Encyclopedia Astronautica
Chamberlin



zchambe.jpg
Chamberlin
Credit: NASA
Chamberlin, James A (1915-1981) Canadian-American engineer. Lead at Avro for fighters, 1945-1959. Lead positions at NASA, 1959-1970. Conceived modular design for Gemini and pushed its use for lunar mission. At McDonnell-Douglas 1970-1981; headed their shuttle bid.

Canadian-born and trained at the University of Toronto and the Imperial College of Science and Technology in London, Chamberlin had been working in aeronautical engineering and design since 1939 for several Canadian firms. By March 1959 he had become chief of design for AVRO Aircraft, Inc., of Toronto, where he worked on the CF-105 Arrow, an advanced interceptor aircraft. When that project was canceled, NASA was able to recruit Chamberlin and several of his colleagues. Chamberlin joined NASA's Space Task Group in April 1959; by August he had become acting chief of the Engineering and Contract Administration Division. For the next year and half, he directed STG's technical monitoring of Mercury development and production. When, on 1 February 1961, Gilruth assigned him to work on an improved Mercury, Chamberlin remained titular chief of what had since become the Engineering Division but turned over most of his organization's administrative, technical, and operational matters to his assistants. Chamberlin himself went to St. Louis in mid-February; during the next months he actually worked from an office in the McDonnell Aircraft Corporation plant two or three days a week.

Chamberlin was convinced that his job was to redesign the Mercury capsule from the bottom up. Drawing on his experience with fire control and weapons delivery systems for fighter aircraft, Chamberlin sketched a new capsule structure with its equipment located outside the cockpit in self-contained modules easy to install and check out. Chamberlin even proposed an audacious circumlunar flight for the improved Mercury.

Chamberlin had come up with a brilliant concept, but in NASA's view was less then able as a programme manager. By the first months of 1963, with the Gemini project having technical problems which translated in cost increases and schedule delays, Chamberlin was replaced by Charles Mathews.

Birth Place: Kamloops, British Columbia.


Born: 1915.05.23.
Died: 1981.03.01.

More... - Chronology...


Associated Countries
See also
Associated Manufacturers and Agencies
  • NASA American agency overseeing development of rockets and spacecraft. National Aeronautics and Space Administration, USA, USA. More...

Chamberlin Chronology


1959 May 27 - .
  • STG staff discusses the possibility of an advanced manned spacecraft - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Gilruth; Faget; Low, George; Chamberlin. Program: Apollo. Director Robert R. Gilruth met with members of his STG staff (Paul E. Purser, Charles J. Donlan, James A. Chamberlin, Raymond L. Zavasky, W. Kemble Johnson, Charles W. Mathews, Maxime A. Faget, and Charles H. Zimmeman) and George M. Low from NASA Headquarters to discuss the possibility of an advanced manned spacecraft.

1959 June 19 - .
  • The Mercury Capsule (spacecraft) Coordination Office was organized within the Space Task Group. - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Chamberlin. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. J. A. Chamberlin was appointed head of the office. Duties were divided into four major categories as follows: (1) loads, thermodynamics, structures, and aerodynamics; (2) cabin, life support, and controls; (3) electronics, recovery, and sequencing; and (4) transportation and handling, schedules and testing, and standards and specifications. This action assured continuity of effort in monitoring the McDonnell contract. Also, this office arranged and coordinated meetings with McDonnell personnel and served as a clearing house for all NASA-McDonnell contracts. The committee, of course, received a majority of its data from technical sources within the formal Space Task Group organization.

1959 November 2 - .
  • Planning of advanced spacecraft systems begun - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Gilruth; Faget; Chamberlin; Johnson, Caldwell. Program: Apollo. At an STG meeting, it was decided to begin planning of advanced spacecraft systems. Three primary assignments were made:
    1. The preliminary design of a multi-man (probably three-man) capsule for a circumlunar mission, with particular attention to the use of the capsule as a temporary space laboratory, lunar landing cabin, and deep-space probe;
    2. Mission analysis studies to establish exit and reentry corridors, weights, and propulsion requirements;
    3. Test program planning to decide on the number and purpose of launches.
    Additional Details: here....

1960 May 5 - .
  • STG and Grumman discuss advanced spacecraft programs - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Gilruth; Faget; Chamberlin. Program: Apollo. Spacecraft: Apollo LM; LM Source Selection. Robcrt R. Gilruth, Paul E. Purser, James A. Chamberlin, Maxime A. Faget, and H. Kurt Strass of STG met with a group from the Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation to discuss advanced spacecraft programs. Grumman had been working on guidance requirements for circumlunar flights under the sponsorship of the Navy and presented Strass with a report of this work.

1960 August 11 - . LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas D.
  • Mercury-Atlas 1 (MA-1) mission malfunction discussed. - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Chamberlin. Program: Mercury. Summary: Representatives of NASA, McDonnell, Ballistic Missile Division, Space Technology Laboratories, and Convair met at Cape Canaveral and later at Convair Astronautics (Aug. 30, 1960) to discuss the Mercury-Atlas 1 (MA-1) mission malfunction. . Additional Details: here....

1961 February 13 - .
  • NASA and McDonnell began discussions of an advanced Mercury spacecraft. - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Gilruth; Faget; Chamberlin. Program: Gemini. Spacecraft: Gemini. McDonnell had been studying the concept of a maneuverable Mercury spacecraft since 1959. On February 1, Space Task Group (STG) Director Robert R. Gilruth assigned James A. Chamberlin, Chief, STG Engineering Division, who had been working with McDonnell on Mercury for more than a year, to institute studies with McDonnell on improving Mercury for future manned space flight programs. Additional Details: here....

1961 June 2 - .
  • Project Apollo plans and programs meeting - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Faget; Chamberlin. Program: Apollo. A meeting to discuss Project Apollo plans and programs was held at NASA Headquarters. Abe Silverstein, Warren J. North, John H. Disher, and George M. Low of NASA Headquarters and Robert R. Gilruth, Walter C. Williams, Maxime A. Faget, James A. Chamberlin, and Robert O. Piland of STG participated in the discussions. Six prime contract areas were defined: spacecraft (command center), onboard propulsion, lunar landing propulsion, launch vehicle (probably several prime contracts), tracking and communications network, and launch facilities and equipment. The prime contractor for the spacecraft would be responsible for the design, engineering, and fabrication of the spacecraft; for the integration of the onboard and lunar landing propulsion systems: and for the integration of the entire spacecraft system with the launch vehicle. In connection with the prime contract, STG would:

    • Define details for specifications and justify choices
    • Prepare a "scope of work" statement for release to industry by July 1
    • Prepare spacecraft specifications for release by August 1
    • Set up a contract evaluation team, qualified to evaluate the technical, management, design, engineering, and fabrication capabilities of the bidders.
    In connection with other projects directly relating to the Apollo program, STG was to:

    • Forward to Marshall Space Flight Center, via the Office of Space Flight Programs, the spacecraft systems part of a preliminary development plan for Saturn reentry tests
    • Make recommendations on an advanced version of the Mercury capsule
    • Designate a liaison member for the Lunar Sciences Subcommittee of the Space Sciences Steering Committee.
    The Office of Space Flight Programs would arrange a meeting with the Office of Advanced Research Programs, STG, and Langley Research Center on the Atlas-Agena reentry tests and with the Office of Advanced Research Programs, Office of Life Sciences Programs, STG, and Ames Research Center on the biomedical flight program.

1961 June 9 - .
  • Chamberlin briefed NASA Headquarters on McDonnell's advanced capsule design. - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Low, George; Chamberlin. Spacecraft: Gemini; Gemini Paraglide. James A. Chamberlin, Chief, Engineering Division, Space Task Group (STG), briefed Director Robert R. Gilruth, senior STG staff members, and George M. Low and John H. Disher of NASA Headquarters on McDonnell's advanced capsule design. The design was based on increased component and systems accessibility, reduced manufacturing and checkout time, easier pilot insertion and emergency egress procedures, greater reliability, and adaptability to a paraglide landing system. It departed significantly from Mercury capsule design in placing most components outside the pressure vessel and increasing retrograde and posigrade rocket performance. The group was reluctant to adopt what seemed to be a complete redesign of the Mercury spacecraft, but it decided to meet again on June 12 to review the most desirable features of the new design. After discussing most of these items at the second meeting, the group decided to ask McDonnell to study a minimum-modification capsule to provide an 18-orbit capability.

1961 July 28 - .
  • Source Evaluation Board to evaluate contractors' proposals for the Apollo spacecraft - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Faget; Chamberlin. Program: Apollo. Spacecraft: Apollo CSM; CSM Source Selection. NASA Associate Administrator Robert C. Seamans, Jr., appointed members to the Source Evaluation Board to evaluate contractors' proposals for the Apollo spacecraft. Walter C. Williams of STG served as Chairman, and members included Robert O. Piland, Wesley L. Hjornevik, Maxime A. Faget, James A. Chamberlin, Charles W. Mathews, and Dave W. Lang, all of STG; George M. Low, Brooks C. Preacher, and James T. Koppenhaver (nonvoting member) from NASA Headquarters; and Oswald H. Lange from Marshall Space Flight Center. On November 2, Faget became the Chairman, Kenneth S. Kleinknecht was added as a member, and Williams was relieved from his assignment.

1961 July - . LV Family: Nova; Saturn C-3.
  • Improved Mercury proposed for lunar landing - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Chamberlin. Program: Apollo. Spacecraft: Gemini LOR; Apollo Lunar Landing. 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.

1961 August 14 - .
  • Report on Mercury Mark II. - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Chamberlin. Spacecraft: Gemini. Fred J. Sanders and three other McDonnell engineers arrived at Langley Research Center to help James A. Chamberlin and other Space Task Group (STG) engineers who had prepared a report on the improved Mercury concept, now known as Mercury Mark II. Then, with the assistance of Warren J. North of NASA Headquarters Office of Space Flight Programs, the STG group prepared a preliminary Project Development Plan to be submitted to NASA Headquarters. Although revised six times before the final version was submitted on October 27, the basic concepts of the first plan remained unchanged in formulating the program.

1961 August - .
  • Presentation to STG on rendezvous and the lunar orbit rendezvous plan - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Chamberlin. Program: Gemini. Spacecraft: Gemini LOR. John C. Houbolt of Langley Research Center made a presentation to STG on rendezvous and the lunar orbit rendezvous plan. At this time James A. Chamberlin of STG requested copies of all of Houbolt's material because of the pertinence of this work to the Mercury Mark II program and other programs then under consideration.

1961 October 27 - .
  • James A. Chamberlin expects approval of the Mark II spacecraft program within 30 days. - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Chamberlin. Spacecraft: Gemini. James A. Chamberlin, Chief of Space Task Group (STG) Engineering Division, expecting approval of the Mark II spacecraft program within 30 days, urged STG Director Robert R. Gilruth to begin reorienting McDonnell, the proposed manufacturer, to the new program. To react quickly once the program was approved, McDonnell had to have an organization set up, personnel assigned, and adequate staffing ensured. Chamberlin suggested an amendment to the existing letter contract under which McDonnell had been authorized to procure items for Mercury Mark II. This amendment would direct McDonnell to devote efforts during the next 30 days to organizing and preparing to implement its Mark II role.

1961 November 1 - .
  • Space Task Group's Engineering Division briefed Seamans on the Mercury Mark II proposal. - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Chamberlin. Spacecraft: Gemini. Space Task Group's Engineering Division Chief James A. Chamberlin and Director Robert R. Gilruth briefed NASA Associate Administrator Robert C. Seamans, Jr., at NASA Headquarters on the Mercury Mark II proposal. Specific approval was not granted, but Chamberlin and Gilruth left Washington convinced that program approval would be forthcoming.

1962 January 15 - .
  • James A. Chamberlin named Manager of Gemini Project Office (GPO). - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Gilruth; Chamberlin. Program: Gemini. Spacecraft: Gemini. Director Robert R. Gilruth of Manned Spacecraft Center (MSC) appointed James A. Chamberlin, Chief of Engineering Division, as Manager of Gemini Project Office (GPO). The next day MSC advised McDonnell, by amendment No. 1 to letter contract NAS 9-170, that GPO had been established. It was responsible for planning and directing all technical activities and all contractor activities within the scope of the contract.

1962 August 15-16 - .
  • Manned Spacecraft Center reviewed engineering mock-up of the Gemini spacecraft. - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Chamberlin. Program: Gemini. Spacecraft: Gemini. Manned Spacecraft Center (MSC) formally reviewed McDonnell's engineering mock-up of the Gemini spacecraft in St Louis. The company had begun building the mock-up in January, shortly after receiving the spacecraft contract. Mock-up review had originally been scheduled for mid-July, but informal examinations by MSC representatives, including James A Chamberlin and several astronauts, had produced some suggested changes. The review itself resulted in McDonnell's receiving 167 requests for alterations. MSC inspected the revised mock-up in November.

1962 October 19 - . LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas Agena D SLV-3.
  • NASA Headquarters' recent decision to cut the MSC budget for fiscal year 1963 from $687 million to $660 million. - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Chamberlin. Spacecraft: Gemini; Gemini Paraglide. Wesley L. Hjornevik, Manned Spacecraft Center (MSC) Assistant Director for Administration, described to members of MSC's senior staff the implications of NASA Headquarters' recent decision to cut the MSC budget for fiscal year 1963 from $687 million to $660 million, the entire reduction to be borne by the Gemini program. Hjornevik feared that the Gemini budget, already tight, could absorb so large a cut only by dropping the paraglider, Agena, and all rendezvous equipment from the program. Gemini Project Office (GPO) reported that funding limitations had already forced Martin and McDonnell to reduce their level of activity. The first Gemini flight (unmanned) was rescheduled for December 1963, with the second (manned) to follow three months later, and subsequent flights at two-month intervals, with the first Agena (fifth mission) in August or September 1964. This four-month delay imposed by budget limitations required a large-scale reprogramming of Gemini development work, reflected chiefly in drastic reduction in the scale of planned test programs. Details of the necessary reprogramming had been worked out by December 20, when GPO Manager James A. Chamberlin reported that December 1963 was a realistic date for the first Gemini flight. Gemini funding for fiscal year 1963 totaled $232.8 million.

1963 January 11 - .
  • Astronauts to visit with workers at various contractors' plants. - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Slayton; Chamberlin. Spacecraft: Gemini. To stimulate contractor employees to better performance, Gemini Project Office Manager James A. Chamberlin suggested that astronauts visit with workers at various contractors' plants. Donald K Slayton, Astronaut Activities Office, informed Chamberlin that such visits would be made, beginning with the Martin Company in February 1963.

1963 March 19 - .
  • Chamberlin reassigned from Manager of Project Gemini. - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Gilruth; Chamberlin. Program: Gemini. Spacecraft: Gemini. James A Chamberlin was reassigned from Manager of Project Gemini to Senior Engineering Advisor to Robert R Gilruth, Director of Manned Spacecraft Center. Charles W Mathews was reassigned from Chief, Spacecraft Technology Division, to Acting Manager of Project Gemini.

1963 September 4 - .
  • Manned Spacecraft Criteria Board - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Faget; Chamberlin. Program: Apollo. Director Robert R. Gilruth established the MSC Manned Spacecraft Criteria Board to set up engineering, design, and procedural standards for manned spacecraft and associated systems. The board was composed of Maxime A. Faget, Chairman; James A. Chamberlin; Kenneth S. Kleinknecht; F. John Bailey, Jr.; G. Barry Graves; Jacob C. Moser; and Norman F. Smith, Secretary. Board criteria would become MSC policy; and - unless specific waivers were obtained, compliance by project offices was mandatory.

1965 January 20 - .
  • Manned Spacecraft Criteria and Standards Board - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Chamberlin. Program: Apollo. The new membership of the MSC Manned Spacecraft Criteria and Standards Board, established September 4, 1963, was: F. John Bailey, Jr., Chairman; James W. Donnell, Secretary; James A. Chamberlin, Kenneth S. Kleinknecht, W. R. Durrett, William M. Bland, and Norman F. Smith.

1965 June 17 - .
  • Development Engineering Inspection on Apollo spacecraft 002 - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Maynard; Chamberlin. Program: Apollo. Spacecraft: Apollo CSM. A Development Engineering Inspection (DEI) was held on spacecraft 002 at North American, Downey, California. The NASA Board consisted of W. M. Bland, Jr., Chairman; R. H. Ridnour, J. Chamberlin, S. A. Sjoberg, F. J. Bailey, O. G. Morris, O. E. Maynard, and O. Tarango.

    A total of 20 Request for Changes (RFCs) were submitted and reviewed; 12 of them resulted from the design review conducted at MSC prior to the DEI, and eight resulted from the inspection of the vehicle. The final disposition of the RFCs was: seven approved for immediate action; five approved for study; three rejected; and five determined not applicable.


1965 July 1 - .
  • Development Engineering Inspection for Apollo Little Joe II - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Gordon; Chamberlin. Program: Apollo. The Development Engineering Inspection (DEI) for Little Joe II 12-51-3 was satisfactorily conducted at General Dynamics Convair, San Diego, Calif. The vehicle had been assigned for Mission A-004, an abort mission in the power-on tumbling boundary region. The DEI was conducted with emphasis on changes which had been effected as a result of the malfunction encountered during the A-003 mission. The following served on the DEI Board: J. A. Chamberlin, Chairman, S. A. Sjoberg, R. F. Gordon, F. J. Bailey, R. C. Duncan, W. M. Bland, R. A. Gardiner, and L. P. Gallagher, Secretary.

1967 October 18 - .
  • Apollo Configuration Control Panel for GFE - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Faget; Chamberlin. Program: Apollo. MSC's Director of Engineering and Development Maxime A. Faget, at the request of the ASPO Manager, established a Configuration Control Panel (CCP) for government furnished equipment (GFE). The panel would integrate control of changes in the GFE items supplied for the Apollo spacecraft. "Authority to bring change recommendations to the GFE Panel will be invested in Division Chiefs. Changes rejected by the Division Chiefs need not be reviewed by the GFE CCP," the memorandum establishing the panel said. Membership on the panel was as follows: Chairman, Maxime A. Faget; Alternate Chairman, James A. Chamberlin; Members, Richard S. Johnston, Robert A. Gardiner, R. W. Sawyer (sic), and William C. Bradford. Secretary would be John B. See.

1967 November 17 - .
  • Environmental acceptance testing of Apollo spacecraft - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Chamberlin. Program: Apollo. Spacecraft: Apollo LM; LM ECS. An MSC meeting discussed environmental acceptance testing of Apollo spacecraft at the vehicle level. The meeting was attended by representatives of OMSF, MSC, and General Electric. Lad Warzecha presented results of a GE analysis of ground- and flight-test failures in a number of spacecraft programs. GE had concluded that a significant number of failures could be eliminated through complete vehicle environmental (vibration and thermal vacuum) acceptance testing and recommended such testing be included in the CSM and LM programs. James A. Chamberlin, MSC, presented a critique of the GE recommendations and found fault with the statistical approach to the GE analysis, indicating that each flight failure would have to be considered individually to reach valid conclusions. After considerable discussion ASPO Manager George M. Low said that he had reached the following conclusions:

    1. Adequate environmental screening at the piece part and component level was essential. Significant steps in this direction had been taken by requiring a wider use of high-reliability parts and by imposing higher vibration levels in black box acceptance testing.
    2. Vehicle-level environmental acceptance testing was not applicable to the CSM or LM spacecraft. This conclusion was reached because it was not possible to vibrate, or otherwise excite, any of the Apollo spacecraft in a way to give meaningful vibration levels at most internal spacecraft locations.

1968 November 13 - .
  • Effects of moisture on the Apollo launch adapter structure - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Chamberlin. Program: Apollo. Summary: ASPO Manager Low asked Aaron Cohen, one of his staff assistants, to lead an investigation to determine detrimental effects of moisture on the strength of the bonded covering of the launch adapter structure. . Additional Details: here....

1981 March 1 - .
  • Death of James A Chamberlin - . Nation: Canada. Related Persons: Chamberlin. Summary: Canadian-American engineer. Lead at Avro for fighters, 1945-1959. Lead positions at NASA, 1959-1970. Conceived modular design for Gemini and pushed its use for lunar mission. At McDonnell-Douglas 1970-1981; headed their shuttle bid..

Home - Browse - Contact
© / Conditions for Use