b'P ROVING THE P RINCIPLEAllan Johnson had been an NRTS pio- To help settle the matter, a group ofneer, in charge of construction since experts convened at MIT in 1948 toJuly 1949. An architect by training, he evaluate the feasibility of the airplanehad earned a year of post-graduate project. Known as the Lexingtonwork at Princeton University by win- Project, the group predicted that thening a national design competition in project would consume at least a bil-1937. With the Corps of Engineers dur- lion dollars and fifteen years before alling the war, he had run the Washington of the theoretical problems were solvedoffice of the Manhattan District. After and an airplane flew. It also noted thatthat he joined a New York company in fifteen years guided missiles mightprimarily concerned with the design of make an atom-powered bomber hospitals. 3 obsolete.Johnson had been recruited to Idaho, Instead of drawing together, the antago-done well, and now it was his turn to nists each emphasized different parts ofcope with a see-saw situation in the Lexington Report. The Air ForceINEEL 57-4927 Washington. Fortunately, he could be liked the sentence saying there was aAllan C. Johnson just as smooth with Congressional rep- strong probability that some version ofresentatives as was his predecessor Bill nuclear-powered flight can besoutheast Idaho in July 1952 that a Johnston. This time, the waffling about achieved. The scientists and budgetnuclear airplane station was coming. policy wasnt confined within the AEC managers pointed out the reports warn-Soon he and his staff, particularly Allan family but involved a huge array of ing: It is to be expected that crashesC. Johnson, his director of Engineering conflicting interests at the center of may occur, and the site of a crash willand Construction, were calling for bids national power. 4 be uninhabitable. 6on new roads, wells, power lines, a sub-station, and finally for construction of a The main issue was the timing and The Air Force forged the politicalhuge assembly complex and a test pad. structure of the project. The Air Force alliances needed to overrule the scien-The project was called the Aircraft even in 1947 insisted that it would take tists. It was a poor start for a complicat-Nuclear Propulsion (ANP) Program. 2 only five years to transform paper plans ed project, because the scientists alsointo an actual demonstration of nuclear had their allies, and the two sidesThe program brought a substantial burst flight. Fly early! was its theme. The remained in a state of tension through-of growth to the NRTS, occurring just physicists who knew what there was to out the 1950s. The Air Force teamas construction payrolls for the first know about reactor development at the included the airplane manufacturers andthree reactors and the CPP had dimin- time, including J. Robert Oppenheimer, the members of the JCAE. The scien-ished. The airplane station would felt that such a scheduleand perhaps tistsallies were the Bureau of theemploy a thousand laborers. When Bill the idea of nuclear flight itselfbor- Budget and Eisenhowers Secretary ofJohnston left the NRTS in the spring of dered on lunacy. They proposed that an Defense, each of which, for its own1954, the AEC appointed Allan orderly technical program be integrated reasons, tried to keep military budgetsJohnson, who was well into the swing into the rest of the AECs reactor under control.of things, as the new manager. research, where high-temperature mate-rials would evolve in due course. The Throughout the 1950s, one or the otherstate of reactor physics and materials side in this conflict was ascendant inscience was then far too primitive. Washington, and neither side remainedApplied research should come before in the saddle for long. Therefore, theany flight plans. 5 specific objectives of the ANP mission1 1 8'