Status: Completed 1972.
Apollo probably could have achieved its goal a little quicker by using a 2-man capsule for a direct flight. But all of the decisions made in the seven months after go-ahead proved basically correct. The Apollo program was not a hoax, but the real thing.
The Apollo re-entry vehicle itself was originally initiated by NASA in 1960 as the next step beyond the primitive Mercury capsule. It was to be an all-purpose spacecraft for missions to earth orbit and the moon. At the time the design was defined, any moon landing was seen as a far-off unfounded objective - sometime in the 1970's. The capsule was to have a crew of three, because it was thought the crew would have to monitor the spacecraft's systems at all times - therefore, three 8-hour duty shifts. It had to be big enough inside to allow the 3-man crew to function for 14-day missions - the approximate length of the maximum envisioned autonomous earth orbit or lunar mission. These considerations set the size of the capsule, which NASA estimated would be under 4 metric tons.
Max Faget, NASA Langley's "Chief Designer", had already settled on a preferred ballistic capsule configuration, essentially that used on Mercury, but with the slope of the sides increased to allow the capsule to achieve a lift to drag coefficient of 0.5 - necessary to limit G-forces to below 8 when re-entering from lunar distances. Other NASA centers and study contractors favored other shapes - lifting bodies, lenticular flying saucers, conical shapes based on the substantial experience in missile re-entry vehicles, General Electric's D-2 'headlight'. NASA funded extensive studies on all of these, but in the end it seemed that all of this work was undertaken just to prove that there was no alternative with significantly less weight than Faget's preferred design.
After Yuri Gagarin's flight in April 1961, President Kennedy asked NASA to come up with a space first that could be achieved in a reasonable period of time - by the end of the decade - and definitively beat the Russians in the space race. A space station in earth orbit was rejected as being something that the Russians could too easily match. The same went for a manned circumlunar flight. The only mission that would require both sides to develop completely new launch vehicles and spacecraft was a manned lunar landing. Despite the tremendous cost - NASA management tripled the initial $8 billion estimate to be on the safe side - Kennedy announced this as a national goal in May 1961.
The existing Apollo spacecraft concept could return a crew from the moon. But to get it there and back would require an immense booster. The traditional lunar profile was to launch a spacecraft toward the moon, have its landing stage brake it to a lunar landing, then have the ascent stage launch the re-entry capsule from the lunar surface back toward the earth. A spacecraft that could take an Apollo spacecraft on this profile, even using the high-energy but unflown propellant combination of liquid oxygen/liquid hydrogen, would have a total mass of 35 metric tons on trans-lunar injection. This would require a mass in low earth orbit of 90 metric tons. That in turn would require either two to three launches of a Saturn C-2 class booster, or a single launch of a Nova-class booster. Both would require new production and launch facilities, but only the Saturn C-3 could have the prototype 10-m-diameter first stages built under the personal supervision of von Braun's NASA Huntsville rocket team at the existing facility at Michoud. This had been the Peenemuende's rocket team method of working since V-2 days, and they were not going to allow the first stage to be built in any other way.
But the payload requirements for direct-landing an Apollo on the moon were increasing rapidly during the course of 1961. The Apollo capsule began its inevitable weight growth. Its mass went to 4500 kg, then 5000 kg (and would reach 6000 kg by the time of the actual landings). NASA Langley also decided that only proven storable propellants could be used on the lunar landing and ascent stages. The payload requirement finally nearly doubled - 68 metric tons on trans-lunar injection and 181 metric tons in low earth orbit. The booster concept was increased in size by adding F-1 engines to the first stage and stretching the 10-m diameter stages. In the final concept two Saturn C-5 launches would be needed, and the spacecraft and trans-lunar injections stage would have to assembled or refueled in low earth orbit before proceeding toward the moon. This was known as the earth orbit rendezvous approach (EOR) and involved perfecting maneuvering, docking, and fuel transfer techniques that did not even exist yet.
Back at NASA Langley, the idea arose that the mission could be achieved by using a method known as lunar orbit rendezvous. This had been suggested by the Chance Vought company in 1960. Langley's James Chamberlin proposed in July 1961 a moon-landing mission that would involve a single launch of a Saturn C-3, which would send a crew in a Gemini spacecraft to lunar orbit. Also aboard would be one or two lunar 'bugs' - little open-cockpit lunar landers. One crew member would spacewalk to the bug, strap himself into the seat, and then take it down to the lunar surface. After a brief surface mission, he would fly it back to lunar orbit. The Gemini pilot would rendezvous with the bug, the crewman would spacewalk back to the Gemini, and they would return to earth. This scenario was rejected by NASA Langley as too dangerous, too limited, and a threat to Faget's Apollo capsule project.
But Langley did continue with the lunar orbit rendezvous scenario, but this time using the Apollo capsule together with a closed-cabin lunar excursion module (LM) lander that would take two crew to the surface. It was felt that this would allow two men to land on the moon in a single Saturn C-5 launch. The drawback was that all of the untried techniques of the earth orbit rendezvous method would have to be accomplished in lunar orbit, which seemed even less likely to succeed. NASA fostered a myth later of a lone crusading engineer, John Houboult, coming up with the "miracle concept" idea of LOR and fighting his way to the highest levels of NASA management to get it accepted. In fact it had been around for a long time, and made no sense at all.
If the objective was to land two men on the moon, the same thing could be accomplished in a single Saturn C-5 launch on a direct flight using either a Gemini capsule or two-man Apollo-shaped capsule. LOR introduced development of an entirely new LM spacecraft, and the complexities of lunar orbit rendezvous and docking - all for the sake of retaining the Apollo capsule design. Use of either Gemini or a 2-man Apollo shape would allow the same mission to be accomplished with the same booster, and a lot more simply and probably earlier.
By the end of 1961, all the major Apollo contracts had been issued, but the final configuration of the Saturn rocket and the method of achieving the lunar landing had still not been decided. Going to a new contractor for the Apollo capsule was not acceptable to NASA Administrator Webb or his sponsor, Vice President Johnson. North American had been selected at the presidential level in November 1961, overruling the selection of NASA's evaluation committee of Martin. The political and possibly corrupt factors that resulted in North American's selection were exposed after the Apollo 204 fire killed three astronauts six years later. But for whatever reasons, Webb and NASA Langley refused to abandon the 3-man North American Apollo design. Von Braun's team finally gave in to the inevitable, agreeing to LOR but with the proviso that a second Saturn C-5 send a direct lander 'logistics vehicle' to accompany the LM to the surface. This proviso was quickly forgotten. Jerome Wiesner, Kennedy's science adviser, fought to the bitter end for a 2-man capsule, single-launch, direct flight approach. But finally Webb got Kennedy to tell Wiesner to shut up, and despite detailed preliminary designs by McDonnell that proved that the 2-man direct approach was perfectly feasible, using many Gemini systems and components, the idea was shelved and Apollo went on its course.
Grumman was selected to build the Lunar Module for the LOR approach in November 1962. The LM itself suffered horrendous weight growth as well, the initial 10 metric ton weight budget being exceeded by 50%. Luckily for NASA, von Braun's conservative Saturn design ended up delivering nearly 20% more payload than originally planned, and the growth in the Apollo capsule and LM could be accommodated.
The assassination of Kennedy somehow made the commitment to the moon-landing goal inviolable, and two subsequent presidents saw it through to completion. But the project began receiving cutbacks as early as 1965. The costs of the Vietnam War and the missile race with the Soviet Union were contributing factors. But the major reason was a loss of public interest in manned spaceflight after the Russians fell behind in the space race.
The Soviet Union had not taken the Apollo program seriously, believing it to be rhetoric. It took them three years to react, and they did not start their counterpart N1-L3 manned moon-landing program until the end of 1964. They attempted to beat Apollo with start three years late, with one tenth the budget, without a central management structure, and relying on a Soviet military for crucial support that was hostile to the program. Inevitably they did not succeed. Like Apollo, their L3 spacecraft grew in mass. Unlike Apollo, their N1 booster could not deliver the needed payload, and in any case never flew successfully. The N1-L3 program was cancelled in 1974, and the Soviet Union began a 15-year project to assimilate the management, reliability engineering, and quality assurance techniques that had made Apollo successful.
Apollo was one of the great technical endeavors of the 20th Century. In the United States, it left remarkably little legacy. The spacecraft and launch vehicles developed at such enormous expense were abandoned and replaced by pursuit of a chimera - a fully reusable space shuttle. For the hundreds of thousands of industry and government workers that contributed to the project, it was one of the greatest periods of their lives. The generation that had learned how to get things done quickly in World War II were again called to action in the prime of their lives. Compare the schedule of Apollo - seven months from the decision to go ahead to issuance of all major contracts for the spacecraft, rocket stages, and launch site - to NASA's current performance. There were giants in those days - we shall not see their like again.
|Apollo SA-11 From September 1962 NASA planned to fly four early manned Apollo spacecraft on Saturn I boosters. Cancelled in October 1963 in order to fly all-up manned Apollo CSM on more powerful Saturn IB.|
|Apollo SA-12 From September 1962 NASA planned to fly four early manned Apollo spacecraft on Saturn I boosters. Cancelled in October 1963 in order to fly all-up manned Apollo CSM on more powerful Saturn IB.|
|Apollo SA-13 From September 1962 NASA planned to fly four early manned Apollo spacecraft on Saturn I boosters. Cancelled in October 1963 in order to fly all-up manned Apollo CSM on more powerful Saturn IB.|
|Apollo SA-14 From September 1962 NASA planned to fly four early manned Apollo spacecraft on Saturn I boosters. Cancelled in October 1963 in order to fly all-up manned Apollo CSM on more powerful Saturn IB.|
|Apollo 204 The planned first manned flight of the Apollo CSM, the Apollo C category mission. The crew was killed in a fire while testing their capsule on the pad on 27 January 1967, still weeks away from launch. Set back Apollo program by 18 months.|
|Apollo 205 Planned second solo flight test of the Block I Apollo CSM on a Saturn IB. Cancelled after the Apollo 204 fire.|
|Apollo 207 Planned Apollo D mission. Two Saturn IB launches would put Apollo CSM and LM into orbit. CSM crew would dock with LM, test it in earth orbit. Cancelled after Apollo 204 fire.|
|Apollo 503 Cancelled Apollo E mission - test of the Apollo lunar module in high earth orbit. Lunar module was not ready. Instead mission flown only with CSM into lunar orbit as Apollo 8.|
|Apollo 7 First manned test of the Apollo spacecraft. Although the systems worked well, the crew became grumpy with head colds and talked back to the ground. As a result, NASA management determined that none of them would fly again.|
|Apollo 8 First manned flight to lunar orbit. Speed (10,807 m/s) and altitude (378,504 km) records. Mission resulted from audacious decision to send crew around moon to beat Soviets on only second manned Apollo CSM mission and third Saturn V launch.|
|Apollo 9 First manned test of the Lunar Module. First test of the Apollo space suits. First manned flight of a spacecraft incapable of returning to earth. If rendezvous of the Lunar Module with the Apollo CSM had failed, crew would have been stranded in orbit.|
|Apollo 10 Final dress rehearsal in lunar orbit for landing on moon. LM separated and descended to 10 km from surface of moon but did not land. Speed record (11,107 m/s).|
|Apollo 11 First manned lunar landing. The end of the moon race and public support for large space programs. The many changes made after the Apollo 204 fire paid off; all went according to plan, virtually no problems.|
|Apollo 12 Second manned lunar landing. Precision landing near Surveyor 3 that landed in 1967. Lightning struck the booster twice during ascent. Decision was made to press on to moon, despite possibility landing pyrotechnics damaged.|
|NASA's Lost Boilerplate - The Story of BP-1227 In 2002 the Encyclopedia Astronautica uncovered the forgotten story of the recovery of an Apollo capsule by the Soviet Union and it's return to the United States. The original March 2002 article provoked an early example of international group-research on the Internet, with a June 2002 update and with new information from the crewmembers of the USS Southwind in 2008. Now, 13 years later, Eddie Pugh's exhaustive research provides the definitive account of the event.|
|Apollo 13 Fuel cell tank exploded en route to the moon, resulting in loss of all power and oxygen. Only through use of the still-attached LM as a lifeboat could the crew survive to return to earth. Altitude (401,056 km) record.|
|Apollo: Soviets Recovered an Apollo Capsule! The truth only emerged 32 years later - the Soviets recovered an Apollo space capsule in 1970… the original article.|
|Apollo 14 Third manned lunar landing. Only Mercury astronaut to reach moon. Five attempts to dock the command module with the lunar module failed for no apparent reason - mission saved when sixth was successful. Hike to Cone Crater frustrating; rim not reached.|
|Apollo 15 First use of lunar rover on moon. Beautiful images of crew prospecting at edge of Hadley Rill. One of the three main parachutes failed, causing a hard but survivable splashdown.|
|Apollo 16 Second Apollo mission with lunar rover. CSM main engine failure detected in lunar orbit. Landing almost aborted.|
|Apollo 17 Final Apollo lunar landing mission. First geologist to walk on the moon.|
|Apollo 18 Apollo 18 was originally planned in July 1969 to land in the moon's Schroter's Valley, a river-like channel-way. The original February 1972 landing date was extended when NASA cancelled the Apollo 20 mission in January 1970. Apollo 18 in turn cancelled on 2 September 1970 because of congressional cuts in FY 1971 NASA appropriations.|
|Apollo 19 Apollo 19 was originally planned to land in the Hyginus Rille region, which would allow study of lunar linear rilles and craters. Apollo 19 in turn cancelled on 2 September 1970 because of congressional cuts in FY 1971 NASA appropriations.|
|Apollo 20 Apollo 20 was originally planned in July 1969 to land in Crater Copernicus, a spectacular large crater impact area. Later Copernicus was assigned to Apollo 19, and the preferred landing site for Apollo 20 was the Marius Hills, or, if the operational constraints were relaxed, the bright crater Tycho. The planned December 1972 flight was cancelled on January 4, 1970, before any crew assignments were made.|
|Apollo The successful US project to land a man on the moon.|
|Soviets Recovered an Apollo Capsule! - 2008 version In 2002 this web site broke the story that the Soviet Union had recovered an Apollo capsule in 1969 and returned it to the Americans a year later in the extraordinary Cold War visit to Murmansk by the American Coast Guard icebreaker Southwind. Recently Michael Stronski, a Southwind crew member, has provided additional extraordinary photographs of the event.|
|Apollo vs N1-L3|
Apollo CSM / LM vs L3 Lunar Complex
Credit: © Mark Wade
The Manned Lunar Landing Task Group (Low Committee) set up by the Space Exploration Program Council was instructed to prepare a position paper for the NASA Fiscal Year 1962 budget presentation to Congress. The paper was to be a concise statement of NASA's lunar program for Fiscal Year 1962 and was to present the lunar mission in term of both direct ascent and rendezvous. The rendezvous program would be designed to develop a manned spacecraft capability in near space, regardless of whether such a technique would be needed for manned lunar landing. In addition to answering such questions as the reason for not eliminating one of the two mission approaches, the Group was to estimate the cost of the lunar mission and the date of its accomplishment, though not in specific terms. Although the decision to land a man on the moon had not been approved, it was to be stressed that the development of the scientific and technical capability for a manned lunar landing was a prime NASA goal, though not the only one. The first meeting of the Group was to be held on January 9.
At the first meeting of the Manned Lunar Landing Task Group, Associate Administrator Robert C. Seamans, Jr., Director of the Office of Space Flight Programs Abe Silverstein, and Director of the Office of Advanced Research Programs Ira H. Abbott outlined the purpose of the Group to the members. After a discussion of the instructions, the Group considered first the objectives of the total NASA program:
The Manned Lunar Landing Task Group (Low Committee) transmitted its final report to NASA Associate Administrator Robert C. Seamans, Jr. The Group found that the manned lunar landing mission could be accomplished during the decade, using either the earth orbit rendezvous or direct ascent technique. Multiple launchings of Saturn C-2 launch vehicles would be necessary in the earth orbital mode, while the direct ascent technique would require the development of a Nova-class vehicle. Information to be obtained through supporting unmanned lunar exploration programs, such as Ranger and Surveyor, was felt to be essential in carrying out the manned lunar mission. Total funding for the program was estimated at just under $7 billion through Fiscal Year 1968.
In response to questioning by the House Science and Astronautics Committee, Associate NASA Administrator Seamans repeated the general estimate of $20 to $40 billion as the cost for the total effort required to achieve a lunar landing, that an all-out program might cost more, and that 1967 could be considered only as a possible planning date at this stage of such a complex task.
Following Gagarin's flight and Bay of Pigs failure, Kennedy announces the objective of landing an American on the moon by end of the decade. In his second State of the Union Message President Kennedy said: "With the advice of the Vice President, who is Chairman of the National Space Council, we have examined where we (United States) are strong and where we are not, where we may succeed and where we may not. . . . Now is the time to take longer strides-time for a great new American enterprise-time for this Nation to take a clearly leading role in space achievement which in many ways may hold the key to our future on Earth." President Kennedy set forth an accelerated space program based upon the long-range national goals of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to Earth; early development of the Rover nuclear rocket; speed up the use of Earth satellites for worldwide communications; and provide "at the earliest possible time a satellite system for worldwide weather observation." An additional $549 million was requested for NASA over the new administration March budget requests; $62 million was requested for DOD for starting development of a solid-propellant booster of the Nova class.
'The Lundin Committee completed its study of various vehicle systems for the manned lunar landing mission, as requested on May 25 by NASA associate Administrator Robert C. Seamans, Jr. The Committee had considered alternative methods of rendezvous: earth orbit, lunar orbit, a combination of earth and lunar orbit, and lunar surface. Launch vehicles studied were the Saturn C-2 and C-3. Conclusion was that 43,000 kg stage (85% fuel) was needed for a lunar landing mission. The concept of a low- altitude earth orbit rendezvous using two or three C-3's was clearly preferred by the Committee. Reasons for this preference were the small number of launches and orbital operations required and the fact that the Saturn C- 3 was considered to be an efficient launch vehicle of great utility and future growth.
Meeting with Webb/Dryden, work on Saturn C-2 stopped; preliminary design of C-3 and continuing studies of larger vehicles for landing missions requested. STG push for 4 x 6.6 m diameter solid cluster first stage rejected for safety and ground handling reasons.
NASA announced that further engineering design work on the Saturn C-2 configuration would be discontinued and that effort instead would be redirected toward clarification of the Saturn C-3 and Nova concepts. Investigations were specifically directed toward determining capabilities of the proposed C-3 configuration in supporting the Apollo mission.
James A. Chamberlin and James T. Rose of STG proposed adapting the improved Mercury spacecraft to a 35,000-pound payload, including a 5,000-pound "lunar lander." This payload would be launched by a Saturn C-3 in the lunar orbit rendezvous mode. The proposal was in direct competition with the Apollo proposals that favored direct landing on the moon and involved a 150,000-pound payload launched by a Nova-class vehicle with approximately 12 million pounds of thrust.
STG held a pre-proposal briefing at Langley Field, Va., to answer bidders' questions pertaining to the Request for Proposal for the development of the Apollo spacecraft. 14 companies (Boeing, Vought, Douglas, GD, Goodyear, Grumman, Lockheed, Martin, McDonnell, Radio Corp, Republic, STL) attended. The winning bidder would receive contract for CSM (but not LM, if any) and integrate spacecraft with launch vehicle.
After considering Cape Canaveral, Cape Canaveral-Merritt Island, Mayaguana-Bahamas, Cumberland-Georgia, Brownville-Texas, Christmas Island, Hawaii, and White Sands, Merritt Island selected as launch site for manned lunar flights and other missions requiring Saturn and Nova class vehicles. Based upon national space goals announced by the President in May, NASA plans called for acquisition of 80,000 acres north and west of AFMTC, to be administered by the USAF as agent for NASA and as a part of the Atlantic Missile Range. Additional Details: here....
The Ad Hoc Task Group for Study of Manned Lunar Landing by Rendezvous Techniques, Donald H. Heaton, Chairman, reported its conclusions: rendezvous offered the earliest possibility for a successful lunar landing, the proposed Saturn C-4 configuration should offer a higher probability of an earlier successful manned lunar landing than the C-3, the rendezvous technique recommended involved rendezvous and docking in earth orbit of a propulsion unit and a manned spacecraft, the cost of the total program through first lunar landing by rendezvous was significantly less than by direct ascent.
NASA selected NAA to develop the second stage (S-II) for the advanced Saturn launch vehicle. The cost, including development of at least ten vehicles, would total about $140 million. The S-II configuration provided for four J-2 liquid-oxygen - liquid-hydrogen engines, each delivering 200,000 pounds of thrust.
Despite an announcement at Martin on 27 November that they had won the Apollo program, the decision was reversed at the highest levels of the US government. NASA announced instead that the Space and Information Systems Division of North American Aviation, Inc., had been selected to design and build the Apollo spacecraft. The official line: 'the decision by NASA Administrator James E. Webb followed a comprehensive evaluation of five industry proposals by nearly 200 scientists and engineers representing both NASA and DOD. Webb had received the Source Evaluation Board findings on November 24. Although technical evaluations were very close, NAA had been selected on the basis of experience, technical competence, and cost'. NAA would be responsible for the design and development of the command module and service module. NASA expected that a separate contract for the lunar landing system would be awarded within the next six months. The MIT Instrumentation Laboratory had previously been assigned the development of the Apollo spacecraft guidance and navigation system. Both the NAA and MIT contracts would be under the direction of MSC.
NASA announced that The Boeing Company had been selected for negotiations as a possible prime contractor for the first stage (S-IC) of the advanced Saturn launch vehicle. The S-IC stage, powered by five F-1 engines, would be 35 feet in diameter and about 140 feet high. The $300-million contract, to run through 1966, called for the development, construction, and testing of 24 flight stages and one ground test stage. The booster would be assembled at the NASA Michoud Operations Plant near New Orleans, La., under the direction of the Marshall Space Flight Center.
NASA announced that Douglas Aircraft had been selected for negotiation of a contract to modify the Saturn S-IV stage by installing a single 200,000-pound-thrust, Rocketdyne J-2 liquid-hydrogen/liquid-oxygen engine instead of six 15,000-pound-thrust P. & W. hydrogen/oxygen engines. Known as S-IVB, this modified stage will be used in advanced Saturn configurations for manned circumlunar Apollo missions.
Rosen Committee studies in November and December indicated that the most flexible choice for Apollo was the Saturn C-4, with two required for the earth orbit rendezvous approach or one for the lunar orbit rendezvous mission, with a smaller landed payload. The panel rejected solid motors again, but Rosen himself still pushed for Nova. An extra F-1 engine was 'slid in' for insurance, resulting in the Saturn C-5 configuration. The Manned Space Flight Management Council decided at its first meeting that the Saturn C-5 launch vehicle would have a first stage configuration of five F-1 engines and a second stage configuration of five J-2 engines. The third stage would be the S-IVB with one J-2 engine. It recommended that the contractor for stage integration of the Saturn C-1 be Chrysler Corporation and that the contractor for stage integration of the Saturn C-5 be The Boeing Company. Contractor work on the Saturn C-5 should proceed immediately to provide a complete design study and a detailed development plan before letting final contracts and assigning large numbers of contractor personnel to Marshall Space Flight Center or Michoud.
A meeting to review the lunar orbit rendezvous (LOR) technique as a possible mission mode for Project Apollo was held at NASA Headquarters. Representatives from various NASA offices attended: Joseph F. Shea, Eldon W. Hall, William A. Lee, Douglas R. Lord, James E. O'Neill, James Turnock, Richard J. Hayes, Richard C. Henry, and Melvyn Savage of NASA Headquarters; Friedrich O. Vonbun of Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC); Harris M. Schurmeier of Jet Propulsion Laboratory; Arthur V. Zimmeman of Lewis Research Center; Jack Funk, Charles W. Mathews, Owen E. Maynard, and William F. Rector of MSC; Paul J. DeFries, Ernst D. Geissler, and Helmut J. Horn of Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC); Clinton E. Brown, John C. Houbolt, and William H. Michael, Jr., of Langley Research Center; and Merrill H. Mead of Ames Research Center. Each phase of the LOR mission was discussed separately.
The launch vehicle required was a single Saturn C-5, consisting of the S-IC, S-II, and S-IVB stages. To provide a maximum launch window, a low earth parking orbit was recommended. For greater reliability, the two-stage-to-orbit technique was recommended rather than requiring reignition of the S-IVB to escape from parking orbit.
The current concepts of the Apollo command and service modules would not be altered. The lunar excursion vehicle (LEV), under intensive study in 1961, would be aft of the service module and in front of the S-IVB stage. For crew safety, an escape tower would be used during launch. Access to the LEV would be provided while the entire vehicle was on the launch pad.
Both Apollo and Saturn guidance and control systems would be operating during the launch phase. The Saturn guidance and control system in the S-IVB would be "primary" for injection into the earth parking orbit and from earth orbit to escape. Provisions for takeover of the Saturn guidance and control system should be provided in the command module. Ground tracking was necessary during launch and establishment of the parking orbit, MSFC and GSFC would study the altitude and type of low earth orbit.
The LEV would be moved in front of the command module "early" in the translunar trajectory. After the S-IVB was staged off the spacecraft following injection into the translunar trajectory, the service module would be used for midcourse corrections. Current plans were for five such corrections. If possible, a symmetric configuration along the vertical center line of the vehicle would be considered for the LEV. Ingress to the LEV from the command module should be possible during the translunar phase. The LEV would have a pressurized cabin capability during the translunar phase. A "hard dock" mechanism was considered, possibly using the support structure needed for the launch escape tower. The mechanism for relocation of the LEV to the top of the command module required further study. Two possibilities were discussed: mechanical linkage and rotating the command module by use of the attitude control system. The S-IVB could be used to stabilize the LEV during this maneuver.
The service module propulsion would be used to decelerate the spacecraft into a lunar orbit. Selection of the altitude and type of lunar orbit needed more study, although a 100-nautical-mile orbit seemed desirable for abort considerations.
The LEV would have a "point" landing (±½ mile) capability. The landing site, selected before liftoff, would previously have been examined by unmanned instrumented spacecraft. It was agreed that the LEV would have redundant guidance and control capability for each phase of the lunar maneuvers. Two types of LEV guidance and control systems were recommended for further analysis. These were an automatic system employing an inertial platform plus radio aids and a manually controlled system which could be used if the automatic system failed or as a primary system.
The service module would provide the prime propulsion for establishing the entire spacecraft in lunar orbit and for escape from the lunar orbit to earth trajectory. The LEV propulsion system was discussed and the general consensus was that this area would require further study. It was agreed that the propulsion system should have a hover capability near the lunar surface but that this requirement also needed more study.
It was recommended that two men be in the LEV, which would descend to the lunar surface, and that both men should be able to leave the LEV at the same time. It was agreed that the LEV should have a pressurized cabin which would have the capability for one week's operation, even though a normal LOR mission would be 24 hours. The question of lunar stay time was discussed and it was agreed that Langley should continue to analyze the situation. Requirements for sterilization procedures were discussed and referred for further study. The time for lunar landing was not resolved.
In the discussion of rendezvous requirements, it was agreed that two systems be studied, one automatic and one providing for a degree of manual capability. A line of sight between the LEV and the orbiting spacecraft should exist before lunar takeoff. A question about hard-docking or soft-docking technique brought up the possibility of keeping the LEV attached to the spacecraft during the transearth phase. This procedure would provide some command module subsystem redundancy.
Direct link communications from earth to the LEV and from earth to the spacecraft, except when it was in the shadow of the moon, was recommended. Voice communications should be provided from the earth to the lunar surface and the possibility of television coverage would be considered.
A number of problems associated with the proposed mission plan were outlined for NASA Center investigation. Work on most of the problems was already under way and the needed information was expected to be compiled in about one month.
(This meeting, like the one held February 13-15, was part of a continuing effort to select the lunar mission mode).
Milton W. Rosen, NASA Office of Manned Space Flight Director of Launch Vehicles and Propulsion, recommended that the S-IVB stage be designed specifically as the third stage of the Saturn C-5 and that the C-5 be designed specifically for the manned lunar landing using the lunar orbit rendezvous technique. The S-IVB stage would inject the spacecraft into a parking orbit and would be restarted in space to place the lunar mission payload into a translunar trajectory. Rosen also recommended that the S- IVB stage be used as a flight test vehicle to exercise the command module (CM), service module (SM), and lunar excursion module (LEM) (previously referred to as the lunar excursion vehicle (LEV)) in earth orbit missions. The Saturn C-1 vehicle, in combination with the CM, SM, LEM, and S-IVB stage, would be used on the most realistic mission simulation possible. This combination would also permit the most nearly complete operational mating of the CM, SM, LEM, and S-IVB prior to actual mission flight.
MSC Associate Director Walter C. William reported to the Manned Space Flight Management Council that the lack of a decision on the lunar mission mode was causing delays in various areas of the Apollo spacecraft program, especially the requirements for the portions of the spacecraft being furnished by NAA.
D. Brainerd Holmes, NASA's Director of Manned Space Flight, requested the Directors of Launch Operations Center, Manned Spacecraft Center, and Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) to prepare supporting component schedules and cost breakdowns through Fiscal Year 1967 for each of the proposed lunar landing modes: earth orbit rendezvous, lunar orbit rendezvous, and direct ascent. For direct ascent, a Saturn C-8 launch vehicle was planned, using a configuration of eight F-1 engines, eight J-2 engines, and one J-2 engine. MSFC was also requested to submit a proposed schedule and summary of costs for the Nova launch vehicle, using the configuration of eight F-1 engines, two M-1 engines, and one J-2 engine. Each Center was asked to make an evaluation of the schedules as to possibilities of achievement, major problem areas, and recommendations for deviations.
Wernher von Braun, Director, Marshall Space Flight Center, recommended to the NASA Office of Manned Space Flight that the lunar orbit rendezvous mode be adopted for the lunar landing mission. He also recommended the development of an unmanned, fully automatic, one-way Saturn C-5 logistics vehicle in support of the lunar expedition; the acceleration of the Saturn C-1B program; the development of high-energy propulsion systems as a backup for the service module and possibly the lunar excursion module; and further development of the F-1 and J-2 engines to increase thrust or specific impulse.
Following a long controversy NASA selected Lunar Orbit Rendezvous (LOR) as the fastest, cheapest, and safest mode to accomplish the Apollo mission. LOR solved the engineering problem of how to land. The EOR or Direct Landing approaches required the Apollo crew to be on their backs during the landing and having to use television or mirrors to see the lunar surface. A lunar crasher stage approach had finally emerged as lesser of evils but raised other issues. LOR allowed a purpose-built lander with a logical helicopter-like crew station layout. Studies indicated LOR would allow landing 6-8 months earlier and cost $9.2 billion vs $ 10.6 billion for EOR or direct. Direct flight by this time would not involve Nova, but a scaled-down two-man spacecraft that could be launched by the Saturn C-5. Additional Details: here....
MSC invited 11 firms to submit research and development proposals for the lunar excursion module (LEM) for the manned lunar landing mission. The firms were Lockheed Aircraft Corporation, The Boeing Airplane Company, Northrop Corporation, Ling-Temco-Vought, Inc., Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation, Douglas Aircraft Company, General Dynamics Corporation, Republic Aviation Corporation, Martin- Marietta Company, North American Aviation, Inc., and McDonnell Aircraft Corporation. Additional Details: here....
NASA announced that the Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation had been selected to build the lunar excursion module of the three-man Apollo spacecraft under the direction of MSC. The contract, still to be negotiated, was expected to be worth about $350 million, with estimates as high as $1 billion by the time the project would be completed. Additional Details: here....
NASA Administrator James E. Webb, in a letter to the President, explained the rationale behind the Agency's selection of lunar orbit rendezvous (rather than either direct ascent or earth orbit rendezvous) as the mode for landing Apollo astronauts on the moon. Arguments for and against any of the three modes could have been interminable: "We are dealing with a matter that cannot be conclusively proved before the fact," Webb said. "The decision on the mode . . . had to be made at this time in order to maintain our schedules, which aim at a landing attempt in late 1967."
NASA canceled four manned earth orbital flights with the Saturn I launch vehicle. Six of a series of 10 unmanned Saturn I development flights were still scheduled. Development of the Saturn IB for manned flight would be accelerated and "all-up" testing would be started. This action followed Bellcomm's recommendation of a number of changes in the Apollo spacecraft flight test program. The program should be transferred from Saturn I to Saturn IB launch vehicles; the Saturn I program should end with flight SA-10. All Saturn IB flights, beginning with SA-201, should carry operational spacecraft, including equipment for extensive testing of the spacecraft systems in earth orbit.
Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight George E. Mueller had recommended the changeover from the Saturn I to the Saturn IB to NASA Administrator James E. Webb on October 26. Webb's concurrence came two days later.
Parallel development of the LEM descent engine was halted. Space Technology Laboratories was named the sole contractor; the Rocketdyne contract was canceled. Grumman estimated that the cost of Rocketdyne's program would be about $25 million at termination.
MSC Deputy Director George M. Low recommended to Maxime A. Faget, MSC, that, in light of Air Force and Aerospace Corp. studies on space rescue, MSC plans for a general study on space rescue be discontinued and a formal request be made to OMSF to cancel the request for proposals, which had not yet been released. As an alternative, Low suggested that MSC should cooperate with the Air Force to maximize gains from the USAF task on space rescue requirements.
The first manned flight of the Apollo CSM, the Apollo C category mission, was planned for the last quarter of 1966. Numerous problems with the Apollo Block I spacecraft resulted in a flight delay to February 1967. The crew of Virgil I. Grissom, Edward H. White II, and Roger B. Chaffee, was killed in a fire while testing their capsule on the pad on 27 January 1967, still weeks away from launch. The designation AS-204 was used by NASA for the flight at the time; the designation Apollo 1 was applied retroactively at the request of Grissom's widow.
Apollo Program Director Samuel C. Phillips was appointed Chairman of a NASA task group, reporting to Administrator James E. Webb, Deputy Administrator Robert C. Seamans, Jr., and Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight George E. Mueller. The group was chartered to review the content of the Apollo program in order to determine alternatives necessary for programming and budget planning decisions. It would inquire into and report on all aspects of the Apollo program necessary to provide a base of accurate data and information to support decisions on FY 1968 expenditure control and FY 1969 budget planning. Specifically, the group was requested to identify planned activities that could be eliminated if the Apollo program were to be terminated with the manned lunar landing. The group was also requested to determine the effect of placing a hold order on production of Saturn V vehicles 512 through 515 and to develop the cost estimates resulting from these actions as well as other tangible alternatives.
MSC Deputy Director George S. Trimble, Jr., recommended to Apollo Program Director Phillips that OMSF issue a definition for the end of the Apollo program. Trimble pointed out that parts of MSC planning would be clearer if there were a specified set of conditions which, when satisfied, would mark the termination of the Apollo program and the start of the lunar exploration program. He said: "It is recommended that the accomplishment of the first lunar landing and safe return of the crew be defined as the end of the Apollo Program. This will give a crisp ending that everyone can understand and will be the minimum cost program. The Lunar Exploration Program, or whatever name is selected, will have a definable whole and can be planned and defended as a unit. . . . The successful termination of the Apollo Program should not be dependent on the successful deployment of ALSEP, EVA on the lunar surface, photos, soil samples or other experiments. Such objectives should not be mandatory for the first landing mission." Trimble added that he had discussed these points with NASA's Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight George E. Mueller and it was his understanding that Mueller not only agreed but also planned to include similar material in his congressional testimony in defense of the budget.
In a Mission Preparation Directive sent to the three manned space flight Centers, NASA Apollo Program Director Samuel C. Phillips stated that the following changes would be effected in planning and preparation for Apollo flights:
NASA issued a tentative planning schedule for the Apollo program:
|Flight||Launch Plans||Tentative Landing Area|
|Apollo 12||November 1969||Oceanus Procellarum lunar lowlands|
|Apollo 13||March 1970||Fra Mauro highlands|
|Apollo 14||July 1970||Crater Censorinus highlands|
|Apollo 15||November 1970||Littrow volcanic area|
|Apollo 16||April 1971||Crater Tycho (Surveyor VII impact area)|
|Apollo 17||September 1971||Marius Hills volcanic domes|
|Apollo 18||February 1972||Schroter's Valley, riverlike channel-ways|
|Apollo 19||July 1972||Hyginus Rille region-Linear Rille, crater area|
|Apollo 20||December 1972||Crater Copernicus, large crater impact area|
NASA had canceled the Apollo 20 mission and stretched out the remaining seven missions to six-month intervals, Deputy Administrator George M. Low told the press in an interview after dedication of the Lunar Science Institute (next to MSC in Houston). Budget restrictions had brought the decision to suspend Saturn V launch vehicle production after vehicle 515 and to use the Apollo 20 Saturn V to launch the first U.S. space station in 1972.
NASA was canceling Apollo missions 15 and 19 because of congressional cuts in FY 1971 NASA appropriations, Administrator Thomas O. Paine announced in a Washington news conference. Remaining missions would be designated Apollo 14 through 17. The Apollo budget would be reduced by $42.1 million, to $914.4 million - within total NASA $3.27 billion.