11 May 1964: ANSER in Space
The timing, no doubt, was auspicious. To participate in such significant work as the United States’ efforts in space, at the very time when that work was first launched and just beginning its far-reaching trajectory, Analytic Services Inc. had been born at the right time and in the right place. In the ten months between the launching of Explorer I, the first U.S. satellite, and the creation of NASA in 1958, ANSER had begun.
Short of working directly for NASA, ANSER could not have been in a position more favorable for playing a prominent role in space, beginning right at the side of the Air Force. There was a difference, however, between having a significant role and doing something significant with that role. ANSER did, beginning in 1961 with the development of the Air Force’s first-ever “10-Year Plan for Space.” ANSER’s trajectory toward further significance in the space arena started to climb even higher in 1964, when a new Air Force project gave ANSER’s work “a greater sense of urgency,” as the Board of Trustees noted that year in their minutes.
The assignment of the Manned Military Orbiting Laboratory (MMOL) to the Air Force sent ANSER cranking on several studies for research and development planning for the laboratory. The studies included analyses of re-entry and recovery of space logistics vehicles for the MMOL, the Gemini vehicle in particular. Propulsion of the MMOL while in space was another of ANSER’s studies, which analyzed the limitations imposed on military mission capability by the in-space propulsion available at that time.
The MMOL program was not ANSER’s only space focus at that time. In addition to other space-related studies both ongoing (“Effect of Operating Environment on Space Booster Requirements”) and completed (“Potential Military Utility of the NASA Program, FY 1964”), ANSER was handed another potentially significant effort in the space arena in 1964.
Because of the increased interest at that time in possible U.S.-U.S.S.R. cooperative space efforts, the Joint Chiefs of Staff asked the Air Force, together with representatives from the other Services, to study the national lunar program. The purpose of the study was to provide the Joint Chiefs with a sound basis for lending support to that program, including a possible joint U.S.-U.S.S.R. lunar venture. Two ANSER analysts were assigned to this study.
More than just the middle of a significant study, ANSER’s position was to be described as being in the middle of it all, this momentous time of transition for U.S. efforts in space. The year before, Project Mercury had ended after completing six manned space flights that included putting the first U.S. astronaut in space (Alan B. Shepard Jr. in May of 1961) and orbiting the first U.S. astronaut around the earth (John H. Glenn Jr. in February of 1962).
Next year the United States would launch Project Gemini, a series of space flights aimed at developing the technology to reach the moon, an effort that would put the first U.S. astronaut “space walking,” or working outside of the spacecraft while in orbit. The Gemini missions were the United States’ final step before attempting to make the first human step on the moon, which President John F. Kennedy had announced to the world would happen (through the Apollo program) before the end of the decade. It was becoming clear that the United States might actually do it.
And with numerous studies like “The Air Force in Space, 1960-1980” already under ANSER’s belt, a number of which had been briefed to senior leadership in the U.S. space arena, it was becoming clear that ANSER would actually help the Nation make that step.