Advanced Design, Fabrication, and Testing
After studying increased thrust versus increased burn time, Grumman
ordered Bell Aerosystems Company to redesign the LEM's ascent engine
for a longer firing duration.
GAEC, "Monthly Progress Report No. 23," LPR-10-39, January
10, 1965, p. 12; MSC, "ASPO Weekly Management Report, December
MSC approved plans put forth by North American for mockups of the Block
II CSM. For the crew compartment mockup, the company proposed using the
metal shell that had originally been planned as a simulator. Except for
the transfer tunnel and lighting, it would be complete, including
mockups of all crew equipment. Mockup 12, the Block I lighting tool,
would be modified to conform to the interior of Block II spacecraft.
Systems Engineering Division reported the latest review schedule for
the Block II mockups:
"ASPO Weekly Management Report, December 3-10, 1964"; letter,
C. L. Taylor, MSC, to NAA, Attn: J. C. Cozad, "Contract NAS 9-150,
Delivery of Government furnished crew equipment for Block II
mockup," December 22, 1964.
- March 15, 1965 - crew compartment
- April 30, 1965 - interior lighting
- July 15, 1965 - Design Engineering Inspection (DEI)
- August 6, 1965 - lighting DEI
MSC froze the design of the drogue mortar for the launch escape system.
Laboratory qualification was scheduled to begin about the middle of the
month. Qualification of the mortars for the pilot parachute would then
"ASPO Weekly Management Report, December 3-10, 1964."
Engineering and medical experts of the Crew Systems Division reviewed
dumping helium from the CM's gas chromatograph into the cabin during
reentry or in a pad abort. Reviewers decided that the resultant
atmosphere (9.995 kilonewtons [1.45 psi] helium and 31.349 kilonewtons
[4.55 psia] oxygen) posed no hazard for the crew. Systems Engineering
Division recommended, however, that dump time be reduced from 15 minutes
to three, which could readily be done.
MSC, "Consolidated Activity Report for Office of the Associate
Administrator, Manned Space Flight, December 1964,"p. 46.
At its Sacramento test site, Douglas Aircraft Company static-fired a
"battleship" S-IVB second stage of the Saturn IB vehicle, for
10 sec. (A battleship rocket stage was roughly the vehicle's equivalent
to a boilerplate spacecraft.) On January 4, 1965, after further testing
of the stage's J-2 engine, the stage underwent its first full-duration
firing, 480 sec.
Space Business Daily, December 4, 1964, p. 159.
Douglas Aircraft Company delivered the first S-IVB stage to Marshall
Space Flight Center for extensive vibration, bending, and torsional
testing. The stage was not an actual flight stage and contained mockups
of the engine and other components, but it duplicated the flight article
in weight, mass, center of gravity, and stiffness.
Ibid., December 7, 1964, p. 167.
MSC ordered North American to fix the rotation angle of the adapter
panels at 45 degrees. (This angle should give ample clearance during an
SM abort.) Also, so that each panel would have two attenuators, North
American should include such a device at each thruster location. (See
June 16, 1965.)
On the same day, the Center directed North American to put a standard
mechanical clock (displaying Greenwich Mean Time) in the lower equipment
bay of the CM. [The spacecraft also had an elapsed time device on the
main display console.]
Letter, H. P. Yschek, MSC, to NAA, Space and Information Systems
Division, "Contract Change Authorization No. 275," December
7, 1964; letter, H. P. Yschek, MSC, to NAA, Space and Information
Systems Division, "Contract Change Authorization No. 277,"
December 7, 1964.
MSC advised Grumman that, normally, the LEM would be the active vehicle
during lunar rendezvous. This would conserve reaction control system
propellants aboard the CSM.
TWX, W. F. Rector III, MSC, to GAEC, Attn: R. S. Mullaney, December 7,
Boilerplate 23, Mission A-002, was successfully launched from WSMR by a
Little Joe II launch vehicle. The test was to demonstrate satisfactory
launch escape vehicle performance utilizing the canard subsystem and
boost protective cover, and to verify the abort capability in the
maximum dynamic pressure region with conditions approximating emergency
detection subsystem limits. (See objectives in Appendix 5.)
"Apollo Monthly Progress Report," SID 62-300-32, p. 31;
Astronautics and Aeronautics, 1964, p. 410.
A single main parachute was drop-tested at El Centro, Calif., to verify
the ultimate strength. The parachute was designed for a disreef load of
11,703 kg (25,800 lbs) and a 1.35 safety factor. The test conditions
were to achieve a disreef load of 15,876 kg (35,000 lbs. Preliminary
information indicated the parachute deployed normally to the reefed
shape (78,017 kg [17,200 lbs] force), disreefed after the programmed
three seconds, and achieved an inflated load of 16,193 kg (35,700 lbs),
after which the canopy failed. North American representatives would
visit MSC during the week of December 14 to discuss this and other
NAA, "Apollo Monthly Progress Report," SID 62-300-33,
February 1, 1965, pp. 3-4; "ASPO Weekly Management Report,
December 3-10, 1964."
Representatives of MSC's Information and Electronic Systems Division,
Flight Operations Division, Flight Crew Operations Division, Guidance
and Control Division, Astronaut Office, and ASPO, Goddard Space Flight
Center, and Bellcomm, Inc., met to discuss communications during LEM and
Capability of the Manned Space Flight Network (MSFN) to provide data for
rendezvous was studied. Aaron Cohen of ASPO stated sufficient data could
be collected, processed, and transmitted via MSFN to the LEM to achieve
rendezvous. Dr. F. O. Vonbun of Goddard showed that MSFN data did little
to improve data already available in the LEM before launch. Although
five tracking stations would communicate with the LEM during ascent and
the first 10 minutes of orbit, there would be only a slight improvement
in spacecraft position and motion data over the data already contained
in the LEM computer. No decision was made concerning the MSFN's
Alternate rendezvous methods were discussed.
Memorandum, Donald G, Wiseman, MSC, to Chief, Instrumentation and
Electronic Systems Division, "Meeting on LEM CSM rendezvous,"
December 9, 1964.
The Space Science Board of the National Academy of Sciences was asked to
give NASA an independent evaluation of the need for a lunar sampling
handling facility at Houston. NASA asked that the following questions be
Letter, Homer E. Newell, NASA Associate Administrator for Space Science
and Applications, to Dr. Harry H. Hess, Chairman, Space Science Board,
December 8, 1964.
- What types of lunar sample analyses need to be done immediately upon
return of the samples from the moon?
- What types of research can better be postponed until analyses can be
handled at the best available research facility?
- What types of scientific research and handling facilities do you
anticipate will be needed for such analyses?
- What do you anticipate in terms of manpower requirements for MSC to
handle scientific activities in such a facility?
Grumman received from Houston criteria for firing times of the SM
reaction control system (RCS). These served as a basis for the design
of the LEM's steerable antenna. The thermal design proposed by
Dalmo-Victor, the vendor, appeared feasible to watchdogs in MSC's
Instrumentation and Electronic Systems Division. On the other hand, the
unbalanced wind torque produced by the RCS engines was still a problem.
RCA and Dalmo-Victor's estimates of the amount of torque varied
considerably, and Grumman consequently undertook a study of this
MSC, "ASPO Weekly Management Report, November 26-December 3,
1964"; TWX, W. F. Rector III, MSC, to GAEC, Attn: R. S. Mullaney,
November 19, 1964; TWX, W. F. Rector III, MSC, to GAEC, Attn: R. S.
Mullaney, December 9, 1964.
MSC revised the weight allocation for the LEM's R&D instrumentation
to bring it in line with current mission planning. Limitations
established were 295 kg (650 lbs) for 206A and 181 kg (400 lbs) for all
Memorandum, W. F. Rector III, MSC, to Chief, Instrumentation and
Electronic Systems Division, Attn: N. Farmer, "Lem I, 2, and 3
measurement requirements," December 9, 1964; letter, W. F. Rector
III, MSC, to GAEC, Attn: R. S. Mullaney, "Contract NAS 9-1100, LEM
1, 2, and 3 Measurement Requirements," December 14, 1964.
MSC approved the use of one 23.68-kg (50-lb) auxiliary battery for the
LEM, as recommended by Grumman, and preparations began for negotiations
with Yardney Electric Corp.
TWX, W. F. Rector III, MSC, to GAEC, Attn: R. S. Mullaney, December 9,
1964; "Monthly Progress Report No. 23," LPR-10-39, p. 23.
Avco Corporation was under a 10-month contract amounting to $124,578 to
MSC to study the effects of solar radiation and ultra-high vacuum on the
materials and components of space suits. Testing would be performed in
the Avco space environment chamber.
Space Business Daily, December 9, 1964, p. 185.
Grumman and LEM Project Office representatives met to discuss the split
bus distribution system. They decided there would be two circuit
breaker panels similar to those of Mockup 5. All power distribution
system controls would be located on the system engineer's center side
console with remote controls and valves on the commander's center side
"Monthly Progress Report No. 23," LPR-10-39, p. 17.
December 10-January 7
Because of faults in both design and in testing procedures, the
positive expulsion tanks for the CSM reaction control system failed
their verification tests (begun during the preceding month).
"ASPO Weekly Management Report" (December 10, 1964-January 7,
December 10-January 7
Crew Systems Division received from North American a mockup of the
proposed design of the food stowage compartment in the Block II CSM.
This article would be used for packaging studies in preparation for the
lower equipment bay mockup review in February.
December 10-January 7
By improving filling and preparation procedures and by using nickel
foil in the oxygen electrode, Pratt and Whitney eliminated both short-
and long-term plugging in the LEM's fuel cell assembly. Since then,
Pratt and Whitney had consistently operated single cells for over 400
hours and - as far as the company was concerned - felt this settled the
December 10-January 7
The resident Apollo office at North American discussed the company's
tooling concepts for the Block II spacecraft with the chief of
Marshall's Planning and Tool Engineering Division and the local
Marshall representative. These reviewers agreed on the suitability of
North American's basic approach. Though they recognized that the
initial tooling cost would be high, they nonetheless felt that the
total costs of manufacturing would not be appreciably affected. The
substitution of mechanical for optical checking devices, it was agreed,
would eliminate much of the "judgment factor" from the
inspection process; mechanical checking also would assure uniformity of
major components or subsystems.
Ibid.; "Apollo Monthly Progress Report," SID
62-300-33, p. 27.
MSC directed Grummann to provide a LEM abort guidance section (AGS)
Letter, Joseph F. Shea, MSC, to GAEC, Attn: R. S. Mullaney,
"Contract NAS 9-1100, Abort Guidance Section Configuration,"
December 11, 1964.
- a computer memory of 4096 words
- the provision for in-flight null bias gyro drift compensation
- a general purpose input output device
- Bell 3B accelerometers
- input registers for rendezvous radar information such that a future
interface could be mechanized if desired
- an interface between the primary navigation and guidance system
(PNGS) and the AGS for position and velocity updating of the AGS from
From MSC, Grumman received updated criteria to be used in the design of
the LEM's landing gear. The gear must be designed to absorb completely
the landing impact; it must also provide adequate stability for the
vehicle under varying surface conditions, which were spelled out in
precise detail.) Maximum conditions that MSC anticipated at touchdown
vertical velocity - 3.05 m (10 ft) per sec
horizontal velocity - 1.22 m (4 ft) per sec
pitch - 3 degrees
roll - 3 degrees
yaw - random
attitude rates - 3 degrees per sec
At touchdown, all engines (descent and reaction control would be off.
"It must be recognized," MSC emphasized, "that the
vertical and horizontal velocity values . . . are also constraints on
the flight control system."
Letter, W. F. Rector III, MSC, to GAEC, Attn: R. S. Mullaney,
"Contract NAS 9-1100, Landing gear design criteria," December
ASPO's Operations Planning Division directed Grumman to provide six
recharges of the portable life support system (PLSS) and three PLSS
batteries (rechargeable and replaceable).
Letter, W. F. Rector III, MSC, to GAEC, Attn: R. S. Mullaney,
"Contract NAS 9-1100, Resolution of M-5 mockup review chits 1-16
and 1-20," December 14, 1964.
Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight George E. Mueller
informed MSC Director Robert R. Gilruth that the Integrated Mission
Control Center at MSC should be renamed Mission Control Center. He
said, "By calling it the Mission Control Center, it has the
advantage of retaining as much as possible of the original name which
has become so well known to the press, the Congress and the
Letter, Mueller to Gilruth, December 15, 1964.
Dalmo-Victor studied thermal-demanded weight increases for the LEM's
steerable antenna. Investigators reported to Grumman and RCA that, in
the plume of the CSM's reaction control engines, 1.18 kg (2.5 lbs) was
necessary merely for the survival of the antenna; another 1.18 kg would
be required for tracking during this impingement.
"Monthly Progress Report No. 23," LPR-10-39, p. 5; "ASPO
Weekly Management Report" (December 10, 1964-January 7, 1965).
Aboard a KC-135 from Wright-Patterson AFB, the fecal canister and urine
relief tube were first tested under zero-g conditions. Similar manned
tests of a complete unit were scheduled for February 1965.
"Apollo Monthly Progress Report," SID 62-300-33, pp. 4-6.
A mission planning presentation was given to ASPO Manager Joseph F.
Shea, Assistant Director for Flight Operations Christopher C. Kraft,
Jr., and Assistant Director for Flight Crew Operations Donald K. Slayton
covering missions AS-201, AS-202, and AS-203. Shea said he wanted either
a natural decaying orbit of proper lifetime or reaction control system
deorbit capability for the first manned missions. It was decided not to
put a C-band beacon on the SM for the post CM/SM separation tracking.
This decision came back to haunt the program much later.
Memorandum, Carl R. Huss, MSC, to JSC Historical Office, "Comments
on Volume III of The Apollo Spacecraft: A
Chronology," June 6, 1973.
December 16-January 15
Phase II service propulsion system engine tests at Arnold Engineering
Development Center were begun under simulated high altitude conditions
with a successful first firing of 30 seconds. A total of nine firings
"Apollo Monthly Progress Report," SID 62-300-33, p. 13.
December 16-January 15
Ames researchers conducted 23 runs in the Center's wind tunnel to
confirm the flight test instrumentation's compatibility with the aft
heatshield of the CM. The instrumentation performed satisfactorily.
"Apollo Monthly Progress Report," SID 62-300-33, pp.
NASA announced the selection of two firms to supply electronics
equipment for the Manned Space Flight Network:
NASA News Release 64-318, "NASA Selects Apollo Data
Contractor," December 17, 1964.
- Dynatronics, Inc., to design and manufacture pulse code modulation
(PCM) telemetry systems. (The main function of the PCM system would be
to decode, or as the NASA news release put it, "decommutate," telemetry
signals from the spacecraft). Dynatronics' contract would be worth an
estimated 3.5 million.
- Univac Division of Sperry Rand, to furnish data processors. (These
machines, as their name indicates, would process those signals received
by the PCM system. This information then would be transmitted to the
Mission Control Center at Houston. The value of Univac's contract was
placed at $4.5 million.
Crew Systems Division (CSD) engineers, in their continuing effort to
improve the design of the space suit, recommended a number of
modifications to the thermal garment for example, a larger sleeve
opening to facilitate inserting the second arm; and alterations to the
neck and chest to increase the astronaut's downward view. By the middle
of January, CSD's Robert E. Smylie could report several major design
changes improved greatly the suit's don doff characteristics and made
it less bulky. (See January 19, 1965.)
Memorandum, Francis J. DeVos, MSC, to Chief, Apollo Support Office,
"Improved External Thermal Garment fit and donning, doffing
studies," December 18, 1964.
NASA Administrator James E. Webb thanked Secretary of Defense Robert S.
McNamara for providing aircraft support for the Apollo program. Webb
informed McNamara that NASA had transferred $600,000 to the Electronic
Systems Division of the Air Force, and "this should provide us the
ability to initiate the definition phase of the C-135 Apollo support
aircraft program." The aircraft would be used to supplement
telemetry and communications coverage of the pre-injection phase of the
Webb added that the Bureau of the Budget had the question of
identifying four additional C-135's well on its way toward resolution;
and that NASA would continue planning on the basis of 12 C-135 aircraft
for the Apollo program.
McNamara had written Webb on November 27, 1964, that "The Air
Force has completed a study of a number of alternative combinations of
aircraft to meet Apollo requirements. They conclude that the optimum
solution is to equip twelve C-135's to support Apollo . . ." Total
cost of instrumenting 12 C-135's was estimated to cost $27.7 million,
including the $600,000 for the definition phase.
Letters, Webb to McNamara, December 18, 1964; McNamara to Webb,
November 27, 1964.
North American delivered spacecraft 001's CM to White Sands. The SM was
shipped several days later, and would be used for propulsion engine
development. Aerojet-General shipped the service propulsion engine to
the facility on January 6, 1965.
NAA, "Apollo Monthly Progress Report," SID 62-300-33, pp. 1,
The Structures and Mechanics Division (SMD) summarized the thermal
status of antennas for the Apollo spacecraft (both CSM and LEM).
Generally, most troubles stemmed from plume impingement by the reaction
control or radiation from the service propulsion engines. These
problems, SMD reported, were being solved by increasing the weight of an
antenna either its structural weight or its insulation; by shielding it
from the engines' exhaust; by isolating its more critical components; or
by a combination of these methods.
Memorandum, R. G. Irvin, MSC, to J. W. Craig, MSC, "LEM thermal
design mission," December 9, 1964; memorandum, Ralph S. Sawyer,
MSC, to Chief, Propulsion and Power Division, "Reaction control
system engine plume impingement on steerable high gain antenna earth
tracker," December 21, 1964.
In response to MSC's new criteria for the landing gear of the LEM,
Grumman representatives met with Center officials in Houston to revise
the design. Grumman had formulated a concept for a 419-cm (165-in)
radius, cantilever-type configuration, In analyzing its performance,
Grumman and Structures and Mechanics Division (SMD) engineers, working
separately, had reached the same conclusion: namely, that it did not
provide sufficient stability nor did it absorb enough of the landing
impact. Both parties to this meeting agreed that the gear's performance
could be improved by redesigning the foot pads and beefing up the gear
struts. Grumman was modifying other parts of the spacecraft's
At the same time, Grumman advised MSC that it considered impractical a
contrivance to simulate lunar gravity in the drop program for test
Mockup 5. Grumman put forth another idea: use a full-sized LEM, the
company said, but one weighing only one-sixth as much as a flight-ready
vehicle. SMD officials were evaluating this latest idea, while they were
reviewing the entire TM-5 program.
"Project Apollo, Abstract of Procedures, LEM Structures and
Landing Gear Systems Meeting, December 21-22, 1964"; "Monthly
Progress Report No. 23," LPR-10-39, p. 15; MSC, "ASPO Weekly
Management Report" [January 7-14, 1965].
NASA Technical Services constructed the molds that would be used to make
the one-piece bubble helmets for the Apollo space suits. These forms
would be delivered to General Electric and to Texstar, the two firms
that would actually fabricate the helmets, with the first shell expected
At the same time, Crew Systems Division completed drop tests on the new
helmet concept. The division's engineers also began designing and
fabrication of support items (neck rings, feed ports, and skull caps),
as well as exploring methods of maintaining the helmet's hygiene and
Letter, Richard S. Johnston, MSC, to Curtis Jones, GE, December 23,
1964; "ASPO Weekly Management Report" [December 10,
1964-January 7, 1965].
To strengthen the Agency's managerial organization, NASA announced a
realignment within the Office of Manned Space Flight:
Also included in this reorganization was a consolidation of activities
at Cape Kennedy aimed at bringing assembly, checking, and launch
responsibilities within the scope of a single organization. MSC's
Florida Operations was absorbed; Kurt H. Debus assumed the title of
Director of Launch Operations; and G. Merritt Preston, who had headed
the local MSC group, became Debus' deputy.
- The post of Deputy Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight
Operations was eliminated. (It had, in fact, been vacant since April 24,
1964, when Walter C. Williams had resigned. In its stead, the position
of Mission Operations Director was created and filled by E. E.
- Two positions as mission directors were created under Christensen.
Each director would have overall responsibility for a particular
- A new organization to coordinate ground support efforts was created,
the Operations Support Requirements Office, headed by B. Porter Brown.
NASA News Release 64-327, "NASA Realigns Manned Space Flight Unit
in Gemini, Apollo Programs," December 24, 1964.
MSC directed North American to modify the CM so that the sight assembly
could be used from either docking window.
Letter, James L. Neal, MSC, to NAA, Space and Information Systems
Division, "Contract Change Authorization No. 283," December
28, 1964; "Apollo Monthly Progress Report," SID 62-300-32, p.
The Lunar Sample Receiving Laboratory, currently being planned for
construction at MSC, would support - in addition to its vital role as a
quarantine area - two important activities:
Technical requirements for the facility were being defined by MSC's
Space Environment Group, various Apollo science teams, and an ad hoc
committee established by NASA Headquarters.
- Research on the samples to support succeeding Apollo flights.
- Sorting and distribution of lunar samples to the scientific
Memorandum, John M. Eggleston, MSC, to Distr., "MSC Requirements
for Apollo Operational Lunar Sample Measurements," December 29,
After conferring with the Space Medicine Branch and with the Gemini and
Apollo support offices, Crew Systems Division officials opted for
identical bioinstrumentation in both blocks of Apollo spacecraft.
Hamilton Standard would also try to use identical harnesses.
"ASPO Weekly Management Report" [December 10, 1964-January 7,
During the Month
Grumman ordered its major subcontractors supplying electronic equipment
for the LEM to implement revised test programs and hardware schedules
(in line with the new design approach). A similar directive went to RCA
to modify the attitude and translation and the descent engine control
assemblies as required for the new concept of an integrated assembly for
guidance, navigation, and control of the spacecraft.
"Monthly Progress Report No. 23," LPR-10-39, p. 24.
During the Quarter
Crew Systems Division approved the use of modified Gemini space suits in
Block I Apollo spacecraft. MSC and David Clark Company amended their
Gemini suit contract to cover design and fabrication of a prototype
Block I suit.
Memorandum, Robert E. Smylie, MSC, to Chief, Program Control Division,
"Apollo Spacecraft Program Quarterly Status Report No. 10,"
January 19, 1965, and enclosures.
During the Quarter
Ling-Temco-Vought began large-scale developmental testing of the
radiator for the Block II CSM environmental control system. One problem
immediately apparent was the radiator's performance under extreme
During the Quarter
In September 1964, Hamilton Standard, manufacturer of the portable life
support system (PLSS), had established a 108-watt-hour capacity for the
system's batteries. And on the basis of that figure, Grumman had been
authorized to proceed with the development of the LEM's battery charger
(see November 5, 1964). (The size of the charger was determined by
several factors, but primarily by the size of the battery and time
limits for recharging.)
During November, however, Hamilton Standard and Crew Systems Division
(CSD) engineers advised the Instrumentation and Electronic Systems
Division (IESD) that the PLSS's power requirements had increased to
about 200 watt-hours. (CSD had jurisdiction over the PLSS, including
battery requirements; IESD was responsible for the charger.) Hamilton
Standard placed most of the blame on the cooling pump motor, which
proved far less efficient than anticipated, as well as on the addition
of biosensor equipment. ASPO Manager Joseph F. Shea, reviewing the
company's explanation, commented that "this says what happened . .
. but is far from a justification - this is the type of thing we should
understand well enough to anticipate." "How can this
happen," he wondered, ". . . in an area which has been
subjected to so much discussion and delay?"
Representatives from Grumman and Hamilton Standard, meeting at MSC on
December 17, redefined PLSS battery and charging requirements, and
Grumman was directed to proceed with the development of the battery
charger. This episode was accompanied by some sense of urgency, since
Grumman had to have firm requirements before the end of year to prevent
a schedule slippage.
"ASPO Weekly Management Report" (December 10, 1964-January 7,
1965); TWX, W. F. Rector III, MSC, to GAEC, Attn: R. S. Mullaney,
December 31, 1964.