|astronautix.com||Chronology - 1961 - Quarter 4|
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Emanuel Schnitzer of LaRC suggested a possible adaptation for existing Apollo hardware to create a space laboratory, which he termed an 'Apollo X' vehicle. Schnitzer's concept involved using a standard Apollo command and service module in conjunction with an inflatable spheroid structure and transfer tunnel to create a space laboratory with artificial gravity potential. Additional Details: Apollo X.
Bland demonstrated capability of a destroyer to recover MR-2 Mercury capsule, with Virgil Grissom aboard, from water in series of pickups in lower Chesapeake Bay. References: 18 .
Successful missile test. Missed aimpoint by 197 m. References: 439 .
The MSFC-STG Space Vehicle Board at NASA Headquarters discussed the S- IVB stage, which would be modified by the Douglas Aircraft Company to replace the six LR-115 engines with a single J-2 engine. Funds of $500,000 were allocated for this study to be completed in March 1962. Additional Details: S- IVB stage to have a single J-2 engine. References: 16 .
USAF Titan I launched from Cape Canaveral carrying Titan II guidance system. References: 18 .
NASA Argo D-4 rocket was launched from Wallops, reaching an altitude of 585 miles and landing 817 miles out in the Atlantic, to gather data on the density of electrically charged helium atoms in the upper atmosphere. References: 18 .
Officials of STG heard oral reports from representatives of five industrial teams bidding on the contract for the Apollo spacecraft: General Dynamics/Astronautics in conjunction with the Avco Corporation; General Electric Company, Missile and Space Vehicle Department, in conjunction with Douglas Aircraft Company, Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation, and Space Technology Laboratories, Inc.; McDonnell Aircraft Corporation in conjunction with Lockheed Aircraft Corporation, Hughes Aircraft Company, and Chance Vought Corporation of Ling-Temco-Vought, Inc.; The Martin Company; and North American Aviation, Inc. Additional Details: Presentations by industrial teams on the Apollo spacecraft. References: 16 .
Design of the manned Mars flyby spacecraft had involved nearly all sections of Korolev's OKB-1. Those who worked on the TMK included A I Dylnev, A K Algypov, A A Kochkin, A A Dashkov, V N Kubasov, V E Bugrov, and N N Protacov. Kubasov would be selected as a cosmonaut in 1966.
Discoverer XXXII was placed into polar orbit; its capsule contained components of USAF satellite systems. This marked the 100th successful firing of the Thor booster rocket. References: 18 .
Suborbital. References: 5 .
Decree 'On adoption of the R-16 into armaments' was issued. References: 474 .
The Freedom 7 Mercury capsule in which Alan B. Shepard, Jr., made the first suborbital space flight, was presented to the National Air Museum of the Smithsonian Institution. In his presentation, NASA Administrator Webb said: "To Americans seeking answers, proof that man can survive in the hostile realm of space is not enough. A solid and meaningful foundation for public support and the basis for our Apollo man-in-space effort is that U.S. astronauts are going into space to do useful work in the cause of all their fellow men." References: 18 .
Freedom 7, the Mercury-Redstone 3 (MR-3) spacecraft, was presented by NASA to the National Air Museum of the Smithsonian Institution. References: 483 .
First underwater launching of Navy Polaris A-2, and first firing from submarine, U.S.S. Ethan Allen. References: 18 .
Studies of "unconventional" rockets using liquid fuels in the thrust range from 2 to 24 million pounds announced by NASA; 2 contracts being carried out by Aerojet-General and Rocketdyne Division of North American Aviation. References: 18 , 27 .
NASA selected Pearl River site in southwestern Mississippi, 35 miles from Michoud plant in New Orleans, for static test facility for Saturn and Nova-class vehicles, completed facility to operate under direction of Marshall Space Flight Center. References: 18 , 27 .
First attempted launch of Cosmos 63S1 small launch vehicle.
Secretary of Defense McNamara announced that progress of the Administration's accelerated defense buildup made unnecessary the use of additional defense funds appropriate by the Congress above the amount requested by the administration. The Congress had voted $514.5 million for additional long-range bombers; $180 million additional for the B-70; and $85.8 million additional for Dyna-Soar. References: 18 .
Space Task Group (STG), assisted by George M. Low, NASA Assistant Director for Space Flight Operations, and Warren J. North of Low's office, prepared a project summary presenting a program of manned spaceflight for 1963-1965. This was the final version of the Project Development Plan, work on which had been initiated August 14. Additional Details: Program of manned spaceflight for 1963-1965..
Largest known rocket launch to date, the Saturn I 1st stage booster, successful on first test flight from Atlantic Missile Range. With its eight clustered engines developing almost 1.3 million pounds of thrust at launch, the Saturn (SA-1) hurled waterfilled dummy upper stages to an altitude of 84.8 miles and 214.7 miles down range. In a postlaunch statement, Administrator Webb said: "The flight today was a splendid demonstration of the strength of our national space program and an important milestone in the buildup of our national capacity to launch heavy payloads necessary to carry out the program projected by President Kennedy on May 25.". References: 5 , 26 , 27 .
NASA announced that first Mercury-Scout launch to verify the readiness of the worldwide Mercury tracking network would take place at Atlantic Missile Range. References: 18 .
Central Committee of the Communist Party and Council of Soviet Ministers Decree 'On approval of work on the Molniya-1 communications satellite and Meteor-1 weather satellite' was issued. Thedecree authorised work on the Molniya-1M production model, providing international communications on the centimetre band. But the protoype Molniya-1 worked so well that it was taken directly into service, and the -1M was skipped. References: 474 .
Central Committee of the Communist Party and Council of Soviet Ministers Decree 'On plans for the military use of space during the period 1961-65' was issued. This formalised the first true military space plans - prior to that date only the Zenit-2 and Zenit-4 reconnaissance satellites had been authorised. The following missions were identified:
Central Committee of the Communist Party and Council of Soviet Ministers Decree 'On the Creation of the Space Carrier 65S3--start of work on a launch vehicle based on the R-14 for launch of the Meteor, Strela, and Pchela satellites.' was issued. References: 474 .
Slayton would probably have flown the fourth manned suborbital Mercury. But after the Russians began orbiting cosmonauts, NASA cancelled further suborbital flights. The MR-6 mission was cancelled by NASA administrator James Webb at the beginning of July, 1961. References: 366 .
An attempt was made to launch Mercury-Scout 1 (MS-1) into orbit with a communications package further to qualify the radar tracking of the Mercury global network prior to manned orbital flight. Shortly after lift-off, the launch vehicle developed erratic motions and attending high aerodynamic loads, and was destroyed by the Range Safety Officer after 43 seconds of flight. No further attempts were planned. The Mercury-Atlas 4 (MA-4) mission and the successful Mercury-Atlas 5 (MA-5), flown on November 29, 1961, disclosed that the network met all requirements. References: 483 .
OKB-52 began to collaborate with V P Glushko’s OKB-456 in developing an appropriate engine. Glushko had completed a storable liquid engine design of 150 tonnes for use in Korolev’s N1. However Korolev refused to accept this design, due to his refusal to use toxic propellants in his rockets and his belief that such propellants could never deliver the required specific impulse.
The Space Task Group was formally redesignated the Manned Spacecraft Center, Robert R. Gilruth, Director. References: 16 .
Three Polaris A-2 missiles successfully fired within 3-hour period from submarine period from submarine Ethan Allen. References: 18 .
Nine-nation Western European Conference in London announced decision to launch a satellite in mid-1965, using a British Blue Streak first stage, a French Veronique second stage, and a West German third stage, from the Woomera range in Australia. References: 18 .
Marshall Space Flight Center directed NAA to redesign the advanced Saturn second stage (S-II) to incorporate five rather than four J-2 engines, to provide a million pounds of thrust. References: 16 .
United Arab Republic neither confirmed nor denied reports of November 8 that it had successfully launched its first rocket. Dr. Eugen Saenger of the Stuttgart Jet Propulsion Institute in Germany denied any connection with the United Arab Republic program as charged by Israel. References: 18 .
OKB-52 began to collaborate with V P Glushko’s OKB-456 in developing a high thrust storable propellant engine for the UR-500 Proton launch vehicle. Glushko had completed a storable liquid engine design of 150 tonnes for use in Korolev’s N1. However Korolev refused to accept this design, due to his categorical refusal to use toxic propellants in his rockets and his belief that such propellants could never deliver the required specific impulse. Korolev insisted on development of an oxygen-kerosene engine; Glushko categorically refused to do so. As a result, the two leading Soviet rocket designers irrevocably split. Korolev had to turn for development of his N1 engines to the aviation engine design OKB of N D Kuznetsov. References: 273 .
In a letter to NASA Associate Administrator Robert C. Seamans, Jr., John C. Houbolt of Langley Research Center presented the lunar orbit rendezvous (LOR) plan and outlined certain deficiencies in the national booster and manned rendezvous programs. This letter protested exclusion of the LOR plan from serious consideration by committees responsible for the definition of the national program for lunar exploration. References: 16 .
NASA Bios (biological investigation of space) payload launched by Argo D-8 booster rocket from Pacific Missile Range, but veered sharply off course 57 seconds after launch. References: 18 .
Golovin Committe studies launch vehicles through summer, but found the issue to be completely entertwined with mode (earth-orbit, lunar-orbit, lunar-surface rendezvous or direct flight. Two factions: large solids for direct flight; all-chemical with 4 or 5 F-1's in first stage for rendezvous options. In the end Webb and McNamara ordered development of C-4 and as a backup, in case of failure of F-1 in development, build of 6.1 m+ solid rocket motors by USAF. References: 26 , 27 .
NASA announced that the Chrysler Corporation had been chosen to build 20 Saturn first-stage (S-1) boosters similar to the one tested successfully on October 27 . They would be constructed at the Michoud facility near New Orleans, La. The contract, worth about $200 million, would run through 1966, with delivery of the first booster scheduled for early 1964. References: 18 , 27 .
This was a flight test of the Ranger spacecraft system designed for future lunar and interplanetary missions. The spacecraft was launched into a low earth parking orbit, but an inoperative roll gyro prevented Agena restart resulting in Ranger 2 being stranded in low earth orbit. The orbit decayed and the spacecraft reentered Earth's atmosphere on 20 November 1961. References: 1 , 2 , 5 , 6 , 16 , 278 , 296 .
NASA announced the completion of the preliminary flight rating test of the Nation's first liquid-hydrogen rocket engine. The engine, the RL-10, was designed and developed by Pratt and Whitney, of United Aircraft, for the Marshall Space Flight Center, and 20 captive firings were competed within 5 days under simulated space conditions, consistently producing 15,000 pounds of thrust. RL-10, previously known as XLR-115, was initiated in October 1958 and over 700 firings were conducted in its development. References: 18 , 278 .
Manned Spacecraft Center notified North American to proceed with Phase II-A of the Paraglider Development Program. A letter contract, NAS 9-167, followed on November 21; contract negotiations were completed February 9, 1962; and the final contract was awarded on April 16, 1962. Phase I, the design studies that ran from the beginning of June to mid-August 1961, had already demonstrated the feasibility of the paraglider concept. Phase II-A, System Research and Development, called for an eight-month effort to develop the design concept of a paraglider landing system and to determine its optimal performance configuration. This development would lay the groundwork for Phase II, Part B, comprising prototype fabrication, unmanned and manned flight testing, and the completion of the final system design. Ultimately Phase III-Implementation-would see the paraglider being manufactured and pilots trained to fly it.
Milton W. Rosen, Director of Launch Vehicles and Propulsion, NASA Office of Manned Space Flight (OMSF), submitted to D. Brainerd Holmes, Director, OMSF, the report of the working group which had been set up on November 6. Additional Details: Rosen Group recommends direct ascent for the lunar landing mission mode. References: 16 .
First four U.S. Nike-Cajun rockets arrived in Norway for use in research program off Andoeya Island early next year. References: 18 .
The original Apollo spacecraft Statement of Work of July 28 had been substantially expanded, including a single-engine service module propulsion system using Earth-storable, hypergolic propellants. Additional Details: Apollo spacecraft Statement of Work expanded. References: 16 .
Despite an announcement at Martin on 27 November that they had won the Apollo program, the decision was reversed at the highest levels of the US government. NASA announced instead that the Space and Information Systems Division of North American Aviation, Inc., had been selected to design and build the Apollo spacecraft. The official line: 'the decision by NASA Administrator James E. Webb followed a comprehensive evaluation of five industry proposals by nearly 200 scientists and engineers representing both NASA and DOD. Webb had received the Source Evaluation Board findings on November 24. Although technical evaluations were very close, NAA had been selected on the basis of experience, technical competence, and cost'. NAA would be responsible for the design and development of the command module and service module. NASA expected that a separate contract for the lunar landing system would be awarded within the next six months. The MIT Instrumentation Laboratory had previously been assigned the development of the Apollo spacecraft guidance and navigation system. Both the NAA and MIT contracts would be under the direction of MSC. References: 26 , 27 .
Astronaut John Glenn was selected as the pilot for the first Mercury manned orbital flight, with Scott Carpenter as backup pilot. Immediately, training was started to ready these two astronauts for the mission. The five remaining astronauts concentrated their efforts on various engineering and operational groups of the Manned Spacecraft Center in preparation for the mission. References: 483 .
Mercury-Atlas 5 (MA-5), the second and final orbital qualification of the spacecraft prior to manned flight was launched from Cape Canaveral with Enos, a 37.5 pound chimpanzee, aboard. Scheduled for three orbits, the spacecraft was returned to earth after two orbits due to the failure of a roll reaction jet and to the overheating of an inverter in the electrical system. Both of these difficulties could have been corrected had an astronaut been aboard. The spacecraft was recovered 255 miles southeast of Bermuda by the USS Stormes. During the flight, the chimpanzee performed psychomotor duties and upon recovery was found to be in excellent physical condition. The flight was termed highly successful and the Mercury spacecraft well qualified to support manned orbital flight. References: 1 , 2 , 5 , 6 , 16 , 26 , 59 , 278 .
Army fired its Pershing solid-fuel tactical missile from Cape Canaveral on a 200-mile flight, testing accuracy, warhead components, and blast and heat factors at launch in relation to operational crew protection. This was the seventh straight successful firing of the Pershing. References: 18 .
Successful missile test. Missed aimpoint by 82 m. References: 439 .
Two Roksonde meteorological sounding rockets were successfully fired from Cape Canaveral, telemetered measurements of winds and temperatures at altitudes above 180,000 feet. Produced by Marquardt for the Army, Roksondes had already completed a series of tests at White Sands Missile Range and Pacific Missile Range. References: 18 .
Twelve Canadian Black Brant rockets for upper-atmosphere research were to be launched from NASA's Wallops Station, Virginia, as the Canadian Defence Research Board shifted the firing site from Fort Churchill because a fire largely destroyed the Canadian facilities. Capable of carrying a 150-pound payload to an altitude of 150 miles, Black Brants were to be fired from Wallops at the rate of two in December 1961, two in February 1962, six in April 1962, and two in May 1962. References: 18 .
The Project Apollo Statement of Work for development of the Apollo spacecraft was completed. A draft letter based on this Statement of Work was presented to NAA for review. A prenegotiation conference on the development of the Apollo spacecraft was held at Langley Field, Va. References: 16 .
Suborbital. References: 5 .
The third NATO operational control Combat Training Launch was fired from AMR at 1737 hours and 24 seconds EST to a prescribed range of 1,516 nm. The missile was well constrained to the intended flight path and within accuracy requirements of the Jupiter system. The missile impacted in the target area and all missions assigned to this test were successfully accomplished. References: 439 .
D. Brainerd Holmes, NASA Director of Manned Space Flight, outlined the preliminary project development plan for the Mercury Mark II program in a memorandum to NASA Associate Administrator Robert C. Seamans, Jr. The primary objective of the program was to develop rendezvous techniques; important secondary objectives were long-duration flights, controlled land recovery, and astronaut training. The development of rendezvous capability, Holmes stated, was essential:
NASA Associate Administrator Robert C. Seamans, Jr., and DOD Deputy Director of Defense Research and Engineering John H. Rubel recommended to Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara and NASA Administrator James E. Webb that detailed arrangements for support of the Mercury Mark II spacecraft and the Atlas-Agena vehicle used in rendezvous experiments be planned directly between NASA's Office of Manned Space Flight and the Air Force and other DOD organizations. NASA's primary responsibilities would be the overall management and direction for the Mercury Mark II/ Agena rendezvous development and experiments. The Air Force responsibilities would include acting as NASA contractor for the Titan II launch vehicle and for the Atlas-Agena vehicle to be used in rendezvous experiments. DOD's responsibilities would include assistance in the provision and selection of astronauts and the provision of launch, range, and recovery support, as required by NASA. References: 16 .
Power run completed the test series on the Kiwi B-1A reactor system being conducted at the Nevada Test Site by AEC's Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory. Fourth in a series of test reactors in the joint AEC-NASA nuclear rocket propulsion program, Kiwi B-1A was disassembled for examination at the conclusion of the test runs. References: 18 .
NASA postponed its projected manned orbital flight from December 1961 until early in 1962 because of minor problems with the cooling system and positioning devices in the Mercury capsule, Dr. Hugh Dryden, Deputy Administrator of NASA, said in a Baltimore interview. "You like to have a man go with everything just as near perfect as possible. This business is risky. You can't avoid this, but you can take all the precautions you know about." References: 18 .
In Houston, Director Robert R. Gilruth of Manned Spacecraft Center announced plans to develop a two-man Mercury capsule. Built by McDonnell, it would be similar in shape to the Mercury capsule but slightly larger and from two to three times heavier. Its booster would be a modified Titan II. A major program objective would be orbital rendezvous. The two-man spacecraft would be launched into orbit and would attempt to rendezvous with an Agena stage put into orbit by an Atlas. Total cost of 12 capsules plus boosters and other equipment was estimated at $500 million. The two-man flight program would begin in the 1963-1964 period with several unmanned ballistic flights to test overall booster-spacecraft compatibility and system engineering. Several manned orbital flights would follow. Besides rendezvous flybys of the target vehicle, actual docking missions would be attempted in final flights. The spacecraft would be capable of missions of a week or more to train pilots for future long-duration circumlunar and lunar landing flights. The Mercury astronauts would serve as pilots for the program, but additional crew members might be phased in during the latter portions of the program.
Plans for the development of a 2-man Mercury spacecraft were announced by Robert R. Gilruth, Director of the Manned Spacecraft Center. On January 3, 1962, this program was designated Project Gemini. References: 483 .
Plans for the development of a two-man Mercury spacecraft were announced by Robert R. Gilruth, MSC Director. The two-man spacecraft, to be built by McDonnell Aircraft Corporation, would be similar in shape to the Mercury spacecraft but slightly larger and two to three times heavier. Its booster rocket would be a modified Air Force Titan II, scheduled for flight test in early 1962. One of the major objectives in the program would be a test of orbital rendezvous, in which the two-man spacecraft would be launched into orbit by the Titan II and attempt to rendezvous with an Agena stage launched by an Atlas rocket. The total cost for a dozen two-man spacecraft plus boosters and other equipment was estimated at $500 million. References: 16 .
Solid-propellent rocket motor generating nearly 500,000 pounds of thrust was fired in a static test of 80-second duration by United Technology Corp. at Sunnyvale, Calif., under USAF contract. References: 18 .
The first Oscar Phase I amateur satellite was launched piggyback with Discover 36. A group of enthusiasts in California formed Project OSCAR and persuaded the United States Air Force to replace ballast on the Agena upper stage with the 4.5 kg OSCAR I package. The satellite was box shaped with a single monopole antenna and battery powered. The 140 mW transmitter onboard discharged its batteries after three weeks. 570 Amateurs in 28 countries reported receiving its simple 'HI-HI' morse code signals on the VHF 2 meter band (144.983 MHz) until January 1, 1962. The speed of the HI-HI message was controlled by a temperature sensor inside the spacecraft. OSCAR I re-entered the atmosphere January 31, 1962 after 312 revolutions. Additional Details: Oscar 1. References: 1 , 2 , 5 , 6 .
Walter C. Williams told a University of Houston audience at Houston, Texas, that the Mercury spacecraft had served and would continue to serve as a test bed for developing orbital flight techniques and hardware for more ambitious space programs. References: 483 .
NASA fired a four-stage solid-fuel Trailblazer rocket from Wallops Station, Virginia, in the first of a series of reentry tests. Two stages boosted the rocket to 167 miles; then the other two drove the nose cone down through the atmosphere at 14,000 miles per hour. References: 18 .
NASA announced that The Boeing Company had been selected for negotiations as a possible prime contractor for the first stage (S-IC) of the advanced Saturn hunch vehicle. The S-IC stage, powered by five F-1 engines, would be 35 feet in diameter and about 140 feet high. The $300-million contract, to run through 1966, called for the development, construction, and testing of 24 flight stages and one ground test stage. The booster would be assembled at the NASA Michoud Operations Plant near New Orleans, La., under the direction of the Marshall Space Flight Center. References: 16 .
McDonnell given letter contract for development of Gemini. References: 26 .
State Committee for Defence Technology (GKOT) Decree 'On establishment of the independent OKB-10 at Krasnoyarsk-26 on the basis of OKB-1's Branch No. 2' was issued. References: 474 .
NASA announced that Douglas Aircraft had been selected for negotiation of a contract to modify the Saturn S-IV stage by installing a single 200,000-pound-thrust, Rocketdyne J-2 liquid-hydrogen/liquid-oxygen engine instead of six 15,000-pound-thrust P. & W. hydrogen/oxygen engines. Known as S-IVB, this modified stage will be used in advanced Saturn configurations for manned circumlunar Apollo missions. References: 18 , 27 .
The General Assembly of the United Nations unanimously adopted Resolution 1721 (XIV) on international cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space. References: 16 .
Second attempted launch of Cosmos 63S1 small launch vehicle.
Rosen Committee studies in November and December indicated that the most flexible choice for Apollo was the Saturn C-4, with two required for the earth orbit rendezvous approach or one for the lunar orbit rendezvous mission, with a smaller landed payload. The panel rejected solid motors again, but Rosen himself still pushed for Nova. An extra F-1 engine was 'slid in' for insurance, resulting in the Saturn C-5 configuration. The Manned Space Flight Management Council decided at its first meeting that the Saturn C-5 launch vehicle would have a first stage configuration of five F-1 engines and a second stage configuration of five J-2 engines. The third stage would be the S-IVB with one J-2 engine. It recommended that the contractor for stage integration of the Saturn C-1 be Chrysler Corporation and that the contractor for stage integration of the Saturn C-5 be The Boeing Company. Contractor work on the Saturn C-5 should proceed immediately to provide a complete design study and a detailed development plan before letting final contracts and assigning large numbers of contractor personnel to Marshall Space Flight Center or Michoud. References: 16 .
Development time schedule for Dyna-Soar was reduced when DOD authorized the USAF to move directly from B-52 drop tests to unmanned and then manned orbital flights. This eliminated the previous interim stage of suborbital flights to be powered by the Titan II. This required renegotiation of the development contract held by the Martin Co. and negotiating of a new contract for a larger booster. References: 18 .
Titan II, an advanced ICBM and the booster designated for NASA's two-man orbital flights, was successfully captive-fired for the first time at the Martin Co.'s Denver facilities. The test not only tested the flight vehicle but the checkout and launch equipment intended for operational use. References: 18 .
With continued weight growth USAF announces Titan III to be developed for Dynasoar orbital missions. References: 26 .
The appointments of Dr. Joseph F. Shea as Deputy Director for Systems Engineering, Office of Manned Space Flight at NASA Headquarters, and Dr. Arthur Rudolph as Assistant Director of Systems Engineering was announced. Dr. Rudolph would serve as liaison between vehicle development at Marshall Space Flight Center and the Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston. References: 483 .
Central Committee of the Communist Party and Council of Soviet Ministers Decree 10119 'On selection of sixty new cosmonauts. including five women' was issued. References: 474 .
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