The Apollo Spacecraft - A Chronology.|
Part 1 (A)
Preparation for Flight, the Accident, and Investigation
January 21, 1966, through March 1966
January 21NASA converted one of its major contracts from a cost-plus-fixed-fee to a cost-plus-incentive-fee agreement. The contract was with North American Aviation's Space and Information Systems Division, Downey, Calif., for development of the Apollo spacecraft command and service modules (CSM) and spacecraft-lunar excursion module adapter (SLA).
NASA News Release 66-15, "Apollo Spacecraft Major Contract Is Converted," Jan. 21, 1966.
January 21NASA negotiated a contract with Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) for a program of radar and radiometric measurements on the surface of the moon. The program, which would be active until March 31, 1967, would have Paul B. Sebring of MIT's Lincoln Laboratory as principal investigator. Results would be used to select areas for intensive study to support investigations related to manned landing sites.
Arthur T. Strickland of NASA's Lunar and Planetary Programs Office would be the technical monitor. Andrew Patteson of the MSC Lunar Surface Technology Branch was requested as alternate technical monitor.
Ltr., Oran W. Nicks, NASA Hq., to Robert R. Gilruth, MSC, " Alternate Technical Monitor for MIT Contract NSR 22-009-l06," Jan. 21, 1966.
January 28The Manned Spacecraft Center (MSC) Checkout and Test Division was informed by the Flight Crew Operations Director that in reference to a request for "our desires for altitude chamber runs on Apollo spacecraft, we definitely feel three runs are mandatory on CSMs 012 and 014. For planning purposes I think we should assume this is a steady-state requirement although it should be a subject for review as we accumulate experience." Runs on backup crews had been deleted in several instances if they had already flown and the mission was essentially the same. The value of chamber runs in terms of crew confidence was great and it was assumed that no one would care to make a manned run without a previous unmanned run.
Memo, Donald K. Slayton, MSC, to Chief, Checkout and Test Div., MSC, "Altitude Chamber runs on manned spacecraft," Jan. 28, 1966.
January 28NASA Hq. requested the Apollo Spacecraft Program Office at Manned Spacecraft Center to evaluate the impact, including the effect on ground support equipment and mission control, of a dual AS-207/208 flight as early as AS-207 was currently scheduled. ASPO was to assume that launch vehicle 207 would carry the Block II CSM, launch vehicle 208 would carry the lunar excursion module (LEM), and the two launches would be nearly simultaneous. Kennedy Space Center (KSC) and Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) were asked to make similar studies for their systems. Response was requested by February 7, 1966.
TWX, Samuel C. Phillips, NASA OMSF, to Joseph F. Shea, MSC, Jan. 28, 1966.
Memo for Record, Faget, "Discussion between MSC and Langley Research Center regarding reduction of Orbiter data," March 1, 1966.
February 1MSC Assistant Director for Flight Crew Operations Donald K. Slayton said he did not think that current testing or proposed evaluation would do anything to resolve the basic debate between optics versus radar as a primary LEM rendezvous aid. Slayton said, "The question is not which system can be manufactured, packaged, and qualified as flight hardware at the earliest date; it is which design is most operationally suited to accomplishing the lunar mission. The 'Olympics' contribute nothing to solving this problem." He proposed that an MSC management design review of both systems at the earliest reasonable date was the only way to reach a conclusion, adding, "This requires only existing paperwork and knowledge - no hardware."
Memo, Slayton to Chief, Guidance and Control Div., MSC, "LORS-RR 'Olympics,'" Feb. 1, 1966.
February 2MSC awarded $70,000 contract to Rodana Research Corp. to develop emergency medical kits that would "satisfy all inflight and training requirements for the Apollo Command Module and the Lunar Excursion Module." Under terms of contract, two training units would be delivered for each flight, in addition to one mockup and six prototype models. The small kits would contain loaded injectors, tablets, capsules, ointments, inhalers, adhesives, and compressed dressings.
MSC News Release 66-8, Feb. 2, 1966.
February 2-24In response to a January 28 TWX from NASA Hq., MSC personnel made recommendations after evaluating the impact of a dual AS-207/208 flight on ground support and mission control. On February 2, John P. Mayer, Chief, Mission Planning and Analysis Division, told the Assistant Director for Flight Operations that the sole area of concern would be in providing the necessary Real Time Computer Complex readiness in a time frame consistent with the AS-207 launch schedule. Mayer also recommended that a decision be made in the very near future to commit AS-207 and AS-208 to a dual mission and that, if possible, IBM personnel knowledgeable in the Gemini dual vehicle system be diverted to the proposed mission if major modifications were not required for the Gemini XI and Gemini XII missions.
On February 4, John D. Hodge, Chief of the Flight Control Division, listed for the Technical Assistant for Apollo some problem areas that could arise in the operational aspects of the proposed mission with AS-207 carrying a manned CSM and AS-208 carrying only a LEM. Hodge recommended that the two launches not be attempted simultaneously, saying that some time between the launches should be determined, which would eliminate most of the problems anticipated.
Howard W. Tindall, Jr., Assistant Chief, Mission Planning and Analysis Division, in a memo documented some design criteria and philosophy on which the AS-207/208 rendezvous mission plan was being developed by the Rendezvous Analysis Branch. Tindall pointed out that, from the Gemini program experience, the plan was felt to be relatively firm. Tindall named some of the basic features recommended by the study:
February 4Alfred Cohen, head of the ground support equipment (GSE) office of the Resident Apollo Spacecraft Office (RASPO) at Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corp., objected to the unrealistic production schedule set up by Grumman Manufacturing for LEM GSE. Cohen pointed out that Grumman had been notified many times that NASA did not believe that GSE could be produced in the short time spans formulated by Grumman. Cohen added that Grumman had been informed that this disbelief was based on actual experience with North American Aviation and McDonnell Aircraft Corp. Tracking of the manufacture of such items showed that Grumman was unable to produce in accordance with schedules. Cohen cited that Grumman had planned to complete 99 GSE items in December 1965 and had completed 27; in January it had scheduled 146 items for completion and had completed 43. Cohen requested that the RASPO Manager confront Grumman management with the facts and suggest that they
February 6-8The first test of the cryogenic gas storage system was successfully conducted from 12:30p.m. February 6 through 8:50 p.m. February 8 at the White Sands Test Facility (WSTF), N. Mex. Primary objectives were to demonstrate the compatibility between the ground support equipment and cryogenic subsystem with respect to mechanical, thermodynamic, and electrical interfaces during checkout, servicing, monitoring, and ground control. All objectives were attained.
TWX, MSC WSTF to MSC, "Preliminary Report, First Cryogenic System Test at WSTF," Feb. 9, 1966.
February 7The CSM weight program was reviewed by James L. Bullard of MSC and D. Morgan of North American Aviation at a meeting in Houston. The CM 011 projected weight was at its upper limit as designed by the earth-landing-system restraint, about 68 kilograms above the maximum weight used for mission planning. Data to revise the 011 specification to show a CM weight of 5,352 kilograms were being prepared.
CMs 012 and 014 would present definite weight problems. At the time the CM weight vs earth-landing system factors of safety relationships were investigated in the study of the possibility of shaving ablator material from the heatshield, a maximum weight of 5,296 kilograms was established for the manned spacecraft. Bullard had discussed the possibility of a higher CM weight with James M. Peacock of the Systems Engineering Division and the earth-landing-system subsystem manager but had received no definite reply. Bullard said it was imperative that a firm weight be established, above which the weight could not grow, before any weight reductions could be seriously considered. It appeared that 90 to 136 kilograms would have to be eliminated from the spacecraft, and that the reduction would have to be accomplished primarily by removing items.
Memo, Bullard to Chief, Systems Engineering Div., "CSM weight status," Feb. 7, 1966.
February 14NASA's Associate Administrator for Space Science and Applications Homer E. Newell advised MSC that he had selected space science investigations to be carried to the moon on Apollo missions, emplaced on the lunar surface by Apollo astronauts, and left behind to collect and transmit data to the earth on lunar environmental characteristics following those missions. Newell assigned the experiments to specific missions and indicated their priority. Any changes in the assignments would require Newell's approval. The experiments, institutions responsible, and principal investigators and coinvestigators were:
Ltr., Newell to MSC, Attn: Manager, Experiments Program Office, "Authorization to Procure Space Science and Applications Investigations for Apollo Lunar Missions," Feb. 14, 1966.
February 15NASA announced conversion of its contract with Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corp. for development of the LEM to a cost-plus-incentive agreement. Under the terms of the new four-year contract Grumman was to deliver 15 flight articles, 10 test articles, and 2 mission simulators. The change added 4 flight articles to the program. The contract provided incentive for outstanding performance, cost control, and timely delivery as well as potential profit reductions if performance, cost, and schedule requirements were not met.
TWX, NASA Hq. to MSC, MSFC, Western Operations Office, KSC, Attn: Public Information Officers, NASA Converts Apollo Contract to Cost-Plus-Incentive," Feb. 15, 1966.
February 25The LEM Configuration Control Panel approved Grumman's request for government-furnished-equipment (North American Aviation-manufactured) optical alignment sights (OAS) for installation in the LEM. A total of 21 OAS units would be required (including 2 spares). Detailed interface requirements between the OAS and LEM would be negotiated between North American and Grumman and delivery dates would be specified during negotiations.
Memo, Project Officer, LEM, MSC, to Project Officer, CSM, MSC, "PCCP SID-150-551 Optical Alignment Sights for Use in LEM," Feb. 25, 1966.
February 26Apollo-Saturn 201 was launched from Cape Kennedy, with liftoff of an Apollo Block I spacecraft (CSM 009) on a Saturn IB launch vehicle at 11:12:01 EST. Launched from Launch Complex 34, the unmanned suborbital mission was the first flight test of the Saturn IB and an Apollo spacecraft. Total launch weight was 22,000 kilograms.
Spacecraft communications blackout lasted 1 minute 22 seconds. Reentry was initiated with a space-fixed velocity of 29,000 kilometers per hour. CM structure and heatshields performed adequately. The CM was recovered from the Atlantic about 72 kilometers uprange from the planned landing point. (Mission objectives are listed in Appendix 5.)
Missions Operations Div., MSC, "Postlaunch Report for Mission AS-201 (Apollo S/C )," May 6, 1966.
Ltr., Gilruth to Thompson, March 1, 1966.
March 1ASPO Manager Joseph F. Shea informed Apollo Program Director Samuel C. Phillips, in response to a January 28 TWX from Phillips, that MSC had evaluated the capability to support a dual launch of AS-207 208 provided an immediate go-ahead could be given to the contractors. Shea said the evaluation had covered mission planning, ground support equipment (GSE), flight hardware, and operations support. Modifications and additional GSE would be required to update Launch Complex 34 at Cape Kennedy to support a Block II CSM. The total cost of supporting the AS-207/208 dual launch was estimated at $10.2 million for the GSE and additional boiler plate CSM configuration, but Shea added that these costs could be absorbed within the FY 1966 budget. Shea recommended that the dual mission be incorporated into the program.
TWX, Shea to Phillips, "Saturn IB Dual Launch," March 1, 1966.
March 7Apollo Program Director Samuel C. Phillips, in a memo to the Director, Office of Advanced Research and Technology, NASA Hq., pointed out that in July 1965 the Apollo program encountered stress corrosion of titanium tanks from nitrogen tetroxide propellant, and that through his auspices Langley Research Center initiated a crash effort that had been a key factor in solving the problem. Phillips said that Langley's effort had been vigorous, thorough, and of the highest professional calibre. An excellent team relationship had been maintained with MSC, MSFC, KSC, vehicle contractors, and tank subcontractors and LaRC personnel had given dedicated and outstanding support. He cited that
March 8Apollo Program Director Samuel C. Phillips notified the three manned space flight Centers that they were requested to plan for a dual AS-207/208 mission, assuming that launch would occur one month later than the 207 launch now scheduled. TWX, Phillips to MSC, MSFC, and KSC, "Saturn IB Dual Launch," March 8, 1966.
March 9-10The first integrated test of the service propulsion system, electrical power system, and cryogenic gas storage system was successfully conducted at the White Sands Test Facility.
TWX, Samuel C. Phillips to Joseph F. Shea, "Block I CSM Delivery Dates," March 14, 1966. 101," March 10, 1966.
March 14NASA Hq. told MSC that delivery changes should be reflected in manned space flight schedules as controlled milestone changes and referred specifically to CSM 008 - April 1966; CSM 011 - April 15, 1966; and CSM 007 - March 31, 1966. Headquarters noted that the "NAA [North American Aviation Inc.] contract delivery date remains 28 February 1966" for each and that "every effort should be made to deliver these articles as early as possible, since completion of each is constraining a launch or other major activity."
TWX, Samuel C. Phillips to Joseph F. Shea, "Block I CSM Delivery Dates," March 14, 1966.
March 16-17The Atlas-Agena target vehicle for the Gemini VIII mission was successfully launched from KSC Launch Complex 14 at 10 a.m. EST March 16. The Gemini VIII spacecraft was launched from Launch Complex 19 at 11:41 a.m., with command pilot Neil A. Armstrong and pilot David R. Scott aboard. The spacecraft and its target vehicle rendezvoused and docked, with docking confirmed 6 hours 33 minutes after the spacecraft was launched. About 27 minutes later the spacecraft-Agena combination encountered unexpected roll and yaw motion. The crew reduced the rates sufficiently to undock from the target and began troubleshooting to determine the cause of the problem. The problem arose again and when the yaw and roll rates became too high the crew activated and used both rings of the reentry control system to reduce the spacecraft rates to zero. This action required that the mission be ended, and splashdown was scheduled for the western Pacific during the seventh revolution. The spacecraft landed at 10:23 p.m. EST March 16 and Armstrong and Scott were picked up by the U.S.S. Mason at 1:37 a.m. EST March 17. Although the flight was cut short by the incident, one of the primary objectives - rendezvous and docking (the first rendezvous of two spacecraft in orbital flight) - was accomplished.
Memo, NASA Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight to Administrator, "Gemini Vlll Mission, Post Launch Report No. 1," March 23, 1966 (Mission Operation Report M-913-66-09).
March 16NASA Administrator James E. Webb and Deputy Administrator Robert C. Seamans, Jr., selected Bendix Systems Division, Bendix Corp., from among three contractors for design, manufacture, test, and operational support of four deliverable packages of the Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments Package (ALSEP), with first delivery scheduled for July 1967. The estimated cost of the cost-plus-incentive-fee contract negotiated with Bendix before the presentation by the Source Evaluation Board to Webb and Seamans was $17.3 million.
Memo, NASA Deputy Associate Administrator to Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight, "Selection of Contractor for Phase D (Phase II) for Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments Package," March 17, 1966.
March 16Apollo Program Director Samuel C. Phillips informed MSC Director Robert R. Gilruth of specific NASA Hq. management assignments that had been implemented in connection with the ALSEP program. He told Gilruth he had asked Len Reiffel to serve as the primary focus of Headquarters on ALSEP and that he would be assisted by three members of the Lunar and Planetary Program Office of the Office of Space Science and Applications: W. T. O'Bryant, E. Davin, and R. Green.
Ltr., Phillips to Gilruth, March 16, 1966.
March 16MSC analysis of Grumman ground support equipment (GSE) showed that a serious problem in manufacturing and delivery of GSE would have a significant program impact if not corrected immediately. Information submitted to NASA indicated a completion rate of 35 percent of that planned. Grumman was requested to initiate action to identify causes of the problem and take immediate remedial action. A formal recovery plan was to be submitted to NASA, considering the following guidelines:
March 17John D. Hodge, Chief of MSC's Flight Control Division, proposed that time-critical aborts in the event of a service propulsion system failure after translunar injection (TLI; i.e., insertion on a trajectory toward the moon) be investigated. Time-critical abort was defined as an abort occurring within 12 hours after TLI and requiring reentry in less than two days after the abort.
He suggested that if an SPS failed the service module be jettisoned for a time-critical abort and both LEM propulsion systems be used for earth return, reducing the total time to return by approximately 60 hours. As an example, if the time of abort was 10 hours after translunar injection, he said, this method would require about 36 hours; if the SM were retained the return time would require about 96 hours.
He added that the LEM/CM-only configuration should be studied for any constraints that would preclude initiating this kind of time-critical abort. Some of the factors to be considered should be:
March 28Apollo Program Director Samuel C. Phillips discussed cost problems of the contract with General Motors' AC Electronics Division, in a memo to NASA Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight George E. Mueller. One of the problems was late design releases from Massachusetts Institute of Technology to AC Electronics, resulting in an increase of $2.7 million. Phillips also pointed out that computer problems at Raytheon Corp. had increased the program cost by $6.7 million, added that many of these problems had their origins in the MIT design, and listed seven of the most significant technical problems. Phillips stated that MSC in conjunction with AC Electronics had taken several positive steps:
March 29MSC requested use of Langley Research Center's Lunar Orbit and Landing Approach (LOLA) Simulator in connection with two technical contracts in progress with Geonautics, Inc., Washington, D.C. One was for pilotage techniques for use in the descent and ascent phases of the LEM profile, while the other specified construction of a binocular viewing device for simplified pilotage monitoring. Langley concurred with the request and suggested that MSC personnel work with Manuel J. Queijo in setting up the program, in making working arrangements between the parties concerned, and in defining the trajectories of interest.
Ltrs., Director, MSC, to Director, LaRC, March 29, 1966, "Use of Lunar Orbit and Landing Approach Simulator (LOLA)"; Director, LaRC, to Paul E. Purser, April 29, 1966, "Proposed pilotage study using interim LOLA simulator."
March 30NASA Deputy Administrator Robert C. Seamans, Jr., said he had been reflecting on network coverage for Apollo, as a result of the Gemini VIII experience. He recognized that Apollo had more weight-carrying ability and stowage space than Gemini and that as a consequence live TV from the spacecraft might be a good possibility. This coverage could allow for extensive TV during travel to and from the moon as well as during lunar landing, disembarkation, and lunar exploration. The TV equipment would not be solely for news purposes but he felt "all manner of demands will be placed upon us for continuous live coverage." He requested a review at an early date as to
March 31A Space Science Office was established as an interim-organizational element of MSC's Engineering and Development Directorate, pending development of a permanent organization. The Office would report to the E&D Manager, Experiments, and would be responsible for providing support technology for manned space flight in environmental elements such as space radiation, micrometeoroid flux, lunar surface conditions and planetary atmospheres. It would also participate in making measurements and conducting experiments with and from manned spacecraft. Robert O. Piland was named Acting Manager of the Office.
Memo, Maxime A. Faget, MSC, to distr., "Establishment of a Space Science Office within E&D," March 31, 1966.
A cutaway view of the large space environment chamber in the Space Environment Simulation Laboratory at Manned Spacecraft Center shows how Apollo spacecraft components were tested at the extreme temperatures they would meet in space.
During the MonthNASA OMSF prepared a position paper on NASA's estimated total cost of the manned lunar landing program. Administrator James E. Webb furnished the paper for the record of the FY 1967 Senate authorization hearings and the same statement was given to the House Committee. The paper was approved by Webb and George E. Mueller and placed the run-out costs for the program at $22.718 billion.
MSF Staff Paper, "Statement on Cost of Manned Lunar Landing Program," March 1966.