Saturn Illustrated Chronology - Part 9
January 1968 through April 1968
NASA began 1968 with work in process on the AS-502 launch
vehicle, preparatory to the launch that would take place in April. Meanwhile,
during the first week in January all AS-503 stages were on dock at KSC.483
483. MSFC Saturn V Prog. Off., Saturn V Semiannual
Prog. Report, Jan.-June 1968, p. 1.
||388. S-IC components and
assembly at Michoud
MSFC announced on January 10 that the Center was entering
1968 with firm plans to support as many as six Apollo/Saturn launches during
the year. It also announced plans for supporting the goal of a lunar landing
by 1970 with static tests of eight Saturn V stages (five S-II's and three
S-IC's) during the year at the MTF. While this would be going on, MAF personnel
would be applying the finishing touches to the 12th uprated Saturn I booster
and forging ahead with the assembly of Saturn V boosters through S-IC-15.
Meanwhile, at KSC NASA would attempt to chalk up the 15th consecutive Saturn
launch no earlier than January 18 with the flight of the fourth uprated
Saturn I. A week later, on January 24, the schedule called for the rollout
of the second Apollo/Saturn V to the launch pad. AS-502 would carry several
minor modifications that were recommended by MSFC as a result of data provided
by the first Apollo/Saturn V, which had flown in November of 1967.
||389. S-IC flight stage at
In addition to the previous announcement on January 10,
1968, MSFC also noted that other Saturn vehicles in various phases of preparation
included the Apollo/Saturn 206 and another unmanned flight vehicle scheduled
to fly after AS-204 in the uprated Saturn I series. S-IB-12, last of the
original order, was in final assembly and checkout at Michoud at the start
of 1968. Also, S-IVB stages for uprated Saturn I's 205 through 209 were
in storage at the Sacramento Test Facility. S-IVB stages 210 through 212
were in various stages of readiness at Huntington Beach and had not yet
been static fired. The uprated Saturn I instrument units 205 through 209
were stored in the IBM plant in Huntsville. Saturn V S-IVB stages 504 and
505 were at Sacramento, where post-static checks were underway. The S-IVB-506
was in post-manufacturing checkout at Sacramento and was awaiting a static
test. All others were in manufacturing. S-IU-504 had been completed at
IBM/Huntsville and S-IU-505 was in post-manufacturing checkout while others
were being assembled.484
484. PAO, "Marshall Star," Vol. 8, No. 16, January 10,
390. S-IVB-205, 206 and 207
|NASA announced on January 5 that it had exercised
the second of three one-year renewal options with the Range Systems Division
of Ling-Temco-Vought (LTV) to provide computer services for the major contractors
operating at the NASA-Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. The new
$2,704,349 extension of LTV's basic cost-plus-award-fee contract was awarded
by MSFC for Michoud. The contract, to continue in force until January 8,
1969, would increase the total value of the LTV's contract to $7,641,584.
NASA had originally selected the Dallas based firm in December 1965, to
provide computer services at the Michoud installation in New Orleans and
at its Computer Operations Office in nearby Slidell, Louisiana.485
485. Interview with Burch H. Aldridge, Chief, Contracts
Office, Michoud Assembly Facility, July 17, 1970.
An indication of NASA's varied activities in the Saturn Program
can be gained by a glance at the Saturn V Weekly Report for January 10
as follows: AS-502 flight vehicle (final package) was scheduled for delivery
to KSC January 26, 1968; also for the AS-502 flight the final LVDC (flight
program tapes) and SLCC (ground tapes) were scheduled for delivery to KSC
by February 5, 1968. Status of the AS-503 flight vehicle was as follows:
all three stages were in the VAB KSC undergoing inspection and checkout;
as for the S-IU-503 for AS-503, adverse weather conditions and mechanical
problems with the Super Guppy had delayed the delivery of the IU on-dock
KSC from December 29, 1967, to January 4, 1968. Status of the AS-504 flight
vehicle was: S-IC-4 stage was in a test cell at Boeing-Michoud undergoing
modification incorporation; the stage was scheduled on-dock at KSC April
15, 1968; S-II-4 stage was at the test stand at MTF undergoing modification
work prior to LOX/liquid hydrogen tanking test with captive firing scheduled
for January 26, 1968, and then was scheduled on-dock KSC March 31, 1968;
the S-IVB-504 stage was in the VCL SACTO and was scheduled for transfer
into Beta I test stand for deferred post-firing checkout after completion
of Korotherm rework, after which the stage was scheduled on dock KSC March
31, 1968; the S-IU-504 instrument unit for AS-504 was in storage at IBM/Huntsville,
scheduled on-dock KSC April 15, 1968. Status of AS-505 flight vehicle was:
S-IC-5 stage was in storage at Boeing-Michoud, scheduled on-dock KSC June
29, 1968; S-II-5 stage was undergoing shakedown inspection preparations
at NAA/SD Seal Beach, prior to on-docking MTF February 9, 1968, and then
on-docking KSC June 29, 1968; S-IVB-505 stage was in storage at VCL SACTO,
scheduled for on-dock KSC June 29, 1968; and S-IU-505 instrument unit for
AS-505 was in component assembly at IBM/Huntsville, scheduled on-dock KSC
June 29, 1968.486
486. Saturn Weekly Report No. 2, January 10, 1968.
391. First stage for AS-503
in transfer aisle of VAB
|NASA announced on January 11 that it would
negotiate with CCSD, New Orleans, for assembly and delivery of four additional
S-IB stages at a rate of two per year. Earlier, NASA had contracted with
Chrysler for production of long-lead-time materials, parts, and components
for these stages. Work related to this effort would be performed at New
Orleans under direction of MSFC. Chrysler presently was under contract
with NASA to furnish 12 Saturn IB flight stages.487
487. Interview with Altho J. Oberkirch, MSFC Contracts
Office, July 17, 1970.
NASA announced also on January 11, 1968, that it would negotiate
with McDonnell Douglas, Huntington Beach, California, for assembly and
delivery of four additional uprated Saturn I launch vehicle second (S-IVB)
stages at a rate of two per year. The negotiations were expected to result
in a contract valued in excess of $48 million. Earlier NASA had contracted
with Douglas for production of long-lead-time materials, parts, and components
for these stages. Work related to this effort would be performed at Huntington
Beach under direction of MSFC.488
488. Interview with W. T. Brown, MSFC Contracts Office,
July 17, 1970.
On January 16 NASA announced the award to Rocketdyne Division,
North American Rockwell Corporation, of a contract valued at $14,796,400
for engineering support services for H-1 engines. The H-1 engines would
be used to power the first stage of the Saturn IB launch vehicles. Under
this cost-plus-incentive-fee agreement, Rocketdyne would be responsible
for engineering support services for engine manufacturing, testing, delivery,
application, reliability, and flight performance evaluation. The major
portion of the work would be at Rocketdyne's Canoga Park, California, plant.
Minor segments would be performed at MAF, where the H-1 engines would be
installed on the Saturn IB's first stage, and at the Kennedy Space Center's
launch complex. The contract would cover the period July 1967 through June
489. Interview with T. B. Burton, MSFC Contracts Office,
July 20, 1970.
392. H-1 engine
|NASA announced on January 17 that the Apollo
5 flight, the first test in space of an unmanned lunar module, was being
rescheduled for no earlier than Monday, January 22. Reason for the rescheduling
was that some launch operations being done for the first time required
more time than expected for completion, including the loading of hypergolic
propellants aboard the spcecraft. The new schedule would be dependent upon
the success of several additional ground tests, including the launch countdown
demonstration test, scheduled for completion on January 19.490
490. MSFC Saturn V Prog. Off., Saturn V Semiannual
Prog. Report, Jan.-June 1968.
A mockup of the S-IVB stage to be used as a manned orbital
workshop was flown to MSFC on January 17. The full size model arrived from
the West Coast aboard the Super Guppy aircraft. The mockup would be used
later in the month for a crew station design review. NASA plans called
for launching the flight orbital workshop as the second stage of the Saturn
IB launch vehicle. Once in space, astronauts would convert the stage's
large fuel tank into living and working quarters for a 28-day stay. The
orbital workshop mockup had recently been modified by McDonnell Douglas,
manufacturer of the Saturn upper stage for MSFC. This was the mockup's
second trip to MSFC. The previous spring engineers had used the model at
MSFC in its original configuration for design studies.491
491. William A. Geiger, Daily Log, Transport Branch,
Project Logistics Office, MSFC, Jan. 17, 1968.
The Saturn IB (AS-204) launch vehicle and the lunar module
it orbited on January 22 performed satisfactorily. This Apollo 5 mission
began at 4:48 pm (CST) January 22 when the Saturn lifted off Launch Complex
37 at Cape Kennedy after ground support equipment caused a delay of three
hours 50 minutes. The liftoff came at sun-down on a day so clear that both
stages were visible to the unaided eye long after stage separation. The
S-IB could be seen falling and the S-IVB going on toward orbit when tracking
equipment indicated that the second stage was almost 90 miles up and 168
miles downrange. The Saturn hurled the lunar module into space to begin
a series of tests of the LM's ascent and descent propulsion systems, the
first such test in the vacuum of space.492
492. MSFC Saturn V Prog. Off., Saturn V Semiannual
Prog. Report, Jan.-June 1968.
393. AS-204, Apollo 5, on pad 37
394. Launch of AS-204 with first
|MSFC announced on January 30 that an orbital
workshop engineering mockup simulating the flight vehicle was being readied
for an extensive five-day crew station review on February 12-16 at MSFC.
During the review, several astronauts were scheduled to "walk through"
many tasks on the ground that would later be done in orbit under zero gravity
conditions. These tasks would include experiment installation and operation.
Lighting tests were being conducted during the week in the orbital workshop
mockup by engineers of the MSFC Propulsion and Vehicle Engineering Laboratory.
P&VE was the lead laboratory for the development of the workshop.493
493. PAO Press Release No. 68-18, Jan. 30, 1968.
NASA announced on January 30 that shipment of the second
Apollo lunar module and the fifth Saturn IB rocket to KSC would be postponed
pending further evaluation of Apollo 5 mission results. Initial evaluation
of the first lunar module flight on January 22-23 had indicated that a
second unmanned flight, launched by the Saturn IB, might not be required
to qualify the spacecraft for flight with men aboard. Further detailed
review of flight data and deliberations by a NASA design certification
review board in March would determine the final decision. Meanwhile, Lunar
Module 2 and the Saturn IB rocket stages would be maintained ready for
shipment to KSC on three- and 14-day notices, respectively. Refurbishment
of LC-37B would proceed for a second unmanned lunar module flight. The
Mission Control Center, Houston, and tracking ships Coastal Sentry Quebec
and Rose Knot Victor would maintain the operational capability to
support another unmanned lunar module flight.494
494. PAO Press Release No. 68-20, Jan. 30, 1968.
395. Simulation of activities
in Saturn I workshop
|During January NASA Headquarters affirmed
several project name changes. The intermediate Saturn launch vehicle formerly
called "uprated Saturn I" was officially designated IB. The ground-outfitted
orbital workshop, sometimes called the "dry workshop," would henceforth
be known as the Saturn V Workshop. The workshop to be launched by the Saturn
IB, formerly referred to as "Orbital Workshop" and "wet workshop," would
be officially named Saturn I Workshop.495
495. Working Paper, A Chronology of the George C.
Marshall Space Flight Center, Jan. 1-Dec. 31, 1968, p. 9.
The S-II second stage for the fifth Apollo/Saturn V mission
left Seal Beach, California, on February 2 aboard the USNS Point Barrow
en route to the MTF, where the stage would undergo static testing before
shipment to KSC. Also on board the ship was an F-1 rocket engine. This
combination load saved an estimated $6,000 in transportation charges. The
F-1 would be unloaded for inspection at MAF, where the stage would be transferred
to a barge for the remainder of the trip to the MTF.496
496. MSFC Saturn V Prog. Off., Saturn V Semiannual
Prog. Report, Jan.-June 1968, pp. 1-20.
396. S-II stage on transporter
at Seal Beach
|MSFC announced on February 6 that 12 scientist-astronauts,
appointed to the space program six months earlier, would visit the Center
on February 12-14. Purpose of the meeting, the first such at MSFC, would
be to acquaint the new group with Marshall Center work, including development
of the Saturn vehicles. They would also see an engineering mockup of an
orbital workshop - a vehicle that would house astronauts for extended stays
in space. The astronauts who would visit the Center, all of them with doctoral
degrees, would be Robert A. Parker, Brian T. O'Leary and Karl G. Henize,
astronomers; John A. Llewellyn, chemist; Joseph P. Allen, Philip K. Chapman,
and Anthony W. England, physicists; William B. Lenoir, engineer; F. Story
Musgrave, physiologist; and William E. Thornton and Donald L. Holmquest,
497. MSFC Press Release No. 68-25, Feb. 6, 1968.
The transfer of AS-502 to Pad A of Launch Complex 39 occurred
on February 6 at KSC. However, the scheduled transfer of the Mobile Service
Structure (MSS) to the pad was delayed because of high winds. Reschedule
was planned for February 9. No structural or water damage was reported
on AS-502 because of the trip to the pad.498
498. MSFC Saturn V Prog. Off., Saturn V Semiannual
Prog. Report, Jan.-June 1968, p. 7.
397. Rollout of AS-502, Apollo 6,
|Also on February 6 NASA announced the negotiation
of an additional one-year contract with the Boeing Company for operation
of the Saturn V Development Facility at MSFC. The $5,782,750 incentive
contract would continue through September 1968. The original award was
made in September 1964. The Saturn V Development Facility, often called
the "Saturn V breadboard," would electrically simulate the operation of
the Saturn V and its ground and electrical support equipment. Each step
at the launch site, through liftoff and flight of each stage, could be
computer-simulated at the facility.499
499. Milton E. Buchholz, Contract NAS8-5608 (Schedule
2), Modification MSFC-241, Launch Systems Branch, Contracts Office, MSFC,
Feb. 6, 1968.
NASA announced on February 7 that it had added a $3,226,374
supplemental clause to the Boeing Company's Saturn V systems engineering
and integration contract. The contract extension would be effective through
December 1969. Under this contract Boeing would be responsible for providing
NASA with Saturn V propulsion systems pre-flight and post-flight performance
analysis for the first 10 Saturn V launch vehicles. Boeing would study
all of the propulsion systems data recorded during the vehicles' test firings
and launches for a complete analysis of Saturn V propulsion systems performance.
All work would be conducted at Boeing facilities at Huntsville. This extension
brought the systems engineering and integration portion of Boeing's three-part
Saturn V contract to a total of $194,845,024. Meanwhile, under separate
agreements, Boeing remained responsible for Saturn V booster production
at MAF and for launch support services at KSC.500
500. Milton E. Buchholz, Contract NAS8-5608 (Schedule
2), Modification MSFC-244, Launch Systems Branch, Contracts Office, MSFC,
Feb. 7, 1968.
On February 9 the Mobile Service Structure for AS-502 was
transfered to the pad. This was originally scheduled for February 6 but
delayed because of high winds.501
501. MSFC Saturn V Prog. Off., Saturn V Semiannual
Prog. Report, Jan.-June 1968, p. 7.
398. MSS moves back from AS-502
|The first full-duration captive rocket firing
at MTF in 1968 was successfully completed on Saturday, February 10, ushering
in the busiest year to date for the rocket testing center. Space engineers
and technicians static-fired the fourth flight version of the Apollo/Saturn
V second stage (S-II-4) for its full duration of six minutes. The stage
developed an equivalent thrust of more than one million pounds. A North
American Rockwell crew conducted the captive firing with the stage mounted
in a 200-foot-tall tower. The captive firing was one of a series of special
checkouts the stage would go through at the Mississippi proving ground
before it would be certified for flight from KSC. NASA engineers and scientists
would carefully evaluate approximately 1,000 separate measurements taken
from the rocket before a flight worthiness certificate would be issued.
MTF was scheduled to test-fire, check, and flight-certify eight more Apollo/Saturn
space vehicles in 1968 - four S-II second stages and four S-IC first stages.502
502. PAO, "Marshall Star," Vol. 8, No. 21, February 14,
||399. Saturn V S-II stage
lifted into A-2 test stand at MTF
By the middle of February NASA had announced that the
first Americans on the moon would land in one of five three-by-five-mile
landing areas selected by NASA's Apollo Site Selection Board. Each of the
areas would satisfy criteria in which astronaut safety was the paramount
consideration. The first two sites selected by NASA were in the Sea of
Tranquility, the third was in the Central Bay, and the fourth and fifth
were in the Ocean of Storms. The sites were selected from eight under study
from a choice of 30 original sites. Selection of the five sites permitted
scientists and engineers to concentrate on fewer areas in preparing data
on the specific sites. The site selection board studied material obtained
by unmanned Lunar Orbiters and soft-landing Surveyor spacecraft. Lunar
Orbiter returned high resolution photographs of all the sites and Surveyor
provided close-up photographs and surface data of the general areas in
which they were located. The criteria considered by the board included
smoothness of the area, desirability in terms of amount of propellant necessary
for the lunar module propulsion systems, lighting as it concerned the best
visibility for the astronauts, and the general slope of the landing area.
Mississippi Test Facility began the month of March 1968,
with considerable test activity. S-IC-6 arrived at MTF on March 1. It had
been assembled nearby at the Michoud Assembly Facility. Upon arrival of
the booster at MTF, workmen promptly began preparations for placing it
in a test stand for a static firing in late April. In addition, S-II-4
would be placed in a separate test stand, where it would undergo a newly
incorporated cryogenic proof pressure test late in March. This test would
call for the LH2 tank to be filled
with cryogenic propellant and pressurized to simulate maximum flight loads.
Meanwhile, also at MTF preparations proceeded for placing a fifth S-II
second stage in another test stand on March 7, where it would undergo cryogenic
proof pressure tests in April before static testing.503
503. MSFC Saturn V Prog. Off., Saturn V Semiannual
Prog. Report, Jan.-June 1968, pp. 1-33.
||400. Saturn V S-IC stage
lifted into B-2 test stand at MTF
MSFC announced on March 7 the award of an $11.1 million
contract extension until February 28, 1969, to Sperry Rand Corporation
for engineering support in applied research, testing, and design at MSFC's
504. Martin F. Hirsch, Contract NAS8-20055, Engineering
Services Division, Purchasing Office, MSFC, March 7, 1968.
Dr. von Braun commented on March 12: "If AS-502 is successful,
there will be no need for a third unmanned Saturn V flight."505
505. Minutes of Combined Staff and Board Meeting, March
NASA announced on March 12 that Chrysler Corporation had
received a contract modification totaling $5,779,884 for ground support
and engineering equipment related to the Saturn IB program. The contract,
awarded by MSFC, covered services at Huntsville through December 1968.
It was a cost-plus-fixed-fee agreement. Chrysler's assignment covered program
integration management, test integration and engineering of ground support,
operation of the Saturn IB Development (Breadboard) Facility, logistics
responsibility, and telemetry systems engineering. As a result of this
March 12 contract, Chrysler's contract for ground support and engineering
equipment now totaled $14,701,868.506
506. MSFC Press Release No. 68-41, March 12, 1968.
By the middle of March all three static test stands at the
Mississippi Test Facility were filled with Apollo/Saturn V flight stage
for the first time. Two of the stands contained second stages for the fourth
and fifth Apollo/Saturn V rockets. A third was holding the 7.5 million
pound thrust booster that would lift the sixth Apollo/Saturn V off its
KSC launch pad.507
507. MSFC Saturn V Prog. Off., Saturn V Semiannual
Prog. Report, Jan.-June 1968, pp. 5-38.
401. S-IC B-2 test stand at MTF
|MSFC announced on March 18 that more than
100 engineers and scientists would participate in a two-day Saturn I workshop
design review board meeting on the following two days at MSFC. The engineers
would discuss results of previous workshop reviews including the original
engineering design review in May 1967, a documentation study in December,
and a week-long crew station review February 12-16 at MSFC. Meeting participants
would represent the Manned Spacecraft Center, Kennedy Space Center, NASA
Headquarters, and the McDonnell Douglas Corporation, manufacturer of the
Saturn S-IVB stage. A workshop mockup had been used at MSFC for earlier
design work. Chairman of the design review board was Leland Belew, manager
of Marshall's Saturn/Apollo Applications Office.508
508. MSFC Press Release No. 68-45, March 8, 1968.
On March 19 NASA released the findings of the Investigating
Board appointed to examine and report on the June 8, 1967, rupture of a
test tank at MSFC in Huntsville which resulted in the deaths of two employees
of Brown Engineering Company of Huntsville, a NASA subcontractor. NASA's
release said in essence that the rupture of the test tank was apparently
caused by pressure which exceeded the tank limits. The tank which ruptured
was on loan to MSFC from the McDonnell Douglas Corporation. It was to have
been used to test a quick-release manhole cover designed by MSFC for the
liquid hydrogen tank of the S-IVB. The board concluded that the tank burst
at a pressure between 60 and 67 psig (pounds per square inch gauge). The
tank had withstood a pressure of 60 psig in a test conducted on May 24,
two weeks before the accident. The investigation disclosed a misunderstanding
concerning the tank received from McDonnell Douglas. A blueprint supplied
by McDonnell Douglas was interpreted as indicating the tank had been designed
to withstand 150 psig. In fact, the tank in the form received at MSFC had
a design limit of only 50.7 psig.509
509. MSFC Press Release No. 68-46, March 19, 1968.
NASA decided during the third week in March that a second
unmanned flight of the lunar module would not be necessary. The first manned
LM flight would be made later in the year, launched by a Saturn V vehicle.
The decision to cancel the repeat flight of an unmanned LM followed a detailed
evaluation of the first LM flight, flown on January 22 atop a Saturn IB
launch vehicle. Data from a comprehensive examination of the LM's structural
and ground test results were also thoroughly analyzed.510
510. PAO, "Marshall Star," Vol. 8, No. 26, March 20,
1968, p. 1.
Workmen at MTF conducted a cryogenic proof test of the S-II-4
stage on March 23. The purpose of the test was to certify the integrity
of the S-II stage's LH2 tank.
Evaluation of early data indicated that the test was successful. The stage
was put through this important pressure test by a team from NAR, manufacturer
of the stage for MSFC. Engineers filled the stage with about 273,000 gallons
of super-cold liquid hydrogen (at -423o F) and pressurized the
tank five percent above the expected maximum flight pressure. Preliminary
readings indicated that the liquid hydrogen tank pressure during the test
was 36.18 psig. Instrument calibration checks were conducted to verify
the results of the test. Liquid nitrogen was used in the liquid oxygen
tank. The tank was filled to approximately 80 percent of capacity with
65,000 gallons of nitrogen and pressurized to normal flight pressure. This
was the first cryogenic proof test conducted in the S-II program. All S-II
stages scheduled to be used on manned launch vehicles would undergo the
cryogenic proof test at MTF to further certify the structural capability
of the stage. The S-II-4 stage was the first of the so-called lightweight
stages, being about 3,000 pounds lighter than the first three.511
511. Working Paper, A Chronology of the George C.
Marshall Space Flight Center, Jan. 1-Dec. 31, 1968.
The schedule for launch of the AS-502 vehicle slipped 13
days during March, primarily because of a problem with the A7-64 propellant
disconnect. Two days of slippage were attributed to problems with the S-II-2
512. NAR, Saturn S-II Quarterly Progress Report, First
Quarter 1968, p. I-1.
On March 28 MSFC decided that "it would be in the best interest"
of the space program to transfer S-IC and S-IB stage procurement responsibilities
from the Michoud Assembly Facility to Huntsville.513
513. Letter from O'Conner, March 28, 1968.
The countdown demonstration test for AS-502 (Apollo 6), scheduled
to be launched April 4, was completed March 31.514
514. MSFC Saturn V Prog. Off., Saturn V Semiannual
Prog. Report, Jan.-June 1968.
402. AS-502 on pad 39A
|By the end of March, 11 S-IVB stages had
been delivered to Kennedy Space Center/MSFC, (dynamics stage, S-IVB-500F
facility checkout stage, S-IVB-500ST MSFC stage simulator, S-IVB-201 through
S-IVB-204, S-IVB-206, and S-IVB-501 through S-IVB-503N).
MSFC began April 1, 1968, with announcement of the following
contract awards: $2.1 million contract modification to RCA for continued
support of RCA 110A computers for use in checkout and launch of Saturn
IB and Saturn V launch vehicles, bringing the total contract value to £12.7
million; and $1.8 million follow-on contract to Sanders Associates, Inc.,
to provide logistics and engineering support to Saturn V operational display
systems at MSFC, bringing the total value of the contract to $3.9 million.515
515. Royal R. Nolley, Contract 23515 (Procurement Plan),
Ground Support Equipment, Contracts Office, MSFC, May 23, 1968.
On April 3 MSFC awarded IBM's Space Guidance Center a $1.3
million contract for spare parts and logistic support of instrument units
that guided Saturn IB and Saturn V launch vehicles.516
516. MSFC Press Release No. 68-63, April 1968.
||403. Mission profile for
NASA successfully launched Apollo 6 (AS-502) from KSC's
Complex 39A at 7:00 am (EST) on a mission to qualify the Saturn V launch
vehicle for manned space flights. Primary objectives were to demonstrate
structural and thermal integrity and compatibility of launch vehicle and
spacecraft; confirm launch loads and dynamic characteristics; demonstrate
S-II/S-IC and S-IVB/S-II stage separations; verify operations of propulsion
(including S-IVB restart), guidance and control (optimum injection), and
electrical systems; evaluate performance of Emergency Detection System
(EDS) in closed-loop configuration; and demonstrate mission support facilities
and operations required for launch, mission conduct, and CM recovery.517
The launch vehicle second stage performance was near nominal, but two of
the five J-2 engines shut down prematurely, causing the remaining second
and third stage engines to burn longer than planned.518 As a
result, the spacecraft and third stage entered an elliptical parking orbit
with a 223.1-mile (395.1-kilometer) apogee, 107-mile (172.1-kilometer)
perigee. When the third stage failed to re-ignite on command after two
orbits as planned, NASA switched to an alternate mission, firing the Service
Propulsion System (SPS) to place the spacecraft into a trajectory with
a 13,823-mile (22,225.4-kilometer) apogee.519 Since insufficient
propellant remained after the extended burn, a second SPS burn was not
attempted and the CM reentered at 22,376 miles per hour, just under the
planned 25,000-mile per hour rate. The spacecraft splashed down 50 miles
off target in the Pacific Ocean 9 hours 50 minutes after launch and was
recovered in good condition by the USS Okinawa. Preliminary assessment
indicated that four of the five objectives were attained, even though the
S-IVB restart and guidance control (optimum injection) were not fully successful.520
517. MSFC Saturn V Prog. Off., Saturn V Semiannual
Prog. Report, Jan.-June 1968, p. 11.
518. McDonnell Douglas, Saturn S-IVB Quarterly Tech.
Prog. Report, June 1968, p. 3.
519. MSFC Saturn V Prog. Off., Saturn V Semiannual
Prog. Report, Jan.-June 1968, p. 13.
520. MSFC Saturn V Prog. Off., Saturn V Semiannual
Prog. Report, Jan.-June 1968, p. 15.
404a. Launch of Saturn V AS-502
404b. AS-502 climbs to orbit,
as seen from chase-plane
|During the second week in April MSFC completed
a report containing preliminary results of the Apollo 6 flight. Although
the basic source of the difficulties had not yet been determined, scientists
and engineers speculated that wires carrying cutoff commands to the malfunctioning
engines were interchanged. The first stage had performed as planned and
stage thrust was near that predicted during the first portion of flight.
The second stage had performed satisfactorily through the first-stage boost,
second-stage ignition, and early portion of second-stage powered flight.
First indications of anomaly were the decreasing temperatures on the main
oxidizer valve and its control line on the fifth engine and steady decrease
in the second engine's yaw actuator pressure. The third stage performed
satisfactorily through the first burn and orbital coast. Although engine
and stage prestart conditions had appeared normal, the engine receiving
the start signal and the valves opening properly, the engine did not restart.
Initial data suggested that a leak in one of the two propellant lines to
the engine's augmented igniter may have caused insufficient or inadequately
mixed propellant for the proper start condition. Investigations were continuing
on longitudinal oscillation of the vehicle. Guidance and other instrumentation
functions, telemetry performance, and onboard TV camera operation were
satisfactory. An intensive evaluation of ground systems support during
the AS-502 launch indicated no major problem areas, although many areas
reported nominal launch damage, typical for such a blast-off. Considerable
damage, and not typical, involved both Mobile Launchers (ML) elevators
in the Apollo Emergency Ingress/Egress System (PAD & ML). The damage
occurred at ignition and/or during liftoff.521
521. Apollo/Saturn V Ground Systems Evaluation Report,
AS-502, John F. Kennedy Space Center, May 23, 1968, pp. 5-21.
A technical review of Saturn launch vehicles, attended by
about 140 scientists, engineers, and administers, was held at MSFC on April
20-21. The participants investigated the status and flight schedule of
Saturn launch vehicles.522
522. MSFC Press Release No. 68-72, April 1968.
||405. Saturn IB (AS-205)
406. Saturn V (AS-503)
The S-IU-205 instrument unit was loaded aboard the Super
Guppy at MSFC on the morning of April 10; however, weather conditions delayed
the departure of the Super Guppy from MSFC for KSC until the following
morning. The unit arrived at KSC on April 11, and offloading of the stage
from the Super Guppy was completed that same morning.523
523. Saturn IB Notes I-IB-C731-68, April 15, 1968.
By the middle of April AS-205 had been erected on the launch
pad at KSC. Also, by the middle of April AS-503 launch vehicle was stacked
in the VAB at Kennedy Space Center.524
524. Saturn V Weekly Report No. 15, April 16,
Michoud personnel gave an April 22 S-IC program briefing
at Michoud to newly appointed Deputy Administrator for NASA, Dr. Thomas
O. Paine, along with Dr. von Braun, General O'Conner, and other NASA representatives.525
525. Saturn V First Stage Annual Prog. Rpt., Fiscal
Year 1968, The Boeing Company, July 1, 1968, p. 8.
The 11th Saturn IB booster (S-IB-11) was successfully fired
by Chrysler on April 23 at MSFC's Test Laboratory. The 1.6 million-pound-thrust
booster was test-fired for a planned 145 seconds. The booster would be
returned to the Michoud Assembly Facility the following month for a post-static
check. Meanwhile, another booster (S-IB-12) was en route to MSFC by barge
for static firing.526
526. Saturn IB Notes I-IB-3734-68, May 1, 1968.
407. Stacking of S-IB-205, pad 34
408. Stacking S-II-503 in VAB
||409. S-IB-211 is moved to
stand at MSFC
NASA announced on April 27 that the AS-503 launch vehicle
would be manned and that the launch would be scheduled for the fall. The
manned flight would occur in the fourth quarter of 1968. The two previous
flights of the Saturn V had been unmanned. On the basis of data thus far
obtained from the second unmanned flight, on April 4, NASA decided to plan
and work toward a manned flight with the third Saturn V vehicle. "However,
we will retain the option of flying another unmanned mission if further
analysis and ground testing indicates that it is the best course," said
Maj. Gen. Samuel C. Phillips, Apollo program director. Before NASA made
its decision, NASA and industry engineers worked virtually around the clock
to determine the causes, effects, and solutions of several problems experienced
in the April 4 flight. These included: premature shutdown of two J-2 engines
in the second stage (S-II) of the Saturn V; failure of the third stage
J-2 engine to re-ignite in orbit; a longitudinal oscillation or "pogo effect"
caused by synchronous vibration of the five F-1 engines in the first stage;
and an indication that some material fell away from the area of the spacecraft/lunar
module adapter. Information developed by the time of the NASA April 27
announcement indicated that the early shutdown of the two second stage
engines began with the failure of a small fuel line in the Number 2 engine
ignition system. "We are confident that we know the cause, effects, and
solutions involving the J-2 engine failure and the launch vehicle longitudinal
vibration problems," said Gen. Phillips. "Analysis and ground testing will
continue to achieve an even more complete understanding of all aspects
of Saturn V performance and operation."527
527. Saturn V Weekly Report No. 17, May 2, 1968.
||410. Mission profile for
On April 29 NASA awarded a $25.8 million, one-year, cost-plus-fee
contract to Bendix Field Engineering Corporation for continued maintenance
and operation of the major portion of NASA's Manned Space Flight Network,
including 11 facilities of the 14-station unified 8-band network for Apollo.
The contract extended the original two-year agreement.528
528. NASA Release No. 68-82.