Part 2 (N)
Recovery, Spacecraft Redefinition, and First Manned Apollo Flight
August through September 1968
Howard W. Tindall, Jr., Deputy Division Chief, MSC Mission Planning and
Analysis, wrote ASPO Manager George M. Low: "A rather unbelievable
proposal has been bouncing around lately. Because it is seriously
ascribed to a high ranking official, MSC and Grumman are both on the
verge of initiating activities - feasibility studies, procedures
development, etc. - in accord with it. . . . The matter to which I
refer is the possibility of deleting the rendezvous radar from the LM.
The first thing that comes to mind, although not perhaps the most
important, is that the uproar from the astronaut office will be
fantastic - and I'll join in with my small voice too. Without
rendezvous radar there is absolutely no observational data going into
the LM to support rendezvous maneuvers. . . . Please see if you can
stop this if it's real and save both MSC and GAEC a lot of
trouble." On August 9 Low wrote NASA Apollo Program Manager Samuel
Phillips that, shortly after Associate Administrator for Manned Space
George Mueller had visited Grumman, Low had calls from both C. H.
Bolender, MSC, and Joseph Gavin, Grumman, indicating that Mueller had
made a suggestion "that we should eliminate the LM rendezvous
radar as a weight saving device." He forwarded Tindall's
memorandum as the basis for "why we should not consider deleting
the radar and why we shouldn't spend any more effort on this
work." Low added that MSC was discontinuing "any work that we
may have started as a result of George's comments." In a reply on
August 28, Phillips told Low, "I am in complete agreement . . .
that all work toward deleting the LM rendezvous radar should be
discouraged and I have written to George Mueller to that
Memo, Tindall to Manager, ASPO, "LM rendezvous radar is
essential," Aug. 1, 1968; ltrs., Low to Phillips, Aug. 9, 1968,
Phillips to Low, Aug. 28, 1968.
In an effort to stem the number of hardware changes at KSC, Apollo
Program Director Samuel C. Phillips instituted a weekly review of all
changes that produced additional work at KSC in excess of normal
checkout flow. Phillips stressed the extraordinary importance of change
control and the requirement that only mandatory changes be approved
through the control boards at MSC and MSFC. The volume of changes
currently under way at KSC constituted a major concern. Key program
objectives, he said, were in jeopardy.
TWXs, Phillips to distr., Aug. 2 and 19, 1968.
The Apollo Design Certification Review (DCR) Board convened at MSC to
examine LM-3 further for proof of design and development maturity and to
assess and certify the design of the LM-3 as flightworthy and safe for
manned flight. This Delta review was identified as a requirement at the
March 6 LM-3 DCR. The Board concluded at the close of the Delta DCR that
LM-3 was safe to fly manned with the completion of open work and action
items identified during the review.
Ltr., Apollo Program Director to distr., "LM-3 Delta Design
Certification Review," Sept. 12, 1968.
ASPO Manager George M. Low and several members of his staff met at KSC
with Center Director Kurt H. Debus, Launch Operations Director Rocco A.
Petrone, and KSC Apollo Program Manager R. O. Middleton to discuss test
and checkout problems for AS-503 and AS-504. They collectively agreed
that only mandatory changes - i.e., changes for flight safety or to
ensure mission success - could be made once the spacecraft reached KSC.
(Changes that would speed the KSC checkout flow also were permitted.)
Furthermore, two separate work packages would be prepared for each
spacecraft customer acceptance readiness review board. The first package
comprised normal work to be performed at KSC on all spacecraft. The
second included special work normally done at the factory, but which for
that specific vehicle was being transferred to the Cape (installation,
retesting, etc.). The group also reviewed recent Apollo checkout
experiences - especially test failures and open items - in an effort to
improve these areas for subsequent missions.
Memo for record, Low, "Report of meeting at KSC," Aug. 10,
August 9 - November 12
ASPO Manager George M. Low initiated a series of actions that led to
the eventual decision that AS-503 (Apollo 8) should be a lunar orbital
mission. Events and the situation during June and July had indicated to
Low that the only way for the "in this decade" goal to be
attained was to launch the Saturn 503/CSM 103 LM-3 mission in 1968.
During June and July the projected launch slipped from November to
December, with no assurance of a December launch. Later, Low recalled
"the possibility of a circumlunar or lunar orbit mission during
1968, using AS-503 and CSM 103 first occurred to me as a contingency
During the period of July 20-August 5, pogo problems that had arisen on
Apollo 6 seemed headed toward resolution; work on the CSM
slowed, but progress was satisfactory; delivery was scheduled at KSC
during the second week in August and the spacecraft was exceptionally
clean. The LM still required a lot of work and chances were slim for a
On August 7, Low asked MSC's Director of Flight Operations Christopher
C. Kraft, Jr., to look into the feasibility of a lunar orbit mission for
Apollo 8 without carrying the LM. A mission with the LM looked as if it
might slip until February or March 1969. The following day Low traveled
to KSC for an AS-503 review, and from the work schedule it looked like a
January 1969 launch.
August 9 was probably one of the busiest days in George Low's life; the
activities of that and the following days enabled the United States to
meet the "in this decade" goal. At 8 :45 a.m. he met with MSC
Director Robert R. Gilruth and told him he had been considering a lunar
orbit mission. Gilruth was highly enthusiastic. At 9:00 a.m. Low met
with Kraft and was informed that the mission was technically feasible
from ground control and spacecraft computer standpoint. (A decision had
been made several months earlier to put a Colossus onboard computer
program on the 103 spacecraft.)
At 9:30 a.m. Low met with Gilruth, Kraft, and Director of Flight Crew
Operations Donald K. Slayton, and they unanimously decided to seek
support from MSFC Director Wernher von Braun and Apollo Program Director
Samuel C. Phillips. Gilruth called von Braun and, after briefly
outlining the plan, asked if they could meet in Huntsville that
afternoon. Low called Phillips, who was at KSC, and asked whether he and
KSC Director Kurt Debus could participate and a meeting was set up for
Present at the 2:30 p.m. meeting at MSFC were von Braun, Eberhard Rees,
Lee James, and Ludie Richard, all of MSFC: Phillips and George Hage,
both of OMSF; Debus and Rocco Petrone, MSFC; and Gilruth, Low, Kraft,
and Slayton of MSC. Low outlined the hardware situation and told the
group it was technically feasible to fly the lunar orbit mission in
December 1968, with the qualification that Apollo 7 would have to be a
very successful mission. If not successful, Apollo 8 would be another
earth-orbital mission. Kraft made a strong point that to gain lunar
landing benefits Apollo 8 would have to be a lunar orbital rather than a
circumlunar mission. All were enthusiastic. Phillips began outlining
necessary events: KSC said it would be ready to support such a launch by
December 1; MSFC felt it would have no difficulties; MSC needed to look
at the differences between spacecraft 103 and 106 (the first spacecraft
scheduled to leave earth's atmosphere) and had to find a substitute for
the LM. The meeting was concluded at 5:00 p.m. with an agreement to meet
in Washington August 14. This would be decision day and, if "GO,"
Phillips planned to go to Vienna and discuss the plan with Associate
Administrator for Manned Space Flight George E. Mueller and NASA
Administrator James E. Webb (who were attending a United Nations
Conference). Preliminary planning would be secret, but if and when
adopted by the agency the plan would be made public immediately.
Still on August 9, in another meeting at MSC at 8:30 p.m., Low met with
Kenneth S. Kleinknecht, George Abbey, and C. H. Bolender of MSC, and
Dale Myers, North American Rockwell. Bolender left immediately for
Bethpage, N.Y., to find a substitute for the LM; and Myers left for
Downey, Calif., to get the CM going.
On the following day there were still no obvious insurmountable problems
that might block the plan. Kleinknecht was studying the differences
between spacecraft 103 and 106, where the high-gain antenna might be a
problem. It seemed possible to use LM-2 to support the flight, but
Joseph Kotanchik, MSC, suggested flying a simple crossbeam instead of a
LM in the event the pogo oscillation problem remained and pointed out
that even if pogo was solved the LM would not be needed. Low called
Richard and Hage, who agreed with Kotanchik but still wanted mass
representation to avoid possible dynamic problems. Low then called
William Bergen, of North American, who was not too receptive to the
On August 12 Kraft informed Low that December 20 was the day if they
wanted to launch in daylight. With everyone agreeing to a daylight
launch, the launch was planned for December 1 with a "built-in
hold" until the 20th, which would have the effect of giving
assurance of meeting the schedule. LTA (LM test article)-B was
considered as a substitute; it had been through a dynamic test vehicle
program, and all except Kotanchik agreed this would be a good
substitute. Grumman suggested LTA-4 but Low decided on LTA-B.
Kleinknecht had concluded his CSM 103-106 configuration study by August
13 and determined the high-gain antenna was the most critical item.
Kraft was still "GO" and said December 20-26 (except December
25) offered best launch times; he had also looked at January launch
possibilities. Slayton had decided to assign the 104 crew to the
mission. He had talked to crew commander Frank Borman and Borman was
Participants in the August 14 meeting in Washington were Low, Gilruth,
Kraft, and Slayton from MSC; von Braun, James, and Richard from MSFC;
Debus and Petrone from KSC; and Deputy Administrator Thomas Paine,
William Schneider, Julian Bowman, Phillips, and Hage from NASA Hq. Low
reviewed the spacecraft aspects; Kraft, flight operations; and Slayton,
flight crew support. MSFC had agreed on the LTA-B as the substitute and
were still ready to go; and KSC said they would be ready by December 6.
While the meeting was in progress, Mueller called from Vienna to talk to
Phillips. He was cool to the proposed idea, especially since it preceded
Apollo 7, and urged Phillips not to come to Vienna, adding that he could
not meet with the group before August 22. The group agreed they could
not wait until August 22 for a decision and agreed to keep going, urging
again that Phillips go to Vienna and present their case.
At this point Paine reminded them that not too long before they were
making a decision whether to man 503, and now they were proposing a bold
mission. He then asked for comments by those around the table and
received the following responses:
von Braun - Once you decided to man 503 it did not matter how
far you went.
Hage - There were a number of places in the mission where the
decision could be made, minimizing the risk.
Slayton - Only chance to get to the moon before the end of
Debus - I have no technical reservations.
Petrone - I have no reservations.
Bowman - A shot in the arm for manned space flight.
James - Manned safety in this and following flights enhanced.
Richard - Our lunar capability will be enhanced by flying this
Schneider - My wholehearted endorsement.
Gilruth - Although this may not be the only way to meet our
goal, it enhances our possibility. There is always risk, but this is in
path of less risk. In fact, the minimum risk of all Apollo plans.
Kraft - Flight operations has a difficult job here. We need all
kind of priorities; it will not be easy to do, but I have confidence.
It should be lunar orbit and not circumlunar.
Low - Assuming Apollo 7 is a success there is no other
After receiving this response, Paine congratulated them on not being
prisoners of previous plans and said he personally felt it was the right
thing to do. Phillips then said the plan did not represent shortcuts and
planned to meet with Mueller on August 22. He reiterated Mueller's
reservations, and then agreed to move out on a limited basis, since time
On August 15 Phillips and Paine discussed the plan with Webb. Webb
wanted to think about it, and requested further information by
diplomatic carrier. That same day Phillips called Low and informed him
that Mueller had agreed to the plan with the provisions that no full
announcement would be made until after the Apollo 7 flight; that it
could be announced that 503 would be manned and possible missions were
being studied; and that an internal document could be prepared for a
planned lunar orbit for December.
Phillips and Hage visited MSC August 17, bringing the news that Webb
had given clear-cut authority to prepare for a December 6 launch, but
that they could not proceed with clearance for lunar orbit until after
the Apollo 7 flight, which would be an earth-orbital mission with basic
objectives of proving the CSM and Saturn V systems. Phillips said that
Webb had been "shocked and fairly negative" when he talked to
him about the plan on August 15. Subsequently, Paine and Phillips sent
Webb a lengthy discourse on why the mission should be changed, and it
was felt he would change his mind with a successful Apollo 7
Apollo 7 - flown October 11-22 - far exceeded Low's
expectations in results and left no doubts that they should go for
lunar orbit on Apollo 8. At the November 10 Apollo Executive meeting
Phillips presented a summary of the activities; James gave the launch
vehicle status; Low reported on the spacecraft status and said he was
impressed with the way KSC had handled its tight checkout schedule;
Slayton reported on the flight plan; and Petrone on checkout readiness.
Petrone said KSC could launch as early as December 10 or 12. Phillips
said he would recommend to the Management Council the next day for
Apollo 8 to go lunar orbit. Following are the reactions of the
Walter Burke, McDonnell Douglas - the S-IVB was ready but
McDonnell Douglas favored circumlunar rather than lunar orbit;
Hilliard Paige, GE - favored lunar orbit;
Paul Blasingame, AC - guidance and navigation hardware was
ready, lunar orbit;
C. Stark Draper, Massachusetts Institute of Technology - we
should go ahead;
Bob Evans, IBM - go;
George Bunker of Martin, T. A. Wilson of Boeing, Lee Atwood of North
American, Bob Hunter of Philco-Ford, and Tom Morrow of Chrysler -
At the Manned Space Flight Management Council Meeting on November 11
Mueller reported that the proposal had been discussed with the Apollo
Executive Committee, Department of Defense, the Scientific and Technical
Advisory Committee (STAC), and the President's Science Advisory
Committee (PSAC). STAC had made a penetrating review and reacted
positively and PSAC was favorably disposed toward the plan but made no
After a series of meetings, on November 11 Paine said Apollo 8 was to go
lunar orbit. The decision was announced publicly the following day.
Low's initiative had paid off; the final decision to go to the moon in
1968 was made with the blessings of all of NASA's decision-makers, the
Apollo Executive Committee, STAC, and PSAC.
ASPO Manager George M. Low, "Special Notes for August 9, 1968, and
Capping off a considerable exchange of views between MSC and NASA
Headquarters, ASPO Manager George Low advised Apollo Program Director
Sam Phillips that Houston was going ahead with mission planning that
employed a two-burn orbit insertion maneuver. He forwarded to Phillips
a lengthy memorandum from one of his staff, Howard W. Tindall, Jr.,
that explained in detail MSC's rationale for this two-stage orbital
maneuver, the most important of which derived from crew safety and
simplified orbital mission procedures. The overriding factor, Tindall
explained, was a "concern for the consequences of the many things
we will not have thought about but will encounter on the first lunar
flight. Anything that can be done to keep the dispersions small and the
procedures simple provides that much more tolerance for the unexpected.
. . . The cost of the two-stage LOI is a small price to pay for these
intangible but important benefits."
Ltr., George M. Low to Samuel C. Phillips, Aug. 10, 1968, with encl.,
memo, Tindall to ASPO Manager, "Recommendation to retain the
Two-Stage Lunar Orbit Insertion (LOI) Maneuver," Aug. 5, 1968.
Dieter Grau, Director of Quality and Reliability Assurance at MSFC,
sent his Houston counterpart Martin Raines a memorandum of
understanding covering exchanges of quality surveillance responsibility
in support of pogo structural testing under way both in Huntsville,
Ala., and at MSC. Testing was being conducted simultaneously at the
Wyle Laboratories in Huntsville (under contract to North American
Rockwell, primarily static loading and referred to as shell stability
tests); and dynamic load testing at MSC (called the "short
stack" dynamic tests). In effect, each Center assumed the task of
overseeing the complete test article (spacecraft, instrument unit, and
S-IVB forward skirt) being tested at its own location.
Ltr., Grau to Raines, Aug. 12, 1968, with encl., memorandum of
agreement, "Quality Coverage of POGO Structural Testing,"
Aug. 12, 1968.
George M. Low, MSC, in a letter to Samuel C. Phillips, OMSF, said that
the Design Certification Review (DCR) for spacecraft 101 had been
completed; that assigned action items had been resolved; and most of
the open items had been closed. Several open issues would be closed at
the 101 Flight Readiness Review. Low said: "The MSC subsystem
managers have reviewed all the documentation supporting the DCR. I have
reviewed the statements of certification by the North American and MSC
subsystem managers. I have personally watched the design of Spacecraft
101 develop to a stage of maturity. As a result, I am taking this
opportunity to certify that Spacecraft 101 is ready to perform the
Apollo 7 mission once the open items are closed."
Ltr., Low to Phillips, "Design Certification of Apollo 7,"
Aug. 13, 1968.
NASA Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight George E. Mueller
reported to his superiors that launch preparations for the Apollo 7
mission were running ahead of schedule. Spacecraft 101 had been erected
and mated with the launch vehicle on August 9. Integrated systems
testing had begun on August 15. Preparation for the next mission, Apollo
8, were not proceeding as well. Checkout of the launch vehicle and CSM
103 were on schedule, but work on LM-3 was some seven days behind
schedule. Though LM-3's problems were under intensive investigation,
they were directly holding up the simulated mission run and transfer to
the altitude test chamber.
Memo, Mueller to Administrator, "Manned Space Flight Weekly Report
- August 16, 1968."
ASPO Manager George M. Low wrote Program Director Samuel C. Phillips
seeking to halt further development of a pogo sensor for the CSM. (MSC
had undertaken development of the device shortly after the Apollo
6 flight as "insurance" should the sensor prove
necessary.) No requirement for a pogo sensor had been identified, said
Low. In fact, it was by no means certain how the sensor could be used
in flight. Because MSFC was highly confident that the pogo problem
encountered on Apollo 6 had been solved, and because no
abort criteria could be based on pogo alone, Low argued against the
sensor. Even in the unlikely event that pogo occurred on the next
Saturn V flight, he argued against an abort unless there was a
catastrophic effect on the launch vehicle, in which case abort would be
effected using normal abort criteria. For these reasons, no pogo sensor
was to be installed on the CSM. A week later, Phillips approved Low's
recommendation to halt the pogo sensor development.
Ltrs., Low to Phillips, Aug. 17, 1968; Phillips to Low, Aug. 24, 1968.
In a Mission Preparation Directive sent to the three manned space flight
Centers, NASA Apollo Program Director Samuel C. Phillips stated that the
following changes would be effected in planning and preparation for
A memorandum from the ASPO Manager on September 3 summarized the basic
and alternate missions for which detailed planning and preparation would
be performed. In the basic earth-orbital C prime mission the vehicle
configuration would consist of the Saturn V 503 with a payload of 39,780
kilograms (CSM 103 and LTA-B with the service propulsion subsystem fully
loaded). Insertion would be into low circular orbit of the earth. The
earth-parking-orbit activities would include crew and ground support
exercises related to spacecraft system checkout and preparation for
translunar injection (TLI; i.e., transfer into a trajectory toward the
moon). CSM separation maneuver would occur before TLI.
- Apollo-Saturn 503
- Assignment of Saturn V 503, CSM 103, and LM-3 to Mission D was
- Saturn V 503 would be prepared to carry CSM 103 and LTA (LM test
article)-B on a manned CSM-only mission to be designated the C prime
- The objectives and profile of the C prime mission would be developed to
provide maximum gain consistent with standing flight safety
requirements. Studies would be carried out and plans prepared so as to
provide reasonable flexibility in establishing final mission objectives.
- All planning and preparations for the C prime mission would proceed
toward launch readiness on December 6, 1968.
- Apollo-Saturn 504
- Saturn V 504, CSM 104, and LM-3 were assigned to the D mission,
scheduled for launch readiness no earlier than February 20, 1969. The
crew assigned to the D mission would remain assigned to that mission.
The crew assigned to the E mission (Frank Borman, James A. Lovell, Jr.,
and William Anders) would be reassigned to the C prime mission. Training
and equipping the C prime crews and operational preparations would
proceed as required to meet mission requirements and to meet the newly
established flight readiness date.
Alternate earth-orbital missions would include a manned TLI burn to a
6440-km apogee or an SPS burn to achieve a 6,440-km apogee. An alternate
lunar orbit mission would include mission planning, crew training,
spacecraft hardware, and software to support the mission. In providing
support, top priority would be assigned to the lunar orbit mission. The
memo indicated that following TLI, simulated transposition and docking
maneuvers would be conducted; midcourse corrections and star horizon/
star landmark sightings would be performed during the translunar coast;
lunar orbit insertion would be accomplished and a lunar parking orbit
established for 20 hours.
On September 13, MSC Director of Flight Operations Christopher C. Kraft
affirmed that the impact of supporting the described mission plan had
been assessed and no constraints were seen to prevent meeting the launch
readiness date. He added that the lunar parking orbit would be
established during the course of two elliptic orbits and would be of 16
hours duration, thus giving a total lunar vicinity time of 20 hours.
Ltr., Phillips to Directors, KSC, MSFC, and MSC, "Apollo Mission
Preparation Directive," Aug. 19, 1968; memos, Manager, ASPO, to
distr., "C Prime Mission," Sept. 3, 1968; MSC Director of
Flight Operations to Manager, ASPO, "C Prime Mission," Sept.
ASPO Manager George M. Low asked Joseph N. Kotanchik, head of the
Structures and Mechanics Division, to verify that all spacecraft load
analyses and safety factors were compatible with the recently agreed-on
payload weight of 39,780 kilograms for the AS-503 mission. Low passed
along the concern voiced by Lee B. James, Saturn V Program Manager at
MSFC, that the problem of an S-IC engine failure in the Saturn launch
vehicle might be more severe for the 503 mission than for a heavier
payload. Had adequate stress analysis been done on the high-gain antenna
attachments and its support inside the adapter? When would pogo dynamic
analysis of the actual 503 payload be completed? And finally, what was
the situation regarding loads on LTA-B, the LM test article to be
substituted in place of an actual lunar lander aboard the flight?
Memo, Low to Kotanchik,"AS-503 Loads," Aug. 26, 1968.
George M. Low, ASPO Manager, set forth the rationale for using LTA-B
(as opposed to some other LM test article or even a full-blown LM) as
payload ballast on the AS-503 mission. That decision had been a joint
one by Headquarters, MSFC, and MSC. Perhaps the chief reason for the
decision was Marshall's position that the Saturn V's control system was
extremely sensitive to payload weight. Numerous tests had been made for
payloads of around 38,555 kilograms but none for those in the 29,435-
to 31,750-kilogram range. MSFC had therefore asked that the minimum
payload for AS-503 be set at 38,555 kilograms. Because LTA-B brought
the total payload weight to 39,780 kilograms, that vehicle had been
selected for the Apollo 8 mission. All dynamic analyses in connection
with the pogo problem had to be verified, but MSFC engineers were not
concerned that the established weight would affect pogo performance.
Because NASA had been prepared to fly AS-503 with a heavier payload -
i.e., originally including LM-3 - Low saw "no reason to be
concerned about the decision made to fly the somewhat lighter and more
Memo, Low to Joseph N. Kotanchik, MSC, "Use of LTA-B for
AS-503," Aug. 27, 1968.
NASA asked Grumman to make a detailed study of LM-4 to determine any
constraints that might prevent accomplishment of a lunar orbit mission.
All such constraints were to be defined in sufficient detail to
facilitate a NASA review, and NASA expected Grumman-recommended action
in each case. The information was requested before the LM-4 Customer
Acceptance Readiness Review. Grumman was further asked to study LM-5 to
determine constraints that might prevent accomplishment of the lunar
landing mission. Again, all constraints were to include recommended
Ltr., Frank X. Battersby, RASPO, to Joseph Gavin, LM Program Director,
Grumman, Aug. 28, 1968.
Eberhard Rees, Director of the Apollo Special Task Team at North
American Rockwell, notified the contractor that facilities the team had
used at Downey, Calif., were relinquished to the company. Thus ended the
mission of the group formed some nine months earlier to oversee the
contractor's preparations during the period of adjustment following the
Apollo 1 accident.
Ltr., Rees to C. F. Wetter, Aug. 30, 1968.
Apollo Program Director Samuel C. Phillips notified the three manned
space flight Centers that the Apollo 8 launch readiness working-schedule
date had been changed to December 13, 1968.
TWX, Phillips to MSC, KSC, MSFC, "Apollo 8 (AS-503) Launch
Readiness Working Schedule," Sept. 3, 1968.
In response to a letter from Apollo Program Director Samuel C. Phillips
concerning proposed revisions of the first lunar landing mission plan,
MSC Director Robert R. Gilruth presented MSC's position on the three
Concerning the first item, Gilruth said, "Our lunar surface
exploration and scientific activities should be progressive as we
extend our knowledge and obtain a better understanding of operational
limitations and capabilities in a 1/6g environment. . . . By embarking
on too ambitious an effort on our first mission, we may well jeopardize
our capability to accomplish manned . . . activities on subsequent
flights. . . ." It was "recommended that the LGI (with the
exception of the contingency sample and preliminary sample portion) and
the ALSEP be deleted from the first lunar landing mission."
- deletion of the lunar geology investigation (LGI) and the Apollo
Lunar Surface Experiments Package (ALSEP),
- television coverage, and
- extravehicular excursion.
With reference to television coverage, Gilruth cited Houston's position
that "it would be extremely desirable to provide adequate
television coverage during the extravehicular excursion. Coverage can
be obtained through the LM steerable antenna and the Goldstone 210-foot
[64-meter] antenna while in view of Goldstone." MSC proposed to
provide "the capability to transmit the television signal directly
through the high gain antenna; but we would also like to maintain the
capability to carry the erectable antenna, in the event that it will
not be feasible to adjust the timeline to provide Goldstone coverage
for all planned extravehicular activities. . . ."
On the subject of extravehicular excursion, he said, ". . . we
strongly believe that, on the first lunar landing mission, only a
single extravehicular activity should be carried out. You have stated
that the simplest and safest excursion should be conducted by one man
alone. However, it is clear that we have to maintain the basic
capability for a two-man excursion so that the second man can assist
the first in the event of trouble or difficulties. Also, further
studies and simulations in this area might identify new reasons why a
planned two-man excursion is more desirable than a one-man excursion. .
Gilruth said that MSC officials Charles A. Berry, Maxime A. Faget,
Christopher C. Kraft, Jr., George M. Low, and Donald K. Slayton were in
full accord with all of these recommendations. He added, however, that
Wilmot N. Hess felt that "these changes represent a serious
compromise to the scientific program." Hess felt that the EVA
period should be open ended and that it would be worthwhile to carry
ALSEP and attempt its deployment. Hess also recommended that if a
decision were made not to carry ALSEP, some easily deployed contingency
experiments might be added, such as: Solar Wind Composition experiment,
High-Z Cosmic Ray experiment, and a simplified Corner Reflector for
Laser Ranging experiment.
Gilruth said that he himself believed, "that it is essential that
EVA on the first lunar landing mission be limited to a single excursion
and that ALSEP and LGI be eliminated as experiments from that flight. .
. . I believe that the maximum scientific gains on this and future
missions will be achieved if we limit our objectives as proposed. . . .
I am sure that all will agree that if we successfully land on the moon
and return to earth, bring back samples of lunar soil, transmit
television directly from the moon, and return with detailed
photographic coverage, our achievement will have been tremendous by
both scientific and technological standards."
Ltr., Gilruth to Phillips, "Proposed revisions to the first lunar
landing mission plan," Sept. 6, 1968.
ASPO Manager George M. Low advised Headquarters of the status of MSC's
work on action items assigned as a result of the Apollo Crew Safety
Review Board presentation on June 17. Among those items were:
Completion of these actions, said Low, fulfilled the recommendations of
the Crew Safety Review Board.
- Switching procedures for the emergency detection system - the crew
would manually disable the automatic abort device at 1 minute 40 seconds
- High-altitude abort procedures - these procedures were being
reevaluated by the CSM 101 crew on the spacecraft simulator; following
completion (scheduled for September 23), a decision would be made
whether to retain the procedure for optional tower jettison.
- Rescue of an incapacitated crew - emergency access procedures were
being demonstrated at Downey using CSM 008. Any procedural revisions
required would be made accordingly.
Ltr., Low to Samuel C. Phillips, "Actions from Apollo Crew Safety
Review Board and Presentation," Sept. 10, 1968.
The Apollo Crew Safety Review Board, headed by William C. Schneider, met
for the third time at MSFC, a meeting devoted primarily to safety
factors for the Saturn V launch vehicle. Of particular concern was the
capability to shut down the vehicle during the period between ignition
and liftoff should some problem arise (it could be shut down by several
methods, including both manual and automatic engine shutdown). The Board
also reviewed in detail Saturn V modifications that had eliminated more
than 50 engine and electrical circuitry potential single-point failures
(primarily through increased redundancy and circuitry checkout).
Similarly the Board examined the reliability of guidance failure
indicators and checkout of the emergency detection system during the
final portion of the countdown. No additional action was needed, members
concluded, because all functions in the launch vehicle were checked
during the terminal count and tank pressure gauges were checked out by
disconnecting the transducers and testing them individually several days
At the end of the meeting, Board members attended the POGO Management
Review, where they were favorably impressed by the optimism among Saturn
V program officials that the pogo problem had been solved (although
contingency planning for a pogo occurrence should continue through
Ltr., Schneider to distr., "Minutes of Third Meeting on September
10-11, 1968, at Marshall Space Flight Center," Sept. 16, 1968.
At a meeting of the MSF Management Council, Apollo Program Director
Samuel C. Phillips put forth a number of recommendations regarding
planning for extravehicular and scientific activities during the first
lunar landing missions:
The Management Council approved Phillips' recommendations and carried
them to Administrator James E. Webb for final approval. In Houston, ASPO
Manager George M. Low ordered his organization to begin planning for the
first landing mission in accordance with these recommendations.
- During the first mission, extravehicular activities (EVA) should be
limited to three hours, with the spacecraft manned by one of the two
crewmen at all times.
- The Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments Package should be deleted from
the earliest missions (although the present preliminary sample must be
- Television must be carried aboard the LM, for benefits both for
operational and public information.
- To realize the maximum scientific return on the second and
subsequent flights, MSC must, during the first landing mission, assess
the astronauts' capabilities to conduct lunar surface activities. Also,
MSC should study and recommend changes in LM hardware that would
lengthen EVA time available for scientific investigations during future
Memo, Low to O. E. Maynard, "G Mission Planning," Sept. 13,
Dale D. Myers, North American Rockwell's Apollo CSM Program Manager,
wrote George M. Low: "With the recent shipment of CSM 101 to KSC and
preparations for the first manned Apollo flight, attention is centered
on the various aspects of crew safety. In this regard, I recently
instructed our system safety people to review the action items that
resulted from the S/C 012 fire [January 27, 1967], identify those with
safety content or implications, determine what corrective action had
been accomplished, and assess the adequacy of the closeout actions."
Myers went on to say that out of a total of 137 North American action
items, 70 were related to safety; and combining similar and identical
items resulted in identification of 41 specific safety-oriented action
items. An exhaustive study by safety personnel had indicated that all
items had been closed out and that corrective actions were adequate.
Ltr., Myers to Low, ASPO, MSC, Sept. 12, 1968.
Apollo Program Director Samuel C. Phillips formally notified ASPO
Manager George M. Low at MSC and Saturn V Program Manager Lee B. James
at MSFC of changes in the Apollo Program Specification. As agreed on
during the MSF Management Council meeting on August 6, the Apollo
payload interface was set at 46,040 kilograms (with a flight geometry
reserve of 137 kilometers per hour). Also, the present spacecraft
loading philosophy allowed a total spacecraft weight of 46,266 kilograms
for lunar missions having less than maximum flight geometry
requirements. Phillips repeated his earlier statement that he was
prepared to relax some flight constraints to achieve the best possible
balance on each space vehicle. (Although with recent changes in Saturn V
loading, residuals, and J-2 engine thrust, apparently few if any of
these constraints would have to be relaxed.)
Ltr., Phillips to James and Low, "Apollo Program Specification
Changes," Sept. 16, 1968.
Ernest B. Nathan, MSFC Cochairman of the Saturn-Apollo Flight Evaluation
Panel, sent to MSC Marshall's requirements for the flight crew
debriefing for the AS-205 mission. Generally, these requirements called
for the crew's visual and sensory evaluation of the launch vehicle's
performance and behavior.
Ltr., Nathan to Helmut A. Kuehnel, MSC, Sept. 17, 1968, with encl.,
"MSFC Flight Crew Debriefing Requirements, AS-205/SC-101
Dale D. Myers, Apollo CSM Program Manager at North American Rockwell,
wrote to CSM Manager Kenneth S. Kleinknecht at MSC to apprise him of the
company's response to an earlier review of the CSM subsystems
development program. During February a small task team from MSFC, headed
by William A. Mrazek, had surveyed the design, manufacture, and checkout
of several of the spacecraft's subsystems. Findings of the team had been
reviewed with Eberhard F. M. Rees, then at Downey as head of the Apollo
Special Task Team. Myers sent Kleinknecht briefing notes of a
presentation to Rees and others of the special team describing North
American's responses to specific issues raised by Mrazek's group. These
issues, Myers reported, had been resolved to the satisfaction of both
contractor and customer.
Ltr., Myers to Kleinknecht, Sept. 18, 1968.
ASPO officials headed by Manager George M. Low met with spacecraft
managers from North American Rockwell and Grumman to discuss
configuration management for the remainder of the Apollo program and to
set forth clear ground rules regarding kinds of changes (described as
Class I and Class II) and the requisite level of authority for such
changes. The outcome of this meeting, as Low told Apollo Program
Director Samuel C. Phillips, was that MSC would pass judgment on all
Class I changes and that "nearly every change [would] fall in this
category." Minor design changes might still be approved at the
contractor or subcontractor levels, said Low, but MSC would judge
whether those changes were indeed Class II changes. The overall result
of this policy, he told Phillips, would be a better awareness by NASA of
all changes made by spacecraft subcontractors and a firm understanding
that only NASA could approve Class I design modifications.
Ltr., Low to Phillips, Sept. 19, 1968.
The Apollo Guidance Software Task Force, which NASA Associate
Administrator for Manned Space Flight George E. Mueller had convened in
December 1967, submitted its final report. Purpose of the task force,
as Mueller had stated at the time, was to determine whether
"additional actions . . . could be taken to improve the software
development and verification process and control of it." Between
December and July 1968, the group met 14 times at NASA and contractor
locations to review the historical evolution of software programs
within the Apollo project. Because of the great complexity of this
entire field, the task force members recommended that it continue to
receive attention by top management levels at both MSC and MSFC. And
drawing upon experience learned in the Apollo program, the task force
recommended that software not be slighted during any advanced manned
programs and that adequate resources and experienced personnel be
assigned early in the program to this vital and easily underestimated
Ltr., Mueller to Harold T. Luskin, Apollo Applications Program
Director, NASA, Sept. 23, 1968, with encl., "Final Report: Apollo
Guidance Software Task Force," Sept. 23, 1968.
Samuel C. Phillips announced membership of the OMSF Apollo Site
Selection Board, which was to meet September 26: Phillips, chairman; Lee
R. Scherer, OMSF, secretary; John D. Stevenson and Harold D. Luskin,
both of OMSF; Oran W. Nicks, NASA Hq., John D. Hodge, Owen E. Maynard,
and Wilmot N. Hess, all of MSC; Ernst Stuhlinger, MSFC: and Roderick O. Middleton, KSC. J. H. Turnock and Charles W. Mathews had been deleted
from the previous membership list and Hodge, Luskin, and Scherer added.
Memo, Apollo Program Director to distr., "Membership of the OMSF
Apollo Site Selection Board," Sept. 24, 1968.
Apollo Program Director Samuel C. Phillips wrote to his two principal
counterparts at MSFC and MSC, Lee B. James and George M. Low, to express
his concern that the launch-release wind constraint for the Saturn IB,
currently 45 kilometers, was perhaps the most restrictive of all such
constraints. Phillips emphasized his need for a complete understanding
of all tradeoffs associated with this figure, to allow a real-time
estimate of the requirement to hold. He asked James and Low to summarize
for him several such tradeoffs before the Apollo 7 flight readiness
review: wind versus safety, velocity versus direction, and conservative
assumption versus technical accuracy. Also, he asked for criticality and
failure mode for each of the above tradeoffs to allow a technical
evaluation of increasing the 45-kilometer constraint. At the same time,
he asked that a similar effort be initiated for the Saturn V.
TWX, Phillips to Low and James, "Apollo Saturn Release Wind
Constraints," Sept. 24, 1968.
NASA Resident ASPO Manager Wilbur H. Gray at Downey told Dale D. Myers,
North American Rockwell CSM Manager, that NR quality coverage of
spacecraft testing no longer provided NASA with confidence in test
results and that NASA Quality Control would return to monitoring test
activities in and from the ACE (acceptance checkout equipment) control
room. Gray charged that North American had progressively backed away
from contractually agreed steps of the November 30, 1967, Quality
Program Plan, and that these actions had affected test readiness,
testing, and trouble shooting to the point that test acceptance could
not be accepted with any reasonable assurance. Gray said that - unless
North American responded by immediate reinstatement of the procedures
which, as a minimum, were those that worked satisfactorily on CSMs 103
and 104 - NASA formal acceptance of operational checkout procedures
would be discontinued and contractual action initiated. An annotation to
George Low from Kenneth S. Kleinknecht, MSC's CSM Manager, indicated the
letter had been written with the concurrence and at the suggestion of
Myers replied: "I regret that NASA feels any lack of confidence in
current test results. . . . For the past year, there has been a constant
improvement program carried out in Test Quality Assurance to (1) perform
quality evaluation and acceptance of test results in real time and (2)
upgrade the test discipline to be consistent with good quality practice.
I believe that this improvement program has been effective and is
evidenced by the current efficiency of test and expedient manner in
which test paper work is being closed out. While there is naturally some
cost benefit experienced from the successful improvements, cost never
has been placed as a criteria above quality. . . .
"Again, I want to emphasize that the CSM Program has not nor will not
intentionally place cost ahead of quality. . . . The procedures which
worked satisfactorily on CSM 103 and 104 are being improved to provide
better test discipline and more effective Quality Assurance coverage.
Test progress on CSM 106 to date indicates a greater test effectiveness
and a greater confidence in test results than any previous CSM's."
Ltr., Gray to Myers, Sept. 25, 1968; annotation, Kleinknecht to Low,
Sept. 26, 1968; ltr., Myers to Gray, Oct. 17, 1968.
The LM ascent engine to be flown in LM-3 and subsequent missions would
incorporate the Rocketdyne injector, Apollo Program Director Phillips
informed ASPO Manager Low. The engine would be assembled and delivered
by Rocketdyne under subcontract to Grumman. MSC was authorized to inform
those concerned of these decisions but would not issue contractual
direction until an agreed course of contractual action had been approved
by NASA Hq. Two days later, on September 27, Phillips advised Low that
MSC was authorized to take all proper contract actions to implement the
decision to contract with Grumman for ascent-stage engines assembled by
Rocketdyne with the latter's injector.
TWXs, NASA Headquarters to MSC, Attn: George Low, "LM Ascent
Engine Program Decision," Sept. 25, 1968; and "LM Ascent
Engine Program," Sept. 27, 1968.
MSC Director Robert R. Gilruth sent Eberhard F. M. Rees, MSFC Deputy
Director, his "personal commendation" and appreciation for
Rees's leadership of the Apollo Special Task Team and its efforts to
bring the CSM program out of the difficult period early in 1967. The
work of Rees and his group, said Gilruth, had made an outstanding
contribution to the Apollo program and had given NASA management
"a significantly higher level of technical confidence" that
the Block II spacecraft could safely perform its mission. In addition,
Gilruth noted, Rees's "diplomacy in interfacing with North
American management also created a much better NASA-contractor
relationship and mutual understanding of program technical
Ltr., Gilruth to Rees, Sept. 26, 1968.
Week Ending September 27
The Allison descent-stage propellant tank, being redesigned at Airite
Division of Sargent Industries to a "lidless" configuration,
blew up during qualification test at Airite. The crew noticed loss of
pressure and therefore tightened fittings and repressurized. As the
pressure went up, the tank blew into several pieces. Grumman dispatched
a team to Airite to determine the cause and the necessary corrective
Memo, Frank X. Battersby, RASPO, Bethpage, to Chief, Apollo Procurement
Br., Procurement and Contracts Div., MSC, "Weekly Activities
Report, BMR, Bethpage, Week Ending September 27," Oct. 3, 1968.
Results of a joint MSFC-MSC review of functional interfaces between the
launch vehicle and spacecraft for Apollo 7 were forwarded to NASA Hq.
(The review had originally been requested by the Apollo 7 Crew Safety
Review Board, headed by John D. Hodge.) The two Centers had tackled the
task by identifying all electrical wiring between payload and booster,
the requirement for each wire, a verification that the circuits indeed
satisfied requirements, and an evaluation of the adequacy of test and
checkout procedures. Several months of investigation, reported Teir and
Low, had uncovered no areas of concern. Definition and function of the
CSM instrument unit were both accurate and valid and ensured flight
Ltr., Saturn IB Manager William Teir, MSFC, and ASPO Manager George M.
Low, MSC, to Samuel C. Phillips, NASA Hq., "Apollo 7 Launch
Vehicle to Spacecraft Functional Interface Review," Sept. 28,
1968, with encl.,"AS-205 Launch Vehicle/Spacecraft (LV/SC)
Electrical Interface Review."
NASA Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight George E. Mueller
summarized for his superiors launch preparation for the near-term
missions Apollo 7 and Apollo 8:
Memo, Mueller to Administrator and Deputy Administrator, "Manned
Space Flight Weekly Report - September 30, 1968," Sept. 30,
- Apollo 7 - Space vehicle testing was on schedule (despite a delay in
start of the flight readiness test caused by a liquid hydrogen leak due
to a faulty pneumatic valve). The flight readiness test began on
September 25 and went smoothly through T minus 0 two days later.
Countdown for launch would begin as scheduled on October 6, leading to
launch readiness on October 11.
- Apollo 8 - Both launch vehicle (503) and spacecraft (103) were
several days behind schedule. CSM 103 was tested in the altitude chamber
while manned by the prime and backup crews on September 20 and 22. The
spacecraft was undergoing several modifications and equipment
installations (including the high-gain antenna, which was delivered to
KSC on September 23); KSC and contractor technicians also were making
leak and functional checks on the S-II stage and subsystem checks on the
S-IVB stage of the launch vehicle. Rollout of the space vehicle from the
assembly building to the pad was planned for October 10.
Apollo Program Director Samuel C. Phillips asked ASPO Manager George M.
Low to investigate the feasibility of using data from the D and G
missions to increase NASA's knowledge of and confidence in the
operational capabilities of the extravehicular mobility unit (EMU).
Phillips included in his request specific recommendations for additional
instrumentation to obtain the necessary data. His action stemmed from a
general concern about the extent and complexity of surface operations on
the first lunar landing flight (which might substantially reduce chances
for successful completion). For this reason, he and other program
officials had stringently limited the number of objectives and the
extent of those surface activities. But to plan confidently for surface
EVA during follow-on Apollo landing missions, Phillips said, as much
information as possible had to be gathered about the operational
capability of the crew and the EMU.
Ltr., Phillips to Low, "Data for an EVA Capability
Assessment," Sept. 30, 1968.