The Apollo Spacecraft - A Chronology.|
Part 2 (G)
Recovery, Spacecraft Redefinition, and First Manned Apollo Flight
Week Ending December 1A meeting on LM testing was held at Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corp., with Robert R. Gilruth and George M. Low, MSC; George Hage, OMSF; Hilliard Paige, General Electric Co.; and George Stoner, Boeing Co., in addition to Grumman personnel. After NASA reviewed the LM vibration environment and previous acceptance test decisions, Grumman recommended that complete vehicle vibration testing with externally mounted acoustic horns should be continued beyond LM-2; that wider use of thermovacuum testing at the component level be considered; and that the LM designated for the lunar landing mission be subjected to complete thermovacuum tests either at MSC or KSC.
MSC concluded that
MSC, "Weekly Activity Report for Mr. Webb," week ending Dec. 1, 1967.
December 1NASA Hq. requested MSC to forward by December 5 the Center's plan for providing qualified LM ascent engines with dynamically stable injectors for manned LM flights. The plan was expected to be based on ground rules established in July when a NASA team went to Bell Aerosystems Co. that the current BAC engine would be the prime effort with the Rocketdyne Division (North American Rockwell) injector development as backup. Headquarters asked that the plan contain the following elements:
December 1NASA Hq. announced that, as concurred in by the Center Apollo Program Managers, the following decisions, based on the results of the Apollo 4 mission, were firmly established:
December 2NASA Administrator James E. Webb approved the designation "Saturn IB" as the standard way of referring to that launch vehicle in public statements, congressional testimony, and similar materials, rather than "Uprated Saturn I."
Memo, Associate Deputy Administrator Willis H. Shapley to distr., "Saturn IB Nomenclature," Dec. 2, 1967.
December 5Walter J. Kapryan of the MSC Resident ASPO at KSC told the KSC Apollo Program Manager that one of the primary test objectives of the SM-102 static-fire test was to determine system deterioration caused by the static-fire sequence and exposure to residual hypergolics trapped in the system during subsequent prelaunch operations. He said it was imperative that the objective be met before the planned static-firing test of the SM-101. MSC requested that every effort be made to make the SM-102 test as soon as possible to ensure a representative time for subsequent storage and that a contractor tear-down inspection could be made to assess the advisability of static-firing the flight spacecraft. A firing date of January 15, 1968, would accomplish those objectives.
Memo, Kapryan to Apollo Program Manager, KSC,"SM-102 Static Fire Schedule," Dec. 5, 1967.
December 7Astronaut Charles (Pete) Conrad's concern about an anticipated attitude control problem in the LM was reported. Conrad had said, "The LM is too sporty when in a light weight configuration." Minimum impulse was expected to produce about 0.3 degree per second rate, which was estimated to be about four times too fast. A memo on the problem possibility was written by Howard W. Tindall, Jr., Deputy Chief of MSC's Mission Planning and Analysis Division, to stimulate thinking. On December 9, ASPO Manager George M. Low asked Donald K. Slayton and Warren J. North if there was any chance of setting up a simulation to see whether this was a real concern.
Memo, Tindall to distr., "Light weight LM attitude control is too sporty," Dec. 7, 1967.
December 8An Apollo drop test failed at El Centro, Calif. The two-drogue verification test had been planned to provide confidence in the drogue chute design (using a weighted bomb) before repeating the parachute test vehicle (PTV) test. Preliminary information indicated that in the test one drogue entangled with the other during deployment and that only one drogue inflated. The failure appeared to be related to a test deployment method rather than to drogue design. The test vehicle was successfully recovered by a USAF recovery parachute-intact and reusable.
TWX, George M. Low, MSC, to Director, Apollo Program Office, NASA Hq., Dec. 8, 1967.
December 9MSC ASPO Manager George M. Low reminded NASA Apollo Program Director Samuel C. Phillips that at a meeting three weeks previous MSC had presented a Bell Aerospace Corp. qualification completion date for the LM ascent engine of March 28, and a Rocketdyne Division, North American Rockwell, completion by May 1, 1968. MSC at that time had expressed confidence that the Rocketdyne program could be accelerated to be completed in mid-March and be competitive to the BAC date, permitting a selection to install the best engine on LM-3.
During the interim, program reviews had been conducted at both Bell and Rocketdyne. The Bell program had been accelerated to complete qualification by February 9, 1968, by conducting qualification and design verification testing in parallel. While a greater risk would be incurred, both Grumman and NASA agreed to the procedure to expedite the Bell program. The Rocketdyne program could not be accelerated to complete qualification by February because of an uncertainty as to the performance of its engine, but qualification testing was expected to be completed by March. Anticipating that the only change would be a pattern modification, Rocketdyne was already manufacturing injectors to support an accelerated program.
Ltr., Low to Phillips, "Ascent engine program plan," Dec. 9, 1967.
December 11NASA Hq. asked further MSFC studies of one of the most critical phases during an Apollo mission, the period between holddown arm release and launch umbilical tower clearance. Failures or incompatibilities that could cause a vehicle collision with ground equipment or a pad fallback were major elements of potential danger. Problems during that phase would be difficult to cope with from a crew safety or an abort point of view and also posed the double jeopardy possibility of losing both the space vehicle and mobile launcher.
A number of studies had been made at MSFC of certain aspects of the problem, particularly postliftoff flight dynamics, the effects of winds, etc. Those studies had brought out the catastrophic potential of near- pad engine-out and actuator-hardover failures. NASA Hq. now asked MSFC to investigate further, with assistance of other Centers as required, the inadvertent system operation and component failures that could affect
Ltr., Phillips to MSFC, "Apollo Lift-off Hazards," Dec. 11, 1967.
December 12The phase I customer acceptance readiness review (CARR) of CM 101 was held at North American Rockwell in Downey, Calif. MSC's CSM Manager Kenneth S. Kleinknecht chaired the meeting, and SC 101 Manager John Healey represented North American. The review was the first of a three-phase CARR system initiated by North American. A total of 44 customer acceptance review item dispositions (CARIDs) were presented to the board and 13 were closed. The spacecraft was accepted for turnover to Apollo Test Operations pending submission of data to close the remainder. The majority of open CARIDs were for completing documentation for engineering orders, operation checkout procedures, and photography, with both North American and MSC having action item for closing out CARIDs. Five CARIDs made reference to flammability of material. The most significant item was the installation of 27.4 meters of coaxial cable in the spacecraft that did not meet flammability guidelines.
Memo, W. C. Brubaker, Bellcomm, Inc., to distr., "Trip Report - Phase I Customer Acceptance Readiness Review of SCM 101 - Case 320," Dec. 29, 1967.
December 12Apollo Program Director Samuel C. Phillips wrote to the three manned space flight Centers:
"I am sure that you are keenly aware of the importance of the forthcoming series of Apollo manned flights and the requirement that all responsible actions are taken to assure the success of each mission. To this end the Design Certification Review, established for manned flights, serves an important role. Shortly our program of progressive Design Certification Reviews leading to certification for the manned lunar landing will commence. A significant part of the effort requires a comprehensive supporting analysis of critical hardware to assure that all single failure points have been identified and accepted by all levels of Apollo Program management.
"I believe it necessary, therefore, that the Design Certification Review program formally record a listing of single failure points existing in flight and launch critical ground equipment which would cause crew or mission loss, together with a statement of rationale for accepting the risk of each of these single failure points. Establishing such a listing requires particular attention to commonality of ground rules and categorization such that the overall mission single failure point listing is an effective Design Certification Review input. While recognizing the present efforts existing at contractors and Centers in identifying single failure points, some additional work is required to obtain a consistent mission single failure point listing.
"It is requested that you initiate action to prepare for each Design Certification Review a single failure point listing which includes all considerations supporting the acceptance of each single failure point. This listing shall be prepared in accordance with ground rules established and coordinated by the Apollo Program Reliability and Quality Assurance Office, be approved by the Center, and shall be required 60 days in advance of the final Design Certification Review Board signoff."
Ltrs., Phillips to MSC, MSFC, and KSC, "Apollo Program Single Failure Points," Dec. 12, 1967.
December 14Apollo Program Director Samuel C. Phillips wrote the manned space flight Centers of Apollo schedule decisions. In a September 20 meeting at MSC to review the Apollo test flight program, MSC had proposed a primary test flight plan including
Ltr., Phillips to Directors, MSC, MSFC, and KSC, "Apollo Spacecraft Flight Test Program Review/Apollo Mission Assignments," Dec. 14, 1967.
December 15The Apollo Site Selection Board met at MSC and discussed landing ellipse topography, landing approach path topography, and operational considerations, among other topics. The board heard recommendations on landing sites for the first and second missions, and approved them subsequent to the meeting, and Apollo Program Director Samuel C. Phillips emphasized that three launch opportunities should be provided for all months of the yew. Board members, in addition to Phillips, were James H. Turnock, John D. Stevenson, Charles W. Mathews, and Oran W. Nicks, all of NASA Hq.; Owen E. Maynard and Wilmot N. Hess of MSC; Ernst Stuhlinger, MSFC; and R. O. Middleton, KSC.
Memo, Apollo Program Director to distr., "Minutes of the Apollo Site Selection Board Meeting of December 15, 1967," Jan. 29, 1968.
December 15Robert O. Piland, Technical Assistant to the MSC Director, reminded ASPO Manager George M. Low that some time previously Wilmot Hess, MSC, had requested incorporation of a camera on AS-502 to take photos of the earth from orbital altitudes. The camera would be the same kind as used on AS-501 but pictures would be taken from a height of 80 to 160 kilometers rather than from 16,000. Piland said he understood the mission would allow a strip of photography 160 kilometers wide across the southern part of the United States and Africa and would make a significant contribution to the initiation of an earth resources survey program. Low replied on December 20, "Our plans are to do this, assuming we can without schedule impact."
Memo, Piland to Low, "Photography on Mission 502," Dec. 15, 1967; note, Low to Piland, Dec. 20, 1967.
December 16Top NASA and North American Rockwell management personnel discussed flammability problems associated with coax cables installed in CMs. It was determined that approximately 23 meters of flammable coax cable was in CM 101 and, when ignited with a nichrome wire, the cable would burn in oxygen at both 4.3 and 11.4 newtons per square centimeter (6.2 and 16.5 pounds per square inch). Burning rates varied from 30 to 305 centimeters per minute, depending upon the oxygen pressure and the direction of the flame front propagation. The cable was behind master display panels, along the top of the right-hand side of the cabin, vertically in the rear right-hand corner of the cabin, in the cabin feed-through area, and in the lower equipment bay. The group reviewed the detailed location of the cable, viewed movies of flammability tests, examined movies of the results of testing with fire breaks, discussed possible alternatives, and inspected cable installations in CMs 101 and 104.
The following alternatives were considered:
The following factors were considered in reaching a decision for spacecraft 101:
In view of these factors, decisions for spacecraft 101 were:
The installation in spacecraft 2TV-1 would not be changed. This decision was made fully recognizing that more flammable material remained in 2TV-1 than in 101. However, the burning rate of coax cable had been demonstrated as very slow, and it was reasoned that the crew would have sufficient time to make an emergency exit in the vacuum chamber from 2TV-1 long before any dangerous situations would be encountered.
Officials also agreed that coax cable in boilerplate 1224 would not be ignited until after the results of the BP 1250 tests had been reviewed.
Memo for the Record, Manager, ASPO, "Command Module coax cable flammability considerations," Dec. 19, 1967.
December 17A LM test failed in the Grumman ascent stage manufacturing plant December 17. A window in LM-5 shattered during its initial cabin pressurization test, designed to pressurize the cabin to 3.9 newtons per square centimeter (5.65 pounds per square inch). Both inner and outer windows and the plexiglass cover of the right-hand window shattered when the pressure reached 3.5 newtons per sq cm (5.1 psi). An MSC LM engineer and Corning Glass Co. engineers were investigating the damage and cause of failure.
TWX, ASPO Manager, MSC, to NASA Hq., Attn: Apollo Program Director, Dec. 19, 1967; "Activity Report - Quality Assurance," Bethpage, N.Y., Dec. 13-19, 1967.
December 18NASA Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight George E. Mueller informed MSC Director Robert R. Gilruth that he intended to establish a Guidance Software Task Force to determine whether any additional actions could be taken to improve the software development and verification process. He requested that MSC make a thorough presentation to the task force at its first meeting, to include flight software problem areas and also such matters as crew training, crew procedures development, mission planning activities, and the abort guidance system software. Mueller himself would chair the task force and other members would be: Richard H. Battin, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Instrumentation Laboratory; Leon R. Bush, Aerospace Corp.; Donald R. Hagner, Bellcomm, Inc.: Dick Hanrahan, IBM: James S. Martin, Jr., LaRC; John P. Mayer, MSC: Clarence Pitman, TRW; and Ludie G. Richard, MSFC.
Ltr., Mueller to Gilruth, Dec. 18, 1967.
December 18NASA Administrator James E. Webb approved a reorganization of NASA Headquarters, making changes in OMSF. On January 26, 1968, Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight George E. Mueller spelled out OMSF changes:
December 19NASA Hq. announced establishment of the Lunar Exploration Office within the Office of Manned Space Flight's Apollo Program Office. The new office, headed by Lee R. Scherer, merged program units directing Apollo lunar exploration and planning exploration beyond the first manned lunar landing. OMSF would staff the Systems Development element; the Lunar Science group would be staffed by the Office of Space Science and Applications, which would approve operating plans and scientific objectives, payloads, and principal investigators for specific missions.
NASA Special Announcement, "Establishment of an Apollo Lunar Exploration Organization within OMSF," Dec. 19, 1967; NASA News Release 68-5, Jan. 4, 1968.
December 20As a part of the managers' technical status review, Dale Myers of North American Rockwell presented his analysis of fixes for the coax cable in spacecraft 103 and subsequent spacecraft. The North American recommendation was:
Memo, Kleinknecht to Low, "Command module coax cable decisions relative to spacecraft 103 and subsequent," Jan. 9, 1968.
December 20ASPO Manager George M. Low pointed out to E. Z. Gray of Grumman that in October 1964 NASA had sent a letter to Grumman voicing concern over possible stress corrosion problems. The Grumman reply on October 30 of that year was unsatisfactory when considered in the light of stress corrosion cracks recently found in the LM aluminum structural members. Low asked what Grumman planned to do to make sure that no other potential stress corrosion problems existed in the LM and asked for a reply by January 1968 on how the problem would be attacked.
On December 21, Low wrote a similar letter to Dale D. Myers of North American Rockwell, reminding him of a letter sent by MSC in September 1964. He said that recent stress corrosion problems had been encountered in the LM and asked that North American make a detailed analysis to ensure that not a single stress corrosion problem existed in the CSM or associated equipment. Again, Low asked for a reply by January 15, 1968.
Ltrs., MSC to Grumman, "Contract NAS 9-1100, Stress Corrosion," Oct. 12, 1964; Grumman to MSC, "Stress Corrosion," Oct. 30, 1964; Low to Gray, Dec. 20, 1967; MSC to North American Aviation, "Contract NAS 9-150, Stress Corrosion," Sept. 17, 1964; Low to Myers, Dec. 21, 1967; TWX, North American Rockwell to MSC, "NAS 9-150, Stress Corrosion," Oct. 13, 1967.
December 21A Lunar Mission Planning Board meeting was held at MSC with Julian M. West as acting chairman. Also present were Wilmot N. Hess, Christopher C. Kraft, Jr., Paul E. Purser, and Andre J. Meyer, Jr. (secretary); and invited participants Gus R. Babb, John M. Eggleston, and James J. Taylor. The meeting agenda involved two main subjects:
Hess pointed out that lunar exploration was the responsibility of the new Lunar Exploration Office at NASA Hq. (see December 19). The office had further been subdivided into the Lunar Science Office, responsible for science and experiment planning, and the Flight Systems Office, responsible for modifications in the Apollo spacecraft to increase capability for developing advanced support systems such as mobility units and for developing the advanced ALSEP packages. Hess felt that dual launches, if conducted at all, would be carried out in the far distant future and therefore directed his group to select sites for nine single-launch missions, three of which should be planned without the aid of mobility and be limited to one-and-a-half kilometers; and the other six sites limited to five-kilometer maximum mobility radius.
Ground rules used in reduction of the proposed 39 lunar exploration sites were:
MSC, "Minutes of the Lunar Mission Planning Board," Dec. 21, 1967.
December 21Apollo Program Director Samuel C. Phillips told ASPO Manager George M. Low that a review had begun on the "Apollo Spacecraft Weight and Mission Performance Definition" report dated December 12 and that his letter indicated approval of certain changes either requested or implied by the report. Phillips added that his letter identified a second group of pending changes for which insufficient information was available. He stressed his serious concern over the problem of spacecraft weight growth and said weight must be limited to the basic 45,359-kilogram launch vehicle capability. "According to the progression established in your report, CM's 116 through 119 could exceed the parachute hand-weight capability. I would like to establish a single set of controlled basic weights for the production vehicles. For product improvement changes a good rule is a pound deleted for every pound added. For approved changes to the basic configuration, it is the responsibility of NASA to understand the weight and performance implication of the change and to establish appropriate new control values. . . ."
Ltr., Phillips to Low, Dec. 21, 1967.
December 22The first fire-in-the-hole test was successfully completed at the White Sands Test Facility (WSTF). The vehicle test configuration was that of LM-2 and the test cell pressure immediately before the test was equivalent to a 68,850-meter altitude. All test objectives were satisfied and video tapes of TV monitors were acquired. Test firing duration was 650 milliseconds with zero stage separation.
TWX, WSTF to MSC, Dec. 22, 1967.
Week Ending December 22Bethpage RASPO Business Manager Frank X. Battersby met with Grumman Treasurer Pat Cherry on missing items of government property. The Government Accounting Office (GAO) had complained of inefficiency in Grumman property accountability records and had submitted a list of some 550 items of government property to Grumman. After nine weeks of searching, the company had found about 200 items. The auditors contended the missing items amounted to $8 million-$9 million. Cherry said he believed that all the material could be located within one week. Battersby agreed to the one-week period but emphasized that the real problem was not in locating the material but rather in establishing accurate records, since GAO felt that too often the contractor would be tempted to go out and buy replacement parts rather than look for the missing ones.
"Weekly Activity Report, Business Manager, RASPO Bethpage," week ending Dec. 22, 1967, to Chief, Apollo Procurement Br., Procurement and Contracts Div., MSC, Dec. 27, 1967.
December 27CSM Manager Kenneth S. Kleinknecht asked the Manager of the Resident Apollo Spacecraft Program Office (RASPO) at Downey to inform North American Rockwell that MSC had found the suggestion that aluminum replace teflon for solder joint inserts and outer armor sleeves in Apollo spacecraft plumbing unacceptable because
December 28The LM ascent engine program plan submitted to NASA Hq. on December 9 had been approved, Apollo Program Director Samuel C. Phillips told ASPO Manager George M. Low. Phillips was concerned, however, about the impact of recent unstable injector tests at Bell Aerosystems Co. on this plan. He said, "Resolution of these failures must be expedited in order to maintain present schedules. Also of concern, is the possible underestimation of the contractual and integration problems that will exist if the Rocketdyne [Division] injector should be chosen." Phillips asked that those areas receive special attention and that he be kept informed on the progress of both injector programs.
TWX, Phillips to Low, Dec. 28, 1967.
December 28Confirming a discussion between George Low and Samuel Phillips on October 27, a decision was made to replace the glass windows in LM-1 with aluminum windows, as a precaution against a failure in flight similar to the one that occurred on LM-5 in testing.
TWX, J. Vincze, LM-1 Vehicle Management Office, MSC, to NASA Hq., Attn: S. C. Phillips, "Replacement of windows on LM-1," Dec. 28, 1967.