The Apollo Spacecraft - A Chronology.|
PART 2 (E)
Design - Decision - Contract
October 3The Charter of the MSFC-STG Space Vehicle Board, prepared jointly by Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) and STG, was approved at the first meeting of the Board at NASA Headquarters. The purpose of the Space Vehicle Board was to assure complete coordination and cooperation between all levels of the MSFC and STG management for the NASA manned space flight programs in which both Centers had responsibilities. Members of the Board were the Directors of MSFC and STG (Wernher von Braun and Robert R. Gilruth), the Deputy Director for Research and Development, MSFC (Eberhard F. M. Rees), and the STG Associate Director (Walter C. Williams). The Board was responsible for:
The Sub-Board would :
Four Saturn-Apollo Coordination Panels were established to make available the technical competence of MSFC and STG for the solution of interrelated problems of the launch vehicle and the spacecraft. The four included the Launch Operations, Mechanical Design, Electrical and Electronics Design, and Flight Mechanics, Dynamics, and Control Coordination Panels. Although these Panels were designated as new Panels, the members selected by STG and MSFC represented key technical personnel who had been included in the Mercury-Redstone Panels, the Mercury-Atlas Program Panels, the Apollo Technical Liaison Groups, and the Saturn working groups. The Charter was signed by von Braun and Gilruth. Charter of the MSFC-STG Space Vehicle Board, October 3, 1961.
October 3The MSFC-STG Space Vehicle Board at NASA Headquarters discussed the S- IVB stage, which would be modified by the Douglas Aircraft Company to replace the six LR-115 engines with a single J-2 engine. Funds of $500,000 were allocated for this study to be completed in March 1962. The status of orbital launch operations studies at Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) were reviewed and the Board agreed that an ad hoc study group should be formed to consider such operations and the S-IVB as the orbital launch vehicle. Other matters discussed were the mission plans for SA-5 through SA-10, a review of the Apollo flight program schedule, planned MSFC participation in the Dyna-Soar program, the agenda for the first meeting of the Advanced Program Coordination Board, and joint MSFC-STG study of post-Apollo programs.
Minutes, Marshall Space Flight Center-Manned Spacecraft Center Space Vehicle Board Meeting No. 1, November 7, 1961; Senate Staff Report, Manned Space Flight Program, p. 202.
October 4Representatives of STG visited the Instrumentation Laboratory of MIT for the second monthly progress report meeting on the Apollo spacecraft guidance and navigation contract. A number of technical topics were presented by Laboratory speakers: space sextant visibility and geometry problems, gear train analysis, vacuum environmental approach, midcourse guidance theory, inertial measurement unit, and gyro. The organization of the Apollo effort at the Laboratory was also discussed. A preliminary estimate of the cost for both Laboratory and industrial support for the Apollo navigation and guidance system was presented: $158.4 million through Fiscal Year 1966.
Memorandum, William W. Petynia, Apollo Project Office, to Associate Director, "Second Apollo Monthly Meeting at MIT, Instrumentation Laboratory, on October 4, 1961," October 10, 1961.
October 11Officials of STG heard oral reports from representatives of five industrial teams bidding on the contract for the Apollo spacecraft: General Dynamics/Astronautics in conjunction with the Avco Corporation; General Electric Company, Missile and Space Vehicle Department, in conjunction with Douglas Aircraft Company, Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation, and Space Technology Laboratories, Inc.; McDonnell Aircraft Corporation in conjunction with Lockheed Aircraft Corporation, Hughes Aircraft Company, and Chance Vought Corporation of Ling-Temco-Vought, Inc.; The Martin Company; and North American Aviation, Inc. Written proposals had been received from the contractors on October 9. The presentations were made in the Virginia Room of the Chamberlain Hotel at Old Point Comfort, Va. Following the reports, 11 panels, under the direction of the Business and Technical Subcommittees, began studying the proposals. The Panels established were: Systems Integration; Propulsion; Flight Mechanics; Structures, Materials, and Heating; Human Factors; Instrumentation and Communications; Onboard Systems; Ground Operational Support Systems and Operations; Technical Development Plan; Reliability; and Manufacturing. The Technical Assessment Panels completed their evaluation October 20 and made their final report to the Technical Subcommittee on October 25. The Technical Subcommittee made its final report to the Source Evaluation Board on November 1.
MSC Space News Roundup, November 1, 1961, p. 8; December 13, 1961, p. 7; "Apollo Spacecraft Chronology," p. 12.
October 20The MSFC-STG Advanced Program Coordination Board met at STG and discussed the question of the development of an automatic checkout system which would include the entire launch vehicle program from the Saturn C-1 through the Nova. It agreed that the Apollo contractor should be instructed to make the spacecraft electrical subsystems compatible with the Saturn complex.
In further discussion, Paul J. DeFries of Marshall Space Flight Center MSFC presented a list of proposed guidelines for use in studying early manned lunar landing missions:
Memorandum, J. Thomas Markley, Acting Secretary, to Distribution Members of the MSFC-STG Space Vehicle Board, "Minutes of MSFC-MSC Advanced Program Coordination Board," December 11, 1961.
October 25NASA selected the Pearl River site in southwestern Mississippi, about 35 miles from the Michoud plant near New Orleans, La., as a static-test facility for Saturn- and Nova-class launch vehicles. The completed facility would operate under the direction of the Marshall Space Flight Center.
Washington Daily News, October 26, 1961; Aeronautical and Astronautical Events of 1961, p. 58.
October 27The Saturn SA-1 first-stage booster was launched successfully from Cape Canaveral. The 925,000-pound launch vehicle, the largest known to be tested up to that time, carried water-filled dummy upper stages to an altitude of 84.8 miles and 214.7 miles down the Atlantic Missile Range. The booster's eight clustered H-1 engines developed 1.3 million pounds of thrust.
Washington Evening Star, October 28, 1961; Aeronautical and Astronautical Events of 1961, p. 58.
October 31Under the direction of John C. Houbolt of Langley Research Center, a two-volume work entitled "Manned Lunar-Landing through use of Lunar-Orbit Rendezvous" was presented to the Golovin Committee (organized on July 20). The study had been prepared by Houbolt, John D. Bird, Arthur W. Vogeley, Ralph W. Stone, Jr., Manuel J. Queijo, William H. Michael, Jr., Max C. Kurbjun, Roy F. Brissenden, John A. Dodgen, William D. Mace, and others of Langley. The Golovin Committee had requested a mission plan using the lunar orbit rendezvous concept. Bird, Michael, and Robert H. Tolson appeared before the Committee in Washington to explain certain matters of trajectory and lunar stay time not covered in the document.
Bird, "Short History of the Development of the Lunar Orbit Rendezvous Plan at the Langley Research Center," p. 3.
October 31Robert G. Chilton of STG gave the MIT Instrumentation Laboratory new information based on NASA in- house studies on the Apollo spacecraft roll inertia, pitch and yaw inertia, and attitude jets.
David G. Hoag, MIT, personal notes, October 1961.
An artist's concept of a small lunar lander during descent to the lunar surface, as proposed by personnel of Langley Research Center in October 1961.
Grimwood, Project Mercury: A Chronology, p. 152.
November 6Marshall Space Flight Center directed NAA to redesign the advanced Saturn second stage (S-II) to incorporate five rather than four J-2 engines, to provide a million pounds of thrust.
Saturn Illustrated Chronology, p. 46.
November 6An Apollo Egress Working Group, consisting of personnel from Marshall Space Flight Center, Launch Operations Directorate, and Atlantic Missile Range, was formed on November 2. Meetings on that date and on November 6 resulted in publication of a seven-page document, "Apollo Egress Criteria." The Group established ground rules, operations and control procedures criteria, and space vehicle design criteria and provided requirements for implementation of emergency egress system.
Memorandum, Walter C. Williams, Associate Director, MSC, to Apollo Office, Attn: Bob Piland; Chief, Flight Operations Division; and Chief, Preflight Operations Division, "Apollo Emergency Egress Requirements," December 11, 1961.
November 6In a memorandum to D. Brainerd Holmes, Director, Office of Manned Space Flight (OMSF), Milton W. Rosen, Director of Launch Vehicles and Propulsion, OMSF, described the organization of a working group to recommend to the Director a large launch vehicle program which would meet the requirements of manned space flight and which would have broad and continuing national utility for other NASA and DOD programs. The group would include members from the NASA Office of Launch Vehicles and Propulsion (Rosen, Chairman, Richard B. Canright, Eldon W. Hall, Elliott Mitchell, Norman Rafel, Melvyn Savage, and Adelbert O. Tischler); from the Marshall Space Flight Center (William A. Mrazek, Hans H. Maus, and James B. Bramlet); and from the NASA Office of Spacecraft and Flight Missions (John H. Disher). (David M. Hammock of MSC was later added to the group.) The principal background material to be used by the group would consist of reports of the Large Launch Vehicle Planning Group (Golovin Committee), the Fleming Committee, the Lundin Committee, the Heaton Committee, and the Debus-Davis Committee. Some of the subjects the group would be considering were:
Memoranda, Rosen to Holmes, "Large Launch Vehicle Program," November 6, 1961; Rosen to Holmes, "Recommendations for NASA Manned Space Flight Vehicle Program," November 20, 1961.
November 7-9Representatives of MSC and NASA Headquarters visited the MIT Instrumentation Laboratory to discuss clauses in the contract for the Apollo navigation and guidance system, technical questions proposed by MSC, and work in progress. Topics discussed included the trajectories for the SA-7 and SA-8 flights and the estimated propellant requirements for guidance attitude maneuvers and velocity changes for the lunar landing mission. Presentations were made on the following subjects by members of the Laboratory staff: the spacecraft gyro, Apollo guidance computer logic design, computer displays and interfaces, guidance computer programming, horizon sensor experiments, and reentry guidance.
Memoranda, Jack Barnard, Apollo Project Office, to Associate Director, MSC, "Visit to MIT Instrumentation Laboratory Concerning the Apollo Navigation and Guidance System," November 15, 1961; William W. Petynia, Apollo Project Office, to Associate Director, MSC, "Third Apollo Monthly Meeting at MIT Instrumentation Laboratory on November 8-9," November 15, 1961.
November 8The four MSC-MSFC Coordination Panels held their first meeting at Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC). A significant event was the decision to modify the Electrical and Electronics Design Panel by creating two new Panels: the Electrical Systems Integration Panel and the Instrumentation and Communications Panel. In succeeding months, the Panels met at regular intervals.
MSF Management Council Minutes, June 25, 1963, Agenda Item 6.
November 15In a letter to NASA Associate Administrator Robert C. Seamans, Jr., John C. Houbolt of Langley Research Center presented the lunar orbit rendezvous (LOR) plan and outlined certain deficiencies in the national booster and manned rendezvous programs. This letter protested exclusion of the LOR plan from serious consideration by committees responsible for the definition of the national program for lunar exploration.
Letter, Houbolt to Seamans, November 15, 1961.
November 17NASA announced that the Chrysler Corporation had been chosen to build 20 Saturn first-stage (S-1) boosters similar to the one tested successfully on October 27 . They would be constructed at the Michoud facility near New Orleans, La. The contract, worth about $200 million, would run through 1966, with delivery of the first booster scheduled for early 1964.
Washington Post, November 18, 1961.
November 18Ranger II was launched into near-earth orbit from the Atlantic Missile Range by an Atlas-Agena B booster. The scheduled deep-space trajectory of the spacecraft was not achieved when the Agena engine failed to restart in orbit.
Washington Evening Star, November 18, 1961.
November 20Milton W. Rosen, Director of Launch Vehicles and Propulsion, NASA Office of Manned Space Flight (OMSF), submitted to D. Brainerd Holmes, Director, OMSF, the report of the working group which had been set up on November 6. The recommendations of the group were :
The original Apollo spacecraft Statement of Work of July 28 had been substantially expanded.
The reaction control systems for the command and service modules would now each consist of two independent system, both capable of meeting the total torque and propellant requirements. The fuel would be monomethylhydrazine and the oxidizer would be a mixture of nitrogen tetroxide and nitrous oxide.
The parachute system for the earth landing configuration was revised to include two FIST-type drogue parachutes deployed by mortars.
The command module structure was specified: a ring-reinforced, single- thickness aluminum shell pressure vessel separated from the outer support structure of relatively rigid brazed or welded sandwich construction. The ablative heatshield would be bonded to this outer structure.
Service module structure was also detailed: an aluminum honeycomb sandwich shell compatible with noise and buffet and with meteoroid requirements. The structural continuity would have to be maintained with adjoining modules and be compatible with the overall bending stiffness requirements of the launch vehicle.
The duties of the three Apollo crewmen were delineated :
One crew member would stand watch during noncritical mission phases at either of the two primary duty stations. Areas for taking navigation fixes, performing maintenance, food preparation, and certain scientific observations could be separate from primary duty stations. Arrangements of displays and controls would reflect the duties of each crewman. They would be so arranged that one crewman could return the spacecraft safely to earth. All crewmen would be cross-trained so that each could assume the others' duties.
Radiation shielding for the crew would be provided by the mass of the spacecraft modules.
The spacecraft would be equipped with toilet facilities which would include means for disinfecting the human waste sufficiently to render it harmless and unobjectionable to the crew. Personal hygiene needs, such as shaving, the handling of nonhuman waste, and the control of infectious germs would be provided for.
Food would be dehydrated, freeze-dried, or of a similar type that could be reconstituted with water if necessary. Heating and chilling of the foods would be required. The primary source of potable water would be the fuel cells. In addition, sufficient water would have to be on board at launch for use during the 72-hour landing requirement in case of early abort. Urine would not have to be recycled for potable water.
Medical instrumentation would be used to monitor the crew during all flights, especially during stressful periods of early flights, and for special experiments to be performed in the space laboratory module and during extravehicular activity and lunar exploration. Each crewman would carry a radiation dosimeter.
The propulsion system for the lunar landing module would now comprise a composite propulsion system: multiple lunar retrograde engines for the gross velocity increments required for lunar orbiting and lunar landing; and a lunar landing engine for velocity vector control, midcourse velocity control, and the lunar hover and touchdown maneuver. The lunar retrograde engines would use liquid-oxygen and liquid-hydrogen propellants. The single lunar landing engine would require the same type of propellant, would be throttleable over a ratio of +/- 50 percent about the normal value, and would be capable of multiple starts within the design operating life of the engine.
NASA, Project Apollo Spacecraft Development Statement of Work (STG, November 27, 1961), Part 3, Technical Approach, pp. 35-96.
A team and a goal - officials of North American Aviation, Inc., study a replica of the moon shortly after the announcement that the firm had been selected by NASA as the prime contractor for the Apollo command and service modules. From left to right are Harrison A. Storms, president of North American's Space and Information Systems Division; John W. Paup, program manager of Apollo; and Charles H. Feltz, Apollo program engineer. (NAA photo)
NASA announced that the Space and Information Systems Division of North American Aviation, Inc., had been selected to design and build the Apollo spacecraft. The decision by NASA Administrator James E. Webb followed a comprehensive evaluation of five industry proposals by nearly 200 scientists and engineers representing both NASA and DOD. Webb had received the Source Evaluation Board findings on November 24. Although technical evaluations were very close, NAA had been selected on the basis of experience, technical competence, and cost. NAA would be responsible for the design and development of the command module and service module. NASA expected that a separate contract for the lunar landing system would be awarded within the next six months. The MIT Instrumentation Laboratory had previously been assigned the development of the Apollo spacecraft guidance and navigation system. Both the NAA and MIT contracts would be under the direction of MSC.
NAA Space and Information Systems Division, News Release SP3-0610, November 28, 1961; Wall Street Journal, November 29, 1961; U.S. Congress, Senate, Committee on Aeronautical and Space Sciences, Apollo Accident, Hearings, 90th Congress, 1st Session (1967), Part 6, p. 513; TWX, NASA Headquarters to Ames, Langley, Lewis, and Flight Research Centers, Goddard and Marshall Space Flight Centers, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Launch Operations Center, Space Task Group, Wallops Station, and Western Operations Office, November 28, 1961.
November 29The Mercury-Atlas 5 launch from the Atlantic Missile Range placed a Mercury spacecraft carrying chimpanzee Enos into orbit. After a two-orbit flight of 3 hours and 21 minutes, the capsule reentered and was recovered 1 hour and 25 minutes later. Enos was reported in excellent condition. No additional unmanned or primate flights were considered necessary before attempting the manned orbital mission scheduled for early 1962.
MSC Space News Roundup, December 13, 1961, p. 1; Swenson et al., This New Ocean, pp. 402-407.
November 29-30On a visit to Marshall Space Flight Center by MIT Instrumentation Laboratory representatives, the possibility was discussed of emergency switchover from Saturn to Apollo guidance systems as backup for launch vehicle guidance.
David G. Hoag, personal notes, November 29-30, 1961.