Apollo X Station
Status: Study 1963.
Apollo X was the designation given at various times during the Apollo program for follow-on versions of the spacecraft for extended earth-orbit operations (for a time, all follow-on projects using Apollo hardware were termed 'Apollo X'.
Initial studies concentrated on extending the life of the basic Apollo CSM to accommodate missions of up to 100 days. A 1962 design used an adaptation of 'existing' Apollo hardware to create a space laboratory. Later variants used various kinds of laboratories within or integrated into the Apollo SLA adapter. Apollo X also covered rather extensive work to give Apollo a land landing capability, using a parawing or retrorockets, so that the vast naval recovery fleet could be dispensed with.
Emanuel Schnitzer of LaRC suggested a possible adaptation for existing Apollo hardware to create a space laboratory, which he termed an 'Apollo X' vehicle. Schnitzer's concept involved using a standard Apollo command and service module in conjunction with an inflatable spheroid structure and transfer tunnel to create a space laboratory with artificial gravity potential. Additional Details: here....
Owen E. Maynard, Head of MSC's Spacecraft Integration Branch, reported on his preliminary investigation of the feasibility of modifying Apollo spacecraft systems to achieve a 100-day Earth- orbital capability. His investigation examined four basic areas: (1) mission, propulsion, and flight time; (2) rendezvous, reentry, and landing; (3) human factors; and (4) spacecraft command and communications. Although modifications to some systems might be extensive- and would involve a considerable weight increase for the vehicle-such a mission using Apollo hardware was indeed feasible.
North American issued the final report of its study for MSC on extended missions for the Apollo spacecraft. In stressing the supreme importance of man's role in the exploration of space-and the uncertainties surrounding the effects of prolonged exposure to the zero-gravity environment of space-the company suggested that an Earth-orbital laboratory would be an ideal vehicle for such long-term experimental evaluation, with missions exceeding a year's duration. Additional Details: here....
Following completion of feasibility studies of an extended Apollo system at MSC, Edward Z. Gray, Advanced Manned Missions Program Director at Headquarters, told MSC's Maxime A. Faget, Director of Engineering and Development, to go ahead with phase II follow-on studies. Gray presented guidelines and suggested tasks for such a study, citing his desire for two separate contracts to industry to study the command and service modules and various concepts for laboratory modules.
Edward Z. Gray, Advanced Manned Missions Director in the Office of Manned Space Flight, asked LaRC Director Charles J. Donlan to prepare a Project Development Plan for the Manned Orbital Research Laboratory, studies for which were already underway at the Center and under contract. This plan was needed as documentation for any possible decision to initiate an orbital research laboratory project. (Gray had also asked MSC to submit similar plans for an Apollo X, an Apollo Orbital Research Laboratory, and a Large Orbital Research Laboratory.) In addition to the Project Development Plan, Gray asked for system specifications for each candidate orbital laboratory system; both of these would form the basis for a project proposal with little delay 'should a climate exist in which a new project can be started.'
Commenting on Republican Presidential candidate Barry Goldwater's views on the space program, Warren Burkett, science writer for the Houston Chronicle, observed that a great deal of research being conducted as part of NASA's Apollo program could be of direct value to the military services. Burkett contended that an orbital laboratory using Apollo-developed components could be used for such military applications as patrol and orbital interception. He suggested that, with Apollo, NASA was generating an inventory of 'off-the-shelf' space hardware suitable for military use if needed.
Apollo X spacecraft to be used in Earth orbit for extended duration biomedical and scientific flights. MSC's Spacecraft Integration Branch proposed an Apollo 'X' spacecraft to be used in Earth orbit for biomedical and scientific missions of extended duration. The spacecraft would consist of the lunar Apollo spacecraft and its systems, with minimum modifications consisting- of redundancies and spares. The concept provided for a first-phase mission which would consider the Apollo 'X' a two-man Earth-orbiting laboratory for a period of 14 to 45 days. The spacecraft would be boosted into a 370-km orbit by a Saturn IB launch vehicle. Additional Details: here....
In an interview for Missiles and Rockets magazine, Associate Administrator Robert C. Seamans, Jr., stated that NASA planned to initiate program definition studies of an Apollo X spacecraft during Fiscal Year 1965. Seamans emphasized that such a long-duration space station program would not receive funding for actual hardware development until the 1970s. He stressed that NASA's Apollo X would not compete with the Manned Orbiting Laboratory program: 'MOL is important for the military as a method of determining what opportunities there are for men in space. It is not suitable to fulfill NASA requirements to gain scientific knowledge.'
In a letter to Apollo Program Director Samuel C. Phillips regarding tentative spacecraft development and mission planning schedules, Joseph F. Shea, Apollo Spacecraft Program Manager, touched upon missions following completion of Apollo's prime goal of landing on the Moon. Such missions, Shea said, would in general fall under the heading of a new program (such as Apollo X). Although defining missions a number of years in the future was most complex, Shea advised that MSC was planning to negotiate program package contracts with both North American and Grumman through Fiscal Year 1969, based upon the agency's most recent program planning schedules.
In a letter to President Lyndon B. Johnson, Senator Clinton P. Anderson, Chairman of the Committee on Aeronautical and Space Sciences, recommended that the Air Force's MOL and NASA's Apollo X programs be merged. Senator Anderson argued that a jointly operated national space station program would most effectively use the nation's available resources. He claimed that $1 billion could be saved during the next five years if the MOL were canceled and those funds applied to NASA's Apollo-based space station program. Additional Details: here....
Apollo Extension System (AES) to produce space hardware for future missions at a fraction of the original development cost. Testifying before the House Committee on Science and Astronautics during hearings on NASA's Fiscal Year 1966 budget, Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight George E. Mueller briefly outlined the space agency's immediate post-Apollo objectives: 'Apollo capabilities now under development,' he said, 'will enable us to produce space hardware and fly it for future missions at a small fraction of the original development cost. This is the basic concept in the Apollo Extension System (AES) now under consideration.' Additional Details: here....
MSC Assistant Director for Engineering and Development Maxime A. Faget submitted to NASA Hq the Center's plans for Fiscal Year 1966 Apollo Extension System program definition and subsystems development efforts. The information submitted was based on MSC's AES study and supporting development efforts and was broken down into several categories in line with guidelines laid down by the Office of Manned Space Flight: program definition, verification of the capabilities of Apollo subsystems for AES; definition and initial development of experiment payloads and payload support; long leadtime development of primary spacecraft systems critical to achieving minimum AES objectives (i.e., four to six weeks orbital capability and up to two weeks on the lunar surface); and development of improved or alternate subsystems that would extend AES capabilities up to three months in Earth orbit. Tasks in support of these objectives, Faget stated, fell into two priorities: (1) those tasks required to verify an early AES capability; and (2) tasks in support of later AES missions and for system improvement. Those tasks having immediate priority, therefore, demanded the 'hard core' of AES funding essential to meet the early AES flight dates.
Edward Z. Gray, Director, Advanced Manned Missions Program at NASA Hq, informed the Center Directors at MSC, MSFC, and KSC of significant recent program decisions on the approach to be followed during Fiscal Year 1966 in defining payload integration for the AES to the extent necessary for awarding major project contracts approximately a wear later. In defining AES activity, Gray said, the Centers must follow the phased approach, with definition phase contracts to be awarded competitively to industry about the first of 1966. Additional Details: here....
George E. Mueller, Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight, requested MSC Director Robert R. Gilruth to identify the requirements for a spacecraft atmosphere selection and validation program to support the longer duration phase II missions of the AES program. (Mueller's request stemmed from a series of discussions and AES planning meetings between him and the Director of Advanced Manned Missions Studies, Edward Z. Gray, during June and July.) Although nominal mission duration for the phase II flights was pegged at 45 days, Mueller affirmed the likelihood that, with the conduct of rendezvous missions, flight times for some crewmen could be as long as 135 days. Accordingly, he asked that MSC evaluate the question of spacecraft atmospheres based upon mission durations of 45, 60, 90, and 135 days. Mueller requested MSC to complete the atmosphere cabin validation program expeditiously so that results could be readily incorporated into the design of the vehicle and integrated into mission planning. In his reply, Gilruth stated that studies of single, as well as two-gas atmospheres were required. Continued research on a 34-kilonewton-per-sq-m (5-psia), 100-percent oxygen atmosphere was desirable both scientifically and operationally. Such a cabin atmosphere was very attractive because of attendant simplicity of the environmental control system. However, Gilruth said, recent data indicated possible impairment of vital body processes that necessitated additional study to validate the pure oxygen environment for flights of longer than 30 days. MSC researchers had begun investigating various combinations of two-gas atmospheres, chiefly mixtures of 50-percent oxygen and 50-percent nitrogen; 70-percent oxygen and 30-percent nitrogen; and 70-percent oxygen and 30-percent helium. MSC had underway, both in house and under contract, engineering studies of two-gas environmental control systems, and AiResearch Corporation was already developing such a system using as many existing command and service module components as possible. Houston was also working closely with the Air Force's School of Aviation Medicine during that agency's investigations of various cabin atmospheres. Finally, Gilruth stated, Houston planned to hold a Workshop conference with engineering and pulmonary physiology specialists to establish the basis for atmosphere selection and to discuss implementation of experimental programs.
Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight George E. Mueller officially informed the Directors of MSC, MSFC, and KSC of changed management guidelines for Center roles in AES as informally agreed upon during discussions in Washington. Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight George E. Mueller officially informed the Directors of MSC, MSFC, and KSC of changed management guidelines for Center roles in AES as informally agreed upon during discussions in Washington (see 6-10 August 1965): MSC responsible for spacecraft development, flight crew activities, mission control and flight operations, and command and service modules payload integration. MSFC-responsible for launch vehicle development and payload integration for all lunar excursion module AES-modified vehicles (termed 'derivatives'). KSC responsible for prelaunch assembly, checkout, and launch of all AES vehicles. Final decision on the Apollo-type versus contractor approach for payload integration was deferred pending results of phase I mission studies underway at North American and Grumman and of a payload integration definition study to be let by MSFC. These guidelines, said Mueller, should be incorporated into the Centers' planning efforts for AES implementation.
NASA selected the Perkin-Elmer and Chrysler corporations to study feasibility of including optical-technology experiments, particularly lasers and large telescopes, in future extended Apollo flights. NASA was also interested in optical communication in deep space, the effects of space environment on optical systems, and related experiments. The program would be directed by MSFC.
Webb disapproved of tying any AAP schedules to a date for accomplishment of the Apollo lunar landing objective. William B. Taylor and other Apollo Applications Program planners made a major presentation on AAP plans to James Webb, Hugh L. Dryden, and Robert C. Seamans, Jr., of NASA Hq. Webb made a number of comments regarding the direction of AAP planning. He emphasized that AAP planning must remain extremely flexible to meet not only changing mission objectives and goals, but also broader changes in national policy, resources, and manned space flight objectives generally. Webb disapproved of tying any AAP schedules to a date for accomplishment of the Apollo lunar landing objective, since that goal was not inviolate.
In a paper presented at the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics' fourth manned space flight meeting in St. Louis, AAP Director William B. Taylor described the focus and importance of the AAP. In contrast to Apollo, with its clear objective of lauding on the Moon, AAP's objectives were much less obvious. Under AAP, Taylor said, NASA planned to exploit the capabilities being developed for Apollo as a technological bridge to more extensive manned space flight missions of the 1970s and 1980s. AAP was not an end in itself, but rather a beginning to build flight experience, technology, and scientific data. Additional Details: here....
MSC Deputy Director George M. Low advised NASA Hq of Houston's planning schedule for follow-up procurement of Apollo spacecraft for the AAP. Based upon the most recent delivery schedules for the last several command and service modules and lunar excursion modules for Apollo, contract award for those vehicles was scheduled for July and August 1966. In accordance with a 14 July directive from Headquarters, MSC was preparing a procurement plan for the extended CSM and the LEM derivatives covering both the final definition and development and operational phases of AAP. Approval of this plan by Headquarters, Low stated, was anticipated for mid-December, while award of contracts for the program definition phase was set for late January 1966. The contract award date for actual development of the extended CSM was slated for October 1966, while that for the LEM derivatives was postponed until mid- 1967 (in line with revised funding directives from Washington).
Saturn Apollo Applications officials reached an understanding on several program issues during discussion at MSFC. Saturn Apollo Applications officials reached an understanding on several program issues during discussion at MSFC: MSFC's responsibility for payload integration included coordination of interleaving of CSM and LEM experiment requirements when both modules carried experiments on the same mission. (Assignment of missions and experiments to the respective Centers w as to be made by the program office at Headquarters.) The astronauts would use tethers during all extravehicular activities except where not feasible. MSFC was to proceed with work on a procurement plan and a request for proposals for two or three phase C integration contractors, with the idea that one of the definition contractors would receive the final phase D development contract (though no firm commitment to this course was yet made); also, concurrently with the phase C definition effort, MSFC would conduct parallel inhouse studies to better evaluate the contractors' phase C work.
Saturn/Apollo Applications Deputy Director John H. Disher summarized for the Director of Advanced Manned Missions those tasks of highest priority for supporting development during Fiscal Year 1966. Those tasks, Disher explained, had been examined in great detail because of stringent funding constraints for Apollo Applications during 1966 and 1967. Therefore, he had listed only those tasks mandatory for the program s ''mainstream'' requirements. They included such areas as low-thrust reaction control engines, structural and hatch seals, navigation computer modifications, and study of space rescue systems.
Technical proposal for phase C of the AAP from North American Aviation, Inc., covering final definition of the AAP CSM. Following MSC's receipt of the technical proposal for phase C of the AAP from North American Aviation, Inc., covering final definition of the AAP CSM, William A. Lee, Assistant Manager of the Apollo Spacecraft Program Office, asked several of his staff members to assist in evaluation of the proposal. Such help, he said, would be invaluable in bringing to bear on AAP the experience that the Apollo office had obtained during the effort to develop the block II lunar version of the spacecraft. The technical proposal by North American described those tasks that the company believed were required to define the CSM configuration and to formulate hardware specifications for the development and operations phase of the program. Paralleling these efforts by the contractor, MSC had established a baseline AAP CSM configuration and had laid down several configuration guidelines believed fundamental tenets of AAP objectives: no spacecraft modifications to achieve 'product improvement' or to obtain it statistical 'mission success.'
Additional Apollo subsystems testing to qualify the spacecraft beyond the 14-day requirements of the Apollo lunar mission. Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight George E. Mueller requested of MSC Director Robert R. Gilruth that his Center identify additional Apollo subsystems testing and the best method of conducting such tests on the basic subsystems of the spacecraft beyond the 14-day requirements of the Apollo lunar mission. Mueller explained that planning for the Apollo Applications Program projected that extended missions could be performed using basic Apollo hardware and that significant advantages might be realized by testing subsystems to determine their duration limits, thereby avoiding the burden of additional test units and test facilities.
Experiment proposals for the immediate post-Apollo Earth-orbital phase of manned space exploration, as part of the AES program. The Advanced Missions Division, Manned Space Science Program, in the Office of Space Sciences and Applications, released details of experiment proposals submitted by teams of potential experimenters for the immediate post-Apollo Earth-orbital phase of manned space exploration, as part of the AES program. As well as detailed descriptions of the various scientific experiments themselves, the report examined the justification for AES in relation to other space programs, mission objectives, operational constraints, and long-range plans and goals.
Testifying before the House Committee on Science and Astronautics Subcommittee on Manned Space Flight, Deputy Administrator Robert C. Seamans, Jr., described three basic elements in NASA's AAP effort: Extension of orbital staytimes to 45 days or more through minor modifications to the present Apollo system. Procurement of additional spacecraft and launch vehicles for follow-on flights beyond the present Apollo schedule. Utilization of Apollo vehicles during the 1968-1970 time frame if the agency's most optimistic Apollo schedules were realized. 'We cannot today look toward a permanent manned space station, or a lunar base, or projects for manned planetary exploration,' Seamans stated, 'until our operational, scientific and technological experience with major manned systems already in hand has further matured.'
In an informal note on AAP planning to James C. Elms, Deputy Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight, AAP Deputy Director John H. Disher suggested a number of operational objectives that he believed should be essential elements within the program: manned operations in synchronous and high-inclination Earth orbit; manned orbital assembly and resupply; crew transfer in orbit; extended Earth-orbit mission duration capability; extended lunar exploration; and conduct of a broad range of operational, scientific, and technological experiments in space.
Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight George E. Mueller acknowledged receipt from Joseph F. Shea, the Apollo Spacecraft Program Manager at MSC, of a detailed technical description of MSC's plans and development progress toward developing a landing rocket system for Apollo. (MSC had undertaken this effort some months earlier at Mueller's specific request.) Mueller advised Shea that he had asked AAP Deputy Director John H. Disher to work closely with Shea's people to devise a land landing system for AAP built on Houston's effort for Apollo.
House Committee recommended combining NASA's Apollo Applications Program with the Air Force's Manned Orbiting Laboratory. A report by the Military Operations Subcommittee of the House Committee on Government Operations recommended combining NASA's Apollo Applications Program with the Air Force's Manned Orbiting Laboratory. 'Inasmuch as both programs are still research and development projects without definitive operational missions,' stated the Committee's report, 'there is reason to expect that with earnest efforts both agencies could get together on a joint program incorporating both unique and similar experiments of each agency.'
Replying to a suggestion by MSC Director Robert R. Gilruth that AAP capitalize on Apollo hardware to an even greater extent by using refurbished CSMs, Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight George E. Mueller deferred any action toward implementing a competitive effort for such work. This was necessary, he said, because of the present unsettled nature of AAP planning. Additional Details: here....
George M. Low advised Headquarters that MSC was reducing its funding request for Fiscal Year 1967 in support of research on a land-landing capability for the AAP. Specifically, this program reduction involved halting all work dealing with braking rockets and attenuation systems and concentrating all effort on prototype development of several types of lifting parachute and parawing designs. These program changes were mandatory, Low stated, because of limited AAP development funds and because a land-landing capability was still not a firm objective (even though MSC had previously presented such a program leading to a land- landing capability for AAP by the end of 1969).
George M. Low expressed his reservations about the validity of planning a synchronous-orbit mission for AAP. In a note to Maxime A. Faget, Low commented on the recent interest in such a mission and voiced his own doubt concerning either the need for or the desirability of such a flight. Low stated that such things as synoptic views of terrain or weather phenomena could be done just as well from low Earth orbit using mosaic techniques. Moreover, low orbits afforded simpler operations, much greater payload capabilities, and minimal radiation hazards. Low asked Faget to have his organization prepare an analysis of low Earth-orbit versus synchronous- orbit operations in preparation for upcoming AAP planning discussions in Washington at the end of the month.
In a letter to Robert R. Gilruth, George E. Mueller acknowledged MSC's expeditious completion of the phase C definition phase of the Apollo experiments pallet effort. However, he noted several fundamental changes since the pallet effort was started. With experiment funding severely limited, NASA had now placed greater emphasis on a few major experiments (such as the Apollo telescope mount) in contrast to the wide variety of experiments originally envisioned for AAP missions. Also, Mueller observed that because of recent reshaping of AAP objectives toward long-duration missions program planners now believed that, in general, experiments should be carried in the adapter area of the launch vehicle rather than in the vacant bay of the service module (which thus could be used for expendables to support the longer duration flights). In light of these program changes, Mueller concluded it was no longer wise to proceed with phase D of the pallet program-actual hardware development.
Saturn/Apollo Applications officials at Headquarters sounded out Houston officials on the status of MSC's land-landing development plan. MCC technicians had 'reevaluated' their original cloverleaf-retrorocket configuration and now were pushing for development of a sailwing as the reentry descent system, believing that the sailwing had greater potential for Apollo-class vehicles (especially in range and maneuverability). Also, MSC spokesmen proposed that Houston take over testing of the 'parawing' (a limp paraglider) being developed by Langley. They stated that the research and testing effort required to develop the sailwing and parawing would delay until 1971 or 1972 NASA's achieving a land-landing capability. (Previous work on the cloverleaf-retrorocket concept had promised such a capability by about mid-1970.)
John H. Disher released the report by a study group at Headquarters on various modified lunar modules suitable for a lunar exploration program as part of AAP. These modified craft took the form of a LM taxi, ferry and logistics craft, a LM shelter, and an 'augmented' LM. Disher authorized MSC to extend its engineering studies contract with Grumman to further define such modified LM configurations. He also asked MSFC to try to increase the Saturn V's translunar injection capability to 46 720 kg. These actions, he explained, afforded an opportunity to pursue any of several alternatives once future landing levels were known.
Technicians from MSC's Landing and Recovery Division conducted demonstrations of land- landing at Ft. Hood, Texas, on 6, 11, and 12 April. The demonstrations were part of MSC's effort to develop an advanced system to provide a land-landing capability for the Apollo Applications Program, an improved launch abort situation, and reduced horizontal velocities for water landings.
Northrop Ventura to conduct a research program on a flexible parawing for potential use in manned spacecraft landing systems. NASA announced that LaRC had selected Northrop Ventura Company to negotiate a contract to conduct a research program (including flight tests) of a flexible parawing for potential use in manned spacecraft landing systems. Northrop Ventura would evaluate the suitability of using a parawing (instead of conventional parachutes) to allow controlled descent in a shallow glide and thus offer wide flexibility in choosing a touchdown point, as well as provide a soft landing impact. The parawing would be evaluated for possible use on the Apollo Applications Program during the early 1970s to achieve a true land-landing mission capability.
In response to a TWX from NASA Hq (see 20 June entry) Kenneth S. Kleinknecht and Robert F. Thompson of MSC talked to John H. Disher (NASA Hq) at the suggestion of Apollo Spacecraft Program Manager George M. Low. Also listening to the conversation were Robert V. Battey and Harold E. Gartrell of MSC. (Low had suggested the call be made to William C. Schneider of NASA Hq, but he was not available.) Kleinknecht reiterated to Disher that from the beginning of both the AAP and the Apollo Lunar Exploration Mission (ALEM) consideration had always been given to maintaining the maximum degree of commonality between the basic CSM and those required for both programs without creating severe constraints on the objectives of either mission. Kleinknecht pointed out different requirements of the program and how they clearly indicated some major configuration differences between AAP and ALEM: Long duration of the AAP mission. Backup reaction control system deorbit capability of AAP. Thermal characteristics of AAP missions because of long attitude holds. Use of batteries in lieu of fuel cells in the CSM (if the Saturn V Workshop became a reality the CSM would be quiescent for long periods of time). Kleinknecht added that 'inasmuch as ALEM is still required to do lunar-landing missions as well as collect orbital scientific data, we cannot tolerate any weight penalties that may be associated with scar weights ...weights incurred by using a resulting from commonality with the AAP vehicle....' He also recognized that there would be more commonality between the AAP and ALEM should the Workshop become official because expendables could then be supplied to the CSM from the Workshop rather than carried in the CSM. He added that about three and one- half months had been spent in studying and defining the ALEM CSM, and a major change to provide commonality with the AAP CSM would result in that time being lost and at least three and one-half months delay in the launch readiness of the first ALEM mission. Kleinknecht concluded that MSC agreed in principle with Headquarters in providing as much commonality as possible, but recommended that the 20 June TWX from Headquarters be rescinded and that MSC not pursue a commonality study with North American. Four days later, MSC received another TWX from George E. Mueller (NASA Hq) saying, '. . . it is our understanding that you will continue your in-house evaluation of the differences in requirements and the impact of these differences on the configuration of CSM's to support lunar exploration, AAP Saturn V Workshop, and early space station missions. This further assessment should be available for discussion by July 7 and will likely be presented to the Management Council in executive session on July 8 or 9.'