Part 2 (I)
Recovery, Spacecraft Redefinition, and First Manned Apollo Flight
Eberhard F. M. Rees, Apollo Special Task Team Director at North American
Rockwell, reported to ASPO Manager George M. Low on the need for audits
of equipment supplied from vendors to the spacecraft contractor.
Significant hardware failures and nonconformances had been discovered
after delivery of equipment from the vendors to Downey, Rees stated, and
NASA must take strong steps to upgrade the quality of workmanship at the
Ltr., Rees to Low, Feb. 2, 1968.
ASPO Manager George M. Low advised Apollo Program Director Samuel C.
Phillips that, in accordance with an action item resulting from the
spacecraft environmental testing review at MSFC on January 10, he was
reexamining the design, fabrication, and inspection of all
interconnecting systems of the spacecraft to determine what further
steps might be taken to ensure the integrity of those systems. Low had
requested William Mrazek of MSFC to direct this effort, using a small
task team to review the design of all spacecraft wiring and plumbing
systems, their fabrication, and quality assurance and inspection
Ltr., Low to Phillips, Feb. 3, 1968.
A Senior Flammability Review Board meeting at MSC reached a number of
decisions on the CSM. Attending were Robert R. Gilruth, chairman; George
M. Low, Kenneth S. Kleinknecht, Aleck C. Bond, Maxime A. Faget, Donald
K. Slayton, Charles A. Berry, and Rodney G. Rose, all of MSC; Samuel C.
Phillips, NASA Hq.; William B. Bergen and Dale D. Myers, North American
Rockwell; and George Stoner, Boeing (nonvoting observer).
Several previous action assignments were reviewed:
The Board presented a review of test results. In the tests at pressure
of 4.3 newtons per square centimeter (6.2 pounds per square inch) in a
95-percent oxygen atmosphere, there were 38 ignitions in boilerplate
1224. Of these,5 produced fires large enough to require further
consideration. In tests at 11.2 newtons per sq cm (16.2 psia) in a
60-percent-oxygen and 40-percent nitrogen atmosphere, there were 31
ignitions. Of these, 4 produced fires large enough to require further
- Component level Flammability Test Program - North American reviewed
the results of its material identification and test program, the
component test program, and the boilerplate 1,250 tests. These tests had
provided the basis for design decisions on selection and application of
CM nonmetallic materials.
- Boilerplate 1224 configuration comparison to CSMs 2TV-1 and 101 -
North American presented the comparison and the Board decided that the
boilerplate configuration was representative of the "worst case"
configuration, considering both 2TV-l and 101.
- Internal ignition rationale - ignition rationale for the boilerplate
1224 tests was presented to the Board. Nichrome wire ignitors were used
with the ignitor wire embedded in potting. In some locations a Ladicote
cover was applied over the potting and ignitor. The Board pointed out
that the ignition techniques were not really representative of actual
operating conditions and were indeed overly severe.
- Crew communications umbilical - North American was evaluating a
fluorel crew communications umbilical as well as fluorel oxygen
umbilicals. A Beta sleeve over the oxygen and crew communications
umbilicals would also be evaluated for its operational acceptability by
The Board concluded that the material changes made in the CM had
resulted in a safe configuration in both the tested atmospheres. The
Board agreed "that there will always be a degree of risk
associated with manned space flight," but the risk of fire
"was now substantially less than the basic risks inherent in
manned space flight."
Among decisions reached were:
A final decision would be made at the Design Certification Review on
- the CSM 2TV-1 and 101 coaxial cable configuration would be tested in
the 60-percent-oxygen and 40-percent nitrogen atmosphere;
- material improvements and testing would be continued and changes
would be phased in, pending the availability of proved materials; and
- action would be taken to be prepared to use a 60-percent-oxygen and
40-percent-nitrogen prelaunch atmosphere in CSM 101.
Minutes of the "Senior Flammability Review Board Meeting, Building
2 - Room 966, February 5, 1968," sgd. Robert R. Gilruth, Feb. 23,
Homer E. Newell, NASA Associate Administrator, told MSC Director Robert
R. Gilruth that at the last meeting of the Lunar and Planetary Missions
Board the subject of astronaut activity on the lunar surface had been
taken into consideration. The following motion had been generally
endorsed by all members of the Board but tabled for formal action with
the request that comments of the Flight Crew Operations Directorate be
made on the motion and returned to the Board for further consideration:
"It is proposed that during lunar EVA it be regarded as general
practice and a requirement on the astronauts to utilize fully the voice
channel from them to each other and to earth. What is intended is
almost incessant talking, describing all actions and thoughts as they
occur, but without devoting much additional concentration or
interrupting any actions for that purpose. Such talk will have the
advantage of increasing the information available should any hazardous
situation arise, and therefore increase crew safety; secondly, it will
be a major source of information of scientific importance, and the
record of such talk will be most helpful to the astronauts themselves
as well as others to re-enact the activities later and so better
understand the record and the observations obtained."
The MSC Director of Flight Operations prepared an information staff
paper for Gilruth that said the proposal had been evaluated by the
Directorate, and the "marginal utility to be gained by such a
practice is questionable" because "constant talking would
involve a real time process of separating significant data from
trivia." The Flight Operations Directorate "does not believe
that crew safety will be enhanced by constant talking. . . . In summary
. . . our present astronaut talking requirements are sufficient to
satisfy the scientific world and provide sound operational support. . .
Ltr., Newell to Gilruth, Feb. 5, 1968; Information Staff Paper No. 99
to Director, MSC, from Director of Flight Operations, "Lunar EVA
Procedures," Apr. 16, 1968.
Grumman President L. J. Evans wrote ASPO Manager George M. Low stating
his agreement with NASA's decision to forego a second unmanned LM flight
using LM-2. (Grumman's new position - the company had earlier strongly
urged such a second flight - was reached after discussions with Low and
LM Manager G. H. Bolender at the end of January and after flight data
was presented at the February 6 meeting of the OMSF Management Council.)
Although the decision was not irreversible, being subject to further
investigations by both contractor and customer, both sides now were
geared for a manned flight on the next LM mission. However, Evans cited
several spacecraft functions not covered during the LM-1 flight that
would have to be demonstrated before attempting a lunar mission, notably
control by the primary navigation and guidance system of the descent
propulsion system burn as well as control of stage separation and firing
of the ascent propulsion system. To demonstrate these functions fully,
he said, some modifications in mission plans for the next two manned
flights might be necessary.
Ltr., Evans to Low, Feb. 8, 1968.
James P. Nolan, Jr., Chief of Plans, NASA OMSF, wrote Mission Operations
Director John D. Stevenson describing a potential post-reentry fire
hazard in the command module. A hazard might result from incomplete
mixing of pure oxygen in the cockpit with normal air after landing,
which could produce pockets of almost pure oxygen in closed cabinets,
equipment bays, wire bundles, and interstices of the spacecraft. (Two
test chamber explosions and fires had occurred at Douglas Aircraft Co.
under similar conditions during the early 1950s, he advised.) Nolan
suggested that the potential fire hazard be critically reviewed,
including possible additional chamber flammability testing. Several
weeks later, Stevenson informed Apollo Program Director Samuel C.
Phillips that he had discussed Nolan's ideas with MSC Director Robert R.
Gilruth, ensuring attention by the Flammability Review Board. He
reported that MSC was planning an additional series of chamber tests to
determine whether such a fire hazard actually existed.
Memos, Nolan to Director, Mission Operations, NASA, "Post Reentry
Fire Hazard in the Command Module," Feb. 14, 1968; Stevenson to
Apollo Program Director, same subject, Feb. 26, 1968.
In discussing the results of a manned test with MSC Director Robert R.
Gilruth, George M. Low mentioned that a single 45-degree motion of the
abort handle was required to initiate a launch abort in Apollo. Gilruth
voiced concern that an abort could be caused by a single motion. Low
asked Donald K. Slayton for comments on the subject. Slayton replied
March 1 that "this item had also been a concern of the flight
crews during the early design of the system." But he said:
"The handle forces to actuate the abort sequence have been
subjectively evaluated and are considered high enough to prevent
inadvertent actuation. Additionally, the outboard rotation (counter
clockwise) was chosen over an inboard rotation (clockwise) as being the
more unnatural of the two motions. . . . Crew training for launch
aborts in the Dynamic Crew Procedures Simulator has not shown this
design to be a problem."
Memos, Low to Slayton, "Apollo Command Module abort handle,"
Feb. 14, 1968; Slayton to Manager, ASPO, "Apollo Command Module
abort handle," Mar. 1, 1968.
NASA Hq. asked MSC's support for the effort under way by the Software
Review Board (created at Apollo Program Director Samuel C. Phillips'
request several weeks earlier) to reexamine software requirements for
the lunar mission. A specific concern of the Board (which included
representatives from the major support contractors, IBM, TRW, and
Bellcomm) was the level of sophistication and complexity inherent in the
present MIT computer programs. To understand better the possibilities of
carrying out the lunar mission using the present computer system but
with much simpler programming, Mueller asked the Board to examine the
feasibility, cost, and schedule implications of carrying out the mission
using about half the fixed and erasable memory of the computer and
otherwise trading off program simplicity for minor increases in
Ltr., George E. Mueller, NASA OMSF, to Robert R. Gilruth, MSC, Feb. 14,
Apollo Program Director Samuel C. Phillips wrote ASPO Manager George M.
Low setting forth a strategy for announcing selection of a prelaunch
atmosphere for the spacecraft. Because the decision undoubtedly would
draw much public attention, Phillips said, it was important that the
decision be based on comprehensive study and be fully documented to
explain the rationale for the decision both to NASA's management and to
the general public. Foremost, he said, that rationale must include a
clear statement of physiological requirements for the mission and for
aborts. Secondly, it must also cover flammability factors in cabin
atmosphere selection. Finally, the decision rationale must explain
engineering factors related to hardware capability and crew procedures,
as well as operational factors and how they affected the choice of
atmosphere during prelaunch and launch phases of the mission.
Ltr., Phillips to Low, "Pre-launch Atmosphere," Feb. 15,
Meetings of the Software Task Force had brought out the lack of a
formal requirement that the Change Control Board (CCB) consider how
hardware and software changes might affect each other, NASA Associate
Administrator for Manned Flight Mueller told Apollo Director Phillips.
Mueller asked Phillips if he would consider a program directive
requiring such assessments before changes could be approved. On March
2, ASPO Manager George Low wrote a note to Flight Operations Director
Chris Kraft concerning the same problem. Low believed "our CCB
Manual required that any changes requiring or affecting more than one
panel (e.g., your software panel and Kleinknecht's CSM panel) should
come to the Apollo spacecraft CCB." Kraft replied April 12 that he
concurred. Kraft said that "various MSC organizations are
represented on my Software Control Board [SCB]. These representatives
identify related impacts on other functional elements of the program
during the discussion of change actions in the . . . meeting. Also, we
have taken action to assure integrated assessment of software and
spacecraft changes prior to presentation to the SCB. . . . T. F.
Gibson, Jr., Flight Operations Directorate, and J. F. Goree, Jr., ASPO,
have resolved working arrangements to assure . . . the disciplines
called for by the Configuration Management Manual are carried out. I
understand that the Change Integration Group in ASPO will critique
proposed change actions to either software or spacecraft hardware and
identify associated impacts. . . . Changes involving interfaces between
the software and spacecraft hardware, or other functional elements of
the program, would then be brought to your CCB for disposition of the .
. . change as prescribed by the Configuration Control Manual. . . . I
feel . . . this formal change integration function is appropriate as a
check and balance. . . ."
Memo, George E. Mueller to Samuel C. Phillips, "Software Task
Force Meetings," Feb. 19, 1968; informal note, Low to Kraft, Mar.
2, 1968; memo, Kraft to Low, "Software and spacecraft change
integration," Apr. 12, 1968.
MSC Deputy Director George S. Trimble, Jr., recommended to Apollo
Program Director Phillips that OMSF issue a definition for the end of
the Apollo program. Trimble pointed out that parts of MSC planning
would be clearer if there were a specified set of conditions which,
when satisfied, would mark the termination of the Apollo program and
the start of the lunar exploration program. He said: "It is
recommended that the accomplishment of the first lunar landing and safe
return of the crew be defined as the end of the Apollo Program. This
will give a crisp ending that everyone can understand and will be the
minimum cost program. The Lunar Exploration Program, or whatever name
is selected, will have a definable whole and can be planned and
defended as a unit. . . . The successful termination of the Apollo
Program should not be dependent on the successful deployment of ALSEP,
EVA on the lunar surface, photos, soil samples or other experiments.
Such objectives should not be mandatory for the first landing
mission." Trimble added that he had discussed these points with
NASA's Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight George E.
Mueller and it was his understanding that Mueller not only agreed but
also planned to include similar material in his congressional testimony
in defense of the budget.
Ltr., Trimble to Phillips, Feb. 19, 1968.
ASPO Manager George Low appointed Douglas R. Broome to head a special
task team to resolve the problem of water requirements aboard the
Apollo spacecraft. For some six months, Low noted, numerous discussions
had surrounded the question of water purity requirements and loading
procedures. Several meetings and reviews, including one at MSC on
January 16 and another at KSC on February 13, had failed to resolve the
problem, and Low thus instructed Broome's team to reach a "final
and definite agreement" on acceptable water specifications and
loading procedures. Much unnecessary time and effort had been expended
on this problem, Low said, and he expected the team "to put this
problem to rest once and for all."
Memo, Low to distr., "Apollo water requirements," Feb. 19,
Reflecting the climate of scientific thinking at his Center, MSC
Director Robert R. Gilruth responded to inquiries from Homer E. Newell,
NASA Associate Administrator, concerning vocal communications during
exploration of the lunar surface. While he termed continuous talking
undesirable, Gilruth stated an astronaut's running comment would in
effect form a set of field notes that a geologist might ordinarily keep
during a field exercise. This normal vocal narrative, he told Newell,
would keep ground control informed of mission progress and would ensure
a maximum scientific return from the flight.
Ltr., Gilruth to Newell, Feb. 20, 1968; memo, Wilmot N. Hess, MSC
Director of Science and Applications, to Special Assistant to the
Director, "Astronaut activity on lunar surface," Feb. 19,
MSC informed NASA Hq. that a reaction control system (RCS) engine
ruptured at Marquardt Corp. the previous night during a heater
integration test within a normal duty cycle run. This was a development
test; the cause of the rupture was unknown at the time of the report. A
second RCS failure occurred at Marquardt March 6 during a rerun of the
LM heater integration tests. The rerun series started March 2. No
facility damage or personnel injuries were reported from either
incident. Investigation was under way at Marquardt by both NASA and
Marquardt engineers to determine the cause of the failures and the
effect on the program.
TWXs, George M. Low, MSC, to NASA Hq., Attn: Director, Apollo Program
Office, Feb. 20, 1968, and Mar. 6, 1968.
The LM Descent Engine Program Review was held at TRW Systems, Redondo
Beach, Calif., reviewing the overall program status, technical and
manufacturing problems, and program costs. Program status reports showed
that 28 engines had been delivered in the LM descent engine program to
date, including all White Sands Test Facility engines and engine
rebuilds and all qualification test and flight engines; 9 WSTF engines
and 12 flight engines remained to be delivered. Grumman indicated all
engine delivery dates coincided with the vehicle need dates.
Ltr., C. H. Bolender, MSC, to NASA Hq., Attn: Edgar M. Cortright,
"LM Descent Engine Program Review at TRW Systems on February 26,
1968," Mar. 11, 1968.
Stress corrosion and window problems in the LM had been resolved, NASA
Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight George E. Mueller
advised the Administrator in his weekly progress report. By a thorough
analysis of the entire structure of the spacecraft, a team of engineers
at Grumman had determined that widespread stress corrosion on the
vehicle was highly unlikely. Also, inspection of more than 1,400
individual parts on exposed surfaces of lunar module test article LTA-3
and LMs 3 through 8 had failed to discover a single instance of stress
corrosion cracking, and thus no major changes would be made to the
structure of the spacecraft.
Regarding the window problem (a window had blown out during a routine
pressure test of LM-5 on December 17, 1967), Mueller stated that the
windows on the LM were made from the strongest glass ever used on manned
spacecraft. The most important factor, he said, was to avoid scratches
on the window surface. Accordingly, Grumman and MSC had instituted a new
acceptance test procedure to be conducted at Bethpage immediately before
installation, after which the windows would remain fully protected. The
LM-5 window failure had been caused by a defect in the body of the
glass. Grumman subsequently planned to pressure-test all LM windows at
17.2 newtons per square centimeter (25 pounds per square inch). Normal
operating pressure was 4.0 newtons per sq cm (5.8 psia).
Memo, Mueller to NASA Administrator and Deputy Administrator,
"Manned Space Flight Report - February 26, 1968."
The Flight Readiness Review Board for CSM 020, lunar module test
article 2R (LTA-2R), and spacecraft-LM adapter 9 (SLA-9) met at KSC.
Concern was expressed over the loss of parts and materials in the CSM.
North American Rockwell reported that a search had been made for 38
man-hours and was terminated when it was felt that damage might result.
A data-storage equipment item had failed at the vendor and was later
installed on spacecraft 020. The "belt was off its associated
pulley" and because of this and other open failures the equipment
was replaced. The chairman noted that there was no reason why a device
with belts could not be made without belt failure.
"Minutes of Meeting, The Flight Readiness Review Board, CSM
020/LTA-2R/SLA-9, February 27, 1968," submitted by H. L. Brendle,
Secretary, approved by Robert R. Gilruth, MSC Director.
MSC Director of Flight Crew Operations Donald K. Slayton wrote Wilmot N.
Hess, Director of Science and Applications, regarding priorities between
scientific objectives and mission operations in Apollo mission planning,
specifically for activities on the lunar surface. Slayton acknowledged
that scientific priorities had to be included within an overall mission
plan. However, those priorities must inevitably be adjusted by
operational factors such as difficulty and duration of activities to
maximize success of the mission. Flight planning for surface operations
on the first Apollo landing mission, Slayton said, had followed
guidelines laid down by ASPO Manager George M. Low on September 18, 1967
(reflecting an MSC Directors' consensus as voiced at a September 15
briefing on lunar surface activities):
Deployment of the ALSEP during the first EVA operation, he continued,
appeared precluded by safety considerations (no objective ranked higher
than the astronauts initial familiarization with 1/6 gravity). Should
1/6 gravity operations turn out to be simpler and less time-consuming
than anticipated, ALSEP unloading might be possible; but Slayton stated
that EVA experience during the Gemini program dictated a much more
- The first extravehicular activity excursion was to consist of a
number of simple, mutually independent activities.
- A small lunar sample would be collected on the first excursion.
- The Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments package (ALSEP) would not be
deployed on the first excursion.
- For planning purposes, a second excursion was also included, with
ALSEP deployment as the primary scientific objective.
Memo, Slayton to Hess, "Apollo lunar surface operations
planning," Feb. 28, 1968.
In response to action required by the CSM 2TV-2 and CSM 101 Wire Board
in October 1967, Dale D. Myers, CSM Program Manager at North American
Rockwell, submitted to MSC results of a wire improvement study for the
umbilical feedthrough area for the lower equipment bay. Myers stated
that substantial improvements in wiring appearance in the lower
equipment bay had been made even before the Wire Board's ordered study
and that further improvements of any significant nature could not be
made without major structural changes (which would be intolerable from
the standpoint of mission schedules). Thus, Myers recommended against
further changes in wiring in the lower equipment bay. Further, as
installation procedures and wire protective measures had improved, the
occurrence of wiring damage had been progressively reduced. This same
rationale, Myers affirmed, applied to other harness areas inside the
spacecraft. (This study by North American completed action items
generated at the Wire Board meeting.)
Ltr., Myers to MSC CSM Manager Kenneth S. Kleinknecht, Feb. 29, 1968,
with encl., "Summary Report on Block II Command Module Wiring