PART 3 (E)
Lunar Orbit Rendezvous: Mode and Module
October 1962 through 7 November 1962
The pad abort boilerplate command module, BP-6, to qualify the launch
escape system, was scheduled for delivery to White Sands Missile Range
by mid-April 1963. A pad abort test of BP-6 was scheduled for May 15,
Apollo Quarterly Status Report No. 1, p. 42.
The Sigma 7 spacecraft with Astronaut Walter M. Schirra,
Jr., as pilot was launched into orbit by a Mercury-Atlas vehicle from
Atlantic Missile Range. In the most successful American manned space
flight to date, Schirra traveled nearly six orbits, returning to earth
at a predetermined point in the Pacific Ocean 9 hours, 13 minutes after
liftoff. Within 40 minutes after landing, he and his spacecraft were
safely aboard the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Kearsarge.
Grimwood, Project Mercury: A Chronology, pp. 174-175;
Astronautical and Aeronautical Events of 1962, pp.
Rocketdyne Division successfully completed the first full-duration
(250-seconds) static firing of the J-2 engine.
Rocketdyne Skywriter, October 12, 1962.
NASA signed a $l.55-million contract with Hamilton Standard Division of
United Aircraft Corporation and International Latex Corporation for the
development of a space suit for the Apollo crewmen. As the prime
contractor, Hamilton Standard would have management responsibility for
the overall program and would develop a life-support, backpack system to
be worn by crewmen during lunar expeditions. International Latex
Corporation as subcontractor would fabricate the suit, with Republic
Aviation Corporation furnishing human factors information and
environmental testing. The suit would allow a crewman greater mobility
than previous space suits, enabling him to walk, climb, and bend with
Astronautical and Aeronautical Events of 1962, p. 211; MSC,
Project Apollo Quarterly Status Report No. 2 for Period Ending
December 31, 1962, p. 22.
The Minneapolis-Honeywell Regulator Company letter subcontract for the
Apollo stabilization and control system was suspended by NAA and amended
in accordance with the current design concepts,
Apollo Quarterly Status Report No. 2, p. 16.
The analysis of scientific measurements made by the Ranger
III lunar probe showed that gamma-ray intensity in interplanetary
space was ten times greater than expected, NASA reported. Measurements
were taken by gamma-ray spectrometers on Ranger III after
it was launched on January 26. NASA scientists, however, did not believe
that gamma-ray intensity was "great enough to require any changes
in the design of radiation shielding for manned spacecraft."
New York Times, October 16, 1962.
NASA announced that five additional Ranger spacecraft would be added to
the lunar exploration program, raising the total to 14 to be launched
New York Times, October 15, 1962.
NASA announced the selection of the International Business Machines
Corporation to provide a ground-based computer system for Projects
Gemini and Apollo. The computer complex would be part of the mission
control center at MSC.
Astronautical and Aeronautical Events of 1962, p. 216.
The Ranger V lunar probe was launched from Atlantic Missile
Range by an Atlas-Agena B launch vehicle. The Agena B stage attained
parking orbit and 25 minutes later reignited to send Ranger
V toward the moon. The spacecraft's solar cells did not provide
power, making reception of the flight-path correction signal impossible
and rendering its television cameras useless. Ranger V was
to have relayed television pictures of the lunar surface and
rough-landed an instrumented capsule containing a seismometer. The
spacecraft was tracked for 8 hours, 44 minutes, before its small
reserve battery went dead.
On October 29, Homer E. Newell, NASA Director of the Office of Space
Sciences, established a Board of Inquiry to review the entire Ranger
program. The Board, headed by Albert J. Kelley of NASA Headquarters,
submitted its report on December 4 and found that, while the Ranger
design concept was basically sound, improvements could be made to
increase flight reliability.
Washington Post, October 19 and 22, 1962; U.S. Congress,
House, Subcommittee on Space Sciences and Advanced Research and
Technology of the Committee on Science and Astronautics, 1964 NASA
Authorization, Hearings on H.R. 5466, 88th Congress, 1st Session
(1963), pp. 1597-1598.
The Lunar and Planetary Laboratory of the University of Arizona,
directed by Gerard P. Kuiper, reported that its analysis of lunar
photographs taken by Lunik III differed from that announced
by Soviet scientists. The most extensive feature of the moon's far side,
photographed in 1959, had been named "The Soviet Mountains";
this feature was identified by the Arizona laboratory as an elongated
area of bright patches and rays, possibly flat. Another feature, named
the "Joliot-Curie Crater" by Soviet scientists, was
re-identified by the Arizona laboratory as Mare Novum (New Sea), first
identified by German astronomer Julius Franz near the turn of the
New York Times, October 22, 1962.
At the request of NASA, about 300 pieces of Gemini ground support
equipment were examined by NAA engineers. It appeared that about 190
items would be usable on the Apollo program.
Oakley, Historical Summary, S&ID Apollo Program, p.
The Office of Systems under NASA's Office of Manned Space Flight
completed a manned lunar landing mode comparison embodying the most
recent studies by contractors and NASA Centers. The report was the
outgrowth of the decision announced by NASA on July 11 to continue
studies on lunar landing modes while basing planning and procurement
primarily on the lunar orbit rendezvous (LOR) technique. The results of
the comparison between the LOR technique, a two-man C-5 direct flight,
and a two-man earth orbit rendezvous EOR mode were:
In conclusion, the LOR mode offered the best opportunity of meeting the
goal of an American manned lunar landing within the decade of the
- The C-5 direct flight mode required cryogenic fuels and was
marginal, even with a two-man spacecraft.
- Both the LOR and EOR modes were feasible.
- The reliability differences between LOR and EOR could not be
demonstrated conclusively by analysis at this time. LOR appeared to have
a higher probability of mission success at less risk to the astronauts.
- Designing the lunar excursion module specifically for the lunar
landing anti performing the mission with a single C-5 launch vehicle
were important advantages of the LOR mode, offsetting the problems
connected with LOR rendezvous.
- Human factors considerations were not significant in the mode
selections; the addition of rendezvous to the requirement for lunar
landing and reentry did not add appreciably to crew stress or fatigue or
to the overall hazards of the mission.
- Both LOR and EOR provided the basis for projected national space
requirements before the development of Nova-class launch vehicles. The
C-5 launch vehicle capability met estimated payload requirements. LOR
provided experience in personnel transfer between spacecraft as
contrasted with fuel transfer in EOR.
- The lunar landing mission could be accomplished at least one year
and probably 18 months sooner by using LOR rather than EOR.
- The LOR mode was 10 to 15 percent less expensive than EOR.
- The LOR mode provided the cleanest management structure within the
Office of Systems, Office of Manned Space Flight, "Manned Lunar
Landing Comparison," October 24, 1962, pp. 1, 5-6.
Republic Aviation Corporation selected the Radio Corporation of America
to design and build the data acquisition and communications subsystem
for Project Fire.
Astronautical and Aeronautical Events of 1962, p. 222.
Flight missions of the Apollo spacecraft were to be numerically
identified in the future according to the following scheme :
Pad aborts: PA-1, PA-2, etc.
Missions using Little Joe II launch vehicles: A-001, A-002, etc.
Missions using Saturn C-1 launch vehicles: A-101, A-102, etc. Missions
using Saturn C-1B launch vehicles: A-201, A-202, etc. Missions using
Saturn C-5 launch vehicles: A-501, A-502, etc.
The 'A' denoted Apollo, the first digit stood for launch vehicle type or
series, and the last two digits designated the order of Apollo
spacecraft flights within a vehicle series.
Memorandum, Charles W. Frick, Manager, Apollo Spacecraft Project Office,
to Distribution, "Designations for Apollo Missions," October
NASA announced the realignment of functions under Associate
Administrator Robert C. Seamans, Jr. D. Brainerd Holmes assumed new
duties as a Deputy Associate Administrator while retaining his
responsibilities as Director of the Office of Manned Space Flight. NASA
field installations engaged principally in manned space flight projects
(Marshall Space Flight Center Manned Spacecraft Center, and Launch
Operations Center) would report to Holmes; installations engaged
principally in other projects (Ames, Langley, Lewis, and Flight Research
Centers, Goddard Space Flight Center, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and
Wallops Station) would report to Thomas F. Dixon, Deputy Associate
Administrator for the past year. Previously most field center directors
had reported directly to Seamans on institutional matters beyond program
and contractual administration.
Rosholt, An Administrative History of NASA, 1958-1963, pp.
256-257; Washington Evening Star, October 31, 1962.
MSC Director Robert R. Gilruth reported to the Manned Space Flight
Management Council that the Apollo drogue parachutes would be tested in
the Langley Research Center wind tunnels.
MSF Management Council Minutes, October 30, 1962, Agenda Item 1.
NASA announced the signing of a contract with the Space and Information
Systems Division of NAA for the development and production of the second
stage (S-II) of the Saturn C-5 launch vehicle. The $319.9-million
contract, under the direction of Marshall Space Flight Center, covered
the production of nine live flight stages, one inert flight stage, and
several ground-test units for the advanced Saturn launch vehicle. NAA
had been selected on September 11, 1961, to develop the S-II.
Wall Street Journal, October 31, 1962.
NAA completed the firm-cost proposal for the definitive Apollo program
and submitted it to NASA. MSC had reviewed the contract package and
negotiated a program plan position with NAA.
Oakley, Historical Summary, S&ID Apollo Program, p. 7;
Apollo Quarterly Status Report No. 2, pp. 5, 6.
NASA announced that the Douglas Aircraft Company had been awarded a
$2.25million contract to modify the S-IVB stage for use in the Saturn C-
NASA News Release, 62-232, October 31, 1962.
During the Month
Proposed designs for view port covers on the crew-hatch window, docking
ports, and earth landing windows were prepared by NAA. Design planning
called for these port covers to be removed solely in the space
environment. [Crew members would not use such windows during launch and
reentry phases.] NAA,
Apollo Monthly Progress Report, SID 62-300-7, October 31,
1962, p. 71.
During the Month
Elimination of the requirement for personal parachutes nullified
consideration of a command module (CM) blowout emergency escape hatch. A
set of quick-acting latches for the inward-opening crew hatch would be
needed, however, to provide a means of egress following a forced
landing. The latches would be operable from outside as well as inside
the pressure vessel. Outside hardware for securing the ablative panel
over the crew door would be required as well as a method of releasing
the panel from inside the CM.
Apollo Monthly Progress Report, SID 62-:300-7, p. 70.
During the Month
An NAA study on the shift of the command module center of gravity during
reentry proposed moving the crew and couches about ten inches toward the
aft equipment bay and then repositioning them for landing impact.
A review of body angles used for the current couch geometry disclosed
that the thigh-to-torso angle could be closed sufficiently for a brief
period during reentry to shorten the overall couch length by the
required travel along the Z-Z axis. [See diagrams]. The more acute angle
was desirable for high g conditions. This change in the couch adjustment
range, as well as a revision in the lower leg angle to gain structure
clearance, would necessitate considerable couch redesign.
Apollo Monthly Progress Report, SID 62-300-7, p. 68.
During the Month
Incandescent lamps would be used for floodlighting the command module
because they weighed less than fluorescent lamps and took up less space
while increasing reliability and reducing system complexity. A 28- volt
lamp was most desirable because of its compatibility with the spacecraft
28-volt dc power system. Laboratory tests with a 28-volt incandescent
lamp showed that heat dissipation would not be a problem in the vacuum
environment but that a filament or shock mount would have to be
developed to withstand vibration. An incandescent quartz lamp was
studied because of its small size and high concentration of light.
Apollo Monthly Progress Report, SID 62-300-7, p. 89.
During the Month
The feasibility of using the Gemini fuel cell for the lunar excursion
module was studied by NAA. However, because of modifications to meet
Apollo control and auxiliary requirements, the much lighter Gemini
system would ultimately weigh about as much as the Apollo fuel cell. In
addition, the Gemini fuel cell schedule would slip if the system had to
be adapted to the Apollo mission.
Apollo Monthly Progress Report, SID 62-300-7, pp. 91-92.
During the Month
The valves of the command module (CM) environmental control system were
modified to meet the 5.0 psia oxygen operating requirements. All oxygen
partial pressure controls were deleted from the system and the relief
pressure setting of 7 +/- 0.2 psia was changed to 6 +/- 0.2 psia. The CM
now could be repressurized from 0 to 5.0 psia in one hour.
Apollo Monthly Progress Report, SID 62-300-7, p. 48.
During the Month
The revised NAA recommendation for a personal communications system
consisted of a duplex capability with a simplex backup. Simultaneous
transmission of voice and biomedical data with a break-in capability
would be possible. Two changes in spacecraft VHF equipment would be
needed: a dual-channel in place of a single-channel receiver, and a
diplexer for use during duplex operation.
Apollo Monthly Progress Report, SID 62-300-7, p. 57.
During the Month
NAA completed a preliminary design for the deployment of the spacecraft
deep space instrumentation facility antenna to the Y axis [see
diagrams]. The antenna would be shifted into the deploy position by
actuation of a spring-loaded swing-out arm.
Apollo Monthly Progress Report. SID 62-300-7. p. 82.
During the Month
An NAA digital computer program for calculating command module
heatshield and couch system loads and landing stability was successful.
Results showed that a five-degree negative-pitch attitude was preferable
for land landings.
Apollo Monthly Progress Report, SID 62-300-7, p. 14.
During the Month
NAA completed a study of reentry temperatures. Without additional
cooling, space suit inlet temperatures were expected to increase from 50
degrees F at 100,000 feet to 90 degrees F at spacecraft parachute
deployment. The average heat of the command module inner wall was
predicted not to exceed 75 degrees F at parachute deployment and 95
degrees F on landing, but then to rise to nearly 150 degrees F.
Apollo Monthly Progress Report, SID 62-300-7, p. 26.
During the Month
A new launch escape tower configuration with an internal structure that
would clear the launch escape motor exhaust plume at 30,000 feet was
designed and analyzed by NAA. Exhaust impingement was avoided by
slanting the diagonal members in the upper bay toward the interior of
the tower and attaching them to a ring.
Apollo Monthly Progress Report, SID 62-300- 7, p. 26.
During the Month
The technique tentatively selected by NAA for separating the command and
service modules from lower stages during an abort consisted of firing
four 2000-pound-thrust posigrade rockets mounted on the service module
adapter. With this technique, no retrorockets would be needed on the
S-IV or S-IVB stages. Normal separation from the S-IVB would be
accomplished with the service module reaction control system.
Apollo Monthly Progress Report, SID 62-300-7, p. 17.
NAA completed the release of the layout and preliminary design of
command module crew accessories and survival equipment.
NAA, Apollo Monthly Progress Report, SID 62-300-8, November
1962, p. 34.
The Amour Research Foundation reported to NASA that the surface of the
moon might not be covered with layers of dust. The first Armour studies
showed that dust particles become harder and denser in a higher vacuum
environment such as that of the moon, but the studies had not proved
that particles eventually become bonded together in a rocket substance
as the vacuum increases.
Astronautical and Aeronautical Events of 1962, p. 234.
Four "hot spots" on the moon were reported to have been
discovered by Bruce C. Murray and Robert L. Wildey of California
Institute of Technology, using a new telescope with a heat-sensitive,
gold-plated mirror to detect infrared radiation. The two space
scientists speculated that hot spots could indicate large areas of bare
rock exposed on the lunar surface. The spots were discovered during a
survey of the moon which also revealed that the lunar surface became
colder at night than previously believed, -270 degrees F compared to
-243 degrees F recorded by earlier heat measuring devices. Murray said
the new evidence could mean that there were prominences of
heat-retaining rock protruding through a thick dust layer on the lunar
Washington Post, November 4, 1962.
William L. Gill, Chief of Crew Systems Division's Radiation Branch, MSC,
said that the walls of the Apollo spacecraft would provide most of the
radiation shielding required for the crew. Astronauts would have special
shielding devices only for their eyes.
Astronautical and Aeronautical Events of 1962, p. 233.
NASA announced that the Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation had
been selected to build the lunar excursion module of the three-man
Apollo spacecraft under the direction of MSC. The contract, still to be
negotiated, was expected to be worth about $350 million, with estimates
as high as $1 billion by the time the project would be completed. NASA
Administrator James E. Webb, in announcing the selection, remarked:
"We are affirming our tentative decision of last July" [in
favor of the lunar orbit rendezvous approach]. D. Brainerd Holmes, NASA
Director of the Office of Manned Space Flight, noted that more than one
million man-hours of some 700 outstanding scientists, engineers, and
researchers had gone into studies of the Apollo mission during the past
year. "The results of these studies," he said, "added up
to the conclusion that lunar orbit rendezvous is the preferable mode to
take." With this award, the last major part of the Apollo program
had been placed under contract.
New York Times, November 8, 1962; TWX, NASA Headquarters to
MSC; Marshall Space Flight Center; Launch Operations Center; Ames,
Langley, Lewis, and Flight Research Centers; Goddard Space Flight
Center; Jet Propulsion Laboratory; Wallops Station; and Western
Operations Office, November 7, 1962.