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Encyclopedia Astronautica
1969.05.21 - Saturn V "dry" Workshop decision.


Gilruth and Von Braun support decision to fly a complete integrated solution on a single Saturn V launch.

At the Manned Space Flight Management Council meeting held at MSC, Associate Administrator George E. Mueller sounded out the Center Directors and AAP officials regarding program options facing AAP and the direction that the program should take. These options, discussed at length during the meeting, derived primarily from the choice of a Saturn IB 'wet' Workshop versus a Saturn V 'dry' Workshop (with several possible approaches for ATM and CSM operation).

On 23 May, MSFC Director Wernher von Braun responded at length to Mueller's request for recommendations from the field. Foremost, von Braun stated, AAP's basic objectives (long-duration manned space flight and solar observations) could be achieved within present resources and schedules (though it would require some 'hard-nosed scrubbing down' of current methods). Of the several possible program options, the MSFC Director voted for the Saturn V launched 'dry' Workshop.

His recommendation derived from several factors. A principal one was NASA's astonishing record of success with the basic Saturn V launch vehicle. Also, several important benefits derived from launching the Workshop in a fully equipped configuration rather than using the Saturn IB's second stage: Because of greater weight carrying ability many experiments could be carried that heretofore had been too heavy to be included, Great improvement could be made in the habitability of the Workshop. Some expendables could be offloaded from the proposed AAP-4 flight, thus ensuring that the mission would remain within the Saturn IB's payload capability. Redundancy and spare components would enhance overall mission success and reliability. The dry-launched Workshop allowed installation and checkout of all Workshop equipment on the ground prior to launch, as well as eliminating the complications of forcing the S IVB stage to serve as a propulsive stage as well as space laboratory. In short, von Braun told Mueller, the Saturn V-launched Workshop offered 'real and solid' advantages without any attendant program perturbations. Such a move he called an 'organic and logical step for gaining experience' in long-duration flight and said it would 'allow us to qualify subsystems for the full-fledged space station/space base.'

Three days later, MSC Director Robert R. Gilruth responded to Mueller and voiced almost the same ideas. Gilruth, too, recommended that AAP adopt the Saturn V Workshop concept, which was essentially the Saturn IB model launched aboard the first two stages of the Saturn V. Thus, AAP would enjoy the luxury of a 'ready-for-use' vehicle of a much improved configuration. This latter concept pointed to achievement of AAP's basic objectives which remained unchanged: 56-day missions, solar astronomy, and-an implied AAP objective- early space flights at minimum cost looking ahead toward NASA's getting an early go-ahead on the space station and the space shuttle programs during the latter half of the 1970s.

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