This report was written to try to record the history of the Santa Barbara Research Center while some of the principals still remembered the events. Admittedly, my personal memory was heavily used so there are gaps in the story. I selected the time period to coincide with the management change in 1959 and ending with my retirement in 1989. Time was divided into five-tear periods, which also seemed to have common themes. Each period can be read somewhat on its own so there is some duplication between periods. In keeping with the common practice of having an executive summary, a brief history is provided for busy people. An apology is offered to the many important persons not mentioned in this work, but memory and time were sometimes ran out. I wish to thank the many people who contributed, in particular Ralph Wurtz for pulling interviews with Lloyd Scott, Al Paul, Gene Peterson, and jack Lansing. Frank Malinowski, Dick Brody, and the late Don Bode and many others contributed by providing many useful additions. Nancy Tessmer and Tom Ball gave me a great deal of assistance in collecting the background information.
Robert Talley July 3, 1995
- 1959-1964 – The Organizational years
- BUSINESS PICTURE
- Personnel and Facilities
- New programs
Modern SBRC dates from the change in management that occurred in 1959 when Dave Evans, the founder and President of SBRC was fired by Pat Hyland, the General Manager of Hughes Aircraft Company. This probably happened because of Evans’ lack of interest in Hughes affairs and the friction that had developed between certain SBRC engineers and their colleagues at Hughes. The SBRC Vice President, Dr. Custer Baum, and about six other engineers also left to go with Evans and form a company called Te, which means all-seeing, in Santa Barbara to do optical engineering work. It was financially supported by Swedlow Plastics and was later owned by Argus. It finally disappeared in the late sixties.
Since this management change was sudden, Mr. Hyland had to find a manager in a hurry and sent Dave Hill, who was the Senior Hughes Corporate Quality Control official, to Santa Barbara the same day. Hill had some difficulty determining the structure at SBRC because there was no organization chart. He decided to make Dr. Robert Talley Manager of the laboratory and Al Paul manager of Operations. A Policy Board consisting of Hill, Talley, Paul, Dr. Don Bode, Tom Johnson, Dr. Henry Swift, and Phil Cruse was formed. Not too much organization was accomplished before Hill was drafted by Hyland at the end of 1959 to move to the Newport Beach Semiconductor Division to put out an even larger fire. Marve Mathias continued as the controller and he remained the chief financial officer until the late eighties, when he retired.
Lloyd Scott, the Corporate Director of Engineering Change Management, was given a few hours to volunteer to go to SBRC and close it down or make something of it. He liked SBRC and Santa Barbara so he decided to develop it into a permanent part of Hughes. As events demonstrated, he was eminently successful. An Account for Independent Research and Development (IRD) was established and even larger IRD funds were obtained from Hughes Corporate. Mr. Scott, with his close connections with the corporate officials, was able to develop the necessary business arrangements for SBRC to function as a subsidiary of Hughes Aircraft at a time when there were no other comparable organizations.
A board of directors consisting of Hughes Corporation Executives was appointed with Scott reporting to the Hughes Executive Vice President, Pat Hyland. SBRC retained the responsibility of operating financially as if it were an independent company. Cash was passed between the corporations with no interest on the balance until the eighties in the advance account, which reflected the net cash position. This account was negative for the first six years and then became positive in Hughes’ favor for the next several years. SBRC had to buy all of its capital equipment and real property out of earnings. Hughes guaranteed all SBRC debts and performance. With the relative autonomy and clear responsibility afforded by this business arrangement SBRC prospered and Hughes obtained the many benefits of a high technology organization at little or no cost. Coordinators were appointed to tie SBRC more closely to Hughes. The most effective coordinator was Dr. Warren Mathews, who was especially good at organization. At that time he was the manager of Infrared Laboratories in the Engineering Division of Hughes. He concocted an organization where the Santa Barbara Laboratory, headed by Talley, and the Infrared Laboratory, headed by Bill Craven, reported to him although Talley administratively reported to Scott. By mutual consent the charter of the two organizations was divided so that SBRC received the prime responsibility for infrared (IR) components and Hughes Culver City IR military systems responsibility. Civilian systems, which were mostly NASA contracts, were given to SBRC because they were generally high technology, small, and had no large production potential. SBRC could also bid on military contracts, particularly small and specialized sensors, by mutual agreement. This arrangement was so well thought out that it remained an effective split for over twenty years and still is the general basis for division of responsibility.
In 1959 SBRC sales were 1.8M with a net profit of $65,000 yielding a profit-to-sales ratio of 3.56%. This positive picture was in spite of the cancellation of SBRC’s first electronic assembly production and the resulting layoff of 70 persons. There were 7 leased airport buildings with one “cleanroom”, which as a Navy supplied structure, affectionately called the ‘tin’ building, installed in one of the ex-Marine barracks.
In 1960 the project manager concept was embraced for all projects. The personnel count went from 180 at the beginning of the year down to 135 then up to 143 with active hiring at year-end. Sales were 1.8M but earnings showed a loss of $31,000, which was about the net worth of SBRC at that time. The Sidewinder detector program had a loss of $111,000 so that the other programs were not so bad. In addition, this was the first year that SBRC had to contribute to the Corporate General and Accounting (G&A) pool. A key win was the NASA Five Channel Radiometer for NASA, which was the beginning of a meteorological sensor product line that is still healthy.
The growth associated with new projects caused an expansion to Building 120 at the airport which allowed the consolidation of the Systems Group. 1961 also saw the initiation of plans for a permanent building to be located on 10 acres at the Santa Barbara Research Park. The financial procedures for interactions between Hughes and SBRC were agreed to this year. These arrangements set up SBRC as a separate financial center with responsibility for profit and loss. Dr. Henry Swift, who was the senior systems manager, left and was replaced by Bob Hummer, who became the architect of the modern SBRC space sensor business.
Overhead pools for Laboratory, Operations, and Manufacturing were established to recognize the different business activities. 1962 started with 206 personnel and grew to 222 at year-end. Ground was broken for the new facility in October. Sales were up to $3M with net profit of only 1% of sales. An experienced Quality Assurance Manager, Keith Pilger, was transferred from Hughes Tucson. SBRC’s first personnel manager who was trained in this field, Ed Ward, was hired to replace Ed Minium, who left to form a company.
1964 started with considerable frustration because of program slippage. Fortunately, SBRC had developed a good reputation in space sensors but new programs were scarce. The beginning manpower was 204 with the year ending at 224. Sales of $3.7M were a little lower than 1963 and the profit was $85,000.
Very early in the history of SBRC employee morale received considerable management attention. The personnel manager was tasked to be the ombudsman for the employees. He could be given information in confidence by an employee and then he took the proper steps to authenticate the story and correct the action, even if it required reporting the problem to the president. The employee who registered the complaint received no unfavorable consequences from this procedure and management could stop unfavorable actions before they became serious. This and other personnel policies worked so well that SBRC remained the only non-union shop in Hughes in spite of many organizing efforts.
SBRC had always been highly technically oriented and had encouraged participation on technical associations including publications to technical journals. A Published Papers Award was established to recognize and reward this activity. Between 1960 and 1983 awards were given to 562 authors. Many of these papers were published in the Infrared Information Symposium (IRIS) Proceedings, which was a government-industry association formed to facilitate information transfer in infrared classified technology. SBRC was an early participant and became a key player, especially in the Infrared Detector Specialty Group.
The new facility was completed in May 1963 and all of the airport buildings except for Building 315, which contained the cleanroom, were released. Because of the remoteness of Building 315 HgCdTe material, which was inclined to explode, was prepared there. The payroll and labor distribution reports converted to data processing and it was decided to obtain business computing services from GE Tempo. This arrangement for outside computing service continued until the early 80s. Manpower dropped during 1963 to 200 people because production contracts were delayed and certain systems contracts did not materialize.
A major system program, the ASG-18 tracker for the F-108 died early in this period when the Air Force canceled the aircraft. SBRC had developed this unique tracking concept based on an idea of project engineer John Reed, who had radar experience on the SCR584 in World War II. This radar system employed an offset spinning dipole at the focal point of a parabolic dish to achieve tracking error signals. He applied this concept to passive infrared systems to achieve better rejection of spurious targets caused by variations in the infrared background radiation by using a line array of detectors at the focal plane. The conventional system imaged the entire scene on a rotating reticle, which caused signals to be generated from all variations in the infrared scene. In order to generate tracking information he made the detector array in a cross form and nutated the field of view. The servoed gimbals drove the center of the field so that the target was equispaced on the arms of the cross. Searching was accomplished by a raster scan until the target was detected. SBRC developed the tracker, called the ‘beer can tracker’ because of its size, and Hughes Culver City developed the remainder of the system. A PbSe detector array, available only at SBRC, operated at liquid nitrogen temperature, using a liquid nitrogen transfer system. Although the original application was terminated, Hughes continued work using company funds and later received government support and developed search-track sets, called 90-C, 100-C, and S71N, which were used on the F101, F106 and foreign aircraft. SBRC supplied the PbSE and later InSb arrays in glass dewars which were cooled originally by liquid nitrogen transfer and later by Joule-Thomsen cryostats.
SBRC also made a radiometer for infrared measurement and scanning research. This equipment provided the key to solution of the spurious signal problem that the Army had with the tank-to-tank missile system called Sheillagh. Hughes was in the process of proposing an improved system called the Tube-launched Optically-guided Weapon (TOW) and this tracking concept solved a key problem. The tracker was developed from this concept, after a false start, by Culver City and SBRC provided the ambient temperature PbS half-cross detectors. Unfortunately, Hughes lost the production business, but SBRC retained the very profitable Wide-Field Tracker detector business for many years.
The cancellation of the F-108 also caused the demise of SBRC’s first production assembly business. For a few years SBRC had a very successful electronic assembly operation putting electronic parts in clam-shell assemblies for the MA1 systems manufactured by Hughes El Segundo. This business was pure labor using non-union employees and was carefully managed by Lyle Biskner, ably assisted by Ray Calderon. The employment rose to 80 persons at peak but was abruptly terminated when business took a nosedive at Hughes El Segundo.
Another early seeker head for the AF air-to-ground missile, Air-to-Ground Antitank Equipment (AGATE) was developed at SBRC in the early years but did not succeed because of the very difficult target-to-background discrimination problem. Foreign use appeared possible for a few years but did not materialize. Another early sensor, called a Grid Camera, was developed for the Army to aid in tracking missile flights. It consisted of a grid of 50 ambient temperature PbS detectors on which the image of the missile plume fell. It was an infrared version of a TV camera. The camera was successfully tested at White Sands but no additional business developed.
At the beginning of this period SBRC was developing a missile flash warning sensor for bombers under a Wright Air Development Center (WADC) contract, called AN/AAR-16, which SBRC had won in a competition with Aerojet. It was a reticle system with a 40, and later 60, degree field of view using a large PbSe detector coded by a Joule-Thomsen cryostat. The earlier systems beat out competing systems from Aerojet General (AJ), Texas Instruments (TI), and Ramo-Woolridge (RW) in flight tests. A six head system was built and tested in a B-52H.
A later contract, Quick Reaction Contract (QRC)-126 M60, was one of the first examples of two-color sensors in the infrared to detect CO2 missile plume emission with good rejection of sun glints and other false targets. The concept was advanced by Phil Cruse after he noted the motor plume emission characteristics of air-to-air missiles being used by the Air Force during early competition of the AN/AAR-16. The QRC-126 proved to have excellent missile detection and false alarm discrimination during tests conducted out of Eglin Air Force Base. It appeared to be slated for possible production when a Request For Proposal (RFP) for 1000 units was received from Gentile AFB. However, it was noted that certain air-to-air missile motors (similar to ones that the Russians may have been using) had a blackbody plume signature which would go undetected by the QRC-126 when operating in the two-color mode. This may have been one of the factors that led to the loss of interest in the QRC-126 by the military.
A Navy contract for two more missile detection units was completed and beat out the Westinghouse system in flight test as the AN/AAR-21. Another contract for wing tip mounting, the AAS-17, was supplied and tested in a C-54 and beat out the TI ALR-21. By the end of this period, in spite of the successful competitions, no production contracts were forthcoming so this business was dropped.
The infrared detector business had started in the early fifties because the infrared systems being developed at SBRC needed longer wavelength detectors than were then available. A Paper Clip scientist (military-oriented scientists taken from Germany after World War II), Dr. Edward Kutscher, began work on chemically deposited PbSe, the long wavelength analog of PbS, at Point Magu Naval Base. He and his assistant, Tom Johnson, were hired at SBRC to develop PbSe as a long wavelength, 3 to 5 micron, detector material. After some difficult times on a Navy Research contract, which was cancelled, Kutscher left. Tom Johnson then continued the work on company funds and demonstrated the first militarily useful 3 to 5 micron detector. It was immediately applied by the Naval Ordnance Laboratory (NOL) at White Oak, Maryland, to an infrared proximity fuze for five inch naval guns because it had adequate sensitivity in the 4 micron CO2 emission region of jet aircraft exhaust at room temperature and had a fast response. SBRC developed this detector as a segmented ring cell through several development and preproduction contracts and eventually received a production contract for ring cells mounted on immersion optics in the later part of this period.
When the industry began to try to develop infrared photodetectors with high sensitivity in the wavelength regions longer that the 3 micron region available to PbS it was recognized that refrigeration would be needed to lower the natural thermal noise at the detector. A convenient low temperature was provided by liquid nitrogen at 77 degrees Kelvin. To maintain this cooling required very good thermal insulation around the detector, which practically meant a miniature glass or metal dewar. Cooling was provided in the laboratory by pouring a liquid cryogen in the dewar, but this was impractical for military or space use. The British had shown that a miniature Joule-Thomsen expansion cryostat made with hypodermic needle tubing could be made small enough to fit in a small dewar. The cooling provided by the Joule-Thomsen effect of expanding gases had been used by industry in large-scale production for a long time. SBRC led the US development of this device because of the need for cooling of longer wavelength photodetectors, namely chemically deposited PbSe. SBRC also developed a liquid transfer method consisting of blowing droplets of liquid nitrogen through room temperature plastic tubing into a dewar and this method was used in the 90-C search track sets. One difficulty with the evacuated dewar was the need to bake these dewars at relatively high temperatures in order to degas the dewar walls. At these temperatures the photodetector material surface was likely to change electrical properties unless special surface treatment was applied. This passivation problem plagued every new detector and was particularly bad for PbSe in this period.
At the beginning of this period SBRC had demonstrated some good performance in the 3 to 5 micron region using PbSe detectors. Because of problems which air-to-air missiles encountered with false targets from cloud edges using PbS detectors operating in the 2 micron region there was great interest in moving into the 3 to 5 micron region, particularly at Naval Ordnance Test Satation (NOTS), China Lake. SBRC had detector development studies from the Navy and orders from Philco, who made the Sidewinder missiles. Recognizing the immature state f development of chemically deposited PbSe, the Navy awarded SBRC a Process Variable Study to try to pin down some of the variables in the process. Unfortunately, there were more unknowns than anticipated. In the summer of 1960 with the Navy depending solely on SBRC for the long wavelength detectors, the yield went to ZERO!
There were many theories since this problem had happened before in the summer, however Don Bode guessed that the water from Lake Cachuma was contaminated by the introduction of copper sulfate to kill the algae which grew in the warm summer months. Although ion exchange resins were being used by SBRC to purify the water, it was observed that copper tied to organic compounds was getting through. Coincidentally, the PbSe custom detector line yield was not zero, but was 5%. The operator, John Wilson, felt that the yield was pretty good, much to Mr. Scott’s dismay. John was using the raw tap water without purification. It had been decided by Tom Johnson and his chemists that triply distilled water was essential. When this approach was used, the yield remained zero. In the meantime the loud calls from senior Navy officials to Mr. Hyland grew louder and Mr. Scott’s weekly reports to him were getting more difficult to write. Fortunately, Hyland was sympathetic since he could remember his days at Bendix trying to make batteries. In desperation SBRC equipped a trailer with a chemistry laboratory and sent it to San Marcos Pass to get above the smog level. No success. Then it was sent to NOTS in the desert to get away from the ocean ions. The yield then improved! It happened that Bill Marson, who was operating the lab, got so tired of always using the same formula with zero results that he, contrary to orders, changed the ratio of lead to selenium in the bath by a factor of two. In retrospect, the change to highly purified water had reduced the nucleation centers in the bath so that sharply different chemistry was required to form good films. By that time the Navy had thrown in the towel on PbSe and had decided to fall back to cooled PbS, which did not go as far in the infrared but was an improvement, particularly in sensitivity, over the room temperature PbS.
SBRC continued to supply detector units to the Sidewinder missile program, including some good PbSe units, although most of the PbS detectors were made by the Electronic Corporation of America (ECA). There were many difficult times in developing a satisfactory dewar because the refrigerated unit had to fit through a small diameter hole where the original room temperature detector had been placed. Because the dewar was long and narrow the fundamental frequency of vibration was exactly in the middle of the range of signal frequencies. The problems became so serious that Gene Peterson was appointed Sidewinder Czar of the program. The microphonic problems were solved by glass struts in the middle of the dewar and a metallized shield o the inner wall of the dewar. The problems and solutions occurring on the Sidewinder program were generic to all refrigerated detector designs and proved to be very useful for future programs.
Another interesting event in this program was the use of an immersion lens over the detector to reduce the size of the image and thereby reduce the detector size and noise. Since the lead salts were chemically deposited it was possible to deposit the films directly on the lens of strontium titanate, which was transparent in the 3-5 micron region. This was an unusual material to work and it turned out that the sole supplier of these lenses at that time was a retired Frigidare Chief Engineer in his seventies working in his garage in Montecito. He had gotten into the business because he liked to make semiprecious stones into jewelry! Fortunately, for this very important program other suppliers were eventually developed.
The Navy had another problem in controlling the flow of nitrogen gas to the cryostat in the dewar to assure that there was just enough liquid nitrogen present. Gene Peterson and Mike Nagy developed a throttling cryostat using a miniature bellows (1/8 inch in diameter) filled with 800 psi of argon gas which could be placed in the dewar and connected to a needle valve which closed when adequate liquid nitrogen was present. Later Stan Buller developed a version of this cooler for the Navy Sidewinder program but they did not choose to use it at first. This development proved to be invaluable in the conversion of the Falcon Missile to a tactical missile at a later date.
The final chapter of the Sidewinder story came in 1964 when Raytheon won the missile production contract. Because of all the detector suppliers bid too high a price Raytheon decided to make the detector themselves. Since they had an InSb capability, Raytheon developed an InSb detector unit which was sensitive in the 3 to 5 micron region and made all of these units for several years in production.
It was recognized early in the fifties that there were compound semiconductors, other than the lead salts, which had the potential of becoming good infrared detectors. Following the lead of the semiconductor industry, which was using single crystal Ge as the material for electronic devices, single crystals of InSb were grown and shown to be sensitive out to 6 microns when cooled to liquid nitrogen temperature. Other materials were Ge, out to 1.8 microns, and PbTe, out to 5 microns. Another type of photodetector was the impurity doped semiconductor using Ge, and later Si, as the base material. Ge doped with Au (Ge:Au) was developed for 3 to 5 micron use at liquid nitrogen temperature. A demand for photosensors operating in the 8 to 10 micron region, particularly for infrared imaging of room temperature objects, caused research to be performed elsewhere on an alloy of Ge and Si, doped with Sb and Zn, which would operate at liquid oxygen temperatures. SBRC decided to develop Ge doped with Cu, which required cooling to below 20 degrees K, because of the ease of diffusing Cu into a single crystal of Ge. In fact, one week after starting this work, Walt Konkel came into Bode’s office with a crystal of usable Ge:Cu. Unfortunately, SBRC had no way of attaining temperatures in the 20 deg K range, so Walt just made a Joule-Thompson cryostat to operate with H2, which he precooled by passing it through liquid N2. The Ge:Cu detector was sensitive but not as good as expected, so Walt lowered the H2 vapor pressure with a vacuum pump and consequently its boiling temperature and the detector showed the expected performance. Later, liquid H2 was obtained from Sterns-Rogers in Bakersfield for more convenient use.
With this interest in lower temperature of operation, several companies began to develop heat engines based on the Sterling and other thermodynamic cycles. In 1960 Hughes won a sensor program from the Navy to scan the ocean for surface wakes, which exhibited very small temperature differences from the undisturbed ocean surface. This program required an 8 to 10 micron detector and a cooling mechanism which was compatible with operational aircraft use. The Ge:Cu detector work at SBRC and the closed cycle cooler work at Hughes was a strong factor in this win. SBRC built a radiometer using Ge:Cu detectors cooled with liquid He, which was available by this time, to take ocean data and to evaluate the various scanning mechanisms. Although the sensor was designed and flown it did not prove to find the wakes with the reliability that the Navy was interested in so the program was dropped.
This program was very useful because of the technology it pioneered. The detector and cooler technologies were key to future imaging systems, space measurements in support of ballistic missile defense programs, and, ultimately, space defense equipments. For this program, long wavelength infrared polarizers were developed, Ge:Hg detectors which operated at 35 deg K in the 8 to 10 micron region, as well as optical systems suitable for military use in this region.
A scientific development in the detector field which has had far-reaching implications was the observation that the performance of cooled infrared detectors is radiation limited. This effect occurs when the electrical noise in the detector caused by the random absorption and emission of photons exceeds the shot noise of the bias current, Johnson noise determined by the resistance of the detector, and any other detector noise. When detectors are made good enough to be radiation limited one has reached the ultimate limit of sensitivity. Although this effect was known from detector theory, it was first observed when Tom Johnson made a refrigerated two-color detector by placing a PbS film over a PbSe detector, and, much to his surprise, the signal-to-noise ratio from the PbSe detector increased at the longer wavelengths. The cooled PbS film reduced the shorter wavelength ambient radiation thereby lowering the overall radiation noise in the PbSe detector.
This effect was much more dramatic in the case of Ge:Cu detectors because of the high level of radiation in the 8 to 10 micron region from room temperature objects. When taking some measurements with a Ge:Cu detector in support of a ballistic missile defense study which Hughes had with the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) through Wright-Patterson Air Force Base (WPAFB), Dick Brody noticed that the signal-to-noise ratio increased sharply when he reduced the entrance aperture of the dewar with a cooled stop without attenuating the incoming signal. Recognizing the potential of large increases of sensitivity if the detector were used in space, which has an equivalent temperature of only 3 degrees K, SBRC continued to perform experiments to see how far the noise could be reduced before some other noise became significant. However, the director of the study at ARPA, who did not want laboratory work to be done on his study contract, inveigled Hughes engineers to pressure Talley to request that this work be terminated. Talley had to go to WPAFB, with three Hughes engineers, and to see the project officer, Bill Kennedy. Kennedy knew how important these experiments were and complimented SBRC on the discoveries, but finally had to agree to the termination. Although government funding was not available for some time SBRC was able to operate on Independent Research and Development (IR&D) funds and Bode, et.al., showed that the signal-to-noise could be raised at least a factor of 1000 at the lowest radiation backgrounds!
Early in this period the replacement for the ASG18 Search Track Set was being developed by Hughes with SBRC supplying the lead selenide cross array detector and the liquid N2 transfer cooling system. This detector was installed on a stern which fit in an outer dewar. This arrangement (called a double-barreled dewar) allowed the dewar to be outgassed at high temperature independent of the detector. This program finally led to the 90C, 100C, and the Swedish 71N systems. By 1962 the design was qualified and production started. At first Hughes Tucson had difficulty with these detectors and returned many of them. When we finally got to the bottom of the problem, it was found that the drawings called for a precision honed inner bore. The Tucson inspector was using a solid plug gauge to measure the internal diameter while we had checked it out with a ring gauge, which did not guarantee that the hole was precisely straight. The detectors were returned as being open circuit after the inspector had pushed hard enough on the plug to break the glass in an effort to pass the unit. All this trouble and expense for a hole that only had a hose glued in it! Generally, this detector production went very well and the program had a long life.
Also early in this period the development of high performance PbSe operating at the temperature of dry ice made a long wavelength Redeye missile possible. Early efforts at making a quick cooldown Peltier cooler were unsuccessful. After some experimental PbSe units were delivered the missile changed to PbS cooled with a Joule-Thomsen cryostat to liquid Freon temperature of -100 degrees C. Units were supplied to General Dynamics (GD) Pomona and to Hughes, who had been brought in by the Army to provide some badly needed missile guidance technology and competition for GD. SBRC had Infrared Industries (IRI) as a competitor for the detector but they were performing very poorly. In the missile seeker head winner-take-all bid, SBRC was directed by Hughes Culver City to bid only to Hughes. On the day before the bids were due, Tom Johnson came into Lloyd Scott’s office and told Talley and Scott that there was no future in no-bidding contracts and, anyway, Hughes might lose. Scott called Warren Mathews, who was the boss of the responsible Hughes division, to request a review of the bid decision. Mathews, being very logical, felt that the key issue was whether Hughes was likely to win so he called his top marketing man, Harry Dugan, for an opinion on Hughes’ chances. Dugan said that there was no way that the Army would direct the missile prime, GD, to accept a government furnished seeker head for integration in their missile and, consequently, GD was sure to win. So Mathews said “bid” and we did with a large mark-up. SBRC finally made so much money on this product in production that we eventually had to lower the price voluntarily.
The first significant program using SBRC crystal detectors was for the Hughes Phoenix Search Track system for the Navy F-14. The program started using an 8-element photoconductive InSb array which SBRC and Minneapolis Honeywell had contracts to develop. The early units were delineated by sandblasting and both suppliers had a great deal of difficulty with stability and other problems. The program office signed up with SBRC and satisfactory detectors were finally delivered for prototype use after a change was made to the photovoltaic mode. This program lasted for a long time even though it never involved large numbers.
Very early in the period Hughes and SBRC won an ASW Infrared Search Set using the recently developed copper doped germanium detector operating at liquid helium temperature. The contract also called for the development of a closed cycle cooler suitable for aircraft use. SBRC was to develop the scanner which was 10 inches in diameter and Hughes was to integrate it into the gimbals and the aircraft. There were many technical challenges encountered with this program associated with the new detector operating at the very low temperature. In order to operate at the higher temperature of 35 degrees Kelvin, Hg doped germanium was developed following the lead of Syracuse University where many of the SBRC scientists had been educated under Professor Henry Levinstein. Dr. Peter Bratt and Don Bode were the key figures in this development. The instrument was finally tested but did not achieve the hoped-for results, probably due to natural oceanographic phenomena. Roger Thompson, the project engineer, operated a radiometer for some time from a bridge at Annapolis gathering data on water surfaces.
In 1960 a key win occurred with the award of the Five Channel Radiometer Program by NASA Goddard to SBRC. This was the first NASA hardware program awarded to Hughes and NASA was so new that there was no contract office on the West Coast to handle the contract. One factor in this win was Bob Hummer’s experience with the ex-Army Signal Corps scientists, such as Rudy Hanel, who formed a large part of the Goddard scientific community. SBRC had bid earlier on the High Resolution Infrared Radiometer (HRIR) in response to a NASA Request for Proposal (RFP) when the RFP for the Five Channel Radiometer (MRIR) arrived. Since the HRIR required a PbSe detector, which only SBRC made, we were sure that SBRC would win this one. It was decided to bid a package deal of two instruments at a lower total price in hopes of having a chance to win the MRIR. SBRC was notified of the loss of the HRIR and there were a lot of sad faces. Then it was announced that SBRC had been awarded the MRIR, much to our surprise. On the debriefing with NASA they said that our proposal on the HRIR was so good that they decided we were the one for the much more important MRIR even before seeing our bid.
The Five Channel Radiometer was designed to observe the earth from the low altitude polar orbiting spacecraft, NIMBUS, by scanning with a rotating mirror from horizon to horizon. There were five visible/infrared spectral bands which observed the temperature of the earth and the atmosphere and allowed the measurement of the global heat balance. This instrument was an experimental predecessor of several later operational weather sensors. The detectors were bolometers, usually obtained from Servo Corporation or Barnes Engineering. Because the budget for weight and power was so small, SBRC had some difficulties with the mirror rotating motor made by a small company called Rotors Motors. This motor was specially made to use very little power and had a very closefitting shaft sleeve to prevent loss of the bearing lubrication. This close tolerance was prone to being filled with dust and stopping the motor. Two prototypes and four flight models were finally delivered by 1965.
The Canopus Sensor was started in 1961 with an order for 19 sensors to support the Hughes Surveyor moon lander. This tracker was fixed on the Surveyor with a +/- 5 degree field of view. This scan was achieved by mechanically scanning a mirror inside the Sensor can. The can was sealed to prevent leakage of the oil used to lubricate the mechanical drive. The Surveyor spacecraft rotated until the star Canopus was in the center of the field in order to have the correct attitude for a mid-course correction. The detector was an RCA 1P21 photomultiplier, which was a very familiar tube to physics students. However, it had to be ruggedized for space launch and this caused a lot of trouble. In fact, we finally decided that more was known about PbS detectors than the old standby 1P21!
After two experimental models were tested a problem was found with excess vibration in the electronics section in the base. Rather than redesign the sensor it was decided to hardpot the electronics section. This decision came to haunt SBRC after all of the units were built and delivered. An alert was received from NASA that a tantalytic capacitor used in the electronics was failing in other equipment. The capacitor was hardpotted at the bottom of the electronics near the base of the can. Some brave souls chucked the Sensors in a lathe and cut through the can just above the bottom. A hacksaw completed the job of removing the base of the can. Then a careful picking away of the potting exposed the capacitor for removal and replacement. A new base was glued on and the Sensor was retested successfully.
This sensor was designed to acquire Canopus automatically by measuring the brightness of the star, which was positive identification since Canopus is the brightest star in the sky. Continuous calibration was achieved by measuring the ratio of the signal from the star to an attenuated signal from the sun. Unfortunately, the absolute brightness of stars was not well known so the brightness had to be measured in the same wavelength interval as was used in the sensor. This required a trip to the Southern Hemisphere in order to see Canopus. Fortunately, NASA had a laboratory in Santiago, Chile, which was used by Jack Lansing and Al Sochel to measure the absolute brightness of Canopus.
All of the Canopus Sensors were delivered in this time period. At first, SBRC was accused of holding up the entire program. However, when we delivered, it became very quiet at Hughes. In fact, the Sensors were stored for so long before being used that our team had long since been deployed on other programs by the time they were tested on the spacecraft.
When the units were finally tested in the thermal vacuum chamber on the spacecraft an anomaly was observed. The window on the can developed some fogging at low temperatures, probably because of the condensation of the oil vapors in the can. Since this attenuation of the light would affect the calibration and automatic acquisition of Canopus, it was potentially serious. This effect was observed only two weeks before the first launch. Talley was planning a trip to Patrick AFB so he calibrated his eyeballs with a look through the fogged window at SBRC and went instead to Cape Canaveral. The first Surveyor was in full twenty-four hour test. A typical day started with an eight o’clock meeting to plan the day’s tests. Major problems occurred each day, either in the tests at Cape Canaveral or El Segundo, not to mention the severe thunderstorm in Florida one day which knocked out the power and air conditioning. Changes were so frequent that there was a floor of Hughes draftsmen making changes and a floor of JPL checkers to approve them in real time.
The Canopus Sensor was being tested at El Segundo, but there was no sun in the chamber to check the calibration. The project staff and laboratory equipment was at SBRC but due to the frequent coastal fog, the sun was not generally available. Jack Lansing, the SBRC project engineer, was sent to a mountain near the Hughes plant in Tucson where the sun was nearly always bright. Numerous four-way telephone conferences were held to select the best sized pinhole for the solar attenuator to correct for window fogging. Finally at 11pm the night before the consent-to-launch meeting day, it was decided to change the calibration by 35%. Fortunately, there was a manual mode which could override the fixed calibration mode if the calibration was off. When Talley came to the meeting he was told that there was a later conference which decided to make the change 100%. This large a change was explained to the committee as a prudent move because of the uncertainty in the Chilean measurements! No questions were asked, other than the usual question of why we were not using the JPL star tracker, which was answered by the statement that it did not interface with the electronics. During the flight a week later the Canopus Sensor worked flawlessly – except that it was set 100% too high and had to be operated manually.
Although SVRS supported Hughes on studies of detectors suitable for use in spaceborne ballistic missile defense systems, there was no military sensor program until 1962. SBRC won the Discrimination Scanner for the Nike-Zeus Program from Bell Telephone Laboratories (BTL), even though Hughes had held the RFP for most of the bidding time. This program for an engineering model was won in competition with AeroJet, TI, Barnes and AVCO. This 9-inch aperture scanner was an ambitious measuring device for augmentation of the radar to provide discrimination of the many objects accompanying the warhead in space. It called for a 20 degree field of view constantly scanned at 25 cps with an accuracy of 0.1 milliradian which had to be linear within 1 milliradian. Two arrays of 240 refrigerated PbSe and PbS detectors covered the field of view in one direction. Automatic calibration was required because an accurate measurement of the object’s radiance was key to discrimination. This contract was initially for $980,000 Cost Plus Fixed Fee (CPFF), which was by far the largest contract SBRC had received to date. The technical requirements were so difficult that the field of view had to be reduced to 11 degrees and the 120 PbSe detectors were deleted. The unit was delivered and tested in Kwajalein but did not work very well. SBRC was not allowed to support the tests.
A key RFP from NASA Langley for three flight models of a Dual Radiometer for horizon sensing data in the 14-16 micron wavelength band was received in 1964. This work was badly needed to fill in behind our earlier space contracts, so that Hummer, Bob Talley, and Al Wade all went back to Langley to try to optimize our chance of winning. In the motel the night before the presentation, Al pointed out that the mount of the Dual Radiometer, which Langley was to supply, was designed wrong and would amplify the launch vibrations 100 times. They discussed whether to tell Langley their concerns.
Conventional wisdom was not to offer any more advice to the customer than was requested in the RFP if you wanted to win. However, it was decided that it would be irresponsible if something wasn’t said. The next day before the guys started their pitch, Al Wade told NASA about their design problem. They said that our guys were probably right and that we could also design the mount when we designed the Dual Radiometer! The value of the contract was $580,000 Cost Plus Incentive Fee (CPIF). This sensor was to be mounted on top of a Scout probe and launched from Wallops Island in the Chesapeake Bay. It measured the radiation in two wavelength bands as the probe rotated to identify the contour of the infrared horizon in this important region for horizon sensing. Five element Barnes bolometers were the detectors.
Several smaller contracts were won in this period. Early in this period, SBRC won a contract from the Navy to build a scanning airborne radiometer, AIREW, using a lead selenide detector to measure the radiation from ballistic missiles in flight. This sensor was mounted on a Mark Hurd P38 World War II fighter at the Santa Barbara airport. Since this plane was propeller driven, it could loiter at 40,000 feet for hours waiting for a launch to occur at Vandenberg. Data was obtained in the 3-5 micron region for the first time as far as 1000 kilometers down range. These data were confirmed by measurements taken by Bill Craven during captive carry of a Falcon missile in a different location.
Signal-to-Noise Mixer Test Sets for field calibration of electronic equipment were won from JPL for $180,000 CPIF. Sixteen sets were supplied in five months. An order for Mariner M Spectrometer Exit Optics using a Sidewinder detector and an open cycle Joule Thompson cooler was received from JPL. A breadboard unit was delivered. A follow-on order for the same type of detector for Mariner C was received for three prototypes and six flight units along with cooling and exit optics. A Production Engineering Measure (PEM) contract was received from the Army Signal Corps for development of PbSe detectors for reconnaissance sensors.
An interesting order was received from Lockheed for a 29 element array of room temperature PbS detectors whose element size was only 0.0004 inch (ten microns), i.e. about three wavelengths from edge to edge. This array was a demonstration to show that small PbS detectors would have the same detectivity as more conventional sizes since there was a plan to develop a synchronous orbit surveillance satellite at 22,000 miles altitude to replace the 600 mile satellite and much smaller detectors would be needed. SBRC delivered very good units and thereby played a key role in the feasibility of this very important US asset. Unfortunately, it would be many years before SBRC was able to get into the detector business for this application because of political battles between Hughes and AeroJet, who had the contract for the sensor.
1965-1969 THE GROWTH YEARS
With management stabilized and seed programs established, SBRC sales ballooned from $3.7M to 13.3M in this period. The early success in entering the rapidly growing space sensor market and earning a good reputation led to exciting new programs. The first launches began and the sensors performed flawlessly. Development of new detectors also allowed the introduction of new types of military sensors such as infrared imaging systems and low background space radiometers for the new anti-ballistic missile programs. A new product line in Intrusion Alarms was born and an optical dome casting business was added. Business was reorganized into three areas: Components, Electro-Optical Instruments (EOI) and Special Infrared Sensors (SIRS). In fact, growth at SBRC was so fast that some opportunities had to be foregone. Facilities were added rapidly to accommodate this growth.
1965 started slow because of a low backlog but set records of sales at $4.2M, net profit at $192K and employment at 269. This growth indicated the need for more facility growth soon.
1966 continued as an excellent year with records in sales and profit. This year was also a landmark year with the first of many SBRC sensors being launched into space. Six sensors were successfully launched with no failures. A new business was begun with the invention of new intrusion alarm sensors and the capture of significant contracts associated with the Vietnam war. Employment went from 269 at the beginning of the year to 299 at year end.
1967 was another ‘boom’ year with sales at $8.3M, net profit at $466K and personnel up to 361 plus 31 contract employees at year end. SBRC’s Return on Net Worth (RONA) was 22.3% this year. Because of this growth 7500 sq. ft. of space was leased on Ward Drive in Goleta to handle space needs until a new building could be built. However, by midyear another 2700 sq. ft. was leased on Ward Drive plus the addition of 1000 sq ft of trailers at the SB Research Park. A 36,000 sq. ft. new building was approved as Phase I to be connected to the first building and extended to the north. Since Phase II would fill the original 10 acres, an adjacent 8.6 acres was bought to the west.
1968 was another record-breaking year with sales at $10M, earnings at $466K, and employment at 500. Management was stressed by the rapid growth and diversification of the business. The intrusion alarm business went from development into production this year. Construction began on a new building in August by Del Webb Construction. Because of heavy rains move-in was not until March 1969. The trailer count got up to ten. As an example of the frantic pace, IRD funds were not fully spent even though this year was the first without any Hughes-supported IRD. By the beginning of the year, SBRC had experienced 9 successful launches, but then our luck ran out. A NIMBUS booster failed and dropped a MRIR and a SIRS sensor in the channel. They were later recovered by a Delco submersible vessel but were useful only as museum pieces.
In 1969, SBRC again saw a record year with sales of $13.3M and profits at 15.7% of sales. Return on Net Worth was a very good 35%. A less favorable sign for the future was a backlog of only $5M. Employment at year end was 563 people.
As a result of the growth and success of the Intrusion Alarm business, it was decided to reorganize the product lines of SBRC into Detectors under Don Bode, Systems under Bob Hummer, and Electronics under Phil Cruse. Unfortunately, Phil Cruse suffered an untimely death in 1968 and the Electronics Product Line languished for a period of time until new leadership under Norm Rigby was established in 1969. This product line started with emphasis on intrusion alarms but later was heavily into proximity fuzing. Sales and profit results were reported for each of these product lines.
The most exciting events of this period were the successful space performance of 15 SBRC instruments, ranging from instruments on the weather satellite NIMBUS and suborbital probes for horizon measurement to radiometers for temperature measurement of Mars on Mariner VII. All of these missions were performed very well by SBRC sensors when they were successfully launched.
The Nimbus Five Channel Radiometer (MRIR) was successfully launched on Nimbus II May 15, 1966. In 1963 a Nimbus B booster failed and dumped an MRIR and a SIRS A instrument into the ocean. The next year a successful Nimbus III launch put both of those instruments in orbit.
The flash warning sensor AAS-17 Was tested in a C-45 aircraft for possible use in the B-52 because the ALR-21 made by Texas Instruments failed to perform satisfactorily. A considerable sales effort was started and the unit was flight tested at EGLIN AFB in an F-105. The results were not completely successful, although it was felt that modifications could have improved the performance but interest in the B-52 use waned.
Seven Surveyor launches occurred in 1965 and 1966 with successful performance of the Canopus Sensor on all launches in spite of the failure of Surveyor 2 after midcourse guidance.
After some troublesome delays, primarily due to bolometer design sifficulties at Barnes, the first two Dual Radiometers were successfully launched in 1966. The first flight gave useful but incomplete data and the second flight data was excellent, which precluded the need for a third flight.
The Navy Mark 90 Optics Assembly got into high gear at the beginning of this period under an Eastman Kodak contract. A large production order was received and the production rate eventually rose to 6,000 units per month. This program was the first one to use automated detector test equipment, which handled the detector elements mechanically rather than manually. In the later part of the period, IRI was able to win some of the orders due to lower prices. The lens material was changed to Si from arsenic trisulfide and an attempt was made by the Navy to go to a hermetically sealed design. Both suppliers failed to qualify the design. The application of this fuze was expanded to the Mark 91 and 92 models.
The Hughes Phoenix detector program struggled in the first part of this period with technical difficulties and funding problems. Prototype deliveries did support the system development but there was some customer irritation. In 1967 the detectors were changed to the photovoltaic mode. Because the drawings were now subject to tight change control, this change had to be sold as a “minor process change”. After lengthy start-up problems prototype deliveries of excellent detectors were made at the end of the period. No production developed from these efforts but the knowledge gained was beneficial for future InSb programs.
At the beginning of the period the development program for the PbS Redeye missile detector was largely over. By going to additional layers of PbS the long wavelength response was enhanced. Considerable difficulty was encountered with changes in the impedance of films over time. This effect was finally traced to water vapor and, to a lesser extent, the presence of oxygen in the environments of the film. When first produced the films are very dry due to the high temperature sensitization process. If placed in a vacuum or very dry gas environment, they retained their original high impedance. However, if stored in laboratory ambient conditions the impedance would drop slowly to match the new environment. When later packaged in a vacuum or very dry gas they would slowly increase in impedance to the original level. Apparently our competitor, IRI, never realized this effect and had Sidewinder detector failures in the field years later. In fact, SBRC received orders from Germany in the 1980s to replace IRI units, which had changed in a very predictable manner.
Another technical problem occurred when General Dynamics-Pomona decided to redesign the Joule-Thompson cryostat and mounting hardware to save cost. They qualified the design, including temperature cycling the unit. SBRC agreed that the design was less expensive, but took the production order only on the provision that the new design would past first article tests, which were similar to design qualification tests. The samples failed the hermetic seal test on the fourteenth and final temperature cycle. When confronted with this information, the GD engineers admitted that they had curtailed the test to thirteen cycles due to lack of money and time. A redesign at GD’s expense was done and production commenced. SBRC produced thousands of these units with great customer satisfaction and excellent profits.
Small TOW tracker preproduction orders were filled in the earlier part of the period with SBRC becoming the preferred supplier. This position was largely due to improvements pioneered by Don Smith in the PbS short wavelength response needed for the missile flash tube source. When the Army competed the first production buy SBRC had to bid to Hughes and Emerson because we were the only source. However, Lloyd Scott marked up the outside price 40% to help Hughes since no disclosure was required in this competitive buy. The Hughes bid was based on an inhouse make decision. Emerson won the tracker contract anyway and Hughes won the missile contract. Emerson exercised several options for detectors at the original price, so this business turned out to be very profitable for many years.
A new program for a very long range passive fuze to be used on a missile with a nuclear warhead was received from Kirtland AFB early in this period. Eastman Kodak had performed the early development on this Non-Active Infrared Fuze (NAIF) and SBRC thought that a very good proposal would be needed to displace them. It turned out, however, that Eastman Kodak was not interested in further work on this project and was happy that a competent company had won the contract. The fuze used a two-color PbSe design with multiple beams and a range reduction feature to prevent interference from the ground sources. Technically, the program was successful. All system requirements were met and the flight test program results were excellent, particularly the false alarm discrimination against the sun (multiple beams) and ground sources at low altitude (automatic gain control for range reduction). The engineering model was completed but the missile requirement was cancelled so no further action occurred.
An exciting opportunity occurred in 1965 when Professor Vern E. Soumi of the University of Wisconsin pressured Hughes and NASA into putting an imaging camera on the Applications Technology Satellite (ATS), which Hughes was developing. This satellite was a spinner and was primarily designed to test communications equipment. Since Hughes engineers did not want a stringent specification on the wobble of the satellite, they had told NASA that they would not guarantee better than one degree stability. Soumi argued that this spinning ‘top’ would not wobble at all and finally some Hughes engineers agreed. By now there was little time to develop the camera and Hughes, as the spacecraft developer, was contractually constrained from supplying instruments to the program. Since NASA and everyone involved wanted this instrument flown, it was decided that SBRC as a subsidiary was not covered by the contract restriction and could design and build the camera.
SSBRC got started on company money and built a ‘brassboard’ (working but not flyable) model. Since this concept appeared o have commercial potential a patent was applied for. NASA contested the patent on the grounds that the idea was not reduced to practice because it called for a space instrument which had not been flown. When it was flown, NASA supplied the booster and claimed rights to he invention. After a long dispute, NASA prevailed.
Another problem occurred because there was no time to get a contract from NASA, so SBRC took its first fixed price space sensor contract from the University of Wisconsin. This subcontract was University of Wisconsin Contract #1 and was signed by the Governor of the state. The Spin-Scan Cloud Camera was then designed and built in six months from receipt of contract under the able direction of Roger Thomsen. The contract had a one page specification, quality provisions calling for space qualified parts, if available, and other equally vague requirements. This camera used a telescope with a photomultiplier tube detector which was moved in a north-south direction one line at each spin of the satellite to give 2,000 lines across the earth. Since the orbit was synchronous the same portion of the earth disk was viewed every twenty minutes and cloud movements could be traced.
The first unit was delivered in early 1966, but would fit only into the spacecraft upside down! Due to a misunderstanding of the drawings the camera would have scanned from south-to-north. Roger quickly recovered and reversed the polarity of the electrical connections to the scanner, which ran the scan backwards and restored the proper direction of scan from north-to-south. Launch took place in December 1966 and everything worked perfectly.
In late 1966 SBRC received University of Wisconsin Contract #2 for a three color Spin-Scan Cloud Camera for ATS 3. Delivery occurred in early 1967 and launch was successful in November 1967. Although all colors operated for several weeks, one of the colors began to operate sporadically. The camera provided useful pictures for nine years until the ATS 3 satellite was retired after the successful deployment of SMS-1, which carried a later version called VISSR.
Pictures from the Spin-Scan Cloud Camera excited the meteorological world as well as the public since they were the first views of the whole earth disk from this high altitude. Hughes received the American Meteorological Society Award of the year in San Francisco. In Dr. Allen Puckett’s hotel room after the award dinner a group of engineers including Dr. Albert “Bud” Wheelon, Dr. Harold Rosen, Warren Matthews, Bob Hummer, Lloyd Scott, Roger Thompson, and Bob Talley invented the next generation weather satellite, which used an infrared cloud scanner and a leftover ATS satellite. Fortunately, NASA did not bite on this proposal since it was priced too optimistically, but they did proceed to have the idea developed in an orderly fashion. It was not until late 1969 that SBRC received a NASA contract for the Visible-Infrared Spin Scan Radiometer (VISSR), after a lengthy proposal effort.
Development of this concept was commenced on IRD. This infrared version allowed the earth to be observed for 24 hours a day and eliminated variations in the visible scene during the day due to changes in sun angle. This instrument required development of a low temperature radiation cooler. Stan Buller and Wally Kunimoto invented and patented a two stage radiation cooler which achieved temperatures of 75 degrees Kelvin when used in spinning synchronous orbit satellites. This low temperature allowed a stable detector operating temperature of 90 degrees Kelvin to be maintained through servo control of a heater. The development of a suitable HgCdTe detector sensitive to 10 microns at this temperature took a longer time.
These innovations made possible the VISSR Radiometer. This synchronous satellite radiometer had visible coverage using photomultiplier detectors connected to the focal plane with fiber optics and infrared coverage in the 10 to 12 micron region using HgCdTe
detectors. These infrared detectors were originally obtained from Mullard in England but later models used SBRC detectors. Since the picture was repeated every thirty minutes with excellent spatial accuracy, wind velocity could be inferred by observing the motion of clouds from frame to frame. The altitude of the clouds could be determined by the temperature of the cloud tops as measured in the thermal infrared region.
In another development in the later part of this period SBRC came up with an idea of eliminating the mechanical chopper used in the early scanning radiometers and instead proposed incorporating an electronic de-restore concept. This feature provided a method of achieving equivalent accuracy of cloud top temperatures by using less sensitive uncooled bolometer detectors operating in the 10 to 12 micron region instead of the cooled 3 to 5 micron quantum detectors. This concept enabled the use of smaller, lighter, and less expensive installations, which excited NASA and resulted in the award of a contract in July 1966 for a Two Channel Radiometer. This instrument used a ten micron infrared channel for high resolution day-night mapping of the clouds. The second channel was finally decided to be a visible channel using a Si photodiode, which provided an image comparable to television pictures. After successful completion of the breadboard another event overtook this program.
RCA was getting the instruments together for the TIROS Operational Satellite (TOS) when they ran into an impasse in negotiating a TOS-M Radiometer with a division of ITT, who had been selected by NASA to provide the radiometer. RCA insisted on a fixed price contract while ITT, who had previously experienced financial problems with RCA, would take only a cost type contract. When the time for negotiations ran out RCA was directed by NASA to go to SBRC and use the Two Channel Radiometer. It was only in the early breadboard stage of development and was not suitable for a fixed-price program. During all of the negotiations SBRC started with “If you don’t like the price (or terms, etc) let’s just go CPFF and argue about it later”. After RCA refused to budge from their fixed price demand time ran out and SBRC got it’s way on everything else. The largest systems contract yet awarded to SBRC came in June 1967 and it was fixed price.
This TOS-M Radiometer contract was difficult to get started due to a shortage of personnel and also had a tight delivery schedule. The engineering model of the Two-Channel Radiometer had to be used for spacecraft integration, but the prototype model was delivered in August and the first two flight models came in October 1968 only two weeks late. An excellent profit was also recorded on this contract. Two TOS-M instruments, which were later called High-Resolution Scanning Radiometers (HSHR), were flown on the ITOS satellite in January 1970 and worked as planned. SBRC later received contracts for follow-on flights and finally built 27 HSHR instruments with great customer satisfaction and financial success.
The Temperature Humidity IR Radiometer (THIR) contract was awarded from NASA Goddard in 1967. This radiometer was similar to the TOS-M radiometer and operated in the 10 micron window for temperature measurement and the 6 micron water band for water vapor measurement. Using temperature data from cloud tops and satellite temperature sounding data it was possible to determine the cloud top height. It was launched on four Nimbus weather satellites built by General Electric beginning in 1970.
Early in this period SBRC received a contract for the optical and mechanical parts of the Multi-order Satellite IR Grating Spectrometer (SIRS) from the Weather Bureau. This spectrometer was designed to measure the temperature of the atmosphere as a function of altitude by looking at very narrow bandwidths on the edge of the CO2 absorption band at 15 microns. Although the first instrument was lost at launch, two more were successfully operated on the Nimbus 3 and Nimbus 4 satellites.
As a result of previous scientific collaboration with scientists at JPL, Stillman Chase was selected as a co-experimenter for a two channel radiometer to be used on the Mariner Mars Probe. SBRC won the contract for engineering models in 1966. This radiometer used thermopile detectors operating in the 8-12 and 18-22 micron regions to measure the Martian surface temperature in synchronization with the television camera. It also measured the sublimation temperature of the polar cap material. This instrument was the first space equipment to use SBRC evaporated thermopiles, which were also applied to intrusion alarms. The contract for five flight models was received the next year and deliveries started in 1968. Successful flights were achieved on Mariner 6 and 7 in 1969. These radiometers were modified for the Mariner 9 orbiting spacecraft.
The first significant intrusion alarm contracts were received at the beginning of this period. Rome Air Development Center (RADC) ordered a prototype multiple channel active system for a secure fence application. Although the models were delivered and tested no further contracts were obtained. Two Fort Belvoir contracts for active intrusion alarm developments were received and completed. A quick reaction contract was completed in one month and the SBRC intrusion alarm beat the RCA equipment in field tests. Follow-on contracts for the Infrared Intrusion Device (IID) system were received and delivered. These units resulted in an improved system, the IRID system, which was designed for southeast Asian conditions applicable to Vietnam. These active systems used GaAs lasers as transmitters and Si diodes as receivers and operated as break-beam sensors. An intrusion was reported by a short signal from a buried battery powered radio. A passive system, PIRID, was designed using arrays of evaporated thermopiles, which sensed movement of objects of different temperatures as their images moved from one thermopile to another.
Other developments involved multiple beam systems for use over water and an active system used with a seismic arming device for triggering anti-tank ordnance. This later system was developed for Picatinny Arsenal and was type qualified, but was never acquired in quantity. Some effort was applied toward the use of these intrusion devices for civilian application, such as perimeter protection of parking lots, but no valuable business resulted. An optical communication link was also developed for the US government and eventually resulted in a long series of small orders.
Other versions of these intrusion alarms were developed but the most successful system was the DIPI, which was a small, short range passive detection system which could be buried alongside a trail. Intrusions were transmitted by radio to a central command. Units were produced very rapidly and eventually used not only in Vietnam but elsewhere in the world.
The most exciting development in this area of activity occurred in 1967 with the demonstration of an active optical fuze for the AIM-4H missile, which was a tactical version of the Falcon missile. Since a large warhead and proximity fuze were not in the original missile, some extra space was needed. The enhanced warhead was located in the space saved when the original tube electronics was converted to solid state and the fuze got the unused space around the rocket motor nozzle between the rocket fins. This space required that a four quadrant GaAs laser diode fuze be used which was capable of withstanding high temperatures for a short time. The fuze worked well in test but the missile program did not proceed further.
SBRC took this fuze to the Navy at Corona, who were developing a laser diode fuze for the Sidewinder missile. Their approach used a single diode and detector, but was not working well. After some small studies, during which time the Corona operation was moved to China Lake, SBRC was able to obtain a development contract to modify the AIM-4H fuze to fit the Sidewinder requirements. This start eventually led to large production business.
An interesting AF program for an ambitious airborne scanner for ballistic missile infrared measurements (MIRSE) started early in this period. Because of requirements for a wide field of view, high resolution, and rapid scan this scanner was not technically feasible without very expensive development considerably beyond the current state of the art at that time. At SBRC’s suggestion the contract was terminated. It was many years later before such a scanner was capable of being built.
The business of casting infrared transparent domes was transferred from Hughes Newport Beach in the beginning of this period. Infrared missiles required windows on their seeker heads which were transparent to infrared radiation in the three-to-five micron region, were hemispherical in shape, and rugged enough to withstand the flight environment. Generally the domes were made of pressed fluoride or sulfide compounds or polycrystalline Si. The Hughes method used induction melting of Si in a graphite mold, which provided blanks close to the final shape and required only a small amount of polishing. A new approach of melting MgF2 and casting in a manner similar to the Si approach failed because the coefficient of thermal expansion was not identified in all directions in MgF2. The business finally prospered. Domes were supplied to Hughes programs, such as AIM-4D and 90C Search-Track Sets, and to foreign versions of these programs. Special castings were made of Ge for long wavelength space and experimental radiometers. As orders tailed off the business was finally sold.
Detector development moved quickly during this period. TI2S and TI2Se were chemically deposited in a manner analogous to the lead salts, but the sensitivities were not high enough. InAs diodes were also made but they did not prove to be superior to other detectors. High speed luminescent diodes of InAs were useful as sources of infrared radiation for measuring the time constants of infrared detectors. The photo-electro-magnetic (PEM) effect in InSb, with a time constant of ten nanosecs at room temperature, was useful for measuring infrared laser radiation. Evaporated thermopile detector arrays which could be electronically switched were made on mylar and AI2O3 films. This development was originally for a proposed no-moving parts sensor. These room temperature detectors proved to have great utility in space radiometers, intrusion devices, and later in fire sensors.
The most important detector developments were in the crystal detectors: InSb, Si:X, Ge:X, and HgCdTe. By the middle of this period photovoltaic InSb performance was demonstrated which was equal to the state of the art. Advances in detectivity of Ge:Hg led the industry and made this material the choice for the first Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR) imagers of this period. Other doped Ge detectors were demonstrated to have background limited performance to very low background levels and were therefore essential for measurements in the low background of space. They also served a useful role in laboratory experiments as laser detectors and were sold by SBRC all over the world.
During this period SBRC got into HgCdTe development in a serious way. It was clear that this material was going to be the key long wavelength detector material of the future because of the ease of setting the long wavelength response by adjusting the ratio of Hg to Cd. Minneapolis-Honeywell (MH) Research Laboratory had been developing HgCdTe detectors under Air Force sponsorship since the early 60’s, shortly after the British discovery of photoeffects in HgCdTe.
A key technical problem in making good detectors was in the purification and growing of single crystals. Although each laboratory bought the purest starting materials, the resulting purity was not adequate. SBRC’s approach to purification and crystal growth was to zone-refine the compounded HgCdTe many times in vertical small-bore sealed quartz tubes. The vapor pressure of the Hg at the melting temperature is 100 atmospheres so that careful attention had to be paid to the strength of these tubes. Even then there were some explosions in the early experiments. It required many years of experimentation to develop the necessary techniques to achieve high quality detector material. A key scientist responsible for much of this work was Peter Bratt, ably assisted by Roger Cole. By this time SBRC had grown enough to afford the resources and staff to accomplish an extensive development. By mid-period some detectors showed performance equivalent to those at MH, but there were serious problems with yield, stability, contacting, and other related issues. By the end of this period SBRC still lagged behind MH and TI.
Another approach to a long wavelength detector operating in the ten micron region at liquid nitrogen temperature was PbSnTe, which could also be tuned to a wide range of wavelength regions of sensitivity. This research was pursued both at the Hughes Research Laboratories (HRL) at Malibu and at SBRC, but later it was mutually decided that HRL would concentrate on PbSnTe and SBRC would focus on HgCdTe. HgCdTe won out in the long run because it had as good or better sensitivity and a much smaller dielectric constant, which caused the capacitance and the effective RC time constant to be smaller allowing for faster operation of these diodes.
Low Background Detectors:
With SBRC’s lead in the very long wavelength Ge:X detectors capable of operating at low background levels there was a series of orders for these detectors for space radiometers, beginning with Project FIRST. This Hughes Culver City program called for five flight models of six element Ge:Hg arrays with cryogenic preamplifiers. Project FIRST was the beginning of important collaboration between George Aroyan, the principle Hughes manager, and Don Bode. Dick Nielsen was responsible for much of the actual detector fabrication. These radiometric experiments measured background radiation at long wavelengths in space, which provided the scientific basis for the early development of ballistic missile defense systems using infrared sensors. Advanced FIRST came along later, followed by FAIR, which was a program competition between Hughes and Philco, with SBRC supplying detectors to both sides. Higher performance detectors resulted in a new Hughes program called HI-STAR.
Other orders were the Project AMOS for a 35 element array of Ge:Hg detectors to be used on the University of Michigan astronomical telescope in Hawaii and a two element array for North American Aviation. Small purchase orders resulted in the development of Ge:Cd detectors sensitive to 20 microns and Ge:Zn out to 40 microns.
One of the dreams of the infrared military community from the beginning was to be able to make practical infrared imaging systems. At first, detectors sensitive to ambient radiation with sufficient speed of operation were lacking. Much material research and development was performed in the 50s and 60s with devices being developed as the materials became available. Practical cooling systems for rugged, portable use were also needed. These and other problems were sufficiently solved in this time period to permit the development of the first useful imaging systems in vehicles and night sights when handheld. SBRC played a key role in these developments because of its lead role in the detector and electronic field.
The first real FLIR was started at NOTS using a newly developed SBRC switching technique for multiplexing signals from an array of Ge:Hg elements at rates compatible with high speed imaging. Eli Rubin, the NOTS responsible engineer, drove a hard bargain with Talley for the first array in a liquid helium dewar with associated high speed multiplexing, where the final deal was an offer of a discount if two arrays were ordered. This 36 element assembly was supplied and was integrated with scanning mechanisms and displays to provide the first high quality images for a system called ADAM, which was an experimental system for an air-to-ground missile. After this demonstration Hughes won the industrial support contract and developed the next FLIR called Eve (E-FLIR). By this time Eli Rubin had moved to Hughes Culver City. The competition, TI, had also made a lower performance imager by tilting an airborne three element line scanning system from the vertical to horizontal and adding a vertical scan mirror. The ADAM approach became the standard technique for all subsequent FLIRs.
Based on these successful FLIRs Hughes Culver City received an Air Force contract, A-FLIR, in 1967 and orders from Lockheed for E-FLIR, and from Grumman for A6-FLIR. These prototypes were slated for the B52, P2V, and A6 aircraft respectively. The competitors for the orders were TI and Aerojet. SBRC integrated the Ge:Hg detector arrays in a dewar and Hughes supplied the closed cycle cooler and multiplexing electronics. The A-FLIR and E-FLIR were field tested successfully, with the E-FLIR being used on P2V aircraft in Southeast Asia. Hughes received the first prototype A6-FLIR contract but technical difficulties with the detector material caused Grumman to award a competitive Phase I contract to TI. The Phase II P2V contract went to Hughes, but was later cancelled due to funding difficulties. TI eventually received a related S-3A aircraft production contract and also won the AF gunship FLIR orders. It later appeared that TI could not figure out how to make good Ge:Hg detector arrays, so they had to pull the HgCdTe technology out of their research laboratory along with certain key personnel and introduce it on a crash basis in the FLIR program. They were successful and this development caused some of the customers to prefer their FLIRs. Hughes won the PINE contract for CHEYENNE helicopter, which was expected to be the largest FLIR order but the helicopter was later cancelled. Hughes also won a competitive field test against Aerojet for the UH-1B helicopter. At the end of the period Hughes had an order for a PINE type FLIR for the B-52 aircraft.
The technology for manufacture of large Ge:Hg arrays was not without problems. SBRC developed a technique for electrolytically cutting slots in a bar of Ge:Hg to form a row of detectors. The electrolyte was a closely held secret after having been developed by Don Bode and Dick Nielsen. Dick started with a solution of potassium hydroxide and found the proper dilution by trial and error. It turned out to be pure water! These detectors also suffered from ‘shady’ electrodes. Because they were relatively large volume detectors it was possible for the radiation to be concentrated in the center of the detector away from the electrodes. Ge:Hg at these temperatures is practically an insulator so the electrode which was supposed to supply the carriers acted as blocking layer with many weird time contact effects. Even the development of suitable contacts required much effort. All of these and other problems caused delays and frustration during the long development of a production ready FLIR detector, but they were successfully overcome and many FLIRs were produced with excellent results in the field.
Night sight developments started in 1966 with a successful demonstration of thermoelectrically cooled 56 element PbSe arrays at Fort Belvoir. A similar 16 element array was supplied to Avion. Fort Belvoir also ordered a 96 element PbSe array. Hughes won the Army Night Observation Device Long Range (NODLR) which used a 140 element PbSe array integrated into a Hughes closed cycle cooler. Arrays for a Short Range Viewer were supplied to Hughes, Raytheon, and Avion (Phillips). Avion won the competition and ordered 40 more units which were supplied and field tested successfully. The Hughes entry for the TOW night sight was competed against a gated laser approach and lost. SBRC received a backup order for InSb arrays from Phillips for a tank mounted night sight, FIRTI, after TI had poor performance on the original order. Prototype orders were received from Phillips (originally Avion) for a simplified Hand Held Viewer (HHV) for the Medium Assault Weapon (DRAGON). All of this action on night sights seemed very exciting at the time, but many of the approaches were either dropped or were delayed for a long time before being used in quantity.
An important AF program, PRESS, at MIT for measurement of radiation from re-entry objects required an 80 channel PbSe array with associated electronics and cooling. After extensive design and breadboard effort the Phase II contract was received, delivered, and operated well. An experimental long wavelength FLIR type assembly was also supplied. A Hughes Infrared Surveillance System (AMSA) required a large number of detector elements and a limited version was supplied. A Navy contract for InSb detectors for an Advanced Point Defense (ADP) missile seeker head (MERDA) was supplied with one of the first curved focal planes. Infrared augmentation of the radar for Improved Point Defense (IPD) was started with studies conducted by Hughes and Aerojet.
A new air-to-air missile development, IRASP, was initiated by the Air Force for the AIM-82 or DOGFIGHTER missile, which required complicated InSb detector arrays. SBRC supplied both Phase I and Phase II units to Hughes in this time period after some initial technical problems. An order was received from Aerojet for 100 pair of PbS arrays in competition with IRI. At the end of 1969 SBRC had delivered 15 and IRI only one, so all additional orders came to SBRC.
An interesting development of a 64×64 mosaic of PbS detectors deposited on a Si substrate containing multiplexing electronics was performed for RCA. This demonstration was a portent for future two-dimensional hybrid detectors, which became so important.
The custom or brochure detector line continued to expand and be very profitable. Developments which came from IRD or specific contracts were transferred to this business when they became mature. The only inventory carried was for small items which were required for special orders in bulk. Detector orders were filled after receipt of order by a small group under a manager. Advertising was accomplished at trade shows and most importantly at the Infrared Information Symposia (IRIS) with brochures and SBRC wall calendars. Much of the business was obtained from repeat customers who often said that SBRC was usually the highest bidder but always delivered and the product always worked.
1970 to 1974 – the post-vietnam years
After the strong growth of the previous five years, SBRC went into a retrenchment phase. Much of the shrinkage in military sales was attributable to anti-military sentiment in the last stages of the Vietnam War. Fortunately, the capture of several large space programs in 1969 provided a cushion. The military business slowly improved and new program capture allowed SBRC to begin an upward trend towards the end of the period. New products were introduced in this period which had important consequences for future growth. The Sidewinder Missile proximity fuze and Fire Sensor for tanks were developed in this period. The Earth Resource Space Sensor business also began. The FLIR detector technology matured with the selection of ten micron HgCdTe arrays as the key detector technology and the early Army programs which led to the widespread use of FLIRs in Army vehicles began.
SBRC maturity was evidenced by the emergence of the first splinter company, Optoelectronics, which began to compete for smaller orders. Infrared Industries (IRI) was a problem competitor with unreasonable low cost bids for the Sidewinder and Chaparral detector production business. On the other hand Philco-Ford dropped out of the detector business and Sensor Precision Instruments went bankrupt.
In 1970 sales and earnings declined for the first time in several years. Sales were slightly below 1969 levels due to reductions in manufacturing programs, while earnings showed a 65% drop, partly due to booking a fuze program loss. Manpower stayed even at 590 persons.
Although sales in 1971 increased to $16.2M, earnings were disappointingly down by 14% because of some component manufacturing orders failed to materialize and losses experienced on the Direct Infrared Intrusion Detector (DIRID) and AIM-4H contracts. Manpower increased to 610 persons. During this year the programs were organized into business areas of Electro-Optical Instrumentation, Special Infrared Systems, and Components. The responsible managers were Bob Hummer, Norm Rigby, and Don Bode respectively. This change consolidated the increased military sensor business into one area and better described the primary activity of each organization.
The next year showed a small decrease in sales to $15.7M, but a 40% recovery in earnings resulting from improvement in component manufacturing contracts. Employment grew to 688 persons.
In 1973 sales at $16.M and earnings at $1.1M showed growths of 2% and 29% respectively. Earnings were up because of space sensor and certain component programs. Employment decreased to 666 persons.
Sales in 1974 were $18.9M with earnings at $1.6M. Earnings were buoyed by good manufacturing performance. Personnel count rose to 714. Although the new business plan set goals that were not achieved, the backlog was a record $24.7M at the end of this period.
With the capture of four major programs, Visible and Infrared Spin-Scan Radiometer (VISSR), Multispectral Scanner (MSS), Imaging Photopolarimeter (IPP), and Infrared Radiometer (IRR), this period started with a major overload in the Space Sensors product line. In addition, the TIROS Scanning Radiometer (HSRS), Mariner Mars Radiometer (IRR) and Temperature-Humidity IR Radiometer (THIR) programs were still being completed. This overload required the use of a large number of contract employees with a resulting loss of efficiency. Difficulty with getting good customer definition of the requirements for MSS and IPP also caused a great deal of delay and cost. Since all of these programs were cost reimbursement type contracts the financial impact was largely on the customer.
SBRC was not ready for programs as large as VISSR and MSS single, let alone together. A further problem was the interface between the project office at Hughes El Segundo and SBRC. Our inexperience with large programs, particularly the large subcontracting effort, and Hughes’ lack of experience in sensor technology combined to aggravate the problem. In fact, these key programs became so troubled that Talley had to send weekly telegrams for more than a year to the Hughes Aircraft Company CEO, Alan Puckett, and the Director of NASA Goddard reporting on the progress of both MSS and VISSR. Fortunately, the instruments were successfully completed and formed the basis for a long-lasting major earth observation product line.
This period also saw the successful launch and performance of 19 more SBRC sensors. Nimbus 4 was launched in 1970 with SIRS-B and THIR instruments. SIRS-B performed very well in measuring the temperature-vs-height profile of the troposphere and lower stratosphere. THIR measured the global distribution of water vapor and the course of ocean currents. Nimbus 5, launched in 1972, also carried THIR. Ten HRSRs were launched on ITOS I and NOAA 1-4 weather satellites in this period. Their data was so good that NOAA dropped the television camera and depended entirely on the visible channel in HRSR. One HRSR failed in this period but the mission was not affected because the redundant HRSR completed the operation. Mariner 10 with the Venus-Mercury Radiometer was launched in 1973 successfully. In spite of the early difficulties MSS was launched on Landsat 1 in 1972 and performed flawlessly. Pioneer 10 and 11 were launched in 1972 and 1973 with IPP and IRR instruments, which performed as planned.
Production of the Sidewinder AIM-4D Refrigerated Detector Unit (RDU) was completed with the delivery of 5,483 units. Production of Redeye missile RDUs continued with an
exceptional profit rate, in part due to very low warranty experience. The production buy
of Mark 90-91 Optics Assemblies was completed. Unfortunately, the next production buy was lost to IRI for price. The units supplied by IRI on this order were not usable by
Eastman Kodak, but could not be rejected because of a technicality in the inspection
procedure. A redesign program finally resulted in SBRC regaining contracts for these
units. Small orders of PHEONIX and Swedish S71N Search Track detectors were
FLIR detectors were supplied to Hughes for the Cheyenne, OV-10 and UH-1M
helicopters. The B-52 FLIR development program began with some difficulties
encountered in vacuum retention; however, the production phase was awarded in 1970.
The Hand Held Viewer (HHV) detector for Phillips was successfully supplied, but the
next phase was competed with Optoelectronics and SBRC lost on price. The Night
Observation Device, Long Range, (NODLR) was a high resolution night sight whose InSb detectors were mounted on a Hughes Vuillemier (VM) closed cycle cooler, which was very quiet in operation. Prototype units were supplied and larger quantities were slowly ordered in the next several years.
Long wavelength, low background, doped Ge detector programs continued to be
successful with the first measurements coming in on Hughes FAIR I. FAIR II was lost to North American Rockwell. The Hughes HI STAR showed improved performance and
resulted in the HI HI STAR program. SBRC supplied detectors to both Hughes and
Minneapolis Honeywell for the Earth Limb Experiment. The Hughes Celestial Mapping
Program doped Si long wavelength array was supplied and the data taken by this
instrument provided the first detailed map of the sky from space in this wavelength region.
The PRESS PbS detector array was supplied to MIT and used to obtain spectral
measurements of ballistic missile reentries.
The optical material business was mostly occupied with manufacture of AIM-4D domes.
Large (18” by 24”) silicon windows were cast for replacement of the more expensive Ge
windows in some airborne applications. The custom line continued to supply PbS and
PbSe detectors along with Ge:Au and other Ge:X detectors. lnSb and InAs became more popular. HgCdTe were offered for the first time and several orders were booked.
The AIM-4H Active Optical Fuze program was completed with nine missile flights during which the fuze performed successfully, although in five flights the missile did not guide close enough for fuze operation. The technical success of the fuze in this program provided the impetus for the successful use of this concept in the Sidewinder missile. Two single quadrant fuzes were provided to other government laboratories for evaluation.
Improvements in the PIRID intrusion alarm systems were made and the Data
Communicator was completed to the customer’s satisfaction, which led to a Long Range
Data Communicator and subsequent orders.
In the late sixties Hughes participated with NASA scientists in several definition studies concerning a satellite for monitoring the Earth’s surface in various infrared and visible wavelength regions. The purpose of these observations was to gather information about the vegetation of the earth for agricultural and forestry interests, monitor oceans, including ice coverage, and other interests useful to mankind. Major issues were the selection of the appropriate wavelength intervals, the necessary ground resolution and the practical instrument limitations. Fortunately or unfortunately, these studies came abruptly to a head when Congressman Karth, Chairman of the Science and Technology Committee overseeing NASA, told NASA leaders that Congress was getting tired of spending all the money in space and wanted something useful to people on the ground immediately! Since the Earth Resources Technology Satellite was the only program close to meeting Congress’s needs it was immediately put out for bid.
The requirement studies were not completed so NASA had to divide the spectrum in equal intervals of 0.1 micron from 0.5 to 0.8 microns with another band at 0.8 to 1.1 microns. These wavelength assignments were correlated to the three return beam vidicons which were also flown on Landsat 1, however the MSS worked so much better that the vidicons were not used again. The spacecraft flew in a polar orbit synchronized with the sun so that it crossed the equator at noon. A large resonant scanned mirror provided a cross course raster scan. A linear fiberoptic array transmitted the radiation to photomultipliers and provided resolution of 80 meters.
Hughes competed for the MSS against the SBRC splinter company Te in Santa Barbara, which was by now owned by ARGOS. During the bidding SBRC was offered an opportunity to buy this company at a price which was less than the savings in bidding expense would have been, but declined due to concern over the government’s reaction to the loss of competition. The contest was never in doubt and the contract was duly awarded to Hughes with the program management being in the Space and Communication Group at El Segundo and most of the instrument design and manufacture at SBRC. When the program got into difficulty Hummer and Talley made one of their apology trips to Goddard and were surprised to receive an apology from the responsible senior NASA official for sticking Hughes with this difficult task. He said only Hughes could pull this critical program off and since it was so important to the future of Goddard they had no choice.
Several problems were experienced with the design and management of the MSS because of the competition among the users of the data, the awkwardness of the internal Hughes/SBRC interfaces, and the general difficulty of the new instrument. For example, the signal-to-noise specification was in error by a factor of ten since the noise was specified in the conventional way as incoherent and the pertinent noise was coherent, which would show on the picture. This problem was not discovered until the scanner was designed so the coherent noise reduction had to be accomplished without major structural change. Another problem was the uncertainty of the spacecraft selection so the scanner was designed to be compatible either with NIMBUS or OGO spacecraft.
The protoflight instrument was delivered in 1971 and launched on ERTS-A in July 1972. It returned spectacular pictures which NASA said was “beyond their expectations”. Finally four more flight models were shipped and all performed very well in orbit, many well beyond their expected lives. The second one was launched on Landsat 2 in 1975 and the last one was launched on Landsat 5 in 1984. This successful program provided useful data to countries all over the world either by direct broadcast when flying over or by supplying tapes with the multispectral data Finally the US government decided to privatize the program. Hughes and RCA teamed to form a joint venture called EOSAT and won the contract to manage the space operations and data collection and receive revenue from the sale of data.
Another very important program came to fruition at the same time, the VISSR. This instrument was the outgrowth of the Spin-Scan Cloud Camera but extended the cloud mapping to the ten micron spectral region where observations could be taken 24 hours a day. By using the newly invented SBRC two stage radiation cooler a long wavelength detector could be maintained at a good operating temperature of 90 deg. K. regardless of orbit location or duration of the flight. A relatively new ten micron detector made of HgCdTe provided good sensitivity in this region. To achieve the required signal-to-noise ratio a 40.6 cm diameter collecting mirror was used. Because of the relatively large size of this mirror and other optics the entire assembly had to be made of beryllium to meet the weight budget. This instrument was 1.53 meters high and weighed only 67 kilograms. The geo-stationary spinning spacecraft provided east-west scanning while an object space mirror stepped the raster scan line from north to south. The earth was scanned every 30 minutes.
The data from the long wavelength detectors not only provided cloud cover maps but also allowed determination of the surface and cloud top temperatures. From this information the cloud top altitude could be deduced and the wind velocity could be determined at the cloud altitude by tracking a cloud from frame to frame. A visible band was also included for comparison with the other meteorological instruments.
SBRC was awarded the contract for the instrument and Hughes competed for the
spacecraft, but unfortunately lost to Ford. The first launch was on the Synchronous
Meteorological Satellite (SMS) in May 1974 and was an astounding success. Another
VISSR was launched in February 1975.
The Imaging Photopolarimeter (IPP) for Pioneers 10 and 11 was an optical system weighing only a few pounds and using less than three watts of power. It made a visible image by using the rotation of the spacecraft and stepping a line each rotation. The photomultiplier and all the electronics had to withstand the expected high Van Allen radiation as it swung around Jupiter and also had to have very low residual magnetic moment to avoid biasing the magnetometer in the spacecraft. The IPP measured the zodiacal light all the way in the solar system and provided the first close images of Jupiter and Saturn. Bob Hummer was a co-investigator and Louis Watts the program manager. Lou received a Public Service Medal from NASA for his work. The Pioneer Infrared Radiometer (IRR) with Stillman Chase as co-investigator and program manager was a small far infrared radiometer using a thermopile detector for measuring the temperature of the planets. Both instruments performed flawlessly, lasted well past their design life, and continued to provide useful service beyond the solar system.
Special Infrared Systems
This period saw the start of a very large and successful proximity fuze business. The Navy at the Naval Weapons Center (NWC), China Lake, had just absorbed the Navy fuze operation at Corona and was in the process of developing the next Sidewinder air-to-air missile, the AIM9L. Because of the expanded attack angle possible with this missile they needed a proximity fuze capable of operating over a wider range of attack angles than the current passive fuze. Norm Rigby, who was the Hughes fuze expert, had moved to SBRC and had close contacts with the fuze development community. The technology of laser diode sources had also advanced to the level of being practical for use in the missile environment. Because of the SBRC effort in developing and demonstrating a four quadrant laser diode fuze in the Falcon missile for Hughes, this was natural target for SBRC. Corona had been contracting with Northrop for implementation of the Navy design which used only one laser. This approach required a laser too powerful to be practical, so NWC agreed to go with the SBRC design, which used four laser and optics assemblies. This fuze was developed in close cooperation with NWC. An attempt was also made to put a laser diode fuze on the HARPOON missile but it did not materialize. A similar situation occurred in applying this concept to the Chaparral missile.
Another very important product was developed in this period, the Dual Spectrum Fire Sensor. Although armored vehicles had elementary sensors to detect fire they were not reliable and fire suppression systems were usually triggered manually. FMC was trying to develop an optical approach using UV sensors when Bob Cinzori heard of the requirement. By making careful tests on the development of fuel fires at Camp Pendleton and by using evaporated thermopiles originally developed at SBRC for space and other uses, he and his engineers invented a reliable fire sensor for automatic triggering of a Halon gas fire suppressant. This device operated in two wavelengths, one in the near infrared which employed a Si photodiode and one in the ten-micron IR region which used an evaporated thermopile. The time signature of rise and decay and the amplitude of the radiation were used to distinguish between false alarms and the ignition of a dangerous fuel fire. This system was demonstrated to be capable of extinguishing a fuel fire caused by an armor piercing shell in less than 100 milliseconds. After many tests against other contractors, including foreign ones, the SBRC system was accepted by the Army, Marines and foreign countries for use in a wide variety of new armored vehicles, including the Army Main Battle Tank (Ml) and the Army Bradley Fighting Vehicle. The patents from these inventions were critical in protecting the almost complete domination of this market by SBRC.
This period saw the continued development of InSb and particularly HgCdTe. Generally, SBRC led the industry in high performance InSb arrays while Minneapolis Honeywell was the leader in HgCdTe. InSb technology began to move from the earlier etched mesa approach to the planar approach where the diodes were ion implanted, thereby allowing much closer packing. Lead salt detectors were refined to a high level of performance and large arrays of PbS were made for space use. The first attempts at making close packed two-dimensional arrays were begun with the hope of developing large staring focal planes. Charge coupled devices were made in Si which allowed switching of optically produced charges from an array of detector diodes. Research and development on CCDs in the detector material itself was pursued but it finally became necessary to attach the detector diodes to arrays of Si CCD’s. A pioneering approach to this integration had been demonstrated by SBRC working for RCA where PbS detectors were deposited on a Si switching mosaic. Although two-dimensional arrays required much development of detector and electronic technology they turned out to be the major thrust of infrared imaging development.
Although the leading technique for making HgCdTe detectors was growing single crystals it was recognized that there were limitations in the size and complexity available. By depositing layers of material on a substrate much larger wafers could be made and by depositing alternate layers of doped materials, diodes with protective covering layers could be produced. The first approach was the use of liquid phase epitaxy where a substrate whose lattice spacing matched HgCdTe was placed in a bath of HgCdTe and a thin layer was grown. SBRC consistently led in this technology. Subsequent etching delineated the detectors and electrical leads were deposited by metal evaporating or sputtering. Protective coatings could also be applied by evaporation or sputtering. Obviously this approach required the development of many new techniques to make the quality of material necessary for good detectors so that the research and development went on for many years.
The custom line activity suffered from competition primarily with Optoelectronics in the early part of the period but did recover to a healthy state for the remainder of this period.
Missile Detector Programs
Advanced Seeker Program (ASP) III and Agile missile InSb detectors were made for HAC but the missile programs did not materialize. A major new air-to-ground missile program, Maverick, did start up and used an InSb array. The detector development proceeded well although the missile program took a long time to mature. This program finally resulted in a large, long run production program.
Search-Track Detector Programs
A major new requirement occurred when Hughes Ground Systems won the Infrared Point Detection System (IPD), which was an infrared augmentation to a Navy mast mounted radar for finding and tracking aircraft and missile targets during periods of radar silence. This system required a large InSb array cooled by a Hughes closed cycle cooler. A large dynamic range with excellent radiometric accuracy was required to permit false target discrimination. Unfortunately, after much development and testing the program did not go into fleet use. A new requirement emerged with the advent of the very powerful new lasers which were capable of damaging incoming missiles. Hughes developed two systems for acquiring and tracking targets for direction of the laser beams. The Navy system, Navy Pointer Tracker (NPT), and the Air Force system, Airborne Pointer Tracker (APT), used large InSb arrays and were developed and tested on an experimental basis.
FLIR and Night Sight Detector Programs
A new concept for FLIRS was developed by Hughes which was a raster scanner using a series of detectors aligned in the scan direction instead of a single element. The signal from each detector in the array was delayed just the right amount of time to add to the signal of the adjacent detector in the line so that the signal-to-noise ratio was improved by the square root of the number of elements. This approach was relatively inexpensive and simple compared to the conventional approach of scanning a large array of elements aligned at right angle to the scan direction. However, the performance of the conventional approach could be made better than the new approach by the use of larger numbers of detector channels.
NVL at this time was developing a universal approach to FLIR technology to be applicable to several programs. They had contracts with TI who persuaded them to adopt a “common module” approach. This concept meant that the optics, detectors and other modules could be developed and supplied by specialized companies and the system developers would only have to integrate these modules into a FLIR to meet their special needs. This approach had the advantage from the government’s point of view that they would not be forced to buy a system from a particular contractor who had a proprietary module allowing better system performance. Hughes did not like this approach and even tried to go around NVL and sell directly to NVL’s customer, the Army Missile Command. In fact Hughes, through their friends in Congress and other DOD agencies, forced NVL to establish a shootoff between the common module and the Hughes approach. Hughes lost the contest! A further interesting point occurred when NVL sponsored a contractor meeting to discuss the common module approach. At this time TI finally admitted that the TI common module approach was to make the modules in TI component divisions and supply them to the TI system organization but not to competing companies! NVI decided to go ahead anyway with the common module approach and awarded contracts to several module companies, including SBRC, TI and Honeywell for HgCdTe detector modules. Eventually, the common module development was successful and was widely used in several military vehicles. Ironically, Hughes probably received more common module FLIR business than any other contractor.
Space Based Detector Arrays
There was great activity in this arena during this period. Detector technology had advanced enough to provide large linear, high performance arrays in dewars for closed cycle cooling or for installation on radiation coolers. lnSb and PbS arrays were supplied for medium and short wavelength use and doped Ge and Si arrays were used for long wavelength, low background applications.
A development contract for improved performance of PbS arrays used on the Aerojet Defense Support Program (DSP) was actively pursued. SBRC at first had difficulty meeting the improved detectivity requirements until it was discovered that the detector supplier’s measurements had always been in error due to enhancement by reflections from a specified filter. SBRC finally demonstrated that they could make as good or better detectors than the long term detector supplier Electronic Corporation of America (ECA). In the ensuing competition for the next buy ECA won based on Aerojet’s perceived risk in changing contractors. Actually, Aerojet was scared to death to let even a part of Hughes under their tent so they stayed with ECA. SBRC wasn’t even thanked for explaining the anomalous “filter factor” they had used for years to correlate the inaccurate detector measurements with system performance. Later efforts on this program were successful and it became a major program for SBRC. Other space array programs using PbS called Squire and Queen were supplied to Hughes.
An interesting 600 element lnSb array was made for Lockheed to be used on the Air Force RM2O space experiment, which was designed to measure radiation in the mid-IR from ballistic missile launches. Unfortunately, the booster was exploded for safety reasons at Vandenberg. The detector was recovered from the debris and returned to SBRC where it was tested to be OK. Unfortunately this experiment was never repeated although SBRC did supply additional RM2OA and RM2OB arrays.
In the low background field SBRC supplied the SCOOP array to the Naval Electronics Command. Two low background arrays were supplied to the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) which marked the beginning of a small but interesting relationship with this laboratory in the low background area. AMTA, HI HI STAR and AMOS arrays were supplied to Hughes. An array for the Earth Limb Measurement System (ELS) was supplied to Honeywell. GIRT was made for GE.
1975 TO 1979-CONSOLIDATION AND GROWTH
This period began with a slowdown as the large space programs of the early 70’s completed before the new programs in SIRS and Components kicked in to fuel a tremendous growth period. One milestone was the retirement of Lloyd Scott in 1976 and the appointment of Robert Talley as President of Santa Barbara Research Center. In 1977 SBRC celebrated its 25th anniversary. The death of Howard Hughes in 1976 changed the structure of Hughes and ultimately affected the direction of SBRC. With the loss of the ultimate decision maker the Hughes empire went though a reorganization and finally a change to more normal corporate ownership and management.
In 1978 SBRC experienced its first serious earthquake. Fortunately, it occurred on a Sunday afternoon and there were few people in the plant. No one was injured but there was quite a bit of broken glass, water and equipment on the floor. Some good lessons were learned about bolting heavy objects to the wall and replacing glass drinking water bottles with plastic ones. SBRC only lost one day of work.
Sales grew from $9M in 1974 to $26.7M in 1976 before dropping to $24M in 1977. A very rapid growth spurt to over $70M in 1979 was caused largely by DSU target detector production programs for the Navy and Air Force and to a lesser extent by new space sensor sales and the maturation of the Army common module detector programs. Earnings increased from $2M to $9M in this period in keeping with the sales growth. The Advance Account, which was the net cash balance with Hughes, reached its highest level at $4.9M in 1976 because of the completion of several major programs. As new programs came in the need for cash drove the account negative in 1979. Return On Net Assets (RONA) averaged about 15% with a peak of 25% in 1976. Employment followed sales level and the company faced its largest layoff experience of 20% in 1976. An effort was made with some success to get work from other parts of Hughes and to loan engineers and other staff personnel to Canoga Park and other Hughes facilities. A strong hiring period began in 1977 and resulted in manpower increasing from 600 to 1700 employees by 1979 with continued growth anticipated. This level of employment pushed SBRC to become the second largest company in Santa Barbara County.
PERSONNEL AND FACILITIES
Facing the implications of growth required an active facility program. Fortunately, upcoming sales were anticipated and approvals were obtained for additional facilities even with a temporary decline in employment. Surplus temporary buildings were obtained from Hughes El Segundo and combined into a 17,000 sq. ft. building and provided with permanent air conditioning. Several buildings were leased long term in the Fairview area of Goleta as well as additional leased buildings at Aero Camino. Near the main complex in the Santa Barbara Research Park buildings were leased and the Raymond, Human Factors, Schafer, Beaver, Goodell and Oceanographics buildings were established. It was a habit at SBRC to name the buildings for their previous tenants or builders. Most of these buildings were retained for a long period of time in keeping of the policy of having a mix of owned and leased facilities to provide for easy accommodation of ups and downs in business. There were also several short term leases and the use of rented trailers. Toward the end of the period it was realized that an additional permanent building was needed so that a major addition of 115,000 sq. ft. was started in the Research Park in 1979. Because of the wide expanse of buildings a company shuttle was initiated.
The presidential change in 1976 caused some reorganization of SBRC management. The three product line areas, Electro-Optical Instrumentation, Special Infrared Systems and Components were given full responsibility for program management, marketing and engineering for all of their programs. EOI was led by Bob Hummer who had founded the space business at SBRC, Norm Rigby led SIRS and continued to expand the target detection device business as a major activity. Don Bode became the Director of Research. A new manager, Duane Adams, who had been a key infrared detector expert at Texas Instruments, headed up Components. Later Adams left and Stan Novak came to SBRC from the Hughes Electro-Optical and Data Systems Group to head up Components.
These engineering organizations were supported by Manufacturing under Ken Kurrasch and later Jay Farnsworth, who became Director of Manufacturing and Material. Jay was a long term and experienced manufacturing manager from Hughes Tucson. Warren Nichols, who was an early manager of major programs at Hughes, was transferred from his position as Assistant Manager responsible for Manufacturing in the Space and Communications Group to be Director of Programs and Engineering. Jay and Warren were also appointed Assistant Managers of SBRC. Quality Assurance was under Dave Hill, who had been recalled as a consultant, and later was managed by Lamont Brown, who had been a key Quality Assurance staff person at Hughes Corporate. Al Paul continued to direct Administration and Len Perez was added to head Contracts. The SBRC Board of Directors was chaired by Ed Meier, who was the President of the Hughes Electroptical and Data Systems Group. Meier later retired and moved to Santa Barbara, but continued to provide very valuable service to SBRC as a management consultant for several years. This assistance was badly needed considering the very rapid growth and the consequent requirement for experienced top management. Jim Cloud became Chairman of the SBRC Board at the end of this period. He had worked very closely with SBRC since he was an Assistant Executive in EDSG and manager of the Space Systems Division, which held many of the programs using SBRC space detectors. Marve Matthais, the long time top financial manager of SBRC, was appointed Treasurer and made a member of the Board. Marve also became a member of the Hughes Credit Union Board. A long time marketing manager, Paul Granke, retired during this period and was replaced by Don Smith.
With the company growing from a small close-knit group with little change in personnel to a rapidly growing and changing medium-sized company, it was necessary to improve
communications within the company. Talley initiated regular talks to all employees, which mostly occurred in the parking lots because of the lack of a large enough auditorium. These were 15 minute updates of important issues to SBRC and were given at least quarterly or as key events occurred. He found out after he retired that these talks were called “Talley’s Rallys”. Other events were the new exempt employee receptions, where all of the new exempt employees hired during the quarter were invited to meet the top management after work one day. These were usually held at the UCSB faculty club.
Another communication program consisted of small, informal luncheons with Talley and
about five different first line supervisors, who were not from the same organizations, to I discuss the concerns and issues which these supervisors were hearing from their
In 1977 several employees wanted to form an SBRC management club to be part of the Hughes Management Clubs. Membership was open to any exempt employee who wished to join instead of being restricted to a certain management level as was the case at Hughes. The first president was Roger Thompsen. The club met several times a year, held educational presentations and sponsored trips. One meeting was funded by the company where the President gave a State of the Company talk. Later the club began to provide scholarships to children of SBRC employees. SBRC’s inventiveness was recognized in 1978 when Bob Cinzori received the Hyland Patent Award for several fire sensor patents. Existing programs such as Superior Performance Awards, service pin awards and the SBRC News were given greater attention and provided a key role in pulling together the rapidly growing company. The Superior Performance Awards went to Lou Lemp, a long term manufacturing leader, Cliff Broughton, another long term employee who was well known for his ability to expedite procurement of critical items, and Millie Dugger, who had long been a skillful detector technician. Mary Sifuentz won the Award in recognition of her high quality work in EOI. In 1979 in recognition of the personnel growth the Superior Performance awards were given the two people, Vera Norton and Lois O’Neill. A Christmas children’s party was started which involved a contest for the best made doll and was operated by Sue Myers for many years. In keeping with SBRC’s growth to a major industrial company on the South Coast of Santa Barbara County it was appropriate that Al Paul became President of the Santa Barbara Chamber of Commerce in 1978. SBRC also increased the level of interest in political activity by sponsoring lunchtime visits of political candidates to meet the employees.
This period was very active in space launches of SBRC instruments. A total of 13 were launched successfully. There were 8 weather instruments of which 4 were VISSRs on SMS and the operational GOES satellites and 1 was on a GMS Japanese satellite. The other weather instruments were the last 2 THIRs on NIMBUS and the last HSRS on the SEASAT. Two MSSs were launched on LANDSAT. Two Mars Thermal imaging Radiometers were launched on VIKING and the Venus Cloud Photopolarimeter CPP was launched on the PIONEER VENUS ORBITER. The only failure of these instruments was GOES B VISSR which had an early lamp failure in the encoder. This encoder was supplied by a subcontractor whose subcontractor in turn changed the plastic potting material on the lamp base without notification. In 1975 Hughes, including SBRC, won the Collier Trophy from NASA Goddard for the Landsat mission, which was “the outstanding Aerospace Event of 1974.” Bob Hummer accepted the award for SBRC.
The VISSR program continued with the delivery of GOES B and C VISSRs under the leadership of Roger Thompsen as Program Manager and Dick Ruiz as Program Engineer. This program was a fixed-price incentive contract, which was an experiment for NASA, and SBRC made a very good profit. The next step was the introduction of a filter wheel with 12 narrow long wavelength bands. This instrument, called the VISSR Atmospheric Sounder (VAS), could dwell on the same scan line while observing at several wavelengths in the water vapor and carbon dioxide absorption regions and measure the vertical temperature distribution. Alternatively, cloud or water vapor maps of the entire globe could be made. Five VAS instruments were delivered. John Reed and Tim Abbott were the Program Manager and Engineer.
The MSS program continued with the delivery of the last of the five units in this period under the direction of Leroy Barncastle.
The HSRS units for ITOS and SEASAT were delivered. Unfortunately, the SEASAT spacecraft failed so that no data were received.
The PIONEER VENUS OCPP was delivered, flew to Venus and made the first cloud pictures of the entire surface of Venus. In August of 1979 the PIONEER 11 spacecraft passed Saturn giving the IPP instrument the opportunity to image the rings of Saturn after six and a half years in flight.
Special Infrared Systems
This period saw the rapid rise of SIRS to a major role in SBRC with the advent of the target detector production. The DSU-15 production for the current Sidewinder missile started and grew to 200 units per month by the end of this period. John Calandro was the Program Manager. This sharp growth in production caused considerable growing pains. Some relief was obtained by subcontracting the manufacture of circuit boards to Hughes
Fullerton at first and later to Ball Brothers in Colorado.
There were several interesting technical features to this new target detector. False target discrimination was largely provided by using sharply defined fan beams for the laser
transmitter, which overlapped the receiver field of view only in the range where the
warhead would be effective. Other competing companies tried to make target detectors
operating on an optical radar principle where the range cutoff was determined by a precise time gate. Because of the short ranges involved these approaches were generally
unsuccessful. In order to define the receiver field of view sharply a “bikini” mask was
placed over the detector. This mask, which had a shape like a bikini, restricted the level of aerosol scattering at close ranges. Another SBRC innovation was the use of a lenticular lens over the laser diode to make the radiation more nearly uniform in the circumferential directions. This lens spread each part of the laser, which was a line with hot spots, over the entire field.
After the initial production commenced the Navy brought in Motorola as a second
source. Because the initial design was so tricky to build Motorola was never able to be
very successful and dropped out after two competitions. In the meantime SBRC had
proposed a redesign to make the unit much more producible and the Navy funded the
development. Some of the improvements were an off-shoot of the DSU-21 development,
which had been started after the DSU-15 design was solidified. SBRC had a motivation to have common designs for these target detectors in order to enjoy commonality in production. The Navy accepted the new design as a cost saving change after warning
Talley that they were a little nervous about changing horses in midstream. In retrospect it
might have been better for SBRC to have stayed with the old difficult design since the next second source, Raytheon, was very successful in competing with us using the improved design.
The Fire Sensor business continued to grow having been accepted for the XM-1 tank,
M60A3 tank, Infantry Fighting Vehicle, Landing Vehicle Tracked Personnel and the
Shuttle Test Stand.
The older production programs, such as Mk92, TOW wide field detectors, Redeye and B-
52 FLIR provided good sales and earnings at the beginning of the period but were tailing down at the end. These were replaced by A-6 FLIR and the common module FLIR programs. By 1979 SBRC was supplying FLIR common modules to the Army XM1 Main Battle Tank, the Bradley Fighting Vehicle Scout (FVS), the Armored Attack Helicopter (AAH), FLIR Augmented Cobra TOW (FACTS) and the TOW Launcher night sight (ANTAS-4). Foreign orders included the German Jaguar Tank. Winning the XM-l FLIR was a real coup for Hughes, who was on the Chrysler team. Earlier TI had made Chrysler mad so they were happy to deal with Hughes. As Hughes was signing the contract in Detroit, the responsible Army General in Florida was directing the Project Office to have Chrysler compete the FLIR. This win resulted in a very large business for Hughes which lasted for at least a decade. The night sight detector for the DRAGON missile provided some business in this time frame. The Maverick detector continued to proceed through the development phases but did not mature as rapidly as originally thought due to missile program slippage.
The AIRS space array program for Hughes used PbS detectors and resulted in large sales in this period.
By far the biggest news was the award of the Thematic Mapper (TM) in 1978. This
instrument was the MSS follow-on and it was specified by NASA Goddard to take into consideration the lessons learned from the earlier results. The resolution was improved from 80 meters to 30 meters and three new infrared bands were added in the 1, 2 and 10 micron regions, using an lnSb and two HgCdTe arrays. The visible and near infrared bands were more accurately specified and used Si photodiodes for detectors. The diameter of the optics was increased from 22.9 cm to 40.6 cm to provide increased signal-to-noise, particularly for the infrared channels. These optics required a relatively large instrument structure which was made out of graphite epoxy formulated to have essentially zero temperature coefficient of expansion, as well as being light and stiff. This technology was relatively new for precision instruments and required considerable design innovation. One problem perviously observed was the tendency of this epoxy to absorb water from the atmosphere and swell. Mirror blanks made from this material were typically coated with metal on the back side as well as the reflecting front side to prevent change in the curvature from swelling. The Thematic Mapper structure was too complicated to coat successfully so it was decided to assemble and hold the instrument in a dry environment, achieved using an inert dry gas. As a safety measure a focusing mechanism was built in but was fortunately not found to be necessary during the life of the TM. The mirrors were made of low coefficient expansion glass.
The themes of the TM were to monitor the reflected and emitted radiation from the earth, rocks, water and vegetation. By using ratios of the various wavelength bands and comparing the results with known ground truth information it was possible to monitor
remotely many important conditions throughout the world on a reasonable time basis. The type and health of the world’s forests and agriculture are available to this measurement as well as hydrological factors such as snow cover, iceberg distribution and lake levels. Possible mineral deposits are inferred from the surface conditions caused by percolation from deep lying mineral deposits. Even urban planning was aided by the spatially accurate maps produced by the TM. Since the observations were taken from a fixed altitude at a fixed local time of day with a very accurate instrument, good comparison of data is possible over an extended period of time. Obviously the results were limited by cloud cover but political limitations were not important since essentially all of the nations of the world participated in the program.
This program was the largest at SBRC to date. Warren Nichols was transferred from the
Space and Communication Group to manage the program. He was known as a very capable program manager and had a long experience at Hughes in several engineering and management positions. The rest of this period saw a very active effort in developing the Thematic Mapper.
Another important program was won from NASA Goddard late in this period, the Photopolarimeter Radiometer for the Galileo Mission to Jupiter. This instrument built on knowledge gained from the earlier successful photopolarimeters but contained three functions: photometry, polarimetry and radiometry. The first two functions operated in the visible and near visible regions using Si photodiodes and the radiometry function used a thermal detector made of LiTaO4. Fifteen different wavelength bands were selected by using a filter/retarder wheel located in front of the common focus of the telescope. A single stage radiative cooler was built for the JPL NIMS spacecraft.
Special Infrared Systems
The big news of this period was the acquisition of the DSU 21 or Sidewinder target detector retrofit program. The Air Force was engaged in a program of upgrading earlier Sidewinder missiles with improved seeker heads and other improvements. They originally had planned to reopen the passive target detector production line to replace the old units but were not happy with the performance of these target detectors in consideration of the improved performance of the new seekers. Norm Rigby approached his colleagues at Warner-Robbins AFB, which was the logistics operation in charge of the retrofit program, and suggested that they ought to use the new Navy target detector which had demonstrated clearly superior performance. Because of the different mechanical configuration of the AIM-9J Sidewinder the target detector had to be repackaged but the heart of the system would be identical. Since there were no plans or funding to accomplish the redesign, SBRC elected to do the work on IRD and built six test units. These were bailed (loaned) to the Air Force for test firing at Holloman AFB in conjunction with tests of the new seekers. Art Hardy, who handled these units for the tests, was surprised to discover when he arrived a day before the tests that the drawings for the mounting ring on the missile with which the target detectors had to interface was in error. He had to fly overnight to Wright Field and quickly get other locking rings to mount the unit to the missile. Norm Rigby also monitored the tests and the target detectors worked perfectly, at least when the missile guided close enough to the target.
During one test firing, while Norm was monitoring the missile flight with his stopwatch, sufficient time had elapsed so that the Sidewinder motor had burned out and the missile was no longer able to catch up with the target. He figured that it was a no-guide and turned away, when the warhead exploded! On analysis it was discovered that the missile was launched at too great a range and the target, which was turning, had time to make a complete circle and flew back into the missile. This accidental test of the target detector was important because it demonstrated the ability to function in a head-on attack, even though it was not designed for this capability. The Air Force kindly returned most of the used target detectors from the desert floor. At least one unit still functioned after having fallen from more than 20,000 ft.
Time had about run out for procurement of the target detectors so that the Air Force was anxious to place large production orders. SBRC was able, based on the very successful test firings and the Navy development program, to have the DSU 21 declared already developed, thereby avoiding a lengthy and competitive development program from Eglin
AFB. Since Warner Robbins normally bought only well developed products, the interface
on this quite new device was tricky. Fortunately, there were a few very capable engineers at the base who worked very well with Norm and coworkers to solve the problems. SBRC drawings were used and the acceptance test program was based on picking the important Navy required tests and eliminating the superfluous ones. The net result was that DSU 21 was sold at about two-thirds the price of the DSU 15. Field results over the next several years indicated as good or better reliability and the performance, as attested during use in several conflicts such as the Falkland Islands and Israel, was identical.
The production design of the DSU 21 took advantage of the lessons learned on the DSU
15 development and was much more producible. These ideas were applied into the DSU
15 through a Navy funded producibility program so that many of the same components
were finally used on both programs. When the time came to bid the DSU 21 production the Air Force wanted to have deliveries of 600 per month as soon as possible. SBRC was
contracted for a rate of 300 per month DSU 15s and was straining to make that rate.
After tough negotiations SBRC accepted a fixed price contract for 400 per month DSU 21s which was about equal to the net worth of the company. As an example of the strain,
the very extensive test equipment required for this large production could not by made by
the SBRC test equipment organization because they were too busy with DSU 15 and
other demands. The DSU 21 design team had to design and build the necessary test
equipment. By the end of the period SBRC was shipping at a rate of 600 per month and
enjoying very profitable business. The DSU 21 not only satisfied the Air Force needs but also provided strong foreign sales for many years, since many nations had the earlier
Sidewinders and could upgrade quite easily to a more modern version. The target detector could even be replaced without other changes.
The long wavelength space focal plane arrays continued to expand in this period. The
arrays for the Miniature Vehicle System (MVS) and the Homing Overlay Experiment
(HOE-HUNTER KILLER) were captured. The Zodiacal Infrared Program (ZIP) was
also begun. The Satellite Infrared Experiment (SIRE) was also started. The Far Infrared
Sky Survey Experiment (FIRSSE) focal array containing 71 elements of extrinsic Si and
Ge covering the region from 8 to 120 microns was built. The Infrared Astronomical
System (IRAS) was begun but unfortunately was later awarded to another supplier. In the
short wavelength region the HS 250 PbS array program was begun for Hughes which evolved into a large space qualified program.
The DSP program for Aerojet required an improvement in the focal plane area so a new development called Sensor Evolutionary Development Program (SED) was begun. This
program was started to address the problems with spurious reflections in the telescope and had as a goal a reflection reduction of one million. This reduction was split between the optics with a budget of one hundred and the focal plane assembly which had the other ten thousand factor. This division recognized the fact the optics focused or concentrated the incoming light by a factor of at least ten thousand. In analyzing the problem a model was make out of clear plastic which was one thousand times larger than the focal plane and it was clear that most of the problem was coming from the light reflected off the gold leads near the detectors. In fact, when the laser probe light hit the gold the whole room lit up! Other more difficult to solve problems derived from the reflection of light from substrate and masking surfaces. It was necessary to develop highly absorbing coatings called “black mirrors” which were applied to all surfaces other than the detectors at the focal plane. This new technology was key to many focal plane applications in the space area of the future.
Perhaps the most exciting work was in the continued growth of the two dimensional arrays with programs for 32×32 HgCdTe arrays starting. By the end of this period it was beginning to show that the SBRC approach of hybridizing the HgCdTe diode arrays to Si readout electronics was a very valuable approach. Development contracts for the Thermal Weapons Sight (TWS), Hybrid Tactical FLIR (HYTAC) and Common Module Retrofit (CMR) provided hybrid CCD technology support for the next generation of FLIR detectors. An important program called the Thermal Weapons Sight (TWS) began at Hughes. The detector assembly was a hybrid of pv HgCdTe detectors and charge coupled electronics made by the IEG Technology Center at Carlsbad. The key feature of this assembly was its high sensitivity operation in the mid-wavelength region at temperatures achievable by thermoelectric cooling. This technique permitted a handheld night sight using batteries, but placed a difficult requirement on the performance of the detectors. In the missile area hybrid arrays were being developed for the staring missile seekers for the IIR Maverick, Wide Area Anti-Armor (WAAM) family and the Advanced Fire and Forget (AFAF) anti-tank missiles.
Continued improvements in HgCdTe involved use of several new techniques which had been developed for the semiconductor industry. Material layers could be deposited by metal organic vapor deposition or by molecular beam epitaxy. SBRC could not afford these large and expensive machines so the processing was often done at UCSB or HRL. Ion implantation and etching was also employed to form and delineate diodes.
1980 TO 1984 – PROSPERITY AND GROWTH
The first half of the eighties was a period of healthy growth and strong sales and earnings. The major programs of the DSU fuzes, Thematic Mapper and Common Module FLIR detectors provided solid support as SBRC matured and grew. A major change in SBRC’s business occurred when the government decided to privatize the earth resource satellite program and asked for bids from the private sector. After much deliberation Hughes and RCA offered a bid which was selected by NOAA and NASA and a joint venture called EOSAT was born to operate the space segment and sell the resulting data. In 1980 Dr. Fletcher (Phil) Phillips joined SBRC as Director of Engineering and Manager of the Thematic Mapper. A major management event occurred in 1981 with the appointment of two Vice Presidents, Warren Nichols and Jay Farnsworth. In 1982 SBRC celebrated its 40th anniversary having grown from 15 to 1925 people. In late 1984 the company was reorganized into three Divisions plus administrative staff. The Detector Division was managed by Fletcher Phillips, Systems Division by Warren Nichols and the Manufacturing Division by Jay Farnsworth.
In 1980 sales jumped to $3M and continued to steadily rise until they leveled off in 1984 at $48M. SIRS had the largest share of sales in the first part of the period with the strong DSU programs but Components surged ahead with FLIR and detector development programs. SIRS continued to provide a lion’s share of the profits, especially from the DSU 21 program fixed price sales. Earnings grew from $9M to $2.7M and generally exceeded plans in this period. The Advance Account recovered to positive levels in 1980 and peaked at $25M in 1982 as the mature programs produced cash without strong requirements for front end investments. By the end of this period SBRC was reporting RONA at 40%. A major change in the government’s taxation policy occurred early in this period when government defense contractors could elect to defer reporting contract profits until the contract was completed. Since defense contracts typically were five or more years long, this provision allowed contractors to retain cash for other purposes. A major effect apparently not realized by the government was that periodic expenses, such as G & A, had to be declared in the year of occurrence which caused a tax loss that could be carried forward and further extended the time when no taxes were paid by the contractor. Basically, the large facility expansion of Hughes, including SBRC, was financed by the cash from these deferred taxes. Another initiative from the Government caused the defense industry considerable headaches: Waste, Fraud and Abuse. This effort was apparently started to impress the public that the otherwise defense oriented administration was really watching the taxpayer dollars. It backfired as more horror stories were printed. SBRC was thoroughly investigated because of errors in time cards and other problems caused by rapid growth and inadequate training of new personnel. With excellent help from Hughes Corporate and the law firm of Latham and Watkins, SBRC was finally cleared of any wrongdoing.
PERSONNEL AND FACILTUES
Employment grew at a steady rate in this period to 2,190 in 1984, although there was a small reduction in force in Santa Barbara due to delay in award of contracts. In recognition of the growth of SBRC Warren Nichols and Jay Farnsworth were appointed Vice-Presidents in 1981. In 1984 SBRC was reorganized into three divisions: Detectors, Systems, and Manufacturing, with Fletcher Phillips, Warren Nichols and Jay Farnsworth as Division Managers. In 1980 SBRC lost an early leader in the development of space sensors when Bob Hummer retired. In keeping with the emphasis on legal matters it was decided in 1983 that SBRC needed a resident lawyer and Bill Murray was sent up from Corporate. Lloyd Candell came to SBRC in 1980 from the Electro-Optical and Data Systems Group as a Laboratory Manager and later managed the Space Systems organization. After careful consultation with employees it was decided to make SBRC a no-smoking facility.
With the continued growth of SBRC and the need for manufacturing facilities both in military sensors and modem detectors it was necessary to engage in an active building program in this period. An additional building, B1, of 115,000 sq. ft. for corporate offices and advanced detector development and production was started in 1981 and was completed in 1982. After a search for a more friendly political location, Santa Maria City was selected for the manufacturing facility. One of the secretaries overheard Talley and Meier talking about locating a suitable site in Santa Maria and volunteered that her family, the Guggias, who were oldtime Santa Maria farmers, were interested in selling a 75 acre farm in one piece to a buyer who would use it well. It turned out to be the best site and the family preferred an installment sale for tax reasons. When Talley presented the package to Corporate he was accused of taking advantage of some innocent farmer in the county, but the package was quickly accepted and the land purchased in early 1982. The first phase of 60,000 sq. ft. was started in 1982 after the land was incorporated into Santa Maria and the existing, but non-producing, oil wells were dismantled by the oil company. It was completed in 1983. Interestingly, SBRC had to buy one more acre of land, even though 50 of the 75 acres were unused, to provide a catch basin for runoff from the buildings and parking lots. The second phase of 55,000 sq. ft. was finished in 1984 and over 400 employees occupied this facility. Del Webb Construction built this facility as they had done for all previous SBRC construction. Additional space was acquired by leasing two building in the Hollister Business Park for Materiel and Finance. Construction went smoothly and move-in occurred with completion of the building in 1984.
There was considerable difficulty in obtaining permission to build necessary facilities from the political structure in Santa Barbara County due to a strong no-growth philosophy. With SBRCs business growth this presented quite a problem. SBRC management solicited help from the employees in their voting decisions and helped create the Santa Barbara Industrial Association to provide integrated representation to the Board of Supervisors. SBRC had always been active in support of colleges, particularly for employee fellowships, and in 1983 the total spent was $624,703. In 1983 SBRC started the Engineering Rotator Program which involved hiring excellent graduates and rotating them for two years through several departments before they received permanent assignments. A Total Quality Program was started in 1983 under the leadership of Jay Farnsworth.
SBRC had always depended on outside computing firms for business data processing but
it decided in 1980 that the time had come to bring data processing inhouse. In keeping with the time honored SBRC approach to computing, an Information Systems manager,
Malcolm “Mac” McNeil, was hired who had originally been a practicing engineer. After
several years of careful planning and implementation of a management information system SBRC entered the information age. The utilization of computer technology in design
really matured in this time period. The Superior Performance Awards in this period were
given to Thomas Sullivan and Betty Gordon.
Space launches continued in this period with MSSs and TMs on Landsats 4 and 5 in 1982 and 1984. These instruments operated for at least a decade even though their design life
was much shorter. The first VAS was launched on GOES 4 in 1980 and operated well for a time but failed. Two more were launched in 1981 and 1983 and both operated very well.
Most of the sales in this period were derived from ongoing programs since there were few new starts from NASA. Thematic Mapper was the largest effort by far and the flight
model was built and shipped on time and under budget. The pictures from TM caused
worldwide interest. In 1983 Warren Nichols received the NASA Distinguished Public
Service Award and the American Astronautical Society’s W. Lovelace II Award in part for his direction of the Thematic Mapper Program. He also received the NASA Distinguished Service Medal. In addition he served on the Civil Operational remote Sensing Satellite
Advisory Commission of the Commerce Department. VAS G, H and I continued the
weather satellite series. Because of the paucity of programs it was decided in 1982 to
move Space Focal Plane Arrays from Components to EOI. HS-250 and new programs
provided a significant part of the EOI sales. DSP-1 was completed with its complicated
assembly of PbS modules mounted on a beryllium focal plane. In 1983 Hughes received
the Defense Advanced Projects Agency/Space Technology Office (DARPA/STO) award
for Infrared Technologies at the ninth DARPA Strategic Space Symposium. Of the many
technologies embodied in the Advanced Sensor Program (ASD) from 1976 to 1983, SBRC contributed the large area mosaic HgCdTe detector.
The privatization of the Landsat Program created a major change in SBRC’s role. Since all
parties were breaking new ground many variations of bids were considered. The first
effort projected an investment of $30M by SBRC to be recouped by data sales,
particularly from oil interests. This proposal did not fly so more modest investments were
considered. Finally, SBRC teamed with RCA and formed a joint venture called EOSAT,
which was owned on a 50/50 basis. Warren Nichols was the chief architect of this unique
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX Missing pp 59 & 60!
Material growth technology moved into the use of liquid phase epitaxy growth in this period which allowed the production of relative large materials. Maverick missile detectors finally went into production and the arrays, which were relatively small by current technology, could be made on multiwafers containing 280 at a time.
The development of the improved DSP/SED modules, which had vastly reduced spurious reflections, resulted in a contract for supplying a complete focal plane array consisting of many modules mounted on a beryllium arm. After a struggle in placing these modules accurately on the arm, the unit was delivered and used successfully. Aerojet, however, wanted to keep the work of mounting the modules in their house so the next orders were for modules only. This business turned out to be very good and excellent profits were made after the bids became fixed price.
Most of the new programs were in the space focal plane area. The Optical Airborne
Measurement Program (OAMP) for Lincoln Labs required a complicated focal plane
assembly with amplifiers which SBRC won. This assembly consisted of doped Si detectors mounted in a baffled enclosure with appropriate beam splitters and filters for measurement of ballistic missile targets. Doped Si detectors were the detectors of choice for the very
low background space sensors and development of improved material processing and
nuclear hardening techniques kept SBRC in the forefront of this technology. Honeywell
ordered a long wavelength array for their program ASDP (HALO) which was for an earth
limb measurement. EOI developed a Multispectral Linear Array Sensor .(MLA SWIR)
which used a graduated interference filter over a short wavelength detector array of 6,144 elements to give spectral information without moving parts as the Landsat satellite orbits. The final version of this concept will use over 60,000 detectors in several wavelengths.
Special Infrared Systems
SBRC won the Heavy Anti-Radiation Missile HARM Mark 19B fuze development from
TI for a fuze which would detonate the missile warhead before it impacted the ground.
This device used the same technology as the DSU fuzes. A Pencil Beam Fuze was also
developed to measure the height from the ground for a missile flying low over the ground. The Laser Vector Scoring System (LVSS) was developed in 1982 to be carried in a target drone to measure how close the missile came to the target. It consisted of many laser
diode and Si detector optical assemblies which could measure the range to an object using optical radar. By using 20 nanosecond pulses the system was able to score a Mach 8
intercept at range of 60 meters. A millimeter precision ranger was developed to measure
the range to a water surface very precisely. This system was designed for remote
measurement of river levels but was never applied. A millimeter wave air-to-air fuze was
also demonstrated but did not get used.
A further demonstration of Bob Cinzori’s patent skill came in 1982 when SBRC won a
patent dispute on basic fire sensor technology in Germany. This allowed Hughes’
subsidiary, Eltro, to get into the fire sensor business.
A major new program came to SBRC from Hughes for the development of a very high
performance indium antimonide Focal Plane Array Module (FPM), under the direction of Bob Eck. The sensitivity and uniformity requirements were close to theoretical limits. The rejects from this program would have been easy to sell to the brochure market. These
modules were assembled on a focal plane carrier and connected to integrated preamplifiers and multiplexers. This program began in 1982 and reached a level of $18M per year by
1984. Other lnSb advances were the continued improvement in two dimensional (2D) arrays. At the beginning of the period 2D arrays had been demonstrated in 32×32 size. By the end of the period this technology had advanced to 128×128 arrays.
The development of pv HgCdTe detectors continued to achieve good success. Substrates for the HgCdTe diodes were made of CdZnTe and the HgCdTe layers could be grown epitaxialy on these substrates. By adjusting the percentage of Zn the lattice spacing could be matched to HgCdTe. Much to the scientist’s surprise not only was the crystal perfection better but the performance of the detector was greatly improved. The higher bandwidth of the CdZnTe acted as a reflector of carriers and resulted in longer lifetimes in the HgCdTe. Techniques for making larger and larger 2D arrays were perfected in this time period. Another research development was the deposition of diamond-like carbon films which provided abrasion resistant surfaces.
Continued application of the common module concept led to Hughes capturing the Target Acquisition System/Pilot Night Sight System (TADS/PNVS) for the Advanced Attack Helicopter and more detector orders. An important new program capture was the Thermal Weapons Sight. The detector assembly was hybrid of SBRC pv HgCdTe detectors and charge coupled electronics made by the IEG Technology Center at Carlsbad. The key feature of this assembly was its high sensitivity operation in the mid-wavelength region at temperatures achievable by thermoelectric cooling. This approach permitted a handheld night sight using batteries, but placed a difficult requirement on the performance of the detectors.
1984 TO 1989 – END OF AN ERA
Business proceeded normally and well through 1988 but a dramatic change occurred in 1989 with the fall of the Berlin Wall and the general demise of the Soviet threat. Since the United States was clearly the only superpower left much of the defense market was slated for reduction. SBRC peaked in manpower and sales in 1988 and began to drop in 1989 as programs completed and few new ones were started. The tactical production programs were the hardest hit. .
A major event in 1985 was the sale of Hughes Aircraft to General Motors for about
$5.5B. Hughes was combined with Delco Electronics to form GM-Hughes Electronics
(GMHE). This subsidiary of General Motors traded on the New York Stock Exchange.
There had been much more emphasis on financial matters in the earlier eighties and the emphasis tended to move to shorter time scales after the acquisition.
In 1987 Alien Puckett retired as Chairman of the Hughes Board and was replaced by
Albert Wheelon, who was replaced in 1989 by Dr. Malcolm Currie. SBRC began to
report to Dr. Robert Roney in the new Corporate Technology Centers Office. Later he
was replaced by Dr. Robert Roderick. These officials were each also appointed Chairman of the SBRC Board. In recognition of the size of SBRC in 1985 it was decided to consolidate all of the systems business in a Division under Warren Nichols and the detector business under Fletcher Phillips as Division Manager.
In 1989 there were major management changes which were not connected to international
events. President Robert Talley, having reached 65 years of age, retired and was replaced
by Fletcher Phillips. Later the two Vice Presidents and Division Managers, Warren
Nichols and Jay Farnsworth, retired. Jerry Molitor from the Hughes Research
Laboratories was appointed Detector Division Manager and Aram Mika Systems Division Manager. Ray Calderon became Manufacturing Manager. Also in 1989 the Hughes Technology Center (HTC) at Carlsbad was assigned to report to SBRC since their work on Si readouts interfaced primarily with SBRC and the organizations had similar interests. Dr. Ron Finnila continued to be the Manager of HTC. The death of Pat Hyland in 1989, who had led Hughes Aircraft from 1954 to 1980, seemed to close out this fabulous era.
Sales continued to rise strongly from $156M in 1985 to a peak of $205M in 1988,
dropping sharply to $178M in 1989 when considered on the same basis as earlier years.
Because of the assignment of HTC to SBRC total sales were $219M. Earnings also rose
from $9.2M to a peak of $17.6M in 1987, followed by a drop-off in 1988 and a drop to
$4M in 1989. Actually 1989 would have been a loss year except for the contributions from EOSAT and HTC. The Advance Account stayed positive at around $3M to $6M even after SBRC was charged interest on working capital. Detector Division sales accounted for about 60% of the total with the Common Module programs being the largest sales. Systems sales were dominated by the DSU Programs, but problems in production and a low price caused considerable losses in 1989. The Fire Sensor Systems were steady at about $1OM per year. Generally, the Detector Division had the largest profit position at about 8%. The profit from EOSAT was treated separately and it rose to $5M, which made a sizable effect in the total picture. RONA was generally in the 20% range in this period, but dropped in 1989. An old business, Brochure Detectors, was finally sold in 1987 because it was no longer profitable.
PERSONNEL AND FACILITIES
Personnel grew with increasing sales from 2,265 to a peak of about 2600, although there were some layoffs in Santa Barbara in the early years. In 1985 Members of the Technical Staff (MTS) totaled 365 including 30 with PhDs. In fact, ten of these PhD scientists were on the executive staff. At the end of the period employment had dropped to 1897 at SBRC with 645 at HTC and further reductions were coming. In 1987 Marve Matthais and Ed Ward, who were long term chief financial and personnel officers, took early retirement. They were replaced by Dave Edwards and John Bowen respectively. With the increased workload it was decided to take a very long term lease on the buildings in the Hollister Research Park, except for two smaller buildings which were leased by other companies. Systems Division was consolidated there in 1988 along with a number of administration functions. Several other leased buildings with great names such as Sprouse-Reitz, Schafer and Oceangraphics were vacated. With the slowdown in Landsat business in 1987 it was necessary to loan up to 50 engineers to Delco Electronics to meet some of their workload problems. SBRC received the Presidential Citation Award, which was symbolized by a flag, from long time Congressman Robert Lagomarsino. In 1985 NOAA honored Roger Thomsen, Richard Ruiz, Robert Hummer, Jim Young and Frank Malinowski for their important contributions to the weather satellite program.
As in the last period the largest programs were the Common Module Production
programs. The DT-594 large common module was used on the Hughes Night Vision
System (HNVS), Advance Attack Helicopter (AAH), and LANTIRN aircraft pod
programs. The DT-591 small common module was used on the Bradley Fighting
Vehicle (BFVS), TOW 2 and other night sights by Hughes.
The largest single program was the FPM for Hughes which transitioned from development
to production during this period. The Maverick Missile detector program was steady and
the older production programs for A6, B52, etc continued at about $1OM per year in this
period. The Element 6 Program, which was an integrated cooler, electronics and detector
assembly went into production. Space Focal Planes, mostly for DSP, were solid at about
$20M per year. The AOA and OAMP programs were successfully completed.
NOAA honored Roger Thompson, Richard Ruiz, Robert Hummer, James Young, Frank
Malinowski and Gary Barnett in 1985 for their work on weather satellites at the 25th
anniversary of the first weather satellite. The last VISSR was launched on GOES G in
February 1987 but the launch was a failure and a VAS was launched on GOES 7 later in
the month. This instrument was destined to last a long time which was fortunate because
the replacement instruments made by brand X were very late in coming. A new generation
of synchronous weather satellite systems, GOES NEXT, which could image and perform
temperature soundings simultaneously, was competed in 1985 and Hughes lost to Ford.
SBRC bid only to Hughes with strong urging by Hughes officials while Ford depended on
ITT for the sensors. Ford proposed a three-axis stabilized spacecraft and Hughes a
rotating spacecraft holding a modified VAS and a derotated platform containing the
sounder. Although the Hughes approach was less risky and cheaper, the NASA scientists
believed that future growth in weather observation capabilities required use of a three-axis
stabilized spacecraft and this program was the only opportunity they were likely to get this
century. Except for the GMS program this loss effectively froze SBRC out of the weather
satellite sensor business, which they so brilliantly pioneered. As expected by Hughes, Ford
and ITT got into serious trouble in trying to design and build GOES NEXT. Requirements
were relaxed and serious cost and schedule overruns occurred. Equally seriously the delay
in launch meant that there might be a loss of weather coverage for the US. Fortunately for
the government the GOES instruments lasted much longer than expected. The Japanese GMS 4 was launched in 1989.
The Galileo Probe to Jupiter was launched 1989 with the SBRC PPR on board and this
instrument performed very well during the flight. An earlier probe, Pioneer 10, made
history when it was the first man-made object to leave the solar system in 1987 after
observing Uranus and Pluto on the way. The IPP performed flawlessly all of flight and was
finally used as a star tracker to orient the spacecraft when the sun’s energy was too weak
to operate the sun sensor.
Most of the effort in the Space Sensor area was directed at the Landsat and VAS
programs in this period. One of the more interesting smaller programs was the radiative
cooler for the JPL Near Infrared Mapping Spectrometer (NIMS) which flew to Jupiter on
the Galileo mission.
The EOSAT program started and EOSAT became a well operating entity in this period.
The first President and Vice President were Charles Schmidt from RCA and Peter Norris
from SBRC. It was necessary to staff the organization, take over the operations which had
been handled by NASA and develop the data market. Direction of the spacecraft
operations was achieved at lower cost and the processing of data was gradually performed
more and more at the EOSAT facility in Lanham, Md. All of this effort was accomplished
within the monetary constraints and a nice profit was earned. The cost to the government
for this program was reduced continually during this period. However, these benefits were not achieved without considerable travail. The funding promised by the government was
always late in coming and usually required considerable assistance from interested
Congressmen to pry it loose from NOAA. The Board of Directors, consisting of Robert
Talley and Warren Nichols from Hughes and Charles Schmidt and another person from
RCA/GE, met monthly and the usual item on the agenda was notification of the
subcontractors of probable contract termination within the next month due to lack of
government funding! It never happened but times were certainly exciting.
The military side of Systems was heavily involved in DSU 15A/B production in the first
part of the period; however, Raytheon captured half of the business in 1985 and finally
took over most of the business. DSU 21 continued strong for most of the period. These
Sidewinder fuzes received battle tests in the Falkland Island War and Israeli-Syrian air
battles and performed perfectly. The new programs of the Harm Missile fuze, DSU 19, the
Rotating Airframe Missile fuze (RAM) and the DSU 35 Pencil Beam fuze for Tacit
Rainbow picked up some of the lost business in the later part of this period. The DSU 19
fuze was a Motorola design, which was difficult to build, so SBRC proposed a value
engineered improvement program which was accepted. Fire Sensors continued at a steady
pace of around $1OM per year. The LYSS was terminated for convenience after suffering
some financial problems.
A key win occurred in 1988 with the award of the Boost Surveillance and Tracking
System (BSTS) of the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) to Hughes and Lockheed. This
space system required an extensive array of detectors and represented a major
development program for SBRC. Another indication of SBRC’s excellence in 2D focal
planes was the sale of a 58×62 array to the United Kingdom IR Telescope facility at
Mauna Kea which permitted some breakthrough observations in astronomy. The Army
Night Vision Laboratory (NVL) began development programs for second generation night sight detectors which used the integrated detector and multiplier arrays on the ALICAT
program. This led to the SAIRS program for the second generation night sights. The
Thermal Weapons Sight (TWS) using a thermoelectrically cooled HgCdTe second
generation array had the advantage not requiring a mechanical cooler and the large battery packs. This small portable night sight offered high sensitivity in competition with room
temperature bolometer array systems but required new technology for the focal plane array. This detector was selected for use on the Advance Attack Weapons System-Medium (AAWS-M) night sight. The AAWS-M missile detector was originally Si Schottky arrays made by Hughes Microelectronics Center (HMC) and packaged by SBRC. Extrinsic Si continued to be the material of choice for low background space sensors. In 1987 the equipment and technology for growing high purity Si crystals was transferred from HRL to SBRC and high quality crystals were successfully grown. Thin layers of Si were made by HMC for radiation hard requirements and integrated into focal planes at SBRC. For the first time HgCdTe technology was transferred overseas to Odelft in the Netherlands and to Selenia in Italy. Improvements in pv HgCdTe detectors included development of the superior p on n approach and significant improvements in stability by
utilizing CdTe layers on the surface of the detectors. Research in high temperature
superconductivity was begun.
In 1988 SBRC began work on the Sea-Viewing, Wide-Field-of-View Sensor (SeaWIFS)
originally under company funding. This instrument views the sea in a multispectral manner to measure the level of chlorophyll and phytoplankton in the ocean. This information will
help determine the how the ocean scrubs carbon based greenhouse gases from the
atmosphere. SeaWIFS will be launched on a commercial satellite SeaStar. The Thermal
Emission Spectrometer (TES) using an interferometric approach for thermal emission
analysis of Mars was started. At the end of this period the future of SBRC space sensor
business was assured with the award of the large Modis-N contract to SBRC and the
EOS-DIS contract to Hughes. These contracts included instruments which were key
monitoring sensors in the Earth Observation Satellite (EOS), which was NASA’s new earth resource satellite system. The next Japanese weather satellite, GMS5, was ordered.
A key win occurred in 1986 when SBRC won a $46M contract from Hercules for a Laser
Firing Unit (LFU) to be used in the Midgetman ballistic missile. This firing unit used fiber optics to transmit laser pulses from the laser to various parts of the missile to initiate squibs for ignition and separation functions. It had an advantage over the conventional wiring in weight and resistance to static charge problems. The future of this program was tied to the future of the Midgetman Missile, which finally died after the split-up of the Soviet Union.
Incomplete draft History of SBRC
In the beginning…
In 1936, an amateur radio operator from Atlanta, Georgia named Dave Evans achieved a certain notoriety within the ham radio community by winning a national contest. This notoriety prompted a Ventura, California man, Doc Stewart, to ask Dave to come west and help him win the contest the following year. Dave Evans did come west, and his sponsor won the contest. This led to more recognition for Dave, and brought him to the attention of another man with big plans, Howard Hughes. Mr. Hughes needed someone to handle the radio communication for his upcoming around-the-world flight. In 1938, Dave went to Culver City where he manned the command post for the successful and highly publicized flight. When the flight was over and the excitement died down a bit, Dave packed his bags and Howard asked where he was going. Dave told him Atlanta, Howard asked him to stay and Dave became in charge of the Radio Department of Hughes Aircraft. Thus was born the alliance between Dave Evans, who would ultimately go on to establish SBRC, and Howard Hughes, whose company has always figured prominently in SBRC’s often turbulent history.
As the decade of the 1950s opened, Southern California was the center of the fast-growing aircraft (soon to become aerospace) industry. Virtually all the big companies were here – Douglas (now McDonnell Douglas), Northrop, Lockheed, North American (now Rockwell) – along with a myriad of support industries. The jet age was upon us, and across the mountains to the north at a place called Edwards Air Force Base, names like Yeager and Crossfield were pushing the new technologies to the limit and beyond. The visionaries were already talking about venturing outside the atmosphere, and at isolated outposts, usually wind-swept beaches or deserts, scientists were using a combination of captured German technology* and half-forgotten writings of an American, Robert H. Goddard, to make the first tentative explorations of the Earth’s upper atmosphere.
*At the end of World War II the U.S. Russian intelligence forces combed
Europe for German rocket scientists, and the hardware they built. Under
a program code named Project Paperclip, some 200 scientists and technicians (among them Werner von Braun) and a number of V2 rockets were smuggled into the U.S. These men formed the nucleus of the U.S. space effort; the ones the Russians captured did the same for that country.
Within this new industrial revolution, Hughes Aircraft Company was emerging as a producer of high-quality, high-technology electronics for the aircraft industry.
Santa Barbara Research Center has its roots in this era of ever-increasing sophistication. By 1950 the key figures in the founding of SBRC were either at or on their way to Hughes’ Culver City headquarters. In December 1950, Gene Peterson and family rented an apartment on La Tijera Blvd. close to the Culver City plant and he started work in the Navigation section for Custer Baum. Many of the Hughes employees later became part of SBRC: Gene Peterson, Custer Baum, Jack Kuhn, Russell Hulett, Stan Buller, Jack Lansing, Dick Genoud, Kenny Meyers, Bill Noetling, Charles Deming and a few more.
The specific project that drew them together was called the Daylight Star Tracker, which was being worked on in the Navigation Section of Dave Evans’ Radio Division. Gene Peterson, one of the original founding group of SBRC, explains, “The project was to make a star tracker which could be used for celestial navigation day or night. (Long-range aircraft navigation at the time used celestial (star) plots for determining position. Since the only star visible in daylight is the sun, the advantages of the Daylight Star Tracker are obvious.) Such a device had been invented, an experimental unit built and demonstrated, and there was a contract with North American to deliver two prototypes. The prototype design was nearly finished and construction was under wayin 1950. The Air Force who had sponsored the project wanted development to continue, making the device smaller and better and keeping a team together to tackle the problems which were sure to arise in application. Work continued on the Star Tracker into 1951 with the Air Force continuing to push for smaller, lighter systems.” However, Hughes managers Ramo and Woolridge saw no future in this business and decided to stop work on the Daylight Star Tracker navigational device, the project headed by Dave Evans. HAC did not bid on the follow-on contract, deciding to concentrate efforts on radar, another relatively new field. Dave Evans decided it was time to leave.
The corporate decision not bid on the Daylight Star Tracker follow-on contract would start events in motion that led to the formation of SBRC. Jack Kuhn, another one of the founders, now retired, describes how the news was broken to the Star Tracker team and the events that followed, “The man who handled the Star Tracker business for Wright Field came to us and told the head of our group, Custer Baum, that if he would find a company to support us, he would fix it up so that we would have a contract on star trackers. Custer went around to see what he could find out about companies to sponsor us and he happened to run into Dave Evans who had left Hughes a month or two previously. Evans told Custer that he had just the company for us.”
It is important to understand the kind of man Dave Evans was. Obviously he was talented in the technical sense, or he would never have achieved the recognition he did in the amateur radio community. But he was also an ambitious individualist, ever anxious to accept a challenge, and not one to sit back and be moved by others. So as Hughes grew, Dave found himself more and more bound by what he saw as increasing bureaucracy, and he left with plans of his own for a new company structured his way. He needed two things: the right business (including a staff to go with it), and a financial backer. Custer Baum followed, providing the initial staff (taking Jack Kuhn and Russell Hulett with him – the backbone of the Hughes Navigation section). With Air Force encouragement Dave provided the backing in the form of Pacific Mercury Television Company.
Pacific Mercury, whose home office was in Van Nuys, supplied radio and television components to Sears Roebuck, but the company wanted to diversify, hoping for government contracts. Dave Evans, aware of the situation at Hughes, approached Pacific Mercury and outlined his plan. An agreement was reached, and Pacific Mercury, builders of TV sets, became the parent company for a handful of researchers developing a Star Tracker for the Air Force. The next problem was where to put this new operation.
The question of location was one that concerned everyone except Dave. He knew exactly where he wanted to establish his new company – a small seaside community named Santa Barbara. In a presentation to the SBRC Management Club on January 20, 1981, the late Al Paul, SBRC’s business manager from day one until his death in 1982, answered why, in the midst of tremendous aerospace expansion in the LA area, Pacific Mercury’s research section established itself in Santa Barbara, where no other technically oriented companies existed. “Because Dave Evans wanted to live in Santa Barbara. And a significant reason for that was because his wife’s sister lived in Santa Barbara. He visited here frequently and they enjoyed the town and probably his wife influenced him. He also realized that a plant in Santa Barbara would be a place where technical people could be attracted and he was correct in that – at least, for many years. It may be a little more difficult these days.”
So, in the summer of 1951 Evans invited former Hughes colleagues (in fact, all of the people in the Hughes Navigation Section) to join him in Santa Barbara to continue work on the Daylight Star Tracker contract with the Air Force for Pacific Mercury Television Company. Many of the engineers chose to stay in Culver City as the new company looked awfully small and might not last. Dave set up shop in what had been a private school in the forties, the old Lomas Feliz School at 1500 Mission Canyon Road, and began doing business as the Pacific Mercury Research Center.
This was a beautiful spot at the top of Mission Canyon road above the Botanic Garden. There were some serious drawbacks to converting the 6 or 7 buildings into a place of business. There was inadequate electrical power and fireplaces were the only heat source. There were security problems as the property was so open. Technical conferences and meetings were held out on the lawn under the trees, when it wasn’t raining.
The garages were made into a machine shop. An artist’s studio with abundant “north light” was converted into a drafting room. There was a small swimming pool – which got green pretty fast because it did not have circulating filters. There was a soccer field up the hill a ways and there were horseshoe courts. Mission Creek was close by and up above the creek, a horse barn and an old orange grove (not cared for). There was a small waterfall – small in the summer anyway. All were delighted to be working in such beautiful surroundings in 1951, although the new arrivals were treated to some unusual weather. In the first month, the sun wasn’t to be seen up on the hill. It rained nearly every day. In the several years before 1950 there had been a drought. Water rationing was required and lawns were dead all over town. The Montecito County Club was completely brown. In the winter of 1950-51 the drought ended and in 1951-52 the entire area almost washed away in the rainstorms. Several times, bedraggled engineers had to hike up the hill to get to work. Mission Creek was a roaring torrent and the ground shuddered with the huge boulders crashing together as they tumbled down the streambed.
There was a pretty good crew that first year. Dave Evans (The Boss), Al Paul (Business Manager), Custer Baum (Technical Director), Jack Kuhn (Head of Mechanical Design), Russ Hulett (Head of Electronic Design), Bob Jopson (Analyst), Larry Hindall (Systems Engineering), Pat Meade and Betty Wagner (Secretaries), Charles and Millie Lusk (Draftsmen Designers), Jack Lansing (Electronics Engineering), Stan Buller (Mechanical Engineer), Al McEuen, Eugene Peterson, and Curt Foster (Physicists), Bill Davis (Systems Engineering), Bob Hahn (Electronics Technician), George Raabe (Technican), Edward Kutzsher (a “captured” German Chemist). There were several guards, one was Ted Andrews. Hattie and Leon Morris were the custodians.
Throughout the remainder of 1951 and into 1952, the Pacific Mercury Research Center continued to work on the Star Tracker program and, despite the problem of facilities, actually produced working prototypes. The program was a continuation of work already begun at HAC under a Wright Field contract, to complete the daylight star tracker system and test it, including flight tests. An airplane was bailed to Pacific Mercury and Art Snyder, who owned the Flight Line Restaurant, was the pilot.
The telescope which was to be used on the new system was a Schmidt and components had been ordered while the contract was with HAC. When the parts were transferred to SBRC, they had already been accepted – but had not been checked out. When the system was put together, an adequately small star image was displayed, but when tracking stars, performance was poor. It took a while to determine that the upturned outer zone on the Schmidt corrector plate was contributing no energy to the star image. It deviated so badly from the correct contour that light from that zone was spread over the entire field of view. When a machine shop dial indicator was run over the surface, the contour was found to be grossly in error. When the optical supplier was confronted with this information he said, “I know the contour is not as designed, but it is better this way, makes a smaller star image!” The search was on for a new fabricator who could follow instructions. An adequate Schmidt plate was procured, although there weren’t many suppliers in those days who really had the capability to produce the aspheric surfaces needed.
SBRC got a lot of publicity when arriving in Santa Barbara, and received a warm welcome as the type of “smokeless” industry that was desirable. The Chamber of Commerce invited all the employees to a steak barbecue in an adobe downtown, followed by speeches of welcome. It was a nice evening and all the local businessmen showed up, including Tom Storke and whoever happened to be on the welcoming committee. It was a little uncomfortable, because when you come to a new town and classified programs are the only thing you are working and you can’t talk about it, it’s a little suspect. SBRC was one of the few companies in town in the early 1950’s. One who was here earlier was known as D & R Limited, which stood for Dawley and Reynolds the two owners. That company has since disappeared and been replaced. Varo was in their facility for many years down on East Gutierrez. SBRC was kind of a freak, a technical outfit in Santa Barbara, not at all a common sort of business back then.
The housing situation at that time was not bad for renters and buyers, although most arrivals had to pay more for less space in Santa Barbara than down in the Culver City area. In those days the stores were all closed on Sundays including the groceries. It may not have been true that the sidewalks were rolled up at sundown, but Santa Barbara was a pretty small town.
The employee roster grew to 22 names. However, as the spring of 1952 came around, trouble loomed in paradise. Having the parent company handle purchasing and accounting from Van Nuys created a certain amount of friction, particularly when one of the parties involved was an established big-city business whose officers really didn’t know what the other party, a small group of maverick scientists, was up to.
Dave Evans decided that the time had come to separate the company from Pacific Mercury Television, and the best way to do that was to initiate legal action against them. The basis of this suit was that the parent company was not living up to the initial agreement that the Research Center would be an independent company and that Evans and certain others would be given stock. There were also rumors that Pacific Mercury had made improper charges against the Air Force contract. Evans believed that if his company disassociated itself from Pacific Mercury and started a new company, the star tracking job would follow him. It’s probable that the Air Force people who were monitoring the work encouraged such thoughts. And legal advice to Dave was, “You should have a legal separation so that you are free to start up another company and won’t be subject to legal action.”
Pacific Mercury officials heard of these plans, and acted on their own. What ensued was later referred to as All Fools Day of 1952. Al Paul’s words describe the events. “On April 1, 1952 you would have seen a Los Angeles businessman by the name of Ted Horowith frantically racing up the foothills. He was treasurer of the Pacific Mercury Television Manufacturing Company. Chasing him and not far behind, you would have seen a deputy sheriff by the name of King. The deputy did finally catch the businessman.” The deputy was attempting to serve legal papers on the treasurer. There were people who were observing all this, guys like Gene Peterson, Jack Lansing, Stan Buller, Jack Kuhn, probably Bill Shockensey, perhaps Tom Johnson (he kind of came and went, one of those part-time drifting fellows), Leon Morris . . . who probably knew as much about what was going on in the company as anybody.
While events were unfolding in Santa Barbara, there was activity stirring down in Los Angeles. Dave Evans, President of the Pacific Mercury Research Center, Custer Baum, Vice-President and Director of Research, and Al Paul the business manager were there for a meeting with the top management of Pacific Mercury Television Company. They wanted to discuss dissolution of the relationship and to serve papers on the corporate officers. The process server (Jerry somebody) had been trying for the better part of a week to serve papers to accomplish this dissolution with a complete lack of success.
They arrived in Los Angeles and stopped at the Culver City Bank of America to let Dave do a little banking before the early afternoon meeting. He called back to Santa Barbara, heard about the episode, learned that the file cabinets were all locked now with Pacific Mercury’s locks, and that the employees had been advised that Dave was fired. He and Custer immediately turned and went right back to Santa Barbara, leaving Al in Los Angeles with the process server and the papers to serve the corporate officers. Going to meet with the President of the parent company, knowing that he was to be served legal papers, would have been rather exciting. They succeeded, primarily because the president was aware that the corporation had already been served in Santa Barbara. Dave’s attorney was rather cautious and he wanted all of the officers served, so from the president the little group continued to Beverly Hills and served a couple more. By midnight, Al was on the train to Santa Barbara and the Research company’s head guard met him, excited to share the details of the memorable day, Al1 Fools Day of 1952.
When the dust had settled in Mission Canyon, Pacific Mercury Research Center had a new president, a retired Air Force general named Winky Kratz, a prior Hughes employee who brought an engineer or two with him. A few people were still employed, including Al Paul, Jack Lansing, Curt Foster, Ed Kutzscher, Bob Hahn, Pat Meade, and Betty Wagner. Some people left with Dave and some took temporary jobs out of town, one being Stan BuIler.
Dave Evans and most of his people were out of a job. The lawyers, however, were busy. Evans sued to be reinstated as president and was issued a restraining order in return. Pacific Mercury responded by saying that he could resume presidency, but only if a bond was posted, since they felt Evans would merely run the company into the ground and ruin the operation. The amount of the bond was more than the entire band of Santa Barbara people could gather, so obviously that wouldn’t work. The only thing that stopped the legal action was a friend of Dave’s who had successfully represented Howard Hughes on a personal accident case in Los Angeles some years earlier. He went to work on it, and ascertained that the incorporation of the Pacific Mercury Research Center, if it indeed had been incorporated, involved forgery. The notary public who had attested to the signatures on the document was tracked down, and he could not really remember whether Dave’s signature was on the document at the time the notary stamp was applied. The attorney was able to convince Pacific Mercury Television that it was easier to pay Dave $1000 bucks to drop the legal action than to go through the forgery suit.
Perhaps no one save the attorneys will ever know the true answers, certainly not the dozen or so engineers and scientists who spent the time during the legal arguments putting together proposals so that the new company, if it ever materialized, would have something to do. In the end, Pacific Mercury Television Company elected to pay Evans $1,000, and all legal activities were stopped. Finally, the lawyers were satisfied and went away, leaving Evans and his band to their own designs and devices.
While the legal activities were in full swing, those technical people still around, numbering 15 or so, were spending their free time (and it was all free, since nobody was getting paid) working on proposals trying to drum up business. Everyone pitched in, including the wives who tediously typed and re-typed them. Before long it became clear that Evans and company weren’t going to pick up where they left off on the Air Force contract and more of the group left. Bill Davis and Russ Hulett went to Lockheed at Sunnyvale. Bob Jopson went to the Livermore laboratory. Gene Peterson was approached by Dr. Wright in the Spectroscopy Lab at Dow, with an offer for steady work. It was by no means certain that the new “company” would ever get truly started. The economic future was shaky and frightening.
What Dave Evans really had in the spring of 1952 was a set of offices and the idea for a new company. He rented a little “office” of two small rooms at 25 W. Anapamu and Santa Barbara Research Center was incorporated on April 14, 1952. Al McEuen and Jack Kuhn made some drafting tables and Santa Barbara Research Center was in business.
Of the proposals in process, the best bet seemed to be some sort of study contract for the Air Force at Wright-Patterson AFB. Nobody really knew too may details, except that the contract could only be awarded to a nonprofit corporation. Dave Evans established SBRC as a nonprofit “research center” and filed for incorporation as a California nonprofit company, with offices at 25 West Anapamu Street, over a commercial garage. Evans, along with Custer Baum, Al Paul, Gene Peterson, Jack Kuhn, Jack Lansing, and Stan Buller, form the nucleus of the fledgling company, which at the moment of its birth had no contracts and no money. The Air Force proposal effort failed but the incorporation succeeded, so SBRC was officially in existence, at least on paper.
At this point, perhaps 12 or 15 people were working for SBRC. (These figures are difficult to pin down because everything was somewhat vague. Dave Evans didn’t care much for organization, and since all efforts at this time were directed to actual survival, detailed records are virtually nonexistent.) The initial financing was accomplished through a collection of the employee’s funds. Since none of these people had been drawing regular salaries for a while, times were a bit thin, particularly since none of the proposal activity had produced any positive results. Just when things looked particularly grim, SBRC’s fortunes began to improve.
Dr. Wagner, a German scientist like Ed Kutzsher, was starting a company to develop a wire guided missile. He approached Larry Hindall and Gene Peterson to do some optical design for him. By dividing up the fee received for that consulting, each of the employees got a very small check. The true comraderie and spirit of Santa Barbara Research Center was born out of those rough beginnings.
By this time many of the original Project Paperclip scientists had scattered and were working at various military research and development establishments. Originally part of a group of six working at Pt. Mugu, Edward Kutscher was hired as a chemist by Dave Evans while still at Pacific Mercury. One of Kutscher’s friends from the old country, H.A. Wagner, had also left Pt. Mugu after putting in the required time. Wagner had started his own (slightly more successful) electronics company, down in North Hollywood, in the Studio City area on Ventura Boulevard, the H.A. Wagner Company, and needed some outside expertise. Within the German “old boy” network phone calls were made, conferences were held, and Wagner alerted. He was very sympathetic to the struggles of Santa Barbara Research Center, he liked Ed Kutscher, and he had been happy with Gene Peterson and Larry Hindall, so he found a reason to give SBRC a sub-contract for $25,000 for optical design work. That contract came in the nick of time. SBRC was out of the woods.
The group began to reassemble. Stan Buller, Jack Lansing and Bob Hahn came back. Ed Kutzcher moved down from Pacific Mercury, bringing his Bureau of Ships contract to make lead selenide infrared detectors with him.
Bill Bollay, who was just starting a company in his home and garage in Palos Verdes, needed help in designing and developing a heat seeking guidance system for an antitank missile. He contracted with SBRC. Bollay’s company became Aerophysics and moved to Santa Barbara. They built the plant which later became the Delco buildings on Hollister Avenue.
A contract from Sperry Gyroscope came through, to produce the final design of the Daylight Star Tracker. In the fall of 1952 work started, and the employees began getting salaries again. Things were finally looking up.
Incoming contracts from Sperry, Wagner, and Bollay swelled the work force to some 20 people, forcing a move from the two offices on Anapamu to more spacious quarters. The house next door to Gene Peterson’s home was for rent, so the operation moved to 2034 De la Vina Street at the corner of Padre (which later became a church, and was later demolished). A reception desk was set up in the living room, bedrooms were turned into offices, the kitchen became the detector laboratory (because there was running water available), the garage became the electronics laboratory (because a previous resident had installed a power strip). Most experimental work was performed in the backyard.
Tom Johnson was a young, bright chemist who had worked part time for Pacific Mercury Research when it was still located in Mission Canyon. His regular job was at Pt. Mugu, and again it was Ed Kutscher who provided the contact. In 1953, Tom was persuaded to come to work full-time for SBRC as a chemist. His first day on the new job was a bit of a shock. He relates, “The earliest and strongest memory I have is coming to De la Vina Street and finding that the chemistry lab was in the kitchen, then walking out the back door and seeing two strange-looking characters in short pants and straw hats with some kind of a telescope on a tripod gazing up at the heavens in broad daylight. Curiosity got the better of me and I went out there and introduced myself. One of them was Jack Lansing and the other was Gene Peterson. “What are you guys doing?” I asked. “Well,” they answered, “we’re looking at the stars.” I thought that was very interesting and very scientific and went back in and thought, oh hell, these guys are crazier than I thought. But that was a Star Tracker that they were working on, one of the very first ones.” (Tom Johnson stayed with the company, retiring in 1983. In 1958 he was awarded one of the first L.A. Hyland Patent Awards ever given by Hughes Aircraft.)
Stan Buller built a rough looking but solid equatoria1 mount for tracking tests. Gene Peterson bought a barely large enough spotting scope for a star finder. He found a big steel I-beam and a good spherical mirror to makeshift a collimator. When they put a coat of paint on the I-beam, it was quite presentable as well as functional. One of Gene’s first tasks was to design a Schmidt telescope. He traced rays through the proposed designs using tables of trigonometric functions which had been made by hungry mathematicians under the WPA during the depression. Normal tables were not of sufficient accuracy. Calculations were made on a Friden calculator, clanking away. Nowadays a little $15 pocket calculator can generate those trigonometry tables and do the calculations to far better accuracy than was reasonable in 1952!
To test the Star Tracker, an arrangement was made with the Department of Forestry to perform tests on Santa Ynez peak and to get some electrical power run to the top. Performance was demonstrated and a star tracker delivered in less than a year. Ironically, the very device that provided the impetus for SBRC’s formation was never put into production. Sperry never considered that the plexiglass window that the Star Tracker would sight through had a “joint” within the field of view. When the sun illuminated this joint, it generated giant spurious signals, introducing too much distortion. Jack Lansing spent some time at Sperry, helping them with the issue, but they finally gave up. The cost of modifying the various aircraft into which the unit was to have been installed was prohibitive, so the entire project was scrapped.
At that time there were about 15 employees at the De la Vina Street location working on various projects. There was lead salt detector work going on in Tom Johnson’s chemistry lab/kitchen, and everyone was keeping busy. SBRC was pioneering the development of lead selenide infrared detectors. The scientific community was greatly interested in infrared development. The star tracker used a lead sulfide detector which had some infrared sensitivity and Ed Kutzscher would be producing lead selenide detectors before long. There were a couple of setbacks in those first years. Dr. Kutzscher left, with bad feelings. He made what appeared to be a dishonest claim regarding some early detector samples. The Bureau of Standards group at Corona found the sensitivity to be due to lead sulfide instead of lead selenide, and although a seed layer of lead sulfide had been used to start the deposition he did not admit to them when asked whether there was any possibility that the photosensitivity was due to lead sulfide. Tom Johnson continued to work on lead selenide.
Dr. Larry Hindall died. Several of the guys played handball at the YMCA one evening a week, and one evening they were just getting warmed up when Larry collapsed and died. This was before the days of CPR. The fire department had him on an inhalator in very short time but he did not respond. Gene Peterson never played handball after that day.
SBRC was expanding. The former Flying A movie studio at the corner of Chapala and Mission Streets was rented to ease the space shortage, and plans were in the works for a move to the Santa Barbara Airport, where industrial space was available at a reasonable rate.
By 1953 things were going fairly well, but Dave Evans realized that real growth would require financial backing, so he set about finding a buyer who could provide the necessary support. The problem was that no one wanted to invest in a non-profit company. There was some response to proposals, but who would make a contract with a company that had no assets? After a lot of scouting about Dave found a backer, Grand Central Aircraft Company, of Glendale, CA who agreed to buy the assets of the non-profit company and formed a division.
Early in 1954 SBRC moved to the airport site, the old Marine barracks building #316 (no longer standing). During the war the Marines had a base at Santa Barbara. After the war, the base was closed and the airport and buildings given to the city. The airport was used and maintained but many of the buildings were in terrible shape. Some had even been used for raising chickens. A few of the Grand Central Aircraft folks pitched in and helped the SBRC employees “perform magic” to make one wing reasonably habitable. Dave Evans gave up the buildings in town and moved everybody into this one wing. There was a phenomenal old carpenter handyman named Jerry Crowther who fixed up the other wing as additional space was needed, until in a year or so SBRC occupied the entire building.
The first clean room was set up in one of Building 316’s labs, by taping and tacking plastic to the wooden walls, floor, and ceiling. Openings were cut for access and ventilation. Crude though it was, it worked reasonably well.
Coming in as a new employee, Howard Wurtz recalled his first impressions. “The building at the airport was one of many that had been put up by the Marine Corps in World War II when the airport was an active Marine base. Building 316 was a wooden structure. I have no idea what it was originally, but it was a U-shaped thing with two wings. One of the wings was essentially the mechanical engineering department. It consisted of a big empty lab with a couple of benches and few hand tools. The center part was administration offices, and the other wing was the detector laboratory and electronics. My tour through this building showed pretty sparse equipment: a few benches, a few chemicals in jars, and the electronic test equipment mostly was what the employees had brought from home. I think the finest piece I could see was a Heathkit oscilloscope, plus maybe one or two Simpson meters. They were working on a little thing the size of your fingernail which was called a Star Tracker. It was supposed to be able to see stars even in daylight. This seemed pretty amazing. Another fellow was working on something he called a Joule-Thomson cryostat. This seemed even more amazing; a little piece of thin tubing which would make nitrogen gas so cold it became a liquid.”
The first major project in the new facilities was the Dart missile seeker. The Dart was an antitank missile being built by Aerophysics Company of Santa Monica, owned by Bill Bollay, who subsequently moved his operation to Goleta right across the street from SBRC. Dr. Wagner was also involved, whether he was still the H.A. Wagner company or part of Aerophysics. Tom Johnson had some success in making lead selenide detectors and they were used in a measurement program and in the prototype Dart seeker.
Gene Peterson tells of one of the first field trips on the measurement program. “We had the detector in a dewar with a valve on it so that we could pump it out every few days. We were invited to participate in an army exercise at Yuma, and among other things take a look at some tanks with infrared suppression. We hoped our vacuum would hold for the tests but to be on the safe side we took our vacuum pump along, including an all-glass oil diffusion pump. We rented an old pickup and packed our gear in straw. Just before Herb Hatzenbeler and I started out for Yuma, Jack Lansing gave us a big beach umbrella to take along. He knew how hot Yuma can be.
“There were severa1 other companies with infrared measuring equipment, but I only remember one, Olympic Development, with a team led by Dick Hudson. We got a lot of laughs when we arrived with our gear especially the brightly colored beach umbrella and the vacuum pump packed in hay. (I still remember some of the people: Col. Cherry, Floyd Lux, David Gee, Chuck Thompson).
“They hauled us out on the desert and paraded a few vehicles past us, then we sat all day monitoring changes in temperature and infrared contrast of the vehicles. We were quite comfortable under our beach umbrella and it wasn’t long before the whole exercise was crowded under it. We didn’t get any more ribbing about bringing it along. Fortunately we did not have to unpack the vacuum pump. Our gear worked very well and everyone was impressed when we measured temperatures that agreed almost exactly with direct measurements taken on a half-mile walk.”
Another memorable field trip was to the General Motors Proving ground in Michigan. Gene Peterson and his family, Herb Hatzenbeler, Al McEuen, Charles Van Luven made up the team. They had a Dart seeker and the measuring instrument and worked on them night and day until just before leaving. Arrangements were made to air freight the gear on Saturday and for the team to fly Sunday. After checking with Southwest (later Hughes Air West) as to size of shipping containers they could handle, Jerry Crowther made some nice plywood cases to hold everything. They were hauled over to the airport on a Saturday morning – which happened to be during Fiesta – and found that the cases would not fit aboard Southwest’s airplane. After much scurrying, a sober trucker was found to take them to air freight in Los Angeles, but since they contained classified material they had to be accompanied. Gene Peterson went with them to Los Angeles and rode back in the same truck.
This was before the days of jets and a flight to Michigan (Willow Run) took all day. They rented a car, filled it with people and began searching for a motel. The proving ground is way out in the country and they stayed in a very small town a few miles away. There was one little restaurant and the food tasted great the first couple days, but after a week, none of them could hardly face it.
Back in Santa Barbara, the lead selenide detectors were working fairly well in the prototype seeker, but then an interesting thing happened. Dr. Wagner’s company became involved in the Dart program at the behest of Dave Evans. Among his other characteristics, Evans was an honest and straightforward man. Evans looked at the infrared seeker being developed for Dart, and remembered the optics work that SBRC had gotten from Wagner (which, it turned out, was for a gunsight). He contacted Bollay and told him he thought Wagner’s gunsight could be more easily adapted to the Dart, and that is indeed what happened, effectively ending the program at SBRC. The Dart program eventually fizzled which about wiped out Aerophysics, but SBRC’s part of it had been pretty successful in showing the great potential of infrared. Even before Evans left HAC, infrared detection was being talked about for air-to-air missiles. Since the SBRC star tracker used a lead sulfide detector, the scientists tried to interest the people working on the Falcon (radar guided) in an infrared seeker. However, they were working on “The All-Weather Interceptor” and infrared detection was definitely not capable of seeing through clouds. The All-Weather Interceptor was an Air Force project and since the Navy didn’t have this buzz word, and perhaps because of the predominantly clear weather at China Lake, they developed the Sidewinder missile which used an uncooled lead sulfide cell.
Despite losing Dart, things moved along smoothly. The infrared business picked up, thanks in part to some initial success on the Dart program, and there was every reason to believe company growth would continue. As in every business there are slow times, however, and SBRC in 1954 was no exception. The company had a Dr. Howard Briggs working as a consultant, and when things slowed down, Dr. Briggs would teach school in Building 316, and all the troops would attend. Briggs was well qualified – while at Bell Labs he had done all the optics work for Dr. Shockley, inventor of the transistor. At SBRC he taught an extremely independent-minded crowd the importance of proper investigative and experimental techniques, and how to keep detailed notes and records. Over the years the scientific principles learned in these sessions would pay dividends in advanced technology and invention. The “retired” Dr. Briggs went on to another career as a professor at the University of California at Santa Barbara, while continuing as a consultant to SBRC for many years.
Things were extremely informal with regard to the employees. Dave Evans, for instance, used a newly acquired building adjacent to 316 to house his stable of imported cars, including the first Mercedes 300SL Gullwing Roadster in Santa Barbara. Naturally these machines were maintained by an SBRC employee. Another anecdote that provides some insight into the atmosphere of the times is the story of Cecil Mann, one of SBRC’s earliest vendors. Cecil had built aperture windows for the Star Tracker, and when Sidewinder came along he was called upon again. All went smoothly until someone in the program office at China Lake got wind of the fact that the entire Sidewinder program critical optics were being made by a retired gentleman in his garage in Montecito. The Navy Quality Assurance people arrived and were appalled by what they saw. There were no records, no accountability for much of anything, and no security to speak of. They wanted Mr. Mann to fill out all sorts of forms, which Cecil ignored. His argument was that he could look at the parts and tell they were good, so what more did anyone need? They demanded, he refused, but the detectors worked and eventually things settled down.
Dave Evans exercised his option to buy back the company from Grand Central Aircraft, then he promptly turned around and sold it again (no doubt at a tidy profit) to Bulova Watch Company (which at the time had an infrared and optic research section). Mr. Bulova himself walked through the makeshift facilities at the airport, but no one remembers whether he saw it before or after an agreement had been reached. The general consensus at SBRC was that Bulova wanted to pick the brains of the SBRC people, since they already had a research division, and when SBRC was asked to review some of their projects, the Bulova employees didn’t appreciate the request by their management. The scientists didn’t seem to mind, however, and the partnership was amicable. The only regular contract was in the form of requests for more money, and since it was always sent everyone was happy. Perhaps the most significant event was that in late 1954 Bulova made SBRC a wholly owned subsidiary instead of a division, and new incorporation papers were filed that dropped the non-profit rating. In the words of Al Paul, SBRC was now “a hope-to-make-profit corporation.” SBRC was now, in the words of Al Paul, “a hope-to-make-profit corporation.”
The company continued to expand. The infrared business was growing, and SBRC’s increasing recognition in this field kept the work force busy. There were occasional economic alarm bells, but a quick telegram to Bulova could usually solve that problem. The main problem was a lack of modern facilities, and various schemes were tried in an effort to solve the dilemma. In one, prompted by a rash of contaminated detectors, a travel trailer was equipped as a mobile lead selenide lab and driven up into the mountains. The idea was that perhaps the local water and/or air was responsible for the detector problems. It didn’t work.
This, then was the general atmosphere at SBRC as 1956 rolled in. One competitor in the missile business was Hughes Aircraft, whose high-tech Falcon radar-guided system was the hot item. However, SBRC had attracted the attention of certain members of Hughes management as an up and coming research and development company that just might amount to something. Bulova had decided that they really weren’t interested in having a subsidiary in this business, and Dave Evans had again kept an option to buy back the company, so on July 3, 1956 money changed hands, Hughes people replaced those from Bulova on the Board of Directors, and SBRC became part of Hughes Aircraft Company. There were 45 employees occupying 17,000 square feet in two buildings, and things were looking good. A new era was at hand.
As would be expected in a corporate level move of this type, there was very little impact on the troops when Hughes bought SBRC. However, it was not very long before a certain rivalry developed between SBRC and Hughes in the area of infrared. The Culver City people were working on the Air Force’s Falcon missile, incorporating a lead-sulfide infrared detector to augment the radar guidance system. They were using an Eastman Kodak detector and the production line at the newly opened Hughes facility in Tucson, Arizona was bottlenecked due to problems with the Kodak units. Someone at Hughes got the idea to send some of the recently acquired SBRC people to Tucson to see if their infrared talents could be of any use. Custer Baum and Gene Peterson went down and not unexpectedly were met with some hostility. It was a built-in hostility between them and their former competitors more than anything else. In retrospect, this may not have been to wisest move. SBRC was working on the competitive Sidewinder which they considered a crude Model T compared to their Cadillac missile and they didn’t believe SBRC had anything to offer – maybe rightly so. Though the Sidewinder also used a lead-sulfide detector, it was a fairly simple installation compared to the Falcon. As a result, nothing of substance came from the visit to Tucson. From this inauspicious beginning, relations continued to decline.
The key SBRC project at the time was the Sidewinder, a Navy program. The Sidewinder with its uncooled lead sulfide detector had limitations that would be removed if longer wavelength sensitivity could be obtained. The next project, which went on for quite a few years was under development contracts with NOTS (Naval Ordnance Test Station now called NWC Naval Weapons Center). The task was to put a cooled lead selenide cell in the Sidewinder.
At this time NOTS was a very exciting place. Bill McLean was technical director and he had a lot of extremely competent and dedicated people working for him. They could really get things done. The program was successfu1, at least the development phase. The SBRC scientists invented some devices and adapted things to make a workable system and managed to produce sufficient quantities for flight testing. The first miniature Joule-Thompson cryostats were created, and a means developed for supplying them with sufficiently clean high pressure gas. Progress was made on lead selenide detectors including “immersing” them optically on lenses of strontium titanate. The miniature vacuum bottles maintained a permanent vacuum without a getter. In fact when a barium getter was used, vacuum was lost. There wasn’t a good vacuum at room temperature but the gas was mostly water and when the cryostat was turned on it condensed to a sufficiently low pressure. With the barium, the water generated hydrogen which did not condense.
Though things were going well for SBRC, Dave Evans was starting to chafe at being under the control of a large corporation. Ever the individualist, Evans was never big on organization. He was interested mainly in research, not production and the inevitable administrative load that came with it. So by 1958 there were more problems appearing and once more change was in the wind.
Dave Hill was Director of Quality and Reliability for Hughes Aircraft when, one day in 1958, Hughes President Pat Hyland asked him to become the liaison representative between Culver City and SBRC. Mr. Hill recalls “I started going up to Santa Barbara for visits to get acquainted with the people and to be diplomatic go-between for the Culver City laboratories and SBRC. I didn’t know it for a while, but it turned out that Hyland
had received word that Dave Evans and Custer Baum were looking for backing to start a new company and to leave. They had left Hughes in the first place some years before because Dave Evans was interested really only in research, and he didn’t like organizations and regulations and production and things of that nature. After Hughes had bought Santa Barbara Research Center from him, he felt that the big organization problems were beginning to crop up again. I was asked to make some checks, to talk to people without disclosing particularly why and find out their attitude about the Hughes Aircraft Company and whether they could be counted on to stay if a change took place. I talked with Dr. Robert Talley, Tom Johnson, Gene Peterson, and a good many people who were there at that time. Then I went back to Hyland and said, “I think we will lose a few people, but I don’t think it is going to wreck the place and I think that some of the very best people will be inclined to stay.”
Hyland took Dave Hill’s report under consideration and made his decision. In a scene that had certain similarities to All Fool’s Day of 1952, Dave Evans and Custer Baum were driving down to Los Angeles (to be fired, a fact they were unaware of), while Dave Hill was flying up to Santa Barbara to take over the presidency of SBRC. Though he had been to SBRC a few times previously, Hill was not fully prepared for what he found. This was, he discovered, a whole new world, and Santa Barbara was definitely not Los Angeles.
He relates, “When I came up here I was a little bit startled by the degree of informality and some of the costumes that people wore. For example, we had an optics man who mostly wore Hawaiian print shirts, some dirty looking chinos, and huaraches. I looked a little askance at this, but I was informed that this guy was an absolute genius, he was indeed a marvelous optics man and I decided okay, then, I don’t care what he wears.”
The dress code, however, was minor compared to some of the other things he found. For instance, there was absolutely no organizational structure: everyone from the janitors to the top scientists had simply reported directly to Evans. Now that he was gone, nobody seemed to know quite what to do, so they just kept working on their own, watching to see what the new administrator would do. Hill went to work quickly on the problem, forming a “technical committee” headed by Bob (Dr. Robert M) Talley, and an “operations committee”, headed by Al Paul. Rudimentary as it was, this was the beginning of SBRC’s organizational structure.
Relations with Hughes began to improve once Dave Evans and Custer Baum were replaced. Dave Hill began making changes and even took all the engineers out to dinner at the Green Gables. All of the SBRC folks were able to sit at one table. (Pictures of this group exist).
Having established some semblance of order in the administrative end of things, Hill turned his attention to the actual day-to-day operations, especially the facilities.
* An interesting historical sidelight to Dave Hill’s organization: A marketing effort was put together headed by a man named David Shiffman. Shiffman went on to become a mayor of Santa Barbara.
SBRC was struggling to get into various fields, and still had fairly primitive working conditions when Dave Hill took over. When customers came to tour the facility, they weren’t terribly impressed. The so-called cleanroom which was in one of those barracks-buildings was constructed by pasting plastic up on the walls. More work in lead selenide detectors was being pursued, and the Navy funded a metal prefabricated cleanroom which was brought over and set up outside, beside the building at the airport. Later it was discovered, with horror, that this was supposed to be erected inside of the building, and it was anything but waterproof. Everyone had to scramble around to take care of that problem. The primitive facilities did not prevent the SBRC staff from making progress in infrared technology and delivering some quality products.
One of the projects at the time was the Sidewinder missile program, being run by the Navy at the Naval Ordinance Test Station at China Lake, California, and SBRC came to the attention of Bob Hummer. Bob was working in the new field of satellites, space, and atmospheric research, but the projects he was involved with were winding down, and he felt a change was in order. Bob had interviewed with Dave Evans in 1955, and though impressed with the people, the facilities were a bit primitive and Bob passed on working at SBRC. By 1958, however, things were a bit different. While things at China Lake were tapering off, a new government agency known as NASA had been formed, and Bob Hummer saw an opportunity. Here was a new agency formed to deal with atmospheric and space research, led by people he had worked with for years. Remembering SBRC, with its infrared and optics capabilities, Bob saw the possibilities for some interesting projects if he could get SBRC and NASA together. So he went back to Dave Evans, and in September of 1958 Bob reported for work at SBRC.
The first priority Bob set for himself after settling in at SBRC was to establish contact with the people at NASA. Space work at that time was concentrating on the use of satellites for weather observation. The first of these advanced meteorological instruments was the Nimbus, and in early 1959 the Requests for Proposals were being issued. Through his China Lake contacts Bob managed to get SBRC an invitation to bid on the High-Resolution Infrared Radiometer (HRIR) for the first Nimbus tested satellite. The competition was fairly intense in that SBRC was going up against some pretty big companies. The contract was finally awarded to IT&T on the basis of cost, but the evaluation team was so impressed with SBRC’s proposal that they insisted the company bid on the next contract, the Medium-Resolution Infrared Radiometer (MRIR). SBRC did indeed write a proposal for the MRIR, and this time won the competition. The contract, awarded in October of 1960, was significant in that it was not only SBRC’s first space contract, but it was also the first hardware contract that any division of Hughes Aircraft Company had received from NASA. More important it was a foot in the door for SBRC, a door that would ultimately lead to SBRC’s name being carried to the far reaches of space.
SBRC’s entry into the “space race” could hardly have come at a better time. Since the Russians had launched Sputnik in 1957, ushering in the space age, America had been playing catch-up, and none too successfully. The Cold War syndrome still gripped the nation, and the thought of Russia holding the ultimate tactical advantage, the “high ground of space”, as then-senator Lyndon Johnson referred to it, was simply unacceptable. Recognizing that this was nothing short of a national emergency, President Eisenhower had formed NASA in 1958 and given the new agency virtual carte blanche to match and surpass the Russian space program. Though the manned space flight program, Project Mercury, held national attention, NASA was also heavily involved in atmospheric research and science. These programs were being carried out through the X-series rocket plane flights at Edwards (of which the X15 was the ultimate expression), and through orbital and suborbital satellites. It was into this last area of operations that Bob Hummer’s successful proposal brought SBRC. The little company of mavericks and dreamers had struck gold: they had found a patron with unlimited funds, committed to pushing technology to new limits, and they had gotten in on the ground floor. The results of this union would be a spectacular series of successes over the following decades.
All of this success, however was well over the horizon when Dave Hill left and Mr. Lloyd Scott was appointed president of SBRC. The date was December 7, 1959, and Mr. Scott recalls the events: “Pat Hyland (President of Hughes Aircraft) called me into his office
at 10:00 that morning and wanted to know if I would consider coming up to Santa Barbara to help him solve a problem. Dave Hill was being moved down to Newport Beach to take charge of the Semiconductor Division, and Hyland needed somebody to take over at SBRC. My instructions were pretty much to go up there on a temporary basis, if I was willing, to see what could be done with this little renegade outfit that was causing lots of trouble with Hughes Aircraft’s general interest with infrared. It was strictly a temporary assignment. In fact, he suggested maybe the best thing to do was to sell the place or move it as a way to solve the problem. And he said if I was willing to consider this, he’d send me up on the airplane to take over from Dave Hill. I told him to let me call my wife and ask her if she would be willing to make a temporary trip at least to SBRC. She agreed, so I told Pat, fine.
“I got on the airplane and arrived at the Santa Barbara airport at about one o’clock that afternoon. Dave Hill met me and escorted me over to a pile of rubble in back of what is now Building 116, 316, and introduced me to the crowd as the new president.
“Following that introduction, I was escorted throughout the so-called facilities of SBRC that afternoon, which consisted of some broken down equipment scattered around in a handful of old wooden barracks buildings located down at the airport and a group of people which had not been organized into any kind of a function but looked as though they might have some potential to do some interesting things.”