Part 3 (C)
Man Circles the Moon, the Eagle Lands, and Manned Lunar Exploration
January through March 1969
January 3Mission preparation for Apollo 9 continued on schedule.
Rollout of the space vehicle from the Vehicle Assembly Building, KSC, began.
Mission Control Center simulations checkout, which began at MSC on December 20,
1968, was proceeding on schedule. Also, a series of thermal vacuum tests was
completed, with the Apollo 9 crew using extravehicular mobility unit (EMU)
flight equipment. Wind up of these tests completed the required EMU testing for
the Apollo 9 flight.
NASA OMSF, "Manned Space Flight Weekly Report - January 6, 1969."
January 14MSFC announced that Arthur Rudolph, special assistant to the
MSFC Director, would retire January 31. Rudolph had served as the manager of the
Saturn V rocket program from August 1963 to May 1968. He was one of the more
than 100 rocket experts who came to the United States from Germany in 1945. The
MSC ASPO Manager, in a congratulatory letter said, "I will always consider
Saturn V to be one of the outstanding achievements that occurred during my
lifetime. Its sheer size is simply fantastic. But even more astounding was its
performance in its first flights." Rudolph's work in bringing the nation's most
powerful launch vehicle to flight status was rewarded when the first Saturn V
lifted off from KSC and performed flawlessly on November 9, 1967, Rudolph's
MSFC Release 69-10, Jan. 14, 1969; ltr., George M. Low, MSC, to Arthur
Rudolph, MSFC, Jan. 16, 1969; NASA OMSF, "Manned Space Flight Weekly Report -
January 27, 1969."
January 15The Apollo Program Director expressed concern to the Director
of MSC over the lack of guidelines of sufficient scope and depth for the lunar
missions that would be flown after the first lunar landing and before the
proposed lunar exploration program tentatively scheduled to begin in 1973. He
asked each of the manned space flight Centers to appoint a working group to
define guidelines and to outline program objectives and content for the period
of lunar exploration immediately following the first lunar landing. Areas
requiring study were: scientific exploration, mission planning rationale, flight
schedules and program impact, and vehicle product improvement.
Ltr., Samuel C. Phillips, NASA OMSF, to Robert R. Gilruth, MSC, Jan. 15,
January 15-17The final flight program for Apollo 9 was verified; the
emergency egress test with the prime and backup crew was conducted; and the
software integration test between the lunar module and Mission Control Center,
MSC, was completed on January 15. On January 16 the Saturn V/Mission Control
Center-Houston integration testing was conducted. Additionally, a critical
design review of the Launch Complex 39 slide wire system was conducted on
January 17. Launch preparations for Apollo 9 continued to proceed on schedule.
NASA OMSF, "Manned Space Flight Weekly Report - January 21, 1969."
January 16In response to a query, the ASPO Manager responded: "Insofar
as the astronauts' 'call of nature' is handled, they urinate through a tube into
a plastic bag. The bag is periodically emptied through an overboard dump nozzle.
Although we have considered using an aircraft type relief tube that would dump
overboard directly, we have not yet adopted this approach since an uncontrolled
dump would most likely freeze the liquid in the tube or the dump nozzle.
Defecation is handled through the use of a plastic bag, part of which fits over
the hand like a glove. Although this method is primitive, it was found to work
reasonably well, both in Gemini and in Apollo. A disinfectant pill is then
placed in the bag and it is stowed in a special container in the spacecraft. The
astronauts' diet, both before and during the flight, is such that the need to
use this bag may only arise once or twice during the flight."
Ltr., George M. Low, MSC, to Larry Megow, Houston, Tex., Jan. 16. 1969.
January 16The Apollo Program Director requested that MSC present a
Lunar Receiving Laboratory (LRL) review like that for design certification. The
presentation would cover
The purpose would be to assess overall
readiness following the first lunar landing in these five areas.
- landing and recovery procedures,
- LRL operations,
- release scheme for astronauts and samples,
- sample processing and distribution plans, and
- scientific investigations.
Ltr., Samuel C. Phillips, NASA OMSF, to Robert R. Gilruth, Director, MSC,
"Lunar Receiving Laboratory Readiness Review," Jan. 16, 1969.
January 17-20Checkout was on schedule for an Apollo 10 launch readiness
date of May 17. On January 17 the backup crew participated in an altitude test
run. The spacecraft docking test, using a simulated adapter, was completed
January 20. All three fuel cells were being replaced because of suspected
contamination in fuel cell No. 1 and the failure of fuel cell No. 2 to take any
voltage load during the power-up for the manned altitude run.
NASA OMSF, "Manned Space Flight Weekly Report - January 27, 1969."
January 19-22The Apollo 9 flight readiness test began on January 19 and
was successfully completed January 22, in preparation for a February launch (see
March 3-13). A one-day delay in the testing was caused by a loss of air
conditioning for the RCA-110A computer. The hatch and side windows of the
spacecraft were being modified to overcome the fogging effect experienced during
the Apollo 8 mission.
January 24The CSM Flight Readiness Review Board convened at MSC. Martin
L. Raines presented the Reliability and Quality Assurance assessment and pointed
out the improvement in discrepancy reports between spacecraft 101, 103, and 104
and concluded that 104 was better than 103 and ready to fly. George M. Low noted
that the CSM Review had been outstanding.
Minutes of Meeting, CSM 104, Flight Readiness Review Board, approved by
Robert R. Gilruth, Director, MSC, Feb. 7, 1969.
January 24In an exchange of letters, the feasibility and compatibility
of experiments covering contrast perception, color perception, and distance
estimation on the moon were discussed. Incorporation of the three experiments in
the lunar landing mission's detailed test objective "Lunar Environment
Visibility" for Apollo 11 was recommended.
Ltrs., Samuel C. Phillips, NASA OMSF, to George M. Low, MSC, "Lunar Surface
Life Sciences Observation Experiments T033, Contrast Perception on Moon; T034,
Color Perception on Moon; T035, Distance Estimation on Moon," Jan. 24, 1969; Low
to Phillips, Feb. 25, 1969.
January 24-29The following tests were completed in preparation for the
planned February Apollo 9 launch: all Mission Control Center data system
integration tests, MSC preflight readiness test, KSC launch readiness test, and
MSFC preflight test. In addition, recovery training exercises were conducted
aboard the U.S.S. Guadalcanal, the prime recovery ship for Apollo
NASA OMSF, "Manned Space Flight Weekly Report - February 3, 1969."
January 27MSC and North American Rockwell reached agreement on
certification reviews for parachute packers in the Apollo program. The
certification was effective for all parachute packers not previously certified,
with upgrading of packers and recertification of present Apollo packers when
Ltrs., Dale D. Myers, North American Rockwell, to Kenneth S. Kleinknecht,
MSC, Jan. 27, 1969; Kleinknecht to Myers, Nov. 8, 1968.
January 31About 30 small aluminum brackets and fittings were replaced
or reinforced in Apollo lunar modules to rule out the possibility of cracking
from stress corrosion. Stress corrosion monitoring began in December 1967 when
small cracks were discovered in LM landing gear struts. Nine fittings were
replaced in LM-3, scheduled for the Apollo 9 mission, and six fittings were
repaired in LM-4, scheduled for the Apollo 10 flight. About 25 fittings were
being replaced on LM-5 and LM-6 and 8 fittings on each of these vehicles were
NASA News Release 69-24, "LM Fittings Changed," Jan. 31, 1969.
January 31NASA Hq. asked Center directors for ideas for symbolic
activities on the moon during the first landing to dramatize international
agreements regarding exploration of the moon. Possible ideas were flying a U.N.
flag with the U.S. flag on the moon; placing decal flags of the U.N. member
nations on the LM descent stage; and leaving an appropriate information capsule
at the landing site.
TWX, Samuel C. Phillips, NASA OMSF, to Robert R. Gilruth, MSC; Kurt H. Debus,
KSC, and Wernher von Braun, MSFC, Jan. 31, 1969; ltr., Gilruth to Phillips,
March 3, 1969.
January 31During integrated testing of the Apollo spacecraft, a
well-qualified test pilot accidentally threw two guarded switches marked "CM/SM
Separation" instead of the intended adjacent switches marked "CSM/LM Final Sep"
to separate the lunar module from the command and service modules. Had the error
occurred in a lunar flight, the CM would have separated from the SM, with a high
probability of leaving the crew stranded in lunar orbit. Studies of methods to
preclude such an accident in actual flight led later to provisions for visual
differences in switch covers.
Memos, Robert R. Frazer, MSC, to Resident Manager Apollo Spacecraft Program,
"CSM 108 Erroneous Switch Closure," Jan. 31, 1969; David B. Pendley, MSC, to
Manager, Apollo Spacecraft Program, "CM/SM separation switches," Feb. 17, 1969.
In response to a query, a study indicated
that, because of the temperature on the moon's surface, lunar samples would cool
the LM cabin when placed in the rock box inside the cabin.
Memo, Wilmot N. Hess, MSC, to ASPO Manager, "Temperature of lunar samples,"
Feb. 3, 1969; ltr., George M. Low, MSC, to Samuel C. Phillips, NASA OMSF, Feb.
February 3NASA Hq. released a 12-month forecast of manned space flight
missions, reflecting an assessment of launch schedules for planning purposes.
Five flights were scheduled for the remainder of 1969:
TWX, John D. Stevenson, NASA Hq., to
addressees, "MSF Mission Operations Forecast for February 1969," Feb. 3, 1969.
- Apollo 9 - February 28, SA-504, CSM 104, LM-3; manned orbital; up to 10
days' duration; Atlantic recovery.
- Apollo 10 - May 17, SA-505, CSM 106, LM-4; manned lunar mission, Pacific
- Apollo 11 - SA-506, CSM 107, LM-5; manned lunar mission; up to 11 days'
duration; Pacific recovery.
- Apollo 12 - SA-507, CSM 108, LM-6; manned lunar mission; up to 11 days;
- Apollo 13 - SA-508, CSM 109, LM-7; manned lunar mission; up to 11 days'
duration; Pacific recovery.
February 5The MSF Management Council, meeting at KSC, agreed that MSC
would take the following actions for augmenting the capability of the Apollo
system to accomplish a successful lunar landing mission and for planning further
Ltr., George E.
Mueller, NASA OMSF, to Robert R. Gilruth, MSC, Feb. 14, 1969.
- Capability Augmentation:
- Submit for Apollo Level I approval a plan for developing and procuring
the A9L spacesuit.
- Submit a plan to the Apollo program Director describing how the portable
life support system's improvement program procurement would be done.
- Proceed with the 1/6-g special test equipment. The plan - including
scope, schedule, and cost estimates for this simulator - would be submitted
to Apollo Program Director by 1 March.
- Proceed with the engineering definition of software and hardware
required to precision-land the LM at sites anywhere on the front surface of
- Lunar Exploration:
- Submit a plan for the buildup of the cannibalized ALSEP, listing
experiments to be included, the estimated cost, and delivery schedule.
- Submit a plan for the procurement of additional ALSEPs including
proposed quantities, estimated costs, and experiments.
- Proceed to define further a CSM lunar orbital science package and a
lunar polar orbit mission science package, including instruments, costs,
delivery schedule, and approach to CSM integration. Costs would include
instruments and spacecraft integration.
- Proceed with the definition to increase the size of LM descent stage
tanks and to improve the propellant pressurization system.
- Submit a plan for the procurement of a constant volume suit, including a
description of any further development not under contract that MSC planned
to add to any present contract by change order.
- Proceed with engineering change analysis of performance (including
habitability) improvements to the CSM and LM.
February 8The permanently mounted spacecraft hoisting loop was
inadequate for expected spacecraft loads and had failed on Apollo
8, ASPO Manager George M. Low informed Apollo Program Director Samuel C.
Phillips. The auxiliary nylon loop installed by the recovery forces had adequate
strength but its installation was not as well controlled as work on the
spacecraft was generally. For these reasons, Low said, the astronauts would be
required to leave the spacecraft before it was hoisted aboard the carrier. Low
enclosed a memorandum from Don Arabian, "Hoisting spacecraft from sea," and
minutes of a February 4 discussion at MSC on the subject.
Ltr., Low to Phillips, Feb. 8, 1969; memo, Donald D. Arabian to distr.,
"Hoisting spacecraft from sea," Feb. 6, 1969; Minutes of Discussion Concerning
Hoisting Spacecraft from the Sea, W. F. Hoyler, Feb. 4, 1969.
February 11The possibility of an unmanned LM landing was discussed at
NASA Hq. The consensus was that such a landing would be a risky venture.
Proposals had been made which included an unmanned LM landing as a prerequisite
to a manned landing on the moon. However, the capability to land the LM unmanned
did not exist and development of the capability would seriously delay the
NASA Routing Slip, R. L. Wagner, Bellcomm, to Samuel C. Phillips, NASA OMSF,
Feb. 11, 1969; draft memo, George E. Mueller, OMSF, to NASA Acting
Administrator, "Unmanned LM Landing," undated, unsigned.
February 12Three members of the Interagency Committee on Back
Contamination met at MSC to review Apollo operational plans and procedures. Some
concern was expressed about the lack of a bacterial filter on the spacecraft
postlanding system. However, the committee representatives indicated that the
approach was reasonable in terms of the tradeoff on operational recovery
problems. The full committee was scheduled to meet in March.
NASA OMSF, "Manned Space Flight Weekly Report - February 17, 1969."
February 12George M. Low, MSC, told Maxime A. Faget, MSC, that he had
recently learned the Apollo Operations Handbook (AOH) was prepared for the
Flight Crew Operations Directorate by prime contractors without any formalized
review by engineering elements of MSC. On several occasions, when the
Engineering and Development (E&D) subsystems managers looked at a section of
the handbook in connection with problem areas they found the handbook in error.
Low proposed that E&D should
Memo, Low to Faget, "Review of Apollo Operations Handbook,"
Feb. 12, 1969.
- verify technical accuracy of the baseline issue of the handbook before its
final issue for the F mission,
- verify all changes in the AOH in a timely manner, and
- verify any crew checklist changes made during the last 45 days before
February 14Flammability tests of the Sony tape/voice recorder were made
to determine if the recorder met crew-cabin use requirements. Testing was by
electrical overloads of nichrome wire ignitors in an atmosphere of 100 percent
oxygen at 4.3 newtons per square centimeter (6.2 psia). Post-test evaluations
indicated that flammability requirements had been met, since ignitions were
self-extinguishing and only localized internal damage occurred.
Memo, Joseph N. Kotanchik, MSC, to Chief, Systems Engineering Div., MSC,
"Flammability tests on Sony tape/voice recorder," Feb. 14, 1969.
February 17MSC was urged to reconstitute the Crew Safety Review Board
to determine if the following questions could be affirmatively answered
concerning the LM, extravehicular activity, portable life support system, and
emergency procedures. Were all likely failure modes or anomalies that could
jeopardize the crew from entrance to mission systematically analyzed? Were
proper and timely cues coupled with a safe egress, abort, or contingency
capability prepared for use in each of these? Was there a plan for the timely
solution of the known crew safety-related problems?
Ltr., Samuel C. Phillips, NASA OMSF, to George M. Low, MSC, Feb. 17, 1969.
February 22The Apollo 9 countdown to launch began, with launch
scheduled for liftoff February 28. The 10-day flight would mark the first manned
earth orbital flight of the lunar module, the first Apollo spacewalk, and the
first manned checkout, rendezvous, and docking operations of the complete Apollo
spacecraft. The Apollo 9 mission would be open-ended, allowing the mission plan
to progress from one step to the next on the basis of real-time success.
NASA OMSF, "Manned Space Flight Weekly Report - February 25, 1969."
February 27Maxime A. Faget, MSC Director of Engineering and
Development, said he believed the Preliminary Lunar Landing Phase Photographic
Operations Plan was seriously deficient in meeting its stated objectives. "From
the standpoint of public information and historical documentation, I'm terribly
disappointed to find that although 560 feet [170 meters] of movie film has been
set aside for lunar surface use none will be exposed with the intent of
providing first-class visual appreciation of the astronaut's activity on the
moon during this singularly historical event. Everyone's impression of this
occasion will be marred and distorted by the fact that the greatest frame rate
is 12 frames per second. One can argue that 'suitable' (although jerky) motion
rendition is produced by 'double-framing.' Nevertheless, it is almost
unbelievable that the culmination of a 20 billion dollar program is to be
recorded in such a stingy manner and the low-quality public information and
historical material is in keeping with an otherwise high-quality program." Faget
also noted he felt that, from a historical standpoint, both the lunar module
pilot and the commander should be photographed with the Hasselblad camera while
on the surface.
Memo, Faget, MSC, to Chief, Mission Operations Br., "Comments on 'Preliminary
Lunar Landing Phase Photographic Operations Plan,'" Feb. 27, 1969.
The Apollo Program Director expressed concern
about the inability to obtain adequate data on the expenditure of energy by
astronauts during lunar exploration. The problem was discussed with the medical
and crew systems personnel. The consensus was that the only meaningful indicator
of human energy expenditure which could be developed into an operational
procedure in time for lunar landings would be measurement of carbon dioxide
production. From a technical standpoint the most feasible means of doing this
would be incorporating a carbon dioxide measurement system in the portable life
support system. A study was initiated to determine how quickly a measurement
system could be developed and to estimate the cost.
Ltrs., Samuel C. Phillips to Manager, Apollo Spacecraft Program Office,
"Initiation of a Program for the Measurement of Carbon Dioxide Production during
Lunar Exploration," March 1, 1969; George M. Low to Phillips, May 5, 1969.
March 3-13Apollo 9 (AS-504), the first manned flight with
the lunar module (LM-3), was launched from Pad A, Launch Complex 39, KSC, on a
Saturn V launch vehicle at 11:00 a.m. EST March 3. Originally scheduled for a
February 28 liftoff, the launch had been delayed to allow crew members James A.
McDivitt, David R. Scott, and Russell L. Schweickart to recover from a mild
virus respiratory illness. Following a normal launch phase, the S-IVB stage
inserted the spacecraft into an orbit of 192.3 by 189.3 kilometers. After
post-insertion checkout, CSM 104 separated from the S-IVB, was transposed, and
docked with the LM. At 3:08 p.m. EST, the docked spacecraft were separated from
the S-IVB, which was then placed on an earth-escape trajectory.
LM-3 is still attached to the S-IVB stage after launch on the
Apollo 9 mission March 3, 1969.
Spider flies in lunar landing configuration, upside down to
earth, with lunar surface probes extending from deployed foot pads. Apollo
9 commander James A. McDivitt flies with Schweickart in the LM, photographed
by Scott from the CM Gumdrop.
On March 4 the crew tracked landmarks, conducted pitch and roll yaw
maneuvers, and increased the apogee by service propulsion system burns.
On March 5 McDivitt and Schweickart entered the LM through the docking
tunnel, evaluated the LM systems, transmitted the first of two series of
telecasts, and fired the LM descent propulsion system. They then returned to the
McDivitt and Schweickart reentered the LM on March 6. After transmitting a
second telecast, Schweickart performed a 37-minute extravehicular activity
(EVA), walking between the LM and CSM hatches, maneuvering on handrails, taking
photographs, and describing rain squalls over KSC.
On March 7, with McDivitt and Schweickart once more in the LM, Scott
separated the CSM from the LM and fired the reaction control system thrusters to
obtain a distance of 5.5 kilometers between the two spacecraft. McDivitt and
Schweickart then performed a lunar-module active rendezvous. The LM successfully
docked with the CSM after being up to 183.5 kilometers away from it during the
six-and-one-half-hour separation. After McDivitt and Schweickart returned to the
CSM, the LM ascent stage was jettisoned.
During the remainder of the mission, the crew tracked Pegasus
III, NASA's meteoroid detection satellite that had been launched July 30,
1965; took multispectral photos of the earth; exercised the spacecraft systems;
and prepared for reentry.
The Apollo 9 CM splashed down in the Atlantic 290 kilometers
east of the Bahamas at 12:01 p.m. EST. The crew was picked up by helicopter and
flown to the recovery ship U.S.S. Guadalcanal within one hour after
splashdown. Primary objectives of the flight were successfully accomplished.
(Objectives of all Apollo flights are listed in Appendix 5.)
MSC, "Apollo 9 (AS-504) Flight Summary," undated; MSC, "Apollo 9 Mission
Report" (MSC-PA-R-69-2), May 1969; NASA OMSF, "Manned Space Flight Weekly
Report," March 4, 17, 1969.
March 5President Nixon, at a White House ceremony, announced the
nomination of Acting Administrator Thomas O. Paine to be the NASA Administrator.
Office of the Federal Register, National Archives and Records Service,
Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents, March 10, 1969, pp.
March 6NASA Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight George E.
Mueller, wrote MSC Director Robert R. Gilruth of his concern about Apollo
software. "Software as I mean it to be understood in this letter includes
computer programs, mission profiles and procedures (training). As I recall, the
Apollo project started with a legacy of warnings from other programs about the
rigors and pitfalls of software development. . . . I believe we are giving far
more management attention to hardware changes than to software changes of
similar impact." He questioned "whether some of these changes make the system
better or safer when the disruptive effects of change are also considered. . . .
We are making too many discretionary software changes. These are costing money
and effort which could better be used elsewhere. . . ."
Gilruth replied March 11: "I cannot agree with your contention that we are
not controlling software with the same rigor and management attention that we
are devoting to hardware changes. Our Apollo Spacecraft Program Office has
organized a number of Configuration Control Boards at MSC. These include George
Low's Apollo Spacecraft Configuration Control Board, Max Faget's Board for
Government Furnished Equipment, Chris Kraft's Software Configuration Control
Board, and Deke Slayton's Procedures Change Control Board. . . . Hardware
changes . . . are directly under George Low's control. All computer program
changes, both on board and on the ground, are controlled by Chris Kraft's Board.
Changes to the Apollo Operations Handbook, flight crew procedures, crew
checklists, trainers and simulators are controlled by Slayton. Changes in
software or crew procedures that involve changes in schedule must additionally
be approved by George Low's Board. The system I described is working well and,
according to Sam Phillips, has resulted in a more disciplined change control
than anywhere else in the Apollo Program. . . . We are not making discretionary
software changes. We are only making those changes which our managers deem to be
necessary in their effort to carry out the Apollo Program in the most effective
Ltrs., Mueller to Gilruth, March 6, 1969; Gilruth to Mueller, March 11, 1969.
March 7In a report to the Administrator, the Associate Administrator
for Manned Space Flight summed up the feeling of accomplishment as well as the
problem of the space program: "The phenomenal precision and practically flawless
performance of the Apollo 9 lunar module descent and ascent engines on March 7
were major milestones in the progress toward our first manned landing on the
moon, and tributes to the intensive contractor and government effort that
brought these two complex systems to the point of safe and reliable manned space
flight. The inevitable developmental problems that plagued the LM propulsion
system were recurring items in our management reporting, and the fact that
essentially all major test objectives were met during last Friday's flight
operations is an outstanding achievement. The earth orbital simulations of the
lunar descent, ascent, rendezvous, and docking maneuvers, taking Astronauts
McDivitt and Schweickart 114 miles [183.4 km] away from the CSM piloted by Dave
Scott and safely back, were a measure of the skill of the Apollo 9 crew and the
quality of the hardware they were flying."
NASA OMSF, "Manned Space Flight Weekly Report - March 10, 1969."
March 7A radiation survey of CSM 107 was planned to determine if the
radiation produced by onboard sources would be of a sufficient level to impair
the effectiveness of proposed experiments to measure the natural radiation
emitted from the lunar surface. The survey would be conducted at KSC by
personnel from the Goddard Space Flight Center.
Ltr., Kenneth S. Kleinknecht, MSC, to Rocco A. Petrone, KSC, "Background
radiation survey of Apollo CSM," March 3, 1969.
March 10 and 31A Flight Readiness Review Board convened at MSC to
determine the readiness of Lunar Landing Training Vehicle No. 2 and the Flight
Crew Operation Directorate for resuming flight test operations. During the
briefing and discussion the board agreed that the operation test team was
operationally ready. However, a release for resuming flight test operations was
withheld until certain open items were resolved. The board reconvened on March
31 and after examination of the open items, agreed that flight testing of LLTV
No. 2 should be resumed as soon as possible.
Minutes, Lunar Landing Training Vehicle Number Two (LLTV No. 2) Flight
Readiness Review Board (FRRB), April 1, 1969.
March 11Apollo 10 was transferred to Pad B, Launch Complex 39, at KSC -
for first operational use of Pad B. Meanwhile, a revised work schedule providing
for a Flight Readiness Test on April 9 and launch readiness on May 18 was being
prepared for Apollo 10.
NASA OMSF, "Manned Space Flight Weekly Report - March 17, 1969."
March 11The additional direct cost to the Apollo research and
development program from the January 27, 1967, Apollo 204 fire was estimated at
$410 million, principally for spacecraft modifications, NASA Associate
Administrator for Manned Space Flight George E. Mueller testified in
congressional hearings. The accident delayed the first manned flight of the
spacecraft by about 18 months. "During this period, however, there occurred a
successful unmanned test of the Lunar Module and two unmanned tests of the
Saturn V vehicle."
House Committee on Science and Astronautics, Subcommittee on Manned Space
Flight. 1970 NASA Authorization: Hearings, 91st Cong., 1st sess.,
pt. 2, Feb. 28, March 6, 7, 8, 11, 12, 14, and 25, 1969, pp. 183-85.
March 12George M. Low discussed the status of a fire detection system
for Apollo in a memorandum to Martin L. Raines, reminding him that such a system
had been under consideration since the accident in January 1967. Low said:
"Yesterday, Dr. [Maxime A.] Faget, you, and I participated in a meeting to
review the current status of a flight fire detection system. It became quite
clear that our state of knowledge about the physics and chemistry of fire in
zero gravity is insufficient to permit the design and development of a
flightworthy fire detection system at this time. For this reason, we agreed that
we would not be able to incorporate a fire detection system in any of the Apollo
spacecraft. We also agreed that it would be most worthwhile to continue the
development of a detection system for future spacecraft." (See also entries of
March 27 and September 28, 1967, and April 17, 1968.)
Memo, Low to Raines, "Fire detection system for Apollo," March 12, 1969.
March 13MSC requested that Apollo Program Directive No. 41 delivery
dates for the LM be changed as follows: LM-6 from March 1 to March 26, LM-7 from
April 16 to May 15, LM-8 from May 31 to July 15,and LMs 9 through 14 two months
apart. The rescheduling was to permit incorporation of the redesigned
ascent-stage fuel-tank torus ring, installation and testing of the liquid-cooled
suit loop, replacement of the descent-stage tanks, and incorporation of
structural fitting changes to prevent stress corrosion.
TWX, George M. Low to NASA Hq., Attn: S. C. Phillips, March 13, 1969.
March 14MSC Director Robert R. Gilruth forwarded plans for the MSC
Lunar Gravity Simulation device to Apollo Program Director Samuel C. Phillips.
He informed Phillips that "we have moved out on the design and fabrication of
the inclined plane 1/6 g simulator and our schedule shows that it will be
completed and ready for checkout by May 1, 1969 [see February 5]. The vertical
system approach is somewhat more sophisticated and our scheduled completion is
February 1, 1970." Phillips replied March 28 that he was pleased to read that
the simulator program was progressing so rapidly and "I feel very strongly that
this device will greatly contribute to our capability to create useful lunar
Ltrs., George E. Mueller to Gilruth, Feb. 14, 1969; Gilruth to Phillips,
March 14, 1969; Phillips to Gilruth, March 28, 1969.
March 20ASPO Manager George Low wrote NASA Hq. - referring to a
briefing of George Low at Downey on October 25, 1968 - that "MSC has reviewed
the possibility of deleting the CSM boost protective cover. We have concluded
that deletion . . . would require the following spacecraft modifications: a. A
new thermal coating would have to be developed to withstand the boost
environment. b. Protective covers would have to be developed for the windows,
EVA handholds, vent lines, etc. . . . We have further concluded that a resulting
overall weight reduction is questionable, and . . . have therefore decided that
the cost of this change could not be justified and that the boost protective
cover should be retained."
Ltr., Low to S. C. Phillips, "Deletion of the boost protective cover," March
March 24NASA announced that Apollo 10, scheduled for launch May 18,
would be a lunar orbit mission during which two astronauts would descend to
within 15,240 meters of the moon's surface. The decision followed reviews of
technical and operational data from the Apollo 9 earth-orbit
mission. The prime crew would be astronauts Thomas P. Stafford, spacecraft
commander; John W. Young, command module pilot; and Eugene A. Cernan, lunar
module pilot. Backup crew members were L. Gordon Cooper, Jr., Donn F. Eisele,
and Edgar D. Mitchell. With the exception of the actual landing, the mission
plan was the same as for the lunar landing mission. Stafford and Cernan were to
enter the LM, separate from the CSM, descend twice to within 16 kilometers of
one of the preselected landing sites, and then rendezvous and dock with the CSM.
Because of propellant limitations in the ascent stage, landing and subsequent
liftoff from the moon would be impossible.
NASA News Release No: 69-46, "Apollo 10 Mission Scheduled," March 24, 1969.
March 25The first flight-model ALSEP arrived at KSC, where it would
undergo software integration tests and be prepared for installation in the LM.
NASA OMSF, "Manned Space Flight Weekly Report - April 1, 1969."
March 28Following a report by the Apollo 9 astronauts that
they were thrown forward in their seats and had to grab their arm rests for
support during the S-IC/S-II stage separation, an evaluation working group were
studying the problem. Preliminary results indicated that the separation
transients were a dynamic characteristic of the Saturn V vehicle; that the
measured accelerations were within predicted range and below design limits; and
that the separation sequences were normal. Conclusions were that similar
separation dynamics could be anticipated on future Saturn V flights.
Memo, J. P . Lindberg, MSFC, to Addressees, "Special Bulletin on S-IC/S-II
Stage Separation, AS-504," March 28, 1969.