The Apollo Spacecraft - A Chronology.|
Part 2 (A)
Developing Hardware Distinctions
August 30, 1963 through September 1963
August 30NASA Associate Administrator Robert C. Seamans, Jr., approved the Lunar Orbiter program. Objectives of the program were reconnaissance of the moon's topography, investigation of its environment, and collection of selenodetic information. (See May 12, 1964.)
The document called for five flight and three test articles. The Lunar Orbiter spacecraft would be capable of photographing the moon from a distance of 22 miles above the surface. Overall cost of the program was estimated at between $150 and $200 million.
NASA Office of Space Sciences (OSS) Review, "Lunar Orbiter Program Status Report," September 4, 1963; Space Business Daily, September 3, 1963, p. 327; NASA Project Approval Document, "Research and Development Project: Lunar Orbiter," Cost No. 84-800-804, undated; memorandum, Dir., OSS, to Langley Research Center, Attn: Floyd L. Thompson, "Implementation of the Lunar Orbiter Project," August 30, 1963. See also Bruce K. Byers, "Lunar Orbiter: A Preliminary History" (NASA HHN-71, Comment Edition), p. 30.
Week of August 30North American defined the maximum, nominal, and minimum CM ablation heatshield thicknesses for lunar reentry. The maximum and minimum limits represented variations that might arise as studies progressed.
MSC, "ASPO Weekly Activity Report, August 30-September 4, 1963," p. 3.
During the MonthGrumman built a full-scale cardboard model of the LEM to aid in studying problems of cockpit geometry, specifically the arrangement of display panels. This mockup was reviewed by MSC astronauts and the layout of the cockpit was revised according to some of their suggestions.
Also Grumman reported that a preliminary analysis showed the reaction control system plume heating of the LEM landing gear was not a severe problem. [This difficulty had been greatly alleviated by the change from five to four landing legs on the vehicle. (See April 17 and May 20-22.)]
"Monthly Progress Report No. 7," LPR-10-22, pp. 7, 25.
During the MonthAt a meeting at MSC, Grumman representatives submitted the cost proposal for LEM test articles LTA-8 and LTA-9, and suggested a testing program for the two vehicles: LTA-8 should be used for restrained integrated systems testing in the altitude propulsion test facilities at the Atlantic Missile Range; LTA-9 should be used for manned atmospheric tethered operation tests. The contractor also recommended an early flight demonstration program to verify the helicopter tether operation potential, which promised greatly increased mission test capability over fixed-base tether facilities. The tether method (helicopter or fixed- base) should be determined after the verification. LTA-8 should be considered as a constraint to LEM-5, and LTA-9 as a constraint to the lunar landing mission.
Ibid., pp. 45, 46.
MSC, "Weekly Activity Report for the Office of the Director, Manned Space Flight, September 1-7, 1963," p. 3.
September 4Director Robert R. Gilruth established the MSC Manned Spacecraft Criteria Board to set up engineering, design, and procedural standards for manned spacecraft and associated systems. The board was composed of Maxime A. Faget, Chairman; James A. Chamberlin; Kenneth S. Kleinknecht; F. John Bailey, Jr.; G. Barry Graves; Jacob C. Moser; and Norman F. Smith, Secretary. Board criteria would become MSC policy; and - unless specific waivers were obtained, compliance by project offices was mandatory.
MSC Circular No. 85, "MSC Manned Spacecraft Criteria Board," September 17, 1963.
September 4MSC Flight Operations Division (FOD) recommended a series of water impact tests to establish confidence in the CM's recovery systems under a variety of operating conditions. FOD suggested several air drops with water landings under various test conditions. Among these were release of the main parachutes at impact, deployment of the postlanding antennas, actuation of the mechanical location aids, and activation of the recovery radio equipment.
Memorandum, Christopher C. Kraft, Jr., MSC, to Mgr., ASPO, "Recommendation for a water landing operational qualification test series using AFRM 005," September 4, 1963.
September 5-11MSC began a study to define the stability limits of a 457-centimeter (180inch) radius LEM gear configuration. The study, in two phases, sought to examine factors affecting stability (such as lunar slope, touchdown velocity and direction, and the effects of soil mechanics) in direct support of the one-sixth model and full-scale drop test programs and to complete definition of landing capabilities of the LEM. (See October 2.)
MSC, "ASPO Weekly Activity Report, September 5-11, 1963," pp. 7-8.
September 6MSC announced a $7.658 million definitive contract with Kollsman Instrument Corporation for the CM guidance and navigation optical equipment, including a scanning telescope, sextant, map and data viewer, and related ground support equipment. MSC had awarded Kollsman a letter contract on May 28, 1962, and had completed negotiations for the definitive contract on March 29, 1963. "The newly signed contract calls for delivery of all hardware to AC Spark Plug by August 1, 1964."
MSC News Release 63-147, September 6, 1963; MSC, "Weekly Activity Report for the Office of the Director, Manned Space Flight, May 27-June 3, 1962," p. 12; Kollsman Instrument Corporation, "Apollo Program Quarterly Progress Report No. 3," March 31, 1963, p. 2; ibid., "Apollo Program Quarterly Progress Report No. 6," December 31, 1963, pp. 10-11.
September 6MSC Flight Operations Division (FOD) established a 72-hour lifetime for Apollo recovery aids. This limitation was derived from considerations of possible landing footprints, staging bases, and aircraft range and flying time to the landing areas. Primary location aids were the spacecraft equipment (VHF AM transceiver, VHF recovery beacon, and HE transceiver) and the VHF survival radio. Because of battery limitations, current planning called for only a 24-hour usage of the VHF recovery beacon. If electronic aids were needed beyond this time the VHF survival radio would be used. If the spacecraft were damaged or lost, the VHF survival radio would be the only electronic location aid available. MSC had recently selected the Sperry Phoenix Company to produce the Gemini VHF survival radio, which was expected to meet the Apollo requirements. FOD recommended that the current contract with Sperry Phoenix be extended to provide the units needed for Apollo missions.
Memorandum, Christopher C. Kraft, Jr., MSC, to ASPO, Attn: L. N. McMillion, "Apollo VHF survival radio," undated (ca, September 1963).
September 6At El Centro, Calif., CM boilerplate (BP) 3, a parachute test vehicle, was destroyed during tests simulating the new BP-6 configuration (without strakes or apex cover). Drogue parachute descent, disconnect, and pilot mortar fire appeared normal. However, one pilot parachute was cut by contact with the vehicle and its main parachute did not deploy. Because of harness damage, the remaining two main parachutes failed while reefed. Investigation of the BP-3 failure resulting in rigging and design changes on BP-6 and BP-19.
"Apollo Monthly Progress Report," SID 62-300-17, p. 11; ibid., SID 62-300-18, pp. 15-16.
September 9MSC ordered North American to make provisions in the CM to permit charging the 28-volt portable life support system battery from the spacecraft battery charger.
On the following day, the Center informed North American also that a new mechanical clock timer system would be provided in the CM for indicating elapsed time from liftoff and predicting time to and duration of various events during the mission.
Letter, H. P. Yschek, MSC, to NAA, Space and Information Systems Div., "Contract Change Authorization No. Eighty-Two," September 9, 1963; ibid., "Contract Change Authorization No. Eighty-Four," September 10, 1963.
A design engineering inspection (DEI) and Apollo program design review were held at NAA's El Segundo, Calif., facilities September 10-12, 1963. About 70 NASA personnel members participated in the DEI of boilerplate 12 before it was shipped to WSMR to test the launch escape system. The following two days approximately 100 NASA employees including personnel from most NASA Centers and Headquarters attended the program design review. Topics included structural design, the propulsion, power, and electrical systems, guidance and navigation, simulation and trainers, ground support equipment, and a program hardware summary.
September 12NASA announced that, in the future, unmanned lunar landing spacecraft e.g., Rangers and Surveyors) will be assembled in "clean rooms" and treated with germ-killing substances to reduce the number of microbes on exposed surfaces. These sterilization procedures, less stringent than earlier methods, were intended to prevent contamination of the lunar surface and, at the same time, avoid damage to sensitive electronic components. Heat sterilization was suspected as one of the reasons for the failure of Ranger spacecraft.
The Washington Post, September 13, 1963.
September 16A tone warning signal was added to the CM instrumentation system. If a system malfunctioned, this warning would be heard through both the master caution and warning subsystem and the astronauts' earphones.
Letter, H, P. Yschek, MSC, to NAA, Space and Information Systems Div., "Contract Change Authorization No. Eighty-Nine," September 16, 1963.
September 16The launch escape system was modified so that, under normal flight conditions, the crew could jettison the tower. On unmanned Saturn I flights, tower jettison was initiated by a signal from the instrument unit of the S-IV (second) stage.
Letter, H. P. Yschek, MSC, to NAA, Space and Information Systems Div., "Contract Change Authorization No. Ninety-One," September 16, 1963.
September 16-18NASA representatives held a formal review of Grumman's LEM M-1 mockup, a full-scale representation of the LEM's crew compartment. MSC decided that (1) the window shape (triangular) and visibility were satisfactory; (2) a standing position for the crew was approved, although, in general, it was believed that restraints restricted crew mobility; (3) the controllers were positioned too low and lacked suitable arm support for fine control; and (4) crew station arrangement was generally acceptable, although specific details required further study. (See June 16-July 20 and August 27.)
MSC, "ASPO Weekly Status Report, September 19-25, 1963."
September 17LTV presented the preliminary results of a manual rendezvous simulation study. Their studies indicated that a pilot trained in the technique could accomplish lunar launch and rendezvous while using only two to three percent more fuel than the automatic system. (See May 6 and October 10, 1963, and April 24, 1964.)
MSC, "Consolidated Activity Report for the Office of the Director, Manned Space Flight, September 22-October 19, 1963," p. 31.
September 18The AiResearch Manufacturing Company announced that it had been awarded a $20 million definitive contract for the CM environmental system. [AiResearch had been developing the system under a letter contract since 1961. See Volume I, December 21, 1961.]
The Houston Post, September 19, 1963.
September 19MSC made several changes in the CM's landing requirements. Impact attenuation would be passive, except for that afforded by the crew couches and the suspension system. The spacecraft would be suspended from the landing parachutes in a pitch attitude that imposed minimum accelerations on the crew. A crushable structure to absorb landing shock was required in the aft equipment bay area.
Letter, H. P. Yschek, MSC, to NAA, Space and Information Systems Div., "Contract Change Authorization No. Ninety-Three," September 19, 1963.
September 19-25The space suit umbilical disconnects were being redesigned to the "buddy concept" and for interchangeability between the CM and the LEM. (See September 29, 1964.) MSC was reviewing methods for a crewman to return to the LEM following space suit failure on the lunar surface. (See July 28August 3.)
MSC, "ASPO Weekly Activity Report, September 19-25, 1963," p. 4.
September 19-25North American incorporated an automatic radiator control into the CM's environmental control system to eliminate the need for crew attention during lunar orbit.
Recent load analysis at North American placed the power required for a 14-day mission at 577 kilowatt-hours, a decrease of about 80 kilowatt-hours from earlier estimates.
Ibid., pp. 2, 3.
September 19-October 16Grumman directed Bell Aerosystems Company to establish the ablative nozzle extension as the primary design for the LEM's ascent stage engine. The radiation-cooled nozzle design, a weight-saving alternative, must be approved by NASA. See March; also January and May 4-11, 1964.
MSC, "ASPO Monthly Activity Report, September 19-October 16, 1963," p. 18.
September 20President John F. Kennedy, during an address before the United Nations General Assembly, suggested the possibility of Russian-American "cooperation" in space. Though not proposing any specific program, Kennedy stated that, "in a field where the United States and the Soviet Union have a special capacity - the field of space - there is room for new cooperation, for further joint efforts in the regulation and exploration of space. I include among these possibilities," he said, "a joint expedition to the moon. . . . Surely we should explore whether the scientists and astronauts of our two countries - indeed, of all the world - cannot work together in the conquest of space, sending some day in this decade to the moon, not the representatives of a single nation, but the representatives of all humanity."
During a news conference in Houston that same day, several NASA officials commented on the President's address. Associate Administrator Robert C. Seamans, Jr., stated that Kennedy's proposals came as no great surprise. He said that many "large areas" for cooperation exist, such as exchanges of scientific information and in space tracking, but emphasized that no cosmonauts would be flying in Apollo spacecraft. Deputy Associate Administrator George E. Mueller shared Seamans' views, comparing future U.S.-U.S.S.R. cooperation in space to joint explorations in Antarctica. Scientists from both nations work together, but "they get there in different ships." Just three days earlier, MSC Director Robert R. Gilruth had told the National Rocket Club that a joint American-Russian space flight - especially one to the moon - would present almost insuperable technological difficulties. "I tremble at the thought of the integration problems . . . ," he said. Gilruth cautioned his audience that he was speaking "not as an international politician," but as an engineer. The task of mating American and Russian spacecraft and launch vehicles would make such international cooperation "hard to do in a practical sort of way." And at the September 20 MSC news conference he added that such problems "are very difficult even when they [hardware components] are built by American contractors."
Robert L. Rosholt, An Administrative History of NASA, 1958-1963 (NASA SP-4101), p. 288; Astronautics and Aeronautics, 1963, pp. 343, 347; The Houston Chronicle, September 19, 20, 21, 1963.
September 22-29North American checked out the test fixture that was slated for the astronaut centrifuge training program, resolving interfaces between test fixture, centrifuge, and the test conductor's console, and familiarizing astronauts with controls and displays inside the spacecraft.
On October 1, North American delivered the test fixture to the U.S. Navy Aviation Medical Acceleration Laboratory, where the first phase of the manned centrifuge program was scheduled to begin that month.
"Apollo Monthly Progress Report," SID 62-300-48, pp. 4-5; MSC, "ASPO Weekly Activity Report, October 3-9, 1963," p. 3.
September 24MSC advised North American that the television camera in the CM was being modified so that ground personnel could observe the astronauts and flight operations. Television images would be transmitted directly to earth via the Deep Space Instrumentation Facility.
Letter, H. P. Yschek, MSC, to NAA, Space and Information Systems Div., "Contract Change Authorization No. Ninety-Five," September 24, 1963.
NASA Administrator James E. Webb examined a docked configuration of the Apollo spacecraft model during a visit to Houston September 24, 1963.
September 25-26MSC representatives reviewed Grumman's program for thermal testing for the LEM, to be conducted with the test model 2 (TM-2) vehicle. Because the vehicle's configuration had changed so extensively, the Center canceled the currently planned TM-2 ascent stage and ordered another stage to be substituted. TM-2's descent stage needed only small design changes to make it suitable for the program.
MSC," ASPO Weekly Activity Report, September 26-October 2, 1963," p. 12.
September 26At a meeting at MSC, Grumman representatives presented 18 configurations of the LEM electrical power system, recommending a change from three to two fuel cells, still supplemented by an auxiliary battery system, with continued study on tankage design. On December 10, ASPO authorized the contractor to proceed with this configuration.
Letter, Owen E. Maynard, MSC, to GAEC, Attn: R. S. Mullaney, "Contract NAS 9-1100, Electrical Power Subsystem Configuration Recommendation," December 10, 1963; MSC, "ASPO Weekly Activity Report, September 26- October 2, 1963," p. 11.
September 26OMSF, MSC, and Bellcomm representatives, meeting in Washington, D.C., discussed Apollo mission plans: OMSF introduced a requirement that the first manned flight in the Saturn IB program include a LEM. ASPO had planned this flight as a CSM maximum duration mission only.
MSC, "ASPO Weekly Activity Report, September 26-October 2, 1963."
September 26-27MSC representatives visited Grumman for a preliminary evaluation of the Apollo space suit integration into the LEM. A suit failure ended the exercise prematurely. Nonetheless, leg and foot mobility was good, but the upper torso and shoulder needed improvement.
On October 11, MSC Crew Systems Division (CSD) tested the suit's mobility with the portable life support system (PLSS). CSD researchers found that the PLSS did not restrict the wearer's movement because the suit supported the weight of the PLSS. Shifts in the center of gravity appeared insignificant. The PLSS controls, because of their location, were difficult to operate, which demanded further investigation.
Ibid.; MSC, "Consolidated Activity Report for the Office of the Director, Manned Space Flight, September 22-October 19, 1963," p. 48.
September 26-October 2North American recommended that the portable life support system in the CM be deleted. Current planning placed two units in the LEM and one in the CM.
MSC, "ASPO Weekly Activity Report, September 26-October 2, 1963," p. 3.
September 30MSC awarded Texas Instruments, Inc., a $194,000 contract to study experiments and equipment needed for scientific exploration of the lunar surface. The analysis was to be completed by the end of May 1964. (See March 17, 1964.)
MSC, "Consolidated Activity Report for the Office of the Director, Manned Space Flight, September 22-October 19, 1963," p. 41; "Apollo Quarterly Status Report No. 6," p. 34; MSC News Release 63-171, October 16, 1963.
September 30Qualification testing began on fuel tanks for the service propulsion system (SPS). The first article tested developed a small crack below the bottom weld, which was being investigated, but pressurization caused no expansion of the tank. During mid-October, several tanks underwent proof testing. And, on November 1, the first SPS helium tank was burst-tested.
MSC, "ASPO Status Report for Period Ending October 16, 1963"; "ASPO Status Report for Period October 16-November 12, 1963"; "ASPO Status Report for Period Ending October 23, 1963."
David G. Hoag, technical director of the Apollo guidance and navigation system design program at MIT's Instrumentation Laboratory, inspected a mockup of the inertial measurement unit in the system.
Director of the Laboratory Dr. C. Stark Draper posed beside a mockup of the guidance and navigation system.
During the MonthThe interrelationships between all major LEM test vehicles, including all test constraints and documentation requirements, were developed. This logic study, prepared by Grumman and forwarded to MSC, stressed the feasibility of alterations in the LEM test program as needed.
"Monthly Progress Report No. 8," LPR-10-24, p. 45.