|astronautix.com||Chronology - 1968 - Quarter 2|
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NASA Hq. confirmed oral instructions to MSC and KSC to use 60 percent oxygen and 40 percent nitrogen to pressurize the Apollo CM cabin in prelaunch checkout operations and during manned chamber testing, as recommended by the Design Certification Review Board on March 7 and confirmed by the NASA Administrator on March 12. This instruction was applicable to flight and test articles at all locations. References: 16 .
Apollo 6 (AS-502) was launched from Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center. The space vehicle consisted of a Saturn V launch vehicle with an unmanned, modified Block I command and service module (CSM 020) and a lunar module test article (LTA-2R).
Liftoff at 7:00 a.m. EST was normal but, during the first-stage (S-IC) boost phase, oscillations and abrupt measurement changes were observed. During the second-stage (S-II) boost phase, two of the J-2 engines shut down early and the remaining three were extended approximately one minute to compensate. The third stage (S-IVB) firing was also longer than planned and at termination of thrust the orbit was 177.7 x 362.9 kilometers rather than the 160.9-kilometer near-circular orbit planned. The attempt to reignite the S-IVB engine for the translunar injection was unsuccessful. Reentry speed was 10 kilometers per second rather than the planned 11.1, and the spacecraft landed 90.7 kilometers uprange of the targeted landing point.
The most significant spacecraft anomaly occurred at about 2 minutes 13 seconds after liftoff, when abrupt changes were indicated by strain, vibration, and acceleration measurements in the S-IVB, instrument unit, adapter, lunar module test article, and CSM. Apparently oscillations induced by the launch vehicle exceeded the spacecraft design criteria.
The second-stage (S-II) burn was normal until about 4 minutes 38 seconds after liftoff; then difficulties were recorded. Engine 2 cutoff was recorded about 6 minutes 53 seconds into the flight and engine 3 cutoff less than 3 seconds later. The remaining second-stage engines shut down at 9 minutes 36 seconds - 58 seconds later than planned.
The S-IVB engine during its first burn, which was normal, operated 29 seconds longer than programmed. After two revolutions in a parking orbit, during which the systems were checked, operational tests performed, and several attitude maneuvers made, preparations were completed for the S-IVB engine restart. The firing was scheduled to occur on the Cape Kennedy pass at the end of the second revolution, but could not be accomplished. A ground command was sent to the CSM to carry out a planned alternate mission, and the CSM separated from the S-IVB stage.
A service propulsion system (SPS) engine firing sequence resulted in a 442-second burn and an accompanying free-return orbit of 22,259.1 x 33.3 kilometers. Since the SPS was used to attain the desired high apogee, there was insufficient propellant left to gain the high-velocity increase desired for the entry. For this reason, a complete firing sequence was performed except that the thrust was inhibited.
Parachute deployment was normal and the spacecraft landed about 9 hours 50 minutes after liftoff, in the mid-Pacific, 90.7 kilometers uprange from the predicted landing area (27.40 N 157.59 W). A normal retrieval was made by the U.S.S. Okinawa, with waves of 2.1 to 2.4 meters.
The spacecraft was in good condition, including the unified crew hatch, flown for the first time. Charring of the thermal protection was about the same as that experienced on the Apollo 4 spacecraft (CM 017).
Of the five primary objectives, three - demonstrating separation of launch vehicle stages, performance of the emergency detection system (EDS) in a close-loop mode, and mission support facilities and operations - were achieved. Only partially achieved were the objectives of confirming structure and thermal integrity, compatibility of launch vehicle and spacecraft, and launch loads and dynamic characteristics; and of verifying operation of launch vehicle propulsion, guidance and control, and electrical systems. Apollo 6, therefore, was officially judged in December as "not a success in accordance with . . . NASA mission objectives." References: 1 , 2 , 5 , 6 , 16 , 26 , 27 .
Astronauts James A. Lovell, Jr., Stuart A. Roosa, and Charles M. Duke, Jr., participated in a recovery test of spacecraft 007, conducted by the MSC Landing and Recovery Division in the Gulf of Mexico. The test crew reported that while they did not "recommend the Apollo spacecraft for any extended sea voyages they encountered no serious habitability problems during the 48-hour test. Additional Details: A 48-hour delayed-recovery test with Apollo CSM 007. References: 16 .
Lunar Orbiter; studied lunar gravitational field, Earth-Moon gravitational relationship, and conducted further scientific experiments in circumlunar space. Not revealed until years later was that the E-6LS was primarily intended to test tracking and communications networks for the Soviet manned lunar program. The Luna 14 spacecraft entered a 140 x 870 km x 42 degree lunar orbit on April 10, 1966. The spacecraft instrumentation was similar to that of Luna 10 and provided data for studies of the interaction of the earth and lunar masses, the lunar gravitational field, the propagation and stability of radio communications to the spacecraft at different orbital positions, solar charged particles and cosmic rays, and the motion of the Moon. This flight was the final flight of the second generation of the Luna series. References: 1 , 2 , 5 , 6 , 64 , 296 .
Docked with Cosmos 213. Recovered April 19, 1968 08:10 GMT. Successful test of Soyuz 7K-OK attitude control, automatic rendezvous and docking systems. Both spacecraft recovered, but one was dragged by heavy wind across the steppes when the parachute line didn't jettison. Additional Details: Cosmos 212. References: 1 , 2 , 6 .
Target for Cosmos 212 docking. Recovered April 20, 1968 10:11 GMT. Successful test of Soyuz 7K-OK systems. Both spacecraft recovered, but one was dragged by heavy wind across the steppes when the parachute line didn't jettison.
Officially: Investigation of outer space, development of new systems and elements to be used in the construction of space devices. References: 1 , 2 , 6 .
Operation of a system of long range telephone-telegraph radiocommunication, and transmission of USSR Central Television programmes to the stations of the Orbita network. References: 1 , 2 , 5 , 6 , 64 .
A short circuit in the malfunction detection system led the launch escape system to believe incorrecly that a launch vehicle failure had occurred. It commanded shut down of the second stage engines 260 seconds in the flight, and the escape tower pulled the Zond away from the booster, for a safe recovery. References: 5 , 67 , 274 .
ASPO Manager George M. Low explained to the Apollo Program Director the underlying causes of slips in CSM and LM delivery dates since establishment of contract dates during the fall of 1967. The general excuse, Low said, was that slips were the result of NASA-directed hardware changes. "This excuse is not valid." He recounted how NASA-imposed changes had been under strict control and only essential changes had been approved by the MSC Level II Configuration Control Board (CCB). Additional Details: Delays in Apollo CSM and LM delivery dates. References: 16 .
Suborbital. References: 5 .
Lunar landing research vehicle (LLRV) No. 1 crashed at Ellington Air Force Base, Tex. The pilot, astronaut Neil A. Armstrong, ejected after losing control of the vehicle, landing by parachute with minor injury. Estimated altitude of the LLRV at the time of ejection was 60 meters. LLRV No. 1, which had been on a standard training mission, was a total loss - estimated at $1.5 million. LLRV No. 2 would not begin flight status until the accident investigation had been completed and the cause determined. Additional Details: Apollo lunar landing research vehicle No 1 crashed at Ellington Air Force Base. References: 16 .
A September 1968 flight test was planned. However the first stage LOX tank developed hairline cracks during ground tests. 4L was removed from the pad in June 1968. The first stage was cannibalized; the upper stages were incorporated into the 1M1 mockup for further training of the launch crews. References: 96 .
Christopher C. Kraft, Jr., MSC Director of Flight Operations, expressed concern to ASPO Manager George M. Low over the escalation of E-mission objectives; the flight now loomed as an extremely complex and ambitious mission. The probability of accomplishing all the objectives set forth for the mission, said Kraft, was very low. He did not propose changing the mission plan, however. "If we are fortunate," he said, "then certainly the quickest way to the moon will be achieved." Kraft did suggest caution in setting mission priorities and in "apply(ing) adjectives to the objectives." Additional Details: Concern over escalation of Apollo E-mission objectives. References: 16 .
Ministry of General Machine Building (MOM) Decree 163 'On formation of a new group of engineer cosmonauts under MOM' was issued. References: 474 .
NASA released a new AAP launch readiness and delivery schedule. The schedule decreased the number of Saturn flights to 11 Saturn IB flights and one Saturn V flight. It called for three Workshops. One of the Workshops would be launched by a Saturn IB, and another would serve as a backup. The third Workshop would be launched by a Saturn V. The schedule also included one ATM. Launch of the first Workshop would be in November 1970. Lunar missions were no longer planned in the AAP.
The draft project OIS 11F730 was issued jointly by TsKBEM and Filial 3 on 21 June 1968.
State commission sets November as date for manned circumlunar flight. The next L1 flight was set for July, with flights to continue at monthly intervals at each translunar launch window. 3 or 4 unmanned flights had to be successful before a manned flight would be attempted. References: 23 .
While the next N1, 3L was being built, the 1M1 was moved back to the pad for further ground tests and launch crew training. It remained there until the end of September. References: 96 .
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