Part 2 (F)
Recovery, Spacecraft Redefinition, and First Manned Apollo Flight
Maxime A. Faget, MSC Director of Engineering and Development, told the
ASPO Manager that he had reviewed the LM insulation status and concluded
that "the present design is susceptible to degradation from cabin
leakage during pressurized conditions. The present insulation design is
unacceptable for the lunar landing mission." He agreed with the
contractor that design changes were required and specified that the
insulation design change should be effective on LM-4 and the changes
should be installed for the LTA-8 tests in support of LM-5.
Memo, Faget to Manager, ASPO, "LM Insulation," Nov. 2, 1967.
A cooling design to keep heating effects of the radioisotope
thermoelectric generator (RTG) below 450 kelvins (350 degrees F) was
being sought for the Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments Package. Studies
had shown that the RTG could be a fire hazard when the ALSEP was carried
in the lunar module, heating temperatures up to 590 kelvins (600 degrees
F) unless cooling was provided. Temperatures from 460 to 465 kelvins
(370 degrees F to 380 degrees F) were hazardous with the fuels in the
LM. (See also July 21, 1967, entry.)
Memo, George C. White, Jr., NASA Hq., to William M. Bland, Jr., MSC,
"Failure Effects Analysis-LM/ALSEP Interface," Nov. 3,
A series of lunar surface operations planning meetings was scheduled to
establish and coordinate operational requirements and constraints,
review analysis and simulation data for lunar surface operations, review
hardware status and requirements, review test and simulation planning,
identify and resolve operational problems, obtain agreement on mission
guidelines and recommended flight activities, and collect comments on
the surface operations plans.
Memo, Donald K. Slayton, MSC, to distr., "Lunar Surface Operations
Planning Meetings," Nov. 3, 1967.
November 3-December 19
In an exchange of correspondence, KSC Director Kurt H. Debus and MSC
Director Robert R. Gilruth agreed that close coordination was required
between the two Centers regarding launch site recovery and rescue in the
event of malfunction leading to an unsuccessful abort before or just
after ignition during a launch phase. Coordinated recovery and rescue
plans were being formulated for such an emergency. Plans would also
include the Department of Defense Eastern Test Range and required
coordination with DOD. On December 19 Debus was informed by NASA Hq.
that his proposal for a slide wire emergency system had been reviewed
Ltrs., Debus to Gilruth, Nov. 3, 1967; Gilruth to Debus, Nov. 20, 1967;
Gilruth to Samuel C. Phillips, NASA Hq., Nov. 16, 1967; Phillips to
Debus, Dec. 19, 1967.
NASA announced an Apollo mission schedule calling for six flights in
1968 and five in 1969. NASA Associate Administrator for Manned Space
Flight George E. Mueller said the schedule and alternative plans
provided a schedule under which a limited number of Apollo command and
service modules and lunar landing modules, configured for lunar landing
might be launched on test flights toward the moon by the end of the
decade. Apollo/uprated Saturn I flights were identified with a 200
series number; Saturn V flights were identified with a 500 series
number. The 1968 schedule was:
- Apollo/Saturn 204 - first unmanned test of the LM in earth orbit
- Apollo/Saturn 502 - second unmanned flight test of the Saturn V and
- Apollo/Saturn 503 - third unmanned test of the Saturn V and Apollo
- Apollo/Saturn 206 - second unmanned flight test of LM in earth orbit
- Apollo/Saturn 205 - first Apollo manned flight, a 10-day mission to
qualify the CSM for further manned missions
- Apollo/Saturn 504 - first manned Apollo flight on Saturn V. This
mission would provide first manned operation in space with both the CSM
and LM, including crew transfer from CSM to LM and rendezvous and
These flights would be flown in the above order and as rapidly as all
necessary preparations could be completed.
The 1969 flight schedule called for five manned Apollo/Saturn V flights,
AS-505 through AS-509. Four of these-505, 506, 507, and 508-were
programmed as lunar mission development flights or lunar mission
simulations. It was considered possible that the lunar landing could be
made on Apollo/Saturn 509, but it was also possible this might be
delayed until one of the remaining six Saturn V flights.
TWX, Ralph E. Gibson, Deputy News Chief, NASA Hq., to all NASA Centers
and Stations, NASA News Release 67-282, "Apollo/Saturn
Schedule," Nov. 4, 1967.
MSC Director Robert R. Gilruth, wrote Warren B. Hayes, President of
Fansteel Metallurgical Corp., that planned schedules for the lunar
landing training vehicle (LLTV) could not be maintained because of the
need for refabrication of the hydrogen peroxide tanks. The tanks had
been manufactured by Airtek Division of Fansteel under contract to Bell
Aerosystems Co. Airtek's estimates were that the first of the new tanks
would not be available until January 1 968, two months later than
required to meet the LLTV program schedule. Gilruth said: "The
LLTV is a major and very necessary part of the crew training program
for the lunar landing maneuver. It is my hope that Airtek will take
every action to assure that the manufacturing cycle time for these
tanks is held to an absolute minimum." In preparing background
information for Gilruth, Flight Crew Operations Director Donald K.
Slayton had pointed out that the first set of tanks (total of eight)
had been scrapped because of below-minimum wall thickness.
Qualification testing of a tank from the second set revealed
out-of-tolerance mismatch of welded tank fittings, and this set was
Ltr, Gilruth to Hayes, Nov. 7, 1967; memo, Slayton to MSC Director,
"Proposed letter to President, Fansteel Metallurgical
Corporation," Nov. 3, 1967.
The MSC Director of Engineering and Development pointed out that a
fullscale CSM would soon be tested to evaluate the hazard of fire
propagation both in orbit (cabin atmosphere of oxygen at pressure of
3.8 newtons per square centimeter - 5.5 pounds per square inch
absolute) and on the pad (oxygen at 11.4 newtons per sq cm-16.5 psia).
There was a reasonable probability that the CSM might qualify in the
first but not the second case. In such event, it was proposed that the
prelaunch cabin atmosphere be changed from 100-percent oxygen to a
mixture of 60-percent oxygen and 40percent helium or to a mixture of
60-percent oxygen and 40-percent nitrogen. This proposal was made on
the assumption that those mixtures at 11.4 newtons per sq cm would not
offer more of a fire hazard than 100percent oxygen at 3.8 newtons. It
was also assumed that these mixtures would be physiologically suitable
after being bled down to orbital pressure without subsequent purging or
being enriched with additional oxygen. Structures and Mechanics
Division (SMD) was requested to make flammability tests to determine
the relative merit of the two mixtures and to outline a minimum test
program to provide confidence that the mixed gas atmosphere might be
considered equivalent to oxygen at 3.8 newtons.
Memo, Maxime A. Faget to Chief, Structures and Mechanics Div., MSC,
"Prelaunch atmosphere for Command Module," Nov. 8, 1967.
Apollo 4 (AS-501) was launched in the first all-up test of
the Saturn V launch vehicle and also in a test of the CM heatshield.
The Saturn V, used for the first time, carried a lunar module test
article (LTA-10R) and a Block I command and service module (CSM 017)
into orbit from KSC Launch Complex 39, Pad A, lifting off at 7:00:01
a.m. EST - one second later than planned. The launch was also the first
use of Complex 39. The spacecraft landed 8 hours 37 minutes later in
the primary recovery area in the Pacific Ocean, near Hawaii, about 14
kilometers from the planned point. CM, apex heatshield, and one main
parachute were recovered by the carrier U.S.S.
Main objectives of the mission were to demonstrate the structural and
thermal integrity of the space vehicle and to verify adequacy of the
Block II heatshield design for entry at lunar return conditions. These
objectives were accomplished.
The S-IC stage cutoff occurred 2 minutes 30 seconds into the flight at
an altitude of about 63 kilometers. The S-II stage ignition occurred at
2 minutes 32 seconds and the burn lasted 6 minutes 7 seconds, followed
by the S-IVB stage ignition and burn of 2 minutes 25 seconds. This
series of launch vehicle operations placed the S-IVB and spacecraft
combination in an earth parking orbit with an apogee of about 187
kilometers and a perigee of 182 kilometers. After two orbits, which
required about three hours, the S-IVB stage was reignited to place the
spacecraft in a simulated lunar trajectory. This burn lasted five
minutes. Some 10 minutes after completion of the S-IVB burn, the
spacecraft and S-IVB stage were separated, and less than 2 minutes
later the service propulsion subsystem was fired to raise the apogee.
The spacecraft was placed in an attitude with the thickest side of the
CM heatshield away from the solar vector. During this
four-and-one-half-hour cold-soak period, the spacecraft coasted to its
highest apogee - 18,256.3 kilometers. A 70 mm still camera photographed
the earth's surface every 10.6 seconds, taking 715 good-quality,
About 8 hours 11 minutes after liftoff the service propulsion system was
again ignited to increase the spacecraft inertial velocity and to
simulate entry from a translunar mission. This burn lasted four and one
half minutes. The planned entry velocity was 10.61 kilometers per
second, while the actual velocity achieved was 10.70.
Recovery time of 2 hours 28 minutes was longer than anticipated, with
the cause listed as sea conditions - 2.4-meter swells.
MSC, "Apollo 4 Mission Report," Jan. 7, 1968; TWXs, W. C.
Schneider, NASA Hq., to addressees, "Apollo 4 24-Hour
Report," Nov. 10, 1967; R. O. Middleton, KSC, to addressees,
"Apollo 4 Quick-Look Assessment Report," Nov. 13, 1967;
Arthur Rudolph, MSFC, to addressees, "AS-501 Flight Results (10
day report)," Nov. 21, 1967; Saturn AS-501 Evaluation Bulletins
No. 1 and No. 2, Nov. 14 and Nov. 22, 1967; NASA, "Apollo Program
Weekly Status Report," Nov. 10, 1967.
Tests of sample constant-wear garments (underwear) fabricated from Beta
fabric were reported as showing the garments were a source of excessive
lint and irritated the skin. Efforts were being made to fabricate a
knitted garment that would overcome these problems. Other flame
resistant materials and flame retardant treatments were also being
investigated. However, since delivery schedules of training and initial
flight items required an immediate decision concerning material
selection, it was decided to use the original cotton undergarment
Memo, George M. Low, MSC, to Samuel C. Phillips, NASA Hq.,
"Constant wear garment," Nov. 11, 1967.
ASPO Manager George Low, in a memorandum to CSM Manager Kenneth
Kleinknecht, remarked that he had "just read Dale Myers' letter to
you . . . on the subject of Northrop Ventura performance. In addition I
have . . . read a letter from Dick Horner to me in response to my
letter . . . of September 29, 1967. Both of these letters have the same
general tone: they indicate that problems did exist in the past, but
that all problems have now been resolved. . . . I am still . . . uneasy
about the Northrop Ventura situation. I would, therefore, recommend
that you might personally want to visit the Northrop Ventura facilities
so that you can, at first hand, inspect their plant, review their
program and talk to their people. You might want to ask Eberhard Rees,
Scott Simpkinson and Sam Beddingfield to join you on such a visit. I
would hope . . . you would see fit to make this visit in the very near
future so that any corrective actions that you might identify can be
taken before the Spacecraft 101 parachutes are packed."
Memo, Low to Kleinknecht, "Parachutes," Nov. 13, 1967.
A full-time lunar landing training vehicle (LLTV) operating capability
was essential to lunar landing training. Optimum proficiency for the
critical lunar landing maneuver would be required at launch. Crew
participation in the three months or more of concentrated checkout and
training at KSC before each lunar mission, coupled with routine launch
delays, would make KSC the preferred location for LLTV operating
Ltrs., George E. Mueller, NASA Hq., to Robert R. Gilruth, MSC, Nov. 14,
1967 and Dec. 16, 1967; TWX, Maynard E. White, NASA Hq., to MSC and
KSC, "Lunar Landing Training Vehicle," Nov. 20, 1967.
In a letter to North American Rockwell and Grumman management, ASPO
Manager George Low pointed out that he had taken a number of steps to
strengthen the Configuration Control Board (CCB) activities and said he
felt it was "very desirable to have senior management from NAR and
GAEC present for our Board meetings." The meetings were held each
Friday North American Apollo CSM Manager Dale D. Myers replied on
November 17 that he, Charles Feltz, or George Jeffs would attend the
meetings on an alternate schedule. Myers informed Low that North
American was implementing new requirements designed to strengthen its
own CCB. MSC's Kenneth S. Kleinknecht had been invited to attend North
American's weekly Tuesday meetings when possible and RASPO Manager
Wilbur Gray was invited to attend routinely.
Ltrs, Low to Myers, Nov. 14, 1967; Myers to Low, Nov. 17, 1967.
MSC informed MSFC that it would provide the following payload flight
hardware for the AS-503/BP-30 flight test: boilerplate 30 (BP-30,
already at MSFC); spacecraft-LM adapter 101 and launch escape system
(SLA-101/LES) jettisonable mass simulation; and lunar module test
article B (LTA-B, already at MSFC). MSC had no mission requirements but
recommended that any restart test requirements for the Saturn S-IVB
stage be carried out on this mission to simplify requirements for the
first manned Saturn V mission.
Ltr., George M. Low to Arthur Rudolph, MSFC, "AS-503/BP-30 flight
test," Nov. 15, 1967.
Spacecraft 017 (recovered after flight on the Apollo 4 mission) arrived
in Downey, Calif., and was inspected by Robert R. Gilruth, George M. Low
and others from MSC. Its condition was much better than anticipated,
considering the severe heating it had been subjected to. Maximum erosion
was between 2.5 and 7.6 millimeters.
"MSC Weekly Activity Report for Mr. Webb," week ending Nov.
MSC Flight Operations Directorate issued mission rules concerning beach
impact for the Apollo 7 mission. The Directorate referred to minutes of
the Near-Pad Abort Meeting, dated September 26, which said the
possibility of injury to the crew should it impact on land near Complex
34 necessitated mission rules prohibiting spacecraft launch in wind
conditions that would cause a land impact after an abort. A
satisfactory means of escape "must be provided to the crew while
in the spacecraft during pad tests when wind conditions prohibit pad
aborts due to possible beach impact." Mission rules developed
Memo, Christopher C. Kraft, Jr., to Manager, ASPO, "Mission Rules
concerning predicted beach impact for the Spacecraft 101 launch,"
Nov. 16, 1967; telecon with Charles Harlan, MSC Flight Control Div., by
Ivan Ertel, Aug. 31, 1970.
- An integrated launch abort trajectory would be conducted at MSC
before the launch, using the actual measured launch-day wind profile for
computing impact points.
- Spacecraft launch would not be attempted if beach impacts were
predicted before 15 seconds ground elapsed time (GET).
- Launch would be permitted for predicted beach impacts occurring
after 15 seconds GET provided the total time that the impact point was
on land was no greater than 5 seconds.
- If the wind conditions became marginal during countdown before the
flight crew entered the spacecraft and if weather predictions indicated
that the beach impact constraints would be violated at planned liftoff
time, crew entry would be delayed until wind measurements indicated a
trend that would allow a safe launch. And
- if at any time after flight crew entry the measured wind conditions
indicated a beach impact for a pad abort, the access arm would not be
retracted until after the winds were determined to be safe as confirmed
by a balloon release.
Robert R. Gilruth, George M. Low, and Maxime A. Faget, with other MSC
personnel and North American Rockwell management officials visited
AiResearch to review the status of the Apollo environmental control unit
electronic components. There had been serious concern about AiResearch
capabilities in this area. The review indicated that AiResearch circuit
designs were satisfactory; that the electronic parts used were not
satisfactory , but that substitutions of high-reliability parts could be
made; and that AiResearch's capability in the manufacture of electronic
components was substandard insofar as the aerospace industry was
concerned. AiResearch was directed to obtain a subcontractor to build
the most critical electronic controller in accordance with AiResearch
designs and parts lists. All other electronic components were still
under review and additional ones might be added to the backup contractor
at a later date.
"MSC Weekly Activity Report for Mr. Webb," week ending Nov.
An MSC meeting discussed environmental acceptance testing of Apollo
spacecraft at the vehicle level. The meeting was attended by
representatives of OMSF, MSC, and General Electric. Lad Warzecha
presented results of a GE analysis of ground- and flight-test failures
in a number of spacecraft programs. GE had concluded that a significant
number of failures could be eliminated through complete vehicle
environmental (vibration and thermal vacuum) acceptance testing and
recommended such testing be included in the CSM and LM programs. James
A. Chamberlin, MSC, presented a critique of the GE recommendations and
found fault with the statistical approach to the GE analysis, indicating
that each flight failure would have to be considered individually to
reach valid conclusions. After considerable discussion ASPO Manager
George M. Low said that he had reached the following conclusions:
Memo for the Record, Low, Manager, ASPO, "Apollo complete vehicle
environmental acceptance testing," Nov. 18, 1967.
- Adequate environmental screening at the piece part and component
level was essential. Significant steps in this direction had been taken
by requiring a wider use of high-reliability parts and by imposing
higher vibration levels in black box acceptance testing.
- Vehicle-level environmental acceptance testing was not applicable to
the CSM or LM spacecraft. This conclusion was reached because it was not
possible to vibrate, or otherwise excite, any of the Apollo spacecraft
in a way to give meaningful vibration levels at most internal spacecraft
Eberhard F. M. Rees of MSFC sent MSC ASPO Manager George M. Low the
results of a brief survey he had made at North American Rockwell. This
was a preliminary step to plans agreed on by NASA Administrator James E.
Webb, Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight George E. Mueller,
MSFC Director Wernher von Braun, MSC Director Robert R. Gilruth, and
Low. Rees was to head a special task group, to be stationed at Downey
and concerned largely with planning control and feedback; engineering,
development, and design; manufacturing and assembly, manufacturing
methods, and process control; quality assurance and reliability; and
procedures, configuration control, etc.
Rees recalled that his assignment, as spelled out by Webb, was mainly
to support MSC on manufacturing problems. Accompanying Rees on the
survey trip from October 24 to November 3 were Jerald R. Kubat of the
Apollo Program Office, NASA Hq., and two MSFC associates of Rees, Jack
Trott and E. D. Mohlere. Rees met with RASPO Manager Wilbur H. Gray and
ASPO CSM Manager Kenneth S. Kleinknecht and with top North American
officials. Discussions were held with RASPO personnel on configuration
control, quality assurance, manufacturing problems, and the
environmental control system in preparation for a trip to AiResearch.
"Finally we reviewed the so-called Problem Assessment Room of
Before offering some recommendations for consideration, Rees pointed up
a need for a considerably intensified program of subcontractor
penetration and quality review, to include in-process inspections in
critical processes or in assembly of critical components. He recommended
Rees also listed a number of areas of possible improvement, among which
- he lead the task team, reporting to Kleinknecht since he felt the
team should support and not only advise and consult;
- all actions be executed with the contractor by RASPO;
- the size of the group be 20 to 25 persons and the task length about
six months; and
- the team not involve itself in any design activities or new
"inventions," but see to it that all problems be made visible
and resolved according to the time schedule with follow-up actions and
"Intensified exploration looking toward modularization in order to
reduce impact of restricted work conditions in the capsule, although,
according to my opinion, NAR has already taken steps in the proper
direction and made improvement."
"Development of highly responsive communications system that will
permit immediate revelation to management of manufacturing anomalies
discovered on the shop floor."
"NAR quality control was, in my opinion, somewhat erratic. In some
cases, jobs were over-covered, in others, coverage was missing."
"Returning to the matter of the communication link between shop and
responsive levels of management, two examples will serve to illustrate
the point. The S/C 101-RCS [reaction control system] quarter panel
fastener hole mismatch was initially reported on January 9 within a shop
loop. It did not get management attention until late October. Impact on
other S/C requires attention. Again, the S/C 020 heat shield required
grinding to remove interference with the umbilical. This, too apparently
applied to other spacecraft. . . ."
Speaking of the field of controls and prompt display of problems, Rees
said: "I feel that the so-called 'Problem Assessment Room' is a
good beginning but that it requires much refinement. For example, it
currently does not inform management of repetitive non-conformances or
developing trends. Also, I learned that the previously mentioned
improperly fitting RCS panel did not show on the board. The reason
given was that it was not displayed because no solution to the problem
had yet been developed. It would appear to me that such a condition
would eminently qualify a problem for display."
Memo, Rees to Low, "Brief Survey of CSM at NAR, Downey," Nov.
Bell Aerosystems Co. informed MSC and NASA Hq. that the company had
reached a point in the LM ascent engine program where it was confident
that it would meet all commitments and requirements for the Apollo
Ltrs., William G. Gisel, Bell Aerosystems Co., to Robert R. Gilruth and
George M. Low, MSC. and Samuel C. Phillips, NASA Hq., Nov. 20, 1967.
MSC asked MSFC assistance in identifying and understanding any
propellant sloshing effects that might create problems in the flight
test program. The greatest uncertainty was associated with the
techniques for passive thermal control in nonpowered flight.
Ltr., Robert R. Gilruth, MSC, to Wernher von Braun, MSFC, Nov. 20,