Part 2 (A)
Recovery, Spacecraft Redefinition, and First Manned Apollo Flight
A program of biology training for lunar mission crews was formulated as
part of a comprehensive Block II Training Plan being reviewed by the
Flight Crew Operations Directorate at MSC. The program was to provide
flight crews with rudimentary facts about microbial life forms, an
understanding of the bioscientific importance of lunar exploration, and
training in collection of lunar samples (biological requirements) and
the various aspects of the quarantine program. The biology training was
to be divided into five lecture and demonstration sessions, with one
field trip to observe desert ecology.
Memo, Director of Flight Crew Operations to Special Assistant to the
Director, "Bioscience training of lunar mission crews," April
Joseph F. Shea, MSC Apollo Spacecraft Program Office Manager, was
appointed NASA Deputy Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight,
with responsibility for technical aspects of the program.
George M. Low, MSC Deputy Director, would succeed Shea as ASPO Manager.
Changes were to be effective April 10.
MSC Announcement 67-51, "Key Personnel Change," April 7,
A flash report sent to the NASA Apollo Program Director by ASPO Manager
George M. Low at MSC informed him that all the fuel-cell gaseous-
nitrogen titanium-alloy tanks were suspected of having contaminated
welds. The problem was detected during an acceptance test. Preliminary
investigation revealed the weld had become contaminated during girth
weld repair, because of incomplete purging of the tank's interior. All
rewelded tanks were therefore liable to be contaminated and records were
inadequate to identify which tanks had been rewelded. The following
actions had been directed by Low for use on spacecraft 017 and 020:
It was expected that this could be accomplished without removal of the
fuel cells, and the replacement of the three tanks was not expected to
affect the 017 schedule.
- cyclic and proof pressure test at pressures well above normal
operating followed by x-ray and dye penetrant inspection on replacement
tanks for spacecraft 017 fuel cells; and
- removal of the spacecraft 017 tanks and replacement with tanks
subjected to (1) above was planned.
TWX, Low to NASA Hq., April 8, 1967.
MSC Structures and Mechanics Division Chief Joseph N. Kotanchik had
strongly recommended that all B-nuts already installed in spacecraft be
loosened to relieve any residual strain on nearby solder joints, ASPO
Manager George M. Low informed CSM Manager Kenneth S. Kleinknecht.
Kotanchik thought the leaks found in spacecraft 012 at KSC and in
spacecraft 101 during test were most likely caused by creep. Loosening
all joints, replacing them with voishan washers, and then retorquing
them with procedures known not to cause strain, should be given serious
consideration. Low pointed out this would also accomplish Kleinknecht's
desires of being sure that all joints were torqued to proper limits.
Memo, Low to Kleinknecht, "Creep of solder joints," April 8,
MSC informed NASA Hq. that the spacecraft 017 inertial measurement unit
(IMU) was being removed to replace capacitors that were suspect after a
number of failures with qualified mylar capacitors. Replacement was
expected to delay mechanical mating of the spacecraft and launch vehicle
an estimated two days. The guidance and navigation subsystem would be
retested during the integrated spacecraft system tests with the launch
vehicle simulator. Headquarters was also advised that all other IMUs in
the program had been retrofitted to eliminate the suspect capacitor.
Five days later, CSM Manager Kenneth Kleinknecht told KSC that MSC
understood that the original impact had been increased to five days, but
asserted the change was still mandatory.
TWXs, George M. Low, MSC, to S. C. Phillips, NASA OMSF, April 10, 1967;
Kleinknecht, MSC, to KSC, April 15, 1967.
MSC ASPO Manager George M. Low told Sydney C. Jones, Jr., MSC
Communications and Power Branch, that he wanted to establish two task
teams on CSM electrical systems. The first team would study the wiring
harnesses on spacecraft 2TV-1 and 101 and all subsequent spacecraft to
determine actions needed to save the harnesses as installed. Low asked:
"Can a sufficient number of nylon wire bundle ties be replaced to
meet the requirements of our new materials specification? Can silicone
rubber padding and chafing guards be replaced? What fixes must be
incorporated to meet requirements of the recent inspection activities?
Has the harness been mistreated in recent months, as was mentioned to
me by some of the astronauts? How about water glycol spillage in
101?" The task team was to include members from the Engineering
and Development and Flight Crew Operations Directorates, the Flight
Safety Office, and the Reliability, Quality, and Test Division. Low
asked firm recommendations concerning the harnesses in spacecraft 2TV-1
and 101 by April 15 if possible.
The second task team would study flammable materials used with all
other electrical systems. Low referred "specifically to the RTV
[room temperature vulcanizing] used on the backs of circuit-breaker
panels and elsewhere; the circuit breakers themselves; the
electroluminescent panels; and any other materials generally associated
with the electrical system." Low said Structures and Mechanics
Division (SMD) had done some very promising work with coatings for the
circuit-breaker panels but these coatings might not be applied to some
of the panels because of the open mechanical elements of many of the
switches. He recommended that Jones ask representatives from SMD, the
Instrumentation and Electronics Systems Division, and the Flight Safety
Office to work with him. Low asked Jones to let him know by April 12
when it would be possible to make specific recommendations as to what
needed to be done.
Memo, Low to Jones, "Task Team assignments," April 10, 1967.
George Low requested William M. Bland, MSC, to take action on two
recommendations made by MSC Director Robert R. Gilruth:
Memo, Low to Bland, "Stereo photographs of spacecraft
activities," April 10, 1967.
- Take stereo color photos of all spacecraft areas before they were
closed out. This procedure had been invaluable during the Apollo Review
Board's activities at KSC, and the same technique, applied during the
manufacturing process of current spacecraft, might help answer questions
raised subsequent to the closeout of an area and thereby save time.
- Make additional requirements for the use of cover plates over
spacecraft wire bundles. Greater use of cover plates during
manufacturing, test, and perhaps even flight would prevent damage during
An investigation at Grumman compared flammability characteristics of
blankets representative of the external LM vehicle insulation with those
of unshielded mylar blankets. When subjected to identical ignition
sources, the mylar specimens burned during all phases of testing.
Localized charring and perforation were the only visible signs of
degradation in specimens simulating the LM shielding. The conclusion was
that the protection of mylar blankets by H-Film in the LM configuration
effectively decreased the likelihood of ignition from open flame or
LM Engineering Memo, LMO-562-11, to addressees from B. Bell,
"Flammability Characteristics of LM Thermal Shielding," April
10, 1967; ltr., E. Stern to MSC, Attn: R. Wayne Young, "Contract
NAS 9-1100, Flammability Characteristics of LM Thermal Shielding,"
April 17, 1967.
NASA Hq. informed the Directors of the manned space flight Centers that
responsibility for approval of pressure vessel tests was being returned
to normal Center management channels. Because of the failure of the 503
launch vehicle S-IVB stage and other pressure vessel problems, testing
had been restricted by the office of the Apollo Program Director. The
Program Director now returned to the Center Directors
"responsibility for approving pressurization tests of pressure
vessels in spacecraft modules, launch vehicle stages, and ground
support equipment within their Apollo program
TWX, Apollo Program Director to Center Directors, "Responsibility
for Approval of Tests and Pressure Vessels," April 14, 1967.
CM mockup tests by the Structures and Mechanics Division at the MSC
Thermochemical Test Area had shown that significant burning occurred in
oxygen environments at a pressure of 11.4 newtons per square centimeter
(16.5 psia). The tests, in which most of the major crew bay materials
had been replaced by Teflon or Beta cloth, consisted of deliberately
igniting crew bay materials sequentially in two places. The Division
recommended that operation with oxygen at 11.4 newtons in the crew
compartment be eliminated and that either air or oxygen at 3.5 newtons
per sq cm (5 psia) be used. In reply, the ASPO Manager pointed out that
"Dr. Gilruth has indicated a strong desire to avoid the use of air
on the pad which requires subsequent spacecraft purges. Accordingly, we
should maintain the option of launching with a pure oxygen cabin
environment until such time as additional tests indicate it would not
Memos, Chief, MSC Structures and Mechanics Div., to Manager, ASPO,
"Use of 16.5 psia oxygen as a cabin environment," April 14,
1967; Manager, ASPO, to Joseph N. Kotanchik, "Command and Service
Module environment at launch," April 18, 1967.
A meeting at MSC considered requirements of the Apollo flight program
before the first lunar landing mission. Present were C. H. Perrine, MSC
Mission Operations Division, and Christopher C. Kraft, Jr., Sigurd A.
Sjoberg, John D. Hodge, Eugene F. Kranz, Morris V. Jenkins, and Robert
E. Ernull, all of Flight Operations Directorate. Most significant
opinions resulting from the meeting were:
Memo for File, Perrine, "Meeting with FOD on Apollo Flight
Program," April 17, 1967.
- Demonstrations of extravehicular transfer and CSM rescue of LM were
not considered prerequisite to manned LM earth-orbital operations
separated from the CSM.
- A rendezvous exercise on Apollo 7 (CSM 101) with a "pod"
would be worth attempting some time after the first day of the mission.
- Unmanned burns of the LM ascent and descent propulsions systems,
including fire-in-the-hole burns, were considered prerequisites to
manning those functions. This prerequisite included manning of descent
propulsion system burns.
- Three manned earth-orbital flights of the CSM and LM in joint
operations, plus a single CSM-alone flight, were considered the minimum
number of missions in the primary program before the first potential
- Although a lunar orbit mission should not be a step in the primary
program, it should be part of the contingency plan in the event the CSM
achieved lunar-mission capability before the LM did. The gains in
operational experience were considered sufficient to justify the risk of
such a mission.
- Saturn V launch vehicles should be manned (i.e., should launch
manned spacecraft) as soon as possible.
- There was some question about the "manability" of
ASPO Manager George M. Low pointed out to MSC Director of Engineering
and Development Maxime A. Faget that apparently no single person at MSC
was responsible for spacecraft wiring. Low said he would like to
discuss naming a subsystem manager to follow this general area,
including not only the wiring schematics, circuitry, circuit-breaker
protection, etc., but also the detailed design, engineering,
fabrication, and installation of wiring harnesses.
Memo, Low to Faget, "Subsystem manager for spacecraft
wiring," April 18, 1967.
NASA Apollo Program Director Samuel C. Phillips signed a directive
defining the requirements, responsibilities, and inter-Center
coordination necessary for development, control, and execution of test
and checkout plans and procedures for preparing and launching
Apollo-Saturn space vehicles at KSC.
Memo, Chief, Apollo Program Planning, NASA OMSF, to distr.,
"Apollo Weekly Status Report," April 21, 1967.
A fire broke out in the Bell Aerosystems Test Facility, Wheatfield,
N.Y., at 2:30 a.m. April 20. Early analysis indicated the fire was
started by overpressurization of the ascent engine's propellant-
conditioning system, which caused the system relief valve to dump
propellant into an overflow bucket. The bucket in turn overflowed and
propellant spilled onto the floor, coming into contact with a highly
oxidized steel grating. Contact was believed to have initiated
combustion and subsequently an intense, short-duration fire. The fire
began in the test facility building near the altitude chamber and fuel
tanks and spread to the inside of the altitude chamber. Among the
effects of the fire on the program were
On April 26, a small localized fire occurred in Test Cell No. 3G at the
Bell Aerosystems Test Center in Porter, N.Y. Preliminary reports
indicated that a LM ascent engine bipropellant valve had been tested as
a valve injector assembly but was not connected to an injector at the
time of the fire. This valve was being purged with nitrogen on the fuel
side and water on the oxidizer side in preparation for flushing. A very
small quantity of fuel had spilled from the valve during hookup to the
flush stand. When the water started to flush through the oxidizer side,
a loose connector allowed oxidizer to come in contact with the spilled
fuel and the fire resulted. No one was injured; damage was estimated at
- about four weeks' requirement to repair the LM ascent engine test
- tests delayed accordingly, and
- delay of the acceptance test of the LM-2 ascent engine.
ASPO Manager George Low received a message from NASA Hq. May 3
expressing concern that the two fires within one week might be
symptomatic of inadequate test procedures and personnel training, which
could lead to a more serious accident. Headquarters requested results of
the investigations and notice of corrective action taken to prevent
TWXs, Low to NASA Hq., Attn: Apollo Program Director, April 26, 1967;
NASA Hq. to Low, May 3, 1967.
NASA Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight George E. Mueller
instructed NASA Apollo Program Director Samuel C. Phillips, MSC Director
Robert R. Gilruth, and KSC Director Kurt H. Debus to review all findings
and recommendations of the Apollo 204 Review Board and assign
responsibility to an appropriate person for
Upon completion of items (1) and (2) above, the responsible subsystem or
system manager was to review his evaluation and planned actions with the
Chairman of the Board panel responsible for determining the findings and
recommendations, to be sure that they had been properly interpreted.
Appropriate certification of facts would be signed by the panel
- program office evaluation of the findings and recommendations,
- the action to be taken on each finding or recommendation,
- the date on which this action was to be completed, and
- the preparation of a report closing out the accident.
Mueller specified that "Review Boards at the two Centers, either
assisting or set up for this review, should review the above actions
with respect to the findings and recommendations of the 204 Review
Board; and to each other to be sure that we have a consistent and
adequate approach to the problems and that the statement of actions and
the actions themselves are feasible, and are clearly enough expressed so
as to be unambiguous in content."
The above actions were to be completed by April 28 and reported to NASA
Hq. in a form that could be presented to Congress. (See May 9-10
Memo, Mueller to Phillips, Gilruth, and Debus, April 21, 1967.
Samuel C. Phillips, NASA Apollo Program Director, formed a task group
under the direction of Harold Russell of NASA Hq. to begin preparation
of a detailed inspection standards publication.
The task force would use pictures and discrepancy reports, the Apollo
204 Review Board report, and special inspections of spacecraft 012, 014,
017, 020, and 101 and LM-1.
During preparation of the uniform set of manned space flight standards,
the quality control and inspection standards Centers had previously
imposed upon their contractors would not be changed without approval of
the Apollo Program Office. Phillips estimated that the project might be
completed in about a month.
TWX, Phillips to Robert R. Gilruth, MSC, Kurt H. Debus, KSC, and
Wernher von Braun, MSFC, April 25, 1967.
Because of the amount of flammable material in spacecraft 017 and 020,
MSC decided to purge these two spacecraft on the pad with gaseous
nitrogen. The total amount of oxygen in the spacecraft at time of
reentry would not exceed 14 percent. No tests would be conducted on
these spacecraft with hatches closed when men were in the spacecraft.
TWX, ASPO Manager to NASA Hq., Attn: Apollo Program Director, April 26,
NASA Task Team - Block II Redefinition, CSM, was established by ASPO.
The team - to be in residence at North American Aviation during the
redefinition period - was to provide timely response to questions and
inputs on detail design, overall quality and reliability, test and
checkout, baseline conditions, configuration control, and schedules.
Astronaut Frank Borman was named Task Team Manager and group leaders
were: Design, Aaron Cohen; Quality and Reliability and Test and Checkout
Procedures, Scott H. Simpkinson; Materials, Jerry W. Craig;
Specifications and Configuration Control, Richard E. Lindeman; and
Scheduling, Douglas R. Broome.
Memo, Manager, CSM, Apollo Spacecraft Program, to addressees,
"Block II redefinition, command and service modules," April
Astronaut Donn F. Eisele. a member of the Block II Wiring Investigating
Team, wrote the ASPO Manager his reservations as to whether the wiring
in spacecraft 101 could be salvaged and made safe for flight. "To
render positive assurance of wiring integrity, strong consideration
should be given to replacing the entire 101 harness with a new, like
item-made to the same drawings as the present harness, but constructed
and installed under more rigorous quality control measures; and using
non-flammable materials. The replacement harness should be installed at
the outset in protective trays and covers now being implemented at NAA
[North American Aviation]. A wiring overlay could be installed later,
to accommodate recent spacecraft design changes, if adequate space is
provided in the protective trays, connector support provisions, etc.
This should provide a harness of good quality and known condition to
start with; and the protection and quality control measures should keep
its integrity intact." (Eisele was the pilot on the Apollo 7
mission - the first manned Apollo mission and the one on which
spacecraft 101 was used.)
Ltr., Eisele to ASPO Manager, "Spacecraft 101 wiring," April
April 28 - May 16
Spacecraft delivery date and ground rule discussions were summarized by
MSC ASPO Manager George M. Low in a letter to North American Aviation's
Apollo Program Manager Dale D. Myers. Low referred to an April 23
letter from Myers and April 25 talks at Downey, Calif.
Basic was "an MSC ground rule that the first manned flight should
be an open-ended mission; and that 2TV-1 (a test spacecraft) would be a
constraint on that mission. I also stated that I would like to achieve
a delivery date for Spacecraft 101 that is no later than November,
1967, and that all constraining tests on 2TV-1 should be completed one
month before the flight of 101. I further stated that the proposed
delivery dates for Spacecraft 103 and subsequent spacecraft were not
good enough and that we should strive to achieve earlier dates.
"In summary, we did not agree with the basic ground rules stated
in your April 23, 1967, letter. These ground rules essentially implied
that 101 was to be limited to a six-orbit mission, and to be delivered
as early as possible at the expense of all other spacecraft. Instead,
we stated that it is NASA's position to achieve a balanced program
involving the earliest possible deliveries when all spacecraft are
considered and not just the first one."
A further exchange of letters May 8 and 16 reached agreement on target
delivery dates and ground rules. Testing of thermal vacuum test vehicle
2TV-1 would be as originally planned except that extravehicular
activities would not be included in tests constraining CSM 101.
Delivery date was to be October 14. CSM 101 was to be delivered
December 8 and would be launched on a Saturn IB to verify system
performance. The mission was to be open-ended, up to 10 days, with no
LM and no docking or EVA provisions included. New delivery date for CSM
103 was March 23, 1968.
Ltrs., Low to Myers, April 28 and May 8, 1967; Myers to Low, May 16,