Advanced Design, Fabrication, and Testing
December 3-10After studying increased thrust versus increased burn
time, Grumman ordered Bell Aerosystems Company to redesign the LEM's ascent
engine for a longer firing duration.
GAEC, "Monthly Progress Report No. 23," LPR-10-39, January 10, 1965, p. 12;
MSC, "ASPO Weekly Management Report, December 3-10, 1964."
December 3-10MSC approved plans put forth by North American for mockups
of the Block II CSM. For the crew compartment mockup, the company proposed using
the metal shell that had originally been planned as a simulator. Except for the
transfer tunnel and lighting, it would be complete, including mockups of all
crew equipment. Mockup 12, the Block I lighting tool, would be modified to
conform to the interior of Block II spacecraft.
Systems Engineering Division reported the latest review schedule for the
Block II mockups:
"ASPO Weekly Management Report,
December 3-10, 1964"; letter, C. L. Taylor, MSC, to NAA, Attn: J. C. Cozad,
"Contract NAS 9-150, Delivery of Government furnished crew equipment for Block
II mockup," December 22, 1964.
- March 15, 1965 - crew compartment
- April 30, 1965 - interior lighting
- July 15, 1965 - Design Engineering Inspection (DEI)
- August 6, 1965 - lighting DEI
December 3-10MSC froze the design of the drogue mortar for the launch
escape system. Laboratory qualification was scheduled to begin about the middle
of the month. Qualification of the mortars for the pilot parachute would then
"ASPO Weekly Management Report, December 3-10, 1964."
December 3-10Engineering and medical experts of the Crew Systems
Division reviewed dumping helium from the CM's gas chromatograph into the cabin
during reentry or in a pad abort. Reviewers decided that the resultant
atmosphere (9.995 kilonewtons [1.45 psi] helium and 31.349 kilonewtons [4.55
psia] oxygen) posed no hazard for the crew. Systems Engineering Division
recommended, however, that dump time be reduced from 15 minutes to three, which
could readily be done.
MSC, "Consolidated Activity Report for Office of the Associate Administrator,
Manned Space Flight, December 1964,"p. 46.
December 4At its Sacramento test site, Douglas Aircraft Company
static-fired a "battleship" S-IVB second stage of the Saturn IB vehicle, for 10
sec. (A battleship rocket stage was roughly the vehicle's equivalent to a
boilerplate spacecraft.) On January 4, 1965, after further testing of the
stage's J-2 engine, the stage underwent its first full-duration firing, 480 sec.
Space Business Daily, December 4, 1964, p. 159.
December 7Douglas Aircraft Company delivered the first S-IVB stage to
Marshall Space Flight Center for extensive vibration, bending, and torsional
testing. The stage was not an actual flight stage and contained mockups of the
engine and other components, but it duplicated the flight article in weight,
mass, center of gravity, and stiffness.
Ibid., December 7, 1964, p. 167.
December 7MSC ordered North American to fix the rotation angle of the
adapter panels at 45 degrees. (This angle should give ample clearance during an
SM abort.) Also, so that each panel would have two attenuators, North American
should include such a device at each thruster location. (See June 16, 1965.)
On the same day, the Center directed North American to put a standard
mechanical clock (displaying Greenwich Mean Time) in the lower equipment bay of
the CM. [The spacecraft also had an elapsed time device on the main display
Letter, H. P. Yschek, MSC, to NAA, Space and Information Systems Division,
"Contract Change Authorization No. 275," December 7, 1964; letter, H. P. Yschek,
MSC, to NAA, Space and Information Systems Division, "Contract Change
Authorization No. 277," December 7, 1964.
December 7MSC advised Grumman that, normally, the LEM would be the
active vehicle during lunar rendezvous. This would conserve reaction control
system propellants aboard the CSM.
TWX, W. F. Rector III, MSC, to GAEC, Attn: R. S. Mullaney, December 7, 1964.
December 8Boilerplate 23, Mission A-002, was successfully launched from
WSMR by a Little Joe II launch vehicle. The test was to demonstrate satisfactory
launch escape vehicle performance utilizing the canard subsystem and boost
protective cover, and to verify the abort capability in the maximum dynamic
pressure region with conditions approximating emergency detection subsystem
limits. (See objectives in Appendix 5.)
"Apollo Monthly Progress Report," SID 62-300-32, p. 31; Astronautics and
Aeronautics, 1964, p. 410.
December 8A single main parachute was drop-tested at El Centro, Calif.,
to verify the ultimate strength. The parachute was designed for a disreef load
of 11,703 kg (25,800 lbs) and a 1.35 safety factor. The test conditions were to
achieve a disreef load of 15,876 kg (35,000 lbs. Preliminary information
indicated the parachute deployed normally to the reefed shape (78,017 kg [17,200
lbs] force), disreefed after the programmed three seconds, and achieved an
inflated load of 16,193 kg (35,700 lbs), after which the canopy failed. North
American representatives would visit MSC during the week of December 14 to
discuss this and other recent tests.
NAA, "Apollo Monthly Progress Report," SID 62-300-33, February 1, 1965, pp.
3-4; "ASPO Weekly Management Report, December 3-10, 1964."
December 8Representatives of MSC's Information and Electronic Systems
Division, Flight Operations Division, Flight Crew Operations Division, Guidance
and Control Division, Astronaut Office, and ASPO, Goddard Space Flight Center,
and Bellcomm, Inc., met to discuss communications during LEM and CSM rendezvous.
Capability of the Manned Space Flight Network (MSFN) to provide data for
rendezvous was studied. Aaron Cohen of ASPO stated sufficient data could be
collected, processed, and transmitted via MSFN to the LEM to achieve rendezvous.
Dr. F. O. Vonbun of Goddard showed that MSFN data did little to improve data
already available in the LEM before launch. Although five tracking stations
would communicate with the LEM during ascent and the first 10 minutes of orbit,
there would be only a slight improvement in spacecraft position and motion data
over the data already contained in the LEM computer. No decision was made
concerning the MSFN's capability.
Alternate rendezvous methods were discussed.
Memorandum, Donald G, Wiseman, MSC, to Chief, Instrumentation and Electronic
Systems Division, "Meeting on LEM CSM rendezvous," December 9, 1964.
December 8The Space Science Board of the National Academy of Sciences
was asked to give NASA an independent evaluation of the need for a lunar
sampling handling facility at Houston. NASA asked that the following questions
Letter, Homer E. Newell, NASA
Associate Administrator for Space Science and Applications, to Dr. Harry H.
Hess, Chairman, Space Science Board, December 8, 1964.
- What types of lunar sample analyses need to be done immediately upon
return of the samples from the moon?
- What types of research can better be postponed until analyses can be
handled at the best available research facility?
- What types of scientific research and handling facilities do you
anticipate will be needed for such analyses?
- What do you anticipate in terms of manpower requirements for MSC to handle
scientific activities in such a facility?
December 9Grumman received from Houston criteria for firing times of
the SM reaction control system (RCS). These served as a basis for the design of
the LEM's steerable antenna. The thermal design proposed by Dalmo-Victor, the
vendor, appeared feasible to watchdogs in MSC's Instrumentation and Electronic
Systems Division. On the other hand, the unbalanced wind torque produced by the
RCS engines was still a problem. RCA and Dalmo-Victor's estimates of the amount
of torque varied considerably, and Grumman consequently undertook a study of
MSC, "ASPO Weekly Management Report, November 26-December 3, 1964"; TWX, W.
F. Rector III, MSC, to GAEC, Attn: R. S. Mullaney, November 19, 1964; TWX, W. F.
Rector III, MSC, to GAEC, Attn: R. S. Mullaney, December 9, 1964.
December 9MSC revised the weight allocation for the LEM's R&D
instrumentation to bring it in line with current mission planning. Limitations
established were 295 kg (650 lbs) for 206A and 181 kg (400 lbs) for all other
Memorandum, W. F. Rector III, MSC, to Chief, Instrumentation and Electronic
Systems Division, Attn: N. Farmer, "Lem I, 2, and 3 measurement requirements,"
December 9, 1964; letter, W. F. Rector III, MSC, to GAEC, Attn: R. S. Mullaney,
"Contract NAS 9-1100, LEM 1, 2, and 3 Measurement Requirements," December 14,
December 9MSC approved the use of one 23.68-kg (50-lb) auxiliary
battery for the LEM, as recommended by Grumman, and preparations began for
negotiations with Yardney Electric Corp.
TWX, W. F. Rector III, MSC, to GAEC, Attn: R. S. Mullaney, December 9, 1964;
"Monthly Progress Report No. 23," LPR-10-39, p. 23.
December 9Avco Corporation was under a 10-month contract amounting to
$124,578 to MSC to study the effects of solar radiation and ultra-high vacuum on
the materials and components of space suits. Testing would be performed in the
Avco space environment chamber.
Space Business Daily, December 9, 1964, p. 185.
December 9-10Grumman and LEM Project Office representatives met to
discuss the split bus distribution system. They decided there would be two
circuit breaker panels similar to those of Mockup 5. All power distribution
system controls would be located on the system engineer's center side console
with remote controls and valves on the commander's center side console.
"Monthly Progress Report No. 23," LPR-10-39, p. 17.
December 10-January 7Because of faults in both design and in testing
procedures, the positive expulsion tanks for the CSM reaction control system
failed their verification tests (begun during the preceding month).
"ASPO Weekly Management Report" (December 10, 1964-January 7, 1965).
December 10-January 7Crew Systems Division received from North American
a mockup of the proposed design of the food stowage compartment in the Block II
CSM. This article would be used for packaging studies in preparation for the
lower equipment bay mockup review in February.
December 10-January 7By improving filling and preparation procedures
and by using nickel foil in the oxygen electrode, Pratt and Whitney eliminated
both short- and long-term plugging in the LEM's fuel cell assembly. Since then,
Pratt and Whitney had consistently operated single cells for over 400 hours and
- as far as the company was concerned - felt this settled the matter.
December 10-January 7The resident Apollo office at North American
discussed the company's tooling concepts for the Block II spacecraft with the
chief of Marshall's Planning and Tool Engineering Division and the local
Marshall representative. These reviewers agreed on the suitability of North
American's basic approach. Though they recognized that the initial tooling cost
would be high, they nonetheless felt that the total costs of manufacturing would
not be appreciably affected. The substitution of mechanical for optical checking
devices, it was agreed, would eliminate much of the "judgment factor" from the
inspection process; mechanical checking also would assure uniformity of major
components or subsystems.
Ibid.; "Apollo Monthly Progress Report," SID 62-300-33, p. 27.
December 11MSC directed Grummann to provide a LEM abort guidance
section (AGS) having
Letter, Joseph F. Shea, MSC, to GAEC, Attn: R. S. Mullaney,
"Contract NAS 9-1100, Abort Guidance Section Configuration," December 11, 1964.
- a computer memory of 4096 words
- the provision for in-flight null bias gyro drift compensation
- a general purpose input output device
- Bell 3B accelerometers
- input registers for rendezvous radar information such that a future
interface could be mechanized if desired
- an interface between the primary navigation and guidance system (PNGS) and
the AGS for position and velocity updating of the AGS from the
The Lunar Excursion Module (LEM).
December 11From MSC, Grumman received updated criteria to be used in
the design of the LEM's landing gear. The gear must be designed to absorb
completely the landing impact; it must also provide adequate stability for the
vehicle under varying surface conditions, which were spelled out in precise
detail.) Maximum conditions that MSC anticipated at touchdown were:
vertical velocity - 3.05 m (10 ft) per sec
horizontal velocity - 1.22 m (4 ft) per sec
pitch - 3 degrees
roll - 3 degrees
yaw - random
attitude rates - 3 degrees per sec
At touchdown, all engines (descent and reaction control would be off. "It
must be recognized," MSC emphasized, "that the vertical and horizontal velocity
values . . . are also constraints on the flight control system."
Letter, W. F. Rector III, MSC, to GAEC, Attn: R. S. Mullaney, "Contract NAS
9-1100, Landing gear design criteria," December 11, 1964.
December 14ASPO's Operations Planning Division directed Grumman to
provide six recharges of the portable life support system (PLSS) and three PLSS
batteries (rechargeable and replaceable).
Letter, W. F. Rector III, MSC, to GAEC, Attn: R. S. Mullaney, "Contract NAS
9-1100, Resolution of M-5 mockup review chits 1-16 and 1-20," December 14, 1964.
December 15Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight George E.
Mueller informed MSC Director Robert R. Gilruth that the Integrated Mission
Control Center at MSC should be renamed Mission Control Center. He said, "By
calling it the Mission Control Center, it has the advantage of retaining as much
as possible of the original name which has become so well known to the press,
the Congress and the public."
Letter, Mueller to Gilruth, December 15, 1964.
December 15-16Dalmo-Victor studied thermal-demanded weight increases
for the LEM's steerable antenna. Investigators reported to Grumman and RCA that,
in the plume of the CSM's reaction control engines, 1.18 kg (2.5 lbs) was
necessary merely for the survival of the antenna; another 1.18 kg would be
required for tracking during this impingement.
"Monthly Progress Report No. 23," LPR-10-39, p. 5; "ASPO Weekly Management
Report" (December 10, 1964-January 7, 1965).
December 16Aboard a KC-135 from Wright-Patterson AFB, the fecal
canister and urine relief tube were first tested under zero-g conditions.
Similar manned tests of a complete unit were scheduled for February 1965.
"Apollo Monthly Progress Report," SID 62-300-33, pp. 4-6.
December 16A mission planning presentation was given to ASPO Manager
Joseph F. Shea, Assistant Director for Flight Operations Christopher C. Kraft,
Jr., and Assistant Director for Flight Crew Operations Donald K. Slayton
covering missions AS-201, AS-202, and AS-203. Shea said he wanted either a
natural decaying orbit of proper lifetime or reaction control system deorbit
capability for the first manned missions. It was decided not to put a C-band
beacon on the SM for the post CM/SM separation tracking. This decision came back
to haunt the program much later.
Memorandum, Carl R. Huss, MSC, to JSC Historical Office, "Comments on Volume
III of The Apollo Spacecraft: A Chronology," June 6, 1973.
December 16-January 15Phase II service propulsion system engine tests
at Arnold Engineering Development Center were begun under simulated high
altitude conditions with a successful first firing of 30 seconds. A total of
nine firings were completed.
"Apollo Monthly Progress Report," SID 62-300-33, p. 13.
December 16-January 15Ames researchers conducted 23 runs in the
Center's wind tunnel to confirm the flight test instrumentation's compatibility
with the aft heatshield of the CM. The instrumentation performed satisfactorily.
"Apollo Monthly Progress Report," SID 62-300-33, pp. 10-11.
December 17NASA announced the selection of two firms to supply
electronics equipment for the Manned Space Flight Network:
NASA News Release 64-318, "NASA Selects Apollo Data
Contractor," December 17, 1964.
- Dynatronics, Inc., to design and manufacture pulse code modulation (PCM)
telemetry systems. (The main function of the PCM system would be to decode, or
as the NASA news release put it, "decommutate," telemetry signals from the
spacecraft). Dynatronics' contract would be worth an estimated 3.5 million.
- Univac Division of Sperry Rand, to furnish data processors. (These
machines, as their name indicates, would process those signals received by the
PCM system. This information then would be transmitted to the Mission Control
Center at Houston. The value of Univac's contract was placed at $4.5
December 18Crew Systems Division (CSD) engineers, in their continuing
effort to improve the design of the space suit, recommended a number of
modifications to the thermal garment for example, a larger sleeve opening to
facilitate inserting the second arm; and alterations to the neck and chest to
increase the astronaut's downward view. By the middle of January, CSD's Robert
E. Smylie could report several major design changes improved greatly the suit's
don doff characteristics and made it less bulky. (See January 19, 1965.)
Memorandum, Francis J. DeVos, MSC, to Chief, Apollo Support Office, "Improved
External Thermal Garment fit and donning, doffing studies," December 18, 1964.
December 18NASA Administrator James E. Webb thanked Secretary of
Defense Robert S. McNamara for providing aircraft support for the Apollo
program. Webb informed McNamara that NASA had transferred $600,000 to the
Electronic Systems Division of the Air Force, and "this should provide us the
ability to initiate the definition phase of the C-135 Apollo support aircraft
program." The aircraft would be used to supplement telemetry and communications
coverage of the pre-injection phase of the flights.
Webb added that the Bureau of the Budget had the question of identifying four
additional C-135's well on its way toward resolution; and that NASA would
continue planning on the basis of 12 C-135 aircraft for the Apollo program.
McNamara had written Webb on November 27, 1964, that "The Air Force has
completed a study of a number of alternative combinations of aircraft to meet
Apollo requirements. They conclude that the optimum solution is to equip twelve
C-135's to support Apollo . . ." Total cost of instrumenting 12 C-135's was
estimated to cost $27.7 million, including the $600,000 for the definition
Letters, Webb to McNamara, December 18, 1964; McNamara to Webb, November 27,
December 18North American delivered spacecraft 001's CM to White Sands.
The SM was shipped several days later, and would be used for propulsion engine
development. Aerojet-General shipped the service propulsion engine to the
facility on January 6, 1965.
NAA, "Apollo Monthly Progress Report," SID 62-300-33, pp. 1, 12
December 21The Structures and Mechanics Division (SMD) summarized the
thermal status of antennas for the Apollo spacecraft (both CSM and LEM).
Generally, most troubles stemmed from plume impingement by the reaction control
or radiation from the service propulsion engines. These problems, SMD reported,
were being solved by increasing the weight of an antenna either its structural
weight or its insulation; by shielding it from the engines' exhaust; by
isolating its more critical components; or by a combination of these methods.
Memorandum, R. G. Irvin, MSC, to J. W. Craig, MSC, "LEM thermal design
mission," December 9, 1964; memorandum, Ralph S. Sawyer, MSC, to Chief,
Propulsion and Power Division, "Reaction control system engine plume impingement
on steerable high gain antenna earth tracker," December 21, 1964.
December 21-22In response to MSC's new criteria for the landing gear of
the LEM, Grumman representatives met with Center officials in Houston to revise
the design. Grumman had formulated a concept for a 419-cm (165-in) radius,
cantilever-type configuration, In analyzing its performance, Grumman and
Structures and Mechanics Division (SMD) engineers, working separately, had
reached the same conclusion: namely, that it did not provide sufficient
stability nor did it absorb enough of the landing impact. Both parties to this
meeting agreed that the gear's performance could be improved by redesigning the
foot pads and beefing up the gear struts. Grumman was modifying other parts of
the spacecraft's undercarriage accordingly.
At the same time, Grumman advised MSC that it considered impractical a
contrivance to simulate lunar gravity in the drop program for test Mockup 5.
Grumman put forth another idea: use a full-sized LEM, the company said, but one
weighing only one-sixth as much as a flight-ready vehicle. SMD officials were
evaluating this latest idea, while they were reviewing the entire TM-5 program.
"Project Apollo, Abstract of Procedures, LEM Structures and Landing Gear
Systems Meeting, December 21-22, 1964"; "Monthly Progress Report No. 23,"
LPR-10-39, p. 15; MSC, "ASPO Weekly Management Report" [January 7-14, 1965].
December 23NASA Technical Services constructed the molds that would be
used to make the one-piece bubble helmets for the Apollo space suits. These
forms would be delivered to General Electric and to Texstar, the two firms that
would actually fabricate the helmets, with the first shell expected about
At the same time, Crew Systems Division completed drop tests on the new
helmet concept. The division's engineers also began designing and fabrication of
support items (neck rings, feed ports, and skull caps), as well as exploring
methods of maintaining the helmet's hygiene and habitability.
Letter, Richard S. Johnston, MSC, to Curtis Jones, GE, December 23, 1964;
"ASPO Weekly Management Report" [December 10, 1964-January 7, 1965].
December 24To strengthen the Agency's managerial organization, NASA
announced a realignment within the Office of Manned Space Flight:
included in this reorganization was a consolidation of activities at Cape
Kennedy aimed at bringing assembly, checking, and launch responsibilities within
the scope of a single organization. MSC's Florida Operations was absorbed; Kurt
H. Debus assumed the title of Director of Launch Operations; and G. Merritt
Preston, who had headed the local MSC group, became Debus' deputy.
- The post of Deputy Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight
Operations was eliminated. (It had, in fact, been vacant since April 24, 1964,
when Walter C. Williams had resigned. In its stead, the position of Mission
Operations Director was created and filled by E. E. Christensen.
- Two positions as mission directors were created under Christensen. Each
director would have overall responsibility for a particular mission.
- A new organization to coordinate ground support efforts was created, the
Operations Support Requirements Office, headed by B. Porter Brown.
NASA News Release 64-327, "NASA Realigns Manned Space Flight Unit in Gemini,
Apollo Programs," December 24, 1964.
December 28MSC directed North American to modify the CM so that the
sight assembly could be used from either docking window.
Letter, James L. Neal, MSC, to NAA, Space and Information Systems Division,
"Contract Change Authorization No. 283," December 28, 1964; "Apollo Monthly
Progress Report," SID 62-300-32, p. 11.
December 29The Lunar Sample Receiving Laboratory, currently being
planned for construction at MSC, would support - in addition to its vital role
as a quarantine area - two important activities:
Technical requirements for the facility were being defined
by MSC's Space Environment Group, various Apollo science teams, and an ad hoc
committee established by NASA Headquarters.
- Research on the samples to support succeeding Apollo flights.
- Sorting and distribution of lunar samples to the scientific
Memorandum, John M. Eggleston, MSC, to Distr., "MSC Requirements for Apollo
Operational Lunar Sample Measurements," December 29, 1964.
December 31After conferring with the Space Medicine Branch and with the
Gemini and Apollo support offices, Crew Systems Division officials opted for
identical bioinstrumentation in both blocks of Apollo spacecraft. Hamilton
Standard would also try to use identical harnesses.
"ASPO Weekly Management Report" [December 10, 1964-January 7, 1965].
During the MonthGrumman ordered its major subcontractors supplying
electronic equipment for the LEM to implement revised test programs and hardware
schedules (in line with the new design approach). A similar directive went to
RCA to modify the attitude and translation and the descent engine control
assemblies as required for the new concept of an integrated assembly for
guidance, navigation, and control of the spacecraft.
"Monthly Progress Report No. 23," LPR-10-39, p. 24.
During the QuarterCrew Systems Division approved the use of modified
Gemini space suits in Block I Apollo spacecraft. MSC and David Clark Company
amended their Gemini suit contract to cover design and fabrication of a
prototype Block I suit.
Memorandum, Robert E. Smylie, MSC, to Chief, Program Control Division,
"Apollo Spacecraft Program Quarterly Status Report No. 10," January 19, 1965,
During the QuarterLing-Temco-Vought began large-scale developmental
testing of the radiator for the Block II CSM environmental control system. One
problem immediately apparent was the radiator's performance under extreme
During the QuarterIn September 1964, Hamilton Standard, manufacturer of
the portable life support system (PLSS), had established a 108-watt-hour
capacity for the system's batteries. And on the basis of that figure, Grumman
had been authorized to proceed with the development of the LEM's battery charger
(see November 5, 1964). (The size of the charger was determined by several
factors, but primarily by the size of the battery and time limits for
During November, however, Hamilton Standard and Crew Systems Division (CSD)
engineers advised the Instrumentation and Electronic Systems Division (IESD)
that the PLSS's power requirements had increased to about 200 watt-hours. (CSD
had jurisdiction over the PLSS, including battery requirements; IESD was
responsible for the charger.) Hamilton Standard placed most of the blame on the
cooling pump motor, which proved far less efficient than anticipated, as well as
on the addition of biosensor equipment. ASPO Manager Joseph F. Shea, reviewing
the company's explanation, commented that "this says what happened . . . but is
far from a justification - this is the type of thing we should understand well
enough to anticipate." "How can this happen," he wondered, ". . . in an area
which has been subjected to so much discussion and delay?"
Representatives from Grumman and Hamilton Standard, meeting at MSC on
December 17, redefined PLSS battery and charging requirements, and Grumman was
directed to proceed with the development of the battery charger. This episode
was accompanied by some sense of urgency, since Grumman had to have firm
requirements before the end of year to prevent a schedule slippage.
"ASPO Weekly Management Report" (December 10, 1964-January 7, 1965); TWX, W.
F. Rector III, MSC, to GAEC, Attn: R. S. Mullaney, December 31, 1964.