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Apollo X Station
Apollo X Station -

Credit: NASA. 6,626 bytes. 294 x 404 pixels.

Class: Manned. Type: Space Station. Nation: USA.

Apollo X was the designation given at various times during the Apollo program for follow-on versions of the spacecraft for extended earth-orbit operations (for a time, all follow-on projects using Apollo hardware were termed 'Apollo X'. Initial studies concentrated on extending the life of the basic Apollo CSM to accomodate missions of up to 100 days. A 1962 design used an adaptation of ‘existing’ Apollo hardware to create a space laboratory. Later variants used various kinds of laboratories within or integrated into the Apollo SLA adapter. Apollo X also covered rather extensive work to give Apollo a land landing capability, using a parawing or retrorockets, so that the vast naval recovery fleet could be dispensed with.


Apollo X Chronology

01 October 1961 Apollo X Program: Apollo X.

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.

12 December 1962 Apollo spacecraft systems modifications to achieve a 100-day Earth- orbital capability. Program: Apollo X.

Owen E. Maynard, Head of MSC's Spacecraft Integration Branch, reported on his preliminary investigation of the feasibility of modifying Apollo spacecraft systems to achieve a 100-day Earth- orbital capability. His investigation examined four basic areas: (1) mission, propulsion, and flight time; (2) rendezvous, reentry, and landing; (3) human factors; and (4) spacecraft command and communications. Although modifications to some systems might be extensive- and would involve a considerable weight increase for the vehicle-such a mission using Apollo hardware was indeed feasible.

30 July 1963 Modifications to the basic Apollo spacecraft to extend capabilities to a 100-day orbital lifetime. Program: Apollo X.

At the request of NASA Hq, MSC contracted with North American to determine what engineering modifications to the basic Apollo spacecraft would be required to extend that vehicle's mission capabilities to a 100-day orbital lifetime. Additional Details: Modifications to the basic Apollo spacecraft to extend capabilities to a 100-day orbital lifetime..

24 November 1963 North American final report on extended missions for the Apollo spacecraft. Program: Apollo X.

North American issued the final report of its study for MSC on extended missions for the Apollo spacecraft. In stressing the supreme importance of man's role in the exploration of space-and the uncertainties surrounding the effects of prolonged exposure to the zero-gravity environment of space-the company suggested that an Earth-orbital laboratory would be an ideal vehicle for such long-term experimental evaluation, with missions exceeding a year's duration. Additional Details: North American final report on extended missions for the Apollo spacecraft..

15 January 1964 Phase II follow-on extended Apollo system studies. Program: Apollo X.

Following completion of feasibility studies of an extended Apollo system at MSC, Edward Z. Gray, Advanced Manned Missions Program Director at Headquarters, told MSC's Maxime A. Faget, Director of Engineering and Development, to go ahead with phase II follow-on studies. Gray presented guidelines and suggested tasks for such a study, citing his desire for two separate contracts to industry to study the command and service modules and various concepts for laboratory modules.

12 March 1964 Project Development Plan for the Manned Orbital Research Laboratory. Program: Apollo X.

Edward Z. Gray, Advanced Manned Missions Director in the Office of Manned Space Flight, asked LaRC Director Charles J. Donlan to prepare a Project Development Plan for the Manned Orbital Research Laboratory, studies for which were already underway at the Center and under contract. This plan was needed as documentation for any possible decision to initiate an orbital research laboratory project. (Gray had also asked MSC to submit similar plans for an Apollo X, an Apollo Orbital Research Laboratory, and a Large Orbital Research Laboratory.) In addition to the Project Development Plan, Gray asked for system specifications for each candidate orbital laboratory system; both of these would form the basis for a project proposal with little delay 'should a climate exist in which a new project can be started.'

21 July 1964 Orbital laboratory using Apollo-developed components for military applications. Program: Apollo X.

Commenting on Republican Presidential candidate Barry Goldwater's views on the space program, Warren Burkett, science writer for the Houston Chronicle, observed that a great deal of research being conducted as part of NASA's Apollo program could be of direct value to the military services. Burkett contended that an orbital laboratory using Apollo-developed components could be used for such military applications as patrol and orbital interception. He suggested that, with Apollo, NASA was generating an inventory of 'off-the-shelf' space hardware suitable for military use if needed.

17 August 1964 Apollo X spacecraft to be used in Earth orbit for extended duration biomedical and scientific flights. Program: Apollo X.

MSC's Spacecraft Integration Branch proposed an Apollo 'X' spacecraft to be used in Earth orbit for biomedical and scientific missions of extended duration. The spacecraft would consist of the lunar Apollo spacecraft and its systems, with minimum modifications consisting- of redundancies and spares. The concept provided for a first-phase mission which would consider the Apollo 'X' a two-man Earth-orbiting laboratory for a period of 14 to 45 days. The spacecraft would be boosted into a 370-km orbit by a Saturn IB launch vehicle. Additional Details: Apollo X spacecraft to be used in Earth orbit for extended duration biomedical and scientific flights..

26 October 1964 NASA definition studies of the Apollo X spacecraft planned during Fiscal Year 1965. Program: Apollo X.

In an interview for Missiles and Rockets magazine, Associate Administrator Robert C. Seamans, Jr., stated that NASA planned to initiate program definition studies of an Apollo X spacecraft during Fiscal Year 1965. Seamans emphasized that such a long-duration space station program would not receive funding for actual hardware development until the 1970s. He stressed that NASA's Apollo X would not compete with the Manned Orbiting Laboratory program: 'MOL is important for the military as a method of determining what opportunities there are for men in space. It is not suitable to fulfill NASA requirements to gain scientific knowledge.'

01 December 1964 Apollo X missions following completion of Apollo's prime goal of landing on the Moon. Program: Apollo X.

In a letter to Apollo Program Director Samuel C. Phillips regarding tentative spacecraft development and mission planning schedules, Joseph F. Shea, Apollo Spacecraft Program Manager, touched upon missions following completion of Apollo's prime goal of landing on the Moon. Such missions, Shea said, would in general fall under the heading of a new program (such as Apollo X). Although defining missions a number of years in the future was most complex, Shea advised that MSC was planning to negotiate program package contracts with both North American and Grumman through Fiscal Year 1969, based upon the agency's most recent program planning schedules.

07 December 1964 Recommendation that the Air Force's MOL and NASA's Apollo X programs be merged. Program: Apollo X.

In a letter to President Lyndon B. Johnson, Senator Clinton P. Anderson, Chairman of the Committee on Aeronautical and Space Sciences, recommended that the Air Force's MOL and NASA's Apollo X programs be merged. Senator Anderson argued that a jointly operated national space station program would most effectively use the nation's available resources. He claimed that $1 billion could be saved during the next five years if the MOL were canceled and those funds applied to NASA's Apollo-based space station program. Additional Details: Recommendation that the Air Force's MOL and NASA's Apollo X programs be merged..

18 June 1965 Douglas Aircraft Company follow-on study contract for the MORL. Program: Apollo X.

LaRC awarded Douglas Aircraft Company a follow-on study contract for the MORL, emphasizing use of the AES program as a prerequisite to the MORL. Douglas was to examine particularly interfaces between AES experiments and missions and the MORL program.

13 September 1965 Changed management guidelines for Center roles in AES, Program: Apollo X.

Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight George E. Mueller officially informed the Directors of MSC, MSFC, and KSC of changed management guidelines for Center roles in AES as informally agreed upon during discussions in Washington. Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight George E. Mueller officially informed the Directors of MSC, MSFC, and KSC of changed management guidelines for Center roles in AES as informally agreed upon during discussions in Washington (see 6-10 August 1965): MSC responsible for spacecraft development, flight crew activities, mission control and flight operations, and command and service modules payload integration. MSFC-responsible for launch vehicle development and payload integration for all lunar excursion module AES-modified vehicles (termed 'derivatives'). KSC responsible for prelaunch assembly, checkout, and launch of all AES vehicles. Final decision on the Apollo-type versus contractor approach for payload integration was deferred pending results of phase I mission studies underway at North American and Grumman and of a payload integration definition study to be let by MSFC. These guidelines, said Mueller, should be incorporated into the Centers' planning efforts for AES implementation.

11 October 1965 Apollo AAP objectives described. Program: Apollo X.

In a paper presented at the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics' fourth manned space flight meeting in St. Louis, AAP Director William B. Taylor described the focus and importance of the AAP. In contrast to Apollo, with its clear objective of lauding on the Moon, AAP's objectives were much less obvious. Under AAP, Taylor said, NASA planned to exploit the capabilities being developed for Apollo as a technological bridge to more extensive manned space flight missions of the 1970s and 1980s. AAP was not an end in itself, but rather a beginning to build flight experience, technology, and scientific data. Additional Details: Apollo AAP objectives described..

16 November 1965 Technical proposal for phase C of the AAP from North American Aviation, Inc., covering final definition of the AAP CSM. Program: Apollo X.

Following MSC's receipt of the technical proposal for phase C of the AAP from North American Aviation, Inc., covering final definition of the AAP CSM, William A. Lee, Assistant Manager of the Apollo Spacecraft Program Office, asked several of his staff members to assist in evaluation of the proposal. Such help, he said, would be invaluable in bringing to bear on AAP the experience that the Apollo office had obtained during the effort to develop the block II lunar version of the spacecraft. The technical proposal by North American described those tasks that the company believed were required to define the CSM configuration and to formulate hardware specifications for the development and operations phase of the program. Paralleling these efforts by the contractor, MSC had established a baseline AAP CSM configuration and had laid down several configuration guidelines believed fundamental tenets of AAP objectives: no spacecraft modifications to achieve 'product improvement' or to obtain it statistical 'mission success.'

29 November 1965 Additional Apollo subsystems testing to qualify the spacecraft beyond the 14-day requirements of the Apollo lunar mission.

Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight George E. Mueller requested of MSC Director Robert R. Gilruth that his Center identify additional Apollo subsystems testing and the best method of conducting such tests on the basic subsystems of the spacecraft beyond the 14-day requirements of the Apollo lunar mission. Mueller explained that planning for the Apollo Applications Program projected that extended missions could be performed using basic Apollo hardware and that significant advantages might be realized by testing subsystems to determine their duration limits, thereby avoiding the burden of additional test units and test facilities.

18 February 1966 Basic elements in NASA's AAP effort described to Congress.

Testifying before the House Committee on Science and Astronautics Subcommittee on Manned Space Flight, Deputy Administrator Robert C. Seamans, Jr., described three basic elements in NASA's AAP effort: Extension of orbital staytimes to 45 days or more through minor modifications to the present Apollo system. Procurement of additional spacecraft and launch vehicles for follow-on flights beyond the present Apollo schedule. Utilization of Apollo vehicles during the 1968-1970 time frame if the agency's most optimistic Apollo schedules were realized. 'We cannot today look toward a permanent manned space station, or a lunar base, or projects for manned planetary exploration,' Seamans stated, 'until our operational, scientific and technological experience with major manned systems already in hand has further matured.'

01 March 1966 AAP operational objectives outlined.

In an informal note on AAP planning to James C. Elms, Deputy Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight, AAP Deputy Director John H. Disher suggested a number of operational objectives that he believed should be essential elements within the program: manned operations in synchronous and high-inclination Earth orbit; manned orbital assembly and resupply; crew transfer in orbit; extended Earth-orbit mission duration capability; extended lunar exploration; and conduct of a broad range of operational, scientific, and technological experiments in space.

21 March 1966 House Committee recommended combining NASA's Apollo Applications Program with the Air Force's Manned Orbiting Laboratory. Program: Apollo X.

A report by the Military Operations Subcommittee of the House Committee on Government Operations recommended combining NASA's Apollo Applications Program with the Air Force's Manned Orbiting Laboratory. 'Inasmuch as both programs are still research and development projects without definitive operational missions,' stated the Committee's report, 'there is reason to expect that with earnest efforts both agencies could get together on a joint program incorporating both unique and similar experiments of each agency.'

09 June 1966 George M. Low advised Headquarters that MSC was reducing its funding request for Fiscal Year 1967 in support of research on a land-landing capability for the AAP. Program: Apollo X.

Specifically, this program reduction involved halting all work dealing with braking rockets and attenuation systems and concentrating all effort on prototype development of several types of lifting parachute and parawing designs. These program changes were mandatory, Low stated, because of limited AAP development funds and because a land-landing capability was still not a firm objective (even though MSC had previously presented such a program leading to a land- landing capability for AAP by the end of 1969).

09 July 1966 Reservations on a synchronous-orbit mission for AAP. Program: Apollo X.

George M. Low expressed his reservations about the validity of planning a synchronous-orbit mission for AAP. In a note to Maxime A. Faget, Low commented on the recent interest in such a mission and voiced his own doubt concerning either the need for or the desirability of such a flight. Low stated that such things as synoptic views of terrain or weather phenomena could be done just as well from low Earth orbit using mosaic techniques. Moreover, low orbits afforded simpler operations, much greater payload capabilities, and minimal radiation hazards. Low asked Faget to have his organization prepare an analysis of low Earth-orbit versus synchronous- orbit operations in preparation for upcoming AAP planning discussions in Washington at the end of the month.

02 August 1966 In a letter to Robert R. Gilruth, George E. Mueller acknowledged MSC's expeditious completion of the phase C definition phase of the Apollo experiments pallet effort. Program: Apollo X.

However, he noted several fundamental changes since the pallet effort was started. With experiment funding severely limited, NASA had now placed greater emphasis on a few major experiments (such as the Apollo telescope mount) in contrast to the wide variety of experiments originally envisioned for AAP missions. Also, Mueller observed that because of recent reshaping of AAP objectives toward long-duration missions program planners now believed that, in general, experiments should be carried in the adapter area of the launch vehicle rather than in the vacant bay of the service module (which thus could be used for expendables to support the longer duration flights). In light of these program changes, Mueller concluded it was no longer wise to proceed with phase D of the pallet program-actual hardware development.

27 October 1966 Saturn/Apollo Applications officials at Headquarters sounded out Houston officials on the status of MSC's land-landing development plan. Program: Apollo X.

MSC technicians had 'reevaluated' their original cloverleaf-retrorocket configuration and now were pushing for development of a sailwing as the reentry descent system, believing that the sailwing had greater potential for Apollo-class vehicles (especially in range and maneuverability). Also, MSC spokesmen proposed that Houston take over testing of the 'parawing' (a limp paraglider) being developed by Langley. They stated that the research and testing effort required to develop the sailwing and parawing would delay until 1971 or 1972 NASA's achieving a land-landing capability. (Previous work on the cloverleaf-retrorocket concept had promised such a capability by about mid-1970.)

03 April 1967 Demonstrations of land-landing capability for the Apollo Applications Program. Program: Apollo X.

Technicians from MSC's Landing and Recovery Division conducted demonstrations of land- landing at Ft. Hood, Texas, on 6, 11, and 12 April. The demonstrations were part of MSC's effort to develop an advanced system to provide a land-landing capability for the Apollo Applications Program, an improved launch abort situation, and reduced horizontal velocities for water landings.

29 May 1967 Northrop Ventura to conduct a research program on a flexible parawing for potential use in manned spacecraft landing systems. Program: Apollo X.

NASA announced that LaRC had selected Northrop Ventura Company to negotiate a contract to conduct a research program (including flight tests) of a flexible parawing for potential use in manned spacecraft landing systems. Northrop Ventura would evaluate the suitability of using a parawing (instead of conventional parachutes) to allow controlled descent in a shallow glide and thus offer wide flexibility in choosing a touchdown point, as well as provide a soft landing impact. The parawing would be evaluated for possible use on the Apollo Applications Program during the early 1970s to achieve a true land-landing mission capability.

23 June 1969 AAP and the Apollo Lunar Exploration Mission (ALEM) CSM commonality issues. Program: Apollo X.

In response to a TWX from NASA Hq (see 20 June entry) Kenneth S. Kleinknecht and Robert F. Thompson of MSC talked to John H. Disher (NASA Hq) at the suggestion of Apollo Spacecraft Program Manager George M. Low. Also listening to the conversation were Robert V. Battey and Harold E. Gartrell of MSC. (Low had suggested the call be made to William C. Schneider of NASA Hq, but he was not available.) Kleinknecht reiterated to Disher that from the beginning of both the AAP and the Apollo Lunar Exploration Mission (ALEM) consideration had always been given to maintaining the maximum degree of commonality between the basic CSM and those required for both programs without creating severe constraints on the objectives of either mission. Kleinknecht pointed out different requirements of the program and how they clearly indicated some major configuration differences between AAP and ALEM: Long duration of the AAP mission. Backup reaction control system deorbit capability of AAP. Thermal characteristics of AAP missions because of long attitude holds. Use of batteries in lieu of fuel cells in the CSM (if the Saturn V Workshop became a reality the CSM would be quiescent for long periods of time). Kleinknecht added that 'inasmuch as ALEM is still required to do lunar-landing missions as well as collect orbital scientific data, we cannot tolerate any weight penalties that may be associated with scar weights ...weights incurred by using a resulting from commonality with the AAP vehicle....' He also recognized that there would be more commonality between the AAP and ALEM should the Workshop become official because expendables could then be supplied to the CSM from the Workshop rather than carried in the CSM. He added that about three and one- half months had been spent in studying and defining the ALEM CSM, and a major change to provide commonality with the AAP CSM would result in that time being lost and at least three and one-half months delay in the launch readiness of the first ALEM mission. Kleinknecht concluded that MSC agreed in principle with Headquarters in providing as much commonality as possible, but recommended that the 20 June TWX from Headquarters be rescinded and that MSC not pursue a commonality study with North American. Four days later, MSC received another TWX from George E. Mueller (NASA Hq) saying, '. . . it is our understanding that you will continue your in-house evaluation of the differences in requirements and the impact of these differences on the configuration of CSM's to support lunar exploration, AAP Saturn V Workshop, and early space station missions. This further assessment should be available for discussion by July 7 and will likely be presented to the Management Council in executive session on July 8 or 9.'

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Last update 12 March 2001.
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