PART 3 (A)
Lunar Orbit Rendezvous: Mode and Module
The Project Apollo Statement of Work for development of the Apollo
spacecraft was completed. A draft letter based on this Statement of Work
was presented to NAA for review. A prenegotiation conference on the
development of the Apollo spacecraft was held at Langley Field, Va.
"Apollo Spacecraft Chronology," p. 13.
NASA Associate Administrator Robert C. Seamans, Jr., commented to D.
Brainerd Holmes, Director, Office of Manned Space Flight, on the report
of the Rosen working group on launch vehicles, which had been submitted
on November 20. Seamans expressed himself as essentially in accord with
the group's recommendations. Memorandum, Seamans to Holmes,
"Recommendations for NASA Manned Space Flight Vehicle
Program," December 4, 1961.
NASA negotiations with NAA on the Apollo spacecraft contract were held
at Williamsburg, Va. Nine Technical Panels met on December 11 and 12 to
review Part 3, Technical Approach, of the Statement of Work. These
Panels reported their recommended changes and unresolved questions to
the Technical Subcommittee for action. Later in the negotiations, NASA
and NAA representatives agreed on changes intended to clarify the
original Statement of Work. Among these was the addition of the
boilerplate program. Two distinct types of boilerplates were to be
fabricated: those of a simple cold-rolled steel construction for drop
impact tests and the more complex models to be used with the Little Joe
II and Saturn launch vehicles. The Little Joe II, originally conceived
in June 1961, was a solid-fuel rocket booster which would be used to
man-rate the launch escape system for the command module.
In addition, the Apollo Project Office, which had been part of the MSC
Flight Systems Division, would now report directly to the MSC Director
and would be responsible for planning and directing all activities
associated with the completion of the Apollo spacecraft project. Primary
functions to be performed by the Office would include:
[On January 15, 1962, the Apollo Spacecraft Project Office was
established at MSC.]
- Monitor the work of the Apollo Principal Contractor NAA and
- Resolve technical problems arising between the Principal Contractor
and Associate Contractors which were not directly resolved between the
- Maintain close liaison with all Apollo contractors to keep fully and
currently informed on the status of contract work, potential schedule
delays, or technical problems which might impede progress.
Letter contract No. NAS 9-150, authorizing work on the Apollo
development program to begin on January 1, 1962, was signed by NASA and
NAA on December 21. Under this contract, NAA was assigned the design and
development of the command and service modules, the spacecraft adapter,
associated ground support equipment, and spacecraft integration. Formal
signing of the contract followed on December 31.
Project Apollo, "Minutes of Technical Panel Meetings for
Negotiation of Spacecraft Development," December 12-15, 1961;
Oakley, Historical Summary, S&ID Apollo Program, pp. 4,
27; Project Apollo Quarterly Status Report No. 1 for Period
Ending September 30, 1962, p. 9; MSC, Project Apollo
Spacecraft Development Statement of Work (December 18, 1961),
Part 4, pp. 1-2.
D. Brainerd Holmes, NASA Director of Manned Space Flight, outlined the
preliminary project development plan for the Mercury Mark II program in
a memorandum to NASA Associate Administrator Robert C. Seamans, Jr. The
primary objective of the program was to develop rendezvous techniques;
important secondary objectives were long-duration flights, controlled
land recovery, and astronaut training. The development of rendezvous
capability, Holmes stated, was essential:
The plan was approved by Seamans on December 7. The Mercury Mark II
program was renamed "Gemini" on January 3, 1962.]
- It offered the possibility of accomplishing a manned lunar landing
earlier than by direct ascent.
- The lunar landing maneuver would require the development of
rendezvous techniques regardless of the operational mode selected for
the lunar mission.
- Rendezvous and docking would be necessary to the Apollo orbiting
laboratory missions planned for the 1965-1970 period.
Memorandum, Holmes to Associate Administrator, "Mercury Mark II
Preliminary Project Development Plan," December 6, 1961.
Plans for the development of a two-man Mercury spacecraft were announced
by Robert R. Gilruth, MSC Director. The two-man spacecraft, to be built
by McDonnell Aircraft Corporation, would be similar in shape to the
Mercury spacecraft but slightly larger and two to three times heavier.
Its booster rocket would be a modified Air Force Titan II, scheduled for
flight test in early 1962. One of the major objectives in the program
would be a test of orbital rendezvous, in which the two-man spacecraft
would be launched into orbit by the Titan II and attempt to rendezvous
with an Agena stage launched by an Atlas rocket. The total cost for a
dozen two-man spacecraft plus boosters and other equipment was estimated
at $500 million.
Aeronautical and Astronautical Events of 1961, p. 71.
NASA Associate Administrator Robert C. Seamans, Jr., and DOD Deputy
Director of Defense Research and Engineering John H. Rubel recommended
to Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara and NASA Administrator James
E. Webb that detailed arrangements for support of the Mercury Mark II
spacecraft and the Atlas-Agena vehicle used in rendezvous experiments be
planned directly between NASA's Office of Manned Space Flight and the
Air Force and other DOD organizations. NASA's primary responsibilities
would be the overall management and direction for the Mercury Mark II/
Agena rendezvous development and experiments. The Air Force
responsibilities would include acting as NASA contractor for the Titan
II launch vehicle and for the Atlas-Agena vehicle to be used in
rendezvous experiments. DOD's responsibilities would include assistance
in the provision and selection of astronauts and the provision of
launch, range, and recovery support, as required by NASA.
Memorandum, Deputy Director of Defense Research and Engineering, DOD,
and Associate Administrator, NASA, to The Secretary of Defense and the
Administrator, NASA, "Recommendation Relative to the Division of Effort
between the NASA and DOD in the Development of Space Rendezvous and
Capabilities," December 7, 1961.
NASA announced that The Boeing Company had been selected for
negotiations as a possible prime contractor for the first stage (S-IC)
of the advanced Saturn hunch vehicle. The S-IC stage, powered by five
F-1 engines, would be 35 feet in diameter and about 140 feet high. The
$300-million contract, to run through 1966, called for the development,
construction, and testing of 24 flight stages and one ground test stage.
The booster would be assembled at the NASA Michoud Operations Plant near
New Orleans, La., under the direction of the Marshall Space Flight
Saturn Illustrated Chronology, pp. 49-50.
Fred T. Pearce, Jr., of MSC visited the MIT Instrumentation Laboratory
to discuss the first design-study space sextant produced at the
Laboratory, The instrument was intended to be used with the guidance
computer. The working mockup was demonstrated and the problem of the
effect of the vehicle motion on the sextant was discussed.
Memorandum, Pearce to Associate Director, STG, "Visits to Instrument
Laboratory and Ames Research Center to Discuss the Apollo Navigational
Instrument," December 22, 1961.
The General Assembly of the United Nations unanimously adopted
Resolution 1721 (XIV) on international cooperation in the peaceful uses
of outer space.
Kemp, Evolution Toward a Space Treaty: An Historical
Analysis, p. 55.
The Douglas Aircraft Company was selected by NASA for negotiation of a
contract to modify the Saturn S-IV stage by installing a single J-2
Rocketdyne engine of 200,000 pounds of thrust. The contract would be
under the direction of the Marshall Space Flight Center.
Saturn Illustrated Chronology, p. 50.
D. Brainerd Holmes, Director of the NASA Office of Manned Space Flight,
announced the formation of the Manned Space Flight Management Council.
The Council, which was to meet at least once a month, was to identify
and resolve difficulties and to coordinate the interface problems in the
manned space flight program. Members of the Council, in addition to
Holmes, were: from MSC, Robert R. Gilruth and Walter C. Williams,
Director and Associate Director; from Marshall Space Flight Center,
Wernher von Braun, Director, and Eberhard F. M. Rees, Deputy Director
for Research and Development; from NASA Headquarters, George M. Low,
Director of Spacecraft and Flight Missions; Milton W. Rosen, Director of
Launch Vehicles and Propulsion; Charles H. Roadman, Director of
Aerospace Medicine; William E. Lilly, Director of Program Review and
Resources Management; and Joseph F. Shea, Deputy Director for Systems
Engineering, Shea, formerly Space Programs Director for Space Technology
Laboratories, Inc., Los Angeles, Calif., had recently joined NASA.
MSC Space News Roundup, January 10, 1962, p. 1; Senate
Staff Report, Manned Space Flight Program, p. 205.
The Manned Space Flight Management Council decided at its first meeting
that the Saturn C-5 launch vehicle would have a first stage
configuration of five F-1 engines and a second stage configuration of
five J-2 engines. The third stage would be the S-IVB with one J-2
engine. It recommended that the contractor for stage integration of the
Saturn C-1 be Chrysler Corporation and that the contractor for stage
integration of the Saturn C-5 be The Boeing Company. Contractor work on
the Saturn C-5 should proceed immediately to provide a complete design
study and a detailed development plan before letting final contracts and
assigning large numbers of contractor personnel to Marshall Space Flight
Center or Michoud.
MSF Management Council Minutes, December 21, 1961, pp. 1-2.
NAA's Space and Information Systems Division selected four companies as
subcontractors to design and build four of the major Apollo spacecraft
systems. The Collins Radio Company, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, received the
telecommunications systems contract, worth more than $40 million;
Minneapolis-Honeywell Regulator Company, Minneapolis, Minn., received
the stabilization and control systems contract, $30 million; AiResearch
Manufacturing Company, division of The Garrett Corporation, Los Angeles,
Calif., was awarded the environmental control system contract, $10
million; and Radioplane Division of Northrop Corporation, Van Nuys,
Calif., was selected for the parachute landing system contract, worth
more than $1 million. The total cost for the initial phase of the NAA
contract was expected to exceed $400 million.
MSC Space News Roundup, December 27, 1961.