DESTINATION MOON: A History of the Lunar Orbiter Program
OSSA and OMSF Planning Activities
[177] While Langley and Boeing accelerated the construction and testing phase of the program, the work of designing the Orbiter missions brought the Office of Space Science and Applications and the Office of Manned Space Flight to a long series of plenary meetings and task group assignments. This work greatly assisted Langley in its own mission planning activities.
The Lunar Orbiter Program was well into its third quarter of operations when Dr. George E. Mueller, Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight, sent a memorandum to Bellcomm, a contractor to his office, requesting answers to two items fundamental to Apollo site selection: 1) Who held the responsibility for lunar site selection and analysis? 2) Who, where, and how were the films and other data generated by the Lunar Orbiter and the Surveyor Program going to be stored?1
Mueller's November 3, 1964, memorandum, brought a quick response from Bellcomm. It reviewed the status of work related to lunar site analysis and selection. This became [178] the basis for the organization of the Surveyor/Orbiter Utilization Committee. On December 23 Bellcomm. reported to Mueller's office that Apollo landing site selection was a function of OMSF. It had the responsibility of defining strategies, goals, schedules, and trajectories with OSSA. The report suggested that OMSF form a working group charged with:
a. Examining the problem of lunar site analysis and selection.
b. Recommending the initiation of any work necessary.
c. Making recommendations on any new facilities needed for the adequate analysis and storage of the data.
d. Examining the necessary funding and identifying the responsible organizations.
e. Identifying the manner, in which landing site selection should be accomplished.2
The proposed working group would consist of a chairman reporting either to the Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight or to the Apollo Program Director, Maj. Gen. Samuel C. Phillips. The Office of Space Science and Applications would assign representatives from the Surveyor and the Lunar Orbiter Programs. The Manned Space Flight Center would assign representatives from the Apollo Spacecraft Project Office, the Flight Operations Division, and the Flight Crew Operations Division. Manned Space Flight Operations and Manned [179] Systems Engineering in the Office of Manned Space Flight, with the Bellcomm Site Survey Group, would also appoint representatives. Lastly, the Bellcomm memorandum to Mueller recommended that Myron W. Krueger, the OMSF man responsible for lunar photographic data, be assigned.3 This would form the nucleus of the more formal Surveyor/Orbiter Utilization Committee which came into being at a later date.
As of December 23, 1964 the Office of Manned Space Flight had no organization to accept and store Surveyor or Lunar Orbiter data. No organized group existed to perform lunar site analysis and selection. The Apollo Project Development Plan stated the need for a working group to make recommendations to the appropriate groups within OMSF on the optimum utilization of data, but no such group had been set up. On the other hand the Lunar Orbiter Project Office had already set up a working group to make recommendations on the form of data and its storage and retrieval. And Bellcomm's Site Survey Group monitored site survey programs for Lunar Orbiter and Surveyor and developed strategies for the use of systems in these programs.4 The time had come for the Office of Manned Space Flight and the Office of Space Science and Applications to form firmer working relations.
[180] On September 22, 1964, Oran W. Nicks had informed the Apollo Program Director, General Phillips., about the mission planning effort that the Lunar Orbiter Program was undertaking at Langley. This effort could possibly influence Apollo hardware design. Nicks suggested that OMSF make a study of specific Lunar Orbiter missions in support of Apollo. The recommendations of the study would aid the Lunar Orbiter Program Office in developing guidelines for actual mission planning activities at the Langley Research Center and at Boeing. Nicks pointed out that Bellcomm had very qualified men to make such a study for OMSF.5
Nicks's memorandum resulted in a Bellcomm study for OMSF during the remainder of 1964. On February 18, 1965, Phillips sent Nicks the report of the study, "Lunar Orbiter Mission Planning," by Douglas D. Lloyd and Robert F. Fudali of Bellcomm. Phillips expressed a willingness to have further joint study done if Nicks agreed that it was necessary.6
The Lloyd-Fudali report explained that Lunar Orbiter could take nearly identical photographs in different ways. [181] Two simulated missions were described in the report, one in a posigrade orbit, the other in a retrograde orbit. Further, the study had reached the following conclusions:
1. The strategy of contiguous high-resolution photography of multiple targets should be used. This would permit successful site survey with only a single Lunar Orbiter.
2. To allow the above, the camera sequencer control should be changed to include a quantity control for providing eight consecutive photographs.
3. The quantity of gas made available for the attitude control system should be sufficient for a minimum of sixteen separate photographic maneuvers.
4. To achieve at least 1-meter optical pair resolution, photographs should be taken from a nominal height of 46 km or less.
5. To avoid the possible problem of orbital instability for the above low-altitude orbit. because of the uncertainties in knowledge of the moon's spherical harmonic terms, the orbit should be inclined no more than 7° to the lunar equator.7
Further Bellcomm research during March 1965 produced a paper entitled "Apollo Lunar Site Analysis and Selection," which was transmitted to General Phillips. Pointing out that Lunar Orbiter and Surveyor were the two prime data-gathering systems for Apollo, it recommended that OMSF and OSSA set up a joint Site Survey Steering Committee. Its major task [182] would be the definition of the objectives and use of Lunar Orbiter and Surveyor for the Apollo Program's needs. The committee would have the responsibility for target selection, launch schedules, choice of measurements, measurement priority and instrument complement, control of data handling, and recommendations on data analysis for each Lunar Orbiter and Surveyor mission.8
On May 10 Brian T. Howard of Bellcomm reported to General Phillips that in addition to earlier recommendations for Lunar Orbiter and Surveyor tasks in Apollo site selection, Bellcomm had considered two more proposals related to the organization of cooperative OMSF-OSSA activities in site analysis and selection. First, it seemed highly desirable to set up a joint OMSF-OSSA Lunar Surface Working Group. It would report to the Apollo Program Office and to the Lunar and Planetary Programs Office. It would coordinate mutual planning activities concerning site survey requirements and the ways in which they could be satisfied. Second, Bellcomm recommended that the Manned Space Flight Center's Data Analysis Division subcontract with JPL for the prime responsibility of gathering, analyzing, and evaluating data.9