Encyclopedia Astronautica
1959.06.25 - Lunar mission studies under way at the Army


During the Research Steering Committee meeting, John H. Disher of NASA Headquarters discussed the lunar mission studies under way at the Army Ballistic Missile Agency (ABMA).

ABMA had a large and competent group concentrating primarily on the lunar mission. Velocity and thrust requirements agreed well with those determined by the Lewis Research Center. ABMA was recommending a Saturn C-2 launch vehicle having a 2 million-pound-thrust first stage, a 1-million-pound-thrust second stage, and a 200,000-pound-thrust third stage. Another launch vehicle six times larger than the Saturn C-2 was also being studied for direct ascent. ABMA was interested in obtaining a NASA contract to study the Saturn C-2 vehicle.

Two approaches were being studied for the manned lunar landing, one refueling in earth orbit and the other assembling separately landed parcels on the moon for the return flight (lunar surface rendezvous). The ABMA schedule dates were unrealistic considering present funding and problem complexities. Orbit control and landing point control experiments were urgently needed, possibly with Mercury-type capsules. Large-scale controlled reentry experiments at lunar reentry velocity should begin as soon as possible.

The Committee agreed that studies should continue on the direct ascent versus earth orbital assembly and that Lewis should become more familiar with ABMA studies, while concentrating on the Nova approach. It was also suggested that the High Speed Flight Station look into the operational problems of assembly in orbit.

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