ALSEP (Apollo Lunar Surface Experiment Package) was the array of connected scientific instruments left behind on the lunar surface by each Apollo expedition. Powered by radioistope generators, they were turned off as a budget move when still operating. Apollo 11 deployed a simpler version called EASEP.
The MSC Lunar Surface Experiments Panel held its first meeting. This group was formed to study and evaluate lunar surface experiments and the adaptability of Surveyor and other unmanned probes for use with manned missions.
MSC reported that preliminary plans for Apollo scientific instrumentation had been prepared with the cooperation of NASA Headquarters, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and the Goddard Space Flight Center. The first experiments would not be selected until about December 1963, allowing scientists time to prepare proposals. Prime consideration would be given to experiments that promised the maximum return for the least weight and complexity, and to those that were man-oriented and compatible with spacecraft restraints. Among those already suggested were seismic devices (active and passive), and instruments to measure the surface bearing strength, magnetic field, radiation spectrum, soil density, and gravitational field. MSC planned to procure most of this equipment through the scientific community and through other NASA and government organizations.
MSC awarded Texas Instruments, Inc., a $194,000 contract to study experiments and equipment needed for scientific exploration of the lunar surface. The analysis was to be completed by the end of May 1964.
Verne C. Fryklund, Jr., of NASA's Office of Space Sciences (OSS), in a memorandum to MSC Director Robert R. Gilruth, recommended some general guidelines for Apollo scientific investigations of the moon (which OSS already was using). "These guidelines," Fryklund told Gilruth, ". . . should be followed in the preparation of your plans," and thus were "intended to place some specific constraints on studies. . . . The primary scientific objective of the Apollo project," Fryklund said, was, of course, the "acquisition of comprehensive data about the moon." With this as a starting point, he went on, ". . . it follows that the structure of the moon's surface, gross body properties and large-scale measurements of physical and chemical characteristics, and observation of whatever phenomena may occur at the actual surface will be the prime scientific objectives." Basically, OSS's guidelines spelled out what types of activity were and were not part of Apollo's immediate goals. These activities were presumed to be mostly reconnaissance, "to acquire knowledge of as large an area as possible, and by as simple a means as possible, in the limited time available." The three principal scientific activities "listed in order of decreasing importance" were: (1) "comprehensive observation of lunar phenomena," (2) "collection of representative samples," and (3) "emplacement of monitoring equipment."
These guidelines had been arrived at after extensive consultation within NASA as a whole as well as with the scientific community.
MSC received an additional $1.035 million in Fiscal Year 1964 funds to cover development of equipment and operational techniques for scientific exploration of the moon:
Texas Instruments, Inc., presented a progress report on their lunar surface experiments study to the MSC Lunar Surface Experiments Panel. Thus far, the company had been surveying and rating measurements to be made on the lunar surface. Areas covered included soil mechanics, mapping, geophysics, magnetism, electricity, and radiation. Equipment for gathering information, such as hand tools, sample return containers, dosimeters, particle spectrometers, data recording systems, seismometers, gravity meters, cameras, pentrometers, and mass spectrometers had been considered. The next phase of the study involved integrating and defining the measurements and instruments according to implementation problems, mission needs, lunar environment limitations, and relative importance to a particular mission. Texas Instruments would recommend a sequence for performing the experiments.
Nine areas of scientific experiments for the first manned Apollo lunar landing mission had been summarized and experimenters were defining them for NASA. Space sciences project group expected to publish the complete report by March 1, to be followed by requests for proposals from industry on designing and producing instrument packages. A major effort was under way by a NASA task force making a time-motion study of how best to use the limited lunar stay-time of two hours' minimum for the first flight.
NASA selected Philco's Aeronutronic Division to design a penetrometer for possible use in the Apollo program. Impacting on the moon, the device would measure the firmness and bearing strength of the surface. Used in conjunction with an orbiting spacecraft, the system could provide scientific information about areas of the moon that were inaccessible by any other means. Langley Research Center would negotiate and manage the contract, estimated to be worth $1 million.
George E. Mueller, Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight, approved procurement of the lunar surface experiments package (LSEP). The package, to be deployed on the moon by each LEM crew that landed there, would transmit geophysical and other scientific data back to earth. NASA's Office of Space Science and Applications would make the final selection of experiments. Mueller emphasized that the LSEP must be ready in time for the first lunar landing mission. Management responsibility for the project was assigned to MSC's Experiments Program Office.
NASA representatives briefed officials from the Atomic Energy Commission on the Apollo experiments program and discussed means of coordinating the Commission's work on a radioisotope generator to power those experiments.
NASA named three firms, Bendix Systems Division, TRW Systems Group, and Space-General Corporation to design prototypes of the Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments Package (ALSEP). Each company received a $500,000, six-month contract. After delivery of the prototypes, MSC would select one of the three to develop the ALSEP flight hardware.
NASA and the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) agreed that AEC would provide radioisotope thermoelectric generators which would power each Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments Package for an operating period of one year on the lunar surface.
Homer E. Newell, Associate Administrator for Space Science and Applications, notified Houston of the first two experiments selected for early Apollo landing flights:
NASA was negotiating with General Electric Company to provide 56-watt isotopic power generators for the Apollo Lunar Surface Experiment Packages. The Atomic Energy Commission would manage detailed design and development of the unit based on MSC studies of prototypes.
NASA Associate Administrator for Space Science and Applications Homer E. Newell informed MSC that an experiment proposed by Ames Research Center had been selected as a space science investigation for, if possible, the first manned lunar landing as a part of the Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments Package. Principal investigator of the proposed experiment, the magnetometer, was C. P. Sonett of Ames with Jerry Modisette of MSC as associate.
The Apollo Program Director was being requested by Newell to authorize the funding of flight hardware for this experiment.
NASA negotiated a contract with Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) for a program of radar and radiometric measurements on the surface of the moon. The program, which would be active until March 31, 1967, would have Paul B. Sebring of MIT's Lincoln Laboratory as principal investigator. Results would be used to select areas for intensive study to support investigations related to manned landing sites.
Arthur T. Strickland of NASA's Lunar and Planetary Programs Office would be the technical monitor. Andrew Patteson of the MSC Lunar Surface Technology Branch was requested as alternate technical monitor.
NASA's Associate Administrator for Space Science and Applications Homer E. Newell advised MSC that he had selected space science investigations to be carried to the moon on Apollo missions, emplaced on the lunar surface by Apollo astronauts, and left behind to collect and transmit data to the earth on lunar environmental characteristics following those missions. Newell assigned the experiments to specific missions and indicated their priority. Any changes in the assignments would require Newell's approval. The experiments, institutions responsible, and principal investigators and coinvestigators were:
NASA Administrator James E. Webb and Deputy Administrator Robert C. Seamans, Jr., selected Bendix Systems Division, Bendix Corp., from among three contractors for design, manufacture, test, and operational support of four deliverable packages of the Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments Package (ALSEP), with first delivery scheduled for July 1967. The estimated cost of the cost-plus-incentive-fee contract negotiated with Bendix before the presentation by the Source Evaluation Board to Webb and Seamans was $17.3 million.
MSC Director Robert R. Gilruth told Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight George E. Mueller he felt it was necessary either to proceed with the Apollo Experiment Pallet program or to cancel the program, reaching a decision not later than April 22. Gilruth pointed out that four contracts had been initiated in December 1965 for Phase C of the program, that the contracts were completed on April 6, that full-scale mockups had been delivered, and that documentation with cost proposals were due April 22. The four contractors were McDonnell Aircraft, Martin-Denver, Northrop, and Lockheed Aircraft-Sunnyvale. Gilruth said it was apparent that all contractors had done an exceptionally good job during the Phase C effort. Low cost had been emphasized in every phase of the program, with contractors responding with a very economical device and at the same time a straightforward design that offered every chance of early availability and successful operation.
Of equal significance, he said, "the Pallet offers the opportunity to minimize the interface with both North American and the Apollo program. It provides a single interface to Apollo and NAA, allowing the multiple-experiment interfaces to be handled by a contractor whose specific interest is in experiments. If experiments are to be carried in the Service Module, the Pallet both by concept and experience offers the most economical approach." Gilruth said the following plan had been developed:
MSC top management had agreed with Headquarters on early Center participation in discussions of scientific experiments for manned flights, Deputy Director George M. Low informed MSC Experiments Program Manager Robert O. Piland. NASA Associate Administrator for Space Science and Applications Homer E. Newell had asked, during a recent OSSA Senior Council meeting at MSC, that the Center and astronauts comment on technical and operational feasibility of experiments before OSSA divisions and subcommittees acted on proposals. Low and Director Robert R. Gilruth had agreed. Because of manpower requirements MSC refused a request to be represented on all the subcommittees, but MSC would send representatives to all meetings devoted primarily to manned flight experiments and would contribute to other meetings by phone.
NASA Deputy Administrator Robert C. Seamans, Jr., told the Associate Administrators that it was NASA's fundamental policy that projects and programs were best planned and executed when responsibilities were clearly assigned to a management group. He then assigned full responsibility for Apollo and Apollo Applications missions to the Office of Manned Space Flight. OMSF would fund approved integral experiment hardware, provide the required Apollo and Saturn systems, integrate the experiments with those systems, and plan and execute the missions. Specific responsibility for developing and testing individual experiments would be assigned on the basis of experiment complexity, integration requirements, and relation to the prime mission objectives, by the Office of Administrator after receiving recommendations from Associate Administrators.
The Office of Space Science and Applications (OSSA) would be responsible for selecting scientific experiments for manned missions and the experimenter teams for data reduction, data analysis, and dissemination. OSSA would provide to OMSF complete scientific requirements for each experiment selected for flight.
The Office of Advanced Research and Technology (OART) was assigned the overall responsibility for the technology content of the NASA space flight program and for selecting technology experiments for manned missions. OART would provide OMSF complete technology requirements for each experiment selected for flight. When appropriate, scientific and technical personnel would be located in OMSF to provide a working interface with experimenters. The office responsible for each experiment would determine the tracking and acquisition requirements for each experiment; then OMSF would integrate the requirements for all experiments and forward the total requirements to the Office of Tracking and Data Acquisition.
Seamans also spelled out Center responsibilities for manned space flight missions: MSFC, Apollo telescope mount; MSC, Apollo lunar surface experiment package (ALSEP), lunar science experiments, earth resources experiments, and life support systems; and Goddard Space Flight Center, atmospheric science, meteorology, and astronomical science experiments.
MSC's Flight Crew Support Division prepared an operations plan describing division support of flight experiments. Activities planned would give operational support to both flight crew and experimenters. Crew training, procedures development, and integration, mission-time support, and postmission debriefings were discussed in detail.
A Planning Coordination Steering Group at NASA Hq. received program options from working groups established to coordinate long-range planning in life sciences, earth-oriented applications, astronomy, lunar exploration, and planetary exploration. The Steering Group recommended serious consideration be given a four-phase exploration program using unmanned Lunar Orbiters, Surveyors, and manned lunar surface exploration. Additional Details: NASA long-range planning.
In a memo to Apollo Program Director Samuel C. Phillips, Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight George E. Mueller approved assignment of experiment S068, Lunar Meteoroid Detection, to the Apollo Program Office for implementation, provided adequate funding could be identified in the light of relative priority in the total science program. The experiment had been recommended by the Manned Space Flight Experiment Board (MSFEB) for a lunar mission. Also, as recommended by the MSFEB, the following experiments would be placed on the earliest possible manned space flight: S015 (Zero g, Single Human Cells); S017 (Trapped Particles Asymmetry); S018 (Micrometeorite Collection); and T004 (Frog Otolith Function).
Homer E. Newell, NASA Associate Administrator for Space Science and Applications, pointed out to MSC Director Robert R. Gilruth that during a program review he was made aware of difficulties in the development of the Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments Package. The problems cited were with the lunar surface magnetometer, suprathermal ion detector, passive seismometer, and the central station transmitter receiver. Newell, who had been briefed on the problems by NASA Hq. ALSEP Program Manager, W. T. O'Bryant, said: "I felt they were serious enough to warrant giving you my views in regard to the importance of having the ALSEP with its planned complement of instruments aboard the first Apollo lunar landing mission. It is essential that basic magnetic measurements be made on the lunar surface, not only for their very important planetological implications, but also for the knowledge which will be gained of the lunar magnetosphere and atmosphere as the result of the combined measurements from the magnetometer, solar wind spectrometer, and suprathermal ion detector."
MSC Deputy Director George M. Low, in a January 10 letter to Newell, thanked him and said he would discuss the problems with Newell more fully after receiving a complete review of the ALSEP program from Robert O. Piland.
Low wrote Newell on April 10, 1967, that there had been schedule slips in the program plan devised in March 1966 - primarily slips associated with the lunar surface magnetometer, the suprathermal ion detector, and the central station receiver and transmitter. "In each case, we have effected a programmatic workaround plan, the elements of which were presented to Leonard Reiffel of OMSF and William O'Bryant of your staff on December 5, 1966, and in subsequent reviews of the subject with them as the planning and implementation progressed. . . ."
At the request of the Manager of the MSC Lunar Surface Programs Office, NASA Associate Administrator for Space Science and Applications Homer E. Newell considered alternate Array B configurations of the Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments Package to alleviate a weight problem. Instead of a single array, he selected two configurations for ALSEP III and ALSEP IV:
NASA's Space Science Steering Committee approved establishment of a facility on the moon consisting of arrays of solid corner reflectors. The first array was to be established by the earliest possible lunar landing mission, with other arrays to be carried on subsequent missions. Until the Committee and Manned Space Flight Experiment Board agreed on assignment of priorities among the various lunar science experiments, this experiment was to be considered a contingency experiment to be carried on a "space available" basis. The facility on the moon would be available to the principal investigator - C. O. Alley, University of Maryland - as well as to other scientists.
MSC responded to a March 29 letter from NASA Hq. concerning two arrays of Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments Package (ALSEP) experiments. MSC said it had reviewed schedules, cost, and integration aspects of the requested configurations and that four areas of the project apparently should be modified to allow proper inclusion of the configurations:
A review team's findings on the lunar surface magnetometer program were reported to the NASA Administrator. The magnetometer program still suffered from the schedule delays and high costs that had prompted the review, but recent management changes and technical progress were halting the trends. With the team recommendation and the endorsement of the Office of Space Science and Applications, Philco Corp. was directed to continue its effort to develop a lunar surface magnetometer.
The Systems Engineering Division of ASPO presented a briefing to the ASPO Manager and other MSC officials on the logic of the lunar surface activity for the first lunar landing mission. Several potential missions were presented in terms of interactions between timelines, consumables, weight, and performance characteristics. Purpose of the demonstration was to elicit policy decisions on the number of extravehicular excursions to be planned for the first mission as well as the activities for each excursion. The following ground rules were established:
MSC Deputy Director George S. Trimble, Jr., recommended to Apollo Program Director Phillips that OMSF issue a definition for the end of the Apollo program. Trimble pointed out that parts of MSC planning would be clearer if there were a specified set of conditions which, when satisfied, would mark the termination of the Apollo program and the start of the lunar exploration program. He said: "It is recommended that the accomplishment of the first lunar landing and safe return of the crew be defined as the end of the Apollo Program. This will give a crisp ending that everyone can understand and will be the minimum cost program. The Lunar Exploration Program, or whatever name is selected, will have a definable whole and can be planned and defended as a unit. . . . The successful termination of the Apollo Program should not be dependent on the successful deployment of ALSEP, EVA on the lunar surface, photos, soil samples or other experiments. Such objectives should not be mandatory for the first landing mission." Trimble added that he had discussed these points with NASA's Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight George E. Mueller and it was his understanding that Mueller not only agreed but also planned to include similar material in his congressional testimony in defense of the budget.
Samuel C. Phillips, NASA Apollo Program Director, wrote ASPO Manager George M. Low to express concern about two particular technical problems in the Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments Package:
George E. Mueller, Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight, wrote MSC Director Robert R. Gilruth to express his personal interest in lunar extravehicular activity (EVA) training for the Apollo crews of the F and G missions (i.e., the initial lunar landing and subsequent flights). Because of the complexity of the EVA tasks that the astronauts must perform, Mueller said, crews for those missions should be selected as early as possible. Also, realistic training - including a realistic run-through of many of the lunar surface tasks, especially development of the S-band antenna and the Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments Package and sampling operations - must be conducted to ensure that the crews competently carried out the various scientific experiments and other tasks during their brief stays on the moon.
NASA Apollo Program Director Samuel C. Phillips laid down Headquarters and MSC interfaces with the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) regarding the SNAP-27 radioisotope thermoelectric generator for the Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments Package (ALSEP). The Lunar Surface Program Office at MSC was the field project office responsible for developing the ALSEP system, and the radioisotope generator - as part of the ALSEP - had been assigned to that office for system integration. Thus, the Lunar Surface Program Office served as the AEC's primary contact on the SNAP-27 both for ALSEP program matters and for data pertaining to flight safety and documentation for flight approval. Phillips stressed that all data be fully coordinated with Headquarters before being submitted to the AEC. (Approval for the flight of any nuclear device rested ultimately with the President, but formal documentation had to be concurred in by the NASA Administrator, the AEC Commissioners, the Secretary of Defense, and the National Aeronautics and Space Council.)
Members of the MSF Management Council considered scientific experiments and surface extravehicular activities (EVA) for the first Apollo lunar landing mission. They decided to go ahead with development of three proposed experiments, the passive seismometer, laser reflector, and solar wind collector. They made no commitment to fly any of the three, however, pending development schedules and a clear understanding of timelines required for their deployment during the EVA portion of the mission. Other issues examined by the Council still were unresolved: one versus two-man EVA, use of television, and timeline allocations for EVA trials and development by the crew. During the discussions, ASPO Manager George M. Low recommended attempting television transmission via the Goldstone antenna (although the operational procedures would further burden an already heavily constrained mission). The erectable antenna would also be carried and used if the landing site and EVA period precluded sight of the Goldstone antenna. Charles W. Mathews and others from Washington voiced concern that the EVA timeline did not allow sufficient time for learning about EVA per se in the one-sixth-gravity environment of the moon. The astronaut must perform some special tasks, but must also have some time for personal movements and evaluation of EVA capabilities in order to build confidence toward a fairly complex EVA exercise during the second landing mission. Low asked his chief system engineering assistant, Owen E. Maynard, to incorporate these operational decisions into the Apollo mission planning and to define mounting of the television camera and its early use in the mission.
NASA Apollo Program Director Samuel C. Phillips apprised Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight George E. Mueller of recent program decisions and planning for extravehicular activities (EVA) on the first Apollo lunar landing mission. Primary objective on that first flight, Phillips said, had from the inception of the program been a safe manned landing and return. However, in light of current schedules, mission planning, and crew training activities, the agency must now commit itself to a definite scope for EVA activities on the first flight. After thorough review of the mission, a tentative EVA outline had been drawn up at the end of August and distributed to the Centers and Headquarters offices for comment. On September 11 the Manned Space Flight Management Council reviewed the proposed EVA scheme and criticisms and approved a formal EVA mission plan:
Several scientific experiments had been deferred from the first to the second lunar landing mission, Apollo Program Director Phillips informed the ASPO Manager at MSC: S-031, Lunar Passive Seismology; S-034, Lunar Tri-axis Magnetometer; S-035, Medium Energy Solar Wind; S-036, Suprathermal Ion Detection; S-058, Cold Cathode Ionization Gauge; and S-059, Lunar Geology Investigation. Substituted was a more conservative group that included Lunar Passive Seismology (S-031); a Laser Ranging Retroreflector (S-078); and Solar Wind Composition (S-080). Also assigned to the first landing mission, included among operational tasks, were sampling activities and observations of lunar soil mechanics.
In an exchange of correspondence, Samuel C. Phillips, NASA OMSF, and ASPO Manager George Low, MSC, discussed the possibility of carrying an aseptic sampler and a closeup stereo camera on the Apollo 11 flight. They decided the flight would carry the camera as an additional source of data; Apollo 11 crewmen would use it on targets of opportunity during lunar surface exploration. Because of the unrealistic schedule that would be required to certify the flight worthiness of the aseptic sampler, however, they decided not to fly it on Apollo 11.
Apollo Program Director Samuel C. Phillips suggested to MSC Director Robert R. Gilruth that a meeting be held at MSC during the period of the Apollo 10 return flight to earth to review the status of experiment support facilities and the overall plans for science support operations during lunar missions and over an extended period of time. Phillips pointed out that the results from the Early Apollo Scientific Experiments Package, the Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments Packages, the Lunar Geology Experiment, and the analyses of the returned lunar samples would be of inestimable scientific value. However, NASA in the dissemination of the scientific results would require a science operations and data management plan which would spell out the operational, support, management, data-handling, and science relationships.
NASA Hq. informed MSC that, for planning purposes and Change Control Board action, the following science sequence was being recommended for the Apollo 12 mission:
Because the first flight of the ALSEP was scheduled on Apollo 12, NASA Hq. asked MSFC to provide for installation at KSC of the prelaunch cooling system for the ALSEP radioisotopic thermoelectric generator (RTG) on instrument units 507 through 510.
Apollo Program Office Change Control Board (CCB) Directive No. 140 assigned Experiment S080, Solar Wind Composition, to the first lunar landing mission. CCB Directive No. 156 requested MSC to also include this experiment on the second lunar landing mission.
NASA Hq. authorized MSC to modify its contract with Bendix to include a 60- to 90-day effort to define a modified ALSEP design. Additional cost was not to exceed $300,000.
Provision of a thermometer that could be attached to the ALSEP for the Apollo 13 mission, to take a reading of the lunar surface soil temperature, was being considered at MSC.
MSC informed NASA Hq. that the Apollo 12 ALSEP left on the moon in November 1969 was continuing to transmit satisfactory data. Status of experiments feeding data into the station was as follows:
The operation of the solar wind experiment was satisfactory. During the lunar days, useful data were being received from the lunar surface magnetometer. However, during the lunar-night cycle data were not received.
Useful data were being received from the three long-period sensors of the passive seismometer experiment. The short period sensor was inoperative.
The cold cathode ion gauge power had failed.
Satisfactory data were being received from the suprathermal ion detector.
Some members of the Lunar Sample Review Board expressed concern that, unless provisions were made to retain vital parts of the Apollo science program for a number of years after the lunar landings were completed, tangible returns from the lunar landings would be greatly diminished. Three main areas of concern were the lunar sample analysis program, the curatorial staff and facilities for care of the sample collection, and the lunar geophysical stations and Apollo orbital science.
A meeting was held at NASA Hq. to formulate a plan to provide the National Space Science Data Center (NSSDC) with the material required to serve the scientific community. As a result of the meeting, MSC was requested to:
The Lunar Science Institute's summer study on post-Apollo lunar science arrived at a number of conclusions and recommendations. Some conclusions were: Lunar science would evolve through three rather distinct phases. For two years immediately following Apollo 17, high priority would be given to collection, organization, and preliminary analysis of the wealth of information acquired from the exploration of the moon. In the next two years (1975 and 1976), emphasis would shift to a careful first look at all the data. In the next years, investigations would be concentrated on key problems. Additional Details: Lunar Science Institute's summer study on post-Apollo lunar science.
A Lunar Programs Office, under which the Lunar Data Analysis and Synthesis Program would be conducted, was established in the Office of Space Science, NASA Hq. The office was responsible for continued operation and collection of data from the Apollo lunar surface experiment packages and the Apollo 15 subsatellite; Apollo surface and orbital science data analysis by principal investigators; development of selenodetic, cartographic, and photographic products; continued lunar laser ranging experiment; continued lunar sample analysis; lunar supporting research and technology; and advanced program studies.