Part 3 (F)

Man Circles the Moon, the Eagle Lands, and Manned Lunar Exploration

October through December 1969

1969 October

1969 November

1969 December


October 3

An exchange of correspondence that had begun in April formalized the suggestion that a series of handbooks on the "lessons learned" from the Apollo program should be prepared as an aid to future programs.

Ltrs., Samuel C. Phillips, NASA Hq., to George M. Low, MSC, April 30, 1969; Low to Phillips, May 5, 1969; memos, Low to Director of Flight Operations, "Apollo experience reports," Sept. 23, 1969; Christopher C. Kraft, Jr., MSC, to distr., "Documentation of FOD Apollo experience," Oct. 3, 1969.

October 6

Program responsibility for the Saturn launch vehicles was divided, at the Headquarters level, between the Apollo Program Office and the Apollo Applications Program. Overall responsibility for the Saturn V remained with the Apollo Program Office, while overall responsibility for the Saturn IB vehicle was assigned to Apollo Applications.

Memorandum of Understanding between the Apollo and Apollo Applications Program Offices on Saturn Vehicle Management Interfaces, signed Rocco A. Petrone, APO, Oct. 6, 1969, and William C. Schneider, AAP, Oct. 13, 1969.

October 10

Major milestones were reached for extending astronauts' staytime on the moon and increasing their mobility for the Apollo 16-20 missions. Modifications in the A7L spacesuit incorporating improved waist mobility were authorized, and letter contract authority for the portable life support system secondary life support system was approved.

Minutes of Manned Space Flight Management Council Meeting, Oct. 15, 1969.

October 12

A portion of the Apollo 12 mission would be devoted to an examination of Surveyor III and recovery of its TV camera and thermal-switch glass mirror fragments, MSC announced. Recovery of the glass fragments was important to Jet Propulsion Laboratory, to provide data for designing thermal switches for the Mercury-Venus Mariners to be flown in 1973. However, recovery of the splinters could easily cause cuts and leaks in the astronauts' gloves; extreme caution would be required. The following procedures were recommended: use of a line during the initial solo descent into the Surveyor III crater, to determine the footing and climbing situation before both crewmen descended into the crater, and recovery of thermal-switch glass fragments by a suitable tool such as tweezers, to prevent glove damage.

Memo, James A. McDivitt, MSC, to distr., "Apollo 12 Surveyor III safety review and recommendation," Oct. 18, 1969; Apollo 12 Surveyor III Safety Report, Oct. 10, 1969.

October 21

Apollo 12 film from the onboard cameras would be delivered in two batches to the Lunar Receiving Laboratory for decontamination within 24 to 36 hours after recovery, MSC reported. Decontamination was expected to take an additional 47 hours for each batch. Film would then be released for processing at the Photographic Technology Laboratory. Photography containing earth views would be prepared at once, but would not be released until authorized by the MSC Director. The flight crew logs would be photographically copied from outside the crew reception area of the LRL using procedures previously developed and agreed on. Original logs would be retained within the crew recovery area during the quarantine period, after which they would be picked up by the flight crew.

Memo, Donald D. Arabian, MSC, to Chief, Photographic Technology Laboratory, "Photographic processing and distribution requirements for Apollo 12 (AS-507) mission and scientific photography," Oct. 21, 1969.

October 22

The Flight Crew Operations Directorate expressed opposition to a major effort to develop a lunar flyer until after the Apollo 16 mission. Plans for Apollo flights 12 through 16 required that the LM be maneuvered to landings at various points of scientific interest on the lunar surface, and experience from Apollo 11 and partial gravity simulators indicated the crews would be able to accomplish their surface EVA tasks for these missions without the aid of a mobility device.

Memo, Donald K. Slayton, MSC, to Director of Engineering and Development, "Lunar flyer studies," Oct. 22, 1969.

October 27

MSC Flight Operations informed the Apollo 12 commander that records could be set in a number of areas on the Apollo 12 mission. MSC planned to file claims with the Fdration Aronautique Internationale for:

Class records for a lunar mission

  1. Duration of a lunar mission.
  2. Duration of stay in lunar orbit.
  3. Duration of stay on lunar surface.
  4. Duration of stay in spacecraft on lunar surface.
  5. Duration of stay outside spacecraft on lunar surface.
Absolute world record

  1. Duration of stay outside spacecraft on lunar surface.
Memo, Sigurd A. Sjoberg, MSC, to the Apollo 12 Commander, "World Space Flight Records for the Apollo 12 Mission," Oct. 27, 1969.

October 28

A lunar roving vehicle (LRV) cost-plus-incentive-fee contract was awarded to the Boeing Co. LRV-1 was scheduled for delivery on April 1, 1971, leaving only 17 months for vehicle development, production, and tests. The LRV project was managed at MSFC by Saverio F. Morea as a project within the Saturn Program Office. The Boeing Company would manage the LRV project in Huntsville, Ala., under Henry Kudish. General Motors Corp. AC Electronics Defense Research Laboratories in Santa Barbara, Calif., would furnish the mobility system (wheels, motors, and suspension). The Boeing Go. in Seattle, Wash., would furnish the electronics and navigation system. Vehicle testing would take place at the Boeing facility in Kent, Wash., and the chassis manufacturing and overall assembly would take place at the Boeing facility in Huntsville, Ala.

Memo, James A. McDivitt, MSC, to distr., "Lunar Roving Vehicle," Nov. 1, 1969; NASA OMSF, "Manned Space Flight Weekly Report - November 3, 1969."

October 30

The Interagency Committee on Back Contamination made the following decisions regarding Apollo 12. The biological isolation garment would not be used. A biological mask and flight suit would be used instead. (See entry of September 17, 1969.) Sterilization of flight film was eliminated. Data tapes would be sterilized if required before the release of samples. The command module would not be decontaminated unless access for postflight testing was required before the sample release date of January 7, 1970.

Memos, Richard C. Johnston, MSC, to distr., "Minutes of ICBC Meeting of October 30, 1969"; Johnston to Director of Medical Research and Operations and Director of Science and Applications, "ICBC Meeting," Oct. 7, 1969.

November 3

The spacecraft walk-down team, established by ASPO in July in an effort to stem the increased number of human errors found in flight hardware, made a walkaround inspection of CSM-110 (Apollo 14 hardware). (See entry of July 8, 1969.) Cooperation of North American Rockwell and the Resident Apollo Spacecraft Program Office was excellent during the preparation and implementation of the inspection. No significant discrepancies were found by the inspection team during the several hours of inspection.

Memo, Scott H. Simpkinson, MSC, to ASPO Command and Service Modules Manager, "Action items resulting from CSM-110 engineering walkaround inspection," Nov. 10, 1969.

November 3

Christopher C. Kraft, Jr., MSC Director of Flight Operations, suggested that an in-house review reevaluate the Apollo secondary life support system, because of its complexity and cost of development, and at the same time reexamine the possibilities of an expanded oxygen purge system using identical concepts.

Memo, Christopher C. Kraft, Jr., MSC, to James A McDivitt, MSC, "SLSS," Nov. 3, 1969.

November 4

Provision of a thermometer that could be attached to the ALSEP for the Apollo 13 mission, to take a reading of the lunar surface soil temperature, was being considered at MSC.

Memo, James A. McDivitt, MSC, to Robert A. Gardiner, MSC, "Lunar surface temperatures," Nov. 4, 1969.

November 4-7

Preparations for a November 14 launch of Apollo 12 continued on schedule. Final lunar surface simulations with the crew, network, and Mission Control Center were completed on November 4. The instrument-unit command system, with a replacement transponder and decoder, was successfully retested and in-place repair of four LM-6 circuit breakers was completed, also on November 4. The recovery quarantine equipment and mobile quarantine facility completed checkout for shipment to the recovery ship on November 7. The final consumable analysis showed positive margins for all phases of the mission. Also, on November 7, the countdown to launch began at KSC (T minus 98 hours). A 31-hour hold was scheduled for November 8 with the count resuming at 9:00 a.m. November 9 (T minus 84 hours). The hold was designed to avoid premium wage cost.

NASA OMSF, "Manned Space Flight Weekly Report - November 10, 1969."

November 6

In an exchange of correspondence between MSFC and MSC concern was expressed over the weight growth of the lunar roving vehicle (LRV) and its payload. As a result, a recommendation was made that MSFC manage the weight of the LRV and MSC the payload weight.

Ltrs., Saverio F. Morea, MSFC, to James A. McDivitt, MSC, "LRV Weight Growth," Nov. 6, 1969; McDivitt to Roy E. Godfrey, MSFC, Dec. 12, 1969.

November 10

At the request of the Apollo 12 crew, the internal primary guidance and navigational control system targeting for descent was being changed so that the automatic guidance would land LM-6 at Surveyor III rather than at a point offset 305 meters east and 153 meters north as originally planned.

Memo, James A. McDivitt, MSC, to distr., "Apollo 12 PGNCS descent targeting is being changed," Nov. 10, 1969; TWX, McDivitt to C. Lee and R. Sheridan, NASA Hq., Nov. 4, 1969.

November 10

NASA announced the resignation of Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight George E. Mueller effective December 10. In December Charles W. Mathews was named Acting Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight until a successor for Mueller was appointed.

Astronautics and Aeronautics, 1969 (NASA SP-4014, 1970), pp. 368, 405; NASA News Release 69-151; NASA Announcement, Dec. 11, 1969.

November 13

President Nixon nominated George M. Low, former Apollo Spacecraft Program Manager at MSC, as NASA Deputy Administrator. Low had been with the space program since 1949, when he joined NACA. The Senate confirmed the nomination on November 26. (See also entries of September 25 and December 3, 1969.)

Office of the Federal Register, National Archives and Records Service, Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents, Nov. 17, 1969, p. 1597; Congressional Record, Nov. 26, 1969, pp. S15140, D1126.

November 14-24

Apollo 12 (AS-507)-with astronauts Charles Conrad, Jr., Richard F. Gordon, Jr., and Alan L. Bean as the crewmen-was launched from Pad A, Launch Complex 39, KSC, at 11:22 a.m. EST November 14. Lightning struck the space vehicle twice, at 36.5 seconds and 52 seconds into the mission. The first strike was visible to spectators at the launch site. No damage was done. Except for special attention given to verifying all spacecraft systems because of the lightning strikes, the activities during earth-orbit checkout, translunar injection, and translunar coast were similar to those of Apollo 10 and Apollo 11 (see entries of May 18-26 and July 16-24, 1969).

During the translunar coast astronauts Conrad and Bean transferred to the LM one-half hour earlier than planned in order to obtain full TV coverage through the Goldstone tracking station. The 56-minute TV transmission showed excellent color pictures of the CSM, the intravehicular transfer, the LM interior, the earth, and the moon.

At 10:47 p.m. EST, November 17, the spacecraft entered a lunar orbit of 312.6 x 115.9 kilometers. A second service propulsion system burn circularized the orbit with a 122.5-kilometer apolune and a 100.6-kilometer perilune. Conrad and Bean again transferred to the LM, where they perfomed housekeeping chores, a voice and telemetry test, and an oxygen purge system check. They then returned to the CM.

Conrad and Bean reentered the LM, checked out all systems, and at 10:17 p.m. EST on November 18 fired the reaction control system thrusters to separate the CSM 108 (the Yankee Clipper) from the LM-6 (the Intrepid). At 1:55 a.m. EST November 19, the Intrepid landed on the moon's Ocean of Storms, about 163 meters from the Surveyor III spacecraft that had landed April 19, 1967. Conrad, shorter than Neil Armstrong (first man on the moon, July 20), had a little difficulty negotiating the last step from the LM ladder to the lunar surface. When he touched the surface at 6:44 a.m. EST November 19, he exclaimed, "Whoopee! Man, that may have been a small step for Neil, but that's a long one for me."

Bean joined Conrad on the surface at 7:14 a.m. They collected a 1.9-kilogram contingency sample of lunar material and later a 14.8-kilogram selected sample. They also deployed an S-band antenna, solar wind composition experiment, and the American flag. An Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments Package with a SNAP-27 atomic generator was deployed about 182 meters from the LM. After 3 hours 56 minutes on the lunar surface, the two astronauts entered the Intrepid to rest and check plans for the next EVA.

The astronauts again left the LM at 10:55 p.m. EST November 19. During the second EVA, Conrad and Bean retrieved the lunar module TV camera for return to earth for a failure analysis, obtained photographic panoramas, core and trench samples, a lunar environment sample, and assorted rock, dirt, bedrock, and molten samples. The crew then examined and retrieved parts of Surveyor III, including the TV camera and soil scoop. After 3 hours 49 minutes on the lunar surface during the second EVA, the two crewmen entered the LM at 2:44 a.m. EST November 20. Meanwhile astronaut Gordon, orbiting the moon in the Yankee Clipper, had completed a lunar multispectral photography experiment and photographed proposed future landing sites.

At 9:26 a.m. EST November 20, after 31 hours 31 minutes on the moon, Intrepid successfully lifted off with 34.4 kilograms of lunar samples. Rendezvous maneuvers went as planned. The LM docked with the CSM at 12:58 p.m. November 20. The last 24 minutes of the rendezvous sequence was televised. After the crew transferred with the samples, equipment, and film to the Yankee Clipper, the Intrepid was jettisoned and intentionally crashed onto the lunar surface at 5:17 p.m. November 20, 72.2 kilometers southeast of Surveyor III. The crash produced reverberations that lasted about 30 minutes and were detected by the seismometer left on the moon.

At 3:49 p.m. EST November 21, the crew fired the service propulsion system engine, injecting the CSM into a transearth trajectory after 89 hours 2 minutes in lunar orbit. During the transearth coast, views of the receding moon and the interior of the spacecraft were televised, and a question and answer session with scientists and the press was conducted.

Parachute deployment and other reentry events occurred as planned. The CM splashed down in mid-Pacific at 3:58 p.m. EST November 24, 7.25 kilometers from the recovery ship, U.S.S. Hornet. The astronauts, wearing flight suits and biological face masks, were airlifted by helicopter from the CM to the recovery ship, where they entered the mobile quarantine facility. They would remain in this facility until arrival at the Lunar Receiving Laboratory, MSC. The Apollo 12 mission objectives were achieved and the experiments successfully accomplished. [All Apollo experiments are listed in Appendix 5.]

MSC "Apollo 12 (AS-507) Flight Summary," undated; MSC, "Apollo 12 Mission Report" (MSC-01855), March 1970; MSC Apollo Program Summary Report," preliminary draft, p. 2-38, undated; TWX, F. A. Speer, MSFC, to C. M. Lee, NASA Hq., "Apollo 12 (AS-507) HOSC Report," Nov. 14, 1974; ltr., E. R. Mathews, KSC, to distr., "Apollo 12 (AS-507) Quick Look Assessment Report," Nov. 26, 1969; Apollo 12 Preliminary Science Report (NASA SP-235. 1970).

November 15

A review of North American Rockwell Space Division's in subcontract management indicated that its subcontractor schedule and cost performance had been excellent. The quality had been achieved, for the most part, by effective North American Rockwell subcontract management planning and execution of these plans.

Ltr., Kenneth S. Kleinknecht, MSC, to George W. Jeffs, North American Rockwell Corp., Nov. 15, 1969.

November 17

NASA selected an Apollo Orbital Science Photographic Team to provide scientific guidance in design, operation, and data use of photographic systems for the Apollo lunar orbital science program. Chairman was Frederick Doyle of the U.S. Geological Survey. The 14-man team comprised experts from industry, universities, and government.

NASA OMSF, "Manned Space Flight Weekly Report - November 17, 1969."

November 17

NASA discontinued the use of names such "LEO," "ALEM," and "Apollo Lunar Exploration Program" that had been used since Apollo 11 to identify the lunar exploration phase of the Apollo program. Henceforth, the single word title "Apollo" would be used when referring to the program. However, additional descriptive language, such as "lunar exploration phase of Apollo" and "Apollo lunar exploration" would continue to be authorized for defining the Apollo program activity. The action was taken to establish uniformity and eliminate misunderstanding.

Ltr., George E. Mueller, NASA Hq., to Robert R. Gilruth, MSC, Nov. 17, 1969; memo, James A. McDivitt, MSC, to distr., "Identification of the current lunar exploration phase of the Apollo Program," Nov. 26, 1969.

November 26

Christopher C. Kraft, Jr., was appointed Deputy Director of MSC. Kraft, Director of Flight Operations at MSC since November 1963, succeeded George S. Trimble, Jr., who had resigned September 30.

NASA Announcement, Jan. 18, 1972; NASA News Release 72-11; MSC News Release 69-70.

December 1

The MSC Flight Crew Operations Directorate submitted its requirement for a simple lightweight Rover (lunar roving vehicle) guidance and navigation system that would provide the following displayed information to the crew: vehicle heading and heading to the LM, speed in kilometers per hour, total distance traveled in kilometers, and distance to the LM. Requirements were based on the assumptions that the landing area was as well known as for Apollo 12, all traverses were preplanned, accurate photo maps were available, and there was MSFN support through voice communications. The Directorate emphasized that it had no requirements for a display of pitch and roll, X and Y coordinates, or time.

Memo, Donald K. Slayton, MSC, to ASPO Manager, "Rover guidance and navigation system," Dec. 1, 1969.

December 2

The Apollo 12 crew program/project debriefing was held. Some areas of concern included the lunar dust which obscured visibility during the landing, a dust problem in the suit connectors after completion of the first extravehicular activity, and wear on the suits after completion of the second EVA.

NASA OMSF, "Manned Space Flight Weekly Report - December 8, 1969."

December 3

MSFC Director Wernher von Braun forwarded to MSC Director Robert R. Gilruth an analysis of increasing space scientists' dissatisfaction with the space program. "Ultimate origin" of dissatisfaction was in "the very complex and difficult interfaces between science, engineering, and management" in NASA and governmental systems and "the need for a quick and flexible challenge-and-response capability."

Young scientists from an academic environment found changing from a research scientist to a science administrator difficult; they often preferred active research to desk-and-meetings career.

Many scientists were reluctant to accept the long times between conceptual design and data gathering in space experiments - often 6 to 10 years. The question was not only of patience, graduate student support, and funding continuity, but also of scientific obsolescence.

Scientists felt that science was not as well represented in upper NASA management as were engineering and project management and that high-level decisions were often made without consideration of scientific viewpoints. While recognizing that the space program also had other prime objectives - such as advancement of technology, national achievement, applications, earth resources, and "bringing the world closer together" - they felt that "science is still a stepchild in this family of program objectives."

The analysis said that a good portion of the problems could be relieved by actions taken by Centers and NASA Hq. over the next few months and years. NASA space projects should be structured to give more scientists an opportunity to launch experiments. With the few present scientific flights, only a few scientists could hope to have their experiments flown in their lifetimes. The situation would improve when the Space Shuttle and Space Station were available, but that would not be before 1978 or 1979. With low emphasis on OAO, HEAO, Pioneer, ATM, and planetary flights suggested by the President's Space Task Group, "we will have almost no good flight experiments prepared, and almost no scientists left in the program, by the time the gates of the shuttle and the station open for science."

NASA should also find ways to reduce the time span between conception and flight of an experiment. "For Bill Kraushaar, who proposed a measurement of gamma rays with a simple (now almost obsolete) sensor on a Saturn launch vehicle, this time is now 8 years, with no end in sight." For the Apollo telescope mount principal investigators, "this time will be 8 years, provided that ATM-A is launched early in 1972."

The Shuttle promised great improvements, but "initiation or continuation of unmanned, relatively unsophisticated spacecraft projects for science payloads" was "highly desirable."

Procedures for proposal, screening, selection, acceptance, and final approval of experiments were "exceedingly cumbersome and time consuming." Streamlining requirements after approval - early definition, documentation, reporting, reviews, and administrative actions - as well as the maze of committees, boards, panels, and offices, was urgently recommended.

"Many scientists inside and outside NASA have suggested that NASA should establish, at a high level in the Administrator's Office, a 'Chief Scientist' position with no other functions than to act as a spokesman for . . . scientists who wish to participate in the space program."

Ltr., von Braun, MSFC, to Gilruth, MSC, Dec. 3, 1969, with encl., memo, Ernst Stuhlinger, MSFC, to von Braun, "Notes on 'Science in NASA,'" Nov. 7, 1969.

December 3

George M. Low was sworn in as NASA Deputy Administrator by Thomas O. Paine, NASA Administrator. (See November 13.)

NASA News Release 69-159, Dec. 3, 1969.

December 15

NASA was considering incorporation of a mobile equipment transporter on LM-8, LM-9, and LM-10, to help with problems such as the Apollo 12 astronauts had in carrying hand tools, sample boxes and bags, a stereo camera, and other equipment on the lunar surface. The MET also could extend lunar surface activities to a greater distance from the lunar module. A prototype MET and training hardware were being fabricated and were expected to be available in late December.

Memo, James A. McDivitt, MSC, to Rocco A. Petrone, NASA Hq., "Mobile Equipment Transporter (MET)," Dec. 15, 1969.

December 16-18

A lunar roving vehicle preliminary requirements review was held at MSFC. MSC was asked to review the requirement for a roll bar which it had requested in the interest of astronaut safety. Navigation system requirements as defined by MSC would require changes in the design presented by Boeing (see entry of December 1, 1969). Full-length fenders and effects of dust on radiators, sealed joints, and vision needed to be considered and appropriate measures taken in the vehicle design, the review found.

Ltr., William E. Stoney, NASA Hq., to Roy E. Godfrey, MSFC, and James A. McDivitt, MSC, "Lunar Roving Vehicle Preliminary Requirements Review, December 16-18, 1969," Dec. 24, 1969; memo, Donald K. Slayton, MSC, to David B. Pendley, MSC, "Lunar Rover Vehicle (LRV) crew safety provisions," Dec. 12, 1969.

December 18

A configuration control panel for Apollo GFE scientific equipment was established at MSC, with Robert A. Gardiner as chairman. The panel would control proposed changes in Apollo spacecraft GFE science equipment.

Memo, James A. McDivitt, MSC, to distr., "Configuration control panel for GFE scientific equipment," Dec. 18, 1969.

December 22

Correlation of the Apollo 12 descent film with the crew's comments during landing indicated that lunar dust first became apparent at about 30 meters from the surface and that from about 12 meters above to the actual touchdown the ground was almost completely obscured by the dust. Because of both Apollo 11 and Apollo 12 landing experiences, studies were begun and discussions held about various aspects of lunar dust. An MSC management review in the latter part of January 1970 would include discussions of the basic mechanism of erosion during landing, the possibility of alleviating the effects of erosion on visibility, and an estimate of what could be expected at future lunar landing sites.

Memo, James A. McDivitt, MSC, to distr., "Investigation of the effects of lunar dust during LM landing," Dec. 22, 1969; NASA OMSF, "Manned Space Flight Weekly Report - December 22, 1969"; ltr., Robert R. Gilruth, MSC, to Rocco A. Petrone, NASA Hq., "Landing site for Apollo 13," Dec. 18, 1969.

December 28

MSC announced the appointment of Sigurd A. Sjoberg as Director of Flight Operations, replacing Christopher C. Kraft, Jr., who had been appointed MSC Deputy Director Nov. 26. Sjoberg had been Deputy Director of Flight Operations since 1963.

MSC News Release 70-1, Jan. 1, 1969.

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