Advanced Design, Fabrication, and Testing

October 1965


October 1

At a Customer Acceptance Readiness Review at North American, NASA formally accepted spacecraft 002. The vehicle was then demated and shipped to White Sands.

"Apollo Monthly Progress Report," SID 62-300-42, p. 1.

October 1

Homer E. Newell, Associate Administrator for Space Science and Applications, notified Houston of the first two experiments selected for early Apollo landing flights:

  1. a lunar gravimeter, which would measure variations in the moon's gravitational field; and
  2. a seismic experiment. MSC informed Newell on November 2 that negotiations were being initiated.
Letter, Newell, NASA, to Director, MSC, "Selection of Scientific Investigations for Early Apollo Lunar Landing Missions," October 1, 1965; letter, Director, MSC, to Newell, NASA Headquarters, November 2, 1965.

October 1

MSC informed Grumman that the Center had awarded a contract to AC Electronics for the development of an optical tracking system for the LEM (as a possible alternative to the rendezvous radar). Until MSC reached a final decision on which mode to use, Grumman should continue building the LEM to accept either of these navigational devices. Flight Crew Operations Directorate requested the decision be deferred pending evaluation of an operational paper.

Letter, R. Wayne Young, MSC, to GAEC, Attn: R. S. Mullaney, "Contract NAS 9-1100, Item 3; Selection of Rendezvous Radar or Optical Tracker for LEM Navigation Requirement," October 1, 1965; memorandum, Donald K. Slayton, MSC, to Manager, ASPO, "LEM Optical Tracker," October 1, 1965.

October 1

In the absence of a firm requirement, and because of limited utility, reported Robert C. Duncan, Chief of the Guidance and Control Division, the horizon photometer and star tracker were being deleted from the primary guidance system in Block I CSMs. (Block II guidance systems would still contain the devices.)

Memorandum, Robert C. Duncan, MSC, to Distr., "Apollo primary guidance system star tracker and horizon photometer," October 1, 1965.

October 3-9

The U.S. Geological Survey cooperated with Crew Systems Division (CSD) in testing the extravehicular mobility unit under simulated lunar conditions at Flagstaff, Arizona. As a result, CSD technicians determined a number of deficiencies in the thermal meteoroid garment, and recommended a number of changes to make the garment more functional and more durable, as well as better fitting and more comfortable.

Memorandum, James H. O'Kane, MSC, to Chief, Crew Systems Division, "Report of trip for USGS Apollo support in Arizona," November 1, 1965.

October 4

MSC ordered Grumman to halt work on both linear-shaped charges and gas-driven guillotines as a method for severing the LEM's interstage umbilical. Instead, the contractor should use two mild-detonation guillotines or one dual-blade device.

Letter, James L. Neal, MSC, to GAEC, Attn: John C. Snedeker, "Contract NAS 9-1100, Contract Change Authorization No. 142, Mild Detonating Fuse Driven Guillotine," October 4, 1965.

October 5

As a result of a design meeting on September 2, MSC ordered North American to make a number of detailed hardware changes in the CM uprighting system for Block I spacecraft.

TWX, C. L. Taylor, MSC, to NAA, Space and Information Systems Division, Attn: J. C. Cozad, subject: "Flotation Uprighting System Meeting Conducted at NAA September 2, 1965," October 5, 1965.

October 5

ASPO Manager Joseph F. Shea recommended to Apollo Program Manager Samuel C. Phillips that experiment M-5A (Bioassays Body Fluids) not be incorporated on mission AS-204, based on schedule impact resulting from structural modifications necessary to support the Urine Volume Measuring System. Redesign and rework of existing spacecraft hardware would have a schedule impact of two to four weeks.

Letter, Shea to Phillips, "Apollo In-Flight Experiments, Flight AS-204," October 5, 1965.

October 6

MSC requested that Grumman study the feasibility of a "fire-till- touchdown" landing procedure for the LEM. Grumman was to investigate especially performance factors surrounding crushing of the descent engine skirt, or possibly jettisoning the skirt, and was to recommend hardware modifications required for this landing mode.

TWX, R. Wayne Young, MSC, to GAEC, Attn: R. S. Mullaney, October 6, 1965.

October 7-14

MSC's Reliability and Quality Assurance Division reported in August that, because beryllium would corrode in the humid environment of the spacecraft's cabin, the metal thus posed a toxicological hazard to the crew of the CM. During subsequent meetings with the Health and Physics Group, and Guidance and Control and Structures and Mechanics Divisions, it was agreed that, because of crew safety, beryllium surfaces in the guidance and control system must be coated to protect the metal from the humid atmosphere inside the cabin of the spacecraft.

"ASPO Weekly Management Report, August 12-19, 1965"; MSC, "Minutes of Senior Staff Meeting, October 1, 1965," p. 1; MSC, "ASPO Weekly Management Report, October 7-14, 1965"; memorandum, Joseph N. Kotanchik, MSC, to Chief, Guidance and Control Division, "Protective coating to prevent beryllium corrosion inside the Apollo Command Module," November 4, 1965.

October 7-14

The Instrumentation and Electronic Systems Division (IESD) proposed that the LEM's inflight VHF antenna might be used as a link to astronauts on the surface of the moon as well. (LEM communications had to provide VHF contact with the crew outside the spacecraft at ranges up to three nautical miles. The VHF antenna, however, had been designed only for the flight portions of the mission, and to meet this communications requirement another antenna was being added to the LEM at a cost of between 1.36 and 2.26 kg [3 and 5 lbs].) IESD offered to study the coverage and range of the inflight antenna while on the lunar surface, and suggested that the three-mile range requirement might be relaxed. The additional VHF antenna might thereby be obviated.

Also, IESD attended a preliminary design review at Autonetics on the signal conditioning equipment (SCE) for the Block II CSM. IESD concurred in several modifications to the Block I design (adding a redundant power supply; hermetic sealing of equipment; and repackaging to fit the equipment bay in Block II CMs). These changes reduced the SCE's weight from 22 to 19 kg (47.5 to 41 lbs) and, because of more efficient power supply, lowered its power consumption from 65 to 35 watts. North American was studying ways of perhaps lightening the SCE even further.

"ASPO Weekly Management Report, October 7-14, 1965."

October 7-14

Crew Systems Division (CSD) established vibration limits for the crew of the LEM. This action followed the final LEM vibration test with human subjects at Wright-Patterson AFB and a review of the test program by CSD and Grumman engineers.

Also, in what CSD described as "the start of a long range program for familiarizing Apollo suit technicians with field and launch operations," the Division reported that it had sent an Apollo suit technician to Cape Kennedy to take part in the forthcoming Gemini VI mission.


October 8

A drop in the boilerplate 6A series, using flight-qualifiable earth landing system (ELS) components, failed because the braking parachute (not a part of the ELS) did not adequately stabilize the vehicle. MSC invited North American and Northrop-Ventura to Houston to explain the failure and to recommend corrective measures.


October 8

Because of the less-than-perfect firing of its retrorockets, Luna VII, another Russian moon probe, was destroyed on impact. The craft, launched four days earlier, was thus the third failure, Western observers believed, in Russia's attempt to soft-land a spacecraft on the moon.

Space Business Daily, October 11, 1965, pp. 190, 194; Astronautics and Aeronautics, 1965, pp. 460, 463, 464-465, 467.

October 8

A test model of the Lunar Landing Research Vehicle, designed to simulate lunar landings, was flown by former NASA X-15 pilot Joseph Walker to an altitude of 91 m (300 ft). Built by Bell Aerosystems Company under contract to NASA, the research craft had a jet engine that supported five-sixths of its weight. The pilot manipulated solid-fuel lift rockets that supported the remaining one-sixth, and the craft's attitude was controlled with jets of hydrogen peroxide.

Astronautics and Aeronautics, 1965, p. 465.

October 12

On August 26, the attachments for the pilot parachute mortar had failed during static testing on CM 006. The fittings had been redesigned and the test was not repeated. This test, the final one in the limit load series for the earth landing system, certified the structural interface between the CM and the earth landing system for the 009 flight.

Memorandum, Joseph N. Kotanchik, MSC, to Manager, ASPO, "Launch configuration of SC 009," October 19, 1965; MSC, "ASPO Weekly Management Report, October 21-28, 1965."

October 12

To ensure compatibility with the spacecraft, MSC specified weight and storage details for the extravehicular visors. The devices, two of which would be carried on each mission and transferred from the CM to the LEM, would afford impact, thermal, and ultraviolet protection for the crew during operations in space or on the lunar surface.

Letter, R. Wayne Young, MSC, to GAEC, Attn: R. S. Mullaney, "Contract NAS 9-1100, EMU EV Visor Assembly," October 12, 1965.

October 14

NASA was negotiating with General Electric Company to provide 56-watt isotopic power generators for the Apollo Lunar Surface Experiment Packages. The Atomic Energy Commission would manage detailed design and development of the unit based on MSC studies of prototypes.

Astronautics and Aeronautics, 1965, p. 476.

October 15

Owen E. Maynard, Systems Engineering Division chief, summarized for ASPO Manager Joseph F. Shea the recovery requirements for Apollo spacecraft. The CM must float in a stable, apex-up attitude, and all of the vehicle's recovery aids (uprighting system, communications, etc.) must be operable for 48 hrs after landing. In any water landing within 40 degrees north or south latitude, the Landing and Recovery Division had determined, the crew either would be rescued or recovery personnel would be in the water with the CM within this 48-hr period. Thereafter, Maynard said, the spacecraft had but to remain afloat until a recovery ship arrived - at most, five days.

Memorandum, Maynard, MSC, to Manager, ASPO, "Post-landing flotation requirements," October 15, 1965.

October 15

NASA announced that it had selected Lockheed Electronics Company of Houston, Texas, to provide broad data-handling support at MSC. Negotiations on the contract (valued at more than $3 million) began shortly thereafter.

MSC News Release 65-93, "NASA to Negotiate with Lockheed Electronics Go. for Computer Programming Support," October 15, 1965; letter, George E, Mueller, NASA, to Robert R. Gilruth, MSC, October 29, 1965.

October 18

MSC ordered Grumman to discontinue use of zinc and cadmium on all production LEMs. This action followed performance studies by the Reliability and Quality Assurance Division that showed a deleterious effect of space environments upon these metals.

Letter, R. Wayne Young, MSC, to GAEC, Attn: R. S. Mullaney, "Contract NAS 9-1100, The use of Cadmium or Zinc Plate in the Apollo Spacecraft," October 18, 1965.

October 18

To solve the problem of controlling bacteria in the LEM's waste management system (WMS), Crew Systems Division (CSD) recommended some type of passive control rather than periodically adding a germicide to the system. CSD described two such passive techniques, both of which relied on chemicals upstream from the WMS (i.e., in the urine collection device in the space suit). MSC began studying the feasibility of this approach, and ordered Grumman also to evaluate passive control in the contractor's own investigation of the bacteriological problem.

Letter, R. Wayne Young, MSC, to GAEC, Attn: R. S. Mullaney, "Contract NAS 9-1100, Bacteriological Control for LEM Waste Management Subsystem," October 18, 1965, with enclosure.

October 19-22

A meeting was held at Flight Research Center to discuss several items relating to the Lunar Landing Research Vehicle (LLRV) and Lunar Landing Training Vehicle (LLTV). Attending were Dean Grimm, Robert Hutchins, Warren North, and Joseph Algranti of MSC; Robert Brown, John Ryken, and Ron Decrevel of Bell Aerosystems Company; and Gene Matranga, Wayne Ottinger, and Arlene Johnson of Flight Research Center.

The discussions centered around MSC's needs for two LLRVs and two LLTVs and the critical nature of the proposed schedules; alternatives of assembling a second LLRV ; clarifying the elements of the work statement; and preliminary talks about writing specifications for the LLTV.

From a schedule standpoint, it was decided that both LLRVs would be delivered to MSC on September 1, 1966. MSC planned to check out and fly the second LLRV (which needed additional systems checkout) with their crew and pilot on a noninterference basis with LLRV No. 1, the primary training vehicle.

NASA Internal Memorandum for those concerned, Gene J. Matranga, LLRV Project Manager, "Meetings held during the week of October 17 relating to the LLRV," October 26, 1965.

October 20

The MSC Mission Constraints Control Panel (MCCP) held its initial meeting. The panel's function was to resolve all conflicts between launch vehicle, spacecraft, and operational constraints. Also, once the preliminary reference trajectory was issued, the MCCP must approve all constraint changes. These would then be included in the mission requirements.

Memorandum, Robert V. Battey, MSC, to Distr., "Minutes of 1st Mission Constraints Control Panel Meeting," October 26, 1965, with enclosure.

October 20

To save weight, Crew Systems Division was studying the feasibility of using three one-man liferafts and a composite set of survival gear in Block I CMs.

Memorandum, R. E. Smylie, MSC, to Chief, Crew Integration Branch, Attn: J. Marshall, "Block I composite kit study," October 20, 1965,

October 20

Apollo spacecraft 009, first of the type that would carry three astronauts to the moon and back, was accepted by NASA during informal ceremonies at North American. Spacecraft 009 included a CM, SM, launch escape system, and adapter.

Astronautics and Aeronautics, 1965, p. 485.

October 20-21

To support studies on equipment stowage, North American agreed to maintain mockups of the crew compartments in the two blocks of CMs. The contractor's effort would be geared for the first manned flight for each series of vehicles (spacecraft 012 and 101).

"ASPO Weekly Management Report, October 21-28, 1965."

October 21

Samuel C. Phillips, Apollo Program Director, notified the Center directors and Apollo program managers in Houston, Huntsville, and Cape Kennedy that OMSF's launch schedule for Apollo-Saturn IB flights had been revised, based on delivery of CSMs 009 and 011:

Schedules for AS-203 through 205 (July and October 1966, and January 1967) were unchanged.

TWX, Phillips, NASA, to Kurt Debus, KSC, Robert Gilruth, MSC, and Wernher von Braun, MSFC, subject: "Saturn IB Launch Schedules," October 21, 1965.

October 21

MSC announced that the bubble-type helmet, designed by Crew Systems Division (CSD) engineers Robert L. Jones and James O'Kane, had been adopted for use in the Apollo extravehicular mobility unit. The new helmet was smaller and lighter than earlier types; extensive studies by CSD had demonstrated its superior comfort, visibility, and don/doff characteristics.

MSC News Release 65-96, October 21, 1965.

October 21

To enable MSC's Mission Control Center (MCC) to handle Apollo flights, MSC announced that NASA's contract with IBM for computer systems would be extended. For an additional $80 million, IBM would convert the MCC to newer equipment and would use more advanced support techniques. The contract would contain provisions for conversion to an incentive fee type.

MSC News Release 65-97, October 21, 1965.

October 21

North American completed static structural tests on the forward heatshield for the Block I CM (part of the certification test network for airframes 009, 011, and 012), thus demonstrating the heatshield's structural integrity when jettisoned (at the start of the earth landing system sequence).

"ASPO Weekly Management Report, October 21-28, 1965."

October 22

NASA announced that it had selected 10 areas on the moon as subjects for Lunar Orbiter's cameras during 1966. These areas encompassed most major types of lunar terrain. Most were suitable - and potential - landing sites for Surveyor and Apollo spacecraft.

NASA News Release 65-335, "NASA Selects 10 Potential Photo Areas for Lunar Orbiter," October 22, 1965.

October 23-26

Pregnant Guppy

The Pregnant Guppy aircraft, which was used extensively by NASA to transport spacecraft during all phases of the Apollo program.

While delivering Apollo SM 009, the Pregnant Guppy aircraft was delayed at Ellington Air Force Base, Texas, for three-and-a-half days while waiting for an engine change. In view of the delay of the SM, the incident was reviewed during the succeeding weeks, and Aero Spacelines was requested to place spare engines not only at Houston, but also at other strategic locations on the normal air route from Long Beach, Calif., to KSC.

Letter, Edmund F. O'Connor, MSFC, to MSC, Attn: Joseph F. Shea, "Pregnant Guppy emergency engine change, October 23-26, 1965," November 18, 1965.

October 26

MSC authorized North American to modify the Block II CSM design to provide for installation of a luminous beacon compatible with the LEM tracking system. The CSM beacon could replace the rendezvous radar and transponder.

Letter, J. B. Alldredge, MSC, to NAA, Space and Information Systems Division, "Contract Change Authorization No. 455," October 26, 1965; memo, Owen E. Maynard, MSC, to Project Officer, CSM, "Deletion of automatic actuation capability of VHF recovery beacon (Block II)," October 8, 1965.

October 27

At a meeting with Grumman, MSC agreed with the contractor's basic design of the LEM's descent-stage base heatshield and its installation and access. MSC asked Grumman to demonstrate accessibility, installation, and removal of the heatshield on the M-4 mockup.

Letter, R. Wayne Young, MSC, to GAEC, Attn: R. S. Mullaney, "Contract NAS 9-1100, Implementation of Action Items," November 3, 1965, with enclosure, "Abstract of LEM Base Heat Shield Review," undated.

October 29

Owen E. Maynard, Systems Engineering Division chief, advised his branch managers of the U.S. Public Health Service's (PHS) growing concern that Apollo spacecraft and crews might bring organisms back from the moon. (See September 27.) PHS feared that such organisms would be "capable of multiplying in the earth environment and [that] precautionary measures must be undertaken to prevent global exposure." Therefore, Maynard told his group, PHS believed that the CM, its environment, and its crew must not be allowed to contact the earth's environment. Maynard further advised that efforts were already underway to define the design of an isolation facility, and isolation facilities for the recovery ships were being contemplated.

As a result of this strong stand by PHS, Maynard said, "It appears that ASPO will soon be requested to show what spacecraft measures are being taken to assure that the CM environment will not be exposed to the earth atmosphere. The spacecraft," Maynard told his group - who already knew as much - "has not been designed to preclude CM environment exposure." Actually, much the opposite had long been assumed to be part of normal operating procedures. Maynard therefore ordered subsystem managers to review their individual systems to determine:

Maynard cautioned systems managers to "assume that ASPO is morally obligated to prevent any possible contamination of the earth," and not to reply with "the standard answer that no changes can be made within present weight, cost, and schedule limitations. Admittedly," he said, "our first look may prove to be insurmountable." Nonetheless, review must be performed so that recommendations can be made concerning all such systems.

Memorandum, Maynard, MSC, to PHS Branches, "Earth contamination from lunar surface organisms," October 29, 1965.

During the Month

Seven flights were made with the Lunar Landing Research Vehicle at Flight Research Center during October. The first three were in support of X-15 conference activities, and the last four were for attitude control research. Five of the landings were made in the lunar simulation mode.

Letter, Office of Director, Flight Research Center, to NASA Headquarters, "Lunar Landing Research Vehicle progress report No. 28 for the period ending October 31, 1965," sgd. Paul F. Bikle, November 2, 1965.

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