Encyclopedia Astronautica
1967.03.30 - The Apollo 204 Review Board met with its Test Procedures Review Panel


The Apollo 204 Review Board met with its Test Procedures Review Panel (Panel No. 7) to complete acceptance of the panel's final report.

The panel had been established February 7 to document test procedures actually employed during the day of the January 27 accident and to indicate deviations between planned procedures and those used. The panel was to determine changes that might alleviate fire hazard conditions or that might provide for improved reaction or corrective conditions and review the changes for applicability to other tests.

Among the panel's findings and determinations were:

Finding

209 pages of the 275-page Operational Checkout Procedure (OCP) were revised and released on the day before the test. However, less than 25 percent of the line items were changed. Approximately one percent of the change was due to errors in technical content in the original issue of the procedure. In addition, 106 deviations were written during the test.

Determination

Neither the revision nor the deviations were known to have contributed specifically to the incident. The late timing of the change release, however, prevented test personnel from becoming adequately familiar with the test procedure before use.

Finding

During the altitude chamber tests, the cabin was pressurized at pressures greater than sea level with an oxygen environment two and a half times as long as the cabin was pressurized with oxygen before the accident during Plugs-Out Test.

Determination

The spacecraft had successfully operated with the same cabin conditions in the chamber for a greater period of time than on the pad up to the time of the accident.

Finding

Troubleshooting the communication problem was not controlled by any one person, and was at times independently run from the spacecraft, Launch Complex 34 Blockhouse, and the Manned Spacecraft Operations Building. Communications switching, some of which was not called out in OCP, was performed without the control of the Test Conductor.

Determination

The uncontrolled troubleshooting and switching contributed to the difficulty experienced in attempting to assess the communication problem.

Finding

KSC was not able to ensure that the spacecraft launch operations plans and procedures adequately satisfied, in a timely way, the intent of MSC. Changes in spacecraft testing by KSC could not be kept in phase with the latest requirements of MSC. Prelaunch checkout requirements were not formally transmitted to KSC from MSC.

Determination

Prelaunch-test-requirements control for the Apollo spacecraft program was constrained by slow response to changes, lack of detailed KSC-MSC inter-Center agreements, and lack of official NASA-approved test specifications applicable to prelaunch checkout.

Finding

The decision to perform the Plugs-Out Test with the flight crew, closed hatch, and pure oxygen cabin environment made on October 31, 1966, was a significant change in test philosophy.

Determination

There was no evidence that this change in test philosophy was made so late as to preclude timely incorporation into the test procedure.

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