October 17, 1957: Memorandum From the President's Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Cutler) to the Secretary of Defense (McElroy):

SUBJECT: U.S. Scientific Satellite Program (NSC 5520)

I am writing this memorandum to you as Secretary of Defense because the Department of Defense is the responsible executive agency for carrying out the U.S. scientific satellite program in accordance with NSC 5520.

At a recent meeting of the National Security Council the President made very plain that the overriding objective of the IRBM and the ICBM programs is the successful achievement of these ballistic missiles with the necessary range and reasonable accuracy, in priority over related problems.

Although recent Council action has not reflected a similar expression by the President with reference to the U.S. scientific satellite, the President's concern in this regard is no less clear. As you know, the President issued a statement to the press on October 9 that the first satellite test vehicle was planned to be launched in December, and that the first fully instrumented satellite vehicle would be launched in March, 1958.

In line with this statement the President said yesterday that he wanted to be sure that the launching of the U.S. scientific satellite proceed as planned and scheduled. He is, of course, conscious of the understandable desire of the scientists to perfect the instrumentation that goes into the satellite. Nevertheless, he made very plain that any efforts further to perfect such scientific instrumentation should not be permitted to delay the planned launching schedule.

In order that there might be no ambiguity, I thought it advisable to send this memorandum to you as head of the responsible executive agency, with a copy to the Director of the National Science Foundation.

Robert Cutler

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