The Apollo Spacecraft - A Chronology.

Part 2 (C)

Recovery, Spacecraft Redefinition, and First Manned Apollo Flight

June 1967


June 1

MSC's Director of Flight Operations Christopher C. Kraft, Jr., told ASPO Manager George M. Low that his Directorate was willing to support the flight test program presented in late May and felt that the computer programs and operational support he had in development would support the flights as currently scheduled. He did offer some comments on the proposed flight test program and asked that the NASA Office of Manned Space Flight be given an indication that his suggested program was being considered as a future alternate approach. The comments included:

  1. "The first manned LM flight appears to be most ambitious. We believe that when the time comes, a much more conservative approach to the flight plan will be taken because of the lack of experience with the LM spacecraft. . . .
  2. We have the general feeling that there are insufficient flight tests scheduled in order to prove the worthiness of the LM and that a lunar landing flight could only follow a successfully completed schedule of LM flights. . . .
  3. We believe that a lunar orbit flight with the CSM/LM should be included in the flight test program, as an alternate to the third CSM/LM flight you have proposed, or as an additional flight to the program. . . .
  4. . . . we believe it feasible that one of the LM development flights could be conducted as safely in the vicinity of the moon as in earth orbit, assuming that the CSM has been proven at that time. . . .
  5. Finally, we believe that the lunar type flight programs we propose would have great impact on the stature of the nation's space program. . . ."
Memos, Owen E. Maynard, MSC, to Kraft, "Apollo Flight Program Definition," May 31, 1967 ; Kraft to Low, "Requested comments on Apollo Flight Program Definition," June 1, 1967.

June 2

A meeting at MSC discussed CSM and LM changes, schedules, and related test and hardware programs. On June 26, NASA Apollo Program Manager Samuel C. Phillips summarized the discussion in a letter to George Low. He pointed out that certain problems could result in serious program impact if not solved expeditiously and specifically mentioned couch design, the weight problem in the CSM and LM, docking changes, and delivery schedules.

Minutes of Apollo Program Meeting, June 2, 1967; ltr., Phillips to Low, June 26, 1967.

June 6

Bendix Corp. demonstrated the operation of a sliding boom concept to prove that the Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments Package (ALSEP) could be removed from the LM at various attitudes. MSC representatives viewing the demonstration at Ann Arbor, Mich., were Aaron Cohen, Don Weissman, Paul Gerke, Don Lind, and Harrison Schmitt. Cohen reported that the mockup was crude but indicated that the concept was satisfactory to both Grumman and NASAL Design refinement, qualification, and effect on LM structure would have to be looked into. It was believed an additional seven kilograms of weight would be added to the LM descent stage. Two interface problems were defined at the meeting:

  1. Bendix and Grumman required maximum and minimum attitude position for the LM to complete the design of ALSEP handling equipment.
  2. Both Grumman and Bendix required temperature criteria for the outer shield of the cask, which would contain radioactive material.
Memo, Cohen to A. L. Liccardi, RASPO, Grumman, "Trip Report to Bendix, Ann Arbor, Michigan, on June 6, 1967," June 13, 1967.

June 7

NASA Office of Manned Space Flight had redefined the Apollo Block II manned mission flight plan, ASPO informed the MSC Director of Science and Applications. The first manned flight plan called for

  1. an open-ended mission up to 10 days,
  2. sufficient instrumentation,
  3. no extravehicular activity,
  4. a CSM rendezvous with the S-IVB stage, and
  5. no experiments that required spacecraft integration.
The redefinition resulted in OMSF's indicating that no scientific experiments would be flown on the mainstream Apollo flights unless they would contribute to the accomplishment of the lunar mission. ASPO therefore had told North American Aviation that certain scientific experiments planned for spacecraft 101 would now be deleted from the program. The experiments were Simple Navigation (D019), Urine Volume Measuring System (M005), UV Stellar Photography (S019), and UV/X-ray Solar Photography (S020).

Memo, Manager, MSC ASPO, to MSC Director of Science and Applications, "Apollo Earth Orbital Experiments," June 7, 1967.

June 8

At a NASA and North American Aviation management meeting, North American was directed to proceed with development of larger drogue parachutes and staged main chute disreefing, using 5- and 8-second reefing-line cutters. Later analysis of the system and the proposed modifications still indicated only a marginal capability to offer adequate factors of safety, and North American was directed to use 6- and 10-second reefing-line cutters. In a letter to Headquarters, MSC Director Robert R. Gilruth mentioned that a review of these modifications had been covered at the September Manned Space Flight Management Council and, since no objections were voiced at that time, MSC assumed concurrence with the changes and would implement modifications for spacecraft 101 and subsequent Block II spacecraft.

"Minutes of Apollo Program Meeting" (June 2, 1967); ltr., Gilruth to NASA Hq., "Command Module Earth Landing System modification," Sept. 29, 1967.

June 8

In a memorandum to the Chief, Systems Engineering Division, MSC, ASPO Manager George M. Low pointed out the weight problem in the CSM and LM was critical. Low called for a detailed review of weight effects along with any proposed design change. The weight estimate was to be submitted by the affected contractor as a part of his change proposal, and this would then be verified by the subsystems manager and Systems Engineering.

To provide timely weight status to the Configuration Control Board, Systems Engineering Division was given the responsibility of presenting CSM and LM weight status at each weekly Board meeting as follows:

  1. control weight,
  2. current weight, and
  3. estimated weight at time of launch.
These figures would be shown for three spacecraft: first manned, second manned, and lunar configuration. Both launch weight and reentry weight were to be included.

Memo, Low to Chief, Systems Engineering Div., MSC, "Spacecraft Weight," June 8, 1967.

June 8

Apollo Program Director Samuel C. Phillips, in a message to ASPO Manager George M. Low, spoke of a June 2 agreement to include a CSM active rendezvous with the Saturn S-IVB stage of the launch vehicle in the mission profile of the first manned Apollo mission. Phillips said that it should be recognized that such a rendezvous would not be a primary objective for the first manned mission and that the decision should be reviewed if any related problem that would complicate mission preparations were identified.

TWX, Phillips to Low, "First Manned Apollo Rendezvous," June 8, 1967.

June 9

Robert C. Seamans, Jr., Deputy Administrator of NASA, prepared a memorandum to the file concerning the selection of North American Aviation as the CSM prime contractor. The memorandum, a seven-page document, chronologically reviewed the steps that led to the selection of North American and followed by about a month the statement of NASA Administrator James E. Webb in response to queries from members of the Congress.

Memo to the File from Deputy Administrator, NASA, "The Selection of North American Aviation, Inc., as the prime contractor for the command and service module," June 9, 1967.

June 9

Robert O. Aller, NASA OMSF, told Apollo Program Director Samuel C. Phillips that considerable analysis, planning, and discussion had taken place at MSC on the most effective sequence of Apollo missions following the first manned flight [Apollo 7]. The current official assignments included three CSM/LM missions for CSM/LM operations, lunar simulation, and lunar capability. MSC's Flight Operations Directorate (FOD) had offered an alternate approach of that sequence by proposing that the third mission be a lunar-orbit mission rather than a high earth-orbit mission. Aller preferred the FOD proposal, since it would offer considerable operational advantages by conducting a lunar-orbital flight before the lunar landing. He recommended Phillips consider that sequence of missions and that consideration be given to including it as a prime or alternate mission in the Mission Assignments Document. "Identifying it in that document," Aller said, "would initiate the necessary detailed planning."

Memo, Aller to Phillips, "Apollo Flight Program," June 9, 1967.

June 13

The purpose of spacecraft 105 testing was to establish transition relations between the primary and secondary structure that supported systems' interconnecting hardware (wiring, tubing and associated valves, filters, regulators, etc.) and demonstrate structural integrity of the Block II CSM when subjected to qualification vibration environment, with special emphasis on interconnecting hardware. The test vehicle was being configured with complete basic Block II wiring harness and fluid systems. The vehicle would be checked out before and after each phase of testing to verify wiring harness impedance and continuity and fluid systems pressure integrity. The fluid systems would be at operating pressure during the testing.

Memo, ASPO Manager to Chief, Flight Safety Office, MSC, "Vibration testing," June 13, 1967.

June 14

Designations and abbreviations for flight crewmen on all manned Apollo missions were selected:

  • Commander - CDR
  • Command module pilot - CMP
  • Lunar module pilot - LMP
This terminology was to be used throughout the Apollo spacecraft program and compliance was required to minimize confusion.

Memo, Manager, ASPO, to distr., "Apollo crewmen designations," June 14, 1967.

June 15

MSC Director Robert R. Gilruth told George E. Mueller, NASA OMSF, that MSC desired that the vernier engine be fired after the touchdown of Surveyor IV on the lunar surface. He reminded Mueller that this experiment was supposed to have been performed on Surveyor III and was of prime importance to Apollo. The fact that Surveyor III landed with the vernier engine firing and did not experience any significant erosion had also been of importance to the Apollo program. He requested that Surveyor IV be targeted for the Apollo landing site in the Sinus Medii area. As a lower priority experiment, Gilruth said MSC would like to get a limited amount of photography on the first lunar day, which would allow a limited assessment of viewing conditions in earthshine.

Ltr., Gilruth to Mueller, "Surveyor IV support of Apollo," June 15, 1967.

June 17

X-ray inspection

X-ray inspection seeks to ensure that weldments, wires, and spacecraft components are free of cracks and other damage that could jeopardize crew safety and mission success.

Plans were to armor-plate 102 out of 167 solder joints inside the CM of spacecraft 101, ASPO Manager George M. Low informed Maxime A. Faget, MSC's Director of Engineering and Development. Of the remaining 65 joints, 53 would be accessible for armor-plating and x-raying, while the other 12 would not. Low said: "As joints become less accessible, the excess solder removal process, the joint-cleaning process, and the application of the armor-plating become more difficult. Also, in many places, the standard armor-plating sleeve does not fit, and a shorter or cutaway sleeve is required. I have therefore reached the conclusion that, at some point, the armor-plating process may become detrimental. . . . You should know that Mr. [Joseph N.] Kotanchik disagrees with this position. Joe believes that any joint in the spacecraft could be under stress and therefore is subject to creep. The only solution . . . according to Joe, is to armor-plate all joints. . . ." Low added that joints that are accessible from outside the CSM would also be armor-plated and that future spacecraft would include additional armorplating. He said, "My expectation is that all solder joints will be armor-plated in the lunar configuration. . . ."

Memo, Low to Faget, "Armor-plating of solder joints," June 17, 1967.

June 19

H. G. Paul, Chief of Marshal Space Flight Center's Propulsion Division, said it had come to the attention of his office that spacecraft/S-IVB rendezvous to within approximately 100 meters was being considered for the AS-205 mission. The division's position was that, unless the S-IVB stage were made passive, the division could not guarantee the stage would be in a safe condition. After the lifetime of a nonpassivated stage, it was possible that indiscriminant propellant-tank or bottle venting could cause the stage to tumble, thus permitting liquid to enter the propellant-tank vent lines. Another area of concern was the high-pressure bottles on the stage. Should a relief valve fail to function normally, a bottle rupture could result. The Propulsion Division therefore recommended that no rendezvous mission be planned with S-IVB stages of either Saturn IB or Saturn V launch vehicles after the guaranteed lifetime of the stage, unless that stage had been passivated.

Memo, Paul to Cochairman, Guidance and Performance Subpanel, "AS-205 Spacecraft/S-IVB Rendezvous," June 19, 1967.

June 20

Apollo spacecraft 017 was mechanically mated to its Saturn V launch vehicle at KSC in preparation for the Apollo 4 (AS-501) unmanned mission, scheduled for the third quarter of 1967.

Astronautics and Aeronautics, 1967 (NASA SP-4008, 1968), p. 191.

June 20

Leonard Reiffel of the NASA Hq. Apollo Program Office suggested to Program Director Samuel C. Phillips that "we do not schedule the ALSEP [Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments Package] for the first lunar landing," because:

  • The duration on the lunar surface for the first mission was likely to be short and the ALSEP deployment time was likely to take a seriously disproportionate share of available time. "It is my opinion we will learn more of immediate consequence to science and to planning of subsequent missions from careful observations and sample collection as contrasted to emplacement of an all-up ALSEP."
  • With the exception of the lunar atmosphere, manned operations would not disturb the conditions ALSEP was intended to measure. These, therefore, could be measured on later flights.
  • The magnetometer was in trouble. The interpretability of plasma experiments on an ALSEP that did not include a magnetometer would be markedly depreciated.
  • The problem of LM weight control would be eased substantially if only the lunar geological tools and sample boxes, rather than the full ALSEP, were carried.
  • Waiting for the second lunar mission would decrease the risk of wasting a full ALSEP payload, since the Apollo system already would have successfully reached the moon once.

He added, "An uncrowded time line on the lunar surface for the first mission would seem to me more contributory to the advance of science than trying to do so much on the first mission that we do nothing well. . . ."

Memo, Reiffel to Phillips, "Flight Schedule for ALSEP and Related Matters," June 20, 1967.

June 20

Officials at the Manned Space Flight Management Review decided that Apollo 4 and Apollo 5 missions would be flown with no less than a 21-day interval between flights. This period was determined necessary to provide an adequate turnaround of the ground support systems to ensure proper reconfiguration, validation, and updating. The Apollo 4 mission would be given priority over Apollo 5 in the checkout and readiness phase if conflicts in use of facilities and equipment should arise.

Memo, Director, Mission Operations, NASA OMSF, to distr., "Mission Priority and Turnaround between Apollo 4 and Apollo 5," July 10, 1967.

June 22

A committee was established to conduct an operational readiness inspection (ORI) of the MSC Space Environment Simulation Laboratory. The inspection would supplement the original ORI of the facility. Emphasis would be placed on reviewing modifications since the previous inspection and upon readiness to perform the test series on LTA-8 and 2TV-1. The committee was made up of Martin L. Raines, Chairman; Rexford H. Talbert, Executive Secretary; Edward L. Hays, Alan Harter, James E. Powell, John W. Conlon, Armistead Dennett, and Joseph P. Kerwin, all of MSC; Dugald O. Black, KSC; and E. Barton Geer, LaRC.

Memo, Director, MSC, to distr., "Operational Readiness Inspection of the MSC Space Environmental Simulation Laboratory," June 22, 1967.

June 23

Although the LM-1 wiring harness had been accepted by the Customer Acceptance Readiness Review Board it was not clear that the harness would also have been accepted for manned flight, ASPO Manager George M. Low told Apollo Systems Engineering Assistant Chief R. W. Williams. Low asked Williams to assign someone to prepare a plan of actions needed to ensure that the harnesses in LM-2 and subsequent vehicles would be acceptable.

Memo, Low to Williams, "LM spacecraft wiring and splices," June 23, 1967.

June 26

Apollo Program Director Samuel C. Phillips told ASPO Manager George Low he believed progress had been made toward Apollo objectives. At the same time, Phillips believed certain problems, if not solved expeditiously, could seriously delay the program. He was concerned particularly with the couch design, weight problem, docking changes, and delivery schedules. Phillips requested an early response on the problem areas.

Ltr., Phillips to Low, June 26, 1967.

June 26

Possible hazards to the crew in the lunar module thermal vacuum test program (using LTA-8) were pointed up in a memorandum to Manager, ASPO, and Director of Engineering and Development from the Director of Flight Crew Operations. Manning procedures required crewmen to make numerous hard vacuum transfers between the Space Environment Simulation Laboratory's environmental control system (ECS) umbilicals and the LM environmental control system hoses. Also, during the manning operations the crewmen would be on the LM-ECS with the cabin depressurized. In the configuration in use, if one of the crewmen lost his suit integrity, there would be no protection for the other man. Because of these hazardous conditions the following actions were requested:

  1. provide equipment to make vacuum transfers of oxygen hoses acceptably safe; and
  2. change the LTA-8 vehicle ECS so that one crewman was protected if the other lost suit integrity in a vacuum ambient.
Memo, Director of Flight Crew Operations to Manager, ASPO, and Director of Engineering and Development, "Possible hazards to the crew during the Lunar Module Thermal Vacuum Tests in Chamber B," June 26, 1967.

June 28

The Apollo Program Director requested MSC to assign the following experiments to AS-205, spacecraft 101: M006 - Bone Demineralization, M011 - Cytogenic Blood Studies, M023 - Lower Body Negative Pressure, S005 - Synoptic Terrain Photography, and S006 - Synoptic Weather Photography. Experiment D008, Radiation in Spacecraft, would be included in the above list at the option of ASPO. On July 21 ASPO Manager George M. Low informed CSM Manager Kenneth S. Kleinknecht that he was approving reinstatement of Experiments S005 and S006 on AS-205. On the same date Low informed the Apollo Program Director that S005 and S006 would be carried on AS-205. He proposed that experiments M006, M011, and M023, which required pre- and postflight operations with the crew, be classified not as experiments but as part of the normal pre- and postflight medical evaluation. Experiment D008 was deleted from AS-205 and all other inflight experiments previously assigned had been deleted from the spacecraft. MSC's Director of Medical Research and Operations Charles A. Berry and Director of Space Science and Applications Wilmot N. Hess concurred with Low's decision.

Ltrs., Apollo Program Director to MSC, Attn: George M. Low, "Earth Orbital Experiment Assignments," June 28, 1967; Low to NASA Hq., Attn: Samuel C. Phillips, "Earth Orbital Experiment Assignments," July 21, 1967; memo, Manager, ASPO, to K. S. Kleinknecht, "Experiments S005 and S006," July 21, 1967.

June 28

Dale D. Myers, Apollo CSM Manager for North American Aviation, Inc., requested a meeting with ASPO Manager George M. Low and ASPO CSM Manager Kenneth S. Kleinknecht to resolve issues concerning materials replacement and objectives for boilerplate tests. In reply, on July 6, Low said that Kleinknecht had conducted a complete review of flammable materials since receipt of Myers' June 28 letter and that a number of telephone conversations had been held on the subject. MSC recommended that the insulation on the environmental control unit be covered with nickel foil and that silicone-rubber wire-harness clamps could possibly be covered with a combination of "Laddicote" and nitroso rubber. Plans were for the boilerplate mockup tests to use an overloaded wire in a wire bundle as an ignition source. At Myers' suggestion, MSC was also looking into the use of electric arcs, or sparks, as a possible ignition source. Low said: "As you know, our goal in the mockup tests will be to demonstrate that any fire in a 6 psi [4.1 newtons per square centimeter] oxygen atmosphere extinguishes itself. . . . If we can demonstrate that in the 6 psi oxygen atmosphere a fire would spread very slowly so that the crew could easily get out of the spacecraft while on the pad . . . , then I believe that we should also be satisfied."

Ltrs., Myers to Low, June 28, 1967; Low to Myers, July 6, 1967.