Space Exploration Program Council Program: Apollo.
The fourth meeting of the Space Exploration Program Council was held at NASA Headquarters. The results of a study on Saturn development and utilization was presented by the Ad Hoc Saturn Study Committee. Objectives of the study were to determine (1) if and when the Saturn C-2 launch vehicle should be developed and (2) if mission and spacecraft planning was consistent with the Saturn vehicle development schedule. No change in the NASA Fiscal Year 1962 budget was contemplated. The Committee recommended that the Saturn C-2 development should proceed on schedule (S-II stage contract in Fiscal Year 1962, first flight in 1965). The C-2 would be essential, the study reported, for Apollo manned circumlunar missions, lunar unmanned exploration, Mars and Venus orbiters and capsule landers, probes to other planets and out-of- ecliptic, and for orbital starting of nuclear upper stages.
During a discussion on the Saturn program, several major problems were brought up:
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- The adequacy of the Saturn C-1 launch vehicle for orbital qualification of the complete Apollo spacecraft was in question. Although the C-1 could be used to launch a command module of 5,100 pounds, it was probable that the command module weight would increase to as much as 8,000 pounds, George M. Low of NASA Headquarters, in a critical review of the Apollo program, pointed out that a spacecraft for a circumlunar mission could be constructed within the payload limitation of the C-2 launch vehicle. Both the developmental and production spacecraft could be available to meet the Saturn schedules.
- Much basic research would be needed before the first Apollo flight, In particular, the problem of reentry heating was of great concern. Low noted that a prediction criterion for proton beam events had been developed, making possible safe manned circumlunar flights insofar as the radiation problem was concerned.
- Concern was also expressed as to the possible need and availability of additional personnel to support the Apollo program.