The Apollo Spacecraft - A Chronology.|
Project Apollo, America's premier space effort during the 1960's, had a twofold objective. The more immediate goal, as proclaimed by President John F. Kennedy before Congress on May 25, 1961, was to land men on the moon and return them safely to Earth before the end of the decade. But a second and far broader objective was to make the United States preeminent in space, taking a leading role in space achievement and ensuring that this nation would be second to none in its ability to explore and use the vast new ocean.
Apollo therefore served as the spearhead for NASA's overall program during the sixties. Although the lunar landing generally overshadowed other important activities - critics of the agency often saw the near-term goal as an end in itself - the program stimulated phenomenal progress in aerospace technology. Building upon the pioneering achievements of Mercury and Gemini, Apollo produced dramatic advances in launch vehicles, spacecraft, and operational techniques. But the moon provided only the essential focus, the clearly identifiable and attainable target to channel this immensely diverse technological momentum.
As NASA spokesmen often pointed out, of all the hardware being developed for Apollo only the lunar module was narrowly conceived. The other components represented tangible advances in space flight technology essential to space preeminence, irrespective of the formal moon landing program per se.
In essence, that is the thrust of this third installment of The Apollo Spacecraft: A Chronology. Spanning October 1, 1964, through January 20, 1966, this volume traces the development of "Apollo's Chariots," the lunar spacecraft - along with the Saturn V a paramount ingredient in America's campaign to secure preeminence in space. That period encompassed the detailed engineering design and exhaustive testing to qualify both the command and service modules and the lunar module for manned flight. Although other significant events elsewhere in Apollo are not ignored, the detailed work on the spacecraft - which thus served directly to foster America's spacefaring capabilities - forms the chief focus of this book. By the end of this sixteen-month period. Apollo had clearly shifted to manufacturing and flight testing, steppingstones to manned operations.
Like the two previous volumes in this series (Volume I covers the origins of the program and conceptual development through the selection of Grumman in November 1962 to build the lunar module; and Volume II the period of fundamental configurational work on both vehicles, culminating in the mockup review of the Block II version of the command and service modules at North American on September 30, 1964), and like similar works on Mercury and Gemini, this volume is intended as a reference and a guide. In addition, the several volumes serve as the foundation for a narrative history of the Apollo spacecraft underway as part of the NASA Historical Series, providing tools for more in-depth interpretive and analytical study. Unlike the first two volumes, this volume is not divided into sections, since its content is similar and related throughout.
As far as possible primary sources were consulted, with chief reliance being placed on records held at the recently renamed (February 1973) Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center in Houston. These primary sources included congressional documents, official correspondence, government and contractor status and progress reports, memorandums, working papers, minutes of meetings, and in some cases interviews with participants. In addition, the authors also drew upon press releases, newspaper accounts, and magazine articles. Indeed, the staggering amount of documentation for Apollo is sufficient to give pause to even the most dedicated historical researcher. A principal methodological problem has therefore been to cover adequately relevant events throughout the program without departing from the tactical aim of the book. Inevitably, subjective evaluation became the ultimate criterion for inclusion or rejection of specific events.
The authors are indebted to many individuals, both within NASA and among many of its supporting contractors, who contributed additional materials and commented on draft portions of the manuscript. Historians, editors, and archivists of the NASA Historical Office in Washington gave valuable assistance: Eugene M. Emme, Frank W. Anderson, Jr., Thomas W. Ray, Lee D. Saegesser, and Carrie Karegeannes. Likewise, Loyd S. Swenson, Jr., of the University of Houston and James M. Grimwood and Sally D. Gates of the JSC Historical Office made useful suggestions. And in particular, Corinne L. Morris, now at the Smithsonian Institution, helped immeasurably in assembling scattered documentation, weeding out trivia and "engineeringese," and editing and typing comment drafts.To these and many other informants, readers, and critics, the authors wish to express sincere and appreciative thanks.