, off the West Coast of California. There was a range out there.
DeVorkin:Byram and Chubb and certainly Friedman were very very early in there.
Naugle:Yes, they were early in the business. It was just that Lindley and Chubb were the people who were flying the rockets and who knew the business. And so I talked to them, and I went out and watched one of their firings out there.
DeVorkin:This was all pre-Sputnik?
Naugle:This was pre-Sputnik, yes.
DeVorkin:So the running around and the action hadn't really started yet.
Naugle:No, as a matter of fact, I was at a big meeting up in Canada, Toronto. In those days, the rocket groups, the people doing space science in this country, could be counted on the fingers of one hand. They could get around this table. There was the NRL group with Homer Newell and Jack Townesend. There was Jim van Allen's group. There was Nelson Spencer's group at Michigan. There was Stroud's group at Camp Benning, the Signal Corps group. And there was a group at Air Force Cambridge. I think that was all. Fred Whipple was involved in it, in the cosmic dust area. So there was a big IGY meeting up in Toronto, and I sat in on the rocket panel meetings where they were discussing, I remember this very vividly, how to figure out what the Russians were about and what the Russians were going to do. They also wanted to find a strategy to get the Russians to come clean on what they were really going to be doing. Then, there were two things. When I flew back from that meeting in Toronto, there was a tremendous aurora that extended down into Kansas, as I recall, which I could see from my plane window. Then of course within the day, when I was back in San Diego, they flew Sputnik. And I thought; well, now we don't have to worry about strategy anymore.
DeVorkin:I see, that explains that this particular meeting was a formative meeting of the IGY?
Naugle:No, the IGY had been formed well before that. There were a lot of things going on in IGY, or at least getting ready. But these were our rocket people, and they were putting together Vanguard and flying sounding rockets. And the Russians had said they were going to fly something. But we couldn't get any more information. The name of the game was how to figure out what the Russians were up to. Well, then they formed NASA and they formed what was the Beltsville Flight Center. When I came back in the winter, about January of '59, it looked to me like things really had gone to hell because they'd formed this new agency. They'd taken about half the people out of NRL, one of the good groups, you know, and everything was shot there, and then this other group, what the hell were they going to be doing? They were a bunch of airplane people! So I came to Convair disillusioned. But then they brought in Newell and Townsend and Les Meredith. Les Meredith, being an old Iowa man, hired Frank McDonald, and Frank McDonald called me up and said, "Hey, if you come down here, we can probably get you your sounding rockets that you want to have, to fly emulsions." And since I was thoroughly disgusted with Convair at that time, I said, "I will come." I took a $3000 a year cut in salary, and I left Convair in August. When I got back here, it was 100 degrees. It was one of the hottest Augusts up until this one, I think, on record and the humidity was terrible. My wife was about ready to leave me and if we'd had the money I know she would have gone back to San Diego. I had only a small sum of money and I was eating it up because I had the family in an air conditioned motel to keep them sane. So we landed here on a Thursday and I think I bought a house on Sunday and I went to work on Monday. We had camped coming across the country, so while we waited for our furniture to get here, you know, we just camped in the house.
DeVorkin:That must have been frustrating.
Naugle:Then I began to commute of course.
DeVorkin:Was there anything unusual in that or just the usual frustrations of moving? Did your family not want to leave San Diego?
Naugle:No, they didn't want to leave San Diego. San Diego was an utter delight. Literally, you could choose your mean temperature. If you lived on the ocean in San Diego, the mean temperature year round was 73 plus or minus ten degrees, and if you went in, it widened, and I was in where it would get down to maybe 50 and up to maybe, oh, 85 on a hot summer day. I had a house and everything, and they really didn't want to go. On the other hand, my perception of California was such that I didn't want to raise my kids in California. Already the California syndrome was becoming pretty apparent there, and San Diego was made of retired people and blue collar workers at Convair. And that was about it, you know. The most exciting thing was going to the Globe Theatre when they played Shakespeare, a wonderful thing. I just didn't want to raise my kids there. So we did come back. Then NASA or the Beltsville Space Flight Center existed in an old warehouse at NRL.
DeVorkin:That's where it was at first?
DeVorkin:Now, is NRL on the Belt also or is this just what they called it?
Naugle:No, let me make it clear. What ultimately became the Goddard Space Flight Center in those days was called the Beltsville Space Flight Center. The cadre that made it up was mostly ex-NRL people. Since they didn't have any place to go to yet, NASA simply rented space from the Navy at NRL, in an old warehouse, and everybody moved there and started putting what ultimately became the Goddard Space Flight Center together there. So that was where I joined NASA. I agreed to come in February or March. I had agreed to come and I immediately began to work with NASA to put together this nuclear emulsion recovery vehicle, NERV, to fire emulsions up into the radiation belt.
DeVorkin:Were you the first in this particular position, as head of nuclear emulsions?
DeVorkin:So you basically created the office?
Naugle:Yes, I started the whole thing at Goddard while still out there at Convair. I started coming back and putting that together in the spring, May and June. I spent some time at Langley, because Langley was using the same type of rockets that I wanted to use, and they appointed a project manager at Goddard to work with me on that. So that by the time I came to work in the first of August, I was well on the way to getting that going.
DeVorkin:Let's clarify the times. You and your family all moved out here in August. But you had been out here previously setting the groundwork of the work you were doing?
DeVorkin:Meanwhile you were still working at Convair.
Naugle:I was still working at Convair. But I suppose I took leave from Convair, and NASA paid my way. When I came back, one of the early things that I did was to piggyback some emulsions onto one of the Jupiter rockets out of the Cape. And that's where I began to get acquainted with von Braun and his crew. I was mildly impressed because all my rockets had been these uncertain kinds of things that blew up on me or crumpled, or the Atlas. There's a marvelous movie of Atlas, one of the first ones they fired. One of the engines died, so you had this thing dancing on one engine like a peg leg sailor, and it did loop the loops and from the standpoint of the history of rocketry, that was a very interesting flight, because there were a lot of people that didn't believe that this thin skinned monologue would hold up to such gyrations. You know, the Atlas was a balloon. It was a metal balloon. If it depressurized, it collapsed. Well, it demonstrated, in that one flight, when it went through all these terrible gyrations and didn't break up, that it satisfied everybody that it was a pretty rugged vehicle.
DeVorkin:It wasn't designed in that flight to do that?
Naugle:Oh no. No. Well, anyhow, I went to the Cape and they said, "We'll launch at 8:30 tonight."
DeVorkin:This is your first Jupiter-C.
Naugle:This was my first Jupiter-C. And everything went well, and at 8:30.000 1 second, they pushed the button and it went and did everything it was supposed to. So I came back very surprised and very impressed by their precision. Then about two or three weeks later we were going to piggyback another one. In this case Frank McDonald was going to come down and piggyback his. He came down, and the Jupiter that he put it on blew up on the pad, scattered shit all over the place.
DeVorkin:This was part of the NERV program?
Naugle:No. We were just flying emulsions. The Jupiter didn't even get really into the Belts — just into the lower fringes of the radiation belt.
DeVorkin:How did you arrange with these people in the Jupiter program? Through NASA? Did you have a free hand to simply make a phone call, or did you have to get authorization?
Naugle:Oh, in those days things were very free. We worked with the project manager, and they gave us a place and the dimensions to put a box in.
DeVorkin:And you designed the box?
Naugle:We designed the box, packed the emulsions, took it down and then simply put the box into the nose cone at a particular time. One other thing, just to give you a feeling for how things were. Everything worked so precisely when I was there, so I came back, telling how everything was and that we were really getting there, and Frank so went down for a flight. Frank and I were working at Beltsville Space Center. But his Jupiter blew up on the pad. He then stayed over for 24 hours to watch them launch an Atlas, and that particular Atlas got up about 200 feet and had one of· the most spectacular explosions which scattered debris all over the Cape. Frank came back and said, "You know, we've got a long way to go." Then for the next year, I worked very diligently on the NERV program. I had hoped to fly it in '59. We didn't get that done. That was done on contract. We contracted with GE to make the nosecone. We contracted with another development group to put the rockets together for us.
DeVorkin:I'm trying to get an idea of what your mission was, your own goals, your responsibilities. How did you build up the office? What kind of free hand were you given? Who determined budgets? That sort of thing.
Naugle:Well, we made an estimate of how much it would cost.
DeVorkin:This was you and Frank McDonald?
Naugle:No, I worked mostly by myself on that. Frank was off working on satellites, and I did that by myself. I worked with Les Meredith. Les was the branch head. When we ran short of money, then I had to go and justify to Les, and Les justified to headquarters that we needed additional money, and we got some of the additional funding. We didn't get all we wanted. We didn't do all the things we wanted to do.
DeVorkin:Did you have any contact with Congress at that time?
Naugle:I had no contract with Congress at that time. That comes later. No, I was still a practicing scientist very much a hard working scientist at that time, getting more involved in rocketry and recovery systems than what I really wanted to or should have, I guess, if I had wanted to go on in a research career. I ultimately became the project manager of NERV; the person who was responsible for the whole business and signed out or handled the funding, and was accountable for it and so on.
DeVorkin:The basic research aspect of NERV, first of all, was getting the tracks, studying the Belts. Did you know what NASA had in mind or did NASA know what it had in mind?
Naugle:No. What NASA had in mind was what I had in mind.
DeVorkin:And that was pure research?
Naugle:Yes. Well, clearly, there were major questions about the Radiation Belts. What was the energy spectrum? What was the composition? How did it vary? The whole business of the Radiation Belts was crucial to the whole space program at that time, because it ultimately limited where men could fly. It ultimately limited where you could put satellites, because you couldn't put satellites in the heart of the Belts. And it was a very interesting problem in physics, because you didn't know where the Belts came from. How were they created? There were a lot of theories and so forth. So it was quite an interesting problem. My method of attack on the problem was to use emulsions. I was going to put them in a little capsule, about yeah big —
DeVorkin:About two feet wide —
Naugle:Yes. With an ablative nosecone. Actually we contracted with GE and they used a kind of a quarter scales or half scale of the Discoverer capsule. There was a competition and they won the competition; that was the proposition that they made. I had to make things compact. In order to get a time history, which I could translate into an altitude history, I needed to move the emulsion, so I made circular emulsions. All emulsions had been rectangular up to that point in time. I had to fit this into the nosecone, and it was very tight. I had to put titanium around it to cut out the protons. And then I had a little port. The emulsions were edge on and then there was a port and then they rotated past the port; the window on the port was very thin. It must have been a few microns of aluminum or something.
DeVorkin:You used this technique in the balloons?
Naugle:Yes. There we slid emulsions alongside of each other to match up heavy particles. We would move them once an hour. All the heavy particles that came in during a given hour would match at a certain point. In this case I simply continuously moved the thing past the slit. I had to devise the scheme to cut the emulsions. I had to devise the entire package. I had to put together a new emulsion developing system to handle these circular emulsions, and figure out how to roll them out, so I was working diligently on that. There were three of us, three government people that worked on the project at that time. I was the project manager. Charlie Campbell was a project engineer, and Jerry Longanecker. The work then was done at GE, and they did the nosecone and the emulsion package. They machined the titanium and designed the timing mechanisms, and all of that, and worked out the recovery devices. Of course, there were a lot of people who thought that this was completely nonsense; that we wouldn't be able to do this because we were stacking up four solid rockets and were going to fire them 2000 kilometers up and 2000 kilometers out into the Pacific Ocean from Point Mugu. The feeling was that we would be lucky if we hit the Pacific, let alone got it out where the recovery vessels were.
DeVorkin:Who was critical of it?
Naugle:Oh, people who knew what I was doing in NASA.
DeVorkin:Could that have been because you were taking money that they could have been using for some other purpose?
Naugle:No, in those days money wasn't really a problem. The Congress was pushing money at us. I'll come to that later on.
DeVorkin:Were the technological worries well founded?
Naugle:Yes, they certainly were. First of all, you had to make the four stages work, and we actually caught one of the problems that would have caused a failure on the night before the launch.
DeVorkin:What rockets were these?
Naugle:These were Nikes and some of the stages that we used became stages of the Scout. They were solid propellants. Journeyman was the first stage — that was the big rocket. We'd originally started out to have a full rocket series, two large and two small. But then we really couldn’t get into the radiation belt with the small rockets, so we decided, and this was something that was becoming prevalent in NASA at that time, to go for the jugular. The Air Force allocated something like 30 Atlases to develop the Atlas, and it took them about ten before they got one to work. But NASA said, let's not work that way, let's figure out how to make things work and only use one or two rockets. And so we shifted over from a smaller set of four rockets, to the larger set of rockets that would get us well up into the radiation belt.
DeVorkin:Who set that kind of philosophy? Newell was certainly involved?
Naugle:I think Abe Silverstein. Silverstein was the one. That was established before Seamans came into the agency. And I think the NRL group was strongly oriented that way, because they'd operated on a very cheap, very low budget and tried every rocket that they flew. They flew to get data. No test flights or one test flight of a brand new rocket or something like that. Well, we took this rocket and launched it. It worked perfectly. The emulsions all worked perfectly. I measured the energy spectrum and showed that the energy spectrum changed, measured the flux of protons, and it was a very successful experiment.
DeVorkin:Was the NERV program the first real program that mapped the belts?
Naugle:No. It was the first one that mapped them and measured the energy spectrum. Van Allen was mapping the belts. They were sending Geiger counters and photomultiplier tubes through and so on, but they weren't sure what the particles they were measuring were, and so on.
DeVorkin:Those were recovery vehicles?
Naugle:No, those were not recovery. Mine was the first recovery vehicle. And I missed by about a month being the first to recover the Discoverer that I had plagiarized all my equipment from. They had flown 12 of these things and had not recovered them, and so we were beginning to think that we were going to beat them and recover one. If they had missed once more, we would have recovered them (beaten them), and I don't know what that would have done to the system, if NASA had done that.
DeVorkin:Because the Discoverer was military?
Naugle:It was military, and they were a big program. I mean, we were a million dollar scale of thing and they had hundreds of millions of dollars being put into that.
DeVorkin:What contact did you have with Discoverer?
Naugle:Our contact was through GE. GE had the Discoverer contract and they were developing the nosecone, so the recovery devices, the signaling devices, the dyes, the beacons, all of that, were made available to us.
DeVorkin:So you did benefit from part of it.
Naugle:Oh, yes, we benefited from that hardware, and the nosecone. Now, we were the first nosecone, the first I think to have an opening in it. We had an opening in it at the very hottest point of the ablation nosecone. That was the first time that was ever done. It was not done in Apollo, and I don't know whether it was done in the re-entry program for a long time. We were the first to successfully open a nosecone and close it and then re-enter.
DeVorkin:Is there an example of the NERV to your knowledge at the Smithsonian, or do you have one here at NASA?
Naugle:I think it is still out at Goddard.
DeVorkin:The original one?
DeVorkin:Is it on display?
Naugle:I don't think it's on display. As a matter of fact, it should be, and I'm negligent, but I got onto other things. But it was recovered and brought back and was kept at Goddard for a long time.
DeVorkin:This might well be another good candidate for the Space Museum.
Naugle:Yes. Now, I came in '59. In the spring of '60, I started to get involved in headquarters because I started putting together another sounding rocket program, which was really to revisit the Glover Leaf program. This was a program to fly sounding rockets into aurora and into solar events at Fort Churchill, to see if there were protons coming from the sun during solar cosmic ray events.
DeVorkin:This required very very quick action. I imagine when you saw a flare.
DeVorkin:Friedman was doing that sort of stuff, too, wasn't he, or was that later? He was talking about getting X-ray bursts during flare phenomena.
DeVorkin:I'm thinking Friedman or Giacconi, one of the two was doing that.
Naugle:Well, Friedman was studying the sun, yes. Giacconi got in and made his discovery. Giacconi was looking for X-ray luminescence from the moon and then discovered them and Giacconi did most of his work with X-rays on the sun on Skylab.
DeVorkin:OK, that's much later. Let's get back to NERV. You were beginning in another recovery program, but I'm interested, how many NERV's were actually flown?
Naugle:Well, we built three. We flew the first one and it was successful, and then by the time I had put together an emulsion group. Carl Fichtel was there. Don Guss was there. Donald Kniffen was there. But what I was going to say was that in the spring of '60, in terms of getting this sounding rocket project together for Churchill, I started getting involved with people at headquarters. Also, from the data that I was getting back, I became something of an expert in radiation levels in the radiation belts and how hazardous they were. People here were interested in me from that standpoint, and sometime along I guess in March or April, Jack Clark offered me a job to come down here. Having taken a $3000 a year cut in salary, after Convair, with my kids needing braces on their teeth and all those sorts of things, I found myself in a pretty severe financial bind, and I could make more money by coming down to headquarters.
DeVorkin:You were being transferred, as head of a small office, to becoming a staff scientist again in a larger office, is that how it worked?
Naugle:Well, I stayed on. I transferred to headquarters, became a headquarters employee, and I was responsible for the fields and particles — energetic particles — and at the same time, I continued to work on NERV, but I gave up the Canadian sounding rocket.
DeVorkin:That was the second program?
Naugle:The second program.
DeVorkin:Did that ever have a name of any sort?
Naugle:I don't remember what the name of it was. You'd have to talk to Carl Fichtel. Now, that was also a very successful program. They went ahead and found that there were indeed not only protons but that there were heavy particles coming from the sun, an outflow of carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, which was quite a significant result. It seemed to me more significant but people didn't seem to pay much attention to it, but it seemed to me quite a significant result.
DeVorkin:Well, it was the solar wind. They were starting to see the solar wind.
Naugle:Yes. So I started working half time downtown, and half time out at Goddard. Then, when I flew the first NERV, and had the data that I wanted, the question came, did I want to go back to Goddard or did I want to stay here full time? They promoted me to become director of physics and astronomy at that time. The upshot of it was that I decided to come down here and close out my research career when I finished up the work on NERV. So that was my last real scientific paper, the one that Kniffen and I published together. That was a traumatic experience, because I really knew very clearly what I was doing and wasn't at all sure that what I was going to go down here was going to be valuable — whether I was going to become just one more faceless bureaucrat, or whether I would do something worthwhile down here. But I did that; came down here.
DeVorkin:The last paper then that you would classify, that was in the JOURNAL OF GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH with Kniffen, "Variations of the Proton Energy Spectrum with Position in the Inner van Allen Belt."
Naugle:Yes. And I wrote some other things on radiation dosages, and then I've written a thousand pages of Congressional testimony and a book and so on and so forth. But that was my last real research.
DeVorkin:You have major papers with Homer Newell on radiation environments in space, but these are basically review type articles?
DeVorkin:But clearly here you were anticipating manned space flight and beginning that. Were you doing that then in the capacity of an administrator here and spokesman for NASA?
DeVorkin:Let me ask you a few things about that. In changing your style and your profession, in a way moving into a different realm, did you attend any workshops or training courses or short courses on science management, when you came to this higher position?
Naugle:Not for some period of time. After I'd been here, a year or two, I guess, I went down to Williamsburg and they had a training program there, a one week training program. That's the only one.
DeVorkin:OK, so there was no significant training program. Was that the Brookings course?
DeVorkin:In this particular article this seems to me to define what you were interested in, even though it might have been from an administrative level. You were then Chief of Physics, Geophysics and Astronomy Programs Division, Office of Space Science and Applications. Was this office given the mandate to be able to predict conditions for manned space flight? Were you set with those priorities even before the Kennedy inauguration?
Naugle:Yes. Manned Mercury flights were scheduled and we needed that date. We needed that data for communications satellites, because in those days they still hadn't settled on the geostationary orbit as being the orbit for communications satellites. And so they were very much interested in the radiation, and the composition of the radiation belts. Now, I should make it very clear here, that all the motivation of all the work that went on in space science, with the possible exception of Surveyor and Orbiter, was motivated by science.
DeVorkin:Even the Ranger?
DeVorkin:But I know that people were very upset with the Ranger when the design characteristics changed from particle sensors to magnetic sensors and that sort of thing, to TV primarily. Do you want to get into that at some time?
Naugle:Yes. We were studying and working to understand the radiation belt. But along with that, we were also getting the information and felt an obligation to pin that down and be able to specify conditions. The idea would be that on any trajectory, you could tell what radiation dosage a person would get. And ultimately Jim Vette came to Goddard with precisely that task. He developed computer models and put all that together. There was that applied aspect of it. In the early days of Ranger, they did fly fields and particles magnetometers and cosmic ray experiments. There were test flights, to fly in lower orbits, but they had a great deal of trouble with those.
DeVorkin:Was your office involved with that?
Naugle:No, that was the Lunar Planetary Office.
DeVorkin:And they were completely separate?
Naugle:They were separate. And at one time, they even had their own people over there in fields and particles. I kicked and screamed and fought about that. That was one of my first battles over turf, I guess, and I won it. Two physicists came in to work in Headquarters, and I really was very unhappy with their behavior, because what was being established at that time was the principal that the responsibility for the selection of the investigators was going to reside at headquarters by people who had no conflict of interest. People in NASA field centers and in universities were going to be doing the research, but because of their conflicts of interest, the decisions would be made on the grounds of peer review at headquarters, by scientists who were working at Headquarters and doing research. So those two came to work at headquarters on one of the early Mariners and then went back to the field to do the experiment. I felt that that was not cricket, and raised a certain amount of hell. Then they were going to try to put themselves on a Pioneer, and by that time I had enough leverage around the place so that I was able to prevent that. After the principle was firmly established: we issued a public announcement of a flight opportunity (AFO's) inviting scientists around the world to propose. Their proposals would be reviewed and placed in one of four categories by a committee of their peers. A group of Headquarters, non-competing scientists would then move up the payload from experiments placed in the first category by the peer group.
DeVorkin:How did you gain leverage? Was it through seniority? Were there any particular people who had a sympathetic ear for you?
Naugle:Well, I had a reputation as a good honest individual and a good solid physicist. Early on, we formed the space science steering committee, and it had a number of sub committees. There was the Fields and Particles Committee and I chaired that. There was Astronomy Committee and Nancy Roman chaired that. There was a Physics Committee and a Lunar Planetary Committee. Bob Jastrow chaired that latter committee. They were made up of NASA people, and academic people, and on a rare occasion or two, people from industry. The idea was that they were to advise on what the program should be, and they were to provide technical input. They were to categorize the experiments, and then the people at headquarters would make the final choice.
DeVorkin:I'm not sure I know who was on your committee at that time.
Naugle:I chaired the Fields and Particle Committee. Frank McDonald was on it, Kinsey Anderson was on it, Jim van Allen was on it.
DeVorkin:About what year was this?
Naugle:That would have been in late '60, early '61, I think. There were some other people. Marcia Neugebauer was on it. And I can't remember now whether Larry Cahill was on it. There was a certain amount of flux in membership.
DeVorkin:I can go back and check that just so I know the approximate years.
Naugle:That's all in the record. The perception was that we did a good job there. The perception of this philosophy of headquarters choice was becoming or it was recognized that the procedure was sound and people could trust their careers to it, if you will.
DeVorkin:Was that Silverstein's decision?
Naugle:No, Silverstein was the Head of Space Flight. Homer Newell was his deputy, and Abe handled the engineering, and Homer handled the science. And it was Homer who put together those committees; Homer and Jack Clark and myself and Nancy Roman all sort of worked together to decide what kinds of committees we would have, what their responsibilities would be, who we would have on them as members, how often they would meet. We did that, but we didn't sit down and write it all down. We sort of sat down and said, "Well, this makes sense, I'll go and have a meeting and we'll see how it works."
Naugle:After about a couple of years, we began to look around and say, "Gee, we ought to really write this up." Also new people were coming in. So we took a month or so, I guess, and wrote up the procedures, which in retrospect was quite a historical document, quite an important document. I'm sometimes amused, because it got carved in stone, you know, and somebody will come back and quote it and say, "You know, you can't do that, that's not the way it's done." And, of course, I think back to when that particular rule was established and why. To me, the important point was that we did things, and the things that worked we then codified and turned into regulations.
DeVorkin:Are copies of this Procedure Manual commonly available? Does the history office here at NASA have one?
Naugle:They should have. If they don't have, I would work with you to help you find them, because there were a number of kinds of basic principles that we laid down there. One was that we regarded space on a space craft as a national resource, and available really as an international resource. We regarded that as a resource available to the best scientists on the basis of what he would propose to do with it. At first people would just propose projects, and you would take the proposals that you had and run those through. Then we said, "We really ought to formally advertise." That led to the Announcement of Opportunities. So then we formally would announce that there was going to be space available, people could propose for it. We established the principle — and there were really some healthy battles about it that the data that was taken belonged to the principal investigator.
DeVorkin:Who fought those battles pro and con?
Naugle:I fought that. It was just incomprehensible to me that it should be any other way. Now, we ran into trouble with public relations. They opposed it because they wanted to get the results out and they would lean on us, and of course when pictures came, they wanted to get the pictures. They were priceless, to get those things out. And a principal investigator who'd spent a fair amount of time in designing a camera and who was getting himself all ready to analyze these pictures wasn't keen to publish something, and then have anybody who happened to read the NEW YORK TIMES be able to write an article. You could write a definitive article on some of those early pictures. That was one of the real hassles, who owned the data? Other people would argue that the data was gotten with federal money so it belongs to the people and so anybody should have access to it.
DeVorkin:Who argued that?
Naugle:Some scientists argued that way.
DeVorkin:Do you remember any specific names?
Naugle:Alex Dessler, as I recall, was one who argued that. It tended to be the theoretical physicists. It tended to be people who didn't have data. As you might expect. On the other hand, we also established that the investigator had first crack at it only for a certain period of time, established as usually a year. We had different times depending upon the nature of the pictures. You could handle it that way. The idea was that after a year the data went into the public domain, and that it was archived. We set up the National Space Science Data Center at Goddard, and the feeling that I had there was, and a lot of other people did also, that the data we were taking, for reasons that we didn't understand now, might be invaluable 50 years from now. Well, now quite aside from this, we're talking about putting satellites up to measure the solar constant for 100 years, in order to get a good data baseline.
DeVorkin:Is that from the recent work of Jack Eddy and people like that?
Naugle:Yes. We did that at Woods Hole.
DeVorkin:That's interesting. Has he been making these proposals directly?
Naugle:Well, no. What I'm talking about is what we called the New Directions Symposium held at Woods Hole this spring where we were looking for new ideas. One of the areas we decided to work on was solar physics. The proposition was made, I think actually by Bill Press, that we have what would be called Centurion satellites, not for the Roman Centurion, the soldier, but for the century. It's a mixed metaphor, I guess, but the idea would be that you would put up a satellite which would measure the solar constant to an accuracy of .2 of a percent over a period of 100 years. We would launch it, work with it for a year to get it checked out, and then, it could sit up there and do its thing, and if things went to hell down here — if NASA got abolished, if people lost interest in the solar constant, if there was a nuclear war — it would survive, and would store 100 years’ worth of data onto the satellite. And then, you know, if there was a renaissance after 50 years or so, one could get the data with a generic instrument like a ground based telescope. It would have a flashing light on it, and maybe this would be the way in which you would get the data back. That was the proposition that they made, and they essentially said "Here's something that we think is important to measure. We want to put it out of the reach of budget cutters, of competition for data handling capability, we want it so when we die it won't and will continue to be there on the faith that 100 years from now there will be people who will want that data." Of course, it goes back to the fact that 100 years ago people started to monitor the solar constant in England with the idea of doing that. But then the person who was doing it died and the project died with him. A number of things like that that you'd like to do. You'd like to measure the albedo of the earth over a long period of time to see if there are any significant long term trends in it. That was an early concept: that the data that we were taking we didn't want to leave in the hands of a professor and his graduate students, with the possibility that he might leave and it might get destroyed. It had been gotten, and it was probably irreplaceable. And so, we created the Space Science Data Center. Now, there was quite a hassle with the Space Science Board at that time.
DeVorkin:Would you say that the public affairs people were the only ones opposed to this policy?
Naugle:No, there were scientists who argued that the data should be available.
DeVorkin:Who were they?
Naugle:Well, Alex Dessler, as mentioned, and Francis Johnson.
DeVorkin:These people are the ones who argued for the availability?
Naugle:They argued for the immediate availability of the data.
DeVorkin:Any scientists who argued against the immediate availability?
Naugle:Oh yes. I haven't hit all the basic principles yet. That's what I was talking about. I noted that space was a national resource, that space availability would be advertised, and that selection would be made on the basis of a categorization by peers; by people who really knew the field. The principal investigator would be responsible for his hardware. He would design and build it. We wouldn't build it for him or wouldn't contract for somebody to build it for him. He was responsible for that, and in turn then, since he'd done all of this, in the tradition, then, he would have sole access to his data for some period of time. And that philosophy prevailed. The first time that we really broke with that in any substantial way was in the case of Viking; the experiments that we put in the capsule, on the lander. It wasn't quite a disaster, but there were difficult times. I came out of that Viking experience recommending that even in the case of something like that; you should still follow that same basic principle. We did it differently on Viking because of the need for sterilization; the need to package things as compactly as possible; and in the case of the biology package, the people who were engaged in that just didn't have the right experience. They had never built space hardware. They were the type of people who had only worked in laboratories, and who tended to buy a Beckman instrument and use it, as opposed to the type of scientist who designs his own instrument. Not only do the latter move science along, but he moves the science of instrumentation along. He designs instruments that will enable him to make measurements that he couldn't make before. Well, we wanted to get that philosophy into the space program. And we did.
DeVorkin:But Viking was an exception.
Naugle:The Viking was an exception.
DeVorkin:It had very peculiar requirements, I mean, the biological requirements.
Naugle:Yes. But for instance, Nier, who had built instruments from almost the time he was out of the crib, had to stand by and let us build his instrument for Viking. And that caused him some considerable pain.
DeVorkin:He had to stand by? So the policy was broached whether or not the principal investigator could build equipment?
Naugle:For Viking, what we said was that for the instruments that were on the orbiter we followed the standard practice. But on the entry package and on the lander, we contracted through Martin –Marietta Corporation for the instruments. The principal investigators laid out the specifications. They certified that the instruments were ready; that they worked and they got the data. It was successful. But in retrospect, I think it would have probably been more successful had we stood by our old way of doing business. It's better. I mean an experimental physicist who has been raised right and trained right, if he designs his own instrument, then he knows it and he knows all the peculiarities in it. And if you insist that he does it to a certain level of reliability and that it can pass tests and so on and so forth, then you have a much better instrument than if you simply give a bunch of specifications to some instrument house and have them build it by journeymen.
DeVorkin:Yes. Who made that decision in the case of Viking, to go against the procedures?
Naugle:I guess I did. I made most of the major decisions like that on Viking. We did it; we were very concerned about sterilization. Everything that entered the atmosphere of Mars had to be sterilized. Weight was at a premium. And I let myself be persuaded that it would be better to go that way, with a contractor, but with a deep involvement of the scientists.
DeVorkin:Did the contractors argue for it, or was this some internal discussion you had? Who advised you on that?
Naugle:The project officer of Langley strongly recommended it.
DeVorkin:Carl Sagan was very very strong on sterilization. I know he was the one who started sterilization going and all that, and he was involved with Viking. Was he one of your advisors?
Naugle:Yes. He was an investigator on Viking.
DeVorkin:Yes, but as far as building the equipment goes, did he want to have control over that?
Naugle:No. Not Carl. Carl is more of a theoretical physicist. He was on the imaging team and studied the pictures, as I recall. What we really wound up doing, was that we had people like Nier play key roles in making the instruments work and helping to find the problems and so forth. But the thing about it was that we laid down principles which worked, very well, apparently, until probably '74, '75 — the early seventies.
DeVorkin:You formulated these principles and procedures at a time when NASA was building.
Naugle:When NASA was building.
DeVorkin:They worked equally well during the periods when there were cutbacks?
Naugle:Well, that's what I'm getting at. That's what I'm getting into now. The principles that we followed dictated that we brought good people in. The competition was fierce, so they were very innovative. They could create their own instruments. There was a lot of pressure in the early days to develop instrumentation. The feeling was that if you didn't come up with a new and better measurement, you weren't going to be able to get on a flight. People were responsible for their instruments, and they made them work. The last time I looked, I could count the number of instruments that had failed on the fingers of one hand, out of some thousand or so that we had flown, so that part of it was highly successful.
DeVorkin:Wasn't there also the sentiment that it would have been good also to put up more of the same kinds of satellites for additional observations of things?
Naugle:Well, that was one of the problems that we begin to get into. (But continuing with the original developmental principle), what I see as the good thing that came out of that was that there was a feeling that the system was honest, you know, honest in terms of the scientific integrity. People didn't steal other people's ideas. Honest in sort of the fair play end of the business, whoever had the idea first. Honest from a fiscal standpoint. There were no scandals in all of that. But we began to have troubles with that system and there were many. The competition did begin to be fierce, and because we had lots of money and there were lots of good people interested in it, we got more good groups than what we could handle later on when the budget began to bend over, starting about 1965 as the watershed year in my memory. So then I began to urge groups to combine and work together. I began to urge people to combine instruments. Now, I tried combining, putting a couple of instruments together. In the early sixties it wouldn't work. People rebelled against it. Later on, when things became so tight and when we had lots of data around to be analyzed, and it became apparent to people that if you got an experiment up on a satellite and it kept chugging out data on a routine basis, it wasn't like a laboratory experiment that you could shut off or something like that. The satellite could saturate a lab with data. So we began to move to groups getting together. The ultimate thing that has happened (I'm told this — I'm not that close to it now) is that the competition is so fierce that it has reversed and gone the other way now. People are afraid to take a chance. So that when you make a proposal now, you propose that you can describe in minute detail how an instrument is going to work. You show the calibration curves and so on and so forth. And so the people are afraid to propose a new radically different experiment for fear that they will not be selected, and if they're not selected, then their whole research establishment may go down the tubes, because they're dependent on this.
DeVorkin:This has happened in the Space Telescope in sort of an inverse way, I think. Some of the earlier groups, who had gone with older style detectors, were bumped by newer groups who had opted for much newer innovations.
DeVorkin:It seems to me not quite what you're talking about, or is it the same?
Naugle:Well, I think what I'm talking about is more in the X-ray fields and particles. That's where I hear it most, I guess. The Space Telescope does have a pretty innovative group of instruments on it. I may be making too much out of something here, except that I am told this repeatedly when I make a tour of universities. So I think it is real; that the risk of failure is driving innovation out of the space program now. We've talked a lot about how to restore that. What do you do? The people who are now here at headquarters are worrying about that how do you restore that capability? But those basic philosophies that we set, through the sixties and into the early seventies, were very good. Very good work was done. Major discoveries were made. People made reputations for themselves. Nobody has won a Nobel Prize yet, but a number of people have gone into the National Academy on the basis of their work that they did on the space program. The state of the art was moved ahead in a major way and tends to think that the discipline that the space program has imposed upon a scientist will have a salutary effect on science, but I'm not sure. What I mean by that is that, before the space program came along, you worked in the lab in the balloons, you began to get into this business of having to put an instrument together and make it work when you're not there. But when one got into the space program, he couldn't just go down and fool around in the lab, and you'd say, "Well, that's bad." You ought to have that traditional kind of freedom to work. The discipline that a space scientist was forced into was to conceive of an experiment, figure out how he was going to do it, be able to explain it before his peers and win a place to fly it. And he also had to figure out how to work the thing, maybe 10 or 20 astronomical units away, and how get reliable data back, and how to publish papers on it. There's a class of space scientists who have learned how to do that and do it well. They have also had to put up with an enormous amount of paperwork, and in recent years, the other thing that I found out when I visited universities was that a principal investigator has to spend all his time (preparing proposals}. If I'm a principal investigator at a university now, the leader, in order to keep a research group going, I have to have four or five projects going. So I have to write four or five proposals a year. I have to write four or five annual reports, four or five quarterly reports. I have to fuss with the university over overhead and positions, and I have to fuss with the monitoring agency, and I don't do any research. It's all done now by non-tenured research associates and graduate students.
DeVorkin:Many people find that very unpleasant. I'm sure you found that out.
Naugle:Yes. I found that out. I hadn't realized how bad things had gotten. But you see, in the early sixties, when we would have a solicitation and select a payload, we would probably fly 90 percent of the good experiments. You know, there'd maybe 20 proposals and we would fly 12 and maybe we'd have to leave behind 3 and you'd really feel bad, because you'd know the people and you’d know they had a good proposal. But you just couldn't fly them all. And somebody else had a little sharper idea or a little better way of phrasing it.
DeVorkin:Those decisions were made by a peer review process that you helped to organize?
DeVorkin:Could you describe that process, how you developed it, or were you the one who developed it?
Naugle:Well, this is what I was alluding to earlier. I guess some of the very early decisions were made by the laboratories, at JPL or Goddard, and there were some very unhappy people in the universities who felt that they didn't get a fair chance.
DeVorkin:Who were not at JPL or Goddard?
Naugle:Yes, not at JPL or Goddard. And the people at Goddard were very unhappy that they didn't get onto the Rangers, a JPL Project. I can recall that very vividly because I was in a car pool with some Goddard people at that time.
DeVorkin:Who were they?
Naugle:Frank McDonald and Les Meredith. The people at the universities felt that the people at the NASA centers would have the inside track, because they were here, and they would influence decisions. On the other hand, the people at the NASA centers felt that the people at the universities would bring pressure to bear, and they would go to their Congressmen and prevail over the lowly government scientist, and that they would win out. (So in the final analysis both sides were happy to have the decisions made by neutral scientists in headquarters centers.)
DeVorkin:Was that actually a real threat?
Naugle:Oh yes. There were scientists who went to Congressmen. They still occasionally will go to a Congressman.
DeVorkin:Any particular instances; could you tell me who it was and what happened?
Naugle:No, I don't really remember.
DeVorkin:Nothing that stands out in your mind?
Naugle:Nothing that stands out in my mind. I guess at the time I started getting into this, the first payloads that I worked on were for the Orbiting Geophysical Laboratory. And by that time, we formed the Space Science Steering Committee, and we formed discipline subcommittees of that. These were chaired by the program chiefs like me. I was a program chief at headquarters. Nancy Roman was. And they were made up of working scientists. I gave you the membership of the Fields and Particles one.
Naugle:Then the way we worked was that we would establish a definite cutoff. We would review the proposals, and we would categorize the proposals. This peer group would categorize the proposals: Category 1 was a good proposal by a good person, had the institutional support that we felt was needed to carry out the experiment and so forth. Category 2 was a proposal that was a good proposal but had been done; that there was not so much new in it. Category 3 was a good exciting proposal but we didn't feel was ready for flight, and Category 4 was a proposal that should be rejected. Then those recommendations came in to the program office: the Physics and Astronomy or Lunar-Planetary program office. Then that group would put together a proposed payload. Then they would take that payload to the Space Science Steering Committee. The Space Science Steering Committee was made up of the director of the particular offices and the chief scientist of the particular office. Now, in those days we said that our program offices could be headed either by a scientist or by an engineer, but if it was headed by an engineer then the deputy should be a scientist. If it was headed by a scientist, the deputy should be an engineer.
DeVorkin:How was it determined as to who was heading them, whether scientists or engineers?
Naugle:The original head of Physics and Astronomy was John Clark. He was a scientist. When he moved out, I took over. When I left, I had a very good deputy engineer who worked well with scientists. There was a scientist, who I didn't feel was ready to take on the directorship, and so I made the engineer the director, he did a first rate job. The lunar area has mostly been headed by engineers. Ed Cortwright headed it then Oran Nicks, Don Hart. But they usually had good scientists. Razool was there. Don Rea was there. So then we had a Steering Committee which was chaired first by Homer Newell and then later on by a chief scientist. Jack Clark was the chief scientist, for a period of time. Then I took over that job. The way it really worked out was that as soon as we had a chief scientist, the chief scientist chaired that steering group. It was made up then of these scientists and engineers of the various offices.
DeVorkin:So, the directors and their immediate deputies?
Naugle:Yes. So proposers would bring a payload there and would discuss it. And then normally the steering committee would bless it. Occasionally the steering committee would rear back. The steering committee did not try to second guess peer evaluation, but it reviewed the process. You know, "did you have a good review? Had you really chosen Category 1 experiments?" And usually that was pro forma, but occasionally you would have had a battle in there, if we felt that a program office was not doing right; particularly later on. Take the Lunar and planetary program office and fields and particles. There was a time when, even though they didn't have a fields and particles group they were still putting fields and particles experiments on their spacecraft, and even though I was responsible for the fields and particles discipline, they didn't pay any attention to our committee. So I reared up and raised hell in the steering committee, and prevailed. You asked me how I prevailed. Well, it was through the fact that I had good people on the committee. They had categorized these experiments, and the program office was going contrary to this. And so I raised hell, said I couldn't agree with that, and won that battle. We had one enormous battle, as I recall, and after that the program offices paid very close attention to those committees. And those committees were good.
DeVorkin:Was this in the early period of Ranger?
Naugle:This was the early period of Ranger. But the really tremendous battle that we had was over the first Pioneers, Pioneers 5, 6.
DeVorkin:Well after van Allen?
DeVorkin:I'm not sure exactly what all the different Pioneers did in the early period.
Naugle:Well, in the early '60s we put together a set of Pioneers primarily for fields and particles experiments, and they were the ones that Ames handled. Chuck Sonnet had been at headquarters but had gone out to Ames, and had felt that he had a lock on those things. The battle was over that. I fought the battle. At the time I wasn't 100 percent sure that I was right. Events afterwards showed that what we judged was that the instrument that he was getting ready to fly wasn't ready to fly and wouldn't be ready to fly in time to make the schedule, and it proved to be the case. It wasn't ready to fly. Incidentally, one of the odd things: there has been only one continuing blood feud. The only real area where this took place was among the people who measure magnetic fields — Norman Ness at Goddard, Paul Coleman at UCLA. Chuck Sonnet's out of that business now and was running an observatory. But those two groups fought over getting onto various and sundry spacecraft. And even here, not two or three years ago I got involved in them, and it was just as though I was back ten or fifteen years before. I mean, the same God damn battles, and quarreling and caterwauling, you know, and it's one of these situations where if you've got a very good discriminator, you have no problem, but if they're both using pretty much the same instruments, and they're good people and they're doing good work, then it's difficult to discriminate. And so then they scream, "Discrimination," you know.
DeVorkin:But you can't get them together to offer one package.
Naugle:Oh God no. We put them on the same spacecraft, a time or two, to see if we couldn't do that. But this was the Goddard-JPL kind of faction, and if we put Goddard scientists on JPL spacecraft, that was a terrible traumatic experience. We put JPL people on Goddard spacecraft, and that was a terrible traumatic experience. Good science was done, you know, all along. The instruments that we put on always worked, you know, but it is the Hatfield’s and the McCoy’s.
DeVorkin:I know both Goddard and JPL people did unmanned flights but, I may be wrong, didn't Goddard do mostly earth orbit, and JPL do deep missions?
Naugle:Yes, very early, even before I came on board, a Roles and Missions decision had been made, and JPL was given the lunar and planetary, and Goddard was given the earth orbital. And that rankled Goddard terribly, and Goddard tried desperately to have a planetary mission. They thought that was the glamorous mission, you know. The other ones were good science but that was where the (Network) TV cameras showed up and you took the pictures and so on and so forth. We used to play JPL and Goddard off against each other. JPL would come in with a proposition to do something that we felt was too expensive or too complex or something like that, so we would have Goddard study it. Goddard would study it hoping against hope that they would get the mission. Well, they wouldn't get the mission, but we would straighten out JPL on this. And of course JPL was mad because they had to compete. Then there was a period in the late sixties when we did spread the planetary program around. We put the Pioneers at Ames, and we put Lunar Orbiter and Viking at Langley. And then we finally knocked off the business with Goddard. Don Harth had been here at headquarters, had run the Lunar and Planetary Program Office, and so we made him Deputy Director of Goddard. So he went off to Goddard, and by God, he was going to get a planetary mission for Goddard, and we struggled with this. And then one day he and Jack Clark and I got together and we said, "Look, Goddard is never going to get a planetary mission." By that time, you know, things had begun to shrink down. "Let's knock this off and quit" — that was another major feud.
DeVorkin:Who made the initial Roles and Missions decision? This you said was before you came?
Naugle:Abe Silverstein would have been involved in it, Homer Newell, and Hugh Dryden.
DeVorkin:It was that level decision.
Naugle:It was that level decision, and I'm trying to think. There was a fellow who came in as an associate administrator, and I can't think of his name. Somebody from industry came in and made a study. Horner was his name. But that was made, and they focused the work at the centers. Of course, we had the three aeronautical centers. Initially, I don't know whether you know or not, Goddard was the manned space flight center. And the original Mercury program was a part of Goddard. One of the reasons they chose Harry Goatt was a feeling that he could handle the Mercury program. Well, then when Kennedy came in, several things happened. Kennedy came in. Silverstein left headquarters and went out to become director of Lewis.
DeVorkin:You had the Weisner report at that time?
Naugle:Yes, there was the (J.B.) Weisner report which recommended a reorganization of NASA.
DeVorkin:Why did he do that? What's you’re feeling about that?
Naugle:Before that, we'd been organized in terms of space flight programs, in terms of satellites and sounding rockets, and in terms of lunar and planetary spacecraft. The Weisner report suggested we organize more by discipline, I guess, he recommended the formation of the program offices, the Office of Space Science, the Office of Applications, an Office of Manned Space Flight and the Office of Tracking and Data Acquisition.
DeVorkin:It was a surprise to me that Kennedy was critical. Was this a purely political football, based upon the fact that there had been some spectacular failures and the number of successful launches of major rockets up to that time was small?
Naugle:No. I don't think so. In those days NASA was reorganizing about every couple of weeks. Well, it was organizing and growing, you know. It was just growing every which way. There had been problems. There have been launch vehicle problems. The manned space flight program hadn't really emerged yet as the major direction the agency was going to be. There was the feeling that you had to demonstrate the practical value of space; communications and meteorology applications. In contrast to Carter when Kennedy came in, he had a number of task forces of knowledgeable people who went off and thought seriously about how things ought to be structured. I can remember that there was some group that was working at Los Alamos, and I went off and talked about the space program to some group in Los Alamos. It wasn't obvious at the time, but my feeling was, at least from my career then, and from then on, that the way in which they organized was very sound.
DeVorkin:The way it was suggested by Weisner that you reorganize?
Naugle:Yes. And they pretty much followed that. They created the Office of Space Science, and they did create a separate office of applications at that time. But they gave the launch vehicles that OSS needed to OSS, and they gave the launch vehicles that the Manned Space Flight needed to the Office of Manned Space Flight. Of course then, in very short order, a couple of things happened. You had the Bay of Pigs and the decision to go to the moon, and then a tremendous expansion in the manned space flight program. But then Mort Stoller, who headed the Office of Applications, died, and they brought Bob Garbarini in, who really was a good man, but he really wasn't savvy to the political environment. And so they wound up putting Space Science and Applications together — all the applications at Goddard. There was a period of chaos at first when they had the centers reporting in to the administrator. The center directors thought this was great because they reported to the administrator and that looked great. But then they found out that the administrator was busy and there was nobody to talk to. And so after about a year or two OSS formed what they called an OSS Senior Council which was the division directors of OSS and the center directors. OSS had business in all the NASA centers of one form or another, and so that put together a package so that the associate administrator of space science had everything that he needed to do his job, science, applications, launch vehicles and the centers except tracking and data acquisition. The tracking was done at Goddard and at JPL. To get on with my career, then I moved up. There was a headquarters center hassle with Harry Goett. They fired Harry Goett one morning. Jack Clark went out that afternoon to become acting director, and I moved up to become chief scientist. I was acting in that for a year, I guess, while we tried to find a suitable director for Goddard, and finally decided to make that Clark.
DeVorkin:But what was the problem with Harry Goett? Was it because the manned missions were not going to be staying at Goddard?
Naugle:No, it was partly a clash of personalities. He and Homer Newell didn't get along. Harry Goett was of the old NACA School where a Center Director was supreme. There would be a few bureaucrats back at headquarters whose purpose was to go up on the Hill and testify and get money and then ship the money out to the centers and they made all the decisions. You couldn't operate NASA that way, in the early days. Maybe we could have, but we weren't organized to operate it that way and we didn't elect to operate it that way. Harry tried to operate it that way. And it was a tragedy, because Harry was a very good man. He made a cohesive unit out of Goddard, he took people from NRL and the Signal Corps laboratories and various and sundry universities; all who had been competitors and were at each other's throats. He brought that entire group together and made a cohesive coherent laboratory out of it. And everybody worshipped him, you know, and the morale was very high. But he essentially refused to take direction from headquarters. You can bend some, but at some point in time you say: "no, I've got to have somebody at Goddard who will do what I tell him to do, and so they fired him."
DeVorkin:Where did he go?
Naugle:He went out and worked for Ford Aerospace. You know Ford has an aerospace company out on the West Coast.
DeVorkin:OK, go ahead. You moved up to chief scientist?
Naugle:I moved up to chief scientist, acting.
DeVorkin:What was your responsibility there?
Naugle:I should back up a little bit. While I was still in physics and astronomy, I took on the chairmanship of the Solar Physics Committee. I did not know exactly what the ins and outs of it were. I felt that I was getting in over my head because this wasn't my field and I wasn't dealing with people I knew. It was sort of the first time I branched out and became a true administrator of science as opposed to dealing with the things that I knew where I knew the people, knew their abilities, and knew the instruments and so on.
DeVorkin:And you were concerned that solar physics was not your forte?
Naugle:Yes. But I discovered that they were people just like the other people, and that if I did a little homework and listened to people and so on, I could sort that out. So I had that background before I went up to become chief scientist. Before that I got involved in the planetary program. They wanted me to chair a capsule advisory committee. This was in the early days when there was the Mars Launcher called Voyager which was killed and then became a little Viking.
DeVorkin:But then the Voyager name re-emerged from the Mariner missions to Jupiter?
DeVorkin:OK. But in name only?
Naugle:Yes, in name only, right. The Voyager was going to put two spacecraft on a Saturn 5 and it was going to be a 2 1/2 billion dollar project.
Naugle:Glennan of course came from business, but Horner was the first big business executive who came through NASA and organized centers and so forth.
DeVorkin:Glennan came in from Case. He was president of Case Western and he left of course as soon as it was known that the Eisenhower Administration was to go out. A position at that level was purely political, I would take it?
Naugle:Yes. There are two political appointees in NASA, but the pattern has been that only one, the Administrator generally changes with an administration, and in one case even the Administrator didn't change. The Administrator normally changes. Glennan was a political appointee. He left. Webb came in. Then Webb left in the fall of '68 — the election year. Nixon was elected, and so Payne who was the acting deputy, was made the administrator. When Payne left, George Low was the deputy and acted as administrator. But then they brought Jim Fletcher in. Fletcher wanted to stay, but the Carter Administration wouldn't have it and brought in Frosch.
DeVorkin:I know that these are the people who went directly to the Hill and had direct responsibility for funding. But they certainly didn't do it alone and you probably were one of the major people writing position papers and drafts of testimony. I'd be very interested to know how you started, when you started doing this, how you felt about it, and what kind of participation you had in the various administrations at NASA.
Naugle:First of all, to be very specific, the administrator goes over and testifies, and is sort of the chief witness at a plenary session of each of the four committees. The associate administrators generally go along for that. They are there to answer questions. In the early days, the House Committee was broken down; George Miller was the chairman of the full committee and a Congressman from Minnesota by the name of Joe Karth looms very large in my memory, because he handled both the science and applications subcommittees. Let me say a word as to how I got into it, and then spend more time on the hearings, and how I saw them. I would have gotten into the business of writing, and putting together material for the physics and astronomy part (I guess it was geophysics then) when Clark was director of geophysics. I would have prepared some material, maybe a half page or so, to go into the congressional testimony on my particular field. And similarly then when I became director of physics and astronomy, then I put together a section on physics and astronomy, complete with view graphs and art work and so on and so forth, but I would not have presented that. That material would have gone up, and Newell and Cortwright, who were the associate administrator and deputy associate administrator, would have presented the material. I would have been there to answer questions. Newell actually was an author and a frustrated writer, and he used to put together ungodly amounts of material, and one year put together a thousand pages of testimony and actually published a UASA Report out of it, as I recall, and I wrote a section of that. But then I think the first time that I went up on the Hill to testify would have been in August of '67 when I accompanied Cortwright who was testifying. Newell, I think, was on vacation. I think it was the first time that I was there really in the witness stand.
DeVorkin:What was the testimony at that time?
Naugle:It was general testimony on the space science program. I was there to answer questions about the scientific objectives. As I recall, the testimony was on the lunar orbiter. There was a peculiar kind of history there.
DeVorkin:You mean the particular Apollo that was supposed to be the orbiter?
Naugle:No, the lunar orbiter that followed Ranger and preceded Surveyor. They don't have many of the pictures around anymore, but it took spectacular landscapes of the moon. I had been involved with the Space Science Board in getting them to argue for a lunar orbiter. There was some debate in the agency, as to how much additional work you needed to do in lunar reconnaissance prior to Apollo.
DeVorkin:There was some debate on that?
Naugle:Yes and there was a question, did you need anything beyond Ranger? Because Ranger showed the craters and so on and so forth.
DeVorkin:You mean, they weren't even sure about the necessity of having Surveyor?
Naugle:Oh, there was quite a debate, not in Congress but within the Agency. The decision was to do the lunar orbiter. Now, the Academy wanted something that would be more of a scientific mission. When the decision was made to finally go ahead and do it, it was strictly with cameras and strictly to map to photograph the surf ace and map the surface, and primarily to support Apollo. Then again while Surveyor started out with a lot of scientific instrumentation on it, but wound up primarily with photographic instruments; instruments to measure the nature of the soil, the bearing strength of the soil, and so forth. As I said earlier, everything was done for science and the merits and priorities were scientific priorities. This was true, I would say, except for those two missions, the lunar orbiter and Surveyor. And Surveyor was really the key to the Apollo landing. There were problems with Surveyor and investigations were made. At various stages, the manned program would raise the issue: "do we really need those things? Hell, we can go on and land men and so on and so forth without Surveyor."
DeVorkin:In the history of Ranger, by Cargill Hall, it appears, at least around 1963, some of the National Academy people like DuBridge, Pauling, Warren Weaver, were wondering about the scientific missions, and actually criticizing NASA for being too much oriented toward preparing for Apollo.
Naugle:That is related to those missions, because there was trouble with Ranger. The first Rangers that flew in low earth orbit carried cosmic ray experiments and magnetometers. Then to keep costs and complexity down. I think all that stuff was taken off. And what the Rangers went to the moon with was just cameras. There was criticism of that. There was criticism of the lunar orbiter because it was just for pictures. And there was a tremendous hassle. There were scientists in headquarters here, Urner Liddel, who was the chief (...) who felt that a camera was not a scientific instrument. And they prevailed. The Mariner, the first fly-by of Venus, didn't have a camera on it. The first fly-by of Mars had a camera on it but that was by no means the major thing.
DeVorkin:What were you’re feelings about all this?
Naugle:Well, my feeling changed over the years. Because of my background I felt very strongly that they ought to carry cosmic ray and magnetometer instruments on spacecraft that were going to the planets. I pushed very hard for the fields and particles, the Pioneer missions which were just for I think I'm being honest here. I don't feel that that I ever was extreme. I was always interested in what the planets looked like. I remember way back when I was at Convair, and Convair was proposing for the Centaur, and asked me to think about what uses Centaur could be put to. It was very clear to me at that time, sort of independently off by me, that the most important discovery that you could make would be if you discovered life on another planet, and I put that into that justification. So I was curious about what the planets looked like, and of course when the time came to put Viking together, there was a question as to whether we should have an Orbiter and take additional pictures to have the capability to hold this spacecraft in orbit and to pick a landing site. I was adamant that we have that capability. I'm getting ahead of myself I guess here on this. I will want to talk a little bit about Viking at some point here.
Naugle:Well back to the Congressional testimony. When I really began to testify was when there was a major overhaul in NASA in the fall of '67. After the fire, I think, Webb became very concerned. He felt he was responsible for those three people's death, and it was a traumatic experience for him. So he tended to periodically turn the agency upside down and re-arrange it. Well, in '66 and '67, there had been quite a controversy as to where we should go next in the planetary program. We had flown past Venus and we had flown past Mercury, and we were doing lunar orbiter and getting ready for Surveyor. And in what I think was a very bad decision, the agency decided to do Voyager; decided to focus everything on Mars.
DeVorkin:You mean the initial big Voyager?
Naugle:The initial big Voyager.
DeVorkin:Who decided that, Webb?
Naugle:That was a combination of Webb and Seaman’s. There's a little story: you have to go back a little bit. When they laid out the Apollo program, they laid it out feeling that there was a world of space out there, and they set it up so that you could launch six Saturn 5's and six Saturn l's and 12 Apollo spacecraft a year. That's the way the Cape was sized.
DeVorkin:I see, for the entire program of launch.
Naugle:Yes. So, then they got Apollo laid out. Then they began to look around for what was beyond Apollo, and they didn't have that many launches coming along. So they were looking for uses for the Saturn. And Webb felt — now, I'm this way myself — that if you're going to do something, you should do it right. But "right" doesn't mean the most expensive, the most complicated way. It is a matter of judgment. But you don't want to do something like how we did the Iranian rescue. If NASA had done very many things like that, NASA wouldn't have survived. So Webb said, “OK, we're going to land on Mars. We'll look for life. We'll take our biggest vehicle and we'll put together a real thing." Well, the scientists were not behind that. They felt that it was jeopardizing the future of science programs, putting too much of the country's resources into one little branch of science; planetary exploration.
DeVorkin:These were scientists who were not planetary?
Naugle:No, among the planetary scientists, there were many of them who felt that way.
DeVorkin:Who was vocal against it?
Naugle:It's hard to remember who wasn't?
Naugle:Well, it's easier to say who was for it, and that was Harry Hess, who was chairman of the Space Science Board at that time. Harry was not a terribly democratic chairman. Very good man. I liked him. He's a world renowned scientist, responsible for the sea floor spreading work and all of that. And he wanted to explore Mars. He was chairman of the Space Science Board, and he didn't pay much attention to the other members of the Space Science Board. If they weren't enthusiastic about going to Mars he would kind have gone along his way. The upshot of that was the decision to go with the Voyager, and it was one interesting sidelight on that. I mentioned that I had earlier gotten into that because they wanted me to chair a Voyager Capsule Advisory group. The purpose of this really was to look at what kind of instrumentation you would want to put down on the surface of Mars.
DeVorkin:This was around 1967?
Naugle:No, it was earlier than that. This would have been probably '65,'66. As a matter of fact, it was just prior to the first Mars fly-by and, I'll tell you why in a minute. One of the major questions they had was what was the atmosphere of Mars? Is it closer to 20 millibars or closer to 80 millibars? And this was very crucial, because if you do a graph and ask, "What size system can I bring into Mars, where I've got the diameter of the Saturn 5 which sets the dimensions of the entry package, and not use a parachute?" Just let the drag of the entry package and the density of the atmosphere determine the terminal velocity of a given mass. Well, it turned out that at 80 millibars you had a pretty hefty payload, and as you got down of course it fell off, and then along about 20 millibars it dropped abruptly to zero. So you couldn't go with just a reentry body you would have to use a parachute to slow the package down. So we organized a group of people, and we set off for JPL one August, as I recall it. We had the Mariner 4 fly-by results and we had some new optical data, and we were going to come up with the best value of where in this range of 20-80 ml was the surface pressure of Mars? We set three days for the meeting. I was chairman of it. We started out, but it was clear by noon of the first day that we weren't in this band at all. We were arguing about whether it was 6, 6 1/2 or 7 millibars, primarily because of the fly-by data, the circulation of the radio signal by the Martian atmosphere as the spacecraft went behind the planet. And so we adjourned the meeting I think after a day or day and a half. There was no need to continue it, and we came back, and of course we had to re-design Voyager and put parachutes in and so forth. That was done. Then in the summer of '67 it was carried to Congress.
DeVorkin:Do you mean that with the suspected high atmosphere pressure they were thinking of something like a glider?
Naugle:No, something that would sort of float down, a large light object that would come in and impact, you know.
DeVorkin:Oh, actually impact.
Naugle:It would impact; how the Russians landed. This was not that version but it was that kind of a scheme. The idea was to get away from rockets and parachutes and all that sort of thing and just use a large area entry only to slow the package down enough to revive it.
DeVorkin:Parachutes have a habit of landing over the vehicle, don't they?
DeVorkin:Now I see, because I know that JPL was working feverishly in the early sixties on the composition of the Martian atmosphere and the pressure, trying to get at the pressure. They didn't do too bad a job but they were still way over the mark, from ground base.
Naugle:Well, when I first started keeping track of things, the surface pressure was up around 80. Then it dropped down to 20. Then I think it went up a little bit, but then it rapidly homed in after Mariner at 6. And it wasn't just Mariner. There were other data. Don Hunten had good data looking at line widths of carbon dioxide lines. But on the other hand, the Mariner data, being so definite, had a kind of bandwagon effect.
DeVorkin:Sure, and that changed the profile of the mission.
Naugle:Then in '67, they took the Voyager to Congress, and got all wrapped around the axle. So far, I guess that's been about the only major program that Congress has canceled. But they canceled that, that summer.
Naugle:Yes. Seaman’s the Deputy Administrator resigned at that time, and there was an opening, they needed to replace him.
DeVorkin:Was that because of the Voyager cancellation?
Naugle:No. Webb brought Newell up to become the associate administrator, and he took Cortwright over to become the deputy in manned space flight, and brought me in as the associate administrator for space science. I remember this all very vividly because in that fall of '67 we had no planetary program at all. The Voyager was dead, and it just didn't appear to be any way to resurrect it. We were looking at various and sundry things. We had nothing.
DeVorkin:Was it too big?
Naugle:It was too big, too expensive. It was 2 ½ billion dollars. Bear in mind, now, you know NASA had been expanding but then it had peaked in '65, and science peaked in '65, and as you know, there was a world change.
DeVorkin:Was this the Vietnam War?
Naugle:This was the Vietnam War and Lyndon Johnson. Lyndon did a number of things. NASA had had a 40 million dollar university affairs program, building buildings and supporting students and Johnson said, "That's not your business. Your business is to put a man on the moon. That's HEW and NSF business. Jim Boy, you kill that program." Jim killed that program. Except for six million dollars that he buried in the program to carry on.
DeVorkin:Johnson was initially very pro-space, was he not?
Naugle:Johnson was pro-space until he became President, and then while he didn't turn his back on space, but there was a long period of time there when Webb couldn't even get the time of day from Johnson, even though they'd been close friends. Webb came in and worked up on the Hill, I don't think as a page but kind of one step above a page, in the days when Lyndon Johnson was just corning in and Kerr was just corning in. So he had grown up with those people up on the Hill and he knew where the bones were buried.
DeVorkin:He knew how to operate.
Naugle:He knew how to operate in Congress.
Naugle:Well, so, the first thing that Webb said after Seaman’s left was: "I'm absolutely not going to have a planetary program (as it has been designed)." Part of the reason that Voyager got shot down was that scientists came up and testified against it. They argued that it didn't make sense; you ought to go to Jupiter. Venus is exciting, and so on.
DeVorkin:And this of course is all in the record, which scientists came up, what they said? That would be in the CONGRESSIONAL RECORD?
Naugle:Well, now, I did not testify. Newell and Cortwright went up and testified, and I, when you look at it, I may have misspoke there. I don't know whether they testified formally for the record up on the Hill, or whether they talked about it, but there was a division in the community.
DeVorkin:Can you name scientists you know who talked to Congressional liaisons or whomever?
Naugle:Well, again I would expect that they would have been Frank Johnson, Herb Friedman, and probably Tommy Gold. Tommy Gold was on PSAC at the time. Gordon McDonald.
DeVorkin:Most are in planetary geoscience. McDonald is.
Naugle:Yes. Jim van Allen I'm sure was involved. He opposed anything bigger than a basketball usually. Jim's a good friend of mine. He did a lot of good work, you know, with very simple instruments. So Webb said, "A plague on all your houses, I'm not going to have a planetary program." Well, there had been a major summer study up at Woods Hole called the Post-Apollo Program, and Gordon McDonald chaired that. I think he chaired the whole business. If he didn't chair the whole business, he chaired the planetary program. And that was where they ordered planets in priority and gave Mars top priority but said we ought to visit Jupiter and that we ought to have a lunar and planetary missions board and things like that. Also, that was where the Space Telescope was really born, was at that summer session. That was in '65 if I remember rightly.
DeVorkin:Born then or reborn?
Naugle:No, it was born then in the following sense. Lyman Spitzer had been arguing for big optics as long as I've known him.
Naugle:Yes, I think so. I think he gave his first talk on it about that time. The reason I say '65, because in '62 there had been a summer study out in Iowa, and the Space Telescope was talked about there, but they said "No way, don't even do any studies on that, that's too far downstream." “Do OAO and don't waste any time or diffuse any of your effort."
DeVorkin:For what reason was that, do you feel?
Naugle:They felt that the country wasn't ready to put those sizes of instruments into orbit. They felt that there was much more work needed to be done in ground based astronomy.
DeVorkin:What about the technology that was available? Was that part of it?
Naugle:Part of it was that. If you're going to put a telescope of that size in orbit, it ought to be diffraction limited and it ought to really be a major thing. It would cost a lot of money, and it ought to be something more like a permanent facility. So they said, "Don't do anything on it." In '65 they said, "We're coming along, things are coming along, why you don’t begin to do some studies on it? But don't plan on starting it. There's a lot of work that needs to be done on the ground, a lot of telescopes that need to be built."
DeVorkin:This was their advisement. What was your feeling?
Naugle:Well, I followed that advice, and to close out in a few sentences the Space Telescope, when I became associate administrator for space science, I wanted to move on the Space Telescope. It was something I wanted to do in 1967. But the Greenstein Report came out, and they said "That's something to do work on, studies, but that's a program for the seventies or eighties." It was to be launched in the eighties.
Naugle:Well, I worked closely with Lyman Spitzer, with Leo Goldberg, and with Jesse Greenstein. At some stage in the late sixties, I regularly once a year made a visit to those people and talked to them. There came a period when they said, "Yes, we've now got Cerro Tololo and the 150-inch at Kitt Peak and so forth, we now think you should begin to seriously think about the Space Telescope."
DeVorkin:So ground based astronomy had really come up to the potential of space astronomy?
Naugle:The potential of space astronomy, what you could do with higher resolution. All the other things had moved along.
DeVorkin:There would be a meaningful transition.
Naugle:Yes. That led to a meeting here in Washington prior to the start of the Space Telescope in '71 or '72, at which certainly representatives from all of the major observatories came and gave talks about what a wonderful thing the Space Telescope would be. And we were essentially then off and running and ready to go.
DeVorkin:That was after the National Academy of Sciences meeting on priorities for the seventies?
Naugle:Yes, it would have been.
DeVorkin:It was something extra. Now, in '71 again, you were elevated to associate administrator for space science.
Naugle:No, it doesn't work that way. I became the associate administrator for space science in 1967, fall of '67. And I was associate administrator for space science and applications. In '71 the decision was made to break applications out and set that up separately, so then I became just the associate administrator for space science.
DeVorkin:How did you feel about that?
Naugle:I was mad as hell. My feelings were hurt in the sense that I kind of took this as a view that I hadn't done a good job in the area of applications, which I didn't feel was right. In hindsight, I think I had done a good job, because I ultimately wound up back in charge of applications later on in my career. But at that time, there was tremendous pressure from Congress, from my friend Joe Karth, who was pushing applications and who felt that my love was really science and that I wasn't really looking after applications. So therefore it should be split out and have its own associate administrator. That is what led to the '71 shift. Well, in '67 then I became the associate administrator, and then for the next seven years I carried the full testimony up on the Hill. The principal person that I dealt with up there was Joe Karth. Now, part of that was because Karth was interested in the space program. He had been a labor relations lawyer back in Minnesota before he came to Congress, and he had a legislative assistant who had been an investigator for the FBI, Frank Hammil. What one of those people couldn't think up to ask us, the other one could! They were enthusiastic about the space program, but they were deadly serious that it was going to be good and that it was going to be conducted in an honest manner. We weren't going to waste any money; we weren't going to do anything crooked or anything like that. We weren't going to tell them something would cost $200 million and then have it cost $500M. So for seven years then my spring was devoted to going up to Congress and we would normally spend about two weeks of testimony before Karth. We would spend one day before Senator Anderson and then we would spend a week before the House Appropriations Committee.
Naugle:Senator Anderson from New Mexico. Now, testifying before him at that stage in his career was a real hassle. You know, they talk about people speaking in tongues. I felt that at one stage of my career, I heard "in tongues." In a sense it's not a joking matter, because Anderson had been a great Senator and had played a major role in the formation of the Atomic Energy Commission and had been a vigorous Senator. But by the time that I came along, he had had one or two strokes, and the greatest hazard that you had was understanding the questions. That's what I mean. The first day I came up there, I listened to him and he mumbled and I thought, "I won't be able to hear the question, let alone know the answer." But I understood he and I answered the question and it went very well. I always thought it was something of a miracle. So that was the major thing. Now, we would prepare very early for all this. We would start back in the year, in those days. An annual cycle in NASA would start in August, when I would turn in my budget to the Administrator. There would be a hassle then with what you could propose as new starts. Then you'd send it up to OMB. Then there would be another hassle. You'd have to go over there and testify for two or three days, usually in November.
DeVorkin:Any particular committee under OMB?
Naugle:Well, there was a committee. In the later years it was under Hugh Loweth. Prior to that it was Don Crabel. Loweth is still there. Before that we had a variety of examiners. It was how OMB was organized that determined how you testified. Starting in October, you'd start to put together art work, and start the divisions writing getting material together, even though you didn't know what you were going to be defending, because you had to have it ready. At that point the budget would be uncertain. There would usually be one or two key issues involving space science that wouldn't be settled until Christmas Eve. In one case, in the Nixon term, the second year of his term, we had the most God awful time. They made a four billion error in addition, putting the federal budget together, so they had to take four billion dollars out.
DeVorkin:Just a simple clerical error?
Naugle:Yes. As near as I can understand. Well, I don't know that it was that somebody actually couldn't add, but in terms of where they wanted the budget to come out with respect to revenues, they had a four billion dollar problem. Well, that was the year I lost the ATS, F and G in one night. Tom Paine was the administrator at that time, and he said that any time he went to a party he could expect to get called by the man who headed the OMB and he'd have to find 40 or 50 million dollars to cut in the NASA budget. On New Year's Eve I was home congratulating myself that I had come through pretty well; we had by that time settled on Viking. But I got a call at 10 o'clock to come down to the office and that we had a 200 million dollar problem. By 1 o'clock we had taken 200 million dollars out of the budget and had slipped Viking from a '73 to '75 launch opportunity. To finish the business of the cycle, then you'd have the Presidential press conference in January. Then you would start testifying before the House in February, and you would finally wrap up your formal testifying in May or maybe early June. And then sometime in July, August, September, you'd get your budget, and you'd start the cycle over again. So when I took over, I had a reasonably healthy physics and astronomy program but no lunar and planetary program. We had a Lunar and Planetary Missions Board and a very good director, Don Harth. And between October of '67 when I took over and the 15th of July, 1969 we worked with this Lunar and Planetary Missions Board, did various and sundry studies, and by '69 we created a document that laid out the planetary program with Viking the way we ultimately flew it; the Pioneers to Jupiter, the Venus-Mercury mission, the Mars Orbiters. We also had the grand tour in it, which we didn't make, but the grand tour became Voyager then.
DeVorkin:Voyager I and II.
Naugle:Yes, two or three. But they're going to three planets, Jupiter, Saturn and hopefully Neptune. The original grand tour was a four planet mission out to Pluto.
DeVorkin:You developed this whole picture in that time?
Naugle:In that time.
DeVorkin:This is what planetary space science became in the seventies.
DeVorkin:In your position as associate administrator for space science and applications, did you continually solicit updated suggestions from people? Or was there a time when you had to sit down at a table with somebody and just make that decision?
Naugle:Well, the Lunar and Planetary Missions Board was a group of both senior and junior scientists engaged in planetary science. They were backed up by study groups, study teams at various centers, primarily JPL. Of course, the Pioneer was at Ames and ultimately the Viking was done at Langley. But we would consider the scientific objectives of what you wanted to do. We would consider what kind of spacecraft it would take to do that, what kinds of instruments, and argue about it, and at some point in time we would decide the next step beyond. I may have missed you here. We had nothing new on the books in '67. We were finishing up the work on Mars fly-bys, the 6 and 7, but that was the only thing. There was nothing beyond that.
DeVorkin:You mean there was no Mariner 9 at that time?
Naugle:No, Mariner 9 at that time. So the first thing we did that fall was to get together and decide that with a priority for Mars what we really needed to do was fly the Mars Orbiter. So by the time we put the budget to bed in the fall of '67, we had gone from no orbiter to add the two Orbiters in. Then somebody came up with the concept of the Mariner-Venus-Mercury mission, and that looked very good, and we put that in.
DeVorkin:Who was that somebody?
Naugle:That came out of the JPL celestial mechanics analysis. The fact that you could do that.
DeVorkin:Do you recall who the people were? It was in the celestial mechanics division?
Naugle:No, I don't recall the names, but we did give two people an award for coming up with that. Now, there were several policies that I set out to follow. We'd had a lot of trouble with overruns, and we'd had a lot of trouble with changing things, so that we were a bad odor in Congress. And so I said, "I want to find out how much these things are really going to cost. I want to put sufficient funding in so that we can handle the problems." And I said that I didn't want to be always changing the programs. I wanted to consider them thoroughly enough so that once I took them out of the agency and to OMB and the Congress, then I didn't want to change it. And I followed that, and I think established generally a reasonably good reputation up on the Hill for doing that. It was sound policy. At one time I did deviate from it because I wanted to get HEAO going. I had three orbiting solar observatories in the program that I had just defended the year before, and so they said that I could have HEAO if I would kill one of those solar observatories or two of those solar observatories.
DeVorkin:By HEAO, you mean both HEAOs?
Naugle:Yes, the HEAO program.
DeVorkin:In bumping the OSO's you must have made a few enemies.
Naugle:Well, I made some enemies, and I found that all the good words I'd used to defend the OSO's the year before, Karth and his counsel quoted back to me, and then they threatened to cancel HEAO and put the money back in the OSO's.
DeVorkin:But you went ahead and did it for high energy research.
Naugle:We did go ahead with HEAO.
DeVorkin:It's a reality.
Naugle:Oh yes, it's a reality.
DeVorkin:How did you convince them?
Naugle:I just told them that HEAO was good, and that we could do some other things in solar physics.
DeVorkin:It was a trade-off.
Naugle:Yes. But you see, the thing of it is, I probably could have waited a year and started HEAO and kept the OSO going. What I realized was that once you jeopardize something like that, then you play hell with the morale of the project. And so we got into overruns, and it was two to three years before I got orbiting solar observatory sorted out and back on schedule, and back to where I knew how much it was going to cost and I wasn't being constantly faced with overruns.
DeVorkin:I know that the HEAO was given the highest priority by the National Academy of Sciences and also by the NASA study a year earlier, '69. Was this why you were willing to do the trade-off with OSO?
Naugle:Yes. It was high priority. But on the other hand, OSO had been given high priority by those same groups, you see.
DeVorkin:So what prompted your final decision to bump it?
Naugle:Well, a feeling, and I think events have proved right, that more fundamental physics would come out of HEAO than would come out of OSO.
DeVorkin:So your informed opinion was, based upon advice from the various panels that had been studying these things that HEAO was going to provide something truly new.
Naugle:Yes. There was no question in my mind.
DeVorkin:Do you recall specifically what the strongest argument for HEAO was?
Naugle:Oh, I think the X-ray measurement was the strongest. The fact that we felt that we would be detecting gamma rays was the second strongest. It really was the X-rays, the large collecting area and the focusing capability; the things that you've seen now come out of HEAO. The ability to get images was I think the thing that personally was most exciting to me.
DeVorkin:A lot of this technology and a lot of this interest could have been anticipated in the huge Vela program that the military maintained for X-ray reconnaissance of the earth. To what extent were you able to take advantage of the technology and the expertise that they developed? Were you in contact with the military as they were operating Vela?
Naugle:Actually if you go back and look at the original document that authorizes Vela. I'm one of the three signatories on that.
DeVorkin:Oh, really? I didn't know that.
Naugle:That would be about 1960, I guess. That was one of the first things that I did when I came to headquarters. I'd forgotten that.
DeVorkin:That's a document that is accessible in the records?
Naugle:Yes, should be. It should be in the Vela archives. It was a three way, Air Force, AEC, NASA signoff. Now, that was simply acknowledgment on the part of NASA that the program that they had put together was sound, would probably work, and that we had no objection to it.
DeVorkin:Did this help you decide that the technology was available for HEAO?
Naugle:There wasn't any question in my mind about the technology for HEAO. This is something we haven't talked about at all. All through the years, we have verified the technology in those areas by using balloons and sounding rockets and earlier satellite flights. Giacconi played a major role in HEAO and in the UHURU satellite built instrumentation for the DOD. So we knew that we were at the fore front of the technology. So HEAO was one of the projects that I was most sure would work. We ran it very close to the edge as far as funding was concerned and as far as the pieces went. We had no spares. But all of the people that were involved were people that I had dealt with for ten years. I knew their capability. I had a little trouble convincing them that I really wanted to know how much their instruments were going to cost. I didn't want them to buy in. And it came off almost exactly that way. The only hitch was the fact that we had some trouble with the gyroscopes and had to slip the launch, but generally it came in on schedule and within cost.
DeVorkin:The pointing accuracy of HEAO wasn't that critical, not as critical as it would be for the Space Telescope?
Naugle:No, I think it's not as critical as what OAO was. And then we learned a lot from the Apollo Telescope Mount, from Skylab; the ability to point and get high resolution X-rays and so forth.
DeVorkin:That had been delayed somewhat, had it not?
DeVorkin:So this is another thing that could have delayed HEAO.
DeVorkin:So you felt that HEAO's time was really ripe.
Naugle:Yes. Also, we had slipped HEAO once, and sharply reduced the scope of it. It was to have been a much larger spacecraft, and to have gone a year earlier. But due to one of these God damn budget exercises, we had to slip it a year, and reduce it in scope. We had planned two. We cut it down and changed it into three smaller missions. That's when HEAO was originally two and then became three. That was probably the most traumatic experience of my life — the meeting down here in the big auditorium with 50 or 60 scientists who were absolutely livid and wanted to know why we had done this. They were firmly convinced that HEAO was the most important thing under the sun and so forth.
DeVorkin:When you're faced with a traumatic experience like that, do you always have to maintain some sort of perspective on the whole thing? Do you take it personally? Or do you feel as if they know what kind of a bind you're in and they're just going through the motions? Or is it really life and death situation for these people?
Naugle:Well, in some cases it is a life or death situation. For instance, Hofstadter at Stanford was very much interested in X-ray research and had been trying to get into it. When we did this to him, he said, "You know, I'm getting to be an old man, and by the time you fly this thing for me, I probably won't be around to do it." That's a very personal sort of feeling. If you know that some research group is going to get wiped out, that gets personal. And painful, particularly since I knew most of the people and had kind of grown up with them. Now if it were through some stupidity of mine, I would really feel bad about it. If it's a budget process, then I take a detached view, and I don't feel personally so bad about it. What I try to do then is to get after people and tell them that there'll be another time and to get off this moaning and groaning, and get onto developing something else. I try to act like a field commander, something like that. If he loses a battle, then he's got to try to convince the troops that they can still fight, that the end of the world hasn't come. I guess what I'm trying to say is that you may go and personally apologize and offer your sympathies to somebody. In other cases, you may give a speech, to convince people that at least my morale hasn't been broken; "I'm going to go back and fight next year for another budget." Why don't you get behind me, let's go on, this is a temporary setback, it's not a disaster." So, you get the picture, of the two different approaches. In the case of Viking, there are some people who say that we underestimated the cost of the thing by a factor of three or four.
DeVorkin:This is the revised Viking?
Naugle:This is the revised Viking that did fly. We started in the fall of '67 to see what we should do with respect to landing on Mars. We still wanted to land on Mars. And we started out, since we had been completely wiped out, looking at simple missions like the Russians did using a hard lander; you just shoot it. We looked at a direct lander, you go directly up, and you don't go into orbit or anything like that. I felt that I was walking a tightrope there. On the one hand, if I built Viking up too much, it would suffer the same fate as Voyager, and on the other I felt that if I didn't do enough, I could wind up having the US look very silly if we did something very mediocre a year after the Russians had done something better.
DeVorkin:That's a difficult problem.
Naugle:So we worked at it. We considered what we ought to do. It was interesting to think back when the last Viking Orbiter died here about a week ago. They said that the lander could last till 1995 or something like that. Because we finally decided that we didn't want to go for a hard lander. That's probably what the Russians would do; the Russians would at least do a hard lander. We should do a soft lander. So the question was, three days or maybe 30 days: how long should we decide to operate the lander? Well, I decided that I definitely wanted something other than solar cells on it, and so we made a decision to go for the RTG's and that gave us then the 90 days of life that landers were programmed for. We wound up putting together eight options. We had the Mariner 9 orbiter, and one of the options was to simply fly a Mariner 9, use that as a carrier, with the same instruments. One option was to go directly in. The most expensive option was to develop a new spacecraft with new instrumentation, and then there were various levels of sophistication of the lander itself. By the time when we made the decision, which I guess was the fall of '68, when we had a big meeting down at Langley and looked at those options, the project office recommended not a hard lander, but a direct lander, to keep the costs down. Now, as we had looked at these options, a hard lander was two or three hundred million dollars, as I recall, and then it went up the scale. We wound up by picking the most sophisticated option. I am giving you the rationale for going to the longer life landers. I felt that we wanted an orbiter and that we wanted after we got there, to be able to hold the thing in orbit before we landed. That was before we had the data back from Mariner 9 in 1969. I simply had a gut feeling that we would have that. I felt that if we were going to do all this, we wanted to have the best science we could, and we wanted to have new science on the orbiter. I felt that Viking was going to be highly visible; probably the most visible thing the space agency was going to be doing at the time. So when I wracked it all up, that was the decision, and we quarreled quite a bit on that.
Naugle:The people at Langley, Cortwright and Harth, who was still in the Lunar Planetary Office at that time, and my Lunar Planetary mission’s board. I went up on a cold miserable rainy fall night to Boston to some hotel up there under the elevated train and I was greeted with the fact that the mission’s board was going to quit. If I was going to go for Viking with the tight budget, it would wipe out Pioneer, it would wipe out Venus/Mercury, and it would wipe out all the other science — it was crazy. And by God they were going to resign in protest, and go to the President, and I don't know what all. This was another memorable experience in my life. Well, we talked and talked, and they finally decided not to do that, and we went ahead.
DeVorkin:How did you convince them?
Naugle:Oh, I told them that I thought we could get the money. I told them that I thought that if we gave up the money for Viking, I had no surety that we could transfer it into other projects.
DeVorkin:What were they worried about losing?
Naugle:Well, they were worried about losing the Pioneer missions to Jupiter. They were worried about HEAO. They were worried about the IMPS, the Explorer satellites. They thought this was going to be something that would wipe everything out, and I said it wasn't my intention to do that. I finally prevailed, and they didn't resign.
DeVorkin:By convincing them that you were not going to bump other things.
Naugle:Yes. Now, Tom Paine was the administrator of NASA, and I knew I had his backing. I knew that he saw Viking as a major project. I knew that if there was any way possible, he would not back me into a corner where I had to wipe things out. And so we went ahead with it. One by one those decisions were verified. The first one was when Mariner 9 got up there and they had the dust storm. Well, clearly it took a while. Now, we didn't hit a dust storm when we got there with Viking, but you never know. Then the project people came and said, "Well John, you were right on that. By God, we have to grant you that, it was a good decision." Then I think the decision to do Viking did not wipe out any science.
DeVorkin:The IMPS were launched.
Naugle:Oh yes, the IMPS were, they went ahead. And Viking essentially was added on. The OSS budget grew, and it was highly successful, and I'm proud of it. They tell me now that at least some of the biologists are beginning to think that the biology experiments were definitive, and that there is no life on Mars, and that we can now begin to think about the really cosmic experiment of transplanting life to Mars.
DeVorkin:Are they thinking about that? I didn't know that. Transplanting life here to Mars?
Naugle:Yes. Why not? When I used to testify I noted this aspect nobody paid any attention. Everybody said that with Viking, the big thing was to look for life and if you didn't find life, it would be a disaster. But if you look into my testimony, I always said that there are three reasons that we are interested in this, and at least I wasn't going to be devastated if we didn't find life. Because if we found evidence of ancient life, that would be just as important. And if we didn't find any life at all, then that left us open for this really cosmic experiment to transplant life. I became known around the household as the "little Martian gardener." My wife would say "Has my little Martian gardener mowed the lawn yet? How come the roses are dying? If you can't make roses grow here, what makes you think you can get wheat to grow on Mars?"
DeVorkin:There was no definitive study about life in the past?
Naugle:Well, if there had been life in the past, we felt we would have observed it.
DeVorkin:You're talking about major forms?
Naugle:Yes. Well, you know if there had been any sort of carbon based life. It was the fact that there weren't any carbon compounds found at all that was so definitive.
DeVorkin:So then the criticism that has arisen about the biology experiments is just partly a fact that Viking was scrutinized so quickly by the press and everybody else, and that conclusions were brought out too quickly.
Naugle:Well Viking was not a bed of roses, when we got into it. It was a very typical project, in the sense that it started out well, as most projects do. Then we found ourselves in the middle of a real technical hassle. By this time Fletcher was the administrator. I came back from one trip to the West Coast and said Viking was a great golden cadaver: it had no brain and it had no heart, because the computer wouldn't work and the biology package wouldn't work. We had to fight that right up to the end. We even started a backup computer program to replace the computer. You know, we designed a computer where you had to thread 2 mil wires into 5 mil holes. So you had little old ladies out there pushing wire. And the wire was coated so that it would take a magnetic field. We had put together a team to evaluate the biology experiment. And by 18 months before launch they told us we were 18 months behind schedule. There was no way that we could make that, and that we should cancel that, and save what money we could by not doing it. Well, we didn't want to do that, and so I went out on a fact finding tour. I found we had four groups who were not working together. We had the Langley project office supervising the whole thing. We had Martin-Marietta, who was responsible for the spacecraft. We had a subcontract to TRW, who had the responsibility for the biology package, and we had the principal investigators, who had never flown anything in space, who were laboratory biologists and chemists.
DeVorkin:This was the situation where you had decided to go with outside contractors.
Naugle:Yes, it was with outside contractors.
DeVorkin:It was just that crucial.
DeVorkin:I now, by the way, understand the need for sterilization a lot more. Your third criterion is something that is absolutely new to me, about the transplant of life.
Naugle:The sterilization was a great running hassle. We couldn't carry a single bug from the earth to Mars. That was the name of the game.
DeVorkin:Well, to the moon too.
Naugle:There it was the thought that you might bring something back from the moon which would jeopardize life here. That was quarantine.
DeVorkin:I had the crazy thought that it was some bureaucratic holdover, with Mars.
Naugle:No. It was a real thing. If there were life on Mars, then there'd be nothing more important to the understanding of life than to study that in its pristine uncontaminated form uncontaminated by life from the earth. You would dearly love to study living systems that had evolved throughout their existence entirely separate from Earth. Everything on the earth has breathed the same atmosphere and has been subject to the same g forces and the same solar constant and so forth. And life here is all remarkably similar. If you didn't know earth life and somebody showed you the DNA of different species, you'd think it's all remarkably similar. No, sterilization was a major thing. But back to my fact finding tour for just a minute here, because it illustrates what you have to do in a major project like this. I had this God-awful problem with the four groups Langley was sort of saying to Martin, "It's your problem, you've got the contract, straighten it out." And Martin was saying to TRW, "I'm holding you responsible for that," and the scientists over here were saying, "Well, if you can’t get this to measure something to a tenth of a degree, it ain't worth a God damn, I can't give one iota on it, that's the requirement I laid down." So we got everybody in a room, and we listened to the troubles. In this case it was Tom Pownall from Martin Marietta. He was the senior person from Martin. We had George Solomon and Dick De Lauer from TRW.
Naugle:And so we got these people together and listened to them. I got the scientists all excited when I said, "Look, now, you can be very hardnosed about this, but when this thing lands, you're going to be facing a battery of TV cameras and flashing lights, and if these experiments don't work, my little bald head is not going to be involved in this, you're the ones that are going to be up there in front of the cameras. So you'd better give some thought to giving way a little on some of these requirements, to make the thing work and we said to the people maybe if there's a thermal problem here with the biology package, maybe Martin can arrange to help dissipate that thermal load through the spacecraft." There was that kind of a sharp dichotomy there. There was one long spring where we would find out on a Sunday night, get up in the dark, and go off to a meeting at TRW always with the same group of people. Initially, each time we went, the story was worse. There were more problems and more things that hadn't worked. But once a month we would get those people there and we set up a situation so that a problem could be found in the morning, a solution could be worked out by the middle of the day, and by 3 or 4 o'clock in the afternoon, the necessary contractual authorizations could have been made so corrective work could begin.
DeVorkin:It had to be done.
Naugle:It had to be done. Yes. And the scientists were brought there, and had a representative in residence. And they suddenly discovered that there were some areas here where they could give, and that really what they were looking for was not that tenth of a degree, but something less strict. After about the third meeting, instead of people pointing at each other, it was a whole team working to solve a common problem. We gave them speeches, you know. I told Pownall and I told the people from TRW, "This is going to be the most visible thing, and it's going to be clear that if we don't make it with this, then your company is going to look bad, look very bad." Pownall I think really jeopardized his career with Martin. If Viking had failed, the resources that he put into it, the things that he did there, I suspect that he would have had some trouble with his management in that, because he really crawled out on some limbs but he did it because he felt it was important to the country that Viking succeeds. Now, Viking was a success and they got their full profit for it. It all came out very well. He did that because he felt this was important. One of the major things about Viking was the fact that by the time the thing was launched, it really was a team of people working together and you couldn't distinguish really whether a person was a government individual a Martin man or a TRW man. But to finish that little bit, for the first three meetings, the problems rose. They started with like 10 or 15 and they grew to something like 150. Then they stabilized. Then they began to gradually drop. We put the biology package on, and I don't think anybody was any more surprised than I was that when they turned the thing on they began to get data from it. (Laughter) I was perfectly prepared at least as much as one can be, to have that thing fail, because it was that close, you know. And of course, we had all kinds of trouble with the computer. But once it settled down it worked and did beautifully and the last time I checked it had only dropped a bit over the years but it really had worked.
DeVorkin:A random cosmic ray hit it or something?
Naugle:Yes. Yes. So, considering the overall health of the science program and the overall results, of Viking, HEAO, UHURU, and the Pioneers, when you ring up the final bell, I guess I'm glad I made the decision to come into headquarters when I did. I can't imagine that I would have done anything in the field that would have given me anymore satisfaction.
DeVorkin:This certainly answers what I use as one of my final questions, and that is, it sounds like Viking was your most satisfying project, at least. Do you consider it also to be one of the most significant projects you were engaged in?
DeVorkin:An allied question in NASA was its participation in the SETI program. You had a unique situation there a while ago, in which you were being asked to push it more than you wanted to. Can you compare SETI to Viking, as far as the search for life in the universe goes?
Naugle:Well, the discovery of extraterrestrial life would be much more significant than the results that came from Viking. No question in my mind about that. On the other hand, if we had discovered life on Mars, the results of Viking would have been comparable to SETI. But there's just nothing like the significance of what it would do to the human race. You know, it's conceivable to me that the Iranians might release the hostages if they discovered that there was an extraterrestrial intelligence out there.
DeVorkin:You're not being completed facetious, I take it?
Naugle:No, I'm not. Khomenie might feel that maybe he should go back and reexamine whether he has the Word or not. The movement of the human race into space is I think the next best thing that will emerge. Now, we're talking at this Woods Hole summer study. You asked about transplanting life. I have proposed to the NASA advisory council and to Frosch that we establish a goal of establishing self-sustaining human colonies or human habitations on Mars by 2076, on the tricentennial of the U.S. and the l00th anniversary of the first landing of Viking. Now, two years ago I would not have suggested that but a very peculiar thing has happened. Up until a year ago, I couldn't see in my mind's eye how you could ever marshal the resources that it would take even to put a colony on the moon, for some period of time, until you had made some major breakthrough with either fusion energy or some new physical law or something like that.
DeVorkin:So I take it you're not exactly happy with what G. K. O'Neill has been promoting.
Naugle:No, no. Right now, the public philosophy with respect to space is very much schizophrenic in this country. You have the O’Neill’s who are very visionary, and they want to set up human colonies by 1990 or the year 2000. They are completely unrealistic, in terms of the resources that it takes the research that has to go into it, the sheer magnitude of the effort. The other philosophy is that you can't start out on something like that until you can show me why and what the return is going to be; the pragmatic OMB type of approach. I can't, and the people up at Woods Hole couldn't buy either of those kinds of philosophies, because I think there is a very deep seated human drive. And I think that ultimately the human race will move into space. Now, whether it will be an American led movement starting in the next ten years, or whether it will be a Chinese-led movement starting in 30 or 40 years, after they've gotten themselves industrialized over there, or whether there will be a renaissance in Europe, or Russia, I don't know. I rather think that it will come from all of those places put together, but I think it will come. Now, the thing that at least lets me dream about it and not feel that I'm just engaging in fantasies is this concept of self-replicating machinery. You see, space is quite different from the colonization of America because humans could come across the ocean and live off the land when they got here. Space is a very hostile environment to humans. But it's a fairly benign environment to machines. Machines can live essentially forever out there if you design them right. It also turns out that you can build, or at least you can show theoretically that you can build machines that can rebuild themselves. And so this then leads you to a line of thought that runs along the following: Suppose I put machines up there. Instead of going about the industrialization of the moon in a linear fashion, truck stuff up and I'll build factories. Now suppose I take some machines up that can use solar energy and lunar materials and reproduce themselves, and since they're going to be fairly sophisticated, then that means that they can then build a variety of materials that you would want to use in a lunar colony. What is now known is how big a machine are you talking about? Are you talking about something that is the size of this room that you can perhaps truck up? Or are you talking about something the size of Detroit; an automobile factory? It it's a reasonable size, and then you can think about putting one or two of those things up there. Starting them going, exponentially building. Suppose, just as a task, we want to build a 5 gigawatt power supply on the moon. Then, if you go at that in a linear fashion, it's going to take a long time.
DeVorkin:To actually take that power plant from here to there, that's what you mean by linear?
Naugle:Yes. Right. On the other hand, if you can take machines up there that can live off the land, and replicate themselves, so that first you have one then you have two, and then you have four machines. Maybe 10 percent of their time can be devoted to building solar cells and other things. Then their time can be devoted to building solar cells and other power supply. So I tend to think that when we colonize space, it's likely to be machine colonization before human colonization.
DeVorkin:A very interesting idea.
Naugle:So that concept gave a rebirth of hope. Now I can talk to my grandchild and I can say, "You know, you probably won't go to Mars, but perhaps one of your grandchildren will ultimately live on Mars."
DeVorkin:This came out of the Woods Hole conference?
DeVorkin:These were your ideas? Or were these the ideas generated by the conference?
Naugle:These were ideas generated by the people at Woods Hole.
DeVorkin:I see. And there was a published PROCEEDING from this?
Naugle:Yes. It was published in the April or May issue of ASTRONAUTICS AND AERONAUTICS. It's called, "What's Over the Horizon in Space?”
DeVorkin:Usually ideas come from one person, something like that.
Naugle:Well, it is an interesting history here. Von Neumann came up with the theorem that you could have self-replicating machines. Freeman Dyson conceived of the idea of having robots that build themselves like this and go up to Ganymede and take ice and come around by the sun and heat it up and then dump it into the atmosphere of Mars to ultimately create an atmosphere suitable for life on Mars.
DeVorkin:Dyson said this at Woods Hole?
Naugle:No. He wrote an article on that back in about 1970. Ricardo Giacconi sort of independently came up with this idea. When I talked with him and asked him to come, I figured he'd come up with something in the area of X-ray. But he said, "Hey, suppose, you could bring replicating machines?" Well, it was sort of instantly apparent to me that this was a good idea. But then when he got to looking into it, then he found that Freeman Dyson and von Neumann had already worked on it. So then this year we had Dyson up, and Dyson has now moved beyond the replicating machinery and said, "You really want to do it with genetic engineering."
DeVorkin:Well, that's just the level of technology that is coming over the horizon. That is incredibly fascinating. I would like to ask you about something more precise. I read recently about a NASA study of air traffic. They were talking about modular flying wings that would circle continuously between major airports and never land. Is there anything that has filtered through your purview that involved things like this, in the applications sector of NASA technology?
Naugle:No. Not really. When I was the associate administrator and when I was chief scientists, I was responsible for that whole area of aeronautics and applications and space technology but strictly in an administrative role.
DeVorkin:You didn't get involved?
Naugle:Now, I did ask for some studies, not on the wings, although that is an interesting concept. There was another concept and that was to use aircraft something like a U-2 or a stationary balloon to essentially create the equivalent of a geostationary satellite, but have it at about the altitude of 100,000 feet to work with a single city so that you could broadcast FM up and get it down to your car without having it spit and pop.
DeVorkin:That's very different. I was talking about transportation.
Naugle:Yes. No, this is different.
DeVorkin:These kinds of things do cross NASA's interest.
DeVorkin:They're in the area of applications?
Naugle:And the concept of developing hydrogen as a fuel for aircraft to replace petroleum. Ultimately I would tend to think that at some point, the human race is going to use up natural fossil fuel. So what are you going to do then? My own assessment is that you will either use solar energy or fusion energy, but you'll still need a working fluid, and you will probably use whatever your source of energy is to provide you with hydrogen. Burning hydrogen and oxygen will produce water which is a relatively harmless substance, and that's what you would use where you now use gasoline.
DeVorkin:That gives you controllability, storage, guaranteed safe waste product. Well, I thank you for this session.
DeVorkin:It's proven to be quite an experience for me, and I certainly hope it will be for you when you get the transcript back. Thank you very much.
I'll probably be acutely ill when I get this! (LAUGHTER) And I was!!!
 See: Phys. Rev. 79 (1950), 206; 84 (1951), 864:
 Phys. Rev. 84 (1951), 864
 Phys.Rev. 84 (1951), 322
 Op. Cit.
 Phys. Rev. 104 (1956), 804
 Naugle and Kniffen. J. of Geophysical Research, 68 (1963), 4065
 Science, 132(1960), 1465; Nucleonics, 19(1961), 89
 (Horner) Yes
 Scientist in the lunar and planetary division
 Astronautics and Aeronautics (AIAA)
 John von Neumann — Theory of Self-Reproducing Automata. Urbana: University of Illinois, 1966. See also M.H. Hart, Quarterly Journal of the R.A.S. 16 (1975), 128.