Part 1 (D)

Defining Contractural Relations

July 1963 through August 20, 1963

1963 July

1963 August

July 1-2

North American shipped Apollo CM boilerplate 6 and its ground support equipment to WSMR. (See November 7.)

"Apollo Quarterly Status Report No, 4," pp. 35, 36; MSC, "Consolidated Activity Report for the Office of the Director, Manned Space Flight, June 16-July 20, 1963," p. 35.

July 3

Space Technology Laboratories received Grumman's go-ahead to develop the parallel descent engine for the LEM. (See February 27, March 14, and early May.) At the same time, Grumman ordered Bell Aerosystems Company to proceed with the LEM ascent engine. The contracts were estimated at $18,742,820 and $11,205,415, respectively.

MSC, "Consolidated Activity Report for the Office of the Director, Manned Space Flight, June 16-July 20, 1963," p. 37; "Monthly Progress Report No. 6," LPR-10-16, p. 50.

July 9-10

North American held a review of the CM main display console, which would be compatible with the fixed couch and new panel location. The contractor's drawings and comments by the astronauts were then reviewed by MSC.

MSC, "Consolidated Activity Report for the Office of the Director, Manned Space Flight, June 16-July 20, 1963," p. 71.

July 10

As proposed by Joseph F. Shea, Deputy Director (Systems), OMSF, about six weeks earlier, the MSF Management Council established the Panel Review Board with broad supervisory and appeal powers over inter-Center panels. (See Volume I, November 8, 1961.) Board members were the Deputy Director (Systems), OMSF, and technical experts from MSC, MSFC, and the Launch Operations Center. OMSF's representative was the chairman.

Recommendations of the board were not binding. If a Center Director decided against a board recommendation, he would, however, discuss and clear the proposed action with the Director of OMSF.

When the Panel Review Board assumed its duties, the Space Vehicle Review Board was abolished. (See Volume I, October 3, 1961.)

Memorandum, D. Brainerd Holmes, NASA, to Distr., "Panel Review Board," July 10, 1963; MSF Management Council Minutes, May 28, 1963, pp. 3-4.

July 10

The Marquardt Corporation began testing the prototype engine for the SM reaction control system. Preliminary data showed a specific impulse slightly less than 300 seconds.

NAA, "Project Apollo Spacecraft Test Program, Weekly Activity Report (Period 8 July 1963 through 14 July 1963)," p. 2.

July 10

North American reported that it had tried several types of restraint systems for the sleeping area in the equipment bay area of the CM. A "net" arrangement worked fairly well and was adaptable to the constant wear garment worn by the crew. However, North American believed that a simpler restraint system was needed, and was pursuing several other concepts.

Ibid., p, 4.

July 10

Aero Spacelines' "Pregnant Guppy," a modified Boeing Stratocruiser, won airworthiness certification by the Federal Aviation Agency. The aircraft would be used to transport major Apollo spacecraft and launch vehicle components.

Saturn Illustrated Chronology, p. 82; Orlando Sentinel, July 12, 1963.

July 12

MSC signed a definitive contract, valued at $36.2 million, with International Business Machines (IBM) for the realtime computer complex in the MSC Mission Control Center. IBM was responsible for the design of the computer center, mission and mathematical analyses, programming equipment engineering, computer and program testing, maintenance and operation, and documentation. The complex, consisting of four IBM 7094 computers with their associated equipment, would monitor and analyze data from Gemini and Apollo missions.

NASA News Release 63-151, "Contract Signed with IBM for Computer Equipment," July 12, 1963; Space Business Daily, July 15, 1963, p. 74.

July 15

MSC had received 271 applications for the astronaut program. (See June 5.) Seventy-one were military pilots (one from the Army, 34 from the Navy, 26 from the Air Force, and 10 from the Marines). Of the 200 civilians applying, three were women. (See October 18.)

Astronautics and Aeronautics, 1963 (NASA SP-4004), p. 273; The Houston Post, July 17, 1963.

July 15-16

The Little Joe II qualification test vehicle was shipped from the General Dynamics Convair plant to WSMR, where the test launch was scheduled for August. (See August 28.)

MSC, "Consolidated Activity Report for the Office of the Director, Manned Space Flight, June 16-July 20, 1963," p. 35; Little Joe II Test Launch Vehicle, NASA Project Apollo: Final Report, Vol. I, p. 1-6; TWX, NASA Resident Office, WSMR, to MSC, "Activity Report for MSC-WSMR Office for June 16 through July 20," July 23, 1963.

July 16

MSC directed North American to concentrate on the extendable boom concept for CSM docking with the LEM. The original impact type of docking had been modified:

  1. The primary mode employed an extendable probe. It would establish initial contact and docking at a separation distance sufficient to prevent dangerous impact as a result of pilot error.
  2. The backup mode consisted of free-flying the two modules together. Mean relative impact velocities established during free-flying docking simulation studies would be used as the design impact velocities.
North American and Grumman began a hardware testing and flight simulation program in late September to evaluate the feasibility of several types of extendable probe tether systems. The two companies were to determine the stiffness required of the docking structure for compatibility with the stabilization and control system. (See November 19-20.)

"Apollo Monthly Progress Report," SID 62-300-16, pp. 3, 9; MSC, "Weekly Activity Report for the Office of the Director, Manned Space Flight, July 28-August 3, 1963," p. 2; "Monthly Progress Report No. 6," LPR-10-16, p. 3.

July 16

Grumman presented the results of a study on LEM visibility. A front-face configuration with triangular windows was tentatively accepted by MSC for the ascent stage. Further investigation would be directed toward eliminating the "dead spots" to improve the configuration's visibility.

"Monthly Progress Report No. 6," LPR-10-16, p. 3.

July 16-August 15

North American reported that Lockheed Propulsion Company had successfully completed development testing of the launch escape system pitch control motor. (See December 28, 1962.)

"Apollo Monthly Progress Report," SID 62-300-16, p. 18.

July 18

MSC authorized North American to fit the launch escape system with a redundant tower separation device. This equipment incorporated an explosive bolt and shaped charge cutter.

Letter, H. P. Yschek, MSC, to NAA, Space and Information Systems Div., "Contract Change Authorization No. Sixty-Two," July 18, 1963.

July 18

Grumman selected Pratt and Whitney to develop fuel cells for the LEM. Current LEM design called for three cells, supplemented by a battery for power during peak consumption beyond what the cells could deliver. Grumman and Pratt and Whitney completed contract negotiations on August 27, and MSC issued a letter go-ahead on September 5. Including fees and royalties, the contract was worth $9.411 million.

MSC, "Weekly Activity Report for the Office of the Director, Manned Space Flight, July 21-27, 1963," p. 8; MSC, "ASPO Weekly Activity Report, September 5-11, 1963," p. 5; GAEC, "Monthly Progress Report No. 7," LPR-10-22, September 10, 1963, p. 2.

July 18

North American, Grumman, and Hamilton Standard, meeting at MSC with Crew Systems Division engineers, agreed that the portable life support system (PLSS) would have three attaching points for stowage in the spacecraft. In addition, it was agreed that the PLSS should not be used for shoulder restraint in the LEM.

"Monthly Progress Report No. 6," LPR-10-16, p. 12; MSC, "Apollo Spacecraft Project Office Activity Report, June 14-July 18, 1963," p. [8].

July 19

Grumman directed the Marquardt Corporation to begin development of the LEM reaction control system thrusters. Negotiations had begun on March 11 on the definitive subcontract, a cost-plus-incentive-fee type with a total estimated cost of $10,871,186.

MSC, "Consolidated Activity Report for the Office of the Director, Manned Space Flight, July 21-August 17, 1963," p. 36; "Monthly Progress Report No. 6," LPR-10-16, p. 50; GAEC, "Monthly Progress Report No. 8," LPR-10-24, October 10, 1963, p. 49.

July 20

NASA launched a Scout rocket with a nose cone of experimental heatshield material from Wallops Island, Va. The rocket was intentionally destroyed when it deviated from its course a few seconds after liftoff. The nose cone had been expected to reenter the atmosphere at 27,934 kilometers (18,600 miles) per hour to test the material's thermal performance under heating loads near those of a lunar reentry.

NASA News Release 63-153, "Reentry Experiment Will Test Ablation Material," July 17, 1963; The Houston Chronicle, July 20, 1963.

July 23

George E. Mueller, Vice President for Research and Development of Space Technology Laboratories, was named NASA Deputy Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight to succeed D. Brainerd Holmes, effective September 1.

NASA News Release 63-162, "NASA Names New Head for Manned Space Flight; Succeeds Holmes," July 23, 1963.

July 23

Grumman authorized Hamilton Standard to begin development of the environmental control system (ECS) for the LEM. The cost-plus-incentive-fee contract was valued at $8,371,465. The parts of the ECS to be supplied by Hamilton Standard were specified by Grumman.

"Monthly Progress Report No. 6," LPR-10-16, p. 50; MSC, "Consolidated Activity Report for the Office of the Director, Manned Space Flight, July 21-August 17, 1963," p. 36.

July 28-August 3

ASPO reported that a different type of stainless steel would be used for the CM heatshield. The previous type proved too brittle at cryogenic temperatures. Aside from their low temperature properties, the two metals were quite; similar and no fabrication problems were anticipated.

MSC, "Weekly Activity Report for the Office of the Director, Manned Space Flight, July 28-August 3, 1963," p. 4.

July 28-August 3

ASPO ordered Grumman to design identical connectors for both ends of the space suit hoses in the LEM. This arrangement, called the "buddy concept," would permit one portable life support system to support two crewmen and thus would eliminate the need for a special suit-to-suit hose. (See August 26, 1964.)

Ibid., p. 6.

July 30-31

MIT and Grumman representatives discussed installing the inertial measurement unit and the optical telescope in the LEM. Of several possible locations, the top centerline of the cabin seemed most promising. Grumman agreed to provide a preliminary structural arrangement of the guidance components so that MIT could study problems of installation and integration.

"Monthly Progress Report No. 6," LPR-10-16, pp. 6, 7.

August 1

North American, NASA, and Grumman representatives discussed three methods of descent from lunar parking orbit:

  1. descent of the LEM only (the minimum energy Hohmann transfer),
  2. the combined descent of both spacecraft, and
  3. the synchronous equal period method.
While neither contractor felt that weight factors should be of primary concern, Grumman favored the Hohmann transfer and North American the combined descent, which represented the extremes of energy requirements. After considering reliability, fuel consumption, and operational flexibility, NASA chose the synchronous method as the prime mission mode but recommended continued investigation of the other two techniques.

Memorandum, John E. Gerstle, Jr., and Joe D. Payne, MSC, to Chief, Flight Operations Div., "LEM Descent Profile," August 20, 1963.

Equal-period orbits

A briefing aid depicted the equal-period orbit method of LEM descent to the lunar surface from lunar orbit.

August 2

North American asked MSC if Grumman was designing the LEM to have a thrusting capability with the CSM attached and, if not, did NASA intend to require the additional effort by Grumman to provide this capability. North American had been proceeding on the assumption that, should the service propulsion system (SPS) fail during translunar flight, the LEM would make any course corrections needed to ensure a safe return trajectory. [The Guidance and Control Panel, at a meeting on November 29, 1962, had stated that a LEM would be included on all Saturn V flights, thus providing a backup propulsion in case of SPS failure.] On August 6, Robert O. Piland, Acting ASPO Manager, responded by asking North American to investigate the operational and systems aspects of this backup mode before a final decision was made.

TWX, H. G. Osbon, NAA, to MSC, Attn: Robert O. Piland, August 2, 1963; letter, Piland to NAA, Attn: E. E, Sack, "LEM Propulsion System as Backup to SM Propulsion System," August 6, 1963.

August 5

In what was to have been an acceptance test, the Douglas Aircraft Company static fired the first Saturn S-IV flight stage at Sacramento, Calif. An indication of fire in the engine area forced technicians to shut down the stage after little more than one minute's firing. A week later the acceptance test was repeated, this time without incident, when the vehicle was fired for over seven minutes. [The stage became part of the SA-5 launch vehicle, the first complete Saturn I to fly. See January 29, 1964.]

History of Marshall . . . January 1-June 30, 1963, Vol. I, p. 16; The Huntsville Times, August 6, 1963; The Houston Post, August 13, 1963.

August 9-10

The Panel Review Board (see July 10) held its first meeting at the Launch Operations Center (LOC). The board established an Executive Secretariat, composed of Bert A. Denicke (OMSF), Joachim P. Kuettner (MSFC), Emil P. Bertram (LOC), and Philip R. Maloney (MSC). Among other actions, the board abolished the GE Policy Review Board (see December 5, 1962).

MSC, "Apollo Spacecraft Project Office Activity Report, July 19-August 15, 1963,"p. 1.

August 14

NASA Administrator James E. Webb signed the definitive contract with North American for the development of the Apollo CSM. This followed by almost two years North American's selection as prime contractor, The $938.4 million cost-plus-fixed-fee agreement was the most valuable single research and development contract in American history. The contract called for the initial production (i.e., through May 15, 1965) of 11 mockups, 15 boilerplate vehicles, and 11 production articles. (See September 1, 1964.)

Space News Roundup, August 21, 1963; Oakley, Historical Summary, S&ID Apollo Program, pp. 11, 24-25; Space Business Daily, August 19, 1963, p. 255.


ITT's Kellogg Division delivered to Hamilton Standard the first operational prototype space suit communications system. (See November 27, 1962.)

Aviation Week and Space Technology, 79 (August 19, 1963), p. 29; Space Business Daily, August 20, 1963, p. 263.

August 15

At a meeting on the LEM electrical power system, Grumman presented its latest load analysis, which placed the LEM's mission energy requirements at 76.53 kilowatt-hours. (See January 28.) The control energy level for the complete LEM mission had been set at 54 kilowatt-hours and the target energy level at 47.12 kilowatt-hours. Grumman and MSC were jointly establishing ground rules for an electrical power reduction program.

MSC, "ASPO Weekly Activity Report, August 15-21, 1963,"p. 4.

August 15-September 21

MSC Crew Systems Division conducted mobility tests of the Apollo prototype space suit inside a mockup of the CM. Technicians also tested the suit on a treadmill. The subjects' carbon dioxide buildup did not exceed two percent; their metabolic rates were about 897,000 joules (850 BTU) per hour at vent pressure, 1,688,000 joules at 2.4 newtons per square centimeter (1,600 BTU at 3.5 psi), and 2,320,000 joules at 3.5 newtons per square centimeter (2,200 BTU at 5.0 psi).

MSC, "Consolidated Activity Report for the Office of the Director, Manned Space Flight, August 18- September 21, 1963," p. 40.

Week of August 18

MSC completed a comparison of 17-volt and 28-volt batteries for the portable life support system. The study showed that a 28-volt battery would provide comparable energy levels without increase in size and weight and would be compatible with the spacecraft electrical system.

MSC, "Weekly Activity Report for the Office of the Director, Manned Space Flight, August 18-24, 1963," p. 6.

August 21

John P. Bryant, of the Flight Operations Division's (FOD) Mission Analysis Branch (MAB), reported to FOD that the branch had conducted a rough analysis of the effects of some mission constraints upon the flexibility possible with lunar launch operations. (As a base, MAB used April and May 1968, called "a typical two-month period.") First, Bryant said, MAB used the mission rules demanded for the Apollo lunar landing (e.g., free-return trajectory; predetermined lunar landing sites; and lighting conditions on the moon - "by far the most restrictive of the lot"). Next, MAB included a number of operational constraints, ones "reasonably representative of those expected for a typical flight," but by no means an "exhaustive" list:

Bryant advised that, taken just by themselves, these various constraints, both mission and operational, had a "restrictive effect" and that operational flexibility was thereby "dramatically curtailed." Moreover, "there are still a number of possible constraints which have not been considered which could still further affect the size of the ultimate launch window" (and the list was "increasing almost daily"): requirements for tracking coverage and for lighting during rendezvous and reentry; and restrictions imposed by solar activity, launch environment, and - no small matter - weather conditions at the launch site.

"The consequences," Bryant concluded, "of imposing an ever-increasing number of these flight restrictions is obvious - the eventual loss of almost all operational flexibility. The only solution is . . . [a] meticulous examination of every constraint which tends to reduce the number of available launch opportunities," looking toward eliminating "as many as possible."

Memorandum, John Bryant, MSC, to Chief, Flight Operations Div., "Planning Apollo missions with imposed operational constraints," September 5, 1963.

Week of August 22-29

An Ad Hoc Rendezvous Working Group was formed at MSC to study the possibility of substituting a unified S-band system for the rendezvous X-band radar on the LEM and CSM.

"ASPO Weekly Activity Report, August 22-29, 1963," p. 7; MSC, "Weekly Activity Report for the Office of the Director, Manned Space Flight, September 1-7, 1963," p. 11.

August 26

MSC received proposals for the visual displays for the LEM simulator. Because of the changed shape of that vehicle's windows, however, Grumman had to return those proposals to the original bidders, sending revised proposals to MSC in December. Farrand Optical Company was selected to develop the display, and the Center approved Grumman's choice. Negotiations between Grumman and Farrand were completed during March 1964.

"Apollo Quarterly Status Report No. 5," pp. 55-56; MSC, "Consolidated Activity Report for the Office of the Director, Manned Space Flight, August 18-September 21, 1963," p. 28; "Consolidated Activity Report for the Office of the Associate Administrator, Manned Space Flight, December 22, 1963-January 18, 1964," p. 39; GAEC, "Monthly Progress Report No. 14," LPR-10-30, April 10, 1964, p. 35.

August 27

The MSF Management Council decided that, as part of the proposed reorganization of NASA Headquarters (see October 9), a Deputy Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight would become responsible for all manned space flight activities within NASA.

MSF Management Council Meeting, August 27, 1963, Agenda Item 10, "Responsibility of the Deputy Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight For Technical Matters,"

August 27

A LEM crew systems meeting was held at Grumman. The standing arrangement proposed for the crew (see June 16-July 20) promised to reduce the weight of the LEM by as much as 27.2 kilograms (60 pounds), and would improve crew mobility, visibility, control accessibility, and ingress-egress. Pending more comprehensive analysis, crew systems designers also favored the revised front-face configuration (see July 16).

MSC, "ASPO Weekly Activity Report, August 22-29, 1963," p. 7.

August 28

The Little Joe II qualification test vehicle was launched from WSMR. Its objectives were to prove the Little Joe's capability as an Apollo spacecraft test vehicle and to determine base pressures and heating on the missile. These aims were achieved. The lone failure was a malfunction in the destruct system.

Little Joe II Test Launch Vehicle, NASA Project Apollo: Final Report, Vol. I, pp. 1-11, 1-13, 1-17.

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