The Apollo Spacecraft - A Chronology.

PART 2 (A)

Design - Decision - Contract

August 1960 through December 1960

1960 August

1960 September

1960 October

1960 November

1960 December


August 8

In a memorandum to Abe Silverstein, Director of NASA's Office of Space Flight Programs, Harry J. Goett, Director of Goddard Space Flight Center, outlined the tentative program of the Goddard industry conference to be held on August 30. At this conference, more details of proposed study contracts for an advanced manned spacecraft would be presented. The requirements would follow the guidelines set down by STG and presented to NASA Headquarters during April and May. Three six-month study contracts at $250,000 each would be awarded.

Draft Memorandum, Goett to Director, Office of Space Flight Programs, August 8, 1960.

August 13

Secretary of the Interior Fred A. Seaton and Secretary of the Army Wilber M. Brucker announced that the U.S. Geological Survey had completed the first known photogeological survey of the surface of the moon. The study, part of a program to select lunar landing sites for manned and unmanned spacecraft, consisted of three diagrams, all showing the visible face of the moon at 36 inches diameter. These diagrams depicted, respectively, the physiographic lunar regions, naming features on the moon's surface ; a generalized photogeologic map giving the age of craters and structural features; and the prominent lunar rays.

Palo Alto Times, August 18, 1960.

August 19

The Soviet Union launched its second spaceship satellite, the Korabl Sputnik II, or Sputnik V. The spacecraft was similar to the one launched on May 15 and carried two dogs, Strelka and Belka, in addition to a gray rabbit, rats, mice, flies, plants, fungi, microscopic water plants, and seeds. Electrodes attached to the dogs and linked with the spacecraft communications system, which included a television camera, enabled Soviet scientists to check the animals' hearts, blood pressure, breathing, and actions during the trip. After the spacecraft reentered and landed safely the next day, the animals and biological specimens were reported to be in good condition.

Baltimore Sun, August 20, 1960; New York Herald Tribune, August 22, 1960; Instruments and Spacecraft, pp. 120-121.

August 30

The Goddard Space Flight Center GSFC conducted its industry conference in Washington, D.C., presenting details of GSFC projects, current and future. The objectives of the proposed six-month feasibility contracts for an advanced manned spacecraft were announced:

  • To define a manned spacecraft system fulfilling STG guidelines
  • To formulate a program plan for implementation
  • To identify areas requiring long lead-time research and development effort
  • To analyze the cost of providing the system.
Fixed-fee contracts were to be Jet to prime contractors only; several contracts would be let concurrently. The timetable was announced:

  1. August 30, 1960, industry familiarization;
  2. August 31-September 6, expression of interest to NASA;
  3. September 7, invitation to bidders' conference;
  4. September 12, bidders' conference at STG;
  5. October 10, proposals received;
  6. November 14, contracts awarded;
  7. May 15, 1961, contracts completed.
Presentations for the Industry Conference to be conducted by the Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md., August 30, 1960.

September 1

In an organizational change within STG, Maxime A. Faget was appointed Chief of the Flight Systems Division and Robert O. Piland was named Assistant Chief for Advanced Projects. The Apollo Project Office was formed with Piland as Head of the Office; members included John B. Lee, J. Thomas Markley, William W. Petynia,and H. Kurt Strass.

Memorandum, Robert R. Gilruth to Staff, STG, "Change in Organization of the Space Task Group," September 1, 1960.

September 2

NASA Administrator T. Keith Glennan directed that an accelerated joint planning effort be made by persons at NASA Headquarters who were most familiar with the Saturn, Apollo, manned orbital laboratory, and unmanned lunar and planetary programs. They were to determine whether the Saturn and Saturn-use programs were effectively integrated and whether sufficient design study and program development work had been done to support decisions on projected Saturn configurations. The group responsible for the study consisted of Lloyd Wood, Richard B. Canright, Alfred M. Nelson, John L. Sloop, Oran W. Nicks, Fred D. Kochendorfer, and George M. Low.

Memorandum, Donald H. Heaton to Director, Launch Vehicle Programs, and Director, Space Flight Programs, "Integration of the Saturn and Saturn Applications Programs," September 2, 1960.

September 10

A NASA contract for approximately $44 million was signed by Rocketdyne Division of NAA for the development of the J-2 engine.

Rocketdyne Skywriter, September 16, 1960, p. 1.

September 13

An STG briefing was held at Langley Field, Va., for prospective bidders on three six-month feasibility studies of an advanced manned spacecraft as part of the Apollo program. A formal Request for Proposal was issued at the conference.

Ralph B. Oakley, Historical Summary, S&ID Apollo Program (NAA, Space and Information Systems Division, January 20, 1966), p. 3; "Agenda for Bidders' Briefing for a Feasibility Study. Project Apollo" September 13. 1960.

September 13

A formal agreement was signed by the United States and South Africa providing for the construction of a new deep-space tracking facility at Krugersdorp, near Johannesburg. It would be one of three stations equipped to maintain constant contact with lunar and planetary spacecraft.

Fourth NASA Semiannual Report, p. 111.

September 20

A staff meeting of the Flight Systems Division of STG was held to discuss design constraints for an in- house design study of the Apollo spacecraft. [See October 21, 1960.]

Memorandum, H. Kurt Strass to Apollo Design Team, "Design Restraints for FSD Apollo Design Study (Information and Action)," October 25, 1960.

September 25

An attempt to launch a Pioneer satellite into lunar orbit failed when one of the upper stages of the Atlas- Able rocket malfunctioned.

Washington Post, September 26, 1960.

September 29

In a memorandum to NASA Associate Administrator Robert C. Seamans, Jr., Robert L. King, Executive Secretary, described the action taken on certain items discussed at the July 14-15 meeting of the Space Exploration Program Council. Among these actions was the awarding of a contract to The RAND Corporation to evaluate missions for which nuclear propulsion would be desirable. Included in the study would be the determination of availability dates, cost of development, operational costs, the safety aspects of the missions, and an evaluation of research requirements.

Memorandum, King to Seamans, "Actions Since SEPC Meeting of 14-15 July 1960," September 29, 1960.

September 30

The fourth meeting of the Space Exploration Program Council was held at NASA Headquarters. The results of a study on Saturn development and utilization was presented by the Ad Hoc Saturn Study Committee. Objectives of the study were to determine (1) if and when the Saturn C-2 launch vehicle should be developed and (2) if mission and spacecraft planning was consistent with the Saturn vehicle development schedule. No change in the NASA Fiscal Year 1962 budget was contemplated. The Committee recommended that the Saturn C-2 development should proceed on schedule (S-II stage contract in Fiscal Year 1962, first flight in 1965). The C-2 would be essential, the study reported, for Apollo manned circumlunar missions, lunar unmanned exploration, Mars and Venus orbiters and capsule landers, probes to other planets and out-of- ecliptic, and for orbital starting of nuclear upper stages.

During a discussion on the Saturn program, several major problems were brought up:

  • The adequacy of the Saturn C-1 launch vehicle for orbital qualification of the complete Apollo spacecraft was in question. Although the C-1 could be used to launch a command module of 5,100 pounds, it was probable that the command module weight would increase to as much as 8,000 pounds, George M. Low of NASA Headquarters, in a critical review of the Apollo program, pointed out that a spacecraft for a circumlunar mission could be constructed within the payload limitation of the C-2 launch vehicle. Both the developmental and production spacecraft could be available to meet the Saturn schedules.
  • Much basic research would be needed before the first Apollo flight, In particular, the problem of reentry heating was of great concern. Low noted that a prediction criterion for proton beam events had been developed, making possible safe manned circumlunar flights insofar as the radiation problem was concerned.
  • Concern was also expressed as to the possible need and availability of additional personnel to support the Apollo program.
Minutes, Space Exploration Program Council Meeting, September 30, 1960, pp. 1, 4-5; Low, "Saturn Requirements for Project Apollo," presentation to Space Exploration Program Council, September 30, 1960; "Presentation of Results of Saturn Study by Ad Hoc Study Committee to Space Exploration Program Council," September 30, 1960.

September 30 - October 3

Charles J. Donlan of STG, Chairman of the Evaluation Board which would consider contractors' proposals on feasibility studies for an advanced manned spacecraft, invited the Directors of Ames Research Center, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Flight Research Center, Lewis Research Center, Langley Research Center, and Marshall Space Flight Center to name representatives to the Evaluation Board. The first meeting was to be held on October 10 at Langley Field, Va.

Letters, Donlan to Smith J. DeFrance, Brian O. Sparks, Paul F. Bikle, Eugene J. Manganiello, Floyd L. Thompson, Wernher von Braun, September 30-October 3, 1960.

October 4

Members were appointed to the Technical Assessment Panels and the Evaluation Board to consider industry proposals for Apollo spacecraft feasibility studies. Members of the Evaluation Board were: Charles J. Donlan (STG), Chairman; Maxime A. Faget (STG) ; Robert O. Piland (STG), Secretary; John H. Disher (NASA Headquarters Office of Space Flight Programs); Alvin Seiff (Ames); John V. Becker (Langley); H. H. Koelle (Marshall); Harry J. Goett (Goddard), ex officio; and Robert R. Gilruth (STG), ex officio.

Memorandum, Donlan to Members, Technical Assessment Panels, "Instruction for Members of Technical Assessment Panels for Evaluation of Contractors' Proposals for a Feasibility Study of an Advanced Manned Spacecraft, RFP-302 (Project Apollo)," October 4, 1960; NASA, Goddard Space Flight Center, and STG, "Project Apollo: Plan for the Evaluation of Contractors' Proposals for a Feasibility Study of an Advanced Manned Spacecraft and System," October 6, 1960.

October 5

Members of STG visited the Marshall Space Flight Center to discuss possible Saturn and Apollo guidance integration and potential utilization of Apollo onboard propulsion to provide a reserve capability. Agreement was reached on tentative Saturn vehicle assignments on abort study and lunar entry simulation; on the use of the Saturn guidance system; and on future preparations of tentative flight plans for Saturns SA-6, 8, 9, and 10.

Memorandum, H. Kurt Strass to Chief, Flight Systems Division, "Report on Visit to MSFC October 5 1960 by STG personnel" October 5 1960.

October 9

Contractors' proposals on feasibility studies for an advanced manned spacecraft were received by STG. Sixty-four companies expressed interest in the Apollo program, and of these 14 actually submitted proposals: The Boeing Airplane Company; Chance Vought Corporation; Convair/Astronautics Division of General Dynamics Corporation; Cornell Aeronautical Laboratory, Inc.; Douglas Aircraft Company; General Electric Company; Goodyear Aircraft Corporation; Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation; Guardite Division of American Marietta Company; Lockheed Aircraft Corporation; The Martin Company; North American Aviation, Inc.; and Republic Aviation Corporation. These 14 companies, later reduced to 12 when Cornell and Guardite withdrew, were subsequently invited to submit prime contractor proposals for the Apollo spacecraft development in 1961. The Technical Assessment Panels began evaluation of contractors' proposals on October 10.

"Participating Companies or Company Teams," partial set of material for Evaluation Board use; "Apollo Spacecraft Chronology," unpublished, annotated by Robert O. Piland, p. 4.

October 17

In a memorandum to Abe Silverstein, Director of NASA's Office of Space Flight Programs, George M. Low, Chief of Manned Space Flight, described the formation of a working group on the manned lunar landing program: "It has become increasingly apparent that a preliminary program for manned lunar landings should be formulated. This is necessary in order to provide a proper justification for Apollo, and to place Apollo schedules and technical plans on a firmer foundation.

"In order to prepare such a program, I have formed a small working group, consisting of Eldon Hall, Oran Nicks, John Disher, and myself. This group will endeavor to establish ground rules for manned lunar landing missions; to determine reasonable spacecraft weights; to specify launch vehicle requirements; and to prepare an integrated development plan, including the spacecraft, lunar landing and takeoff system, and launch vehicles. This plan should include a time-phasing and funding picture, and should identify areas requiring early studies by field organizations."

Memorandum, Low to Director of Space Flight Programs, "Manned Lunar Landing Programs," October 17, 1960.

October 21

A staff meeting of STG's Flight Systems Division was held to fix additional design constraints for the in- house design study of the Apollo spacecraft.

Fundamental decisions were made as a result of this and a previous meeting on September 20:

  • The entry vehicle should have a Mercury-type configuration, a lift over drag ratio of 0.35, and an overall heatshield and should follow the modular concept, in which a module containing redundant equipment could be jettisoned before reentry.
  • Solid propellant systems should be used throughout for onboard propulsion.
  • The nominal design load should be 8 g, with an emergency ultimate of 20 g.
  • For flight path control in atmospheric flight, with lift over drag ratio of 0.35 constant, roll control only would be used; for space flight, midcourse corrections should be made by fixed-impulse solid- propellant units.
  • Attitude control should be maintained during powered flight by thrust vector, during space flight by control jets, and during atmospheric flight by control jets for damping.
  • The onboard guidance system should utilize special purpose computers and inertial reference based on the use of fundamentally manual star- sight systems with provision for automatic use.
  • Both parachutes and rotors should be studied for the touchdown mode.
  • Further research on the spacecraft atmosphere would be necessary.
Memorandum, H. Kurt Strass to Apollo Design Team, "Design Restraints for FSD Apollo Design Study (Information and Action)," October 25, 1960.

October 21

The Technical Assessment Panels presented to the Evaluation Board their findings on the contractors' proposals for feasibility studies of an advanced manned spacecraft. On October 24, the Evaluation Board findings and recommendations were presented to the STG Director.

"Apollo Spacecraft Chronology," pp. 4, 5.

October 25

Included in the current Saturn flight schedule were: mid-1961, begin first-stage flights with dummy upper stages; early 1963, begin two-stage flights; late 1963, begin three-stage flights; early 1964, conclude ten-vehicle research and development flight test program.

Senate Staff Report, Manned Space Flight Program, p. 193.

October 25

NASA selected three contractors to prepare individual feasibility studies of an advanced manned spacecraft as part of Project Apollo. The contractors were Convair/Astronautics Division of General Dynamics Corporation, General Electric Company, and The Martin Company.

TWXs, Goddard Space Flight Center to John A. Powers; NASA Headquarters to STG, Langley; STG Public Affairs Office, Langley Field, Va,, Powers to Convair/Astronautics of General Dynamics Corporation, General Electric Company, and The Martin Company, October 25, 1960; Oakley, Historical Summary, S&ID Apollo Program, p. 3.

October 27 - November 2

Representatives of the General Electric Company, The Martin Company, and Convair/Astronautics Division of General Dynamics Corporation visited STG to conduct negotiations on the Apollo systems study contracts announced on October 25. The discussions clarified or identified areas not completely covered in company proposals. Contracts were awarded on November 15.

Minutes of Technical Negotiation Meetings with the General Electric Company, The Martin Company, and Convair/Astronautics Division of General Dynamics Corporation for Apollo Systems Study (RFP-302), October 27, November 1, and November 2, 1960; "Apollo Spacecraft Chronology," p. 5.

October 28

Key staff members of NASA Headquarters and the Commander, U.S. Air Force Research and Development Command, met at the Air Force Ballistic Missile Division, Los Angeles, Calif., to attend briefings and discuss matters of mutual concern.

At an executive session, Air Force and NASA programs of orbital rendezvous, refueling, and descent from orbit were discussed. Long-range Air Force studies on a lunar base were in progress as well as research on more immediate missions, such as rendezvous by an unmanned satellite interceptor for inspection purposes, manned maintenance satellites, and reentry methods. NASA plans for the manned lunar landing mission included the possible use of the Saturn booster in an orbital staging operation employing orbital refueling. Reentry studies beyond Mercury were concentrated on reentry at escape speeds and on a spacecraft configuration capable of aerodynamic maneuvering during reentry.

Memorandum, Donald H. Heaton, Assistant Administrator for Resources, for the Record, "Minutes of the Executive Meeting at AFBMD on October 28, 1960," November 2, 1960.

November 3

The Department of the Interior announced that the U.S. Geological Survey would undertake detailed studies of lunar geology as part of a new $205,000 program in astrogeology financed by NASA. The program would include geological analysis of photographs of selected areas on the moon, terrestrial crater studies, and investigations into the origin of tektites, meteorites, and related material of possible extraterrestrial origin. Certain lunar features would be studied more closely and larger scale diagrams would be made of specific areas in the vicinity of sites selected by NASA for unmanned spacecraft landings.

New York Times, November 9, 1960.

November 4

At a meeting, Charles J. Donlan of STG and George M. Low, John H. Disher, Milton W. Rosen, and Elliott Mitchell, all of NASA Headquarters, discussed a plan to set up informal technical liaison groups to broaden the base for inter-Center information exchange on the Apollo program with particular reference to onboard propulsion.

Memorandum, Abe Silverstein to Director, Launch Vehicle Programs, "Apollo Technical Liaison Groups," November 29, 1960.

November 8

Little Joe 5 with a Mercury production spacecraft was launched from Wallops Island to test the spacecraft in an abort simulating the most severe launch conditions. At 15.4 seconds after liftoff, the escape rocket motor and tower jettison motor ignited prematurely. Booster, capsule, and tower remained mated through ballistic trajectory until destroyed on impact.

James M. Grimwood, Project Mercury: A Chronology (NASA SP-4001, 1963), p. 117; Swenson et al., This New Ocean, p. 291.

November 12

Discoverer XVII was launched into polar orbit from Vandenberg Air Force Base and the payload was recovered on November 14. On December 2, the Air Force revealed that exceedingly valuable information had been obtained from human tissues carried by Discoverer XVII. The tissues had been exposed to an unexpectedly heavy dose of radiation for more than 50 hours in flight.

Baltimore Sun, November 14, 1960; Los Angeles Times, December 3, 1960.

November 16

STG formulated a plan for the proposed Apollo Technical Liaison Groups. These Groups were to effect systematic liaison in technical areas related to the Apollo project. The objectives and scope of the plan were as follows:

  • Provide an up-to-date summary of progress on the Apollo project in specific technical areas at the Centers.
  • Give a regular summary of Apollo research and study investigations to ensure their use in the project.
  • Report Apollo contractor activities to Group members.
  • Bring expert consideration to the technical problems as they arose.
  • Point out research activity needed in support of Apollo for its assignment to the centers.
  • Assist in monitoring contractor studies through participation of individual panel members.
  • Develop requirements for flight tests resulting from research and study activity.
  • Provide assessments of progress in the technical areas.
To carry out these objectives, Technical Liaison Groups would be formed:

Trajectory Analysis;
Studies related to the manned circumlunar mission including atmospheric and non-atmospheric phases of normal and emergency maneuvers.
Configurations and Aerodynamics.
Theoretical and experimental studies of the aerodynamic characteristics and performance of vehicles proposed for the manned circumlunar mission.
Guidance and Control:
Studies and developments in the guidance, navigation, and control areas related to all phases of the manned circumlunar mission.
Convective, conductive, and radiative heat-transfer studies during launch, abort, and reentry for various configurations; investigations of heat transfer through turbulent boundary layers; ablation rates for materials at different heating conditions; and pressure distribution for various configurations.
Structures and Materials:
Studies of design concepts for proposed circumlunar vehicle structures including the optimum payload distribution, protection against radiation and meteoroids, and possible shapes and types of structures suitable for circumlunar missions.
Instrumentation and Communications:
Studies and developments of instruments required for the mission; studies on voice, telemetry, and tracking communications.
Human Factors:
Studies on human tolerance levels, life-support requirements, and the assessment of the biological effects of radiation.
Mechanical Systems:
Studies and developments of systems required for the manned circumlunar mission.
Onboard Propulsion;
Studies and developments in propulsion systems and components required to meet the abort and midcourse performance requirements.
Representatives in a given Group would be limited to a single member from each Center. STG would be responsible for meeting arrangements.

STG, "Apollo Technical Liaison Plan," November 16, 1960.

November 21

An attempt was made to launch Mercury-Redstone 1 (MR-1) from the Atlantic Missile Range. After a four- or five-inch liftoff, MR-1 launched its escape tower but not the capsule. The undamaged spacecraft was recovered for reuse.

Swenson et al., This New Ocean, pp. 293-297.

November 22

STG held a meeting at Goddard Space Flight Center to discuss a proposed contract with MIT Instrumentation Laboratory for navigation and guidance support for Project Apollo. The proposed six-month contract for $100,000 might fund studies through the preliminary design stage but not actual hardware. Milton B. Trageser of the Instrumentation Laboratory presented a draft work statement which divided the effort into three parts: midcourse guidance, reentry guidance, and a satellite experiment feasibility study using the Orbiting Geophysical Observatory. STG decided that the Instrumentation Laboratory should submit a more detailed draft of a work statement to form the basis of a contract. In a discussion the next day, Robert G. Chilton of STG and Trageser clarified three points:

  1. The current philosophy was that an onboard computer program for a normal mission sequence would be provided and would be periodically updated by the crew. If the crew were disabled, the spacecraft would continue on the programmed flight for a normal return. No capability would exist for emergency procedures.
  2. Chilton emphasized that consideration of the reentry systems design should include all the guideline requirements for insertion monitoring by the crew, navigation for aborted missions, and, in brief, the whole design philosophy for manned flight.
  3. The long-term objective of a lunar landing mission should be kept in mind although design simplicity was of great importance.
Chilton and Trageser agreed that the purpose of the Apollo program was the development of manned space flight system capability, not simply circumnavigation of the moon with an encapsulated man.

Memorandum, Chilton to Associate Director, "Meeting with MIT Instrumentation Laboratory to Discuss Navigation and Guidance Support for Project Apollo," November 28, 1960.

November 22

Charles J. Donlan, Associate Director of STG, invited Langley, Ames, Lewis, and Flight Research Centers, Marshall Space Flight Center, and Jet Propulsion Laboratory to participate in Technical Liaison Groups in accordance with the plan drawn up on November 16.

Letters, Donlan to Langley, Ames, Lewis, and Flight Research Centers, Marshall Space Flight Center, and Jet Propulsion Laboratory, November 22, 1960; memorandum, Abe Silverstein to Director, Launch Vehicle Programs, "Apollo Technical Liaison Groups," November 29, 1960.

November 29

A joint briefing on the Apollo and Saturn programs was held at Marshall Space Flight Center MSFC, attended by representatives of STG and MSFC. Maxime A. Faget of STG and MSFC Director Wernher von Braun agreed that a joint STG-MSFC program would be developed to accomplish a manned lunar landing. Areas of responsibility were: MSFC launch vehicle and landing on the moon; STG - lunar orbit, landing, and return to earth.

Memorandum, J. Thomas Markley, Apollo Project Office, to Associate: Director, STG, "Meeting between MSFC and STG on Mission for Saturn C-1 R and D Program and Summary of MSFC Trips by J. T. Markley," December 8, 1960.

November 30

Smith J. DeFrance, Director of the Ames Research Center, designated Ames working members on six of the nine Apollo Technical Liaison Groups. They were Stanley F. Schmidt (Trajectory Analysis), Clarence A. Syvertson (Configurations and Aerodynamics), G. Allen Smith (Guidance and Control), Glen Goodwin (Heating), Charles A. Hermach (Structures and Materials), and Harald S. Smedal (Human Factors).

Letter, DeFrance to STG, Attn: Mr. C. J. Donlan, "Apollo Technical Liaison Groups," November 30, 1960.

December 1

The Soviet Union launched its third spaceship satellite, Korabl Sputnik III, or Sputnik VI. The spacecraft, similar to those launched on May 15 and August 19, carried two dogs in addition to other animals, insects, and plants. The next day, during reentry, the spacecraft disintegrated and burned.

Washington Post, December 2 and 3, 1960; Instruments and Spacecraft, p. 143.

December 1

Eugene J. Manganiello, Associate Director of the Lewis Research Center, appointed Lewis members to six of the Apollo Technical Liaison Groups. They were Seymour C. Himmel (Trajectory Analysis), Jack B. Esgar (Structures and Materials), Robert E. Tozier (Instrumentation and Communications), Robert F. Seldon (Human Factors), Robert R. Goodman (Mechanical Systems), and Edmund R. Jonash (Onboard Propulsion).

Letter, Manganiello to STG, Attn: Charles J. Donlan, "Apollo Technical Liaison Groups," December 1, 1960.

December 2

A meeting was held by representatives of STG and the MIT Lincoln Laboratory to discuss the scope of the studies to be performed by the Lincoln Laboratory on the ground instrumentation system for the Apollo program. The discussion centered about the draft work statement prepared by STG. In general, those at the meeting agreed that Lincoln Laboratory should conduct an overall analysis of the requirements for the ground system, leading to the formulation of a general systems concept. The study should be completed by the end of December 1961, with interim results available in the middle of 1961 .

Memorandum, Jack Cohen, Operations Representative, Apollo Office, to Associate Director, "Meeting with Lincoln Laboratory Personnel to Discuss Apollo Study Contract," December 5, 1960.

December 2

Milton B. Trageser of MIT Instrumentation Laboratory transmitted to Charles J. Donlan of STG the outline of a study program on the guidance aspects of Project Apollo. He outlined what might be covered by a formal proposal on the Apollo spacecraft guidance and navigation contract discussed by STG and Instrumentation Laboratory representatives on November 22.

Letter, Trageser, Assistant Director, MIT Instrumentation Laboratory, to Donlan, Associate Director of STG, December 2, 1960.

December 2

The Director of the Flight Research Center, Paul F. Bikle, nominated Flight Research Center members to eight of the nine Apollo Technical Liaison Groups. They were Donald R. Bellman (Trajectory Analysis), Hubert M. Drake (Configurations and Aerodynamics), Euclid C. Holleman (Guidance and Control), Thomas V. Cooney (Heating), Kenneth C. Sanderson (Instrumentation and Communications), Milton O. Thompson (Human Factors), Perry V. Row (Mechanical Systems) , and Norman E. DeMar (Onboard Propulsion).

Letter, Bikle to STG, Attn: Mr. C. J. Donlan, "Apollo Technical Liaison Groups," December 2, 1960.

December 2

Representatives of Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) were assigned to eight of the nine Apollo Technical Liaison Groups by H. H. Koelle, Director, Future Projects Office, MSFC. They were Rudolph F. Hoelker (Trajectory Analysis), Edward L. Linsley (Configurations and Aerodynamics), Werner K. Dahm and Harvey A. Connell (Heating), Erich E. Goerner (Structures and Materials), David M. Hammock and Alexander A. McCool (Onboard Propulsion), Heinz Kampmeier (Instrumentation and Communications), Wilbur G. Thornton (Guidance and Control), and Herman F. Beduerftig (Mechanical Systems). Dual representation on two of the Groups would be necessary because of the division of technical responsibilities within MSFC.

Memorandum, Koelle to STG, Attn: Charles J. Donlan, Assistant Director, Project Mercury, "Apollo Technical Liaison Groups," December 2, 1960.

December 6-8

The first technical review of the General Electric Company Apollo feasibility study was held at the contractor's Missile and Space Vehicle Department. Company representatives presented reports on the study so that STG representatives might review progress, provide General Electric with pertinent information from NASA or other sources, and discuss and advise as to the course of the study.

Minutes of General Electric Missile and Space Vehicle Department Meeting No. 1, December 6-8, 1960.

December 7

Floyd L. Thompson, Director of the Langley Research Center, assigned Langley members to eight of the Apollo Technical Liaison Groups. They were William H. Michael, Jr. (Trajectory Analysis), Eugene S. Love (Configurations and Aerodynamics), John M. Eggleston (Guidance and Control), Robert L. Trimpi

(Heating), Roger A. Anderson (Structures and Materials), Wilford E. Sivertson, Jr. (Instrumentation and Communications), David Adamson (Human Factors), and Joseph G. Thibodaux, Jr. (Onboard Propulsion).

Letter, Thompson to STG, "Langley Appointments to Apollo Technical Liaison Groups," December 7, 1960.

December 7-9

The Martin Company presented the first technical review of its Apollo feasibility study to STG officials in Baltimore, Md. At the suggestion of STG, Martin agreed to reorient the study in several areas: putting more emphasis on lunar orbits, putting man in the system, and considering landing and recovery in the initial design of the spacecraft.

Minutes of The Martin Company Apollo Technical Review No. 1, December 7-9, 1960.

December 9

Brian O. Sparks, Deputy Director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), designated JPL members to serve on six of the nine Apollo Technical Liaison Groups. They were Victor C. Clarke, Jr. (Trajectory Analysis), Edwin Pounder (Configurations and Aerodynamics), James D. Acord (Guidance and Control), John W. Lucas (Heating), William J. Carley (Structures and Materials), and Duane F. Dipprey (Onboard Propulsion),

Letter, Sparks to Charles J. Donlan, Associate Director of Project Mercury, December 9,

December 10

Representatives of the Langley Research Center briefed members of STG on the lunar orbit method of accomplishing the lunar landing mission.

Langley Research Center, Manned Lunar-Landing through use of Lunar-Orbit Rendezvous (Langley Research Center, 1961), p. 5.

December 14-15

Convair/Astronautics Division of the General Dynamics Corporation held its first technical review of the Apollo feasibility study in San Diego, Calif. Brief presentations were made by contractor and subcontractor technical specialists to STG representatives. Convair/Astronautics' first approach was oriented toward the modular concept, but STG suggested that the integral spacecraft concept should be investigated.

Minutes of Meeting of Convair Astronautics Technical Review No. 1, December 14- 15, 1960.

December 14

Associate Administrator of NASA Robert C. Seamans, Jr., and his staff were briefed by Langley Research Center personnel on the rendezvous method as it related to the national space program. Clinton E. Brown presented an analysis made by himself and Ralph W. Stone, Jr., describing the general operational concept of lunar orbit rendezvous for the manned lunar landing. The advantages of this plan in contrast with the earth orbit rendezvous method, especially in reducing launch vehicle requirements, were illustrated. Others discussing the rendezvous were John C. Houbolt, John D. Bird, and Max C. Kurbjun.

Bird, "Short History of the Development of the Lunar Orbit Rendezvous Plan at the Langley Research Center," p. 2.

December 15

The final launch in the Pioneer lunar probe program was unsuccessful; the Atlas-Able booster rocket went out of control and exploded at an altitude of 40,000 feet off Cape Canaveral.

New York Times, December 16, 1960.

December 19

Mercury-Redstone 1A (unmanned) was launched successfully from the Atlantic Missile Range. The objective was to qualify the spacecraft for a primate flight scheduled shortly thereafter. Apart from the launch vehicle cutoff velocity being slightly higher than normal, all flight sequences were satisfactory.

Grimwood, Project Mercury: A Chronology, pp. 119-120.

December 22

The MIT Instrumentation Laboratory submitted a formal proposal to NASA for a study of a navigation and guidance system for the Apollo spacecraft.

Memorandum, Robert G. Chilton to Associate Director, "Massachusetts Institute of Technology Guidance System Study for Apollo," January 16, 1961.

December 29

The Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation began work on a company- funded lunar orbit rendezvous feasibility study.

Interview with Saul Ferdman, Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation, Bethpage, N.Y., May 2, 1966.