Chariots for Apollo, Appendix A

Appendix A

Manned Spacecraft Center

Site Selection Procedure

Abstracted from James E. Webb, NASA Administrator, "Memorandum for the President," 14 September 1961, and attachment.

The procedure for selecting a site for a manned space flight laboratory, one of four major facilities required for the manned lunar landing mission set by the President, was as follows:

On 12 August, the Administrator and Deputy Administrator reviewed the factors that had influenced the approved criterion on climate: "A mild climate permitting year-round, ice-free, water transportation; and permitting out-of-door work for most of the year to facilitate operations, reduce facility costs, and speed construction."

The considerations leading to this requirement were:

  1. The reasons for specifying year-round, ice-free water transportation were self evident. It would be necessary to move the spacecraft and its components by water to other sites at any time of the year to avoid delays in the overall program.
  2. The requirement for out-of-door work most of the year stemmed from experience with aircraft and large missiles. The spacecraft would be of comparable size, and an appreciable amount of fitting, checking, and calibration work would have to be done out of doors. Also the possibility of handling much larger spacecraft, such as a 10- to 15-man space station, had to be considered. The climate factor would become more important as larger spacecraft became part of the program.
  3. A mild climate would avoid the necessity of special protection of the spacecraft against freezing of moisture in the many complicated components while transferring to and from sites and between site facilities. Providing such protection would be time-consuming and costly.
  4. A mild climate would facilitate recovery-procedure training of the astronauts, as well as other activities that must be conducted out of doors.
  5. A mild climate would permit a greater likelihood of day-to-day access by air to and from other parts of the country.
In summary, the selection of a site in an area that met the stated climate criterion would minimize both cost and time required for this project. A mild climate would also permit year-round construction, thereby accelerating the development of the project.

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