The Apollo Spacecraft - A Chronology.

PART 3 (E)

Lunar Orbit Rendezvous: Mode and Module

October 1962 through 7 November 1962

1962 October

1962 November


October 1

The pad abort boilerplate command module, BP-6, to qualify the launch escape system, was scheduled for delivery to White Sands Missile Range by mid-April 1963. A pad abort test of BP-6 was scheduled for May 15, 1963.

Apollo Quarterly Status Report No. 1, p. 42.

October 3

The Sigma 7 spacecraft with Astronaut Walter M. Schirra, Jr., as pilot was launched into orbit by a Mercury-Atlas vehicle from Atlantic Missile Range. In the most successful American manned space flight to date, Schirra traveled nearly six orbits, returning to earth at a predetermined point in the Pacific Ocean 9 hours, 13 minutes after liftoff. Within 40 minutes after landing, he and his spacecraft were safely aboard the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Kearsarge.

Grimwood, Project Mercury: A Chronology, pp. 174-175; Astronautical and Aeronautical Events of 1962, pp. 208-209.

October 4

Rocketdyne Division successfully completed the first full-duration (250-seconds) static firing of the J-2 engine.

Rocketdyne Skywriter, October 12, 1962.

October 5

NASA signed a $l.55-million contract with Hamilton Standard Division of United Aircraft Corporation and International Latex Corporation for the development of a space suit for the Apollo crewmen. As the prime contractor, Hamilton Standard would have management responsibility for the overall program and would develop a life-support, backpack system to be worn by crewmen during lunar expeditions. International Latex Corporation as subcontractor would fabricate the suit, with Republic Aviation Corporation furnishing human factors information and environmental testing. The suit would allow a crewman greater mobility than previous space suits, enabling him to walk, climb, and bend with relative ease.

Astronautical and Aeronautical Events of 1962, p. 211; MSC, Project Apollo Quarterly Status Report No. 2 for Period Ending December 31, 1962, p. 22.

October 10

The Minneapolis-Honeywell Regulator Company letter subcontract for the Apollo stabilization and control system was suspended by NAA and amended in accordance with the current design concepts,

Apollo Quarterly Status Report No. 2, p. 16.

October 15

The analysis of scientific measurements made by the Ranger III lunar probe showed that gamma-ray intensity in interplanetary space was ten times greater than expected, NASA reported. Measurements were taken by gamma-ray spectrometers on Ranger III after it was launched on January 26. NASA scientists, however, did not believe that gamma-ray intensity was "great enough to require any changes in the design of radiation shielding for manned spacecraft."

New York Times, October 16, 1962.

October 15

NASA announced that five additional Ranger spacecraft would be added to the lunar exploration program, raising the total to 14 to be launched through 1964.

New York Times, October 15, 1962.

October 16

NASA announced the selection of the International Business Machines Corporation to provide a ground-based computer system for Projects Gemini and Apollo. The computer complex would be part of the mission control center at MSC.

Astronautical and Aeronautical Events of 1962, p. 216.

October 18

The Ranger V lunar probe was launched from Atlantic Missile Range by an Atlas-Agena B launch vehicle. The Agena B stage attained parking orbit and 25 minutes later reignited to send Ranger V toward the moon. The spacecraft's solar cells did not provide power, making reception of the flight-path correction signal impossible and rendering its television cameras useless. Ranger V was to have relayed television pictures of the lunar surface and rough-landed an instrumented capsule containing a seismometer. The spacecraft was tracked for 8 hours, 44 minutes, before its small reserve battery went dead.

On October 29, Homer E. Newell, NASA Director of the Office of Space Sciences, established a Board of Inquiry to review the entire Ranger program. The Board, headed by Albert J. Kelley of NASA Headquarters, submitted its report on December 4 and found that, while the Ranger design concept was basically sound, improvements could be made to increase flight reliability.

Washington Post, October 19 and 22, 1962; U.S. Congress, House, Subcommittee on Space Sciences and Advanced Research and Technology of the Committee on Science and Astronautics, 1964 NASA Authorization, Hearings on H.R. 5466, 88th Congress, 1st Session (1963), pp. 1597-1598.

October 22

The Lunar and Planetary Laboratory of the University of Arizona, directed by Gerard P. Kuiper, reported that its analysis of lunar photographs taken by Lunik III differed from that announced by Soviet scientists. The most extensive feature of the moon's far side, photographed in 1959, had been named "The Soviet Mountains"; this feature was identified by the Arizona laboratory as an elongated area of bright patches and rays, possibly flat. Another feature, named the "Joliot-Curie Crater" by Soviet scientists, was re-identified by the Arizona laboratory as Mare Novum (New Sea), first identified by German astronomer Julius Franz near the turn of the century.

New York Times, October 22, 1962.

October 23

At the request of NASA, about 300 pieces of Gemini ground support equipment were examined by NAA engineers. It appeared that about 190 items would be usable on the Apollo program.

Oakley, Historical Summary, S&ID Apollo Program, p. 7.

October 24

The Office of Systems under NASA's Office of Manned Space Flight completed a manned lunar landing mode comparison embodying the most recent studies by contractors and NASA Centers. The report was the outgrowth of the decision announced by NASA on July 11 to continue studies on lunar landing modes while basing planning and procurement primarily on the lunar orbit rendezvous (LOR) technique. The results of the comparison between the LOR technique, a two-man C-5 direct flight, and a two-man earth orbit rendezvous EOR mode were:

  • The C-5 direct flight mode required cryogenic fuels and was marginal, even with a two-man spacecraft.
  • Both the LOR and EOR modes were feasible.
  • The reliability differences between LOR and EOR could not be demonstrated conclusively by analysis at this time. LOR appeared to have a higher probability of mission success at less risk to the astronauts.
  • Designing the lunar excursion module specifically for the lunar landing anti performing the mission with a single C-5 launch vehicle were important advantages of the LOR mode, offsetting the problems connected with LOR rendezvous.
  • Human factors considerations were not significant in the mode selections; the addition of rendezvous to the requirement for lunar landing and reentry did not add appreciably to crew stress or fatigue or to the overall hazards of the mission.
  • Both LOR and EOR provided the basis for projected national space requirements before the development of Nova-class launch vehicles. The C-5 launch vehicle capability met estimated payload requirements. LOR provided experience in personnel transfer between spacecraft as contrasted with fuel transfer in EOR.
  • The lunar landing mission could be accomplished at least one year and probably 18 months sooner by using LOR rather than EOR.
  • The LOR mode was 10 to 15 percent less expensive than EOR.
  • The LOR mode provided the cleanest management structure within the NASA organization.
In conclusion, the LOR mode offered the best opportunity of meeting the goal of an American manned lunar landing within the decade of the sixties.

Office of Systems, Office of Manned Space Flight, "Manned Lunar Landing Comparison," October 24, 1962, pp. 1, 5-6.

October 25

Republic Aviation Corporation selected the Radio Corporation of America to design and build the data acquisition and communications subsystem for Project Fire.

Astronautical and Aeronautical Events of 1962, p. 222.

October 26

Flight missions of the Apollo spacecraft were to be numerically identified in the future according to the following scheme :

Pad aborts: PA-1, PA-2, etc.

Missions using Little Joe II launch vehicles: A-001, A-002, etc. Missions using Saturn C-1 launch vehicles: A-101, A-102, etc. Missions using Saturn C-1B launch vehicles: A-201, A-202, etc. Missions using Saturn C-5 launch vehicles: A-501, A-502, etc.

The 'A' denoted Apollo, the first digit stood for launch vehicle type or series, and the last two digits designated the order of Apollo spacecraft flights within a vehicle series.

Memorandum, Charles W. Frick, Manager, Apollo Spacecraft Project Office, to Distribution, "Designations for Apollo Missions," October 26, 1962.

October 30

NASA announced the realignment of functions under Associate Administrator Robert C. Seamans, Jr. D. Brainerd Holmes assumed new duties as a Deputy Associate Administrator while retaining his responsibilities as Director of the Office of Manned Space Flight. NASA field installations engaged principally in manned space flight projects (Marshall Space Flight Center Manned Spacecraft Center, and Launch Operations Center) would report to Holmes; installations engaged principally in other projects (Ames, Langley, Lewis, and Flight Research Centers, Goddard Space Flight Center, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and Wallops Station) would report to Thomas F. Dixon, Deputy Associate Administrator for the past year. Previously most field center directors had reported directly to Seamans on institutional matters beyond program and contractual administration.

Rosholt, An Administrative History of NASA, 1958-1963, pp. 256-257; Washington Evening Star, October 31, 1962.

October 30

MSC Director Robert R. Gilruth reported to the Manned Space Flight Management Council that the Apollo drogue parachutes would be tested in the Langley Research Center wind tunnels.

MSF Management Council Minutes, October 30, 1962, Agenda Item 1.

October 30

NASA announced the signing of a contract with the Space and Information Systems Division of NAA for the development and production of the second stage (S-II) of the Saturn C-5 launch vehicle. The $319.9-million contract, under the direction of Marshall Space Flight Center, covered the production of nine live flight stages, one inert flight stage, and several ground-test units for the advanced Saturn launch vehicle. NAA had been selected on September 11, 1961, to develop the S-II. Wall Street Journal, October 31, 1962.

October 31

NAA completed the firm-cost proposal for the definitive Apollo program and submitted it to NASA. MSC had reviewed the contract package and negotiated a program plan position with NAA.

Oakley, Historical Summary, S&ID Apollo Program, p. 7; Apollo Quarterly Status Report No. 2, pp. 5, 6.

October 31

NASA announced that the Douglas Aircraft Company had been awarded a $2.25million contract to modify the S-IVB stage for use in the Saturn C- 1B program.

NASA News Release, 62-232, October 31, 1962.

During the Month

Proposed designs for view port covers on the crew-hatch window, docking ports, and earth landing windows were prepared by NAA. Design planning called for these port covers to be removed solely in the space environment. [Crew members would not use such windows during launch and reentry phases.] NAA,

Apollo Monthly Progress Report, SID 62-300-7, October 31, 1962, p. 71.

During the Month

Elimination of the requirement for personal parachutes nullified consideration of a command module (CM) blowout emergency escape hatch. A set of quick-acting latches for the inward-opening crew hatch would be needed, however, to provide a means of egress following a forced landing. The latches would be operable from outside as well as inside the pressure vessel. Outside hardware for securing the ablative panel over the crew door would be required as well as a method of releasing the panel from inside the CM.

Apollo Monthly Progress Report, SID 62-:300-7, p. 70.

During the Month

An NAA study on the shift of the command module center of gravity during reentry proposed moving the crew and couches about ten inches toward the aft equipment bay and then repositioning them for landing impact.

A review of body angles used for the current couch geometry disclosed that the thigh-to-torso angle could be closed sufficiently for a brief period during reentry to shorten the overall couch length by the required travel along the Z-Z axis. [See diagrams]. The more acute angle was desirable for high g conditions. This change in the couch adjustment range, as well as a revision in the lower leg angle to gain structure clearance, would necessitate considerable couch redesign.

Apollo Monthly Progress Report, SID 62-300-7, p. 68.

During the Month

Incandescent lamps would be used for floodlighting the command module because they weighed less than fluorescent lamps and took up less space while increasing reliability and reducing system complexity. A 28- volt lamp was most desirable because of its compatibility with the spacecraft 28-volt dc power system. Laboratory tests with a 28-volt incandescent lamp showed that heat dissipation would not be a problem in the vacuum environment but that a filament or shock mount would have to be developed to withstand vibration. An incandescent quartz lamp was studied because of its small size and high concentration of light.

Apollo Monthly Progress Report, SID 62-300-7, p. 89.

During the Month

The feasibility of using the Gemini fuel cell for the lunar excursion module was studied by NAA. However, because of modifications to meet Apollo control and auxiliary requirements, the much lighter Gemini system would ultimately weigh about as much as the Apollo fuel cell. In addition, the Gemini fuel cell schedule would slip if the system had to be adapted to the Apollo mission.

Apollo Monthly Progress Report, SID 62-300-7, pp. 91-92.

During the Month

The valves of the command module (CM) environmental control system were modified to meet the 5.0 psia oxygen operating requirements. All oxygen partial pressure controls were deleted from the system and the relief pressure setting of 7 +/- 0.2 psia was changed to 6 +/- 0.2 psia. The CM now could be repressurized from 0 to 5.0 psia in one hour.

Apollo Monthly Progress Report, SID 62-300-7, p. 48.

During the Month

The revised NAA recommendation for a personal communications system consisted of a duplex capability with a simplex backup. Simultaneous transmission of voice and biomedical data with a break-in capability would be possible. Two changes in spacecraft VHF equipment would be needed: a dual-channel in place of a single-channel receiver, and a diplexer for use during duplex operation.

Apollo Monthly Progress Report, SID 62-300-7, p. 57.

During the Month

NAA completed a preliminary design for the deployment of the spacecraft deep space instrumentation facility antenna to the Y axis [see diagrams]. The antenna would be shifted into the deploy position by actuation of a spring-loaded swing-out arm.

Apollo Monthly Progress Report. SID 62-300-7. p. 82.

During the Month

An NAA digital computer program for calculating command module heatshield and couch system loads and landing stability was successful. Results showed that a five-degree negative-pitch attitude was preferable for land landings.

Apollo Monthly Progress Report, SID 62-300-7, p. 14.

During the Month

NAA completed a study of reentry temperatures. Without additional cooling, space suit inlet temperatures were expected to increase from 50 degrees F at 100,000 feet to 90 degrees F at spacecraft parachute deployment. The average heat of the command module inner wall was predicted not to exceed 75 degrees F at parachute deployment and 95 degrees F on landing, but then to rise to nearly 150 degrees F.

Apollo Monthly Progress Report, SID 62-300-7, p. 26.

During the Month

A new launch escape tower configuration with an internal structure that would clear the launch escape motor exhaust plume at 30,000 feet was designed and analyzed by NAA. Exhaust impingement was avoided by slanting the diagonal members in the upper bay toward the interior of the tower and attaching them to a ring.

Apollo Monthly Progress Report, SID 62-300- 7, p. 26.

During the Month

The technique tentatively selected by NAA for separating the command and service modules from lower stages during an abort consisted of firing four 2000-pound-thrust posigrade rockets mounted on the service module adapter. With this technique, no retrorockets would be needed on the S-IV or S-IVB stages. Normal separation from the S-IVB would be accomplished with the service module reaction control system.

Apollo Monthly Progress Report, SID 62-300-7, p. 17.

November 2

NAA completed the release of the layout and preliminary design of command module crew accessories and survival equipment.

NAA, Apollo Monthly Progress Report, SID 62-300-8, November 1962, p. 34.

First Week

The Amour Research Foundation reported to NASA that the surface of the moon might not be covered with layers of dust. The first Armour studies showed that dust particles become harder and denser in a higher vacuum environment such as that of the moon, but the studies had not proved that particles eventually become bonded together in a rocket substance as the vacuum increases.

Astronautical and Aeronautical Events of 1962, p. 234.

November 3

Four "hot spots" on the moon were reported to have been discovered by Bruce C. Murray and Robert L. Wildey of California Institute of Technology, using a new telescope with a heat-sensitive, gold-plated mirror to detect infrared radiation. The two space scientists speculated that hot spots could indicate large areas of bare rock exposed on the lunar surface. The spots were discovered during a survey of the moon which also revealed that the lunar surface became colder at night than previously believed, -270 degrees F compared to -243 degrees F recorded by earlier heat measuring devices. Murray said the new evidence could mean that there were prominences of heat-retaining rock protruding through a thick dust layer on the lunar surface.

Washington Post, November 4, 1962.

November 5

William L. Gill, Chief of Crew Systems Division's Radiation Branch, MSC, said that the walls of the Apollo spacecraft would provide most of the radiation shielding required for the crew. Astronauts would have special shielding devices only for their eyes.

Astronautical and Aeronautical Events of 1962, p. 233.

November 7

NASA announced that the Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation had been selected to build the lunar excursion module of the three-man Apollo spacecraft under the direction of MSC. The contract, still to be negotiated, was expected to be worth about $350 million, with estimates as high as $1 billion by the time the project would be completed. NASA Administrator James E. Webb, in announcing the selection, remarked: "We are affirming our tentative decision of last July" [in favor of the lunar orbit rendezvous approach]. D. Brainerd Holmes, NASA Director of the Office of Manned Space Flight, noted that more than one million man-hours of some 700 outstanding scientists, engineers, and researchers had gone into studies of the Apollo mission during the past year. "The results of these studies," he said, "added up to the conclusion that lunar orbit rendezvous is the preferable mode to take." With this award, the last major part of the Apollo program had been placed under contract.

New York Times, November 8, 1962; TWX, NASA Headquarters to MSC; Marshall Space Flight Center; Launch Operations Center; Ames, Langley, Lewis, and Flight Research Centers; Goddard Space Flight Center; Jet Propulsion Laboratory; Wallops Station; and Western Operations Office, November 7, 1962.