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Apollo command module boilerplate model BP-1 was accepted by NASA and delivered to the NAA Engineering Development Laboratory for land and water impact tests. On September 25, BP-1 was drop-tested with good results. Earth-impact attenuation and crew shock absorption data were obtained.
At Downey, Calif., MSC and North American officials conducted a mockup review on the Block I CSM. Major items reviewed were:
For the first time, three representative Apollo space suits were used in the CM couches. Pressurized suit demonstrations, with three suited astronauts lying side by side in the couches, showed that the prototype suit shoulders and elbows overlapped and prevented effective operation of the CM displays and controls. Previous tests, using only one suited subject, had indicated that suit mobility was adequate. Gemini suits, tested under the same conditions, proved much more usable. Moreover, using Gemini suits for Apollo earth orbital missions promised a substantial financial saving. As a result of further tests conducted in May, the decision was made to use the Gemini suits for these missions. The existing Apollo space suit contract effort was redirected to concentrate on later Apollo flights. A redesign of the Apollo suit shoulders and elbows also was begun.
MSC established the configuration of the reaction control system engines for both the service module (SM) and the LEM, and informed North American and Grumman accordingly. The Center also directed North American to propose a design for an electric heater that would provide thermal control in lunar orbit and during contingency operations. The design would be evaluated for use in Block I spacecraft as well.
Analysis by MSC of the performance of the environmental control system radiators for Block I CM's placed their heat rejection capability at 4,000 Btus per hr, far below the anticipated mission load of 7,220. Water boiled at the rate of 1.46 kg (3.22 lbs) per hr would be needed to supplement the radiators. This, in turn, would limit the mission to 45 hours duration, at which time all of the spacecraft's water supplies (both that in the water tanks at launch and that collected as a byproduct from the fuel cells) would be exhausted.
As MSC saw it, potential solutions were to redesign the radiators themselves, to increase the size of the tanks to hold another 194 kg (428 lbs) of water, or to reduce the operating power level.
On the basis of reentry simulations, North American recommended several CM instrument changes. An additional reaction control system display was needed, the company reported. Further, the flight attitude and the stabilization and control system indicators must be modified to warn of a system failure before it became catastrophic. The entry monitor system for Block I spacecraft would have to be replaced and the sample g-meter was not wholly satisfactory.
Crew Systems Division (CSD) engineers evaluated the radiator for the environmental control system in Block I CSM's. The division was certain that, because of that item's inadequacy, Block I missions would have to be shortened.
During the same period, however, the Systems Engineering Division (SED) reported "progress" in solving the radiator problem. SED stated that some "disagreement" existed on the radiator's capability. North American predicted a five-day capability; CSD placed the mission's limit at about two days. SED ordered further testing on the equipment to reconcile this difference.
During testing, it was found that blast effects of the linear charge for the CM/SM umbilical cutter caused considerable damage to the heatshield. To circumvent this problem, North American designed a vastly improved pyrotechnic-driven, guillotine-type cutter. MSC readily approved the new' device for both Block I and II spacecraft.
ASPO and the MSC Instrumentation and Electronic Systems Division (IESD) formulated a program for electromagnetic compatibility testing of hardware aboard the CSM and LEM. The equipment would be mounted in spacecraft mockups, which would then be placed in the Center's anechoic chamber. In these tests, scheduled to begin about the first of September, IESD was to evaluate the compatibility of the spacecraft in docked and near-docked configurations, and of Block I spacecraft with the launch vehicle. The division was also to recommend testing procedures for the launch complex.
ASPO Manager Joseph F. Shea clarified the manned unmanned capabilities required of Block I CSM spacecraft to ensure that end-item specifications appropriately reflect those capabilities.
CSMs 017 and 020 would fly unmanned entry tests on the Saturn V and need not be capable of manned missions. CSMs 012 and 014 were to be delivered to KSC for manned orbital missions on the Saturn IB but must be capable of being modified to fly unmanned missions.
The planning for CSM 012 should be such that the mission type could be selected 5½ months prior to the scheduled launch of the 204 mission, yet not delay the launch.
Using a mockup Apollo CM, MSC Crew Systems Division tested the time in which an astronaut could don and doff the Block I pressure garment assembly while at various stations inside the spacecraft. The two subjects' average donning times were nine min 33 sec and 10 min; mean doffing times were four min five sec and five min 23 sec.
To prevent radiator freezing - and consequent performance degradation - in the Block I environmental control system, MSC ordered North American to supplement the system's coolant. Forty-five kg (100 lbs) of water would be stored in the SMs of airframes 012 and 014.
Avco found that cracking of the ablator during cure was caused by incomplete filling, leaving small voids in the material. The company ordered several changes in the manufacturing process: a different shape for the tip of the "filling gun" to facilitate filling those cells that were slightly distorted; manual rather than automatic retraction of the gun; and x-raying of the ablator prior to curing. Using these new methods, Avco repaired the aft heatshield and toroidal corner of airframe 006, which was then re-cured. No cracking was visible. The crew compartment heatshield for airframe 009 came through its cure equally well. Voids in the ablator had been reduced to about two percent. "It appears," Structures and Mechanics Division reported, "that the problem of cracking . . . has been solved by better manufacturing."
MSC concurred in North American's recommendation that the 27½ degrees hang angle during parachute descent be retained. (Tests with one-tenth scale models of the CM indicated that, at the higher impact angles, excessive pressures would be exerted on the sidewalls of the vehicle.) Provisions for a "dual hang angle" were still in effect for Block I spacecraft up to airframe 017. Beginning with that number, the face sheets on the aft heatshield would be modified to conform to the 27½ degree impact angle.
MSC directed North American to include nine scientific experiments on SA 204/Airframe 012: cardiovascular reflex conditioning, bone demineralization, vestibular effects, exercise ergometer, inflight cardiac output, inflight vector cardiogram, measurement of metabolic rate during flight, inflight pulmonary functions, and synoptic terrain photography. On June 25, the last five experiments were deleted and a cytogenic blood studies experiment was added.
North American dropped boilerplate 1 twice to measure the maximum pressures the CM would generate during a high-angle water impact. These figures agreed quite well with those obtained from similar tests with a one-tenth scale model of the spacecraft, and supported data from the model on side wall and tunnel pressures.
ASPO Manager Joseph F. Shea said that the first major test of an Apollo spacecraft AFRM 009 tended to pace the CSM program and therefore had taken on a special program significance. Reflecting this significance, both MSC and North American had applied specific additional senior management and project engineering effort to that spacecraft. In the fall of 1965, Robert O. Piland, ASPO Deputy Manager, was assigned to give priority to AFRM 009 to complement and support the normal ASPO project engineering activities. North American simultaneously gave a special assignment regarding 009 to Assistant Program Manager Charles Feltz.
Recently North American had assigned a Chief Project Engineer to a full-time assignment on 009. ASPO's current management and project engineering plan for the spacecraft was: Piland would continue to give priority attention to 009, in addition to his normal duties, and would deal directly with Feltz. The ASPO Chief Project Engineer Rolf W. Lanzkron would be responsible for all ASPO project engineering activities for all spacecraft to be launched at KSC. He would give priority attention to all Block I spacecraft, ensuring schedules through adequate planning, timely decisions, and rapid referral of problems to the Deputy Manager where appropriate. Lanzkron would coordinate with North American's Chief Project Engineer, Ray Pyle, on matters pertaining to 009. Lanzkron would be supported in the Block I project engineering effort by a group headed by William Petynia.
North American began a series of water impact tests with boilerplate 1 to obtain pressure data on the upper portions of the CM. Data on the side walls and tunnel agreed fairly well with those obtained from 1/10 scale model drops; this was not the case with pressures on the top deck, however.
North American presented final results of their modification to the electrical power system for spacecraft 011 to solve the power and energy problem. This consisted of the addition of three batteries which would be mounted on the center platform and used to supply instrumentation and mission control programmer loads during flight. These batteries would be paralleled with the entry and landing batteries at impact to provide power for postlanding recovery loads. MSC concurred with this approach.
To evaluate the Block 11 CSM's manual thrust vector control, five pilots, among them two astronauts, flew the Apollo simulator at Honeywell. These mock flights demonstrated that the manual control was sufficiently accurate for transearth injection. Also, researchers determined that the optical alignment sight provided the crewmen with attitude references adequate for midcourse maneuvers.
Two CSM fuel cells failed qualification testing, the first failing after 101.75 hrs of the vacuum endurance test. Pratt and Whitney Aircraft determined that the failure was caused by a cleaning fluid which contaminated and plugged the oxygen lines and contaminated the oxygen gas at the electrodes. The fuel cell would be rebuilt for qualification testing and test preparation procedures were to be revised.
An internal short circuit occurred in the second fuel cell 16 hrs before the end of the 400-hour qualification test. In spite of the failure the fuel cell met the current Block I mission specification and did not need to be redesigned.
At the initial design engineering inspection (DEI) of Spacecraft 009, held at Downey, California, MSC and North American officials reviewed the compatibility of the vehicle with SA-201 mission requirements. The DEI Review Board approved 11 hardware changes and assigned 26 others for further study.
North American updated the electrical power profile for spacecraft 011:
Joseph F. Shea, ASPO Manager, approved Crew Systems Division's recommendation to retain the "shirtsleeve" environment for the CM. The design was simpler and promised greater overall mission reliability; also, it would be more comfortable for the crewmen. Wearing part of the space suit would compound problems with humidity and condensation inside the cabin. Accordingly, the crew would be clad only in their constant-wear garments or would be fully suited. (MSC and North American had explored the feasibility of putting a water separator in the cabin heat exchanger for airframe 012. It was hoped that, through partially suited operations, the crew could gain confidence in the spacecraft's pressurization system. North American advised, however, that considerable cost and schedule impacts could be expected. Moreover, such a device would be only partly successful -condensation would still be a major problem, Shea therefore vetoed the water separator and the idea of partially suited operations during the first manned Apollo flight.)
MSC directed North American to provide spacecraft 012, 014, 017, and 020 with a system to monitor combustion instability in the service propulsion engine. (On April 8, officials of ASPO, Propulsion and Power Division, and the Flight Operations Directorate had agreed on the desirability of such a system.) Should vibrations become excessive, the device would automatically shut down the engine. Manual controls would enable the astronauts to lock out the automatic system and to restart the engine.
Structures and Mechanics Division engineers determined that the spacecraft-LEM-adapter would not survive a service propulsion system abort immediately after jettisoning of the launch escape tower. North American planned to strengthen the upper hinges and fasteners and to resize the shock attenuators on spacecraft 009.
North American conducted the third in a series of water impact tests on boilerplate 1 to measure pressures on forward portions of the spacecraft. Data from the series supported those from tests with one- tenth scale models of the CM. The manufacturer reported, therefore, that it planned no further full-scale testing.
North American released a preliminary report, "Apollo Reliability Modeling Documentation," in response to an action item assigned to MSC by the President's Scientific Advisory Committee (PSAC) Space Technology Panel at an Apollo program reliability briefing for the panel in January. The expected crew safety reliability was assessed at 0.973 with a confidence level of 60 percent. Functional logic diagrams indicated the amount of redundancy in each CSM function. North American noted that a direct comparison should not be made between mission AS-506 lunar orbit rendezvous (LOR) crew safety reliability and the preliminary crew safety number 0.976 for spacecraft 012. The LOR assessment, while preliminary, was developed in greater depth than the assessment for the PSAC briefing. However, a real increase in reliability was indicated from spacecraft 012 to the LOR mission because the reliability values were about equal, and the complexity and number of required functions in the LOR were far greater.
At North American's drop facility, a malfunction in the release mechanism caused boilerplate 1 to impact on land rather than water. After a recurrence of this accident on August 6, a team of investigators began looking into the problem. Drops were suspended pending their findings. These incidents aggravated delays in the test program, which already was seven weeks behind schedule.
North American evaluated the CSM's communications capability with the unified S-band system using attitude data published with the AS-501 (spacecraft 017) preliminary reference trajectory. The trajectory selected to achieve the desired entry conditions had a maximum altitude at apogee of about 16,668 km (9,000 nm). At this altitude, the maximum range to a Manned Spacecraft Flight Network (MSFN) station was about 20,372 km (11,000 nmi). Since a high-gain antenna was not installed on spacecraft 017, communications depended on the S-band omnidirectional antennas. In order to verify their adequacy, directions to the MSFN stations were computed and system circuit margins were derived. North American concluded that the margins were inadequate to support high-bit-rate telemetry for about three hours of the mission. Modification of the planned CSM attitude produced significant improvement (about 17 decibels) in communications. The contractor also proposed a relocation of range ships to improve performance.
Ralph S. Sawyer, Chief of the Instrumentation and Electronic Systems Division, advised ASPO Manager Shea of current problems with antennas for the Apollo spacecraft:
Flight Projects Division advised that, on the basis of current weight studies, the aft heatshield on Block I CMs must be thinned. North American had said that this change would not affect schedules, but felt some concern about the heat sensors. Accordingly, Structures and Mechanics Division (SMD) ordered North American to proceed with this weight reduction on the hardware for spacecraft 011, 012, and 014 (but ensuring that the orbital decay required for Block I manned missions would still be met). The sensors on 011's heatshield would be adapted to the new thickness. SMD anticipated that these changes would cost about $500,000 and would probably delay by about four weeks delivery of the 011 heatshield from Avco.
Pressure loading and thermal tests were completed on the types of windows in the Block I CM. The pressure tests demonstrated their ability to withstand the ultimate stresses (both inward and outward) that the CM might encounter during an atmospheric abort. The thermal simulations qualified the windows for maximum temperatures anticipated during reentry at lunar velocities.
On August 26, the attachments for the pilot parachute mortar had failed during static testing on CM 006. The fittings had been redesigned and the test was not repeated. This test, the final one in the limit load series for the earth landing system, certified the structural interface between the CM and the earth landing system for the 009 flight.
Apollo spacecraft 009, first of the type that would carry three astronauts to the moon and back, was accepted by NASA during informal ceremonies at North American. Spacecraft 009 included a CM, SM, launch escape system, and adapter. It went to Cape Canaveral for integration with the first Saturn IB (Saturn IB and SIVB stages received August 1965). The spacecraft was stacked on the launch vehicle on 26 December.
North American completed static structural tests on the forward heatshield for the Block I CM (part of the certification test network for airframes 009, 011, and 012), thus demonstrating the heatshield's structural integrity when jettisoned (at the start of the earth landing system sequence).
Samuel C. Phillips, Apollo Program Director, notified the Center directors and Apollo program managers in Houston, Huntsville, and Cape Kennedy that OMSF's launch schedule for Apollo-Saturn IB flights had been revised, based on delivery of CSMs 009 and 011:
While delivering Apollo SM 009, the Pregnant Guppy aircraft was delayed at Ellington Air Force Base, Texas, for three-and-a-half days while waiting for an engine change. In view of the delay of the SM, the incident was reviewed during the succeeding weeks, and Aero Spacelines was requested to place spare engines not only at Houston, but also at other strategic locations on the normal air route from Long Beach, Calif., to KSC.
The manned portion of the coast and maneuver simulation program was completed, evaluating man-in-the-loop capabilities and their effects upon maneuver accuracy, maneuver time, and propellant consumption. The maneuvers and pilot techniques satisfied the midcourse attitude and translation control requirements for the Block I Spacecraft 012 manned mission. The study was conducted in eight phases, including more than 950 runs. Preliminary analysis of the results indicated there was compatibility between the pilots and the maneuver control equipment.
North American informed MSC of a fire in the reaction control system (RCS) test cell during a CM RCS test for spacecraft 009. The fire was suspected to have been caused by overheating the test cell when the 10 engines were activated, approximately 30 sec prior to test completion. An estimated test delay of two to three weeks, due to shutdown of the test cell for refurbishment, was forecast. MSC informed the Apollo Program Director that an investigation was underway.
CSM ultimate static testing began. A failure occurred at 140 percent of the limit load test which simulated the end of the first-stage Saturn V boost. The loads were applied at room temperature. Preliminary inspection revealed a core compression failure and upper face sheet separation of the aft bulkhead directly beneath both SM oxidizer tank supports.
A second failure was also observed where the radial beams between the oxidizer and fuel tanks joined the bulkhead and shell. The bulkhead closeouts were peeled for a distance of approximately two inches. No decisions were made regarding repairs, test schedule, etc. These tests were constraints on spacecraft 012.
Apollo Mission A-004 was successfully accomplished at White Sands Missile Range. This was the first flight test utilizing the Apollo Block I type spacecraft and the sixth and final test of the Apollo CSM development program at WSMR. Primary test objectives were:
The Manned Spacecraft Center (MSC) Checkout and Test Division was informed by the Flight Crew Operations Director that in reference to a request for "our desires for altitude chamber runs on Apollo spacecraft, we definitely feel three runs are mandatory on CSMs 012 and 014. For planning purposes I think we should assume this is a steady-state requirement although it should be a subject for review as we accumulate experience." Runs on backup crews had been deleted in several instances if they had already flown and the mission was essentially the same. The value of chamber runs in terms of crew confidence was great and it was assumed that no one would care to make a manned run without a previous unmanned run.
The CSM weight program was reviewed by James L. Bullard of MSC and D. Morgan of North American Aviation at a meeting in Houston. The CM 011 projected weight was at its upper limit as designed by the earth-landing-system restraint, about 68 kilograms above the maximum weight used for mission planning. Data to revise the 011 specification to show a CM weight of 5,352 kilograms were being prepared.
CMs 012 and 014 would present definite weight problems. At the time the CM weight vs earth-landing system factors of safety relationships were investigated in the study of the possibility of shaving ablator material from the heatshield, a maximum weight of 5,296 kilograms was established for the manned spacecraft. Bullard had discussed the possibility of a higher CM weight with James M. Peacock of the Systems Engineering Division and the earth-landing-system subsystem manager but had received no definite reply. Bullard said it was imperative that a firm weight be established, above which the weight could not grow, before any weight reductions could be seriously considered. It appeared that 90 to 136 kilograms would have to be eliminated from the spacecraft, and that the reduction would have to be accomplished primarily by removing items.
NASA Hq. told MSC that delivery changes should be reflected in manned space flight schedules as controlled milestone changes and referred specifically to CSM 008 - April 1966; CSM 011 - April 15, 1966; and CSM 007 - March 31, 1966. Headquarters noted that the "NAA [North American Aviation Inc.] contract delivery date remains 28 February 1966" for each and that "every effort should be made to deliver these articles as early as possible, since completion of each is constraining a launch or other major activity."
A Bellcomm, Inc., memo to Apollo Program Director Samuel C. Phillips presented the status of the Apollo Block I spacesuit assembly. A modified Gemini suit manufactured by the David Clark Manufacturing Co., the overall assembly consisted of a constant-wear garment and a pressure garment assembly. Crew members would also be provided with coveralls to wear in a pressurized cabin as desired. The primary functional requirement of the Block I suit was to provide environmental protection in a depressurized CSM cabin. Therefore, it did not incorporate a thermal and micrometeoroid-protection garment or the helmet visor assembly, which were required for extravehicular operation. The memo listed seven major modifications required to adapt the Gemini suit to make it acceptable for use as an Apollo Block I item.
Spacecraft 007 and 011 were delivered to NASA by North American Aviation. Spacecraft 007 was delivered to Houston to be used for water impact and flotation tests in the Gulf of Mexico and in an environmental tank at Ellington AFB. It contained all recovery systems required during actual flight and the total configuration was that of a flight CM.
The CM of spacecraft 011 was similar to those in which astronauts would ride in later flights and the SM contained support systems including environmental control and fuel cell systems and the main service propulsion system. Spacecraft 011 was scheduled to be launched during the third quarter of 1966.
Joseph N. Kotanchik, MSC, told H. E. McCoy of KSC that his April 4 letter discussing problems and solutions in packing parachutes at KSC by Northrop-Ventura Co. had been studied. To effect economies in the program and move forward delivery of a complete spacecraft to KSC, the upper-deck buildup would be done at North American Aviation's plant in Downey, Calif., and therefore parachutes would be packed at Northrop-Ventura beginning with spacecraft 017. Kotanchik requested KSC to support the parachute packing at Northrup-Ventura by assigning two experienced inspectors for the period required (estimated at two to four weeks for each spacecraft).
MSC Deputy Director George M. Low submitted information to NASA Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight George E. Mueller on manpower requirements and operating costs for testing in MSC's large thermal vacuum chamber. Spacecraft 008 testing reflected a manpower cost (civil service and contractor) of $7,034,000, chamber operating cost of $321,000, and material costs of $277,000. The spacecraft had been in the chamber 83 days, during which time a 92-hour unmanned test and a 163-hour manned test had been conducted.
Apollo Program Director Samuel C. Phillips was informed of increasing engineering orders for spacecraft 012. C. H. Bolender, OMSF Mission Operations Deputy Director, reported information received from John G. Shinkle, Kennedy Space Center Apollo Program Manager, on October 10. At the time of spacecraft shipment to Cape Kennedy on August 25, 164 engineering orders were identified as open work, although the data package appeared to identify only 126. These orders were covered by 32 master change records, which reportedly were the documentation approved by the MSC Change Control Board rather than by individual engineering orders. By September 24, engineering orders totaled 377 - 213 more than on August 25 - and the master change records had increased to 77. KSC estimated that some 150 of the 213 additional orders should have been identifiable within North American Aviation at the time of the Customer Acceptance Readiness Review. Bolender said that, if this were true, North American Aviation should be asked to provide better visibility for CSM changes that would be sent to the Cape for installation at the time of the review.
Propellant tanks of service module 017 failed during a pressure test at North American Aviation, Downey, Calif. The planned test included several pressure cycles followed by a 48-hour test of the tanks at the maximum operating pressure of 165 newtons per square centimeter (240 pounds per square inch). Normal operating pressure was 120 newtons per square centimeter (175 pounds per square inch). After 1 hour 40 minutes at 165 newtons the failure occurred.
SM 017 (designed for SA-501) had been pulled for this test after cracks had been detected in the tanks of SM 101. SM 017 had been previously proof-tested a short time (a matter of minutes) at 220 newtons per square centimeter (320 pounds per square inch).
A team was set up at North American Aviation to look into the failure and its possible impact on the Saturn IB and Saturn V Apollo missions. MSC had two observers on the team, which was to make its findings and recommendations available by November 4.
North American Aviation identified the problem as stress-corrosion cracking resulting from use of methanol as a test liquid at pressures causing above threshold stresses. No tanks subjected to methanol at high stress levels would be used. Freon and isopropyl alcohol, respectively, were recommended for test fluids in the oxidizer and fuel systems, with the stipulation that the equipment had not previously seen propellant and would receive a hot gaseous nitrogen purge after completion of the cold flow operation.
Testing of CSM 012 at Downey, Calif., and KSC revealed numerous failures in the communications cable assembly caused by broken wiring, bent pins, and connector malfunctions. Certain design deficiencies in the system had been remedied by adding adapter cables in series with the cobra cable, but these additions had resulted in additional weak points in the system and in an unacceptably cumbersome cable assembly connected to crew members. For these reasons, Donald K. Slayton, Director of Flight Crew Operations, ruled the existing communications assembly unsafe for flight and requested that the biomedical tee adapter, cobra cable, sleep adapter, and noise eliminator be combined into one new cobra cable for CSM 012.
Fire sweeping through command module 012 atop its Saturn IB launch vehicle at Launch Complex 34, KSC, took the lives of the three-man crew scheduled for the first manned Apollo space flight.
ASPO Manager Joseph F. Shea sent a flash report to NASA Hq.: "During a simulated countdown for mission AS-204 on January 27, 1967, an accident occurred in CM 012. This was a manned test with the prime astronaut crew on board. A fire occurred inside the command module resulting in the death of the three astronauts and as yet undetermined damage to the command and service modules." The launch had been scheduled for February 21.
The Director, Armed Forces Institute of Pathology in Washington, was alerted during late evening and informed that the accident had taken the lives of astronauts Virgil I. Grissom, Edward H. White II, and Roger B. Chaffee.
Later that evening a request for autopsy support was received and three pathologists and a medical photographer were sent to Cape Kennedy on an Air Force aircraft. Team members were Col. Edward H. Johnston, USA; Cdr. Charles J. Stahl, USN; Capt. Latimer E. Dunn, USAF; and T/Sgt Larry N. Hale, USAF.
The postmortem examinations began at 11 a.m. January 28 at the USAF Bioastronautic Operational Support Unit and were completed at 1 a.m. the following day.
Command module 014 arrived from the North American Aviation plant in Downey, Calif., and was placed in the Pyrotechnic Installation Building at KSC. The module was to be used for training the technicians who would disassemble command module 012, the module in which the AS-204 fire had ignited. Before removal of any component from 012, the technicians were to perform similar tasks on 014, to become familiar with all actions required to remove any single component and minimize damage during removal. As a component was removed it was transported from the launch complex to the Pyrotechnic Installation Building. All equipment associated with the accident would also be placed in the PIB, including command module hardware and support equipment.
The Apollo 204 Review Board was informed that the most significant event in the investigation to date was the removal of the launch escape system from the command module, eliminating the greatest potential hazard to disassembly operations. With this task finished, members of the Fire Propagation Panel were expected to enter the command module the following day. Removal of the launch escape system also permitted extensive photographic coverage of the interior of the 012 command module.
Col. Charles F. Strang distributed copies of a status report of the January 31 accident at Brooks AFB, Tex., for the Board's information. NASA Deputy Administrator Robert C. Seamans attended the session.
The Apollo 204 Review Board Chairman requested that a document be written to establish procedures for entry into CM 012. Coordination of requirements and priorities would be controlled by the Panel Coordinating Committee, and entry into the CM by Frank Borman, MSC, or his delegated representative.
A display showing the sequence of events immediately preceding and following the accident was prepared from telemetry data and placed in the Mission Briefing Room. Time span of the display was from 6:30 p.m. to 6:33 p.m., January 27. Significant information was included on communications, instrumentation, electrical power, environmental control, guidance and navigation, and stabilization and control.
Borman reported that the debris removal plan approved by the Board was progressing satisfactorily and that the next phase would use protective plywood covers for the couches to permit detailed examination of the command module interior.
Homer Carhart, Chief of Fuels Research, Chemistry Division, Naval Research Laboratory, was assigned to the Fire Propagation Panel. Board Chairman Floyd Thompson made the following appointments as Representatives of the Board: C. H. Bolender and Charles W. Mathews, both of NASA Hq.; Joseph F. Shea and G. Fred Kelly, MSC; Rocco Petrone, KSC; and William D. Baxter, Air Force Eastern Test Range.
Maxime Faget, MSC, distributed a draft report on the use of internal and external power on the command module for the information of the Apollo 204 Review Board.
Scott Simpkinson, MSC, Chairman of the Disassembly Activities Panel, presented the disassembly schedule. He expected removal of the couches from command module 012 by 5 a.m., followed by installation of the false floor by 12 noon on February 5. The false floor had previously been installed in command module 014 as a training exercise.
Frank Borman, MSC, was granted release of the impounded flight suits of the backup crew, for egress testing. The Board was to observe the test February 5. "Board Proceedings," p. 3-17.
Lt. Col. William D. Baxter, Air Force Eastern Test Range, reported to the Apollo 204 Review Board that copies of statements by 90 witnesses of the January 27 fire had been transcribed. George Jeffs of North American Aviation announced that an NAA and AiResearch team had arrived to inspect the 012 command module and to propose further action on the environmental control unit and system.
Col. Charles F. Strang, USAF, said Board Chairman Floyd Thompson had asked that the "Life Sciences" portion of the final report include an analysis of the escape system, with redesign recommendations. The system fell within the purview of the Ground Emergency Procedures Review Panel, the In-Flight Fire Emergency Provisions Review Panel, the Design Review Panel, and the Medical Analysis Panel. G. Fred Kelly, MSC, was asked to coordinate findings.
The Senate Committee on Aeronautical and Space Sciences met in executive session to hear NASA testimony on the Apollo 204 fire. NASA Deputy Administrator Robert C. Seamans, Jr., said the cause of the accident had not yet been found. Corrective actions under study included choices of CM cabin and suit atmospheres, improved accessibility into and out of the CM cabin, and procedures to minimize the possibility of fires and to extinguish fires if they should occur.
Charges that the Apollo program was taking chances with lives in the effort to beat the U.S.S.R. to the moon were "completely unfounded; . . . before every one of our manned flights, as well as our ground test simulations, we have taken stock to be sure that there is nothing . . . undone or . . . done, that would in any way increase the risk to the astronauts." The astronauts had been party to decisions and part of the review process to make sure this was true. Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight George E. Mueller emphasized that the Apollo program had been "paced at a deliberate pace"; it was the longest research and development program the U.S. had ever undertaken.
MSC Chief of Center Medical Programs Charles A. Berry testified that the cabin atmosphere used in the Apollo program - 100 percent oxygen at pressure of 3.5 newtons per square centimeter (5 pounds per square inch) - was based on extensive research over more than 10 years. The one-gas selection was based on tradeoffs among oxygen toxicity, hypoxia, spacecraft leakage, weight, and system reliability. And cabins had been purged with oxygen at some 10.3 newtons per square centimeter (15 pounds per square inch) during the prelaunch period for all manned launches since 1960 and all spacecraft vacuum chamber tests in Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo programs - primarily to prevent astronauts from getting the bends.
Three previous fires had occurred in the pure oxygen environment, but these had been in simulators and caused by test equipment and procedures that would not be used in spacecraft.
The three-door hatch, requiring 90 seconds to open, was used for the first time on CM 012, which had an inner pressure hull and an outer shell to carry the structural loads of reentry into the atmosphere on a return from the moon. Danger of a fast-opening escape hatch's accidentally opening in space - as the Mercury program's Liberty Bell hatch had opened after splashdown in July 1961 - had to be considered. Research on cabin accessibility, ongoing before the 204 accident, was now intensified.
Irving Pinkel, of Lewis Research Center and the Fire Propagation Panel, presented a preliminary report to the Apollo 204 Review Board. The report described the areas of the command module most damaged by the January 27 fire, the most probable fire paths, and the combustible materials in the CM. The oxygen in the CM would permit burning of only 5.4 to 6.8 kilograms of material. Solid combustibles in the CM included plastics in the nylon, polyurethane, and silicone rubber classes. The liquid-coolant ethylene glycol could also become a fuel if it escaped from the closed coolant system.
The technical team from AiResearch and North American Aviation (under NASA supervision) completed inspection of the CM 012 spacecraft environmental control unit, preparatory to removal.
Panel 21 was formed for service module disposition. It would plan and execute SM activities and obtain Board approval for demating the command and service modules.
MSC ASPO Manager Joseph Shea reviewed with George Jeffs of North American Aviation a deficiency in the mission control programmer (MCP) in spacecraft 017. Certain diodes - intended to prevent propagation of a single-point failure into redundant circuitry - had been omitted from the flight unit. The diodes appeared on MCP schematics but had been omitted from the hardware because of problems in ground testing. A fix appeared mandatory before flight. The MCP unit in spacecraft 020 would be similarly modified before final integrated tests, to confirm that the design change had not introduced other problems.
Shea requested a full explanation from North American "as to how the schematics and/or drawings being used by the responsible design review engineers did not reflect the as built conditions." A report detailing the loopholes in North American procedures that permitted such a condition and the corrective actions taken to prevent such incidents in the future was requested no later than March 1.
William W. Petynia, MSC, was given ASPO responsibility for use of the spacecraft 012 service module in nonflight support of the Apollo program when the Apollo 204 Review Board released the SM from - further investigation. It was to be used in subsystem tests or tests of the complete module.
The Apollo 204 Review Board received a detailed briefing on the anomalies recorded before and during the CM 012 fire. The following anomalies were transmitted by the command module telemetry system to several recording stations:
The Apollo 204 Review Board approved a plan to remove the spacecraft 012 service module from the launch vehicle on February 21. The service module was to be taken to the Manned Spacecraft Operations Building at KSC for detailed examination and testing. Board Chairman Floyd Thompson directed that a plan be developed to release Launch Complex 34 from impoundage and to return it to KSC for normal use after the SM was removed. Preparations were being made to remove the aft heatshield from the command module to permit inspection of the CM floor from the lower side.
MSC ASPO reported to NASA Hq. that, because of many wiring discrepancies found in Apollo spacecraft 017, a more thorough inspection was required, with 12 main display control panels to be removed and wiring visually inspected for cuts, chafing, improper crimping, etc. The inspection, to begin March 2, was expected to take three or four days.
The two crates containing the mission control programmer (MCP) for CSM 017 had been delivered to Orlando, Fla., February 26 with extensive damage. Damage indicated that one crate might have been dropped upside down; its internal suspension system was designed for right-side-up shock absorption. The second crate contained holes that might have been caused by a fork lift. The MCP was returned to Autonetics Division of North American Aviation for inspection; barring dynamic programmer problems, the equipment was expected to be returned to KSC by March 7. The crates bore no markings such as "This Side Up" or "Handle with Care."
The Apollo 204 Review Board decided to classify all material from command module 012 as Category A or Category B items. Category A would include all items that were damaged or identified as suspect or associated with anomalies. Category B would include items that appeared to be absolved of association with the January 27 accident; these would be available to the Apollo Program Office for use in nondestructive tests, but the Board would require copies of all test reports. Frank Borman, MSC, announced that disassembly of the command module was scheduled for completion by March 10.
MSC informed Kennedy Space Center that, on release of the 012 service module from further investigation, the MSC Apollo Spacecraft Program Office would use it for program support. ASPO was establishing tests and test locations and asked KSC to deactivate SM systems and store the SM in a remote area for up to four weeks.
The Apollo 204 Review Board accepted the final report of its Origin and Propagation of Fire Panel (No. 5). The panel task had been to "conduct inspections, chemical analyses [and] spectrographic analysis of spacecraft, parts or rubble, or use any other useful techniques to establish point of [the CM 012] fire origin, direction and rate of propagation, temperature gradients and extremes. The nature of the fire, the type of materials consumed, the degree of combustion shall be determined."
Following an intensive study - which considered ignition sources, description, and course of the fire - the panel listed 10 findings and determinations in its final report, including:
Apollo 204 Review Board Chairman Floyd Thompson asked for a report on the Pyrotechnic Installation Building activity. Disassembly of spacecraft 012 had been completed March 27. Of 1,261 items logged through the bond room for display to Board and panel personnel, about 1,000 items were from the CM.
The final report of the Screening Committee was distributed to the Board by George T. Sasseen, KSC, for review. Sasseen stated that the following items would be retained as Category A (items damaged or identified as suspect or associated with anomalies).
William D. Mangan, Langley Research Center, joined the legal staff supporting the Board.
In reply to a request from NASA Hq., CSM Manager Kenneth S. Kleinknecht told Apollo Program Director Samuel C. Phillips that replacement of the service module 017 oxidizer tank was based on a double repair weld of the method 2 kind in that tank. This kind of repair, he said, resulted in a weld chemistry similar to the weld on the S-IVB helium bottle that had failed, as had only recently been determined by examination of the secondary-propulsion-system tank repair weld. There was insufficient proof that titanium hydride concentrations could not occur in the double method-2 repair weld, and replacement of the tank would preclude any question as to the integrity of the tank. The decision was delayed as long as possible in the hope of developing technical justification of weld integrity. When that was not achieved and there was little confidence that justification could be developed in the near future, the decision was made directing the tank change. The activity would not cause additional schedule time loss, as it was already necessary to repeat the spacecraft integrated test because of wiring rework.
MSC Structures and Mechanics Division Chief Joseph N. Kotanchik had strongly recommended that all B-nuts already installed in spacecraft be loosened to relieve any residual strain on nearby solder joints, ASPO Manager George M. Low informed CSM Manager Kenneth S. Kleinknecht. Kotanchik thought the leaks found in spacecraft 012 at KSC and in spacecraft 101 during test were most likely caused by creep. Loosening all joints, replacing them with voishan washers, and then retorquing them with procedures known not to cause strain, should be given serious consideration. Low pointed out this would also accomplish Kleinknecht's desires of being sure that all joints were torqued to proper limits.
A flash report sent to the NASA Apollo Program Director by ASPO Manager George M. Low at MSC informed him that all the fuel-cell gaseous- nitrogen titanium-alloy tanks were suspected of having contaminated welds. The problem was detected during an acceptance test. Preliminary investigation revealed the weld had become contaminated during girth weld repair, because of incomplete purging of the tank's interior. All rewelded tanks were therefore liable to be contaminated and records were inadequate to identify which tanks had been rewelded. The following actions had been directed by Low for use on spacecraft 017 and 020:
MSC informed NASA Hq. that the spacecraft 017 inertial measurement unit (IMU) was being removed to replace capacitors that were suspect after a number of failures with qualified mylar capacitors. Replacement was expected to delay mechanical mating of the spacecraft and launch vehicle an estimated two days. The guidance and navigation subsystem would be retested during the integrated spacecraft system tests with the launch vehicle simulator. Headquarters was also advised that all other IMUs in the program had been retrofitted to eliminate the suspect capacitor. Five days later, CSM Manager Kenneth Kleinknecht told KSC that MSC understood that the original impact had been increased to five days, but asserted the change was still mandatory.
Because of the amount of flammable material in spacecraft 017 and 020, MSC decided to purge these two spacecraft on the pad with gaseous nitrogen. The total amount of oxygen in the spacecraft at time of reentry would not exceed 14 percent. No tests would be conducted on these spacecraft with hatches closed when men were in the spacecraft.
ASPO Manager George M. Low asked the Chairman of the Apollo 204 Review Board to consider releasing CM 014 for use in the Apollo program. If the Review Board had a continuing need for the CM, Low requested that consideration be given to release of certain individual items needed for the Apollo Mission Simulator program. Board Chairman Floyd L. Thompson notified Low on June 22 that the CM mockup and CM 014 were no longer required by the Review Board and that their disposition might be determined by the ASPO Manager.
During operational checkout procedures on CSM 017, which included running the erasable memory program before running the low-altitude aborts, the guidance and navigation computer accidentally received a liftoff signal and locked up. Investigation was initiated to determine the reason for the liftoff signal and the computer lockup (switch to internal control). No damage was suspected.
ASPO Manager George M. Low advised Headquarters of the status of MSC's work on action items assigned as a result of the Apollo Crew Safety Review Board presentation on June 17. Among those items were:
Dale D. Myers, North American Rockwell's Apollo CSM Program Manager, wrote George M. Low: "With the recent shipment of CSM 101 to KSC and preparations for the first manned Apollo flight, attention is centered on the various aspects of crew safety. In this regard, I recently instructed our system safety people to review the action items that resulted from the S/C 012 fire [January 27, 1967], identify those with safety content or implications, determine what corrective action had been accomplished, and assess the adequacy of the closeout actions." Myers went on to say that out of a total of 137 North American action items, 70 were related to safety; and combining similar and identical items resulted in identification of 41 specific safety-oriented action items. An exhaustive study by safety personnel had indicated that all items had been closed out and that corrective actions were adequate.