Part 3 (F)
Man Circles the Moon, the Eagle Lands, and Manned Lunar Exploration
October through December 1969
An exchange of correspondence that had begun in April formalized the
suggestion that a series of handbooks on the "lessons
learned" from the Apollo program should be prepared as an aid to
Ltrs., Samuel C. Phillips, NASA Hq., to George M. Low, MSC, April 30,
1969; Low to Phillips, May 5, 1969; memos, Low to Director of Flight
Operations, "Apollo experience reports," Sept. 23, 1969;
Christopher C. Kraft, Jr., MSC, to distr., "Documentation of FOD
Apollo experience," Oct. 3, 1969.
Program responsibility for the Saturn launch vehicles was divided, at
the Headquarters level, between the Apollo Program Office and the Apollo
Applications Program. Overall responsibility for the Saturn V remained
with the Apollo Program Office, while overall responsibility for the
Saturn IB vehicle was assigned to Apollo Applications.
Memorandum of Understanding between the Apollo and Apollo Applications
Program Offices on Saturn Vehicle Management Interfaces, signed Rocco
A. Petrone, APO, Oct. 6, 1969, and William C. Schneider, AAP, Oct. 13,
Major milestones were reached for extending astronauts' staytime on the
moon and increasing their mobility for the Apollo 16-20 missions.
Modifications in the A7L spacesuit incorporating improved waist mobility
were authorized, and letter contract authority for the portable life
support system secondary life support system was approved.
Minutes of Manned Space Flight Management Council Meeting, Oct. 15,
A portion of the Apollo 12 mission would be devoted to an examination
of Surveyor III and recovery of its TV camera and
thermal-switch glass mirror fragments, MSC announced. Recovery of the
glass fragments was important to Jet Propulsion Laboratory, to provide
data for designing thermal switches for the Mercury-Venus Mariners to
be flown in 1973. However, recovery of the splinters could easily cause
cuts and leaks in the astronauts' gloves; extreme caution would be
required. The following procedures were recommended: use of a line
during the initial solo descent into the Surveyor III
crater, to determine the footing and climbing situation before both
crewmen descended into the crater, and recovery of thermal-switch glass
fragments by a suitable tool such as tweezers, to prevent glove
Memo, James A. McDivitt, MSC, to distr., "Apollo 12 Surveyor III
safety review and recommendation," Oct. 18, 1969; Apollo 12
Surveyor III Safety Report, Oct. 10, 1969.
Apollo 12 film from the onboard cameras would be delivered in two
batches to the Lunar Receiving Laboratory for decontamination within 24
to 36 hours after recovery, MSC reported. Decontamination was expected
to take an additional 47 hours for each batch. Film would then be
released for processing at the Photographic Technology Laboratory.
Photography containing earth views would be prepared at once, but would
not be released until authorized by the MSC Director. The flight crew
logs would be photographically copied from outside the crew reception
area of the LRL using procedures previously developed and agreed on.
Original logs would be retained within the crew recovery area during the
quarantine period, after which they would be picked up by the flight
Memo, Donald D. Arabian, MSC, to Chief, Photographic Technology
Laboratory, "Photographic processing and distribution requirements
for Apollo 12 (AS-507) mission and scientific photography," Oct.
The Flight Crew Operations Directorate expressed opposition to a major
effort to develop a lunar flyer until after the Apollo 16 mission.
Plans for Apollo flights 12 through 16 required that the LM be
maneuvered to landings at various points of scientific interest on the
lunar surface, and experience from Apollo 11 and partial
gravity simulators indicated the crews would be able to accomplish
their surface EVA tasks for these missions without the aid of a
Memo, Donald K. Slayton, MSC, to Director of Engineering and
Development, "Lunar flyer studies," Oct. 22, 1969.
MSC Flight Operations informed the Apollo 12 commander that records
could be set in a number of areas on the Apollo 12 mission. MSC planned
to file claims with the Fdration Aronautique Internationale for:
Class records for a lunar mission
Absolute world record
- Duration of a lunar mission.
- Duration of stay in lunar orbit.
- Duration of stay on lunar surface.
- Duration of stay in spacecraft on lunar surface.
- Duration of stay outside spacecraft on lunar surface.
Memo, Sigurd A. Sjoberg, MSC, to the Apollo 12 Commander, "World
Space Flight Records for the Apollo 12 Mission," Oct. 27, 1969.
- Duration of stay outside spacecraft on lunar surface.
A lunar roving vehicle (LRV) cost-plus-incentive-fee contract was
awarded to the Boeing Co. LRV-1 was scheduled for delivery on April 1,
1971, leaving only 17 months for vehicle development, production, and
tests. The LRV project was managed at MSFC by Saverio F. Morea as a
project within the Saturn Program Office. The Boeing Company would
manage the LRV project in Huntsville, Ala., under Henry Kudish. General
Motors Corp. AC Electronics Defense Research Laboratories in Santa
Barbara, Calif., would furnish the mobility system (wheels, motors, and
suspension). The Boeing Go. in Seattle, Wash., would furnish the
electronics and navigation system. Vehicle testing would take place at
the Boeing facility in Kent, Wash., and the chassis manufacturing and
overall assembly would take place at the Boeing facility in Huntsville,
Memo, James A. McDivitt, MSC, to distr., "Lunar Roving
Vehicle," Nov. 1, 1969; NASA OMSF, "Manned Space Flight
Weekly Report - November 3, 1969."
The Interagency Committee on Back Contamination made the following
decisions regarding Apollo 12. The biological isolation garment would
not be used. A biological mask and flight suit would be used instead.
(See entry of September 17, 1969.) Sterilization of flight film was
eliminated. Data tapes would be sterilized if required before the
release of samples. The command module would not be decontaminated
unless access for postflight testing was required before the sample
release date of January 7, 1970.
Memos, Richard C. Johnston, MSC, to distr., "Minutes of ICBC
Meeting of October 30, 1969"; Johnston to Director of Medical
Research and Operations and Director of Science and Applications,
"ICBC Meeting," Oct. 7, 1969.
The spacecraft walk-down team, established by ASPO in July in an effort
to stem the increased number of human errors found in flight hardware,
made a walkaround inspection of CSM-110 (Apollo 14 hardware). (See entry
of July 8, 1969.) Cooperation of North American Rockwell and the
Resident Apollo Spacecraft Program Office was excellent during the
preparation and implementation of the inspection. No significant
discrepancies were found by the inspection team during the several hours
Memo, Scott H. Simpkinson, MSC, to ASPO Command and Service Modules
Manager, "Action items resulting from CSM-110 engineering
walkaround inspection," Nov. 10, 1969.
Christopher C. Kraft, Jr., MSC Director of Flight Operations, suggested
that an in-house review reevaluate the Apollo secondary life support
system, because of its complexity and cost of development, and at the
same time reexamine the possibilities of an expanded oxygen purge system
using identical concepts.
Memo, Christopher C. Kraft, Jr., MSC, to James A McDivitt, MSC,
"SLSS," Nov. 3, 1969.
Provision of a thermometer that could be attached to the ALSEP for the
Apollo 13 mission, to take a reading of the lunar surface soil
temperature, was being considered at MSC.
Memo, James A. McDivitt, MSC, to Robert A. Gardiner, MSC, "Lunar
surface temperatures," Nov. 4, 1969.
Preparations for a November 14 launch of Apollo 12 continued on
schedule. Final lunar surface simulations with the crew, network, and
Mission Control Center were completed on November 4. The
instrument-unit command system, with a replacement transponder and
decoder, was successfully retested and in-place repair of four LM-6
circuit breakers was completed, also on November 4. The recovery
quarantine equipment and mobile quarantine facility completed checkout
for shipment to the recovery ship on November 7. The final consumable
analysis showed positive margins for all phases of the mission. Also,
on November 7, the countdown to launch began at KSC (T minus 98 hours).
A 31-hour hold was scheduled for November 8 with the count resuming at
9:00 a.m. November 9 (T minus 84 hours). The hold was designed to avoid
premium wage cost.
NASA OMSF, "Manned Space Flight Weekly Report - November 10,
In an exchange of correspondence between MSFC and MSC concern was
expressed over the weight growth of the lunar roving vehicle (LRV) and
its payload. As a result, a recommendation was made that MSFC manage the
weight of the LRV and MSC the payload weight.
Ltrs., Saverio F. Morea, MSFC, to James A. McDivitt, MSC, "LRV
Weight Growth," Nov. 6, 1969; McDivitt to Roy E. Godfrey, MSFC,
Dec. 12, 1969.
At the request of the Apollo 12 crew, the internal primary guidance and
navigational control system targeting for descent was being changed so
that the automatic guidance would land LM-6 at Surveyor
III rather than at a point offset 305 meters east and 153 meters
north as originally planned.
Memo, James A. McDivitt, MSC, to distr., "Apollo 12 PGNCS descent
targeting is being changed," Nov. 10, 1969; TWX, McDivitt to C.
Lee and R. Sheridan, NASA Hq., Nov. 4, 1969.
NASA announced the resignation of Associate Administrator for Manned
Space Flight George E. Mueller effective December 10. In December
Charles W. Mathews was named Acting Associate Administrator for Manned
Space Flight until a successor for Mueller was appointed.
Astronautics and Aeronautics, 1969 (NASA SP-4014, 1970),
pp. 368, 405; NASA News Release 69-151; NASA Announcement, Dec. 11,
President Nixon nominated George M. Low, former Apollo Spacecraft
Program Manager at MSC, as NASA Deputy Administrator. Low had been with
the space program since 1949, when he joined NACA. The Senate confirmed
the nomination on November 26. (See also entries of September 25 and
December 3, 1969.)
Office of the Federal Register, National Archives and Records Service,
Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents, Nov. 17,
1969, p. 1597; Congressional Record, Nov. 26, 1969, pp.
Apollo 12 (AS-507)-with astronauts Charles Conrad, Jr.,
Richard F. Gordon, Jr., and Alan L. Bean as the crewmen-was launched
from Pad A, Launch Complex 39, KSC, at 11:22 a.m. EST November 14.
Lightning struck the space vehicle twice, at 36.5 seconds and 52
seconds into the mission. The first strike was visible to spectators at
the launch site. No damage was done. Except for special attention given
to verifying all spacecraft systems because of the lightning strikes,
the activities during earth-orbit checkout, translunar injection, and
translunar coast were similar to those of Apollo 10 and
Apollo 11 (see entries of May 18-26 and July 16-24,
During the translunar coast astronauts Conrad and Bean transferred to
the LM one-half hour earlier than planned in order to obtain full TV
coverage through the Goldstone tracking station. The 56-minute TV
transmission showed excellent color pictures of the CSM, the
intravehicular transfer, the LM interior, the earth, and the moon.
At 10:47 p.m. EST, November 17, the spacecraft entered a lunar orbit of
312.6 x 115.9 kilometers. A second service propulsion system burn
circularized the orbit with a 122.5-kilometer apolune and a
100.6-kilometer perilune. Conrad and Bean again transferred to the LM,
where they perfomed housekeeping chores, a voice and telemetry test,
and an oxygen purge system check. They then returned to the CM.
Conrad and Bean reentered the LM, checked out all systems, and at 10:17
p.m. EST on November 18 fired the reaction control system thrusters to
separate the CSM 108 (the Yankee Clipper) from the LM-6
(the Intrepid). At 1:55 a.m. EST November 19, the
Intrepid landed on the moon's Ocean of Storms, about 163
meters from the Surveyor III spacecraft that had landed
April 19, 1967. Conrad, shorter than Neil Armstrong (first man on the
moon, July 20), had a little difficulty negotiating the last step from
the LM ladder to the lunar surface. When he touched the surface at 6:44
a.m. EST November 19, he exclaimed, "Whoopee! Man, that may have
been a small step for Neil, but that's a long one for me."
Bean joined Conrad on the surface at 7:14 a.m. They collected a
1.9-kilogram contingency sample of lunar material and later a
14.8-kilogram selected sample. They also deployed an S-band antenna,
solar wind composition experiment, and the American flag. An Apollo
Lunar Surface Experiments Package with a SNAP-27 atomic generator was
deployed about 182 meters from the LM. After 3 hours 56 minutes on the
lunar surface, the two astronauts entered the Intrepid to
rest and check plans for the next EVA.
The astronauts again left the LM at 10:55 p.m. EST November 19. During
the second EVA, Conrad and Bean retrieved the lunar module TV camera
for return to earth for a failure analysis, obtained photographic
panoramas, core and trench samples, a lunar environment sample, and
assorted rock, dirt, bedrock, and molten samples. The crew then
examined and retrieved parts of Surveyor III, including
the TV camera and soil scoop. After 3 hours 49 minutes on the lunar
surface during the second EVA, the two crewmen entered the LM at 2:44
a.m. EST November 20. Meanwhile astronaut Gordon, orbiting the moon in
the Yankee Clipper, had completed a lunar multispectral
photography experiment and photographed proposed future landing
At 9:26 a.m. EST November 20, after 31 hours 31 minutes on the moon,
Intrepid successfully lifted off with 34.4 kilograms of
lunar samples. Rendezvous maneuvers went as planned. The LM docked with
the CSM at 12:58 p.m. November 20. The last 24 minutes of the
rendezvous sequence was televised. After the crew transferred with the
samples, equipment, and film to the Yankee Clipper, the
Intrepid was jettisoned and intentionally crashed onto the
lunar surface at 5:17 p.m. November 20, 72.2 kilometers southeast of
Surveyor III. The crash produced reverberations that
lasted about 30 minutes and were detected by the seismometer left on
At 3:49 p.m. EST November 21, the crew fired the service propulsion
system engine, injecting the CSM into a transearth trajectory after 89
hours 2 minutes in lunar orbit. During the transearth coast, views of
the receding moon and the interior of the spacecraft were televised, and
a question and answer session with scientists and the press was
Parachute deployment and other reentry events occurred as planned. The
CM splashed down in mid-Pacific at 3:58 p.m. EST November 24, 7.25
kilometers from the recovery ship, U.S.S. Hornet. The
astronauts, wearing flight suits and biological face masks, were
airlifted by helicopter from the CM to the recovery ship, where they
entered the mobile quarantine facility. They would remain in this
facility until arrival at the Lunar Receiving Laboratory, MSC. The
Apollo 12 mission objectives were achieved and the
experiments successfully accomplished. [All Apollo experiments are
listed in Appendix 5.]
MSC "Apollo 12 (AS-507) Flight Summary," undated; MSC,
"Apollo 12 Mission Report" (MSC-01855), March 1970; MSC
Apollo Program Summary Report," preliminary draft, p. 2-38,
undated; TWX, F. A. Speer, MSFC, to C. M. Lee, NASA Hq., "Apollo
12 (AS-507) HOSC Report," Nov. 14, 1974; ltr., E. R. Mathews, KSC,
to distr., "Apollo 12 (AS-507) Quick Look Assessment Report,"
Nov. 26, 1969; Apollo 12 Preliminary Science Report (NASA
A review of North American Rockwell Space Division's in subcontract
management indicated that its subcontractor schedule and cost
performance had been excellent. The quality had been achieved, for the
most part, by effective North American Rockwell subcontract management
planning and execution of these plans.
Ltr., Kenneth S. Kleinknecht, MSC, to George W. Jeffs, North American
Rockwell Corp., Nov. 15, 1969.
NASA selected an Apollo Orbital Science Photographic Team to provide
scientific guidance in design, operation, and data use of photographic
systems for the Apollo lunar orbital science program. Chairman was
Frederick Doyle of the U.S. Geological Survey. The 14-man team comprised
experts from industry, universities, and government.
NASA OMSF, "Manned Space Flight Weekly Report - November 17,
NASA discontinued the use of names such "LEO,"
"ALEM," and "Apollo Lunar Exploration Program" that
had been used since Apollo 11 to identify the lunar
exploration phase of the Apollo program. Henceforth, the single word
title "Apollo" would be used when referring to the program.
However, additional descriptive language, such as "lunar
exploration phase of Apollo" and "Apollo lunar
exploration" would continue to be authorized for defining the
Apollo program activity. The action was taken to establish uniformity
and eliminate misunderstanding.
Ltr., George E. Mueller, NASA Hq., to Robert R. Gilruth, MSC, Nov. 17,
1969; memo, James A. McDivitt, MSC, to distr., "Identification of
the current lunar exploration phase of the Apollo Program," Nov.
Christopher C. Kraft, Jr., was appointed Deputy Director of MSC. Kraft,
Director of Flight Operations at MSC since November 1963, succeeded
George S. Trimble, Jr., who had resigned September 30.
NASA Announcement, Jan. 18, 1972; NASA News Release 72-11; MSC News
The MSC Flight Crew Operations Directorate submitted its requirement
for a simple lightweight Rover (lunar roving vehicle) guidance and
navigation system that would provide the following displayed
information to the crew: vehicle heading and heading to the LM, speed
in kilometers per hour, total distance traveled in kilometers, and
distance to the LM. Requirements were based on the assumptions that the
landing area was as well known as for Apollo 12, all
traverses were preplanned, accurate photo maps were available, and
there was MSFN support through voice communications. The Directorate
emphasized that it had no requirements for a display of pitch and roll,
X and Y coordinates, or time.
Memo, Donald K. Slayton, MSC, to ASPO Manager, "Rover guidance and
navigation system," Dec. 1, 1969.
The Apollo 12 crew program/project debriefing was held.
Some areas of concern included the lunar dust which obscured visibility
during the landing, a dust problem in the suit connectors after
completion of the first extravehicular activity, and wear on the suits
after completion of the second EVA.
NASA OMSF, "Manned Space Flight Weekly Report - December 8,
MSFC Director Wernher von Braun forwarded to MSC Director Robert R.
Gilruth an analysis of increasing space scientists' dissatisfaction
with the space program. "Ultimate origin" of dissatisfaction
was in "the very complex and difficult interfaces between science,
engineering, and management" in NASA and governmental systems and
"the need for a quick and flexible challenge-and-response
Young scientists from an academic environment found changing from a
research scientist to a science administrator difficult; they often
preferred active research to desk-and-meetings career.
Many scientists were reluctant to accept the long times between
conceptual design and data gathering in space experiments - often 6 to
10 years. The question was not only of patience, graduate student
support, and funding continuity, but also of scientific obsolescence.
Scientists felt that science was not as well represented in upper NASA
management as were engineering and project management and that
high-level decisions were often made without consideration of
scientific viewpoints. While recognizing that the space program also
had other prime objectives - such as advancement of technology,
national achievement, applications, earth resources, and "bringing
the world closer together" - they felt that "science is still
a stepchild in this family of program objectives."
The analysis said that a good portion of the problems could be relieved
by actions taken by Centers and NASA Hq. over the next few months and
years. NASA space projects should be structured to give more scientists
an opportunity to launch experiments. With the few present scientific
flights, only a few scientists could hope to have their experiments
flown in their lifetimes. The situation would improve when the Space
Shuttle and Space Station were available, but that would not be before
1978 or 1979. With low emphasis on OAO, HEAO, Pioneer, ATM, and
planetary flights suggested by the President's Space Task Group,
"we will have almost no good flight experiments prepared, and
almost no scientists left in the program, by the time the gates of the
shuttle and the station open for science."
NASA should also find ways to reduce the time span between conception
and flight of an experiment. "For Bill Kraushaar, who proposed a
measurement of gamma rays with a simple (now almost obsolete) sensor on
a Saturn launch vehicle, this time is now 8 years, with no end in
sight." For the Apollo telescope mount principal investigators,
"this time will be 8 years, provided that ATM-A is launched early
The Shuttle promised great improvements, but "initiation or
continuation of unmanned, relatively unsophisticated spacecraft
projects for science payloads" was "highly
Procedures for proposal, screening, selection, acceptance, and final
approval of experiments were "exceedingly cumbersome and time
consuming." Streamlining requirements after approval - early
definition, documentation, reporting, reviews, and administrative
actions - as well as the maze of committees, boards, panels, and
offices, was urgently recommended.
"Many scientists inside and outside NASA have suggested that NASA
should establish, at a high level in the Administrator's Office, a
'Chief Scientist' position with no other functions than to act as a
spokesman for . . . scientists who wish to participate in the space
Ltr., von Braun, MSFC, to Gilruth, MSC, Dec. 3, 1969, with encl., memo,
Ernst Stuhlinger, MSFC, to von Braun, "Notes on 'Science in
NASA,'" Nov. 7, 1969.
George M. Low was sworn in as NASA Deputy Administrator by Thomas O.
Paine, NASA Administrator. (See November 13.)
NASA News Release 69-159, Dec. 3, 1969.
NASA was considering incorporation of a mobile equipment transporter on
LM-8, LM-9, and LM-10, to help with problems such as the Apollo
12 astronauts had in carrying hand tools, sample boxes and bags,
a stereo camera, and other equipment on the lunar surface. The MET also
could extend lunar surface activities to a greater distance from the
lunar module. A prototype MET and training hardware were being
fabricated and were expected to be available in late December.
Memo, James A. McDivitt, MSC, to Rocco A. Petrone, NASA Hq.,
"Mobile Equipment Transporter (MET)," Dec. 15, 1969.
A lunar roving vehicle preliminary requirements review was held at MSFC.
MSC was asked to review the requirement for a roll bar which it had
requested in the interest of astronaut safety. Navigation system
requirements as defined by MSC would require changes in the design
presented by Boeing (see entry of December 1, 1969). Full-length fenders
and effects of dust on radiators, sealed joints, and vision needed to be
considered and appropriate measures taken in the vehicle design, the
Ltr., William E. Stoney, NASA Hq., to Roy E. Godfrey, MSFC, and James
A. McDivitt, MSC, "Lunar Roving Vehicle Preliminary Requirements
Review, December 16-18, 1969," Dec. 24, 1969; memo, Donald K.
Slayton, MSC, to David B. Pendley, MSC, "Lunar Rover Vehicle (LRV)
crew safety provisions," Dec. 12, 1969.
A configuration control panel for Apollo GFE scientific equipment was
established at MSC, with Robert A. Gardiner as chairman. The panel would
control proposed changes in Apollo spacecraft GFE science equipment.
Memo, James A. McDivitt, MSC, to distr., "Configuration control
panel for GFE scientific equipment," Dec. 18, 1969.
Correlation of the Apollo 12 descent film with the crew's
comments during landing indicated that lunar dust first became apparent
at about 30 meters from the surface and that from about 12 meters above
to the actual touchdown the ground was almost completely obscured by
the dust. Because of both Apollo 11 and Apollo
12 landing experiences, studies were begun and discussions held
about various aspects of lunar dust. An MSC management review in the
latter part of January 1970 would include discussions of the basic
mechanism of erosion during landing, the possibility of alleviating the
effects of erosion on visibility, and an estimate of what could be
expected at future lunar landing sites.
Memo, James A. McDivitt, MSC, to distr., "Investigation of the
effects of lunar dust during LM landing," Dec. 22, 1969; NASA
OMSF, "Manned Space Flight Weekly Report - December 22,
1969"; ltr., Robert R. Gilruth, MSC, to Rocco A. Petrone, NASA
Hq., "Landing site for Apollo 13," Dec. 18, 1969.
MSC announced the appointment of Sigurd A. Sjoberg as Director of Flight
Operations, replacing Christopher C. Kraft, Jr., who had been appointed
MSC Deputy Director Nov. 26. Sjoberg had been Deputy Director of Flight
Operations since 1963.
MSC News Release 70-1, Jan. 1, 1969.