The Apollo Spacecraft - A Chronology.

PART 1 (A)

Defining Contractual Relations

November 8, 1962, through December, 1962

1962 November

1962 December


November 8

"Not one or two men will make the landing on the moon, but, figuratively, the entire Nation." That is how NASA's Deputy Administrator, Hugh L. Dryden, described America's commitment to Apollo during a speech in Washington, D.C. "What we are buying in our national space program," Dryden said, "is the knowledge, the experience, the skills, the industrial facilities, and the experimental hardware that will make the United States first in every field of space exploration. . . . The investment in space progress is big and will grow, but the potential returns on the investment are even larger. And because it concerns us all, scientific progress is everyone's responsibility. Every citizen should understand what the space program really is about and what it can do."

U.S. Congress, House, Committee on Science and Astronautics, Astronautical and Aeronautical Events of 1962, 88th Cong., 1st Sess. (June 12, 1963), pp. 235-36.

November 9

The Manned Spacecraft Center (MSC) and the Raytheon Company came to terms on the definitive contract for the Apollo spacecraft guidance computer. (See February 8, 1963.)

Manned Space Flight [MSF] Management Council Meeting, November 27, 1962, Agenda Item 2, p. 3.

November 13

North American Aviation, Inc., selected the Aerospace Electrical Division of Westinghouse Electric Corporation to build the power conversion units for the command module (CM) electrical system. The units would convert direct current from the fuel cells to alternating current.

Aviation Daily, November 13, 1962, p. 71.

November 15

The Aerojet-General Corporation reported completion of successful firings of the prototype service propulsion engine. The restartable engine, with an ablative thrust chamber, reached thrusts up to 21,500 pounds. [Normal thrust rating for the service propulsion engine is 20,500.]

Aviation Daily, November 15, 1962, p. 89; Aviation Week and Space Technology, 77 (November 19, 1962), p. 40.

November 16

Saturn-Apollo 3 (Saturn C-1, later called Saturn I) was launched from the Atlantic Missile Range. Upper stages of the launch vehicle were filled with 23000 gallons of water to simulate the weight of live stages. At its peak altitude of 167 kilometers (104 miles), four minutes 53 seconds after launch, the rocket was detonated by explosives upon command from earth. The water was released into the ionosphere, forming a massive cloud of ice particles several miles in diameter. By this experiment, known as "Project Highwater," scientists had hoped to obtain data on atmospheric physics, but poor telemetry made the results questionable. The flight was the third straight success for the Saturn C-1 and the first with maximum fuel on board.

MSFC Historical Office, History of the George C. Marshall Space Flight Center From July 1 Through December 31, 1962 (MHM-6), Vol. I, p. 193; MSFC, "Saturn SA-3 Flight Evaluation," MPR-SAT-63-l, January 8, 1963, Vol. I, pp. 8, 151; The Washington Post, November 17, 1962; The New York Times, November 17, 1962.

November 17

Four Navy officers were injured when an electrical spark ignited a fire in an altitude chamber, near the end of a 14-day experiment at the U.S. Navy Air Crew Equipment Laboratory, Philadelphia, Pa. The men were participating in a NASA experiment to determine the effect on humans of breathing pure oxygen for 14 days at simulated altitudes.

Edward L. Michel, George B. Smith, Jr., Richard S. Johnston, Gaseous Environment Considerations and Evaluation Programs Leading to Spacecraft Atmosphere Selection, NASA Technical Note, TN D-2506 (1965), p. 5.

November 19

About 100 Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation and MSC representatives began seven weeks of negotiations on the lunar excursion module (LEM) contract. After agreeing on the scope of work and on operating and coordination procedures, the two sides reached fiscal accord. Negotiations were completed on January 3, 1963. Eleven days later, NASA authorized Grumman to proceed with LEM development. (See March 11, 1963.)

MSC, "Project Apollo Quarterly Status Report No. 2 for Period Ending December 31, 1962,"p. 21; "Project Apollo Quarterly Status Report No. 3 for Period Ending March 31, 1963,"p. I; NASA Contract No. NAS 9-1100, "Project Apollo Lunar Excursion Module Development Program," January 14, 1963; Clyde B. Bothmer, memorandum for distribution, "Minutes of the Fourteenth Meeting of the Management Council held on Tuesday, January 29, 1963, at the Launch Operations Center, Cocoa Beach, Florida," with enclosure: subject as above, p. 3.

November 19

North American defined requirements for the command and service modules (CSM) stabilization and control system.

North American Aviation, Inc. [hereafter cited as NAA], "Apollo Monthly Progress Report," SID 62-300-8, November 30, 1962, p. 52.

November 20

NASA invited ten industrial firms to submit bids by December 7 for a contract to build a control center at MSC and to integrate ground operational support systems for Apollo and the rendezvous phases of Gemini. On January 28, 1963, NASA announced that the contract had been awarded to the Philco Corporation, a subsidiary of the Ford Motor Company.

NASA News Release 63-14, "Philco to Develop Manned Flight Control Center at Houston," January 28, 1963; Aviation Daily, November 20, 1962, p. 111.

November 23

A Goddard Space Flight Center report summarizing recommendations for ground instrumentation support for the near-earth phases of the Apollo missions was forwarded to the Apollo Task Group of the NASA Headquarters Office of Tracking and Data Acquisition (OTDA). This report presented a preliminary conception of the Apollo network.

The tracking network would consist of stations equipped with 9-meter (30foot) antennas for near-earth tracking and communications and of stations having 26-meter (85-foot) antennas for use at lunar distances. A unified S-band system, capable of receiving and transmitting voice, telemetry, and television on a single radio-frequency band, was the basis of the network operation.

On March 12, 1963, during testimony before a subcommittee of the House Committee on Science and Astronautics, Edmond C. Buckley, Director of OTDA, described additional network facilities that would be required as the Apollo program progressed. Three Deep Space Instrumentation Facilities with 26-meter (85- foot) antennas were planned: Goldstone, Calif. (completed); Canberra, Australia (to be built); and a site in southern Europe (to be selected). Three new tracking ships and special equipment at several existing network stations for earth-orbit checkout of the spacecraft would also be needed.

Goddard Space Flight Center, Tracking and Data Systems Directorate, "A Ground Instrumentation Support Plan for the Near-Earth Phases of Apollo Missions," November 23, 1962; U.S. Congress, House, Subcommittee on Applications and Tracking of the Committee on Science and Astronautics, 1964 NASA Authorization, Hearings, 88th Cong., 1st Sess. (1963), pp. 2795-2801.

November 26

At a news conference in Cleveland, Ohio, during the 10-day Space Science Fair there, NASA Deputy Administrator Hugh L. Dryden stated that inflight practice at orbital maneuvering was essential for lunar missions. He believed that landings would follow reconnaissance of the moon by circumlunar and near- lunar-surface flights.

The Plain Dealer, Cleveland, November 27, 1962.

November 27

NASA awarded a $2.56 million contract to Ling-Temco-Vought, Inc. (LTV), to develop the velocity package for Project Fire, to simulate reentry from a lunar mission. An Atlas D booster would lift an instrumented payload (looking like a miniature Apollo CM) to an altitude of 122,000 meters (400,000 feet). The velocity package would then fire the reentry vehicle into a minus 15 degree trajectory at a velocity of 11,300 meters (37,000 feet) per second. On December 17, Republic Aviation Corporation, developer of the reentry vehicle, reported that design was 95 percent complete and that fabrication had already begun.

Wall Street Journal, November 27, 1962; LTV, Chance Vought Corporation, Astronautics Div., "Fire Velocity Package," (undated), pp. 1-1, 11-4; Aviation Week and Space Technology, 77 (December 17, 1962), pp. 53, 55, 57.

November 27

MSC officials met with representatives of Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and the NASA Office of Tracking and Data Acquisition (OTDA). They discussed locating the third Deep Space Instrumentation Facility (DSIF) in Europe instead of at a previously selected South African site. (See Volume I of this chronology [NASA SP-4009], September 13, 1960.) JPL had investigated several European sites and noted the communications gap for each. MSC stated that a coverage gap of up to two hours was undesirable but not prohibitive. JPL and OTDA agreed to place the European station where the coverage gap would be minimal or nonexistent. However, the existence of a communications loss at a particular location would not be an overriding factor against a site which promised effective technical and logistic support and political stability. MSC agreed that this was a reasonable approach.

Memorandum, Gerald M. Truszynski, NASA, for file, "Meeting at MSC on Location of DSIF Station," December 3, 1964.

November 27

MSC released a sketch of the space suit assembly to be worn on the lunar surface. It included a portable life support system which would supply oxygen and pressurization and would control temperature, humidity, and air contaminants. The suit would protect the astronaut against solar radiation and extreme temperatures. The helmet faceplate would shield him against solar glare and would be defrosted for good visibility at very low temperatures. An emergency oxygen supply was also part of the assembly.

Four days earlier, MSC had added specifications for an extravehicular suit communications and telemetry (EVSCT) system to the space suit contract with Hamilton Standard Division of United Aircraft Corporation. The EVSCT system included equipment for three major operations:

  1. Full two-way voice communication between two astronauts on the lunar surface, using the transceivers in the LEM and CM as relay stations.
  2. Redundant one-way voice communication capability between any number of suited astronauts.
  3. Telemetry of physiological and suit environmental data to the LEM or CM for relay to earth via the S- band link.
[The EVSCT contract was awarded to International Telephone and Telegraph (ITT) Corporation's Kellogg Division. (See March 26, 1963.)]

Memorandum, Ralph S. Sawyer, MSC, to Crew Systems Div., Attn: James V. Correale, "Extravehicular Suit Communications and Telemetry System Specifications," November 23, 1962; MSC News Release, "Project Apollo Space Suits," November 26, 1962; The Evening Star, Washington, November 28, 1962; The Houston Post, November 27, 1962.

November 27

Representatives of Hamilton Standard and International Latex Corporation (ILC) met to discuss mating the portable life support system to the ILC space suit configuration. As a result of mockup demonstrations and other studies, over-the-shoulder straps similar to those in the mockup were substituted for the rigid "horns."

Hamilton Standard, "Monthly Progress Report through November 30, 1962, for Apollo Space Suit Assembly," PR-2-11-62, Item 7.2.

November 27

MSC Director Robert R. Gilruth reported to the Manned Space Flight (MSF) Management Council that formal negotiations between NASA and North American on the Apollo spacecraft development contract would begin in January 1963. He further informed the council that the design release for all Apollo systems, with the exception of the space suit, was scheduled for mid-1963; the suit was scheduled for January 1964.

MSF Management Council Meeting, November 27, 1962, Agenda Item 2, pp. 2-3 [and supplemental page].

During the Month

AC Spark Plug Division of General Motors Corporation assembled the first CM inertial reference integrating gyro (IRIG) for final tests and calibration. Three IRIGs in the CM navigation and guidance system provided a reference from which velocity and attitude changes could be sensed. Delivery of the unit was scheduled for February 1963. (See February 11, 1963.)

"Apollo Quarterly Status Report No. 2," p. 13.

During the Month

North American completed a study of CSM-LEM transposition and docking. During a lunar mission, after the spacecraft was fired into a trajectory toward the moon, the CSM would separate from the adapter section containing the LEM. It would then turn around, dock with the LEM, and pull the second vehicle free from the adapter. The contractor studied three methods of completing this maneuver: free fly-around, tethered fly- around, and mechanical repositioning. Of the three, the company recommended the free fly-around, based on NASA's criteria of minimum weight, simplicity of design, maximum docking reliability, minimum time of operation, and maximum visibility.

Transposition and docking maneuvers

Three phases of activity in the line drawing indicate the techniques of the free fly-around method of the docking exercise between the CSM and the LEM.

Also investigated was crew transfer from the CM to the LEM, to determine the requirements for crew performance and, from this, to define human engineering needs. North American concluded that a separate LEM airlock was not needed but that the CSM oxygen supply system's capacity should be increased to effect LEM pressurization.

On November 29, North American presented the results of docking simulations, which showed that the free flight docking mode was feasible and that the 45-kilogram (100-pound) service module (SM) reaction control system engines were adequate for the terminal phase of docking. The simulations also showed that overall performance of the maneuver was improved by providing the astronaut with an attitude display and some form of alignment aid, such as probe.

MSC, "Abstract of Proceedings, Flight Technology Systems Meeting No. 12, November 27, 1962," November 30, 1962; "Apollo Monthly Progress Report," SID 62-300-8, pp. 11-14.

During the Month

North American reported several problems involving the CM's aerodynamic characteristics; their analysis of CM dynamics verified that the spacecraft could - and on one occasion did - descend in an apex-forward attitude. The CM's landing speed then exceeded the capacity of the drogue parachutes to reorient the vehicle; also, in this attitude, the apex cover could not be jettisoned under all conditions. During low-altitude aborts, North American went on, the drogue parachutes produced unfavorable conditions for main parachute deployment. (See January 18, 1963.)

"Apollo Monthly Progress Report," SID 62-300-8, p. 77.

During the Month

Extensive material and thermal property tests indicated that a Fiberglas honeycomb matrix bonded to the steel substructure was a promising approach for a new heatshield design for the CM. See February 1, 1963.

Ibid., pp. 143-144.

During the Month

Collins Radio Company selected Motorola, Inc., Military Electronics Division, to develop and produce the spacecraft S-band transponder. The transponder would aid in tracking the spacecraft in deep space; also, it would be used to transmit and receive telemetry signals and to communicate between ground stations and the spacecraft by FM voice and television links. The formal contract with Motorola was awarded in mid-February 1963.

Also, Collins awarded a contract to the Leach Corporation for the development of command and service module (CSM) data storage equipment. The tape recorders must have a five-hour capacity for collection and storage of data, draw less than 20 watts of power, and be designed for in-flight reel changes.

Ibid., p. 89; NAA, "Apollo Facts," RBO070163, (undated), pp. 43-44.

During the Month

MSC awarded a $222,000 contract to the Air Force Systems Command for wind tunnel tests of the Apollo spacecraft at its Arnold Engineering Development Center, Tullahoma, Tenn.

Aviation Week and Space Technology, 77 (November 12, 1962), p. 81.

During the Month

North American made a number of changes in the layout of the CM:

  • Putting the lithium hydroxide canisters in the lower equipment bay and food stowage compartments in the aft equipment bay.
  • Regrouping equipment in the left-hand forward equipment bay to make pressure suit disconnects easier to reach and to permit a more advanced packaging concept for the cabin heat exchanger.
  • Moving the waste management control panel and urine and chemical tanks to the right-hand equipment bay.
  • Revising the aft compartment control layout to eliminate the landing impact attenuation system and to add tie rods for retaining the heatshield.
  • Preparing a design which would incorporate the quick release of the crew hatch with operation of the center window (drawings were released, and target weights and criteria were established).
  • Redesigning the crew couch positioning mechanism and folding capabilities.
  • Modifying the footrests to prevent the crew's damaging the sextant.
"Apollo Monthly Progress Report," SID 62-300-8, pp. 36, 71-72, 102, 104, 195.

December 3

The MSC Apollo Spacecraft Project Office (ASPO) outlined the photographic equipment needed for Apollo missions. This included two motion picture cameras (16- and 70-mm) and a 35-mm still camera. It was essential that the camera, including film loading, be operable by an astronaut wearing pressurized gloves. On February 25, 1963, NASA informed North American that the cameras would be government furnished equipment.

Memorandum, Charles W. Frick, MSC, to Office of Asst. Dir. for Information and Control Systems, Attn: Instrumentation and Electronic Systems Div., "Cameras for Apollo Spacecraft," December 3, 1962; letter, H. P. Yschek, MSC, to NAA, Space and Information Systems Div., "Contract Change Authorization No. Twenty-Six," February 25, 1963.

December 3

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, acting for NASA, awarded a $3.332 million contract to four New York architectural engineering firms to design the Vertical Assembly Building (VAB) at Cape Canaveral. The massive VAB became a space-age hangar, capable of housing four complete Saturn V launch vehicles and Apollo spacecraft where they could be assembled and checked out. The facility would be 158.5 meters (520 feet high) and would cost about $100 million to build. Subsequently, the Corps of Engineers selected Morrison-Knudson Company, Perini Corp., and Paul Hardeman, Inc., to construct tile VAB.

Orlando Sentinel, December 5, 1962; MSC, Space News Roundup, January 9, 1963, p. 6; The Kennedy Space Center Story (KSC, 1969), pp. 19-20.

December 4

The first test of the Apollo main parachute system, conducted at the Naval Air Facility, El Centro, Calif., foreshadowed lengthy troubles with the landing apparatus for the spacecraft. One parachute failed to inflate fully, another disreefed prematurely, and the third disreefed and inflated only after some delay. No data reduction was possible because of poor telemetry. North American was investigating.

MSF Management Council Minutes, December 18, 1962, p. 2; NAA, "Apollo Monthly Progress Report," SID 62-300-9, January 15, 1963, p. 20.

December 5

At a meeting held at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Instrumentation Laboratory, representatives of MIT, MSC, Hamilton Standard Division, and International Latex Corporation examined the problem of an astronaut's use of optical navigation equipment while in a pressurized suit with helmet visor down. MSC was studying helmet designs that would allow the astronaut to place his face directly against the helmet visor; this might avoid an increase in the weight of the eyepiece. In February 1963, Hamilton Standard recommended adding corrective devices to the optical system rather than adding corrective devices to the helmet or redesigning the helmet. In the same month, ASPO set 52.32 millimeters 2.06 inches as the distance of the astronaut's eye away from the helmet. MIT began designing a lightweight adapter for the navigation instruments to provide for distances of up to 76.2 millimeters (3 inches).

"Apollo Quarterly Status Report No. 2," p. 9; Hamilton Standard Div., "Minutes of Space Suit Navigation System Optical Interface Meeting," HSER 2582-2, December 5, 1962, pp. 1-2.

December 5

The General Electric Policy Review Board, established by the MSF Management Council, held its first meeting. On February 9, the General Electric Company (GE) had been selected by NASA to provide integration analysis (including booster-spacecraft interface), ensure reliability of the entire space vehicle, and develop and operate a checkout system. The Policy Review Board was organized to oversee the entire GE Apollo effort.

Memorandum, James E. Sloan, NASA, to Wernher von Braun, Kurt H. Debus, and Robert R. Gilruth, "General Electric Policy Review Board," December 6, 1962; draft, "General Electric Policy Review Board Charter," December 4, 1962; memorandum, Sloan to Gilruth and Walter C. Williams, "Charter of Policy Review Board for General Electric Manned Lunar Landing Program Effort," January 8, 1963 (charter enclosed).

December 8

With NASA's concurrence, North American released the Request For Proposals on the Apollo mission simulator. A simulated CM, an instructor's console, and a computer complex now supplanted the three part- task trainers originally planned. An additional part-task trainer was also approved. A preliminary report describing the device had been submitted to NASA by North American. The trainer was scheduled to be completed by March 1964.

"Apollo Quarterly Status Report No. 2," p. 34; NAA, "Apollo Monthly Progress Report," SID 62-300-12, May 1, 1963, p. 2.

December 10

NASA Administrator James E. Webb, in a letter to the President, explained the rationale behind the Agency's selection of lunar orbit rendezvous (rather than either direct ascent or earth orbit rendezvous) as the mode for landing Apollo astronauts on the moon. (See Volume I, July 11, 1962.) Arguments for and against any of the three modes could have been interminable: "We are dealing with a matter that cannot be conclusively proved before the fact," Webb said. "The decision on the mode . . . had to be made at this time in order to maintain our schedules, which aim at a landing attempt in late 1967."

John M. Logsdon, "NASA's Implementation of the Lunar Landing Decision," (HHN-81), August 1969, pp. 85, 87.

December 11

NASA authorized North American's Columbus, Ohio, Division to proceed with a LEM docking study.

TWX, J. F. Leonard, NAA, to NASA, [Attn:] D. B. Cherry, December 14, 1962.

December 11

The first static firing of the Apollo tower jettison motor, under development by Thiokol Chemical Corporation, was successfully performed.

"Apollo Monthly Progress Report," SID 62-300-9, p. 14; "Apollo Quarterly Status Report No. 2," p. 6.

December 12

Northrop Corporation's Ventura Division, prime contractor for the development of sea-markers to indicate the location of the spacecraft after a water landing, suggested three possible approaches:

  1. A shotgun shell type that would dispense colored smoke.
  2. A floating, controlled-rate dispenser (described as an improvement on the current water-soluble binder method).
  3. A floating panel with relatively permanent fluorescent qualities.
Northrop Ventura recommended the first method, because it would produce the strongest color and size contrast and would have the longest life for its weight.

Memorandum, W. E. Oller, Northrop Ventura, to MSC, Attn: P. Armitage, "NAS 9-482, Status of Remainder of Program," December 12, 1962.

December 13

MSC officials, both in Houston and at the Preflight Operations Division at Cape Canaveral, agreed on a vacuum chamber at the Florida location to test spacecraft systems in a simulated space environment during prelaunch checkout.

Memorandum, A. D. Mardel, MSC, to Distribution, "Minutes of meeting on NASA AMR Vacuum Chamber requirements," December 14, 1962.

December 15

The first working model of the crew couch was demonstrated during an inspection of CM mockups at North American. As a result, the contractor began redesigning the couch to make it lighter and simpler to adjust. Design investigation was continuing on crew restraint systems in light of the couch changes. An analysis of acceleration forces imposed on crew members during reentry at various couch back and CM angles of attack was nearing completion.

"Apollo Quarterly Status Report No. 2," pp. 9, 10; NASA-Resident Apollo Spacecraft Project Office (RASPO/NAA), "Consolidated Activity Report . . . , December 1, 1962-January 5, 1963," p. 3.

December 18

MSC Director Robert R. Gilruth reported to the MSF Management Council that tests by Republic Aviation Corporation, the U.S. Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine SAM at Brooks Air Force Base, Tex., and the U.S. Navy Air Crew Equipment Laboratory (ACEL) at Philadelphia, Pa., had established that, physiologically, a spacecraft atmosphere of pure oxygen at 3.5 newtons per square centimeter (five pounds per square inch absolute [psia]) was acceptable. During the separate experiments, about 20 people had been exposed to pure oxygen environments for periods of up to two weeks without showing adverse effects. Two fires had occurred, one on September 10 at SAM and the other on November 17 at ACEL. The cause in both cases was faulty test equipment. On July 11, NASA had ordered North American to design the CM for 3.5 newtons per square centimeter (5-psia), pure-oxygen atmosphere.

MSF Management Council Minutes, December 18, 1962, p. 3; "Apollo Quarterly Status Report No. 2," p. 11; "Abstract of Proceedings, Crew Systems Meeting No. 13, December 18, 1962," December 20, 1962.

December 19

NASA announced that Ranger VI (see Volume I, August 29, 1961 would be used for intensive reliability tests. Resultant improvements would be incorporated into subsequent spacecraft (numbers VII-IX), delaying the launchings of those vehicles by "several months." The revised schedule was based on recommendations by a Board of Inquiry headed by Cdr. Albert J. Kelley (USN), Director of Electronics and Control in the NASA Office of Advanced Research and Technology. (See Volume I, October 18, 1962.) The Kelley board, appointed by NASA Space Sciences Director Homer E. Newell after the Ranger V flight, consisted of officials from NASA Headquarters, five NASA Centers, and Bellcomm, Inc. The board concluded that increased reliability could be achieved through spacecraft design and construction modifications and by more rigorous testing and checkout. (See January 30, 1964.)

The Washington Post, December 20, 1962; The Evening Star, Washington, December 20, 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 Cong., 1st Sess. (1963), pp. 1597-1598.

December 20

MSC prognosticated that, during landing, exhaust from the LEM's descent engine would kick up dust on the moon's surface, creating a dust storm. Landings should be made where surface dust would be thinnest.

NASA Project Apollo Working Paper No. 1052, "A Preliminary Analysis of the Effects of Exhaust Impingement on the Lunar Surface During the Terminal Phases of Lunar Landing," December 20, 1962,

December 21

North American delivered CM boilerplate (BP) 3, to Northrop Ventura, for installation of an earth-landing system. BP-3 was scheduled to undergo parachute tests at El Centro, Calif., during early 1963.

RASPO/NAA, "Consolidated Activity Report . . . , December 1, 1962-January 5, 1963,"

December 26

The Minneapolis-Honeywell Regulator Company submitted to North American cost proposal and design specifications on the Apollo stabilization and control system, based upon the new Statement of Work drawn up on December 17.

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

December 28

North American selected Radiation, Inc., to develop the CM pulse code modulation (PCM) telemetry system. The PCM telemetry would encode spacecraft data into digital signals for transmission to ground stations. The $4.3 million contract was officially announced on February 15, 1963.

"Apollo Monthly Progress Report," SID 62-300-9, p. 20; NAA, "Apollo Facts," RBO070163, (undated), pp. 44-45; Space Business Daily, February 26, 1963, p. 243.

December 28

Lockheed Propulsion Company successfully static fired four launch escape system pitch-control motors. In an off-the-pad or low-altitude abort, the pitch-control motor would fix the trajectory of the CM after its separation from the launch vehicle.

"Apollo Monthly Progress Report," SID 62-300-9, p. 14; NAA, "Quarterly Reliability Status Report," SID 62-557-4, January 31, 1964, pp. 242, 246.

December 28

North American's Rocketdyne Division completed the first test firings of the CM reaction control engines.

Ralph B. Oakley, Historical Summary, S&ID Apollo Program (NAA, Space and Information Systems Div., January 20, 1966), p. 8; "Apollo Monthly Progress Report," SID 62300-9, p. 13.

During the Month

MSC prepared the Project Apollo lunar landing mission design. This plan outlined ground rules, trajectory analyses, sequences of events, crew activities, and contingency operations. It also predicted possible planning changes in later Apollo flights.

"Apollo Quarterly Status Report No. 2," p. 4.

During the Month

In the first of a series of reliability-crew safety design reviews on all systems for the CM, North American examined the spacecraft's environmental control system (ECS). The Design Review Board approved the overall ECS concept, but made several recommendations for further refinement. Among these were:

  • The ECS should be made simpler and the system's controls should be better marked and located.
  • Because of the pure oxygen environment, all flammable materials inside the cabin should be eliminated.
  • Sources of possible atmospheric contamination should be further reviewed, with emphasis upon detecting and controlling such toxic gases inside the spacecraft.
"Quarterly Reliability Status Report," SID 62-557-4.

During the Month

NASA and General Dynamics/Convair (GD/C) began contract negotiations on the Little Joe II launch vehicle, which was used to flight-test the Apollo launch escape system. The negotiated cost was nearly $6 million. GD/C had already completed the basic structural design of the vehicle. (See February 18, 1963.)

General Dynamics, Convair Div., Little Joe II Test Launch Vehicle, NASA Project Apollo: Final Report, GDC-66-042 (May 1966), Vol. I, pp. 1-2, 1-4, 4-2, 4-3.

During the Month

North American reported three successful static firings of the launch escape motor. The motor would pull the CM away from the launch vehicle if there were an abort early in a mission.

"Apollo Quarterly Status Report No. 2," p. 6; "Quarterly Reliability Status Report," SID 62-557-4, p. 242.

During the Month

MSC reported that the general arrangement of the CM instrument panel had been designed to permit maximum manual control and flight observation by the astronauts.

"Apollo Quarterly Status Report No. 2," pp. 8, 9.

During the Month

MSC Flight Operations Division examined the operational factors involved in Apollo water and land landings. Analysis of some of the problems leading to a preference for water landing disclosed that:

  • Should certain systems on board the CM fail, the spacecraft could land as far as 805 kilometers 500 miles from the prime recovery area. This contingency could be provided for at sea, but serious difficulties might be encountered on land.
  • Because Apollo missions might last as long as two weeks, weather forecasting for the landing zone probably would be unreliable.
  • Hypergolic fuels were to remain on board the spacecraft through landing. During a landing at sea, the bay containing the tanks would flood and seawater would neutralize the liquid fuel or fumes from damaged tanks. On land, the possibility of rupturing the tanks was greater and the danger of toxic fumes and fire much more serious.
  • Should the CM tumble during descent, the likelihood of serious damage to the spacecraft was less for landings on water.
  • On land, obstacles such as rocks and trees might cause serious damage to the spacecraft.
  • The spacecraft would be hot after reentry. Landing on water would cool the spacecraft quickly and minimize ventilation problems.
  • The requirements for control during reentry were less stringent in a sea landing, because greater touchdown dispersions could be allowed.
  • Since the CM must necessarily be designed for adequate performance in a water landing all aborts during launch and most contingencies required a landing at sea , the choice of water as the primary landing surface could relieve some constraints in spacecraft design. (See February 1 and March 5, 1963; February 25, 1964.)
Memorandum, Christopher C. Kraft, Jr., MSC, to Mgr., ASPO, "Review of Operational Factors Involved in Water and Land Landings," undated (ca. December 1962).

During the Month

The contract for the development and production of the CSM C-band transponder was awarded to American Car and Foundry Industries, Inc., by Collins Radio Company. The C-band transponder was used for tracking the spacecraft. Operating in conjunction with conventional, earth-based, radar equipment, it transmitted response pulses to the Manned Space Flight Network,

"Apollo Quarterly Status Report No. 2," p. 18; "Apollo Monthly Progress Report," SID 62-300-9, p. 10.

During the Quarter

Grumman agreed to use existing Apollo components and subsystems, where practicable, in the LEM This promised to simplify checkout and maintenance of spacecraft systems.

MSC, "Contract Implementation Plan, Lunar Excursion Module, Project Apollo," November 11, 1962, p. 5; Aviation Week and Space Technology, 78 (January 14, 1963), p. 39.