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|Little Joe II - |
Credit: © Mark Wade. 1,563 bytes. 120 x 386 pixels.
Used to launch Apollo Command Module and Launch Escape System in LES tests.
A preliminary study of a fin-stabilized solid-fuel rocket booster, the Little Joe Senior, was completed by members of STG. The booster would be capable of propelling a full-size Apollo reentry spacecraft to velocities sufficient to match critical portions of the Saturn trajectory. Additional Details: Preliminary study of Little Joe Senior.
NASA Headquarters approved plans for the development of the Little Joe II test launch vehicle. Prospective bidders were notified of a briefing to be held at MSC on April 6, at which time Requests for Proposals would be distributed.
NASA awarded a letter contract to General Dynamics/Convair to design and manufacture the Little Joe II test launch vehicle which would be used to boost the Apollo spacecraft on unmanned suborbital test flights. The Little Joe II would be powered by clustered solid-fuel engines. At the same time, a separate 30-day contract was awarded to Convair to study the control system requirements. White Sands Missile Range, N. Mex., had been selected for the Little Joe II max q abort and high-altitude abort missions.
General Dynamics/Convair recommended and obtained NASA's concurrence that the first Little Joe II launch vehicle be used for qualification, employing a dummy payload.
NASA and General Dynamics/Convair (GD/C) began contract negotiations on the Little Joe II launch vehicle, which was used to flight-test the Apollo launch escape system. The negotiated cost was nearly $6 million. GD/C had already completed the basic structural design of the vehicle.
NASA issued a definitive contract for $6,322,643 to General Dynamics Convair for the Little Joe II test vehicle. A number of changes defined by contract change proposals were incorporated into the final document:
General Dynamics Convair completed structural assembly of the first launcher for the Little Joe II test program. During the next few weeks, electrical equipment installation, vehicle mating, and checkout were completed. The launcher was then disassembled and delivered to WSMR on April 25, 1963.
NASA and General Dynamics/Convair (GD/C) negotiated a second Little Joe II launch vehicle contract. For an additional $337,456, GD/C expanded its program to include the launch of a qualification test vehicle before the scheduled Apollo tests. This called for an accelerated production schedule for the four launch vehicles and their pair of launchers. An additional telemetry system and an instrumentation transmitter system were incorporated in the qualification test vehicle, which was equipped with a simulated payload. At the same time, NASA established earlier launch dates for the first two Apollo Little Joe II missions.
NASA and General Dynamics Convair negotiated a major change on the Little Joe II launch vehicle contract. It provided for two additional launch vehicles which would incorporate the attitude control subsystem (as opposed to the early fixed-fin version). On November 1, MSC announced that the contract amendment was being issued. NASA Headquarters' approval followed a week later.
NASA issued a $1,946,450 definitive contract to Aerojet-General Corporation for Algol solid-propellant motors for GD/C's Little Joe II vehicles.
MSC conducted the final inspection of the Little Joe II launch complex at WSMR.
The Little Joe II qualification test vehicle was shipped from the General Dynamics Convair plant to WSMR, where the test launch was scheduled for August.
The Little Joe II qualification test vehicle was launched from White Sands Missile Range, N Mexico. Its objectives were to prove the Little Joe's capability as an Apollo spacecraft test vehicle and to determine base pressures and heating on the missile. These aims were achieved. The lone failure was a malfunction in the destruct system.
NASA and GD/C negotiated amendments totaling $354,737 to Little Joe II contract. This sum covered study activity and several relatively small changes that came out of a Design Engineering Inspection on May 3. More ground support equipment was authorized, as was fabrication of an additional breadboard autopilot system for use at MSC. The dummy payload was deleted and the instrumentation was limited to a control system on the vehicle to be used for Mission A-002 (BP-23).
General Dynamics Convair delivered to White Sands Missile Range (WSMR) the second Little Joe II launch vehicle, the first Little Joe II scheduled to fly with a production Apollo spacecraft.
NASA completed formal negotiations with Aerojet-General Corporation for 12 Algol 1-D solid rocket motors, to be used in the Little Joe II vehicles. The contract was a fixed-price-plus-incentive-fee type with a target price of about $1.4 million. A maximum price of 20 percent more than the target cost was allowed.
First flight test of Little Joe II using a command module (CM) boilerplate (BP-12) at White Sands Missile Range, N. Mex.
ASPO's Operations Planning Division defined the current Apollo mission programming as envisioned by MSC. The overall Apollo flight program was described in terms of its major phases: Little Joe II flights (unmanned Little Joe II development and launch escape vehicle development); Saturn IB flights (unmanned Saturn IB and Block I CSM development, Block I CSM earth orbital operations, unmanned LEM development, and manned Block II CSM/LEM earth orbital operations); and Saturn V flights (unmanned Saturn V and Block II CSM development, manned Block II CSM/LEM earth orbital operations, and manned lunar missions).
Boilerplate 23, Mission A-002, was successfully launched from WSMR by a Little Joe II launch vehicle. The test was to demonstrate satisfactory launch escape vehicle performance utilizing the canard subsystem and boost protective cover, and to verify the abort capability in the maximum dynamic pressure region with conditions approximating emergency detection subsystem limits.
During the flight of boilerplate (BP) 23, the Little Joe II's control system had coupled with the first lateral bending mode of the vehicle. To ensure against any recurrence of this problem on the forthcoming flight of BP-22, MSC asked North American to submit their latest figures on the stiffness of the spacecraft and its escape tower. These data would be used to compute the first bending mode of BP-22 and its launch vehicle.
A Little Joe II failure investigation presentation was made at MSC July 13 in which General Dynamics/ Convair (GD/C) and MSC's Engineering and Development (E&D) Directorate presented results of independent failure investigations of the mishap which occurred during Apollo Mission A-003 (Boilerplate 22) on June 22, 1965, at WSMR.
The GD/C investigation results were presented by J. B. Hurt, Little Joe II Program Manager, in the form of flight movies and a slide talk. The data made the following points:
Little Joe II Program Manager Milton A. Silveira suggested to ASPO Manager Joseph F. Shea that if the next Little Joe II flight test was successful there would be no further requirement for the Little Joe II to support the Apollo program. Silveira said planning had been made with General Dynamics Convair to store the remaining three vehicles, parts, and tooling for one year in case a new requirement from ASPO or NASA should develop. The additional cost of one-year storage compared to normal program closeout was estimated to be small. ASPO concurred with the suggestion on December 1.
KSC proposed to MSC Director Robert R. Gilruth that the two General Electric Co. efforts at KSC supporting automatic checkout equipment (ACE) for spacecraft operations be consolidated. KSC pointed out there was a supplemental agreement with MSC for General Electric to provide system engineering support to ACE/spacecraft operations. Both the KSC Apollo Program Manager and the Director of Launch Operations considered that merging the two GE efforts into a single task order under KSC administrative control would have advantages. The proposal listed two: