Keeping Space Free

April 1, 1963

The military implications of space technology may prove far more dangerous and significant than the vast impact of the airplane. Against this prospect the Air Force must attain not only the technological capabilities but also the sys­tems and manned operational experience that will in the future be vital if this country is to succeed in keeping space free.

The President has characterized the exploration of space as “one of the greatest adventures of our time.” He has said he regards his decision to expedite the National Space Program as among the most important decisions he will make during his incum­bency. There have been statements by other officials to the effect that man’s future lies in space and that suc­cessful pioneering of space holds the key to man’s well-being.

Our space efforts pose unprecedented problems in astrophysics, mathematics, communications, chemis­try, biology, medicine, materials, engineering, and mechanics.

Research and development are commanding the at­tention of our finest management talent.

Stimulated and nourished by government space pro­grams, our laboratories, industrial plants, and uni­versities are concentrating our best scientific and engi­neering brains in the largest-scale attack on new knowl­edge in man’s memory.

As a result of this national effort, new ideas, new products, and new technology are literally gushing out of our satellite programs, our missile programs, and our manned spaceflight programs. Back in June, the Denver Research Institute had isolated 145 separate examples where industry was already making products or using processes originating in space science.

It doesn’t take much imagination to see how this new space science will benefit the American economy.

The field of materials is rapidly changing. Minia­turization is affecting such diverse applications as weather forecasting, improved packaging techniques, self-contained power supply units, and communica­tions.

Medicine and education are undergoing significant changes.

Lessons learned in our space program will improve the physical and intellectual well-being of all peoples.

The new space science has the potential to create an order of magnitude of economic, cultural, and scien­tific wealth that could significantly change the whole fabric of our society in a few short years. It could affect our world more than all the scientific break­throughs of history—the work of men such as Coperni­cus, Newton, and Darwin that changed the world of their day and forms the scientific basis for our present thrust into space.

Space is also a new dimension of man’s dangers. It is an infinite region that begins only a few miles above the United States. It is a medium through which —and from which—vastly lethal machines such as ICBMs can move even now. There is no basis for doubt that future space developments could threaten us with even greater dangers. We could be threat­ened, not merely with new spaceborne weapons, but with a whole new region of possibilities for aggression.

If there is any doubt about this last statement, I direct your attention to Soviet Defense Minister Malinovsky’s congratulatory telegram to the Vostok Cosmo­nauts which stated in part:

“Let our foes know what technology and what mili­tance are in the possession of Soviet power.”

Are we to shrink from these implications? Of course not, and we aren’t!

The National Space Program, on which the United States is embarked, consists of two parts. One part—that of scientific explorations into space—is the func­tion of NASA, the National Aeronautics and Space Ad­ministration. The other part—that of providing neces­sary military capabilities in space—is the function of the Department of Defense. The two parts of the Na­tional Space Program work in coordination; indeed, all of the space shots so far attempted have been lifted by rockets developed in the military program—and all of the Astronauts have been military personnel. NASA’s space operations, however, are not intended to develop military space capabilities. This is due to the fact that NASA does not bear military responsibilities and has all it can do within its capabilities to execute its nonmilitary space program.

The military capabilities I’m thinking of are: inter­ception and inspection of unidentified or noncooper­ating space objects, operation of weaponry, observa­tion, and a multitude of others.

On the other hand, the basic space science revealed by NASA activities is, and will continue to be, useful in respect to military applications. Just recently the Air Force began participating with NASA in the Gemini man-in-space program.

What does this cooperation mean

As you can readily understand, certain items of mili­tary equipment, which may ultimately be destined for application to unmanned space vehicles, are much easier to test in their earlier phases with an intelligent and technically trained man present to facilitate the tests. This wouldn’t necessarily be true if we had to develop a manned vehicle for the purpose of con­ducting these particular tests. But given a manned vehicle, such as Gemini, which is going to fly for other reasons anyhow, we can do collateral testing.

The Air Force will use, to the benefit of military space capabilities, all scientific advances and acqui­sition of knowledge achieved by NASA. We don’t plan to wait for a program of fallout—if we can hasten ad­vancement or increase its utilization through collateral efforts. This we are doing, in the national interest, to­ ward advancing our considerable space testing and development of approved space programs.

The military space program is necessary because military capabilities address themselves to military threats and are capable of reacting quickly to enemy aggression.

For example, at this time a significant military threat to the United States is posed by intercontinental bal­listic missiles. These missiles pass through space en route to their targets. In the over-all flight of a ballistic missile, much the greater part of its trajectory is through space. It may be found that the threat of offensive missiles can be dealt with only by utilizing defensive systems involving space orbiting or rendez­vous operations. That raises the question of the in-flight survivability of our own missiles. By this I mean we must know whether space can provide an aggres­sor with means of intercepting our counterattacking US missile force. Thus, a prime requirement is to be­come familiar with military operational factors in space. To seek such defensive opportunities as may be afforded us in space, it is only logical that we must learn to operate militarily in that medium.

Space also affords unparalleled opportunities for observation and communications. These are critical factors from a military viewpoint. No nation can afford to allow an enemy one-sided exploitation of space or any other medium for communications and observa­tion in wartime. If one of two opponents possesses mili­tary capabilities relative to space and the other does not, there can well be one-sided military exploitation of space in wartime.

Yet the threats from space are perhaps most profound and most deadly in those aspects which cannot yet be described. Space is a new medium about which military knowledge is sketchy. The medium of air, in which military operations have been conducted for

less than fifty years, provides a warning. When the aircraft was first seen in flight, no man visualized a great bomber delivering a nuclear bomb on Hiroshima. The military implications of space may prove to be even more dangerous and even more revolutionary than those that have evolved with the aircraft. For our own safety, we must take the lead and remain in the forefront of whatever developments may come. Otherwise, some dark day could witness the space equivalent of the nuclear bomber, except that the target could be in our own country. We must remem­ber that any medium—be it land, sea, air, or space—where man can function and operate military systems —for either offensive or defensive purposes—can be a region of danger to peace and security. In this new medium of space I believe that the military defenses of the western world must be objective, applicable, and evident.

I want to emphasize the factor of time by which space threats and counterthreats are governed. If an unforeseen threat emerges in the new medium of space, months or years will be required to devise, de­velop, and render operational the necessary defense against that new threat. A military capability for de­fense is the product not only of technology, but also of training and operational experience.

To attain this capability now, the Air Force space program is directed toward both the development of hardware and the training of the man.

In regard to the latter, we believe that preserving the peace in space cannot be completely relegated to a black box. The trained man, whether in a manned space vehicle or in a ground surveillance control point, will be one of our most valuable assets in our national space effort—and for our survival.

Keeping space free for peaceful purposes is a fundamental responsibility of the American people.

Other generations of Americans have borne burdens1 that were heavy and difficult. Abraham Lincoln, speaking of his period of American growth a century ago, said this:

“We cannot escape history. The fiery trials through which we pass will light us down, in honor or dish honor, to the latest generation. We, even we here, bear the burden and share the responsibility.”

Lincoln’s words were applicable to the problem o his American generation: to preserve the Union Lincoln’s generation met its responsibility. We cannot afford to do less.

A unique generation of Americans now governs the life of this country. I am speaking, of course, not merely of government officials, but of all the millions of Americans who take part in steering the great in­dustrial, agricultural, social, and humanitarian triumph that is the United States. This vast complex that we call America is, by far, the most advanced achievement of man. And this present generation of Americans has helped to achieve it, has defended it in painful wars, and now executes for America the task of assuring its continued growth and security. This should be enough to ask of one generation. It has been and is a heavy burden, sometimes a desperately difficult task. Yet, it is this same generation of Americans that now faces the greatest task to confront man since the beginning of time—opening the door to infinite space. We will pass through that door and confront the challenges, the dangers, the uncertainties, and the failures that are sure to come. We will be required to make decisions that will profoundly affect the future of mankind. We will go into boundless space and deal with its unpre­dictable events, garner its benefits, surmount its threats. We will go where, in billions of years, earthly man has never been. Space is the newest and the greatest task of this unique generation. Future genera­tions will only refine what you and I have the oppor­tunity to pioneer.

And Americans are professional pioneers.

I have stated my beliefs on the importance of space—its importance to the future well-being of our country—its importance to the future progress and, possibly, survival of the world.

I have noted some of the implications affecting this new medium—the peaceful ones of scientific research —the threatening ones of aggression.

I have also indicated paths that will open unmeas­ured horizons to man—paths where our nation’s secur­ity may lie—paths that lead straight up, where Ameri­cans will pioneer in a new challenge—perhaps the greatest challenge of all—space.

Gen. Curtis E. LeMay, Chief of Staff of the US Air Force since 1961, is probably the world’s best-known exponent of military aerospace power. A native of Columbus, Ohio, General LeMay started his military career in 1928 after com­pleting flight training at Kelly Field, Tex. An engineering graduate of Ohio State University, General LeMay’s flying career predates World War II, during which he earned fame as a bomber commander, and includes such pioneering efforts as prewar long-distance B-17 flights and the development of overseas flying ferry routes that were used during the war. During the war he developed much of the strategic bombing doctrine that was used to such effect in the Allied air campaign against the Axis powers. After World War II, he served with the newly-established Air Research and Development Command, headed US Air Forces in Europe, and commanded the Strategic Air Command. He became Vice Chief of Staff in 1957. Above is condensed from an address by General LeMay to the Executives Club of Chicago, delivered in that city on February 1, 1963.

Meeting the Potential Soviet Challenge from Space

In his address via Telstar to the Air Force Association Convention in September 1962, the President noted that in the field of space, the Air Force must make sure “that no nation secure a position in space which would threaten the security of the United States and the free world.” The Air Force supports this objective, as it is axiomatic that any medium which an aggressor can use to his advantage will be so used. Maintaining the peace in space, as else­where, will be accomplished through deterrence. Deter­rence can be achieved only through the existence of ready military capabilities to operate in the area in question.

The Soviets have made significant progress in their ex­ploration of space. A review of Soviet space accomplish­ments to date makes it very clear that the USSR has been engaged in a well planned, long-term program, heavily emphasizing manned spaceflight. The Soviet record in­cludes: orbiting the world’s first earth satellite; orbiting by far the world’s heaviest satellite; launching the first vehicle to impact on the moon; launching the first vehicle to get pictures of the back side of the moon; launching the first vehicle to transfer from earth orbit to a trajectory toward a planet; the first successful orbiting and recovery of a man; and, most recently, the launching of two one-man space vehicles in proximate orbits and subsequent success­ful recovery of both vehicles. These successes represent technical achievements of the first order.

The Soviets could be proceeding actively to develop space systems for military application. We believe the Soviets will produce and deploy those military space sys­tems which they find feasible and advantageous in com­parison with other types of weapons and military equip­ment.

The Air Force has under development technological building blocks from which military capabilities could be subsequently created to ensure strategic deterrence. These efforts have brought us to a point where significant possi­bilities are clearly apparent. The present area of military interest is within the sphere bounded by the synchronous orbit—an orbit in which a satellite remains in a fixed position over a point on earth. It is in this area that we can augment existing terrestrial defenses through the use of space.

The United States military achievements in space will be expensive. Our objectives will be difficult to accomplish and the risks in some programs will be large. However, as in all previous military progress, risks will diminish with experience and can be minimized in early stages by thor­oughly planned decision points. We must not risk the danger of waiting for the enemy to demonstrate a capa­bility before we undertake development of our own. The visible threat to our national security requires a vigorous military space program.

I have given you a brief review of the elements of US aerospace power—its accomplishments, its capabilities, and its needs. And finally, I should like to stress again that de­terrence continues to be our theme and objective—deter­rence of conflict of any kind, from a show of force to gen­eral war. To be deterrent, however, the forces must have the capability to enter any point of the spectrum of con­flict and assist in defeat of the enemy. This the Air Force can do with its:

(1) People—trained and equipped to accomplish mis­sions required in support of US diplomatic and military actions.

(2) Tactical air forces to include the airlift and counter­insurgency forces.

(3) Strategic force of manned bombers and missiles hardened, dispersed, and protected by an air defense system.

These capabilities are costly, but events during the past year have certainly proved their worth. The details on what is being requested this year by the Department of Defense in order to maintain these essential military capa­bilities are included in the budget request under consid­eration.

The foregoing is from Air Force Chief of Staff, Gen. Curtis E. LeMay’s statement before the House Committee on Armed Services, United States House of Representatives, on February 21, 1963.