Encyclopedia Astronautica
Seamans



zseamans.jpg
Seamans
Credit: NASA
Seamans, Robert C (1918-2008) American engineer. Key leadership positions at NASA 1960-1968 during the Apollo program.

Educated Harvard; MIT.

Official NASA Biography

Dr. Robert C. Seamans, Jr., was born on October 30, 1918, in Salem, Massachusetts. He attended Lenox School, Lenox, Massachusetts; earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering at Harvard University in 1939; a Master of Science degree in Aeronautics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1942; and a Doctor of Science degree in Instrumentation from MIT in 1951. Dr. Seamans also received the following honorary degrees: Doctor of Science from Rollins College (1962) and from New York University (1967); Doctor of Engineering from Norwich Academy (1971), from Notre Dame (1974), and from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) in 1974.

From 1941 to 1955 he held teaching and project positions at MIT during which time he worked on aeronautical problems, including instrumentation and control of airplanes and missiles. Positions that he held at MIT included: Instructor (1941-1945), Assistant Professor (1945-1950), and Associate Professor (1950-1955), Department of Aeronautical Engineering; Project Engineer, Instrumentation Laboratory; Chief Engineer, Project Meteor; and Director, Flight Control Laboratory.

Dr. Seamans joined the Radio Corporation of America (RCA) in 1955 as Manager of the Airborne Systems Laboratory and Chief Systems Engineer of the Airborne Systems Department. In 1958, he became Chief Engineer of the Missile Electronics and Controls Division at RCA in Burlington, Massachusetts.

From 1948 to 1958, Dr. Seamans also served on technical committees of NASA's predecessor organization, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics. He served as a consultant to the Scientific Advisory Board of the United States Air Force from 1957 to 1959, as a Member of the Board from 1959 to 1962, and as an Associate Advisor from 1962 to 1967. He was a National Delegate, Advisory Group for Aerospace Research and Development (NATO) from 1966 to 1969.

In 1960, Dr. Seamans joined NASA as Associate Administrator. In 1965, he became Deputy Administrator, retaining many of the general management-type responsibilities of the Associate Administrator and also serving as Acting Administrator. During his years at NASA he worked closely with the Department of Defense in research and engineering programs and served as Co-chairman of the Astronautics Coordinating Board. Through these associations, NASA was kept aware of military developments and technical needs of the Department of Defense and Dr. Seamans was able to advise that agency of NASA activities which had application to national security.

In January 1968 he resigned from NASA to become a visiting professor at MIT and in July 1968 was appointed to the Jerome Clarke Hunsaker professorship, an MIT-endowed visiting professorship in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, named in honor of the founder of the Aeronautical Engineering Department. During this period with MIT, he was also a consultant to the Administrator of NASA.

In 1969 he became secretary of the United States Air Force, serving until 1973. Dr. Seamans was also president of the National Academy of Engineering from May 1973 to December 1974, when he became the first administrator of the new Energy Research and Development Administration. He returned to MIT in 1977, becoming dean of its School of Engineering in 1978. In 1981 he was elected chair of the board of trustees of Aerospace Corp.

Dr. Seamans and his wife, Eugenia A. Merrill, have five children: Katherine Padulo; Robert C. III; Joseph; May Baldwin; and Daniel; and twelve grandchildren.

Birth Place: Salem, Massachusetts.


Born: 1918.10.30.
Died: 2008.07.05.

More... - Chronology...


Associated Countries
See also
Bibliography
  • Launius, Roger D, NASA Chief Historian, NASA History Office Home Page, Web Address when accessed: here.

Seamans Chronology


1960 September 29 - . LV Family: Saturn C-3; Saturn I; Saturn V.
  • RAND Corporation to evaluate nuclear propulsion missions - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Seamans. Program: NERVA. In a memorandum to NASA Associate Administrator Robert C. Seamans, Jr., Robert L. King, Executive Secretary, described the action taken on certain items discussed at the July 14-15 meeting of the Space Exploration Program Council. Among these actions was the awarding of a contract to The RAND Corporation to evaluate missions for which nuclear propulsion would be desirable. Included in the study would be the determination of availability dates, cost of development, operational costs, the safety aspects of the missions, and an evaluation of research requirements.

1960 December 14 - .
  • Seamans briefed on the lunar orbit rendezvous method - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Seamans. Program: Apollo. Spacecraft: Apollo LM; LM Mode Debate; LM Source Selection. Associate Administrator of NASA Robert C. Seamans, Jr., and his staff were briefed by Langley Research Center personnel on the rendezvous method as it related to the national space program. Clinton E. Brown presented an analysis made by himself and Ralph W. Stone, Jr., describing the general operational concept of lunar orbit rendezvous for the manned lunar landing. The advantages of this plan in contrast with the earth orbit rendezvous method, especially in reducing launch vehicle requirements, were illustrated. Others discussing the rendezvous were John C. Houbolt, John D. Bird, and Max C. Kurbjun.

1961 February 7 - . LV Family: Nova. Launch Vehicle: Saturn C-2.
  • Final report of the Low Committee - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Seamans. Program: Apollo. Spacecraft: Apollo Lunar Landing. The Manned Lunar Landing Task Group (Low Committee) transmitted its final report to NASA Associate Administrator Robert C. Seamans, Jr. The Group found that the manned lunar landing mission could be accomplished during the decade, using either the earth orbit rendezvous or direct ascent technique. Multiple launchings of Saturn C-2 launch vehicles would be necessary in the earth orbital mode, while the direct ascent technique would require the development of a Nova-class vehicle. Information to be obtained through supporting unmanned lunar exploration programs, such as Ranger and Surveyor, was felt to be essential in carrying out the manned lunar mission. Total funding for the program was estimated at just under $7 billion through Fiscal Year 1968.

1961 April 14 - .
  • Apollo Congressional hearings. - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Seamans. Program: Apollo. Spacecraft: Apollo Lunar Landing. In response to questioning by the House Science and Astronautics Committee, Associate NASA Administrator Seamans repeated the general estimate of $20 to $40 billion as the cost for the total effort required to achieve a lunar landing, that an all-out program might cost more, and that 1967 could be considered only as a possible planning date at this stage of such a complex task.

1961 May 7 - . LV Family: Titan. Launch Vehicle: Titan 2.
  • Titan II proposed for lunar landing program - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Gilruth; Seamans; Silverstein. Program: Apollo. Spacecraft: Gemini LOR. Albert C. Hall of The Martin Company proposed to Robert C. Seamans, Jr., NASA's Associate Administrator, that the Titan II be considered as a launch vehicle in the lunar landing program. Although skeptical, Seamans arranged for a more formal presentation the next day. Abe Silverstein, NASA's Director of Space Flight Programs, was sufficiently impressed to ask Director Robert R. Gilruth and STG to study the possible uses of Titan II. Silverstein shortly informed Seamans of the possibility of using the Titan II to launch a scaled-up Mercury spacecraft.

1961 May 8 - . LV Family: Titan. Launch Vehicle: Titan 2.
  • Martin briefed NASA on the Titan II weapon system. - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Gilruth; Seamans. Program: Gemini. Spacecraft: Gemini; Mercury Mark I. Martin Company personnel briefed NASA officials in Washington, D.C., on the Titan II weapon system. Albert C. Hall of Martin had contacted NASA's Associate Administrator, Robert C. Seamans, Jr., on April 7 to propose the Titan II as a launch vehicle for a lunar landing program. Although skeptical, Seamans nevertheless arranged for a more formal presentation. Abe Silverstein, NASA Director, Office of Space Flight Programs, was sufficiently impressed by the Martin briefing to ask Director Robert R. Gilruth and Space Task Group to study possible Titan II uses. Silverstein shortly informed Seamans of the possibility of using the Titan II to launch a scaled-up Mercury spacecraft.

1961 May 25 - .
  • Lundin Committee to assess Lunar landing mission - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Seamans. Program: Apollo. Spacecraft: Apollo LM; LM Mode Debate; LM Source Selection. Robert C. Seamans, Jr., NASA's Associate Administrator, requested the Directors of the Office of Launch Vehicle Programs and the Office of Advanced Research Programs to bring together members of their staffs with other persons from NASA Headquarters to assess a wide variety of possible ways of accomplishing the lunar landing mission. This study was to supplement the one being done by the Ad Hoc Task Group for Manned Lunar Landing Study (Fleming Committee) but was to be separate from it. Additional Details: here....

1961 June 10 - . Launch Vehicle: Saturn C-2.
  • Lundin Committee recommended earth orbit rendezvous mode - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Seamans. Program: Apollo. Spacecraft: Apollo Lunar Landing. 'The Lundin Committee completed its study of various vehicle systems for the manned lunar landing mission, as requested on May 25 by NASA associate Administrator Robert C. Seamans, Jr. The Committee had considered alternative methods of rendezvous: earth orbit, lunar orbit, a combination of earth and lunar orbit, and lunar surface. Launch vehicles studied were the Saturn C-2 and C-3. Conclusion was that 43,000 kg stage (85% fuel) was needed for a lunar landing mission. The concept of a low- altitude earth orbit rendezvous using two or three C-3's was clearly preferred by the Committee. Reasons for this preference were the small number of launches and orbital operations required and the fact that the Saturn C- 3 was considered to be an efficient launch vehicle of great utility and future growth.

1961 June 16 - .
  • Fleming Committee Report: lunar mission could be accomplished within the decade - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Seamans. Program: Apollo. Spacecraft: Apollo CSM; CSM Source Selection; LM Mode Debate; LM Source Selection. The Fleming Committee, which had been appointed on May 2, submitted its report to NASA associate Administrator Robert C. Seamans, Jr., on the feasibility of a manned lunar landing program. The Committee concluded that the lunar mission could be accomplished within the decade. Chief pacing items were the first stage of the launch vehicle and the facilities for testing and launching the booster. It also concluded that information on solar flare radiation and lunar surface characteristics should be obtained as soon as possible, since these factors would influence spacecraft design. Special mention was made of the need for a strong management organization.

1961 July 31 - . LV Family: Nova; Saturn C-3; Saturn V.
  • NASA-DOD report on launch sites for Apollo - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Debus; Seamans. Program: Apollo. Phase I of a joint NASA-DOD report on facilities and resources required at launch sites to support the manned lunar landing program was submitted to Associate Administrator Robert C. Seamans, Jr., by Kurt H. Debus, Director, Launch Operations Directorate, and Maj. Gen. Leighton I. Davis, Commander of the Air Force Missile Test Center. The report, requested by Seamans on June 23, was based on the use of Nova- class launch vehicles for the manned lunar landing in a direct ascent mode, with the Saturn C-3 in supporting missions. Eight launch sites were considered: Cape Canaveral (on-shore); Cape Canaveral (off- shore); Mayaguana Island (Atlantic Missile Range downrange); Cumberland Island, Ga.; Brownsville, Tex.; White Sands Missile Range, N. Mex.; Christmas Island, Pacific Ocean; and South Point, Hawaii. On the basis of minimum cost and use of existing national resources, and taking into consideration the stringent time schedule, White Sands Missile Range and Cape Canaveral (on-shore) were favored. White Sands presented serious limitations on launch azimuths because of first-stage impact hazards on populated areas.

1961 November 15 - .
  • Houbolt letter on lunar orbit rendezvous (LOR) plan - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Seamans. Program: Apollo. Spacecraft: Apollo LM; LM Mode Debate; LM Source Selection. In a letter to NASA Associate Administrator Robert C. Seamans, Jr., John C. Houbolt of Langley Research Center presented the lunar orbit rendezvous (LOR) plan and outlined certain deficiencies in the national booster and manned rendezvous programs. This letter protested exclusion of the LOR plan from serious consideration by committees responsible for the definition of the national program for lunar exploration.

1961 December 6 - .
  • Preliminary project plan for the Mercury Mark II program - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Holmes, Brainard; Seamans. Program: Gemini. Spacecraft: Gemini LOR. D. Brainerd Holmes, NASA Director of Manned Space Flight, outlined the preliminary project development plan for the Mercury Mark II program in a memorandum to NASA Associate Administrator Robert C. Seamans, Jr. The primary objective of the program was to develop rendezvous techniques; important secondary objectives were long-duration flights, controlled land recovery, and astronaut training. The development of rendezvous capability, Holmes stated, was essential:

    • It offered the possibility of accomplishing a manned lunar landing earlier than by direct ascent.
    • The lunar landing maneuver would require the development of rendezvous techniques regardless of the operational mode selected for the lunar mission.
    • Rendezvous and docking would be necessary to the Apollo orbiting laboratory missions planned for the 1965-1970 period.
    The plan was approved by Seamans on December 7. The Mercury Mark II program was renamed "Gemini" on January 3, 1962.

1961 December 7 - . LV Family: Titan. Launch Vehicle: Titan 2.
  • DOD/NASA coordination for Mercury Mark II - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: McNamara; Seamans; Webb. Program: Gemini. Spacecraft: Gemini. NASA Associate Administrator Robert C. Seamans, Jr., and DOD Deputy Director of Defense Research and Engineering John H. Rubel recommended to Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara and NASA Administrator James E. Webb that detailed arrangements for support of the Mercury Mark II spacecraft and the Atlas-Agena vehicle used in rendezvous experiments be planned directly between NASA's Office of Manned Space Flight and the Air Force and other DOD organizations. NASA's primary responsibilities would be the overall management and direction for the Mercury Mark II/ Agena rendezvous development and experiments. The Air Force responsibilities would include acting as NASA contractor for the Titan II launch vehicle and for the Atlas-Agena vehicle to be used in rendezvous experiments. DOD's responsibilities would include assistance in the provision and selection of astronauts and the provision of launch, range, and recovery support, as required by NASA.

1963 January 17 - .
  • Mercury MA-10 a possibility. - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Seamans. Program: Mercury. Flight: Mercury MA-9. Spacecraft: Mercury. Asked by a Congressional committee if NASA planned another Mercury flight after MA-9, Dr Robert C. Seamans stated, in effect, that schedules for the original Mercury program and the 1-day orbital effort were presumed to be completed in fiscal year 1963. If sufficient test data were not accumulated in the MA-9 flight, backup launch vehicles and spacecraft were available to fulfill requirements.

1963 March 28 - .
  • Manned Earth Orbiting Laboratory. - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Seamans. Spacecraft: MORL. Associate Administrator Robert C. Seamans, Jr., asked Abraham Hyatt of Headquarters to organize a task team to study the concept of a Manned Earth Orbiting Laboratory. Seamans pointed out that such a laboratory was under consideration by several government agencies and that NASA and the Department of Defense were at that time supporting a number of advanced feasibility studies. He said that such a laboratory bore a very heavy interrelationship between manned space flight, space sciences, and advanced research and technology and that NASA's top management was faced with the decision whether to initiate hardware development. Hyatt's aft's team thus must examine broadly the needs of an orbiting laboratory from NASA's viewpoint, as well as that of outside agencies, and the operational and scientific factors impinging on any possible decision to undertake hardware development.

1963 April 30 - .
  • NASA / Department of Defense dispute over Gemini management responsibility. - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: McNamara; Seamans. Program: Gemini. Spacecraft: Gemini. In a NASA position paper, stimulated by Secretary of Defense McNamara's testimony on the fiscal year 1964 budget and an article in Missiles and Rockets interpreting his statements, Robert C. Seamans, Jr., NASA Associate Administrator, stressed NASA's primary management responsibility in the Gemini program. McNamara's remarks had been interpreted as presaging an Air Force take-over of Project Gemini. Seamans recognized the vital role of the Department of Defense in Gemini management and operations but insisted that NASA had the final and overall responsibility for program success.

1963 August 30 - .
  • Lunar Orbiter program approved - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Seamans. Program: Apollo. Spacecraft: Lunar Orbiter. NASA Associate Administrator Robert C. Seamans, Jr., approved the Lunar Orbiter program. Objectives of the program were reconnaissance of the moon's topography, investigation of its environment, and collection of selenodetic information.

    The document called for five flight and three test articles. The Lunar Orbiter spacecraft would be capable of photographing the moon from a distance of 22 miles above the surface. Overall cost of the program was estimated at between $150 and $200 million.


1964 October 26 - .
  • NASA definition studies of the Apollo X spacecraft planned during Fiscal Year 1965. - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Seamans. Spacecraft: Apollo X. In an interview for Missiles and Rockets magazine, Associate Administrator Robert C. Seamans, Jr., stated that NASA planned to initiate program definition studies of an Apollo X spacecraft during Fiscal Year 1965. Seamans emphasized that such a long-duration space station program would not receive funding for actual hardware development until the 1970s. He stressed that NASA's Apollo X would not compete with the Manned Orbiting Laboratory program: 'MOL is important for the military as a method of determining what opportunities there are for men in space. It is not suitable to fulfill NASA requirements to gain scientific knowledge.'

1965 January 25 - .
  • Optimism permeated Apollo program - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Seamans. Program: Apollo. The optimism that permeated the Apollo program was reflected in statements by NASA's Associate Administrator, Robert C. Seamans, Jr., during budget briefings for the forthcoming year. He was "greatly encouraged" by recent design freezes and "very reassured" by testing of propulsion systems and launch vehicle stages. "We really feel," Seamans said, ". . . that we can get off the (lunar landing) flight on an earlier mission than I would have said a year ago?' Certainly it was "conceivable" that the moon landing could come "in early 1970."

1965 March 29 - . LV Family: Titan. Launch Vehicle: Titan 2.
  • Full EVA considered for Gemini 4. - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Gilruth; Low, George; Mueller; Seamans. Flight: Gemini 4. Spacecraft: G4C. The possibility of doing more than the previously planned stand-up form of extravehicular activity (EVA) was introduced at an informal meeting in the office of Director Robert R. Gilruth at Manned Spacecraft Center (MSC). Present at the meeting, in addition to Gilruth and Deputy Director George M. Low, were Richard S. Johnston of Crew Systems Division (CSD) and Warren J. North of Flight Crew Operations Division. Johnston presented a mock-up of an EVA chestpack, as well as a prototype hand-held maneuvering unit. North expressed his division's confidence that an umbilical EVA could be successfully achieved on the Gemini-Titan 4 mission. Receiving a go-ahead from Gilruth, CSD briefed George E. Mueller, Associate Administrator for Mannned Space Flight, on April 3 in Washington. He, in turn, briefed the Headquarters Directorates. The relevant MSC divisions were given tentative approval to continue the preparations and training required for the operation. Associate Administrator of NASA, Robert C. Seamans, Jr., visited MSC for further briefing on May 14. The enthusiasm he carried back to Washington regarding flight-readiness soon prompted final Headquarters approval.

1965 December 21 - .
  • Robert C Seamans, Jr becomes Deputy Administrator of NASA - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Seamans; Webb. Program: Apollo. Robert C. Seamans, Jr., was sworn in as Deputy Administrator of NASA, succeeding Hugh L. Dryden who died December 2. Seamans would also retain his present position as Associate Administrator for an indefinite period of time.

    NASA Administrator James E. Webb administered the oath of office. He had announced in Austin, Tex., on December 10, that President Lyndon B. Johnson had accepted his recommendation that Seamans be named to the number two NASA post.


1966 March 9 - .
  • Douglas proposal on the airlock for the AAP. - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Mueller; Seamans. Spacecraft: Orbital Workshop. A team of engineers from Douglas Aircraft Company, headed by Jack Bromberg, presented a technical briefing and cost proposal to Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight George E. Mueller on the company's design on the airlock for the AAP. Mueller observed that Douglas' idea for a 30-day capability seemed technically sound. He expressed strong interest in the AAP spent-stage experiment because it would establish a solid basis for space station requirements and definition. However, he cautioned that he had not received definite approval from either the Administrator, James E. Webb, or his deputy, Robert C. Seamans, Jr., on the spent-stage concept and admitted that he had 'some selling to do.'

1966 April 8 - .
  • Agreement between the Department of Defense and NASA on extraterrestrial mapping - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Seamans. Program: Apollo. Deputy Administrator Robert C. Seamans, Jr., received a letter from John S. Foster, Jr., Director of Defense Research and Engineering, expressing pleasure that the agreement between the Department of Defense and NASA on extraterrestrial mapping, charting, and geodesy support had been consummated. He was returning a copy of the agreement for the NASA files.

1966 April 15 - . LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas Agena D SLV-3.
  • Evaluation of a Lockheed proposal to launch space probes from orbit using Agena rockets launched from AAP stations in space. - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Mueller; Seamans. Spacecraft: Orbital Workshop. Associate Administrator for Manned Space Fight George E. Mueller informed Deputy Administrator Robert C. Seamans, Jr., of the Saturn/Apollo Applications Program Office's evaluation of a Lockheed proposal to launch space probes from orbit using Agena rockets launched from AAP stations in space. The proposal was feasible, Mueller advised, but did not seem a desirable mission for inclusion in the AAP. Additional Details: here....

1966 August 2 - .
  • S-IVB airlock module (AM) experiment planned as part of the dual-launch Apollo-Saturn 209-210 mission. - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Mueller; Seamans. Spacecraft: Orbital Workshop. George E. Mueller, Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight, recommended to Deputy Administrator Robert C. Seamans, Jr., that NASA proceed with its procurement effort on an S-IVB airlock module (AM) experiment as part of the dual-launch Apollo-Saturn 209-210 mission. The AM, to replace a LM aboard one of the vehicles, was to serve as the module affording a docking adapter at one end to permit CSM docking and at the other end a sealed connection to a hatch in the spent S-IVB stage of the rocket. Additional Details: here....

1967 January 28 - .
  • Apollo 204 Review Board established to investigate the AS-204 accident - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Seamans. Program: Apollo. Flight: Apollo 204. Summary: The Apollo 204 Review Board was established by NASA's Deputy Administrator Robert C. Seamans, Jr., to investigate the Apollo 204 accident that had killed the 204 prime crew January 27. The Board would report to the NASA Administrator.. Additional Details: here....

1967 February 7 - .
  • Senate Committee hears NASA testimony on the Apollo 204 fire - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Seamans. Program: Apollo. Flight: Apollo 204. Spacecraft: Apollo CSM; CSM Block I. Summary: The Senate Committee on Aeronautical and Space Sciences met in executive session to hear NASA testimony on the Apollo 204 fire. . Additional Details: here....

1967 June 9 - .
  • Selection of North American as Apollo prime contractor documented - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Seamans. Program: Apollo. Spacecraft: Apollo CSM; CSM Source Selection. Robert C. Seamans, Jr., Deputy Administrator of NASA, prepared a memorandum to the file concerning the selection of North American Aviation as the CSM prime contractor. The memorandum, a seven-page document, chronologically reviewed the steps that led to the selection of North American and followed by about a month the statement of NASA Administrator James E. Webb in response to queries from members of the Congress.

1967 October 17 - .
  • Four additional Apollo CSMs approved - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Seamans. Program: Apollo. Spacecraft: Apollo CSM; CSM Block II. NASA Hq. informed MSC that NASA Deputy Administrator Robert C. Seamans, Jr., had approved the project approval document authorizing four additional CSMs beyond No. 115A. MSC was requested to proceed with all necessary procurement actions required to maintain production capability in support of projected schedules for these items.

2008 July 5 - .
  • Death of Robert C Seamans - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Seamans. Summary: American engineer. Key leadership positions at NASA 1960-1968 during the Apollo program..

Home - Browse - Contact
© / Conditions for Use