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astronautix.com Apollo LM CSD


Other Designations: Covert Space Denial. Class: Manned. Type: Combat. Nation: USA. Agency: State Department/US Navy. Manufacturer: Grumman.

In the early 1960's the USAF was studying various types of manned spacecraft for inspection and destruction of enemy satellites (such as SAINT II, X-20B Dynasoar, Blue Gemini). The Grumman Space Development Team studied use of the Apollo Lunar Module in a role of 'Covert Space Denial' (CSD). A 1964 report 'Military Utilization of LEM in Earth Orbit' set forth the reasons the LM was suited to this role. Its tandem descent and ascent engines gave it a huge manoeuvre capability, greater than that of any other manned spacecraft. This could be augmented further by simply stretching the tanks, a capability designed into the LM from the beginning. The lunar role had also fitted it with a complete autonomous guidance system. This combination meant the lunar module could make large orbital manoeuvres, rendezvousing with enemy satellites by surprise and in total radio silence. For inspection and destruction of the satellite the LM was to be equipped with a single remote controlled arm.

By the time of the report Dynasoar had been cancelled and USAF interest in the topic was waning. Not only that, but the NASA Lunar Module suffered from terminal NIH (Not Invented Here) which made it unsuitable for USAF space activities. Then in May 1965 the Department of State's U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency issued a requirement for an Arms Control Inspection System. At their behest the US Navy contracted Grumman to elaborate their earlier military Lunar Module design. Grumman studied various means of engaging enemy targets. The arm could be used to put the satellite into an unrecoverable spin or capture the target for study (followed by release into its usual orbit or deorbit). A recoilless weapon could shotgun the satellite with high-velocity pellets. The recommended option, as was the case of the SAINT years earlier, was to spray paint the target black. This would have ruined optics, disabled solar cells, and caused the target spacecraft to overheat and fail.

Enemy manned spacecraft could be harassed in psychological operations, or their communications could be disabled using the arm to apply radio-opaque nets.

If there was ever any real intent to implement the scheme, the 1967 United Nations Treaty on the Peaceful Uses Of Space marked the end of State Department interest. All such interceptor spacecraft were abandoned a few years later by secret agreement when the SALT 1 treat was signed, which prohibited interference with 'national means of verification'.


Specification

Craft.Crew Size: 2. Total Mass: 15,000 kg. Total spacecraft delta v: 3,000 m/s.



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Last update 12 March 2001.
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© Mark Wade, 2001 .