Where No Man Has Gone Before, Ch4-5


Completing Design and Starting Construction

Throughout 1965, the Manned Spacecraft Center developed the architectural and engineering requirements for the lunar receiving laboratory (LRL), relying on Headquarters's Manned Space Science Division to define its scientific requirements.60 By the end of the year Houston had completed its preliminary engineering study, requirements for quarantine of crew and support personnel had been incorporated, and in March 1966 NASA officials took to Congress a description for a building enclosing more than 86,000 square feet (8,000 square meters) of floor space. One-fourth of this was required for the crew isolation area, two-thirds for the sample-receiving laboratory and the biological facilities, and the rest for the radiation-counting laboratory - part of which was 50 feet (15 meters) below ground level and elaborately shielded against radiation from outside.61

Houston planned a two-phase construction program; the first, for the foundation and building shell, to begin in July 1966; and the second, to complete and equip the building, to start in September. Total construction costs were estimated at around $8 million. The vacuum system and its associated equipment were to be designed and built by the Oak Ridge National Laboratory of the Atomic Energy Commission. At the time of the congressional hearings MSC expected the entire facility to be ready for operation by the end of December 1967.62 A program office and a policy board for the LRL were established in May 1966.63

Congress's unexpected opposition to the LRL delayed the schedule, however, and by midsummer Headquarters advised Houston that it could solicit bids but could not open them until NASA's authorization bill had passed. Both schedule and budget were tight, but it seemed that MSC would have to live with both, since Congress was far from favorable toward the project.64 Clearance to open bids for the first phase of construction came on July 28 with the stipulation that no contract was to be awarded nor was the second contractor to be announced until Headquarters gave the word.65 On August 1 MSC selected Warrior Constructors, Inc., of Houston for the initial phase of construction; on the 19th the contract for completing the laboratory went to a consortium of Warrior, National Electronics Corp. of Houston, and Notkin & Co. of Kansas City, Mo. The two contracts totaled approximately $7.8 million.66

60. Leo T. Zbanek to Chief, Facilities Div., "Lunar Sample Handling Facility," Mar. 5, 1965; Faget to Foster, "MSC Lunar Sample Receiving Laboratory," Mar. 22, 1965; OSSA Ad Hoc Committee on the Lunar Sample Receiving Laboratory, "Concepts, Functional Requirements, Specifications and Recommended Plan of Operation for the Lunar Sample Receiving Laboratory," Mar. 15, 1965; McLane to J. G. Griffith, "Lunar Sample Receiving Laboratory," Apr. 8, 1965; Gilruth to Chief, Engineering Div., "Formation of a Technical Working Committee for the Design of a Lunar Sample Receiving Laboratory and Designation as Consultants to Assist in the Selection of an Architect-Engineer Firm," June 14, 1965; Foster to Faget, "Membership of the Headquarters Advisory Committee on Lunar Sample Receiving Laboratory," July 14, 1965; Foster to Dir., Facilities Programming and Construction, "Lunar Sample Receiving Laboratory," Aug. 19, 1965; Foster to George M. Low, "Lunar Sample Receiving Laboratory," Aug. 25, 1965; OSSA Standing Committee on LSRL, "Review of the Preliminary Engineering Report (PER) of the Lunar Sample Receiving Laboratory (LSRL)," Nov. 10, 1965; Low to Foster through Dr. George E. Mueller, "Manned Space Science Standing Committee for the Lunar Sample Receiving Laboratory," Dec. 9, 1965.

61. House, 1967 NASA Authorization, pt. 2, Mar. 1, 1966, p. 472.

62. Dave W. Lang to George J. Vecchietti, "Schedule of Procurement Actions - Lunar Receiving Laboratory," Apr. 30, 1966.

63. MSC Announcement 66-57, "Establishment of a Lunar Receiving Laboratory Policy Board and a Lunar Receiving Laboratory Program Office," May 9, 1966.

64. D. D. Wyatt, "Lunar Receiving Facility, memo for record, Manned Spacecraft Center," June 14, 1965.

65. Mueller to MSC, TWX, subj.: "Lunar Receiving Laboratory," July 28, 1966.

66. NASA Releases 66-200, Aug. 1, 1966, and 66-222, Aug. 19, 1966.

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