|astronautix.com||Chronology - 1968 - Quarter 4|
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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 .
NASA Apollo Mission Director William C. Schneider reported completion of all action items pertinent to Apollo 7 assigned by Apollo Program Director Samuel C. Phillips as a result of recommendations by the Apollo Crew Safety Review Board on May 27, 1968. Additional Details: All changes to Apollo 7 as a result of Apollo 1 fire completed. References: 16 .
Apollo 7 (AS-205), the first manned Apollo flight, lifted off from Launch Complex 34 at Cape Kennedy Oct. 11, carrying Walter M. Schirra, Jr., Donn F. Eisele, and R. Walter Cunningham. The countdown had proceeded smoothly, with only a slight delay because of additional time required to chill the hydrogen system in the S-IVB stage of the Saturn launch vehicle. Liftoff came at 11:03 a.m. EDT. Shortly after insertion into orbit, the S-IVB stage separated from the CSM, and Schirra and his crew performed a simulated docking with the S-IVB stage, maneuvering to within 1.2 meters of the rocket. Although spacecraft separation was normal, the crew reported that one adapter panel had not fully deployed. Two burns using the reaction control system separated the spacecraft and launch stage and set the stage for an orbital rendezvous maneuver, which the crew made on the second day of the flight, using the service propulsion engine.
Crew and spacecraft performed well throughout the mission. During eight burns of the service propulsion system during the flight, the engine functioned normally. October 14, third day of the mission, witnessed the first live television broadcast from a manned American spacecraft. The SPS engine was used to deorbit after 259 hours 39 minutes of flight. CM-SM separation and operation of the earth landing system were normal, and the spacecraft splashed down about 13 kilometers from the recovery ship (27.32 N 64.04 W), the U.S.S. Essex, at 7:11 a.m. EDT October 22. Although the vehicle initially settled in an apex-down ("stable 2") attitude, upright bags functioned normally and returned the CSM to an upright position in the water. Schirra, Eisele, and Cunningham were quickly picked up by a recovery helicopter and were safe aboard the recovery vessel less than an hour after splashdown.
All primary Apollo 7 mission objectives were met, as well as every detailed test objective (and three test objectives not originally planned). Engineering firsts from Apollo 7, aside from live television from space, included drinking water for the crew produced as a by-product of the fuel cells. Piloting and navigation accomplishments included an optical rendezvous, daylight platform realignment, and orbital determination via sextant tracking of another vehicle. All spacecraft systems performed satisfactorily. Minor anomalies were countered by backup systems or changes in procedures. With successful completion of the Apollo 7 mission, which proved out the design of the Block II CSM (CSM 101), NASA and the nation had taken the first step on the pathway to the moon.
Although the systems worked, the crew became grumpy with head colds and talked back to the ground. As a result, NASA management determined that none of them would fly again. Additional Details: Apollo 7. References: 1 , 2 , 5 , 6 , 16 , 26 , 27 , 33 , 60 .
Design materials for the 11F732 7K-S spacecraft were issued. In 1969 complete drawings were released for the OIS project including those for the spacecraft 7K-S, 7K-S-I, and 7K-S-II.
Apollo Program Director Samuel C. Phillips ordered that the Saturn IB program be placed in a standby status pending any future requirements for Apollo or the Apollo Applications program. Phillips' action signaled the shift in Apollo to the Saturn V vehicle, effective with AS-503. References: 16 .
Two NASA investigation boards had reported that loss of attitude control caused the May 6 accident that destroyed lunar landing research vehicle No. 1, NASA announced. Helium in propellant tanks had been depleted earlier than normal, dropping pressure needed to force hydrogen peroxide propellant to the attitude-control lift rockets and thrusters. Additional Details: Loss of attitude control caused Apollo LLRV Crash. References: 16 .
ASAT interceptor. Intercepted Cosmos 248 target on second orbit. Repeatedly approached Cosmos 248, verifying primary and reserve homing and guidance systems. Destroyed itself in test of on-board destruct system. Counted as a failure by Western observers because that target was not destroyed; but this was not an objective of the test. Left 109 fragments in orbit, of which 54 were still in orbit in 1996. References: 1 , 2 , 5 , 6 , 272 .
Central Committee of the Communist Party and Council of Soviet Ministers Decree 'On establishment of the Kristall communications system based on Molniya-2 satellites' was issued. Kristall would be used for strategic communications. References: 474 .
Howard D. Burns, Chief of the Saturn V Test Management Office at MSFC, sent to Apollo launch operations officials at KSC a list of requirements for retesting the Saturn V following a lightning strike on the vehicle while on the pad. Additional Details: Retesting Saturn V following a lightning strike. References: 16 .
Target for Soyuz 3. Joint flight with: Soyuz 3. Recovered October 28, 1968 7:51 GMT. Docking with Soyuz 3 a failure; unmanned.
177km X 196km orbit to 184km X 230km orbit. Delta V: 12 m/s.
Officially: Complex testing of spaceship systems in conditions of space flight. References: 1 , 2 , 6 .
Second manned Soyuz flight. Rendezvoused with the unmanned Soyuz 2 but failed to dock. Complex testing of spaceship systems; development, in joint flight with space ship Soyuz 2 of processes of space ship manoeuvring and docking in artificial earth satellite orbit; development of elements of celestial navigation; conduct of research under space flight conditions. The failed docking was blamed on manual control of the Soyuz by Beregovoi, who repeatedly put the spacecraft in an orientation that nulled the automatic docking system. Beregovoi used nearly all of his orientation fuel in his first attempt to dock - of 80 kg allocated, only 8 to 10 kg was remaining. Recovered October 30, 1968 7:25 GMT. Additional Details: Soyuz 3. References: 1 , 2 , 6 , 32 , 33 , 60 .
Moscow Oblast Executive Committee Decree 'On renaming of Zeleniy as Zvezdniy gorodok' was issued. References: 474 .
NASA Apollo Program Director Samuel C. Phillips officially designated the AS-504 and AS-505 missions as Apollo 9 and Apollo 10. References: 16 .
Test and Training Satellite; test vehicle for NASA Manned Space Flight Network. Spacecraft engaged in practical applications and uses of space technology such as weather or communication (US Cat C). References: 1 , 2 , 5 , 6 .
Test flight of manned circumlunar spacecraft. Successfully launched towards the moon with a scientific payload including cosmic-ray and micrometeoroid detectors, photography equipment, and a biological specimens. A midcourse correction on 12 November resulted in a loop around the moon at an altitude of 2,420 km on 14 November. Zond 6 took spectacular photos of the moon’s limb with the earth in the background. Photographs were also taken of the lunar near and far side with panchromatic film from distances of approximately 11,000 km and 3300 km. Each photo was 12.70 by 17.78 cm. Some of the views allowed for stereo pictures. On the return leg a gasket failed, leading to cabin depressurisation, which would have been fatal to a human crew. The 7K-L1 then made the first successful double skip trajectory, dipping into the earth's atmosphere over Antarctica, slowing from 11 km/sec to suborbital velocity, then skipping back out into space before making a final re-entry onto Soviet territory. After the re-entry the main parachute ejected prematurely, ripping the main canopy, leading to the capsule being destroyed on impact with the ground. One negative was recovered from the camera container and a small victory obtained over the Americans. But the criteria for a manned flight had obviously not been met and Mishin's only hope to beet the Americans was a failure or delay in the Apollo 8 flight set for December. The next Zond test was set for January. References: 1 , 2 , 5 , 6 , 67 , 274 , 296 .
Area survey photo reconnaissance satellite. Unsuccessful mission. On 13th orbit the SA-20-1 camera's shutter responded to an uncommanded order to open. Radiation levels inside reached 3 times normal levels. 53% of the data was lost. References: 1 , 2 , 6 , 93 .
The N1 mockup was again erected on the pad, in order to conduct tests of the L1S payload in advance of the availability of the 3L launch vehicle. References: 96 .
First launch of the Proton three-stage variant. The satellite studied the nature of high and ultra-high energy cosmic rays and their interaction with atomic nuclei. Scientific payload 12,500 kg; operated for 100 days in orbit. References: 1 , 2 , 5 , 6 , 67 , 273 , 274 .
Decree 'On adoption of the R-36-O into armaments' was issued. References: 474 .
The LM-11 midsection assembly collapsed in the assembly jig during the bulkhead prefitting stage of construction at Grumman. The structure buckled when the bulkheads, which had just been prefitted and drilled, were removed to permit deburring the drilled holes. Jig gates that were supposed to hold up the assembly were not in position, nor was the safety line properly installed. The structure was supported by hand. Damage to the skin of the structure was not severe, although a small radius bend was put in one of the upper skins. References: 16 .
This was the second accident in 1968, before the first lunar landing. BUt they did not deter Apollo program managers who enthusiastically relied on the vehicles for simulation and training.
Highly Eccentric Orbiting Satellite; examined magnetic fields outside of Earth's magnetosphere. Spacecraft engaged in research and exploration of the upper atmosphere or outer space (US Cat B). References: 1 , 2 , 5 , 6 .
Orbiting Astronomical Observatory; carried 11 telescopes; performed X-ray, UV, IR observations of stars. Spacecraft engaged in research and exploration of the upper atmosphere or outer space (US Cat B). Launch vehicle put payload into geosynchronous transfer orbit References: 1 , 2 , 5 , 6 , 278 .
During a routine flight of lunar landing training vehicle (LLTV) No. 1, MSC test pilot Joseph S. Algranti was forced to eject from the craft when it became unstable and he could no longer control the vehicle. The LLTV crashed and burned. A flight readiness review at MSC on November 26 had found the LLTV ready for use in astronaut training, and 10 flight tests had been made before the accident. Additional Details: Apollo lunar landing training vehicle No 1 crashed and burned at Ellington AFB. References: 16 .
Apollo 8 (AS-503) was launched from KSC Launch Complex 39, Pad A, at 7:51 a.m. EST Dec. 21 on a Saturn V booster. The spacecraft crew was made up of Frank Borman, James A. Lovell, Jr., and William A. Anders. Apollo 8 was the first spacecraft to be launched by a Saturn V with a crew on board, and that crew became the first men to fly around the moon.
All launch and boost phases were normal and the spacecraft with the S-IVB stage was inserted into an earth-parking orbit of 190.6 by 183.2 kilometers above the earth. After post-insertion checkout of spacecraft systems, the S-IVB stage was reignited and burned 5 minutes 9 seconds to place the spacecraft and stage in a trajectory toward the moon - and the Apollo 8 crew became the first men to leave the earth's gravitational field.
The spacecraft separated from the S-IVB 3 hours 20 minutes after launch and made two separation maneuvers using the SM's reaction control system. Eleven hours after liftoff, the first midcourse correction increased velocity by 26.4 kilometers per hour. The coast phase was devoted to navigation sightings, two television transmissions, and system checks. The second midcourse correction, about 61 hours into the flight, changed velocity by 1.5 kilometers per hour.
The 4-minute 15-second lunar-orbit-insertion maneuver was made 69 hours after launch, placing the spacecraft in an initial lunar orbit of 310.6 by 111.2 kilometers from the moon's surface - later circularized to 112.4 by 110.6 kilometers. During the lunar coast phase the crew made numerous landing-site and landmark sightings, took lunar photos, and prepared for the later maneuver to enter the trajectory back to the earth.
On the fourth day, Christmas Eve, communications were interrupted as Apollo 8 passed behind the moon, and the astronauts became the first men to see the moon's far side. Later that day , during the evening hours in the United States, the crew read the first 10 verses of Genesis on television to earth and wished viewers "goodnight, good luck, a Merry Christmas and God bless all of you - all of you on the good earth."
Subsequently, TV Guide for May 10-16, 1969, claimed that one out of every four persons on earth - nearly 1 billion people in 64 countries - heard the astronauts' reading and greeting, either on radio or on TV; and delayed broadcasts that same day reached 30 additional countries.
On Christmas Day, while the spacecraft was completing its 10th revolution of the moon, the service propulsion system engine was fired for three minutes 24 seconds, increasing the velocity by 3,875 km per hr and propelling Apollo 8 back toward the earth, after 20 hours 11 minutes in lunar orbit. More television was sent to earth on the way back and, on the sixth day, the crew prepared for reentry and the SM separated from the CM on schedule.
Parachute deployment and other reentry events were normal. The Apollo 8 CM splashed down in the Pacific, apex down, at 10:51 a.m. EST, December 27 - 147 hours and 42 seconds after liftoff. As planned, helicopters and aircraft hovered over the spacecraft and pararescue personnel were not deployed until local sunrise, 50 minutes after splashdown. The crew was picked up and reached the recovery ship U.S.S. Yorktown at 12:20 p.m. EST. All mission objectives and detailed test objectives were achieved, as well as five that were not originally planned.
Mass model of lunar module with docking target remained attached to S-IVB translunar injection stage. References: 279 .
ASPO Manager George M. Low apprised Program Director Samuel C. Phillips of MSC's plans for television cameras aboard remaining Apollo missions. With the exception of spacecraft 104 (scheduled for flight as Apollo 9), television cameras were to be flown in all CMs. Also, cameras would be included in all manned LMs (LM-3 through LM-14). References: 16 .
The 3L vehicle, without its payload (which was on the 1M1 mockup), is erected on the pad to test engine systems. References: 96 .
Gagarin, Komarov, Nikolayev, Bykovsky, Khrunov, Gorbatko, Voronov, Kolodin, Popovich, Gubarev, Artyukhin, Gylyayev, Belousov, Kolesnikov, Volynov, Doborvolsky, Voronov, Zhobolov. References: 75 .
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