|astronautix.com||Chronology - 1968 - Quarter 3|
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NASA decides to conduct Apollo 8 on risky lunar orbital mission by end December 1968. Interestingly enough the CIA warning to NASA came within days of the L1 State Commission's meeting and decision to press for a November circumlunar flight. References: 72 .
NASA and contractor technicians successfully conducted the final parachute drop test to qualify the Apollo CSM earth-landing system. The Block II ELS thus was considered ready for manned flight after 12 Block I, 4 Block II, and 7 increased-capability Block II Qualification Tests - that had followed 77 Block I, 6 Block II, and 25 increased-capability Block II Development Drop Tests. References: 16 .
Operation of a system of long range telephone-telegraph radiocommunication, and transmission of USSR Central Television programmes to the stations of the Orbita network. References: 1 , 2 , 5 , 6 , 64 .
The Apollo Design Certification Review (DCR) Board met in Houston to examine CSM 101 and the Block II CSM for proof of design and development maturity and to certify the designs for flightworthiness and manned flight safety. Additional Details: Apollo Review Board certifies Apollo CSM 101 and the Block II CSM. References: 16 .
Block D stage exploded on pad, killing three people. Booster and 7K-L1 spacecraft were still intact however. References: 23 .
In the continuing effort to reduce costs while still maintaining a balanced and viable program, ASPO Manager George M. Low recommended to NASA Hq. that CSM 102 be deleted from the manned flight program. He estimated total savings at $25.5 million (excluding cost of refurbishment after the current ground test program). In addition, he said, during the static structural test program at North American Rockwell, CSM 102 would be subjected to loads that would compromise structural integrity of the vehicle for manned flight. References: 16 .
First launch in a communications intelligence program operated by the USAF within the National Reconnaissance Office, on behalf of the National Security Agency. The first generation series, CANYON, was based on the Agena vehicle. The Agena D remained attached to the spacecraft. References: 1 , 2 , 5 , 6 , 172 , 278 .
The Apollo Design Certification Review (DCR) Board convened at MSC to examine LM-3 further for proof of design and development maturity and to assess and certify the design of the LM-3 as flightworthy and safe for manned flight. This Delta review was identified as a requirement at the March 6 LM-3 DCR. The Board concluded at the close of the Delta DCR that LM-3 was safe to fly manned with the completion of open work and action items identified during the review. References: 16 .
ASPO Manager George M. Low initiated a series of actions that led to the eventual decision that AS-503 (Apollo 8) should be a lunar orbital mission. Additional Details: Decision that Apollo 8 should be a lunar orbital mission. References: 16 .
Applications Technology Satellite; Centaur oxidizer leak. No restart. Launch vehicle was to have put payload into geosynchronous transfer orbit, instead was left in useless LEO orbit. Carried ion engine. References: 1 , 2 , 5 , 6 , 126 , 278 .
First of two Atlas/Burner II space launches from Vandenberg AFB. References: 88 .
George M. Low, ASPO Manager, set forth the rationale for using LTA-B (as opposed to some other LM test article or even a full-blown LM) as payload ballast on the AS-503 mission. That decision had been a joint one by Headquarters, MSFC, and MSC. Perhaps the chief reason for the decision was Marshall's position that the Saturn V's control system was extremely sensitive to payload weight. Numerous tests had been made for payloads of around 38,555 kilograms but none for those in the 29,435- to 31,750-kilogram range. MSFC had therefore asked that the minimum payload for AS-503 be set at 38,555 kilograms. Additional Details: Decision to use Apollo LTA-B as payload ballast on the AS-503 flight. References: 16 .
MSFC Director Wernher von Braun performed a full-pressure suit test in the Saturn I Workshop immersed in the Neutral Buoyancy Tank. He reported that the upgraded seals used in the aft dome penetration sealing study were 'very good,' but recommended additional handholds and tether points.
First successful circumlunar flight with recovery. Test flight of manned spacecraft; launched from an earth parking orbit to make a lunar flyby and return to earth. On September 18, 1968, the spacecraft flew around the moon at an altitude of 1950 km. High quality photographs of the earth were taken at a distance of 90,000 km. A biological payload of turtles, wine flies, meal worms, plants, seeds, bacteria, and other living matter was included in the flight. Before re-entry the gyroscopic platform went off line due to ground operator failure. However this time the self destruct command was not given. After a ballistic 20G re-entry the capsule splashed down in the Indian Ocean at 32:63 S, 65:55 E on September 21, 1968 16:08 GMT. Soviet naval vessels were 100 km from the landing location and recovered the spacecraft the next day, shipping it via Bombay back to Soviet Union. References: 1 , 2 , 5 , 6 , 67 , 274 , 296 .
Apollo Program Director Samuel C. Phillips formally notified ASPO Manager George M. Low at MSC and Saturn V Program Manager Lee B. James at MSFC of changes in the Apollo Program Specification. As agreed on during the MSF Management Council meeting on August 6, the Apollo payload interface was set at 46,040 kilograms (with a flight geometry reserve of 137 kilometers per hour). Also, the present spacecraft loading philosophy allowed a total spacecraft weight of 46,266 kilograms for lunar missions having less than maximum flight geometry requirements. Additional Details: Changes in the Apollo Program Specification. References: 16 .
The LM ascent engine to be flown in LM-3 and subsequent missions would incorporate the Rocketdyne injector, Apollo Program Director Phillips informed ASPO Manager Low. The engine would be assembled and delivered by Rocketdyne under subcontract to Grumman. Additional Details: Apollo LM ascent engine to use Rocketdyne injector. References: 16 .
The Allison descent-stage propellant tank, being redesigned at Airite Division of Sargent Industries to a "lidless" configuration, blew up during qualification test at Airite. The crew noticed loss of pressure and therefore tightened fittings and repressurized. As the pressure went up, the tank blew into several pieces. Grumman dispatched a team to Airite to determine the cause and the necessary corrective action. References: 16 .
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