The Partnership: A History of the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project|
The Dryden-Blagonravov Talks -
At the outset of 1964, a tangible result of
the initial Dryden-Blagonravov discussions came when NASA launched
the communications satellite Echo
II. Two weeks before the launch,
Blagonravov had notified Dryden that the Academy of Sciences would
participate in the tracking and communications experiments with
as agreed in the Geneva talks of May 1963. In the same message, he
informed Dryden that information would be forthcoming shortly
detailing their plan for cooperation in meteorological studies. The
Americans were cautiously enthused by this step
From Vandenberg Air Force Base on 25 January,
the balloon satellite Of laminated Mylar plastic and aluminum was
placed in near-polar Orbit.* 77 Two days later, Academician Blagonravov announced that
Soviet ground  stations were
tracking Echo II. Some of these optical facilities had observed the
inflation of the satellite, and three observatories had succeeded in
photographing it.78 On that same date, NASA received raw tracking data,
and later the Soviets forwarded photographic materials and a
preliminary analysis of orbital data obtained when the satellite was
not being observed by U.S. tracking facilities. The second phase of
the experiments with the communications satellite, beginning 22
February and continuing into March, consisted of 34 communications
exercises between the Manchester University radio telescope at
Jodrell Bank in the U.K. and Zimenki Observatory at Gorki University
in the Soviet Union.79
Dryden discussed with guarded enthusiasm the
meaning of the joint U.S.-U.S.S.R. tests with Echo II in testimony
before the Senate Committee on Aeronautical and Space Sciences in
March 1964. At first glance, Dryden thought that the real
significance of the tests was that the two teams had taken "advantage
of existing programs, approved and executed on their own merits, to
provide an opportunity for scientists and engineers of both countries
to gain experience in working together for their mutual benefit."
This was "a pioneer venture . . . designed as a coordinated rather
than joint effort." Dryden thought it interesting that the Soviets
had re-christened Echo
II the "Friendly
A year later in March 1965, Dryden's remarks
to the Senate were to be less effusive. He prefaced his comments on
cooperation with the U.S.S.R. with the statement: "we engage in
cooperative international activities for two reasons - to further the
NASA mission and to advance the foreign policy objectives of the
United States." He then bluntly presented a final assessment of the
The Soviet side observed the
critical inflation phase of the satellite optically and forwarded the
data to us. They did not provide radar data, which would have been
most desirable, but they had not committed themselves to do so. The
Soviets provided recordings and other data of their reception of the
transmissions via ECHO from Jodrell Bank. On the other hand, the
communications were carried out in only one direction instead of two,
Echo II passive communications
satellite undergoes pre-flight inflation tests.
frequencies than we would have liked, and with some technical
limitations at the ground terminals used. I do not want to
over-emphasize any technical benefits from this project. It was,
however, a useful exercise in organizing a joint undertaking with the
The intervening year had bred some caution and
doubt at NASA as to the future of cooperation between the two space
powers. At the end of May, Administrator Webb had commented on the
twin goals of cooperation and competition. He did not see any
inconsistency in pursuing both goals simultaneously:
I think it makes good sense. The
greater our lead in space, the more willing the Soviet Union may
become to give up its hopes for world domination and the victory of
communism everywhere. The greater our lead in space the more ready
the Soviet Union may become to cooperate with us in mutually
beneficial ways that will lessen the dangers of nuclear war and
advance the cause of freedom.
Webb also cautioned his audience not to expect
Dryden and Blagonravov met twice in 1964, but
their negotiations were short on concrete results. The first meeting,
which coincided with the May COSPAR sessions in Florence, Italy, was
limited to discussing an agenda for a second meeting to be held at
Geneva during the convocation of a U.N. subcommittee on the Peaceful
Uses of Outer Space.83 During late May and early June, the two negotiators
discussed the progress of implementing the details of the 1963 "First
Memorandum of Understanding." One major new point centered on an
accord to publish several joint volumes of material on space biology
and medicine, a field that Dryden indicated "has a considerable
bearing on the future of manned space flight, although there was no
talk at Geneva of a joint manned flight."** 84
In reviewing the results of his 1964 meetings
with Blagonravov, Dryden told the press that he had discussed
cooperation with President Johnson prior to his departure for Geneva
and that he had been instructed "to seek to widen the areas of
cooperation with the Soviet Union" in space activities. In private
conversations with Blagonravov, Dryden conveyed the President's
willingness to go as far with cooperative efforts as the Soviet
government wished to proceed. As Dryden summarized the American
position, "We are always, always have been, prepared to go somewhat
farther than they have been willing to do."85
Dryden also gave the press his perception of
the Soviet attitudes toward  cooperation. He
noted "evidence of a very great desire to have cooperative
agreements" and an equally strong wish to begin cooperation in space
biology and medicine. Counterbalancing this apparent willingness to
cooperate was the Soviet concern for secrecy. The "secrecy with
regard to engineering and rockets and instruments and spacecraft" had
assured a very slow pace and meager results for the two years of
negotiations. Dryden felt that as long as the Soviets pursued this
course of keeping space data classified, the future of
Soviet-American efforts to cooperate would be determined by the pace
that the U.S.S.R. wished to follow. Thus, the Deputy Administrator
concluded that much patience was called for on the American side, but
he also believed that patience was justified since "the prospects are
good for a very slow widening of the area of cooperation. . .
Dryden's cautious testimony during the March
1965 congressional hearings indicated that progress had been slow.
Data from ground-based magnetic observatories had been exchanged, and
the transmission of weather data on the "cold line," a special cable
link between Moscow and Suitland, Maryland, had been started in
October 1964.**** 87 Dryden summarized the status of the joint efforts; "I
would describe the situation as a form of limited coordination of
programs and exchange of information rather than true cooperation."
He continued his report saying, "they have not responded to any
proposals which would involve an intimate association and exposure of
their hardware to our view." Nor had the Soviets demonstrated
"anything in the nature of a joint group working together." When
asked if the prospect for the future was one of continued
competitiveness, Dryden answered in the affirmative, "As near as we
can tell at the moment."88
But Dryden's work was coming to an end. Since
late 1961, he had been waging a quiet personal battle with an
incurable malignancy. He had not yielded to his illness but instead
had doubled his work load, as he labored to see Project Apollo and
other key NASA programs started toward successful conclusions. In the
last four years of his life, he seemed always on his way to attend an
in-house conference or to catch a plane for an international meeting.
On 16 November 1965, after a series of transcontinental speaking
engagements, he entered the National Institutes of Health. Sixteen
days later, on 2 December, Dryden was dead at the age of
 The decade of the
1960s witnessed an increasing tempo of manned space flights; a
central theme surrounding these flights was competition between the
United States and the Soviet Union. From March 1962 to November 1964,
Dryden and Blagonravov had met six times to formulate a basis for
cooperation, but the element of competition had prevailed. With
Dryden's death, a strong voice for cooperation with the Soviets
disappeared. Administrator Webb's primary concern now was the goal of
placing a man on the moon ahead of the Soviet Union. As the U.S. and
the U.S.S.R. ventured forth on their separate routes to the conquest
of space, the idea of cooperation remained, but only as a
* Echo II, placed into
orbit by a Thor-Agena B launch vehicle, weighed 243 kilograms, but
when inflated it had a diameter of 41 meters.
** As a result of these
negotiations, which were formalized in Oct. 1965, NASA and the Soviet
Academy of Sciences jointly published in 1975 and 1976 a three-volume
work in four books called Foundations
of Space Biology and Medicine.
*** Pravda carried a Tass
communique from Geneva listing the points of the Dryden-Blagonravov
talks and noting that the joint efforts in space biology and medicine
would be "of great practical value for assuring the life, health, and
safety of cosmonauts making orbital flights, as well as for future
flights into deep space."
**** The "cold line" was
so designated to differentiate it from the emergency "hot line,"
which had been agreed to in 1963 by the Soviets and Americans to
reduce the risk of war by miscalculation or accident.
76. Blagonravov to
Dryden, 14 Jan. 1964. "At present we are completing the preparation
of the first stage of observations of the satellite during the period
of its inflation. Our stations, which are located within the zone of
visibility, will observe the moment of inflation by visual and
photographic means only. . . . For the purpose of facilitating the
successful conduct of this work we should like to ask you to issue
instructions that we be informed of the moment of the launch."
77. NASA News Release,
HQ, 64-11, "NASA to Launch Second Echo Communications Satellite," 21
Jan. 1964; Standard Packaging Corp., National Metallizing Division,
news release, "Aluminum Coated Space package Launched Is Historic
Feat," 9 Aug. 1960; Mission Operation Report No. S-622-64-03, "Echo C
Project," 20 Jan. 1964; and Bill Becker, "Echo 2 Is Orbited; Soviets
to Aid Tests," New York
Times, 26 Jan. 1964.
78. NASA News Release,
HQ, 64-21, "Echo II Monitored by USSR," 27 Jan. 1964; "Russians Are
Tracking Echo 2 in Joint Experiment with U.S.," New York Times, 27 Jan.
1964; "Observations of the Echo-II," Krasnaya Zvezda, 28 Jan.
1964; and "Mirror in the Cosmos (Echo-2)," Izvestiya, 28 Jan.
79. Blagonravov outlined
the program of radio communications experiments in a letter,
Blagonravov to Dryden, 27 Jan. 1964; Homer Newell summarized the
experiment results in U.S. Congress, House of Representatives,
Committee on Science and Astronautics, Subcommittee on Space Science
and Applications, 1966 NASA
Authorizations: Hearings on H.R. 3730, No. 2, Pt. 3, 89th Cong., 1st sess., 1965, pp. 987-991 ; H. L.
Baker, Project Manager, Echo II, to Harry J. Goett, memo, "A Quick
Look Evaluation of USSR Optical Data as Submitted by Professor
Massevich," 9 Apr. 1964; and Newell to Goett, memo, "Report on the
Echo II Experiments with US-UK-USSR," 8 June 1964.
80. U.S. Congress,
Senate, Committee on Aeronautical and Space Sciences, NASA Authorization for Fiscal Year 1965: Hearings on S.
2446, Pt. 2, 88th Cong., 2nd sess.,
1964, pp. 358-359.
81. U.S. Congress,
Senate, Committee on Aeronautical and Space Sciences, NASA Authorization for Fiscal Year 1966: Hearings on S.
927, Pt. 1, 89th Cong., 1st sess.,
1965, pp. 60-61.
82. Webb, "U.S.-Soviet
Space Capabilities," speech, Missouri Cotton Producers Association,
Sikeston, Mo., 30 May 1964; Mission Operation Report No. S-622-64-03,
"Echo II-Post Launch Report No. 1," 27 Jan. 1964; and Mission
Operation Report No. S-622-64-03, "Echo II- Post Launch Report No.
2," 31 Mar. 1964.
83. Dryden to
Blagonravov, 26 Mar. 1964; Dryden to Blagonravov, 1 Apr. 1964; TWX,
Blagonravov to Dryden, 6 May 1964; "Suggestion for Private Meeting
(D/B)" [n.d.] ; TWX, Frutkin to State Department, 11 May 1964; and
Leonard Jaffee to Dryden, memo, "Proposed Second Stage of US-USSR
Echo II Experiments," 19 May 1964.
84. "Second Memorandum
of Understanding to Implement the Bilateral Space Agreement of June
8, 1962, between the Academy of Sciences of the USSR and the National
Aeronautics and Space Administration of the US," 6 June 1964;
"protocol for the Establishment of a Direct Communications Link
between the World Meteorological Center in Moscow and Washington in
Accordance with the Bilateral Agreement on Outer Space Dated June 8,
1962, between the Academy of Sciences of the USSR and the National
Aeronautics and Space Administration of the USA," 6 June 1964; and
NASA News Release, HQ [unnumbered], "News Conference on
Implementation of U.S.-U.S.S.R. Bilateral Space Agreement," 8 June
85. NASA News Release,
"News Conference on Implementation," 8 June 1964.
86. Ibid.; "Mirnoe
ispolzovanie kosmosa" [Peaceful use of space], Pravda, 10 June 1964;
and Blagonravov, "Collaboration between the USSR and the United
States in Space Research," Vestnik
Akademii Nauk SSSR [Herald of the
Academy of Sciences USSR], No. 10 (1964) (JPRS Translation No.
28,890), pp. 82-84. Blagonravov summarized the joint talks through
the summer of 1964 and presented the Soviet view.
87. An official report
on the status of the Soviet-American meteorological exchange was
presented by the U.S. Weather Bureau, as cited in Subcommittee on
Space Sciences and Applications, 1966
NASA Authorization, p. 900.
88. U.S., Congress,
House of Representatives, Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee
on Independent Offices, Independent
Offices Appropriations for 1966: Hearings, Pt. 2, 89th Cong., 1st sess., 1965, p. 1007. For summary of
Dryden's last meeting with Blagonravov, see "Memorandum of
Conversation between Dr. Hugh L. Dryden, Deputy Administrator, NASA,
and Academician A. A. Blagonravov, USSR Academy of Sciences, Held May
14, 1965, at Mar del Plata, Argentina, 2-3:15 PM"; and diary note,
Frutkin, "Notes on US/USSR Bilateral and Soviet Participation in
COSPAR Meeting, May 1965, Mar del Plata, Argentina," 15 May
89. Richard K. Smith,
comp. and ed., The Hugh L. Dryden
Papers, 1898-1965: A Preliminary Catalogue of the Basic
Collection (Baltimore, 1974), p.
90. U.S. Congress,
Senate, Committee on Aeronautical and Space-Sciences, NASA Authorization for Fiscal Year 1969, Hearings on
S.2918, Pt. 1, 90th Cong., 2nd sess.,
1969, p. 58; and A. J. Dessler, "Discontent of Space-Science
Community," 30 Oct. 1969.