The Apollo Spacecraft - A Chronology.|
Part 1 (B)
Preparation for Flight, the Accident, and Investigation
April through June 1966
April 4MSC sent proposed organizational changes to NASA Hq. for approval by the Administrator. The two basic changes to be made were:
The Space Science Division had been discussed with NASA Associate Administrator for Space Science and Applications Homer E. Newell and would consolidate into a single organization several of the space science activities of MSC, including those under the Assistant Chief for Space Environment in Advanced Spacecraft Technology Division as well as the planned Lunar Sample Receiving Laboratory. The four basic functions of the Division, reflecting the increased scientific program emphasis, would be
Ltr., MSC Director Robert R. Gilruth to Mueller, "Changes in MSC Basic Organization," April 4, 1966.
April 6In response to an April 1 query from George E. Mueller, NASA OMSF, asking, "Could GE or Boeing help on GAEC [Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corp.] GSE?" Apollo Program Director Samuel C. Phillips replied that on several occasions in the recent past he had made known to both Center and industry representatives that a highly capable, quick-response ground support equipment (GSE) organization had been built by and through General Electric, which the Centers and other companies should take advantage of whenever it could help with schedules or costs. He also recalled that "in one of our last two meetings with Grumman" he had reminded them of this capability and had suggested they consider it.
Notes, Mueller to Phillips, April 1, 1966; Phillips to Mueller, April 6, 1966.
April 7In response to the March 30 memo from NASA Deputy Administrator Robert C. Seamans, Jr., regarding potential uses of TV on Apollo, Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight George E. Mueller replied that ". . . we have been making a progressive review of the Apollo electronic systems. Performance and application of the Apollo TV system are being looked at as part of the review." He added that he expected to be in position by mid-May to discuss plans with Seamans in some detail.
Memo, Mueller to Seamans, "Potential TV Coverage on Apollo," April 7, 1966.
April 8Deputy Administrator Robert C. Seamans, Jr., received a letter from John S. Foster, Jr., Director of Defense Research and Engineering, expressing pleasure that the agreement between the Department of Defense and NASA on extraterrestrial mapping, charting, and geodesy support had been consummated. He was returning a copy of the agreement for the NASA files.
Ltr., Foster to Seamans, April 8, 1966.
April 12A Bellcomm, Inc., memo to Apollo Program Director Samuel C. Phillips presented the status of the Apollo Block I spacesuit assembly. A modified Gemini suit manufactured by the David Clark Manufacturing Co., the overall assembly consisted of a constant-wear garment and a pressure garment assembly. Crew members would also be provided with coveralls to wear in a pressurized cabin as desired. The primary functional requirement of the Block I suit was to provide environmental protection in a depressurized CSM cabin. Therefore, it did not incorporate a thermal and micrometeoroid-protection garment or the helmet visor assembly, which were required for extravehicular operation. The memo listed seven major modifications required to adapt the Gemini suit to make it acceptable for use as an Apollo Block I item.
Memo, Bellcomm, Inc., to distr., "Status of Block I Space Suit Assembly (SSA) Development - Case 330," sgd. T. A. Bottomley, Jr., April 12, 1966, with Bellcomm routing slip to Phillips from J. Z. Menard, April 13, 1966.
April 15MSC Director Robert R. Gilruth told Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight George E. Mueller he felt it was necessary either to proceed with the Apollo Experiment Pallet program or to cancel the program, reaching a decision not later than April 22. Gilruth pointed out that four contracts had been initiated in December 1965 for Phase C of the program, that the contracts were completed on April 6, that full-scale mockups had been delivered, and that documentation with cost proposals were due April 22. The four contractors were McDonnell Aircraft, Martin-Denver, Northrop, and Lockheed Aircraft-Sunnyvale. Gilruth said it was apparent that all contractors had done an exceptionally good job during the Phase C effort. Low cost had been emphasized in every phase of the program, with contractors responding with a very economical device and at the same time a straightforward design that offered every chance of early availability and successful operation.
Of equal significance, he said, "the Pallet offers the opportunity to minimize the interface with both North American and the Apollo program. It provides a single interface to Apollo and NAA, allowing the multiple-experiment interfaces to be handled by a contractor whose specific interest is in experiments. If experiments are to be carried in the Service Module, the Pallet both by concept and experience offers the most economical approach." Gilruth said the following plan had been developed:
Ltrs., Gilruth to Mueller, April 15, 1966; Mueller to Gilruth, April 22, 1966.
April 18Spacecraft 007 and 011 were delivered to NASA by North American Aviation. Spacecraft 007 was delivered to Houston to be used for water impact and flotation tests in the Gulf of Mexico and in an environmental tank at Ellington AFB. It contained all recovery systems required during actual flight and the total configuration was that of a flight CM.
The CM of spacecraft 011 was similar to those in which astronauts would ride in later flights and the SM contained support systems including environmental control and fuel cell systems and the main service propulsion system. Spacecraft 011 was scheduled to be launched during the third quarter of 1966.
TWX, NAA Space and Information Systems Div. to MSC, April 18, 1966.
April 18ASPO Manager Joseph F. Shea and members of his organization were invited to attend the formal presentation by the Aeronutronic Division of Philco Corp. on a "Study of Lunar Worm Planetary Roving Vehicle Concept," at LaRC on May 3. The exploratory study to determine the feasibility of a bellows-concept mobile vehicle included a mobility and traction analysis for several kinds of bellows motion and several soil surfaces; analysis of both metallic and nonmetallic construction to provide the bellows structure; brief design studies of the concept as applied to a small unmanned vehicle, a supply vehicle, a small lunar shelter, a large lunar shelter; and an overall evaluation of the suitability of the concept for carrying out various missions as compared with other vehicles.
Ltr., Floyd L. Thompson, LaRC, to Shea, "Final Briefing, Contract NAS-1-5709, 'Study of Lunar Worm Planetary Roving Vehicle Concept,' by the Aeronutronic Division of the Philco Corp.," April 18, 1966.
April 21MSC announced the establishment of a Flight Experiment Board. The Board would select and recommend to the Director space flight experiments proposed from within the Center and judged by the Board to be in the best interest of the Center and the NASA space flight program. MSC-originated flight experiments were expected normally to be designated as one of two general classifications: Type I - Medical, Space Science, Flight Operations or Engineering that would yield new knowledge or improve the state of the art; Type II - Operational, which would be required in direct support of major manned flight programs such as Apollo.
Members appointed to the Board were George M. Low, chairman; Warren Gillespie, Jr., executive secretary; Maxime A. Faget; Robert O. Piland; Charles A. Berry; Christopher C. Kraft, Jr.; Donald K. Slayton; Kenneth S. Kleinknecht; and Joseph N. Kotanchik. The Board would meet bimonthly on the first Friday of every even month, with called meetings at the direction of the chairman when necessary to expedite experiments.
MSC Announcement 66-47, MSC Flight Experiments Selection Board, April 21, 1966.
April 22NASA Office of Manned Space Flight policy for Design certification Reviews (DCRs) was defined for application to manned Apollo missions by a NASA directive. The concept stressed was that design evaluation by NASA management should begin with design reviews and inspections of subsystems and culminate in a DCR before selected flights. Documentation presented at DCRs were to reflect this sequence of progressive assessment of subsystems.
Ltr., Samuel C. Phillips to R. A. Petrone, KSC; J. F. Shea, MSC; and E. F. O'Connor, MSFC: "Program Directive No. 7 - Apollo Design Certification Review," April 22, 1966.
April 28J. K. Holcomb, Director of Apollo Flight Operations, NASA OMSF, reported to Apollo Program Director Samuel C. Phillips that the NASA flight scoring system was considered satisfactory in its present form. NASA Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight George E. Mueller had taken exception to including a statement of primary and secondary objectives in the AS-202 Mission Rules Guidelines. The scoring system, established by the Office of Program Reports, labeled each flight a success or a failure in a report to the Administrator and Deputy Administrator and was used in briefing Congress and the press. Flights were categorized only as "successful" or "unsuccessful." Criteria for judging success of a mission were based on the statement of primary objectives in the Mission Operations Report. If one primary objective was missed the flight was classified as "unsuccessful."
Memo, Holcomb to Phillips, "NASA Scoring System," April 28, 1966.
Ltr., Gilruth to Mueller, "Parachute landing test areas for MSC land landing development tests," May 3, 1966.
May 5NASA Hq. requested the MSC Apollo Spacecraft Program Office to reassess the spacecraft control weights and delta-V budget and prepare recommendations for the first lunar landing mission weight and performance budgets. The ASPO spacecraft Weight Report for April indicated that the Block II CSM, when loaded for an 8.3-day mission, would exceed its control weights by more than 180 kilograms and the projected value would exceed the control weight by more than 630 kilograms. At the same time the LEM was reported at 495 kilograms under its control weight. Credit for LEM weight reduction had been attributed to Grumman's Super Weight Improvement Program.
Memo, Apollo Program Director to Manager, ASPO, "Lunar Landing Mission Weights and Performance," May 5, 1966.
May 5Engine testing at the Arnold Engineering Development Center (AEDC) had been the subject of discussions during recent months with representatives from MSC, Apollo Program Quality and Test groups, AEDC, Air Force Systems Command and ARO, Inc., participating. While AEDC had not been able to implement formal NASA requirements, the situation had improved and MSC was receiving acceptable data.
In a letter to ASPO Manager Joseph F. Shea, Apollo Program Director Samuel C. Phillips said, ". . . I do not think further pressure is in order. However, in a separate letter to Lee Gossick, I have asked that he give his personal attention to the strict adherence to test procedures, up-to-date certification of instrumentation, and care and cleanliness in handling of test hardware."
Ltr., Phillips to Shea, May 5, 1966.
May 9The Grumman-directed Apollo Mission Planning Task Force reported on studies of abort sequences for translunar coast situations and the LEM capability to support an abort if the SM had to be jettisoned. The LEM could be powered down in drifting flight except for five one-hour periods, and a three-man crew could be supported for 57 hours 30 minutes. It was assumed that all crewmen would be unsuited in the LEM or tunnel area and that the LEM cabin air, circulated by cabin fans, would provide adequate environment.
Grumman LEM Engineering Memo to distribution, "LEM Consumable Capability for Abort to Earth from Translunar Coast," May 9, 1966.
May 11MSC Deputy Director George M. Low recommended to Maxime A. Faget, MSC, that, in light of Air Force and Aerospace Corp. studies on space rescue, MSC plans for a general study on space rescue be discontinued and a formal request be made to OMSF to cancel the request for proposals, which had not yet been released. As an alternative, Low suggested that MSC should cooperate with the Air Force to maximize gains from the USAF task on space rescue requirements.
Memo, Low to Faget, "Space rescue," May 11, 1966.
May 12A memo to KSC, MSC, and MSFC from the NASA Office of Manned Space Flight reported that the NASA Project Designation Committee had concurred in changes in Saturn/Apollo nomenclature recommended by Robert C. Seamans, Jr., George E. Mueller, and Julian Scheer:
Memo, NASA Hq. to Center Public Affairs Officers, May 12, 1966.
May 19George E. Mueller, NASA Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight, forwarded views and recommendations of the Interagency Committee on Back Contamination to MSC Director Robert R. Gilruth for information and necessary action. The Committee had met at MSC to discuss the status of the Lunar Receiving Laboratory (LRL) on April 13.
The committee agreed in general philosophy and preliminary specific detail with the overall design plan, schedule, size containment provisions, and functional areas of the LRL; it approved the plan to secure Baylor Medical School or an equally qualified institution to head a development for the bioanalysis protocol; it expressed its concern with the possibility of uncontrolled outventing of CM atmosphere following splashdown; and it recommended that MSC investigate alternate means of treatment and isolation of Apollo space crews and associated physicians and technicians. MSC replied on June 8 that the analytical work in the engineering and biologic areas of the recommendations had been started and that the date for review and evaluation of the studies would be June 27.
Ltrs., Mueller to Gilruth, May 19, 1966; Gilruth to Mueller, June 8, 1966; "Interagency Committee on Back Contamination Views and Recommendations," updated.
May 19E. E. Christensen, NASA OMSF Director of Mission Operations, in a letter to Christopher C. Kraft, Jr., MSC, said he was certain the problem of potential mission abort was receiving considerable attention within the Flight Operations Directorate. The resulting early development of related mission rules should provide other mission activities with adequate planning information for design, engineering, procedural, and training decisions. Christensen requested that development of medical mission rules be given emphasis in planning, to minimize the necessity for late modification of spacecraft telemetry systems, on-board instrumentation, ground-based data-processing schemes, and training schedules.
Ltr., Christensen to Kraft, May 19, 1966.
May 19As a result of a fire in the environmental control system (ECS) unit at AiResearch Co., a concerted effort was under way to identify nonmetallic materials as well as other potential fire problems. MSC told North American Aviation it appeared that at least some modifications would be required in Block I spacecraft and that modifications could be considered only as temporary expedients to correct conditions that could be more readily resolved in the original design. MSC requested that North American eliminate or restrict as far as possible combustible materials in the following categories in the Block II spacecraft:
TWX, C. L. Taylor, MSC, to North American Aviation, Attn: J. C. Cozad, May 19, 1966.
May 25AS-500-F, the first full-scale Apollo Saturn V launch vehicle and spacecraft combination, was rolled out from Kennedy Space Center's Vehicle Assembly Building to the launch pad, for use in verifying launch facilities, training crews, and developing test procedures. The 111-meter, 227,000-kilogram vehicle was moved by a diesel-powered steel-link-tread crawler-transporter exactly five years after President John F. Kennedy asked the United States to commit itself to a manned lunar landing within the decade.
Marshall Space Flight Center News Release 66-114; MSFC, Marshall Star, June 1, 1966.
May 27ASPO Manager Joseph F. Shea informed Rocco A. Petrone, KSC, that structural problems in the CSM fuel and oxidizer tanks required standpipe modifications and that they were mandatory for Block I and Block II spacecraft. Retrofit was to be effective on CSM 011 at KSC and other vehicles at North American's plant in Downey, Calif.
TWX, Shea to Petrone, May 27, 1966.
Memo, Phillips to Vecchietti, "Lunar Penetrometer Development," June 1, 1966.
June 2Surveyor I, launched May 30 from Cape Kennedy on an Atlas-Centaur, softlanded on the moon in the Ocean of Storms and began transmitting the first of more than 10,000 clear, detailed television pictures to Jet Propulsion Laboratory's Deep Space Facility, Goldstone, Calif. The landing sequence began 3,200 kilometers above the moon with the spacecraft traveling at a speed of 9,700 kilometers per hour. The spacecraft was successfully slowed to 5.6 kilometers per hour by the time it reached 4-meter altitude and then free-fell to the surface at 13 kilometers per hour. The landing was so precise that the three footpads touched the surface within 19 milliseconds of each other, and it confirmed that the lunar surface could support the LM. It was the first U.S. attempt to softland on the moon.
Astronautics and Aeronautics, 1966 (NASA SP-4007, 1967), pp. 203-204.
June 2MSC top management had agreed with Headquarters on early Center participation in discussions of scientific experiments for manned flights, Deputy Director George M. Low informed MSC Experiments Program Manager Robert O. Piland. NASA Associate Administrator for Space Science and Applications Homer E. Newell had asked, during a recent OSSA Senior Council meeting at MSC, that the Center and astronauts comment on technical and operational feasibility of experiments before OSSA divisions and subcommittees acted on proposals. Low and Director Robert R. Gilruth had agreed. Because of manpower requirements MSC refused a request to be represented on all the subcommittees, but MSC would send representatives to all meetings devoted primarily to manned flight experiments and would contribute to other meetings by phone.
Memo, Low to Piland, "Feasibility review of manned space science experiments," June 2, 1966.
June 2Headquarters informed MSC that MSFC had been assigned development responsibility for the S027 X-ray Astronomy experiment for integration with the Saturn S-IVB/instrument unit. Should development be found not feasible, a modified version of the equipment was planned. MSC was requested to study:
Ltr., John H. Disher, NASA Hq., to George M. Low, MSC, June 2, 1966.
June 6In response to a query on needs for or objections to an Apollo spacecraft TV system, MSC Assistant Director for Flight Crew Operations Donald K. Slayton informed the Flight Control Division that FCOD had no operational requirements for a TV capability in either the Block I or the Block II CSM or LM. He added that his Directorate would object to interference caused by checkout, crew training, and inflight time requirements.
Memo, Slayton to Chief, Flight Control Div., MSC, "Apollo Spacecraft Television System," June 6, 1966.
June 7A series of actions on the LM rendezvous sensor was summarized in a memo to the MSC Apollo Procurement Branch. A competition between LM rendezvous radar and the optical tracker had been initiated in January 1966 after discussion by ASPO Manager Joseph F. Shea, NASA Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight George E. Mueller, and MSC Guidance and Control Division Chief Robert C. Duncan. On May 13, RCA and Hughes Aircraft Go. made presentations on the rendezvous radar optical tracker. The NASA board that heard the presentations met for two days to evaluate the two programs and presented the following conclusions:
Memo, Robert C. Duncan, MSC, to Henry P. Yschek, MSC, "LEM Rendezvous Sensor Evaluation," June 7, 1966.
June 9MSC informed the NASA Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight that it had established a Lunar Receiving Laboratory Program Office with Joseph V. Piland as Program Manager. The office included the functions of program control, procurement, requirements, engineering, and construction.
Ltr., MSC Director Robert R. Gilruth to George E. Mueller, NASA OMSF, June 9, 1966.
June 16The MSC Flight Experiments Selection Board reviewed and endorsed three proposals for analysis of lunar samples and forwarded them to NASA Hq. for consideration. Titles of the proposals and principal investigators were:
June 16Joseph N. Kotanchik, MSC, told H. E. McCoy of KSC that his April 4 letter discussing problems and solutions in packing parachutes at KSC by Northrop-Ventura Co. had been studied. To effect economies in the program and move forward delivery of a complete spacecraft to KSC, the upper-deck buildup would be done at North American Aviation's plant in Downey, Calif., and therefore parachutes would be packed at Northrop-Ventura beginning with spacecraft 017. Kotanchik requested KSC to support the parachute packing at Northrup-Ventura by assigning two experienced inspectors for the period required (estimated at two to four weeks for each spacecraft).
Ltr., Kotanchik to McCoy, "Apollo Spacecraft parachute packing," June 16, 1966.
June 23A memorandum for the file, prepared by J. S. Dudek of Bellcomm, Inc., proposed a two-burn deboost technique that required establishing an initial lunar parking orbit and, after a coast phase, performing an added plane change to attain the final lunar parking orbit. The two-burn deboost technique would make a much larger lunar area accessible than that provided by the existing Apollo mission profile, which used a single burn to place the CSM and LM directly in a circular lunar parking orbit over the landing site and would permit accessibility to only a bow-tie shaped area approximately centered about the lunar equator. On August 1, the memo was forwarded to Apollo Program Director Samuel C. Phillips, stating that the trajectory modification would increase the accessible lunar area about threefold. The note to Phillips from R. L. Wagner stated that discussions had been held with MSC and it appeared that the flight programs as planned at the time could handle the modified mission.
Memo for file, Bellcomm, Inc, "A Generalized Two Burn Deboost Technique which Increases Apollo Lunar Accessibility - Case 310," June 23, 1966; note, Wagner to Phillips, "Working Note," Aug. 1, 1966.
June 30Grumman LM thermodynamics studies showed the LM thermal shield would have to be modified because fire-in-the-hole pressures and temperatures had increased. Portions of the LM descent stage would be redesigned, but modification of the descent stage blast deflector was unlikely.
Apollo Spacecraft Program Quarterly Report No. 16, for Period Ending June 30, 1966.
June 30Crew procedures in the LM during lunar stay were reported completed and documented for presentation to NASA Hq. personnel.
Apollo Spacecraft Program Quarterly Status Report No. 16, for Period Ending June 30, 1966.