Project Apollo, conceived as a successor to the Mercury program in this nation's manned exploration of space and originally planned as a circumlunar flight, now has as its primary objective a manned lunar landing and return within the decade. As a bridge between Mercury and Apollo, the Gemini program has provided essential experience in space rendezvous and demonstrated the feasibility of long-duration space flight. Like Mercury and Gemini, Apollo is a program of complex and interrelated elements: launch vehicles; spacecraft; and launch, tracking, and recovery facilities. This is the first volume of a chronology dealing with the spacecraft.

It is planned to publish The Apollo Spacecraft: A Chronology in several volumes. The intent of the authors is to concentrate on the important events that have affected the concept, design, and development of the Apollo spacecraft rather than to cover in detail the entire Apollo program. In keeping with this intent, the authors have tried to give a balanced overview of the Apollo spacecraft program, not limiting the chronology to the activities of a single NASA Center.

Part I, "Concept to Apollo," reviews the earliest years up to the official announcement of the Apollo program. Part II, "Design-Decision-Contract," continues through the selection of the principal contractor for the command and service modules. Part III, "Lunar Orbit Rendezvous: Mode and Module," completes Volume I, ending with the naming of the contractor for the lunar module.

As far as possible, primary sources were consulted. These included congressional documents, Apollo program status reports, Manned Spacecraft Center and Apollo Spacecraft Project Office weekly activity reports, contractors' progress reports, Apollo working papers, letters, memoranda, NASA and industry staff reports, minutes of meetings, and interviews with persons directly involved in the early years of the Apollo program. In addition, books, newspaper accounts, press releases, chronologies, and magazine articles were researched for material. The present volume was extensively revised several times as new sources of information came to light.

This and succeeding volumes are meant not only to provide a useful and accurate reference work for the scientist, historian, and general reader, but also to serve as a foundation for a narrative history of the Apollo program as part of the NASA Historical Series.

The materials used in this chronology were accumulated from a wide variety of sources and so the authors are indebted to a number of individuals and organizations for outstanding cooperation and assistance. Some have assisted to such a degree that special recognition seems warranted. This group includes: Rose Sidick, Redstone Scientific Information Center, and Lois Robertson, Marshall Space Flight Center, for their invaluable assistance in research and documentation retrieval;

Jack C. Heberlig, MSC Office of Engineering and Development, and J. Thomas Markley, MSC Apollo Spacecraft Program Office, who proffered many early Apollo documents; Charles F. Allyn, MSC Technical Information Preparation Branch, for development of a technical documentation retrieval system; the staff of the NASA Historical Office in Washington, D.C., and especially William D. Putnam, Assistant NASA Historian for Manned Space Flight, who performed yeoman research and documentation service and offered many cogent suggestions concerning the content and format of this publication; Jean K. Bays, Contract Historian on the Apollo chronology project from the University of Houston, who helped materially in the preparation of the appendixes and in the final revision of the comment draft; and MSC Historian James M. Grimwood for his thorough review and constructive criticism of the draft version. Catherine A. De Leon and Phyllis R. Hagan typed the comment draft edition and Sally D. Gates was responsible for preparation of the final product. Especial thanks is given to Billie D. Rowell, MSC Historical Office archivist, for her outstanding service in setting up and maintaining the research files.

This volume of the chronology was written under the sponsorship of NASA at its Manned Spacecraft Center, with principal reliance on a contract with the University of Houston.



August 1968

Previous Next Index