PART I: Early Space Station Activities - 1923 through July 1965

Excerpted from: SKYLAB A CHRONOLOGY by Roland W. Newkirk and Ivan D. Ertel with Courtney G. Brooks SP-4011
Full copy available online at

- 1923 -

Hermann Oberth published Die Rakete zu den Planetenraumen (The Rocket into Planetary Space), which contained the first serious proposal for a manned space station to appear in scientific literature rather than fiction. Oberth's study presented to the scientific community a broad treatise on the practicability and scientific value not only of manned permanent stations in orbit above the Earth, but also space flight in general. Oberth suggested a permanent station supplied by smaller rockets on a periodic basis and suggested rotation of the vehicle to produce an artificial gravity for the crew. Such a station, he said, could serve as a base for Earth observations, as a weather forecasting satellite, as a communications satellite, and as a refueling station for extraterrestrial vehicles launched from orbit.

Translation of Hermann Oberth's Die Rakete zu den Planetenraumen, Verlag von R. Oldenbourg, Munich and Berlin, 1923.

- 1928 -

Writing in the monthly journal Die Rakete, Baron Guido von Pirquet presented broad arguments in favor of the scientific possibility of manned space travel and the velocities required for orbital and interplanetary flight, of which orbital speed was by far the more difficult to attain. Von Pirquet suggested several different space stations for diverse functions: one in a near-Earth orbit as primarily an observation site and another station in a much higher orbit that would be more suitable as an orbital refueling station for escape vehicles.

Translation of Guido von Pirquet's article "Fahrtrouten" in Die Rakete, 2. Jahrgang, Breslau, Deutschland, 1928.

Hermann Noordung (the pseudonym for Captain Potocnik of the Austrian Imperial Army) published Das Problem der Befahrung des Weltraums (The Problem of Space Flight), which included one of the first serious attempts to put on paper the design of a manned space station. Noordung's proposed design consisted of a doughnut-shaped structure for living quarters, a power generating station attached to one end of the central hub, and an astronomical observation [4] station. He was among the first to suggest a wheel-shaped design for a space station to produce artificial gravity, and also argued the scientific value of such a station in a synchronous orbit above the Earth.

Hermann Noordung, Das Problem der Befahrung des Weltraums, 1928.

- 1929 -

Hermann Oberth published Wege zur Raumschiffahrt, in which he greatly elaborated on ideas presented in his 1923 book. Oberth here presented several specific designs for orbital space stations, ranging from spherical living quarters for the crew to large reflective mirrors fabricated in orbit. Among several innovations were methods for fabrication in orbit, propulsion by particle emission, and small ferry vehicles to permit travel in the vicinity of the station. Such stations could be used for a variety of purposes, ranging from scientific observation sites to military installations.

Translation of Hermann Oberth's Wege zur Raumschiffahrt, Verlag von R. Oldenbourg, Munich and Berlin, 1929.

- 1945 -

In a summary of his work on rockets during World War II, Wernher von Braun speculated on the potential and future uses of rocket power and space vehicles. Von Braun prophesied large scientific observatories in space, the construction of space stations in orbit, and interplanetary travel, beginning with manned flights to the Moon.

Wernher von Braun, "Survey of the Development of Liquid Rockets in Germany and their Future Prospects," in F. Zwicky, Report on Certain Phases of War Research in Germany, Headquarters Air Materiel Command Report No. F-SW-3 RE, January 1947, pp. 38-42.

- 1946 -


The Army Air Forces established Project RAND at the Santa Monica, California, plant of Douglas Aircraft Company, Inc. On 12 May, Project RAND, which had studied supersonic aircraft, guided missiles, and satellite applications, released a report on "Preliminary Design of an Experimental World-Circling Space Ship" that argued the technical feasibility of building and operating an artificial Earth satellite.

Eugene M. Emme, Aeronautics and Astronautics: An American Chronology of Science and Technology in the Exploration of Space, 1915-1960, Washington, D.C., 1961, p. 53; U.S. Congress, House, Military Astronautics (Preliminary Report): Report of the Committee on Science and Astronautics, House Report 360, 87th Cong., 1st sess., 4 May 1961, p. 2.

May 2

Douglas Aircraft Company, Inc., completed an engineering study on the feasibility of designing a man-carrying satellite. The study showed that if a vehicle could be accelerated to a speed of 27 360 km per hr and aimed properly it would revolve on a circular orbit above the Earth's atmosphere as a new satellite. Such a vehicle would make a complete circuit of the Earth approximately every hour and a half. However, it would not pass over the same ground [5] stations on successive circuits because the Earth would make about a one-sixteenth turn for each circuit of the satellite. Two fuels were considered in the study: hydrogen-oxygen and alcohol- oxygen. The liquid alcohol-hydrogen had been used to propel the German V-2 rockets. The use of either fuel to orbit a man-made satellite, the study showed, would require the use of a multistage vehicle. The study also indicated that maximum acceleration and temperatures could be kept within limits safe for man. The vehicle envisioned would be used in obtaining scientific information on cosmic rays, gravitation, geophysics, terrestrial magnetism, astronomy, and meteorology.

Douglas Aircraft Co., Report No. SM-11827, Preliminary Design of an Experimental World-Circling Spaceship, 2 May 1946.

- 1948 -

November 13

In a paper presented to the British Interplanetary Society, H. E. Ross described a manned satellite station in Earth orbit that would serve as an astronomical and zero-gravity and vacuum research laboratory. (Ross' bold suggestions also included schemes for a manned landing on the Moon and return to Earth through use of the rendezvous technique in Earth orbit and about the Moon.) Ross' suggested design comprised a circular structure that housed the crew of the space laboratory (numbering 24 specialists and support personnel) as well as telescopes and research equipment. The station, he suggested, could be resupplied with oxygen and other life-support essentials by supply ships launched every three months.

H. E. Ross, "Orbital Bases," Journal of the British Interplanetary Society, 8, 1949, pp. 1-7.

- 1949-1952 -

Awakening public interest in the United States and in Europe was manifested by publication in September 1949 of The Conquest of Space by Willy Ley. Ley featured detailed descriptions of orbital space stations and manned flights to the Moon and back as part of man's quest to conquer the frontier of space. The First Symposium on Space Flight was held 12 October 1951 at the Hayden Planetarium in New York City. Papers read at the Symposium were published in March 1952 by Collier's magazine under the title "Man Will Conquer Space Soon." Contributors were Wernher von Braun, Joseph Kaplan, Heinz Haber, Willy Ley, Oscar Schachter, and Fred L. Whipple. Topics ranged from manned orbiting space station) and orbiting astronomical observatories to problems of human survival in space, lunar space ventures, and questions of international law and sovereignty in space. Finally, Arthur C. Clarke's The Exploration of Space, first published in England in 1951 and a Book of the Month Club selection in America the following year, persuasively argued the case for orbital space stations and manned lunar and planetary space expeditions, popularizing the notion of space flight in general.

Willy Ley, The Conquest of Space, 1959; "Man Will Conquer Space Soon," Collier's, 22 March 1952, pp. 22-36, 65-67, 70-72, 74; Arthur C. Clarke, The Exploration of Space, 1952.

- 1951 -


[6] At the second annual congress of the International Astronautical Federation in London, H. H. Koelle described "Die Aussenstation" as part of a paper on "Der Einfluss der Konstruktiven Gestaltung der Aussenstation auf die Gesamtkosten des Projektes (The Influence of the Layout of the Satellite on the Overall Cost of the Project)." Koelle's paper represented the most realistic appraisal so far of the problems of design and construction of a space station. He dealt with problems of payload limitation, orbital assembly, limitations on the crew in the space environment, and national and economic factors behind space station growth. In Koelle's view, such a station might be used for scientific investigations of Earth's upper atmosphere, weather observation, astrophysical research, and human and chemical research in a zero-gravity environment. Also, such a station might serve as a communications and navigation link with the ground and as a station for launching more distant space missions. He suggested a large circular structure consisting of 36 separate 5-m spheres arranged around a central hub, the whole structure rotating to provide an artificial gravity environment to offset physiological effects of prolonged weightlessness on the crew. One of the unique elements in Koelle's scheme was assembly of various parts of the station launched via separate rockets, with each segment being a complete structure. In this way the station could be made operational before fabrication was completed, and subsequent expansion of the structure could take place whenever desired. Total personnel complement of the station would range from 50 to 65 people. Koelle even estimated the cost of such a project: $518 million for construction and $620 million over an operational lifetime of six months.

John W. Massey, Historical Resume of Manned Space Stations, Army Ballistic Missile Agency Report No. DSP-TM-9 60, 15 June 1960, pp. 19- 26.

- 1954 -

In "Analysis of Orbital Systems," a paper read at the fifth congress of the International Astronautical Federation in Innsbruck, Austria, Krafft Ehricke described a four-man orbital station. Arguing that a very large space station was neither necessary nor desirable, Ehricke postulated a four-man design that might serve a number of different purposes, depending upon altitude and orbital inclination. He suggested that such a station might be used for a multitude of scientific research, for orbital reconnaissance, for an observation platform, and as a launch site for more distant space ventures. The station would be launched initially by a large multistaged booster and subsequently visited by crews and resupplied by means of smaller ferry rockets.

Ibid., pp. 28-31.

- 1958 -

May 20

The National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) and the Air Force signed a Memorandum of Understanding concerning the principles in the development and testing of the Air Force's Hypersonic Boost Glide Vehicle (Dyna Soar I). [7] The following principles would apply to the project: ( l ) The project would be conducted as a joint Air Force-NACA project. (2) Overall technical control of the project would rest with the Air Force, acting with the advice and assistance of NACA. (3) Financing of the design, construction, and Air Force test of the vehicles would be borne by the Air Force. (4) Management of the project would be conducted by an Air Force project office within the Directorate of Systems Management, Headquarters, Air Research and Development Command. NACA would provide liaison representation in the project office and provide the chairman of the technical team responsible for data transmission and research instrumentation. (5) Design and construction of the system would be conducted through a negotiated prime contractor. (6) Flight tests of the vehicle and related equipment would be accomplished by NACA, the USAF, and the prime contractor in a combined test program, under the overall control of a joint NACA-USAF committee chaired by the Air Force.

Memorandum of understanding, "Principles for Participation of NACA in Development and Testing of the 'Air Force System 464L Hypersonic Boost Glide Vehicle (Dyne Soar I),'" signed by Gen. Thomas D. White, Chief of Staff, USAF, 13 May 1958, and Hugh L. Dryden, Director NACA, 20 May 1958.

During the Year

In 1958, the year after Sputnik 1, Krafft Ehricke, then with General Dynamics' Convair Division, designed a four-man space station known as Outpost. Ehricke proposed that the Atlas ICBM being developed by Convair could be adapted as the station's basic structure. The Atlas, 3 m in diameter and 22.8 m long, was America's largest rocket at the time.

Dave Dooling, "The Evolution of Skylab," Spaceflight, January 1974, p. 20.

A 1958 spacecraft design concept for a two-man orbiting laboratory prepared by H. Kurt Strass and Caldwell C. Johnson of NASA's Space Task Group at Langley Field, Virginia.

- 1959 -

[8] February 20

In testimony before the Senate Committee on Aeronautical and Space Sciences, NASA Deputy Administrator Hugh L. Dryden and DeMarquis D. Wyatt, Assistant to the Director of Space Flight Development, described the long-range objectives of the agency's space program: a multimanned orbiting space station; a permanent manned orbiting laboratory; unmanned lunar probes; and manned lunar orbital, lunar-landing, and-ultimately-interplanetary flight.

U.S. Congress, Senate, NASA Authorization Subcommittee of the Committee on Aeronautical and Space Sciences, NASA Supplemental Authorization for Fiscal Year 1959: Hearings on S.1096, 86th Cong., 1st sess., 1959, pp. 46, 81.

April 1

John W. Crowley, Director of Aeronautical and Space Research, appointed Harry J. Goett of the Ames Research Center to head a Research Steering Committee on Manned Space Flight to assist Headquarters in long-range planning and basic research on manned space flight. Composed of representatives from the field centers as well as Headquarters, members of the Goett Committee (as it was called) met for the first time on 25-26 May. From the outset, they agreed to concentrate on the long-range objectives of NASA's man-in-space program, including supporting research required, coordinating the research efforts of the various field centers, and recommending specific research projects and vehicle development programs.

The most important task facing the Goett Committee was the issue of a flight program to follow Mercury. H. Kurt Strass of the Space Task Group (STG) at Langley Field, Virginia (the field element that subsequently evolved into the Manned Spacecraft Center), described some preliminary ideas of STG planners regarding a follow-on to Mercury: (1) an enlarged Mercury capsule to place two men in orbit for three days; (2) a two-man Mercury capsule and a large cylindrical structure to support a two-week mission. (In its 1960 budget, NASA had requested $2 million to study methods of constructing a manned orbiting laboratory or converting the Mercury spacecraft into a two-man laboratory for extended space missions.)

Memorandum, John W. Crowley to Dist., "Research Steering Committee on Manned Space Flight," 1 April 1959; "Minutes, Research Steering Committee on Manned Space Flight," 25-26 May 1959, pp. 1-2, 6-9; U.S. Congress, House, Subcommittee of the Committee on Appropriations, National Aeronautics and Space Administration Appropriations: Hearings, 86th Cong., 1st sess., 1959, pp. 42-45.

April 24

DeMarquis D. Wyatt, Assistant to the Director of Space Flight Development, testified before Congress in support of NASA's request for $3 million in Fiscal Year 1960 for research on techniques and problems of space rendezvous. Wyatt explained that logistic support for a manned space laboratory, a possible post-Mercury flight program, depended upon resolving several key problems and making rendezvous in orbit practical. Among key problems he cited were establishment of methods for fixing the relative positions of two objects in space; development of accurate target acquisition devices to enable supply craft to locate the space station; development of guidance systems to permit precise determination [9] of flight paths; and development of reliable propulsion systems for maneuvering in orbit.

U.S. Congress, House, Committee on Science and Astronautics and Subcommittees Nos. 1, 2, 3, and 4, 1960 NASA Authorization: Hearings on H.R. 6512, 86th Cong., 1st sess., 1959, pp. 97, 170, 267-68.

June 8

In a Project Horizon report, Wernher von Braun, then with the Army Ballistic Missile Agency, advanced a theory that he had conceived years earlier for using a booster's spent stage as a space station's basic structure. This later evolved into the "wet stage" concept for the Skylab Program.

Project Horizon, Phase I Report: A U.S. Army Study for the Establishment of a Lunar Military Outpost, Vol. II, pp. 127- 130.

June 25-26

Laurence K. Loftin, Jr., of Langley Research Center, presented to the Research Steering Committee on Manned Space Flight a report on a projected manned space station. During subsequent discussion, Committee Chairman Harry J. Goett stated that considerations of space stations and orbiting laboratories should be an integral part of coordinated planning for a lunar landing mission. George M. Low of NASA Hq warned that care must be exercised that each successive step in space be taken with an eye toward the principal objective (i.e., lunar landing) because the number of steps that realistically could be funded and attempted was extremely limited. (Subsequently, Low s thinking and the recommendations of the Research Steering Committee were influential in shifting the planning focus of NASA's manned space program away from ideas of large space stations and laboratories and toward lunar flight and the Apollo program.

"Minutes, Research Steering Committee on Manned Space Flight, 25-26 June 1959," p. 6.

July 10

E. C. Braley and L. K. Loftin, Jr., sponsored a conference at LaRC to focus study at the Center on placing a manned space station in Earth orbit. Participants at the conference aimed at concentrating research efforts on developing the technology to build, launch, and operate such a station. Braley, Loftin, and others envisioned several purposes of such a space station: (1) to study the physical and psychological reactions of man in the space environment for extended periods of time, as well as his capabilities and usefulness during such missions; (2) to study materials, structures, and control systems for extended-duration space vehicles, and means for communication, orbit control, and rendezvous in space; and (3) to evaluate various techniques for terrestrial and astronomical observation and how man's unique abilities could enhance those techniques in space. Participants envisioned this Langley study project as an initial step toward landing men on the Moon some 10 to 15 years later.

Memorandum, Beverly Z. Henry, Jr., to Associate Director, "Langley Manned Space Laboratory Effort," 5 October 1959.


[10] Douglas Aircraft Co., Inc., was visited by a representative of the London Daily Mail newspaper who was visiting several companies to collect ideas for space stations. The Daily Mail held a highly promoted public exhibition each year called the "London Daily Mail Home Show," and wanted to have "A Home in Space" as the theme for the 1959 show. Douglas offered to do a full design study (including mockup details) for him, and after visiting several other companies he returned and informed Douglas they had won the "competition." W. Nissim of the Douglas Advanced Design Section was given a budget of $10 000 with which he turned out a technical report, mockup drawings, and posters to be used in the show. The full-scale mockup was built and exhibited in London in 1959. The basic concept was identical to the original Saturn "Wet Workshop" but was not connected to any projected launch vehicle. A hydrogen-fueled stage was chosen simply because it offered a larger usable volume. Several concepts for detailed equipment and techniques adopted for later programs were originally developed for this study.

Douglas Aircraft Co., Report No. SM 36173, London Daily Mail Astronomical Space Observatory, November 1959; memorandum, Joe Tschirgi, McDonnell Douglas Astronautics Co., MDAC, to Walt Cleveland, MDAC, 4 April 1973.

- 1960 -


The London Daily Mail presented the Space Vehicle at its 1960 Ideal Home Exhibition, and an estimated 150 000 to 200 000 people passed through the vehicle.

The following is extracted from the 1960 exhibition catalog:


Based on designs developed by Douglas Aircraft Co., Inc., Santa Monica, CA, the Space Vehicle which rears its 62 feet [19 m] length from the well high into the roof of the Empire Hall will he seen suspended as it would be in flight so that visitors may see, for the first time in history, a full- sized replica of a Space Ship of the future. It measures 17 feet [5 m] across and visitors can walk through it from the First Floor of the Empire Hall and inspect it in detail.

Those who do so should assume that they are aboard in the second stage of a two-stage vehicle. After take-off the first stage burns out at an altitude of 200,000 feet [60960 m]; the second at a height of approximately 250 miles [400 km] above sea level.

Once in orbit, in gravity free space, the Space Vehicle is pointed towards the sun and is kept in that position on its course. Its mission is to map stellar space unhindered by atmospheric conditions which prevail below, to make spectroscope observations and to obtain other astronomical data, all of which are telemetered directly to earth stations.

The crew of four men make their ascent in the nose cone (in which they also reenter the atmosphere and return to earth). Once in orbit they move down from the cone into the central column, blow out the fuel chamber--which is to be their working and living quarters-and set up their equipment which has been stored in the area between nose and tank.

The sheathing, which covers their part of the Vehicle, opens up into four petals which have sun batteries on their inner surfaces. These provide 5 kw of power to drive the electrical equipment. Inside the sheathing, telescopes, radio antennae [11] and other gear all stand during ascent. Working in space suits the team assemble this equipment, transfer stores, and are soon ready to set up their space routine.

Each man takes his watch. Actually during the twenty-four hours each member of the crew does approximately eight hours on duty, has eight hours for sleep and eight hours free for exercise, meals and recreation. While on duty, the crew control the transmission of their observations to earth and keep watch on the temperature and atmospheric conditions within the Space Vehicle.

The blue and white stripes on the outside of the vehicle are designed to absorb (white) and re-radiate (blue) the sun's heat (which in space is very great) and maintain a temperature of about 72 degrees fahrenheit [295 K] within the working quarters.

The atmospheric conditions within the Vehicle are created from oxygen and nitrogen supplies and pressurised to simulate an environment of 10,000 feet [3000 m]. Air breathed out by the crew (CO2) is absorbed in special containers.

Visitors who go through the Vehicle should realise that the crew, in a gravity-free condition, have no "floor" or "ceiling." They would be able to work equally easily in any position. The Vehicle on exhibit at the Exhibition shows one of the crew at work on a telescope, in a space suit, outside the Vehicle. A second crew member will he seen inside the Vehicle, in his space suit, at the ready in case of emergency; a third man is relaxing, watching earth TV; a fourth is on duty at the control console.

In a gravity-free condition things remain where they are-only "restraint" straps are necessary to prevent "drifting."

When returning to earth, the crew go back to the re-entry Vehicle (the nose cone) in which they made their ascent. Here they fasten themselves into special seats. They then break the joints which attach them to the Space Vehicle and . . . align their vehicle so that its nose points in a direction [opposite] to that of their orbit. A small rocket motor is then fired which reduces their speed and they begin to sink into the upper atmosphere and come into the earth's gravitational pull. The re- entry vehicle is then flown earthwards, losing speed and finally, at a predetermined height, a large parachute opens automatically and the capsule floats down to the ground.

Letter, Trevor Smith, London Daily Mail, to Ivan D. Ertel, Historical Services and Consultants Company, 14 October 1974, with extract from 1960 Ideal Home Exhibition catalog.

April 20-22

The Institute of the Aeronautical Sciences, NASA, and the RAND Corporation sponsored a Manned Space Stations Symposium featuring leading aeronautical and aerospace scientists and engineers from across the country. They examined the entire subject from present planning and future steps through engineering feasibility, operational techniques, designs, costs, and utilitarian considerations. This conference marked one of the focal points in American space station thinking up to that time.

"Proceedings of the Manned Space Stations Symposium," Los Angeles, California, 20-22 April 1960.


The architectural plans drawn for the 1960 Ideal Home Exhibition in Empire Hall, London, showing three views of the mockup space station.- Drawings courtesy of the London Daily Mail.


Two photographs of the 1960 Ideal Home Exhibition in London: At left, a "crewman" is at the control panel that operates the battery of space telescopes. Note his "shirt-sleeve" clothing. At right, a space-suited "crewman" is outside the space station working on one of the telescopes. Photos courtesy of the London Daily Mail.

May 16-17

Representatives from the various NASA Field Centers and Headquarters attended a conference on space rendezvous held at LaRC under the chairmanship of Bernard Maggin. The participants reviewed current Center research programs on space rendezvous and exchanged ideas on future projects. Many of the studies already in progress involved the idea of a space ferry and rendezvous with a station in cislunar space. Although as yet NASA had no funding for a rendezvous flight test program, consensus of those at this conference held that rendezvous would be essential in future manned space programs and that the Centers should undertake experiments to establish its feasibility and to develop various rendezvous techniques.

Inter-NASA Research and Development Centers Discussion on Space Rendezvous, LaRC, 16-17 May 1960.

- 1961 -

January 5-6

McDonnell Aircraft Corporation officials proposed to NASA a one-man space station consisting of a Mercury capsule and a cylindrical space laboratory capable of supporting one astronaut in a shirt- sleeve environment for 14 days in orbit. The complete vehicle, McDonnell said, could be placed in a 240-km orbit by an Atlas-Agena booster, thus affording NASA what the company termed a "minimum cost manned space station."

McDonnell Aircraft Corp., One Man Space Station, 24 August 1960 (rev. 28 October 1960)

May 5

A NASA Hq working group headed by Bernard Maggin completed a staff study recommending an integrated research, development, and applied orbital operations program through 1970 at an approximate cost of $1 billion. In its report, the group identified three broad categories of orbital operations: inspection, ferry, and orbital launch. Maggin and company reasoned that future space programs...


In October 1960 Rene A. Berglund of Langley Research Center's Space Station Office prepared the spacecraft design concept of an inflatable space laboratory based on the Mercury spacecraft.

[16] ...required the capability for such orbital operations and recommended that a development program, coordinated with the Department of Defense, be undertaken immediately. Also, because of the size and scope of such a program, they recommended that it be independent of other space projects and that NASA create a separate administrative office to initiate and manage the program.

Memorandum, Bernard Maggin to Associate Administrator, "Staff Paper-'Guidelines for a Program for Manned and Unmanned Orbital Operations,'" 22 May 1961.

May 18-31

Space Task Group Director Robert R. Gilruth informed Ames Research Center that current planning for Apollo "A" called for an adapter between the Saturn second stage and the Apollo spacecraft to include, as an integral part, a section to be used as an orbiting laboratory. Preliminary in-house configuration designs indicated this laboratory would be a cylindrical section about 3.9 m in diameter and 2.4 m in height. The laboratory would provide the environment and facilities to conduct scientific experiments related to manned operation of spacecraft. Gilruth requested that Ames forward to STG descriptions of scientific experiments believed to be important to the development of manned space flights, together with a list of necessary support equipment requirements.

In response to the request from the STG, ARC Director Smith J. DeFrance suggested a series of experiments that might be conducted from an Earth-orbiting laboratory: astronomical observations; monitoring the Sun's activity; testing man's ability to work outside the vehicle; zero-g testing; and micrometeoroid impact study. DeFrance noted that all of these experiments could be performed in the lunar mission module part of the Apollo space vehicle with little or no design modification.

Letters, Robert R. Gilruth to ARC, "Scientific experiments to be conducted in an orbiting laboratory," 18 May 1961; Smith J. DeFrance to STG, Attn: Apollo Project Office, "Suggestions for experiments to be conducted in an earth-orbiting scientific laboratory," 31 May 1961.


Emanuel Schnitzer of LaRC suggested a possible adaptation for existing Apollo hardware to create a space laboratory, which he termed an "Apollo X" vehicle. Schnitzer's concept involved using a standard Apollo command and service module in conjunction with an inflatable spheroid structure and transfer tunnel to create a space laboratory with artificial gravity potential. He argued the technical feasibility of such a scheme with minimal weight penalties on the basic Apollo system. (Although little apparently was done with his idea, Schnitzer's thinking, along with similar thoughts by many of his colleagues, created a fertile environment within NASA for the idea of adapting Apollo-developed space hardware to laboratories and space stations in Earth orbit.) In April 1962 Paul Hill, Chief of the Applied Materials and Physics Division, stated that structures were under study which could hold from 4 to 30 people.

Emanuel Schnitzer, Possible APOLLO "X" Inflatable Space Laboratory, October 1961; Astronautical and Aeronautical Events of 1962, 12 June 1963, p. 64.


This spacecraft design of the possible use of Apollo as a space station was prepared by H. Kurt Strass of Space Task Group in the fall of 1961.

- 1962 -


MSC designers and planners prepared a preliminary document that outlined areas of investigation for a space station study program (handled largely under the aegis of Edward H. Olling of the Spacecraft Research Division). Flight Operations Division Chief Christopher C. Kraft, Jr., urged that the study format be expanded to include such areas as the operational requirements for a ground support and control network, logistics vehicles, and space station occupied versus unoccupied intervals.

Memorandum, Christopher C. Kraft, Jr., to Edward H. Olling, "Rough Draft of Space Station Study Document," 1 May 1962, with enclosure, "Proposed Revision."

May 10

John C. Fischer, Jr., an aerospace technologist at Lewis Research Center, put forward a plan for a two- phased approach for a space station program. The more immediate step, involving launching a manned and fully equipped station into orbit, would span some four to six years. Such a station would allow investigation of stationkeeping, rotation of personnel in orbit through supply and ferry craft, and replacement of modules in orbit through modular construction. The second and more sophisticated phase of a space station program, evolving from the earlier [18] step, envisioned injection of an unmanned inflatable structure into orbit which would then be manned and resupplied by ferry vehicles (using hardware and techniques developed under the earlier phase of such a program). This more sophisticated approach included artificial gravity (eliminating many human and hardware-design problems of long periods of zero-g); gyroscopic stability of the platform (eliminating requirements for propellants to maintain the station's orientation in orbit); and supply vehicles designed for reentry and landing at selected airports (eliminating the expense of conventional recovery methods).

John C. Fischer, Jr., Brief Plan for Establishing an Orbital Manned Space Station, 10 May 1962.

May 23

Representatives from Avco Manufacturing Corporation made a presentation to MSC on a proposal for a space station. Prime purpose of the station, company spokesmen said, was to determine the effects of zero-g on the crew's ability to stand reentry and thus fix the limit that man could safely remain in orbit.

Avco's proposed station design comprised three separate tubes about 3 m in diameter and 6 m long, launched separately aboard Titan IIs and joined in a triangular shape in orbit. A standard Gemini spacecraft was to serve as ferry vehicle.

Memorandum, K. J. Allen, MSC, to Chief, Flight Operations Div., "Presentation by Avco on Space Stations," 23 May 1962.

July 31- August 1

A symposium held at LaRC, attended by NASA people interested in space station work, provided a forum for Langley researchers to report on progress on some of the more significant aspects of the Center's work in the space station area. (A general research program to explore the technical problems of large rotating manned spacecraft had been under way at the Center for some time.) Various researchers emphasized that such investigations were exploratory in nature, since there existed no NASA-approved program for the development and operation of such a spacecraft. The dozen papers presented at the symposium encompassed objectives and research guidelines for a space station; preliminary research...


The first radial, integral-launch space station was based on some ideas of H. Kurt Strass at Langley Research Center about November 1961 and designed by Willard M. Taub at MSC in June 1962 for Charles W. Mathews. Later, it became known as the foldable Y-shaped space station.

[19] ....configurations; structural requirements; power, life-support, and thermal-control systems; materials requirements and fabrication techniques; operational considerations; structural and dynamic compatibility between station and launch vehicle; and crew performance.

NASA Technical Note D-1504, by LaRC Staff, "A Report on the Research and Technological Problems of Manned Rotating Spacecraft," August 1962.

August 20

The Department of Defense announced plans to develop a Titan III launch vehicle powered by both solid and liquid fuel rocket motors with a total thrust of over 11 million newtons (2.5 million Ibs). .Scheduled to become operational in 1965, the Titan III would be used to launch the Air Force's X-20 (Dyna Soar) manned spacecraft, as well as heavy unmanned military satellites. Martin Marietta Corporation had been selected as prime contractor for the project, at an estimated cost of between $500 million and $1 billion. At a news conference the following day, Defense Secretary Robert S. McNamara cited the Titan III as a major step toward overtaking the Soviet Union in various phases of military space development.

Washington Post, 21 August 1962; DOD Release 1367-62.

September 11

MSC aerospace technologists William G. Davis and Robert L. Turner compiled a description of scientific and support instrumentation that would be required aboard a manned space station. Such equipment comprised basically three areas: (1) support and laboratory instrumentation, including those systems required for crew safety and scientific experiments; (2) scientific instrumentation, primarily for study of a true space environment on different spacecraft systems and materials and for advancement of scientific knowledge of space; and (3) the power system for a space station (wherein the pair compared the relative merits of 400-cycle alternating current versus 28-volt direct current power sources).

Memorandum, William G. Davis and Robert L. Turner, MSC, to E. R. Diemer, MSC, "Scientific and Support Instrumentation for a Manned Space Station," 11 September 1962.

September 28

A meeting to discuss space-station-related work during 1963 was held in Washington between people from the Office of Manned Space Flight (OMSF), the Office of Advanced Research and Technology (OART), and the three Centers most involved in such work, MSC, MSFC, and LaRC. Although the timing for a space station project was far from firm, all agreed that the concept was important and that advanced technological work must proceed at the Centers in order to present top management with information on such a program when appropriate.

Douglas Lord of OMSF noted that funding for space station research and study contracts was limited because of an "understandable preoccupation" with the Apollo program, noting that for 1963 OMSF was allowing $2.2 million to MSC...


During 1962, while the Apollo spacecraft design was still in the definition stage and a mode for the lunar landing had not yet been chosen, other activities were being pursued on a smaller scale. One such activity was planning for for future programs. NASA Centers, the Air Force, and many of the major aerospace contractors were developing possible space station concepts and studying their potential uses. Some of those concepts, most in consideration at that time, are shown on these facing pages. The variety seems to indicate that aerospace engineers, given the opportunity and challenge, can come up with a number of seemingly far-reaching configurations, all of which might achieve the desired result.

[22] ....and $300 000 to MSFC for contractor-related studies, compared to DART's funding to LaRC of $800 000.

Maxime A. Faget stated that MSC was revising some of its earlier plans for space station studies to include a thorough operational analysis so that rational costbased decisions could be made in 1964. He observed that cost would be a very important-if not the most important-factor in any early space station program decision, thus dictating a simple design for the vehicle.

Clint Brown, representing Langley, agreed with Faget's views and announced that LaRC had reorganized its original space station steering group and had reoriented and broadened their conceptual design studies, with greater emphasis upon simplicity of configuration and system design. Although Brown and Faget disagreed on the principal justification for a space station program (Faget viewed it as a support for a future manned flight to Mars, while Brown argued primarily its usefulness as a research laboratory for a variety of NASA research elements), both agreed on the desirability of bringing all of the Agency's Program Offices (such as the Office of Space Science and Applications) into the planning picture. All the participants at this meeting agreed that a paramount objective for immediate planning was to define program objectives for a space station-what roles it would fill and what purposes it would be designed to accomplish.

Memorandum, W. E. Stoney, NASA Hq, to R. L. Bisplinghoff, NASA Hq, "OARTOMSF and Center Meeting on Space Station Studies," 5 October 1962.

October 17

Joseph F. Shea, Deputy Director for Systems, Office of Manned Space Flight, solicited suggestions from each of the Headquarters' Program Offices and the various NASA Centers on the potential uses and experiments for a manned space station. Such ideas, Shea explained, would help determine whether adequate justification existed for such a space laboratory, either as a research center in space or as a functional satellite. Preliminary studies already conducted, he said, placed such spacecraft within the realm of technology feasibility, and, if a decision were made to go ahead with such a project, NASA could conceivably place a station in Earth orbit by about 1967. Shea emphasized, however, that any such decision depended to a great extent on whether adequate justification existed for a space station. In seeking out ideas from within the agency, Shea called for roles, configurations, system designs, and specific scientific and engineering uses and requirements, emphasizing (1) the importance of a space station program to science, technology, or national goals; and (2) the unique characteristics of such a station and why such a program could not be accomplished by using Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, or unmanned spacecraft. Finally, he stated that general objectives currently envisioned for a station were as a precursor to manned planetary missions and for broad functional and scientific roles.

Memorandum, Joseph F. Shea to Dist., "Definition of Potential Applications for Manned Space Station," 17 October 1962.

[23] December 12

Owen E. Maynard, Head of MSC's Spacecraft Integration Branch, reported on his preliminary investigation of the feasibility of modifying Apollo spacecraft systems to achieve a 100-day Earth- orbital capability. His investigation examined four basic areas: (1) mission, propulsion, and flight time; (2) rendezvous, reentry, and landing; (3) human factors; and (4) spacecraft command and communications. Although modifications to some systems might be extensive- and would involve a considerable weight increase for the vehicle-such a mission using Apollo hardware was indeed feasible.

Memorandum, Owen E. Maynard to Chief, Spacecraft Technology Div., "Systems Investigation of a 100-Day Earth Orbital Operation for Apollo," 12 December 1962, with enclosure, same subject.

December 15

MSC researchers compiled a preliminary statement of work for a manned space station study program in anticipation of study contracts to be let to industry for a supportive study. The study requirements outlined the general scope of such investigations and suggested guidelines for research areas such as configurations, onboard spacecraft systems, and operational techniques. Ideally, studies by aerospace companies would help NASA formulate a logical approach for a space station program and how it might be implemented. Throughout the study, an overall objective would be simplicity: no artificial gravity and maximum use of existing launch vehicles and spacecraft systems to achieve the earliest possible launch date.

MSC, General Requirements for a Study Proposal for a "Zero-Gravity" Manned Orbital Laboratory, 15 December 1962.

- 1963 -

January 22

Addressing an Institute of Aerospace Science meeting in New York, George von Tiesenhausen, Chief of Future Studies at NASA's Launch Operations Center, stated that by 1970 the United States would need an orbiting space station to launch and repair spacecraft. The station could also serve as a manned scientific laboratory. In describing the 91-m-long, 10-m-diameter structure, von Tiesenhausen said that the station could be launched in two sections using Saturn C-5 vehicles. The sections would be joined once in orbit.

Future Studies Branch Activities Report, Fiscal Year 1963, TR-4-17-3-D, 19 August 1963, p. 31.

March 1

MSC proposed building a manned space station using hardware already under development for the Apollo program. MSC's plan called for an orbiting station with a capacity for 18 crewmen. Manning would be accomplished through successive flights of six-man, modified Apollo-type spacecraft that would rendezvous with the station in orbit.

Astronautics and Aeronautics, 1963, pp. 77-78; Baltimore Sun, 2 March 1963.

March 4

Testifying before the House Committee on Science and Astronautics, NASA Deputy Administrator Hugh L. Dryden described the Agency's studies of post-Apollo [24] space projects. Among "obvious candidates," Dryden cited a manned Earth-orbiting laboratory, which was a prerequisite for manned reconnaissance of the planets. Many preliminary design studies of the technological feasibility of a large space laboratory had been made, Dryden said. But technical feasibility alone could not justify a project of such magnitude and cost. "We are attempting to grasp the problem from the other end," he said, ". . . to ask what one can and would do in a space laboratory in specific fields of science and technology with a view to establishing a realistic and useful concept.... The program must be designed to fulfill national needs."

U.S. Congress, House, Committee on Science and Astronautics, 1964 NASA Authorization: Hearings on H.R. 5466 (Superseded by H.R. 7500), 88th Cong., 1st sess., 4-5 March 1963, p. 20.

March 28

Associate Administrator Robert C. Seamans, Jr., asked Abraham Hyatt of Headquarters to organize a task team to study the concept of a Manned Earth Orbiting Laboratory.

Seamans pointed out that such a laboratory was under consideration by several government agencies and that NASA and the Department of Defense were at that time supporting a number of advanced feasibility studies. He said that such a laboratory bore a very heavy interrelationship between manned space flight, space sciences, and advanced research and technology and that NASA's top management was faced with the decision whether to initiate hardware development. Hyatt's aft's team thus must examine broadly the needs of an orbiting laboratory from NASA's viewpoint, as well as that of outside agencies, and the operational and scientific factors impinging on any possible decision to undertake hardware development.

Memorandum, Robert C. Seamans, Jr., to Dist., "Special Task Team for Manned Earth Orbiting Laboratory Study," 28 March 1963.

April 11

Christopher C. Kraft, Jr., John D. Hodge, and William L. Davidson of MSC's light Operations Division met at Langley with a large contingent of that Center's research staff to discuss LaRC's proposed Manned Orbital Research Laboratory (MORL). Langley spokesmen briefed their Houston visitors on the philosophy and proposed program phases leading to an operational MORL. Kraft and his colleagues then emphasized the need for careful study of operational problems involved with the MORL, as well as those associated with the smaller crew ferry and logistics supply vehicles. Specifically, they cited crew selection and training requirements, the need for a continuous recovery capability, communications requirements, and handling procedures for scientific data.

Memorandum, William L. Davidson to Chief, Flight Operations Div., "Notes on Langley Research Center's (LaRC) Proposed Manned Orbital Research Laboratory (MORL)," 18 April 1963.

[25] June 1

MSC announced two space station study contracts to compare concepts for a 24-man orbital laboratory: one with the Lockheed Aircraft Corporation and another with Douglas Aircraft Company, Inc., Missiles and Space Systems Division. The stations were to be designed for a useful orbital lifetime of about five years, with periodic resupply and crew rotations.

Douglas Aircraft Co., Report SM 45878, Douglas Orbital Laboratory Studies, January 1964.

June 20

In a meeting with a number of people from MSC's Spacecraft Technology and Instrumentation and Electronic Systems Divisions, J. E. Clair from Bendix Eclipse-Pioneer Division gave a progress report on the company's study of stabilization techniques for high-resolution telescopes aboard manned space vehicles (work done under a contract awarded 9 November 1962). In part, MSC's purpose w as to ensure that Bendix's study reflect the Center's current definition of space stations. Clair and the MSC contingent explored a number of technical problems for different vehicle configurations, including pointing accuracy, fields of view, and physical location aboard the vehicle.

Memorandum, R. L. LaBlanc, MSC, to Deputy Chief, Instrumentation and Electronic Systems Div., "Conference with Bendix Eclipse-Pioneer Representatives on June 20, 1963," 17 July 1963.

June 24

LaRC Director Floyd L. Thompson announced that two aerospace firms, The Boeing Company of Seattle and Douglas Aircraft Company, Inc., of Santa Monica, had been selected for final negotiations for study contracts of a Manned Orbital Research Laboratory (MORL) concept. Results of the comparative studies would contribute to NASA s research on ways to effectively use man in space. Although no officially approved project for an orbital laboratory existed at the time, research within the agency over the past several years had developed considerable technology applicable to multimanned vehicles and had fostered much interest in such a project. Langley's MORL, concept envisioned a four-man Workshop with periodic crew change and resupply, with at least one crew performing a year-long mission to evaluate the effect of weightlessness during long-duration space flights.

Douglas Aircraft Co., Report No. SM 45878, Douglas Orbital Laboratory Studies, January 1964.

July 10

In a report to the Aeronautics and Astronautics Coordinating Board, Director of Manned Space Flight D. Brainerd Holmes and Air Force Undersecretary Brockway McMillan,, cochairmen of the Manned Space Flight Panel, set forth a number of recommendations for bringing about a closer coordination between NASA and the Department of Defense (DOD) in manned space station studies. Although some coordination between the two agencies already existed, direct contact was inadequate, especially at the technical level. Holmes requested all NASA program offices and those field centers involved in space station work to...


Rene A. Berglund, Chief of MSC's Space Vehicle Design Branch, is shown with models of the modular space station he designed, for which he earned a cash award from the NASA Inventions and Contributions Panel in July 1963. The one on the right is the launch configuration for the orbital revision on the left.

...comply with the Panel's recommendations for thorough interchange of study work and information with DOD.

Memorandum, D. Brainerd Holmes to Dist., "NASA/DOD Coordination on Space Station Programs," 10 July 1963, with enclosure, "Report to the Aeronautics and Astronautics Coordinating Board from the Manned Space Flight Panel."

July 16

At Seattle, five men began a 30-day engineering test of life support systems for a manned space station in The Boeing Company space chamber. The system, designed and built for NASA's Office of Advanced Research and Technology, was the nation's first to include all life-support equipment for a multimanned, long-duration space mission (including environmental control, waste disposal, and crew hygiene and food techniques). In addition to the life support equipment, a number of crew tests simulated specific problems of space flight.

Five days later, however, the simulated mission was halted because of a faulty reactor tank.

NASA News Release 63-155, "Thirty-Day Life Support System Being Tested for NASA," 16 July 1963; Cleveland Plain Dealer, 21 July 1963.

[27] July 30

At the request of NASA Hq, MSC contracted with North American to determine what engineering modifications to the basic Apollo spacecraft would be required to extend that vehicle's mission capabilities to a 100-day orbital lifetime. Although the study contract was handled chiefly by the Space Vehicle Design Branch of the Spacecraft Technology Division, Engineering and Development Director Maxime A. Faget requested that all elements of his directorate lend support as required to achieve a meaningful and useful effort, including in-house study efforts if needed. Also, Faget described the vehicle model that served as the basis for the study: a space laboratory for either a two or three-man crew; an orbital altitude of from 160 km to 480 km; an orbital staytime of about 100 days without resupply; and launch aboard a Saturn IB. He stated that two separate vehicles were under consideration, an Apollo command module and a command module and separate mission module to be used as living quarters.

Memorandum, Maxime A. Faget to Dist., "100-day Apollo, study support," 30 July 1963.

August 17 - September 14

NASA and the DOD concluded a joint agreement to coordinate all advanced space exploration studies and any actual programs undertaken in the area of a manned orbital research station. The two agencies agreed that, to the greatest extent possible, future requirements in this area should be encompassed in a single project.

"Agreement Between the Department of Defense and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Covering a Possible New Manned Earth Orbital Research and Development Project"; NASA News Release 63 231, "NASA-DOD Agree on Common Approach to a Manned Orbital Research and Development Project," 17 October 1963.

October 9

A "flying carpet" escape system from orbital space stations had been proposed by Douglas Aircraft Company. The escape system would be a saucer shape that would expand into a blunt-nosed, cone- shaped vehicle 7.6 m across at its base. The vehicle would act as its own brake as it passed through the atmosphere. Reentry heating problems would be met by using fabrics woven with filaments of nickel-based alloys.

Space Business Daily, 9 October 1963, p. 52; Astronautics and Aeronautics, 1963, p. 383.

October 18

NASA announced the selection of 14 new- astronauts: Edwin E. Aldrin, Jr., William A. Anders, Charles A Bassett II, Michael Collins, Donn F. Eisele, Theodore C. Freeman, and David R. Scott from the Air Force; Alan L. Bean, Eugene A. Cernan, Roger B. Chaffee, and Richard F. Gordon, Jr., of the Navy; Clifton C. Williams, Jr., United States Marine Corps; and R. Walter Cunningham and Russell L. Sckweickart, civilians. This latest addition to the astronaut corps brought the total number of NASA astronauts to 30.

MSC News Release 63-180, 18 October 1963.

[28] October 31

The Director of Advanced Research and Technology, Raymond L. Bisplinghoff, asked the several field centers to conduct a thorough assessment of the potential utility of a manned orbiting laboratory to conduct scientific and technological research in space. To date, Bisplinghoff said, the prevailing view (based primarily on intuitive judgment) saw such research as one of the most important justifications for an orbital laboratory. An accurate assessment of its potential was essential so that, as a preliminary to undertaking such a project, any such decision would rationally examine whether such a project should be undertaken and what type of laboratory should be built.

Letter, Raymond L. Bisplinghoff, NASA Hq, to Dist., "Request for assistance in defining the scientific and technological research potential of a manned orbital laboratory," 31 October 1963.

November 24

North American issued the final report of its study for MSC on extended missions for the Apollo spacecraft. In stressing the supreme importance of man's role in the exploration of space-and the uncertainties surrounding the effects of prolonged exposure to the zero-gravity environment of space-the company suggested that an Earth-orbital laboratory would be an ideal vehicle for such long-term experimental evaluation, with missions exceeding a year's duration. The more immediate approach to meeting the demands for such missions was through modification of existing vehicle systems rather than the development of completely new space hardware. In the remainder of the report, the company gave detailed descriptions of how Apollo systems might be modified to meet the requirements of extended missions, ranging from the basic command and service module to a separate laboratory and habitable module with self-contained systems and life-support equipment. All such basic concepts were technically sound and could satisfy mission objectives with minimum costs and development time.

North American, SID Report 63-1370-12, Extended-Mission Apollo Study, Final Report, 24 November 1963, pp. 1-5, 19-20.

December 10

Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara announced cancellation of the X-20 Dyna Soar project at a news briefing at the Pentagon. McNamara stated that fiscal resources thereby saved would be channeled into broader research on the problems and potential value of manned military operations in space, chiefly the Manned Orbiting Laboratory (MOL) project. These decisions on the X-20 and MOL had been discussed and coordinated with NASA, and, although the Air Force received responsibility for the MOL project, NASA would continue to provide technical support.

DOD News Briefing with Hon. Robert S. McNamara, Secretary of Defense, The Pentagon, 10 December 1963.

December 19

NASA Hq advised the centers regarding the agency's official position vis-a-vis the Defense Department's Manned Orbiting Laboratory project. Both NASA and DOD viewed MOL as a project designed to fulfill immediate military [29] requirements. The project could not be construed as meeting the much broader objectives and goals of a national space station program being studied by both organizations under post-Apollo research and development program policy agreements between NASA Administrator James E. Webb and Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara (dated 14 September 1963).

TWX, NASA Hq to Dist., 19 December 1963.

December 26

MSFC Director Wernher von Braun described to Apollo Spacecraft Program Manager Joseph F. Shea a possible extension of Apollo systems to permit more extensive exploration of the lunar surface. Huntsville's concept, called the Integrated Lunar Exploration System, involved a dual Saturn V mission (with rendezvous in lunar orbit) to deliver an integrated lunar taxi/shelter spacecraft to the Moon's surface. Wernher von Braun stated that, though this concept was most preliminary, such a vehicle could bridge the gap between present Apollo capabilities and the longer term goal of permanent lunar bases. (Although this suggestion never found serious favor elsewhere within the agency, such thinking and ideas were indicative of speculation throughout NASA generally regarding possible applications of Apollo hardware to achieve other space goals once the paramount goal of a lunar landing was achieved.)

Letter, Wernher von Braun, MSFC, to Shea, MSC', 26 December 1963.

December 31

MSC Director Robert R. Gilruth apprised George E. Mueller, Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight, of recent discussions with officers from the Air Force's Space Systems Division regarding MSC's joint participation in the MOL project in the area of operational control and support. Such joint cooperation might comprise two separate areas: manning requirements for the control center and staffing of actual facilities. Gilruth suggested that such joint cooperation would work to the benefit of both organizations involved. Furthermore, because a number of unidentified problems inevitably existed, he recommended the creation of a joint NASA Air Force group to study the entire question so that such uncertainties might be identified and resolved.

Letter, Robert R. Gilruth to George E. Mueller, NASA Hq, "Operational Support for the USAF Manned Orbiting Laboratory," 31 December 1963.

- 1964 -

[30] January 8

In an interview for Space Business Daily, Edward Z. Gray, Director of Advanced Studies in NASA's Office of Manned Space Flight, predicted that NASA's manned space station would be more sophisticated than the Defense Department's Manned Orbiting Laboratory. NASA had more than a dozen study projects under way, Gray said, that when completed would enable the agency to appraise requirements and pursue the best approach to developing such a space station.

Space Business Daily, 8 January 1964, p. 34.

January 10

James J. Haggerty, Jr., Space Editor for the Army-Navy-Air Force Journal and Register, called the assignment of the Manned Orbiting Laboratory to the Department of Defense "an ominous harbinger of a reversal in trend, an indication that the military services may play a more prominent role in future space exploration at NASA's expense.... Whether you label it development platform, satellite platform, satellite or laboratory, it is clearly intended as a beginning for space station technology. It is also clearly the intent of this administration that, at least in the initial stages, space station development shall be under military rather than civil cognizance...."

Army-Navy-Air Force Journal and Register, 11 January 1964, p. 10.

January 15

Following completion of feasibility studies of an extended Apollo system at MSC, Edward Z. Gray, Advanced Manned Missions Program Director at Headquarters, told MSC's Maxime A. Faget, Director of Engineering and Development, to go ahead with phase II follow-on studies. Gray presented guidelines and suggested tasks for such a study, citing his desire for two separate contracts to industry to study the command and service modules and various concepts for laboratory modules.

Letter, Edward Z. Gray to Maxime A. Faget, 15 January 1964, with enclosure, "Extended Apollo, Phase II."


In the wake of the Air Force's Manned Orbiting Laboratory project and the likelihood of NASA's undertaking some type of manned orbiting research laboratory, Director of Advanced Manned Missions Studies Edward Z. Gray sought to achieve within NASA a better understanding of the utility of such projects as a base for experiments in space. Accordingly, he created three separate working groups to deal with possible experiments in three separate categories: (l) big-medical, (2) scientific, and (3) engineering.

Memorandum, Edward Z. Gray, NASA Hq, to Wernher von Braun, MSFC, "Establishment of an Orbital Research h Laboratory Engineering Experiments Working Group," 3 March 1964.

February 26

The Lockheed-California Company released details of its recommendations to MSC on a scientific space station program. The study concluded that a manned station with a crew of 24 could be orbiting the Earth in 1968. Total cost of the program including logistics spacecraft and ground support was estimated at $2.6 billion for five years' operation. Lockheed's study recommended the use of a Saturn V to launch the unmanned laboratory into orbit and then launching a manned logistics vehicle to rendezvous and dock at the station.

MSC Roundup, 4 March 1964, p. 8.

March 12

Edward Z. Gray, Advanced Manned Missions Director in the Office of Manned Space Flight, asked LaRC Director Charles J. Donlan to prepare a Project [31] Development Plan for the Manned Orbital Research Laboratory, studies for which were already underway at the Center and under contract. This plan was needed as documentation for any possible decision to initiate an orbital research laboratory project. (Gray had also asked MSC to submit similar plans for an Apollo X, an Apollo Orbital Research Laboratory, and a Large Orbital Research Laboratory.) In addition to the Project Development Plan, Gray asked for system specifications for each candidate orbital laboratory system; both of these would form the basis for a project proposal with little delay "should a climate exist in which a new project can be started."

Letter, E.Z. Gray to C.J. Donlan, 12 March 1964.

During the month

A study to recommend, define, and substantiate a logical approach for establishing a rotating manned orbital research laboratory for a Saturn V launch vehicle was made for MSC. The study was performed by the Lockheed-California Company, Burbank, California. It was based on the proposition that a large rotating space station would be one method by which the United States could maintain its position as a leader in space technology. Study results indicated that no major state-of- the-art advances would be required for a rotating space station program. If the program was to be implemented, maximum utilization could be made of the technologies, equipment, and facilities developed for the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo programs. Significant reductions in cost, development time, and technological risk for a large rotating space station program would thereby be obtained.

Four principal objectives were established for the study: study of alternate configurations, conceptual design of a rotating station, selection of station systems, and a program plan for the rotating station. Ground rules and guidelines were established to limit, define, and focus the studies. A summary of these follows.

  • The launch vehicle was to be a two-stage Saturn V. Launch was to be from Cape Canaveral, Florida, in July 1968; the period from 1967 to 1970 was to be considered.

  • The station was to be fully operational for one to five years.

  • The space station was to be launched unmanned.

  • Crew size was to be 24 men.

  • The space station would be capable of remaining in the unmanned condition for a minimum period of one month.

  • Meteoroid and radiation environment was as specified by NASA-MSC.

  • Cabin pressure was to be variable from 24 to 101 kilonewtons per sq m (3.5 to 14.7 psia) within any one module or the zero-gravity laboratory, with the normal value being 48 kilonewtons per sq m (7.0 psia).

  • Design criteria for the life support system were those specified by NASA.

  • The space station was to be designed to accommodate emergencies, and rapid egress would not be a primary design constraint.

  • Crew duty cycles would vary between three months and one year.

  • [32] The basic resupply period would be 90 days; however, variations to this period would be considered.

  • Logistic spacecraft to be considered would include the 12-man ballistic or lifting body designs or a 6-man modified Apollo.

  • Maximum use would be made of already available or planned equipment and technology or modest extensions thereof.

If the Gemini and Apollo programs were continued at the current pace, research requirements for implementing a large rotating space station were few. These requirements were


No aeronautics problems, as such, were anticipated; however, continuing research on the properties of the atmosphere at the orbital altitude would allow more accurate prediction of orbit decay rates.

Biotechnology and Human Research

Research to define more precisely the radiation environment and its effects on man should be continued. In connection with this work, better methods of measuring radiation dosage to man and of prognosis of potential damage were required.

Continuing research on the long-term effects of reduced gravity and methods of counteracting such effects were necessary. Major contributions would be made in the Gemini and Apollo programs.

Analysis and experimentation in the area of crew performance under reduced or zero gravity would aid in the design of equipment for both operations and maintenance.

Environmental and Stabilization Controls

Active systems had been proposed for stabilizing the rotating space station. Research in the area of passive stabilization devices would provide both increased reliability and decreased power consumption.

Environmental control on the space station would use currently available hardware, with the exception of the oxygen regeneration unit. The proposed arrangement would make use of the Bosch process, which requires a large amount of electrical power for the electrolysis of water. Research would be required on the electrolysis process and on alternative means of reclaiming oxygen.

Materials and Structures

Continuing research on the meteoroid environment and on penetration mechanics and hazards of penetration, based on representative space station [33] structures and operating pressures, would be required to permit more accurate evaluation of station and crew survival.

The effect of long-term exposure of materials to the space environment would aid in reducing the space station development span. Of primary interest were sealing, materials, lubricants, repair techniques, and surface coatings for preserving thermal properties and for preventing or facilitating vacuum welding.

Current toxicity data on materials dealt only in terms of industrial exposure times. The toxicity of the various materials that would be used in the space station should be evaluated for long-term human exposure in a representative environment.

Nuclear Systems

Nuclear power devices offered many attractive advantages for space station use; however, at that time, their development status, shielding requirements, and cost had prevented their use. Further research in both nuclear and radioisotope systems appeared justified in view of the potential benefits that could be realized.

Propulsion and Power Generation

One of the major logistic requirements for the space station would be propellants. The possibility of reducing propellant resupply requirements existing in the use of high-specific-impulse devices was now under development. Further research would be required to make the weight, size, thrust, and power consumption more compatible with space station requirements.

In the existing space station design, the primary power source, solar cells, needed to be complemented with power storage devices in the form of silvercadmium batteries. Research, aimed at increasing battery life as a function of depth of discharge, would result in a marked reduction of power system weight and logistic requirements.

The study recommended that effort in the following areas would provide critically needed technology:

  • Development of a flight-rated oxygen regeneration system.

  • Development of water reclamation components.

  • Construction of a full-scale mockup.

  • Design and testing of candidate wall constructions.

  • Determination of the effect on materials of long-term exposure to the s environment.

  • Increased battery life to minimize logistics.

Lockheed-California Co., Report No. LR 17502, Vol. Xl, Summary, "Study of a Rotating Manned Orbital Space Station," March 1964.

April 29

C. Howard Robins, Jr., and others in the MSC Advanced Spacecraft Technology Division investigated the suitability of and formulated a tentative mission flight plan for using a Gemini spacecraft to link up with an orbiting vehicle to achieve a long-duration space mission (dubbed the "Pecan" mission). The two crewmen were to transfer to the Pecan for the duration of the mission. As with similar investigations for the application of Apollo hardware, the scheme postulated by Robins and his colleagues emphasized maximum use of existing and planned hardware, facilities, and operational techniques.

Howard C. Robins, Jr., "On the Establishment of a Nominal Flight Plan for the Gemini-Pecan Mission," MSC Internal Note No. 54 EA-22, 29 April 1964.

June 5

Secretary of the Air Force Eugene M. Zuckert announced that three firms, Douglas Aircraft Company, General Electric Company, and The Martin Company, had received authorization to begin work on space station studies. Zuckert predicted also that the Titan III would be test-flown that summer and would launch the Manned Orbiting Laboratory sometime in 1967 or 1968.

Astronautics and Aeronautics, 1964, p. 205.

During the month

The recent creation of the Apollo Logistic Support System Office in Washington prompted the formal investigation of a variety of extensions of Apollo hardware to achieve greater scientific and exploratory dividends from Apollo hardware. Director of Special Manned Space Flight Studies William B. Taylor suggested to William E. Stoney and others in Houston that Grumman receive a study contract to investigate possible modifications to the lunar excursion module (LEM) to create a LEM truck (concepts which the company had already investigated preliminarily on an in-house basis). The time was appropriate, Taylor said, for more intensive and formal efforts along these lines.

Letter, William B. Taylor, NASA Hq, to William E. Stoney, MSC, "LEM Truck," 24 June 1964.

July 14

A study submitted to NASA by Douglas Aircraft Company concluded that a six-man space research station, capable of orbiting for one year, could be orbiting the Earth within five years. The crew, serving on a staggered schedule, would travel to and from the station on modified Gemini or Apollo spacecraft. The station would provide a small degree of artificial gravity by rotating slowly and would include a centrifuge to simulate reentry forces.

Douglas Aircraft Co., Report No. SM-45878, Douglas Orbital Laboratories Studies, July 1964.

July 21

Commenting on Republican Presidential candidate Barry Goldwater's views on the space program, Warren Burkett, science writer for the Houston Chronicle, observed that a great deal of research being conducted as part of NASA's Apollo program could be of direct value to the military services. Burkett contended that [35] an orbital laboratory using Apollo-developed components could be used for such military applications as patrol and orbital interception. He suggested that, with Apollo, NASA was generating an inventory of "off-the-shelf" space hardware suitable for military use if needed.

Houston Chronicle, 26 July 1964.

August 3

Willis B. Foster, Director of Manned Space Science in the Office of Space Science and Applications, distributed a preliminary draft report of the Ad Hoc Astronomy Panel of the Orbiting Research Laboratory (ORL). The panel, which met on 26 October 1963 and again on 24 June 1964, was created to sound out the American scientific community on the validity of manned astronomy in space and to define astronomy objectives for the ORL, mission. The panel promulgated a broad statement on the scope and direction of the manned space astronomy program. Although sounding rocket and unmanned satellite programs had merit, the panel stated that broader, more flexible and ultimately more economical- astronomy programs required the presence of man in space. Initial manned astronomy programs should he carried out as soon as possible, and, although primary interest was on Earth-orbital systems, the panel clearly was looking forward to the eventual possibility of lunar surface observatories.

The Ad Hoc Astronomy Panel also presented a comprehensive rationale for man's role in space astronomy: assembly of large, bulky, or fragile equipment in space; maintenance, repair, and modification of equipment; and direct monitoring of scientific apparatus and immediate data feedback during critical periods and for specialized operations. While recognizing that the presence of flight-oriented astronauts was mandatory aboard an ORL, the panel recommended inclusion in the crew of a qualified astronomer to direct scientific operations aboard the laboratory.

Letter, Willis B. Foster, OSSA, to A. D. Code, University of Wisconsin, 3 August 1964.

August 17

MSC's Spacecraft Integration Branch proposed an Apollo "X" spacecraft to be used in Earth orbit for biomedical and scientific missions of extended duration. The spacecraft would consist of the lunar Apollo spacecraft and its systems, with minimum modifications consisting- of redundancies and spares. The concept provided for a first-phase mission which would consider the Apollo "X" a two-man Earth-orbiting laboratory for a period of 14 to 45 days. The spacecraft would be boosted into a 370-km orbit by a Saturn IB launch vehicle. Variations of configurations under consideration provided for Configuration A, a two-man crew, 14- to 45- day mission, no lab module; Configuration B, a three-man crew, 45-day mission, single lab module; Configuration C, a three-man crew, 45-day mission, dependent systems double lab module; and Configuration D, a three-man crew, 120-day mission, independent systems lab module.

MSC Internal Note No. 64-ET-53, "Apollo Systems Extension, Apollo 'X,' Description and Mission Interrelationships," 17 August 1964.


The Apollo "X" spacecraft as it was visualized in both launch and Earth-orbit configurations by personnel of the MSC Spacecraft Integration Branch in August 1964.

September 24

A background briefing for the press regarding astronomy programs was held in Washington. Nancy Roman, who directed the agency's astronomy activities, disclosed that NASA was studying the feasibility of a manned orbiting telescope. Although the telescope would be designed to operate automatically, man would adjust its focus, collect film packets, and make any necessary repairs. The space agency had already invited members of the scientific community to propose astronomical studies suitable for use in space, and several NASA centers were performing related engineering support studies.

Astronautics and Aeronautics, 1964, p. 327.

October 26

In an interview for Missiles and Rockets magazine, Associate Administrator Robert C. Seamans, Jr., stated that NASA planned to initiate program definition studies of an Apollo X spacecraft during Fiscal Year 1965. Seamans emphasized that such a long-duration space station program would not receive funding for actual hardware development until the 1970s. He stressed that NASA's Apollo X would not compete with the Manned Orbiting Laboratory program: "MOL is important for the military as a method of determining what opportunities there are for men in space. It is not suitable to fulfill NASA requirements to gain scientific knowledge."

Missiles and Rockets, 26 October 1964, p 14.

December 1

In a letter to Apollo Program Director Samuel C. Phillips regarding tentative spacecraft development and mission planning schedules, Joseph F. Shea, Apollo...


Above is a draftsman's completed work, taken from a rough sketch prepared by Wernher von Braun on 24 November 1964. All the descriptive material on either side of the conceptual space station was taken directly from von Braun's penciled sketch.

....Spacecraft Program Manager, touched upon missions following completion of Apollo's prime goal of landing on the Moon. Such missions, Shea said, would in general fall under the heading of a new program (such as Apollo X). Although defining missions a number of years in the future was most complex, Shea advised that MSC was planning to negotiate program package contracts with both North American and Grumman through Fiscal Year 1969, based upon the agency's most recent program planning schedules.

Letter, Joseph F. Shea, MSC, to Samuel C. Phillips, NASA Hq, 1 December 1964.

December 7

In a letter to President Lyndon B. Johnson, Senator Clinton P. Anderson, Chairman of the Committee on Aeronautical and Space Sciences, recommended that the Air Force's MOL and NASA's Apollo X programs be merged. Senator Anderson argued that a jointly operated national space station program would most effectively use the nation's available resources. He claimed that $1 billion could be saved during the next five years if the MOL were canceled and those funds applied to NASA's Apollo-based space station program.

In mid-December, Anderson issued a statement saying that the Department of Defense and NASA had worked out an agreement on MOL and Apollo X that in [38] large measure answered the questions he had earlier raised. "The Air Force and NASA will take advantage of each other's technology and hardware development," Anderson said, "with all efforts directed at achievement of a true space laboratory as an end goal."

Astronautics and Aeronautics, 1964, pp. 382, 425.

December 11

LaRC announced award of a 1 0-month contract to The Boeing Company to study the feasibility of designing and launching a manned orbital telescope and to investigate ways in which such an astronomical observatory might be operated, particularly the role that man might play in scientific observations. The study presumed that the telescope would be operated in conjunction with the proposed Manned Orbital Research Laboratory being investigated by Langley.

Astronautics and Aeronautics, 1964, p. 415, cites LaRC Release.

- 1965 -

January 23

Defense Secretary Robert S. McNamara announced that the Department of Defense was requesting proposals from the aerospace industry for design studies to support development of the MOL (especially cost and technical data). Three contractors would be chosen to conduct the studies, a step preliminary to any DOD decision to proceed with full-scale development of the space laboratory.

Astronautics and Aeronautics 1965, p. 27, cites DOD News Release 42-65.

February 18

Testifying before the House Committee on Science and Astronautics during hearings on NASA's Fiscal Year 1966 budget, Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight George E. Mueller briefly outlined the space agency's immediate post-Apollo objectives: "Apollo capabilities now under development," he said, "will enable us to produce space hardware and fly it for future missions at a small fraction of the original development cost. This is the basic concept in the Apollo Extension System (AES) now under consideration." Mueller stated that the Apollo Extension System had "the potential to provide the capability to perform a number of useful missions utilizing Apollo hardware developments in an earlier time frame than might otherwise be expected. This program would follow the basic Apollo manned lunar landing program and would represent an intermediate step between this important national goal and future manned space flight programs."

U.S. Congress, House, Committee on Science and Astronautics s, 1966 NASA Authorization: Hearings on H.R. 3730 (Superseded by H.R.. 7717), 89th Cong., 1st sess., 1965, pp. 111-115.

February 23

In a major policy meeting at Headquarters, among George E. Mueller, Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight (OMSF), Homer E. Newell, Associate Administrator for Space Science and Applications (OSSA), and members of their staffs, a fundamental policy agreement was worked out regarding responsibilities for scientific experiments aboard manned space flights. Basically, OSSA had...


This original spacecraft design concept prepared in early 1965 by Willard M. Taub, MSC, for William E. Stoney, Jr., Chief of MSC's Spacecraft Technology Division, was used as a basis for later, more detailed spacecraft designs of the S-IVB Workshop. It has also been referred to extensively in discussing the most practical space station configurations.

...responsibility for definition of experiments, selection and coordination with experimenters, and, after the flight, analysis and dissemination of scientific data; OMSF was responsible for actual flight hardware, as well as integration into the space vehicles and actual conduct of the mission. Funding responsibilities between the respective offices followed the same pattern.

Memorandum, R. J. Allenby, NASA Hq, to George E. Mueller, OMSF, and Homer E. Newell, OSSA, "Minutes of Newell- Mueller Meeting of 23 February 1965," 19 April 1965, with enclosure, "Memorandum of Agreement Between Office of Manned Space Flight [and] Office of Space Sciences and Applications, Scientific Interfaces."

May 4

MSC Assistant Director for Engineering and Development Maxime A. Faget submitted to NASA Hq the Center's plans for Fiscal Year 1966 Apollo Extension System program definition and subsystems development efforts. The information submitted was based on MSC's AES study and supporting development efforts and was broken down into several categories in line with guidelines laid down by the Office of Manned Space Flight: program definition, verification of the capabilities of Apollo subsystems for AES; definition and initial development of experiment payloads and payload support; long leadtime development of primary spacecraft systems critical to achieving minimum AES objectives (i.e., four to six weeks orbital capability and up to two weeks on the lunar surface); and development of improved or alternate subsystems that would extend AES capabilities up [40] to three months in Earth orbit. Tasks in support of these objectives, Faget stated, fell into two priorities: (1) those tasks required to verify an early AES capability; and (2) tasks in support of later AES missions and for system improvement. Those tasks having immediate priority, therefore, demanded the "hard core" of AES funding essential to meet the early AES flight dates.

Letter, Maxime A. Faget, MSC, to F.. Z. Gray, NASA Hq, "FY 1966 AES program definition and subsystem development program submission (905)," 4 May 1965.

June 18

LaRC awarded Douglas Aircraft Company a follow-on study contract for the MORL, emphasizing use of the AES program as a prerequisite to the MORL. Douglas was to examine particularly interfaces between AES experiments and missions and the MORL program.

LaRC Contract NAS 1-3612.

June 28

NASA announced selection of six scientist-astronauts to begin specialized training at MSC for the Apollo program. The men, chosen by NASA from a group of 16 nominated by the National Academy of Sciences, included one geologist, two physicians, and three physicists. The six new spacemen were Owen K. Garriott of Stanford University; Edward G. Gibson of the Aeronutronic Division of Philco; Duane E. Graveline, a flight surgeon at MSC; Joseph P. Kerwin, a Navy flight surgeon; Frank C. Michel of Rice University; and Harrison H. Schmitt, an astrogeologist for the U.S.. Geological Survey.

NASA News Release 65-212, "NASA Selects Six Scientist-Astronauts for Apollo Program," 28 June 1965.

July 8

NASA Associate Administrator Robert C. Seamans, Jr., named the Deputy Associate Administrator for Programming to coordinate the agency's responses to other governmental agencies regarding post-Apollo program planning and review. At present, Seamans said, considerable interest concerning NASA's post-Apollo plans existed in the space committees of both the Senate and the House of Representatives; the President's Science Advisory Committee; the Office of Science and Technology; the National Aeronautics and Space Council; and the Bureau of the Budget. All were deeply involved in policy planning of direct concern to NASA. During forthcoming months, he emphasized, it was imperative that various program presentations and agency planning statements accurately reflect thinking of the agency's top leadership and that no contradictory positions be made outside the agency. This was essential, he said, "because of the very sensitive nature of many of the program options open to us and because of the intimate links between the NASA program and those of other major agencies."

Memorandum, Robert C. Seamans, Jr., to Deputy Associate Administrator for Programming, "Post-Apollo Planning Reviews, ' 8 July 1965.

July 22

Edward Z. Gray, Director, Advanced Manned Missions Program at NASA Hq, informed the Center Directors at MSC, MSFC, and KSC of significant recent [41] program decisions on the approach to be followed during Fiscal Year 1966 in defining payload integration for the AES to the extent necessary for awarding major project contracts approximately a wear later. In defining AES activity, Gray said, the Centers must follow the phased approach, with definition phase contracts to be awarded competitively to industry about the first of 1966. These contracts, to run for about five months, were to include the several companies' proposals for accomplishing the payload integration effort for all AES flights and would form the basis for NASA's final choice e of integration contractors. Current plans, Gray said, were based on selection of two such payload integration contractors, one at MSC and the second at MSFC, each responsible for about half of all AES Rights. (During the integration definition phase contracts, however, MSC had lead responsibility for competition and selection of study contractors, with participation by MSFC and KSC. Gray authorized MSC to supplement the existing AES study contracts with North American and Grumman to assist in the payload integration definition effort.)

Letter, Edward Z. Gray, NASA Hq, to Directors, MSC, MSFC, and KSC, "AES Mission 1 Planning and Payload Integration," 22 July 1965.

July 30

The final report on a modular multipurpose space station was delivered to MSC by the Spacecraft Organization of Lockheed-California Company. The concept provided for a sequential evolution of space vehicles ranging from small Apollo-dependent laboratories, through larger, more versatile laboratories, to a semipermanent space station.

Initial objectives of the study were to refine and optimize the design of the large orbital research laboratory. Eight tasks were defined by NASA to fulfill the intent of those objectives; but tatter, at NASA direction, efforts were concentrated on "Experiments and Utilization and "Design of Modular Concepts," two of the original tasks. The other tasks were reduced in scope or terminated.

The ultimate objectives of the program were conceptual investigation of a family of space stations utilizing- the modular, or building block, concept and integration of a broad spectrum of experiments and applications into this family of space stations. The study was a follow- on effort to "Study of a Rotating Manned Orbital Space Station," performed for MSC, by Lockheed. (See March 1964 entry.)

The modular concept, as defined in the study, could be applied to a wide variety of missions and configurations, but only six missions using four configurations were developed:

  • A 45-day mission, three-man crew, 370-km Orbit at 28.5-degree inclination ; one compartment laboratory.

  • A l-year mission, six-man crew, 370-km orbit at 28.5-degree inclination; two compartment laboratory.

  • A 90-day mission, three- to six-man crew,, 370-km orbit at 90-degree inclination; two compartment laboratory.

  • [42] A 90-day mission, three- to six-man crew, 35 900-km orbit at 30-degree inclination; two compartment laboratory.

  • A 1- to 5-year mission, six- to nine-man crew, 370-km orbit at 28.5-degree inclination; interim station (six compartments).

  • A 5- to 10-year mission, 24- to 36-man crew, 480-km orbit at 29.5-degree inclination; operational station (Y configuration).

This investigation of the four configurations, as opposed to the study of a single design, dictated that Lockheed utilize a conceptual study approach and reduce or eliminate efforts not directly applicable to feasibility demonstration. Only major structural and mechanical designs were produced. Detailed design was limited to the depth necessary to ensure concept feasibility.

Two groups of NASA-furnished experiments provided the basis for determining interior arrangements of individual stations: 85 priority I Apollo Extension Systems experiments for the one and two-compartment laboratories and 405 "Supplementary Applications" for the interim and operational stations. The experiments were briefly reviewed to define man-hour, power, weight, volume, types of equipment, and laboratory layout requirements.

Principal guidelines were used to aid in defining the modular multipurpose space station:

  • Use of state-of-the-art equipment was emphasized, but advanced subsystem concepts were considered and design flexibility maintained so equipment of advanced design could he incorporated w hen available and proven. In all cases, systematic growth potential was achieved without requirements for major developments or technical innovations.

  • Utilization of identical components and equipment on as many of the stations as possible was stressed to reduce cost, complexity, and technical risk.

  • Two basic structural module diameters were studied- the 465 cm and 660 cm and the advantages and disadvantages of the two sizes were compared in order to mate recommendations for a final choice.

  • All configurations of the modular multipurpose space station would be launched from Cape Kennedy by Saturn launch vehicles.

  • Meteoroid and radiation environment models were specified by MSC.

Lockheed-California Co., Condensed Summary of Final Report (LR 18906), "Modular Multipurpose Space Station Study," 30 July 1965.

During the month

Grumman submitted to NASA its final report on a study of AES for Earth-orbit missions (conducted under the firm's contract for a LEM utilization study). The five-volume report comprised general engineering studies, mission and configuration descriptions for different groups of experiments (both NASA's and those for the Air Force's Manned Orbiting- Laboratory), and a cost and schedule analysis. (Grumman's basic LEM utilization study explored potential uses for that vehicle....


The first conceptual sketch of an Orbital Workshop, based on a request from Dr. George E. Mueller, was prepared at MSC in mid-1965.

....beyond the initial Apollo lunar landing and examined several configurations, including a LEM laboratory for extended stays in Earth or lunar orbits; the LEM shelter, an unmanned logistics vehicle to afford astronauts a separate shelter for extended stays on the lunar surface; the extended LEM, a personnel carrier to be used in conjunction with the LEM shelter missions; and a LEM truck, an unmanned logistics vehicle without the ascent stage, thus affording an even greater payload capability to the lunar surface.) The scope of this addition to the basic study concerned the value of the LEM lab in conjunction with the command and service module for Earth-orbiting missions as part of the AES program. The study included spacecraft and experiment definition, as well as cost and schedule analyses; the description of spacecraft configurations to accommodate various types of experiments; and an analysis of crew procedures and operational requirements.

Grumman, Apollo Extension System Earth Orbit Mission Study, Final Report, Vol. 4 July 1965, pp. P-1 and P-2.