The Apollo Spacecraft - A Chronology.|
PART 2 (B)
Design - Decision - Contract
January 1961 through March 1961
January 3STG, which was responsible for Project Mercury and other NASA manned space flight programs, became a separate field element reporting to the Director of Space Flight Programs at NASA Headquarters.
Fifth NASA Semiannual Report, p. 2.
January 5-6During a meeting of the Space Exploration Program Council at NASA Headquarters, the subject of a manned lunar landing was discussed. Following presentations on earth orbit rendezvous (Wernher von Braun, Director of Marshall Space Flight Center), lunar orbit rendezvous (John C. Houbolt of Langley Research Center), and direct ascent (Melvyn Savage of NASA Headquarters), the Council decided that NASA should not follow any one of these specific approaches, but should proceed on a broad base to afford flexibility. Another outcome of the discussion was an agreement that NASA should have an orbital rendezvous program which could stand alone as well as being a part of the manned lunar program. A task group was named to define the elements of the program insofar as possible. Members of the group were George M. Low, Chairman, Eldon W. Hall, A. M. Mayo, Ernest O. Pearson, Jr., and Oran W. Nicks, all of NASA Headquarters; Maxime A. Faget of STG; and H. H. Koelle of Marshall Space Flight Center. This group became known as the Low Committee.
Minutes, Space Exploration Program Council Meeting, January 5-6, 1961; Bird, "Short History of the Development of the Lunar Orbit Rendezvous Plan at the Langley Research Center," p. 2.
January 6Three of the Apollo Technical Liaison Groups held their first meetings at STG (Instrumentation and Communications, Mechanical Systems, and Onboard Propulsion.
The Group for Instrumentation and Communications discussed a set of working guidelines on spacecraft instrumentation and communications, tracking considerations, and deep-space communication requirements. Progress of the three Apollo feasibility study contracts was reviewed and the proposed MIT Lincoln Laboratory study on a systems concept for the ground instrumentation and tracking required for the Apollo mission was discussed. Reports of studies were given by members from the NASA Centers. The Group recommendations were :
Minutes of meetings of Technical Liaison Groups on Instrumentation and Communications, Mechanical Systems, and Onboard Propulsion, January 6, 1961.
January 6The Manned Lunar Landing Task Group (Low Committee) set up by the Space Exploration Program Council was instructed to prepare a position paper for the NASA Fiscal Year 1962 budget presentation to Congress. The paper was to be a concise statement of NASA's lunar program for Fiscal Year 1962 and was to present the lunar mission in term of both direct ascent and rendezvous. The rendezvous program would be designed to develop a manned spacecraft capability in near space, regardless of whether such a technique would be needed for manned lunar landing. In addition to answering such questions as the reason for not eliminating one of the two mission approaches, the Group was to estimate the cost of the lunar mission and the date of its accomplishment, though not in specific terms. Although the decision to land a man on the moon had not been approved, it was to be stressed that the development of the scientific and technical capability for a manned lunar landing was a prime NASA goal, though not the only one. The first meeting of the Group was to be held on January 9.
"Instructions to Manned Lunar Landing Task Group," January 6 and 9, 1961.
January 9At the first meeting of the Manned Lunar Landing Task Group, Associate Administrator Robert C. Seamans, Jr., Director of the Office of Space Flight Programs Abe Silverstein, and Director of the Office of Advanced Research Programs Ira H. Abbott outlined the purpose of the Group to the members. After a discussion of the instructions, the Group considered first the objectives of the total NASA program:
Manned Lunar Exploration Working Group [Manned Lunar Landing Task Group] Minutes, January 9, 1961.
January 10Representatives of STG visited Convair Astronautics Division of the General Dynamics Corporation to monitor the Apollo feasibility study contract. The meeting consisted of several individual informal discussions between the STG and Convair specialists on configurations and aerodynamics, heating, structures and materials, human factors, trajectory analysis, guidance and control, and operation implementation.
Memorandum, William W. Petynia, Convair Liaison Engineer, to Associate Director, STG, "Visit to Convair Astronautics on January 10 Regarding Apollo Study," February 3, 1961.
January 10A conference was held at the Langley Research Center between representatives of STG and Langley to discuss the feasibility of incorporating a lunar orbit rendezvous phase into the Apollo program. Attending the meeting for STG were Robert L. O'Neal, Owen E. Maynard, and H. Kurt Strass, and for the Langley Research Center, John C. Houbolt, Clinton E. Brown, Manuel J. Queijo, and Ralph W. Stone, Jr. The presentation by Houbolt centered on a performance analysis which showed the weight saving to be gained by the lunar rendezvous technique as opposed to the direct ascent mode. According to the analysis, a saving in weight of from 20 to 40 percent could be realized with the lunar orbit rendezvous technique.
Memorandum, O'Neal, Systems Integration Section, to Associate Director, STG, "Discussion with Dr. Houbolt, LRC, Concerning the Possible Incorporation of a Lunar Orbital Rendezvous Phase as a Prelude to Manned Lunar Landing," January 30, 1961.
January 11Three of the Apollo Technical Liaison Groups (Trajectory Analysis, Heating, and Human Factors) held their first meetings at the Ames Research Center.
After reviewing the status of the contractors' Apollo feasibility studies, the Group on Trajectory Analysis discussed studies being made at NASA Centers. An urgent requirement was identified for a standard model of the Van Allen radiation belt which could be used in all trajectory analysis related to the Apollo program,
The Group on Heating, after consideration of NASA and contractor studies currently in progress, recommended experimental investigation of control surface heating and determination of the relative importance of the unknowns in the heating area by relating estimated "ignorance" factors to resulting weight penalties in the spacecraft. The next day, three members of this Group met for further discussions and two areas were identified for more study: radiant heat inputs and their effect on the ablation heatshield, and methods of predicting heating on control surfaces, possibly by wind tunnel tests at high Mach numbers.
The Group on Human Factors considered contractors' studies and investigations being done at NASA Centers. In particular, the Group discussed the STG document, "Project Apollo Life Support Programs," which proposed 41 research projects. These projects were to be carried out by various organizations, including NASA, DOD, industry, and universities. Medical support experience which might be applicable to Apollo was also reviewed.
Minutes of meetings of Technical Liaison Groups on Trajectory Analysis, on Heating, and on Human Factors, January 11, 1961.
January 11J. Thomas Markley of the Apollo Spacecraft Project Office reported to Associate Director of STG Charles J. Donlan that an informal briefing had been given to the Saturn Guidance Committee on the Apollo program. The Committee had been formed by Don R. Ostrander, NASA Director of the Office of Launch Vehicle Programs, to survey the broad guidance and control requirements for Saturn. The Committee was to review Marshall Space Flight Center guidance plans, review plans of mission groups who intended to use Saturn, recommend an adequate guidance system for Saturn, and prepare a report of the evaluation and results during January. Members of STG, including Robert O. Piland, Markley, and Robert G. Chilton, presented summaries of the overall Apollo program and guidance requirements for Apollo.
Memorandum, Markley to Associate Director, STG, "Briefing for Saturn Guidance Committee," January 11, 1961.
January 11President-elect John F. Kennedy released a report made to him by his Ad Hoc Committee on Space named to review the U.S. space and missile programs and identify personnel, technical, or administrative problems which would require the prompt attention of the Kennedy Administration. The Committee, whose chairman was Jerome B. Wiesner of MIT, concluded that the national space program required a redefinition of objectives, that the National Aeronautics and Space Council should be made an effective agency for managing the space program, that there should be a single responsible agency within the military establishment to manage the military part of the space program, that NASA management should be reorganized with stronger emphasis on technical direction, and that organizational machinery should be set up within the government to administer an industry-government civilian space program.
Report to the President-Elect of the Ad Hoc Committee on Space, January 11, 1961, pp. 1, 4-5; New York Times, January 12, 1961.
January 11John Blake of the Air Force Aeronautical Chart and Information Center (ACIC) described to STG representatives the progress made by ACIC in mapping the moon. Lunar maps to the scale of 1: 5,000,000 and 1: 10,000,000 were later requested and received by STG. In addition, the first two sheets of a projected 144 sheet map coverage of the lunar surface on a 1:1,000,000 scale were forwarded to STG by the Center.
Letter, Charles J. Donlan to Commander, ACIC, January 17, 1961; Lt. Col. Ross J. Foster, ACIC, to Donlan, STG, January 31, 1961.
January 12Three of the Apollo Technical Liaison Groups Structures and Materials, Configurations and Aerodynamics, and Guidance and Control held their first meetings at the Ames Research Center.
The Group on Structures and Materials, after reviewing contractors' progress on the Apollo feasibility studies, considered reports on Apollo-related activities at NASA Centers. Among these activities were work on the radiative properties of material suitable for temperature control of spacecraft (Ames), investigation of low-level cooling systems in the reentry module (Langley), experiments on the landing impact of proposed reentry module shapes (Langley), meteoroid damage studies (Lewis), and the definition of suitable design criteria and safety factors to ensure the structural integrity of the spacecraft STG.
The Group on Configurations and Aerodynamics recommended :
January 12-13Representatives of STG visited The Martin Company in Baltimore, Md., to review the progress of the Apollo feasibility study contract. Discussions on preliminary design of the spacecraft, human factors, propulsion, power supplies, guidance and control, structures, and landing and recovery were held with members of the Martin staff.
Memorandum, John B. Lee, Apollo Liaison Engineer, to Associate Director, STG, "Visit to The Martin Company, Baltimore, Md., on January 12-13, 1961, Regarding the Monitoring of the Apollo Study Contract," February 6, 1961.
January 16-17At the second meeting of the Manned Lunar Landing Task Group (Low Committee), a draft position paper was presented by George M. Low, Chairman. A series of reports on launch vehicle capabilities, spacecraft, and lunar program support were presented and considered for possible inclusion in the position paper.
Minutes of Manned Lunar Landing Working Group [Manned Lunar Landing Task Group], January 16 and 17, 1961.
January 19The Marshall Space Flight Center awarded contracts to the Douglas Aircraft Company and Chance Vought Corporation to study the launching of manned exploratory expeditions into lunar and interplanetary space from earth orbits.
U.S. Congress, House, Committee on Science and Astronautics, Aeronautical and Astronautical Events of 1961, Report of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, 87th Congress, 2nd Session (1962), p. 3.
January 19After evaluating preliminary design studies, NASA selected the Hughes Aircraft Company to build seven Surveyor spacecraft. This 750-pound, three-legged, unmanned spacecraft would carry 200 pounds of instruments, including zoom television cameras, a drill to sample the lunar soil, chemical analysis equipment, and a seismometer. The first Surveyor was scheduled to be launched in 1963.
Fifth NASA Semiannual Report, p. 49; Los Angeles Examiner, January 20, 1961.
January 24The Manned Lunar Landing Task Group (Low Committee) submitted its first draft report to NASA Associate Administrator Robert C. Seamans, Jr. A section on detailed costs and schedules still was in preparation and a detailed itemized backup report was expected to be available in mid- February.
Memorandum, George M. Low, Program Chief, Manned Space Flight, to Associate Administrator, "A Plan for Manned Lunar Landing," January 24, 1961.
January 25NASA announced that the Lockheed Aircraft Corporation had been awarded a contract by the Marshall Space Flight Center to study the feasibility of refueling a spacecraft in orbit.
Baltimore Sun, January 26, 1961.
January 26Wernher von Braun, Director of Marshall Space Flight Center, proposed that the Saturn C-1 launch vehicle be changed from a three-stage to a two-stage configuration to meet Apollo program schedules. The planned third stage (S-V) would be dropped.
Saturn Illustrated Chronology, p. 17.
January 30President John F. Kennedy announced that he was nominating James E. Webb as Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and Hugh L. Dryden as Deputy Administrator, Senate confirmation followed on February 9 and they were sworn in on February 14.
Washington Post, January 31, 1961; Fifth NASA Semiannual Report, p. 2.
January 31Mercury-Redstone 2 was launched successfully from the Atlantic Missile Range, with Ham, a chimpanzee, aboard. Despite the over-acceleration of the launch vehicle, which caused the spacecraft to reach a higher altitude than planned, the capsule was recovered safely with Ham in good condition.
Grimwood, Project Mercury: A Chronology, p. 121.
January 31-February 1Members of STG met with representatives of the Convair Astronautics Division of the General Dynamics Corporation and Avco Corporation to monitor the progress of the Apollo feasibility study. Configurations and aerodynamics and Apollo heating studies were discussed. Current plans indicated that final selection of their proposed spacecraft configuration would be made by Convair Astronautics within a week. The status of the spacecraft reentry studies was described by Avco specialists.
Memorandum, William W. Petynia, Convair Liaison Engineer, to Associate Director, STG, "Visit to Avco, Wilmington, Mass., on January 31 and February 1, 1961, Regarding Monitoring of Apollo Study Contract;" February 13, 1961.
During the MonthMarshall Space Flight Center awarded contracts to NAA and Ryan Aeronautical Corporation to investigate the feasibility of recovering the first stage (S-I) of the Saturn launch vehicle by using a Rogallo wing paraglider.
Saturn Illustrated Chronology, pp. 17-18.
Memorandum, George M. Low, Program Chief, Manned Space Flight, to Associate Administrator, "Transmittal of Report Prepared by Manned Lunar Working Group [Manned Lunar Landing Task Group]," February 7, 1961.
February 7NASA selected the Instrumentation Laboratory of MIT for a six-month study of a navigation and guidance system for the Apollo spacecraft.
Information from the Apollo Procurement Branch, Procurement and Contracts Division, Manned Spacecraft Center, Houston, Tex., October 2, 1967.
February 10A voice message was sent from Washington, D.C., to Woomera, Australia, by way of the moon. NASA Deputy Administrator Hugh L. Dryden spoke by telephone to Goldstone, Calif., which "bounced" it to the deep-space instrumentation station at Woomera. The operation was conducted as part of the official opening ceremony of the Australian facility.
Aeronautical and Astronautical Events of 1961, p. 6.
February 10Rocketdyne Division's first static test of a prototype thrust chamber for the F-1 engine achieved a thrust of 1.550 million pounds in a few seconds at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.
Rocketdyne Skywriter, February 17, 1961; Washington Post, February 11, 1961.
February 10At the first meeting of the House Committee on Science and Astronautics, during the first session of the 87th Congress, Charles F. Ducander, Executive Director and Chief Counsel of the Committee staff, outlined a number of proposed subjects for study. One subject was the Air Force's interest in a three-man spacecraft similar to the Apollo spacecraft planned by NASA. A Committee staff member had been assigned to investigate this duplication of effort. On February 22, testifying before the Committee, Air Force Undersecretary Joseph V. Charyk stated that the Dyna-Soar program was a direct approach to manned military space applications. The Air Force interest in an Apollo-type spacecraft was part of the post-Dyna- Soar program, Charyk said.
U.S. Congress, House, Committee on Science and Astronautics, Miscellaneous Committee Business, 87th Congress, 1st Session (1961), p. 6; U.S. Congress, House, Committee on Science and Astronautics, Research and Development for Defense, 87th Congress, 1st Session (1961), p. 161.
February 21Mercury-Atlas 2 (unmanned) was launched successfully from the Atlantic Missile Range in a test of maximum heating and its effects during the worst reentry design conditions. All test objectives were met.
Grimwood, Project Mercury: A Chronology, p. 124.
February 27-25A NASA inter-Center meeting on space rendezvous was held in Washington, D.C. Air Force and NASA programs were discussed and the status of current studies was presented by NASA Centers. Members of the Langley Research Center outlined the basic concepts of the lunar orbit rendezvous method of accomplishing the lunar landing mission.
"Apollo Spacecraft Chronology," p. 6; Bird, "Short History of the Development of the Lunar Orbit Rendezvous Plan at the Langley Research Center," p.3; Manned Lunar Landing through use of Lunar-Orbit Rendezvous, p. 5.
March 1-3The midterm review of the Apollo feasibility studies was held at STG. Oral status reports were made by officials of Convair Astronautics Division of the General Dynamics Corporation on March 1, The Martin Company on March 2, and the General Electric Company on March 3. The reports described the work accomplished, problems unsolved, and future plans. Representatives of all NASA Centers attended the meetings, including a majority of the members of the Apollo Technical Liaison Groups. Members of these Groups formed the nucleus of the mid-term review groups which met during the three-day period and compiled lists of comments on the presentations for later discussions with the contractors.
Project Apollo, A Feasibility Study of an Advanced Manned Spacecraft and System, Comments on the Convair-Astronautics Company Midterm Presentation, March 1, 1961; Comments on The Martin Company Midterm Presentation, March 2, 1961; and Comments on the General Electric (Missile and Space Vehicle Division) Company Midterm Presentation, March 3, 1961.
March 7The first flight model of the Saturn C-1 booster SA-1 was installed on the static test stand for preflight checkout at the Marshall Space Flight Center.
Saturn Illustrated Chronology, p. 21.
The Soviet Union launched and recovered on the same day Korabl Sputnik VI, or Sputnik IX, in a test of spacecraft construction and systems and the influence of cosmic rays on living beings. The spacecraft carried a dog, guinea pigs, mice, and insects.
New York Times, March 10 1961; Baltimore Sun, March 13, 1961; Instruments and Spacecraft, pp. 162-163.
March 20Management personnel from NASA Headquarters and STG met to plan general requirements for a proposal for advanced manned spacecraft development.
"Apollo Spacecraft Chronology," p. 7.
March 23Representatives of Marshall Space Flight Center recommended configuration changes for the Saturn C-1 launch vehicles to NASA Headquarters. These included:
Saturn Illustrated Chronology, pp. 21-22; Senate Staff Report, Manned Space Flight Program, p. 196.
March 25In an apparent duplication of the March 9 launch, the Soviet Union orbited and recovered Korabl Sputnik VII, or Sputnik X. The spacecraft, the third of its kind to be recovered safely by the Russians, carried a dog and other animals.
Baltimore Sun, March 26, 1961; Instruments and Spacecraft, p. 164.
March 28President John F. Kennedy submitted to Congress an amended budget request for NASA which totaled $1,235,300,000. This total was $125,670,000 greater than the Eisenhower Administration's request. The increase included $56 million for Saturn research and development and $11 million for the extension of Cape Canaveral facilities.
Senate Staff Report, Manned Space Flight Program, p. 197.
March 29-30William W. Petynia of STG visited the Convair Astronautics Division of General Dynamics Corporation to monitor the Apollo feasibility study contract. A selection of the M-1 in preference to the lenticular configuration had been made by Convair. May 17 was set as the date for the final Convair presentation to NASA.
Memorandum, Petynia, Convair Liaison Engineer, to Associate Director, STG, "Visit to Convair Astronautics on March 29-30, 1961, Regarding Monitoring of the Apollo Study Contract," April 5, 1961.
March 31The Space Science Board of the National Academy of Sciences submitted to President John F. Kennedy its recommendation that "scientific exploration of the moon and planets should be clearly stated as the ultimate objective of the U.S. space program for the foreseeable future." While stressing the importance of the scientific goals of the program, the Board also emphasized other factors such as "the sense of national leadership emergent from bold and imaginative U.S. space activity." The recommendations of the Board had been adopted at a meeting on February 10-11 and were made public on August 7.
Space Science Board, "Man's Role in the National Space Program," August 7, 1961.