DESTINATION MOON: A History of the Lunar Orbiter Program
 
 
CHAPTER II: TOWARD A LIGHTWEIGHT LUNAR ORBITER
 
OSS-OMSF Cooperative Planning
 
 
 
[17] The Office of Space Sciences and the Office of Manned Space Flight soon discovered that in order to expedite a manned lunar landing before 1970 they had to define more precisely their working relationship and the Apollo requirements which unmanned lunar probes could fulfill. On October 23, 1962, Joseph F. Shea, Deputy Director of the Office of Manned Space Flight, informed Nicks that OMSF had confirmed "the relative priorities which should [18] be attached to the development of unmanned lunar systems for acquisition of data on the lunar environment in support of the manned lunar program."14

Shea also informed Nicks that the Apollo Program had a more urgent need for the kind of data which a softlanding Surveyor could provide than for that which an orbiter could obtain in the near-lunar environment. The data which an orbiter could supply OMSF could directly apply to Apollo mission planning, but Surveyor data on the load-bearing conditions of the lunar surface had a more direct, immediate application in the design of the Lunar Excursion Module (LEM). Shea stressed that NASA should not commit itself to an orbiter in FY 1963 if this would jeopardize the present Ranger and Surveyor programs. This priority ordering from OMSF directly affected JPL's priorities with Surveyor.

In any case, Shea concluded, for an orbiter to provide the manned lunar landing program with useful data, it should concentrate on selenodetic and topographical conditions. This kind of data would permit the verification and selection of the initial sites for a manned lunar landing.15

[19] Shea recommended to Nicks the establishment of a formal OSS-OMSF working relationship, and subsequently Homer E. Newell (Director, OSS) and D. Brainerd Holmes (Director, OMSF) announced the organization of the Joint OSS/OMSF Working Group with full-time representation from both offices. The group would be responsible for "recommending to OSS a program of data acquisition so as to assure the timely flow of environmental information into the planning for manned projects."16

While the Joint Working Group initiated greater cooperative efforts between the two NASA Headquarters offices, the work group which Nicks had requested Scherer to set up arrived at a decision on October 25 concerning its review of the studies for a lightweight orbiter. It recommended that the STL proposal be given more intensive consideration and that NASA drop RCA's proposal.17 Several reasons supported the group's decision, and among them the Apollo requirements were the most important. As of November 16 these requirements stood as follows: An orbiter should be able to identify 1) 45-meter size objects over the entire surface of the Moon, 2) 4.5-meter objects in [20] the areas of prime interest, and 3) 1.2-meter objects in the landing areas.18


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