Moonport: A History of Apollo Launch Facilities and Operations

A New Agreement

It was time for a review of the Webb-Gilpatric Agreement. NASA and the Department of Defense had distinctive programs. The Department of Defense agencies that used the range were primarily research and development users of a test facility for the development of weapon systems. NASA, in addition to doing R&D, was an operational user of launch facilities for the exploration of space. Congress indicated its intent that the land on Merritt Island remain under the control of NASA by the way funds were appropriated for its purchase, but NASA did not propose to disturb in any significant way the arrangements at Cape Canaveral or the downrange facilities and intended to pay a prorated share of the operating expenses of the Atlantic Missile Range. Under these circumstances, Webb wrote to Gilpatric on 14 August 1962, with a draft that he hoped would replace their earlier agreement.68 During the fall and early winter of 1962, NASA and the Department of Defense engaged in a series of conferences that led to a clarification of relationships at Cape Canaveral and Merritt Island. General Davis wrote to the Secretary of Defense, for instance, pointing out the duplication of support activities that might be required - such things as guard services, printing plants, fuel analysis laboratories, instrument repair shops, fire protection, and weather forecasting. He admitted that a division on a geographical basis was possible, but advised that NASA be prepared to accept the responsibility for the necessary duplication.69 On 17 January 1963 NASA Administrator Webb and Secretary of Defense McNamara signed a new agreement.

NASA gained two points. Paragraph B of the General Concept stated: "In recognition of the acquisition by NASA of MILA (Merritt Island Launch Area) and its anticipated use predominantly in support of the Manned Lunar Landing Program and in order to provide more direct control by NASA of MILA development and operation, the Merritt Island Launch Area is considered a NASA installation separate and distinct from the Atlantic Missile Range."70 In the area of master planning, NASA also had more liberty. Further agreements and additions during the spring and summer of 1963 settled many of the minor problems that remained.71