DESTINATION MOON: A History of the Lunar Orbiter Program
 
 
CHAPTER III: BEGINNING THE LUNAR ORBITER PROGRAM
 
The Eastman Kodak Photographic System
 
 
 
[67] The basic system which Eastman Kodak would provide Boeing had been in existence since mid-1960,when Kodak had developed it for military applications. For Boeing's use it had been reduced in size and weight to fit within the Agena weight restrictions. The mechanics of the system were as follows: Film from a supply reel passed through a focal plane optical imaging system, and controlled exposures were made. Once past the shutter, the film underwent a semi-dry chemical developing process and then entered a storage chamber. From here it could be extracted upon command from the ground for scanning by a flying-spot scanner and then passed on to a take-up reel.

The line-scanning device consisted of a cathode-ray tube with a rotating anode having a high-intensity spot of light. The scanner optics of the moving lens system reduced by 22 times this point of light, focused it on the film transparencies and scanned them. A photomultiplier then converted the light passing from the scanner through [68] the film into an electrical signal whose strength would vary with the density of the emulsion layer of the film. This signal would then be transmitted to a receiving station on Earth and reconstructed. The Eastman Kodak Company would upgrade the system for the demands of the Boeing orbiter and its mission.

A significant part of the improvement in the system was the introduction of the Kodak Bimat process, which eliminated the necessity to use "wet" chemicals on the film. Instead, a film-like processing material was briefly laminated to the exposed film to develop and fix the negative image and, if the need existed, to produce a positive image. In the case of the Boeing orbiter this 3.8 second step was not used, and only negatives were made.18 Once the film had been developed and fixed, the Bimat material separated from the film and wound onto a storage spool.

Kodak's "dry" process offered the photographic system of the Boeing orbiter very positive advantages over those of the other bidders. Besides eliminating the need for liquids and their storage containers, Bimat did away with the necessity of an extra fixing step while producing [69] photographic negatives having normal, high-quality physical, sensitometric, and image characteristics. This greatly simplified the problems involved in materials-handling while making the whole process fully automatic. Moreover, every part of the film enjoyed fresh-processing chemistry, which made the resulting negatives more consistent and uniform. Bimat would not leave any crystalline deposit on the film after separation, and lamination of the two materials would not result in any damage to the emulsion layer. In addition, the position of the equipment would not affect processing of the film, a factor which made the Bimat process ideally suited to work in a space environment.19

The Boeing-Eastman Kodak photographic system was not the only strength of the proposal. Boeing also demonstrated a very real understanding of the relationship of the various program phases to one-another as detailed in the Request for Proposals. It clearly expressed its willingness to cooperate with NASA and to keep a nucleus of full-time personnel managing key areas of the program from the beginning to the conclusion of operations. Proven technical competency, flexibility and imagination, sound planning and organizational management, wide use of space-tested hardware in the spacecraft design, reliable test facilities, [70] and the absence of any major development tasks or the need to rely on many subcontractors made the Boeing Company's lunar orbiter proposal the most realistic, manageable; and potentially successful of the five. The NASA-Langley Source Evaluation Board overwhelmingly graded Boeing's proposal as the most likely to fulfill the objectives of the Lunar Orbiter Program and to cost the least per photograph returned to Earth.


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