The Apollo Spacecraft - A Chronology.

Advanced Design, Fabrication, and Testing

November 1965


November 1

MSC's Engineering and Development Directorate established the Lunar Sample Receiving Laboratory Office as an interim organizational element pending development of a permanent organization for operation of the laboratory.

MSC Announcement 65-140, "Establishment of the E&D Lunar Sample Receiving Laboratory Office," November 1, 1965.

November 2

Bell Aerosystems Company reported that the LEM ascent engine bipropellant cooled injector baffle met all basic specification requirements, including those for combustion efficiency, ablative compatibility, and stability. Bell conducted a successful firing with an engine that had previously been vibrated to simulate launch boost and lunar descent. The contractor also completed a duty cycle firing at AEDC with hardware conditions set to the maximum temperatures believed attainable during a lunar mission.

GAEC, "Monthly Progress Report No. 34," LPR-10-50, December 10, 1965, pp. 1, 13; letter, R. Wayne Young, MSC, to GAEC, Attn: R. S. Mullaney, "Contract NAS 9-1100, Bell Aerosystems Contamination Problems," December 9, 1965.

November 4

MSC management gave Grumman the go-ahead to implement the LEM Certification Test Plan effective October 25.

Memorandum, Owen E. Maynard, MSC, to Distr., "LEM Certification Test Program Implementation," November 4, 1965.

November 4

In a letter to the Director of Flight Research Center, MSC Director Robert R. Gilruth said that recent Lunar Landing Research Vehicle LLRV flight results and problems with the handling qualities of the LEM had focused high interest on the LLRV activities at FRC.

Gilruth concurred with the recent decision to assemble the second LLRV and said MSC planned to support the assembly and checkout of the second vehicle with engineering and contractor personnel assigned to the Flight Crew Operations Directorate.

Gilruth expressed appreciation for the effort expended by FRC in initiating a three-month study contract with Bell Aerosystems to provide drawings for a follow-on vehicle and indicated MSC planned to contract for Lunar Landing Training Vehicles in June 1966.

Letter, Gilruth to Director, FRC, "Lunar Landing Research and Training Vehicles," November 4, 1965.

November 4

MSC's Configuration Control Board approved the reduction of maximum translunar flight time from 110 hrs to 100 hrs.

Memorandum, Robert V, Battey, to Manager, ASPO, "Response to your question on reduction of translunar flight time," November 1, 1965; MSC, "Minutes, Configuration Control Board Meeting No. 24, November 4, 1965."

November 4-12

The design of the Block I space suit helmet ear cup and attachment was finalized. Based on evaluation of AFRM 007 acoustic test data, it was determined that existing Gemini-type "soft" ear cups were adequate for Block I flights. North American and David Clark Company specifications would be changed to reflect revised requirements. The majority of drawings for the suit had been reviewed and approved by MSC's Crew Systems Division. Remaining to be resolved and approved were selection of helmet visor material, installation of helmet microphones and earphones, communications harness, and fingertip glove lighting systems.

MSC, "ASPO Weekly Management Report, November 4-12, 1965"; NAA, "Apollo Monthly Progress Report," SID 62-300-44, January 1, 1966, p. 6.

November 5

NASA announced that it would negotiate with International Latex Corporation for an estimated $10 million contract to fabricate the Apollo space suit consisting of the liquid-cooled undergarment, constant wear garment, pressure garment assembly, and thermo-micrometeoroid protective overgarment. At the same time an estimated $20 million contract was negotiated with Hamilton Standard Division of United Aircraft Corporation for continued development and manufacture of the portable life support system with a four-hour main power supply subjected to a maximum stowage soak temperature of 328K (130 degrees F).

MSC News Release 65-102, November 5, 1965; TWX, Richard S. Johnston, MSC, to R. E. Breeding, Hamilton Standard Division, subject: "PLSS Power Supply Concept," November 8, 1965; NASA News Release 65-346, "NASA to Negotiate for Apollo Suit, Support System," November 5, 1965; "ASPO Weekly Management Report, November 4-12, 1965."

November 8

The development mission planning panel met to discuss the general constraints for missions AS-206 and AS-207. AS-206 spacecraft and operational constraints and mission rules were checked for compatibility. An investigation of the AS-207 preliminary mission profile showed that the ascent power requirements far exceeded the capacity of the ascent stage batteries. A modification to the mission profile was developed which would enable the mission objectives to be accomplished within the LEM battery capabilities. A tentative procedure for negotiating MSFC launch vehicle constraints was established between MSC and MSFC.

"ASPO Weekly Management Report, November 4-12, 1965"; memorandum, Robert V. Battey, MSC, "Minutes of the Mission Constraints Panel Meeting #4," November 23, 1965, with enclosure; memorandum, Owen E. Maynard, MSC, to Distr., "Official Method for Negotiating Mission Constraints with MSFC," November 16, 1965.

November 9-12

Upon examination of the airlock gas connectors at the Portable Life Support System Emergency Oxygen System Preliminary Design Review, ASPO representatives discovered a possible catastrophic failure. If an astronaut unhooked the PLSS supply umbilical before the exhaust line was disconnected the suit would vent through the PLSS. A request for change was rejected by the preliminary design review board in spite of this situation. ASPO recommended to the Crew Systems Division that the connectors be modified or that the problem be solved another way to preserve crew safety.

Memorandum, Owen E. Maynard, Systems Engineering Division, ASPO, to Apollo Support Office, Crew Systems Division, "RFC 111-1, Preliminary Design Review, PLSS/EOS, 9-12 November 1965," December 7, 1965.

November 10

North American conducted an Apollo Program Review for key subcontractors to convey the current status of the program and to discuss the subcontractors' specific participation and support to the program.

NAA, "Apollo Monthly Progress Report," SID 62-300-43, December 1, 1965, p. 3.

November 10

A North American layout of the volume swept by the CM couch and crewmen during landing impact attenuation showed several areas where the couch and or crewmen struck the CM structure or stowed equipment. One area of such interference was that the center crewman's helmet could overlap about four inches into the volume occupied by the portable life support system (PLSS) stowed beneath the side access hatch. The PLSS stowage was recently changed to this position at North American's recommendation because the original stowage position on the aft bulkhead interfered with the couch attenuation envelope. The contractor was directed by MSC to explain this situation.

"ASPO Weekly Management Report, November 4-12, 1965"; TWX, C. L. Taylor, MSC, to NAA Space and Information Systems Division, Attn: J. C. Cozad, subject: "Impact Attenuation System Interference," November 10, 1965.

November 11

The Block I service propulsion system engine successfully completed the first altitude qualification tests at AEDC.

MSC, "ASPO Weekly Management Report, November 12-18, 1965."

November 11

A manned lunar mission metabolic profile test was run in the Hamilton Standard Division altitude chamber using the development liquid-cooled portable life support system (PLSS). The system was started at a chamber altitude of over 60,906 m (200,000 ft), and the subject adjusted the liquid bypass valve to accommodate the programmed metabolic rates which were achieved by use of a treadmill. Oxygen was supplied from an external source through the PLSS bottle and oxygen regulation system. This procedure was used because bottle qualification was not complete, so pressure was limited to 2,068 kilonewtons per sq m (300 psig). An external battery was used for power because the new batteries that were required by the change to the all-battery LEM were not yet available. The thermal transport system including the porous plate sublimator was completely self-contained in the PLSS. All systems operated within specification requirements and the test was considered an unqualified success.

"ASPO Weekly Management Report, November 4-12, 1965."

November 12

The portable life support system Preliminary Design Review was completed. The design was essentially complete and no major discrepancies were noted during the review.


November 12-18

MSC and Grumman representatives reviewed Grumman's timeline analysis for the intravehicular LEM crew activities subsequent to lunar landing. This timeline was being rewritten for a test program to be conducted to determine what crew mobility problems existed within the LEM so that they could be better evaluated at the Certification Design Review.

"ASPO Weekly Management Report, November 12-18, 1965."

November 12-18

MSC directed Ryan Aeronautical Corporation to present to RCA and Grumman areas in which weight could be saved on the LEM landing radar. Of specific interest was the power supply and the possibility of its overdesign.


November 15

MSC instructed North American to:

  • Submit a preliminary design of Block II CSM jettisonable covers to protect the radiator and CM heatshield thermal coatings from degradation by the boost environment.
  • Furnish preliminary design of nonablative reaction control system (RCS) plume heat protection to prevent SM coating degradation on Block II CSMs.
  • Determine the effect on the overall SM and LEM adapter thermal design of coating degradation to a level specified by MSC and to propose design changes or mission constraints for Block I and Block II CSMs.
  • Determine the effect on the SM RCS thermal design of coating degradation to the level specified by MSC and to propose design changes or mission constraints for Block I and II CSMs.
Letter, J. B. Alldredge, MSC, to NAA, Space and Information Systems Division, "Contract Change Authorization No. 478," November 15, 1965.

November 19

The manned portion of the coast and maneuver simulation program was completed, evaluating man-in-the-loop capabilities and their effects upon maneuver accuracy, maneuver time, and propellant consumption. The maneuvers and pilot techniques satisfied the midcourse attitude and translation control requirements for the Block I Spacecraft 012 manned mission. The study was conducted in eight phases, including more than 950 runs. Preliminary analysis of the results indicated there was compatibility between the pilots and the maneuver control equipment.

"Apollo Monthly Progress Report," SID 62-300-44, p. 6.

November 22

Christopher C. Kraft, Jr., MSC's Assistant Director for Flight Operations, outlined results of recent studies of the problems associated with lunar landing. The programs studied were Surveyor, Lunar Orbiter, deployment of probes on a simulated manned lunar landing mission, deployment of probes during lunar orbit on an unmanned mission, and deployment of landing aids during the manned lunar landing mission.

The studies supported the conclusion that it was still desirable to have an earth launch window of several days to give launch opportunity flexibility. For this purpose, it would be necessary to have a group of longitudinally spaced landing areas available. However, if there were a particular advantage, such as site certification, in being limited to one area and, consequently, one launch opportunity per month, this was considered to be acceptable. At least one launch opportunity per month would be required. Therefore, the certified area would have to be within the area available from performance consideration. This might mean a night launch, which was confirmed as feasible.

Although the manned lunar landing mission ought not to depend upon a successful Surveyor program, information for Apollo as well as general scientific information should be expected from the program. The concept was not supported that probes were a necessary prerequisite to a lunar landing nor was the idea of a separate probe mission approved. If the Surveyor program failed to provide evidence of the suitability of at least one area and if the consensus favored gathering additional information from probes, the feasibility of carrying probes on the actual lunar landing mission should be fully considered, together with the development of aids to real-time assessment.

Memorandum, Christopher C. Kraft, Jr., MSC, to Manager of Special Design Efforts, "Problems associated with lunar landing," November 22, 1965.

November 22

Little Joe II Program Manager Milton A. Silveira suggested to ASPO Manager Joseph F. Shea that if the next Little Joe II flight test was successful there would be no further requirement for the Little Joe II to support the Apollo program. Silveira said planning had been made with General Dynamics Convair to store the remaining three vehicles, parts, and tooling for one year in case a new requirement from ASPO or NASA should develop. The additional cost of one-year storage compared to normal program closeout was estimated to be small. ASPO concurred with the suggestion on December 1.

Memorandums, Silveira to Shea, "Little Joe II program close-out," November 22, 1965; J. Thomas Markley to Silveira, December 1, 1965.

November 23

North American informed MSC of a fire in the reaction control system (RCS) test cell during a CM RCS test for spacecraft 009. The fire was suspected to have been caused by overheating the test cell when the 10 engines were activated, approximately 30 sec prior to test completion. An estimated test delay of two to three weeks, due to shutdown of the test cell for refurbishment, was forecast. MSC informed the Apollo Program Director that an investigation was underway.

TWX, Joseph F. Shea, MSC, to NASA Headquarters, Attn: Apollo Program Director, sgd. William A. Lee, November 23, 1965.

November 24

MSC notified Grumman that all electrically actuated explosive devices on the LEM would be fired by the Apollo standard initiator. This would be a common usage item with the CSM and would be the single wire configuration developed by NASA and provided as Government-furnished equipment.

Letter, James L. Neal, MSC, to GAEC, Attn: John C. Snedeker, "Contract NAS 9-1100, Contract Change Authorization 159, Phase-in of Single Bridge Apollo Standard Initiator," November 24, 1965.

November 26

Grumman was directed by MSC to provide for the disposition and bacteriological control of the LEM urine containers by off-loading all containers to the lunar surface immediately prior to LEM ascent, locating them so their physical integrity would be assured during ascent stage launch. Incorporation of an appropriate germicide in all LEM urine containers would effectively sterilize the internal part of the container and the contained urine.

Letter, R. Wayne Young, MSC, to GAEC, Attn: R. S. Mullaney, "Contract NAS 9-1100, Disposition and Bacteriological Control of LEM Urine Containers," November 26, 1965.

November 28

Ordnance separation tests on the first three spacecraft-LEM-adapters (SLA) in a series of four were completed at North American's Tulsa facility. The tests successfully demonstrated the deployment of the SLA's forward panels in preparation for the first spacecraft orbital flight.

"Apollo Monthly Progress Report." SID 62-300-44, p. 8; memorandum, Lyle D. White, MSC, to Chief, Systems Engineering Division, "SLA panel separation follow-up report," November 8, 1965; MSC, "ASPO Weekly Management Report, November 18-24, 1965"; MSC, "ASPO Weekly Management Report, November 25-December 2, 1965."

November 30

Usage of a multiple gas connector (MGC) with the extravehicular mobility unit (two per suit) was deleted. Instead of the MGC, a separate inlet and outlet suit umbilical gas connector manufactured by Airlock, Inc., would be used (two inlets and two outlets per suit). This design change applied to all Block II space suits, environmental control systems, and portable life support systems. Hamilton Standard was directed to implement the change by means of a negotiated revision of a supplemental agreement to its contract.

Letter, R. Wayne Young, MSC, to GAEC, Attn: R. S. Mullaney, "Contract NAS 9-1100, Deletion of multiple gas connector (substitute separate Airlock, Inc., connectors)," November 30, 1965.

November 30

Apollo Mission Simulator No. 1 was shipped from Link Group, General Precision, Binghamton, New York, to MSC.

Memorandum, Owen E. Maynard, MSC, to Manager, ASPO, "Apollo Mission Simulator Status," November 30, 1965; "ASPO Weekly Management Report, November 18-24, 1965."

During the Month

Grumman completed negotiations with Thompson-Ramo-Wooldridge for the LEM abort guidance system.

"Monthly Progress Report No, 34," LPR-10-50, p. 19.

During the Month

Ten flights were made with the lunar landing research vehicle. All flights were for attitude control and handling qualities research. Landings on all flights were made in the lunar landing mode.

Letter, Office of Director, Flight Research Center, to NASA Headquarters, "Lunar Landing Research Vehicle progress report No. 29 for the period ending November 30, 1965," sgd. Paul F. Bikle, December 14, 1965.

During the Month

A series of tests were run to determine the cause of stress corrosion of the reaction control system titanium tanks. Results showed that tanks exposed to chemically pure nitrogen tetroxide (N2O4) oxidizer suffered stress corrosion cracking, but tanks exposed to N2O4 containing small amounts of nitric oxide did not fail. The qualification testing program would soon resume.

"Apollo Monthly Progress Report," SID 62-300-44, p. 10; NAA, "Project Apollo Spacecraft Test Program Weekly Activity Report (Period 15 November 1965 through 21 November 1965), p. 3.