The author describes the origins of the Voyager and Mariner 10 missions.">
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In This Issue
From the APPEL Director—Project Management Trends and Future Reality
The Knowledge Notebook—On Not Going It Alone: No Organization Is an Island
Space Exploration in the 21st Century: Global Opportunities and Challenges
Interview with William Gerstenmaier
Sharing Knowledge About Knowledge
NextGen: Preparing for More Crowded Skies
Anatomy of a Mishap Investigation
Are We Alone? Answering This Question Is Not a Lone Venture
NASA Past and Future: A Personal Memoir
The Next Big Thing Is Small
Cities at Night: An Orbital Perspective
Petrobras and the Power of Stories
Mariner 10's first image of Mercury, acquired on March 24, 1974. Photo Credit: NASAWhen I was working for the Sperry Corporation in the sixties, we submitted a proposal to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) to provide support for their unmanned space exploration programs. Our proposal won and, in July 1966, I took a team of twenty-three engineers to JPL. I had two responsibilities: manage the team and provide the configuration design of spacecraft for the Future Projects Study team.
The grand tour missions would require an entirely new kind of spacecraft, a design with capabilities far beyond those of the simple machines that had reached the moon, Venus, and Mars. At the time, Voyager was the most complex unmanned machine ever designed.The Future Projects Study team's next feasibility study was for a grand tour of the outer planets, an ambitious idea that became the Voyager mission. Back in the sixties, Gary Flandro, a JPL employee on the study team, discovered that the alignment of the outer planets would make it possible to use a gravity assist from Jupiter to go to Saturn and on to Uranus and Neptune. The launch had to take place between 1976 and 1979 to take advantage of an alignment that occurs only once every 175 years.
Artist's concept of the Voyager spacecraft with its antenna pointing to Earth. (Click image for close-up) Photo Credit: NASA/JPLTo help recognize and celebrate these and other space exploration achievements, for the past thirty-five years I have been working with J. David Baxter, president of the Utah Space Association, to promote Space Exploration Day (July 20) and U.S. Space Observance Week (July 16–24), which coincide with the dates of the historic liftoff, landing, and return of Apollo 11 in 1969. Baxter conceived the idea of a celebration on the anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission while he was a junior at East High School in Salt Lake City. In 1972, Flandro and I served as advisors to help Baxter form the Utah Space Association.
June 1968 cover of Aeronautics and Astronautics magazine showing a one-tenth-scale model of a solar-electric spacecraft that was never funded. Image Credit: American Institute of Aeronautics and AstronauticsIn 1984, Senator E. J. (Jake) Garn of Utah introduced a Senate Joint Resolution for Space Exploration Day to celebrate the fifteenth anniversary of Apollo 11 landing on the moon. It passed both the Senate and House of Representatives unanimously. President Reagan invited all the Apollo astronauts for a reception at the White House. I also received an invitation. It was an exciting opportunity to meet the Apollo 11 astronauts as well as many others. After the reception, we were invited into the East Room of the White House, where President Reagan sat down and signed the Space Exploration Day Proclamation, which I had helped get through Congress. It wasn't easy, as we had to get the majority of the Senate and the House as cosponsors. The Apollo 11 astronauts and James Beggs (then NASA Administrator) stood behind President Reagan as he signed the proclamation. Then, President Reagan gave a talk on the importance of space commercialization. From 1981 through 1989, I had gotten proclamations or Statements of Support from all fifty governors plus Puerto Rico as a result of many phone calls and letters. Presidential proclamations were obtained starting with President Nixon on the fifth anniversary of Apollo 11 through President Clinton. The power to declare holidays and commemorations now lies with the president. Our goal is for a presidential order that will permanently establish Space Exploration Day as a nonpaid commemorative holiday.
Ken Randle graduated from the University of Michigan with a BS in aeronautical engineering, after which he worked at Douglas Aircraft and then the Sperry Corporation. He spent his first year at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) working on the airframe design of the Sergeant Missile System and later helped create a proposal to support JPL's unmanned space programs. Later, he was the engineering manager of the Shrike Missile System and held various engineering management positions until he retired in December 1986.