Moonport: A History of Apollo Launch Facilities and Operations

Relations with Marshall Space Flight Center

The launch team's separation from Marshall in July 1962 did not significantly alter the close ties between the two centers. Debus, believing that interfaces were best managed by locating responsible design elements in close physical proximity, was pleased that the Launch Vehicle Operations Division (LVOD) was both an operating element of LOC and an engineering element of Marshall. He wrote:

Through this arrangement launch operations requirements are fed back into the design organization and become incorporated in design criteria. For example, the Astrionics Division Electrical Systems Integration Branch of MSFC which is responsible for design of vehicle associated (active) GSE and checkout equipment incorporates into the design the operational requirements obtained from LVO; thus the interfaces are a responsibility of the group.18
Theodor Poppel's design group, responsible for much of the launch equipment, remained in Huntsville where it could readily exchange information with launch vehicle engineers. One area of potential strife - the center's relations with contractors - was eliminated in August 1964 when the two centers reaffirmed Marshall's primary responsibility for Saturn vehicle development, but delegated to KSC the responsibility for preparation of support equipment and vehicle checkout. As a result, Hans Gruene's Launch Vehicle Operations team dropped its formal ties with the Huntsville organization. The agreement also gave KSC contract authority to supervise stage and support equipment activities at the Cape.19 Seven months later Debus and von Braun signed a series of clarifying and implementing instructions, which included the provision that:
Design of components and equipment to be installed in the complexes at the Cape are responsibilities of each of the three MSF centers [Marshall, Houston, and KSC] resulting from decisions that have already been made and which are continuously coordinated through the workings of Intercenter Panels and the system of Interface Control Documents. The design and construction of facilities in which this equipment will be placed is the responsibility of KSC.20
Marshall subsequently stopped contracting for launch checkout, and KSC negotiated its own contracts.

Coordination between KSC and Marshall got a boost in 1964 when their communications lines were organized into the launch information exchange facility (LIEF). Communications had been primitive by modern standards, with LOC personnel commuting between Huntsville and the Cape, and commercial wires carrying the daily message load. With the Saturn program, the need for a better system became apparent. A huge increase in information flow was expected with the launching of larger vehicles; engineers cited 88 telemetry measurements on the Redstone versus an anticipated 2,150 on the Saturn V.21

NASA Headquarters approved LIEF in August 1963, and the system met KSC expectations. The new communications network provided the backup support of designers to operations personnel in the analysis of unexpected problems, expedited transmission of additional information on demand, and made available the resources of the development agency throughout the checkout period. LIEF employed the voice, teletype, and facsimile circuits already linking the two centers, and a tape-to-tape transceiving system that carried digital engineering data and launch vehicle computer programs via a NASA automatic facsimile switchboard in New Orleans. More sophisticated equipment was added in time, eventually putting Huntsville displays on the scene for KSC launches.22