|astronautix.com||Chronology - 1961 - Quarter 2|
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Decree 'On approval for launch of Vostok' was issued. References: 474 .
Development of the RT-2 ICBM was authorised by a decree of 4 April 1961 in parallel with the RT-1.
Three astronauts selected for Mercury-Redstone flight (MR-3) were ordered to take refresher course in Navy centrifuge at Johnsville, Pa. References: 18 .
The Marshall Space Flight Center announced that 1.640 million pounds of thrust was achieved in a static- firing of the F-1 engine thrust chamber at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. This was a record thrust for a single chamber. References: 16 .
KH-5; film capsule boosted into higher orbit, decayed 5/23/62. Mission failed. Loss of satellite control gas caused unstable condition. No recovery. Officially: Spacecraft Engaged in investigation of spaceflight techniques and technology (US Cat A). References: 1 , 2 , 5 , 6 .
President John F. Kennedy, in his regular press conference, stated that "no one is more tired than I am" of seeing the United States second to Russia in space. "They secured large boosters which have led to their being first in Sputnik, and led to their first putting their man in space. We are, I hope, going to be able to carry out our efforts, with due regard to the problem of the life of the men involved, this year. But we are behind . . . the news will be worse before it is better, and it will be some time before we catch up. . . ." References: 16 .
Suborbital. References: 5 .
First manned spaceflight, one orbit of the earth. 11 April 1961 was a 'reserve' day in the launch plan, but it was not needed. All the Chief Designers and Military Space chiefs were at the cosmodrome. Gagarin spent that day in meetings with the prominent personalities.
Three press releases were prepared, one for success, two for failures. It was only known ten minutes after burnout, 25 minutes after launch, if a stable orbit had been achieved.
The payload included life-support equipment and radio and television to relay information on the condition of the pilot. The flight was automated; Gagarin's controls were locked to prevent him from taking control of the ship. A key was available in a sealed envelope in case it became necessary to take control in an emergency. After retrofire, the service module remained attached to the Sharik reentry sphere by a wire bundle. The joined craft went through wild gyrations at the beginning of reentry, before the wires burned through. The Sharik, as it was designed to do, then naturally reached aerodynamic equilibrium with the reentry shield positioned correctly.
Gagarin ejected after reentry and descended under his own parachute, as was planned. However for many years the Soviet Union denied this, because the flight would not have been recognized for various FAI world records unless the pilot had accompanied his craft to a landing. Recovered April 12, 1961 8:05 GMT. Landed Southwest of Engels Smelovka, Saratov. References: 1 , 2 , 5 , 6 , 32 , 33 , 60 , 175 , 445 .
In response to questioning by the House Science and Astronautics Committee, Associate NASA Administrator Seamans repeated the general estimate of $20 to $40 billion as the cost for the total effort required to achieve a lunar landing, that an all-out program might cost more, and that 1967 could be considered only as a possible planning date at this stage of such a complex task. References: 18 , 27 .
McDonnell formed a small project group for the study, which immediately began looking to Mercury spacecraft component improvement, with accessibility as the guideline. Mercury had been a first step, almost an experiment, while the improved Mercury was to be an operational vehicle. One result of this line of thought was a basic change in equipment location, from inside the pressure vessel (where it had been in Mercury) to the outside. The contractor was authorized to acquire several long-lead-time procurement items under an amendment to the basic Mercury contract, but Space Task Group limited company expenditures to $2.5 million. The McDonnell project team initially included 30 to 40 engineers.
Cuba invaded at Bay of Pigs by an estimated 1,200 anti-Castro exiles aided by U.S.; invasion crushed
A conference was held at NASA Headquarters on the relationship between the Prospector and Apollo programs. Representatives of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and STG discussed the possible redirection of Prospector planning to support more directly the manned space program. The Prospector spacecraft was intended to soft-land about 2,500 pounds on the lunar surface with an accuracy of +/-1 kilometer anywhere on the visible side of the moon. An essential feature of Prospector was the development of an automatic roving vehicle weighing about 1500 pounds which would permit detailed reconnaissance of the lunar surface over a wide area. Additional Details: Prospector vs Apollo program. References: 16 .
NASA fired first seven-stage Trailblazer rocket from Wallops Station, first three stages firing meteorite to 175-mile altitude and next four stages back through the atmosphere in a high-speed reentry experiment. References: 18 .
Jupiter Missile Combat Training Launch 209, the first in a series of 12 CTL firings, was launched from AMR to a prescribed range of 1514 nm. The nose cone impacted .79 nm over and 2.19 nm right of the intended target. All missions were accomplished. The missile followed the intended flight path and performed within the accuracy requirements of the Jupiter system. IAF troops conducted the firing after LOD of MFSC completed the preliminary checkout. The primary mission of the test woe to evaluate the capabilities of launch crews under operational alert conditions. References: 439 .
Central Committee of the Communist Party and Council of Soviet Ministers Decree 'On adoption of the R-14 missile into armaments' was issued. References: 474 .
Mercury-Atlas 3 (MA-3) was launched from Cape Canaveral in an attempt to orbit the spacecraft with a 'mechanical astronaut' aboard. After lift-off, the launch vehicle failed to roll to a 70 degree heading and to pitch over into the proper trajectory. The abort-sensing system activated the escape rockets prior to the launch vehicle's destruction by the range safety officer after approximately 40 seconds of flight that had attained an altitude of 16,400 feet. The spacecraft then coasted up to 24,000 feet, deployed its parachutes, and landed in the Atlantic Ocean 2,000 yards north of the launch pad. The spacecraft was recovered and was found to have incurred only superficial damage; it was then shipped to McDonnell for refitting. References: 5 , 126 , 26 , 5 , 1269 , 278 .
President Kennedy signed legislation making the Vice President of the United States the presiding officer of the National Aeronautics and Space Council. References: 483 .
State Committee for Defence Technology (GKOT) Decree 'On the Organisation of Military Duty of the R-16U (Unified Variant)--putting the R-16U missile into operation' was issued. References: 474 .
Final NASA report on the study proposed for Saturn for use as Dyna-Soar booster was presented to the Air Force. References: 18 .
Little Joe 5B (LJ-5B) was launched from Wallops Island to test the Mercury escape system under maximum dynamic pressure conditions. At the time of lift-off, one of the launch vehicle rocket motors did not ignite until after 4 seconds had elapsed. This delay caused the launch vehicle to pitch into a lower trajectory than had been planned, with a result that the abort maneuver experienced greater dynamic pressures than had been specified in the flight test plan. Other than this, all other sequential systems operated according to plan, and after landing, a normal helicopter recovery was accomplished. Thus, all test objectives were met and were actually exceeded because the spacecraft withstood the higher dynamic pressures. References: 16 , 18 .
The Douglas Aircraft Company reported that air transport of the Saturn C-1 second stage (S-IV) was feasible. References: 16 .
NASA Administrator Webb issued a statement concerning the 2-year Mercury manned space flight program, which said, in part: "NASA has not attempted to encourage press coverage of the first Mercury-Redstone manned flight. It has responded to press and television requests, with the result that over 100 representatives of the press, radio, and TV are now at Cape Canaveral. . . . We must keep the perspective that each flight is but one of the many milestones we must pass. Some will completely succeed in every respect, some partially, and some will fail. From all of them will come mastery of the vast new space environment on which so much of our future depends." References: 18 .
Manned Mercury-Redstone (MR-3) launch postponed because of rain squalls in the recovery area. References: 18 .
The nation's first silo launch of a Titan I at Vandenberg AFB. References: 88 .
Also known as TOSZ - Heavy Orbital Station of the Earth, this was Korolevís first 1961 project for a large N1-launched military space station.
STG completed the first draft of "Project Apollo, Phase A, General Requirements for a Proposal for a Manned Space Vehicle and System" (Statement of Work), an early step toward the spacecraft specification. A circumlunar mission was the basis for planning. References: 16 .
A NASA Headquarters working group, headed by Bernard Maggin, completed a staff paper presenting arguments for establishing an integrated research, development, and applied orbital operations program at an approximate cost of $1 billion through 1970. The group identified three broad categories of orbital operations: inspection, ferry, and orbital launch. It concluded that future space programs would require an orbital operations capability and that the development of an integrated program, coordinated with Department of Defense, should begin immediately. The group recommended that such a program, because of its scope and cost, be independent of other space programs and that a project office be established to initiate and implement the program.
Alan Shepard first American in space, less than a month after Gagarin and only on a 15 minute suborbital flight. Only manned flight with original capsule (tiny round porthole and periscope a la Vostok). If NASA had not listened to Von Braun, Shepard would have flown on the MR-BD flight of 24 March, beating Gagarin by three weeks and becoming the first man in space (though not in orbit). Shepard's capsule reached an altitude of 115.696 miles, range of 302 miles,and speed of 5,100 miles per hour. He demonstrated control of a vehicle during weightlessness and high G stresses. Recovery operations were perfect; there was no damage to the spacecraft; and Astronaut Shepard was in excellent condition. Additional Details: Mercury MR-3. References: 5 , 16 , 26 , 33 , 59 , 60 .
In initial study contracts, Martin proposed vehicle similar to the Apollo configuration that would eventually fly and closest to STG concepts. GE proposed design that would lead directly to Soyuz. Convair proposed a lifting body concept. All bidders were influenced by STG mid-term review that complained that they were not paying enough attention to conical blunt-body CM as envisioned by STG. References: 26 , 27 .
Albert C. Hall of The Martin Company proposed to Robert C. Seamans, Jr., NASA's Associate Administrator, that the Titan II be considered as a launch vehicle in the lunar landing program. Although skeptical, Seamans arranged for a more formal presentation the next day. Abe Silverstein, NASA's Director of Space Flight Programs, was sufficiently impressed to ask Director Robert R. Gilruth and STG to study the possible uses of Titan II. Silverstein shortly informed Seamans of the possibility of using the Titan II to launch a scaled-up Mercury spacecraft. References: 16 .
Martin Company personnel briefed NASA officials in Washington, D.C., on the Titan II weapon system. Albert C. Hall of Martin had contacted NASA's Associate Administrator, Robert C. Seamans, Jr., on April 7 to propose the Titan II as a launch vehicle for a lunar landing program. Although skeptical, Seamans nevertheless arranged for a more formal presentation. Abe Silverstein, NASA Director, Office of Space Flight Programs, was sufficiently impressed by the Martin briefing to ask Director Robert R. Gilruth and Space Task Group to study possible Titan II uses. Silverstein shortly informed Seamans of the possibility of using the Titan II to launch a scaled-up Mercury spacecraft.
After study and discussion by STG and Marshal! Space Flight Center officials, STG concluded that the current 154-inch diameter of the second stage (S-IV) adapter for the Apollo spacecraft would be satisfactory for the Apollo missions on Saturn flights SA-7, SA-8, SA-9, and SA-10. References: 16 .
Alan B. Shepard, Jr., Mercury astronaut, was awarded NASA's Distinguished Service Medal by President Kennedy in a special White House ceremony. It was followed by an informal parade to the Capitol by the seven astronauts for lunch, and a press conference at the State Department auditorium. References: 18 .
Twenty-four Arcas-Robin weather sounding rockets fired within 24 hours by AFPGC at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. References: 18 .
Senator Robert S. Kerr, chairman of the Senate Aeronautical and Space Sciences Committee, told a group at the National Radio and Television Convention that President Kennedy accepted the views of NASA and congressional leaders in approving the manned Mercury-Redstone flight of May 5. References: 18 .
Suborbital. References: 5 .
Soviet Decree 'On the Revision of Plans for Space Objects for Accomplishing Goals of Defence Designations--heavy boosters, course of work on Elektron, and suspension of work of work on the Kosmoplan and Raketoplan with continuation of new Raketoplan work' was issued. The decree set the end of 1965 as the date for the first launch of the N1. It also authorised Chelomei to stop work on Kosmoplan interplanetary probes and instead concentrate on a specific Raketoplan design - the LK-1 manned lunar flyby spacecraft. References: 474 .
The final reports on the feasibility study contracts for the advanced manned spacecraft were submitted to STG at Langley Field, Va., by the General Electric Company, Convair Astronautics Division of General Dynamics Corporation, and The Martin Company. These studies had begun in November 1960. References: 18 , 27 .
Successful missile test. Missed aimpoint by 304 m. References: 439 .
Space Task Group Director Robert R. Gilruth informed Ames Research Center that current planning for Apollo 'A' called for an adapter between the Saturn second stage and the Apollo spacecraft to include, as an integral part, a section to be used as an orbiting laboratory. Preliminary in-house configuration designs indicated this laboratory would be a cylindrical section about 3.9 m in diameter and 2.4 m in height. Additional Details: Apollo A.
Cape Canaveral opened to the general public for the first time in its history. References: 18 .
The second draft of a Statement of Work for the development of an advanced manned spacecraft was completed, incorporating results from NASA in-house and contractor feasibility studies. References: 16 .
President Kennedy, in a major message to Congress, called for a vastly accelerated space program based on a long-range national goal of landing a man on the moon and bringing him safely back to Earth. For this and associated projects in space technology, the President requested additional appropriations totaling $611 million for NASA and the Department of Defense. References: 483 .
Following Gagarin's flight and Bay of Pigs failure, Kennedy announces the objective of landing an American on the moon by end of the decade. In his second State of the Union Message President Kennedy said: "With the advice of the Vice President, who is Chairman of the National Space Council, we have examined where we (United States) are strong and where we are not, where we may succeed and where we may not. . . . Now is the 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." President Kennedy set forth an accelerated space program based upon the long-range national goals of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to Earth; early development of the Rover nuclear rocket; speed up the use of Earth satellites for worldwide communications; and provide "at the earliest possible time a satellite system for worldwide weather observation." An additional $549 million was requested for NASA over the new administration March budget requests; $62 million was requested for DOD for starting development of a solid-propellant booster of the Nova class. References: 18 .
Robert C. Seamans, Jr., NASA's Associate Administrator, requested the Directors of the Office of Launch Vehicle Programs and the Office of Advanced Research Programs to bring together members of their staffs with other persons from NASA Headquarters to assess a wide variety of possible ways of accomplishing the lunar landing mission. This study was to supplement the one being done by the Ad Hoc Task Group for Manned Lunar Landing Study (Fleming Committee) but was to be separate from it. Additional Details: Lundin Committee to assess Lunar landing mission. References: 16 .
The first conference on the 'Peaceful Uses of Space' was held at Tulsa, Oklahoma. A second conference on this subject was held at Seattle, Washington, on May 8-10, 1962. In both instances, Robert R. Gilruth reported on the manned space flight aspect. References: 483 .
Freedom 7, Mercury spacecraft in which Alan B. Shepard, Jr., made his space flight on May 5, was a major drawing card at the Paris International Air Show. Details of the spacecraft and of Shepard's flight were related to about 650,000 visitors. References: 18 .
Until June 4, 1961, the Mercury spacecraft Freedom 7 (MR-3) was displayed at the Paris International Air Show. Some 650,000 visitors received the details on the spacecraft and on Shepard's suborbital flight. References: 483 .
Basic concepts of the lunar orbit rendezvous plan were presented to the Lundin Committee by John C. Houbolt of Langley Research Center. References: 16 .
The Marshall Space Flight Center began reevaluation of the Saturn C-2 configuration capability to support circumlunar missions. Results showed that a Saturn vehicle of even greater performance would be desirable. References: 16 .
NASA announced a change in the Saturn C-1 vehicle configuration. The first ten research and development flights would have two stages, instead of three, because of the changed second stage (S-IV) and, starting with the seventh flight vehicle, increased propellant capacity in the first stage (S-1) booster. References: 16 .
Chelomei heads circumlunar project. Chelomei asked by Khruschev to begin design for booster and spacecraft for circumlunar mission (UR-500 Proton and LK-1). No authorization for lunar landing program, although Korolev, Yangel, and Chelomei all begin booster designs. References: 72 .
Collapse of a lock in the Wheeler Dam below Huntsville on the Tennessee River interdicted the planned water route of the first Saturn space booster from Marshall Space Flight Center to Cape Canaveral on the barge Palaemon. References: 18 , 27 .
Huge Saturn launch complex at Cape Canaveral dedicated in brief ceremony by NASA, construction of which was supervised by the Army Corps of Engineers. Giant gantry, weighing 2,800 tons and being 310 feet high, is largest movable land structure in North America. References: 18 , 27 .
A preliminary study of a fin-stabilized solid-fuel rocket booster, the Little Joe Senior, was completed by members of STG. The booster would be capable of propelling a full-size Apollo reentry spacecraft to velocities sufficient to match critical portions of the Saturn trajectory. Additional Details: Preliminary study of Little Joe Senior. References: 16 .
Small rocket lift device demonstrated publicly for the first time at Fort Eustis, Va., a rocket belt developed by Bell Aerosystems, which lifted Harold M. Graham in a controlled free flight to an altitude of 15 feet and a standup landing 150 feet from his starting point. References: 18 .
'The Lundin Committee completed its study of various vehicle systems for the manned lunar landing mission, as requested on May 25 by NASA associate Administrator Robert C. Seamans, Jr. The Committee had considered alternative methods of rendezvous: earth orbit, lunar orbit, a combination of earth and lunar orbit, and lunar surface. Launch vehicles studied were the Saturn C-2 and C-3. Conclusion was that 43,000 kg stage (85% fuel) was needed for a lunar landing mission. The concept of a low- altitude earth orbit rendezvous using two or three C-3's was clearly preferred by the Committee. Reasons for this preference were the small number of launches and orbital operations required and the fact that the Saturn C- 3 was considered to be an efficient launch vehicle of great utility and future growth. References: 16 .
National Bureau of Standards broke ground for new research facility at Gaithersburg, Md., which will include a mega-pound deadweight testing machine to provide measurement standards for multimillion rocket thrust requirements. References: 18 .
Freedom 7 Mercury capsule displayed to approximately 750,000 visitors at the Rassegna International Electronic and Nuclear Fair at Rome, Italy. References: 18 .
The Freedom 7 (MR-3) spacecraft was viewed by approximately 750,000 visitors at the Rassegna International Electronic and Nuclear Fair at Rome, Italy. References: 483 .
The Fleming Committee, which had been appointed on May 2, submitted its report to NASA associate Administrator Robert C. Seamans, Jr., on the feasibility of a manned lunar landing program. The Committee concluded that the lunar mission could be accomplished within the decade. Chief pacing items were the first stage of the launch vehicle and the facilities for testing and launching the booster. It also concluded that information on solar flare radiation and lunar surface characteristics should be obtained as soon as possible, since these factors would influence spacecraft design. Special mention was made of the need for a strong management organization. References: 16 .
Harmon International Aviator's Trophy for 1961 announced as going to three winners for the first time-X-15 rocket research airplane pilots: A. Scott Crossfield, of North American; Joseph A. Walker, of NASA, and Maj. Robert A. White, U.S. Air Force. References: 38 , 18 .
Meeting with Webb/Dryden, work on Saturn C-2 stopped; preliminary design of C-3 and continuing studies of larger vehicles for landing missions requested. STG push for 4 x 6.6 m diameter solid cluster first stage rejected for safety and ground handling reasons. References: 26 , 27 .
NASA-DOD Executive Committee for Joint Lunar Study and a Joint Lunar Study Program Office established by letter directive to work out and define support requirements for the U.S. manned lunar landing program. References: 18 , 27 .
NASA announced that the Saturn C-1 launch vehicle, which could place ten-ton payloads in earth orbit, would be operational in 1964. References: 16 .
NASA announced that further engineering design work on the Saturn C-2 configuration would be discontinued and that effort instead would be redirected toward clarification of the Saturn C-3 and Nova concepts. Investigations were specifically directed toward determining capabilities of the proposed C-3 configuration in supporting the Apollo mission. References: 16 .
Missile test failure. Missed aimpoint by 1,044 m. References: 439 .
Construction began at Langley Research Center of facilities specifically oriented toward the Apollo program, including a lunar landing simulator. References: 16 .
STG completed a detailed assessment of the results of the Project Apollo feasibility studies submitted by the three study contractors: the General Electric Company, Convair/Astronautics Division of the General Dynamics Corporation, and The Martin Company. (Their findings were reflected in the Statement of Work sent to prospective bidders on the spacecraft contract on July 28.) References: 16 .
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