Part 3 (B)
Man Circles the Moon, the Eagle Lands, and Manned Lunar Exploration
Several scientific experiments had been deferred from the first to the
second lunar landing mission, Apollo Program Director Phillips informed
the ASPO Manager at MSC: S-031, Lunar Passive Seismology; S-034, Lunar
Tri-axis Magnetometer; S-035, Medium Energy Solar Wind; S-036,
Suprathermal Ion Detection; S-058, Cold Cathode Ionization Gauge; and
S-059, Lunar Geology Investigation. Substituted was a more conservative
group that included Lunar Passive Seismology (S-031); a Laser Ranging
Retroreflector (S-078); and Solar Wind Composition (S-080). Also
assigned to the first landing mission, included among operational
tasks, were sampling activities and observations of lunar soil
TWX, Phillips to Low, "Experiment Assignments to Lunar
Missions," Dec. 6, 1968.
During a routine flight of lunar landing training vehicle (LLTV) No. 1,
MSC test pilot Joseph S. Algranti was forced to eject from the craft
when it became unstable and he could no longer control the vehicle. The
LLTV crashed and burned. A flight readiness review at MSC on November 26
had found the LLTV ready for use in astronaut training, and 10 flight
tests had been made before the accident. An investigating board headed
by astronaut Walter M. Schirra, Jr., was set up to find the cause of the
accident. And on January 8, 1969, NASA Acting Administrator Thomas O.
Paine asked the review board that was established in May 1968 to restudy
its findings on the May 6 crash of lunar landing research vehicle No. 1
Memo, George E. Mueller, OMSF, NASA, to Acting Administrator,
"Manned Space Flight Weekly Report - December 9, 1968," Dec.
9, 1968; NASA Release 69-5, "Review Board Reconvened," Jan.
Launch preparations for Apollo 8, scheduled for flight December 21, were
on schedule, the NASA Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight
reported. Recent significant steps included a leak and functional test
of the service propulsion system on November 26, fuel servicing of the
CM reaction control system and the SPS on the following day, hypergolic
loading on November 30, and loading of the S-IC stage with RP-1 fuel on
December 2. All testing of the Mission Control Center in Houston and the
Manned Space Flight Network had also been completed; both support
systems were ready for full operational support. Recovery briefings had
been given to the flight crew and the final flight plan for Apollo 8 had
been issued. If all preparations continued to go smoothly, the final
countdown for launch would begin on December 16.
Memo, Mueller to Acting Administrator, "Manned Space Flight Weekly
Report - December 9, 1968," Dec. 9, 1968.
The ASPO Manager asked Wilmot N. Hess, MSC Director of Science and
Applications, to devise a crew fit and functional check of lunar
handtools before the LM-5 crew training tests. Functional check of the
handtools, as well as the Early Apollo Science Experiments Package
(EASEP), had been agreed on at a November 26 review. Actual flight
hardware would be used by the crewmen to verify operation of tools and
experiments. Flight handtools - as well as the EASEP, if available -
would also be subjected to thermal vacuum tests in the Space Environment
Simulation Laboratory, preferably during LM-5 crew training in the
Memo, George M. Low to Hess, "Lunar Handtools and EASEP (Early
Apollo Science Experiments Package," Dec. 14, 1968.
Final countdown for the launch of Apollo 8, the second manned Apollo
mission, began on schedule at KSC. Significant launch preparation
events included the "wet" countdown demonstration test on
December 10, three days of flight simulations, an operational review,
and launch site recovery exercises. Mission preparations were on
schedule for launch on December 21. Launch preparations were also on
schedule for the next two flights, Apollo 9 and 10.
Memo, George E. Mueller, NASA Associate Administrator for Manned Space
Flight, to Acting Administrator, "Manned Space Flight Weekly
Report - December 16, 1968," Dec. 16, 1968.
NASA Apollo Program Director Samuel C. Phillips asked ASPO Manager
George M. Low for comments on potential uses for television aboard all
Apollo spacecraft (both CMs and LMs). Although plans called for TV
cameras in both spacecraft for the F and G missions, on the combined
CSM-LM earth-orbital D mission only the LM was to contain a camera.
Phillips asked Low to assess the feasibility and schedule impact of
including a TV camera on the D-mission CSM as well (CM 104), thus
employing television on all the remaining Apollo spacecraft. In
particular, the Apollo Director sought Low's advice on the feasibility
and usefulness of television transmissions for engineering, operations,
scientific, and public information purposes. (See December 24.)
Ltr., Phillips to Low, "Apollo On-board TV," Dec. 16, 1968.
Apollo Program Director Phillips described to MSC Director Robert R.
Gilruth two reviews of testing and checkout procedures, conducted by
the Apollo Test Office and MSC's Crew Systems Division, at Hamilton
Standard September 23-26 and at International Latex September
30-October 4. (The reviews were a follow-on to similar test and
checkout reviews at North American Rockwell and at Grumman earlier in
the year.) The review at "Ham-Standard," manufacturer of the
portable life support system, uncovered only two minor discrepancies,
which the company immediately corrected. At International Latex,
manufacturer of the Apollo spacesuit, however, the review teams found
what Phillips termed a "disappointing situation despite extensive
management direction by the Crew Systems Division." The NASA
review group made several recommendations to improve the situation:
These problems, Phillips noted, had not impaired flight readiness of the
spacesuit, "but it does explain the delivery problems we have been
- Improved management control of suit processing and checkout to
afford higher confidence in configuration, inspection, and performance
- Stricter enforcement of the acceptance data package on each
- Compulsory contractor updating and enforcement of specifications to
meet MSC spacesuit requirements.
- Improved and rigidly enforced discipline and cleanliness.
Ltr., Phillips to Gilruth, Dec. 17, 1968.
Apollo Program Director Phillips asked ASPO Manager Low to hasten work
on the study at North American to define reusability of systems aboard
the CM. He asked Low for a review of the area in mid-February 1969 if
sufficient data were available by then. Also, Phillips asked Low's
recommendations for an effectivity date on any recovery operations to
increase reusability of either spacecraft systems or of the complete
vehicle. (North American submitted Space Division Report No. 69-463,
dated August 29, 1969, recommending preflight preservation treatment and
postflight refurbishment that could be accomplished on CMs and its
components to enhance reusability. Removal of heatshield access ports
and flushing with fresh water on the recovery ship was the only
recommendation implemented, because the others were not judged cost
Ltr., Phillips to Low, Dec. 17, 1968.
Crew briefings on flammability tests and fire extinguishing methods
should be expanded, ASPO Manager Low recommended to MSC Director of
Flight Operations Donald K. Slayton. Short briefings had been given to
the crews of spacecraft 101 and 103, Low said, but these limited
briefings should be expanded to ensure further a fire-safe spacecraft.
At a minimum, he urged review of all flammability deviations inside the
spacecraft, review of flammable crew storage items, review of
significant fire testing films on propagation paths, and review of
emergency procedures for extinguishing fires. The chief objective of
this expanded program, said Low, was to familiarize the crews with the
flammable items in the cockpit that could not be replaced, with
potential propagation paths, and with methods of extinguishing fires.
Memo, Low to Director of Flight Crew Operations, "Crew training
program on fire safety," Dec. 19, 1968.
The lunar closeup stereo camera on Apollo missions was not a separate
scientific experiment, NASA Associate Administrator for Manned Space
Flight wrote MSC Deputy Director George S. Trimble. An adjunct to the
field geology experiment, the camera's stereoscopic photographs of fine
details on the lunar surface would document individual material samples.
Additional photography where no samples were taken would provide
information on the range of surface textures near the landing site.
Following deployment by the crew of emplaced experiments, the field
geology investigation - and thus the stereo camera - had priority.
Mueller stated that inclusion of the camera on all early Apollo landing
missions was desirable, including the first. However, it was doubtful
that the contractor could deliver the first flight article in time for
that mission, although the camera could be ready for the second landing
if granted waivers in documentation, reliability, and quality controls.
Mueller affirmed his desire to grant these relaxations in the normally
rigid Apollo hardware demands - to the extent that such waivers could be
granted without jeopardizing crew safety or overall mission success. As
an added benefit, the Associate Administrator said, "the experiment of
giving a qualified contractor a relatively free hand in managing a
development project within his particular field of competence should be
instructive in the planning of future procurements of this type."
Ltr., Mueller to Trimble, Dec. 20, 1968.
Apollo 8 (AS-503) was launched from KSC Launch Complex 39,
Pad A, at 7:51 a.m. EST Dec. 21 on a Saturn V booster. The spacecraft
crew was made up of Frank Borman, James A. Lovell, Jr., and William A.
Anders. Apollo 8 was the first spacecraft to be launched
by a Saturn V with a crew on board, and that crew became the first men
to fly around the moon.
All launch and boost phases were normal and the spacecraft with the
S-IVB stage was inserted into an earth-parking orbit of 190.6 by 183.2
kilometers above the earth. After post-insertion checkout of spacecraft
systems, the S-IVB stage was reignited and burned 5 minutes 9 seconds
to place the spacecraft and stage in a trajectory toward the moon - and
the Apollo 8 crew became the first men to leave the
earth's gravitational field.
The spacecraft separated from the S-IVB 3 hours 20 minutes after launch
and made two separation maneuvers using the SM's reaction control
system. Eleven hours after liftoff, the first midcourse correction
increased velocity by 26.4 kilometers per hour. The coast phase was
devoted to navigation sightings, two television transmissions, and
system checks. The second midcourse correction, about 61 hours into the
flight, changed velocity by 1.5 kilometers per hour.
The 4-minute 15-second lunar-orbit-insertion maneuver was made 69 hours
after launch, placing the spacecraft in an initial lunar orbit of 310.6
by 111.2 kilometers from the moon's surface - later circularized to
112.4 by 110.6 kilometers. During the lunar coast phase the crew made
numerous landing-site and landmark sightings, took lunar photos, and
prepared for the later maneuver to enter the trajectory back to the
On the fourth day, Christmas Eve, communications were interrupted as
Apollo 8 passed behind the moon, and the astronauts became
the first men to see the moon's far side. Later that day , during the
evening hours in the United States, the crew read the first 10 verses
of Genesis on television to earth and wished viewers "goodnight,
good luck, a Merry Christmas and God bless all of you - all of you on
the good earth."
Subsequently, TV Guide for May 10-16, 1969, claimed that
one out of every four persons on earth - nearly 1 billion people in 64
countries - heard the astronauts' reading and greeting, either on radio
or on TV; and delayed broadcasts that same day reached 30 additional
On Christmas Day, while the spacecraft was completing its 10th
revolution of the moon, the service propulsion system engine was fired
for three minutes 24 seconds, increasing the velocity by 3,875 km per
hr and propelling Apollo 8 back toward the earth, after 20
hours 11 minutes in lunar orbit. More television was sent to earth on
the way back and, on the sixth day, the crew prepared for reentry and
the SM separated from the CM on schedule.
Parachute deployment and other reentry events were normal. The
Apollo 8 CM splashed down in the Pacific, apex down, at
10:51 a.m. EST, December 27 - 147 hours and 42 seconds after liftoff.
As planned, helicopters and aircraft hovered over the spacecraft and
pararescue personnel were not deployed until local sunrise, 50 minutes
after splashdown. The crew was picked up and reached the recovery ship
U.S.S. Yorktown at 12:20 p.m. EST. All mission objectives
and detailed test objectives were achieved, as well as five that were
not originally planned (see Appendix 5).
The crew was in excellent condition, and another major step toward the
first lunar landing had been accomplished.
MSC, "Apollo 8 Mission Report," Feb. 1969, pp. 1-1, 1-2; NASA
OMSF, "Apollo Program Flight Summary Report, Apollo Missions
AS-201 through Apollo 8," Jan. 1969, pp. 32-35; Astronautics
and Aeronautics, 1968, (NASA SP-4010, 1969), pp. 318-23.
ASPO Manager George M. Low apprised Program Director Samuel C. Phillips
of MSC's plans for television cameras aboard remaining Apollo missions.
With the exception of spacecraft 104 (scheduled for flight as Apollo 9),
television cameras were to be flown in all CMs. Also, cameras would be
included in all manned LMs (LM-3 through LM-14).
Ltr., Low to Phillips, "Television," Dec. 24, 1968.
C. H. Bolender, ASPO LM Manager at MSC, wrote Ralph H. Tripp, LM
Program Manager at Grumman, regarding open spacecraft failure items.
Although he acknowledged Grumman's recent progress in reducing the
number of open failures, Bolender said that the approaching manned
phase of the LM program dictated a fundamental change in the method of
handling those open problems. Apollo required "zero open
problems." Moreover, all failures must receive NASA approval of
closeout before launch. Bolender called on Tripp to revamp his failure
closeout procedures with several objectives: all closeout packages must
contain sufficient documentation to permit NASA approval of the action;
each package should be available as a reference for any future review
of problem definition, analysis, and correction; and the contractor
should further improve the discipline applied to technical resolution
of open items and to the preparation of closeout packages. Bolender
anticipated that Grumman's actions to meet these objectives would
greatly reduce the number of open failure closeout disapprovals by
NASA. But when a disagreement did exist, both parties must act quickly
to resolve the issue. "Prompt attention to NASA disapprovals has
been a problem," noted the LM Program Manager.
Ltr., Bolender to Tripp, Dec. 27, 1968.