The Apollo Spacecraft - A Chronology.|
Part 1 (C)
Preparation for Flight, the Accident, and Investigation
July through September 1966
July 1Melvyn Savage, Apollo Test Director in NASA Hq., was named to head the Apollo Applications Program Test Directorate. LeRoy E. Day was named to replace Savage in Apollo.
Note, John H. Disher, NASA OMSF, to Monte Wright, NASA History Office, "Comments on Volume IV - The Apollo Spacecraft, Draft Copy," May 21, 1975.
Week Ending July 1The Quarterly Program Review was held at Grumman by NASA Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight George E. Mueller and Apollo Program Director Samuel C. Phillips. Attendees included MSC's Robert R. Gilruth, Joseph F. Shea, and William A. Lee. The meeting focused on excessive costs experienced by Grumman and Grumman President L. J. Evans's announcement of the immediate establishment of a Program Control Office with a subcontract manager reporting directly to Vice President Joseph Gavin. Hugh McCullough was appointed to head the Program Control Office.
The next week Evans made the following appointments: Robert Mullaney was relieved as Program Manager and appointed Assistant to Senior Vice President George F. Titterton; William Rathke was relieved as Engineering Manager and named Program Manager; Thomas Kelly was promoted from Assistant Engineering Manager to Engineering Manager; and Brian Evans was relieved as corporate Director of Quality Assurance and appointed LEM Subcontract Manager, reporting to Gavin.
Memos, Frank X. Battersby to Chief, Apollo Procurement Br., Procurement and Contracts Div., MSC, "Weekly Activity Report, BMR Bethpage, Week Ending July 1, 1966," July 6, 1966; and "Weekly Activity Report, BMR Bethpage, Week Ending July 8, 1966," July 12, 1966.
July 1Director of Flight Operations Christopher C. Kraft, Jr., said that MSC had been directed by NASA OMSF to outline technical problems and both cost and schedule impact of adding three backup Apollo missions to the planned flight schedule. The missions to be evaluated would be AS-207/208 or AS-206/207; AS-503D; and AS-503F. Each of these missions would provide alternate means of obtaining primary program objectives in the event of flight contingencies during tests or of major schedule adjustments. They had been constructed using as much of the primary mission characteristics as possible. The goal was to be able to switch from a primary to a backup mission within three or four months before a launch without any schedule slip. Kraft pointed out that it was unlikely that additional funds would be available to cover the additional work and that it was important to determine areas in the primary mission plan that would suffer from either dilution or deletion should a decision be made to make these missions a part of the test development program. Recognizing that a number of man-weeks of effort would be required for adequate evaluation, Kraft requested that any impact determined from inclusion of the flights in the test program be made available at MSC for coordination and presentation to Apollo Program Director by July 15.
Memo, Kraft to distr., "Evaluation of the technical problems, cost and schedule impact of adding Apollo backup missions to the flight test programs," July 1, 1966.
July 5AS-203 lifted off from Launch Complex 37, Eastern Test Range, at 10:53 a.m. EDT in the second of three Apollo-Saturn missions scheduled before manned flight in the Apollo program. All objectives - to acquire flight data on the S-IVB stage and instrument unit - were achieved.
The uprated Saturn I - consisting of an S-IB stage, S-IVB stage, and an instrument unit - boosted an unmanned payload into an original orbit of 185 by 189 kilometers. The inboard engine cutoff of the first stage occurred after 2 minutes 18 seconds of flight and the outboard engine cutoff was 4 seconds later. The S-IVB engine burned 4 minutes 50 seconds. No recovery was planned and the payload was expected to enter the earth's atmosphere after about four days.
Astronautics and Aeronautics, 1966, (NASA SP-4007, 1967), p. 233; memos, Mission Director for Apollo-Saturn 203, "AS-203 Mission Director's Post Mission Report," undated; Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight to Administrator, "Apollo-Saturn Flight Mission AS-203, Post Launch Report No. 1" (Mission Operation Report M-932-66-02), July 15, 1966.
July 5NASA requested assignment of three additional sanitary engineers from the Public Health Service. Pointing out that one sanitary engineer had been on detail to NASA since 1964 and that his effort had been directed primarily to the control of outbound contamination, NASA said this problem and that of back contamination had reached proportions that required a more intensified effort. NASA would reimburse the Public Health Service under contract.
Ltr., Deputy Administrator Robert C. Seamans, Jr., to William Stewart, Public Health Service, July 5, 1966.
July 6North American Aviation informed Grumman that it was closing out its office at Grumman's Bethpage, N.Y., plant at the close of business on July 8. If study found that reestablishment of a Space and Information Division resident representative at Bethpage was in the best interest of the program, North American Aviation would comply.
TWX, North American Aviation, Space and Information Systems Div., Downey, Calif., to Grumman, Bethpage, N.Y., July 6, 1966.
July 6Homer E. Newell, NASA Associate Administrator for Space Science and Applications, told George E. Mueller, NASA Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight, that "the highest scientific priority for the Apollo mission is for return to earth of lunar surface material." He added that the material would have a higher scientific value for geologists if the location and attitude of each sample were carefully noted and for the biologists if collected in an aseptic manner. He suggested the following sequence:
July 11In reply to a letter from Grumman, MSC concurred with the recommendation that a 135-centimeter lunar surface probe be provided on each landing-leg footpad and that the engine cutoff logic retain its basic manual mode. MSC did not concur with the Grumman recommendation to incorporate the automatic engine cutoff logic in the LM design. MSC believed that the planned descent-stage engine's manual cutoff landing mode was adequate to accomplish lunar touchdown and had decided that the probe-actuated cutoff capability should not be included in the LM design.
TWX, James L. Neal, MSC, to Grumman, Attn: R. S. Mullaney, "LM Lunar Touchdown, Logic," July 11, 1966.
July 13MSC Director of Flight Crew Operations Donald K. Slayton and Director of Flight Operations Christopher C. Kraft, Jr., told ASPO Manager Joseph F. Shea: "A comprehensive examination of the Apollo missions leading to the lunar landing indicates that there is a considerable discontinuity between missions AS-205 and AS-207/208. Both missions AS-204 and AS-205 are essentially long duration system validation flights. AS-207/208 is the first of a series of very complicated missions. A valid operational requirement exists to include an optical equal-period rendezvous on AS-205. The rendezvous would be similar to the one initially planned for the Gemini VII flight using, in this case, the S-IVB as the target vehicle." The maneuver would give the crew an opportunity to examine the control dynamics, visibility, and piloting techniques required to perform the basic AS-207/208 mission.
Memo, Slayton and Kraft to Shea, "Equal-Period Rendezvous for AS-205," July 13, 1966.
July 20MSC Director Robert R. Gilruth informed MSFC Director Wernher von Braun that for the past two years MSC had studied the use of the mapping and survey system (M&SS) in conjunction with the Apollo program. The system objective would be lunar mapping and landing site certification, and management responsibility was assigned to the MSC Experiments Program Office. System parameters had been established and a decision made to configure the M&SS hardware and supporting systems in a cylindrical container. The container - a "payload module" - would be carried in the spacecraft-LM adapter in place of the LM during the boost phase of flight. The payload module would have docking capability with the CSM like the LM's and, in the docked mode, would map and survey the moon in a programmed lunar orbit.
The M&SS experiment had already been funded by NASA OMSF and would support five possible flights beginning with AS-504. Gilruth forwarded a statement of work and requested MSFC to study it and furnish MSC a cost estimate, technical proposal, and management plan by July 29.
Ltr., Gilruth to von Braun, July 20, 1966.
July 26NASA Deputy Administrator Robert C. Seamans, Jr., told the Associate Administrators that it was NASA's fundamental policy that projects and programs were best planned and executed when responsibilities were clearly assigned to a management group. He then assigned full responsibility for Apollo and Apollo Applications missions to the Office of Manned Space Flight. OMSF would fund approved integral experiment hardware, provide the required Apollo and Saturn systems, integrate the experiments with those systems, and plan and execute the missions. Specific responsibility for developing and testing individual experiments would be assigned on the basis of experiment complexity, integration requirements, and relation to the prime mission objectives, by the Office of Administrator after receiving recommendations from Associate Administrators.
The Office of Space Science and Applications (OSSA) would be responsible for selecting scientific experiments for manned missions and the experimenter teams for data reduction, data analysis, and dissemination. OSSA would provide to OMSF complete scientific requirements for each experiment selected for flight.
The Office of Advanced Research and Technology (OART) was assigned the overall responsibility for the technology content of the NASA space flight program and for selecting technology experiments for manned missions. OART would provide OMSF complete technology requirements for each experiment selected for flight. When appropriate, scientific and technical personnel would be located in OMSF to provide a working interface with experimenters. The office responsible for each experiment would determine the tracking and acquisition requirements for each experiment; then OMSF would integrate the requirements for all experiments and forward the total requirements to the Office of Tracking and Data Acquisition.
Seamans also spelled out Center responsibilities for manned space flight missions: MSFC, Apollo telescope mount; MSC, Apollo lunar surface experiment package (ALSEP), lunar science experiments, earth resources experiments, and life support systems; and Goddard Space Flight Center, atmospheric science, meteorology, and astronomical science experiments.
Memo, Seamans to distr., "Management Responsibilities for Future Manned Flight Activities," July 26, 1966.
July 28NASA Hq. authorized MSC to proceed with opening bids on August 1 for Phase I construction of the Lunar Receiving Laboratory. MSC was requested to announce the name of the contractor selected for final negotiations for Phase II construction, before opening bids for Phase I construction.
TWX, NASA Hq. to MSC, "Lunar Receiving Laboratory," July 28, 1966.
July 29In response to a request from Apollo Program Director Samuel C. Phillips, Bellcomm, Inc., prepared a memorandum on the major concerns resulting from its review of the AC Electronics report on the Apollo Computer Design Review. In a transmittal note to Phillips, I. M. Ross said, "We have discussed these items with MSC. It is possible, however, that [Robert] Duncan and [Joseph] Shea have not been made aware of these problems." The Bellcomm memorandum for file, prepared by J. J. Rocchio, reported that in late February 1966 MSC had authorized AC Electronics Division (ACED) to initiate a complete design review of the Apollo guidance computer to ensure adequate performance during the lunar landing mission. A June 8 ACED report presented findings and included Massachusetts Institute of Technology comments on the findings. In addition to recommending a number of specific design changes, the report identified a number of areas which warranted further review. MSC authorized ACED to perform necessary additional reviews to eliminate all indeterminate design analyses and to resolve any discrepancies between the ACED and MIT positions. At the time Bellcomm prepared the memo many of the problem areas had been or were in process of being satisfactorily resolved. However, several still remained:
Ltr., Mueller to Gilruth, Aug. 1, 1966.
August 1NASA signed a supplemental agreement with Chrysler Corp.'s Space Division at New Orleans, La., converting the uprated Saturn I first-stage production contract from cost-plus-fixed-fee to cost-plus-incentive-fee. Under the agreement, valued at $339 million, the amount of the contractor's fee would be based on ability to perform assigned tasks satisfactorily and meet prescribed costs and schedules. The contract called for Chrysler to manufacture, assemble and test 12 uprated Saturn I first stages and provide system engineering, integration support, ground support equipment, and launch services.
NASA News Release 66-201, "Agreement with Chrysler Converts Saturn I Contract to Incentive-Type," Aug. 1, 1966.
August 3The architect-engineer of the Lunar Receiving Laboratory, Smith, Hinchman & Grylls, proposed using a much darker tint in the exterior windows of the LRL than used in other buildings at MSC. J. G. Griffith, Chief of the Engineering Office, inspected samples of the glass and reported:
August 3MSC requested LaRC to study the visibility of the S-IVB/SLA combination from the left-hand couch in the command module with the couch in the docked position. (Two positions could be attained, one of them a docking and rendezvous position that moved the seat into a better viewing area from the left-hand window.) LM and CM mockups were already at Langley from the CM-active moving-base docking simulation conducted May-July 1965.
The request was initiated because the flight crew had to rely on an out- the-window reference of the S-IVB/SLA to verify separation of the LM/CSM combination from the S-IVB/SLA. The question arose as to whether the out-the-window reference was sufficient or whether an electromechanical device with a panel readout in the CM was required to verify separation.
Ltr., Director, MSC, to LaRC, Attn: Floyd L. Thompson, Director, "Apollo visibility study," Aug. 3, 1966.
August 3NASA modified its contract with IBM to provide for work to be performed under a multiple-incentive arrangement covering cost, performance, schedule and equipment management. It also ordered the Real Time Computer Complex (RTCC) at MSC to be converted to IBM System computers, which would increase the operational capability for Apollo. The contract with IBM's Federal Systems Division, Gaithersburg, Md., provided the computing capability required for mission monitoring, inflight mission planning and simulation activities.
NASA News Release 66-205, "Apollo Complex to Be Converted in IBM Contract," Aug. 3, 1966.
August 5Maxime A. Faget, MSC, informed Center Director Robert R. Gilruth there was a continuing effort on lightweight, energy-absorbing, and stowable net couches, and development had been redirected to a nonelastic fabric net couch system attached to existing Apollo attenuation struts. North American Aviation had previously been given the task of investigating the use of net couches on Apollo. Results of that investigation indicated the spacecraft attenuation-strut-vehicle attachments would be overloaded when using net couches. The North American Aviation investigators made their calculations by assuming no-man attenuation in the lateral and longitudinal force directions. Those calculations were recomputed using the design criteria and proper loadings and the results indicated no overloading when using net couches. MSC's Advanced Spacecraft Technology Division had reviewed and approved the efforts, permitting use of the net couches on Apollo and Apollo Applications missions.
Memo, Faget to Gilruth, "Net couches for Apollo or Apollo Applications Missions," Aug. 5, 1966.
August 8MSC requested Ames Research Center to conduct a manual control simulation of the Saturn V upper stages with displays identical to those planned in the spacecraft. On August 5, Brent Creer and Gordon Hardy of Ames had met with representatives from ASPO, Guidance and Control Division, and Flight Crew Operations Directorate to discuss implementation of a modified Ames simulation which would determine feasibility of manual control from first stage burnout, using existing spacecraft displays and control interfaces. Simulations at Ames in 1965 had indicated that the Saturn V could be manually flown into orbit within dispersions of 914 meters in altitude, and 0.1 degree in flight path angle.
Ames responded on August 24 that setting up the flight simulator had been initiated and that the project was proceeding according to a schedule arranged by Warren J. North of MSC and Creer.
Memo, Chief, Flight Crew Support Div., "Saturn V. Manual Control," Aug. 8, 1966; ltrs., Robert R. Gilruth, Director MSC, to H. Julian Allen, Director, Ames Research Center, Aug. 8, 1966; Allen to Gilruth, Aug. 24, 1966.
August 9MSC worked out a program with LaRC for use of the Lunar Landing Research Facility (LLRF) for preflight transition for LM flight crews before free-flight training in the lunar landing training vehicle. LM hardware sent to Langley to be used as training aids included two flight director attitude indicators, an attitude controller assembly, a thrust-translation controller assembly, and an altitude-rate meter.
Memo, George C. Franklin, MSC, to W. A. Lee, MSC, "Status of Lunar Module hardware for Langley Research Center Lunar Landing Research Facility (LaRC LLRF)," Aug. 9, 1966.
August 10 - September 14Lunar Orbiter I was launched from Cape Kennedy Launch Complex 13 at 3:26 p.m. EDT August 10 to photograph possible Apollo landing sites from lunar orbit. The Atlas-Agena D launch vehicle injected the spacecraft into its planned 90-hour trajectory to the moon. A midcourse correction maneuver was made at 8 p.m. the next day; a planned second midcourse maneuver was not necessary. A faultless deboost maneuver on August 14 achieved the desired initial elliptic orbit around the moon, and one week later the spacecraft was commanded to make a transfer maneuver to place it in a final close-in elliptic orbit of the moon.
During the spacecraft's stay in the final close-in orbit, the gravitational fields of the earth and the moon were expected to influence the orbital elements. The influence was verified by spacecraft tracking data, which showed that the perilune altitude varied with time. From an initial perilune altitude of 58 kilometers, the perilune decreased to 49 kilometers. At this time an orbit adjustment maneuver began an increase in the altitude, which was expected to reach a maximum after three months and then begin to decrease again. The spacecraft was expected to impact on the lunar surface about six months after the orbit adjustment.
During the photo-acquisition phase of the flight, August 18 to 29, Lunar Orbiter I photographed the 9 selected primary potential Apollo landing sites, including the one in which Surveyor I landed; 7 other potential Apollo landing sites; the east limb of the moon; and 11 areas on the far side of the moon. Lunar Orbiter I also took photos of the earth, giving man the first view of the earth from the vicinity of the moon (this particular view has been widely publicized). A total of 207 frames (sets of medium- and high-resolution pictures) were taken, 38 while the spacecraft was in initial orbit, the remainder while it was in the final close-in orbit. Lunar Orbiter I achieved its mission objectives, and, with the exception of the high-resolution camera, the performance of the photo subsystem and other spacecraft subsystems was outstanding. At the completion of the photo readouts, the spacecraft had responded to about 5,000 discrete commands from the earth and had made about 700 maneuvers.
Photographs obtained during the mission were assessed and screened by representatives of the Lunar Orbiter Project Office, U.S. Geological Survey, DOD mapping agencies, MSC, and Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
Memo, NASA Associate Administrator for Space Science and Applications to Administrator, "Lunar Orbiter I Post Launch Report," Oct. 20, 1966 (Mission Operation Report S-814-66-01, Oct. 19, 1966).
August 11MSC suggested that Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corp. redesign the injector for the Bell Aerospace Go. ascent engine as a backup immediately. The Center was aware of costs, but the seriousness of the injector fabrication problem and the impact resulting from not having a backup was felt to be justification for the decision.
TWX, MSC to Grumman, Aug. 11, 1966.
August 16The mockup of LM test model No. 3 (TM-3) was shipped by Super Guppy aircraft to Cape Kennedy, on the first trip of the Super Guppy from Grumman, Bethpage, N.Y.
Memo, Frank X. Battersby to Chief, Apollo Procurement Br., Procurement and Contracts Div., MSC, "Weekly Activity Report, BMR Bethpage, Week Ending August 19, 1966," Aug. 24, 1966.
August 22In a letter to the President of Westinghouse Electric Corp., George M. Low, Acting Director of MSC, expressed his concern about the lunar television camera program. Low pointed out that Westinghouse had been awarded the contract by MSC in October 1964, that delivery of the cameras was to be made over a 15-month period, and that the total value of the original cost-plus-fixed-fee contract was $2,296,249 including a fee of $150,300. The cost reports required by the contract (at the time of Low's letter) showed that Westinghouse estimated the cost to complete at $7,927,000 and estimated the hardware delivery date as January 31, 1967. Low pointed out that the proposal letter from Westinghouse in May 1964 stated that "the Aerospace Division considers the Lunar Television Camera to represent a goal culminating years of concentrated effort directed toward definition, design, and verification of critical elements of this most important program. Accordingly, the management assures NASA Manned Spacecraft Center that the program will be executed with nothing less than top priority application of all personnel, facilities, and management resources." Low said that despite these assurances the overrun and schedule slippages indicated a lack of adequate program management at all levels and a general lack of initiative in taking corrective actions to solve problems encountered.
Westinghouse replied to Low on September 1 that it, too, was disappointed "when technology will not permit a research and development program such as this to be completed within its original cost and schedule objectives." The reply stated "Our people have taken every precaution - gone to the extreme, perhaps, in its impact on cost and schedule - to achieve the required mission reliability. . . ." The letter concluded by expressing pleasure in the harmony that had existed between Westinghouse and MSC personnel and by praising the performance of the Gemini rendezvous radar, holding it up as an objective for excellence of performance for the lunar television camera.
Ltrs., Low to D. C. Burnham, President, Westinghouse Electric Corp., Aug. 22, 1966; Charles H. Weaver, Group Vice President, Atomic, Defense & Space Group, Westinghouse Electric Corp., to Low, Sept. 1, 1966.
August 22MSC Director Robert R. Gilruth requested of Jet Propulsion Laboratory Director William H. Pickering that JPL fire the Surveyor spacecraft's vernier engine after the Surveyor landed on moon, to give insight into how much erosion could be expected from an LM landing. The LM descent engine was to operate until it was about one nozzle diameter from landing on the lunar surface; after the Surveyor landed, its engine would be about the same distance from the surface. Gilruth told Pickering that LaRC was testing a reaction control engine to establish surface shear pressure forces, surface pressures, and back pressure sources, and offered JPL that data when obtained.
Ltr., Gilruth to Pickering, "Surveyor spacecraft experiments," Aug. 22, 1966.
August 22NASA informed four firms that had completed design studies on the Apollo experiment pallet that there would be no hardware development and fabrication of the pallet. The four firms had been selected in November 1965 to make four-month studies of a pallet to carry experiments in the spacecraft SM during the Apollo manned lunar landings. The firms were Lockheed Missiles and Space Co., Sunnyvale, Calif.; The Martin Co., Denver, Colo.; McDonnell Aircraft Corp., St. Louis, Mo.; and Northrop Space Laboratories, Hawthorne, Calif. (See April 15.)
NASA News Release 66-224, "Apollo Pallet Development Phase Vetoed," Aug. 22, 1966.
August 25The unmanned suborbital Apollo-Saturn 202 mission was successfully flown - the third Saturn IB flight test and the second CM heatshield flight test. The 202 included an uprated Saturn I (Saturn IB) launch vehicle (S-IB stage, S-IVB stage, and instrument unit) and the Apollo 011 spacecraft (spacecraft-lunar module adapter, service module, command module, and launch escape system). Liftoff was from Launch Complex 34 at Cape Kennedy at 1:15 p.m. EDT. The command module landed safely in the southwest Pacific Ocean, near Wake Island 1 hour 33 minutes after liftoff. It was recovered by the U.S.S. Hornet about 370 kilometers uprange from the recovery ship.
Spacecraft 011 was essentially a Block I spacecraft with the following exceptions: couches, crew equipment, and the cabin postlanding ventilation were omitted; and three auxiliary batteries, a mission control programmer, four cameras, and flight qualification instrumentation were added.
Of six primary test objectives assigned to the mission (see Appendix 5), the objectives for the environmental control, electrical power, and communications subsystems were not completely satisfied. All other spacecraft test objectives were successfully accomplished.
"MSC-A-R-66-5, Postlaunch Report for Mission AS-202 (Apollo Spacecraft 011)," MSC, Oct. 12, 1966, pp. 1-1, 2-1, 3-1; memo, Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight to Administrator, "Apollo Saturn Flight Mission AS-202, Post Launch Report No. 1" (Mission Operations Report M-932-66-03), Sept. 1, 1966.
Week Ending August 26The Bethpage RASPO Business Manager and Grumman representatives met to choose a vendor to produce the orbital rate drive electronics for Apollo and LM (ORDEAL). Three proposals were received: Arma Division of American Bosch Arma Corp., $275,000; Kearfott Products Division of General Precision, Inc., $295,000; and Bendix Corp., $715,000. Kearfott's proposal was evaluated as offering a more desirable weight, more certain delivery, and smaller size within the power budget and consequently was selected although it was not the low bid. Evaluators believed that Arma's approach would not be easy to implement, that its delivery schedule was unrealistic, and that its proposal lacked a definite work statement in the areas of testing, quality control, reliability, and documentation.
Memo, Frank X. Battersby to Chief, Apollo Procurement Br., Procurement and Contracts Div., MSC, "Weekly Activity Report, BMR Bethpage, Week Ending August 26, 1966," Aug. 31, 1966.
August 26Because of the reported NASA OMSF rejection of funding responsibility for prototyping and equipping the Lunar Receiving Laboratory (LRL) and the strong NASA Office of Space Science and Applications concern over the quarantine facilities and techniques, Craig K. Peper of OSSA suggested that
August 29MSC's Flight Crew Support Division prepared an operations plan describing division support of flight experiments. Activities planned would give operational support to both flight crew and experimenters. Crew training, procedures development, and integration, mission-time support, and postmission debriefings were discussed in detail.
Memo, Warren J. North, MSC, to Technical Assistant for Apollo, "Flight Experiments Operations Plan of the Flight Crew Support Division," Aug. 22, 1966.
August 30Because the Apollo Mission Simulator (AMS) was one of the pacing items in the Apollo Block II flight program, a critical constraint upon operational readiness was the availability of Government-furnished equipment (GFE) to the AMS contractor, General Precision's Link Group. For that reason MSC ASPO Manager Joseph F. Shea asked A. L. Brady, Chief of the Apollo Mission Simulator Office, to establish controls to ensure that GFE items were provided to Link in time to support the program. He requested that an individual be appointed to be responsible for each item and that a weekly report on the status be submitted on each item.
Memo, Shea to Manager, Apollo Mission Simulator Program, "GFE Support to AMS Block II Modifications," Aug. 30, 1966.
August 31MSC Director of Flight Crew Operations Donald K. Slayton informed ASPO Manager Joseph F. Shea that total management during thermal vacuum testing of spacecraft 008 was inadequate, resulting in misunderstandings between personnel and organizational groups concerned with the test. Slayton offered a number of suggestions for future, similar tests:
Funding for the analyses could be determined only after selections had been made, but budget estimates for that purpose had been made for $2 million in FY 1968 and $6 million in FY 1969, exclusive of laboratory upgrading and funding of the LRL. As a part of the continuing research effort, 33 laboratories had received support during 1966 for upgrading their ability to handle and examine lunar material. Newell added that 125 proposals for handling lunar material had been received and were under review.
Memo, Newell to Seamans, "Lunar Sample Analysis Program," Sept. 7, 1966.
September 14MSC Deputy Director George M. Low submitted information to NASA Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight George E. Mueller on manpower requirements and operating costs for testing in MSC's large thermal vacuum chamber. Spacecraft 008 testing reflected a manpower cost (civil service and contractor) of $7,034,000, chamber operating cost of $321,000, and material costs of $277,000. The spacecraft had been in the chamber 83 days, during which time a 92-hour unmanned test and a 163-hour manned test had been conducted.
Ltr., Low to Mueller, Sept. 14, 1966.
September 20Surveyor II was launched from Cape Kennedy at 8:32 a.m. EDT. The Atlas-Centaur launch vehicle placed the spacecraft on a nearly perfect lunar intercept trajectory that would have missed the aim point by about 130 kilometers. Following injection, the spacecraft successfully accomplished all required sequences up to the midcourse thrust phase. This phase was not successful because of the failure of one of the three vernier engines to ignite, causing eventual loss of the mission. Contact with the spacecraft was lost at 5:35 a.m. EDT, September 22, and impact on the lunar surface was predicted at 11:18 p.m. on that day.
Memo, Associate Administrator for Space Science and Applications to Administrator. "Surveyor II Lunar Flight Project, Post Launch Report No. 1," Oct. 7, 1966 (Mission Operation Report S-803-66-02).
September 21NASA awarded a $4.2-million contract to Honeywell, Inc., Computer Control Division, Framingham, Mass., to provide digital computer systems for Apollo command and lunar module simulators. Under the fixed-price contract, Honeywell would provide six separate computer complexes to support the Apollo simulators at MSC and Cape Kennedy. The complexes would be delivered, installed, and checked out by Honeywell by the end of March 1967.
NASA News Release 66-254, Sept. 21, 1966.
September 23A Planning Coordination Steering Group at NASA Hq. received program options from working groups established to coordinate long-range planning in life sciences, earth-oriented applications, astronomy, lunar exploration, and planetary exploration. The Steering Group recommended serious consideration be given a four-phase exploration program using unmanned Lunar Orbiters, Surveyors, and manned lunar surface exploration. The first phase, consisting of Ranger, Surveyor, Orbiter, and the initial Apollo landing was under way. The second phase would match the Apollo Applications program and would extend surface sampling and geologic mapping beyond the walking capability of a suited astronaut. The group recommended this phase launch one 14-day two-man mission per year beginning in 1970, with one or two Surveyors, and one unmanned Orbiter per year. The third phase would consist of one three-man 90-day mission per year. The final phase would consist of semipermanent manned stations.
Memo, Edgar M. Cortright, Alfred J. Eggers, Jr., James C. Elms, and Gerald M. Truszynski, Cochairmen, Planning Coordination Steering Group, to Associate Deputy Administrator, "Preliminary Reports of Working Groups," Sept. 23, 1966.
September 28NASA Hq. informed MSC that the second phase of the vacuum system in the Lunar Receiving Laboratory ($480,200) was to be deferred because of the austerity of the NASA FY 1967 program. MSC was instructed, however, that sufficient redundancy in the central vacuum pumping systems should be provided to ensure the highest degree of reliability.
TWX, NASA Hq., to MSC, "Lunar Receiving Laboratory," Sept. 28, 1966.
September 28MSC ASPO Manager Joseph F. Shea wrote Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corp. Senior Vice President George F. Titterton that he was encouraged by the good start Grumman had made on work packages for the LM program, which he hoped had set the stage for effective action to curtail the creeping cost escalation that had characterized the program during the past year. He said: "To me, the most striking point noted in engineering activities projected a relatively high change rate from vehicle to vehicle, even though the program logic calls for identical vehicles from LM 4 on, and minimum change from LM 3 to LM 4. This, too, was apparent in the engineering related activities. The only changes which should be planned for are those rising from hardware deficiencies found in ground or flight test, or those resulting from NASA directed changes."
Shea had written to Joseph G. Gavin, Jr., Grumman Vice President and LEM Program Manager, in April concerning cost escalation. He had said "A significant amount of the planning for your contract is based upon management commitments made to us by Grumman . . . [and] your estimates have helped significantly (and indeed are still changing) and currently significantly exceed the amounts upon which our budget has been based." In another letter, in September, to Grumman President L. J. Evans, Shea remarked: "The result of our fiscal review with your people last week was somewhat encouraging. It reconfirmed my conviction that Grumman can do the program without the cost increases which you have been recently indicating, and, depending on how much difficulty we have with the qualification of our flight systems, perhaps even with some additional cost reduction."
In a November letter to Titterton, Shea again referred to work packages and reaffirmed that permission to exceed approved monthly levels should be granted only by the LM Program Office. He said, "Unless this discipline is enforced throughout the Grumman in-house and subcontract structure, the work packages could turn out to be interesting pieces of paper which contain the information as to what might have been done, rather than the basis for program management."
Ltrs., Shea to Gavin, Apr. 14, 1966; Shea to Evans, Sept. 19, 1966; Shea to Titterton, Sept. 28, 1966; Nov. 18, 1966.
September 29The second planned manned Apollo flight crew was named by NASA. Prime crew members were Walter M. Schirra, Jr., command pilot; Donn F. Eisele, senior pilot; and R. Walter Cunningham, pilot. Backup crewmen were Frank Borman, command pilot; Thomas P. Stafford, senior pilot; and Michael Collins, pilot. The flight was scheduled for 1967. It would be the first space mission for Eisele and Cunningham.
The second manned Apollo mission was planned as an open-ended earth orbital mission up to 14 days. Increased emphasis on scientific experiments as well as repeating some activities from the first planned manned flight would characterize the mission. [The first planned manned Apollo mission was ended by a tragic accident during a test January 27, 1967.]
NASA News Release 66-260, Sept. 29, 1966.
Week Ending September 30LM test model TM-6 and test article LTA-10 were shipped from Grumman on the Pregnant Guppy aircraft. When the Guppy carrying the LTA-10 stopped at Dover, Del., for refueling, a fire broke out inside the aircraft, but it was discovered in time to prevent damage to the LM test article.
Memo, Frank W. Battersby to Chief, Apollo Procurement Br., Procurement and Contracts Div., MSC, "Weekly Activities Report, BMR Bethpage, Week Ending September 30, 1966," Oct. 4, 1966.