PA/Manager, Apollo Spacecraft Program OfficeMAY 29 196868-PA-T-110APA/Chief, Apollo Data Priority CoordinationProgress Report on Mission Techniques
1. Since we have not been able to get together this year, except for our short discussion prior to the George Mueller briefing, I thought it might be a good idea to send you a little informal Mission Techniques progress report. I guess our lack of contact is an implicit vote of confidence which I hope is justified. Overall I think we are in pretty good shape although things are not coming out as quickly as I had predicted in March.
2. The mission phase giving me the greatest concern right now is the rendezvous on the “D” mission. It has special problems requiring special action. I think it is under control again, now. The other matter concerning me, which I know is also on your mind, is the question of change control of our Mission Techniques documents. TRW is beefing up their group working with me to handle this activity and will soon give it a try on some “C” mission stuff. I may be naive but I really feel that by the time this business becomes most important – that is, for the lunar missions – both acceptance of the Mission Techniques documents and the procedures to keep them updated should be in good shape. As tentatively proposed in your directorate level meeting I feel the two months overlap period of configuration control should be between five and three months before launch. At least that is what I am aiming for. I really expect that experience on the earlier flights will finally dictate the best way of handling all this. With regard to schedule, I have attached a rough bar chart showing how I think things stand as of mid May. The slip in the documentation since my March 1 estimate is shown by the distance between open and solid symbols. It looks awful and if I thought it was typical of the future I'd shoot myself right now. How- ever, I think we now have some experience that gives me confidence in the schedule shown. I would also like to point out – hopefully without sounding like an excuse – that the mission techniques documents are only one product from the effort and I would like to think considerable benefit is obtained much earlier than their release. Actually we are now experiencing a phaseover in the work. We are now at a point that it is necessary to bring substantial portions of it into final form and define the remaining areas on which we should concentrate our attention. We are doing this now by releasing several phases in June as you can see. But, I should point out that they are not complete which accounts for showing two release dates for the drafts. For instance, the Descent will not contain the ground monitoring, the Ascent book will only cover the stay on the lunar surface, and Midcourse is only earth orbital through TLI.
3. The “D” rendezvous really turned into a rather messy problem. When it comes to development of mission techniques, it is unquestionable the worse mission phase to define in the entire Apollo program. This is brought about by at least three things:
a. It is the most complex mission phase in any of the Apollo flights.
b. There are more guidance systems involved, none of which are really qualified before the flight.
c. It is potentially the most hazardous of any activity ever under- taken in the manned space program up to that point.
I might also add that everyone has their own different opinion on how it should be done, making it that much more difficult. All of these things have made it necessary to treat this mission phase somewhat differently than the others. However, I feel we now have a good plan for moving out on this and I have high hopes that we will be able to have our package put together by the end of July with substantial agreement in everyone's part. I expect to enlist the direct participation of Gene Kranz and the Flight Crew, which will be extremely beneficial.