Robert J. Parks Collection, 1983-1987

Parks, Robert J.,. 1922-


1.5. cubic ft (59 folders).
Organized chronologically in two series.
The collection is a chronological file for 1983-1987 of correspondence sent to and from Robert J. Parks in his duties as JPL Deputy Director. The files include letters, interoffice memoranda, proposals, role statements, and signature sheets to proposals and contracts. Very often only a cover sheet of a proposal, with Parks' signature, will be found in the files. Each month includes an index at the beginning of the month.
A separate series of correspondence to and from Parks is also included. This correspondence was not filed and indexed with the other correspondence, and begins in August 1983, five months before Parks became Deputy Director. It continues to 1987.
On a regular basis Parks as Deputy Director sent memoranda to a several people at NASA Headquarters. These people included: James M. Beggs, the NASA Administrator; Bert I. Edelson, NASA Associate Administrator for Space Sciences and Applications; Geoffrey A. Briggs, Director of the Solar System Exploration Division of the NASA Office of Space Sciences and Applications; Robert O. Aller, NASA Associate Administrator for Space Tracking and Data Systems; and Elma D. Green, Personnel Exchanges Officer, NASA International Affairs Office. Parks wrote to Green regarding requests to hire foreign nationals at JPL.
There is evidence in the collection of JPL's increased involvement during this time period in military projects, such as All Source Analysis System/Enemy Situation Correlation Element (ASAS/ENSCE) and the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI). There are also signature sheets of Task Plans and correspondence with various military personnel.
One common form of correspondence is a congratulatory letter written from Parks to JPL personnel who had patented a device. A form letter was signed by Parks congratulating the Patentee on the work. Numerous examples of this can be found throughout the collection.
There are also numerous examples of correspondence regarding Source Evaluation Boards of various projects that required Parks' approval. All of these documents were marked "JPL Discreet" or "SEB Discreet" and have been relocated within the collection.
The Galileo spacecraft figures into much of the correspondence. A September 20, 1984 letter from Parks to Geoffrey A. Briggs discussed the option to have Galileo fly by the asteroid Amphitrite en route to Jupiter. Parks reported that Galileo Project personnel had developed a plan for maintaining an option to fly by the asteroid that would pose no measurable technical or management risk to the mission. This flyby never happened, as Galileo was postponed due to the Challenger explosion in January 1986. An interoffice memorandum dated December 18, 1985, gave authorization to ship the Galileo Spacecraft from JPL to Kennedy Space Center. On December 23, 1985, Parks wrote to NASA Associate Administrator for Space Science and Applications Burt I. Edelson, asking for an additional $15.7 million in order to complete the development phase of Galileo. The additional funding is explained in greater detail in a July 15, 1985 letter from Parks to Samuel W. Keller, NASA Deputy Associate Administrator for Space Science and Applications.
The delay caused by the Challenger explosion of 1986 forced JPL and NASA to use a different trajectory to Jupiter for Galileo than originally planned. A letter, dated March 26, 1987, also from Parks to Briggs, was regarding a proposed VEEGA (Venus-Earth-Earth Gravity Assist) trajectory for Galileo. Due to the multiple postponements, it was no longer feasible for either a direct flight to Jupiter, or a Mars gravity assist, as had been planned originally. Parks assured Briggs that the new mission would be accommodated without degrading the flight worthiness of the spacecraft.
Included is correspondence that Parks signed for Lew Allen, JPL Director, while Allen was not in his office. One noteworthy example is a June 27, 1985 letter to NASA Administrator James M. Beggs updating him on Vega, a Soviet spacecraft that sent a lander and balloon into the atmosphere of Venus en route to Halley's Comet. The Venus Balloon Project was an early NASA concept implemented by the French on the Soviet mission. JPL was also responsible for the tracking and data acquisition on this mission using the Deep Space Network. Another example is a July 11, 1985 letter, also to James Beggs, inviting him to Pasadena for the January 24, 1986 Voyager 2 encounter at Uranus. Both these letters were signed for Lew Allen by Parks.
A June 5, 1986 letter to Edelson and Robert Aller, NASA Associate Administrator for Space Tracking and Data Systems is in regards to planning for the Voyager Neptune encounter in 1989. Parks recommended an upgrading of various installations in the Deep Space Network, including completing a 64-to-70 meter conversion of the large antennas, and the construction of DSS 65 at Madrid.
March 13, 1987 letter to NASA Administrator James C. Fletcher via Bert Edelson was in regards to concerns about the schedule outlook for Magellan. Parks reassured Fletcher that there was no jeopardy of not strictly meeting its launch schedule.
An AIAA Conference on Solar System Exploration was held in Pasadena in May 1987. Parks wrote several of the participants and invited them to a reception and dinner in the Athenaeum at Caltech on May 19, 1987, as well as a tour of the Lab on May 22, 1987.
Included in the miscellaneous unindexed correspondence is a June 14, 1984 memorandum from Ken Atkins to Distribution about a discussion between eight section managers from Division 30 and Lew Allen and Bob Parks regarding the proposed Mariner Mark II project. The group of section managers, representing the eight sections that executed the development, construction and integration of flight spacecraft through system and subsystem engineering, called themselves the "A" Team, and urged that the Mariner Mark II program be done "in house" rather than contracting it out.
An unsolicited October 2, 1984 letter, from JPL'er Richard Caputo to A.P. Aleksandrov of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR is included. Caputo wote to Aleksandrov asking him to intercede in the persecution of Andrei Sakharov. Copies of the letter went to Parks, Lew Allen, Clarence R. Gates, Vicki Melikan, and Frank Press, President of the National Academy of Sciences.
Also noteworthy is an April 1, 1985 memorandum from Parks to T.A. Barber, Clarence R. Gates, Gene Giberson and Don Rea. The memorandum has attached some material from Geoffrey A. Briggs regarding the Mariner Mark II program in general and the Comet Rendezvous Asteroid Flyby (CRAF) spacecraft in particular.
JPL Discreet materials (Box 5). Of the above materials, 23 folders have documents stamped or marked "JPL Discreet" or "SEB Discreet." These have been moved to a box at the end of the collection. Their original positions have been marked with separation sheets.
A large number of material stamped "JPL Discreet" pertained to the Source Evaluation Boards of various projects. This accounts for about 80 per-cent of the Discreet materials.
Robert J. Parks was born April 1, 1922, in Los Angeles, CA. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in 1944. Parks then served two and a half years in the Army, and six months at Hughes Aircraft before joining the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in April 1947. Parks retired from JPL in June 1987.
Parks served as an Engineer in the Guidance and Control Section for three years before serving as Section Chief of the Guidance and Control Section, re-named the Guidance Analysis Section, from 1950-56. From 1956-57, he was Division Chief of the Research and Development Division. In 1957, he became Project Director of the Sergeant, serving until the program was phased out by JPL in June 1960. From 1959-60, Parks also served as Chief of Department III, Guidance and Electronics.
In May 1960, Parks became Director of the Planetary Program, and served as Manager of the early Mariner spacecraft. In December 1962, the Lunar Program Division and the Planetary Program Division merged, and Parks was named Assistant Laboratory Director (ALD) for Lunar and Planetary Projects. The Office of Lunar and Planetary Projects changed its name in 1968 to the Office of Flight Projects, with Parks continuing as ALD.
In March 1978, Parks was asked by Laboratory Director Bruce Murray to personally take charge of the Voyager Project, which had had some problems since the launch of the two spacecraft in August and September 1977. Parks served as Project Manager of Voyager from March 1978 to March 1979.
In September 1981, Parks left the Office of Space Flight to become Associate Director for Space Science and Exploration. He served in this capacity until the retirement of Deputy Director Charles H. Terhune, Jr. at the end of December 1983. Parks was named to succeed Terhune as JPL Deputy Director at the beginning of January 1984. Parks served as Deputy Director until his retirement at the end of June 1987.
Parks was awarded with the NASA Public Service Award in 1963 and the NASA Exceptional Service Medal in 1967. Amongst his honors, Parks was awarded the Louis W. Hill Award in 1963, and the Goddard Astronautics Award in 1980, both from the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), and the Stuart Ballantine Medal from the Franklin Institute in 1967. In 1973, Parks was elected to the National Academy of Engineers.
Records must be reviewed and cleared before foreign release. Box 5 contains "JPL Discreet" records. Discreet records are not available to the public. JPL Employees and Contractors should see the Discreet Information Policy in the DMIE database.
Finding aid available in the Archives; folder level control.

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