Encyclopedia Astronautica
1959.06.25 - Research Steering Committee briefed on technical studies


Alfred J. Eggers, Jr., of the Ames Research Center told the members of the Research Steering Committee of studies on radiation belts, graze and orbit maneuvers on reentry, heat transfer, structural concepts and requirements, lift over drag considerations, and guidance systems which affected various aspects of the manned lunar mission. Eggers said that Ames had concentrated on a landing maneuver involving a reentry approach over one of the poles to lessen radiation exposure, a graze through the outer edge of the atmosphere to begin an earth orbit, and finally reentry and landing.

Manned steps beyond Mercury, he said, should be:

- The use of the Vega or Centaur boosters to put a manned satellite into an orbit with a 50,000-mile apogee, carrying two men for two weeks to gain experience beyond Mercury with reentry techniques and extended manned space flight applicable to the lunar mission.

- The use of the Saturn booster in manned flight to the vicinity of the moon and return, putting two men in a highly elliptical orbit, with an apogee of up to 250,000 miles or even one pass around the moon before heading back to earth. The flight time would be about one week, providing experience similar to that of the manned lunar mission, including hyperbolic reentry to earth. A close, direct view of the lunar surface by man would support lunar landing.

- The use of the Nova or clustered-engine Saturn booster for a lunar landing and return. Two men would carry out this one-week to one-month expedition.

Eggers recommended that the same type of return capsule be used in all these missions to build up reliability and experience with the spacecraft before the lunar landing mission. Unmanned space probes should also be used to investigate certain factors related to the success of the lunar mission: polar radiation, lunar radiation, grazing reentry, lunar surface characteristics, and micrometeoroids.

The Committee unanimously agreed that investigation of a grazing reentry was necessary and would require an unmanned space probe. NASA Centers would look into experiments that might be launched by a Scout or Thor-Delta booster. Committee members would check to be sure that the basic programs in the Office of Space Flight Development space sciences programs covered the requirements for investigation of the other factors of special interest to the manned lunar mission.

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