The National Aeronautics and Space Administration astronaut recruiting and selection process 1959-1978

Material Information

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration astronaut recruiting and selection process 1959-1978 an administrative history
Atkinson, Joseph D
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Physical Description:
xviii, 474 leaves : charts, forms ; 29 cm


Subjects / Keywords:
Astronauts -- Recruiting -- United States ( lcsh )
bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )


Includes bibliographical references (leaves 428-434).
General Note:
Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree, Doctor of Public Administration, Graduate School of Public Affairs.
General Note:
School of Public Affairs
Statement of Responsibility:
by Joseph Donahue Atkinson, Jr.

Record Information

Source Institution:
|University of Colorado Denver
Holding Location:
Auraria Library
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
14089262 ( OCLC )
LD1190.P86 1983d .A7 ( lcc )

Full Text
Joseph Donahue Atkinson, Jr.
B.A., Morehouse College, 1949
M.A., University of Houston at Clear Lake City, 1979
A thesis submitted to the
Faculty of the Graduate School of Public Affairs of the
University of Colorado in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the degree of
Doctor of Public Administration
Graduate School of Public Affairs

This thesis for the Doctor of Public Administration
degree by
Joseph Donahue Atkinson, Jr.
has been approved for the
Graduate School
of Public Affairs
August 12, 1983

Copyright by Joseph Donahue Atkinson, Jr., 1983
All Rights Reserved

Atkinson, Joseph Donahue Jr., (D.P.A., Public Administration)
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration Astronaut
Recruiting and Selection Process 1959-1978: An Administrative
Thesis directed by Professor Jay M. Shafritz
In 1958 the United States established the National
Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) as a federal civilian
agency in 1958 in response to Russia's launch of Sputnik I in
1957. The U.S. Space program imposed heavy and unusual require-
ments upon the NASA public personnel management system to recruit,
examine and select a cadre of persons to perform tasks in space
which had never previously been done. Between 1959 and 1978, NASA
selected eight different astronaut groups. During this time the
agency's personnel management policies governing recruitment,
examination, and selection varied widely.
This study discusses the various themes explored in the
analysis of each of the phases of astronaut selection. Consistent
with the principal conclusions gleaned from the literature review,
NASA's recruiting, examination, and selection policies changed
significantly in terms of emphasis, techniques and participants.
Chartered to develop a successful technology for manned
spaceflight, NASA had to deal concurrently with rapidly increasing

demands for social equity and minority representation in the
astronaut corps. The public personnel management system, com-
pelled to demonstrate its flexibility under pressure, achieved
these dual objectives successfully. This research effort docu-
ments the scope, methods, and result of three phases of
recruitment: pilots, scientists, and mission specialists with
the selection of the first women and minorities.
NASA came full circle in its recruitment, examining and
selection process. It moved from a traditional closed system
with heavy emphasis on administrative efficiency and merit, through
merit and political influences by special interest groups, to an
accommodation of both social equity and merit. This evolution
was the result of earlier intervention by the legislative,
executive and judicial branches of the government; of concerns
expressed by American citizens, and of the need to project an
image of a professional elite which represented all of the
nation's constituents.
The major conclusion to be drawn from the study is that
NASA's astronaut selection decisions reflected particular organi-
zational policies. In short, purpose dictated method, and
different goals in different situations produced different techniques.
The form and content of this abstract are approved. I recommend
its publication.
Signed__________ _______ ___________________
Faculty member in ch rg¥ of thesis

To my wife Beatrice whose devotion and cheerful forebearance has
made easier this journey across space and time.

The ideas which I brought to bear on this research reflect
intellectual debts that are larger than can be fairly
acknowledged. This study could not have been done without the
assistance of many persons within NASA, the university system and
general community who have been willing to give generously of
their time and advice. I particularly appreciate the persons in
the NASA Headquarters History Office; and the Johnson Space
Center Astronaut Office, Archives, and Technical Library.
I owe a special debt to the past and present NASA Assistant
Administrators for Equal Opportunity, Ruth Bates Harris and Dr.
Harriett G. Jenkins for their sensitive and relevant guidance
involving the issues of an imperative and unfinished agenda of
social equity. Also five NASA Administators, Dr. T. Keith
Glennan, Dr. James E. Webb, Dr. Thomas 0. Paine, Dr. James M.
Fletcher and Dr. Robert A. Frosch provided a lengthy and
detailed account of the summit perspective of NASA policy for-
My grateful acknowledgement goes to the two Center Directors
of JSC, Drs. Robert R. Gil ruth and Christopher C. Kraft, Jr., and

their staffs of senior level managers for information on how they
successfully wrestled with the policy implementation of con-
currently accommodating both the development of the nation's
highest technology as well as meeting the demands for social
representativeness within the personnel management system.
Key managers who provided unique perspectives and deserve
special thanks are Duane L. Ross, George W. S. Abbey, Donald K.
"Deke" Slayton, John W. Young, Warren North, Charles J. Donlan,
Dr. Robert Voas, Sam L. Pool, M.D., and Joseph P. Kerwin, M.D.
Appreciation is also due Thomas U. McElmurry, Dr. Charles Lang
and William H. Killian, Jr., who shared essential and little
known information on minorities seeking to be astronauts during
the early days. To Dr. Phillip H. Whitbeck who has supported my
efforts over the years, I simply say thanks.
The four members of my committee should be singled out
for their sound guidance and many suggestions in bringing this
task to fruition: Jack Lister, T)SC Personnel Officer; and
Professors Jay M. Shafritz, Albert C. Hyde and John Buechner of
the University of Colorado Graduate School of Public Affairs. In
addition Angela G. Ware, Shannon D. Taylor, and Erma J. Cox who
for more than a year did an efficient job of typing and retyping
the manuscript under pressure, deserve praise for deciphering my
handwritten drafts. To Wanda M. Thrower and Art Taylor who metic-
ulously assisted with the editing, I express my gratitude.

And now, on to the cheering section my family who pro-
vided a constant source of encouragement and moral support: To my
wife Beatrice, goes a special kind of thanks for her encouragement
and understanding; to our children, Tandelyn, Joseph III., Cynthia,
Damita, and Selena, who regularly checked the milestones; and
finally a special debt is owed to my mother Gladys, and my late
father Joseph D. Atkinson, Sr., who during my childhood, believed
that manned spaceflight would occur during their lives and it
August 1983
Joseph Donahue Atkinson, Jr.

LIST OF TABLES............................................... xvii
LIST OF FIGURES...................'..........................xviii
INTRODUCTION .................................................. 1
Selection and recruitment watersheds ................... 3
Explorers: terrestrial and
extra terrestrial parallels ............................. 6
Exploration is systematized ........................... 14
Exploration is costly ................................. 15
Exploration and science ............................... 18
The psychology of an explorer ..........................20
Explorers and astronauts: representatives
of society.............................................22
Selection of astronauts: an overview ...................... 25
Summary of selections: Groups I VIII ......... 29
Group I ................................................29
Group II................................................30
Group III...............................................31
Group IV................................................32
Group V ................................................32
Group VI ...............................................33
Group VII...............................................34
Group VIII..............................................34

Methodology and data collection
Methodological approach .
Observation........................................... 41
Documents ............................................ 43
Interviews............................................ 46
NASA Archives......................................... 57
Overview.................................................... 59
Notes....................................................... 63
LITERATURE REVIEW ............................................. 72
Historical overview ........................................ 73
Legislative action ................................... 73
Executive action ..................................... 77
Judicial action ...................................... 80
The public personnel management literature ................. 90
Public personnel administration (First
and Second Editions, 1936-1941) 93
Public personnel administration (Fourth
through Seventh Editions) ............................ 98
Personnel management in government .................. 103
Other public personnel textbooks .................... 106
Merit, professionals, and administrative
The technical literature on employment .............. 108
The general literature on merit and
The professional elite

Politics and employment: other
perspectives .............................................. 124
Social equity representative
bureaucracy literature . ............................... 129
Representative bureaucracy .......................... 134
Representation by administrative
organization ........................................ 136
Representation by personnel ......................... 137
Selection perspective ............................... 141
Recruitment and examination perspectives ............ 142
The limits of representative bureaucracy ............ 147
SEVEN (GROUP I)...........................................168
The Eisenhower space policy ......................... 170
Scientific community influences policy .............. 176
Eisenhower prevails ................................. 182
Defining the characteristics of
an astronaut..........................................183
Preliminary criteria for selection .................. 187
Intent to recruit from civilians .................... 189
Military test pilot best source.......................192
\ The decision: military astronauts in a
civilian program ................................. 195
Finalized selection procedures

Phase I: screening records.............................198
Phase II: Washington interviews and testing .... 201
Phase III: medical testing Lovelace
Foundation Clinic .................................... 205
Phase IV: stress testing Wright
Aeromedical Center tests ............................. 208
Final evaluation.......................................209
(GROUP IV)................................................ 222
Influence of scientific community .... ............... 223
Killian, scientists, sputnik, and Eisenhower .... 225
The power of scientific influence .................... 229
The early administrators ............................. 232
The external community ............................... 232
NASA controls the funds................................236
Managing internal relations .......................... 239
Political sensitivity ................................ 243
The First Summer Study ............................... 245
Scientists to be astronauts............................245
The decision...........................................250
Selection board ...................................... 259
The NASA selection process.............................262
How astronauts became aware of the recruitment
announcement ....................................... 267

Women: The early NASA days ................................ 276
Appointed NASA consultant ........................... 278
Navy test of women cancelled..........................279
Congressional hearing ............................... 282
Diverse viewpoints .................................. 284
No NASA program for women.............................285
Perceived inequities ............................... 287
NASA's second female consultant ..................... 289
Minorities: the early NASA days ........................... 290
The First Black potential NASA astronaut ............ 292
Alleged inequities .................................. 294
NASA response........................................ 295
Congressional involvement ........................... 296
Media and Soviet Union reaction.......................297
Community image ..................................... 297
The Second Black potential NASA Astronaut ........... 298
Summary................................................... 299
(GROUP VIII) .............................................. 306
Early community concerns and commitments ............ 307
Planning phase ...................................... 312
JSC approach to astronaut selection ................. 318

Pedantic progress .................................... 322
Astronauts on leave to organizations outside
A workable concept ................................... 324
Phase I.............................................. 325
Phase II ... ..........................................326
The plan.............................................. 327
Department of Defense interface ...................... 330
Actions to encourage minority and women
Surrogate astronaut............... .................336
Differences of opinion on recruitment strategy . 339
The selection process................................ 341
Claims verification .................................. 346
Weighting measures ................................... 346
Selection completed .................................. 347
(GROUP VIII) .............................................. 361
Administrative support ............................... 361
Special Schedule B appointing authority .............. 367
Plan for accepting applications for JSC
astronauts under Schedule B Authority ........... 373
Appointment of aliens ................................ 374
Standards developed for medical evaluation ........... 376

FINDINGS AND CONCLUSIONS ..................................... 392
Findings from the selection of Group I,
Findings from the selection of Group IV,
Findings from the selection of Group VIII,
pilots and mission specialist to include
women and minorities..................................403
Findings about the development of recruitment,
examination, and selection capabilities
at NASA...............................................408
Questions for future research . ..........................413
BIBLIOGRAPHY ................................................... 418
A. Sample letter reflecting suggestions and
comments to enhance recruitment,
examination and selection of minorities
and women........................................ 438
B. Position announcements: ......................... 440
1. Opportunities as candidates for
pilot astronaut.................................441
2. Opportunities as candidates for
mission specialist Astronaut .................. 443
C. Application forms: .............................. 445
1. Pilot astronaut candiate program ........... 446
a. Summary of qualifications for
pilot astronaut candidates ........... 447
b. Supplemental record of
aeronautical experience.................448

xv i
2. Mission specialist astronaut candidate
program. Summary of qualifications
for mission specialist astronaut
3. Application forms applicable to both
pilot and mission specialist:...................452
a. Personal qualifications statement ........... 455
b. Report of medical history ................... 457
D. Typical letters written by NASA/JSC to
persons and organizations throughout the
general community ............................. 459
E. Typical advertisement placed in national
publications................................... 473

3-1 Chronology of astronaut selection screening .... 212
6-1 Summary of special recruitment activities ........... 337
6-2 Pilot scoring criteria .............................. 348
6-3 Mission specialist scoring criteria ................. 349

1- 1 History of astronaut staffing ...................... 26
2- 1 Timeline of significant legislative, executive, and
judical actions affecting equal opportunity in
employment practices (1865 to present) .............. 88
2-2 The environments of organizational employment
policies: a schematic of the literature ............ 152
6-1 NASA board procedures from application to
6- 2 Summary of applicants in various stages of
selection process .................................. 350
7- 1 Differences in standards, NASA Medical Classes I
and II Space Flight Evaluations .................... 380
8- 1 The Impacts of environmental and organizational
purpose on astronaut recruitment, examination,
and selection...................................... 394
8-2 The Impacts of environmental and organizational
purpose on future astronaut recruitment,
examination, and selection................................. 414

The purpose of this study is to examine the administra-
tive history of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration
(NASA) astronaut recruitment and selection process from 1959 to
1978. The United States established NASA as a civilian agency in
October 1958, in the aftermath of the launch of Russia's Sputnik
I, the earth's first artificial satellite. The newly formed
United States Space Agency faced an immense challenge; it was to
demonstrate that the United States could also launch such a
satellite. United States space programs, both unmanned and
manned, moved from virtual obscurity to national prominence.
They were constantly being scrutinized by the Administration,
Congress, and the public.*
Many histories have been written about NASA's technical
programs.^ The documentation of NASA's administrative events,
however, remains limited. One major deficiency in this litera-
ture is the lack of a comprehensive history of the NASA astronaut
recruitment and selection process. Existing accounts primarily
describe the selection of the original seven astronauts, and
reflect a highly biographical and journalistic perspective.
Perhaps the most popular example of the journalistic approach

toward astronaut selection is Tom Wolfe's, The Right. Stuff.3
Wolfe's use of anecdotes emphasizes incidents surrounding each of
the original seven astronauts in Project Mercury, rather than
examining the administrative history of the program.
Various authors have described other aspects of astronaut
selection in internal working documents and memoranda. Most
published information is comprised of medical reports or public
affairs material used primarily for press releases. Some of this
information has found its way into various published works on
aspects of NASA. Few of these histories, however, discuss the
details of the organizational climate surrounding the recruitment
and selection of successive astronaut groups.
NASA has completed four manned space programs since 1961.
The first was the exploratory Mercury Program of suborbital and
Earth orbital flights. This was followed by the Gemini Program
of Earth orbital flights. This program was designed to develop
skill in rendezvous and docking between two ships, to study
extravehicular movement, and to explore the limits of man's
space endurance. The lunar Apollo Program followed Gemini; it
was designed to land men on the moon. The final completed
program was the Sk.ylab Program, which was designed to discover
and use man's capabilities in near-earth space. The current
space program, the Space Shuttle Orbiter, represents the
beginning of the era of reusable space transporation.
The recruitment of astronauts was essential to the

success of the manned spaceflight program. From January 1959
through January 1978, eight recruiting campaigns resulted in the
selection of 108 astronauts for NASA's manned spaceflights. Each
successive mission built on previous programs to advance manned
space exploration.
During its early years, NASA was hard pressed to compete
with the Soviet Union and achieve technical superiority in space.
At the same time, the agency was pressured by sweeping changes in
the nation's attitudes toward social equality, changes that began
with the passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964. These social
currents, buttressed by legal decisions, brought pressure to bear
on personnel management systems across the nation. NASA's manage-
ment walked a tightrope between the technical needs of its
programs and the social needs of its employees and would-be
employees. In the world of realpolitik, NASA had to contend with
Selection and Recruitment Watersheds
Two decades of astronaut selection testify to the general
soundness of NASA decisions, made in response to changing internal
and external forces. This study attempts to identify these for-
ces, and discuss their influence on astronaut recruitment and
selection. While this study focuses on the overall selection
process, three groups of selections will be examined in depth as
turning points.
Of the eight selection processes, three were different

enough to set decision-making precedents. The first of these was
the Group I process in 1959 (the selection of pilot astronauts);
the second was the Group IV process in 1965 (the selection of
scientist-astronauts); and the third was the Group VIII process
(the selection of pilot astronauts and mission specialist
astronauts). The Group VIII process resulted in the selection of
the first minorities and women. Each of these processess will be
addressed separately.
In 1959, President Eisenhower decided that the first
group of astronauts was to be from the military services, rather
than opening competition to civilian applicants. These military
officers were first and foremost test pilots, who were involved
in the development of the most advanced and powerful aircraft
designed and produced in this era. These talented specialists
had survived the natural selection process in their profession;
they were in the highest echelon of military aviators.^
Eisenhower's decision to limit the selection process greatly
simplified its procedure and the resultant decisions.6
A second watershed occurred in 1965, when NASA selected
Group IV, the first scientist-astronauts. The National Academy
of Sciences in Washington, D.C., evaluated the applications1 con-
formity with scientific criteria developed in conjunction with
the NASA Office of Space Science and Applications.6 This selec-
tion process was the result of extensive discussion and nego-
tiation with the scientific community. Six candidates were

selected on June 29, 1965, for training as scientist-astronauts.
One geologist, two physicians, and three physicists comprised the
group. Two in the group were qualified jet pilots; those who
were not underwent one year of flight training as an adjunct to
the regular astronaut training program.
The third significant change in the astronaut selection
process occurred in 1978, with Group VIII. For the first time
women and minorities were selected for the astronaut corps? six
women, three Blacks and one Oriental. NASA divided this group
into two subgroups: pilot astronauts, who were to perform tradi-
tional pilot functions aboard the spacecraft; and mission spe-
cialists, who were to work primarily with payloads. The mission
specialist tasks included monitoring Spacelab systems and equip-
ment, and retrieving and deploying free-flying spacecraft, either
through extravehicular activity or through the use of Shuttle's
remote manipulator system.
The ad hoc selection board had no way of knowing the race
or sex of any individual until the candidates arrived for
interviews.^ Consequently, NASA had no statistics on its appli-
cants by race or sex. Through the first seven selections, it was
impossible to determine whether female or minority applicants
survived the preliminary technical qualifications screening, since
none ever progressed to the interview.9 This was due primarily to
the recruitment process used by NASA. Up through Group VII, NASA
placed no special emphasis on recruiting women or minorities.

In 1978, the recruitment process for Group VIII changed as NASA
modified the technical requirements for future crew members.
This study seeks to explain how these changes came about and the
resultant actions NASA took to implement the changes. It will
discuss policy decisions, the design and mechanics of the selec-
tion process, and the implementation of selection criteria for
each group of astronauts. But first, a broader historical con-
text exists, which must be examined. The recruitment and selec-
tion of astronauts is but a chapter in the long history of
exploratory efforts. Astronaut selection is based in part upon
that history.
Explorers: Terrestrial and Extraterrestrial Parallels
Two decades ago, mankind embarked upon one of its
greatest adventures, the exploration of near space. In the pro-
cess of going forth into new and uncharted places, modern day
astronauts discarded old laws of terrestrial navigation and
substituted newer laws of aerodynamics. Such laws combined
experience gained from aviation and rocket technology with the
science of celestial mechanics and culminated in the first time
achievement of manned suborbital circumnavigation.10 On May 5,
1961, America's first astronaut in space, Alan B. Shepard in
"Freedom 7", maintained a flight of 15 minutes and 22 seconds.^
However, this first United States space flight was preceded by
only 23 days by the flight of a Russian cosmonaut. On April 12,

1961, the official Soviet news agency, Tass, announced:
The world's first space ship Vostok with a man on board,
has been launched on April 12 in the Soviet Union on a
round-the-earth orbit. The first space navigator is
Soviet citizen pilot Major Yuriy Alekseyevich Gagarin.^
Gagarin became the first person in history to attain an
earth-fixed speed of 17,400 miles per hour, navigating a 25,000
mile course as high as 203 miles above sea level. He was also
the first human ever to endure 89 minutes of weightlessness.^
The Soviets announced dramatically:
History's first flight in outer space, accomplished by
the Soviet cosmonaut Yuriy Gagarin in the space ship
Vostok, has made it possible to draw the immensely
important scientific conclusion that manned flights
in space are practicable. It demonstrated that man
can normally bear up against the conditions of a space
flight, the placing of a ship in orbit, and the return
to earth. This flight showed that in a state of
weightlessness man fully retains his capacity for work,
his coordination of movements, and his clarity of thought.^
Gagarin's flight did not have the same depressive impact
on the United States as the Russian unmanned Sputnik in October,
1957, but it was a crushing disillusionment for many Americans.
The individuals who faced the greatest disappointment were the
American astronauts. As Swenson, Grimmwood, and Alexander note:
"They knew how close and yet how far they had come toward being
the first in space, if not in orbit.Astronaut John Glenn's
statement at that time reflects this:
The Russian accomplishment was a great one. It was
apparently very successful and I am looking forward
to seeing more detailed information. I am, naturally,
disappointed that we did not make the first flight to
open this new era. The important goals of Project
Mercury, however, remain the same--ours is peaceful

exploration of space. These first flights, whether
Russian or American, will go a long way in determining
the direction of future endeavors. This is certainly
work for all to solve the tremendous problems involved.
I hope the Russians have the same objectives and that
we can proceed with mutual dissemination of information
so that their goals which all mankind shares can be
gained rapidly, safely, and on a progressive scientific
basi s.16
"Astronauts" and "cosmonauts" were part of a larger
rivalry involving technogical superiority and international
prestige. Were these new themes, or did they reflect similar
concerns about exploration revealed throughout history? Whatever
the reasons, it is important to understand the means, the motives
and the achievements of the early terrestrial counterparts. It
is possible to contrast two different historical perspectives
that compare contemporary extraterrestrial explorers with early
terrestrial seafaring explorers. One is Samuel Eliot Mori son's
view of the European discoveries of America as unparalleled. He
believes they surpassed space exploration. Another perspective,
more ambiguous, is shared by Fernand Braudel and Carlo M.
Cipolla. They view oceanic navigation as a part of a larger
technological revolution. Morison's analysis is simply and
directly expressed:
There is no basis of comparison between the astronauts
who first landed on the moon on 20 July 1969, and
discoverers like Columbus, Cabot, Verrazzano, and Cartier.
Those four were men with an idea, grudingly and meanly
supported by their sovereigns. The three young heroes
of the moon landing did not supply the idea; they
bravely and intelligently executed a vast enterprise
employing some 400,000 men and costing billions of
dollars; while Columbus's first voyage cost his

sovereigns less than a court ball; and Cabot's, which
gave half the New World to England, cost Henry VII
just fifty pounds. The astronauts' epocal voyage
into space, a triumph of human spirit, was long
prepared, rehearsed, and conducted with precision
to an accurately plotted heavenly body. Their feat
might be slightly comparable to Cabot's if the moon
were always dark and they knew not exactly where to
find it and if they had hit the wrong planet.17
Mori son's work, presented with enthusiastic grace and
style, evaluates exploration primarily from the perspective of
the hazards and difficulties faced by the early explorers. In
his writing, he cites Alan Villiers, who stated: "The plain every-
day difficulties in handling these ships. .are already so
forgotten as to seem incredible."1^ He points out that so many
seafarers lost their lives on northern voyages that North America
became a graveyard for European ships and sailors.1^
Equally difficult were the voyages south of the Carribean
which took months, rather than weeks, at sea. Scurvy and starva-
tion were commonplace on these voyages. Many, perhaps most of
those who began the journey never returned.20 Mori son concludes
that the most important contribution to the cause of discovery
was scientific geography, especially determination of the shape
and size of the earth, and its distribution of land, water, and
climates.2! Morison emphasizes that while the philosophers and
writers of ancient Greece and Rome laid a scientific foundation
for the discoveries of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries and
were a great help to navigators of that period, their arbitrary
remarks about the Atlantic were anything but encouraging. He

notes, for example, that Aristotle believed that the sea was
shallow and becalmed a few miles out from the Pillars of Hercules
(Strait of Gibraltar); Plato stated that Atlantis, a mythical
island created by his imagination, had submerged into a vast
mudbank; and Tacitus believed that in northern waters, sailing
ships would encounter the resistance of a jellied or coagulated
Historians Wallbank and Taylor also urge their readers to
remember the dangers these mariners faced daily.23 Explorers ven-
tured into uncharted seas, where vastness, winds, currents, and
shoals had to be discovered by bitter experience. The vessels in
which the explorers placed their faith were incredibly small and
fragile, some not much larger than a good-sized modern
lifeboat.Myths abounded in a highly superstitious age.
Travelers told tales of strange and awful birds like the roc
which could fly away holding an elephant, mammoth sea serpents
which devoured ships, and treacherous whirlpools which sucked
vessels down.25 Most sailors believed no one could pass through
the torrid zone without burning alive. Many were certain that if
one sailed far enough, one would come to edge of the flat earth
and plunge over its side.25 while actual experience discredited
these beliefs eventually, this overview illuminates the daring
spirit exhibited by early explorers.
Morison's viewpoints of the individual explorers is
balanced by the work of other historians who see a different

relationship between environment and technology. Specifically
the works of Fernand Braudel, Carlo M. Cipolla, and Lynn White
espouse this perspective. They recognize the same hazards, dif-
ficulties and fears described by Mori son but, as Braudel observes,
they believe explorers are generally comparable, including those
who explore space. As Braudel states:
In fact the greatest difficulty was to conquer one's
fear of the unknown, as the French said (to take the
plunge). The courage required for such an unwonted
feat has been forgotten -- as probably our grandchildren
will know nothing about the bravery of the astronauts
Braudel discusses the great technological revolutions of
the fifteenth to eighteenth centuries: artillery, printing and
ocean navigation. But only the third revolution, ocean naviga-
tion, created "asymmetry" between different continents.28
According to Braudel, one of the main constraints on glo-
bal exploration prior to the fifteenth century were the maritime
frontiers of civilization, which were as rigid as its continental
frontiers.29 Although nations frequently exchanged visits, each
stayed within its own territory at sea as well as on land.
Perhaps these constraints would not have existed if ocean naviga-
tion had seemed a natural activity to sailors. But as Braudel
notes, the early exploits of Irish and Viking explorers had long
since vanished from memory and had to be revived. Before this hap-
pened, however, Europe had to desire a more active material life,
had to combine technological advance from north and south, and
had to learn more about the compass and navigational charts.

Finally, and above all, it had to conquer its instinctive
Braudel ascribes this desire for oceanic exploration
to the growth of capitalism in Western Europe. While the
Chinese, the Japanese, and the Arabs were all capable of ocean
navigation, 31 only Europe was spurred to it by the growth and
demands of its capitalist towns. According to Braudel, the
conquest of the high seas gave Europe global advantage resulting
in a supremacy which lasted for centuries.
None of this could have happened, according to an
expert on Chinese history, without the growth of the
capitalist towns of the West at that time. They were
the driving force; and without them technology would
have been impotent.32
Carlo M. Cipolla explains that "what Europeans showed
from the sixth to the eleventh centuries was not so much inven-
tive ingenuity as a remarkable capacity for assimilation."33 They
knew how to use good ideas, whatever their origin, on a large
productive scale. Cipolla, citing Lynn White's work, notes that
"modern technology is an extrapolation of that of the Western
Middle Ages, not merely in detail, but also in the spirit that
infuses it."34 Although Europeans were extraordinarily receptive
and open-minded, they also possessed original inventiveness which
manifested itself in the rapid acceptance of new ideas. When they
adopted new ideas from the outside, they changed them to fit local
conditions or different uses. As G. P. Walker wrote:
Because we see the machine reshaping society and changing
man's habit and ways of life, we are apt to conclude
that the machine is so to speak, an autonomous force that

determines the social superstructure. In fact, things
happened the other way around.. . The reason the machine
originated in Europe is to be found in human terms.
Before men could evolve and apply the machine as a
social phenomenon they had to become mechanics.3^
The techniques of open-sea navigation became more
sophisticated as naval construction became more reliable.
Innovations and progress in the techniques of naval construction,
navigation, and armament production were at the root of the over-
seas expansion. As Lynn White has noted:
The bursting of Europe's ocean's boundaries at the end
of the fifteenth century is one of the central events
in history. It was made possible by a long and
ingenious series of Medieval and Renaissance improve-
ments in shipbuilding and the nautical arts which were
entirely empirical. The majestic result is the measure
of the effectiveness of such empiricism.3^
This technogically-based explanation provides an
interesting comparison with twentieth century exploration. Just
as there were technological problems of frightful dimensions
during the age of early seafaring explorations, there were
problems of equal magnitude at the beginning of contemporary
space exploration. To quote T. Keith Glennan, NASA's first
The problems known to exist include (1) high-energy
radiation, both primary and cosmic ray and the newer
plasma type discovered in the IGY [International
Geophysical Year] satellite series; (2) man's ability
to withstand long periods of loneliness and strain while
subjected to the strange environment of which weightless-
ness is the factor least evaluated; and (3) reentry into
the atmosphere and safe landing. The reliability of the
launching rocket must be increased before a manned cap-
sule is used as a payload. Once these basic questions
have been answered, then we can plan a manned vehicle in
orbit about the earth.3^

The discovery of the solutions to these problems advanced man's
knowledge of technology and science.
During "The Age of Exploration," an era commonly asso-
ciated with the Renaissance and dating from 1420 to 1620, the
urge to find new lands beyond Europe also led to man's advance
knowledge of technology and science. The Renaissance oceanic
voyages of exploration are extremely important in terms of their
historial impact. Three elements were identified as essential to
successful exploration as early as the fifteenth century:
1. Exploration must be a national systematic venture.
2. Exploration must be supported financially.
3. Exploration must use technology to advance scientific
Exploration is Systematized
The Renaissance saw the first systemization of explora-
tion by governments and merchant companies. John Hale describes
what made this period different from preceding ones:
From an age of sporadic, largely unsponsored, independent
travel, Europe moved to a time of travel with a purpose,
of exploration rather that individual globe-trotting.
And at no other period have men sailed so far or dis-
covered so widely in so short a time as did the seamen
of the Renaissance.-^
The Renaissance governments were not interested in exploration
merely for the sake of knowledge. The object of these rulers
and financiers was the opening of ocean routes to India, China and
Japan. These countries were known to exist and were believed to

be of commercial importance.
While technology provided advance naval construction and
sophisticated navigation techniques, the best ships were no
better than the leaders who guided them. The maritime nations of
Europe had developed dedicated and capable seamen. But the
voyages of exploration presented hazards unforeseen even by men
who had learned to cope with troubled waters and icy seas.
During the age of discovery, an explorer had a fifty percent
chance of returning home alive, with scurvy, malnutrition and other
diseases almost certain consequences of his journey. On the
other hand, conditions were not any easier back home. This was an
age when the average life expectancy was approximately 30 years
and life was hard and uncertain. Probably a greater percentage
of farmers and tradesmen died of plague than did seamen of
scurvy. Therefore, Renaissance sailors may not have perceived
the hazards of exploration as lurid a contrast to ordinary life
as they seem by modern standards.^
From the beginning exploratory efforts were slow,
arduous, and costly to those involved. While in many instances
it was extremely profitable for entrepreneurs and governments, it
required a systematic continuity that could only be maintained if
it were a national endeavor.
Exploration is Costly
Explorers need resources, and the resources required to
support an exploratory mission have always been a point of

contention. Early explorers testified that obtaining financing
was the most difficult step in their voyages. These conditions
have changed little. The cost of NASAs programs are continually
challenged from various quarters. Even members of the House of
Representatives have asked how much the United States spent to
"land some clown on the Moon"40 or "with all the poverty on
earth, why spend all that money in space on a boondoggle?"
As the Mercury program was completed and then succeeded
by the Gemini and Apollo programs, there were "profound questions
which remained unanswered, and indeed usually not even asked."41
"Did President Kennedy's costly commitment to space exploration
represent a consensus among the electorate of a democratic society?
Neither Republicans nor Democrats seriously questioned the exis-
tence of such a consensus."42 During an era of population explo-
sion, nuclear proliferation, and social disparities, many people
wondered whether the manned space flight enterprise was worth the
effort and the price. "Why," they asked, "send two or three men
to the Moon when two or three billion others remain rooted in human
turmoil?"43 The answers to such questions were usually in terms
of national security, scientific curiosity, economic benfits, and
technological by-products. But, as Swenson, Grimwood and Alexander
point out the national commitment was an act of faith. However,
many Americans, both technically literate and illiterate, doubted
the value of the return from the $400 million spent on the Project
Mercury; the $1.3 billion spent on Project Gemini; the $25 billion

spent on the Apollo Lunar Program; the $2.5 billion spent on
Skylab; the $225 million spent on the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project (a
joint mission with the Soviet Union in July 1975); and the vastly
greater expenditures spent on succeeding manned space projects.44
"A substantial portion of the scientific community argued
that 'most Americans would prefer to belong to a society which
first gave the world a cure for cancer than to a society which
put the first astronaut on Mars.'"45 Others deplored the fact
that the American space effort was basically a "race to the
moon," having no nobler motivation than traditional nationalistic
rivalry. Still others would confine the Nation's extra-
terrestrial activities to unmanned space vehicles, thereby dimin-
ishing the cost of space exploration, as well as presumably
avoiding the "likely prospect that someday men would die in
space."46 Nevertheless, whether most people in the United States
approved or not, by the mid-1960s it seemed that not only
American vehicles, but American citizens were in the space ven-
ture to stay.^
These questions are not unlike the questions asked about
exploratory expeditions of the past. How and where public monies
are used has consistently been a major concern. In 1803, members
of Congress haggled with President Jefferson over a $2,500
appropriation to finance the Lewis and Clark expedition for
exploration of the Northwest. "Now that the [present] wealth of

the West is beyond the estimate of any figure, it seems almost
inconceivable that there were people who argued over the price
paid for Louisiana $15,000,000 and who objected to the
appropriation required for its exploration, $2,500.48
According to John Bartlett Brebner, the Lewis and Clark
expedition opened a new era in North American Exploration. It
was quite unlike the daring dashes of the French and the
Canadians, or the grand cavalry marches of the Spaniards. Its
success was a triumph of the elaborate coordination of geograph-
ical and technical knowledge and of the expenditure of public
money without the necessity for immediate material returns.48
Exploration and Science
Few argue with programs to increase the sum total of
human knowledge. But return on investment has always been a
problem, and the place of the scientists in programs of explora-
tion invariably gives rise to extensive debate. NASA selection
of the first six scientist-astronauts in 1965 was preceded by
considerable discussion among proponents within the scientific
community, and those who either were uncertain about the scien-
tific efforts, or who believed that the test pilots should carry
out the required experiments. Much of this discussion centered
around how limited public appropriations would be used in deter-
mining the direction a program would take. The usual question
was whether the emphasis would be on exploration, research, or
commercial objectives. Each of these areas had constituents

comprising strong and influential lobbies.
Similarities to NASA's situation existed in the early
Antarctic expedition.50 Whether the objective of the expedition
was to be purely scientific knowledge or profitable commerce
occasioned extended and heated debate. Some favored a large
scientific cadre manned by civilian scientists from "literary
institutions"; others believed they should be Navy officers.51
One faction advocated that the expedition "explore in the south,
make surveys, advance scientific knowledge, and only incidentally
aid commerce.52 The other faction pressed for "... the promo-
tion of the great interest of commerce and navigation. Advance
science was of comparatively secondary importance."53 Secretary
of War Joel Roberts Poinsette finally clarified the objectives of
the Antarcitc expedition. It was to be "purely civil, not
military," and he asserted further:
It is the opinion of the President [Jackson] as well
as my own, that an expedition, undertaken to promote
science, and extend the bounds of human knowledge
ought to command the services of all who can contribute
to its success ... 54
When the United States Exploring Expedition put to sea on
August 19, 1838, under the command of Lieutenant Charles Wilkes,
a precedent for the use of federal funds to explore the world was
established.55 Lieutenant Wilkes and his explorers wrote an
important chapter in the annals of exploration, and a seventh
continent was added to geographical knowledge. Thus, American
exploratory beginnings in the Antarctic were conspicuous ones.

Claryifing the role of publicly financed scientists
seems to be an ever-recurring problem. Perhaps this is due, in
part, to the opposing viewpoints of those who appropriate the
money. A choice usually exists between commercial interests in
pursuit of near-term profit, and scientific interests concerned
with advancing knowledge, with little interest in an immediate
financial return.
While the commanders of the expeditions might well have
been motivated by the hope of riches, none of the great explorers,
including Columbus, died wealthy. The desire for personal glory,
however, is believed to be one of the driving forces of
Renaissance endeavors. Most wished to become famous, renowned
for wisdom, for generous patronage, or for valor.5 The
explorer's reward was often in the less tangible form of honor
and fame.
The Psychology of an Explorer
Robert B. Downs notes that the "cliche" that humans climb
mountains "because they are there" is a superficial explanation,
valid to a point, but falling short of full understanding.5'7 A
foremost Japanese explorer, Naomi Uemura, who scaled Mt. Everest
and also climbed to the peaks of the highest mountains in five
continents, drove a dog sled 7,500 frigidly cold miles from
Greenland to Alaska, and sailed along 3,726 miles down the Amazon
river on a raft, stated: "You achieve something, then you want
to try and surpass it."5^

Downs concludes that explorers apparently justify the
human need for freedom from the safety and routine provided by a
predictable and stable existence in society.59 Maurice Herzog,
who conquered the great Himalayan peak Annapurna, exceeding five
miles in height, attempted to analyze the explorers' psychology.
He states that "it is the spirit of adventure yearning for the
unknown, and for risks that moves Western man, leading him to an
intense desire to explore."50
Virtually all explorers have been driven by one or more
of several aims: gospel, gold or glory. First, explorers are
motivated by a patriotic and religious impulse, typified by the
medieval crusaders during the eleventh through the thirteenth
centuries, who waged holy wars with the incidental objective to
win glory and material wealth for themselves, and to add new
territory, gold, and riches to their motherlands. Occasionally
their motives were mixed with the worldwide activities of reli-
gious missionaries of all faiths to spread their doctrines.
Second in importance, perhaps, among motivations for
exploration, is simply the seeking of material wealth. This is
typified by the gold rushes in California in the 1840s and Alaska
in the 1890s; and the pursuit of South African diamonds and
diamond mines. Third, adventure undoubtedly is a major factor in
many of the most famous explorations. Thus Roald Amundsen and
Robert Scott went to extreme limits to be first at the South
Pole; Peary to discover the North Pole; Magellan to be the first
to circumnavigate the world; and among contemporary explorers,

American astronauts to be the first to land on the moon.61
A retrospective look at history provides a composite pic-
ture of explorers. They would appear to be persons who are
overachievers with an abundance of self-confidence; believe that
they can control their own destinies; are extremely competitive;
and have a strong inner conviction of their missions. Some
interesting parallels can be drawn between today's space
explorers and the traditional geographic explorers of the past.
Some problems now associated with exploration are the same as
always. While there are similarities, there are also differences
between the situations of today and those of the past, as some
selected examples of past and present will clearly demonstrate.
Explorers and Astronauts; Representatives of Society
Explorers, by definition, represent a unique category of
individuals. They also represent national interests and societal
groups. Who they are is as much a part of their ventures as the
flags they carry and plant to mark their conquest. As societies
have changed over time, so has the composition of modern
explorers to include a number of new faces. Among space
explorers, the first inclusion of women and minorities was made
by the Soviet Union.
On June 16, 1963, Russian cosmonaut Valentina
Valadimorovna Tereshkova became the first woman to fly in space.
An Engineer Colonel in the Red Air Force, she was the pilot of
Vostok 6, for a mission duration of 70 hours, 50 minutes.The

Soviet Union announced on December 24, 1976, that persons from
"Interkosmos" countries (countries other than the Soviet Union)
would be trained as cosmonauts. By the end of 1978, minority
"intercosmonauts" who had flown were Pham Taun of Vietnam (Soyuz
37), Tamayo-Mendez of Cuba (Soyuz 38), and Judgerdemidiyin
Gurragcha of Mongolia (Soyuz 39).63
In 1978, NASA selected six non-minority women and four
minority male astronaut candidates. This marked a first for the
U.S. Astronaut Corps. But these space age activites were pre-
ceded many years earlier by other American women who were
acclaimed as aviation pioneers. A brief historial review indi-
cates that the space age minorities and women have other parallels
throughout traditional history. Foremost among them was Amelia
Earhart,^ who in 1932 was the first woman, and only the second
person after Charles Lindberg's3 historic flight of May 21, 1927,
to fly solo across the Atlantic. Earhart followed this feat with
a number of other "firsts", including a non-stop flight from
Honolulu to the mainland, from Los Angeles to Mexico City, and
from Mexico City to Newark, New Jersey. She was lost in the
Pacific in 1937 on the last leg of her around-the-world trip at
the equator.66
Mathew Henson, a Negro, was the only man accorded the
honor of accompanying Commander Robert E. Peary on the final dash
to the goal of raising the United States flag at the North Pole,
and won for this country the international prize after nearly four

centuries of competition among nations worldwide.67 Commander
Peary, in December 1911, in writing the Foreword to Henson's
book, A Negro Explorer At the North Pole, stated:
Again it is an interesting fact that in the final conquest
of the "prize of the centuries," not alone individuals,
but "races" were represented. On that bitter brilliant
day in April, 1909, when the Stars and Stripes floated
at the North Pole, Caucasian, Ethiopian, and Mongolian
stood side-by-side at the apex of the earth, in
harmonious companionship resulting from hardwork,
exposure, danger, and common object.6^
Peary was criticized by some for having taken a Black and
four Eskimos on the last lap of his race for the pole, and no
white men. His reasons for taking the Eskimos appeared obvious.
In defense of Matthew Henson, the Black, Peary pointed out:
In this selection I acted exactly as I have done
on all my expeditions for the past 15 years. He
[Henson] has in the those years always been with
me at the point farthest north. Moreover, Henson
was the best man I had with me for this kind of
work . ,69
A woman in the Lewis and Clark expedition, Sacagawea, the
Shoshone Indian wife of Toussaint Carbonneau, deserves some credit
for the first Missouri-Columbia-Pacific traverse. "Of remarkable
intelligence and personality,"7^ she happened to come from, and
know the way to the Lemhi pass in the Rockies between the
Missouri and Columbia rivers. She was able to give explicit
information about the route to be pursued.71 In all of the
explorations of North and South America, the indigenous Indians
contributed significantly to major expeditions by guiding the

explorers in critical places and feeding them when food was
short.72 Move now to a compressed overview of a group of con-
temporary explorers -- the astronauts.
Selection of Astronauts: An Overview
While the three major selection groups chosen for this
study are I, IV and VIII, an overview of all eight selections
will provide a framework to enhance an understanding of the
evolving process. From the beginning of NASA's manned space
flight programs, prospective candidates have been recruited on
the basis of criteria dictated by the requirements of the mission
to which they will be assigned. As these mission requirements
grew in complexity, each successive program advanced the state of
the art of manned space explorations. These missions evolved
from the pioneering effort of Project Mercury to the far-reaching
ramifications demonstrated in Project Apollo's moon landing, to
Skylab's program for sustaining human life and supporting human
productivity for long-duration flights, to, most recently, the Space
Shuttle, which will provide reusable transportation. Figure 1-1
shows the history of astronaut selection and attrition based on
the programs and related staffing requirements.
NASA's selection process sought to recruit people who
could be trained to operate the spacecraft throughout normal
flight phases as well as in any emergency situtations that might
develop. They also needed people who were capable of competently
accomplishing the scientific objectives of space flight. The

Figure 1-1

number chosen, and the time period in which selections were made
were planned so as to maintain an operational corps. The Johnson
Space Center, formerly the Manned Spacecraft Center, located
Houston, Texas, has been responsible for the astronaut recruit-
ment and selection process, with the principal tasks of:
1. Establishing astronaut requirements.
2. Issuing and releasing public announcements advertising
the qualification prereqisities.
3. Appointing qualified members to ad hoc selection
committees established for each recruiting campaign to
review and perform the initial screening of applicants;
to conduct personal interviews of those applicants who
satisfy initial screening requirements; and to make final
selections of applications who qualify for the astronaut
training program.
This process has generally been followed by NASA for each
group of astronauts selected. From April 1959 through January
1978, 108 astronauts were chosen by NASA in 8 separate
groups: Group I, April 9, 1959 (7 chosen); Group II,
September 17, 1962, (9 chosen); Group III, October 18, 1963,
(14 chosen); Group IV, June 28, 1965, (6 chosen); Group V, April
4, 1966, (19 chosen); Group VI, August 4, 1967, (11 chosen);
Group VII, August 14, 1969, (7 transfers from the Department of
Defense Manned Orbiting Laboratory program); and Group VIII,
January 16, 1978, (35 chosen).^3

The 43 astronauts who made spaceflights during Mercury,
Gemini, Apollo, Skylab, and Apollo-Soyuz programs accumulated a
total of 22,503 hours and 49 minutes in space; during these
programs, 26 astronauts accumulated a total of 103 hours and 32
minutes of extravehicular activites (EVA) in space, and 162
hours and 13 minutes of EVA time on the lunar surface.74 /\s 0f
June 1978, of the 62 astronauts who were still in the Corps, 52
had not made their first space flight (3 from Group V, all 7
from Group VI, all 7 from Group VII, and all 35 from Group VIII).75
From 1959 to 1966, only slight variations were made in the
educational and experience qualifications for the pilot astro-
nauts (Group I, II, III and V). The major change was in Group II
which allowed civilians to apply.75 other changes were: lower
age limits, reduction in the required number of flying hours from
1,500 to 1,000, and greater emphasis on academic degrees. For
the two groups of scientist-astronauts (Group IV and VI), the
criteria were basically the same, the difference being that those
chosen with Group IV were required to have earned their doctoral
degrees by the time of selection whereas in Group VI, they were
not. The selection criteria for the astronauts chosen in 1978
were broader than the criteria for preceeding groups.
From 1959 to 1978, of the 108 men and women chosen as
astronauts, 70 were reassigned from active duty with the military
and 38 were civilians, 18 of whom had been in the military prior
to selection as an astronaut. Of those military reassigned, 35

were from the Air Force, 28 were from the Navy, 6 were from the
Marine Corps, and one was from the Army. The 20 civilians who
had no prior military experience were all chosen as scientist-
astronauts or mission specialists in Groups IV, VI or VIII.77
Looking at the astronauts at the time of their selection,
2 without a college degree qualified under "equivalent
experience", 37 had bachelor's degrees, 38 had master's degrees,
and 31 had doctoral degrees. Fifty of these degrees were in
engineering; 11 in aeronautics and/or astronautics; 9 bachelor of
science degrees from the service academies; 8 in medicine, 7 in
physics, 5 in astronomy, 2 in chemistry, and one each in business
administration, geology, mathematics, physics and geology com-
bined, mathematics and physics combined, engineering physics,
earth sciences, administration of science and technology, infor-
mation systems, management engineering, engineering mechanics,
fluid mechanics, biochemistry, and astrophysics.7^ As discussed
earlier, the research effort will primarily focus on the three
watershed groups (I, IV, and VIII). To provide a comprehensive
perspective, a short overview of each group selection follows.
Summary of Selections: Groups I VIII
Group I
For the first group of astronauts the requirements were:
less than forty years of age, a bachelor's degree in engineering
or its equivalent, a graduate of a test pilot school, with a
minimum of 1,500 hours of flying time as a qualified jet pilot.

The selection process for the seven Mercury astronauts, all of
whom were military began in January 1959 and was completed in
April 1959.79 a detailed account of the recruitment, examina-
tion, and selection process for this first watershed group is
addressed in Chapter III.
Group II
In April 1962 an announcement was issued from Houston to
recruit a second group of astronauts to train for the Gemini and
Apollo Programs. Minimum qualification standards were published
and disseminated to aircraft companies, government agencies,
military services, The Society of Experimental Test Pilots, and
the news media. For the second group of astronauts, the age
requirement was lowered to 35 years. Educational experience was
not restricted to degrees in engineering, but could include
degrees in the physical or biological sciences. Each candidate
was required to have 1,500 hours flying time as a test pilot with
experimental flight test status attained through the military
services, the aircraft industry, NASA, or graduation from a mili-
tary test pilot school. The modification which opened the selec-
tion process to civilians also gave preference to those presently
engaged in flying high performance aircraft.80
A total of 200 applications were received from civilian
volunteers and from military volunteers representing all four
uniformed services. Each candidate satisfying the basic stand-
ards was asked to complete a variety of forms describing in

detail academic credentials, and flight and work experience.
Each also was asked to submit to a thorough physical and medical
examination, and to forward the results thereof to the then
Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston, Texas (renamed the Johnson
Space Center in February 1973). In June 1962, a preliminary
selection committee reviewed this additional information sub-
mitted by the individual candidates and chose 32 of the most
qualified applicants to participate in further examinations,
tests, and personal interviews. Nine pilot-astronauts comprised
the group finally selected in September 1962. This group
included 2 civilians, 4 from the Air Force, and 3 from the Navy.
Three of the men had master's degrees in engineering, 4 had
bachelor's degrees in engineering, and 2 had bachelor's degrees of
science from the Naval Academy.
Group III
A third call for volunteer applications for astronaut
training was issued in June 1963. A total of 720 applications
was received -- 228 from civilians and 492 from military person-
nel. Of the 490 certified as eligible, 136 were considered for
final screening by the NASA selection board.81
NASA made another change in the required qualifications
for the third group of astronauts in 1963. The flight time
requirement was lowered to 1,000 hours jet pilot time or the
acquisition of experimental flight test status through NASA, the
military, or the aircraft industry. Moreover, the age limit was

now reduced to 34. The reduced flight experience opened the
field to non-test pilots and allowed an increased emphasis on
academics. In October 1963 fourteen men were selected, 8 of whom
had advanced degrees. Two civilians were chosen with this group,
along with 7 men from the Air Force, 4 men from the Navy, and one
man from the Marine Corps. Although qualifications were
changing, the military was still supplying the large majority of
astronauts (26 of the 30 chosen by 1963).82
Group IV
The fourth group of astronauts represents the second
watershed in this study. It differed significantly from prior
groups in that this was the first group of "scientist-astronauts."
They were required to hold a doctoral degree in medicine, engi-
neering, or one of the natural sciences. The National Academy
of Sciences (NAS) screened and evaluated the applications for
scientific criteria with NASA making the final determination of
selection. The recruitment process, which began in October
1964, resulted in the selection of 6 men (1 military and 5
civilians) to become astronauts in June 1965.83 The recruit-
ment, examination, and selection process is dealt with in Chapter
Group V
The NASA Manned Spacecraft Center launced its fifth
recruiting drive for pilots on September 10, 1965. Eligibility
requirements were basically the same as those used in Group III,

except that the age limit was raised from 34 to 36 years. A
total of 510 applications were received, of which 158 (100 mili-
tary and 58 civilians) met basic requirements. The procedures
followed were the same as in previous groups "screenings" and
resulted in the selection of 19 pilot-astronauts (15 military and
4 civilian) on April 4, 1966. Eleven of the 19 had advanced
degrees (9 military and 2 civilians).84
Group VI
This was the second selection of scientist-astronauts.
In September 1966, NASA requested the National Academy of
Sciences to nominate a second group of scientist-astronauts.
NASA encouraged the Academy to seek experienced scientists of
exceptional ability to conduct scientific experiments in manned
orbiting satellites and observe and investigate the lunar surface
and circumterrestrial space. The Academy then issued an
announcement stating:
The quality most needed by a scientist serving as an
astronaut might be summed up by the single word
perspicacity." The task requires an exceptionally
astute and imaginative observer but also one whose
observations are accurate and impartial. He must,
from among the thousand of items he might observe,
quickly pick out those that are significant, spot
the anomalies, and investigate them. He must
discriminate fine detail and subtle insight into a
general pattern, and select and devise key observations
to test working hypotheses . ,88
The selection criteria and procedures were comparable to
those used in choosing the first group of scientist-astronauts in
Group IV. Although 900 civilian applicants responded, the

Academy recommended only 69 for NASA's final consideration. Of
the latter, 11 civilians were chosen. Inasmuch as none were
pilots, they were sent to jet pilot school for one year. This
was the first and only selection which did not include military
Group VII
This group was comprised of 7 military pilot-astronauts
who transferred to NASA from the U.S. Air Force Manned Orbiting
Laboratory (MOL) Program upon its cancellation June 10, 1969.
MOL was the Air Force military space program, and a total of 17
astronauts were initially chosen not by NASA, but through the Air
Force selection process. At the time of program cancellation the
MOL contingent had been reduced to 14. NASA absorbed only those
7 who were under 36 years of age.86
Group VIII
In July 1976 NASA began recruitment of pilots and
mission specialists, the third watershed group; and, on January
16, 1978, 35 astronaut candidates (to include the first women and
minorities) were selected. These candidates trained at Johnson
Space Center and, in August 1979 were officially classified and
promoted to full astronaut status, qualifying them for assignment
for space-flights. An analysis of the recruitment, examination,
and selection process is detailed in Chapter VI. The group was
divided into two subsections: pilot astronauts, who will perform
the traditional pilot functions aboard the spacecraft; and a new

category called mission specialists, who will work primarily with
payloads. The criteria used for this group differed significantly
from the criteria for the previous 7 groups. Mission specialist
candidates were required to have a bachelor's degree in engi-
neering, physical or biological science, or mathematics, and
pilot candidates were required to have a bachelor's degree in
engineering, physical science, or mathematics with at least 1,000
hours of first-pilot time. The medical requirements for both
categories were also different: pilot candidates were required
to pass the same Class I physical utilized for the first groups
of astronauts, whereas mission specialist candidates had to pass
a Class II physical, which had a more relaxed standard for sight
and hearing.
From a total of 659 applicants, 15 pilots were selected.
Of these applicants, 147 were military, and 512 were civilians
(8 were non-minority women and 10 were minorities). Twenty mission
specialists were selected from the 5,680 mission specialist
applicants. Of these applicants, 161 were from the military and
5,519 were civilians (1,251 were women, including one
minority woman, and 337 were minority males).
The diversity of Group VIII is reflected in the summary
educational status of each of the astronaut candidates at the
time of selection. Ten had bachelor's degrees, 13 had master's
degrees and 12 had doctorates. The numbers in each discipline
were 13 in engineering, 3 in medicine, 3 in aeronautics
and/or astronautics, 2 in physics, 2 in astronomy, 2 general

bachelor of science degrees from the Naval Academy, and
one each in math/physics, engineering physics, earth sciences,
adminstration of science and technology, information systems,
management engineering, engineering mechanics, fluid mechanics,
biochemistry, and astrophysics.*^
Although a total of eight groups of astronauts was
selected from 1959 to 1978, this work examines three of these
groups only. An overview of the selection criteria and process
has been included to provide a reference to enhance an
understanding of the evolutionary changes in the total process
over the total span of time.
The following methodology and data collection section
reflects the components of the research and the means by which
the researcher approached developing a two-decade historical
account of astronaut recruitment and selection. The research
process resulted in many questions and issues bearing directly on
the condition and status of personnel management in general, and
on the NASA Personnel Management System in particular. Meth-
odology and data collection are described in sufficient detail to
ensure that the criterion of replicability is satisfied.
Methodology and Data Collection
The astronaut recruitment and selection process, while
initially a public personnel management task, demonstrates some
special characteristics that will be examined in this study.
Certainly the procedures to be analyzed reflect the central role

of a bureaucracy within the NASA Personnel Management System. But
other issues exist which pertain to a larger policy focus.
Specifically, how did societal demands and statutory requirements
regarding social equity apply to astronaut selection? The research
focus of this study examines this question in the context of the
personnel decision-making process in NASA's astronaut recruitment
and selection from 1959 to 1978.
This broader policy question is to be addressed by the
following, more specific, questions:
1. Who were the decision makers for astronaut selection in
2. Was there an established, formal decision making process,
and what were the legal requirements to be satisfied?
3. What perspectives did the NASA decision makers have on
astronaut recruitment and selection issues and how did
they act?
4. How did other institutions, such as the Executive Office
of the President, Department of Defense, National
Academy of Sciences, and the Office of Personnel
Management, influence the NASA decision making process?
5. What social viewpoints were represented?
6. What were the unique features of each major selection
and how did each selection differ from the others?
One purpose of this administrative history is to identify
and isolate any unique features which practitioners employed in

their decision making processes. Their practices and activities
were related to an appropriate management theory where such
theory exists. This is especially important, since research has,
as yet, to provide a broad theoretical base for the field of Public
Administration and its subfield Public Personnel Administration.
Methodological Approach
As mentioned earlier, this study is organized around
three watersheds, or changes in process which reflect separate
major decision points in the astronaut selection history: (1)
the Group I selection of pilots; (2) the Group IV selection of
scientists-astronauts and (3) the Group VIII selection of pilot
and mission-specialist astronauts, which included the first women
and minorities. The central issues of the selection process are
addressed from more than one perspective, thereby probing more
deeply into the event and uncovering additional insights. This
work also demonstrates how an alternative "conceptual lens",88 as
Graham Allison advocates, can enable one to see, emphasize, and
express concern about quite different aspects of the recruitment
and selection process. Comparing and contrasting different
perspectives focuses what each magnifies, highlights, and
reveals, as well as what each blurs or neglects.
Since this study is essentially an administrative
history, the approach used follows a basic historical research
method. Data were selected to form a pattern relevant to the
issues and objectives of this study. As with all histories,

observer bias presents a critical problem. This problem includes
a combination of the researcher's personal values, the concerns
of those who encouraged or discouraged this work, and the contem-
porary nature of the study. Jules R. Benjamin states that the
ways in which these influences operate are very complex and
researchers are often unaware of them.89 The researcher's per-
sonal biases cloud the picture, making impartial judgment
extremely difficult.90
In order to maintain a greater degree of objectivity, both
primary and secondary forms of historical evidence were utilized.
The primary evidence included information from those managers and
key persons who participated in or witnessed the events related
to astronaut recruitment and selection. These also included
memoranda, letters, minutes, interviews, news releases, newspaper
accounts, and diaries and notebooks. Additional primary sources
were official statements by significant personages, and special
interest groups; laws, rules and regulations, congressional
testimony, and the researcher's own first-hand knowledge of the
events. The secondary evidence consisted of the findings of
others who did not observe the events, but who investigated pri-
mary evidence. There are a number of examples of such infor-
mation sources, particularly previously published official NASA
histories. Realizing that secondary and even primary evidence
can be fraudulant, inaccurate, or biased, determining the
reliability of evidence was of great concern. As Benjamin

has indicated, eyewitness accounts may be purposely distorted in
order to avert blame or to bestow praise on a particular indivi-
dual or group.91 On-the-scene judgments could be incorrect
without intending to misinform. Even first-hand knowledge was
handled with extreme care because of perceptual bias. Also, the
closer individuals were to an event, the more emotionally
involved they might be, which could distort their understanding.
Statements and documents reflecting an official stance also pre-
sented the problem of deliberate propaganda or concealment. Due
to political exigencies, what an individual, group, institution,
or government says may not agree with it does.
Care was taken to minimize this aspect by "cross
validating" sources to substantiate accuracy. The evidence was
carefully weighed to assess whether those who participated in an
event understood it well enough to accurately describe it, and
whether researchers who later recorded the event understood the
meaning of the primary documents they used.
An ever-present and critical difficulty stemmed from the
potential bias of a source. People's attitudes toward such con-
cepts as bureaucracy, efficiency, social equality, meritocracy,
pluralism, elitism, and representative bureaucracy influence the
way in which they interpret events. To cross-check the relia-
bility of evidence, the test of consistency and corroboration was
used. One question was always asked: Does the evidence contra-
dict itself or does it agree with evidence from other sources?

Statistical validation was not used in this study since its focus
is on qualitative decisions and perspectives of the key managerial
The choice of the method of data gathering was dictated
largely by the subject matter. Researchers in this area must
rely on a combination of three methods: observation, documents,
and oral interviews. All three information gathering methods were
used at appropriate times, either singly or in combination. It
is indeed a rare investigation that may proceed from an original
idea to completion through the use of any one method alone.
Personal observation of the staffing of the astronaut
corps was available to this researcher beginning in 1964, when he
was first employed by the Manned Spacecraft Center. He served
from 1966 to 1968 as the Personnel Management Specialist for the
Astronaut Office, and in 1978 and 1980 as a member of the
Astronaut Selection Board for Groups VIII and IX. The types of
observations made by the researcher varied over the years with
the nature of the activity being observed, the degree of involve-
ment by the observer, and the opportunity to observe random hap-
penings. Two basic types of observations were employed struc-
tured and participant-observer. Selltiz describes the first
category as variable: "In structured observation, the observer
knows the aspects of individual and/or group behavior that are
relevant to the study being conducted. The lesser the degree of

structure, the less carefully are plans made in advance of actual
data col lection."92
Becker and Geer make a strong case for participant observation:
The observer may or may not participate in the
social setting he is observing, may or may not
participate in activities of the system under study.
At the other extreme on the participation continuum
is the case where the observer has no interaction with
the system under study.93
Observation, like other methods of data collection, has
advantages and disadvantages. Some principal advantages have
been cited by Eugene F. Stone:
The observer can often obtain data about behavior
that subjects may be either unwilling or unable to
report themselves ....
In addition to observing and recording the behavior
of subjects, the observer can often make (with varying
degrees of accuracy) inferences about what caused the
behavior ....
Behavior is observed as it occurs. Thus, retrospective
reports by subjects (which are often incomplete) are
However, Stone admonishes that the advantages should be
viewed in combination with the following disadvantages:
Observers are "fallible" measuring devices. They may
provide incomplete reports of what they observe. In
addition, observers may fatigue as a study progresses
and adversely affect the reliability and validity of
data they collect ....
The observation of behavior (especially if it is of the
nonhidden, participant variety) may be a more reactive
method of measurement than, for example questionnaires . .
Observers often require considerable training. Such
training can be expensive and time consuming.95
Webb, Campbell, Schwartz and Sechrest add a note of

caution regarding participant observation and biased viewpoint:
" . (the human observer) may selectively expose himself to
the data, or selectively perceive them, and, worse yet, shift
over time the calibration of his observation measures."96
Fred N. Kerlinger states that one (or the) major problem
of behavioral observation is the observer, because he or she is
part of the measuring instrument. The observer must digest the
information from observations and then make inferences. One
basic weakness of the observer is the tendency to make incorrect
inferences from observations.97 Kerlinger also points out the
observer can affect the objects of the observation simply by
being part of the observational situation (a Hawthorne effect).98
To increase the reliability of the observation for this
study the primary observer, in most instances, cross-validated
his observations with two or more other observers. This mecha-
nism is in keeping with those who emphasize that the first and
most important consideration in any observation system is to know
clearly what is being observed, and to define precisely and unam-
biguously what is to be observed.99
To minimize the potential problem of contradictory opin-
ions about events and a lack of agreement about what happened,
heavy reliance was placed on the written record. Oral interviews
were used primarily as background to locate sources of records or

to provide information which was not documented. There were only
a few instances related to some procedural points where there
were no records or memoranda kept.
This history places great emphasis on accounts of organi-
zational climate, personality, and process gleaned from the files
of managers and the official archives. These records provided
sufficient material to document each event, meeting, briefing, or
policy-making session. Documents for this research can be
grouped into two categories: existing documents, which were pro-
duced in connection with the astronaut selection and are relevant
to it; and elicited documents, which were produced at the insti-
gation of the researcher. Existing documents were the main sources
of information. The interpretation of this historical and social
movement depended largely on contemporary documents; accounts of
numerous isolated events were reconstructed in detail on the
basis of written records. Even when the participants in an event
were interviewed, written documents proved useful as supplemen-
tary sources of information.
Documents also provided a valuable source for corroboration
of data that people might be likely to distort in an interview,
although this is not to say that documents may not contain their
own distortions. In some situations, documents may be less valid
than personal accounts elicited by interview. If, as Richardson
Dohrenwend and Klein indicate, the original event aroused strong
feelings, these feelings may have found their way into contemporary

documents.1^0 j0 the extent that subsequent evidence altered the
explanation of an event, contemporary documents would not reflect
For the most part, documents yielded vital information
for the early periods of this study. NASA documents helped the
researcher identify, at the beginning, the power structure within
the organization and the policy makers. These documents, however,
had serious limitations. They were of little value in uncovering
motives, opinions, or any other information more susceptible to
discovery by skillful questioning. They could also be misleading
if the researcher failed to recognize that they were no more
accurate than their compilers. In many cases the compilers of
such records lacked, understandably, the training, interest, or
motivations of scientific researchers.
Perhaps, as Richardson et al., have stated, a limitation
more common than inaccuracy is the fact that tantalizing docu-
ments often provide information that is tangential rather than
central to the researcher's interest.*02 The mere fact that the
compiler of the documents had the same conceptual frame of
reference or outlook as the researcher who subsequently attempts
to use them does not guarantee that the data will be appropriate
or reliable. A final limitation is that of availablity. Data
may not be available in all cases, or critical data may have gone
unrecorded because of the speed of events, lack of resources, or
the need for secrecy.

Some use was made of elicited documents such as question-
naires, biographical sketches, and diaires. Prior interview
responses were, in some cases, useful adjuncts to the interviews
conducted in this effort.103 /\ questionnaire, letter or
telephone call was used to elicit from the respondent materials
that could not be elicited as effectively face-to-face, either
because it was assumed that oral questioning might have caused
embarrassment, or because the responses required more time and
thought than the respondent could give comfortably in face-to-face
situations. For both existing and elicited documents that could
not be supplemented by data from other sources, the test of vali-
dity was an examination of the internal consistency of the data
and an appraisal of their plausibility by the researcher.104
This research effort makes significant use of personal
interviews with key decision makers. The interview is a highly
powerful tool. As Edgar F. Huse states, "... interviewing is
a direct, personal way to obtain private views, motivations, and
feelings from the person being interviewed."105 jhe advantages
of interviews have been further supported by David NadlerlOG as
well as Edgar H. Schein.107 However, there are important disad-
vantages. Memories fade and interviews may prove to be a
substantial deterrent to obtaining accurate detail about the
issues in question. A further disadvantage, says Huse, is that
they are lengthy and time consuming, and require highly developed

interviewing skills.108 webb, Campbell, Schwartz, and
Sechrest also caution that the "dross rate" (the proportion of
irrelevant sampled behavior to total sampled behavior) may be
quite high in some interviews. They note:
In any given interview, a part of the conversation is
irrelevant to the topic at hand .... It is greater in open-
ended, generalj free-response interviewing then it is in
structured interviews with fixed-answer categories; by the
same token, the latter are potentially the more reactive . .
the great advantage is the interviewer's power to introduce
and reintroduce certain topics. This ability allows a
greater density of relevant data.109
Schein further emphasizes that any data gathering method can only
be judged appropriate as the series of events in the project
unfold. HO
After a cursory review of the documents to establish data
points, the researcher assembled a schedule of broad questions to
uncover as much information as possible. Inasmuch as the inter-
view was used in conjunction with observations and documents, the
researcher decided that the interview would also be used for
exploratory and developmental purposes to open vistas with which
he was not fully acquainted. These areas would include those not
covered in the documents, as well as those personal perceptions
which might be used as confirmation and clarification of some
policy actions.
Perhaps most importantly, the researcher was interested
in achieving a substantive "feel" for NASA's personnel management
dynamics. The objective was to examine various phases of the per-
sonnel management decision making process characteristic of

task-oriented persons, and to better understand the probable stages
through which they move. This would include analyzing the
learning processes involving intellectual, perceptual, and cogni-
tive changes in both formulating policy and responding to policy,
and developing an awareness of the quality of uncensored inter-
action among key participants in the process.
Interviews were conducted face-to-face with a sample of
managers when accessibility permitted. Telephone interviews were
used when the extended distance made a personal visit imprac-
tical. An organized procedure was used. The interview project
was explained to the respondent, who was asked if he or she would
agree to an interview on the astronaut selection process to pro-
vide information for a doctoral dissertation. The information
obtained from respondents who requested anonymity was corrob-
orated by other sources. Inquiry was made as to whether a tape
recorder, note taking, or no note taking would be preferred.
Fortunately, permission was given for all interviews to be tape
recorded and subsequently transcribed. Both the tapes and
transcriptions are on file with the researcher. Most face-to-
face interviews varied in length and, where possible, a small por-
table recorder was used in full view on top of the desk. There
is evidence that, in most instances, tape recorders did not cause
apparent discomfort or reluctance to talk on the part of the
respondents.m This can be attributed to the subjects being
interviewed. As Argyris and others point out, the recorder has

been used most successfully with upper-level persons, especially
those who are quite verbal, who perceive themselves as well edu-
cated and are at the upper end of the social system.!^
Oral interviews were conducted at a variety of organiza-
tional levels to include NASA administrators, NASA Center
Directors, key personnel who directly or indirectly worked with
the recruitment and selection process, astronauts, general
managers, and participating citizens from the non-federal sector.
All five Administrators of NASA, whose tenures covered a twenty-year
span from NASA's beginning in 1958 through 1978 were interviewed.
Each Administrator, as the head of NASA, was directly responsible
and accountable to the President. Such close proximity provided
insight into the political interplay and the direct influence on
policy decisions from the Executive Office.
These Administrators were directly involved in dealing
with Presidential advisors, as well as with private and special
interest groups to include the National Academy of Sciences and
groups interested in civil rights. The Administrators revealed
various influences on both technical and social equality aspects
of the Astronaut Selection Program. The two NASA-JSC Center
Directors discussed their participation in the decision-making
and implementation processes. Interviews with both provided the
necessary chronological continuity at the Center management level
from 1958 to 1978. Key personnel at NASA Headquarters in
Washington, D.C., including the Assistant Administrators for

Equal Opportunity Programs, provided the basis for the social
equity perspective and the analysis of this aspect as an integral
part of NASA's decisions. Other key interviewees had been par-
ticipants in the recruitment and selection process, including the
first seven astronauts and the last group in 1978. A small cross
section of astronaut inteviews provided the viewpoint of the
selectee-partici pant.
Structured questions were asked to elicit information
necessary for this historical study. Some typical questions
1. What part did you play in the decision-making process of
recruiting, examining, and selecting astronauts? (The par-
ticular selection depended upon the time period in which
the interviewee was involved with NASA.)
2. Was your position in this selection one of direct
3. Describe the internal and external problems associated
with your fulfilling the requirement for a successful
4. In your opinion, to what extent did the President's advi-
sors influence the selection criteria?
5. To what extent did you influence the selection criteria?
6. What were the major difficulties in implementing the
policy decisions? Describe.
7. What were the external influences on the selection pro-
cess from the Executive Branch, the legal requirements, the

Congress, the media, and the public regarding represen-
tativeness within the astronaut corps?
8. In retrospect, how would you evaluate the effectiveness of
the selection process?
The interviews for this study were conducted between 1980
and 1982. The time which had elapsed between the events and the
interviews proved a deterrent to obtaining accurate detail about
some issues in question. However, the interviews were substan-
tiated primarily by written documentation from the NASA archives.
Interview data were used as supplemental information, with
reliance placed primarily on the written record. All written
documents were reexamined, and cross referenced with
corresponding events to ensure accuracy and to explain each
event. Finally, the analysis involved a critical evaluation of
the case narrative, as well as an explanation of the decision-
making process.
The form and style of interviews were important. Each inter-
view for this study used three forms: schedule-standardized (or
structured), nonschedule-standardized, and non-standardized. The
schedule-standarized form covered such information as name, title
or position; how long the interviewee had been on the job; name
of superior; and number and type of subordinates. Other
schedule-standardized questions included the interviewee's rela-
tionship with board members, peers, co-workers, and subordinates;
his or her role in the selection process and place in the

decision-making structure, and his or her perception of the
impact of women and minorities on the image of the astronaut
corps. These questions were asked of each person interviewed.
The non-standardized interview form gathered information
relevant to the exploration and development of concepts. Such
interviews did not require standarization. Those topics that the
researcher did not know well enough to formulate specific
questions were covered in more general terms. The content of the
non-standardized interview was varied from one respondent to
another, based on his conceptual grasp of the overall subject
matter of the study. Each respondent gave the information and
ideas he was best suited to provide. This is a major asset in
non-standardized interviews. Since use of a predetermined,
comprehensive set of questions in these circumstances could only
have been a hindrance, the researcher did not use a schedule for
non-standardized interviews. The researcher had greater freedom
in the formulation of content and in the questioning procedures.
This approach to questions stemmed from the researcher's overall
conceptual grasp of the study and considerable prior knowledge of
the subject matter under investigation.
Finally, the style of the researcher-respondent rela-
tionship was consistent. Once the respondent began talking, the
researcher became a listener, encouraging the respondent to con-
tinue talking and providing very little direction beyond asking

for more information or clarification when the response was ambig-
uous or vague. Each successive question was asked when the
respondent appeared to have exhausted his or her information on
the preceding question. The subjects covered and the length of
time spent in each interview varied considerably. The inter-
viewer spent more time with those few respondents who seemed par-
ticularly knowledgeable, articulate, and cooperative. He some-
times saw them more than once, and spent less time in single
interviews with others.
The choice of formulating "open" versus "closed"
questions was always a point of consideration. Closed questions
were used only for identification of a person or group, time,
number, or like information. These could be answered adequately
in a few words. Open questions were used throughout the body of
the interview and required more than a few words for an adequate
response. Dohrewend and Richardson point out that an interviewer
may reasonably expect open and closed questions to influence the
length of response. This researcher's empirical data bear out
this expectation; open questions did elicit longer responses than
closed questions.
The selected respondents were expected to be well
informed on the topic of the interview, and to welcome open
questions. Such an approach implied that the interviewer
respected their judgment and relied upon the interviewee to
select pieces of information that were useful and relevant.

Respondents usually were accustomed to talking at length spon-
taneously, articulately, and coherently. Generally, they felt
comfortable in an unstructured situation and wanted the researcher
to use as much information as they could offer.
Open questions generally played a more important role in
non-standardized interviews. When examining some specific
areas, the researcher at times lacked the knowledge necessary for
the formulation of closed questions. To use closed questions
would have risked losing valuable information and insights through
the restrictions of the form. Open questions also presented
technical difficulties at times. Responses to open questions
were more difficult to record and analyze than responses to
closed questions. Furthermore, in using open questions, the
researcher expected (and got) reasonably long responses. If the
initial response to the open question was inadequate or included
irrelevant material, it was sometimes difficult to use other
techniques to obtain the needed information without changing the
wording sequence of questions.
Generally, open questions elicit less relevant response
material than closed questions.H4 In part, this may be due to
greater difficulty in formulating open questions than closed
ones, and, as indicated, the tendency for open questions to pro-
duce undesired responses. The respondents were expected to be
better informed on the topic than the researcher. Therefore, the
respondents were better able to give relevant responses to open

questions than was the interviewer to formulate a large number of
relevant closed questions.
When, during the interview, the researcher needed addi-
tional information or clarification, it was elicited by two types
of questions that were related to prior responses, the extension
and the echo or reflection. The extension was used to deflect
the discussion toward more relevant responses. This was
generally effective when the respondent's words were repeated by
the interviewer with a rising inflection on the end. On the
other hand, the echo was used to make the respondent feel the
researcher was listening closely and sympathetically and to
encourage the respondent to continue to express him or herself
freely. Unlike the extension, the echo was employed only when
the prior response was relevant to the interview because it
encouraged the respondent to continue with little or no change in
the subject matter of his response.
Published information on the astronaut selection process
written by NASA sources was limited in volume and scope.
Conversely, hundreds of full-length books and Techical Briefs
covering relevant scientific and technical developments have
been published under NASA sponsorship. Two books which deal
substantively with astronaut selection cover only the original
seven Mercury Astronauts. One, Space Medicine in Project Mercury
by Mae Mills Link, is written from a medical perspective.^5
other, This New Ocean: A History of Project Mercury by Loyd S.

Swenson, James M. Grimwood, and Charles C. Alexander, is pri-
marily a history of technical developments, with limited parts of
two chapters devoted to the process of selecting the original
seven astronauts.Three other NASA-published books mention
only briefly the selection of astronauts. These are Robert
Sherrod's "Men for the Moon: How They Were Chosen and Trained,"
in Edgar M. Cortright's, collection, Apollo Expeditions to the
Moon;117 Homer E. Newell's Beyond the Atmosphere: Early Years
of Space Science;!^ ancj /\rnold S. Levine's Managing NASA In
the Apollo Era.Levine's work is typical of the kind of
coverage afforded astronaut selection. In his extensive treatise
on Managing NASA In The Apollo Era, he notes, "The selection of
the astronauts deserves fuller treatment than the brief summary
offered here, but a paragraph must suffice."^
The only other NASA-published material on astronaut
selection is that used by the Public Affairs Office for news
releases and distribution to the visiting public. These are
pamphlets summarizing the qualification requirements and the per-
sons selected. The researcher searched three computerized
systems used by NASA that enable users to conduct research through
a huge library catalog of publications. These included:
1. The DOE/RECON (Department of Enengy REmote CONsole)
system. This contains all unclassified, energy-related
scientific and technical information processed at the Oak Ridge,
Tennessee Technical Center, including nuclear information.

2. The NASA/RECON (REmote CONsole) system. This is an
agencywide scientific and technical information communications
network and information storage facility, as well as computer
3. The DIALOG Information Retrieval Service. More than
150 data bases are available on this system which offers an
unequalled number of subjects. DIALOG'S search capabilities and
strengths make it the most powerful on-line system of its type.
The data bases on the DIALOG system contain more than 55 million
records, offering subject coverage in science, technology, engi-
neering, social sciences, business, and economics. Data bases
are regularly updated to provide the most recent information.
For the purposes of this study none of the above infor-
mation services yielded any usable data covering astronaut
recruitment and selection.
NASA Archives
Although very little has been published by NASA on astro-
naut recruitment and selection, the archives at Johnson Space
Center, Houston, Texas, and at NASA Headquarters, Washington,
D.C., are excellent sources of data and information. Voluminous
correspondence, reports, minutes, and other documentation repre-
sent a careful and systematic accumulation of data covering more
than two decades of NASA activity. This information, which
was examined extensively for this work, was brought to life

by personal interviews with most of the people who generated the
data or participated in the decisions described in the written
record. The researcher was fortunate in being able to interview
personally all of NASA's five Administrators, from T. Keith
Glennan, who became Administrator in 1959, through Robert A.
Frosch, who was Administrator in 1978. This group comprised the
chief decision-makers who guided NASA from its inception. They
had to solve technical, scientific, and budgeting problems as
well as handle the politics of vested interest groups and the
turmoil of social change.
This extensive overview of the methodology and data
collection relates the manner in which the researcher developed
a two-decade historical account of astronaut recruitment and selec-
tion. Focusing the research process resulted in many questions and
issues bearing directly on the condition and status of personnel
management in general and NASA's Personnel Management System in
particular. This section describes what was done, how it was done,
why it was done, the results of the researcher's actions, and his
conclusions in sufficient detail to ensure that the study is
replicable. Another investigator using the same techniques
should be able to reproduce the research and be satisfied with
the methods of data collection. The interview transcriptions
increase the likelihood that the results of this study could be
The methodology of this study considered the strengths

and weaknesses of the methods used. It took the researcher's
personal biases into account, and it used primary and secondary
source data appropriately. Personal observation, written docu-
ments, and oral interviews comprised the informational sources
used in the study; written documents were the most impor-
tant source. The advantages and disadvantages of each method
have been considered in detail, and the comprehensive method
selected has been deemed most appropriate to this study.
By tracing the eight recruitment and selection events,
this administrative history focuses on the process of the person-
nel management system, the critical management issues, and key
decisions that addressed those issues. The research method
uses an administrative historical approach that has been orga- .
nized to illustrate the evolutionary development of astronaut
recruitment, examination, and selection. While a total of eight
groups were selected over the period between 1959 and 1978, three
of these selections reflect procedures and objectives different
enough to warrant individual analysis of the decision-making pro-
cesses involved.
Each analysis studies first, the internal agency deli-
beration; second, informal discussions between agencies and with
private citizens; and third, the formal policy position resulting
from this process. Although the focus of each selection was

different, the activities of each selection period reflect con-
siderable external discussion, promotion, and negotiation of a
wide range of issues and positions. The case narratives for each
of the three selection groups provide a forum and discussion of
events, issues and roles played by the participants. A conclu-
sion summarizes this work and includes findings which examine the
decisions reached within the context of existing public personnel
management theory. Because much of the substantive material
described is complex and unavailable in the existing literature,
several critical documents are included in their entirety.
The issues analyzed in this study reflect the central
role of NASA's bureaucracy in the form of the NASA Personnel
Management System. These issues involve several major questions:
Is personnel management decision-making more complex in a highly
technical organization, such as NASA, than it is in other types
of agencies for very technical groups of employees? What are the
perceptions and consequent actions of NASA personnel managers in
their decision processes, especially concerning issues that
are without specific legislative or judicial guidelines? How do
the statutory requirements of social equity apply to astronaut
selection? The major research focus of this study examines the
above in the context of the personnel decisions made at NASA from
1959 to 1978. The scope of this study has been confined to the
NASA organizations directly engaged in the decision processes.

The literature review, Chapter II, reflects contributions
made by writers in public administration who examined the public
personnel management process. It focuses on "representativeness"
within the bureacracy. It discusses merit and its evolving con-
notation. It examines the interaction between organized
interests, public interest groups, and public policymakers and
implemented. The literature review concludes with an examina-
tion of the close alliance between merit and social equity.
Chapters III and IV, are case studies with analyses of
the selection process of Groups I and IV. Chapter III, which
addresses the selection of the original seven astronauts in 1959,
reflects presidential intervention in the selection process. It
also clearly indicates a decision to use "professionals" by
restricting the recruitment pool to military test pilots with
high performance flight experience. Chapter IV, which examines
the selection process for the first scientists, focuses on the
influence of the President's science advisor and the intervention
of a professional organization, the National Academy of Sciences.
Chapters V, VI and VII discuss the selection of Group VIII and
the parallel evolutions of technology and social equity. The
study of Group VIII examines a new category of astronaut, the
mission specialist, as well as the first women and minority
Finally, Chapter VIII, the findings and conclusions,
examines the significance of the complex interrelationship between

a rapidly advancing technology and the slower, but still
changing, sociological aspects of personnel management tech-
niques. What factors made the NASA environment responsive to
change is more difficult to determine. This change is a profound
one, and is best understood and assessed in human and social
The next step in this study, then, is to examine and eval-
uate the considerable body of literature concerning the area of
public personnel management and representative bureaucracy.

^United States Civilian Space Programs 1958-1978,
Subcommittee on Space Science and Applications, Committee on
Science and Technology, U.S. House of Representatives,
97th Congress, 1st session, Serial D., Volume I, (Washington,
D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1981), pp. 44-45.
^Examples of some of the technical histories are:
Courtney G. Brooks, James M. Grimwood, and Loyd S.
Swenson, Jr., Chariots for Apollo: A History of Manned Lunar
Spacecraft, (Washington, D.C.: National Aeronautics and Space
Administration, 1979).
Edward Clinton Ezell, and Linda Neuman Ezell, The
Partnership: A History of the Apollo-So.yuz Test Project
(Washington, D.C.: National Aeronautics and Space
Administration, 1977).
Barton C. Hacker, and James M. Grimwood, On the
Shoulders of Titans: A History of Project Gemini (Washington,
D.C.: National Aeronautics and Space Administration, 1977).
Homer E. Newell, Beyond the Atmosphers: Early Years
of Space Science (Washington, D.C.: National Aeronautics and
Space Administration, 1980).
Loyd S. Swenson, Jr., James M. Grimwood, and Charles
C. Alexander; This New Ocean: A History of Project Mercury
(Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1981), pp.
3Tom Wolfe, The Right Stuff (New York: Farrar,
Straus, Giroux, 1979).
^Swenson, Grimwood, and Alexander, This New Ocean, p. 160.
^A Summary of the Astronaut Recruiting and Selection
Process, October 1, 1974. A NASA document covering the first
seven selections.
^Ibi d.

^Christopher C. Kraft, Jr., Director Johnson Space Center,
letter to Dale D. Meyers, Associate Administrati or for Manned
Space Flight, NASA, Washington, D.C., p. 2. September 18, 1982.
This letter summarizes information on astronaut selection.
^Swenson, Grimwood and Alexander, This New Ocean, p. 160.
lllbid., p. 341.
12Ibid., p. 332.
l^ibid., p. 334.
15Ibid., p. 334-335.
lllbid., p. 335.
l^Samuel Eliot Mori son, The European Discovery of
America: The Northern Voyages A.D. 500-1600 (New York: Oxford
University Press, 1971), pp. xi-xii.
18Ibid., p. xi.
28Samuel Eliot Mori son, The European Discovery of
America: The Southern Voyages A.D. 1492-1616 (New York: Oxford
University Press, 1974,) p. viii.
^Morison, The Northern Voyages, pp. 8-9.
23T. Walter Wallbank and Alastair M. Taylor,
Civilization Past and Present, Volume I (New York: Scott,
Foresman and Company, 1942), pp. 491.
24Ibi d.
25Ibid., p. 492

^Fernand Braudel, The Structures of Everyday Life:
Civilization and Capitalism 15th 18th Century, Volume I. (New
York: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1979), p. 409.
28Ibid., p. 385.
29Ibid., p. 403.
38Ibid., p. 409.
31Ibid., p. 402.
32Ibid., p. 412.
33Carlos M. Cipolla, Before the Industrial Revolution:
European Society and Economy, 1000-1700, Second Edition (New
York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1980), p. 169.
34Ibid., p. 168.
35Ibid., p. 182.
38Lynn White, "Cultural Climates and Technological
Advances in the Middle Ages," Viator, Volume II (Loudan: 1972);
and Lynn White, "The Expansion of Technology 500-1500," in The
Fontan Economic History of Europe, Volume II (Loudan: 1972)
referenced in Carlos M. Cipolla, Before the Industrial
Revolution: European Society and Economy, 1000-1700, Second
Edition (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1980), pp. 177-78.
^Swenson, Grimwood, and Alexander, This New Ocean, p. 168.
38John R. Hale, and the Editors of Time-Life Books,
Age of Exploration (New York: Time, Inc.,1966), p. 15.
39Ibid., p. 15.
48United States Civilian Space Program 1958-1978, p. 279.
^Swenson, Grimwood and Alexander, This New Ocean, p. 510.
43Ibid., p. 511.

^United States Civilian Space Program 1958-1978, p. 280.
45Swenson, Grimwood and Alexander, This New Ocean, p. 511.
A. C. Laut, Pathfinders of the West, (New York: The
MacMillan Company, 1907), p. 308.
John Bartlett Brebner, The Explorers of North America,
1492-1806: From Columbus to Lewis and Clark, Third Printing
(New York: Meridian Books, World Publishing Company, 1968), p. 338.
SOlbid. P. 107.
1 bid.
33Ibid. , P- 118.
331 bid. > P. 119.
54Ibid. P. 128.
3Hale, Age of Exploration
^Robert B. Downs, In Search of New Horizons: Epic
Tales of Travel and Exploration (Chicago: American Library
Association, 1978), p. 3.
33Ibid., pp. 3-4
59Ibid., p. 2-3
60Ibid., p. 3.
61Ibid., pp. 5-7.
^Astronauts and Cosmonauts: Biographical and
Statistical Data, revised March 31, 1981, report prepared for the
Committee on Science and Technology, U.S. House of
Representatives, 97th Congress, 1st Session, Serial L
(Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1981), p. 281.
63Ibid., p. 197, 204.

64"Earhart, Amelia", The World Book Encyclopedia,
Volume VI (Chicago: Field Enterprises Educational Corporation,
1967), p. 9.
65"Lindberg, Charles Augustus," The World Book
Encyclopedia, Volume XIII (Chicago: Field Enterprises Educational
Corporation, 1967), pp. 290-291.
88World Book, p.9.
87Matthew A. Henson, A Negro Explorer at the North
Pole (New York: Arno Press and the New York Times, 1969), p. viii.
68Ibid., p.viii.
89Robert E. Peary, "Farthest North: Robert E. Peary's
The North Pole, 1908-1909" in Robert B. Downs, In Search of New
Horizons: Epic Tales of Travel and Exploration (Chicago:
American Library Association, 1978), p. 223.
78Brebner, Explorers of North America, p. 390.
Ibi d.
^Walter Sheppe, editor, First Man West: Alexander
Mackenzie's Journal of His Voyage to the Pacific Coast of Canada
in 1793 (Berkel.y: University of California Press, 1962), p. 306.
78Sources: NASA Files, Astronaut Office, Johnson
Space Center, Houston, Texas; Summary of the Astronaut
Recruiting and Selection Process, NASA Johnson and Space Center,
October, 1974; Astronauts and Cosmonauts Biographical and
Statistical Data, pp. 1, 6-9, 12-13.
^Astronauts and Cosmonauts: Biographical and
Statistical Data, p. 1.
75ibi d.
76Ibid., p. 9.
77ibi d.
78Ibid., p. 12.
79Ibid., p. 6.
81Ibid., p. 7.

"summary of the Astronaut Recruiting and Selection
Process, NASA Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas, January 1, 1975.
"Astronauts and Cosmonauts: Biographical and Statical
Data, p. 8.
8^United States Civilian Space Program 1958-1978, p. 298.
Graham T. Allison, Essence of Decision: Explaining the
Cuban Missile Crisis (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1971),
p. 253.
89Jules R. Benjamin, A Student's Guide to History,
Second Edition (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1979), p. 7.
"ibid., p. 8.
92Claire Sellitz, Marie Jahoda, Morton Deutsch, and
Stuart W. Cook Research Methods in Social Relations, Revised
Edition, (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1962), pp.
93H.S. Becker, and B. Geer, "Participant Observation
and Interviewing: A Comparison", Human Organization, 16 (1957),
94Eugene F. Stone, Research Methods in Organizational
Behavior (Santa Monica, California: Goodyear Publishing Company,
Inc., 1978), p. 69.
95Ibid., p. 71.
96E. J. Webb, D. T. Campbell, R. D. Schwartz, and L.
Sechrest, Unobtrusive Measures: Nonreactive Research in the
Social Sciences (Chicago: Rand McNally, 1966), pp. 32-33.
"Fred N. Kerlinger, Foundations of Behavioral
Research, Second Edition (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston,
Inc., 1973), p. 538.
98Ibid., p. 538.

^Stephen A. Richardson, Barbara Snell Dohrenwend,
and David Klein, Interviewing: Its Forms and Functions, 5th
printing, (New YoTkl Basic Books, Inc., 1965), p. 17.
lOllbid. Richardson et al., cite in footnote no. 3, p.
152, a narrative account of the sinking of the S.S. Titanic
constructed some thirty years after the event on the basis of
survivor interviews, which differed considerably from contem-
poraneous accounts. Similarly, the Sacco-Vanzetti trial has been
given interpretations in recent years that differ sharply from
those given in contemporaneous documents.
102Ibid., p. 18.
102Ibid., p. 152, footnote No. 4. The observer's
field notes and records and the interviewer's transcripts, tape
recordings, or completed questionnaires may also, of course, be
regarded as elicted documents.
104Ibid., p. 19.
lO^Edgar p. Huse, Organization Development and Change,
Second Edition. (New York: West Publishing Company, 1980), p.
94. Huse also points out the interview is lengthy and time-
consuming and requires highly developed interviewing skills. The
results of interviews are much harder to analyze than
questionnai res.
106David a. Nadler, Feedback and Organization
Development: Using Data-Based Methods (Reading, Massachusetts:
AddiSon-Wesley Publishing Company, 1977), pp. 123-124. Nadler
recognizes interviews as a rich source of information. However,
he also points out that, in addition, some of the disadvantages
are time and cost, and that the interviewer's biases may creep
into the data that are recorded or omitted. Open-ended inter-
views pose a particular problem of coding and interpretation.
lO^Edgar H. Schein, Process Consultation: Its Role in
Organizational Development (Reading, Massachusetts:
Addison-Wesley, 1969), p. 98-99. Schein states that direct obser-
vations or individual or group interviews are in consonance with
process consultation and is the preferred data-gathering method
in the early stages of a PC project. He emphasizes that a data-
gathering method can only be judged appropriate as the series of
events in the project unfold. He notes that the project should
be planned in a general way, but issues that come up in groups
are hard to predict, and some of the most important ones are
those for which the least planning was done.
lO^Huse, Organization Development, p. 94.

lO^Webb, et al., Unobtrusive Measures, pp. 32-33.
''^Schein, Process Consultation, pp. 98-99.
^Alfred Benjamin, The Helping Interview (Boston
Massachuetts: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1969), p. 60. The
author states: "I am firmly convinced that after the first few
minutes he (interviewee) will not react to it at all for he will
no longer notice it (tape recorder). It is my belief that, as a
matter of ethics, the fact the interview is being taped should
not be concealed. If I tell him that it is my custom to record
interviews to learn from them afterwards and that the tape will
be kept confidential, he will usually not object. He will not be
uneasy unless he feels that I am. If I can say that he, too, may
listen to the tapes to learn, so much the better. If, after all
this, the interviewee still objects, it is probably best to
respect his feelings. Some people are simply afraid or suspicious."
l^chris Argyris, Intervention Theory and Method: A
Behavioral Science View, (Reading, Massachusetts: Addison-Wesley
Publishing Company, 1973), pp. 286, 294-295. Argyris states that
observations and tape recordings have been found to be highly
reliable and encouragingly valid because they are relatively free
from executive bias. He also notes that to date [1973], no
published reports exist that suggest respondents have overtly
complained or manifested uncomfortableness because of
notetaking . and some interventionist report high success with
a tape recorder. In his experiences, the recorder has been most
helpful with upper-level executives, expecially those who are
quite verbal. He recognizes, however, that in most cases the
recorder has seemed to make the respondent uncomfortable. The
situation and respondent dictate the appropriateness of using
this instrument as an aid.
Stephen A. Richardson, Barbara Snell Dohrewend, and David Klein,
Interviewing: Its Forms and Functions (New York: Basic Books,
Inc., Publisher, 1965), pp. 1-152. The authors state that in
their systematic examination of interviewing, the development of
tape recordings permits interviews to be recorded easily and eco-
nomically. This enabled them to examine in detail verbal speci-
mens of actual interviews. Whereas the use of tape recorders for
recording responses verbatim is, of course, feasible, their use
present a number of practical and technical difficulties and does
not eliminate the cost of transcription.
Alfred Benjamin, The Helping Interview (Boston, Massachusetts:
Houghton Mifflin Company, 1969), p. 60. The author believes that
taped interviews are not merely notes, they are a complete record
of what has been said. The problems are with cost and space fac-
tors. Taped interviews cannot generally be preserved over long

periods of time, and one can hardly refer to tapes as readily as
to written notes. Tapes may be transcribed of course, but this
involves additional time and a specialized secretarial staff
which, more often than not, is unavailable.
113R-jChar l-^Page, 152 footnote No. 3. ". .If the respon-
dent does not understand an open question, it is difficult, if
not impossible, for him to give a satisfactory answer. It is
relatively easy for him not to understand a closed question and
yet give an apparently satisfactory answer."
115f/]ae Mills Link, Space Medicine in Project Mercury,
NASA SP-4003, (Washington D.C., National Aeronautics and Space
Administration, 1965).
H^Loyd s. Swenson, Jr., James M. Grimwood, and
Charles C. Alexander, This New Ocean: A History of Project
Mercury, (Washington, D.C.: National Aeronautics and Space
Administration, 1966).
^Robert Sherrod, "Men for the Moon: How They Were
Chosen and Trained" in Edgar M. Cortwright, editor, Apollo
Expeditions to the Moon (Washington, D.C.: National Aeronautics
and Space Administration, 1975), pp. 146-147.
H^Homer e. Newell, Beyond the Atmosphere: Early
Years of Space Science, pp. 209-210.
l-^Arnold 5. Levine, Managing NASA In The Apollo Era
(Washington, D.C.: National Aeronautics and Space
Administration, 1982).
Ibid., p. 122.

The task of providing a context for understanding the
issues of recruitment, examination, and selection as they apply
to one organization, NASA, and one category of employees, astro-
nauts, is not an easy one. The literature, while extensive, is
diverse and tends to emphasize governmental policies, actions or
inactions. There is little focus in any real sense that explains
what any specific organization's mandate is. Rather, events have
dictated that governmental units heed court rulings, executive
orders and laws more than theories on what an employment policy
should be. Still, there is a large and very distinct literature
in the public personnel management area. An overview of this
literature provides a frame of reference for evaluating the
employment policy and practice of any governmental unit within
larger environmental issues of social equity, representative
bureaucracy, merit principles, and administrative efficiency.
This literature overview begins with an historical summary
of the major events, i.e., judicial decisions, legislative man-
dates, and executive policy decisions and orders that have trigger-
ed significant changes in government employment policies. Some
definitions of components of employment policy are then reviewed

and expanded upon. Actual discussion of the public personnel
management literature follows in three major parts: an overview
of the major textbooks in public personnel; a review of several
works that have elaborated on the themes of professionals, merit,
and personnel in government; and finally, an in depth assessment of
the representative bureaucracy literature. But the literature,
as mentioned, has followed the sweep of events in the public sec-
tor personnel management arena. To understand these themes
requires some familiarity with what has happened, and why, in the
last three decades.
Historical Overview
Legally, equality of opportunity for employment in the
public service is based on a series of amendments to the U.S.
Constitution. The Fifth (1791), Thirteenth (1865), and
Fourteenth (1869) amendments along with the Civil Rights Acts of
1866, and 1871^ have provided the foundation for all subsequent
legislation, executive orders and court decisions. But it was
only after the civil rights movement during the 1960s that posi-
tive action against discrimination in employment occurred. The
emerging civil rights movement provided the real impetus to
enlarge upon and implement a legislative mandate already in place,
but silent.
Legislative Action
The close relationships between public personnel practice
and its environmental context are demonstrated by the legislation

which resulted from the social unrest leading to passage of the
Civil Rights Act of 1964. While full elaboration of the various
laws that premise equal opportunity actions goes beyond the
requirements here, a brief outline of legislative actions is
1. The Veterans Preference Act of 1944, as amended
(1978), which allowed veterans and disabled veterans
specific advantages (preference) in obtaining public
sector jobs.2
2. The Equal Pay Act of 1963 which amended the Fair
Labor Standards Act of 1938, to expressly prohibit sex
discrimination in pay.3
3. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (later
amended by the Equal Employment Opportunity Act of 1972),
which prohibited discrimination based on race, color,
religion, sex, or national origin.4
4. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (later
amended in 1978), which prohibited discrimination based on
5. The Equal Employment Opportunity Act of 1972 extended
the scope of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. This
act enjoined government agencies and political subdivisions
from practices prohibited to private employers by Title VII;

required public agencies to develop affirmative action
plans; and gave the Equal Employment Opportunity
Commission (EEOC) the power to sue employers for alleged
violations of Title VII (rather than merely the power to
investigate complaints).6
6. The Vocational Rehabilitation Act Of 1973 (Title VI,
Section 503 and 504), which prohibited discrimination and
required affirmative action for the handicapped.7
Finally, there is the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978^
perhaps the most sweeping reform of federal personnel administra-
tion since the Pendelton Act of 1883. The Reform Act prohibits
discrimination in personnel practices for reasons unrelated to
job performance and creates a Merit Systems Protection Board
which shares appellate responsibility with EEOC for discrimina-
tion cases involving federal employees or applicants.8 Also, the
act establishes the requirement that federal agencies conduct
minority recruitment programs based on goals and guidelines fur-
nished by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. It
remains to be seen how the discriminatory personnel practices
provisions of the Civil Service Reform Act will affect the Equal
Opportunity arena. But, in one sense, the Reform Act adds little
conceptually to the scope of the mandate for equal opportunity in
While all of the above legislative mandates constitute
the basic foundation for change, the real impetus for action has

been provided by executive orders and courts rulings.
The concept of affirmative action is a relatively new
development in which governments have moved extremely slowly. In
fact between 1866, with the adoption of the Civil Rights Act and
1940, little or no action was taken to end racial discrimination.
It is important to clarify here what discrimination entails.
Intentional discrimination, such as job assignment by race and
sex, is but the tip of an iceberg. Racial, ethnic, or sex divi-
sions in society have translated themselves into institutions
which systematically deny equal employment opportunity to minori-
ties. Similarly, traditional and outmoded views on the role of
women have resulted in widespread patterns of employment discri-
mination on the basis of sex. One of the most pervasive forms of
employment discrimination is termed "systemic discrimination,"
meaning discriminatory practices that are built into the systems
and institutions controlling access to employment opportunity.
When discrimination is unintentional it rarely surfaces, unless
there is an attempt to identify this type of discrimination.
In public sector employment, the issue revolved around
what rights people have in obtaining government jobs, in devel-
oping careers in government, and in not being discharged.
Essentially, the concern is that the right to be treated the same
as other persons with like skills, be accorded to all individuals.

But the credibility and symbolic importance of government jobs
have added a special significance to government employment
policy. Given the complexity involved in ensuring that such
rights be protected, there has been a series of executive orders
and actions that have helped shape the course of equal oppor-
tunity policy in the public sector.
Executive Action
Evolving federal executive policy toward discriminatory
employment problems began with the Ramspeck Act of 1940.9 serious
effort, however, did not begin until 1941 when, under the threat
of a march on Washington from A. Phillip Randolph, head of the
Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters Union, President Franklin D.
Roosevelt issued Executive Order 8802, creating the Fair
Employment Practice Committee,10 which urged defense industries to
employ workers without regard to race, creed, color, or national
origin. Unfortunately, this type of persuasion had little effect
on discriminatory hiring practices.
Still, the executive order was more important for the
precedent it established than for what it actually accomplished.
Although weak and unenforceable, Roosevelt's executive order tied,
for the first time, anti-discrimination policies to the government
procurement process and established the Fair Employment Practice
Committee. Another example was President Truman's Executive Order
9981 which eliminated segregation in the Armed Services.H

From 1941 to 1965, Presidents from Franklin D. Roosevelt to
Lyndon B. Johnson issued a total of eight executive orders
banning employment discrimination by federal contractors.
Although many orders were issued because of the protracted nature
of employment discrimination, they often failed to eliminate
such discrimination because the committees they established
lacked enforcement powers.
But the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 spurred
new and more serious efforts. In establishing the Equal
Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), Title VII of the act
empowered the commission to prosecute cases of discrimination in
private employment. The law also reaffirmed the policy of non-
discrimination in federal employment. In 1965 President Johnson
issued Executive Order 11246, which included a provision against
discrimination in federal employment,^ in effect barring discri-
mination in employment on the part of both the federal govern-
ment as an employer and federal contractors. This was further
amended in 1967, by Executive Order 11375, which extended similar
coverage to discrimination based on sex.13
Executive actions in the mid-1960s were increasingly more
specific regarding discriminatory practices. The concern with
employment testing (i.e., that valid testing concepts be used that
would fairly test the relative capacity of applicants) is a good
example. The concern over the relationship between tests and
other employment practices traces its legislative and judicial
origins to Myart v. Motorola, Inc., (1964).^ The Motorola

Corporation was ordered by the Illinois Fair Employment Practices
Commission to stop using its then current general intelligence
test and replace it with one which more nearly accommodated
the cultural differences of Black and white applicants. Ultimately,
this led to an amendment by Senator John Tower of Texas (Section
703(h) of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964) which per-
mitted employers to utilize any professionally-developed ability
test, provided that such test was not designed intentionally to
discrimate because of sex, or national origin. 15 Most employers
interpreted the amendment as giving them the right to determine
employment qualifications as they saw fit. Conversely, most
civil rights groups saw the amendment as detrimental to the
interest of minority groups.
In 1966, the EEOC issued preliminary guidelines which
were an interpretation of the Tower Amendment terminology of
"professionally developed" ability test. Both the EEOC and the
courts would later state that "professionally developed" included
both development and use of the test, and that both must be
valid.16 The reasoning was that just because the test is pro-
fessionally developed does not assure that its use is proper. The
requirement, therefore, is a preponderance of evidence that the
test is job related. This development will be examined in more
detail in the next section.
In 1969 President Nixon issued Executive Order 11478,
which included additional provisions covering non-discrimination

in the federal government and established the Office of Federal
Contract Compliance (OFCC) in the U.S. Department of Labor.^ The
OFCC employed a group of recognized industrial psychologists to
prepare an order on employee testing which would be applicable to
all federal government contractors. Significantly, this order
was the first government testing document which had sanctions for
those federal contractors who did not comply. It was also the
first attempt to establish systematically how validation was to
be done and what types of validation methodology would be accept-
able. Further, the order required that minorities be included in
the validation sample.
However, it was not until later that the guidelines,
separately developed by EEOC and by OFCC were agreed upon, and
combined, to serve as a single set of standards for employee
selection. With passage of the Equal Employment Opportunity Act
in 1972, the EEOC began developing uniform guidelines for
employee selection. In 1974, the EEOC issued its Uniform
Guidelines on Employee Selection Procedures,^ which specified
the requirements for test validation, defined adverse impact, and
confirmed the responsibility of employers to use affirmative
action.19 Still the progression of events unfolding here was
stimulated primarily by action in yet another branch of govern-
ment -- the judiciary.
Judicial Action
The most pressing stimulus toward social equity in the
public service has come from the courts, rather than from the

Executive or Legislative Branches. Two distinct legal develop-
ments have had a bearing on this issue: one is a subtle modifi-
cation in what Arch Dotson has called the "doctrine of
privilege,"20 and the second is the precedent established by the
Supreme Court in its decisions in, and following Griggs v. Duke
Power Company (1971).21
Traditionally, the rights of citizens employed or seeking
employment in the public were based on the "doctrine of privi-
lege. The most concise statement of this doctrine was made by
Oliver Wend.ell Holmes, Jr., then a Justice on the Massachusetts
Supreme Court, where in the decision on McAuliffe v. New Bedford
(1892), in which he concluded that "the petitioner may have a
constitutional right to talk politics but he has no constitu-
tional right to be a policeman,"22 Holmes could hardly have known
the extent to which his statement would be applied. Under this
doctrine, public office was not a right, but a privilege held at
the pleasure of a government (state or federal) which could
impose on its employees restrictions deemed necessary to protect
its sovereignty. Dotson argues that the "doctrine of privilege"
relied on a false inference in that:
Even if it were granted that no constitutional right
to employment could be established, this concession
would not imply that, by virtue of public employment,
an individual might be deprived of his other
constitutional rights. The universe of responsible
relationships is not divisible into privileges and
rights. And if it were, privileges would not overcome
guaranteed rights.23
Modification to the doctrine, which began in the 1940s,