Part 3 (I)

Man Circles the Moon, the Eagle Lands, and Manned Lunar Exploration

1972 through July 13, 1974

1972 January

1972 April

1972 July

1972 December

1973 January

1974 January


January 14

Manned Spacecraft Center Robert R. Gilruth was appointed to the newly created position of NASA Director of Key Personnel Development. He would integrate NASA planning to fill key positions, identify actual and potential candidates, and guide them through appropriate work experience.

Christopher C. Kraft, Jr., MSC Deputy Director, was named Director of MSC. Both Kraft and Gilruth were original members of the NASA Space Task Group established in 1958 to manage Project Mercury.

NASA News Release 72-11, Jan. 14, 1972; MSC News Release 72-15, Jan. 14, 1972.

January 18

Sigurd A. Sjoberg was named Deputy Director of Manned Spacecraft Center. Sjoberg succeeded Christopher C. Kraft, Jr., who was named Director of MSC January 14.

MSC News Release 72-16, "Sjoberg Named Deputy Director of MSC," Jan. 18, 1972.

January 19

A directive establishing policy and procedure and assigning responsibilities governing articles to be included in astronaut preference kits flown on board Apollo spacecraft was promulgated.

Memo, Dale D. Myers, NASA Hq., to Apollo Program Director, "Astronaut Preference Kits - Apollo Missions," Jan. 19, 1972.

March 8

An Olympic Games flag 1.2 by 1.8 meters would be packed in a fireproof container and carried in the command module during the Apollo 16 mission. Weight and storage limitations would preclude carrying the flag in the lunar module. However, an additional Olympic Games flag, 1.2 by 1.8 centimeters, would be carried in the LM flag kit to the lunar surface. Small flags of members of the United Nations, other international organizations, and national states generally accepted as independent in the world community would be carried on the mission in the LM flag kit.

Memo, Rocco A. Petrone, NASA Hq., to Associate Deputy Administrator, "Flags to Be Carried on Apollo 16," March 8, 1972.

April 16-27

The Apollo 16 (AS-511) space vehicle was launched from Pad A, Launch Complex 39, KSC, at 12:54 p.m. EST April 16, with a crew of astronauts John W. Young, Thomas K. Mattingly II, and Charles M. Duke, Jr. After insertion into an earth parking orbit for spacecraft system checks, the spacecraft and the S-IVB stage were placed on a trajectory to the moon at 3:28 p.m. CSM transposition and docking with the LM were achieved, although a number of minor anomalies were noted.

One anomaly, an auxiliary propulsion system leak on the S-IVB stage, produced an unpredictable thrust and prevented a final S-IVB targeting maneuver after separation from the CSM. Tracking of the S-IVB ended at 4:04 p.m. EST April 17, when the instrument unit's signal was lost. The stage hit the lunar surface at 4:02 p.m. April 19, 260 kilometers northeast of the target point. The impact was detected by the seismometers left on the moon by the Apollo 12, 14, and 15 missions.

Spacecraft operations were near normal during the coast to the moon. Unexplained light-colored particles from the LM were investigated and identified as shredded thermal paint. Other activities during the translunar coast included a cislunar navigation exercise, ultraviolet photography of the earth and moon, an electrophoresis demonstration, and an investigation of the visual light-flash phenomenon noted on previous flights. Astronaut Duke counted 70 white, instantaneous light flashes that left no after-glow.

Apollo 16 entered a lunar orbit of 314 by 107.7 kilometers at 3:22 p.m. April 19. After separation of LM-11 Orion from CSM 112 Casper, a CSM active rendezvous kept the two vehicles close together while an anomaly discovered on the service propulsion system was evaluated. Tests and analyses showed the redundant system to be still safe and usable if required. The vehicles were again separated and the mission continued on a revised timeline because of the 5 3/4-hour delay.

The lunar module landed with Duke and Young in the moon's Descartes region, about 230 meters northwest of the planned target area at 9:23 p.m. EST April 20. A sleep period was scheduled before EVA.

The first extravehicular activity began at 11:59 a.m. April 21, after the eight-hour rest period. Television coverage of surface activity was delayed until the lunar roving vehicle systems were activated, because the steerable antenna on the lunar module could not be used. The lunar surface experiments packages were deployed, but accidental breaking of the electronics cable rendered the heat flow experiment inoperable. After completing activities at the experiments site, the crew drove the lunar roving vehicle west to Flag Crater, where they performed the planned tasks. The inbound traverse route was just slightly south of the outbound route, and the next stop was Spook Crater. The crew then returned via the experiment station to the lunar module and deployed the solar wind composition experiment. The duration of the extravehicular activity was 7 hours 11 minutes. The distance traveled by the lunar roving vehicle was 4.2 kilometers. The crew collected 20 kilograms of samples.

The second extravehicular traverse, which began at 11:33 a.m. April 22, was south-southeast to a mare-sampling area near the Cinco Craters on Stone Mountain. The crew then drove in a northwesterly direction, making stops near Stubby and Wreck Craters. The last leg of the traverse was north to the experiments station and the lunar module. The second extravehicular activity lasted 7 hours 23 minutes. The distance traveled by the lunar roving vehicle was 11.1 kilometers.

Four stations were deleted from the third extravehicular traverse, which began 30 minutes early at 10:27 a.m. April 23 to allow extra time. The first stop was North Ray Crater, where "House Rock" on the rim of the crater was sampled. The crew then drove southeast to "Shadow Rock." The return route to the LM retraced the outbound route. The third extravehicular activity lasted 5 hours 40 minutes, and the lunar roving vehicle traveled 11.4 kilometers.

Lunar surface activities outside the LM totaled 20 hours 15 minutes for the mission. The total distance traveled in the lunar roving vehicle was 26.7 kilometers. The crew remained on the lunar surface 71 hours 14 minutes and collected 96.6 kilograms of lunar samples.

Subsatellite and experiments in SIM bay

The SIM bay of the Apollo 16 scientific instrument module housed sensors and experiments to gather data on the moon's atmosphere and surface, as well as a subsatellite to be launched in lunar orbit. Gamma ray and mass spectrometer sensors extended on a boom when in use.

While the lunar module crew was on the surface, Mattingly, orbiting the moon in the CSM, was obtaining photographs, measuring physical properties of the moon and deep space, and making visual observations. Essentially the same complement of instruments was used to gather data as was used on the Apollo 15 mission, but different areas of the lunar surface were flown over and more comprehensive deep space measurements were made, providing scientific data that could be used to validate findings from Apollo 15 as well as add to the total store of knowledge of the moon and its atmosphere, the solar system, and galactic space.

The LM lifted off from the moon at 8:26 p.m. EST April 23, rendezvoused with the CSM, and docked with it in orbit. Young and Duke transferred to the CSM with samples, film, and equipment, and the LM was jettisoned the next day. LM attitude control was lost at jettison; therefore a deorbit maneuver was not possible and the LM remained in lunar orbit, with an estimated orbital lifetime of about one year.

The particles and fields subsatellite was launched into lunar orbit and normal system operation was noted. However, the spacecraft orbital shaping maneuver was not performed before ejection and the subsatellite was placed in a non-optimum orbit that resulted in a much shorter lifetime than the planned year. Loss of all subsatellite tracking and telemetry data on the 425th revolution (May 29) indicated that the subsatellite had hit the lunar surface.

The mass spectrometer deployment boom stalled during a retract cycle and was jettisoned before transearth injection. The second plane-change maneuver and some orbital science photography were deleted so that transearth injection could be performed about 24 hours earlier than originally planned.

Activities during the transearth coast phase of the mission included photography for a contamination study for the Skylab program and completion of the visual light-flash-phenomenon investigation that had been partially accomplished during translunar coast. A 1-hour 24-minute transearth extravehicular activity was conducted by command module pilot Mattingly to retrieve the film cassettes from the scientific instrument module cameras, inspect the equipment, and expose a microbial-response experiment to the space environment. Two midcourse corrections were made on the return flight to achieve the desired entry interface conditions.

Entry and landing were normal, completing a 265-hour 51-minute mission. The command module was viewed on television while dropping on the drogue parachutes, and continuous coverage was provided through crew recovery. Splashdown was at 2:44 p.m. EST April 27 in mid-Pacific, 5 kilometers from the recovery ship U.S.S. Ticonderoga. All primary mission objectives had been achieved (see Appendix 5).

MSC, "Apollo 16 Mission Report" (MSC-07230), August 1972; MSC "Apollo 16 (AS-511) Flight Summary," undated; C. M. Lee, NASA Hq., "Mission Director's Summary Report, Apollo 16," April 28, 1972; R. C. Hock, KSC, "Apollo 16 (AS-511) Post-Launch Report," May 2, 1972.

April 28

Owen G. Morris was appointed Manager, Apollo Spacecraft Program Office, at MSC. Morris, who had been Manager for the Lunar Module, succeeded James A. McDivitt, who was appointed Special Assistant to the Center Director for Organizational Affairs. Both appointments were effective immediately.

MSC Announcement 72-70, "Key Personnel Assignment," April 28, 1972; MSC Announcement 72-71, "Key Personnel Assignment," April 28, 1972.

May 7

A tank cart at the San Diego Naval Air Station, defueling the Apollo 16 command module after its April 27 return from its mission to the moon, exploded because of overpressurization. Forty-six persons suspected of inhaling of toxic fumes, were hospitalized, but examination revealed no symptoms of inhalation. An Apollo 16 Deactivation Investigation Board completed its report on the accident June 30. The ratio of neutralizer to oxidizer being detanked had been too low because of the extra oxidizer retained in the CM tanks as a result of the Apollo 15 parachute anomaly. Changes were made in ground support equipment and detanking procedure to prevent future overpressurization.

Ltr., Scott H. Simpkinson, MSC, to Thomas J. Walker III, Commander, Naval Air Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet, June 30, 1972; "Apollo 16 Mission Anomaly Report No. 1, Oxidizer Deservicing Tank Failure" (MSC-07032), June 1972.

June 26

NASA Deputy Administrator George M. Low and Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight Dale D. Myers met and decided there was no foreseeable mission for CSMs 115 and 115a; funds would not be authorized for any work on these spacecraft; and skills would not be retained specifically to work on them.

Memos, Harry H. Gorman, NASA Hq., to Directors, Apollo Program and Skylab Program, July 6, 1972; Myers to Christopher C. Kraft, Jr., MSC, "Storage and Utilization of Apollo Command and Service Modules," Oct. 30, 1972; ltr., Kraft to Myers, NASA Hq., Sept. 27, 1972.

July 13

A meeting at NASA Hq. reviewed the proposed photographic and visual observation tasks of the command module pilot during the Apollo 17 mission scheduled for December. Feasibility of the tasks and potential flight planning impact were discussed.

Memo, George F. Esenwein, NASA Hq., to distr., "Apollo 17 CM Photographic and Visual Observation Tasks," July 26, 1972.

July 15

The Lunar Science Institute's summer study on post-Apollo lunar science arrived at a number of conclusions and recommendations. Some conclusions were: Lunar science would evolve through three rather distinct phases. For two years immediately following Apollo 17, high priority would be given to collection, organization, and preliminary analysis of the wealth of information acquired from the exploration of the moon. In the next two years (1975 and 1976), emphasis would shift to a careful first look at all the data. In the next years, investigations would be concentrated on key problems.

Some recommendations were: The tasks being carried out by NASA to preserve and describe the samples, data, and photographs, and to make them available to the scientific community would need to continue for the next few years. The lunar sample curatorial facility at MSC was absolutely essential to lunar science objectives. The ALSEP network and the subsatellite should be operated continuously as long as significant new findings derived from their operation.

Ltr., Joseph W. Chamberlin, Lunar Science Institute, to John Naugle, NASA Hq., July 15, 1972.

September 26

During the Apollo 17 mission, MSC would be responsible for the medical briefing at the mission reviews, would provide the medical staffing of the mission operations control room, would assume the medical line responsibilities in the operations team, and would provide mission surgeons to take part in the change-of-shift press briefings.

Ltr., Christopher C. Kraft, Jr., MSC, to Dale D. Myers, NASA Hq., Sept. 26, 1972.

December 7-19

Apollo 17 (AS-512), the final Apollo manned lunar landing mission, was launched from Pad A, Launch Complex 39, KSC, at 12:33 a.m. EST December 7. Crew members were astronauts Eugene A. Cernan, Ronald E. Evans, and Harrison H. Schmitt. The launch had been delayed 2 hours 40 minutes by a countdown sequencer failure, the only such delay in the Apollo program caused by a hardware failure.

All launch vehicle systems performed normally in achieving an earth parking orbit of 170 by 168 kilometers. After checkout, insertion into a lunar trajectory was begun at 3:46 a.m.; translunar coast time was shortened to compensate for the launch delay. CSM 114 transposition, docking with LM-12, and LM ejection from the launch vehicle stage were normal. The S-IVB stage was maneuvered for lunar impact, striking the surface about 13.5 kilometers from the preplanned point at 3:27 p.m. EST December 10. The impact was recorded by the passive seismometers left on the moon by Apollo 12, 14, 15, and 16.

The crew performed a heat flow and convection demonstration and an Apollo light-flash experiment during the translunar coast. The scientific instrument module door on the SM was jettisoned at 10:17 a.m. EST December 10. The lunar orbit insertion maneuver was begun at 2:47 p.m. and the Apollo 17 spacecraft entered a lunar orbit of 315 by 97 kilometers. After separation of the LM Challenger from the CSM America and a readjustment of orbits, the LM began its powered descent and landed on the lunar surface in the Taurus-Littrow region at 2:55 p.m. EST on December 11, with Cernan and Schmitt.

The first EVA began about 4 hours later (6:55 p.m.). Offloading of the lunar roving vehicle and equipment proceeded as scheduled. The Apollo Lunar Surface Experiment Package was deployed approximately 185 meters west northwest of the Challenger. Astronaut Cernan drove the lunar roving vehicle to the experiments deployment site, drilled the heat flow and deep core holes, and emplaced the neutron probe experiment. Two geological units were sampled, two explosive packages deployed, and seven traverse gravimeter measurements were taken. During the 7-hour 12-minute EVA, 14 kilograms of samples were collected.

The second extravehicular activity began at 6:28 p.m. EST December 12. Because of geological interest, station stop times were modified. Orange soil was discovered and became the subject of considerable geological discussion. Five surface samples and a double core sample were taken in the area of the orange soil. Three explosive packages were deployed, seven traverse gravimeter measurements were taken, and observations were photographed. Samples collected totaled 34 kilograms during the 7 hours and 37 minutes of the second EVA.

The third and final EVA began at 5:26 p.m. EST December 13. Specific sampling objectives were accomplished. Samples - including blue-gray breccias, fine-grained vesicular basalts, crushed anorthositic rocks, and soils - weighed 66 kilograms. Nine traverse gravimeter measurements were made. The surface electrical properties experiment was terminated. Before reentering the LM, the crew selected a breccia rock to dedicate to the nations represented by students visiting the Mission Control Center. A plaque on the landing gear of the lunar module, commemorating all of the Apollo lunar landings, was then unveiled. After 7 hours 15 minutes, the last Apollo EVA on the lunar surface ended. Total time of the three EVAs was approximately 22 hours; the lunar roving vehicle was driven 35 kilometers, and about 115 kilograms of lunar sample material was acquired.

While Cernan and Schmitt were exploring the lunar surface, Evans was conducting numerous scientific activities in the CSM in lunar orbit. In addition to the panoramic camera, the mapping camera, and the laser altimeter, three new scientific instrument module experiments were included in the Apollo 17 orbital science equipment. An ultraviolet spectrometer measured lunar atmospheric density and composition; an infrared radiometer mapped the thermal characteristics of the moon; and a lunar sounder acquired data on the subsurface structure.

Challenger lifted off the moon at 5:55 p.m. EST December 14. Rendezvous with the orbiting CSM and docking were normal. The two astronauts transferred to the CM with samples and equipment and the LM ascent stage was jettisoned at 1:31 a.m. December 15. Its impact on the lunar surface about 1.6 kilometers from the planned target was recorded by four Apollo 17 geophones and the Apollo 12, 14, 15, and 16 seismometers emplaced on the surface. The seismic experiment explosive packages that had been deployed on the moon were detonated as planned and recorded on the geophones.

During the coast back to earth, Evans left the CSM at 3:27 p.m. EST December 17 for a 1-hour 7-minute inflight EVA and retrieved lunar sounder film and panoramic and mapping camera cassettes from the scientific instrument module bay. The crew conducted the Apollo light- flash experiment and operated the infrared radiometer and ultraviolet spectrometer.

Reentry, landing, and recovery were normal. The command module parachuted into the mid-Pacific at 2:25 p.m. EST December 19, 6.4 kilometers from the prime recovery ship, U.S.S. Ticonderoga. The crew was picked up by helicopter and was on board the U.S.S. Ticonderoga 52 minutes after the CM landed. All primary mission objectives had been achieved (see Appendix 5).

MSC "Apollo 17 Mission Report," March 1973; MSC "Apollo 17 (AS-512) Flight Summary," undated; KSC, "Apollo 17 Post-Launch Report" (RCS-76-0000-0048), Dec. 19, 1972.

December 8

"Apollo, of course, was an absolutely unprecedented event in human history, one whose ultimate importance is impossible to fully comprehend at such close range," NASA Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight Dale D. Myers wrote the Administrator. "In addition, its scientific contributions have far exceeded the expectations not only of the skeptics, but even of its proponents. It has virtually created a new branch of science as well as added a brilliant new chapter in the annals of exploration."

Myers, NASA Hq., to the NASA Administrator, "Scope of the Skylab Experiment Program," Dec. 8, 1972.


January 22

Former President Lyndon B. Johnson - who as Senator had drafted the National Aeronautical and Space Act of 1958 establishing NASA and as Vice President had chaired the National Aeronautics and Space Council at the time of the U.S. decision to land a man on the moon - died of a heart attack in Austin, Tex., at the age of 64.

A letter Johnson had sent was read at the National Space Club's "Salute to Apollo" in Washington, D.C., in the evening. Johnson commended the "space pioneers who have made the Apollo miracle a living reality." He said: "It has been more, so much more than an amazing adventure into the unexplored and the unknown. The Apollo Program . . . will endure as a monument to many things, to the personal courage of some of the finest men our nation has ever produced, to the technological and managerial capability which is the genius of our system and to a successful cooperation among nations which has proved to us all what can be done when we work together with our eyes on a glorious goal.

"I rate Apollo as one of the real wonders of the world and I am proud that my country, through the exercise of great ability and daring leadership, has given it as a legacy to mankind."

Washington Post, Jan. 23, 1973, p. A1; Congressional Record-Senate, Jan.29, 1973, p. S1467; transcript of proceedings, "Salute to Apollo," Jan. 22, 1973.

January 26

Ames Research Center requested that six R4D rocket engines designed for use in the Apollo program be transferred from MSC to Ames. Possibly the engines would be suitable for the retro-injection function in the Pioneer Venus series of atmospheric probe and orbiter missions. First launch was planned for early 1977.

Ltr., R. R. Nunamaker, Ames Research Center, to M. A. Faget, MSC, "Apollo surplus R4D rocket engines for Pioneer Venus," Jan. 26, 1973.

February 17

The Manned Spacecraft Center was renamed the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center by Public Law 93-8. The late President's interest and support of the space program began while he was Chairman of the Senate Committee on Aeronautical and Space Sciences and continued during his tenure as Vice President and President (see January 22).

MSC Announcement 73-34, "Renaming of the Manned Spacecraft Center," Feb. 27, 1973.

March 6

The Apollo Spacecraft Program Office, with Glynn S. Lunney as Manager, was reorganized. Lunney was also Manager for ASTP (Apollo/Soyuz Test Project), an assignment to which he had been appointed in June of 1972.

JSC Announcement 73-37, "Reorganization of the Apollo Spacecraft Program Office," March 6, 1973; MSC Announcement 72-98, "Key Personnel Assignments," June 26, 1972; ltr., Christopher C. Kraft, Jr., JSC, to Dale D. Myers, NASA Hq., March 2, 1973.

March 15

A Lunar Programs Office, under which the Lunar Data Analysis and Synthesis Program would be conducted, was established in the Office of Space Science, NASA Hq. The office was responsible for continued operation and collection of data from the Apollo lunar surface experiment packages and the Apollo 15 subsatellite; Apollo surface and orbital science data analysis by principal investigators; development of selenodetic, cartographic, and photographic products; continued lunar laser ranging experiment; continued lunar sample analysis; lunar supporting research and technology; and advanced program studies.

Ltr., John E. Naugle, NASA Hq., to Colleagues, March 15, 1973.

August 7

National Air and Space Museum Director Michael Collins advised JSC that NASM had established a center for research and study with responsibility for a complete library of lunar photos to document scientific results of the Apollo missions. The library would be used for original research and for planning and updating scientific parts of exhibits.

Ltr., Collins to Christopher C. Kraft, Jr., Director, JSC, Aug. 7, 1973.

August 27

Apollo Soyuz Test Project Program Director Chester M. Lee, Office of Manned Space Flight, NASA Hq., was assigned as the management official to take actions necessary for the final phaseout of the Apollo program. All Apollo program inquiries, activities, and actions not covered by specific delegations of authority would be referred to Lee for appropriate decision and disposition.

NASA Notice 8020, "Apollo Program Phaseout Activities," Aug. 27, 1973.

November 2

With the support of the trustees of the Washington Cathedral, Francis B. Sayre and Thomas O. Paine commissioned a large stained glass Space Window to be installed in the south wall of the nave, the main auditorium of the Cathedral. The window would be 5.4 meters high by 2.7 meters wide. The center of the window would contain an Apollo 11 lunar sample 2 centimeters in diameter.

Ltrs., Paine, former NASA Administrator, to President Nixon, Nov. 2, 1973; Paine to J. C. Fletcher, NASA Hq., Nov. 2, 1973; Nixon to Paine, Jan. 14, 1974; G. P. Chandler, NASA Hq., to E. A. Cernan, MSC, Jan. 23, 1974; Fletcher to C. C. Kraft, Jr., MSC, Feb. 5, 1974.



During the Month

Universal Studios filmed a program for the ABC TV Network entitled, "Houston, We've Got a Problem." Although fictitious, the show revolved around mission control and the flight controllers during the Apollo 13 mission. The production was televised March 2, 1974.

Memo, John P. Donnelly, NASA Hq., to Deputy Administrator, Feb. 21, 1974.

January 4

Of the 134 Apollo 17 lunar plaques, 93 were presented by American embassies to the countries in which the embassies were located.

Memo, John P. Donnelly, NASA Hq., to the Administrator and Deputy Administrator, "Status Report on Presentation of Apollo 17 Lunar Plaques," March 4, 1974.

July 13

In recognition of the fifth anniversary of the Apollo 11 flight, which landed the first men on the moon, President Nixon proclaimed the period July 16 through July 24 as United States Space Week, stating: "The knowledge to be gained from space will lead to scientific, technological, medical and industrial advances which cannot be fully perceived today. In time man may take for granted in the heavens such wonders as we cannot imagine - just as superhighways across America would amaze the Puritans of 1620 or transatlantic flights would astound those who passed on the legend of Icarus. But we know that a beginning has been made that will affect the course of human life forever."

Presidential Proclamation 4303, "United States Space Week, 1974," July 13, 1974.

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