Part 2 (E)
Recovery, Spacecraft Redefinition, and First Manned Apollo Flight
Apollo Program Director Samuel C. Phillips, NASA Hq., reaffirmed that
the following was the best course of action to follow with LM-2 and
LM-3 : "Decide now to configure LM-2 for its unmanned contingency
mission and reassign LM-3 to join with CSM 103 for a manned CSM-LM
mission. In the event the LM-2 unmanned contingency mission is not
required, LM-2 could be reworked to manned configuration and cycled
back into the GAEC [Grumman] line for later delivery. On this basis,
LM-2 could be delivered in unmanned configuration in late January 1968,
or immediately after the Apollo 5 flight, and could be flown on AS-206
about 3½ months after delivery; i.e., in May 1968. The outlook
for LM-3 indicates an April 1968 delivery which appears to be
compatible with the expected delivery date of CSM 103."
Memos, Phillips to R. C. Seamans, Oct. 2, 1967; G. E. Mueller to
Seamans, "LM-2 Configuration," Oct. 2, 1967.
An exchange of correspondence between MSC and North American Rockwell
emphasized the seriousness of the spacecraft weight problem. Accurate
and timely weight visibility was of paramount importance for weight
control and resulted from proper implementation and control of weight
prediction, weight control from design initiation, and weight status
reporting. To ensure visibility, North American Rockwell was instituting
a program that would use system design personnel in weight prediction
and reporting. Preliminary design personnel in the Design Requirements
Group were designated to integrate the effort.
Ltrs., George M. Low, MSC, to Dale D. Myers, North American Rockwell
Corp., Aug. 1, 1967; Low to Myers, Aug. 17, 1967; Myers to Low, Oct. 5,
MSC established an Apollo Spacecraft Incident Investigation and
Reporting Panel, with Scott H. Simpkinson as chairman. Panel members
would be selected from ASPO, the Flight Safety Office, and the
Engineering and Development Directorate. In addition, members would be
assigned from the RASPO offices at Downey, Bethpage, and KSC when
incidents occurred at their locations. All incidents suspected of
directly affecting the safety of the spacecraft or its ground support
equipment and all incidents that represented a hazard to personnel
working in the area were to be investigated and reported. Incidents
having a cost impact of over $5,000 or a schedule impact of 24 hours
would also be reported to the panel chairman and considered for
investigation. Panel membership was announced October 16. The following
day, a letter from Simpkinson to panel members established procedures
for investigating and reporting incidents.
MSC Announcement No. 67-136, "Apollo Spacecraft Incident
Investigation and Reporting Panel," Oct. 5, 1967; list of members
and alternates of Apollo Spacecraft Incident Investigating and
Reporting Panel, Oct. 16, 1967; ltr., Scott H. Simpkinson to Apollo
Spacecraft Incident Investigation and Reporting Panel,
"Implementation of an Apollo Spacecraft Incident Investigation and
Reporting Panel," Oct. 16, 1967
Because of wind conditions, an abort of the Apollo spacecraft from a
Saturn V in the near-pad region would result in land impact. To ensure
the maximum potential safe recovery of the crew during a near-pad abort,
certain forms of preparation within the abort area were being
considered. Tests were being prepared at MSC and KSC to determine the
most favorable soil condition for spacecraft landing. The capability of
the spacecraft to sustain a land impact was also being investigated by
Memo, G. M. Low, MSC, to R. O. Middleton, KSC, "Improvement of
landing areas for Apollo near pad aborts," Oct. 8, 1967.
A series of meetings discussed the oxygen purge system (OPS) program
status and design configuration. The following conclusions were reached:
Memo, Maxime A. Faget, MSC, to ASPO Manager, "Oxygen purge system
(OPS) review," Oct. 10, 1967.
- The OPS theoretical reliability for completion of a 30-minute
operation time was extremely high and would not be appreciably improved
by the addition of redundant systems or components.
- Capability for preoperational checkout in the LM was desirable and
was incorporated into the OPS design.
- Manual actuation was preferable to automatic actuation and was
reflected in the design.
Key MSC and NASA Headquarters management changes were announced at a
press conference at MSC. George S. Trimble, Jr., was transferred from
NASA OMSF to serve as Deputy Director of MSC. Eberhard F. M. Rees of
MSFC would be temporarily assigned as a Special Assistant on
Manufacturing Problems to George M. Low, ASPO Manager. Edgar M.
Cortright was named as Deputy to George E. Mueller at OMSF.
Participating in the press conference were NASA Administrator James E.
Webb, Mueller, MSC Director Robert R. Gilruth, Trimble, and MSC Public
Affairs Officer Paul P. Haney.
Press Conference Transcript, Tape A, Oct. 12, 1967, pp. 1, 2.
ASPO Manager George Low submitted a memorandum for the record on the
September 29 decision not to check out the spacecraft 101 entry monitor
system (EMS). He said: ". . . it has come to my attention that
this decision had been based on incomplete information. Because the EMS
incorporates both the Delta V counter and the .05 g indication on Block
II spacecraft, this system is required for all missions, including 101.
. . . "I verbally directed North American on October 10, 1967,
that this system will be checked out on Spacecraft 101."
Memo for Record, Low, "Checkout of entry monitor system,"
Oct. 12, 1967.
In an effort to keep a tight rein on changes made in spacecraft, the
Apollo Spacecraft Configuration Control Board (CCB) established the
following ground rules:
An additional step to gain a better understanding of the configuration
baseline was taken by appointing Jesse F. Goree responsible for
- All changes on CSMs 101 and 103 and LM-3, no matter how small, would
now be considered by the Senior Board only and not by any of the panels.
- Only mandatory changes would be considered for CSMs 101 and 103 and
- Final implementation of all changes must be concluded within 30 days
after a contract change authorization was written, and no change in
implementation would be allowed without a new review by the MSC CCB.
- No changes would be made on LM-6 and subsequent LMs and CSM 107 and
subsequent CSMs unless they were also on LM-5 and CSM 106 or unless the
Senior CCB made a special exception to this rule. The purpose was to
make certain that the configurations of the mission simulators and the
Mission Control Center could be stabilized.
- Board members would generally be chairmen of subsidiary
Configuration Control Panels and would not delegate this chairmanship.
Thus Donald K. Slayton would chair the Simulator Panel, Maxime A. Faget
would chair the panel that passed on government furnished equipment
items (see October 18), and probably Christopher C. Kraft, Jr., would
chair the Software Control Panel (the last position had not yet been
Ltr., George M. Low, MSC, to Samuel C. Phillips, NASA Hq., Oct. 14,
A proposal to use a Ballute system rather than drogue parachutes to
deploy the main chutes on the Apollo spacecraft was rejected. It was
conceded that the Ballute system would slightly reduce dynamic pressure
and command module oscillations at main parachute deployment. However,
these advantages would be offset by the development risks of
incorporating a new and untried system into the Apollo spacecraft at
such a late date.
Ltr., George M. Low, MSC, to Robert T. Madden, Goodyear Aerospace
Corp., Oct. 13, 1967.
NASA Hq. informed MSC that NASA Deputy Administrator Robert C. Seamans,
Jr., had approved the project approval document authorizing four
additional CSMs beyond No. 115A. MSC was requested to proceed with all
necessary procurement actions required to maintain production
capability in support of projected schedules for these items.
TWX, George E. Mueller, NASA Hq., to Director Robert R. Gilruth, MSC,
Oct. 17, 1967.
A conference at NASA Hq. discussed Headquarters and MSC operational
problems in the lunar sample program, including the Lunar Receiving
Laboratory (LRL). Associate Administrator for Space Science and
Applications John E. Naugle chaired the meeting. Lunar Receiving
Operations Director John E. Pickering of NASA OMSF discussed plans -
approved by the Department of Agriculture; Department of Health,
Education, and Welfare; and Department of Interior - for quarantine of
the returned astronauts and lunar materials, and noted that the NASA
Administrator or his designee would approve release of astronauts and
lunar samples from quarantine on the advice and recommendations of the
Interagency Committee on Back Contamination. Pickering also noted that
"many of the problems concerning quarantine operations at the LRL
were due to
"MSC Director of Science and Applications Wilmot N. Hess indicated
that item (1) was resolved by a memorandum of understanding between MSC
Director of Medical Research and Operations Charles A. Berry and
himself but that MSC Director Robert R. Gilruth had not approved it.
Hess also pointed out that an operational plan was being developed, but
that LRL was primarily a scientific laboratory, not just a quarantine
facility. This statement was disputed in view of the fact that the LRL
was justified to Congress on the basis of a need for a quarantine
- lack of clearly defined responsibilities for the Medical Research
and Operations and Science and Applications Directorates,
- the lack of proven competence and maturity of the LRL staff, and
- an integrated operational plan.
Memo, V. R. Wilmarth, NASA Hq., to distr., "Conference on Lunar
Sample Program," Oct. 26, 1967.
MSC's Director of Engineering and Development Maxime A. Faget, at the
request of the ASPO Manager, established a Configuration Control Panel
(CCP) for government furnished equipment (GFE). The panel would
integrate control of changes in the GFE items supplied for the Apollo
spacecraft. "Authority to bring change recommendations to the GFE
Panel will be invested in Division Chiefs. Changes rejected by the
Division Chiefs need not be reviewed by the GFE CCP," the
memorandum establishing the panel said. Membership on the panel was as
follows: Chairman, Maxime A. Faget; Alternate Chairman, James A.
Chamberlin; Members, Richard S. Johnston, Robert A. Gardiner, R. W.
Sawyer (sic), and William C. Bradford. Secretary would be John B. See.
(See also October 13.)
Memo, Faget to distr., "E&D/Apollo GFE Configuration Control
Panel," Oct. 18, 1967.
In an effort to meet a mid-April 1968 delivery date for LM-3, Grumman
made a number of organizational changes. Top level direction was
strengthened by adding experienced managers in strategic positions and
by reinforcing the Grumman LM organization with more management talent
and additional test personnel. A spacecraft director for each vehicle
was brought into the program for LM-2, -3, -4, and -5, with
responsibility for overall Grumman support of individual vehicles from
cradle to grave.
Ltr., L. J. Evans, Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corp., to G. M. Low,
MSC, Oct. 20, 1967.
The SM reaction control system (RCS) for spacecraft 101 was criticized
by C&SM RCS Subsystem Manager Ralph J. Taeuber. The results of the 101
RCS checkout, he said, "illustrate what we believe to be a lack of
adequate workmanship and quality control during the manufacture and
checkout of the RCS system. A total of 352 squawks have been written
against the S/C 101 SM RCS and quad A has only been partially tested.
This high number of discrepancies, most of which cannot be directly
related to design deficiencies, is mute testimony to our contention.
Test units of the RCS have been built at MSC from scratch with no
significant problems either during manufacturing, checkout, or test
firing. Thus we have demonstrated that the system can be built
successfully even without the specialized equipment and facilities at
NAA. Furthermore, NAA has fabricated a number of units with a minimum of
discrepancies. . . ."
CSM Manager Kenneth S. Kleinknecht enclosed Taeuber's memorandum and a
summary engine failure report written by McDonnell Douglas Corp. after
completion of the Gemini program in an October 26 letter to North
American Rockwell's Apollo CSM Program Manager Dale D. Myers.
Kleinknecht pointed out: "Their conclusion that system
contamination was the most likely source of failure in flight, coupled
with the fact that the Mercury Program was also plagued with a similar
problem, and added to the facts presented in the report by Mr. Ralph
Taeuber leads me to believe that positive action must be taken to
tighten up the quality control, both at North American Rockwell
Corporation and at all subcontractors and vendors that supply the
parts for the Apollo RCS. . . . Something must be done to consistently
bring the contamination of this system down to an acceptable level. The
numerous problems with corrosion and foreign matter are occurring so
frequently that it is possible we have other quality or procedural
failure modes that are hidden by the constant and over-riding failure
modes associated with contamination."
Kleinknecht added that he expected to receive within two weeks a
written notice from North American that it was implementing a plan for
corrective action and that the plan must include corrective action at
the subcontractor and vendor levels.
Myers advised Kleinknecht December 4 that, to determine the cause of
the recent valve failures from internal contamination, North American
Quality & Reliability Assurance had begun an accelerated
investigation October 22. All RCS valve suppliers were investigated,
and one supplier was found to have introduced an improper cleaning
sequence on an assembled helium-isolation valve, resulting in trapped
deionized water in the valve. Valves suspected of moisture
contamination were removed from the RCS and, after the supplier
corrected the irregularities in his cleaning operation, the valves were
returned for rework under North American source inspection
surveillance. At the plant of the sub-tier supplier responsible for
cleaning the valves that failed on spacecraft 101, a North American
source inspector was now required to review the supplier's shop
planning and indicate product acceptance by witnessing and verifying
newly inserted inspection points on the supplier's in-process paper
Myers said that, as pointed out in Kleinknecht's letter, "systems
and component contamination were a serious quality and technical
problem faced by all major space programs. To rationalize these
problems as workmanship and inspection errors introduced the risk of
creating misdirected effort that attacks the result instead of the
"The investigation and remedial action taken on the helium valves
was a logical and aggressive response to apparent quality problems and
is directed toward correcting both the unsatisfactory condition and
eliminating the factors that cause the condition to develop. Suspected
hardware was immediately removed from the production cycle, inspection
surveillance was increased at critical points in the process to insure
against continuation of the problem, and a longer range program was
implemented to provide extra assurance that similar problems do not
exist or develop at other suppliers.
"The process control investigation that revealed the cause of
trouble with the helium valve was being expanded to include a
re-evaluation of all suppliers involved with cleaning valves,
regulators, etc., used in the Apollo CSM. In addition to a fresh look
at the suppliers fabrication and cleaning activities, the process
evaluation is a comprehensive review of North American and supplier
specifications for compatibility between the requirements for one
assembly and the next, and a re-survey of the suppliers facilities to
assure he has the technical capability and equipment to meet the
stringent Apollo CSM quality requirements. The plan of action for this
process study is being developed, and action to the plan will commence
within a week."
Memo, Taeuber to S. H. Simpkinson, MSC, "S/C 101 SM RCS
Checkout," Oct. 20, 1967; ltrs., Kleinknecht to Myers, Oct. 26,
1967; Myers to Kleinknecht, Dec. 4, 1967.
The following ground rules were established for extravehicular activity
planning. The EVA transfer would be demonstrated and thermal-degradation
samples retrieved during the AS-503/103/LM-3 (Apollo 8) mission. No
other pre-lunar-landing mission would include planned EVA exercises. The
first lunar landing mission would be planned with two EVA excursions.
Memo, George M. Low to distr., "Mainline Apollo EVA Policy,"
Oct. 28, 1967.
Plans were to use 100-percent oxygen in the CSM cabin during prelaunch
operations for manned flights but, since flammability tests of the CSM
were not finished, the possibility existed that air might be used
instead of pure oxygen. Therefore, contingency plans would be developed
to use air in the cabin during the prelaunch operations so that a change
would not delay the program.
Memo, G. M. Low, MSC, to R. O. Middleton, KSC, "Possible use of
air in the CSM cabin during prelaunch operations," Oct. 28,
Confirming an October 27 telephone conversation, ASPO Manager George M.
Low recommended to Apollo Program Director Samuel C. Phillips that the
following LM delivery schedule be incorporated into official
documentation: LM-2, February 5, 1968; LM-3, April 6, 1968; LM-4, June
6, 1968. Subsequent vehicles would be delivered on two-month centers.
The dates had been provided by Grumman during the last Program
Management Review. Ltr., Low to Phillips, Oct. 30, 1967.
Actions on television cameras were reported by ASPO Manager George M.
Low to Apollo Program Director Samuel C. Phillips:
Low said, "Our present plans for TV in Apollo spacecraft call for
the use of facility cameras to monitor hazardous testing on the ground.
There will not be any television equipment in the Command Module on any
- During the Apollo spacecraft redefinition effort; a decision was
made to fly the Block I TV camera in the CSM and the Block II TV camera
in the LM. It was also decided that the CSM onboard TV camera could not
be used for monitoring hazardous tests.
- In recent weight-saving exercises, those decisions were reexamined
and a conclusion was reached that no TV camera would be carried in the
CSM. This would not only save four kilograms directly but would also
reduce the required stowage space and reduce the overall weight by
minimizing the number of required containers.
- A decision was made to stow the Block II TV camera in the descent
stage during the lunar mission. There would still be a requirement for
checking out the lunar TV camera in earth orbit to ensure that it would
work on the lunar surface. For that reason, it was planned to carry the
camera in the ascent stage on the LM-3 mission, and in the descent stage
on subsequent vehicles.
Ltr., Low to Phillips, Oct. 30, 1967.
A parachute test (Apollo Drop Test 84-1) failed at EI Centro, Calif.
The parachute test vehicle (PTV) was dropped from a C-133A aircraft at
an altitude of 9,144 meters to test a new 5-meter drogue chute and to
investigate late deployment of one of the three main chutes. Launch and
drogue chute deployment occurred as planned, but about 1.5 seconds
later both drogue chutes prematurely disconnected from the PTV. A
backup emergency drogue chute installed in the test vehicle and
designed to be deployed by ground command in the event of drogue chute
failure also failed to operate. The PTV fell for about 43 seconds
before the main chutes were deployed. Dynamic pressure at the time of
chute deployment was estimated at about 1.2 newtons per square
centimeter (1.7 pounds per square inch). All parachutes failed at or
shortly after main parachute line stretch. The PTV struck the ground in
the drop zone and was buried about 1.5 meters. An accident
investigation board was formed at El Centro to survey mechanical
components and structures, fabric components, and electrical and
sequential systems. R. B. West, Earth Landing System Subsystem Manager,
represented NASA in the investigation. It was determined that two
primary failures had occurred:
- failure of both drogue parachute-reefing systems immediately after
- failure of the ground-radio-commanded emergency-programmer
parachute system to function.
On November 3, a preliminary analysis of the drop test failure was made
at Downey Calif., with representatives of NASA, North American
Rockwell, and Northrop participating. The failure of the drogue, being
tested for the first time, was determined to be a result of the failure
of the reefing ring attachment to the canopy skirt. The reason the ring
attachment failed seemed to be lack of a good preflight load analysis
and an error in the assumption used to determine the load capacity of
the attachment. The failure of the deployment of the emergency system
was still being investigated.
TWX, George M. Low to Director, Apollo Program Office, NASA Hq., Oct.
31, 1967; memos, Milton A Silveira to Kenneth S. Kleinknecht,
"Failure which occurred on Apollo Drop Test 84-1," Oct. 31,
1967; "Further information on Apollo Drop Test 84-1 failure,"
Nov. 1, 1967; and "Results of Preliminary Analysis of Apollo Drop
Test 84-1 Failure," Nov. 6, 1967.