[FPSPACE] Apollo 8...a little bit more
pjp961 at svol.net
Sun Nov 30 14:16:53 EST 2008
Let's bring up some more things in regards to the Apollo 8 decision by NASA,
and the Russians.
One of the prime participants in the Apollo 8 mission, Frank Borman, has
admitted to the fact-in print, and in a recorded interview on TV-that Apollo
8's schedule was changed due to materials from the CIA about an expected
Russian circumlunar mission in the final quarter of 1968.
I quote the book by Borman, entitled "Countdown" in the following article by
me, that was published back in 1990.
Pesavento P. "A review of rumoured launch failures in the Soviet manned
program. Part 2: the lunar project/1968-1969." J Brit Interplanetary Soc
I can also add that despite the nebulousness of the recounting in Borman's
book, I have actually tracked down when that meeting between him and Slayton
may have took place. It was on August 10, 1968. A NASA document (notes of
George M. Low "Special Notes for August 9, 1968, and Subsequent") helps to
nail this down. We read: "August 13: ...Slayton had decided to assign 104
crew to the mission. He had talked to Borman on Saturday and Borman
I also have (yes, on hand) the notes-both handwritten and typescript-of the
meeting that took place BEFORE the Slayton/Borman meeting, that precipitated
the subsequent meeting mentioned in Borman's book. It took place on August
9, 1968, at MSFC, at Dr. Gilruth's request.
In these notes (taken for General Phillips), under the term "Risk Analysis"
we read "intelligence estimate-APO" which means Apollo Program Office. At
the time of August 1968, there had been extant an intelligence estimate
(what is termed a "Memorandum to Holders") on the Soviet space program (done
in a variety of forms, depending on the classification level) that was
issued barely four months before on 4 April 1968--which was an "update" on
the standard National Intelligence Estimate on the Soviet space program that
had appeared previously in early 1967. (NIEs on Soviet space were issued
approximately every two years, with updates inbetween called "Memo to
Holders.") I believe it was a version of this "Memo to Holders" that was
reviewed, and discussed at the August 9, 1968 meeting at MSFC in Houston.
I have detailed discussion about this 4 April 1968 "Memo to Holders" (both
the Top Secret codeword version, as well as the straight "Top Secret"
version, where I have published the timetable graphic-that shows the
likelihood of a Soviet manned circumlunar at the end of 1968--in the
Pesavento P. "Lifting the veil: What US intelligence knew in the 1960s about
the Soviet space program." Space Chronicle 60(JBIS Supplement 2): 49-87,
There are also the materials found in "The Super Spies" by Andrew Tully
(published in 1969) about a highly placed agent inside the Soviet space
establishment that had defected in this time frame, and in that book talks
about the knowledge that this agent imparted about the Zond spacecraft
series, and the ultimate plans for this project. I have talked about this
agent, and Tully's book, in these articles:
Pesavento P. & Vick CP. "The Moon Race "End Game": A New Assessment of
Soviet Crewed Lunar Aspirations." Quest: the history of spaceflight qrtrly
Part One: 11(1):6-30, 2004.
Pesavento P. "Human Intelligence-The long, and the short of it." Space
Chronicle 61 (JBIS Supplement 1):54-57, 2008. [Correspondence]
So a lot of things took place in August 1968. And the US intelligence
community had (what I would term) a very good connection in "taking the
pulse" of the Soviet manned space program.
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