At midyear 1968, chances for landing on the moon within the decade were still touch-and-go. It did seem likely that NASA would have to fly only five, instead of six, preparatory flights that year, but one of these might have to be another unmanned Saturn V. Not knowing exactly what would follow the third mission of the year (a manned Saturn IB launch) caused some extra planning. For example, the Kennedy spacecraft preparation team had to prepare both a boilerplate and a qualified production command module for the next Saturn V shot, since the choice for launch depended on the outcome of the pogo investigations. Mission planners in Washington also revived the plan for launching two Saturn IB missions to give both the North American and the Grumman spacecraft a workout in earth orbit, if another unmanned Saturn V had to be flown.45 Even this plan was tentative, however, as the delivery date for LM-3 was still not firm.
On the brighter side of the ledger at mid-year was North American's work in getting CSM-101 ready for the first manned Apollo mission. Although the contractor was late in shipping the craft from its California factory to the Florida launch site, improvements in the fabrication of this machine indicated that future spacecraft should be on time. After a traumatic and pressure-packed 18 months, North American was finally delivering satisfactory, flight-ready hardware. When 101 arrived at the Cape on 30 May, the receiving inspectors found fewer discrepancies than on any spacecraft previously delivered to Kennedy.46
Mueller had told the Senate space committee in February 1968 that the first manned Apollo mission would be flown in the last quarter of the year.47 In June, this still seemed feasible.
45. Phillips TWX to MSFC, KSC, and MSC,"AS-503 Launch Preparations," 9 April 1968; James TWX to MSC, Attn.: Low, "AS-503 Unmanned Contingency Payload Considerations," 28 May 1968; NASA, "Launch Readiness Flight Planning schedule," 11 June 1968; Teir to OMSF, Attn.: Phillips, "Saturn IB Dual Launch Capability," 23 May 1968, with encs.
46. Low to Phillips, 3 June 1968; ASPO Rept., 7 June 1968; Phillips to Low, 24 June 1968; Bergen to Low, 3 May 1968; Low to Bergen, 7 May 1968; Low to Dave W. Lang, "North American award fee," 11 May 1968; Bernhardt L. Dorman memo, "Appraisal of NR activities for award fee determination," 22 May 1968.
47. John E. Riley to Low, "Mueller testimony to Senate Space Committee on Budget Authorization," 28 Feb. 1968; Mueller to Morton E. Henig, 23 May 1968.