Encyclopedia Astronautica
1968.09.06 - Proposed revisions of the first Apollo lunar landing mission plan


In response to a letter from Apollo Program Director Samuel C. Phillips concerning proposed revisions of the first lunar landing mission plan, MSC Director Robert R. Gilruth presented MSC's position on the three major topics:

  1. deletion of the lunar geology investigation (LGI) and the Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments Package (ALSEP),
  2. television coverage, and
  3. extravehicular excursion.

Concerning the first item, Gilruth said, "Our lunar surface exploration and scientific activities should be progressive as we extend our knowledge and obtain a better understanding of operational limitations and capabilities in a 1/6g environment. . . . By embarking on too ambitious an effort on our first mission, we may well jeopardize our capability to accomplish manned . . . activities on subsequent flights. . . ." It was "recommended that the LGI (with the exception of the contingency sample and preliminary sample portion) and the ALSEP be deleted from the first lunar landing mission."

With reference to television coverage, Gilruth cited Houston's position that "it would be extremely desirable to provide adequate television coverage during the extravehicular excursion. Coverage can be obtained through the LM steerable antenna and the Goldstone 210-foot [64-meter] antenna while in view of Goldstone." MSC proposed to provide "the capability to transmit the television signal directly through the high gain antenna; but we would also like to maintain the capability to carry the erectable antenna, in the event that it will not be feasible to adjust the timeline to provide Goldstone coverage for all planned extravehicular activities. . . ."

On the subject of extravehicular excursion, he said, ". . . we strongly believe that, on the first lunar landing mission, only a single extravehicular activity should be carried out. You have stated that the simplest and safest excursion should be conducted by one man alone. However, it is clear that we have to maintain the basic capability for a two-man excursion so that the second man can assist the first in the event of trouble or difficulties. Also, further studies and simulations in this area might identify new reasons why a planned two-man excursion is more desirable than a one-man excursion. . . ."

Gilruth said that MSC officials Charles A. Berry, Maxime A. Faget, Christopher C. Kraft, Jr., George M. Low, and Donald K. Slayton were in full accord with all of these recommendations. He added, however, that Wilmot N. Hess felt that "these changes represent a serious compromise to the scientific program." Hess felt that the EVA period should be open ended and that it would be worthwhile to carry ALSEP and attempt its deployment. Hess also recommended that if a decision were made not to carry ALSEP, some easily deployed contingency experiments might be added, such as: Solar Wind Composition experiment, High-Z Cosmic Ray experiment, and a simplified Corner Reflector for Laser Ranging experiment.

Gilruth said that he himself believed, "that it is essential that EVA on the first lunar landing mission be limited to a single excursion and that ALSEP and LGI be eliminated as experiments from that flight. . . . I believe that the maximum scientific gains on this and future missions will be achieved if we limit our objectives as proposed. . . . I am sure that all will agree that if we successfully land on the moon and return to earth, bring back samples of lunar soil, transmit television directly from the moon, and return with detailed photographic coverage, our achievement will have been tremendous by both scientific and technological standards."

More... - Chronology...

Home - Browse - Contact
© / Conditions for Use