The Apollo Spacecraft - A Chronology.

Part 2 (C)

Developing Hardware Distinctions

January 1964 through April 28, 1964

1964 January

1964 February

1964 March

1964 April


January 3

North American, Grumman, and MIT Instrumentation Laboratory summarized results of a six-week study, conducted at ASPO's request, on requirements for a Spacecraft Development Program. Purpose of the study was to define joint contractor recommendations for an overall development test plan within resource constraints set down by NASA. ASPO required that the plan define individual ground test and mission objectives, mission descriptions, hardware requirements (including ground support equipment), test milestones, and individual subsystem test histories.

Intermediate objectives for the Apollo program were outlined: the qualification of a manned CSM capable of earth reentry at parabolic velocities after an extended space mission; qualification of a manned LEM both physically and functionally compatible with the CSM; and demonstration of manned operations in deep space, including lunar orbit. The most significant basic test plan objective formulated during the study was the need for flexibility to capitalize on unusual success or to compensate for unexpected difficulties with minimum impact on the program.

Only one major issue in the test plan remained unresolved - lunar descent radar performance and actual lunar touchdown. Two possible solutions were suggested:

  1. Landing of an unmanned spacecraft. If this failed, however, there would be little or no gain, since there was not yet a satisfactory method for instrumenting the unmanned vehicle for necessary failure data. If the landing were successful, it would prove only that the LEM was capable of landing at that particular location.
  2. Designing the LEM for a reasonably smooth surface. This would avoid placing too stringent a requirement on the landing criteria to accommodate all lunar surface unknowns. A block change to the LEM design could then be planned for about mid-1966. By that time, additional lunar data from Ranger, Surveyor, and Lunar Orbiter flights would be available. The group agreed the second solution was more desirable.
The contractors recommended:

  1. ASPO concur with the proposed plan as a planning basis for implementation;
  2. ASPO issue a Development Test Plan to all three contractors (preferably within 30 to 60-days);
  3. each contractor analyze the effect of the plan upon spacecraft, facility, and equipment contracts; and
  4. ASPO and the contractors conduct periodic reviews of the plan once it was formalized.
In addition, the test plan should be coordinated with the lunar landing mission study, as well as development testing and systems engineering for the complete Apollo program.

The complete findings of this joint study were contained in a five-volume report issued by North American and submitted to MSC early in February 1964. [This document became known informally as the "Project Christmas Present Report."]

"Apollo Spacecraft Development Test Plan," SID 64-66-1, Vol. I, pp. v, 1, 3-5, 195-197.

January 3

MSC forwarded a $1.4 million contract to Control Data Corporation for two computer systems and peripheral equipment which would be supplied to GE as part of the preflight acceptance checkout equipment.

MSC, "Consolidated Activity Report for the Office of the Associate Administrator, Manned Space Flight, December 22, 1963-January 18, 1964," p. 39.

January 7

ASPO directed Grumman to implement a number of recommendations on space suit oxygen umbilical hoses discussed at a joint Grumman/North American meeting and forwarded to ASPO on December 4, 1963:

  1. adopt a design that would permit use of CM hose sets in the LEM after crew transfer;
  2. place connectors on short hoses permanently attached to the suit, because suit vision and arm mobility did not permit use of on-suit connectors;
  3. determine exact placement and hose angles to route the suit portable life support system umbilicals between the legs of the suit;
  4. build the "buddy concept" into the umbilical design by ensuring that one of the LEM hoses had valve and safety provisions; and
  5. design the CM and LEM oxygen hose umbilicals to be interchangeable. (MSC would select a contractor for the connectors.)
MSC "ASPO Status Report for Week Ending December 10, 1963"; TWX, William F. Rector III, MSC, to GAEC, Attn: R. S. Mullaney, "Space Suit Oxygen Umbilical Hoses," January 7, 1964.

January 8

MSC directed Grumman to integrate LEM translation and descent engine thrust controllers. The integrated controller would be lighter and easier to install; also it would permit simultaneous reaction control system translation and descent engine control. Grumman had predicted that such a capability might be required for touchdown.

MSC, "ASPO Status Report for Week Ending January 7, 1963."

January 10

The Flight Data Systems Branch of the Engineering and Development Directorate provided ASPO's Lunar Mission Planning Branch with information about the LEM extravehicular suit telemetry and communications system. No line of sight (LOS) communications were possible, and there would be no ground wave propagation and no atmospheric reflection. The link between astronaut and LEM would be limited to LOS of the two antennas, and surface activities by an extravehicular astronaut must be planned accordingly.

Memorandum, Ragan Edmiston, MSC, to Richard H. Kohrs, "Lunar transmission range for Astro/LEM communications link," January 10, 1964.

January 11

Three U. S. Air Force test pilots began a five-week training period at the Martin Company leading to their participation in a simulated seven- day lunar landing mission. This was part of Martin's year-long study of crew performance during simulated Apollo missions (under a $771,000 contract from NASA).

The Houston Post, January 13, 1964; The Houston Chronicle, January 13, 1964.

January 14

Based on the LEM mockup review of September 16-18, 1963, MSC established criteria for redundancy of controls and displays in the LEM crew station. Within the framework of apportioned reliability requirements for mission success and crew safety, these guidelines applied:

  1. the LEM must be provisioned so that hover to touchdown could be flown manually by the crew;
  2. no single failure in the controls and displays should cause an abort; and
  3. the unknowns associated with lighting conditions or dust caused by rocket exhaust impingement on the lunar surface might require a joint effort by the crew.
Although duplication of all equipment was not required, dual flight controls and windows, as well as gross attitude, attitude error, and vehicle rates information, were necessary. Other flight displays should be dual or be readable from either station.

Letter, William F. Rector III, MSC, to GAEC, Attn: R. S. Mullaney, "Contract NAS 9-1100, Requirements for Dual Flight Controls and Displays in the LEM," January 14, 1964.

January 14

At an MSC-North American meeting, spacecraft communications problems were reviewed. Testing had indicated that considerable redesign was essential to ensure equipment operation in a high-humidity environment. Also antenna designs had created several problem areas, such as the scimitar antenna's causing the CM to roll during reentry. The amount of propellant consumed in counteracting this roll exceeded reentry allowances. Further, because the CM could float upside down, the recovery antenna might be pointed at the ocean floor. In fact, many at this meeting doubted whether the overall communications concept was satisfactory "without having detailed ground receiver characteristics." The situation derived from "one of the primary problems in the area of communications system design . . . the lack of functional requirements specifications."

"Minutes of NASA-NAA Technical Management Meeting, January 14-15, 1964," p. 4.

January 15

MSC and Bellcomm agreed upon a plan for testing the Apollo heatshield under reentry conditions. Following Project Fire and Scout tests, the Saturn IB would be used to launch standard "all-up" spacecraft into an elliptical orbit; the SM engine would boost the spacecraft's velocity to 8,839 meters

(29,000 feet) per second. Two flights were scheduled, one a test of ablator performance and the other a long- range flight to achieve a high total heat load and assess the interaction of the ablator, its backup structure, and other related structural members. This degree of heat rate and loading would permit "demonstration" rather than "development" tests on the Saturn V.

Memorandum, Robert O. Piland, MSC, to Joseph F. Shea, "Apollo Reentry Testing," January 16, 1964.

January 15

The first fuel cell module delivered by Pratt and Whitney Aircraft to North American was started and put on load. The module operated normally and all test objectives were accomplished. Total operating time was four hours six minutes, with one hour at each of four loads-20, 30, 40, and 50 amperes. The fuel cell was shut down without incident and approximately 1,500 cubic centimeters (1.6 quarts) of water were collected.

"Apollo Monthly Progress Report," SID 62-300-21, p. 11.

January 15

Bendix Products Aerospace Division was awarded a 99973 contract by MSC to study crushable aluminum honeycomb, a lightweight, almost non-elastic, shock-absorbing material for LEM landing gears. Bendix would test the honeycomb structures in a simulated lunar environment.

MSC News Release 64-9, January 15, 1964.

January 15-23

MSC's Systems Engineering Division met with a number of astronauts to get their comments on the feasibility of the manual reorientation maneuver required by the canard abort system concept. (See November 12, 1963.) The astronauts affirmed that they could accomplish the maneuver and that manual control during high-altitude aborts was an acceptable part of a launch escape system design. They pointed out the need to eliminate any possibility of sooting of the windows during normal and abort flight. Although the current design did not preclude such sooting, a contemplated boost protective cover might satisfy this requirement.

MSC, "ASPO Status Report for Week Ending January 23, 1964."

January 15-23

ASPO asked the Flight Crew Operations Directorate to study whatever was necessary to ensure that the LEM crew could reorient their spacecraft manually in an abort 36,600 meters (120,000 feet) above the moon.


January 15-23

MSC's Center Medical Office was reevaluating recommendations for LEM bioinstrumentation. The original request was for three high-frequency channels (two electrocardiogram and one respiration) that could be switched to monitor all crew members. Grumman wanted to provide one channel for each astronaut with no switching.


January 15-23

ASPO and the Astronaut Office agreed to provide the crew with food that could be eaten in a liquid or semi-liquid form during emergency pressurized operation. This would permit considerable reduction in the diameter of the emergency feeding port in the helmet visor.


January 16

Representatives of Grumman, MSC's Instrumentation and Electronics Systems Division, ASPO, and Resident Apollo Spacecraft Program Office (RASPO) at Bethpage met at Grumman to plan the LEM's electrical power system. The current configuration was composed of three fuel cell generators with a maximum power output of 900 watts each, spiking stabilizing batteries, one primary general-purpose AC inverter, and a conventional bus arrangement. To establish general design criteria, the primary lunar mission of the LEM-10 vehicle was analyzed. This "critical" mission appeared to be the "worst case" for the electrical power system and established maximum power and usage rate requirements.

Those attending the meeting foresaw a number of problems:

  • Grumman allowed only 10 percent margin for all contingencies and errors in energy requirements.
  • Fuel cells and cryogenic fuels needed testing in a simulated space environment.
  • Grumman depended upon its subcontractors to develop component testing procedures.
  • Optimum power supply modes and motors for the environmental control system were still to be selected.
  • "Essential loads" needed standardizing to allow the proper bus loading structure.
  • Proper charging rates and equipment for the portable life support system extravehicular suit batteries needed to be selected.
Memorandum, Donald G. Wiseman, MSC, to Deputy Asst. Dir. for Engineering and Development, "Meetings attended by Instrumentation and Electronics Systems Division personnel at the Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation," January 24, 1964.

January 16

Grumman presented to MSC the first monthly progress report on the Lunar Mission Planning Study. (See November 29, 1963.) The planning group, designated the Apollo Mission Planning Task Force (AMPTF), established ground rules and constraints to serve as a base line around which mission flexibilities and contingency analyses could be built. Main topics of discussion at the meeting were the reference mission, study ground rules, task assignments, and future plans. The following week, MSC Flight Operations Directorate provided a reference trajectory for the AMPTF's use. Major constraints were daylight launch, translunar injection during the second earth parking orbit, free-return trajectory, daylight landing near the lunar equator, 24-hour lunar surface staytime, and a water landing on earth. (See May 4.)

MSC, "ASPO Status Report for Week Ending January 23, 1964"; "ASPO Status Report for Period December 18-January 14, 1964."

January 16-February 12

The first full-throttle firing of Space Technology Laboratories' LEM descent engine (being developed as a parallel effort to the Rocketdyne engine) was carried out. The test lasted 214 seconds, with chamber pressures from 66.2 to 6.9 newtons per square centimeter (96 to 10 psi). Engine performance was about five percent below the required level.

MSC, "Monthly ASPO Status Report for Period January 16-February 12, 1964."

January 16-February 15

Two astronauts took part in tests conducted by North American to evaluate equipment stowage locations in CM mockup 2. Working as a team, the astronauts simulated the removal and storage of docking mechanisms. Preliminary results indicated this equipment could be stowed in the sleeping station. When his suit was deflated, the subject in the left couch could reach, remove, and install the backup controllers if they were stowed in the bulkhead, couch side, or headrest areas. When his suit was pressurized, he had difficulty with the bulkhead and couch side locations. The subject in the center couch, whose suit was pressurized, was unable to be of assistance.

NAA, "Apollo Monthly Progress Report," SID 62-300-22, March 1, 1964, p. 6.

January 16-February 15

AiResearch Manufacturing Company reported that it had completed design effort on all components of the CM environmental control system. (See January 23-29.)

The Garrett Corporation, AiResearch Manufacturing Division, "Monthly Progress Report, Environmental Control System, NAA/S&ID, Project Apollo, 16 January 1964-15 February 1964," SS-1013-R(21), February 29, 1964.

January 17

Grumman was studying problems of transmitting data if the LEM missed rendezvous with the CSM after lunar launch. This meant that the LEM had to orbit the moon and a data transmission blackout would occur while the LEM was on the far side of the moon. There were two possible solutions, an onboard data recorder or dual transmission to the CSM and the earth. This redundancy had not previously been planned upon, however.

Memorandum, Donald G. Wiseman, MSC, to Deputy Asst. Dir. for Engineering and Development, "Meetings attended by Instrumentation and Electronics Systems Division personnel at the Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation," January 24, 1964,

January 17

A design review of the CM reaction control system (RCS) was held. Included was a discussion of possible exposure of the crew to hazardous fumes from propellants if the RCS ruptured at earth impact. For the time being, the RCS design would not be changed, but no manned flights would be conducted until the matter had been satisfactorily resolved. A detailed study would be made on whether to eliminate, reduce, or accept this crew safety hazard.

"Apollo Monthly Progress Report," SID 62-300-22, p. 22.

January 19

NASA assigned George M. Low to the position of Deputy Director of MSC. He would replace James C. Elms, who had resigned on January 17 to return to private industry. Although Low continued as Deputy Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight at NASA Headquarters until May 1, he assumed his new duties at MSC the first part of February.

MSC News Release 64-13, January 17, 1964; NASA News Release 64-13, "NASA Names Low Deputy Director of Manned Spacecraft Center," January 19, 1964.

January 21

North American gave a presentation at MSC on the block change concept with emphasis on Block II CSM changes. These were defined as modifications necessary for compatibility with the LEM, structural changes to reduce weight or improve CSM center of gravity, and critical systems changes. [Block I spacecraft would carry no rendezvous and docking equipment and would be earth-orbital only. Block II spacecraft would be flight-ready vehicles with the final design configuration for the lunar missions.] (See February 13-20 and April 16, 1964.)

"Apollo Monthly Progress Report," SID 62-300-22, pp. l-2.

January 22

Representatives of MSC, North American, Collins Radio Company, and Motorola, Inc., met in Scottsdale, Ariz., to discuss a proposed redesign of the unified S-band to make it compatible with the Manned Space Flight Network. To ensure that there would be no schedule impact, North American proposed only a limited capability on the Block I vehicles. MSC deferred a decision on the redesign pending equipment compatibility tests at Motorola; spacecraft network compatibility tests by MSC, North American, and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory; and cost analyses.

MSC, "ASPO Status Report for Period January 23-29, 1964;" "ASPO Status Report for Period January 30- February 5, 1964;" "Apollo Monthly Progress Report," SID 62-300-22, p. 10.

January 23

NASA and North American discussed visibility requirements on the CM and came to the following conclusions: the contractor would provide four portholes in the protective shroud so the astronauts could see through both side and forward viewing windows, and ensure that all windows were clean after launch escape tower separation. North American proposed the addition to Block II CM of a collimated optical device for orientation and alignment during docking. MSC Flight Crew Operations Directorate recommended that mirrors be added to increase external and internal field of vision.

MSC, "Minutes, Project Apollo Window and Vision Requirements Meeting, January 23, 1964," January 24, 1964; MSC, "Consolidated Activity Report for the Office of the Associate Administrator, Manned Space Flight, January 19-February 15, 1964," pp. 29-30; MSC, "ASPO Status Report for Period January 23-29, 1964."

January 23

MSC issued a $9.2 million contract amendment to North American for the construction and modification of buildings at Downey, Calif., and for research and development work on the CM.

MSC News Release 64-17, January 23, 1964.

January 23-29

The AiResearch Manufacturing Company began qualification testing of the first group of components of the CM environmental control system.

MSC, "ASPO Status Report for Period January 30-February 5, 1964"; "Monthly Progress Report, Environmental Control System," SS-1013-R(21), p. 2.

January 24

The second phase of docking simulation studies ended at North American- Columbus (Ohio). Tests included 170 runs simulating transposition and lunar orbital docking with stable and unstable targets, and two extendible probe concepts: cable and rigid boom.

"Apollo Monthly Progress Report," SID 62-300-22, p. 2.

January 24

A design review of crew systems checkout for the CM waste management system was held at North American. As a result, MSC established specific requirements for leakage flow measurement and for checkout at North American and Cape Kennedy. The current capability of the checkout unit restricted it to measuring only gross leakage of segments of the system.

Further analysis of the management system was necessary to determine changes needed in the checkout unit.

Ibid., p. 22.

January 26-February 1

MSC authorized AiResearch Manufacturing Company and the Linde Company to manufacture high- pressure insulated tanks. This hardware, to be available about May 15, would be used in a study of the feasibility of a supercritical helium pressurization system for the LEM.

MSC, "Weekly Activity Report for the Office of the Associate Administrator, Manned Space Flight, January 26-February 1, 1964," p. 11.

January 27

ASPO asked Grumman to study whether attitude control of the docked vehicles was practicable using the LEM's stabilization and control system (RCS). Grumman also was to evaluate the RCS fuel requirements for a five-minute alignment period to permit two star sightings. ASPO further directed the contractor to determine RCS fuel requirements for a second alignment of the LEM's inertial measurement unit during descent coast. This second alignment was needed for the required landing accuracy from a Hohmann descent.

Letter, W. F. Rector III, MSC, to GAEC, Attn: R. S. Mullaney, "Contract NAS 9-1100, Request for Study of LEM Capability to Stabilize the Command and Service Modules in Lunar Orbit," January 27, 1964.

January 27

Studies on the LEM's capability to serve as the active vehicle for lunar orbit docking showed the forward docking tunnel to be the best means of accomplishing this. ASPO requested Grumman to investigate the possibility of this docking approach and the effect it might have on the spacecraft's configuration.

Letter, W. F. Rector III, MSC, to GAEC, Attn: R. S, Mullaney, "Contract NAS 9-1100, Effects of Docking Requirements on the LEM Configuration," January 27, 1964.

January 28

The United States and Spain agreed to the construction and operation of a $1.5 million space tracking and data acquisition station about 48 kilometers (30 miles) west of Madrid, Spain. Spanish finns would construct the storage and other support structures, and Spanish technicians would participate in operating the station. Linked with the NASA Deep Space Instrumentation Facility, the station included a 26-meter (85-foot)-diameter parabolic antenna and equipment for transmitting, receiving, recording, data handling, and communications with the spacecraft. Later, unified S-band equipment was added to join the facility with the Manned Space Flight Network to support the Apollo program.

NASA News Release 64-22, "Spain Becomes Site of Major U.S. Space Tracking Station," January 28, 1964; U.S. Congress, Eleventh Semiannual Report to Congress, House Doc. No. 63, 98th Cong., 1st Sess. (January 26, 1965), p. 146.

January 29

SA-5, a vehicle development flight, was launched from Cape Kennedy Complex 37B at 11:25:01.41, e.s.t. This was the first flight of the Saturn I Block II configuration (i.e., lengthened fuel tanks in the S-1 and stabilizing tail fins), as well as the first flight of a live (powered) S-IV upper stage. The S-1, powered by eight H-1 engines, reached a full thrust of over 680,400 kilograms (1.5 million pounds) the first time in flight. The S-IV's 41,000 kilogram (90,000-pound-thrust cluster of six liquid-hydrogen RL-10 engines performed as expected. The Block II SA-5 was also the first flight test of the Saturn I guidance system.

MSFC, Results of the Fifth Saturn I Launch Vehicle Test Flight, SA-5 (MPR-SAT-FE-64-17, September 22, 1964), pp. 1-5, 8, 82, 85; Missiles and Rockets, 14 (February 3, 1964), pp. 17-18.

January 29

NASA announced the award of a $1.356 million contract to the Blaw-Knox Company for design and construction of three parabolic antennas, each 26 meters (85 feet) in diameter, for the Manned Space Flight Network stations at Goldstone, Calif.; Canberra, Australia; and near Madrid, Spain.

Missiles and Rockets, 14 (February 10, 1964), p. 42; Astronautics and Aeronautics, 1964 (NASA SP-4005, 1965), p. 33.

January 30

NASA launched Ranger VI from Cape Kennedy. (See December 19, 1962.) The probe, which sought to obtain television pictures of the lunar surface, landed in the moon's Sea of Tranquillity on February 2. Despite being the subject of an intensive quality and reliability testing program, Ranger VI was a failure - no pictures were obtained. The cause was believed to exist in the power system for the spacecraft's television cameras.

Astronautics and Aeronautics, 1964, pp. 34-35, 41; Henry L. Richter, Jr., (ed.), Space Measurements Survey: Instruments and Spacecraft, October 1957-March 1965 (NASA SP-3028), p. 468.

January 30-February 5

MSC and North American representatives discussed preliminary analysis of the probabilities of mission success if the spacecraft were hit by meteoroids. The contractor believed that pressurized tankage in the SM must be penetrated before a failure was assumed. To MSC, this view appeared overly optimistic. MSC held that, as the failure criterion, no debris should result from meteoroid impact of the SM outer structure. [This change in criteria would cost several hundred pounds in meteoroid protection weight in the SM and LEM.] North American thought that penetration of one half the depth of the heatshield on the conical surface of the CM was a failure. Here, MSC thought the contractor too conservative; full penetration could probably be allowed.

MSC, "ASPO Status Report for Period January 30-February 5, 1964."

During the Month

Grumman began initial talks with Bell Aerosystems Company looking toward concentrating on the all-ablative concept for the LEM's ascent engine, thus abandoning the hope of using the lighter, radiatively cooled nozzle extension. (See September 19-October 16, 1963; also May 4-11.) These talks culminated in July, when Bell submitted to Grumman a revised development and test plan for the engine, now an all-ablative design.

GAEC, "Monthly Progress Report No. 12," LPR-10-28, February 10, 1964, p. 16; GAEC, "Monthly Progress Report No. 18," LPR-10-34, August 10, 1964, p. 5.

February 1

At an Apollo Program Review held at MSC, Maxime A. Faget reported that Crew Systems Division had learned that the metabolic rate of a man walking in an unpressurized suit was twice that of a man in everyday clothes. When the suit was pressurized to 1.8 newtons per square centimeter (3.5 psi), the rate was about four times as much. To counteract this, a watercooled undergarment developed by the British Ministry of Aviation's Royal Aircraft Establishment was being tested at Hamilton Standard. These "space-age long johns" had a network of small tubes through which water circulated and absorbed body heat. Advantages of the system were improved heat transfer, low circulating noise levels, and relatively moderate flow rates required. An MSC study on integration of the suit with the LEM environmental control system showed a possible weight savings of 9 kilograms (20 pounds).

NASA, "Apollo, Program Review Document, February 1, 1964," p. 109; MSC, "Monthly ASPO Status Report for Period January 16-February 12, 1964"; Space Business Daily, February 3, 1964; MSC, "ASPO Status Report for Period February 13-20, 1964"; Aviation Week and Space Technology, 80 (February 17, 1964), p. 29; MSC, "ASPO Status Report for Period Ending February 27-March 4, 1964"; TWX, W. F. Rector III, MSC, to GAEC, Attn: R. S. Mullaney, March 2, 1964.

February 3

Fourteen new astronauts, chosen in October 1963, reported at MSC for training for the Gemini and Apollo programs. (See October 18, 1963.)

MSC News Release 64-24, February 3, 1964.

February 4

MSC and MSFC officials discussed development flight tests for Apollo heatshield qualification. Engineers from the Houston group outlined desired mission profiles and the number of missions needed to qualify the component. MSFC needed this information to judge its launch vehicle development test requirements against those of MSC to qualify the heatshield. By the middle of the month, Richard D. Nelson of the Mission Planning and Analysis Division (MPAD) had summarized the profiles to be flown with the Saturn V that satisfied MSC's needs. Nelson compiled data for three trajectories that could provide reentry speeds of around 11,000 meters (36,000 feet) per second, simulating lunar return. As an example, "Trajectory 1" would use two of the booster's stages to fire into a suborbital ballistic path, and then use a third stage to accelerate to the desired reentry speed.

Flight profiles for Saturn IB missions for heatshield qualification purposes proved to be a little more difficult because "nobody would or could define the requirements or constraints, or test objectives." In other words, MSFC requirements for booster development test objectives and those of MSC for the spacecraft heatshield conflicted. So compromises had to be forged. Finally Ted H. Skopinski and other members of MPAD bundled up all of ASPO's correspondence on the subject generated from the various pertinent sources: MSFC, MSC, and contractors. From this, the Skopinski group drafted "broad term test objectives and constraints" for the first two Saturn IB flights (missions 201 and 202). Generally, these were to man-rate the launch vehicle and the CSM and to "conduct entry tests at superorbital entry velocities" (8,500 to 8,800 meters per second) (28,000 to 29,000 feet per second). Skopinski also enumerated specific test objectives covering the whole spacecraft-launch vehicle development test program. These were first distributed on March 27, and adjustments were made several times later in the year.

MSC," ASPO Status Report for Period January 30-February 5, 1964"; memorandum, Carl R. Huss, MSC, to BE4/Historical Office, "Comments on Volume II of The Apollo Spacecraft: A Chronology," March 30, 1970; memorandum, Richard D. Nelson, MSC, to Chief, Mission Planning and Analysis Division, "Mission profiles for Saturn V superorbital heat shield qualification test," February 13, 1964; memorandum, Ted H. Skopinski, MSC, to Distr., "Summary of broad term test objectives and constraints for Saturn IB development missions 201 and 202," March 27, 1964; memorandum, E. D. Murrah and R. E. McAdams, MSC, to Distr., "Possible change in trajectory profile for Apollo mission SA-201," September 29, 1964; memorandum, McAdams, to Distr., "Revised preliminary trajectory profile for Apollo Mission SA-201," October 19, 1964; memorandum, McAdams, to Distr., "Preliminary Reference Trajectory for Apollo Mission SA-201," October 26, 1964.

February 6

Minneapolis-Honeywell Regulator Company reported it had developed an all-attitude display unit for the CM to monitor the guidance and navigation system and provide backup through the stabilization and control system. The Flight Director Attitude Indicator (or "eight-ball") would give enough information for all spacecraft attitude maneuvers during the entire mission to be executed manually, if necessary.

Honeywell News Release, "All-Attitude Display Produced By Honeywell For Apollo Spacecraft," February 6, 1964; Space Business Daily, February 24, 1964, p. 290.

February 7

Grumman received MSC's response to the "Project Christmas Present Report" (see January 3), and accordingly reevaluated its testing concept for the LEM. On February 19, the contractor proposed to ASPO Manager Joseph F. Shea a flight program schedule, which was tentatively approved. ASPO's forthcoming proposal was identical to Grumman's proposal. It called for 11 LEMs (which were now renumbered consecutively) and two flight test articles. All LEMs were to have full mission capability, but numbers one through three had to be capable of either manned or unmanned flight.

GAEC, "Monthly Progress Report No. 13," LPR-10-29, March 10, 1964, p. 35; "Monthly Progress Report No. 14," LPR-10-30, p, 36.

February 7

Engineers from ASPO and Engineering and Development Directorate (EDD) discussed the current status of the tower flap versus the canard launch escape vehicle (LEV) configurations. (See November 12, 1963.) Their aim was to select one of the two LEV configurations for Block I spacecraft. (See February 25.) ASPO and EDD concluded that the canard was aerodynamically superior; that arguments against the canard, based on sequencing, mechanical complexity, or schedule effect, were not sufficient to override this aerodynamic advantage; and that this configuration should be adopted for Block I spacecraft. However, further analysis was needed to choose the design for the Block II LEV.

Memorandum, Calvin H. Perrine, Jr., MSC, to Distribution, "Minutes of meeting on tower flap and canards, February 7, 1964," February 12, 1964.

February 7

During a meeting at MSC, North American and MSC Crew Systems Division agreed that there should be a central authority with total cognizance over Gemini and Apollo food and survival equipment, and that all this equipment should be government furnished.

MSC, "Monthly ASPO Status Report for Period January 16-February 12, 1964."

February 10

MSC directed Grumman to stop all work on the LEM Little Joe II program. This action followed the ASPO Manager's decision against a testing program for the LEM comparable to that for the CSM. (See December 10-17, 1963.)

Ibid.; memorandum, Joseph F. Shea, MSC, to Distr., "Cancellation of LEM/LJ II Program," February 10, 1964.

February 11

Launch escape vehicle configuration

Launch escape vehicle configuration.

ASPO directed Grumman to provide an abort guidance system (AGS) in the LEM using an inertial reference system attached to the structure of the vehicle. Should the spacecraft's navigation and guidance system fail, the crew could use the AGS to effect an abort. Such a device eliminated the need for redundancy in the primary guidance system (and proved to be a lighter and simpler arrangement).

Letter, Joseph F. Shea, MSC, to GAEC, Attn: R. S. Mullaney, "Abort Guidance System," February 11, 1964; interview, telephone, Enoch M. Jones, Houston, February 27, 1970.

February 12

NASA gave credit to two MSC engineers, George C. Franklin and Louie G. Richard, for designing a harness system for the LEM that enabled the crew to fly the vehicle from a standing position. Eliminating the seats reduced the LEM's weight and gave the crew better visibility and closer observation of controls and instruments. (See September 16-18, 1963.)

MSC News Release 64-27, February 12, 1964.

February 13

MSC issued Requests for Proposals to more than 50 firms asking for studies and recommendations on how the lunar surface should be explored. Studies should show how lunar surveys could be performed and how points on the lunar surface might be located for future lunar navigation. Maximum use of equipment planned for the LEM and CM was expected. Part of the scientific apparatus aboard the LEM would be selenodetic equipment. The study would not include actual fabrication of hardware but might give estimates of cost and development times.

Space Business Daily, February 13, 1964, p. 238; ibid., March 2, 1964, p. 329.

February 13-19

Boilerplate (BP) 13 spacecraft was flown from North American, Downey, Calif., to MSC's Florida Operations facility at Cape Kennedy, where the vehicle was inspected and checked out. On April 2, the spacecraft and launch escape system were moved to the pad and mated to the launch vehicle, SA-6. After exhaustive testing, a Flight Readiness Review on May 19 established that BP-13 was ready for launch. (See May 28.)

MSC, "Postlaunch Report for Apollo Mission A-101 (BP-13)," MSC-R-A-64-2 (June 18, 1964), pp. 6-1 through 6-4.

February 13-20

The Block II CSM configuration (see January 21) was based on three classes of changes: mandatory changes necessary to meet the

  1. Functional requirements of the lunar mission.
  2. Manufacturing or fabrication changes (identified only with improved fabrication techniques).
  3. Technically desirable and weight reduction changes.
MSC, "ASPO Status Report for Period February 13-20, 1964."

February 14

MSC ordered North American to design the SM's reaction control system with the capability for emergency retrograde from earth orbit.

Letter, H. P. Yschek, MSC, to NAA, Space and Information Systems Div., "Contract Change Authorization No. One-Hundred, Forty-Seven," February 14, 1964.

February 16-March 15

North American completed its initial phase of crew transfer tests using a mockup of the CM/LEM transfer tunnel. Subjects wearing pressure suits were suspended and counterbalanced in a special torso harness to simulate weightlessness; hatches and docking mechanisms were supported by counterweight devices. The entire tunnel mockup was mounted on an air-bearing, frictionless table. Preliminary results showed that the crew could remove and install the hatches and docking mechanisms fairly easily.

"Apollo Monthly Progress Report," SID 62-300-23, p. 5.

February 16-March 15

The potable water system was changed to meter both hot and cold water in one-ounce increments to provide accurate measurements for food rehydration. The previous water valve was a full-flow tap.

Ibid., p. 10.

February 16-March 21

MSC gave its formal consent to two of Grumman's subcontracts for engines for the LEM: (1) With Bell Aerosystems for the ascent engine ($11,205,416 incentive-fee contract) (2) With Space Technology Laboratories for a descent engine to parallel that being developed by Rocketdyne ($18,742,820 fixed-fee contract). (See May 1963.)

MSC, "Consolidated Activity Report for the Office of the Associate Administrator, Manned Space Flight, February 16-March 21, 1964," p. 45.

February 16-March 21

MSC completed and forwarded to NASA Headquarters a plan for changing the relationship of the navigation and guidance contractors. AC Spark Plug would become the principal contractor, with the Raytheon Company and Kollsman Instrument Corporation as subcontractors. MIT would still have primary responsibility for system design and analysis. (See June 20.)


February 17

MSC announced that, during a 14-day lunar mission, fuel cells in the Apollo CSM would produce about 16 liters (60 gallons) of potable water while furnishing power to operate the electronic equipment.

MSC News Release 64-32, February 17, 1964.

February 17

General Dynamics Convair delivered to White Sands Missile Range (WSMR) the second Little Joe II launch vehicle, the first Little Joe II scheduled to fly with a production Apollo spacecraft. (See May 13.)

MSC, "Postlaunch Report for Apollo Mission A-001 (BP-12)," MSC-R-A-64-l, May 28, 1964, p. 2-1.

February 17

Motorola, Inc., submitted a proposal to NASA for the Apollo Unified S-band Test Program, a series of tests on the unified S-band transponder and premodulation processor. Motorola had already begun test plans, analytical studies, and fabrication of special test equipment. (See December 23, 1963.)

MSC, "ASPO Status Report for Period February 20-26, 1964"; "ASPO Status Report for Period Ending February 27-March 4, 1964."

February 19-20

MSC officials conducted acceptance testing of the 024 prototype space suit at the International Latex Corporation. [Reviewers identified several faults, but they were minor and the suit was accepted.]

MSC, "ASPO Status Report for Period February 20-26, 1964."

February 20-26

Trajectory analyses by North American indicated that, with the tower flap configuration, it was highly probable that crew acceleration limits would be exceeded during high-altitude abort.

MSC, "ASPO Status Report for Period Ending February 27-March 4, 1964."

February 20-26

North American submitted to ASPO a proposal for dynamic testing of the docking subsystem, which called for a full-scale air-supported test vehicle. The contractor estimated the program cost at $2.7 million for facilities, vehicle design, construction, and operation.

MSC, "ASPO Status Report for Period February 20-26, 1964."

February 20-26

ASPO decided upon transfer through free space as the backup mode for the crew's getting from the LEM back to the CM if the two spacecraft could not be pressurized. North American had not designed the CM for extravehicular activity nor for passage through the docking tunnel in a pressurized suit. Thus there was no way for the LEM crew to transfer to the CM unless docking was successfully accomplished. ASPO considered crew transfer in a pressurized suit both through the docking tunnel and through space to be a double redundancy that could not be afforded.


February 20-26

North American conducted three tests (4, 20, and 88 hours) on the CSM fuel cell. The third ended prematurely because of a sudden drop in output. (Specification life on the modules was 100 hours.)

During this same week, Pratt and Whitney Aircraft tested a LEM-type fuel cell for 400 hours without shutdown and reported no leaks.


February 20-26

Grumman completed negotiations with Bell Aerosystems Company for the LEM's reaction control system propellant tanks.


February 22

George E. Mueller, NASA Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight, summarized recent studies of the dangers of meteoroids and radiation in the Apollo program. Data from the Explorer XVI satellite and ground observations indicated that meteoroids would not be a major hazard. Clouds of protons ejected by solar flares would present a risk to astronauts, but studies of the largest solar flares recorded since 1959 showed that maximum radiation dosages in the CM and the Apollo space suit would have been far below acceptable limits (set in July 1962 by the Space Science Board of the National Academy of Sciences). Cosmic rays would not be a hazard because of their rarity. Radiation in the Van Allen belts was not dangerous because the spacecraft would fly through the belts at high speeds.

NASA News Release 64-43, "Radiation, Technical Problems Won't Bar Moon Landing in This Decade, Mueller Says," February 22, 1964.

February 24

RCA presented results of a weight and power tradeoff study on the LEM's radar systems, which were over Grumman's specification in varying amounts from 100 to 300 percent. RCA proposed that the accuracy requirements be relaxed to cope with this problem. MSC requested Grumman, on the basis of this report, to estimate a slippage in the schedule and the effects of additional weight and power. (See February 27-March 4.)

MSC, "ASPO Status Report for Period Ending February 27-March 4, 1964."

February 25

At a NASA-North American Technical Management Meeting at Downey, Calif., North American recommended that Apollo earth landings be primarily on water. On the basis of analytical studies and impact tests, the contractor had determined that "land impact problems are so severe that they require abandoning this mode as a primary landing mode." In these landings, North American had advised, it was highly probable that the spacecraft's impact limits would be surpassed. In fact, even in water landings "there may be impact damage which would result in leakage of the capsule." (See March 29-April 4.) ASPO Manager Joseph F. Shea, at this meeting, "stated that MSC concurs that land impact problems have not been solved, and that planning to utilize water impact is satisfactory." (See December 1962; February 1 and March 5, 1963.)

Three days later, Shea reported to the MSC Senior Staff that Apollo landings would be primarily on water. The only exceptions, he said, would be pad aborts and emergency landings. With this question of "wet" versus "dry" landing modes settled, Christopher C. Kraft, Jr., Assistant Director for Flight Operations, brought up the unpleasant problem of the CM's having two stable attitudes while afloat - and especially the apex-down one. This upside-down attitude, Kraft emphasized, submerged the vehicle's recovery antennas and posed a very real possibility of flooding in rough seas. Shea countered that these problems could be "put to bed" by using some type of inflatable device to upright the spacecraft. (See April 15 and August 16-September 15.)

"Minutes of NASA-NAA Technical Management Meeting, February 25, 1964," February 26, 1964, p. 3; MSC, "Minutes of Senior Staff Meeting, February 28, 1964," p. 4.

February 25

Grumman and RCA signed a contract on the LEM communications subsystem. (See June 28, 1963.)

MSC, "ASPO Status Report for Period March 12-18, 1964"; MSC, "Project Apollo Quarterly Status Report No. 7 for Period Ending March 31, 1964," p. 3.

February 25

At a NASA-North American technical management meeting, the tower flap versus canard configuration for the launch escape vehicle was settled. ASPO Manager Joseph F. Shea decided that canards should be the approach for Block I vehicles, with continued study on eliminating this device on Block II vehicles. (See January 18 and November 12, 1963, and February 7, 1964.)

"Minutes of NASA-NAA Technical Management Meeting, February 25, 1964"; "Apollo Monthly Progress Report," SID 62-300-23, p. 3.

February 25

MSC conducted a Design Engineering Inspection of the LEM timing equipment at the Elgin National Watch Company.

MSC, "ASPO Status Report for Period February 20-26, 1964."

February 27

MSC Crew Systems Division (CSD) received an improved version of the Apollo space suit (the A-3H-024 Phase B). In the course of the following week, CSD engineers examined the suit for weight, leakage, donning, and mobility.

MSC, "ASPO Status Report for Period Ending February 27-March 4, 1964."

February 27

Boilerplate (BP) 19 was drop tested at El Centro, Calif., simulating flight conditions and recovery of BP-12. (See May 13) A second BP-19 drop, on April 8, removed all constraints on the BP-12 configuration and earth landing system. Another aim, to obtain information on vehicle dynamics, was not accomplished because of the early firing of a backup drogue parachute.

"Apollo Quarterly Status Report No. 7," p. 5; "Apollo Monthly Progress Report," SID 62-300-23, p. 19; NAA, "Apollo Monthly Progress Report," SID 62-300-24, May 1, 1964, p. 28; MSC, "ASPO Management Report for Period April 9-16, 1964."

February 27-29

MSC and AC Spark Plug negotiated amendments to AC's contract for a research and development program for inertial reference integrating gyroscopes. The amendments covered cost overruns, an additional 30 pieces of hardware, and conversion of the contract to an incentive-fee type (target price, $3.465 million; ceiling price, $3.65 million).

MSC, "Consolidated Activity Report for the Office of the Associate Administrator, Manned Space Flight, February 16-March 21, 1964," p. 45; MSC, "ASPO Status Report for Period Ending February 27-March 4, 1964."

February 27-March 4

Representatives from MSC Crew Systems Division (CSD) visited Hamilton Standard to discuss space suit development. The prototype suit (024) was demonstrated and its features compared with the Gemini suit. Deficiencies in the Apollo helmet were noted and suggestions were made on how to improve the design. [At this time, CSD began looking into the possibility of using Gemini suits during Apollo earth orbital flights, and during the next several weeks began testing Gemini suits in Apollo environments. (See April 28-30.)]

MSC, "ASPO Status Report for Period Ending February 27-March 4, 1964;" MSC, "ASPO Management Report for Period April 2-9, 1964."

February 27-March 4

A joint Grumman, RCA, Ryan Aeronautical Company, ASPO, and Flight Crew Support Division (FCSD) meeting was held at Bethpage to review capability of the LEM landing radar to meet FCSD's requirements for ascent and for orbit circularization. A preliminary (unfunded) Ryan study (requested by ASPO earlier in the month) indicated some doubt that those accuracy requirements could be met. RCA advised that it would be possible to make these measurements with the rendezvous radar, if necessary. A large weight penalty, about 38 to 56 kilograms (84 to 124 pounds), would be incurred if the landing radar were moved from the descent to the ascent stage to become part of the abort guidance system. Adding this weight to the ascent stage would have to be justified either by improved abort performance or added crew safety. MSC authorized RCA and Ryan to study this problem at greater length. In the meantime, ASPO and FCSD would analyze weights, radar accuracies, and abort guidance performance capability. (See March 16 and May 22.)

MSC, "ASPO Status Report for Period Ending February 27-March 4, 1964"; "ASPO Status Report for Period March 19-26, 1964."

February 27-March 4

The MSC Primary Propulsion Branch (PPB) completed a study on the current LEM ascent engine and performance that might be gained if the chamber pressure and characteristic exhaust velocity efficiency were increased. PPB also evaluated the use of hard versus soft chamber throats. A study by Bell Aerosystems Company had predicted a slightly lower performance than the MSC investigation (which estimated a drop of about six points below specification values if the current design were retained). PPB thought that specifications might be reached by increasing the chamber pressure to 82.7 newtons per square centimeter (120 psia) and the exhaust velocity efficiency to 97.3 percent, and by using a hard, rather than a soft, throat.

MSC, "ASPO Status Report for Period Ending February 27-March 4, 1964."

March 2-9

At North American, a mockup of the crew transfer tunnel was reviewed informally. The mockup was configured to the North American-proposed Block II design (in which the tunnel was larger in diameter and shorter in length than on the existing spacecraft). MSC asked the contractor to place an adapter in the tunnel to represent the physical constraints of the current design, which would permit the present design to be thoroughly investigated and to provide a comparison with the Block II proposal.

MSC, "ASPO Status Report for Period Ending March 5-11, 1964."

March 9

MSC received an additional $1.035 million in Fiscal Year 1964 funds to cover development of equipment and operational techniques for scientific exploration of the moon:

  • Power supplies for long-life equipment to be installed on the lunar surface during Apollo missions.
  • Telemetry and Deep Space Instrumentation Facility requirements for this equipment.
  • Tools and materials needed for examining, packaging, and transporting lunar samples.
  • Cameras and film suitable for use on the moon by a space-suited astronaut.
  • Methods of obtaining and returning lunar samples without contaminating or changing them.
  • Techniques and instrumentation for geological mapping in the lunar environment.
  • Processes for obtaining water, hydrogen, and oxygen from indigenous material on the moon.
Additionally, MSC would evaluate current techniques in seismology used to determine subsurface structural conditions.

Memorandum, Homer E. Newell, NASA, to Dir., MSC, through Assoc. Adm. for Manned Space Flight, "Funding for Development of Scientific Instruments for Apollo Lunar Missions," March 9, 1964.

March 10

Grumman completed negotiations with Yardney Electric Corporation for an auxiliary battery for the LEM. A contract would be awarded when size requirements were determined by Grumman and MSC.

MSC, "ASPO Status Report for Period Ending March 5-11, 1964."

March 10

Grumman and North American began working out ways for common usage of ground support equipment (GSE). Through informal meetings and telephone discussions, the two prime contractors agreed to a formal procedure for the GSE's use, maintenance, and training procedures.

"Monthly Progress Report No. 14," LPR-10-30, p. 32.

March 12

Goddard Space Flight Center awarded a $1.963 million contract to the Commonwealth of Australia's Department of Supply to construct and install a data acquisition facility, including an antenna 26 meters (85 feet) in diameter, at Canberra, Australia. The station would become part of the NASA Space Tracking and Data Acquisition Network to track unmanned satellites and part of the Deep Space Network to track lunar and planetary probes. Unified S-band equipment was later installed to support the Manned Space Flight Network during Apollo lunar missions.

The New York Times, March 12, 1964; NASA, Twelfth Semiannual Report to Congress, July 1-December 31, 1964 (1965), pp. 129-130, 134; NASA, Thirteenth Semiannual Report to Congress, January 1-June 30, 1965 (1966), p. 137; NASA, Fourteenth Semiannual Report to Congress, July 1-December 31, 1965 (1966), p. 146.

March 12

North American was directed by NASA to study feasibility of using the LEM propulsion system as backup to the SM propulsion system. The most important item in the contractor's analysis was strength of the docking structure and its ability to withstand LEM main-engine and reaction control system thrusting.

Letter, H. P, Yschek, MSC, to NAA, Space and Information Systems Div., "Contract Change Authorization No. 161," March 12, 1964.

March 12

NASA completed formal negotiations with Aerojet-General Corporation for 12 Algol 1-D solid rocket motors, to be used in the Little Joe II vehicles. The contract was a fixed-price-plus-incentive-fee type with a target price of about $1.4 million. A maximum price of 20 percent more than the target cost was allowed.

MSC, "Consolidated Activity Report for the Office of the Associate Administrator, Manned Space Flight, February 16-March 21, 1964," p. 46.

March 12-18

Grumman completed negotiations with Kearfott Products Division, General Precision, Inc., for the LEM rate gyro assembly, and a contract was awarded later in the month.

MSC, "ASPO Status Report for Period March 12-18, 1964;" "Apollo Quarterly Status Report No. 7," p. 23.

March 12-18

Primarily as a weight-saving measure, the gas storage pressure in the LEM's descent stage helium tank was reduced from 3,103 to 2,413 newtons per square centimeter (4,500 to 3,500 psia). This allowed the thickness of the tank wall to be reduced.

MSC, "ASPO Status Report for Period March 12-18, 1964;" MSC, "Consolidated Activity Report for the Office of the Associate Administrator, Manned Space Flight, February 16-March 21, 1964," p. 24.

March 13

ASPO notified Grumman that certain items were no longer to be considered in the weight saving program: guidance and navigation components, drinking water tankage, scientific equipment, pyrotechnic batteries, among others.

Letter, W. F. Rector III, MSC, to GAEC, Attn: R. S. Mullaney, "Contract NAS 9-1100, weight reduction items," March 13, 1964.

March 16

Ryan Aeronautical Company signed a contract with RCA for the LEM lunar landing radar. Ryan was instructed to design for altitudes of 21,300 meters (70,000 feet) and accuracies of 0.5 percent. (See February 27-March 4, and May 22.)

MSC, "ASPO Status Report for Period March 19-26, 1964."

March 16-April 15

AiResearch Manufacturing Company completed testing on development components of the CM environmental control system. Specifications for components had been submitted to North American.

The Garrett Corporation, AiResearch Manufacturing Division, "Monthly Progress Report, Environmental Control System, NAA/S&ID, Project Apollo, 16 March 1964-15 April 1964," SS-1013-R(23), April 30, 1964, p. 7.

March 16-April 15

North American held a design review of the CM heatshield substructure. Use of titanium in place of stainless steel was being evaluated as part of a weight reduction study for the Block II spacecraft. Added reliability and a weight saving of several hundred pounds might be achieved thereby. Three factors would be considered: the brittleness of stainless steel at extremely cold temperatures, the higher cost of titanium, and the verification of diffusion bonding of titanium honeycomb.

"Apollo Monthly Progress Report," SID 62-300-24, p. 14.

March 16-April 15

The first prototype of the CM battery for use during reentry was delivered to North American by Eagle-Picher Industries, Inc.

"Apollo Quarterly Status Report No. 7," p. 7; "Apollo Monthly Progress Report," SID 62-300-24, p. 14.

March 17

Texas Instruments, Inc., presented a progress report on their lunar surface experiments study to the MSC Lunar Surface Experiments Panel. (See September 30, 1963.) Thus far, the company had been surveying and rating measurements to be made on the lunar surface. Areas covered included soil mechanics, mapping, geophysics, magnetism, electricity, and radiation. Equipment for gathering information, such as hand tools, sample return containers, dosimeters, particle spectrometers, data recording systems, seismometers, gravity meters, cameras, pentrometers, and mass spectrometers had been considered. The next phase of the study involved integrating and defining the measurements and instruments according to implementation problems, mission needs, lunar environment limitations, and relative importance to a particular mission. Texas Instruments would recommend a sequence for performing the experiments.

Memorandum, H. R. Largent, MSC, to Instrumentation and Electronics Systems Div. Files, "Lunar surface experiments study (NAS 9-2115)," March 17, 1964.

March 19

NASA instructed North American to fix the CM crew couches along all axes during normal and emergency acceleration, except at impact. During nonacceleration mission phases, the couches would be adjustable for crew comfort.

Letter, H. P. Yschek, MSC, to NAA, Space and Information Systems Div., "Contract Change Authorization No. 167," March 19, 1964.

March 19-20

Grumman reported to MSC the current load status and projected load growth for the LEM's electrical power system, requesting a mission profile of 121 kilowatt-hours total energy. (See January 28 and August 15, 1963.) The company also presented its latest recommendation for the LEM power generation subsystem configuration: two 900-watt fuel cells, a descent stage peaking battery, an ascent stage survival battery, and four cryogenic storage tanks. To compensate for voltage drops in the power distribution subsystem, Grumman recommended that two cells be added to the current fuel cell stack; however, on March 23 ASPO directed the contractor to continue development of the 900-watt, three-fuel-cell assembly and a five-tank cryogenic storage system. MSC's position derived from the belief that the load growth would make the two-cell arrangement inadequate. Also the three-cell configuration, through greater redundancy, afforded greater safety and chances of mission success: the mission could continue in spite of a failure in one of the cells; should two cells fail, the mission could be aborted on the final power source. The cryogenic tanks should be sized for a usable total energy of 121 kilowatt-hours to permit immediate tank procurement.

MSC, "ASPO Status Report for Period March 19-26, 1964"; letter, W. F. Rector III, MSC, to GAEC, Attn: R. S. Mullaney, "Contract NAS 9-1100, Electrical Power Generation Section (PGS) Configuration," March 23, 1964; "Apollo Quarterly Status Report No. 7," p. 26; interview, telephone, William E. Rice, MSC, March 2, 1970.

March 19-26

After the decision to use canards instead of tower flaps (see February 25), North American returned to the concept of a hard boost protective cover. The tower jettison motor would remove the cover along with the tower. (See July 24.)

MSC, "ASPO Status Report for Period March 19-26, 1964."

March 19-26

MSC Crew Systems Division (CSD) evaluated a CM couch width of 58.4 centimeters (23 inches). CSD found that the couch hampered an astronaut's movement in an unpressurized suit and totally restricted him if his suit was pressurized.


March 20

NASA's Office of Space Science and Applications began organizing several groups of scientists to assist the agency in defining more specifically the scientific objectives of Project Apollo. (See October 8 and December 15, 1963.) In a number of letters to prominent American scientists, Associate Administrator for Space Science and Applications Homer E. Newell asked them to propose suitable experiments in such fields as geology, geophysics, geochemistry, biology, and atmospheric science. This broadly based set of proposals, Newell explained, is "for the purpose of assuring that the final Apollo science program is well balanced, as complete as possible, and that all potential investigators have been given an opportunity to propose experiments." The proposals would then be reviewed by subcommittees of NASA's Space Sciences Steering Committee.

Letter, Homer E. Newell, NASA, to Dr. S. P. Clark, Yale University, March 20, 1964. Twenty-eight nearly identical letters were sent to other members of the scientific and academic community.

March 20

Tests at North American demonstrated the possibility of using onboard tools to break the CM hatch windows for postlanding ventilation of the spacecraft.

"Apollo Monthly Progress Report," SID 62-300-24, p. 8.

Mission Control Center

Mission Control Center (Building 30) at MSC was physically completed, if not yet operationally ready, March 21, 1964.

March 23

Members of the Gemini Flights Experiments Review Panel discussed procedures for incorporating Apollo-type experiments into the Gemini program, experiments that directly supported the three-man space program. These experiments encompassed crew observations, photography, and photometry.

MSC, "ASPO Status Report for Period March 19-26, 1964."

March 23

OMSF outlined launch vehicle development, spacecraft development, and crew performance demonstration missions, using the Saturn IB and Saturn V:

  1. Launch vehicle and unmanned CSM (at least two flights planned).
  2. CSM long-duration.
  3. CSM and LEM (two flights planned).
  4. Launch vehicle and heatshield (at least two flights).
  5. Lunar mission simulation.
  6. Lunar exploration.
Missions (1) through (3) would use the Saturn IB and (4) through (6) the Saturn V. Additional launch vehicles and spacecraft would be provided for contingency or repeated flights. If necessary, repeat flights could provide additional crew training.

NASA OMSF, "Apollo Flight Mission Assignments," Program Directive M-DE 8000.005B, March 23, 1964.

March 24

To verify a narrower hatch configuration proposed for Block II spacecraft, North American evaluated the capability of an astronaut wearing a pressurized space suit and a portable life support system to pass through the main hatch of the CM for extravehicular activities. Subjects were able to enter and leave the mockup without undue difficulty despite the presence of gravity.

"Apollo Monthly Progress Report," SID 62-300-24, pp. 6-7.

March 24-26

The first formal inspection and review of the LEM test mockup TM-1 was held at Grumman. TM-1 allowed early assessment of crew mobility, ingress, and egress. It was a full-size representation of crew stations, support and restraint systems, cabin equipment arrangement, lighting, display panels and instrument locations, and hatches. The TM-1 evaluation became the basis for the final LEM mockup, TM-5, from which actual hardware fabrication would be made.

The TM-1 Review Board (comprising Chairman Owen E. Maynard, Maxime A. Faget, Donald K. Slayton, and William F. Rector III, all of MSC; and Tom J. Kelly and Robert M. Carbee of Grumman) approved 28 requests for change; 15 others were marked for further investigation.

NASA, "Lunar Excursion Module, Project Apollo, Board Report for NASA Inspection and Review of TM-1 Mockup, March 19-26, 1964," pp. 1, 3, 4.

March 25

The Boeing Company received NASA's go-ahead to develop the Lunar Orbiter spacecraft. (See December 20, 1963.) Two significant changes were made in the original Statement of Work:

  1. for the selenodetic part of the mission, the spacecraft lifetime was extended from 60 days to one year; and
  2. to expand the area of photographic coverage, the film capacity was increased.
Lee R. Scherer, NASA, "Lunar Orbiter Program Status Report," March 26, 1964.

March 25

The General Electric (GE) Company submitted its cost quotations to NASA, starting the final phase of a program to provide Acceptance Checkout Equipment (ACE - formerly PACE [see February 1963]) ground stations for Apollo spacecraft. The overall "ACE" plan slated three ground stations for North American, two for Grumman, four for Cape Kennedy, and one for MSC. GE's contract called for spacecraft systems integration and checkout and for maintenance of the ACE stations. Much of the ACE equipment was government furnished and had been procured by NASA from several sources: Control Data Corporation - computer; Radiation, Inc. - "decommutators and pulse code modulation simulators." By May, GE had set up and commenced operating an experimental ACE station at Cape Kennedy. (See August 23-September 19.)

MSC, "ASPO Status Report for Period March 26-April 2, 1964;" "Apollo Quarterly Status Report No. 7," p. 61; "Apollo Quarterly Status Report No. 8," pp. 59-60; MSC, "Consolidated Activity Report for the Office of the Associate Administrator, Manned Space Flight, February 16-March 21, 1964," pp. 9, 78; "Consolidated Activity Report for the Office of the Associate Administrator, Manned Space Flight, April 19-May 16, 1964,"p. 46; MSC, "Weekly Activity Report for the Office of the Associate Administrator, Manned Space Flight, May 17-23, 1964," p. 3; NASA News Release 63-286, "NASA to Extend Contract with Control Data Corporation," December 26, 1963; MSC News Release 64-108, June 8, 1964.

March 26-April 1

Because of the pure oxygen atmosphere specified for the spacecraft, North American reviewed its requirements for component testing. Recent evaluation of the CM circuit breakers had indicated a high probability that they would cause a fire. The company's reliability office recommended more flammability testing, not only on circuit breakers but on the control and display components as well. The reliability people recommended also that procurement specifications be amended to include such testing.

MSC, "ASPO Management Report for Period April 2-9, 1964."

March 29-April 4

Impact tests indicated that, because of oscillations and consequent high angles of attack, the CM might not withstand water impact and could sink. North American planned a series of water impact tests using boilerplate 28 to study the problem.

MSC, "Weekly Activity Report for the Office of the Associate Administrator, Manned Space Flight, March 29-April 4, 1964," p. 5; MSC, "ASPO Status Report for Period March 26-April 2, 1964."

March 30

MSFC awarded Rocketdyne a definitive contract (valued at $158.4 million) for the production of 76 F-1 engines for the first stage of the Saturn V launch vehicle and for delivery of ground support equipment.

David S. Akens, Leo L. Jones, and A. Ruth Jarrell, History of the George C. Marshall Space Flight Center from January 1 through June 30, 1964 (MHM-9, May 1965), Vol. I, p. 139.

March 30

CSM boilerplate 12 (with launch escape system) was mated to its Little Joe II launch vehicle. (See May 13.)

MSC, "Postlaunch Report for Apollo Mission A-001 (BP-12)," MSC-R-A-64-1 (May 28, 1964), p. 5-2.

April 1

MSC negotiated a cost-plus-incentive-fee contract, valued at $1.65 million, with Hamilton Standard for 27 prototype Apollo space suits and 12 pairs of gloves.

MSC, "Consolidated Activity Report for the Office of the Associate Administrator, Manned Space Flight, March 22-April 18, 1964,"p. 56.

Service module mockup

An Apollo service module mockup showing the portion that contained the main rocket engine and propellant supply to be used for maneuvers to and from the moon. Produced by Aerojet-General Corporation under contract to NAA, the engine could provide more than 89,000 newtons (20,000 pounds) of thrust to keep Apollo on course and to perform other missions. Standing by the multiple-start engine's flaring skirt were NAA and Aerojet rocket engineers.

BP-13 hardware

The first Apollo boilerplate to fly during the program was BP-13, shown here in Hanger AF at Cape Kennedy before being taken to the launch complex to be mated with the Saturn SA-6 launch vehicle. The Apollo escape rocket and tower are in the foreground.

April 2-9

Space Technology Laboratories (STL) began using its new San Juan Capistrano, Calif., test facility to static fire the firm's LEM descent engine. Hereafter, the bulk of STL's development firings were made at this site.

MSC, "ASPO Management Report for Period April 2-9, 1964"; MSC, "Weekly Activity Report for the Office of the Associate Administrator, Manned Space Flight, June 7-13, 1964," p. 2.

April 2-9

The MSC Operations Planning Division (OPD) reviewed recent revisions by OMSF to Apollo's communications requirements:

  • Elimination of the requirement for continuous tracking of the spacecraft during translunar injection
  • Sequential rather than simultaneous transmission of data from the ground to the two spacecraft (to be compatible with the Manned Space Flight Network)
  • A five-kilometer (three-nautical-mile) communications range on the lunar surface (to be compatible with the design of the portable life support system)
  • Elimination of the requirement for direct transmission to the CSM from an extravehicular astronaut; instead, such transmission would be relayed via the LEM.
Thus were resolved, OPD reported, a number of conflicting items (i.e., incompatibilities between OMSF's requirements and the capabilities of the two spacecraft). Two other items that OMSF made into firm requirements were already compatible with the design of the spacecraft:

  1. A radar in the CSM capable of tracking the LEM (provided the LEM had a compatible transponder)
  2. Three-way communications between an astronaut on the moon, his fellow crewman inside the LEM, and with mission control.
MSC, "ASPO Management Report for Period April 2-9, 1964."

April 6-13

Grumman issued a letter contract to AiResearch Manufacturing Company to start design of cryogenic tank assemblies for the LEM fuel cells. AiResearch received the formal contract on June 23.

MSC, "ASPO Management Report for Period April 9-16, 1964"; "ASPO Weekly Management Report, June 18-25, 1964"; "ASPO Weekly Management Report, July 23-30, 1964."

April 7

Bell Aerosystems Company completed the first of two lunar landing research vehicles, to be delivered to the NASA Flight Research Center for testing. (See January 18, 1963.)

MSC News Release 64-68, April 7, 1964.

April 7-8

At the April 7-8 NASA-North American Technical Management Meeting (the first of these meetings to be held at MSC's new home, "NASA Clear Lake Site 1"), ASPO Manager Joseph F. Shea summarized his office's recent activities concerning the Block II spacecraft. He spelled out those areas that ASPO was investigating - which included virtually the whole vehicle between escape tower and service engine bell. Shea outlined procedures for "customer and contractor" to work out the definitive Block II design, aiming at a target date of mid-May 1965. These procedures included NASA's giving North American descriptions of its Block II work, estimates of weight reduction, and a set of ground rules for the Block II design (see April 16). And to ensure that both sides cooperated as closely as possible in this work, Shea named Owen E. Maynard, Chief of MSC's Systems Engineering Division, and his counterpart at Downey, Norman J. Ryker, Jr., to "honcho" the effort.

"Minutes of NASA-NAA Technical Management Meeting, April 7-8, 1964," pp. 3-5.

April 8

The first Gemini mission, Gemini-Titan I, was launched from Complex 19 at Cape Kennedy at 11:00 a.m., e.s.t. This was an unmanned flight, using the first production Gemini spacecraft and a modified Titan II Gemini launch vehicle (GLV). The mission's primary purpose was to verify the structural integrity of the GLV and spacecraft, as well as to demonstrate the GLV's ability to place the spacecraft into a prescribed earth orbit. Mission plans did not include separation of the spacecraft from the second stage of the vehicle, and both were inserted into orbit as a unit six minutes after launch. The planned mission encompassed only the first three orbits and ended about four hours and 50 minutes after liftoff. No recovery was planned. The flight qualified the GLV and the structure of the spacecraft.

James M. Grimwood and Barton C. Hacker, with Peter J. Vorzimmer, Project Gemini Technology and Operations: A Chronology (NASA SP-4002, 1969), p. 139.

April 13

ASPO gave Grumman specific instructions on insulating wiring in the LEM: Teflon-insulated wiring was mandatory in a pure oxygen atmosphere. If the standard-thickness Teflon insulation was too heavy, a thin- wall Teflon-insulated wiring with abrasion-resistant coating should be considered. Teflon-insulated wiring should also be used outside the pressurized cabin, wherever that wiring was exposed. Any approved spacecraft insulation could be used within subsystem modules which were hermetically sealed in an inert gas atmosphere or potted within the case.

Letter, W. F. Rector III, MSC, to GAEC, Attn: R. S. Mullaney, "Contract NAS 9-1100, Spacecraft Electrical Wiring Insulation," April 13, 1964.

April 14

Firings at the Arnold Engineering Development Center (AEDC) and at Aerojet-General Corporation's Sacramento test site completed Phase I development tests of the SM propulsion engine. The last simulated altitude test at AEDC was a sustained burn of 635 seconds, which demonstrated the engine's capability for long-duration firing. Preliminary data indicated that performance was about three percent below specification, but analysis was in progress to see if it could be improved.

NAA, "Apollo Monthly Progress Report," SID 62-300-25, June 1, 1964, p. 11; MSC, "ASPO Management Report for Period April 23-30, 1964"; "ASPO Management Report for Period April 30-May 7, 1964."

April 14

Project Fire

A typical Project Fire reentry or orbital mission. The weight sequence is at left. (LTV report)

An Atlas D launch vehicle lifted a Project Fire spacecraft (see November 27, 1962) from Cape Kennedy in the first test of the heat that would be encountered by a spacecraft reentering the atmosphere at lunar-return velocity. During the spacecraft's fall toward earth, a solid-fuel Antares II rocket behind the payload fired for 30 seconds, increasing the descent speed to 40,501 kilometers (25,166 miles) per hour. Instruments in the spacecraft radioed temperature data to the ground. The spacecraft exterior reached an estimated temperature of 11,400 K (20,000 degrees F). About 32 minutes after launch, the spacecraft impacted into the Atlantic Ocean. The mission, sponsored by Langley Research Center, provided reentry heating measurements needed to evaluate heatshield materials and information on the communications blackout during reentry.

NASA News Release 64-69, "NASA Schedules Project Fire Launch," April 1, 1964; Astronautics and Aeronautics, 1964, p. 135.

April 15

Dale D. Myers, North American's Space and Information Systems Division vice president, succeeded John W. Paup as the contractor's program manager for the CM.

Oakley, Historical Summary, S&ID Apollo Program, p. 10.

April 15

ASPO gave Grumman a go-ahead on procurement of the flight attitude indicator ("8-ball") and associated equipment for the LEM.

Letter, W. F. Rector III, MSC, to GAEC, Attn: R. S. Mullaney, "Contract NAS 9-1100, Lunar Excursion Module, Attitude Indicator," April 15, 1964.

April 15

ASPO asked North American to investigate the possibility of designing apex-upright, stable flotation attitude into Block I and Block II CM's.

MSC, "ASPO Management Report for Period April 9-16, 1964."

April 15

Grumman completed an environmental control system water management configuration study and concluded that a revised design would significantly improve the probability of mission success and crew safety. This design would combine water tanks for the water management functions into one easily accessible package.

MSC, "ASPO Weekly Management Report, May 21-28, 1964."

April 15-16

MSC Crew Systems Division representatives attended a demonstration at Grumman of Apollo Phase B and Gemini space suits using the LEM TM-1 mockup and a mockup portable life support system. Tests demonstrated ingress egress capability through the forward and top hatches, operation of controls and displays, and methods of getting out on the lunar surface and returning to the spacecraft. Generally, the Apollo suit proved sufficiently mobile for all these tasks, though there was no great difference between its performance and that of the Gemini suit during these trials.

MSC, "ASPO Management Report for the Period April 16-23, 1964"; GAEC, "Monthly Progress Report No. 15," LPR-10-31, May 10, 1964, p. 9.

April 16

NASA's Office of Space Science and Applications (OSSA) and the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) were planning a scientist-astronaut program. NAS people had met in Houston with MSC officials in February to help draft a formal plan to develop a "scientist astronaut program for NASA." This plan also placed the responsibility on NAS to define what scientific qualifications a person would need; MSC agreed to define "other qualifications."

OSSA Associate Administrator Homer E. Newell asked Harry H. Hess, Chairman of the Space Science Board, NAS, and his group to pursue this plan and be ready with a qualification list (both NAS and NASA requirements) by August for advertisement. Newell said the screening-for-selection process could be scheduled for February 1965. (See August 19.)

Letter, Newell, NASA, to Harry H. Hess, Chairman, Space Science Board, National Academy of Science, April 16, 1964.

April 16

Joseph F. Shea, ASPO Manager, in a letter to North American's Apollo Program Manager, summarized MSC's review of the weight status of the Block I and the design changes projected for Block II CSM's. (See April 7-8.)

The Block II design arose from the need to add docking and crew transfer capability to the CM. Reduction of the CM control weight (from 9,500 to 9,100 kilograms [21,000 to 20,000 pounds]) and deficiencies in several major subsystems added to the scope of the redesign.

Redesign of the CM would cause a number of changes above the deck, although ASPO believed that the 73.7-centimeter (29-inch)-diameter tunnel could be retained and tunnel access might be improved if the restrictions for seating the hatches were removed. Other changes not related to the docking and transfer requirement would be considered as long as they did not affect the structure below the deck.

Changes below the deck would be kept to a minimum on both the inner and the outer structure. Anything which might invalidate the applicability of the Block I lunar reentry tests to the Block II design would not be changed.

ASPO wanted to evaluate a preliminary design of the CM in which the only access to the LEM would be by extravehicular transfer. Although this approach was not currently considered operationally acceptable, any gains from such a design should be studied.

ASPO agreed that the CM thermal protection would be enhanced by addition of a boost protective cover for both Block I and Block II. A "soft" cover should be simple to design and operate, and a boost cover would permit coating the CM with a thermally efficient surface. This, with the help of attitude programming, should permit North American to reduce the initial ablator bond line temperature from 394 K (250 degrees F) to below 338 K (150 degrees F). ASPO also asked the contractor to consider raising the bond line temperature on the blunt face from 590 K (600 degrees F to 700 K (800 degrees F). These changes would reduce ablator weight significantly.

To eliminate the humidity problem in the Block I subsystems, ASPO believed that electronic repackaging would be required. Such a redesign should take advantage of ASPO's decision to eliminate onboard maintenance as an acceptable means of achieving mission reliability. A more efficient mounting arrangement should be considered in conjunction with electronic system repackaging. Elimination of onboard maintenance would change requirements on the inflight test system; perhaps that system could be eliminated from the spacecraft.

The biggest uncertainty in weight requirements was meteoroid protection. The design approach to this problem should be incorporated with a redesign of the SM to reduce both the tank size and structure (but see August 6 statement of Robert O. Piland) consistent with a 16,800-kilogram (39,000-pound) consumable fuel load, rather than the current 20,400-kilogram (45,000-pound) capacity, The SM design concept should remain the same, but North American should use this opportunity to clean up several structural details.

The SM thermal control system should be passive. Spacecraft orientation, either on a semicontinuous or discrete attitude program, would be permissible to maintain necessary temperature limits. To reach acceptable thermal time constants, the reaction control system (RCS) might have to be modified. It might also be desirable to change the RCS fuel to monomethylhydrazine.

Because of the large amount of spacecraft wiring, North American was asked to study using smaller sizes and reduced insulation thicknesses.

Another consideration was reducing the lunar mission time from 14 days to the reference mission length of about 10 days. But the current tank sizes should be maintained and the spacecraft should be capable of 14- day earth orbital missions with three men. The velocity reserve in the RCS might be decreased if the attitude requirements for guidance and navigation were eased. Here, also, the current tank sizes should not be changed.

Other major changes (such as redesign of the fuel cell, incorporation of new heatshield material, cryogenic helium pressures, and adapter staging) could be considered in the redesign; they would, however, be approved only if the foregoing changes did not provide sufficient weight margin.

ASPO would require a complete preliminary design and impact assessment of the Block II spacecraft before its incorporation into the program would be authorized.

Letter, Joseph F. Shea, MSC, to John W. Paup, NAA, April 16, 1964.

April 16-22

North American conducted a preliminary study on removal of one of three fuel cells from the Block II CSM. The contractor predicted a total weight saving of about 168 kilograms (370 pounds), with potential indirect reductions in the cryogenic systems, but this change would require a significant increase in reliability.

MSC, "ASPO Management Report for Period April 23-30, 1964."

April 16-23

MSC, North American, and Grumman reviewed development problems in the LEM and SM reaction control thrust chambers. They agreed that a reassessment of the chambers' operational and thermal parameters was necessary.

MSC, "ASPO Management Report for Period April 16-23, 1964."

April 16-May 15

North American completed the first of a series of simulations to evaluate the astronauts' ability to perform attitude change maneuvers under varying rates and angles. Subjects were tested in a shirtsleeve environment and in vented and pressurized International Latex Corporation state-of-the-art pressure suits. The subjects had considerable difficulty making large, multi-axis attitude corrections because the pressurized suit restricted manipulation of the rotational hand controller.

"Apollo Monthly Progress Report," SID 62-300-25, p. 5.

April 17

Grumman conducted manned drop tests to determine the LEM crew's ability to land the spacecraft from a standing position. (See September 16-18, 1963.) All tests were run with the subject in an unpressurized suit in a "hands off" standing position with no restraint system or arm rests.

"Monthly Progress Report No. 15," LPR-10-31, p. 10.

April 20

NASA selected IBM, Federal Systems Division, to develop and build the instrument units (IU) for the Saturn IB and Saturn V launch vehicles. [IBM had been chosen by NASA in October 1963 to design and build the IU data adapters and digital guidance computers and to integrate and check out the IUs.] Under this new contract, expected to be worth over $175 million, IBM would supply the structure and the environmental control system. NASA would furnish the telemetry system and the stabilized platform (ST-124M) of the guidance system. MSFC would manage the contract.

NASA News Release 64-89, "NASA Selects IBM as Lead Contractor for Saturn IB, V Instrument Unit," April 20, 1964.

April 21

ASPO directed Hamilton Standard to provide urine storage in the Apollo space suit for prelaunch and launch. The contractor was to investigate the suitability of a Mercury-Gemini type urinal for storage and subsequent disposal.

TWX, W. F. Rector III, MSC, to GAEC, Attn: Waste Management Program Manager, April 21, 1964.

April 21

Officials from ASPO, Flight Crew Operations Directorate, Crew Systems Division, and Hamilton Standard established the basic ground rules for Apollo space suit operation:

  1. At least one crewman would wear his space suit at all times.
  2. All three crewmen would wears their suits continuously during launch through translunar injection, lunar operations, and reentry.
  3. The three crewmen could remain suited at all times, although they could remove the suits during translunar and transearth phases.
  4. The crew would be able to return from any point in the mission in pressurized suits.
  5. Two men in the CM would be able to don their suits within five minutes.
Operations Planning Division reported that these rules required no modifications to the suit and only minor changes to the environmental control system.

MSC, "ASPO Management Report for Period April 16-23, 1964"; "ASPO Management Report for Period April 23-30, 1964."

April 23

After completing estimates of the heating conditions for a series of MIT guided reentry trajectories, the MSC Engineering and Development Directorate recommended that the heatshield design philosophy be modified from the current "worst possible entry" to the "worst possible entry using either the primary or backup guidance mode." North American had drawn up the requirements early in 1962, with the intent of providing a heatshield that would not be a constraint on reentry. However, it was now deemed extremely unlikely that an entry, employing either the primary or backup guidance mode, would ever experience the heat loads that the contractor had designed for earlier. The ablator weight savings, using the MIT trajectories, could amount to several hundred pounds.

Memorandum, C. H. Perrine, MSC, to Mgr., ASPO, "Modification of the heat shield design philosophy," April 23, 1964.

April 23-30

Grumman redesigned the LEM environmental control system to incorporate a replaceable lithium hydroxide cartridge with a portable life support system cartridge in parallel for emergency backup. The LEM cartridge would be replaced once during a two-day mission.

Also MSC advised Grumman that estimates of the metabolic rates for astronauts on the lunar surface had been increased. The major effect of this change was an increase in the requirements for oxygen and water for the portable life support system.

MSC, "ASPO Management Report for Period April 23-30, 1964."

April 23-30

Rocketdyne conducted the first firing of the prototype thrust chamber assembly for its LEM descent engine.


April 24

Representatives from a number of elements within MSC (including systems and structural engineers, advanced systems and rendezvous experts, and two astronauts, Edward H. White II and Elliot M. See, Jr.) discussed the idea of deleting the LEM's front docking capability (an idea spawned by the recent TM-1 mockup review [see March 24-26]). Rather than nose-to-nose docking, the LEM crew might be able to perform the rendezvous and docking maneuver, docking at the spacecraft's upper (transfer) hatch, by using a window above the LEM commander's head to enable him to see his target. A good many factors pointed to the merit of this approach:

  • A rectangular window 18 by 38 centimeters (seven by 15 inches) above the commander's head could readily be incorporated into the LEM's structure, with only minimal design changes. The weight penalty would be between 4.5 and 6.8 kilograms (10 and 15 pounds) (excluding possible effects on the vehicle's environmental control system). On the other hand, eliminating the front docking mechanism would save about 11 or 14 kilograms (25 or 30 pounds). A docking aid on the CM was essential, but the device "would pay for itself in increased reliability and decreased design load requirements and fuel requirements." Additionally, instead of two docking aids on the LEM (as currently envisioned), only the upper one would be needed.
  • The top-only docking arrangement would simplify the docking operation per se. The crew would no longer have to transfer the drogue from the top to the front hatch prior to rejoining the CM. [The need for depressurizing the spacecraft to perform this task thus was obviated.] As an additional "fringe benefit," the front hatch could possibly be reconfigured to make it easier for the crewmen to get out of and back into their craft while on the moon.
  • The overhead window would enable the LEM commander to see the moon during powered descent and ascent portions of the flight, and thus would afford the crew a visual attitude and attitude reference.
There existed, naturally, some offsetting factors: the pilot's limited view of his target (thought to be of "no major consequence"); and his being unable quickly to scan his instrument panel (which was not essential). Also, the maneuver called for the pilot to fly his vehicle, for a considerable period, in a rather strained physical position (i.e., with his head tossed backward). But because of the many inherent advantages, the group concluded, LEM-active docking at the upper hatch was acceptable as a backup method for docking. (CM-active docking still would be the normal procedure, because that vehicle could "perform the docking maneuver more easily and more reliably than can the LEM . . . Deletion of the front docking capability on [the] LEM will not alter this relationship, therefore the LEM should be required to dock only when the CSM or the crew member inside is incapacitated. If the CSM is incapacitated returning to it is of questionable importance.") They recommended that Grumman be directed to proceed with this concept for the LEM. (See May 7--14 and May 22.)

Letter, Joseph P. Loftus, Jr., to Assistant Chief, Systems Engineering Division, "Disposition of TM-1 mockup review chit no. A9-4," April 28, 1964, with enclosure, attendance list.

April 24

To train astronauts in various mission procedures, LTV had completed simulations of manual abort and, within a week, would be able to conduct simulated final maneuver phases of a rendezvous. (See May 6, September 17, and October 10, 1963; also see June 1963.)

"Monthly Progress Report No. 15," LPR-10-31, p. 1.

April 24

The NASA Manned Space Science Division was planning a scientific experiments program for manned and unmanned earth orbital flights. The manned program would be a direct outgrowth of the Gemini experiments program. (See March 23.)

Memorandum, Willis B. Foster, NASA, to Assoc. Adm. for Manned Space Flight, "Science program for SIB's and SV's," April 24, 1964.

April 24

NASA definitized the letter contract with the Philco Corporation Techrep Division for spacecraft flight control support. The definitive contract covered the period from September 16, 1963, through March 31, 1965, and the total cost-plus-fixed-fee was $720,624.

MSC, "Consolidated Activity Report for the Office of the Associate Administrator, Manned Space Flight, April 19-May 16, 1964," p. 46.

April 28-30

At Downey, Calif., MSC and North American officials conducted a mockup review on the Block I CSM. Major items reviewed were:

  • Cabin interior (complete except for hatches, display panel lighting, survival equipment, umbilical connections, and zero-g restraints).
  • CM exterior (complete except for hatches and boost protective cover).
  • Earth landing system.
  • Launch escape system.
  • SM.
One hundred and eleven request for change forms were submitted to the mockup review board, composed of Robert O. Piland (Chairman), Christopher C. Kraft, Jr., Donald K. Slayton, Caldwell C. Johnson, Owen E. Maynard, and Clinton L. Taylor of MSC; and H. G. Osbon and Charles H. Feltz of North American.

For the first time, three representative Apollo space suits were used in the CM couches. Pressurized suit demonstrations, with three suited astronauts lying side by side in the couches, showed that the prototype suit shoulders and elbows overlapped and prevented effective operation of the CM displays and controls. Previous tests, using only one suited subject, had indicated that suit mobility was adequate. Gemini suits, tested under the same conditions, proved much more usable. (See February 27-March 4.) Moreover, using Gemini suits for Apollo earth orbital missions promised a substantial financial saving. As a result of further tests conducted in May, the decision was made to use the Gemini suits for these missions. The existing Apollo space suit contract effort was redirected to concentrate on later Apollo flights. A redesign of the Apollo suit shoulders and elbows also was begun.

MSC, "Command and Service Modules, Project Apollo Board Report for NASA Inspection and Review of Block I Mock-Up, April 23-30, 1964," pp. 1-2; MSC, "ASPO Management Report for Period April 30-May 7, 1964"; MSC, "Weekly Activity Report for the Office of the Associate Administrator, Manned Space Flight, May 3-9, 1964," p. 5; "Apollo Quarterly Status Report No. 8," pp. 47-48; interview, telephone, Matthew I. Radnofsky, Houston, March 24, 1970.