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Max Hunter Joins the National Aeronautics and Space Council

"Max hoped to get Washington into high gear."
...
observed Wernher von Braun on why Hunter left Douglas to become a member of the professional staff of the National Space Council.

JFK at Rice University

President John F. Kennedy delivers his famous 1962 address at Rice University.  Max Hunter suggested the new term "spacefaring nation" to describe America's emerging role in space.  The President liked it and incorporated it into his speech.1

National Aeronautic and Space Council, Washington D.C. 1962 National Aeronautics and Space Council in Washington, D.C. advisory group to the President of the United States.  Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson (center) presides over a meeting of the National Aeronautics and Space Council (Maxwell W. Hunter, seated lower left).

In 1962, Max joined the professional staff of the National Aeronautics and Space Council in Washington, D.C.  As part of this advisory group to the President of the United States, he provided insight into future space programs and the creation of National Space Policy.

There, he helped guide national decision makers through the heady Apollo years.  While on the Council, he redefined the deep-space exploration program through an understanding of planetary flight mechanics, especially in recognition of the role of planetary gravity fields in reducing the rocket impulse required.  He was the first to recognize the tremendous impact of gravity boost given by the giant planets, especially Jupiter, to spacecraft following escape trajectories out of the solar system, on out of the ecliptic missions, and approaching closely to the sun.

President Kennedy asked the Council to make suggestions for a speech he was going to give at Rice University in Houston in September, 1962.  It was Max who proposed the term "spacefaring nation."  The proposal filtered its way up to the President, who liked it, and inserted into the ringing speech "We choose to go the Moon in this decade..."1

National Aeronautics and Space Council and Lyndon Johnson

Established by the National Aeronautics and Space Act of 19582, the NASC was chaired by the President of the United States (then Dwight Eisenhower). Other members included the Secretaries of State and Defense, the NASA Administrator, the Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, plus up to four additional members (one from the federal government and up to three from private industry) chosen at the President's discretion.

In the late 1950's, then-senator Lyndon Johnson was a strong  supporter the space program, telling a Democratic Caucus session as early as 1958, "Control of space is control of the world."

He was instrumental in revising and passing the legislation that created NASA and in supporting the U.S. space program as chairman of the Committee on Aeronautical and Space Sciences and of the preparedness subcommittee of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

After he was elected, President Kennedy had suggested dissolving the National Aeronautics Space Council, which was the liaison between NASA and the White House. Eisenhower had sat as its chairman; Kennedy wasn’t interested. Only at the insistence of Vice President Elect Lyndon Johnson was the council saved and Johnson agreed to be the chair.3

REFERENCES
1. National Space Society Press Release "MAX HUNTER RECEIVES NATIONAL SPACE SOCIETY'S VON BRAUN AWARD"
2. http://history.nasa.gov/spaceact.html  National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1988
3. The White House Historical Association  John F. Kennedy and the Space Race

Related Publications:
Max expanded on his ideas during the Space Council era with these publications; (Contact us to purchase any of these in PDF or printed formats.)

“The Potential for Nuclear Propulsion for Manned Space Flight”
National Meeting on Manned Space Flight, Institute of the Aerospace Sciences, May 1962
National Aeronautics and Space Council
MHF.PS01

“Recoverable Space Launching Nuclear Systems”
Seventh Symposium on Ballistic Missiles and Space Technology, U.S.Air Force Academy, August 1962
National Aeronautics and Space Council
MHF.PS02

“Single-Stage Spaceships Should be our Goal”
Appeared in Nucleonics, February 1963
National Aeronautics and Space Council
MHF.PS03

“Possible Nuclear Space Vehicles During this Century”
National Topic Meeting on Nuclear Materials for Space Applications, American Nuclear Society, Cincinnati, April 1963
National Aeronautics and Space Council
MHF.PS04

“Barriermanship” or “How to Walk a Development Program”
Washington D.C., 1963
National Aeronautics and Space Council
MHF.PS05

“A 1963 Space Perspective”
Presentation to the Executive Secretary, National Aeronautics and Space Council September 1963
National Aeronautics and Space Council
MHF.PS06

“The Future of Nuclear Energy in Space”
A Panel Discussion, American Nuclear Society Report ANS-AERO-1, November 1963
National Aeronautics and Space Council
MHF.PS07

“Zeni”
Presentation to the Executive Secretary, National Aeronautics and Space Council, March 1964
National Aeronautics and Space Council
MHF.PS08

“Future Unmanned Exploration of the Solar System”
Astronautics and Aerospace Engineering, May 1964
National Aeronautics and Space Council
MHF.PS09

“Space Nuclear Propulsion”
Space Exploration, University of California Engineering and Sciences Extension Series, McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1964
National Aeronautics and Space Council
MHF.PS10

“Objective of Unmanned Exploration of the Solar System”
Unmanned Exploration of the Solar System, Vol. 19, American Astronautical Society, February 1965
National Aeronautics and Space Council
MHF.PS11

“Propulsion for Unmanned Exploration of the Solar System”
(with H.S. London)
Unmanned Spacecraft Meeting, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Los Angeles, July 1965
National Aeronautics and Space Council
MHF.PS12

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summary
Maxwell W. Hunter advised two presidents and influenced national space policy during the Apollo years as a member of the National Space Council.

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The mission of the Maxwell W. Hunter Foundation is to support secondary-level aeronautical engineering curriculum in the United States while inspiring America's youth to consider careers in aeronautical engineering.

The Foundation also provides insight into America's golden age of space exploration by following the five-decade journey of legendary aerodynamicist and space visionary Max Hunter.

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