The Apollo Spacecraft - A Chronology.

Part 1 (C)

Defining Contractural Relations

April 1963 through June 1963

1963 April

1963 May

1963 June


April 1

Grumman began "Lunar Hover and Landing Simulation IIIA," a series of tests simulating a LEM landing. Crew station configuration and instrument panel layout were representative of the actual vehicle.

Through this simulation, Grumman sought primarily to evaluate the astronauts' ability to perform the landing maneuver manually, using semiautomatic as well as degraded attitude control modes. Other items evaluated included the flight control system parameters, the attitude and thrust controller configurations, the pressure suit's constraint during landing maneuvers, the handling qualities and operation of LEM test article 9 as a freeflight vehicle, and manual abort initiation during the terminal landing maneuver.

GAEC, "Final Report: Lunar Landing Simulation IIIA," LED-770-4, April 1, 1964, p. 1.

April 2

The Soviet Union announced the successful launch of the Lunik IV probe toward the moon. The 1,412- kilogram (3,135-pound) spacecraft's mission was not immediately disclosed, but Western observers speculated that an instrumented soft landing was planned. On April 6, at 4:26 a.m. Moscow time, Lunik IV passed within 8,499 kilometers (5,281 miles) of the moon. The Soviet news agency, Tass, reported that data had been received from the spacecraft throughout its flight and that radio communication would continue for a few more days.

The Washington Post, April 3 and 5, 1963; The New York Times, April 3, 1963; The Sunday Star, Washington, April 7, 1963.

April 3

Charles W. Frick resigned as ASPO Manager and Robert O. Piland was named Acting ASPO Manager.

MSC Announcement 178, "New Assignment of Personnel," April 3, 1963.

April 3

At a North American design review, NASA representatives expressed a preference for a fixed CM crew couch. This would have the advantages of simplified design, elimination of couch adjustments by the crew, and better placement of the astronauts to withstand reentry loads. NASA authorized North American to adopt the concept following a three-week study by the company to determine whether a favorable center of gravity could be achieved without a movable couch.

Use of the fixed couch required relocation of the main and side display panels and repositioning of the translational and rotational hand controllers. During rendezvous and docking operations, the crew would still have to adjust their normal body position for proper viewing.

"Apollo Monthly Progress Report," SID 62-300-12, p. 11; ibid., SID 62-300-13, June 1, 1963, pp. 1, 7-8.

April 10

North American awarded a $9.5 million letter contract to the Link Division of General Precision, Inc., for the development and installation of two spacecraft simulators, one at MSC and the other at the Launch Operations Center. Except for weightlessness, the trainers would simulate the entire lunar mission, including sound and lighting effects. (See December 8, 1962.)

"Apollo Quarterly Status Report No. 4," p. 40; "Apollo Monthly Progress Report," SID 62-300-12, p. 2; Aviation Daily, May 1, 1963, p. 1.

April 10

Wesley E. Messing, MSC WSMR Operations Manager, notified NASA, North American, and General Dynamics/Convair (GD/C) that Phase I of the range's launch complex was completed. GD/C and North American could now install equipment for the launch of boilerplate 6 and the Little Joe II vehicle.

TWX, Messing to MSC (Attn: W. C. Williams and R. O. Piland), NASA Hqs (Attn: G. M, Low), GD/G (Attn: J. B. Hurt), and NAA, S&ID (Attn: J. L. Pearce), April 10, 1963.

April 16-May 15

North American chose Simmonds Precision Products, Inc., to design and build an electronic measurement and display system to gauge the service propulsion system propellants. Both a primary and a backup system were required by the contract, which was expected to cost about 2 million.

"Apollo Monthly Progress Report," SID 62-300-13, p. 2; Space Business Daily, June 26, 1963, p. 824.

April 16-May 15

On the basis of wind tunnel tests and analytical studies, North American recommended a change in the planned test of the launch escape system (LES) using boilerplate 22. In an LES abort, the contractor reported, 18,300 meters (60,000 feet) was the maximum altitude at which high dynamic pressure had to be considered. Therefore North American proposed an abort simulation at that altitude, where maximum dynamic pressures were reached, at a speed of Mach 2. 5.

The abort test would demonstrate two possibly critical areas:

  1. Any destablizing effect of large LES motor plumes on the CM
  2. The ability of the CM's reaction control system to arrest CM rotation following tower jettison.
"Apollo Quarterly Status Report No. 4," pp. 28, 29; "Apollo Monthly Progress Report," SID 62-300-l3, p. 5; MSC, "Postlaunch Report for Apollo Mission A-003" (BP-22) (June 28, 1965), p. 2-1; memorandum, J. D. Reed, MSC, to Distr., "Meeting on BP-22 Test Objectives and Trajectories, June 30, 1964," July 2, 1964.

April 16-May 15

North American simplified the CM water management system by separating it from the freon system. A 4.5- kilogram (10-pound) freon tank was installed in the left-hand equipment bay. Waste water formed during prelaunch and boost, previously ejected overboard, could now be used as an emergency coolant. The storage capacity of the potable water tank was reduced from 29 to 16 kilograms (64 to 36 pounds) and the tank was moved to the lower equipment bay to protect it from potential damage during landing. These and other minor changes caused a reduction in CM weight and an increase in the reliability of the CM's water management system.

"Apollo Quarterly Status Report No. 4," p. 7; "Apollo Monthly Progress Report," SID 62-300-13, p. 13.

LEM model shown

Examining a one-eighth scale model of the LEM are, left to right, Congressman George P. Miller, Chairman of the House Committee on Science and Astronautics; Joseph M. Gavin, Grumman vice president; and Robert S. Mullaney, Grumman Apollo Program Manager.

April 17

At a mechanical systems meeting at MSC, customer and contractor achieved a preliminary configuration freeze for the LEM. After "considerable discussion," Grumman agreed to begin designing systems and subsystems based on this configuration, bearing in mind that certain unresolved areas (the docking system scanning telescope location and function, and the outcome of visibility studies) would have a substantial effect on the final configuration. Several features of the design of the two stages were agreed upon:

four cylindrical propellant tanks (two oxidizer and two fuel); four- legged deployable landing gear (see February)
a cylindrical crew cabin (about 234 centimeters [92 inches] in diameter) and a cylindrical tunnel (pressurized) for equipment stowage; an external equipment bay.
GAEC, "Monthly Progress Report No. 3," LPR-10-6, May 10, 1963, pp. 3, 4, 7-8.

April 18

North American signed a 6 million definitive contract with Lockheed Propulsion Company for the development of solid propellant motors for the launch escape system. Work on the motors had begun on February 13, 1962, when Lockheed was selected.

"Apollo Facts," p. 38; Space Business Daily, June 27, 1963, p. 834.

April 25-26

At ASPO's request, Wayne E. Koons of the Flight Operations Division visited North American to discuss several features of spacecraft landing and recovery procedures. Koon's objective, in short, was to recommend a solution when ASPO and the contractor disagreed on specific points, and to suggest alternate courses when the two organizations agreed. A question had arisen about a recovery hoisting loop. Neither group wanted one, as its installation added weight and caused design changes. In another area, North American wanted to do an elaborate study of the flotation characteristics of the CM. Koons recommended to ASPO that a full-scale model of the CM be tested in an open-sea environment.

There were a number of other cases wherein North American and ASPO agreed on procedures which simply required formal statements of what would be done. Examples of these were:

  • Spacecraft reaction control fuel would be dumped before landing (in both normal and abort operations)
  • The "peripheral equipment bay" would be flooded within 10 minutes after landing
  • Location aids would be dye markers and recovery antennas.
Memorandum, W. E. Koons, MSC, to Chief, Flight Operations Div., "Report of visit to NAA, S&ID, Downey, Calif., 25-26 April 1963," May 7, 1963.

April 30

The Apollo Spacecraft Mission Trajectory Sub-Panel discussed earth parking orbit requirements for the lunar mission. The maximum number of orbits was fixed by the S-IVB's 4.5-hour duration limit. Normally, translunar injection (TLI) would be made during the second orbit. The panel directed North American to investigate the trajectory that would result from injection from the third, or contingency, orbit. The contractor's study must reckon also with the effects of a contingency TLI upon the constraints of a free return trajectory and fixed lunar landing sites.

Minutes of Second Meeting of the Apollo Spacecraft Mission Trajectory Sub-Panel, April 30, 1963.

During the Month

NASA issued a technical note reporting that scientists at Ames Research Center Hypervelocity Ballistic Range, Moffett Field, Calif., were conducting experiments simulating the impact of micrometeoroids on the lunar surface. The experimenters examined the threat of surface debris, called secondary ejecta, that would be thrown from resultant craters. Data indicated that secondary particles capable of penetrating an astronaut's space suit nearly equaled the number of primary micrometeoroids. Thus the danger of micrometeoroid impact to astronauts on the moon may be almost double what was previously thought.

Donald E. Gault, Eugene M. Shoemaker, and Henry J. Moore, Spray Ejected From the Lunar Surface by Meteoroid Impact, NASA TN D-1767, April 1963, p. 1; Aviation Week and Space Technology, 78 (January 14, 1964), pp. 54-55, 57, 59.

During the Month

NASA and General Dynamics/Convair (GD/C) negotiated a second Little Joe II launch vehicle contract. (See February 18.) For an additional $337,456, GD/C expanded its program to include the launch of a qualification test vehicle before the scheduled Apollo tests. This called for an accelerated production schedule for the four launch vehicles and their pair of launchers. An additional telemetry system and an instrumentation transmitter system were incorporated in the qualification test vehicle, which was equipped with a simulated payload. At the same time, NASA established earlier launch dates for the first two Apollo Little Joe II missions.

Little Joe II Test Launch Vehicle, NASA Project Apollo: Final Report, Vol. I, p. 4-3.

During the Month

Grumman reported to MSC the results of studies on common usage of communications. Television cameras for the two spacecraft would be identical (see May 2); the LEM transponder would be as similar as possible to that in the CSM.

"Monthly Progress Report No. 3," LPR-10-6, p. 21.

During the Month

Grumman recommended that the LEM reaction control system (RCS) be equipped with dual interconnected tanks, separately pressurized and employing positive expulsion bladders. The design would provide for an emergency supply of propellants from the main ascent propulsion tanks. The RCS oxidizer to fuel ratio would be changed from 2.0:1 to 1.6:1. MSC approved both of these changes.

Ibid., p. 20; "Apollo Quarterly Status Report No. 3," p. 20.

May 1

Grumman reported that it had advised North American's Rocketdyne Division to go ahead with the lunar excursion module descent engine development program. Negotiations were complete and the contract was being prepared for MSC's review and approval. The go-ahead was formally issued on May 2. (See January 30, February 13, and November 21.)

MSC, "Consolidated Activity Report for the Office of the Director, Manned Space Flight, April 28-May 18, 1963," p. 32; "Apollo Quarterly Status Report No. 4," p. 21; GAEC, "Monthly Progress Report No. 4," LPR-10-7, June 10, 1963, p. 2.

May 2

NASA, North American, Grumman, and RCA representatives determined the alterations needed to make the CM television camera compatible with that in the LEM: an additional oscillator to provide synchronization, conversion of operating voltage from 115 AC to 28 DC, and reduction of the lines per frame from 400 to 320.

NAA, "Apollo Monthly Progress Report," SID 62-300-44, July 1, 1963, p. 9.

May 3

At El Centro, Calif., Northrop Ventura conducted the first of a series of qualification tests for the Apollo earth landing system (ELS). The test article, CM boilerplate 3, was dropped from a specially modified Air Force C-133. The test was entirely successful. The ELS's three main parachutes reduced the spacecraft's rate of descent to about 9.1 meters (30 feet) per second at impact, within acceptable limits.

MSC News Release 63-85, May 3, 1963; "Apollo Monthly Progress Report," SID 62-300-13, p.l0.

Little Joe II progress checked

A NASA tean inspected progress on Little Joe II in San Diego, Calif., May 6, 1963. Left to right, Walter C. Williams, MSC Deputy Director; Acting Apollo Project Manager Robert O. Piland; Convair Little Joe II Program Manager J. B. Hurt; and James C. Elms, MSC Deputy Director.

May 6

NASA authorized North American to procure carbon dioxide sensors as part of the environmental control system instrumentation on early spacecraft flights. (See March 5.)

Letter, H. P. Yschek, MSC, to NAA, Space and Information Systems Div., "Contract Change Authorization No. Forty-Three," May 6, 1963.

May 6

Astronauts M. Scott Carpenter, Walter M. Schirra, Jr., Neil A. Armstrong, James A. McDivitt, Elliot M. See, Jr., Edward H. White II, Charles Conrad, Jr., and John W. Young participated in a study in LTV's Manned Space Flight Simulator at Dallas, Tex. Under an MSC contract, LTV was studying the astronauts' ability to control the LEM manually and to rendezvous with the CM if the primary guidance system failed during descent. (See September and October 10, 1963, and April 24, 1964.)

MSC News Release 63-81, May 6, 1963.

May 7

MSC announced a reorganization of ASPO:

Acting Manager:
Robert O. Piland
Deputy Manager, Spacecraft:
Robert O. Piland
Assistant Deputy Manager for CSM:
Caldwell C. Johnson
Deputy Manager for System Integration:
Alfred D. Mardel
Deputy Manager LEM:
James L. Decker
Manager, Spacecraft Systems Office:
David W. Gilbert
Manager, Project Integration Office:
J. Thomas Markley

MSC Announcement No. 193, "Reorganization of the Apollo Spacecraft Project Office," May 7, 1963.

May 10

The first meeting of the LEM Flight Technology Systems Panel was held at MSC. The panel was formed to coordinate discussions on all problems involving weight control, engineering simulation, and environment. The meeting was devoted to a review of the status of LEM engineering programs.

Memorandum, Gerald L. Hunt, MSC, to Chief, Flight Operations Div., "LEM Flight Technology System Meeting No. 1," May 20, 1963, with enclosures.

May 10

MSC Director Robert R. Gilruth announced a division of management responsibilities between operations and development within MSC. Walter C. Williams, Deputy Director for Mission Requirements and Flight Operations, would develop mission plans and rules, crew training, ground support and mission control complexes, and would manage all MSC flight operations. At the same time, he would serve as Director of Flight Operations in the NASA Headquarters OMSF with complete mission authority during flight tests of Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo. James C. Elms, Deputy Director for Development and Programs, would manage all MSC manned space flight projects and would plan, organize, and direct MSC administrative and technical support.

MSC News Release 63-88, May 10, 1963.

May 10

NASA Associate Administrator Robert C. Seamans, Jr., directed that a Communications and Tracking Steering Panel and a Working Group be organized. They would develop specifications, performance requirements, and implementation plans for the Manned Space Flight Network in support of the Apollo flight missions.

Memorandum, Robert C. Seamans, Jr., NASA, to Director, Office of Manned Space Flight, et al., "Functional organization to develop specifications, performance requirements and implementation plans for the Manned Space Flight Network," May 10, 1963.

Early in the Month

Grumman selected Space Technology Laboratories (STL) to develop and fabricate a mechanically throttled descent engine for the LEM, paralleling Rocketdyne's effort. (See February 27 and March 14.) Following NASA and MSC concurrence, Grumman began negotiations with STL on June 1.

MSC, "Consolidated Activity Report for the Office of the Director, Manned Space Flight, April 28-May 18, 1963," p. 32; "Monthly Progress Report No. 4," LPR-10-7, p. 44; "Activity Report, Apollo Spacecraft Project Office, May 16-June 13, 1963," p. 8.

May 14

Grumman submitted to NASA a Quality Control Program Plan for the LEM, detailing efforts in management, documentation, training, procurement, and fabrication.

GAEC, "Report No. 1, Grumman Monthly Quality Status Report for Lunar Excursion Module," LPR-50-1, February 14, 1964.

May 15

Grumman, reporting on the Lunar Landing Research Vehicle's (LLRV) application to the LEM development program, stated the LLRV could be used profitably to test LEM hardware. Also included was a development schedule indicating the availability of LEM equipment and the desired testing period.

"Monthly Progress Report No. 4," LPR-10-7, p. 39.

May 15-16

Faith 7, piloted by Astronaut L. Gordon Cooper, Jr., was launched from Cape Canaveral. An Atlas rocket boosted the Mercury spacecraft into a 161.3 by 267 kilometer (100.2 by 165.9 statute mile) orbit. After 22 orbits, Cooper manually fired the retrorockets and the spacecraft reentered the atmosphere, landing safely in the Pacific Ocean 34 hours, 19 minutes, and 49 seconds after liftoff. Astronaut Cooper was reported in good condition. Cooper's one-day flight turned out to be the final Mercury flight. (See June 12.)

James M. Grimwood, Project Mercury: A Chronology (NASA SP-4001, 1963), pp. 191-193.

May 20

In support of NASA's manned space flight programs, Ames Research Center awarded a $150,000 contract to Westinghouse Electric Corporation for a one-year study of potential physiological damage in space caused by cosmic radiation.

NASA News Release 63-107, "NASA Awards Contract for Study of Space Radiation," May 20, 1963.

May 20-22

At a meeting on mechanical systems at MSC, Grumman presented a status report on the LEM landing gear design and LEM stowage height. (See February and April 17.) On May 9, NASA had directed the contractor to consider a more favorable lunar surface than that described in the original Statement of Work. Accordingly, Grumman recommended an envelope of LEM S-IVB clearance of 152.4 centimeters (40 inches) for a landing gear radius of 457 centimeters (180 inches). Beyond this radius, a different gear scheme was considered more suitable but would require greater clearances. The landing gear envelope study was extended for one month to establish a stowed height of the LEM above the S-IVB for adapter design. (See June 3 and October 2.)

"Monthly Progress Report No. 4," LPR-10-7, p. 13.

May 22

Grumman representatives met with the ASPO Electrical Systems Panel (ESP). From ESP, the contractor learned that the communications link would handle voice only. Transmission of physiological and space suit data from the LEM to the CM was no longer required. VHF reception of this data and S-band transmission to ground stations was still necessary. In addition, Grumman was asked to study the feasibility of a backup voice transmitter for communications with crewmen on the lunar surface should the main VHF transmitter fail.

MSC, "Consolidated Activity Report for the Office of the Director, Manned Space Flight, May 19-June 15, 1963," pp. 54-55; "Monthly Progress Report No. 4," LPR-10-7, p. 21.

May 23

NASA Headquarters, MSC, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, MSFC, North American, and Grumman agreed that the LEM and CSM would incorporate phase-coherent S-band transponders. [The S-band system provides a variety of communications services. Being phase-coherent meant that it could also provide Mission Control Center with information about the vehicle's velocity and position, and thus was a means of tracking the spacecraft.] Each would have its own allocated frequencies and would be compatible with Deep Space Instrumentation Facilities.

"Apollo Quarterly Status Report No. 4," p.22; "Monthly Progress Report No. 4," LPR-10-7, p. 21; MSC, "Consolidated Activity Report for the Office of the Director, Manned Space Flight, May 19-June 15, 1963," p. 62; interview, telephone, Alfred B. Eickmeier, MSC, March 5, 1970.

May 23

MIT suggested a major redesign of the Apollo guidance computer to make the CM and LEM computers as similar as possible. NASA approved the redesign and the Raytheon Company, subcontractor for the computer, began work.

Raytheon Company, Space and Information Systems Div., "Quarterly Technical Report No. 4," FR-3-87, April 1-June 30, 1963.

May 23-24

Meeting in Bethpage, N. Y., officials from MSC, Grumman, Hamilton Standard, International Latex, and North American examined LEM-space suit interface problems. This session resulted in several significant decisions:

  • Suit evaluation would include a vehicle mockup in an aircraft flying zero and one-sixth g trajectories.
  • The suit assembly emergency oxygen supply would serve also as the backup pressurization and oxygen supply during crew transfer from the CM to the LEM.
  • The four-hour operating requirement for the portable life support system (PLSS) should not be considered for normal operation.
  • Pending final design of a waste management system, Grumman would retain provisions for stowage of human wastes.
  • The thermal garment would not normally be worn inside the LEM.
  • The PLSS battery would be charged before earth launch.
  • Prototype Apollo space suits were to be delivered to Grumman as soon as possible for evaluation and vehicle design.
MSC, "Consolidated Activity Report for the Office of the Director, Manned Space Flight, May 19-June 15, 1963," pp. 59-60.

May 24

North American demonstrated problems with side-arm controller location and armrest design inside the CM. Major difficulties were found when the subject tried to manipulate controls while wearing a pressurized suit. North American had scheduled further study of these design problems.

"Project Apollo Spacecraft Test Program, Weekly Activity Report (Period 27 May 1963 through 2 June 1963)," p. 5.

May 28

MSC Director Robert R. Gilruth reported to the MSF Management Council that the lunar landing mission duration profiles, on which North American would base the reliability design objectives for mission success and crew safety and which assumed a 14-day mission, had been documented and approved. The contractor had also been asked to study two other mission profile extremes, a 14-day mission with 110-hour transearth and translunar transfer times and the fastest practicable lunar landing mission.

MSF Management Council Meeting, May 28, 1963, Agenda Item 2, "Technical Highlights," p. 4.

May 29

Grumman presented its LEM engineering and simulation plans to MSC, stating that their existing facilities and contracted facilities at North American in Columbus, Ohio, and at LTV would be used throughout 1963. Two part-task LEM simulators would be operational at Grumman early in 1964, with a complete mission simulator available in 1965. MSC had approved the contractor's procurement of two visual display systems for use in the simulators.

MSC, "Consolidated Activity Report for the Office of the Director, Manned Space Flight, May 19-June 15, 1963," pp. 62, 63; GAEC, "Monthly Progress Report No. 6," LPR-10-16, August 10, 1963, p. 5.

May 29

The Operational Evaluation and Test Branch of MSC's Flight Operations Division considered three methods of providing a recovery hoisting loop on the CM: loop separate from the spacecraft and attached after landing, use of the existing parachute bridle, and loop installed as part of the CM equipment similar to Mercury and Gemini. Studies showed that the third method was preferable. (See April 25-26.)

Memorandum, Christopher C. Kraft, Jr., MSC, to Mgr., ASPO, "Command module recovery hoisting loop," May 29, 1963.

May 30

Rocketdyne reported to Grumman on the LEM descent stage engine development program. Revised measurements for the engine were: diameter, 137 centimeters (54 inches); length, 221 centimeters (87 inches) (30.5 centimeters [twelve inches] more than the original constraint that Grumman had imposed on Rocketdyne).

MSC, "Consolidated Activity Report for the Office of the Director, Manned Space Flight, May 19-June 15, 1963," p. 61; "Apollo Quarterly Status Report No. 4," p. 21.

During the Month

In its first estimates of reliability for the LEM, Grumman reported a 0.90 probability for mission success and 0.994 for crew safety. (The probabilities required by NASA were 0.984 and 0.9995, respectively.)

"Monthly Progress Report No. 4," LPR-10-7, p. 26.

During the Month

After a detailed comparison of titanium and aluminum propellant tanks for the LEM descent stage, Grumman selected the lighter titanium.

Ibid., p. 7.

During the Month

Grumman studied the possibility of using the portable life support system lithium hydroxide cartridges in the LEM environmental control system, and determined that such common usage was feasible. This analysis would be verified by tests at Hamilton Standard.

Ibid., p. 12.

During the Month

Grumman completed the LEM M-1 mockup and began installing equipment in the vehicle. Also, the contractor began revising cabin front design to permit comparisons of visibility. (See September 16-18.)

Ibid., p. 8.

During the Month

NASA and General Dynamics Convair negotiated a major change on the Little Joe II launch vehicle contract. (See February 18.) It provided for two additional launch vehicles which would incorporate the attitude control subsystem (as opposed to the early fixed-fin version). On November 1, MSC announced that the contract amendment was being issued. NASA Headquarters' approval followed a week later.

Little Joe II Test Launch Vehicle, NASA Project Apollo: Final Report, Vol. I, p. 4-3; MSC News Release 63-223, November 1, 1963; MSC, "Consolidated Activity Report for the Office of the Director, Manned Space Flight, October 20-November 16, 1963," p. 57.

June 3

MSC informed MSFC that the length of the spacecraft-Saturn V adapter had been increased from 807.7 centimeters to 889 centimeters (318 inches to 350 inches). The LEM would be supported in the adapter from a fixed structure on the landing gear. (See October 2.)

"Apollo Quarterly Status Report No. 4," p. 16.

June 3

North American announced that it had selected ITT's Industrial Products Division to provide battery chargers for the CSM, designed for an operational lifetime of 40,000 hours.

Space Business Daily, June 4, 1963, p. 712.

June 4

The $889.3 million definitive Apollo contract with North American was delivered to NASA Headquarters for review and approval. The target date for approval was extended to June 30. (See August 14.)

MSC, "Consolidated Activity Report for the Office of the Director, Manned Space Flight, May 19-June 15, 1963," p. 33.

June 5

NASA announced that it would select 10 to 15 new astronauts to begin training in October. Civilian applications were due July 1; those from military personnel, prescreened by their services, were due July 15. New selection criteria reduced the maximum age to 35 years and eliminated the requirement for test pilot certifications.

NASA News Release 63-122, "NASA to Select New Astronauts," June 5, 1963.

June 6

The Operational Evaluation and Test Branch of MSC's Flight Operations Division made the following recommendations on Apollo postlanding water survival equipment:

  • Development should continue on a three-man life raft for the Apollo mission.
  • A 12-hour-duration dye marker packet should be passively deployed on impact. An additional 18 hours of dye marker should be stored in the survival kit.
  • Two radio beacons of the type being developed for Gemini should be included in the survival kit.
  • Water egress safety features in the Mercury and Gemini space suits should be included in the Apollo space suit.
  • All Apollo equipment which might be involved in water egress, survival, and recovery situations should be configured for water landings.
Memorandum, Christopher C. Kraft, Jr., MSC, to Mgr., ASPO, "Apollo postlanding water survival equipment," June 6, 1963.

June 10

North American completed a backup testing program (authorized by MSC on November 20, 1962) on a number of ablative materials for the CM heatshield. Only one of the materials (Avcoat 5026-39) performed satisfactorily at low temperatures. During a meeting on June 18 at MSC, company representatives discussed the status of the backup heatshield program. This was followed by an Avco Corporation presentation on the primary heatshield development. As a result, MSC directed North American to terminate its backup program. Shortly thereafter, MSC approved the use of an airgun to fill the honeycomb core of the heatshield with ablative material.

"Apollo Quarterly Status Report No. 4," p. 15; MSC, "Consolidated Activity Report for the Office of the Director, Manned Space Flight, June 16-July 20, 1963," p. 69; MSC, "Weekly Activity Report for the Office of the Director, Manned Space Flight, June 16-22, 1963," p. 8.

June 10

NASA issued a $1,946,450 definitive contract to Aerojet-General Corporation for Algol solid-propellant motors for GD/C's Little Joe II vehicles.

MSC, "Consolidated Activity Report for the Office of the Director, Manned Space Flight, May 19-June 15, 1963," p. 33.

June 10

Christopher C. Kraft, Jr., of the MSC Flight Operations Division, urged that an up-data link (UDL) (see January 17) be included on the LEM. In general, the UDL would function when a great deal of data had to be transmitted during a time-critical phase. It would also permit utilization of the ground operational support system as a relay station for the transmission of data between the CM and LEM. In case of power failure aboard the LEM, the UDL could start the computer faster and more reliably than a manual voice link, and it could be used to resume synchronization in the computer timing system.

Memorandum, Christopher C. Kraft, Jr., MSC, to Mgr., ASPO, "Up-Digital-Link to the Lunar Excursion Module," June 10, 1963.

June 12

Skip trajectory

A sketch prepared by John Gurley demonstrates the spacecraft's skip when entering the earth's atmosphere.

The Mission Analysis Branch (MAB) of MSC's Flight Operations Division studied the phenomenon of a spacecraft's "skip" when reentering the earth's atmosphere from lunar trajectories and how that skip relates to landing accuracies. When an Apollo CM encounters the earth's atmosphere (this study used 91,440 meters [300,000 feet] as the practical altitude), the vehicle bounces or "skips" back above the atmosphere. From this point, the spacecraft follows a ballistic trajectory until it re-encounters the atmosphere. During this skip portion of reentry, there is no control of the vehicle's flight trajectory. The length of this skip is, therefore, determined by the angle and speed at the start of this ballistic trajectory. The distance of the skip in turn determines the spacecraft's landing area. Variations in both speed and angle at the start of the skip thus are directly related to landing accuracy, but the effect of these variations is felt much more in shallow than in steep trajectories. In light of these factors, MAB recommended that, for Apollo flights, the skip phase of reentry be made at the steepest practicable angle consistent with maximum allowable acceleration forces.

Memorandum, John R. Gurley, MSC, to Chief, Flight Operations Div., "A Study of Skip Range Sensitivities and Allowable Errors in Exit Conditions Applicable to the Apollo Missions," June 12, 1963.

June 12

NASA Administrator James E. Webb, testifying before the Senate space committee, said that NASA did not plan any further Mercury flights. Project Mercury, America's first manned space flight program, thus was ended.

Loyd S. Swenson, Jr., James M. Grimwood, and Charles C. Alexander, This New Ocean: A History of Project Mercury (NASA SP-4201, 1966), p. 503.

June 12

D. Brainerd-Holmes announced his resignation as NASA's Deputy Associate Administrator and Director of Manned Space Flight, effective sometime in the fall. He had joined NASA in 1961 and was returning to industry.

NASA News Release 63-133, "Holmes Returns to Industry as Mercury Concludes," June 12, 1963.

June 14

NASA Headquarters approved a definitive contract for $35,844,550 with AC Spark Plug for the manufacture and testing of navigation and guidance equipment for the CM. This superseded a letter contract of May 30, 1962.

MSC, "Consolidated Activity Report for the Office of the Director, Manned Space Flight, May 19-June 15, 1963," p. 33; NASA News Release 63-136, "Contract Signed with AC Spark Plug for Apollo Guidance System," June 14, 1963; AC Spark Plug, "Apollo Guidance and Navigation System Participating Contractor Quarterly Technical Progress Report," January 1963, p. 2-1.

June 14

MSC conducted the final inspection of the Little Joe II launch complex at WSMR.

MSC, "Consolidated Activity Report for the Office of the Director, Manned Space Flight, May 19-June 15, 1963," p. 31.

June 14-15

At its plant in Binghampton, N. Y., Link Division of General Precision, Inc., held a mockup review of the Apollo mission simulator. A number of modifications in the instructor's console were suggested.

"Apollo Quarterly Status Report No. 4," p. 40.

June 14-19

The Soviet Union launched Vostok V, piloted by Lt. Col. Valery F. Bykovsky. Two days later Lt. Valentina V. Tereshkova, the first spacewoman, followed in Vostok VI. Purposes of the dual mission were to study the medical-biological effects of prolonged space flight upon humans and to perfect spacecraft systems. On its first orbit, Vostok VI came within about three miles of Vostok V, apparently the closest distance achieved during the flight, and established radio contact. Both cosmonauts landed safely on June 19. The space spectacular featured television coverage of Bykovsky that was viewed in the West as well as in Russia.

U.S. Congress, Senate, Committee on Aeronautical and Space Sciences, Soviet Space Programs, 1962-1965; Goals and Purposes, Achievements, Plans, and International Implications, Staff Report, 89th Cong., 2nd Sess. (December 30, 1966), pp. 180-181.

June 16-July 20

MSC and Grumman assessed crew visibility requirements for the LEM. The study included a series of helicopter flights in which simulated earthshine lighting conditions and LEM window configurations were combined with helicopter landings along representative LEM trajectories. These flights simulated the LEM's attitude, velocity, range, and dive angle in the final approach trajectory.

"Apollo Quarterly Status Report No. 4," p. 18; MSC, "Consolidated Activity Report for the Office of the Director, Manned Space Flight, June 16-July 20, 1963," p. 27.

June 16-July 20

MSC reported that crew systems engineers at the Center were assessing feasibility of having the LEM crew stand rather than sit. MSC requested Grumman also to look into having the crew fly the vehicle from a standing position. The concept was formally proposed at the August 27 crew systems meeting and was approved at the NASA-Grumman review of the LEM M-1 mockup on September 16-18.

MSC, "Consolidated Activity Report for the Office of the Director, Manned Space Flight, June 16-July 20, 1963," p. 77; "Monthly Progress Report No. 6," LPR-10-16, p. 12; MSC, "Apollo Spacecraft Project Office Activity Report, June 14-July 18, 1963," p. [15].

June 20

North American signed (and NASA approved) a definitive contract with Allison Division of General Motors for the service propulsion system propellant tanks.

MSC, "Weekly Activity Report for the Office of the Director, Manned Space Flight, June 23-29, 1963," p. 6.

June 21-27

MSC met with those contractors participating in the development of the LEM guidance and navigation system. (See October 18.) Statements of Work for the LEM design concept were agreed upon. (Technical directives covering most of the work had been received earlier by the contractors.)

MSC, "Activity Report, Apollo Spacecraft Project Office, For Period June 21-27, 1963,"

June 21-27

North American awarded a contract, valued at $2.8 million, to Avien, Inc., to develop the steerable S-band antenna for the CSM. (See June 11-18, 1964.)

Ibid.; Space Business Daily, July 18, 1963, p. 95.

June 22

Stabilization and control subsystems

Relationship of SCS to other Apollo subsystems. (NAA drawing)

North American officially froze the design of the CM's stabilization and control system.

"Abstract of Proceedings, Command Module Stabilization and Control Systems Meeting No. 16," June 27, 1963, p. 1; MSC, "Activity Report, Apollo Spacecraft Project Office, For Period June 21-27, 1963," p. 2.

June 25

MSC Director Robert R. Gilruth reported to the MSF Management Council that the LEM landing gear design freeze was now scheduled for August 31. Grumman had originally proposed a LEM configuration with five fixed legs, but LEM changes had made this concept impractical. (See February and April 17.) The weight and overall height of the LEM had increased, the center of gravity had been moved upward, the LEM stability analysis had expanded to cover a wider range of landing conditions, the cruciform descent stage had been selected, and the interpretation of the lunar model had been revised. These changes necessitated a larger gear diameter than at first proposed. This, in turn, required deployable rather than fixed legs so the larger gear could be stored in the Saturn V adapter. MSC had therefore adopted a four-legged deployable gear, which was lighter and more reliable than the five-legged configuration. (See October 2.)

"Lunar Excursion Module Design Status" (undated), prepared for Gilruth's presentation at the June 25, 1963, meeting of the MSF Management Council, held at the Manned Spacecraft Center.

June 26

The first full-scale firing of the SM engine was conducted at the Arnold Engineering Development Center. At the start of the shutdown sequence, the engine thrust chamber valve remained open because of an electrical wiring error in the test facility. Consequently the engine ran at a reduced chamber pressure while the propellant in the fuel line was exhausted. During this shutdown transient, the engine's nozzle extension collapsed as a result of excessive pressure differential across the nozzle skin.

MSC, "Consolidated Activity Report for the Office of the Director, Manned Space Flight, June 16-July 20, 1963," p. 68.

June 26

MSC announced that it had contracted with the Martin Company to develop a frictionless platform to simulate the reactions of an extravehicular astronaut in five degrees of freedom-pitch, yaw, roll, forward-backward, and side-to-side. MSC Crew Systems Division would use the simulator to test and evaluate space suits, stabilization devices, tethering lines, and tools.

MSC News Release 63-108, June 26, 1963.

June 28

A cluster of two Pioneer tri-conical solid parachutes was tested; both parachutes failed. Because of this unsatisfactory performance, the Pioneer solid-parachute program was officially canceled on July 15. (See March 4.)

Letter, C. D. Sword, MSC, to NAA, Space and Information Systems Div., "Contract Change Authorization No. Twenty-Seven, Revision 1," July 15, 1963; "Apollo Spacecraft Project Office Activity Report, June 14-July 18, 1963," p. [5].

June 28

NASA announced its concurrence in Grumman's selection of RCA as subcontractor for the LEM electronics subsystems and for engineering support. Under the $40 million contract, RCA was responsible for five LEM subsystem areas: systems engineering support, communications, radar, inflight testing, and ground support. RCA would also fabricate electronic components of the LEM stabilization and control system. [Engineers and scientists from RCA had been working at Grumman on specific projects since February.]

NASA News Release 63-143, "RCA Subcontractor to Grumman for LEM," June 28, 1963; "Monthly Progress Report No. 1," LPR-10-1, p. 2.

June 28

The CSM data storage equipment was modified to incorporate a fast-dump capability. Data could thus be recorded at a low speed for later playback at high speed to ground stations.

Letter, H. P. Yschek, MSC, to NAA, Space and Information Systems Div., "Contract Change Authorization No. Fifty-Nine," June 28, 1963.

During the Month

North American reported that mission success predictions continued to be less than the apportioned values. For example, the environmental control subsystem had a predicted mission reliability of 0.9805, compared to a 0.997675 apportionment.

"Apollo Quarterly Status Report No. 4," pp. 32, 33.

During the Month

Planning and final details of LTV abort simulation negotiations with Grumman were completed. The abort experiments, to be conducted at LTV's aerospace simulation facility in Dallas, Tex., were scheduled to begin in October. (See April 24, 1964.)

GAEC, "Monthly Progress Report No. 5," LPR-10-11, July 10, 1963, p. 19.

During the Month

MSC reported that two portable life support systems would be stowed in the LEM and one in the CM. Resupplying water, oxygen, and lithium hydroxide could be done in a matter of minutes; however, battery recharging took considerably longer, and detailed design of a charger was continuing.

"Apollo Quarterly Status Report No. 4," pp. 24, 25.

During the Month

Grumman completed the LEM circuit design for suit and cabin pressure control systems. Also the contractor formulated a detailed plan for the evaluation of red and white cockpit lighting; equipment for the test had already been received.

"Monthly Progress Report No. 5," LPR-10-11, pp. 13, 20.