Part 2 (K)
Recovery, Spacecraft Redefinition, and First Manned Apollo Flight
NASA Hq. confirmed oral instructions to MSC and KSC to use 60 percent
oxygen and 40 percent nitrogen to pressurize the Apollo CM cabin in
prelaunch checkout operations and during manned chamber testing, as
recommended by the Design Certification Review Board on March 7 and
confirmed by the NASA Administrator on March 12. This instruction was
applicable to flight and test articles at all locations.
TWX, Samuel C. Phillips to MSC, Attn: G. M. Low and KSC, Attn: R. O.
Middleton, April 2, 1968.
Eberhard F. M. Rees, Director of the Special Task Team at North American
Rockwell, spearheaded a design review of the CM water sterilization
system at Downey, Calif. (The review had resulted as an action item from
the March 21 Configuration Control Board meeting in Downey.) Rees and a
team of North American engineers reviewed the design of the system and
test results and problems to date. Chief among performance concerns
seemed to be compatibility of the chlorine solution with several
materials in the system, maximum allowable concentration of chlorine in
the water supply from the medical aspect, and contamination of the
system during storage, handling, and filling. Assuming North American's
successful completion of qualification testing and attention to the
foregoing action items, said Rees, the system design was judged
Ltr., Dale D. Myers to George M. Low, April 8, 1968, with encl.,
"CSM Water Sterilization System CDR, April 2, 1968."
Apollo 6 (AS-502) was launched from Complex 39A at Kennedy
Space Center. The space vehicle consisted of a Saturn V launch vehicle
with an unmanned, modified Block I command and service module (CSM 020)
and a lunar module test article (LTA-2R).
Liftoff at 7:00 a.m. EST was normal but, during the first-stage (S-IC)
boost phase, oscillations and abrupt measurement changes were observed.
During the second-stage (S-II) boost phase, two of the J-2 engines shut
down early and the remaining three were extended approximately one
minute to compensate. The third stage (S-IVB) firing was also longer
than planned and at termination of thrust the orbit was 177.7 x 362.9
kilometers rather than the 160.9-kilometer near-circular orbit planned.
The attempt to reignite the S-IVB engine for the translunar injection
was unsuccessful. Reentry speed was 10 kilometers per second rather than
the planned 11.1, and the spacecraft landed 90.7 kilometers uprange of
the targeted landing point.
The most significant spacecraft anomaly occurred at about 2 minutes 13
seconds after liftoff, when abrupt changes were indicated by strain,
vibration, and acceleration measurements in the S-IVB, instrument unit,
adapter, lunar module test article, and CSM. Apparently oscillations
induced by the launch vehicle exceeded the spacecraft design criteria.
The second-stage (S-II) burn was normal until about 4 minutes 38 seconds
after liftoff; then difficulties were recorded. Engine 2 cutoff was
recorded about 6 minutes 53 seconds into the flight and engine 3 cutoff
less than 3 seconds later. The remaining second-stage engines shut down
at 9 minutes 36 seconds - 58 seconds later than planned.
The S-IVB engine during its first burn, which was normal, operated 29
seconds longer than programmed. After two revolutions in a parking
orbit, during which the systems were checked, operational tests
performed, and several attitude maneuvers made, preparations were
completed for the S-IVB engine restart. The firing was scheduled to
occur on the Cape Kennedy pass at the end of the second revolution, but
could not be accomplished. A ground command was sent to the CSM to carry
out a planned alternate mission, and the CSM separated from the S-IVB
A service propulsion system (SPS) engine firing sequence resulted in a
442-second burn and an accompanying free-return orbit of 22,259.1 x 33.3
kilometers. Since the SPS was used to attain the desired high apogee,
there was insufficient propellant left to gain the high-velocity
increase desired for the entry. For this reason, a complete firing
sequence was performed except that the thrust was inhibited.
Parachute deployment was normal and the spacecraft landed about 9 hours
50 minutes after liftoff, in the mid-Pacific, 90.7 kilometers uprange
from the predicted landing area. A normal retrieval was made by the
U.S.S. Okinawa, with waves of 2.1 to 2.4 meters.
The spacecraft was in good condition, including the unified crew hatch,
flown for the first time. Charring of the thermal protection was about
the same as that experienced on the Apollo 4 spacecraft (CM 017).
Of the five primary objectives, three - demonstrating separation of
launch vehicle stages, performance of the emergency detection system
(EDS) in a close-loop mode, and mission support facilities and
operations - were achieved. Only partially achieved were the objectives
of confirming structure and thermal integrity, compatibility of launch
vehicle and spacecraft, and launch loads and dynamic characteristics;
and of verifying operation of launch vehicle propulsion, guidance and
control, and electrical systems. Apollo 6, therefore, was officially
judged in December as "not a success in accordance with . . . NASA
Memos, Chief, Landing and Recovery Div. to Director of Flight
Operations, MSC, "Apollo 6 preliminary recovery information,"
April 5, 1968; Apollo Program Director Samuel C. Phillips to
Administrator, NASA, "Apollo 6 Mission (AS-502) Post Launch Report
#1," April 18, 1968, with attachment, "Post Launch Mission
Operation Report No. M-932-68-06"; Phillips to Acting
Administrator, "Apollo 6 Mission (AS-502) Post Launch Report
#2," Dec 27, 1968; "Apollo 6 Mission Report," prepared
by Apollo 6 Mission Evaluation Team, approved by George M. Low, June
Howard W. Tindall, Jr., Chief of Apollo Data Priority Coordination,
reported that several meetings devoted to the question of the LM's
status immediately after touching down on the lunar surface, had
reached agreement on several operational techniques for a "go/no
go" decision. Basically, the period immediately after landing
constituted a system evaluation phase (in which both crew and ground
controllers assessed the spacecraft's status) - a period of about two
minutes, during which immediate abort and ascent was possible. Given a
decision at that point not to abort, the crew would then remove the
guidance system from the descent mode and proceed with the normal
ascent-powered flight program (and an immediate abort was no longer
possible). Assuming permission to stay beyond this initial "make
ready" phase, the crew would then carry out most of the normal
procedures required to launch when the CM next passed over the landing
site (some two hours later).
Memo, Tindall to distr., "Mission techniques for the LM lunar stay
go/no go," April 4, 1968.
Astronauts James A. Lovell, Jr., Stuart A. Roosa, and Charles M. Duke,
Jr., participated in a recovery test of spacecraft 007, conducted by the
MSC Landing and Recovery Division in the Gulf of Mexico. The test crew
reported that while they did not "recommend the Apollo spacecraft for
any extended sea voyages they encountered no serious habitability
problems during the 48-hour test. If a comparison can be made, the
interior configurations and seaworthiness make the Apollo spacecraft a
much better vessel than the Gemini spacecraft." The following
conclusions were reached:
Memo, Donald K. Slayton to Director of Flight Operations, "Crew
report on 48-hour recovery test of spacecraft 007 on April 5-7,
1968," April 12, 1968.
- The Apollo spacecraft, as represented by spacecraft 007 and under
ambient conditions tested, was suitable for a 48-hour delayed recovery.
- The interference between the survival radio beacon and VHF
communications was unsatisfactory. Spacecraft to aircraft communication
ranges seemed unusually low.
- There was no requirement for the seawater hand pump.
The Apollo spacecraft Configuration Control Board (CCB) had endorsed
changes in lunar orbit insertion and LM extraction on the lunar mission
flight profile, the MSC Director notified the Apollo Program Director.
ASPO had reviewed the changes with William Schneider of NASA OMSF the
same day and Schneider was to present the changes to George E. Mueller
and Samuel C. Phillips for approval.
The two-burn lunar orbit insertion (LOI) was an operational procedure to
desensitize the maneuver to system uncertainties and would allow for
optimization of a lunar orbit trim burn. The procedure would be used for
lunar orbit and lunar landing missions. The spacecraft lunar-adapter
spring-ejection system was required to ensure adequate clearance during
separation of the LM/CSM from the S-IVB/instrument unit and would be
used on the first manned CSM/LM mission.
Ltr., Robert R. Gilruth to Phillips, "Proposed changes to Lunar
Orbit Insertion and LM extraction on the Lunar Mission Flight
Profile," April 10, 1968.
A TV camera would be carried in CM 101 on the first manned Apollo
flight, Apollo Program Director Samuel C. Phillips, wrote the ASPO
Manager (confirming their discussions). Incorporation and use of the
camera in CM 101 would conform to the following ground rules:
Ltr., Director, Apollo Program, NASA OMSF, to Manager ASPO,
"Apollo On-Board TV," April 10, 1968.
- The TV camera and associated hardware would be installed at KSC with
no impact on launch schedule;
- the camera would be stowed during the launch phase;
- a mounting bracket for the camera would be provided in the CM to
permit simultaneous viewing of all three couch assemblies, for use in
monitoring prelaunch hazardous tests and in flight;
- the camera could be hand-held for viewing outside the CM during
- use of the camera would not be specified on the astronaut's flight
planning timeline of essential activities but would be incorporated in
the mission as time and opportunity would permit.
A number of decisions were made at the completion of a parachute review
Memo, George M. Low to Kenneth S. Kleinknecht, "Action items from
the Northrop Ventura meeting," April 15, 1968.
- The spacecraft 101 parachute system would be flown without further
- A higher drogue-mortar muzzle velocity would be planned, with a
possible effectivity for spacecraft 103. North American Rockwell would
determine what ground tests were required, when flight hardware would be
ready, and what additional qualification tests were needed.
- Proposed Northrop-Ventura changes in drogue riser size and riser
length would be considered only for design and ground testing
- North American would propose to NASA an augmented confidence-level
- For follow-on work, NASA would contract directly with Northrop-
Ventura only for analytical work (all test effort would be contracted
through North American).
- Northrop-Ventura would examine the swagged fittings to determine
whether a possible stress corrosion problem might exist.
- Northrop-Ventura would obtain sufficient documentary photography
during parachute packing for manned flight vehicles to provide
subsequent quality examination.
- Northrop-Ventura would prepare a package depicting the flight and
design envelope of the parachutes, together with tests already achieved
and tests planned.
- Finn direction to Northrop-Ventura in all applicable areas would be
provided by North American.
Apollo Special Task Team Director Eberhard Rees wrote Dale D. Myers at
North American Rockwell: "As you are well aware, many manhours
have been spent investigating and discussing the radially cracked
insulation on wire supplied by Haveg Industries. On March 27, 1968, NR
[North American Rockwell] made a presentation on this problem and
reported the action taken to correct the problem and to prevent
defective wire from being used. . . . It was disturbing to me to learn
that with all the additional actions. . . cracked insulation again was
found, this time during the manufacture of harnesses for C/M 110, 111,
112 and S/M 111. This raises the question as to whether the total
problem has really been identified and whether or not sufficient
corrective action has been taken. . . ." Rees then requested a
reply to 10 questions he submitted as to reasons for the problem and
possible actions that might be taken.
Ltr., Rees to Myers, April 12, 1968.
A meeting at MSC with Irving Pinkel of Lewis Research Center and Robert
Van Dolah of the Bureau of Mines reviewed results of boilerplate 1224
tests at 11.4 newtons per square centimeter (16.5 pounds per square
inch) in a 60-percent-oxygen and 40-percent-nitrogen atmosphere. (Both
Pinkel and Van Dolah had been members of the Apollo 204 Review Board.
Others attending were Jerry Craig, Richard Johnston, and George Abbey,
all of MSC; and George Gill and Fred Yeamans, both of GE.) The total
boilerplate 1224 test program was reviewed as well as test results at 11
newtons per sq cm (16 psi) in 60 percent oxygen and 40 percent nitrogen
and also in 95 percent oxygen. Both Pinkel and Van Dolah agreed with the
MSC position that the tests proved the spacecraft was qualified for
testing and flight in the 60-40 environment. They expressed the opinion
that the 60-40 atmosphere seemed a reasonable compromise between
flammability, physiological, and operational considerations.
Memo, Chief, Thermodynamics and Materials Br., to Chief, Systems
Engineering Div., "Review of BP 1224 test data with I. Pinkel and
R. Van Dolah," April 19, 1968.
MSC Engineering and Development Director Maxime Faget reported to George
Low that his directorate had investigated numerous radiation detectors,
ionization particle detectors, and chemical reactive detectors. The
directorate had also obtained information from outside sources such as
the National Bureau of Standards, Mine Safety Appliances, Parmalee
Plastics, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, and the Air Force Manned
Orbiting Laboratory organization. None of the methods investigated could
meet the stated requirements for a spacecraft fire detection system.
Memo, Faget to Low, "Status of development effort for fire
detection system," April 17, 1968.
MSC Director Robert R. Gilruth recommended to NASA Associate
Administrator for Manned Space Flight George E. Mueller that MSC's
Sigurd A. Sjoberg be approved as the U.S. Representative to the
International Committee for Aeronautics of the Fdration Atique
Internationale. Robert Dillaway of North American Rockwell, who had been
serving as U.S. Representative, had accepted a position with the Navy
and recommended Sjoberg to James F. Nields, President of the National
Aeronautic Association, and to Major General Brooke F. Allen, Executive
Director of the Association, and they had concurred in the
recommendation. NASA Hq. approved the request May 20.
Ltrs., Gilruth to Mueller, April 17, 1968; Mueller to Gilruth, May 20,
Two major requirements existed for further service propulsion system
(SPS) testing at the Arnold Engineering Development Center (AEDC), ASPO
Manager George M. Low advised Apollo Program Director Samuel C.
Phillips. First, the LM docking structure was marginal at peak SPS start
transient. While evaluation of the redesigned docking mechanism was
under way, final hardware design and production could not be completed
until positive identification of the start transient was made through
the AEDC test series. Secondly, a modified engine valve had been
incorporated into the SPS for CSM 101, which thus necessitated further
certification testing before flight (comprising sea-level static
firings, simulated altitude firings, and component endurance tests). Low
emphasized the need to complete this testing as soon as possible, to
isolate any potential problems.
Ltr., Low to Phillips, April 18, 1968.
ASPO Manager George M. Low advised top officials in Headquarters, MSFC,
and KSC that he was recommending the use of 100 percent oxygen in the
cabin of the LM at launch. MSC had reached this decision, Low said,
after thorough evaluation of system capabilities, requirements, safety,
and crew procedures. The selection of pure oxygen was based on several
important factors: reduced demand on the CSM's oxygen supply by some 2.7
kilograms; simplified crew procedures; the capability for immediate
return to earth during earth-orbital missions in which docking was
performed; and safe physiological characteristics. All of these factors,
the ASPO Chief stated, outweighed the flammability question. Because the
LM was unmanned on the pad, there was little electrical power in the
vehicle at launch and therefore few ignition sources. Further, the
adapter was filled with inert nitrogen and the danger of a hazardous
condition was therefore minimal. Also, temperature and pressure sensors
inside the LM could be used for fire detection, and fire could be fought
while the mobile service structure was in place. As a result, Low
stated, use of oxygen in the LM on the pad posed no more of a hazard
than did hypergolics and liquid hydrogen and oxygen.
Ltr., Low to Samuel C. Phillips, R. O. Middleton, KSC, and Arthur
Rudolph, MSFC, April 22, 1968.
MSC Director Robert R. Gilruth observed that the Engineering and
Development Directorate would be conducting two thermal-vacuum test
programs during the next several months, following the April 9 shipment
of the Block II thermal vacuum test article 2TV-1 to MSC from Downey.
(The second test article was the LM counterpart, LTA-8.) Both programs
were of major importance, Gilruth told his organization. However,
because the 2TV-1 test program directly supported - and constrained -
the first manned Apollo mission, he said that, in the event of any
conflict between the two test programs, 2TV-1 had clear priority.
Memo, Gilruth to distr., "Program Priority," April 22, 1968.
ASPO Manager George M. Low requested Joseph N. Kotanchik to establish a
task team to pull together all participants in the dynamic analysis of
the Saturn V and boost environment. He suggested that Donald C. Wade
should lead the effort and that he should work with George Jeffs of
North American Rockwell, Tom Kelly of Grumman and Wayne Klopfenstein of
Boeing, and that Lee James of MSFC could be contacted for any desired
support or coordination. The team would define the allowable
oscillations at the interface of the spacecraft-LM adapter with the
instrument unit for the existing Block II configuration, possible
changes in the hardware to detune the CSM and the LM, and the combined
effects of pogo and the S-IC single-engine-out case. Low also said he
was establishing a task team under Richard Colonna to define a test
program related to the same problem area and felt that Wade and Colonna
would want to work together.
Memo, Low to J. N. Kotanchik through M. A. Faget, "CSM/LM/SLA
dynamic analysis," April 23, 1968.
NASA Administrator James E. Webb approved plans to proceed with
preparation of the third Saturn V space vehicle for a manned mission in
the fourth quarter of 1968. The planned mission was to follow the
unmanned November 9, 1967, Apollo 4 and April 4, 1968,
Apollo 6 flights, launched on the first two Saturn V
vehicles. NASA kept the option of flying another unmanned mission if
further analysis and testing indicated that was the best course.
Engineers had been working around the clock to determine causes of and
solutions to problems met on the Apollo 6 flight.
NASA News Release 68-81, "Manned Apollo Flight," April 29,
ASPO Manager George M. Low explained to the Apollo Program Director the
underlying causes of slips in CSM and LM delivery dates since
establishment of contract dates during the fall of 1967. The general
excuse, Low said, was that slips were the result of NASA-directed
hardware changes. "This excuse is not valid." He recounted
how NASA-imposed changes had been under strict control and only
essential changes had been approved by the MSC Level II Configuration
Control Board (CCB). For early spacecraft (CSM 101 and 103 and LM-3),
the CCB had agreed some six months earlier that only flight safety
changes woul be approved. To achieve firm understandings with the two
prime spacecraft contractors regarding the responsibilities for
schedule slips, Low had asked MSC procurement expert Dave W. Lang to
negotiate new contract delivery dates based on changes since the last
round of negotiations. These negotiations with North American Rockwell
were now completed. (Talks at Grumman had not yet started.) Despite a
leniency in the negotiations on early spacecraft, Low said, results
clearly indicated that most schedule delays were attributable to North
American and not to NASA. On 2TV-1, for example, delivered two months
late, analysis proved that less than three weeks of this delay derived
from customer-dictated changes. The situation for CSM 101, though not
yet delivered, was comparable. Moreover, a similar situation existed
within the LM program: LM-3 would be delivered some five weeks behind
the contract date, with only two of those weeks caused by NASA changes.
Despite this attempt to set the record straight regarding schedule
slippages, Low stressed that he did not wish to be over critical of the
contractors' performance. Because schedules over the past year had been
based on three-shift, seven-day-per-week operation, little or no time
existed for troubleshooting and "make work', changes that
inevitably cropped up during checkout activities.
Ltr., Low to Samuel C. Phillips, NASA Hq., April 27, 1968.
ASPO was implementing actions recommended by Edgar M. Cortright
following his review of Apollo subsystem programs and visits to Apollo
subcontractors (see March 12), ASPO Manager George Low advised Apollo
Program Director Sam Phillips. These additional steps included further
testing of hardware (including "augmented" testing to define
nominal and off-nominal operating conditions better); better NASA
overseeing of certification test requirements and results; a
reexamination by the Crew Safety Review Board of system operating
procedures, with emphasis on crew operations; closer subcontractor
participation in program decisionmaking, chiefly through the proposed
augmented tests and product improvement program; and greater emphasis
at the subcontractor plants on the manned flight awareness program.
Ltr., Low to Phillips, "Apollo Subcontractor Review," April