Category Paving the Way for Apollo 11


A week before Apollo 11 was due to launch, people began to congregate at the Cape communities of Titusville, Cocoa Beach, Satellite Beach and Melbourne. They came from all around the world in order to be able to tell their grandchildren they were present when men set off to try to land on the Moon. By 15 July hotels and motels allowed late-comers to install camp beds in lounges and lobbies, but most people spent the night on the beaches and by the roadside, generating the worst congestion

in Florida’s history. With the notable exception of alarm clocks, which rapidly sold out, shops were able to supply the hoards. As it was to be a dawn launch, the parties ran through the night.

When AS-506 lifted off at 09:32:00 local time on 16 July on a mission to accept President Kennedy’s challenge of landing a man on the Moon before the decade was out, it was estimated that there were about a million people present and 1,000 times as many watching on ‘live’ television.

No-one could be certain that the objective would be achieved, but the way had certainly been well paved.

[1] He did not infer from the absence of detail in the shadows that the Moon was airless, nor did he suggest the presence of open water.

[2] In fact, one of the few names introduced by van Langren to have survived is Langrenus, by which he honoured his own family.

[3] Selene was the Greek moon-goddess.

[4] Like Herschel and Schroter, von Gruithuisen believed the Moon to be inhabited, and after using a small telescope he reported in 1824 his discovery of a city in the equatorial zone near the meridian; but this was later shown to be merely a group of shallow ridges that were visible only when the Sun was low on the local horizon.

[5] For over half a century, geologists had argued about how the Coon Butte crater formed – and this was for a structure that was accessible to in-situ examination. Could there be any hope of resolving the issue of the lunar craters, which could only be peered at from afar!?

[6] On transfer to NASA, the Langley Aeronautical Laboratory became the Langley Research Center, the Ames Aeronautical Laboratory became the Ames Research Center, the Lewis Flight Propulsion Laboratory became the Lewis Research Center and the High-Speed Flight Station became the Flight Research Center.

[7] On 3 December 1958 Eisenhower ordered that JPL be transferred to NASA. This took effect on 1 January 1959, although only under contract, since the facility was owned by Caltech, which NASA paid. In September 1959 the Pentagon voluntarily yielded the Army Ballistic Missile Agency since the military had decided it did not require the Saturn launch vehicle; it would develop the Titan III instead. On 21 October 1959 NASA announced that it was to gain von Braun’s rocket team. On 1 July 1960 the Army Ballistic Missile Agency became the Marshall Space Flight Center.

[8] Physicists James van Allen, Homer Newell, Charles Sonett and Lloyd Berkner were notable early members of the ‘sky science’ community.

[9] Colloquia were held quarterly at different venues on the West Coast through to May 1963.

[10] As would later be realised, Mare Moscoviense fills the floor of a 300-km-diameter crater and Tsiolkovsky covers a portion of the floor of a crater which has a prominent central peak.

[11] The name Ranger set a trend for lunar projects with the names Surveyor and Prospector; in contrast to Mariner for planetary missions – that is ‘land’ names as against ‘sea’ names.

[12] Later, launch operations would be made a separate field centre.

[13] In early 1962 the entire NASA launch organisation was restructured.

[14] The Soviet spacecraft fell silent on 27 February 1961, at a distance of 2З million km from Earth. A launch on 4 February had stranded a similar spacecraft in parking orbit, but its role was disguised by naming it Sputnik 7.

[15] Surface science was only one of the objectives; there were the investigations to be made during the terminal approach, and achieving these would mark an acceptable compromise on the first mission.

[16] They were Lieutenant Commander Alan Bartlett Shepard Jr, Lieutenant Malcolm Scott Carpenter and Lieutenant Commander Walter Marty Schirra Jr from the Navy; Lieutenant Colonel John Herschel Glenn Jr from the Marines; and Captain Virgil Ivan ‘Gus’ Grissom, Captain Donald Kent ‘Deke’ Slayton and Captain Leroy Gordon Cooper Jr from the Air Force.

[17] This reasoning would resurface when John F. Kennedy asked for a worthy challenge.

[18] In a reorganisation on 8 December 1959, the Office of Space Flight Development had become the Office of Space Flight Programs.

[19] In fact, NASA could have launched Shepard several weeks ahead of Gagarin’s flight. If this had been done, Kennedy may well not have issued the challenge of landing a man on the Moon before the decade was out. The fact that Shepard’s flight had been only suborbital whereas Gagarin’s was orbital, would probably not have mattered, since the world’s first ‘spaceman’ would have been an American. The fact that America ‘lost’ both the first satellite and the first man into space could be said to be directly responsible for the race to the Moon. It serves to illustrate that history is not an irresistible tide, it can be extremely sensitive to the outcome of singular events.

[20] Earth imparts a gravitational acceleration of 32.2 ft/sec2.

[21] Newell also wished to maximise the amount of science on manned flights in Earth orbit.

[22] Despite Gold’s assertion that the dust would react only slowly upon being loaded, reporters would remain fascinated by the possibility that a lander would rapidly become submerged by it!

[23] The crater made by Ranger 8 was photographed by Lunar Orbiter 2, and found to be about 13.5 metres in diameter with a mound at its centre.

[24] The converter was installed at JPL, not at Goldstone.

[25] The crater made by Ranger 9 was photographed by Apollo 16 in 1972. At 14 metres in diameter, it was similar to that of its predecessor.

[26] The delay in the Centaur stage was in part due to problems with the configuration of its propellant tanks, but also because the Marshall Space Flight Center was busy with the Saturn launch vehicles. In early 1962, therefore, the Centaur had been transferred to the Lewis Research Center.

[27] In the case of Lunar Orbiter, the wide-angle images would be referred to as medium (M) frames and the narrow-angle images as high-resolution (H) frames.

[28] In fact, Bimat was similar to the Polaroid process.

[29] In particularly, the Planetology Subcommittee called for the Lunar Orbiter Block II to undertake selenodesy, gamma-ray, X-ray, magnetometry, microwave and non-imaging radar studies from orbit.

[30] This was because on a direct ascent the translunar injection point was necessarily near the latitude of the launch site, and for a launch from Florida this was north of the equatorial plane on a southerly heading, which meant that by the time the spacecraft reached lunar distance it would be south of the equatorial plane.

[31] The Manned Space Flight Network was operated under the direction of the Goddard Space Flight Center in support of the Manned Spacecraft Center.

[32] In fact, stereoscopic analysis of the Lunar Orbiter pictures proved difficult due to the manner in which they were scanned in narrow strips for transmission, as this gave the impression of the surface as being corrugated.

[33] Whereas in summer the Moon reaches its ‘full’ phase south of the equator, in winter it does so north of the equator, and since for the early Surveyors the landing sites were well to the west of the lunar meridian with arrival soon after local sunrise in winter months the translunar injection had to be made from south of the Earth’s equator. The restartable Centaur facilitated this by using its first burn to achieve a parking orbit and, once south of the equator, using its second burn to head for the Moon.

[34] During a solar eclipse, when the Moon occults the Sun to terrestrial observers, the irregular profile of the lunar limb often allows light from small sections of the solar disk to be viewed during totality, giving rise to a phenomenon known as Baily’s Beads after the British astronomer Francis Baily who first noted them during an annular eclipse on 15 May 1836.

[35] The term ‘psia’ means pounds of force per square inch on an ‘absolute’ scale measured relative to zero. If a pressure gauge is calibrated to read zero in space, then at sea level on Earth it would read 14.7 psi, which is sea-level atmospheric pressure. A value specified in psia is therefore relative to vacuum, rather than a differential relative to the pressure at sea level on Earth. For large numbers, the difference is insignificant.

[36] The pictures taken by Lunar Orbiter 1 showing Earth against the lunar limb were in black – and-white.

[37] Both Apollo 15 and Apollo 17 were sent to sites imaged by Lunar Orbiter 5; although in the case of Apollo 17 the observations by Apollo 15 also contributed to the selection.

[38] In the late 1950s J. J. Gilvarry argued that the maria were once water oceans, and hosted life. He said the now-dry plains were sedimentary rock, and dark owing to the presence of organic material. He claimed the elemental abundance data from the alpha-scattering instrument matched mudstone even better than it did basalt.

[39] Although NASA was unaware of it, a gamma-ray spectrometer operated in lunar orbit by Luna 10 in 1966 had provided a rudimentary analysis of the composition of the lunar surface across a wide range of latitudes, and the results showed there to be no significant exposures of acidic rock in the highlands.

[40] The term ‘facies’ was introduced to geology in 1838 by the Swiss stratigrapher Amanz Gressly to specify a body of rock having given characteristics.

[41] They were: Lieutenant Charles ‘Pete’ Conrad Jr, Lieutenant Commander James Arthur Lovell Jr, and Lieutenant Commander John Watts Young from the Navy; Major Frank Frederick Borman II, Captain James Alton McDivitt, Captain Thomas Patten Stafford, and Captain Edward Higgins White II from the Air Force; Neil Alden Armstrong, a former naval aviator, now a civilian test pilot for NASA; and Elliot McKay See Jr, a civilian test pilot for the General Electric Company.

[42] Slayton had been grounded in 1962 owing to a heart irregularity while training for a Mercury mission.

[43] They were: Major Edwin Eugene ‘Buzz’ Aldrin Jr, Captain William Alison Anders, Captain Charles Arthur Bassett II, Captain Michael Collins, Captain Donn Fulton Eisele, Captain Theodore Cordy Freeman, and Captain David Randolph Scott from the Air Force; Lieutenant Alan LaVern Bean, Lieutenant Eugene Andrew Cernan, Lieutenant Roger Bruce Chaffee, and Lieutenant Commander Richard Francis Gordon Jr from the Navy; Captain Clifton Curtis Williams from the Marines; Ronnie Walter Cunningham, a research scientists at the RAND Corporation; and Russell Louis ‘Rusty’ Schweickart, a research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

[44] This name change officially took effect on 20 December 1963.

[45] On 26 October 1962 a nomenclature was introduced by which the pad abort tests were to run in sequence from PA-1; the Little Joe II flights were to start at A-001; missions using the Saturn I were to start at A-101; missions using the Saturn IB were to start at A-201; and missions using the Saturn V were to start at A-501, with the ‘A’ standing for ‘Apollo’. The ‘SA’ prefix was employed by the Marshall Space Flight Center (giving precedence to the launch vehicle) and the ‘AS’ prefix was used by the Manned Spacecraft Center (giving precedence to the spacecraft). In addition, the term ‘space vehicle’ was introduced to describe the integrated ‘launch vehicle’ and ‘spacecraft’, with the latter comprising the CSM, the LM (if present) and the SLA structure.

[46] NASA’s Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base was renamed in Dryden’s honour.

[47] On 30 March 1967 George Low suggested that the AS-201 and AS-202 test flights be assigned the designations Apollo 2 and Apollo 3 retrospectively in order to fill in the gap, but this was rejected by Mueller on 24 April. AS-203 was not included because it did not carry a spacecraft.

[48] The last two categories represented the lunar part of the Apollo Applications Program which was being promoted by George Mueller, and when this fell by the wayside the reconnaissance surveys were deleted and the main program was expanded to include ‘enhanced capability’ landings.

[49] Times in this hhh:mm:ss format are with reference to the time of launch.

[50] It is worth noting that the guidance system in the IU performed this magnificent recovery entirely on its own.

[51] CSM-101 had flown on Apollo 7, CSM-102 had been retained by North American Aviation for ground testing, CSM-103 had been assigned to the Apollo 8 ‘C-prime’ mission, CSM-104 was to fly the Apollo 9 ‘D’ mission, CSM-105 was for ground testing, and CSM-106, which was delivered to the Cape on 25 November 1968, was assigned to Apollo 10.


AS-205 lifted off from Pad 34 at 15:02:45 GMT on 11 October 1968 to fly the ‘C’ mission. Flown by Wally Schirra, Donn Eisele and Walt Cunningham, Apollo 7 was

to be open-ended up to 11 days and its purpose was to assess the performance of the Block II spacecraft.

The ascent phase was nominal and the S-IVB achieved a 123 x 152-nautical mile orbit. Prior to separating from the spent stage, the crew temporarily took command of the Instrument Unit and manually manoeuvred the combined vehicle in pitch, roll, and yaw, then they returned control to the launch vehicle. By the time the spacecraft separated at 002:55:02.40, venting of S-IVB propellants had raised the orbit to 123 x 170 nautical miles. The spacecraft moved clear, flipped and moved back in as if to retrieve the LM (which was absent). Since one of the four panels of the SLA had not fully deployed, it was decided that in future the panels would be jettisoned. One of the primary objectives was to demonstrate Apollo’s rendezvous capability using the spent stage as the target. At Schirra’s insistence, one man was awake at all times to monitor the spacecraft’s systems, even though the ongoing work made sleeping difficult. The rendezvous rehearsal was successfully achieved on the second day.

Although this was the first US spacecraft to have sufficient habitable volume for a man to leave his couch and move around, the crew suffered no disorientation in the weightless state, despite efforts to induce motion sickness. However, all three men developed head colds early on, making them grumpy, and in-flight TV, which was a secondary objective, provided a focus for their frustration. When the monochrome camera was finally switched on, however, it delivered excellent results and the crew played up to their audience. But it was a long and tedious flight of monitoring the systems to evaluate their performance, always prepared to intervene in the event of a problem. In fact, it was an exercise in would later be derided as “boring holes in the sky’’.

At 11:11:48 GMT on 22 October the command module splashed in the Atlantic 1.9 nautical miles from the target point. It initially assumed an apex-down attitude, but was soon turned apex-up by the inflatable bags on its nose. The astronauts were retrieved by helicopter and arrived on USS Essex an hour later.

The Apollo 7 mission was successful in every respect, with the service propulsion system firing perfectly eight times. Indeed, afterwards Schirra described the flight as a “101 per cent success’’. In combination with previous missions and ground tests, it certified the CSM for use in Earth orbit and for tests in the cislunar and lunar orbital environments.


On 7 November 1968 George Mueller declared that AS-503 was fit for a mission to the Moon. On 11 November Sam Phillips recommended to the Manned Space Flight Management Council that Apollo 8 enter lunar orbit. Later that day, Mueller told Thomas Paine that he had discussed the mission with the Science and Technology Advisory Committee and with the President’s Science Advisory Committee, both of which had endorsed the proposal, and he recommended that it should be undertaken. After speaking to Frank Borman by telephone, who confirmed his willingness to fly the mission, Paine gave the formal go ahead and told Phillips to make the necessary arrangements. The next day, NASA announced that Apollo 8 would be launched on 21 December and attempt a lunar orbital mission. Earlier in the year, Michael Collins had withdrawn from the crew to undergo a surgical procedure, and had been replaced by his backup, James Lovell.

Tom Stafford, John Young and Gene Cernan were announced on 13 November as the prime crew of Apollo 10, backed up by Gordon Cooper, Donn Eisele and Edgar Mitchell. This established the precedent for a crew backing up one mission, skipping two, and becoming the prime crew of the mission after that. It had yet to be decided, however, whether Apollo 10 would fly the ‘F’ or the ‘G’ mission.[51]

On 9 October 1968 AS-503, complete with CSM-103 and LTA-B, was rolled out to Pad 39A. The countdown demonstration test was completed on 11 December, and the actual countdown began at 00:00 GMT on 16 December. The launch window ran from 20 to 27 December, and it had been decided to try for 21 December to enable the astronauts to inspect the ALS-1 landing site in eastern Mare Tranquillitatis soon after local sunrise.

Frank Borman, James Lovell and Bill Anders entered the spacecraft with a little under 3 hours on the clock. There were no unplanned holds, and Apollo 8 lifted off at 12:51:00 GMT on 21 December for the ‘C-prime’ mission.

The ascent was nominal and the deviations from the trajectory when the S-IVB cut off at T+ 684.98 seconds were + 1.44 ft/sec in velocity and -0.01 nautical mile in altitude, which was almost perfect. At 002:27:22, after the S-IVB and spacecraft had been thoroughly checked, Collins, serving as the CapCom in Mission Control, made the momentous call, ‘‘Apollo 8, you are ‘Go’ for TLI.’’

The 317.7-second translunar injection was started at 002:50:37.8 and produced a velocity of 35,505.4 ft/sec. The spacecraft separated 30 minutes later and the four SLA panels were jettisoned. After turning around, the spacecraft’s ability at station­keeping with the spent stage was assessed. A 1.1-ft/sec manoeuvre was performed at 003:40:01 using the reaction control system of the service module to move clear of the stage, and a 7.7-ft/sec manoeuvre at 004:45:01 increased the separation rate.

At 004:55:56.0 the S-IVB opened its hydrogen vent valve and at 005:07:55.8 it passed oxygen through the engine. At 005:25:55.8 the auxiliary propulsion system was ignited and burned to depletion. The accumulated velocity increment placed the stage on course to fly by the trailing limb of the Moon at an altitude of 681 nautical miles and pass into solar orbit. The spacecraft’s service propulsion system executed a 2.4-second, 20.4-ft/sec midcourse manoeuvre at 010:59:59.2. A 24.8-ft/sec change had been planned, but the engine delivered less thrust than expected and a correction was made at 060:59:55.9 to refine the trajectory. These burns served to calibrate the service propulsion system in advance of calculating the orbit insertion manoeuvre.

In contrast to Apollo 7, this time all three crewmen experienced nausea as a result of rapid body movement, with the symptoms lasting up to 24 hours. The first of six TV transmissions started at 031:10:36 and ran for 23 minutes 37 seconds. The wide – angle lens gave an excellent view of the inside of the spacecraft, where Lovell was preparing a meal, but the telephoto lens passed too much light and pictures of Earth were poor. After a procedure was devised to tape a filter of the still camera onto the TV camera, it produced improved pictures of Earth during a transmission starting at 055:02:45. At 055:38:40 the astronauts were alerted that they had become the first people to enter a region where the gravitational attraction of another body exceeded that of Earth. The spacecraft had been slowing as it climbed up from Earth, but now it began to accelerate as it was drawn in by the Moon. However, they were not yet committed. If a reason developed not to brake into lunar orbit, then Apollo 8 would simply continue on its ‘free return’ trajectory around the back of the Moon and be ‘slingshot’ back to Earth. Although everything was going well, the translunar coast was frustrating in the sense that at no time were the crew able to see their objective owing to the spacecraft’s trajectory in relation to the positions of the Moon and the Sun.

The lunar orbit insertion manoeuvre began at 069:08:20.4 at an altitude of 75.6 nautical miles above the far-side of the Moon, and the 246.9-second burn produced an orbit ranging between 60.0 and 168.5 nautical miles with its high point above the near-side. After the post-burn checklist had been attended to, and while still passing over the far-side, the astronauts had their first opportunity to inspect the surface of the Moon up close. At 071:40:52 they gave a 12-minute TV transmission showing the passing terrain. In contrast to geologists, the astronauts described the surface in terms of ‘‘a battlefield’’, ‘‘a sandbox torn up by children’’, ‘‘a volleyball game played on a dirty beach’’, ‘‘plaster of Paris’’, or (vaguely scientifically) as ‘‘pumice’’. Bright ray craters appeared just as if they had been made by a ‘‘pickaxe striking concrete’’. The colour was varied, sometimes appearing to be black and white, yet other times displaying a distinctly brownish tan. In terms of mood, the surface was ‘‘desolate’’, ‘‘bleak’’ and ‘‘forbidding’’. A 9.6-second burn at 073:35:06.6 circularised the orbit at 60 nautical miles.

As this was the first opportunity for humans to directly observe the Moon at close range, James Sasser of the Apollo Spacecraft Project Office in Houston had served as the ‘project scientist’ for the mission. He formed an advisory team and this drew up a program of photography and visual observations for the crew to perform using a Maurer 16-mm movie camera and a Hasselblad with a 250-mm lens. In particular, the Manned Spacecraft Center wanted views of the eastern limb to assist in selecting landmarks for a lander’s navigational checks prior to the powered descent. Some of this documentation was to be overlapping vertical and oblique pictures which would enable stereoscopic analysis to determine the geographical position and elevation of each feature, but the movie camera was also to be fitted to the spacecraft’s sextant to depict the landmarks in context. In addition, some ‘scientific’ targets were marked on the flight charts as ‘targets of opportunity’ which were to be inspected if time and circumstances allowed. These were to provide either detailed coverage of specific features or broad coverage of areas which had not been adequately imaged by the Lunar Orbiters. And, of course, the ALS-1 landing site was to be inspected. Most of the scientific observing and photography was assigned to Anders, the LMP without a lunar module. Jack Schmitt, a professional geologist who was hired as an astronaut in 1965, served as the main interface between Sasser’s team and the Apollo 8 crew in training, but some briefings were provided by US Geological Survey staff. At the suggestion of Wilmot N. Hess, Director of the Science and Applications Directorate at the Manned Spacecraft Center, SasseTr’s team had set up a ‘science support’ room in Mission Control to listen to the astronauts’ commentaries and watch the TV of the lunar landscape passing below the spacecraft.

The astronauts could recognise surface features in shadows lit by Earthshine, and could see detail on sunward-facing slopes which had been ‘washed out’ in the Lunar Orbiter pictures. In fact, they could perceive detail to within 5 degrees of the ‘zero phase’ point, which is the line of sight with the Sun directly behind the observer. In planning the lunar landing the lower limit for Sun angle had been set at 6 degrees, but the astronauts could see surface detail at angles as low as 2 degrees. They were able to confirm that the upper limit of 16 degrees provided excellent definition, and their observations suggested that it might be possible to raise the limit to 20 degrees – but no higher than this. This enabled the lighting constraints for the lunar landing to be relaxed.

Of the two candidate landing sites in Mare Tranquillitatis, ALS-1 in the east was brighter; so much so, in fact, that it was debatable whether it was truly mare material or a flatfish portion of the adjacent terra. Observing it visually from an altitude of 60 nautical miles, Lovell said it reminded him of an aerial view of Pinacate in Mexico, a volcanic field which he had been shown in training.

Owing to crew fatigue, Frank Borman took the decision at 084:30 to cancel all secondary activities during the final two revolutions, to allow the crew to rest. The only tasks during this period were an alignment of the inertial guidance system and the preparations for transearth injection. But at 085:43:03 they provided the planned 27-minute TV transmission showing the Moon and Earth, and to mark the fact that it was Christmas Eve they recited the first ten verses of the Book of Genesis from the Bible prior to signing off with, ‘‘Good night, good luck, a Merry Christmas, and God bless all of you – all of you on the good Earth.’’

Radio tracking indicated that by the time Apollo 8 was ready to head for home the mascons had perturbed its initially circular orbit into one of 58.6 x 63.6 nautical miles. At 089:19:16.6, after ten revolutions of the Moon, the 203.7-second transearth injection was made on the far-side of the Moon at an altitude of 60.2 nautical miles, which was just about perfect. After returning to the Earth’s gravitational influence, the spacecraft progressively accelerated. Only one small midcourse correction was required. It was made at 104:00:00, and the 15.0-second burn by the service module reaction control system imparted a change of 4.8 ft/sec.

On shedding the service module, the command module adopted its entry attitude and at 146:46:12.8 hit the entry interface travelling at 36,221.1 ft/sec. It pursued an automatically guided profile. The ionisation bathed the interior of the cabin in a cold

An oblique view by Apollo 8 looking northwest across the eastern part of Mare Tranquillitatis. The crater in the foreground is Taruntius-F, and one of the Cauchy clefts crosses the upper part of the picture. The ALS-1 site is out of frame to the south.

blue light as bright as daylight. At 180,000 feet, as expected, the lift vector deflected the vehicle to 210,000 feet, then it resumed its downward course. It splashed into the Pacific 1.4 nautical miles from the target at 15:51:42 on 27 December. It adopted an apex-down position, but promptly righted itself. The astronauts were soon recovered and flown by helicopter to USS Yorktown.

This audacious mission, described as the “greatest voyage since Columbus”, took NASA a giant step towards achieving Kennedy’s challenge.

On 6 January 1969 Deke Slayton called Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin to his office at the Manned Spacecraft Center and told them that they would fly Apollo 11 and should assume their mission would involve a lunar landing.

On 10 January 1969 John Stevenson, Director of Mission Operations at the Office of Manned Space Flight, circulated a revised version of the tentative schedule for the year that was issued early in 1968. This called for launching the delayed ‘D’ mission on 28 February. As the ‘E’ mission had been rendered irrelevant by Apollo 8, this meant that if the ‘F’ mission flew in May and was satisfactory, it should be possible to attempt the lunar landing in July. The rationale for the ‘F’ mission was to obtain experience of operating in deep space, but after Apollo 8 the issue became whether another test in lunar orbit was required. The decision was postponed until LM-3 had been put through its paces.


Apollo 9 was to be the ‘D’ mission – a lunar module manned flight demonstration in Earth orbit. The payload for the AS-504 launch vehicle was CSM-104 and LM-3. As they were to operate independently, the spacecraft were given radio call-signs. The blue wrapping of the command module for its shipment to the Cape had given it the appearance of a sweet, so it was named ‘Gumdrop’. The arachnid-like configuration of the lunar module prompted the name ‘Spider’.

The launch was scheduled for 28 February 1969 and the countdown was begun at 03:00:00 GMT on 27 February with 28 hours on the clock, but 30 minutes into the planned 3-hour hold at T-16 hours the clock was recycled to T-42 hours in order to enable the crew of James McDivitt, David Scott and Rusty Schweickart to recover from a mild respiratory infection. The count picked up at 07:30:00 on 1 March and the vehicle lifted off from Pad 39A on time at 16:00:00 GMT on 3 March.

The ascent was nominal and at S-IVB cutoff at T+664.66 seconds the deviations were +2.86 ft/sec in velocity and -0.17 nautical mile in altitude, with the result that the initial orbit was almost perfect at 100 nautical miles. At 002:41:16.0 the S-IVB released the CSM, which moved clear, turned end over end to aim its apex at the top of the LM and moved back in. At 003:01:59.3 it docked at the first attempt, marking the first use of this apparatus. Once the tunnel between the two spacecraft had been pressurised, the crew opened the apex hatch of the command module to confirm that all the latches on the docking ring had engaged, and after lines had been connected to supply power to the dormant LM the hatch was reinstalled. On a command issued by the CSM at 004:08:09 the S-IVB released the docked combination.

Preparing the CSM-104 and LM-3 spacecraft for the Apollo 9 mission.

Apollo 9’s S-IVB with the Lunar Module ‘Spider’ exposed.

After the spacecraft was clear, the S-IVB reignited its engine at 004:45:55.5 to raise an apogee of 1,672 nautical miles. Then, after a period of coasting to allow the engine to cool down, it initiated a final burn at 006:07:19.3 to achieve a velocity of 31,620 ft/sec which would send it into solar orbit.

Meanwhile, at 005:59:01.1 a 5.2-second burn by the service propulsion system raised the spacecraft’s orbit to 111 x 128 nautical miles. Three further manoeuvres on the second day in space measured the oscillatory response of the docked vehicles to obtain data designed to improve the autopilot’s response in this configuration, and also burned off the CSM’s propellant to increase the fidelity of manoeuvres which it would later perform in Earth orbit to rehearse what a mission would do in lunar orbit.

On the third day in space, Schweickart entered the LM to check out its systems. McDivitt joined him 50 minutes later. At about 045:52, shortly after the landing gear was deployed, McDivitt advised Mission Control that Schweickart had twice been sick – this illness would have an impact on the EVA planned for later in the mission. At 046:28 the astronauts made a 5-minute TV transmission from inside the LM. The descent engine was ignited at 049:41:34.5 for a 371.5-second burn in which the autopilot controlled the attitude of the docked vehicles and the astronauts manually throttled the engine to full thrust. The LM was deactivated at 051:00. Several hours later, a service propulsion system burn achieved an almost circular orbit of 125.9 x 131.0 nautical miles in preparation for the rendezvous sequence.

The EVA plan had called for Schweickart to exit the LM’s forward hatch, transfer to the command module hatch, and then return. But owing to his bouts of nausea the spacewalk was cut back from 2 hours 15 minutes to just 39 minutes, to be made on a single daylight pass. The LM was depressurised at 072:45, and the hatch opened at 072:46. Schweickart initiated his egress at 72:59:02, feet first and face up, and was completely out by 073:07. He was wearing the Extravehicular Mobility Unit suit and Portable Life Support System backpack which astronauts were to wear on the lunar surface. A 25-foot nylon safety tether precluded him drifting away. For stability, he inserted his feet into a pair of ‘golden slippers’ on the ‘porch’ of the descent stage. Meanwhile, at 073:02:00 Scott opened the side hatch of the command module and poked his head and shoulders out to monitor Schweickart. Although the transfer to the command module hatch had been cancelled, Schweickart was able to make an abbreviated study of translation and body-attitude-control using handrails affixed to the upper part of the LM. Before ingressing, Schweickart shot 16-mm movie footage of Scott’s activities, and 70-mm Hasselblad pictures of the exterior of both vehicles. Although the EVA was brief and did not involve a period of orbital darkness, it was sufficient to certify the suit and backpack for use on the lunar surface. The LM was repressurised at 073:53, and the CSM several minutes later. After a TV transmission from the LM that started at 074:58:03 and lasted 15 minutes, it was deactivated and McDivitt and Schweickart rejoined Scott.

On the fifth flight day McDivitt and Schweickart were back in the LM by 088:55 in order to prepare that ship for a period of free flight and an active rendezvous. At 092:22 the CSM oriented the pair into the attitude required for undocking. This was attempted at 092:38, but the latches did not fully release until 092:39:36. This was to be the first time that astronauts flew a spacecraft that was incapable of returning to Earth if an emergency were to arise – they relied on Scott to rescue them. Once free, the LM pirouetted while Scott made a visual inspection. At 093:02:54 the CSM used the thrusters of its reaction control system to make a separation manoeuvre. Over the next 6.3 hours, the LM undertook a series of manoeuvres which set up and executed a rendezvous. In the process, the descent propulsion system was fired under different control regimes and with the throttle being varied, after which the descent stage was jettisoned and the rendezvous was performed by the ascent stage. Terminal phase braking began at 098:30:03, and was followed by a period of station-keeping, then formation flying to facilitate mutual photography prior to docking at 099:02:26. McDivitt and Schweickart then transferred back to the CSM. The ascent stage was jettisoned at 101:22:45.0, and half an hour later ignited its main engine and fired it to depletion to enter a 126.6 x 3,760.9-nautical mile orbit.

The remainder of the mission was less hectic, being devoted mainly to conducting multispectral photography to prepare for the Skylab space station. At 169:30:00.4 the service propulsion system was fired in a 24.9-second burn which established the conditions for a nominal de-orbit. Unfavorable weather in the planned recovery area prompted a postponement of the de-orbit by one revolution, and it was performed at 240:31:14.8. The service module was jettisoned a few minutes later. The command module flew the entry profile under the control of its primary guidance system, and splashed into the Atlantic at 17:00:54 on 13 March about 2.7 nautical miles from the target. It settled in the ideal apex-up flotation attitude, and within an hour the crew were onboard USS Guadalcanal.


With Apollo 9 having successfully tested the LM in Earth orbit, the next issue was whether to fly the ‘F’ mission or to push on and attempt the lunar landing. In fact, it would be impossible for LM-4 to attempt the ‘G’ mission, as the software to conduct the powered descent was still under development. Furthermore, owing to propellant restrictions in the ascent stage of this somewhat overweight LM it would be unable to lift off and rendezvous. Tom Stafford, the Apollo 10 commander, argued against his crew waiting for LM-5 to become available. ‘‘There are too many ‘unknowns’ up there,’’ he noted. ‘‘We can’t get rid of the risk element for the men who will land on the Moon but we can minimise it; our job is to find out everything we can in order that only a small amount of ‘unknown’ is left.’’

On 24 March 1969 NASA stated that Apollo 10 would fly the ‘F’ mission. The original idea had called for the LM merely to undock, enter a slightly different orbit, rendezvous and redock, but in December 1968 the Mission Planning and Analysis Division at the Manned Spacecraft Center had urged putting the descent propulsion system through a high-fidelity rehearsal in which the LM would lower its perilune sufficiently to test the ability of the landing radar to detect and lock onto the surface. Howard Tindall also proposed that the LM should initiate the powered descent and then execute an early abort by ‘fire in the hole’ staging, but his colleagues convinced him that this would be too adventurous. One aspect of the decision to go ahead with the ‘F’ mission was to evaluate the tracking and communications of two vehicles in lunar orbit. In essence, it had been decided to exploit the fortuitous relaxation in schedule pressure and improve on Apollo 8 by performing a rehearsal to the point at which a later LM would initiate its powered descent.

The finally agreed plan called for the LM to separate from the CSM in the circular lunar parking orbit, enter an elliptical orbit having a perilune of about 50,000 feet located just east of the prime landing site, execute a low pass and then jettison the descent stage to make the rendezvous.

In April 1969 the site selectors met to decide the prime target for the first Apollo landing. The photographs of ALS-1 taken by Apollo 8 indicated the presence of a smooth blanket of light-toned material that softened or masked the landscape, and a study of the craters showed that the regolith was quite thick, which in turn implied a considerable age. The fact that the site was atypical of the maria made it unattractive for dating the maria, so it was rejected. This left ALS-2 in the southwestern part of Mare Tranquillitatis as the prime target. In early May, Jack Schmitt put it to Tom Stafford that the launch of Apollo 10 be slipped 24 hours from the proposed date so that the low-perilune pass over ALS-2 could be made in illumination matching that of a mission attempting to land there. This would enable high-resolution pictures to be taken of the site and the landmarks on the approach route. Stafford was receptive. Schmitt approached George Low, who asked Chris Kraft, who sought the advice of the flight control specialists – there were issues in favour and against. When the case was put to Sam Phillips he rescheduled the launch.

AS-505 had been installed on Pad 39B on 11 March, and Apollo 10 lifted off on schedule at 16:49:00 GMT on 18 May 1969 with Tom Stafford, John Young and Gene Cernan.

When the S-IVB cutoff at T + 703.76 seconds, the deviations were -0.23 ft/sec in velocity and -0.08 nautical miles in altitude. After translunar injection, CSM-106 ‘Charlie Brown’ separated, turned around and docked with LM-4 ‘Snoopy’, then the pair were released by the stage. The S-IVB then used propulsive venting to adopt a path that would fly past the Moon and enter solar orbit. At 026:32:56.8 the service propulsion system made a 49.2-ft/sec burn to match a July lunar landing trajectory. At 075:55:54.0 the spacecraft entered an initial lunar orbit of 60.2 x 170.0 nautical miles. Two revolutions later, this was refined to 59.2 x 61.0 nautical miles. During a 30-minute colour TV transmission the astronauts showed off the lunar surface. They reported the colour of the surface to be less grey than was described by Apollo 8. In particular, Mare Serenitatis appeared ‘‘tan’’, whereas Mare Tranquillitatis appeared ‘‘dark brown’’.

After undocking at 098:29:20, the vehicles took up station 30 feet apart while Young inspected the LM, and then the CSM moved off. A 27.4-second burn by the descent propulsion system at 099:46:01.6 placed the LM into a descent orbit with its perilune 15 degrees east of ALS-2. The landing radar was tested while passing over that site at an altitude of 47,400 feet an hour later. The pictures taken were of greater resolution than those transmitted by the Lunar Orbiters. Unfortunately, the 16-mm

This oblique view looking northwest across the crater Maskelyne was taken by the Apollo 10 Lunar Module ‘Snoopy’ as it flew low over Mare Tranquillitatis towards the ALS-2 target.

movie camera failed. A descent propulsion system burn at 100:58:25.9 put the LM into an orbit of 12.1 x 190.1 nautical miles to arrange a ‘lead angle’ equivalent to that which would occur at cutoff of an ascent from the lunar surface. At 102:44:49, during preparations to start the rendezvous with the CSM, the LM started to wallow off slowly in yaw and then stopped, and several seconds later it initiated a rapid roll accompanied by small pitch and yaw rates. Subsequent analysis revealed that this anomalous motion was due to human error. The control mode of the abort guidance system had inadvertently been returned to AUTO instead of the Attitude HOLD mode for staging. In AUTO, the abort guidance system steered the LM to enable the rendezvous radar to acquire the CSM, which at this point was not in accordance with the plan. The required attitude was re-established by the commander taking manual control. The descent stage was jettisoned at 102:45:16.9, and 10 minutes later an ascent propulsion system burn achieved an orbit of 11.0×46.5 nautical miles. This matched the insertion orbit for a mission returning from the surface. The LM had the active role in the rendezvous, and docked at 106:22:02. Two hours later the ascent stage was jettisoned, and during the next revolution the ascent propulsion system was fired to depletion in order to place the vehicle into solar orbit.

At 137:39:13.7, after 31 lunar revolutions, the CSM made the transearth injection. The aim was so accurate that it required only a 2.2-ft/sec refinement 3 hours prior to shedding the service module to centre the trajectory in the ‘corridor’ for atmospheric entry. The capsule splashed into the Pacific 1.3 nautical miles off target at 16:52:23 on 26 May and adopted the apex-up flotation attitude. The astronauts were aboard USS Princeton within the hour.

While Apollo 10 was in transit to the Moon, AS-506 was rolled out to Pad 39A in preparation for the Apollo 11 mission. After the pictures taken during the low pass over ALS-2 were examined, it was confirmed as the prime site for Apollo 11. ALS-3 in Sinus Medii was 2 day’s terminator travel westward and would be the backup. If the launch had to be delayed beyond the date for ALS-3, then the target would be ALS-5 in Oceanus Procellarum. In the post-flight debriefing, Tom Stafford pointed out that although the ALS-2 aim point was acceptable, the western end of the ellipse was much rougher. He advised Neil Armstrong that if he were to find himself at the far end of the ellipse and did not have the hover time to manoeuvre among the small craters and boulders to select a spot on which to land, then he would have to ‘‘shove off” – by which Stafford meant abort.


NASA was well placed to exploit the new administration’s willingness to expand the space program. Its long-term planning was impressive for its detail, in particular

This report was excerpted in the New York Times on 12 January 1961, and is sometimes wrongly dated as such.

because George Low’s committee had costed the accelerated plan – concluding that it would require $7 billion to land a man on the Moon by the end of the decade. In January 1961 Low briefed Keith Glennan on the forthcoming hearings for NASA’s budget, but Glennan expected to be replaced by the new administration and so was in a weak position.

On Johnson becoming Kennedy’s Vice President, Robert S. Kerr took over from him the chairmanship of the Senate Committee on Aeronautical and Space Sciences. After consulting Kerr, Johnson recommended James E. Webb to succeed Glennan as NASA administrator, and Webb took over on 14 February. Whereas Glennan was a scientific administrator with a conservative outlook, Webb was a political operator. He had served as Director of the Bureau of the Budget between 1946 and 1949 and Undersecretary of State from then until 1952 in the Truman administration. He had been a director of Kerr’s oil and uranium conglomerate, Kerr-McGee Oil Industries, and simultaneously a director of the McDonnell Aircraft Company.

Webb immediately set out to obtain the funding that was earlier denied for Apollo and the Saturn launch vehicle. When the Bureau of Budget refused, Webb wrote to Kennedy in early March that Eisenhower had “emasculated the 10-Year Plan before it was one year old’’, and if the funding were not made available it would “guarantee that the Russians will, for the next five to ten years, beat us to every exploratory space flight’’. To ram home the message in terms that Kennedy would appreciate, Webb said, “We have already felt the effects of the fact that they were the first to place a satellite into orbit, have intercepted the Moon, photographed the back side of the Moon, and have sent a large spacecraft to Venus. They can now orbit seven and a half ton vehicles about the Earth, compared to our two and a half tons, and they have successfully recovered animals from flights of as much as 24 hours. Their present position is one from which further substantial accomplishments can be expected, and our best information points to a steadily increasing pace of successful effort on a realistic timetable.’’

On 23 March Kennedy met with Lyndon Johnson, Jerome Wiesner, David Bell of the Bureau of Budget and Edward C. Welsh, a former aide to Johnson who was now serving as Executive Director of the National Aeronautics and Space Council, of which Johnson was chairman. Kennedy agreed to increase funding for the Saturn launch vehicle, but said he would need to deliberate further on the Apollo spacecraft – he would decide in the autumn, he said.

Just when NASA began to think that it might beat the Soviets to a manned space flight, on 12 April 1961 Yuri Alexseyevich Gagarin made a single orbit and landed safely. Webb told Congress, in budget hearings then underway, that NASA could certainly work faster if its funding was increased.

The next evening Kennedy met at the White House with Jerome Wiesner, David Bell, James Webb, Hugh Dryden, Theodore Sorensen, who was a friend and advisor, and Hugh Sidey, a journalist for Life magazine who was one of Kennedy’s friends, and put to them the question, “at what point we can overtake the Russians’’. NASA opened with a space station to be assembled in Earth orbit to serve as a jumping off point for a future mission to the Moon. But, it pointed out, if the Soviets were on the same plan they would likely remain in the lead for some considerable time. Kennedy

Гro.’ere Index





Reds Win Running Lead In Race To Control Space ^ 7:




The Huntsville Times reports the first man in space.



wanted to minimise this period, either by accelerating or by short circuiting the plan. Dryden said a ‘crash’ program might land a man on the Moon ahead of the Soviets, but it might cost as much as $40 billion. ‘‘The cost! That’s what gets me,’’ Kennedy mused. ‘‘When we know more, I can decide if it’s worth it or not. If somebody can just tell me how to catch up.’’ As the meeting broke up, Sorensen remained behind to discuss what had been said, and upon emerging told the others, ‘‘We’re going to the Moon!’’

On 19 April Kennedy summoned Johnson and told him he had decided to issue a momentous challenge. The next day, Kennedy sent a memo to Johnson seeking ‘‘an overall survey of where we stand in space’’. Specifically:

1. Do we have a chance of beating the Soviets by putting a laboratory in space, or by a trip around the moon, or by a rocket to land on the moon, or by a rocket to go to the moon and back with a man. Is there any other space program which promises dramatic results in which we could win?

2. How much additional would it cost?

3. Are we working 24 hours a day on existing programs. If not, why not? If not, will you make recommendations to me as to how work can be speeded up.

4. In building large boosters should we put [our] emphasis on nuclear, chemical or liquid fuel, or a combination of these three?

5. Are we making maximum effort? Are we achieving necessary results?

On 21 April Kennedy told reporters that his administration was considering the options and cost of space, and said, ‘‘If we can get to the Moon before the Russians, we should.’’

Johnson consulted NASA first, which said there was little chance of beating the Russians to a space station; it might be possible to beat them to lunar orbit; the best bet was a lunar landing. This matched Johnson’s thinking. NASA suggested 1967 as a target date because it was expected that the Soviets would attempt to make a lunar landing then in order to mark the 50th anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution. As a result of the additional analysis by Low, the costing had been increased from the $7 billion estimate for a landing in 1969 to $22 billion; but a landing in 1967 would be $34 billion. Next, Johnson consulted the Pentagon, and the Air Force agreed that a manned lunar landing would be appropriate – even although the Air Force would not be allowed to perform it. Finally, Johnson consulted three businessmen whose judgement he trusted: Frank Stanton of the Columbia Broadcasting System; Donald Cook of the American Electric Power Service Corporation; and George Brown of Brown and Root, which was a construction company in Texas. The fact that none of them was involved in the aerospace industry that would be called upon to build the hardware for the program was a point in their favour, since it meant they were unbiased. At the National Aeronautics and Space Council on 24 April, Johnson, as Wiesner later described it, ‘‘went around the room saying, ‘We’ve got a terribly important decision to make. Shall we put a man on the Moon?’ And everybody said ‘yes’. And he said ‘Thank you’.’’

The scientific community was represented in the White House by Wiesner. The majority of space scientists were interested in particles and fields, and because this

Подпись: In accordance with our conversation I would like for you aa

Chairman of the Space Council to be in charge of making an overall survey of where we stand in apace.

1. Do we have a chance of beating the Soviets by putting a laboratory in space, or by a trip around the moon, pr by a rocket to land on the moon, or by a rocket to go to the moon and back with a man. Is there any other space program which promises dramatic results in which we could win?

2. How much additional would it cost?

3. Are we working 24 hours a day on existing programs. If not, why not? If not, will you make reconmenda – tions to me as to how work can be speeded up.

Д. In building large boosters should we put out

emphasis on nuclear, chemical or liquid fuel, or a confcination of these three?

5. Are we making maximum effort? Are we achieving necessary results?

Подпись: and other responsible officials to cooperate with you fully. I would appreciate a report on this at the earliest possible moment.


I have asked Jim Webb, Dr. Wiesner, Secretary McNamara

/в/ John F. Kennedy

The historic memo to Lyndon B. Johnson which led John F. Kennedy to challenge his nation to land a man on the Moon before the decade was out.

research did not require a human presence, money spent on sending men into space was by definition wasted. But Kennedy wanted “dramatic results” and the scientists were unable to offer this. To be fair, Kennedy invited Wiesner to suggest a terrestrial challenge that would serve the purpose, “… something with an overseas impact, like desalination or feeding the hungry”. However, Wiesner could see that the Moon was

shaping up to be the challenge, and advised the President “never to refer publicly to the Moon landing as a scientific enterprise”.

On 28 April Johnson submitted the National Aeronautics and Space Council’s recommendation:

Largely due to their concerted efforts and their earlier emphasis upon the development of large rocket engines, the Soviets are ahead of the United States in world prestige attained through impressive technological accomplishments in space. The US has greater resources than the USSR, etc. The country should be realistic and recognize that other nations, regardless of their appreciation of our idealistic values, will tend to align themselves with a country which they believe will be the world leader. The US can, if it will firm up its objectives and employ its resources, have a reasonable chance of attaining world leadership in space. If we don’t make a strong effort now, the time will soon be reached when the margin of control over space and other men’s minds through space accomplishment will have swung so far on the Russian side that we will not be able to catch up. Even in those areas in which the Soviets already have the capability to be first and are likely to improve upon such capability, the United States should make aggressive efforts, as the technological gains as well as the international rewards are essential steps in gaining leadership. Manned exploration of the Moon, for example, is not only an achievement with great national propaganda value, but is essential as an objective, whether or not we are first in its accomplishment – and we may be able to be first.

Kennedy was receptive to Johnson’s recommendation, but he postponed a formal decision until after the first manned Mercury mission, which came on Friday, 5 May 1961 when Al Shepard rode a Redstone missile on a suborbital arc.[19]

Over the weekend, Johnson met James Webb and Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara to draw up a formal recommendation to Kennedy’s memo of 20 April. Recommendations for our National Space Program: Changes, Policies and Goals, jointly authored by Webb and McNamara, said, “It is man, not merely machines, in space that captures the imagination of the world. All large-scale projects require the mobilization of resources on a national scale. They require the development and successful application of the most advanced technologies. Dramatic achievements in space, therefore, symbolize the technological power and organizing capacity of a nation. It is for reasons such as these that major achievements in space contribute to



On 5 May 1961 a Redstone rocket lifts off with a Mercury capsule containing Alan B. Shepard for a suborbital mission.



After his successful Mercury flight, Alan B. Shepard shakes hands with John F. Kennedy at the White House.


Подпись: 80 The Apollo commitment

In a speech to Congress on 25 May 1961 John F. Kennedy challenged his nation to land a man on the Moon before the decade was out.

image37national prestige.” They wrote, “even though the scientific, commercial or military value of [such an] undertaking may by ordinary standards be marginal or economically unjustified”, it nevertheless generated “national prestige”, which had value in its own right. Furthermore, “The non-military, non-commercial, non­scientific but ‘civilian’ projects such as lunar and planetary exploration are, in this sense, part of the battle along the fluid front of the Cold War.’’ This echoed Kennedy’s criticism of Eisenhower: whereas Eisenhower had been conscious of the cost and dismissive of national prestige, to Kennedy national prestige was the issue and the cost was secondary.

On 25 May Kennedy gave a speech to a joint session of Congress on the theme of Urgent National Needs. In view of recent space achievements by the Soviets, he proclaimed, ‘‘Now it is time to take longer strides, time for a great new American enterprise, time for this nation to take a clearly leading role in space achievement, which in many ways may hold the key to our future on Earth.’’ Having outlined the political background, he laid down the gauntlet. ‘‘I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon, and returning him, safely, to the Earth.’’ He had opted for a lunar landing precisely because it posed a great technical challenge. By literally ‘shooting for the Moon’, he was betting that America would not only catch up with the Soviet Union in space, but forge ahead. Having concluded that space was the arena of superpower politics, he was challenging his rival, Nikita Khrushchev, for world leadership. He had imposed the deadline to ensure that reaching the Moon was perceived as a race. He was also well aware of the magnitude of the task. ‘‘No single space project in this

period will be more impressive to mankind, or more important for the long-range exploration of space; and none will be so difficult or expensive to accomplish.” The sending of a man to the Moon was to be the modern form of the ancient practice of ‘single combat’, whereby opposing armies lined up and each dispatched a single warrior to decide the issue. To indicate that it was a matter of national honour, he added, ‘‘In a very real sense, it will not be one man going to the Moon; if we make this judgment affirmatively it will be an entire nation, for all of us must work to put him there.’’ And in order to emphasise what was at stake, he warned, ‘‘If we are to go only halfway, or reduce our sights in the face of difficulty, in my judgment it would be better not to go at all.’’

For Kennedy the Moon was a symbol and, in terms of what he wished to achieve it was an excellent symbol. He had the impression that the applause in Congress was ‘‘something less than enthusiastic”, as he told Sorensen immediately after giving the speech. But Johnson had read the mood well: there was only minor opposition in the House of Representatives, and the debate in the Senate lasted less than an hour – only five of the 96 senators spoke, and the floor was dominated by Robert Kerr, who was Johnson’s man. NASA’s budget was doubled without a formal vote being taken.


AS-201 was the first in a series of test flights to ‘man rate’ the Saturn IB and the Apollo spacecraft.8 It lifted off from Pad 34 at 16:12:01 GMT on 26 February 1966. After the booster cut off, the S-IVB stage separated cleanly and attained the planned suborbital arc. In releasing CSM-009, the stage splayed its four panels to an angle of 45 degrees to allow the service propulsion system engine an unobstructed exit. The spacecraft had neither a guidance and navigation system nor an S-Band transmission system. It was powered by batteries instead of fuel cells, had a 20 per cent propellant load, and an ad hoc electromechanical control sequencer. It began by firing its RCS thrusters for 18 seconds to withdraw from the S-IVB. Upon peaking at an altitude of 226 nautical miles, the spacecraft fired its thrusters again to provide ullage to settle the propellants in their tanks, then fired the service propulsion system. However, 80 seconds into the planned 184-second burn the thrust chamber pressure started to decline owing to inadvertent helium ingestion, and by the time the engine shut down the pressure had declined to 70 per cent. The thrusters were immediately fired for ullage and the engine was reignited for a 10-second burn, during which the chamber pressure oscillated from 70 per cent down to 12 per cent.

At this point, CSM-002 was the only production-line spacecraft to have flown – it was launched on 20 January 1966 at the White Sands Missile Range by a Little Joe II booster as a high-altitude abort test.

Although the manoeuvres on the descending side of the arc were designed to drive the spacecraft into the atmosphere at a speed significantly faster than a normal orbital entry, it was still not as fast as a trajectory returning from the Moon. Several seconds later, the thrusters began a pitch manoeuvre at a rate of 5 degrees per second for 18 seconds to yield a 90-degree change in attitude. On separating, the command module used its own thrusters to continue this pitch rotation for an additional 82.5 degrees and then rolled 180 degrees in order to orient its heat shield for atmospheric entry. The plan was to subject the heat shield to a high heating rate – meaning a high temperature for a comparatively short time – but the velocity at entry was 782 ft/sec slower than the planned 29,000 ft/sec and the flight path was 0.44 degree shallower, with the result that the heating rate was less than that intended. Although the deceleration peaked at 14.3 g rather than 16.0 g, it was still much greater than on an operational mission. A fault in the electrical power system ruled out aerodynamic steering, and the ‘rolling’ entry which resulted was 40 nautical miles short. Some 37 minutes after launch, the command module splashed into the South Atlantic. It was recovered 2.5 hours later by USS Boxer. To allow the time to diagnose and rectify the fault in the service propulsion system, AS-202 was rescheduled to follow AS-203, which, as an S-IVB development flight, would not carry a spacecraft.

The docking by Gemini 8 with its Agena target vehicle on 16 March lent support to the decision to try the AS-207/208 dual mission. On 21 March NASA announced that Gus Grissom was to command the first Apollo mission. He would fly CSM-012 with Ed White and Roger Chaffee. They were to be backed up by James McDivitt, David Scott and Rusty Schweickart respectively. In each case, the commander and senior pilot were Gemini veterans and the third man was a rookie. Deke Slayton earmarked Grissom for this role immediately after the Gemini 3 test flight in March 1965. After commanding Gemini 4 in June 1965, McDivitt was reassigned to back up Grissom. White, who flew with McDivitt on Gemini 4, backed up Gemini 7 in December 1965 and then joined Grissom’s crew. Although Slayton was introducing a ‘rotation’ for Gemini in which a pilot could progress through backup to command a later mission, after flying Gemini 8 Scott was immediately assigned to McDivitt’s crew to enable them to obtain early experience of Apollo training prior to attempting the AS-207/208 dual mission. If CSM-011 demonstrated that the problems suffered by CSM-009 had been fixed, then AS-204 would launch CSM-012 in the last quarter of 1966 on an ‘open ended’ mission of up to 14 days ‘‘to demonstrate spacecraft and crew operations and evaluate spacecraft hardware performance in Earth orbit’’, but if there were significant issues outstanding then CSM-012 would be modified for a third unmanned test.

On 4 April 1966 the Manned Spacecraft Center revised its senior management job titles, replacing ‘assistant director for’ with ‘director of’ in order to make explicit the fact that the post had primary rather than subordinate responsibility for that activity. Thus, for example, Kraft ceased to be the Assistant Director for Flight Operations and became the Director of Flight Operations. On 12 May NASA deleted the word ‘Excursion’ from ‘LEM’, to make the lander the Lunar Module ‘LM’. On 25 May, precisely 5 years after President Kennedy made his speech to Congress calling for a lunar landing, a diesel-powered crawler carried the 500-F engineering model of the

Apollo-Saturn V at a maximum speed of 1 mile per hour from the vast cube of the Vehicle Assembly Building a distance of 3.5 miles on a special causeway to Pad 39 on the Merritt Island Launch Area in order to verify the ground facilities and assist in the development of training procedures. It was an awesome demonstration of the ‘mobile launcher’ concept.

AS-203 lifted off from Pad 37 at 14:53:17 GMT on 5 July 1966 and the S-IVB inserted itself into the desired circular orbit at an altitude of 100 nautical miles. As it did not have a spacecraft, an aerodynamic nose cone was used. At orbit insertion the liquid hydrogen was ‘settled’ by a combination of tank baffles and deflectors and by ullage induced by venting liquid oxygen. A TV camera in the fuel tank then verified that continuous venting of liquid hydrogen could hold the fluid in this condition during a coasting phase that approximated a flight heading for translunar injection. The fact that the rise in the liquid hydrogen pressure in orbit was greater than predicted gave data on the heat transfer properties of the tank that would be applied in planning Saturn V missions. Radar tracking by ground stations monitored how the parameters of the orbit were changed by the thrusting effect of continuous venting. A simulated restart of the J-2 engine verified the charging of the restart bottles at orbital insertion cutoff, the fuel recirculation chill – down, the fuel antivortex screen, and the liquid oxygen recirculation chill-down. A subcritical cryogenic nitrogen experiment carried in the nose cap successfully maintained pressure control, with a progressive decrease in the fluid quantity indicating that vapour was being uniformly delivered from a two-phase mixture. To save weight, the S-IVB had been designed such that its propellant tanks shared a bulkhead. This sophisticated structure had to cope with the normal difference in pressure between the tanks and also insulate the liquid oxygen at -172°C from the liquid hydrogen at -253°C to preclude the oxygen solidifying. After the ullage trial of the first revolution, the hydrogen valves were closed and the oxygen valves opened to space in order to place an inverse pressure on the common bulkhead and assess its predicted failure point – when this occurred early on the fifth revolution it caused the vehicle to break up.

On 13 July 1966 Deke Slayton and Chris Kraft jointly wrote to Joseph Shea, the Apollo Spacecraft Program Manager: ‘‘A comprehensive examination of the Apollo missions leading to the lunar landing indicates there is a considerable discontinuity between the missions AS-205 and AS-207/208. Both missions AS-204 and AS-205 are essentially long-duration system validation flights. AS-207/208 is the first of a series of very complicated missions. A valid operational requirement [therefore] exists to include an optical equi-period rendezvous on AS-205.’’ If this Block I flight were to include a rendezvous with its spent S-IVB, it would offer an opportunity to evaluate the control dynamics, visibility, and piloting techniques for the rendezvous phase of AS-207/208. By this point, every spacecraft on Grumman’s production line through to LM-4 was late. The focus, of course, was on LM-1, but late shipments by subcontractors were impeding its assembly. Nevertheless, the ‘rate of slippage’ was slowing, and on 6 October Shea reported his expectation that the company would be able to deliver LM-1 early in 1967. By the end of 1966 LM-1 and LM-2 were in test stands, and LM-3 through LM-7 were in various stages of assembly, but by the end

of January 1967 it was clear that LM-1 would not be able to be shipped on schedule in February.

As its designation suggests, AS-202 was intended to be the second Saturn IB test, but it slipped behind AS-203 as a result of delays involving the spacecraft. CSM-011 was a fully functional Block I spacecraft, minus the crew equipment. But it carried a more sophisticated ad hoc sequencer than on AS-201, a 60 per cent propellant load, a variety of flight qualification instrumentation and four film cameras. It lifted off from Pad 34 at 17:15:32 GMT on 25 August 1966. A key objective was to verify the emergency detection system in closed-loop configuration. At cutoff, the S-IVB was at an altitude of 120 nautical miles and climbing on a ballistic arc. Eleven seconds after separating, the spacecraft fired its service propulsion system in order to place itself on a higher trajectory that would result in entry over the Pacific. As a thermal test, the spacecraft then turned to aim its apex towards the Earth and maintained this attitude through the peak altitude of 618 nautical miles above Africa. On descending over the Indian Ocean it realigned its apex to the velocity vector, then fired its main engine for 89.2 seconds to accelerate for atmospheric entry and concluded by firing it briefly twice more in rapid succession as a demonstration of rapid restart.

In contrast to the ‘rolling’ entry made by AS-201, this time the command module controlled its attitude to fly a trajectory that ‘skipped’ off the atmosphere to trace a ballistic arc which led to a second contact and full entry. A similar profile was to be used on returning from the Moon. The double peak in the heating rate was designed to expose the shield to low heat rates with high heat loads – lower temperatures, but applied for longer – than a ‘straight in’ lunar return. Although the temperature at the base of the shield peaked at 1,482°C, the cabin did not exceed 21 °C. After a flight of 93 minutes, the command module splashed into the Pacific and adopted the apex-up flotation attitude. But the flight path angle at entry of-3.53 degrees was steeper than the desired -3.48 degrees and the lift-to-drag ratio of 0.28 ( + 0.02) was less than the predicted 0.33 ( + 0.04), causing it to fall short by 205 nautical miles. It was 8 hours before USS Hornet recovered the capsule. The planners would have to take into account the lower than expected lift-to-drag ratio of the command module. This qualified the heat shield for Earth orbital missions, but additional tests would be required for a lunar return. Both the Saturn IB and the Block I spacecraft were declared ready for the first manned mission.

As 80 per cent of the objectives specified for CSM-002, CSM-009 and CSM-011 had (between them) been met, AS-204 was released for the manned Apollo 1.

Paving the Way for Apollo 11

The historic flight of Apollo 11 in July 1969 did not sprout from the head of Zeus, fully grown like Athena. The events from when men first gazed at the Moon up in the night sky until the launch of humanity’s first voyage to another world is a broad and complex topic and is the subject of this book.

Readers of David Harland’s previous books on the exploration of the Moon are well acquainted with his detailed research, lucid style and ability to summarise complex events. But on this present topic, David has truly surpassed himself. The story of the detailed study, preparation and flight of robotic space missions that prepared us to send people to the Moon is a long and complicated one, with many simultaneous events occurring in different parts of the world and on the Moon. His account clearly details how we advanced our understanding of the Moon, from a beacon in the night sky to a neighboring world with its own history and processes.

Before people could land on the Moon, we needed to know what awaited these explorers – one can only surmise so much by peering through a telescope from a range of over 400,000 km. The robotic precursor program that blazed a trail to the Moon involved crash landers, orbiters and soft landers. This progression now seems logical and well considered, but in fact at that time it was one that grew piecemeal in response to geopolitical, budgetary and bureaucratic pressures. Understanding this complicated and sometimes confusing story is necessary in order to appreciate fully the accomplishment of the Apollo program.

Paving the Way for Apollo 11 holds many lessons for our return to the Moon, some depressingly familiar. Different factions within NASA had differing agendas and desires which were usually worked out for the best, but not always. Science and engineering in the space program were in constant tension then, and have been ever since. The pressing need to know what the Soviets were up to on the Moon led to accelerated schedules and simultaneous exploration programs and missions. Some investigators predicted that disaster awaited us on the Moon, with spacecraft likely to be swallowed whole by giant bowls of choking dust. The information from these robotic probes disproved some of the wilder speculations on lunar surface conditions and allowed us to plan and execute the Apollo missions in a near flawless manner.

In this book David Harland recounts this fascinating story with clarity and verve, re-creating the excitement of the Apollo days when we were not merely going to the

Moon, but racing there. People of that time didn’t know how events would unfold, yet they made many excellent decisions, and from these efforts we gained a new and more complete understanding of the Moon, the Earth and their intimate relationship and history. The exploration of the Moon revolutionised science in ways we are still trying to understand. And now, the Moon beckons us to return and capitalise on that wonderful legacy.

image3"Paul D. Spudis

Lunar and Planetary Institute

Houston, Texas


On 27 February 1965 the Ranger experimenters met at JPL with representatives of the Surveyor and Apollo projects to consider the target for the final Block III with a window that would open on 19 March. The Moon would be ‘full’ on 17 March and ‘last quarter’ on 25 March. The Surveyor people argued for Oceanus Procellarum at the western end of the Apollo zone, to identify a safe target for their first soft-lander, but this was rejected. Accepting that the maria were probably all much the same, the Apollo people suggested inspecting a blanket of ejecta, to gain an impression of the roughness of such terrain. The Ranger experimenters themselves argued for a target of particular scientific interest, and this was accepted.

The Ranger team met again on 2 March to consider specific features. To obtain unique data, they considered a variety of locations that were unlikely to be visited by either Surveyor or Apollo – three being Copernicus, Kepler, and Schroter’s Valley near Aristarchus. However, Harold Urey and Gerard Kuiper were both in favour of the crater Alphonsus. Its floor was generally flat, but contained irregular rilles and a number of small ‘dark-halo’ craters which some people thought might be of volcanic origin. Following reports by Dinsmore Alter in America in 1956 of a slight ‘‘veiling’’ of the floor of Alphonsus, Nikolai Kozyrev had monitored the crater for any further such ‘transient events’, and on 3 November 1958 obtained a spectrogram of a ‘‘glow’’ obscuring the 1,100-metre-tall central peak using the 48- inch reflector of the Crimean Observatory. The spectrogram was disputed, but Kozyrev interpreted it as a release of gas. Alphonsus was therefore selected as the primary target for Ranger 9.

The experimenters could not agree a target east of the meridian for early in the window, but a launch on 21 March was compatible with Alphonsus, and thereafter Copernicus, Kepler and Aristarchus on successive days. This list was sent to the Office of Space Sciences and Applications on 10 March. Oran Nicks endorsed it, and passed it to Homer Newell, who concurred. However, NASA had scheduled the Gemini 3 manned mission for 22 March, and the Air Force required a clear 24 hours to reconfigure the Eastern Test Range for a different type of launch vehicle. On 15 March Robert Seamans ordered Gemini 3 postponed to 23 March to give Ranger 9 a chance at its primary target. When the countdown began, the Cape was cloudy and the low-altitude winds were gusty. The clock was held to await an improvement in conditions. Although it remained cloudy, when the winds declined it was decided to proceed.

Soon after lifting off at 21:37 GMT on 21 March (just before that day’s window closed) the vehicle penetrated the cloud deck and was lost from sight. But everything went to plan. The midcourse manoeuvre was deferred to enable radio tracking by the Deep Space Network to precisely define the initial trajectory. It was calculated that


As Ranger 9 approached the Moon it performed a terminal manoeuvre to point its

cameras along the velocity vector.

the spacecraft would impact some 640 km north of Alphonsus. The 31-second burn at 12:30 on 23 March ensured that it would fall into the 112-km-diameter crater. The aim point was midway between the central peak, the rilles and the dark-halo craters so that they would all be visible during the approach at a resolution better than was possible telescopically; but they would not appear in the final images, which would give a view of the floor of the crater.

As Ranger 9 approached the Moon on 24 March it became the first spacecraft in the project to make a terminal manoeuvre. At 13:31 the vehicle departed its cruise attitude by pitching, yawing, and pitching again whilst holding its high-gain antenna pointing at Earth. By aiming the cameras along the velocity vector, this manoeuvre would optimise the resolution of the final frames. Ray Heacock, the JPL member of the experiment team, provided the commentary in the auditorium. The electronic scan converter made for the Surveyor project had been hastily modified to process the Ranger video for ‘live’ broadcast by the TV networks. In essence, this comprised two sets of vidicon tubes (one for the wide-angle stream and the other one for the narrow-angle stream) and in each case one vidicon viewed the image displayed on its counterpart, in the process converting the 1,132 lines per frame received from the spacecraft into the 500 lines of the commercial






Ranger triumphs

Подпись: 134image65The sites inspected by the successful Ranger missions.

system.[24] Imaging began at an altitude of 2,400 km, lasted 18 minutes, and ended with impact at 14:08:20 when the spacecraft hit the ground at 9,617 km/hour within 6 km of the aim point.[25] The final picture of the 5,814-frame sequence had a resolution of 25 cm. It was a spectacular way to conclude the Ranger project! The transmission impressed not only the public, but also those scientists who had not appreciated the value of imagery.

At the experimenters’ press conference later in the day, Gerard Kuiper said the ‘dark halo’ craters on the floor of Alphonsus appeared to be volcanic. Harold Urey, no fan of the ‘hot’ Moon hypothesis, allowed that they were probably ‘‘due to some sort of plutonic activity’’. The rilles were revealed not to be clefts but chains of small irregular craters, which some people argued were volcanic. The walls of Alphonsus were very smooth. The central peak was not the harsh edifice depicted by artists. There was no indication that it was a volcano, but neither was there evidence that it was not. There was no clue as to the cause of the ‘transient events’ seen by Alter or Kozyrev.

Mission accomplished 135

The space age dawns


When a team of German rocket experts surrendered to the US Army in May 1945 and General Holger ‘Ludy’ Toftoy, an artillery officer serving as Chief of Ordnance Technical Intelligence in Europe, set out to arrange their relocation to the USA, the V-2 missile was seen as an important military technology. However, this perception changed with the introduction of the atomic bomb in August against Japan. In the immediate post-war years the US military felt that strategic aircraft carrying atomic bombs would enable it to defeat any enemy. In this context, a ballistic missile which could fly only several hundred kilometres to deliver about 1,000 kg of conventional explosive was insignificant. Consequently, upon being settled in El Paso, Texas, the German team led by Wernher von Braun found themselves with little to do.

Although the ballistic missile had seemingly become obsolete as a weapon, it held out the prospect of serving a more benign role, and in November 1945 the US Navy recommended the development of a satellite. The Army Air Force agreed. However, each service felt that it alone should be assigned this task.

In 1946 the RAND Corporation, created as a ‘think tank’ for the Army Air Force, said: ‘‘The achievement of a satellite craft by the United States would inflame the imagination of mankind, and would probably produce repercussions in the world comparable to the explosion of the atomic bomb. […] Since mastery of the elements is a reliable index of material progress, the nation which first makes significant achievements in space travel will be acknowledged as the world leader in both military and scientific techniques. To visualise the impact on the world, one can imagine the consternation and admiration that would be felt here if the US were to discover suddenly that some other nation had already put up a successful satellite.’’

Meanwhile, von Braun was showing the Army how to assemble, prepare and fire V-2 missiles at the White Sands Proving Grounds in New Mexico. They were made from parts either recovered from Germany or manufactured to his specifications in America. In 1948, while in Texas, von Braun wrote a book, Das Marsprojekt, in which he outlined how an expedition to explore Mars might be undertaken. It was a

‘grand design’ which left the details to be developed in due course. He set out “more or less to project the technology that existed then’’ to motivate young engineers. He argued that a mission would be feasible ‘‘in 15 to 20 years’’ if a nuclear-powered ion engine could be created. The expedition would involve ten space ships with a crew totalling around 70 people. The ships were to be assembled in Earth orbit, with three carrying ‘landing boats’ for Mars. Later in 1948, von Braun’s team was relocated to the Redstone Arsenal of the Army Ordnance Corps in Huntsville, Alabama. It was a new establishment on the site of facilities used by the Chemical Corps in the Second World War, and was to undertake research and development of rockets and missiles.

In September 1949 the Soviets exploded an atomic bomb – at least 3 years earlier than the US had expected. Although the Soviet bomb was not yet a weapon, it was evident that America would soon lose its monopoly. In early 1950 President Harry S. Truman authorised the hydrogen bomb. In 1951 funding was made available for preliminary work for what would become the Atlas intercontinental-range ballistic missile. The hydrogen bomb test at Eniwetok Atoll on 1 November 1952 was not a viable weapon, because it weighed 60 tonnes. But as the bomb’s weight was reduced for carriage by aircraft it was realised that if it were to prove possible to make the device even smaller, it might become feasible to develop a ballistic missile capable of delivering it. The Air Force (which had gained its independence from the Army in 1947) created a committee chaired by physicist John von Neumann. This was asked to predict the trend in weight-to-yield ratio of hydrogen bomb development, estimate the warhead that a ballistic missile might deliver over intercontinental range by the end of the decade, and assess whether the probable accuracy would make a warhead of that yield a viable weapon. In February 1954 the committee reported that progress with warheads would make missiles viable. The RAND Corporation endorsed this conclusion. Although the Air Force responded by assigning the development of an intercontinental-range ballistic missile ‘top priority’, Secretary of Defense Charles E. Wilson, who was in tune with the ‘economic conservatism’ of the administration of President Dwight D. Eisenhower deliberated on the matter for over 12 months until informed in 1955 that a recently established radar intelligence station in Turkey that was operated by the US had discovered that the Soviets were well advanced in the development of their own intercontinental-range ballistic missile – test flights were launched from a site east of the Black Sea and passed across Soviet territory to fall near the Kamchatka Peninsula. America had felt safe because the USSR had no strategic bombers, but a ballistic missile would be able to circumvent America’s air defences. The risk was that when the Soviet missile entered service with a nuclear warhead it would be able to wipe out the US bomber bases in a ‘first strike’ which would prevent retaliation against the Soviet Union. The US therefore simply had to have its own fleet of missiles.