Some Key Project Mercury Decisions and Lessons Learned
For a program as original and monumental as Project Mercury, very little is certain at the start. Nevertheless, management must have some clear direction from the top. President Eisenhower was very specific that he wanted a civilian space program in spite of the rather obvious military implications of Sputnik and the military’s pushing hard to manage the manned space program. His directive solved at least two problems immediately. It made it clear that NACA would get the space program instead of either the Army or Air Force. And by directing the Department of Defense to support the civilian space program Eisenhower relieved NACA of the need to come up with independent resources and personnel for launching and recovering flights.