There is no obvious reason for me to attend to Feb 29 meeting unless you think I have some information of value for committee
11. I would not push the problem of return contamination too hard, if the decision was mine. My reasons are not the same as
Norm's but they overlap a little.
I think we would do best by ourselves to demonstrate the practicability of sterilizing payloads before advocating a more far
reaching policy. This is not technically logical but it has some political merit. In the first place, the SSB is not taken
too seriously in some parts of NASA by virtue of some early recommendations they made in the missile area. Science has second
priority to engineering and it will continue to be that way for a decade or more if we complicate matters too quickly for
the engineers to digest.
I foresee a battle with Von Braun on the use of the Saturn. We believe that the vehicle should be employed to return a sample
from the moon and to explore the planets. He has MIS projects and engineering satellites in mind. We are momentarily
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in the driver's seat because NASA gave JPL supervisory control of the moon, planets and interplanetary space science projects.
I am a little afraid that contamination, back contamination, etc. may be employed as emotional arguments to prove that planetary
exploration is impractical, and at the same time used to discredit us. -- I haven't lost my guts and I am still willing
to fight for what is sensible. But back contamination is more than a decade in the future and I think it may be premature
to advise NASA on the matter at this time.
I am currently formulating the first vicinal approach to Venus which will be attempted in August 62 if we have an Atlas-Centaur
vehicle. My plans are to present the vehicle dynamics and suggested missions to a group of interested experts from all over
the nation. I had thought of having such a meeting in about a month. Are you interested? I do not want to defer it too long
because I have only three months before presenting a program to NASA.
It looks as though NASA will recommend an international space science program which may be the reason they objected so vigorously
to my paper. I preempted them!