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".The US is Presently Leading in the 'Space Race.'"

A specific case pointing to evidence of pressure is the Walt W. Rostow-presented memorandum for the President of the United States. (Rostow was Johnson's National Security Advisor.) The American document has all the appearances of being an "on the spot, on demand" National Intelligence Estimate about where the United States and the Soviet Union stood viz a viz each other's programs, apparently as a result of President Johnson's concerns (perhaps resulting from newspaper reportage) about Russia's circumlunar exploit. There are at least a dozen documents relating to the Zond 5 launching, as well as its disposition at varying stages of its mission, that can be found in the LBJ Presidential files.[48] Additionally, this originally classified Top Secret "comparison" document was issued in only four copies.

The memorandum states in its very first sentence that "On the basis of a comparison of achievements to date, one would have to conclude that the US is presently leading in the 'space race'."[49] It goes on to say that:

".In the fields of manned lunar landing, manned space flight, unmanned lunar and interplanetary exploration, orbital applications, and near and deep-space scientific experimentation, the US is in almost every instance ahead of the USSR in solid accomplishments." [49]

As the assessment delves into further detail about the manned lunar landing program development comparisons, Rostow's document discusses the N-1 moon rocket, and its believed capabilities:

"In preparation for the planned manned lunar landing within this decade, the US launched its first Saturn V vehicle in November of 1967. Overhead photography of the USSR reveals that construction of facilities similar to those at Cape Kennedy for the Saturn V are nearing completion at the Soviet launch site of Tyuratam. A giant booster vehicle was observed erected at the launch site in

August, which most likely is scheduled for its initial launch sometime within the next six months. We estimate that it weighs about 10 million pounds and will have a lift-off thrust of approximately 12 million pounds. While this is larger than the Saturn V lift-off thrust of 7.5 million pounds, we believe it will not be capable of sending as large a payload to the Moon as Saturn V. This is because the Soviet booster will employ conventional propellants, while the US Saturn V uses liquid hydrogen as a fuel in its upper stages. In fact, we estimate that he Soviets will have to launch two of these vehicles and rendezvous in orbit in order to send sufficient weight to the Moon for a manned landing. Because the Soviet counterpart has not yet flown and because of this difference in capability, the US has now and probably will continue to enjoy a lead of a year or more in this area. There is also evidence that the US has a comparable lead in spacecraft development and testing for this program."[49]

Of special note is the fact that even in mid-September 1968, US intelligence felt that the Russians would still need two N-1 rockets to facilitate their manned lunar landing, as they did in a National Intelligence Estimate that was published earlier in April of the year.[50] However, as readers will notice in an upcoming section, this viewpoint must have fallen from favor in the intervening nine months, when a different Russian launch scenario was favored.

Another section of the report discusses the comparison of Soviet soft-landing probes and lunar orbiters, by mentioning that Lunas 9 and 13 "lack the sophistication of the.Surveyor series."[51] Also, in talking about Soviet lunar orbiters, "The Soviets have also placed payloads in orbit about the Moon on four occasions but evidence that they obtained high-quality photographs of the lunar surface is completely lacking. The [US] appears significantly ahead in these areas."[51]

Beyond the perceived inequality of previous lunar missions by the Russians to US efforts, the Zond 5 mission was also viewed with a jaundiced eye by US intelligence analysts.

In the section discussing the Zond 5 current event, Rostow's presentation concludes that:

"One interesting flight now under way is the Soviet Zond 5 mission, which is clearly an unmanned circumlunar flight where the probe is intended to return to Earth and be recovered. If the mission is successful, then the Soviets will score a lunar 'first.' Furthermore, we feel that in the not-too-distant future, they will try the same mission with men aboard. However, the booster for Zond 5 is only slightly larger than Saturn 1B, and is not capable of carrying the heavy payload needed for a manned landing. It must be therefore considered a 'dead end' program insofar as manned lunar exploration is concerned."[51]

However, it is key to note that US intelligence did not mention that the payload of the circumlunar launchings would have had direct relevance to any lunar landing effort (the Soviet precursor analogue equivalent of the US Apollo crewed spacecraft), or the acknowledgement of US intelligence's lack of certainty about actual Soviet technological achievement benchmarks.

There is also, based on inference at reading this document, that an additional "blind spot" by US intelligence was in not knowing what the USSR's specific plans were for lunar exploration for the rest of the year of 1968, and from what is contained in this document, they did not anticipate that there would be further circumlunar mission tests.

Furthermore, there was the unstated stipulation that if a Russian crew flew around the Moon first, then the American Apollo program would have been significantly diminished in its political and dramatic effect upon world opinion.



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