INASA-SP-_80) FAR TRAVELEr{S: THE EXPLORING _&CH.iNES (Texas AgM Univ.

) 269 p MF A0|; SOD HC $17,_0 as 033-000-00957-7 CSCL 22A HI/12

ORIGINAL OF POOR

P;_GE IS. QUALITY

t.

i

_-_ ....... 0
I

EXPLOSIVE SAFE FACI LITY
:i!q! iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii_!!iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii_ ¸

I

FOLDOUT

.....

OF POOR QUALITY

i

+

CENTRAL RANGE
P -_

CONTROL SAFETY

c ,_.._

-+-

g J--

FOLDOUT

F_,,-,,,IE

FAR TRAVELERS
The Exploring Machines

NASA

SP-480

FAR TRAVELERS
The Exploring Machines

Oran

W. Nicks

___

Scientific

National and Technical Aeronautics

Information

Branch 1985 and Space Administration Washington, DC

Library

of Congress

Cataloging

in Publication

Data

Nicks, Oran W. Far travelers. (NASA SP ; 480) 1. Space probes. TL795.3.N53 1985

I. TitLe. II. Series. 629.43'5

85-1794

For sale by the Superintendent Printing Office, Washington,

of Documents, D.C. 20402

U.S. Government

Foreword
The first technological understanding it resides. satellites has traveled 25 years of achievements of our home, Communications, affected, to the Moon, space and exploration resulted quantum increases in in extraordinary the scientific

the planet Earth, and the solar system in which weather, and other Earth observational or indirectly, its surface, the lives of most and returned of us. Man of with samples

have

directly

explored

our nearest celestial neighbor. Unmanned system from inside the orbit of Mercury NASA's program spacecraft produced the planets vironment dust storm bit around any struments Mercury,

spacecraft have explored our solar out to the orbit of Pluto.

of lunar and planetary exploration with unmanned a flood of scientific information about the Moon and Venus, Mars, space. covered reactions active Jupiter, and Saturn, as well as the enwere made: 9 went larger than ina into orSome startling discoveries

of interplanetary that completely the planet to indicate cleared chemical

Mars at the time Mariner caused that the Viking were not lander's volcanoes

to reveal results

a huge crater and a canyon

on Earth;

biological

of biological

origin;

Voyager discovered a ring around satellite Io, and the strange braided Many missions achieving Venus challenging possible. the engineering Three outstanding precision

Jupiter, active rings of Saturn. problems accomplishments necessary

on Jupiter's to make these were: achiev-

had to be solved to send required descent

in this area Mariner and Uranus;

navigational

10 from

to Mercury

and Voyager

2 from Jupiter to Saturn

ing a soft landing on Mars, whose thin atmosphere shield for atmosphere entry, a parachute for mosphere, and rocket motors

the use of a heat through the atcolmiles away bulb. machines and

for the final touchdown;

and transmitting

or television pictures of Saturn back to Earth from over I billion with only 20 watts of power, the amount used by a refrigerator The and story of the development they accomplished of these autonomous is one of outstanding exploring the missions

engineering

PRECEDING

PAGE

BLANK

NOT

FILMED

FARTRAVELERS

scientificachievements. Therewereheartbreaking failures,greatsuccesses, andsomebrilliant technological detective work duringboth thedevelopment andflights of thespacecraft. is alsoa story of organizations, It people,personalities,politics, and outstandingdedication;there are many different perceptions the relative importanceof thesefactorsand the rolesthey of playedin the achievements f the goldenera of solarsystemexploration. o This is thecase only for people not who only observed theprogramfrom the outsidebut alsofor peoplewho werean integralpart of the enterprise. Asa seniorNASA officialduringmostof thefirstquartercenturyof space exploration, ranNicksplayedamajorrolein shaping O anddirectingNASA's lunar andplanetaryprograms. is story of this magnificententerprise H providesan importantaccountfrom onewho had greatpersonalcommitment anddedication. H. M. Schurmeier JetPropulsionLaboratory February1985

vi

Preface
This book Frank It began about exploring machines is the result Technical writing of the vision Publications experience, of the late Section. and he

"Red" Rowsome, as a partnership;

Jr., Head

of NASA's

I was to provide years

a manuscript,

and he was to make

it presentable.

Red had many

of technical

specialized in explaining technical subjects simply and clearly. Furthermore, he knew the facts, the people, and incidents we were to write about almost as well as I. Soon after we began to work on the project Red died, leaving me with

unforeseen doubts and decisions. I knew that our plans for sharing with others had been compromised, but by this time I was fired with enthusiasm. After reviewing the guidance Red had given me, and with encouragement from NASA officials, I pledged my best to honor our commitment. In the planning the book; however, stages, Red and I had many is necessarily discussions about the form of To help the final result my interpretation.

you understand what It is not a history. count fiction real--at therefore shared citing that I am aware least as I saw limited

the book is, let me tell you what it is not. Many of the events discussed are history, but this acand coherent. The On the other hand, places, are largely it contains and no are are who exinof, and all of the characters, reality. accounts or to the views and incidents personal

is far from complete

to my viewpoint with me. report,

of acquaintances to share who are some keenly

their experiences technical aspects

It is not a scientific

although flight

it is an attempt with persons

of space

terested, including those who have little formal training in technical I hope the book will also be enjoyed by those who are technically especially those who understand missions and machines. Although the subject spacecraft, there are many ten in the first person. the difficulties of explaining

subjects. trained, space

complex

of the book is automated lunar and planetary references to people, and many accounts are writhowever, an autobiography or a biography vii

It is not,

FAR TRAVELERS

of a person or a spacecraft. The people, machines, and incidents in an informal manner, in the hope that the interactive processes creating and deploying spacecraft The accounts of the missions,

are blended involved in and

will be viewed in perspective. the coverage of the technical subjects,

most of all, the recognition of persons involved, are incomplete. Pangs of conscience stab me often when I see or remember a friend who was overlooked; many would have been worthy will be reminded that the lunar subjects for examples events not cited. I might I am have sure my colleagues used. sophisticates more about of more interesting and planetary

Red and I believed

spacecraft

were the first

of a new age of machines and that people would want to know how they were created, how they worked, and what they did. So that memories were becoming unless someone tried to write a part of those special events, and of de-

many activities occurred in such a few years blurred, and might soon be erased completely, them down. We were fortunate to have been

and we felt obligated to share them, if possible. I hope you will accept the book as an account events as one person saw them, and

of the men, machines, oversights

that you will forgive

serving people and shortcomings of technical explanations The effort will have been worthwhile if enjoyment is realized the era when voys exploring machines man. reached out to other worlds of inquisitive, creative

and accounts. from revisiting as peaceful en-

Oran January

Nicks 1985

viii

Acknowledgments
Frank memories "Red" Rowsome it. He caused from our early had the idea for this book, me to think space about adventures and it was also his idea but perishable them of outdrafts put me stages dictated me to share

that I write

the wonderful and inspired me in the early my initial,

with others through this book. lining and researching. Rebecca Swanson helped

He also guided

do research

and typed

before she met her husband-to-be several draft chapters into better adapt to a new word many processor tapes grateful son transcribed when my word

and went his way. William prose, and most importantly, he mastered revisions quickly. more than

Tsutsui helped

which

Jo Ann Williamonce.

and copied failed

I will be forever ning a quiet, and helped been there made will know There reading

to Paul Sittler, of writing

a "friend"

I met for the first time just as I was planbreak. Paul gave me act uplifted

processor

on Christmas during

morning, the school

productive me to write

week

half of his Christmas The fun part without

day to fixing my machine. one of the better was reviewing mention this greatly, gratitude who read by offering some cannot

His unselfish

chapters

of the manuscript. who had they they me

of writing overdoing

the past with old friends read

also. I simply my deepest were many

them all and the contributions but when they this, I trust and gave

is for them. or all of the manuscript T. Keith Glennan a number helped of very honored constructive review, Andrew me most by comments. writer and Jon

good suggestions Bud Schurmeier Alvin Luedecke, friend, Williams,

for improvements. provided

it twice and

the very best technical and two student critiques respected friends,

and Ed Cortright, A respected Sullivan

and Cal Broome fresh-eyes

me get on track. of real value.

Jane Mills Smith, provided

To all of these worthy,

friends--thanks.

ix

Contents
Foreword Preface ........................................................ ......................................................... ............................................... ............................................ ............................................. Machine ................................... Page v vii ix 1 6 18 33 50 70 87 96 124 141

Acknowledgments For Want The Team

of a Hyphen Assembles an Exploring

Creating Music The

of the

Spheres

............................................

Basis For It All .............................................. Things Goal To Do .......................................... ................................................ Law Spacecraft .................................

A Million A National Ranger: Essentials The

Murphy's

for Surveyor

.......................................... ..................................... and Data Acquisition--

Back Side of the Moon Communications,

Tracking,

A Revolution The Matched

................................................. Pairs--Viking Orbiters and Landers ...................

157 169 191 214 230 245 255

A Task Force Extraordinaire Spinners Last Forever Billiards

......................................

........................................... ..........................................

Interplanetary Partners About

to Man ................................................ the Author ..............................................

PRECEDING

PAGE

BLANK

NOT

FILMED

xi

For Want
Our friend

of a Hyphen
at 4:26
A.M.

died violently

on a hot July night. wreckage standing

Her finish was that in and at a site interest

spectacular; lit the night that gave

she was trapped us a perfect view.

amid the flaming We had

of an explosion together

sky. Four of us watched goal, though

helplessly,

come there with a common from different and commitment

her adventuresome each of us brought formance. with no firsthand from barely launch another

we came

backgrounds,

a different

perspective

to her tragic perby a man emotion she was

We were soon to learn that she had been blown up intentionally knowledge seconds from planet. officer astray, before of her ability and when promise. I learned that My that was changed destroyed the first toward disappointment Cape to bitterness flying beyond was Venus, endangering Canaveral

his reach.

We had witnessed directed blown and up

of a spacecraft 1, fated to ride aboard shipping

The target was Mariner potentially

and the spacecraft lanes

by a range safety that wobbled lives.

an Atlas/Agena human and erect so into the in the

Before launch

the space vehicle

was a breathtaking

sight, poised

in the night sky, a great gleaming white projectile lit by searchlights tense that their beams seemed like blue-white guywires. Driving launch pad, it was difficult to determine the scale of this bright model, or could and immense. James image dark sky. Was it a marvelous Hollywood real'?. As we drew closer, it became real, I was accompanied officer, Karth officially followed, atop launch who was helping to the launch that fateful site, slipping me shepherd

it be full sized and a NASA Fulton before protocol

night by Bob Johnson, Congressmen us through a roadblock

and Joseph the area was

sealed. For a firsthand view no one had a better position of Mercury Pad

of the launch than we four. 14, less than the Atlas rocket

and the disaster that We stood in the open a mile away engines from the by their firey

the blockhouse

on Pad 12. It was easy to follow

FARTRAVELERS

flameandroar for the 269seconds--betterhan 4 minutes--theyseemed t to operate normally, andeveneasier seethe tremendous to explosion brought aboutby the destructcommand. Shortly after we had climbed the stairs leading to the top of the blockhouse, uardsfrom the roadblockarrived andasked to leave.Cong us gressman ultonwasdetermined stay.The frustratedguardsdepartedto F to consulthigherauthority. I learned later that theAir ForceBase Commander wasrousedfrom bedto considertheproblem.Had time allowed,hewould probablyhaveorderedthe launchdelayeduntil we wereremoved,but he wasinformedtoo late to intervene. Accordingto rangesafetyedicts,we shouldn'thavebeenon theroof of the blockhouse.We were there only becauseof the strong desire and authoritativestyle of Congressmanim Fulton, who had alreadybecome J known as a staunchsupporterof the spaceprogram.I wasn't particularly worried about our exposure, nowing that rangesafetyrequirements ere k w extremely conservative. would not havechosen I that roof asa placeto be, with no instrumentsor communications give information about the to events,but I thoughtof congressmen representing peoplefor whom as the we all worked andhaving leadership rolesfor all that we did. This naive view meant,of course,that we wereobligatedto do their bidding. Fulton,a Republican from Pennsylvania not without an element f and o theaterin hismanner,hadbeenin theHouseof Representatives a number for of years.Hewasknown by the protocol staff at the Capeto havegreatinterestin space,attendingalmosteverylaunchin the earlyyears.Fultonhad the uniquehabit of collectingsouvenirscrapsof materialsaround the pad aftera launch;hetook thescraps backto Washington andpresented themto visitorsfrom his homedistrict. At that timewe did not know our otherdignitary, Congressmanoseph J Karth of Minnesota, swell. Hehadonly recentlybeenelected the House a to of Representatives. a lawyer and union arbitrator, he had not at first As welcomed assignmento the SpaceScience his t Committee,for it hadlittle relevance his constituents. owever,the assignment to H wasa wiseone,for Karth later became shrewdand influential in space-related attersin Conm gress. attended I thelaunchasDirectorof LunarandPlanetary Programs for NASA; asseniorofficial present,I haddrawn the duty of "babysitting"the congressmen. We could havewatchedthe launch from many other placesat Cape Canaveral. herewastheblockhouse, rammed T c with about60engineersnd a

FORWANTOFA HYPHEN

techniciansresponsiblefor checkinginstrumentationshowing voltages, temperatures, ressures, nd other vital signsfrom the launch vehicle. p a Another group of spacecraft ngineers HangarAE concentrated dee in on tailedinstrumentreadings from thespacecrafttself, thecostly anddelicate i principal actor in the enterprise. he rangeinstrumentation T group wasin a third building several ilesaway; they mayhavehadthebest"view" of the m exactwhereabouts andtrajectoryof therocketfrom theirelaborate tracking radardisplays, ut they couldnot glory in thesmokeandflameof a launch, b breathtakinglycloseto wherewe stood. All thesegroupswere linked by telecommunications, the spacecraft roup wasalso linked to counterand g parts at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, 3000miles away, working in a makeshiftspace flight operations facility in Pasadena, California. Tracking stationsaround the world were in radio contact,receivingbasicreports about the countdownandeagerlyawaitingthe arrival of the spacecraftn i their areaof the sky. NASA managers contractorsandVIPs wereon and handto monitorthelaunchat theFloridaandCaliforniainstallations, swell a as at NASA Headquarters Washington,D.C. in Despiteour superb view, wewerein the worstpositionto understand or affect what was happening; e had no communications r messenger, w o no knowledge anythingexcepthegreatfireballhighin thesky.Congressman of t Karth, who had neverbeforeattendeda launch,asked,"What happened'?." Not really knowing, I replied that evidently the vehicle, and probably the
spacecraft, had been destroyed, clean staging had been achieved Impelled launch pad, tape--anything again by the strong where Fulton began although there was a faint possibility before the fireball appeared. will of Congressman searching Fulton, we drove and for scraps of wire that a to the bits of

that might have been a product

of, or present

at, the launch.

He filled his pockets and asked us to do the same. With our bits of scrap and gloomy thoughts, we met with project officials at an all-night cafeteria on the base to hear engineers' reports and to compare notes on what had happened. A short time later there was a briefing for reporters; all that could be said--all that was definitely known--was that the launch vehicle blown had strayed from its course for an unknown reason and had been safety officer doing his prescribed duty. Engineers separate night. tions. faults When who analyzed had interacted antenna the signal received the telemetry fatally records up by a range that two

soon discovered poorly, weak below and

to do in our friend became

that disheartening specificanoisy, the

The guidance

on the Atlas performed by the rocket

3

FARTRAVELERS

rocketlost itslock on thegroundguidance signalthat supplied steering commands.The possibilityhadbeenforeseen;n the eventthat radio guidance i waslost the internalguidance computerwassupposed reject the spurious to
signals would guidance missing a second from fault the faulty have antenna resulted and proceed a hyphen on its stored launch. had program, which from had the been of the probably program on previous in a successful However, at this point signals

took effect. loaded the rocket

Somehow aboard

been dropped The hyphen but that

the computer, left and flights

allowing

the flawed portion

to command

to veer

nose down.

successful

of the Atlas,

equation had not been needed since there was no radio guidance failure. Suffice it to say, the first U.S. attempt at interplanetary flight failed for want of a hyphen. Mariner blockhouse tion. early 1950s, I was not my first exposure It was also not the first who was responsible Reed, Missile for many when boosters we both to failure for I had on the during launch, nor was it in the operathe to be my last. the Launch countdown learned Navaho Conductor and launch to respect program cruise being missiles applied

for the Atlas worked

He was Orion Aviation a base

a man whom Development

during

for North and had to space was to

American used rocket provided

Division. now

This Air Force program

for launching

ramjet-powered

of the technologies

projects, as well as practical experience for us both. Returning to Cape Canaveral for a rocket launching nostalgic. the ramjet jets. boost The During the Navaho systems flights my responsibilities propulsion rocket on the cruise missile, the instrumentation to start our missiles a speed cruise to that were

after 5 or 6 years had been limited checkout on their of Math

and my reason

for being with a

at the flight test site was to review launchings to an altitude of sound--so for the booster One program

for the ramway 3--three times

of over 60 000 feet and that they could phase was was to succeed begin similar before

the speed My interest necessary Mariner

under

their own power. 1" it was to comfor the

in the launch

for Mariner responsibility vehicle

the missile had a chance for launch

plete its mission.

difference operation.

that my overall

now made

me answerable for Navaho it ended building

performance at the Cape there missiles.

as well as for spacecraft throughout and joined All our boosters, the program; Convair,

Reed had been responsible when

flight test operations in 1959, he decided and flying Atlas

to remain ballistic

the company

Mariner, Ranger, and Lunar Orbiter launch so this put him right in the thick of our early

vehicles used Atlas lunar and planetary

FORWANTOF A HYPHEN

launches.I was to visit with him frequentlyduring launchoperationsto come. AlthoughtheGermans hadexperienced anyfailuresin developing m their V-2 rockets,thoseof us trainedin the aircraftindustrywho hadbecome involved with rocket applicationsdid not haveenoughrespectfor rocket development roblemsto expector toleratethe failure rate that was exp perienced. Someone aptly described rocket firings as "controlled explosions."Perhapsthat truth, plus the fact that boosteroperationsrequired far more automationthan needed successfullyestfly a newairto t craft, werepowerfulfactors. Criticsof the Navahoprogramdubbedtheeffort "ProjectNevergo";the project was finally canceled partly because the boosterfailures. Since of coming to NASA I had beenassociated with nothing but failures--two Pioneerlunar missions andfour Rangers adallfailed.Now Mariner1, after h almost3 yearsof failures,wasa failure too.Marinerhadbeena specialconcern to me; it was the first program I was involved in that startedfrom scratchaftermy arrival atNASA Headquartersarlyin 1960.I didn't know e whenor how thefailureswould end, or if theyeverwould. My flight from the Capebackto Washington hasbeenerased from memory,but I probably spentit staringout the windowwith unseeing yes. e

The
Unless night, than tions the it was mean

Team
you great are

Assembles
a sailor, a shepherd, heavens Hazed, or otherwise is almost light-polluted infrequently; a neon light surely skies occupied less and when or outdoors at

sweep

of the

familiar indoor

to you occupa-

to your that

ancestors.

the firmament by the rosy

is observed glow from

it is observed, mall

it is diminished aurora. This stellations the stars mythic strangely love, play, ty, and long and season. to shine patterns through war. ago was not

a shopping

so for previous wheeled absence like

generations. a great stellar

In their clock, and

skies, marking pollution Among tinted

the ancient the hour

conand the

silently The

of backscattered even to a casual even brighter,

light observer. uniquely

allowed the changeless,

brightly appeared the The

planets

moving

stars,

carrying

undecipherable repeating hunting, became

messages like a stately

of fortune, morality curiosibeen

silver

Moon, associations

its phases with man

acquired From wonder

harvesting, man, the

love, skies

lunacy. with

the and

time awe. new

that As

have

watched men been

optical and

instruments new of the

became

available, have always

turned directed Exploration

them

skyward; the

concepts mysteries genes.

techniques heavens.

toward seems

unsolved

to be in our

As they

developed past On land, the

the means pillars

to do of Her-

it, men cules,

explored to the

the perimeter islands through and

of the off the

Mediterranean, continent. and

sentinel hardiness

trudging passes,

with men

extrav-

traordinary eled as far Xenophon's who what thrust armies

deserts leadership campaigns

snow-clogged permitted. If you

as their account his way

abilities

trace feat

on a globe

of Cyrus' from the

or the incredible to India, trains, and were even

of Alexander, marvel at

Mediterranean supply two These

you

must

of men--with to

cavalry, accomplish leadership.

companies ago,

of war under A

elephants--managed skilled and charismatic

a half no

millennia summer

campaigns.

THE TEAM ASSEMBLES

Macedonian home return, wealthy captains. envied lands, Nor was men

trooper simple

who fought conquest

with Alexander years

might have been gone from know. these forays. On their and become trove, tactics, honored

for 20 of the most arduous of Alexander's respected newly subdued mountain guard

a man could behind they had

the sole force found

citizens, Many possession river and

in their communities, lands adventurer passes, customs

revered was

as wise and prudent and not the least of exotic foods and queer people. a scientific, by specialists tidal west of a and they

were a treasure barbarian

of the returned the curious

his knowledge

crossings,

languages, often dressed The and

cities and of exploration an

of faraway

We tend now to think geographic, connotations south, order northern in fur parkas

in a restricted activity or in solar

sense--as pursued

expedition, are overly

athletic

like Schackleton's restrictive of people These whose

topees

like Livingston's. for great flowed were poets of how

if they fail to allow who crossed the Atlantic

movements centuries higher The

like the waves before Columbus. seamen, rather

from Asia that periodically waves of venturesome of nomads were recorded people by

or for the Scandanavians than the random

in numbers fresh forage.

movement exploits

seeking

genealogists

than by historians,

left us scant knowledge

accomplished repeated North Atlantic crossings around 1000 A.D. They must have been skilled sailors to traverse one of the world's most hostile oceans in open boats, making days We must with headway a primitive against latitude prevailing technique winds, subject navigating to huge in inacprecompass curacies. passages space, island," scouts, dream

conclude then,

that for some that

of the species, imperative. of sending to Earth's

long and perilous instruments nearest travel. beacon, into

were no real deterrent and the possibility theoreticians,

to the exploring the capability ourselves to explore.

It is no wonder, revived mainly lay buried

of venturing instinct

"sentinel But the which

the age-old

A handful

of intellectual

had examined

the idea of space

until it was aroused

by the beep of Sputnik's

carried all the sudden urgency of a firebell in the night. So imperatively did it sound that the United States awoke from its trance and, in little more than a decade, those When became days, NASA a contender for world who made leadership them happen, in space. precisely The events of and the people it was assembled Advisory are our concern. a year after SputAt the nucleus was a middle-aged

was established Committee

in 1958, almost for Aeronautics

nik's signal, the National

from diverse

organizations.

(NACA),

7

FAR TRAVELERS

organization nucleus Missiles

with

three Systems

highly

competent and,

research somewhat

laboratories. later, an Army

To

this the

were added group and

complements Division,

from the Naval Laboratory,

Research

Laboratory,

Air Force Missile with experience

Ballistic entities

the Jet Propulsion

all government

in space-related

technologies.

Looking back on the formation of NASA, I recall many discussions and articles that were written about how our nation might muster the leadership and space. develop Their the capabilities obvious needed with to expand missiles into and the new frontiers of association rockets made it seem

logical that the military organizations of the Air Force, the Army, and the Navy should be involved, along with their industrial partners, who had been designing worked of their significant military ture and building weapons. One worry of several of us who nature concerned. frontier. as a purely and had as military policy contractors in the military making to where national was due to the transient and to the somewhat technical leaders matters was the were of managenature A more To the surcivil vento

ment assignments worry

unpredictable

implication

of involving

organizations

in the development

of the space space activities entity

prise of many, pursue The evoked and peaceful mixed

the merits of establishing space reactions. poor activities plan Many

led to the development announced

of an organizational "for the benefit the new military leaders to build from unsung

a program around NACA

of all mankind." organization leadership and supporters and were bitter management the contributions, a trademark of thought to be many result in The im-

predicted

results held NACA

assigning research

responsibilities aerospace many felt that NACA would needed. clear believed Thus, control

to a relatively the shy, not lead over areas

organization. for its research had been programs by

Even though

industry

in high regard

unassuming image that to the bold, aggressive that had been dominated

when the announcements

were made that gave the new NASA the military, would time. related a power right struggle for the

it would

be only a short time before of military the NACA effectively Knowledge space ready. been were leadership. heritage for and proved scientists, years tools Perhaps thoroughly activities

the reaffirmation Fortunately, pressive had been challenges planning States NACA collection working

of 8000 dedicated

engineers,

and administrators to the of of to begin establish the tasks qualities

on matters with which that would

closely

of space. and

implementing leader not have

the United of this

as world

one of the greatest appraised

that could

in advance

THETEAMASSEMBLES

challenge wasa directby-product of a successful research organization--a certainhumility that recognized needfor gathering the skillsfrom industry andmilitary circles,without relinquishing leadershipesponsibilities. r NACA researchers wereaccustomed searching contributionsthat had been to out madeby othersandbuilding on them;NASA administrators setabout the development f the new organizationin the sameway. The process o was facilitatedby an unusualsectionin the Space that gavetheNASA AdAct ministratordiscretionary authority in selecting high-levelpersonnel ithout w the constraints imposedby Civil Service appointment rocesses. hiring p The of 260"excepted position" scientific,engineering, andadministrative personnel beganimmediately,to complementthe NACA transferees nd other a government mployeeseassigned e r from defense rganizations. o The Langley,Lewis,andAmescenters hada remarkable array of talent andfacilitiesthatwerealreadyworking on thefringesof space whenSputnik flew. In conjunctionwith research on high-speed flight, Langley had field
operations launch tivities tracking, were at Edwards supported Dry by Lake groups in California Island, had formed, who and an aggressive These rocket field acinprogram and data in full swing acquisition from at Wallops capabilities Virginia.

developed almost and

instrumentation, brought 3000 rocket launch-

that were immediately about

to play. At the time NASA ings had been made from research pared enough multistage headed cipals mond Langley, Data involved tinue with the requirements to provide vehicles a team who later Sounding aircraft. those needed

was officially the beach for launch

at Wallops, many into space,

twice that many were small comof rockets and were all basic into play. had become R. Gilruth of the prinEdat and beginto conClifford projects. harJet proDivision

Even though

of these rockets the vagaries and data processing that would

for tracking, a wealth used rockets

telemetry, of experience

be brought research Robert many Research

to conduct orbital flight Chief

aerodynamic

long before

flights were made. that included Spacecraft Center

conducting established by then at NASA Director become

research

the Manned the new Associate Headquarters. of activities of the Wallops years.

in Houston. for Tracking the very

C. Buckley, Acquisition

of the Instrument Robert

was to become

Administrator at Wallops Flight Center from

L. Krieger,

who had been

in the management

ning, was named Nelson, bored would much

and remained including and Viking operations.

his lead role for 20 more dedicated for launch

Research

engineers,

key figures

in the Lunar Orbiter activities, and development

Being primarily talent

to propulsion vehicle

the Lewis center

FAR TRAVELERS

pulsion had beenorientedmore toward high-speed aircraft than toward missiles,but the principleswere the sameand many researchersad exh perience directlyin line to advances rocket propulsion.A noteworthyexin ampleis the basiceffort that had alreadybeenunderwayon the usesof hydrogenas a fuel. Many studiesconcerning practicalaspects handling of hydrogen,plusa healthyrespector its potential,prepared f Lewispersonnel for a significantrolein space afterthe openinggunhadsounded. hey also T had a premierknowledgeof pumps,seals,high-pressure machinery,and materialsthat could be calledon for immediateadvances rocketry. in Not all thechanges from aeronautical research space to technologiesad h comeeasily,for goodresearchers possess dedicationto a line of effort that a persists throughthick andthin. It wasoftentheforesightof leaders andtheir ability to redirectresearchers promisingnewfieldsthat broughtchanges. to JohnSlooponcetold about beingreassigned from research sparkplug on foulingto beginningeffortsat Lewison rocketresearch. eknew theprobH lemof plugfouling to beimportant(it still is,for reciprocating engines), nd a hethoughthisresearch wasaboutto producea breakthrough.Eventhough heobedientlybeganto work in the newareaon official duty time,he continuedto work afterhoursonhisownuntil hewasfinally orderedto stopfor the sakeof his health.His work with hydrogen-fueled ngines to major e led researchesults,andin 1960 r hewasassigned NASA Headquarters, to where heperformeda key leadership rolein advanced research andtechnology activitiesuntil hisretirement.His mostrecentcontributionis an authoritative book documenting research development ctivitieson liquid hydrogen and a asa propulsionfuel during the criticalperiod from 1945to 1959. The effortsof theVanguardprogramto launcha minimalsatellite the for InternationalGeophysical Yearand theexhortations zealotslike Wernher of von Braun,at work on Army missiles, adevokedsimilar stirringsat theJet h Propulsion Laboratory. JPL, an offshoot of the California Institute of Technology,haddeveloped JATO rocketconceptduring World War II the to aid aircraft takeoffs,andhadlater donepioneering work on theguidance andcontrol of tacticalmissiles. nderthe leadership William H. PickerU of ing,who became Directorin 1954, PLbecame nationalcenterof excellence J a in electronics and control technologies, its scientistsandengineers and set their heartson theMoon and the planets. Bill Picketinghad come to the United Statesfrom New Zealand. He
received California a degree Institute in electrical of engineering He and a Ph.D. in physics from the at Technology. taught electrical engineering

10

THETEAMASSEMBLES

CalTech

during

World

War II and later moved as a logical step beyond to become

to JPL to work on telemetry he began Earth promoting orbit flights. flight prothat the to fly, simpler

and instrumentation Robert gram, J. Parks,

for missiles. destined

At the time of Sputnik

the idea of lunar missions

a key figure in the space Bill Pickering's an important suggestion

was hired by JPL in 1947, following and control should have could become an expert

area of guidance and that they although tracking, time, tract ment gyros become now quite

part of JPL's future the rockets Flight control, The guidance a conequipdriven would to

in the field. Getting was clearly had

an accomplishment, acquisition quaint. Tests pickoffs, the storage in addition with great had

not enough.

and data systems

methods

to be developed. considered recalls to adapt and

and control

used at JPL, although Bob Parks Corporation amplifiers, missile. Parks

state of the art at the aircraft autopilot on what

seem almost

that he monitored using pneumatically

let by JPL to the Sperry for use on missiles. with pneumatic required known

were conducted

servos

as the Corporal for missiles.

This direct modification eventually to his became regular, faltering

of aircraft-

type hardware be a good planetary assignments, T. Keith Case Western NASA revealed, tion that Perhaps competent concurrence NACA Programs. spent Lewis at NASA and honored both

of high-pressure

gas and did not prove quite projects, 19 years demanding,

solution programs;

JPL's lead man on and has done as President of of

he has been called on to rescue occasions who Dwight leader, States, Glennan Abe Reserve NACA success. Glennan, served

so on numerous

for about Hugh

University,

was appointed Deputy

the first Administrator L. Dryden, Administrator.

by President

D. Eisenhower. was named choices. indeed came Together the world, from

long a wise As the years an organizaknew the

were happy

these men shaped learned Center and

the United because people

to respect. already Director for Space (and surely with the of the Flight he

Cleveland

at the NACA was

Lewis Research Silverstein,

of Dryden), facility, too, This,

the Associate because

chosen

to be the first Director selection, played a dominant

was a fortunate

in the few years

Headquarters,

Silverstein

role in forging

the programs and practices and assigning the people from the beginning. Abe had--and still has--some never him. fail to impress Abe (or bewilder deal with and alarm)

that have guided NASA unusual qualities that with often

those who come in contact briefings, I was

Watching reminded

presenters

of technical

of a story

my grandfather

had told me about

encounters

between

11

FARTRAVELERS

armadillosandsmart(or dumb)hounddogsin Texasranchcountry. Even hisexperiencedounddog,cockyfrom successful h confrontations with coons andskunks,wasbaffledthe first time or two he ran up againstan armorplatedarmadillo,which would retractinto its shelland presenta smooth, hard surface largeto bite. All a dumbhounddogcould do wasto bark too hisfrustration.Butthissmart,experimentally mindedhounddiscovered that if heflippedthearmadilloon itsback, therewerechinksin theunderbellyarmor that allowedhim to makeshort work of the miscreant. On several ccasions the 1950s briefedAbe andothersduringwind o in I tunnel testsat Lewis (I waswith North AmericanAviation at the time). It didn't take me long to learn to respect be's uncannyinsight andunusual A style. Fortunately,I was able to answerhis penetrating,sometimesintimidatingquestions without beingflippedon my back,but overthe yearsI haveseenAbe flip unwary or unprepared briefersand mercilessly them rip open;it wassometimes only chance the theyevergot.Abe'swasa stylethat could makeenemies, speciallyof the careless e and slovenly, but all who cameto know andrespecthis quick and forthright judgmentsgavehim a lifetimeof loyalty. AnotherNACA researcher learnedto like andrespect uring the same I d periodwasan engineer, dgarM. Cortright. Edwasconductingresearch E at Lewison supersonicnletsand nozzles i similar to thosewe weredeveloping for Navahopropulsionsystems. uring my visits to Lewiswe became D acquaintedprofessionallythroughdiscussions f relatedwork. o Abe Silversteinbrought Ed Cortright to Washingtonsoonafter NASA waschartered,to become principal memberof the Headquarterstaff. He a s wasinvolvedin developing theseries ofweathersatellites thatincludedTiros and Nimbus and what would becomethe synchronous-orbitclass of satellites. d wasalsoresponsible lunar andplanetaryprograms,which E for at thetimecentered aroundPioneer ndAblemissions a that hadbeenstarted underthe AdvancedResearch rojectsAgency(ARPA).His first newlunar P project,calledRanger, asto become reason our fateful reunionand w the for a newcareerfor me. My contacts with Ed andAbe beganagainin 1959whenI wasworking for the Chance VoughtCorporationasan advanced projectsengineer. urD ing company-sponsored studieson a four-stagerocketvehicledesigned for launchingsmallscientificpayloads,I madeseveral isits to Washingtonto v discuss proposalsand to integrateNASA requirements into our planning. Thesevisits occurred a time whenexpansion the NASA Headquarters at of 12

THETEAMASSEMBLES

staff was underway,and Ed
lunar flight systems, which

asked

me to join the NASA 1960. We were

team

as head

of

I did in March

to work

closely matmade a

during the next 20 years, certainly Important decisions were being ters at a higher first-rate damental pact dent, and team, fully aware level than programs complementing process.

the most memorable of my life. made in those early years involving and plans. Dryden Glennan and Dryden and almost perfectly,

each other

both were funpruthe im-

of the research aeronautical skilled groups senior on society.

had personally

made many

contributions Glennan executive. challenge, assets privately

and had for many was the epitome Becoming and assembling Judging leader

years studied of a judicious,

of research

of a new organization powerful was to of people

with a once-in-history yet diverse one of Glennan's presentations,

a team of several

was no easy task. greatest

the true qualities leader. of Wernher vehicles

as a strong skeptical giant launch and Dryden written

Years later he confided von Braun's always worked. with much openly

me that he was always It is my view the Constitution-like with its clear assertion that their results of NASA the other way. benefit As programs,

glowing of and

but von Braun's that Glennan wisdom

are to be credited Space in space be conducted openness had were

into the so-called Although

Act of 1958, a hallmark to going missile to strict

that U.S. activities all mankind. most and outsiders

became

may not realize technologies military officials

how close we came evolved from accustomed

developments,

industry

security classifications. Making new was a startling idea, not immediately sentatives. unclassified damentally Hugh Dryden But our activities important administrators,

technical knowledge widely available congenial to defense/industry repreafter dealing with both classified and

for many years, concluded that openness was funto scientific advances and to peaceful uses of space. scientific openness would be worth far

told me that he thought

more toward long-term progress than the perishable, uncertain benefits of security that might be achieved by short-term containment. At the time, this position was about as easy to defend as the Ten Commandments; and JPL in 1959 provided the planets, however, JPL with some I am convinced of its merit today. The administrative marriage of NASA its long-dreamt-of opportunity to explore

but not without

trauma. JPL had successfully participated in the launch of Explorer 1, the first U.S. satellite to achieve orbit. Under contract to the Army and the sponsorship of ARPA, Thus, JPL was also working it was no wonder on Pioneer flights to the vicinity of the Moon. that Bill Pickering and his staff felt that

13

FARTRAVELERS

JPLhadcomeinto theNASA family asapartner,not simplyasa contractor, nor evenasan analogof the NASA research and flight centers. hat amT biguity, combinedwith a strong esprit de corps and a sometimes prickly pride,caused JPLpersonnelo resentsomeof the managerial t andorganizational directionsthat NASA administrators deemed appropriate.In spiteof JPL'senviablestring of successes space,therearesomewho believethat in JPLeffortswould havepaid off earlierhad its leadersbeenmorewilling to acceptteamassignments, recognizing NASA personneln theirleadrolesini steadof ascompetitors. It was into this environmentthat I came,assigned principal respona sibility at NASA Headquarters dealingwith JPL.Fortunately,I had for become acquainted with several embers thestaff while conductingtests m of at JPL'ssupersonic ind tunnelsfor the sameNavahomissileprogramthat w had alsotakenme to Lewis.Harris M. "Bud" Schurmeier, rankGoddard, F andothersI hadworkedwith werenowkey figuresin space activitiesandre-.
mained staunch allies and friends throughout the years. In the last year of the Eisenhower administration, NASA's dicated that preliminary and planning meteorological for manned satellites, space and flights, Ranger active missions communications leaders work inon

to the

Moon represented a balanced portfolio of sufficient breadth. When, as a "new boy" in the office, I asked Ed Cortright why NASA had no planetary plans beyond Pioneer 5, he told me that the planets were excluded present, until activities already begun were moving toward success. at the time had nothing to Fred Kochendorfer, Program Manager. tion in support lem. to do with the planets; another Lewis transferee we should space such missions be planning who was to become planetary for the My job Mariner explora-

were assigned

Still, I believed

of a well-rounded

program.

To those of us with an eye on the planets, policy wasn't the only probWe simply did not have a launch vehicle for planetary missions. To the high velocities multistage combination needed for Earth escape and planetary trajectories vehicles that did not exist at the time. An might do, but the Centaur stage, with its highengine, souls wasn't far enough being. along for anyone to come into useful at JPL felt that Still, a few at Headwas in-

achieve

would require Atlas/Centaur efficiency quarters complete be sure when, and

hydrogen-oxygen many kindred

or even if it would

the space program

with no planetary

missions

in preparation.

Our opportunity came a while later as a result of new policies announced by the launch vehicle program office. Launch failures had been demoraliz-

14

THETEAMASSEMBLES

ing, andasa way of ensuring that vehicledevelopment wascomplete before commitmentto expensive conspicuous ayloads,officialssucceeded and p in convincingtheNASA administration thatit made sense devotethefirst 10 to launches development urposes, on Braunwas a persuasive to p v proponent of this approach,andSaturndevelopment proceededn this basis,with test o launches carryingdummypayloadsof water andsand. One argument e offeredfor planningpiggyback w planetarymissions on Centaurvehicledevelopment flightswasthatevolutionarydevelopment experience wasimportantfor spacecraftoo; furthermore,both spacecraft t and vehicle engineersneededexperience integratingspacecraftto launch in vehicles.Both benefitswould comerelativelycheaplyby piggybackingon the Centaurdevelopmentlights, sincethe vehiclesneededthe massof a f payload,dummyor real, for a propertest. Conditionalapprovalwasgivenfor our proposal,andplanningbeganin earnestor planetarymissions.t waspossible launcha vehicleto Venus f I to only at 19-month intervals and to Mars every 26 months if we used minimum-energy trajectories,which wereall we would be capableof for yearsto come. Long-range predictionsof exactopportunitieswere made; theseweretruly firm dates,immuneto tamperingfor the convenience of politicians or administrators.While this immutablequality was an extra challengeto the development roblems,it wasalsoa blessing p that relieved
project planners and budgeting. As a condition spacecraft launch when vehicle of the need to justify of hitchhiking a particular target date for scheduling we agreed not necessarily agreed on schedule that our the occur to this for its opporto take opporlater; in

on vehicle Thus, was

test launches,

might be launched launch vehicle program

at any time and in any direction flights would open. a spacecraft window We willingly

that suited

test requirements.

the planetary the launch the Mariner

condition, mission, tunity shape tunity Thus,

not unaware

that if we produced test would

be geared

to the planetary

if at all possible. got its start. By late 1960, plans began with a Venus launch would occur a few months for matching in August as many infrequent Design two Centaur test launches launches

1962. A Mars opportunity as four planetary launch studies

therefore, 1962. The portunity. manufacture

on test flights were possible production-line toward spacecraft

opportunities suggested

made

desirable,

so that two spacecraft

could be launched

at either opVenus and

that for trips inward

15

FARTRAVELERS

outward toward Mars, a somewhatstandardized spacecraft"bus" would serveif it werefitted with adaptationsof standardsolararrays,antennas, and the like. A NASA requirementplan was established, JPLstudies and werebegunfor the multipurpose Mariner spacecraft, designated ariner A M and Mariner B, with A plannedfor Venusand B for Mars.The sizeof the Marinerswas determined the Centaurcapability,and eachhada gross by weight on the order of 1250pounds,depending the missionenergyreon quirements. he first flights of thesespacecraft ereplannedfor Centaur T w development launches and8, so therewas hopethat vehicle"infant mor7 talities"couldbe avoided. Duringthespringof 1961 welost confidence thatthelaunches ould take w place the following year. Centaurwas rumored to be in trouble: not on
schedule taur was Center. those sions. and perhaps linked Like Saturn However, Saturn; of not even upper Centaur feasible. Part of the difficulty at Marshall were for missions, liquid wrangling. Centaur trouble, I talked entirely military and hydrogen The were was that CenFlight from for misfor of I on a the ofa to Saturn rocket stages, was developments Centaurs requirements intended satellite of Centaur Space different missions, for planetary development combination manager, the Venus Schneiderwhen

to use hydrogen-oxygen

propellants.

Centaur

synchronous-orbit Furthermore, responsibilities committee these factors Through received launches visit man, rice

communication the transfer ARPA and with Centaur from

to NASA very

was affected

by the requirements

coordination made contacts

jurisdictional problematic. Heaton, in deep program, I found Donald was

vehicle that Dan

inklings planned

that Centaur for August

so deep A short with

1962 were threatened. in planetary spacecraft my way an

time later,

to JPL concerning

the Ranger developed.

who had been involved and discussed spacecraft. Agenas wonderful the results a spacecraft could the

design studies

Vega stage was being planetary payload had a

to his small basement Atlas/Agena that a to launch

possibility carry would of

of using was highly

At first Dan knack of previous

skeptical

the 400-pound But Dan a He ex20 challenge,

be at all adequate positively many

for a mission. about to follow. carry

thinking studies

characteristic amined to build

I was to see at work

times in the years launch that could

and concluded

that it might be possible perhaps

for an Atlas/Agena

pounds of scientific experiments Armed with this information, days a meeting between

to Venus. I returned

to Washington. and the Director

Within of Launch

a few Vehi-

the Administrator

16

THETEAMASSEMBLES

cle Programs

took place, and, because

our programs

depended

so heavily

on prowas

Centaur, Abe Silverstein, Ed Cortright, and I attended. The meeting duced a formal position by Wernher von Braun that Centaur's future totally uncertain. We left the meeting planetary missions were with the clear understanding postponed indefinitely. Centaur-based While Silverstein

that our

walking down the hall after the meeting the results of my chat with Schneiderman

I mentioned to Abe and asked whether it during said, "I on Cen-

was possible to consider flying a modified Ranger on an Atlas/Agena the 1962 Venus opportunity. He thought for a moment and then guess Glennan said that we won't be doing planetary launches

taur-he didn't mention flying Agena." I knew this was Abe's way of telling me to go ahead without formally giving me authority to do so, but I felt comfortable people with this degree of approval from him. I immediately Centaur Venus delay and mission payload was on called the JPL rapid to begin JPL was The secbe had to tell them of the indefinite of a plan for a substitute I was helped and and missions Manager and had that Dan to encourage

preparation Of course planetary snapped the Manager), Mariner have ond done already that Mariner had Project

using Ranger could team the August

hardware.

by the knowledge a minimal appointed outline

that JPL was aching

be carried. (Jack James 28, 1961. Spacecraft hardware,

at the opportunity,

a high-caliber ready

Schneiderman it was made

System would schedule,

a proposal because well.

R, so called if all went major gave

from Ranger affect

a high probability launch without NASA it slightly, informally R launches build,

of a single launch While included

in August suggestions Cortright

1962 and a possible the Ranger on how and this could

this would Since

delaying

the proposal approved formal to Venus test,

compromises. the idea, approval

Silverstein

it was with record-setting September window 1962. the launch two spacecraft the complete needed

swiftness

to JPL in early before

1961 for two opened, data JPL unac-

in July-August

In the 11 months to design, and precedented quisition, mission. and now would mission.

that remained It also had hare-brained probably

and integrate capabilities

for an entirely tracking,

to develop an effort would anything.)

operations planners

for a long-term,

deep-space today, (It

So innocently be needed,

would not be approved had flown

experienced

not propose Not knowing

it. From 3 to 5 years before. that the proposed funding

assuming

that parts

of the system

takes 5 years

to do almost

mission was almost impossible, and hardware, and went ahead

we laid out a plan, and did it.

reprogrammed

17

Creating
A great deal

an Exploring
of engineering is based

Machine__
work. Improvements

on previous

resulting in lower costs and greater rected, and limitations are reduced.

durability But what

are made, weaknesses are corif prior experience is absolutely

zero'?. How do we design, build, and test something that has never been built before'?. That was the daunting challenge that faced the designers of the first Mariners. To begin with robot a blank sheet of paper and attempt to create solutions has an inmay decepprovided Of terplanetary be found tively and countless simple mobility, is to confront are unexpected problems. insoluble, Simple Nature attributes

for problems obstacles living creatures

that at first appear almost a robot with effective

but sometimes

insurmountable. solutions with these

to problems

of stabilization is not easy.

but endowing

course, we do not yet know fully how nature's creatures perform many of their functions. Who can say how a migratory bird navigates for thousands of miles or how a hawk stabilizes technical methods travel Mariner primitive would Simply observation experience nuclear human much approaches engineers are finally unscrambled. was launch an extremely only a decade beyond its head while turning its body'?. Perhaps the use will seem less complex when nature's Considering the fact that it was designed to planet being and and make even observations, rudimentary the spacecraft his powers Lacking robots a job to learn with the first and we of the in a that was as exploring machine,

180 million compared

miles to another simple later. with a human

put, Mariner and resources

was a machine to launch as our

used by man to extend and out into space.

the immediate machines

vicinity proxies.

an astronaut were

deep into the solar system, developed to do and

we sent exploring facility,

Like the specialized

interplanetary exploration

probes

beings were unable preliminary during as possible

to do. In the case of Mariner, of a neighboring the journey.

the assignment

to perform

planet

18

CREATINGN EXPLORING A MACHINE

It may not be surprising,therefore,that exploringmachinescameto resemble living creaturesin a number of ways. Designedde novo using engineering principlesand technology,Marinerhadremarkablyhumanattributes in performanceand in its ability to copewith the environment. While dependent n a rocket-propelled o launchvehiclefor basictransportation, Mariner hadto becapable actingfor itselfon theway to its destinaof tion. Incoming solar energyhad to be assimilated sustainit. Attitude to orientationwasrequiredto obtainpower,to maintaincommunications, for pointing sensors, nd for thermalcontrol. A methodof knowing whereit a wasandwhereit washeaded wasrequired;thrusters wereneeded serveas to "muscles"or attitudeandcourse f corrections.It had to havesomememory and a time sense, lusan ability to interpretandact on commands p and to communicate stateof healthandits findings. its A spacecraft, course, ustbeheld together y a rigid structure,just as of m b a humanbody is definedby a skeleton. efinedin designyet simplein apR pearance,the basicstructureof Mariner was hexagonal;it was madeof magnesium with an aluminumsuperstructure. Weightis alwaysa primary constraintin vehiclesdestinedto be launchedinto space;Mariner'sframe was as light as possible,sinceinert parts competed the sameprecious for weightthat mightbeallocatedto sensors, ataprocessors, d andthe like. The craft wassixsidedbecause itsRanger ncestry; Ranger assixsidedin of a the w part to allow efficientstructuralattachmentso the Vegaupperstageandin t part to allowconvenient ountingof solarpanels, lectronics m e boxes,andthe midcourse propulsionsystem.On the superstructure ereplacedantennas, w scientificinstruments, ndothercomponents eeding locationwith a vana n a tage. The electronics compartments ndthe subsystem a compartments around the baseweremodularizedso that they could beseparated more or lessby function, allowingthe development power,guidance of andcontrol, instrument signal conditioning, and communicationssystemsin individual laboratoriesbefore thesebays were brought togetherand integratedto become spacecraft. six boxes a The wererectangular o that electroniccoms ponents couldbeeasilypackaged them,yet theyall interconnectedround in a the structure,becoming what is calledthe spacecraft bus, sharingcommon powersystems,hermalcontrol systems, ndotherbasics t a essentialo comt ponentintegration. The structureattachedto the top of the busservedmanyfunctions,but perhaps mostimportantwasthat it carriedalow-gainantenna theupthe at 19

FARTRAVELERS

per end. The low-gain,or omnidirectional,antennaprovided the primary sourceof commandand backup transmissioncapability, so that signals couldbe received engineering atatransmitted or d regardless f theattitudeof o the spacecraft. he antennahad little or no amplificationof signalin any T direction,but produceda radiationpatternsimilarin all directions.Actually thisantennacouldnot beperfectlyomnidirectional; omeshadowing the s by spacecraft busin somedirectionswasexpected. ut, locatedawayfrom the B spacecraft, did havea generally it good"view." In addition,sinceomnidirectional antennas o not haveto bevery largeor very heavy,theyfit nicelyin d the point of theaerodynamic shroudwithout unduly affectingthecenterof gravity. Other components mountedon the superstructure because the view of advantage includedscanplatformsthatcould"see"a planetasthespacecraft wentby, or, in the case theRanger raft to theMoon, camerashatlooked of c t out anddownasthespacecraft approached thesurface. omponentshatfitC t ted into the superstructure were like the bus compartments,essentially modularizedso that they could be assembled nd testedin the laboratory a beforeintegrationwith the spacecraft. Like its human counterpart,a spacecraftneedsa regular supply of energy.The storedpower of batteriesis onealternative,but for missions lasting weeksor months, somemeansof replenishing battery power is necessary. Mariner'sprimeenergysource wastheSun,which supplied about 150wattsof electricitythroughsolarcellsthat couldchargeaninternalbattery havinga storage capacityof 1000watt-hours.As long asthesolarcells werefacingthe Sun,Marinerhadpowerto leadits own life in itsown way. Evenif the panelswereshaded,automaticswitchingsystems allowed the spacecrafto operateon battery reservesor a time.LestMarinergrow too t f independent, owever, therewere alsocircuits that could be commanded h from Earthat the discretionof the spacecraft'serrestrialmasters. t Earlysolarcellswerefairly inefficientat convertingsolarenergyto electrical energy;only 7 to 10 percentof everyunit of energythe Sunbeamed onto the cellswas convertedto usefulelectricalenergy.Nevertheless,he t Sun offers a clean,dependable sourceof energyin space.An attractive featureof solarcellsis that they are passive devices with no movingparts that wearout. They do haveshortcomings, however.In additionto requiring orientation so that they receive full and direct sunlight, they are temperature ndradiationsensitive. olarpanelstendto overheat, oa good a S s dealof engineering work is requiredto developtheproper thermalenviron20

CREATINGN EXPLORING ACHINE A M

ment. Fortunately,the backsof panelsfacingtheblack sky canbe usedto allow heatto escape; judiciousengineering, by paneltemperaturesimilarto s normal room temperaturesn Earthcanbe maintained. o Other worries by designers f solarpanelsincludedharmful effectsof o radiation and micrometeoriteimpacts. After somebad experiences ith w earlysatellites, olarcellsweremadelessradiationsensitive s throughtheuse of better materialsand protectivecovers.Micrometeoriteprotection was limitedto wiring cellssothatonly localized losses f cellswould resultin case o of hits. Somefailuresarethoughtto havebeendueto micrometeorite hits, but the evidence inconclusive. is An attractive aspectof solarenergy,its constancy, lsobecame a something of a challenge spacecraft esigners to d because usagerate or dethe mandsof thespacecraft variedconsiderably: therewereperiodswhentherequirements mightexceed theincomingsupplyandtimeswhenexcessower p wouldhaveto bedissipated. hiscalledfor aninnatecapabilityto adjustthe T dissipation energy of whenthespacecraft requirements ereexceeded the w by supply. Thus,powermanagement involvedcircuitryconnecting thesolarpanels to the batteriesin a semiautomatic anner,for it wasnot logicalto try to m monitor and control power usagefrom Earth.However, in emergencies, commands from Earthto adjustpowerusage wereneeded, obothdatareads outs and commandfunctionshad to be integratedinto automatedpower systemdesigns. Finally, the solarpanelshadto befolded insidethe heatshieldor nose conethat protectedthe spacecraftrom aerodynamic f forcesand from the heating that occurred during launch through the atmosphere.This mechanical consideration, involvinglatchingmechanisms, deployment omc mands, and dynamics of actuation, producedadditional headaches for engineers.n a disproportionate I way, the successf the sophisticatedolar o s energycollectionand conversion systemwastotally dependent n simple o pyrotechnicandmechanical latchingsystems,or if the panelsdid not open f andwerenot exposed sunlight,the consequences to would be disastrous. A humanwithout attitudecontrolwould besadlyhandicapped, nable u to swinga bat, throw a ball, propelhimself,or eventurn hiseyesawayfrom the glaring Sun. Mariner needed attitude control for preciselythe same reasons.t mustberemembered I thatinertialspace a mostpeculiarplace,at is leastby terrestrialstandards. hereis no up andno down, no day and no T night, no air and no true wind. The Sunandother starsare visibleat the 21

FARTRAVELERS

same time, and surfaces

facing

the Sun grow very

hot while

those

in shadow

grow very cold. Most remarkably, tinue to move or rotate indefinitely

objects that are moving or rotating conuntil they are stopped by countervailing

forces. A spacecraft injected on an interplanetary trajectory in this odd environment would, lacking a stabilizing system, tumble at random, preserving the last impulse that might movements. antenna planetary imparted to it, plus the resultants of additional impulses be derived Naturally, swath, from particle impacts this kind of random precisely, rocket or from reaction to onboard movement will not do if an instruments are to scan to correct a carefully

must

be pointed

if scientific

or if an onboard

must be aimed

an imperfect trajectory. A simple way to hold a spacecraft

fixed in inertial

space is to spin it like a

top. The whole vehicle then becomes the rotor in a gyro, holding its polar axis in relation to the orbital plane it traverses. This principle has been used with great success for some Earth satellites and the Pioneer class of inconscienwon't to a for terplanetary siderations. tific platform, need to mount materially reference even short arising alone would from craft, for which simplicity However, the disadvantages an antenna power that solar cells in a drum-like generation. for sensing attitude and long life are important are considerable: a spinning with the polar principle configuration and maintaining so that spinning can be applied control, periods be susceptible needed

must be aligned The gyro

axis, and the

affect platform

but gyros to drift spaceA prinall the

not do the job reliably interplanetary the accumulation to gyros attitude

over the months-long errors. system on distant and control

trips; the best of them would of infinitesimal is an automatic by sighting of guidance

An alternative cipal in the

to hold the entire celestial systems objects. through

craft in an established spacecraft

development

for unmanned his associates that became of three-axis objects, infor later misIf any to paired pulse back is

was John R. Scull,

who continued

to be involved

lunar and planetary missions of the 1960s and 1970s. He and worked out the application of optical sensors and gyroscopes standard stabilization sions. genious substantial attitude required. gas to nudge The for spacecraft worked principles keep straying are guidance simple: and sighting control. This type celestial fairly well for Mariner an instrumental of attitude and was improved on distant the sensors that releases

sensors

eye on distant

"spacemarks." send signals a spurt Only a modest bouncing

is detected,

jets. Each jet is a tiny minirocket the spacecraft back Too vigorous a push would

of compressed and

onto an even keel.

send the spacecraft

22

CREATINGN EXPLORING ACHINE A M

forth like a ping-pong
pressed gas. An exploring through will sail placidly its gas jets.

ball

on concrete,

wasting

the finite

stock

of comsystem from

machine space

with a well-designed

stabilization and gentle pulses

with only infrequent

The bright and ever-present Sun is a logical spacemark for journeys in the solar system, and, although staring fixedly at the Sun doesn't sound comfortable even Sun sensor ple, sending made tical solar for an instrument, at the shadow attitude control a "restoring" cells oriented nothing reference signal prevents system a simple, which moves. is delightfully Such cover reliable little sensor in princican be bridge from gazing of a small "umbrella," as a shadow shade serves just as well. A simple a system

by mounting

a small square

to partially

two pairs of iden-

at right angles,

and connected

with standard

circuitry so that small differences cells produce error signals. When amounts of sunlight and shadow,

in voltage outputs from matched pairs of two matched cells are exposed to the same they produce the same voltage output. If less, the control at for

the shadow moves so that one receives more sunlight and the other voltage difference can be used as a restoring signal to the attitude jets. When all four sensors produce the same output, two they right angles to the Sun, stable reference. thus providing of the three

are oriented

axes required

The concept has two minor constitutional weaknesses: (1) it is necessary to preorient the spacecraft roughly in the correct direction in order for the sensors to find the Sun and become effective, and (2) if at the end of a long life the solar cells should chance to age unequally, the spacecraft could develop a list. The initial positioning of the spacecraft is made possible by sensors that determine whether the Sun is shining on the top or bottom of the spacecraft. of varying Earth used directional together. Careful selection and quality-control solar cell lifetimes. itself seemed to be a good and choice the first Mariners. processes minimize spacemark the risk and was the

for a second It was

by the Rangers

attractive

because

antenna needed to be aimed at Earth and the two could be aligned Earth proved to be less than ideal, however, for the angle it brightness diminished greatrequiring a sensor of greater between planets. Earth also calculations. After but somewhat unde-

subtended varied with distance and its apparent ly as the spacecraft traveled away from home, sensitivity. As distances grew, the sensor Earth and the Moon, and between Earth moved, introducing still another variable Mariner 2, for which the Earth served

had trouble discriminating and other into the

as a workable

23

FARTRAVELERS

pendable reference,pacecraft s
in the southern otherwise Canopus hemisphere, undistinguished

designers switched to Canopus, a bright star for the second spacemark. Shining brightly in an so distant it appears motionless, exvalves of the space so were cold of ever since for most and systems of the interplanetary to the on-off orientation in inertial could

neighborhood,

has been a guide star of sensors

ploring machines. This combination of the attitude spacecraft, that power, The "muscles" gas nitrogen high-pressure and control thermal systems nitrogen maintaining

connected platform needs They quantities

gas jets allowed alignment

stable

with the Sun and Earth control of Rangers

control, weighing

and communications about 4 pounds.

be satisfied.

providing

attitude

and Mariners

used a small bottle of gas, duty

and tiny jets mounted Because of the finite

on the ends of the solar panels cycles during

the superstructure.

had to be carefully and accurately Reference to remote spacemarks

controlled to minimize usage. must be temporarily abandoned

midcourse trajectory corrections, and it is desirable to have a temporary set of references if the spacecraft loses its lock on its distant star guides. For this purpose a three axis set of gyros is used. As already mentioned, gyros are not reliable over long intervals, being vulnerable to the accumulation of small errors caused design, craft systems, tervals. ) Mariner by friction, and holds 2 was but they are trustworthy high promise with of extreme for limited accuracy times. (A new into airinthe laser ring gyro using light beams is now being integrated

for extended

stabilized

its longitudinal

axis pointed

at the Sun,

holding the spacecraft in both pitch and yaw directions. achieved with an Earth sensor mounted on the directional the long transfer spacecraft maintaining axis at the to the solar a constant to point Sun provided panels the maximum thermal angle, by internal amount allowing excess and aided control away

Roll stability was antenna. Pointing of solar energy by Sun of the spacecraft heat. Initial

Sun impingement were performed

the aft end of the

at the dark

sky to radiate

and Earth acquisitions their input from sensors The thermal control

logic circuits that derived to be as passive or

and gyros. of the spacecraft

was intended

automatic as possible. The greatest part of the heat load came from the Sun and a lesser amount from the onboard electronics equipment, the latter also being among with the most heat-sensitive absorption and components. emission For properties In addition, passive were control, used to materials radiatively different

balance

the heat within

the spacecraft.

one of the six

24

CREATINGN EXPLORING ACHINE A M

boxesaroundthehexagonal structurewasfittedwith louversactivated a by temperature-sensitive bimetallicelement.f temperatures I within theboxrose too high, the louvers openedto radiate the heat to black space;when temperatures eretoo low, the louversclosed keepin the heatgenerated w to by electroniccomponents. If Mariner'sdesign process adstopped thispoint, thecraftmighthave h at beenlikenedto a beastof burdenjust ableto carrya smallload whilebeing ledby its master.However,it wouldnot havebeen ableto execute mission a to Venuswithout someability to planandsequence activities--withouta its kind of humanoidintelligence. hesubsystem T thatprovidedthesetraitswas the centralcomputerandsequencer, calledtheCC&S.Because wasthe this brain centerof the spacecraft, will bementioned it often.On moreadvanced spacecraft,units performingsimilar functionshave different names,but understanding conceptof the CC&Swill probablyenableyou to comthe municatewith spacecraft ngineers. e The CC&Son Mariner suppliedonboardtiming,sequencing, some and computationalservices.ts memorycontaineda handfulof prestored I commands,andit wasableto respondto a dozenspecific commands sentfrom Earth. Sincecommunication problemsmight preventdetailedordersfrom reachingthe spacecraft, omepreprogrammed s intelligence was provided; afterreceivingtheproperinitiationcommands,hespacecraft t could thenact on storedinformation. Forexample,t couldacquirethe SunandEarth,goi ing through a series actions,afterbeing told to. Partsof the midcourse of maneuversequence wereintegrated into the spacecraft memorybecause this wasefficient andprecise.Onboardsensors coulddeterminehow muchthe velocityhadchanged andcouldcutoff therocketaftera specified increment; they could do this severalminutesbeforeengineers n Earth would have o receivedthe informationfrom oneactionnecessary determinethe next. to Even though the journey to Venus would take more than 100 days, preprogrammed instructionsfor actionsat encounter erealsostored,so w that if our command capabilityhadbeenlost, theCC&Smighthaveordered the properspacecraft functions.At the time,wethoughtthat theCC&Swas a marvel,little knowinghow distinctlylimited a brain it would seem when comparedwith its successors. Basicto theCC&Swasa clockthat providedan accurate reference base. The clockwasstartedduringthecountdowntolaunch,andit suppliedand countedtiming signals,much like today's digital watches(in fact, digital watchesare an outgrowth of this spacetechnology).Beingable to count 25

FARTRAVELERS

pulses,it would issuecommands setpointsof time throughoutthe misat sion. Packaged a box about6 by 6 by 10 inches,the CC&Sincludedthe in highly important oscillatorthat provided the timing base,and it watched particularlyover threecriticalinterludes:launch(from liftoff to cruise),the midcourse correction,andencounter. The CC&Scould begiven 12differentcommands from Earth,although only 11wereusedduring the mission.It alsohad the capabilityof storing threecommands that couldbe actuatedat a precise time (not unlikesealed ordersgivento a ship'scaptain).The realtime commands werespecificinstructionsto be carriedout on receiptof a codedsignal,suchaswhetherto usethedirectionalor the omnidirectional ntennaandwhetherto turn on or a turn off the scientificinstruments.To gain maximumuseof the limited numberof command channels, omewould beusedmorethanonceby pairs ing one-timefunctionswhen it was possible the repeated for commands to unambiguously relateto differentfunctions.The command Sunacquisifor tion, for example, ascoupledwith the command unlatchingthe solar w for panels, ecause b oncethepyrotechnicsquibsthatdid the unlatching hadbeen fired, another commandto that function would haveno effect. All three stored-aboardommands c dealtwith themidcourse maneuvero improvethe t spacecraftrajectory.One told the spacecraft roll a specified t to amount,one told it to pitch a specifiedamount, and one told it to achievea specified velocity change. The idea of accidentalor purely random operationof the command systemwashorrifying, of course,andmuchthoughtwentinto protectingit from maliceor mischance. Engineers ad learnedthis lessonthe hard way h while workingonan Earthsatelliteprogramin theearly1960s.n this case, I a sudden rashof mysterious anderraticbehaviorof theorbitingspacecraft was painstakinglytracedto spuriousradio signalsfrom a Midwesterntaxicab. Thoughclearlya freak accident,the possibilityof sabotage morelikely, or, theinadvertenttransmission animproperor mistimedcommand of wasever presentand frightening. A complicatedtamper-proofsystemfor sending commands wasdevised that allowedonly thecorrectordersfrom thecorrect peopleto betransmittedandactedupon.Thoughthesystem necessitated an often tediousprocessof reading,writing, and verifying all commands,t i very likely prevented potentially ruinousmistakes. A spacecraft a one-waytrip is useless thereis no way of sending on if it ordersfrom Earthor retrievingthescientificdatait collects.Likethe audible or visualcontacts requiredwith a roaminghuntingdog,thecommunications 26

CREATINGN EXPLORING ACHINE A M

systemis the only link betweena distantrobot explorerand its terrestrial masters.n additionto carryingordersanddatabetween I manandmachine, thecommunicationsignals s canbe usedfor trackingthe spacecraft, yielding startlinglyprecise computations wheretheunseenoyageris andhowfast of v it is going.Amazingly,Mariner'stransmitterpowerof about4.5watts--less than that of a goodwalky-talky rig on Earth--wasableto providea communicationslink overa distance rangingto nearly40 million miles. Communications ith spacecraft w haveusuallymadeuseof radio frequenciesin the electromagnetic spectrum,althoughsuccessful experiments have beenconducted usinglasers.Forall theearlylunar andplanetarymissions, radio frequencies the L-bandand S-band in wereused(about1000 mhz and 2000mhz,respectively). Several hingsaffectradiotransmissions: t oneis the distance relationshipknownastheinverse square law, meaning herethat the strengthof a giventransmission signalis inversely proportionalto thesquare of the distance from the transmitter.Anotherproblemwith transmissions to and from the surfaceof Earth is a serious attenuationof the signalby the ionosphere and its electricalfields.The ionosphere a boon to shortwave is transmissions onEarthbecause reflectsor bounces it signals backtowardthe surface;thesereflectivepropertiestendto bounceshort wavelength signals backinto space transmissions if areattemptedfromspace Earth.To overto comethis problem,we musttransmitat higherfrequencieshat are ableto t penetrate this region. A simpleanalogto thiseffectmightbeuseful.Suppose talkingto you I'm and someone placesa blanketbetweenus. Thisdiminishes level of the the soundsreaching your ears.Depending the typematerialused,thisfilteron ing might affect different frequencies more or less.This is the casefor ionosphericeffects:if radio frequencies highenough,they are not atare tenuated much that radio communication so is inhibited. Fortunately, frequencies of about Earth aspect in a 1000 megahertz and deep of limited coded space. bit rate communications language. The is the need to send all limitations of early or greater are suitable for communications to and from Another information

shorthand

spacecraft made this coding very important. but, compared with shorthand, it is wasteful can be reduced for transmission and then

Our language has 26 letters, of bits. Scientific information recreated or expanded as and may truly be the bits in a picture will be tak-

necessary. A picture contains many bits of information worth "a thousand words," but it is possible to compress by planning. Suppose, for example,

that we know the spacecraft

27

FARTRAVELERS

inga viewshowingthe horizonof a planetwith sky aboveit. If weareonly interested featuresof the planet and not the sky, we can program the in systemto sendonly the portion of the imagecontainingthe edgeof the planet,simply discarding bits showingthe discreetlydiffering sky. Sucha technique presupposes someknowledge theanswers of beingsought,but it is nevertheless usefulconcept. a The sophistication the communication of language depends the type on of datato besent.Oneform of compressingatainvolvesindexing d transmissionsagainsttime to givedifferentmeanings the samesignals. hereare to T manyschemeshat canbeapplied;what they all havein commonis that a t codedsystem transmission usthavea decoding for m systemontheotherend to complete communications rocess. the p From early in a cruise period, tracking a spacecraftleads to two calculated numbers specialnterest.Onepredictshow far from the target of i planetthe spacecraft ill comeat the momentof closestapproach.Having w an acceptable miss distance vital. If the path is too close, scientific inis
struments can manage only a brief, blurred scan of a huge planetary disk. If the pass is too far away, as is much more likely, the instruments cannot capture all the data they were intended to collect. A desirable flyby range is assumed ure from which which when the instruments mission number approach scientific which around are designed results. during reap the cruise predicts the time at during It also at three to receive is The In effect, can this defines richest stations, those when the period harvest. located hours and sighted, and a major departit will impair

The second closest the

that is examined will occur. instruments

establishes longitudes proach: variable reports taken noon tors, closest

of the three Deep Space Network the globe, will be in position There may be reasons approach of one station or of terrestrial station if closest

during

the explorer's disappearing it desirable

signals. over

to change will occur

the time of closest apthe spacecraft

for example, quality during at local lighting

the horizon

and just rising at the next. communication for adjusting being and flown images to adjust

of equipment a critical midnight

links can make the spacecraft's the time is the past. Pictures highfacunder

for a particular

to be the one to receive reason of the planet

time. Still another are not of them, very

angle of the Sun on the hemisphere

informative, surface

are not ideal for showing

relief. Any

of the above

or a combination approach.

can make

it desirable

the time of

28

CREATING EXPLORING ACHINE AN M

As a practicalmatter, neithernumber (timeor distanceof closestapproach)will beperfect.Imprecision velocityat injection,inexactassumpin tionsaboutthegravitationalpull exerted theSunandotherplanets, ven by e thedelicatepressure xerted theparticlestreamsnown asthesolarwind, e by k extending overtheimmense lengthof an interplanetary trajectory,canmean that if the courseremains unchanged,hespacecraft ill fail to fly through t w the target hoop of its destination.Distanceis the more important factor: thereis little sense fussingoverflyby timeif flyby geometry poor. In any in is event,the numbersarecoupled;if oneis changed,he otherchanges. ont C fidencein the accuracyof the predictions growssteadilyduring the cruise phase.Early estimates arenot altogethertrustworthy,but astrackingcontinuesand thedataareintegrated,t usuallybecomesvidentthat for a fully i e successful missionthe trajectoryof thespacecraft ustbe altered. m Assumingthat the trackingaccuracy providesthe necessarynowledge k of positionandrate,a thrustvectoradditioncanbedetermined. ncemore O a rocket becomes meansof producinga vectorchangein velocity. Inthe tegratinga rocket systemcontainingcombustibles nder high pressure u onboarda spacecrafthat is carryingdelicatesensorsallsfor carefulengineert c ing. The idealplaceto put propulsionsystems at the centerof gravity of is thespacecraft, becausesthepropellantisused,thebalance thespacecraft a of will not beaffected. lso, thethrustof themotormustbealigned A suchthatit actsthroughthecenterof gravity, otherwisethespacecraft ightspinup in m space a Chinese like pinwheelon the fourth of July. But how canthis knowledgeof position,velocity,and attitudebecombined with the rocket thrust capability to correct the trajectory7The spacecraftis millions of milesaway, moving at high speed,with only the most tenuousradio links connecting to Earth.The solution is to execute it remotelya complexpas de deux called the midcourse correction maneuver.
The spacecraft that rocket is ordered have to abandon temporarily in three axes, direction, the locks on two to spacemarks onboard held it stabilized thrust to turn according

gyro references

until it is pointed of known

in a calculated for a precise

and then to fire an

length of time. A timed rocket

burn obviously depends on an Earth-based calibration of thrust under simulated conditions. We can also use inertial accelerometers to terminate thrust after the desired change change in velocity velocity has occurred. and introduces then returns In either case, this adds a vector deviations to spacecraft speed and angular itself to cruise orien-

in its trajectory.

The spacecraft

29

FARTRAVELERS

tation, searching andreacquiringlock on the two spacemarks, confor and tinueson its correctedtrajectory. It is at the very leastanxietyprovokingfor groundcontrollersto decide upona course correction.Leavingcruiseorientationisin itselfachilling step, for solarpowermustbe abandoned,eavingnothingbut finite batteriesand l their switchingcircuitry. Also abandoned the momentis the high-gain for antennapointedat Earth,leavingonly a smallomnidirectional ntennacera tain to transmitweakersignalsandcapableof receivingonly strong ones. Alsogivenup for thedurationof theprocesss thelaboriouslyachieved i thermal balancethat haskept sunlit surfaces from frying and shadowed areas from freezing. he job of orientingthespacecraft ith high accuracy two T w in planesis turnedover to gyrosthat, sophisticated though they may be, are neverthelessntricate electromechanical i devicesthat are heir to all the naturalindispositions the species. of Then, centralto the entiregamble,the rocketmustwork asexpected, tartingsmoothly,developing s correctthrust, and cutting off cleanly without a burp. Finally, the spacecraftmust be broughtbackto cruiseandrelockedon its two spacemarks, solarpowerand the high-gain antenna must be brought back on line, and deviating temperatures ustbe eased m back to normal. To its anxiousmasters Earth,the spacecraft eportsby telemetrythe on r approximateexecutionof all thesetasks.However, telemetrycannotcommunicateimmediatelyhow well the taskshavebeendone.It takeshours, evendaysof trackingto enable engineers predictwith confidence to thenew courseof the far traveler.With good fortune, skill, andpatience,t will be i closerto whereit shouldbe,carryingits precious cargoto thevicinity of the targetplanet. The scientific instruments,sometimesthought of as the payload or passengersnboardthe spacecraft,actually becomeintegral parts of the o spacecraft ystem.They dependon the bus for morethan just transportas tion-they needpower,thermalcontrol, andtelecommunications. soon As as theyarechosen a mission,theyareintegratedinto thespacecraft sif for a they arebasiccomponents. Although Venusis Earth'sclosestplanetary neighbor,we knew little aboutit whenMarinerwasbeingplanned.Menhadviewedit for centuries as thebrightestobject(nextto the Sun)in theheavens, vensupposing to be e it two objectsbecauseof its presencein both morning and evening.To astronomers' telescopes wasa brilliant objectwithout muchdetail.Except it for itscrescent shape (owingto its positionbetween EarthandtheSunduring 30

ORIGINAL DE POOR

P_,,.,_

i_

QUALITY _
CREATING AN EXPLORING MACHINE

antenna

inetometer

sensor

Radiometer reference horns Particle Microwave radiometer (geiger flux tubes)

\
Infrared

Ion-chamber

Cosmic detector

dust

Solar

panel

antenna Attitude gas control

bottles

Solar plasma detector Hi-gain antenna

Mariner

I spacecraft

31

FARTRAVELERS

most of its orbit), the only variations

in its features

were occasional

changes

in light and dark markings that appeared on its dense clouds (impenetrable in the small region of the electromagnetic spectrum visible to the eye), which hid the surface. Scientific questions about the atmosphere, clouds, and temperatures of Venus were logically devised chosen for emphasis on the first Mariner were microwave wavelengths mission. and The instruments radiometers: an engineering radiometers Four duty" the to address the questions infrared From the

one to scan the surface point back of view,

at two radiation

and one to

scan the clouds and give us a better and forth

idea of the cloud-top

temperatures. that swung

mechanizing as the spacecraft were chosen

the scan platform flew by Venus

was an entirely about particle mission, already the flux the in

new development. other instruments to provide information of Venus. space environment instruments a cosmic radiometers detectors, on the way to and in the vicinity were a magnetometer, dust detector, developed were and a solar plasma specifically for from interplanetary and workings These "double Although

ion chamber-charged spectrometer. the Mariner counterparts

other instruments were adapted use in scientific satellites. In abbreviated form,

the elements

of a real spacecraft,

designed to be the first official envoy from the United States, Planet Earth, to our neighbor Venus, have been described. Had it been possible to send a human, Mariner might not have been created. It was a machine that had no real consciousness; lect information measurements Mariner did not "know" it had two high purposes: to colabout interplanetary space and to make scientific the similarities on Mariner of the spacecraft to ourselves

of Venus from close by. At the time of its design and develop-

ment, few of us thought about or to other living creatures. But to those who worked

2, conscious

of the precariousness

of the enterprise and the unpredictable behavior of that historic spacecraft, it was not so much a rudimentary automaton as it was a beloved partner, feverish endearing. and slightly confused at times, not entirely obedient, but always

32

Music
After would

of the
Mariner 1 was

Spheres
only a month since the fourth holds. remained would before Venus 2, by

destroyed, There

move

out of reach.

was a lot to do to prepare

for Mariner be consumed 1; fortunately, refurbishments inspected

and we actually the full countdown to assess damage

had only 3 weeks, and its inevitable done and

The pad was quickly fire of Mariner and other

the damage was minor,

by the blastoff

the necessary

rewiring

could be accomplished in time. The causes of the failure of the first launch were soon known and the corrections found to be straightforward. Changes to the Atlas program, deemed knit pany leagues After have liked the second deadline--set geometry task and fundamental Although the Sun, the The elaborate. sciences groups official guidance once necessary the causing antenna and the addition presented anyone at fault of a hyphen to the guidance It was their not confor on it. would for firm strict our for in tightly recognized, to punish individuals more anguish before being no significant usually won problems. compassion,

on the team for the failure, reproach.

than any formal however, him a plaque of Mariner down, we had There

At least one comresponsible hyphen prepare by the position. Canaveral an absolutely but to complete to certain His col-

was very

apologetic, awarded failure to wind

for he had been with the missing

programming

promoted

to his management 1, those at Cape regroup, to reckon program that point frustrating mission. in neat, system with manager amounted

ceremoniously the traumatic a few months launch. not

and carefully

However,

by an overzealous a delay while beyond especially

of our solar system. no more; problem diagrams actual Earth

were 4 weeks in which

failure.

This time restriction,

in the summer circular

of 1962, is a orbits around more

for any geometry

planetary of the

often show and its sister

the planets solar planets

is tremendously about

revolve

the Sun in unique precisely changthe orbital rela-

ellipses, each moving in a separate plane and with varying, ing velocities. Considering the multitude of factors involved,

33

FARTRAVELERS

tionships amongtheplanets arebeautifulin theirgeometry bewilderingly but complex.Thus, in sending spacecraftrom oneplanetto another,proper a f orientationof thelaunchvehicleis not enoughto ensure acceptable an flyby distance. ecannotsimplypoint a rockettowardVenus,fire it, andexpect W thepayloadto neatlysideswipe planetarytarget.Oncein flight, a rocketits launched spacecrafttself becomes planet, obeyingthe samecurvilinear i a lawsof orbital behavior.Fora successful interplanetary launch,propertiming is everybit as importantascorrectorientation. Thebestopportunities launchinga spacecraft for fromEarthtoVenusoccur onceevery19months.During theseshort periods(abouta monthor so in duration),theenergyrequiredfor a successful launchis at a minimum.If a voyagewere attemptedat any other time, the amount of energyneeded would be prohibitive.The reasonis that while EarthandVenusboth circle theSunin near-circular rbits, the spacecraft o mustleaveEarthandtravelin itsown ellipticalorbit abouttheSun,arrivingat theorbit of Venusat a time when Venusis also there. SinceVenusmovesfasteraroundthe Sun than doesEarth,it would movefrom behindto aheadof Earthduringthetotal interplanetaryflight time of Mariner 2. In addition to the approximatelymonth-longperiodwhen Venusis accessible, thereis a daily window amountingto lessthanan hour. This additionalcomplication caused Earth'srotationaboutitsownaxis.Wewere is by ableto extend thewindowslightlyby varying thetimingdelayin theparking orbit beforetheAgena'ssecond burn, but this nevertheless imposeda tight restrictionon the last part of the countdown. Mariner 2's countdownbeganon August25 at launchtime minus205 minutes.The spacecraft ad by then accumulated total test time of 690 h a hours--betterthan 4 full weeksof operationin which its parts had been given a chanceto fail and had demonstratedtheir likelihood of lasting throughthelong trip in space. oon,however,thecounthadto bescrubbed S because an indicationof strayvoltagein the Agenadestructcircuit. This of wascorrected and the countrestartedon August26. In all, therewerefour unscheduledolds,andthe launchwasdelayeda total of 98minutes.There h wereseveral ense t interludes thoselasthours,particularlyaftertheAgena in hadbeenloadedwith propellants.If the daily window hadbeenmissed,the vehiclewould havehadto bedetanked andelaborately purgedof its volatile chemicals. Atlas battery alsoprovedworrisomeaslaunchtime neared, The for it hadbeenreplaced onceandits replacement wasdown to a life expectancyof 3 minutesat the momentof liftoff. 34

MUSIC

OF THE

SPHERES

Earth at launch, MARINER, Sept 1 Aug 27, 1962 ............ "_,_

ve.u_ _epl /

Venus at launch Au 27

Earth, 1' Oct14

X _

_ _ _

venous, Nov1 .)_. Venus, Dec1 X

Earth, Nov 1_ /-_f"_\\\\" MARINER, NOV1 L

.,%\\\\ i_" T _-_l _--__
/

,\\\\\\" /P'_\\\\ -

, \\\\\T _ MARINER passes sunny side of Venus, Dec 14

EarS, Dec 1

MARINER, Dec 1 Relative orbital positions of Earth,

Earth, Dec 14 Venus, and Mariner 2

Looking human aspects

back fully

on

those as much me,

Cape

launches

in the

early

1960s, A nagging now

I remember feeling of

as mechanical "hands-on"

mischances. engineer,

helplessness official, had team

plagued

a former

a Headquarters many persons to ensure in a 2 ofI

because met. and that built-in idea spirit

of my total My only singlemindedness became hold,

dependence was

on others, to do

including

never One

recourse a tradition about the control crew well ease

everything a visit launch. and

possible

of purpose. involved before manager in Hanger those final of the going early to the blockhouse During one or the Mariner two our other "colors" before deep visits inare

30-minute, countdown, ficials and from to wish

an hour project station during the

I accompanied the spacecraft the launch

AE to show critical count, might

minutes I knew make

launch. side that to work

In addition sharing together

to helping moments should when things and share

tension were Those

things

well

it easier

go wrong.

blockhouse times

remembered anxiety--a Reed, Whether helpful tense and

as warm chance other or not to

friendly "Hellos" friends had they was,

interludes with the

during Launch vital

of considerable Orion operation. otherwise during the

Conductor, in the or were to do

respected these visits but that

who

played effect gave the

roles spirit

a good at least for me,

on team

is uncertain, time of waiting

us something hardest part

of the job.

35

FAR TRAVELERS

I think the idea of visiting came sitive from Jack James, to the importance

the blockhouse Project

during

the T minus

I hour hold senand

Mariner

Manager. member

Jack was extremely operation

of each team

in the launch

genuinely cared about peoples' cellent choice to lead operations and contractor ly unrehearsed ect management Jack's powers personnel team. The concept

feelings. These qualities made him an exat the Cape where Air Force, NASA, JPL, to do a most difficult manager being new and used task as a relativeprojtime. and on The for the first of a project and field center respect

were trying was

assignments were largely people

dependent

on his ability to develop

his skills in persuading project manager he had "hiring

to do their tasks in a coordinated

manner.

was answerable to NASA for the entire operation; however, and firing" control over only a few staff members--the who worked up in Texas. on the project He confessed Methodist When did so through to a certain high school; University, a complex of

thousands of others indirect assignments. Jack had grown ming around decided knew engineering do that, do that engineers to enter

amount when

of bumhe finally he said he want want electrical the field. to to

and doing odd jobs after finishing college at Southern reasons. built roads he didn't for "default" I asked

he chose electrical

him to explain,

that civil engineers mechanical either, but since

and bridges know

and that he didn't and he didn't about what

engineers

dealt with big machinery anything

did, he decided

it might be fun to learn

and chose to enter

It's clear now that he made an excellent choice; opening the field of electronics with semiconductor

solid-state physics began developments about the

time he was in school and within a few years revolutionized our lives. Jack's early assignments at JPL involved missiles being developed for the Army. missile Getting mesh His experiences with Mariner were schedule groups launchings diverse with missile operations games. to work demands launchings involving with dictated were good literally the usual by planetary enough; preparation, "people" getting but compared thousands of people, problems them to

Coupled together

were the unusual their efforts

orbit constraints. challenging.

was tough deadline

to meet an unyielding

was far more

No allowances could be made for one element of the team to slip its schedule. This extra dimension, added to an effort that had never been approximated before, human called for a high level activities. of insight to plan and direct technical and

36

MUSICOFTHESPHERES

Jackhad an unusualblendof experience, horsesense, nd humanistic a qualities.Wewereextremely lucky to havehimaround,for it wasapparent by the success f the early Marinersthat he wasa singularlygifted project o manager, neof the bestwe everhad. He became,n a shy,winning way, o i almosta nationalresource:echnicallyastute,uncannywith schedules, t and masterfulwith people. Wedid not alwaysagree everything, utmy respector Jack's on b f abilities madeit possiblefor me to compromise without distress.One suchcompromise sticksin my mind, whenwedisagreedna "judgment all." It seems o c relativelyunimportantnow, but I wasconcerned t the time.Our disagreea mentaroseoverJack'splan to haveoneof theshinyaluminumcoverson a Mariner Marsspacecraft ompartment mbossed the sealof theUnited c e with States. e hada covermadeup with the sealsowe could seewhatwe were H talkingabout,but sinceit wasfastened onlya few screws, he final deciby t sion on whetherto useit could be madeat thelast minute. His view was understandable; werecompetingwith the Russians the race to the we in planets,andAmericans could be proud that our "trademark"would be exhibited for currentand future generations see.My concernwas that we to might be accused exhibitionism,something of distastefulto me, for I was deadlyserious aboutdoingthe missionfor otherreasons. he Russians ad T h bragged aboutlandinga pendanton theMoon,andI wantedno part in that disgusting game. Sincetheshinyaluminumsurface wasimportantfor properthermalcontrol, I questioned whetherthe embossing, oweverlight, might negatively h influencethethermalproperties. ackagreedthattestswould bemadewith J thepanelin place.Sincemygreatest oncern c wasthatcriticswouldmisinterpret this symbolasa lack of seriousness ourpart, I further insisted a on on low-profile,no-publicityapproachfor the addition.Thepanelwith the seal wasinstalled,the testsweremade,andevenafterthe successful flight there was very little publicity about the seal, and none at all negative. On our return to HangerAE after the blockhouse visit, the final 60 minutesof thecountdownbegan.These werethetensest oments all, as m of the final checkoutsbeganin earnest.During this period emphasis shifted from what had been predominatelylaunchvehicle activities to include readiness reports from down-range tracking stations, from Deep Space Network stations, from weather stations, spacecraft operations, and all the

37

FAR TRAVELERS

elements required directlyafterlaunch.At
would vided minutes we had distinctly before engines maximum and about soned.

this point, have been a traitor, yet any group not ready a reason to scrub the launch. The readiness were critical; a commitment frightening booster engine to ignite aspects cutoff. the rockets and Liftoff control

anyone caught bluffing to go would have proreports at T minus 5 that our fate. normal, and the until a few seconds and it moved cut off and then faster. to its jettiAfter in

when all of these were "Go" we were fairly certain accept came up "Go." of this launch Suddenly, appeared

On this day everything

did not occur reason,

of one of the two vernier engines compensated

on the Atlas was lost for an undetermined negative mechanical began to hold proper the vehicle it was turning roll control until

stop. The main booster to roll, slowly

were able Then

they were at first and

60 seconds

at a rate of nearly

one full turn per second

an uncontrolled, unprogrammed prelude to disaster. this aberrant behavior ceased, and the launch vehicle ing to rest only a degree restoration Wernher during "divine The Somewhat upward, trolled guidance Separation pitched-up striking sing and plicating right. roll, von Braun this part guidance" launch and a half off its proper has never could so close to nominal of the mission vehicle wasn't engine Atlas and that

About 10 seconds later stopped spinning, comThis random although of that the success explained,

roll position. he suggested guidance

been plausibly

may have been right when for the malfunctioning finished cutoff, had been no Agena one Atlas with

only be explained

by a substitution system. however. about

its eccentricities, was pitched the period thought perilously During have came

high at booster the poor of the attitude the Agena. correcting matters, crazy Atlas meant

the rocket

10 ° to its the to down comstart

and there was a slight error in azimuth. commands--something

of unconpossible. close

able to respond would shroud successfully,

effectively although pitched Further the Agena worked ways

occurred

the ejected to correct until

In an effort the error

its attitude, had

Agena passed.

2 ° at the start of its first burn, the excess meter

which height

prevented 15 seconds of the Atlas at last,

the horizon had caused something velocity

sensors

from sen-

signal to be sent 8 seconds The velocity sensed the engine,

early. aboard

Then,

precisely to cut off the

the Agena, of the proper

one of several and

achievement

terminated

first burn, leaving the Agena and its spacecraft in a good 115-mile parking orbit. All who knew what was going on (most of us did not ) were breathless after this series of narrowly averted catastrophes.

38

MUSIC OFTHESPHERES

Thesecond Agenaburnbeganon timeandwaslatercutoff crisplyby the sameperfectly operatingvelocity sensor.Gentle springs separatedthe spacecraftrom the Agena,which then reversed attitudeanddischarged f its its remaining propellant,usingthis residualmpulsein theoppositedirection i to changethe courseof the stageand eliminateany chancethat the stage itself could impact Venus.On its own at last, Mariner 2 beganthe long voyageto Venus. Thecombination opticalandelectronictrackingdevices of gaveinformation suggesting the Mariner 2 boost phase that was generallysatisfactory, eventhoughthe Atlas hadapparentlyrolled 36timesduring its operation. Thereweresomeanomalies the coverage, ut informationwascollected in b so thatengineersoulddecipher hathadhappenedt a latertime.Themost c w a critical eventsof engineignition andcutoff, andseparations f the shroud o and spacecraft, ppeared besatisfactory.Whenreportsof all theseneara to Earth orbit eventswere complete,there weregreat sighsof relief from members the project team.With all the uncertainties f the launchacof o complished,t nowseemed i thatwehada chance success. of Perhaps thisfeeling of relief was connectedwith the helplessnessfelt during the launch I phase, hensomanystrangers ereinvolvedandI hadno insightasto how w w well they would do theirjobs.Now the launchwasover, andresponsibility clearly restedwith members the JPLProjectTeam,with whom I had of workedmore closely. Injection into interplanetarytrajectoryoccurredabout26 minutesafter liftoff; it wasthenabout5 moreminutesuntil theDeepSpace Instrumentation Facility (DSIF), using its big dishes,obtained contact with the spacecraft. romthis time on, virtually continuous F contactwasmaintained with the spacecraftuntil the end of the missionover 4 months later. Critical spacecraftoperationsnow began.Approximately18 minutes after injection, the solar panelswere extended. ull extensionoccurred F within 5 minutesafter the CC&S sent its command;this was considered nominal. The initial telemetrydata indicatedthat the Sunacquisitionsequencewas normal and was completedapproximately21/2minutesafter commandfrom the CC&S.The high-gaindirectionalantennawasextended to its presetEarthacquisitionangleof 72°. The solarpoweroutput of 195 watts was slightly abovethe predictedamount,providing an excess 43 of watts over the spacecraftequirementsor thisperiod of flight nearEarth. r f Although temperatures eresomewhat igherthan expected,hey slowly w h t

39

FARTRAVELERS

decreased; hourslaterthe temperature 6 over theentirestructurehadstabilizedat about84° F.
With all subsystems apparently performing normally, with the battery a decision These had that all the to as outgasoff to the fully charged, and with solar panels providing adequate power, was made on August 29 to turn on cruise science experiments. been deliberately atmosphere also allowed the engineering cruise science Though tific were exercised instruments, would days tracking Five limits, telemetry tended. cessfully start after had counter, this was left off for about arcing would to charge and appeared news, 4 days had after launch Leaving When to ensure in the compartments the batteries information instruments promising cruise, those ultimately launch, been during escaped (this is referred power finally normally

sing), so that electrical

be unlikely.

the instruments to be applied turned on,

and all existing to be operating only 25 percent

commands.

in all respects.

of the total components that the other sciento the planetary within en-

and there was no assurance ones devoted had solely function as well. stabilized

critical

temperatures continuously team, and all subsystems

tolerance lock, as into the of sucI could would things by the

maintained appeared

with

two-way

data were good,

to be operating

For the first time the project initiating Venus, relax the mission. and enjoy before

now regrouping effort

at JPL, began

feel the effects toward

of the year of concentrated but after so many

plus the satisfaction in the past, Maybe things chancy mission.

Back in Washington bad the momentary we would have

I also felt good about

experiences success.

not let myself continue About had to happen

to work, 3 days

but it was a long trip to Venus later, the Earth-acquisition

and many

properly

a successful sequence

was initiated

CC&S. The Earth sensor and the gyros turned on, and roll search was initiated. ing at a rate of about the directional spacecraft antenna lock was dicated expected been result, antenna plane, and Earth antenna, 29 minutes intensity to that which There a malfunction sensor and later.

were turned off, cruise science was At that time the spacecraft was rollper hour. from data time, Indications 72° below were that the Earthwere pointed telemetry At would that have

720 ° (two revolutions) because

apparently

of a switch

the omnidirectional were lost until Earth acquisition data lower inthan had As a until

to the directional reestablished an Earth and comparable viewing implying brightness

measurement

significantly resulted

if the Earth senservo.

sor had been acquired,

the Moon.

was a possibility in the antenna sequence

that the Moon hinge was postponed

execution

of the midcourse

maneuver

40

MUSICOFTHESPHERES

the following day, when
had Earth, nominal course when performed even Tracking orbit, motor properly data though

it could and that that

be determined the directional weak. the launch The early five

that

the antenna

actuator at

antenna had

was pointing provided maneuver

the signal indicated

seemed

vehicle

a near2 midwas in5,

so that

there was plenty its correction. 4 and completed

of capability

in the Mariner

to perform

midcourse

itiated on September the spacecraft maneuver and three the changeover so that data of the spacecraft not be affected was disabled The commands ordered antenna titude would antenna necessary were spacecraft

on the morning miles from commands. antenna Earth. Two

of September were

was about sequence from could

11/2 million Commands

required

real-time

were stored.

sent directly

from the ground when the atantenna.

the high-gain

to the omnidirectional the high-gain sensor The

be received

during

the maneuver

was not favorable antenna by the rocket intentionally the spacecraft trajectory firing. by

for pointing The Earth

In addition,

the high-gain was turned

had to be moved

out of the way so that it used for pointof the high-gain stored commands motor to the roll to be general sent

ing the antenna

off so that the entire operation command. and for firing The

for orienting from for storage

the midcourse commands,

determined

calculations.

in the CC&S until the proper clock time, contained plus the velocity and increment the

and pitch turn used for cutoff The

durations and polarities, of the midcourse motor. performed its

spacecraft

maneuvers

provided

telemetry data. All maneuvers, normal. The entire midcourse

plus the burning of the motor, correction took approximately

appeared to be 34 minutes.

Telemetry data were lost for approximately 11 minutes because the spacecraft moved into an attitude where there was a partial null in the propagation pattern ticular concern. indicated reacquisition of the omnidirectional orientation required antenna. This was simply a feature of the parmaneuver In the Sun for the midcourse motor burn and not a cause for after the midcourse operating normally. at the nominal

Initial telemetry data received that all subsystems were still sequence initiated

by the CC&S

time following

the maneuver, the autopilot and the directional antenna Earth reacquisition sequence rolling The time following was established. the maneuver

used during the course correction was turned off moved to the reacquisition position of 70°. The was also initiated and again almost was required switched one complete by the CC&S approximately revolution before to the high-gain at the nominal 30 minutes, Earth antenna lock at 41

with the spacecraft

transmitter

FARTRAVELERS

the start causing

of the sequence, severe fading antenna

just as in the initial in other

Earth

acquisition toward

sequence, while The Earth.

and a loss of signal pointed

for approximately directions than

6 minutes

the high-gain

spacecraft returned to the normal cruise mode of operation with all readings similar to those obtained prior to the maneuver, with the exception of the propulsion During Venus, following become concern subsystem, the period the midcourse major over challenges. Surveyor which between had expended Mariner itself in accord and with its charter. with to that the week many about 2's launch its encounter

I was extremely

busy and glad of it. Notes correction

I kept show

was filled with activities,

Hughes Aircraft officials came to see me to express and to urge more direct involvement by HeadI

quarters; they felt the need for three-way meetings between Headquarters, JPL, and themselves, which we finally initiated after real trouble developed. attended problems Committee power meetings that addressed on Surveyor; at intelligently because the Centaur others reducing of reduced Goddard center in having spacecraft stabilized approach This was launch vehicle development Steering complement and impacts were aimed by was with the Space Centaur Space a healthy would Science

the instrument

to be carried struggle Greenbelt, '64 missions. tween ing drawn. sule system, I would centers,

Surveyor

performance. Flight Center

A in becapMars

developing

between

Maryland,

and JPL over which interested the entire groups, wanted

do the planned competition

I was seriously Goddard

two capable

but I did not like the way a three-axis

the battle

lines were besystem. of both with me on had for over Science for for for coninterfaces

to be a spin-stabilized bus and capsule using the talents

and JPL preferred preferred between

have

a cooperative the two centers

but that was not in the cards.

the beginning

of a long and

bitter struggle in the middle. how

over planetary

assignments,

It was also during to get a lunar down, activities, information budget bogged achieving future public

that week that I initiated orbiter program looking needed Newell, going. at simpler mission. Associate progress, aspects

the first serious orbiter spacecraft spinner On

discussions concept concepts concerns coverage

A Surveyor

and I began Homer

this desperately

top of these more creative papers"

Administrator (2) initiate "white

for Space preparations

and Applications, gressional

was urging hearings,

me to: (1) produce

on Mariner's

and (3) draft

on the rationale

future programs and on management with the field centers.

of our Headquarters

42

MUSICOF THESPHERES

The first malfunctiononboardMariner occurred the midcourse in propulsionsystemfollowing thecompletionof thecorrectionmaneuver. fter A thespacecraft otor hadbeen m commanded shutoff, the pressure to reading in its propellanttank continuedto rise. It waspresumed that the normally opennitrogenshutoffvalvedidnot close fully asthemotorwasshutoff, letting nitrogengasleakslowly into the propellanttank. A quick calculation showedthat the equilibriumpressure, henreached, ould bewell below w w the burst pressure the propellanttank andassociated of components. cA cordingly, no further complications were expected observed,sincethe or high-pressureitrogenwassimplyleakinginto anothertank andnot escapn ingfrom the spacecraft. Theleakhadno effecton theattitudecontrolor any other function of the spacecraft, nd sinceno further rocket firing was a planned,no correctiveactionwastaken. Post-midcourse trajectorycomputations indicatedthat Mariner 2 would missVenusby approximately 25000milesandthat the flight time for the entire trip would be about 1091/2 ays. A comparison the desiredand d of achieved encounterparameters indicatedthat themidcourse maneuver as w accomplished with near-nominalperformance. here were a number of T possible explanationsor a slightlyout-of-toleranceorrection,but telemetry f c data could provide no clearcluesthat would isolatethe cause.While we would havepreferred beingcloser--morelike the planned18000miles--it wasbelievedthat 25000mileswaswell within predeterminedaluesfor inv strumentdesign. s thespacecraft pproached A a theplanetandmoretracking data were available, trajectory predictionsshowedthat the actual miss distance would be 21 645miles. About 3 days after the midcoursemaneuver,telemetryinformation showedthat the autopilot gyroshad automaticallyturnedon andthat the cruisescience experiments adautomaticallyturnedoff, possiblybecause h of an Earthsensor alfunctionor an impactwith anunidentifiedobjectwhich m temporarilycaused thespacecrafto loseSunlock.All attitudesensors ere t w back to normal beforethe telemetrymeasurements could be sampledto determinewhetheran axishad lost lock. A similaroccurrence wasexperienced weekslaterwhenthegyroswereagainturnedon automaticallyand 3 the cruisescience xperiments ereautomatically e w turnedoff. Hereagain,all sensors werebackto normalbeforeit could bedetermined which axeshad lost lock. By this date, the Earthsensorbrightness indicationhad become essentially zero.The significantdifference betweenthe two eventswasthat

43

FAR TILa,VELERS

in the second case, telemetry data indicated that the Earth brightness measurement had increased to the nominal value for that location along the trajectory. This problem remained because of the possible implication were marginally On October had decreased, solar panel. sapping Goldstone effective a mystery and was somewhat worrisome that the attitude control system sensors the desired attitude references. production circuit from in a the exthat rapidly short that Mariner's as a partial was power

in maintaining later against a real-time turning

31, there was an indication a malfunction stores,

diagnosed command

As a precaution station

the possibility

of the spacecraft transmitted science

its battery

in California,

off the cruise

experiments condition indicated

and thereby reducing isted for some 8 days,

power consumption. The lower power when suddenly the telemetry data again

the panel was operating normally. After this was confirmed, another command was transmitted from Goldstone to reactivate the cruise science experiments. before The science telemetry had been data turned probably remained off; however, had increased due short to the essentially engineering shortly increased nearer enough the same telemetry power reas the experiments were

data indicated experiments quirements. the power spacecraft's main active. offset, data that occurred.

that most temperatures reactivated, A recurrence of the panel

after the science on November the Sun and to meet the to rea high failure

was experienced panel was

15; by this time, however, supplied needs; Along by the

the spacecraft one operative science

had proceeded experiments

thus, the cruise caused

were permitted experienced the power but when

with this anomaly, by a current more steady readings calibration would

the magnetometer redistribution difficult fields. during when when scan data would have to interpret,

probably indicated

This made

the recorded indicated flyby mode of was

reasonably

magnetic

The radiometer the instrument Venus. changed nent would turned

performed malfunction that

the cruise activated

phase for the

It was considered to the encounter mode, occur. out, In addition, radiometer had however, channels and

possible sequence

the cruise would

science remain

the radiometer

in a permascan reversal It one

slow-scan

no high-speed the telemetry channels

or automatic the desired at encounter scans

indicated

that only one of the sensitivity. and that and the infrared of the planet.

two microwave radiometer

that both

the microwave sensitivities three

radiometer

acceptable allowing

scan rate change

occurred,

successful

44

MUSICOFTHESPHERES

Another worrisomeproblemin the scientificinstrumentation was soon detected. n November27, the calibrationdatafor the cosmicdustexperiO mentindicatedthat eitherthe instrumentsensitivityor the amplitudeof the calibrationpulsehad decreasedy 10 percent.By December 4, a further b 1 decreasey a factorof 10hadoccurred. hese b T figuressuggested the inthat strument'soperationwould be severely impairedat the time of flyby. Mariner'stechnicaltroubleswerenot limited to malfunctionsonboard the spacecraft. n oneoccasion, commercial O a power failure at oneof the trackingsitescaused thelossof 11/2 hoursof data.In mid-November, noca casionalout-of-syncconditionin the telemetry data was determined be to the fault of a telemetrydemodulator the trackingstationsandnot of the at spacecraft's instrumentation.No real-timetelemetrywas transmittedfrom GoldstoneandJohannesburg duringthe November 6 view period.The in2 formationwasnot lost, however,sinceall datawererecordedon magnetic tapeat eachstationandcould later be sentto the Space Flight Operations Facility for full processing. Except or problemsof this nature,theDSIFstations f coveredtheMariner 2 operations continuously andsuccessfully. takingtwo-wayDopplerdata In for orbit determination, neGoldstone o antenna transmitted thespacecraft to and the other receivedsignalsfrom the spacecraft. n one occasion,the O spacecraft ntennareference a hingeanglechanged slightly, an eventwhich shouldhaveoccurred only at cyclicupdatetimes. his phenomenon T hadappearedseveraltimesduring preflight systemtestsand wasnot considered serious.With the exceptionof this anomalyandthe Earthsensor nomalies a notedearlier, the attitudecontrol systemperformed without fault through the mission. In mid-November, pacecraft s temperatures became cause concern a for as theybeganto exceed predictedvalues.On November 6,the temperature 1 of the lower thermalshieldreachedits telemetrylimit and peggedmthis corresponded roughly to 95° F. Seven of the eighteen temperature measurements were peggedfor the encounterphase, and the actual temperaturesadto beestimated extrapolation.t seems spacecraft, h by I that like people,sufferat timesfrom extremely hightemperatures; therewasconsiderable concern that electronic components ouldbeadversely w affected by this condition.On December , a failure in thedata encodercircuitry dis9 abledfour telemetrymeasurements: antennahingeangle,propellant tank

45

FARTRAVELERS

pressure, midcourse motor pressure, ndattitudecontrolnitrogenpressure. a Thoughthelossof theseparticularmeasurements not affectthe outcome did of themission, failures of this sort were deeply troubling to the project team.
Not knowing exactly what caused these malfunctions, we worried that more was to critical systems might suddenly (and inexplicably) begin The CC&S was designed to perform various functions, to provide the attitude control subsystem with a timing change the Earth-pointing antenna pulse was indicated by telemetry. with predictable regularity. to deteriorate. one of which or cyclic update

reference hinge angle. Each cyclic update Until December 12, the pulses occurred day, however, only 2 days before the

On that

encounter phase, the CC&S failed to issue the 155th or subsequent cyclic pulse. As a result of this malfunction, the spacecraft was switched on December command spacecraft power 14 to the encounter transmitted temperature data sensors number consumed dissipated. quality failure that mode of operation Just prior and by a prearranged to this transmission, limits. approximately About this much were there of the backup seven of was and from Goldstone.

had reached had dropped,

their upper

The Earth sen149 watts power

sor brightness available coverage were clear, concern associated designed. over measurements, With

were being being and

by the spacecraft. solar panel, All science continuous minor CC&S was good. of the

from the one good

and a small excess of about experiments and Of course, failures update scan had appeared normal.

16 watts Signals

was actually

operating,

by the DSIF remained data the the fact that several

was considerable in telemetry and the as not operate antenna,

occurred might

possibility tense.

the scientific running know

platform

the spacecraft never

a high fever, what

the preencounter went surely wrong played

hours inside a part. the It

were extremely CC&S, although

We will probably higher

for certain

than expected

temperatures

was suspected that a single component was the culprit. where the failure was isolated there were 160 resistors, cores, 40 diodes, 25 glass capacitors, and 4 tantalum one of these could have been the cause. The operation as planned, of all science experiments decrease during except for the sensitivity

Within the region 51 transistors, 50 Any single

capacitors. encounter

was essentially dust experiment.

in the cosmic

The encounter mode lasted approximately 7 hours, ground command from Goldstone at 20:40:00 GMT Engineering that telemetry data transmitted after all systems appeared to be performing essentially

being terminated by a on December 14, 1962. phase indicated However, as before.

the encounter

46

MUSICOFTHESPHERES

temperatures continuedto rise and were not expectedto decrease the as spacecraft asapproaching Sun,scheduled arriveat its perihelionor w the to closestapproachon December 8. 2 As a result of the CC&S malfunctionfor orientingthe Earth-pointing antenna, the antennareference hinge anglehad not beenupdatedsince December 2. Sincethechangeof anglewasslightduring theperiod of en1 counter,no correctionhadbeennecessary. Afterwards,however,it became apparentthat someadjustment asneeded ensure w to continuedcommunications betweenthe spacecraft nd Earth. Two seriesof commandswere a transmittedfrom Goldstone,on December 5and December 0, updating 1 2 the referencehinge angle. Five of these commands were acceptedand acknowledged y the spacecraft, aneffectivereference b and anglechange of 8° occurredasdesired. On December17, after an extremelybusy 3-monthperiod, the continuouscoverage theDSIFwasreduced approximately of to 10hoursperday to providereliefto overworkedpersonnel. sexpected, A perihelionoccurred on December 8. On this datean attemptwasagainmadeto command 2 the reference hingeangleto change, ut Goldstone b wasunableto lock up the commandloop, indicatingthat commandthresholds beenpassed. n had O December 0, a reference 3 frequency circuit failurein the CC&Scountdown chain resultedin a temporarylossin telemetry;however,radio frequency lock, that is, the closed-loop couplingof the spacecraft transmitterand the ground station receiver,was maintained.When the telemetrysignalwas againacquiredllA hourslater, the telemetrybit ratehaddroppedfrom the nominal 8.33 bits per secondto approximately7.59 bits per second. Simultaneously,nternal temperature i readings increased to the ineffidue ciencies the power systemat lower frequencies. of Thespacecraft astrackedfor thelasttimeat 07:00:00 w GMT on January 3, 1963,by theJohannesburg station.During thispass,about30minutesof real-timetelemetrydatawerereceived. lthoughthedemodulator A went out of lock and remained duringthe laterpart of the trackingperiod, good out trackingoccurredfor mostof theinterval.Examination the recorded of data showedthat the spacecraft wasstill performing normally, with a powerconsumption of 151watts and availablepower of 163watts from the single operatingsolarpanel. In thefinal reviewof the orbits,the spacecraft waslastheardfrom when it was 53.8 million milesfrom Earth and hadpassed Venusby about 5.6 million miles.It wastravelingat 13.7milespersecond with respectto Earth 47

FARTRAVELERS

and disappeared

at this time,

never

to be heard

from

again.

Further

searches

for the spacecraft at later periods were unsuccessful. On January 8, 1963, the Goldstone antenna was positioned a_cording to the projected trajectory data, and a frequency search results. was conducted attempt 2--a robot, during the calculated view period, with negative successful. Thus reach ended men, given a mission of Homo A similar in August designed a voyage 1963 was also unand beyond directed by

the saga sapiens.

of Mariner Though

to extend

the search

for knowledge

the limited clearly

it accomplished

that was

"superhuman," Mariner was a simple exploring machine, with only a very modest capability to perform on its own. A total of 11 real-time commands and a spare which could were possible, be modified. thermal robot meager along Other control with a stored functions, louvers, set of 3 onboard commands antenna posisense such as updating were provided,

tion and adjusting it was a simple interaction. From Mariner received mystery. the

but in every

with the capability information

for only a small amount by telemetry, we

of human know that it a

returned

2 endured significant and why it developed Perhaps in its passage it had other the voyage modestly nearest

stress, but how many meteorite impacts an ultimately fatal fever will forever remain from Earth which to Venus and its transfer understand we will better

from orwhen

bit to orbit, man repeats capabilities However Venus, sion of Earth's the morning sound during quencies facility counter could flyby.

experiences in person,

with his own sensors the environment object

and the additional and features close-up of

that will exist at the time. equipped neighbor--a Indelibly returning telemetry tones to observe to those brilliant imprinted from signals were tones sounds, 2 did provide on Earth a firsthand, in my memory were transmitted as whole throughout for all to hear impres-

Mariner

long revered science

as the star of is the beautiful experiments freat L-band

and evening. stream radio These The range. relayed

of the data of about and

the encounter

940 megahertz to NASA The pure angelic

and reproduced broadcast Headquarters

tones well within the operations during an enWords at

the audible

press briefing. heavenly evidence not describe

at the low bit rate of 81/3 bits per sectruly music return mission. was on its way, had been a fifth Ranger interrupted for program of the spheres. of data from Venus

ond produced last provided During mission

my feelings

as the successful 2 spacecraft Ranger

of a successful

the time the Mariner and the entire

had failed

48

MUSICOFTHESPHERES

reviewandpossible cancellation. hustheMariner2 flyby wasa victory of T far greatersignificance than its single-purposebjectives, or it gavesome o f confidence theprocess to andto the teameffortsinvolvedin developing the capabilityfor suchexploration.Becausef the "Review o Board"environment and the largeamountof work that resultedfrom the Rangerfailure, there was little time to revel in the Mariner success; however,I remember that Christmasof 1962as one of the better onesduring my early yearswith NASA. JackJames' penchantor patrioticdisplaycame light asMariner 2 was f to well on its way to Venus,whenhe disclosed thathehadpersonally placeda smallAmericanflag between somelayersof thermalmaterialon top of the spacecraft. Had I known aboutthis whenit occurred, would havereacted I as I did when Jacklater hada sealaddedto the Mariner 4 compartment cover. Someday future Americans may recoverMariner2 andrejoicein exposing its nationalsymbol, proving that Jackwasright in doing what I considered besensitive thetime.As thingsturnedout, I amproud that our to at flagandgreatsealareout therein orbit abouttheSunalongwith theplanets. Lookingback on the entireexperience, warmestfeelingcomes my from the association with the crew that producedthe Mariner mission.Starting with the handful of us involvedin directingthe programat NASA Headquarters,the projectteamnumbered about250at JPL,spreading 34subto contractorsand over 1000 suppliersof parts for the Mariner systems. Altogetherthe projectinvolvedan estimated 2360 man-years effort and of costa total of $47million. At the time, somucheffort andso manydollars expended a yearseemed in large.Today, wehavelearned that sucha priceis relativelysmallfor theresultsreturned.Not onlydid thethousands people of who participatedin this "once-in-historyexperience" ain from it, but g Americansandall mankindreceived boostin spirit from the adventure. a The first successfulMariner mission will surely become legend, remembered sa triumph for creativeman.As someone a aptlyput it, "There will beothermissions Venus,but therewill never e another to b first mission
to Venus."

49

The Basis For It All
The sailing ship evolved during the early years first men were able to navigate rivers and streams craft; later they were able to explore the oceans. of the Renaissance. At with canoes and small ships had to be large

Their

enough to carry crews for manning sails and covering watches, and supplies to sustain the men during voyages that lasted several months. Staying afloat for long periods withstand and technologies directions. greatest explore capable of of time was staying motion, occurring to withstand first, would compass, surely not enough; these the ships had to be rugged The tacking of years, propulsion in chosen with the to to the gale winds that were sure to come with long exposures underway and then around from to sails that over many the periods clock. men at oars, allowed hundreds when at sea

for these craft evolved This evolution took place during

to sails that allowed

only downwind advances Earth.

men were motivated to master

The ability while necessarily the oceans compass. direction capability their way The The but home.

the rigors

of the seas and

the winds, of of the a known this device always find

not have allowed

the systematic that

exploration

and distant

continents

had it not been for the development discovery greater they provided With

a technological the sailors direction made

any place on the seas, was not only a help in its direct navigational gave which confidence. were going, but could

they not only knew invention

of the clock

it possible position

for navigation be known

to become as well. With

more than just determining

direction;

could

the combination of the chronometer and the compass it became possible for sailors to determine directions, positions, and rates of speed with the precision necessary to navigate predictably across the oceans. Even given the ships, the life support for the sailors, the propulsion of the winds, the navigational tools, and other necessary technologies, exploration would not have occurred had additional factors not been at work. A major

50

THEBASIS FORIT ALL

motivefor explorationwas
ing what with other corners voyages and discoveries was there. nations

the thirst

for knowledge, of those Many

for riches, drives,

for discovercompetition and

In addition and the prestige and return this activity. by heads regions

to these basic human home zealous with evidence leaders were

who were able to sail to the far of new conquests who went sometimes that crews exploration before were the of the sailors on such

of the Earth stimulated

did not go voluntarily; provided while into unknown for the need longingly evolved, the planets we have

able to accould be

quire prisoners launch Except who Moon do the space nedy gazed and whipped

of state and were willing with the expectation the necessary personnel, for space centuries and dreamed and spacecraft they would Our between

to take such men

into shape

performing exactly

services. in the ship the Like the sailors of visiting

to commandeer across before the launch

1960s and 1970s required technologies

the same basic ingredients. oceans vehicles to them, the heavens

men studied been available so recently before

feasible. tried to in of

Had the technologies things had gotten was

surely have serious

accomplished.

activities

underway remind

he was elected president,

but John F. Kenthe exploration

to forever

us of the similarity

Earth and space when he used the haunting words in his inaugural address, "We set sail on this new ocean .... "Our blessing is that our generation was privileged to experience that goal. at least as early as the 1300s, rockets have for centuries. For most Americans, however, the shocking realization possible. As an aeronautical of Britain, been the Invented in China generally understood bombing could student amazed fects" because denly, greater point. of London

with V-2s brought

that rockets engineering or as high as efin the at600 mph Yet sudfar stand-

do things we had not believed at the capability Earth. that at the speed and

at the time of the first V-2 bombardment of any vehicle were would

I was absolutely

to go 3500 miles an hour to high-speed ever fly more the heating

100 miles above mosphere,

After all, we had been taught that "compressibility deterrents not likely and many flight than involved. aircraft

of sound

of the so-called here were vehicles than

"sound traveling

barrier"

times that speed and at altitudes flight from an aeronautical

the atmosphere

that limited

It was not long after the V-2 reports that I learned of the efforts of Robert H. Goddard in the 1920s and 1930s that led to the development of the liquid rocket and the interest of the Germans longer before in the application I learned how of this technology. amazingly simple the However, it was a while

51

FARTRAVELERS

whole ideaof a rocket was, for therehadbeensucha preoccupation with aeronautics etween b World WarsI andII thatfew engineers ndnoneof my a professors adeventhoughtmuchaboutthem.This wasthefirst of several h instances whichI wassurprised discoverthatexistingtechnologies ere in to w simplyoverlooked a periodof timebeforeengineers eganto makegood for b useof them. A relatedcaseis thegasturbineor turbojet.WhenI wasforcedto takea thermodynamicsourse c concerned mostlywith steam turbinesaspart of my engineeringurriculum,I wasdistressed ecause thoughtit wasa wasteof c b I time for an aeronauticalengineerto study ground-based power plants. Within 5 yearsturbojetengines ererevolutionizingaeronautics, w raisingthe obviousquestion,"Why in the world hadn't the steamturbine principles been adaptedlong before this'?." fter many years of associationwith A research anddevelopment, havelearnedhow difficult it canbe to transfer I technologyinto application; this remainsone of the greatestchallenges engineers face. To understandthe basisfor spaceexploration,one must start with a recognitionof rocketfundamentals.So muchhasbeensaidabout rockets andtheiruseduringthe last two decadeshat it is temptingto skip overthe t subject ith a commentike, "As everyone w l knows,rocketsproducethrustby propellinghot gases the rearof thevehicle."Whilethis is true, how can out anythingso simpleto say be so hard to do that it took centuries apply'?. to Perhaps closerexamination showthatimplementing a will simpleconcepts is oftena mostsophisticated challenge. Formy birthday in 1953my sistergavemea book by Arthur C. Clarke entitledThe Exploration of Space. Clarke did an excellent job of explaining
the mysteries man prisoners to get serious plications, book. Several on a wheeled rolling of rockets about to laypersons. rockets At that time about engineers with capabilities 100 former military Gerapand a handful developing of American were already beyond beginning by this A man and the to be at a

but my own fascination pages and sketches bricks

for space exploration

was whetted principle. himself

were devoted

to the rocket

dolly with a stack of bricks frictionless surface,

was able to propel expelling the mass

dolly by throwing

to the rear one at a time. Assuming

the dolly of a brick

on a virtually

certain velocity imparted a reaction to the man, the dolly, and the remaining bricks that was admittedly less than but proportional to the velocity of the brick. From this analogy Clarke showed that it did not matter what hap-

52

THEBASIS FORIT ALL

penedto the bricks after they were thrown--their propulsionaction occurredastheyleft thehandof thethrower.Thefactthatrocketpropulsionis completelyindependent f any externalmedium,clearly the casefor the o thrown bricks,hasalwaysbeenoneof the hardesthingsto understand. t A second importantpoint Clarkemadewasthatasthepileof brickson thecart became smallerand thevehiclethusbecame lighter,the velocityincrement providedby eachbrick increased. This highlights thefact that in additionto the velocity increase, here is an increasein acceleration t producedby a rocketas the propellantis expelled andthe rocketweightdecreases. Clarkeneatlyandlogicallycarriedtheanalogy furtheruntil it isclearthat the final speed dueto the cumulativeeffectasbrick afterbrick is thrown. is Eachbrick addsa smallincrementto the velocitythat is dependent n the o speed which it is thrown; thus,the final velocitydepends this andon at on the quantity of bricks thrown out. By usingnumericalexamples, larke C developedtherelationshipbetweenthe mass andvelocity of thebricks and the mass andvelocityof thevehicleafterall thebricksarethrown, takinginto accountthe fact that the bricks on the dolly mustbe accelerated long a with the man until they are all gone.Fromthis we learn that for the final velocityof thevehicleto equalthethrownvelocityof thebricks, thestarting weight of the man and the dolly plus bricks mustbe 1.72times the final weightafter all the bricksarethrown. Butwhat if we want to go fasterthan thespeed eachbrick'?Yes,there of is an answerfor that, too. Byusingthesamerelationship, larkecalculated C that we could achievetwicethe speedof the bricksby makingthe load of bricks6.4 timesthefinal weightof the manplustheweightof thedolly, and 3 timesthe brick speed the startingweight is 19 timesthe endingweight. if This tremendous multiplicationfactor appears placea soberinglimit on to the practical applicationof rocket technology. his in fact wasthe major T deterrentencounteredy earlyengineers; b thegravityof Earthis suchthat no practicalrocket could be conceived that would allow a single-stage rocket vehicleto escaperom this field. f Fromthe second of physicsexpressedy Newton in the form, force law b = mass× acceleration, equationfor the finalvelocity that may beimthe partedby a rocketto a single-stageehiclemaybedeveloped simpleexv asa pressioninvolving rocket exhaustvelocity andthe beginningand ending massesf thevehicle.Showingtheexpression mathematical o in form helpsto understandthe key parameters and their simplerelationship.For a rocket stageoperatingin an idealenvironment,thatis,havingno restraining forces 53

FAR TRAVELERS

suchasdrag or gravity, the velocity it canachieveis a function of the exhaustvelocityandthenaturallogarithmof itsratio of grossweightto empty weightis, v = c x In (Wgross/Wemp,y) wherev is the rocket stagevelocity, c is the exhaustvelocity, In () is the naturallogarithmof themass fraction term,andW is theweightof thestage eitherloadedwith propellant(Wgross),empty (Wempty). or The theoreticalperformance rocket propellantscanbe definedmore of usefullyin termsof thefuelspecificimpulse(Isp), where Isp _ pounds of thrust
per pound of fuel per second. Using this relationship gravity and introducing the gravitational constant, sion for what is termed g, for the pull of Earth's "ideal velocity": Isp × g X In (Wg .... a simple way produces an expres-

Videal

=

/

Wempty)

This

ideal

velocity

offers

of comparing

the potential

of

given rocket stages. the exhaust velocity

It is primarily the propellant chemistry that determines or fuel specific impulse, although the efficiency of the rockets as a pro-

rocket nozzle is also a factor. The V-2 and early liquid propellant developed in the United States used ethyl alcohol and liquid oxygen

pellant combination and produced Isp values of about 240 seconds. Later, more energetic jet propulsion fuels were used instead of alcohol, and finally liquid The structural lightweight engineers; materials of current propellant ciencies, have While the actual cipal effects be treated 54 greatly hydrogen ratio and liquid of weights and had with structures dealing thinking. pumps combined oxygen became standard, twice those "mass densities. a major The providing specific imon pulse values of about efficiency 450 seconds--almost or the so-called fuel-oxidizer long been of the V-2. is dependent for aeronautical concern for an extension and better their effimaterials, of rockets, effects can that matter greater pressures, such of designing

fraction" challenge

this issue for rockets high temperatures, cooling techniques, the thrust

required higher of rockets

able to withstand Better have

but was simply

improved those

with the mass fractions of the early by a given is useful

available rockets.

using existing merits These

exceeded

ideal velocity velocity simply associated

for comparing

the relative

achievable as subtractions

stage has to account environment."

for three prin-

with the "real-world

from ideal velocity.

The first is the effect of

THEBASIS FORIT ALL

gravity; this is typifiedby theforceduringlaunchthat is alwayspulling the rockettoward the centerof theEarth;the second theeffectof dragasthe is vehiclepasseshrough the atmosphere; t andthethird is dueto atmospheric pressuresctingon the nozzleto reducerocketthrust. The lasttwo arefaca tors only during the boostphase the atmosphere, gravity effectsare in but alwayspresent.In deepspace,far from Earth,the Sun may producethe dominant"gravity" force,but sucheffectsmustalwaysbereckoned with. Expressing burnoutvelocityfor a single-stage the rocketin simpleterms:
Vb ..... t = Videal-

dVgr_v_,yincremental 5 percent

dVdrag

--

dV,hrust

where caused Thrust

the dV terms by drag

represent

subtractions. during a rocket launch to space velocity. depending or so of the required

On a relative

basis, amount

the losses in velocity to only

loss due to nozzle effects accounts

for a similar percentage,

somewhat on the optimization of nozzle design and staging altitude. The biggest losses are due to the pull of gravity; the effect of this reduction for a rocket every rising second vertically from the surface having of Earth is 20 miles minute! capability to escape to stack two or for the lower stage could be per hour for of climb--1200 miles per hour of staging. the heavy for every a theoretical treated

The prohibitive more ones, rockets

size of vehicles the upper that

from Earth led to the concept so that with the advantage

The idea was simply as payload of a lower structure

ones were

discarded after fuel was expended over with a smaller rocket having for the previous stage, dead weight

and it had served an initial velocity was carried

its purpose. By starting equal to the final value than necessary.

no longer

Reducing the weight of rocket vehicles offers such gains that many changes in the design of structures evolved from the baseline aircraft technologies. For example, pressurized stainless steel tanks walls were used on Atlas and other missiles. Like a balloon, were had weight stiff under to have pressure, but during supports to rocket their manufacture shape. and The hardback to maintain efficiency with very thin these structures handling that they empty reasons fact

is so important

is still one of the principal

that rocket vehicles seem to operate on the ragged edge of failure. The luxury of large structural margins and redundant systems simply cannot be afforded if payload The engineers capability notion began is maximized. is taken the for granted matter today; however, there was long after controversy of staging of staging considering

55

FAR TRAVELERS

aboutwhetherrocket stagingwould actually enableus to launcha meaningful payloadinto deepspace.Therearecomplications,of course;staging operations haveoftenresulted thefrustrationsof launchfailures,but stagin ing is now accepted way of life. asa An associatedroblemfor theearlyrocketmissiles p wasthatof warheads reenteringthe atmosphere high speeds. he friction of the air at high at T speedsaused c suchsevere heatingthatordinary metalwould simplyburn in theatmosphere. Thedevelopment blunt entry shapes of andablativecooling techniques adethis seemingly m impossible requirement chievable. a Returningto the analogyof the ship and the rocket vehicle,it is appropriateto relatethe two technologically capableof carryingpayloads as for longdistances.t is alsoappropriate liken thecompass, hronometer, I to c andsextant hatwererequiredfor successful t voyages shipto theguidance by technologies required for predictablenavigation in space.Attitude stabilization, alwaysa requirementor celestialnavigation,is a condition not f achieved asreadilyin weightless pace on the seas. ot only wasthe ats as N titude control of a spacecraft ecessaryor supportingcelestial avigation, n f n but in thesamemannerthat theshiphadto bepointedto takeadvantage of the wind and to makegood the coursedesired,the spacecraft eededa n stabilized platform to orient rockets for course corrections.Attitude stabilizationwasalsoneeded orientationof solarpanelstowardthe Sun, for for orientationof the high-gainantennaproviding receptionand transmissionof low-powersignals, ndfor pointinginstrumentsensors wereto a that serveastheeyesandearsof thespacecraft. attitudecontrolsystem, omAn c bined with the spaceequivalentof the chronometerand sextant,madeit possible determine to thepositionsandtrajectories missiles. opplerradar of D trackingsystems ecame betterchoicefor trackingandguidingspace b a missions,because transponders the spacecraft eresimplerand lighter than in w onboardpositiondetermination systems. With continuous knowledge positionandsomeability to controlsteerof ing or midcourse rockets,the integrationof the trajectoryparametersould c be achieved with the help of computersto keeptrack of positioninformation. Forearlyspacecraft wasbetterto havethisintegrationof guidance it informationoccuron theground,because waspossible uselarge,powerit to ful computers that couldnot be carriedinto spaceto performthis function. Indeed,earlytradeoffstudies showedclearlythat everythingpossible should be accomplished with equipmenton the ground to saveall the precious weight aboard the spacecraftfor necessary components.Of course,this 56

THEBASIS FORIT ALL

made the telecommunications link for commandscritical; perhapsthis departsfrom the analogybetweenthe exploratoryspacecraft nd the early a ocean explorers, howerecompletelyout of touchwith theworld oncethey w left the shore.Fortunately,telecommunications evolvedalongwith rocket guidance andcontrol technologies, suchthat radiotransmissions large over distances werepossible with low power. In addition to thesebasictechnologiesssential space e to exploration,the stimulusandmotivationof manwasrequired.In reviewinghistory, it seems that thetechnologies ereoftenreadybeforethismotivation occurred. erw C tainly in recentyearsthis hasbeenthecase. hileit is hardto saywhat acW tually startedthe space "snowball"rolling, theRussian plan to launchSputnik into orbit clearlygalvanizedthis country into actionin the late 1950s. Not only did it forcean appraisal f the stateoftechnology,it alsocaused o a coordinatedlook by Americanpoliticians,industrialists, ndresearchers a at what the UnitedStatesshoulddo to achievepreeminence space.Simply in put, weentered space a raceweperceived beimportantbased theRusto on sians'plans to launcha satelliteinto Earth orbit. It did not take long to realizethat we hadthe technologies hand to in beginsuchan effort. Thebooksof Arthur Clarkeandother science fiction writersstartedus thinking.Wernhervon Braunwrote a series articlesfor of
The rocket them Saturday together Evening and Post in which related fashion he described and what the various could of space. aspects of propulsion technologies, be done to put

in a logical

for the exploration

His articles

were based on sound engineering principles studied over the years, plus his strong belief that it was time to combine these technologies and to do some of the things convince possible, that he saw were possible. His articles were timely and helped not to only States a large segment of the population but that it was time to proceed. of the Germans completed partially V-2 vehicles that such feats were

Our defeat with several

and the spoils of war had left the United and a large amount

of informa-

tion on the design and development of rockets. In 1948, I was working at North American Aviation in an engineering department concerned with trainers, newly fighters, formed and bombers Aerophysics when an opportunity that had arose been for me to join a assigned special an the Department

studies of the V-2 technologies aerodynamicist who had joined new missile aerodynamics field. It was several months activities, before

and their potential. Dale D. Myers, the aerophysics organization to head offered me a chance to work I was able to complete an ongoing

in this new assign-

57

FAR TRAVELERS

ment and transfer,but early in 1949I enteredthe fascinatingworld of missiles. y association M with Dale was to continueon and off over many years,for he later became Apollo ProgramManagerfor RockwellInternational, and in 1970we were reunited at NASA Headquarters when he became Associate Administratorfor MannedSpace Flight. Throughoutmy career isinfluence h hasbeen inspiringto me,for healwaysseemedo possess t a rarecombinationof experiencend insightneeded guidenew technical a to efforts, anda gift for leadinga teamand gettingthe mostfrom it. Shortlyaftermy transferto theAerophysics Department, ork beganon w the designof a rocket-launched, wingedcruisevehicleusing a V-2 as the basis. ConfiscatedGermanrocket engineswere availablefor tests, and facilitieswerebuilt to improvethemas preliminarydesignactivitiesbegan. Needless say,many"bootstrapping"studies to wereinitiated, aswe had to develop our own data basefor dealing with supersonicflight, thermodynamicheating,and thenewpropulsiontechnologies. A major programcalledNavahoevolvedin 1951from theseearly V-2 follow-on developments. wasdefinedas a rocket-launcher,amjetcruise It r missile combination,to be ultimately capableof flying 5500nauticalmiles. Simplystated,the Navahoprogramobjectivewas: A ground-to-ground, guidedmissile,capable carryinga heavyspecial of warhead vera maximum o range 5500 of nautical ilesatsupersonic m speed (Mach No.2.75 higher), or witharadius oferroratthetarget f 1500eetorless o f for50percentof themissiles launched. At the time thischallenging objectivewasformulated,therewaslessreason
for optimism than when the similarly simple Apollo objective of sending men First, to the Moon was pronounced. Navaho development was planned a prototype cruise missile powered

to be carried by two large

out in three phases. turbojets was

to test the

aerodynamics and flight operations. Following about a year later was to be a rocket booster/ramjet cruise missile combination capable of flights of about 2500 nautical miles to test the launch concept and the ramjet propulsion systems. The third phase was to be the operationally capability. for this missile program structures, propellants, and control systems. included the development of the and tankage, as well as the highAlso included were the procedures suitable weapon system with complete Requirements rockets, ramjets, technology

guidance

58

THEBASIS FORIT ALL

for rocket launchingsplus the development f launchfacilities,telemetry, o and trackingneeded accomplish testsandoperationalcheckoutof all to the systems.During the next 6 years,a remarkable amount of progress was madetoward thesesimplystated,but hard to achieve, bjectives. wentyo T sevenflights weremadewith the turbojet-powered vehicledesignated the X-10,includingsupersonic flightsto Mach2.0.These muchto furtherthe did guidedmissiletechnologies disciplines for otherthan rocketry. Therocket-launched, ramjet-powered avahoswerefor manyyearsthe N mostimpressive missiles beseen theCape.Standingabout100feettall to at and weighingapproximately300000pounds,their 405000-pound-thrust boosters werethemostpowerfulin existence. Althoughthey did not fare as well in flight asthehorizontaltakeoff,turbojet-powered -10,manylessons X werelearnedaboutthevagaries rocketlaunches. henthebaseprogram of W and a flight extensionfinally concluded,nine rocket launcheshad been made,threeof themfollowedby successful ramjetflight operations. hesucT cessratio was not impressive,but after more experience with rocket launches,he recorddid not look asbad asit had seemed t first. t a Thenow familiar conceptof thelaunchcomplex with its distinctivegantry and blockhouse was not initially obviousfor missilelaunches.Orion Reedwasat theCapefrom 1951to the present, ndasthebasemanageror a f North Americanduring theNavahoflight testprogramhe wasinvolvedin all the debates over how to providefor testoperations, ith dueconsideraw tion for crew safety.He recalled that the one way to ensure safety from
possible simplistic nience Television explosions solution systems for access was with separation distance; the price lines, paid for this was long communications to the pad and for observing were not developed direct viewing enough and data plus inconveand operations. use in 1951, pad to the launch

the equipment for widespread

and it was essential to have during the countdown.

and ready access

The compromise struck for the Navaho hemispherical blockhouse built of sandbags few critical promised than personnel from during the final count were separated the distance

launch site resulted in a small, and concrete that would house a and launch operation. Others pad of lines and comto the launch

the site with the long communications The small shelter was closer as a standard.

view of the launch. later chosen

The Air Force development

the pads, including 12 and 13, used for all the lunar and planetary on Atlas/Agena vehicles, were based on more detailed studies

launches and were

59

FARTRAVELERS

muchmorerugged.These blockhouses adroofsmadeof 20-foot-thickconh crete,several eetof sand,with moreconcreteon top. Theycould house50 f to 100persons andallowedindirectviewingof the launchsiteby periscope andclosed-loop television. Reed vividly remembered theblowup of an Atlas/Able vehicleduringa staticfiring on September 1959,shortly beforetheplannedlaunch.The 25, explosion andrainof debriswasvery closeto theblockhouse, ndthelaunch a crewwasgratefulfor theprotectionprovided,sincethepadwasprettymuch destroyed. hroughouthis launchoperations T careerReed spentmanydays and nightsin blockhouses (the 200thAtlas launchedRanger6 in January 1964,and he was involved in most of the spacemissionslaunchedby Atlases). eplayeda majorrolein helpingto maturecountdownandlaunch H operations into a science. The mannerin which manandautomated systems canwork in partnership is illustratedby a solution to the problem of accuratelyguiding a Navahotest missileduring approachand landing. In conjunctionwith an autopilotandinertialguidance system, radaraltimeterwasusedto flarethe a missile asit approached runway on a predetermined the glideslope.The accuracyof this automaticflaresystem wassuitablefor closed-loop operation, but the autopilot and digital navigationsensors availableat the time were not capable laterallyaligningthemissile of flight pathwith therelativelynarrow runway. Orion Reed recalledthat to achievethe necessaryirectionalcontrolfor d the touchdownandrollout phases, simpleopticaltrackinginstrumentwas a positioned thefar endof the runwaywith a means generating error at of an signalthat couldbe transferred radio commandto the missileautopilot. by To operatethe device,a man peeringthroughthe telescope kept crosshairs alignedon thenoseof themissile,andthelateraldeviationerrorsignals were fed back to the missileautopilot for makingthe necessary eadingcorrech tions. The system wasusedsatisfactorilyduring flight tests.However,the optical devicebecame affectionately known as a "hero" scopeaftera braking parachute failure allowedthe missileto continuedown the runway toward
the hapless toward controller who was staring was narrowly it in the eye as he guided averted, but it became it directly that himself. A disaster obvious

the person closing the lateral control loop was in jeopardy if landing overshoot occurred. For his benefit, a trench was dug near the instrument so that he could dive into it for protection if the need arose again.

60

THEBASIS FORIT ALL

At thetime of the Navahodevelopments theearly1950s,t did not apin i pearthat guidance and control systems usinginertial platformscould perform on long-range missions without frequentupdates. systemcalledthe A "stellarsupervised platform" wasdeveloped ensure to that thedrift of gyros wascorrected frequentstarsightinginputsfrom theequivalentof a sexby tant usedduringocean voyages. oncurrently,improvements eremadein C w the performance gyro systems, oubleintegrating of d accelerometer systems, and otherelements basicattitudereference latforms. of p As a result of this concentratedeffort on guidance and control technologies, he capability neededfor accurateintercontinentalballistic t missile guidance systems ecame b available.Ironically,theGeneral ynamics D Corporationcapitalizedon theseadvances andbeganpromotingthe intercontinentalballisticmissile (ICBM)conceptcalledAtlas in basiccompetition with the Navaho. Thus the Atlas missile,a 11A-stageehiclecombining v rocket engines,guidanceand control concepts,pressurized stainless steel tanks,andother technologieseveloped NorthAmericanfor theNavaho d at program, eventuallybecamethe promise that resultedin the demiseof Navahoin 1957. A host of developments evolvedduring the Navahoprogramalso that provideda technologybaseand playedmajorroles in spaceexploration. North Americanextended rocketenginetechnologies, V-2 andthe RocketdyneDivisionlaterproduced rockets theThor,Jupiter,Atlas, andSaturn for vehicles, or theApollo spacecraft, f andfor theSpace Shuttle.An Autonetics Division providedguidance and control capabilities, ecomingheavily inb volved in upgradingthe guidance and navigationtechnologies ICBMs for and spacevehicles. he MissileDevelopment T Division developed aerothermodynamics concepts, structure capabilities using high-temperature materialssuch as stainless steeland titanium, designand manufacturing technologiesuchasdiffusionbondingandchem-milling, s anda well-trained cadreof engineering ndmanagement a talentthatdesigned ndproduced a the Saturnlaunchvehicles,Apollo spacecraft, ndSpace a Shuttlevehicles. The cancellationof the Navahoprogramand the successful orbiting of Sputnik1 were,to my career,closely coupledshocks,ike thedoubleimpact l of a sonicboom. Fortheengineers ho werelaidoff because theNavaho w of cancellation, ndfor thoseof uswith supervisory a responsibilities hohadto w decide which friendsandassociates wouldstayor go, it wasa dismalperiod. I was very glad when the chorewas over andthoseof us remainingwere assignedto study the use of Navaho technologies spacemissions. for 61

FARTRAVELERS

Although immediate one major dominant principal have been

many were applicable, capability shortfall discipline. forces simpler, to prepare in our ability

it was the rocket for traveling to design spawned

boosters

that gave us the there missiles was had the

into space. by Navaho, Our aerodynamics of bodies space missions. where

Even with the significant all been governed

developments

by flight in the atmosphere, One might think but are caused by the gravitational

was the should defining

that going into airless attraction in hand

space, where

we did not have

the parameters

gravitational forces the basic equations that, our computer

needed to determine and the programming was very large

space trajectories. We also lacked to integrate trajectories; besides small in capability. Seth at the

in size and very

Encouraged by my superiors to find help, I visited Professor Nicholson of CalTech and also discussed our needs with astronomers Mount Although Bower language. Wilson and Palomar Observatories. While doing astronomer, had G. M. Bower, he had done some He joined recent our who had calculated experience small group adapting and the mass the helped

this, I met a retired and orbit of Pluto. calculators, to computer the so-called

most of his integrations

using mechanical equations generate

"n-body" equations Further evidence painfully Naval obvious Observatory,

used in computer computations of space trajectories. of our lack of capability to compute trajectories became when I contacted G. M. Clemmence, for the Moon, then Mars, head of the to obtain ephemerides and Venus.

Values of the orbital parameters tion, and the Naval Observatory mation. Clemmence surprised

for these bodies were essential to navigawas the central repository for such informe when he stated that he could provide com-

puter input data suitable for computing trajectories to Mars and Venus, but that data were not available for developing trajectories to the Moon. The reason Moon's values given was that many variables, such as Earth's tides, affected the orbital path, so that it was not easy to exactly predict long-term for the Moon's whereabouts. This revelation begged the obvious the Moon is going to be when we launch, how to get there7 to North groups American. were All over the the same research doing

question: if we don't know where how can we determine in advance This kind of activity country aero industry was teams and

not unique

things, with perhaps one of the most notable efforts led by C.R. "Johnny" Gates at JPL. He and a small group in the Systems Division developed integration methods, adapted them to computer operations, and soon began to

62

THEBASIS FORIT ALL

put their knowledgeto work on realprojects.Within a brief period, nearly everyone learned how to compute space trajectories. newdiscipline,called A astrodynamics,sprang out of the combinedaerodynamics and celestial mechanics backgrounds aeronauticalengineers nd astronomers. omof a C puter technologies were also driven hard by the obviousneedfor larger matricesand fasteroperations. Once stagingconceptsbegan to be generallybetter understood,the multiplicationfactorsfor upperstages weresimplyreducedto engineering terms.Initially, staginghad beenthoughtof aslaunchingonerocket with oneor two otherson top, to beignitedsequentially ssoonastheprior stage a hadburnedout. Now coastperiodsbetween firingswerebeingusedto provide morecontrol over trajectories. oastperiodsbetweenstages C could be accomplished with no thrust at high altitudes;the fact that the stages remainedconnected hadno significantimpactonperformance whenthevehiclewasnot in the atmosphere andbeingaffected drag. by Forexample,n thecaseof synchronous i satellites, which had to orbit at 23 000milesaboveEarth,coasting to synchronous ltitude andthenfirup a ing the last stageto producethe right velocityfor stayingat that altitude allowed the satelliteto beput into a precise circularorbit. Coastingtrajectoriesbecame knownas"parking"orbitsandwerefrequentlyusedto launch vehicles deep into space froma positionotherthanthelaunchsite.Suchstagingconsiderations fferedmanypossibilities o fortradeoffs;theprecisiontimingrequiredfor leavingthelaunchpadwasreduced, because waspossible it for thevehicleto coastpart way aroundEarth--orevento makean orbit or more--beforethe next stagewasfired. The payloads earlymissiles for werewarheads, hich usuallywereinert w until carriedto thetargetsite.Thus,from thestandpointof integrationwith thevehicle,theymerelyweighed somuch,weresobig, andotherwisehada modestinteractionwith thedesignof thevehicle. s theaerodynamic A shape of the warheads was especially critical to the reentry thermodynamics of missiles,muchwork was done in the development ICBMsto solvethe of thermaland aerodynamic problemsof reentry.In addition, knowledgeof high-temperaturehenomena p was needed, ndmaterialsable to withstand a high temperaturesadto bedeveloped. hese h T wereespecially importantfor missions thatrequiredreentryto Earth'ssurface entry into theatmosphere or of Mars or other planets.Of course,we werenot concerned about entry aerodynamicsor the first planetaryexploring f machines because theywere

63

FARTRAVELERS

merelyone-way

vehicles

that flew by or in the vicinity for spacecraft during very few designed the early active during launching orbits. that

of planets.

Nor

did

we need such technology

for landing years elements the early missiles After had roles. orbit

on the Moon, from passive became of at of and in

where there is no atmosphere. One of the dramatic changes missile warheads known launches to space launches or payloads as spacecraft, became those into the process having which painfully as readying space into

of transition from to what space tended a few once

was caused

by the change

were vehicles evident

in their own right.

The effects launches to think them, missions been

this transition Cape Canaveral: the principal tracking which aspects vehicles spacecraft analogy shore boosters journeys serve rocket ships were long-term them

with experience

the rocket prescribed minutes dawned

vehicles,

launching operations

the launch tasks,

was over within realization were operations

and spacecraft what to support

became prime launch launching the

of missilery and launch

now relegated time into the real days

Certainly, but now, merely

were no less important; the proper job of exploring. of ocean that them are not over exploration, only carried Rocket quickly become

the spacecraft

at the proper

allowed is no

to get on with "single-stage but also three employing of spacecraft;

There

obvious from for long that of to be

to this with the early to shore,

since the beloved the explorers launches, relative "spent further even to the vehicles" evolution now had

vehicles" brought stages,

home.

after launch more

they simply than inert

no further vehicle

purpose. became payloads, technology was required. Propulsion systems

As spacecraft stored in space to the vacuum control systems the drift rates completely

for long periods of time and operated remotely after exposure and thermal radiation of the space environment. Attitude for launch and wear from vehicles problems those had to work associated expected for only a few minutes; short-lived which missiles had thus were with

different

of spacecraft,

to spend

months in orbit. The guidance and control midcourse corrections, terminal maneuvers, precision terplanetary struments those ment and updating space, would for exact of position pointing While vehicles, so that

systems necessary for accurate and other functions required after months in orbit were hostile or into for motor or aiming for of the insimilar environ-

of the rocket the basic the

be possible. launch

technologies demands

required were greater.

precision,

miniaturization,

and for long-life

operation

in a somewhat

64

THEBASIS FORIT ALL

Vehiclesdesignedto land on the Moon or the planetsrequiredretro rocketsto decelerate spacecraftor landing.In principle, retro rockets the f changed spacecraft the velocityin thesame wayasboosterrocketslaunched from Earth,exceptthat thevelocity incrementshey providedwereusedto t reduce velocityfrom high beginning the values zeroat thepoint of touchto down.This ledto theuseof ananalogyasa basis determining for theprobability of mission successin planning considerations lunar landing for spacecraft uchas Surveyor.A study I madein 1962devotedconsiderable s thoughtto this matterandresulted a paper,replete with statistical probin
ability Because was soundly that could curves, entitled For Office on existing data one out "Probable Use Only launch available Returns and vehicle from flights had of Present a limited vehicle Lunar Programs." by critics, it While of sucshowed this analysis based offered significant possibilities statistics, launch toward became for misuse

stamped

distribution. experience

the probabilities landing useful

cess using

statistical

less than The lunar

of three

aimed analogy Actually

on the Moon for illustrating challenges is the reverse are analogous. that of

be expected

to be successful. vehicle of technologies involved and the engineering the landing of the steps number

landing/launch

the combination the launch

had to be addressed The simple diagram

for such missions. but a surprising from the 1962 study

in sequence,

is reproduced

here along with an exis sitting on

planation of its meaning. A launch operation starts

with a zero velocity injection

as the vehicle

the pad. At the end of the launch,

into orbit allows

for some varia-

tion in the firing accuracy from the early stages; adjustments by a vernier engine make up for any deficits or excesses in velocity, orientation, or position in space. In contrast, the lunar landing velocity vehicle begins its terminal at the surmaneuver with some finite but uncertain and must arrive

face with zero velocity after a 240 000-mile trip taking some 90 hours. The landing would not be successful with any sizable horizontal or vertical velocity components at the point of touchdown, for the spacecraft would in the either tip over and be useless or be destroyed by the crash. Other similarities and differences are highlighted by comparisons

simple diagram. There are several more steps involved in a spacecraft landing mission, not to mention the fact that a landing attempt is not even a possibility launch until vehicle, after a successful attitude launch has been achieved. from the upper the stage solar of the panels to point Following the separation of the spacecraft orientation is needed

65

FAR TRAVELERS

toward the Sun and the antennatoward Earth. This is the cruisemode, which continues until the timeof midcourse correction.Thevelocitychange for the midcourse correctionis determined usingcomputers the ground, on andcommands areloadedinto the spacecrafto properly orient the thrust t axisandto fire themotor for the timeneeded makethedesiredtrajectory to correction.This seriesof maneuvers the midcourseinvolvessomerisk, in because is necessary turn thecraft awayfrom theSun-Earth it to orientation to a giveninertialattitude, to fire the vernierrocketsfor a fixedamountof time,and then to shut off the rocketsandreturn the craft to the cruiseattitude, againacquiringthe Sunand Earth. As the spacecraft pproacheshe Moon at a givenheightabovethe sura t face (this mustbe fairly accuratelydetermined a triggeringradar), the by largeretromotor mustbeignited.ForSurveyor,a highly refinedsolidrocket motor of spherical shape wasused.Whenit wasbuilt, it hadthehighest erp formance termsof massratio andspecificimpulseof any solid rocketin in existence--Surveyor wasits first spaceapplicationand true test. After the burnoutof this motor, it wasessential thespentrocket be separated and that
that staging lose attitude spacecraft, occur in a manner that did not tip the spacecraft control. The retro motor then fell to the Moon, while the vernier engines on the spacecraft slowed or cause it to ahead of the it to further down to the

reduce the velocity of approach. A closed-loop radar system was used to guide surface. because Engineering for this system presented we lacked detailed information about properties unknown Another

the spacecraft

challenging the surface

difficulties, partly of the Moon; thus, of engineerof the radar possibly caus-

its radar-reflective ing models.

were only speculated created by rocket

on the basis exhaust,

at the time was the interaction

system and the tenuous

atmosphere

ing undesirable radar dynamics. There simply was no good way of testing these environmental combinations prior to the first Surveyor mission. The vernier rockets used to reduce the remaining velocity of the spacecraft engines. to near Throttling zero at touchdown were throttleable developed. relatively liquid propellant practice on was not, at the time of Surveyor, a common

liquid rockets; this vernier system was specially vertical approach velocity with radar seemed however, determining the horizontal velocity

Determining the straightforward; which was just as

component,

important, was not so easy. With the small radar baseline on the spacecraft it was not possible to track the horizontal velocity until the craft was very close to the Moon. This meant that the buildup of horizontal velocity during the

66

THEBASIS FORIT ALL

c-w

az

"6

w

c

_
w

E
_

og_ g
,--: e,i

I*:

¢-

w
c

_2 6 :
£_ ,=N

E_

0

c

¢_w

o

m

g_

¢'_

GT ¢B

de,

iN ,-,4

g E _ {.-__ s_ ,_ _o _eNN _ 7a_r¢N ¢Z [3.. m

g
E

o
td)

2

cqe6

o 0 ..J

67

FAR TRAVELERS

retro motor burn, separation,and approachhad to remainwithin finite limits in order for the lateralcorrectioncapabilityof the swivelingvernier rocketsto suffice.Takinginto accountall these functionsrequiredof a lunar landingsystem,theprobabilities success of werecalculated based existing on launchvehiclestatistics.Theseindicatedthat the landing itselfwasa fairly risky proposition,with a probability of successar lessthan 50percent. f As mentionedearlier, a conceptaccepted the time was that launch at vehicles undergoingdevelopment shouldexperience 0 development 1 flights beforebeingusedto carry out operationalmissions.Had we applied this concept to Surveyor landing systemsand taken the 40- to 60-percent reliability of existinglaunchvehicles into account,it would obviouslyhave taken many launchesto enableus to developand check out a suitable Surveyorlander.These discouraging statisticsincreased concernfor the our thoroughness requiredduringSurveyorresearch anddevelopment activities, but theywerehelpfulto theplanningprocess ithin theprogramofficeand w resulted theadoptionof themultiple-spacecraft in block concept,callingfor a minimumof three-of-a-kind mostconfigurations. he ideaworked,exfor T ceptfor thesecond blockof Rangers, which failedto achieve singlesuccess. a Perhaps thegreatest riving force in the evolutionof spacecraft asthe d w challenge providing"long-life"capabilities systemshathadto operate of for t in a hostile environmentwith minimum human interaction,and that requiredvery modestamounts weightandpower.After seeing numberof of a differentspacecraft oncepts c developed, havecometo the conclusionthat I havingto design andbuild to severe constraints actuallyimprovestheevolution process. henengineers W haveampleamountsof weight, power, and otherresourceso startwith, theyalmostimmediately t expandtheirdesires to exceed thosecapabilities anddevelopself-imposed problemsfrom trying to juggleall the "what ifs" and "druthers"into somethingreal. They usually makemuchmorework for themselves, andin manycases esignless d suitable systems a result. On the other hand, I haveseendesignsevolvewhen as severeconstraintswereimposed,requiring single-purpose objectivesand simple,directapplicationsof basicphysics,that resultedin the mostclever advances technologyto performthe necessaryunctions. in f As the technologies employedin launch vehiclesand spacecrafthave becomemore complex,the number of engineering man-hoursinvolved in designand development haveincreased. askedDaleMyers to discuss I the changes ehadseen theprocess h in andthereasons them.Hedid not give for a pat answer,but offeredobservations from his own careerto supportthe 68

THEBASIS FORIT ALL

changes engineering in effort versusproductionrates.When he startedat North Americanin 1943,the factory was producing25 Mustangfighter airplanes day. In theearly1960s a hewasin charge theHoundDogmissile of program,whichproduced 20missiles month.During thefinal periodof the a productionof Apollo Commandand Service Modules,theproductionrate was 6 per year, andwhen hewas responsible the B-1bombereffort in for 1974,the bomberswerebeingproducedat a rate of 1 every 2 years.The escalation effort hasalsoseverely of increased costper poundof hardthe ware, making the problemsof estimatingprogramcostsmuch harder for space vehicleplanners.However,that is anotherstory. No matterwhetheryou are a launchvehicleproponentor a spacecraft engineer,t is obviousthat rocketshaveprovidedthekey to theexploration i andexploitationof space. t timesit appears A thatwe havelost sightof their importancein the scheme things;we seemto be complacentaboutthe of potentialgainsthatmightaccrue from continued emphasis ontheir improvement.Far-outconcepts doublingor tripling their efficiencies for arebarely beingresearched, considered all. Are we onceagainexperiencing if at that lagin the engineering dvances existingtechnologiesntil necessity, ot a of u n opportunity, becomes "motherof invention"?Time will tell. the

69

A Million
Planetary you count years, areas exploration exploration hardly

Things
is an ancient of Earth, begun the task

To Do
and sanctified of exploring that pursuit, years. Earth. underway, There if

for at least a million sampled,

In spite of all the are great only the skimpiest

we have

of land that have

only been

and we have is under to understand we have block space formations, have

knowlege recognizing the solar traveling speak. circling and

of the 69 percent for orbit During it, walking

of the surface that we began the last two around clearly

water. endowed learned

It was only better, in by so to objects much

after we left Earth system. around Views oceans, from

our planet

it as one of the most varied

and fortunately decades

the home revealing storm

for the first time, provided the restless

the vantage

of near-Earth

exciting clouds, we

new perspectives the dynamic

of the planet, environment rockets

the land masses

and their en-

the continent-sized

in which

our lives are spent. and unique high-speed

Being alive,

care about planetary

life, and for this our magical and satellites us from coating that shields

atmosphere and defined filters

is the key. this thin out lethal to

Using sounding

we have plumbed

particles,

radiation, ameliorates us the water without In these neighbors. have visited same Using

insupportable temperature variations, which life would soon vanish. we have also gained in our Mars, and insight sophistication Mercury, automated

and carries planetary

decades increasing

into our

spacecraft,

we

the Moon,

Venus,

those strange

gas giants,

Jupiter and Saturn. Close-up photography face familiar, its scarred surface recording and violent bombardment from space.

has made details of the Moon's both great eruptions from within history as preserved in

Cataclysmic

scrambled detail on that pockmarked surface is being used by scientists to fill gaps in Earth's remote past, for similar scars on our own planet have been all but obliterated. system, helping Planetologists to unlock see the Moon the cyphers as a Rosetta stone past. for our solar of an enigmatic

70

A MILLIONTHINGSTO DO

Menfirst beganto exploreEarthby lookingat theirimmediate surroundings,graduallywideningtheir travelsto encompass largerareas.With our newexploringtools, we havea betterway. Obviously,an unknownplanet shouldnot first be examined locally, with a restricted view, but shouldbe seenin its entirety, from flyby and orbit. We should begin with reconnaissance f grossfeatures:clouds,continents, olar caps,mountains.We o p shouldexamine theatmosphere, any, asknowledge theatmosphereot if of n only offersmanyanswers aboutthenatureof theplanetandits history, but alsoprepares the engineering successful for of landings. Thenextphase shouldinvolvelandings preselected at sites,chosen asthe likeliestto provideamaximumof information.These areoftenat theboundariesbetweendifferenttypesof terrain:at theedges polar caps,thebotof tomsof largehills or valleys,andtherims of highplateaus affordingdistant observations. Finally--beforetherisky andcostlylandingof men--wemight useautomated rovingor flying vehicles,emotely r guidedfromEarth,affording the intelligence-gathering skillsof our bestsubstitutes human eyes for and human senses without risk to life. Then, if conditionswarrant, we shouldsenda combinationof machines thebestmultisensory and decisionmakingresources we have--human beings--when the extra costs of life support taken and After confident retrievability are flown, can be justified. some critical components are more or less on. because they can be counted a few missions

for granted

and put from our minds

Persons coming way may never

into established projects or those observing projects underrealize how everything came together the first time or have a

good perspective for judging the totality of the logic and the processes involved. No major technical undertaking is ever done from scratch--we have mentioned grams--but the tremendous developing contribution plans to space missions of missile proand other vehicle to a have appropriate and putting the necessary systems

in place to support effort. As mentioned planets has degree straint always been

the first Mariner repeatedly, a limiting

flights took a great initial hurdle from Earth.

deal of ingenuity to exploring The launch of spacecraft payloads. of Earth, it would

the biggest to escape factor, designers

was our marginal that has challenged figured in making to bypass

ability

restricting to provide

the mass useful

This conto go first to informa-

the Moon

our first target; neighbor scientific

however,

been foolish far planets.

the Moon,

the nearest

Yet there were

compelling

reasons

to obtain

71

FARTRAVELERS

tion about

several planets as quickly

as possible;

by studying

them we obtain

perspective about their similarities and dissimilarities to Earth, providing advances in knowledge of the solar system through the use of broadly based comparisons. Overall plans for programs Programs up for Office and reviewed community, by the that purpose ed by the scientific were developed in a number National often through in the Lunar and Planetary Reviews were providBoard, set During the the Space Science of Sciences.

of forums.

Academy

budgetary approval process, mission proposals passed through the NASA administration and then to the committees and bodies of Congress, providing repeated exploring opportunities for us to examine and defend our rationale for the Moon and the planets.

A key step was the selection of payloads, requiring not only scientific review of the entire mission, but also the allocation of priorities among individual experiments. I believe that the process NASA developed for payload selection has withstood the test of time. It required a subtle yet complex interaction among people, machines, budgets, and politics (after all, these were publicly sidering everything funded programs). of relevance, Also intrinsic was a tolerance for conto from the engineering of a tiny subsystem

testing a theory about cosmic origin. From a scientific viewpoint, the most difficult was choosing questions. ess through Moon possible experiments the coalescing balanced that addressed discussions, of views Once After lengthy

part of planning

missions important

the most fundamentally

order finally was provided on major classes defined packages

for the procfor the it was also

of questions and accepted,

and the planets. to develop

these had been experiment to others.

and to consider

individual

experiments

in proper relationship

The simplifying

approach

helped address experiment sequencing or priority questions; in some cases time-critical interactions with other experiments affected priorities for instrument selection. Four classes of scientific jor planetary examining questions; a planet "from experiments the outside were initially in." a planet's environment radiation, Planets although as deterparticle of a field. defined to address maby thinking about these are now logically addresses explained

The first class of experiments mined by external fluxes, or varying influences energy

such as the Sun, especially Sun dominated,

fields and their effects. largely by the presence

in our solar system the environs magnetic

exist in an environment planet can be modified

of its own unique

72

A MILLIONTHINGSTO DO

Fieldstrengthand
related to the origin experiments

orientation and nature

also provide of the body.

insight into many characteristics The name given the first class of atmospheres: their and fields. clouds, or other peculiar come in a variety of forms, is broadly directed precise orbit, and distribution and or quiescent),

was simple

and descriptive:

particles

The second

class of experiments

deals with planetary

compositions, densities, pressures, temperatures, features. Instruments for this class of experiments ranging from direct sampling to remote sensing.

A third class of experiments known as body properties at the celestial body itself: external shape, mass, density, rotation tectonic rate and condition direction. (whether There is interest, the planet is volcanically

too, in mass

active

because these hypothesizing fourth classes

conditions can be related to planetary history and help in the conditions of evolution. Experiments in the third and generally were labeled "planetology" experiments, but surface: a term having a relationship to the field of geology, deals with the planetary

coined to convey their broader connotation. The fourth ture, hills, features, valleys,

class of experiments and composition. craters, and other

its tex-

This includes topography--mountains, forms of nonuniform disturbance--and

chemical composition and materials properties. It is of vital interest to determine whether the materials composing the planet are minerals like those on Earth or unique constituents. lava-like of other Physical or deposited Some sample questions like for by those measurements of surfaces--hard needed, temperature on Earth. by Viking or as are range, Initially that a soft, sandy measurements and magnetic analysis, until special choosing process or dusty, in other ways--are characteristics to the search years fitted easier. later into basic classes. this framework, back with it does of why the simple Looking

properties

such as conductivity, of these return related carried were became experience, to laboratories

susceptibility. the broad

call for in situ for life; it was not

and a few require experiments

this class covered biology biology When

class was added instrument major

to the four payloads

all proposals balanced of defining provided profound

experiments time and

the assurance not seem very first-time for their to "squeaky

I wonder

classes today.

of experiments Perhaps listening fearing necessary

was so momentous; the broad scientists mistakenly

it is because to define

at the time no one had options lobbying succumb

the interdisciplinary missions. particular wheel"

knowledge I remember experiments, pressures

to the individual that we might

and overlook

a prime question

that no one had

73

FAR TRAVELERS

fully considered. Oncethefour classes adbeentested h andaccepted most by of the experimentproposersas encompassing, however, our confidence grew,andthe conceptof usingthem to developbalanced payloadswasnot challenged. While working in industryon the design,development, nd production a of flight hardware,I hadbecome accustomedo a "projectized" t organization with strong,almostmilitary, hierarchicalleadership. naturally supposed I that it would be necessaryo organizethe total NASA effort, includingthe t scientificcomponent,along thoselines if we wereto successfullyonduct c projectswith suchdemanding hardwarerequirements, ngineering e interactions, andstrict deadlines. o my dismay,wiserheadsthan minedecided T that thescientists ho participated space w in missions shouldbeallowedto remainin theirlaboratories andclassrooms, retaining as much freedom and independence teams could trols. been as possible. together was proven I had missions grave unless wrong, doubts that we could members worked make under and successful scientists rigid conschedules had the limited compromised imporby Homer activities as as concept for the difficult be brought This view forced the generally project for the system it would because undisciplined

with the other

were met most of the time. Now I realize on academic dividends benefit investigators, science, Steering long-term of space

that if my management have severely have it would

the "fresh-eyes" The NASA tant element E. Newell, prescribed engineering, Associate for space Scientist, with the Naval who

of their participation. Committee administrator joining balanced It was chaired was a particularly was developed of scientific NASA. blend of This committee before

Space Sciences had been an

in the total process. Research and Laboratory

a successful exceptionally viewpoints. had

The committee managerial, who, the

embodied Administrator, science who, by and

scientific

by Newell, within was

the highest

line responsibility His alternate was

NASA Chief

applications

programs. assignment,

organizational

necessarily

concerned

with the relationship between NASA and the scientific community. Other members of the steering committee were space science program office directors and lunar and had review Newell their deputies--responsible planetary programs, responsibility for physics and bioscience payload and astronomy programs, of eight with programs. This body

for all scientific authority.

recommendations,

as final selecting

Within the steering committee a system of subcommittees was established, oriented along scientific discipline lines and chaired by NASA person-

74

A MILLIONTHINGSTO DO

nel, with members chosen their specificscientificexpertise.n the early for I 1960s seven these of subcommittees wereappointed Newell,coveringthe by areasof particles and fields, solar physics,planetology, planetary atmospheres, biosciences, physics,and astronomy.Though the pyramid of committeeand subcommittees may appearrather complicatedand unwieldy, the variousbodiesinteracted well andfunctionedsmoothly,thanks primarily to the talentedanddedicated professionals ho servedon them. w Whenevera major missionor seriesof missions wasbeingplanned,an announcement flight opportunities of (calledanAFO)wasmadeto thescientific community.This announcement outlinedthenatureof themission,the types of experiments generalinterest,and gave,to the extentpossible, of broad guidelinesfor proposedexperiments.Proposalsfor specific experiments camefrom all quartersandwerecategorized nd submittedto a a subcommitteeor review. Sometimes smanyas60or 70experiments ere f a w proposedfor a mission that couldacceptonly 5 or 6. Subcommitteeesponr sibilitiesinvolvedreviewto determinethe scientificimportanceof eachexperiment,anassessment its readinesso be integrated the spacecraft, of t into and an assessment the competencef the investigative of o team.After subcommittee consideration, proposed experiments wereplacedinto oneof four categories andpresented the steering to committee: CategoryI consisted high-priorityscientific of experiments appeared that
ready to fly. 2 consisted of high-priority or scientific that experiments depend might, for either that did not on technical with or to as in in might Category

seem well matched to the mission developments not yet in hand.

Category 3 included promising experiments that concerted effort, be prepared in time for the mission. Category technical 4 comprised unsuitable proposals that, reasons, were deemed not appropriate

perhaps scientific

for the mission.

This sorting the management possible. general, which scientific

process afforded a thorough review, yet left final selection team responsible for making the mission as worthwhile ample process opportunity test quite was criticized, communities for inputs well. from all sources were a few accepted and, cases the fairness There

It afforded withstood

our selection

but it was broadly as a reasonable

by the

and engineering

approach. CommitDirector

Although a full-fledged member of the Space Sciences Steering tee, I was in the minority as an engineer, along with Jesse Mitchell, of Physics and Astronomy. It was always a serious matter

to select a specific

75

FAR TRAVELERS

set of instrumentson a scientificbasisand to determinehow the meager amountsof weight,power,and physicalspacecould bestbe allotted.This calledfor closecollaborationbetweenscientists and engineers a manner in that triedto accountfor all thevariables. houghoutnumbered to two by T six scientists, alwaysfelt thatfinal decisions payloadselection I for gaveample consideration theengineering to judgments JessendI frequentlybroughtina to the overall process. One thing that did puzzleme during the earlypayloaddiscussions ith w scientists was an initial reluctance fly cameraequipment.Somehowpicto tureswerenot thoughtof asscientific,not asinformative,for example, sa a telemetered recordof a varying voltage.A camerawas not regardedas a scientificinstrument t first, andto go after"picturepostcards" asseen a w by someasan unscientific stunt. This wasa curiousbias.Someof it may havebeendueto the fact that many of thosehardworkingscientists who werepreparedfor space science experiments beenaccustomed usingonly numericaldata; thus, the had to fact that images represented means packaging a of datawasnot immediately obvious.In addition,someresistance ighthavebeenrootedin a wariness m toward NASA and the motivesof its administrators.SinceNASA was a governmentagencydependent n popular and legislativesupport, some o scientists mayhavesuspected thatwewantedphotographs primarily asBarnumesque publicity attractions. CharlesP. Sonett,my deputyat the time, recallsonespace science subcommittee meeting 1962 in involving morethana scoreof scientists athered g to considerthe instruments be flown on a future lunar mission,perhaps to Surveyor.Most of the group,which includedNobel Prizewinners,voted againstflying TV cameras. ameras C hadbeensupportedonlyby Sonett(he was chairman of the meeting), and by Gerard Kuiper, a celebrated astronomer oncerned c with obtainingdetailedimages similarto thosehewas accustomed seeingwith telescopes. to Sonettrecallsthat he reportedthis stronglybiased viewagainst lying cameraso meandI replied,"Fine,solet's f t fly them."I don't remember dialoguein detail,but wedid fly cameras n our o Rangers (andSurveyors andLunarOrbitersaswell), with broadagreement amongscientists laterthat.the cameras id muchto enrichthosespectacular d missions. In time theanti-image prejudicedimmed.It did not disappear vernight, o but the startlingeffectof Mariner4'sshadowyimages craters Marsand of on the torrent of images returned theSurveyors muchto quietthe skepby did 76

A MILLIONTHINGSTO

DO

tics. I knew came upon surrounded back room quired reading planetary

the issue was pass6 during Gene Shoemaker, a geologist colleagues by inquisitive

an early Surveyor of great other seeking foresight scientific meaning

mission

when

I

and conviction, disciplines of a newly from on in a ac-

from

at JPL. They were prying almost her through

from him interpretations

sea of prints, the scriptures. imposed programs

like zealots

a disciple lunar and

Nature

own

unappealable

constraints

the geometry

of the orbits

of the Moon

and the

planets and their relationships to Earth and the Sun. Not the least annoying of the variables Mother Nature controlled was the weather, often a troubling factor had at the time of launch to orbit around Mars and once even upon arrival at Mars. Mariner 9 for quite a while waiting for a planetwide dust

storm to subside. Weather here on Earth was more often a problem; for example, dense rainfall at Earth stations sometimes impaired the quality of returned data. This every greatest worked completed lasted made closely snarl of planning usable fixed The variables launch launch was period preparing development, arrived. particularly scheduling and Launch challenging problem testing--had opportunities apart. for Mars about the entire to be caused The and Venus, because opportunities occurred only once

2 years.

consternation out backwards when only about in rapid either

to scientists budgeting, and events period when

their experiments.

schedule--planning,

had to be time-phased two launches

so that they were typically This in turn and they had to be turnaround

the launch I month;

were planned, rapid

succession,

often no more than 3 to 4 weeks pads or an extremely facilities. a recurrent Neither headache budget the actions

necessitated For NASA synchronize condition the movements

dual launch use of launch planning rarely

integrated

Headquarters mission

managers to happen. could

was the need to cycles: a desirable nor and misof the of new and exwere of Congress the other,

with congressional

that seemed

of the planets matter, launch

be made to accommodate that was needed.

it was our task to do all the adapting As a practical sion objectives of unreliability spacecraft, be planned, which periments to be accomplished vehicles to know was risked and

it was not reasonable with the

to expect most scientific flight. Because unrevealed missions which rockets problems would and

a single

it was difficult since there on flights

how many

of a like kind should succeed to perform spacecraft

no way the

of knowing launching

might fail. Scientists

severe frustration

by trying

for which

77

FARTRAVELERS

themselves largelyexperimental. Unfortunately,multipurpose flights,for example,developmental andmission-oriented flights, werea way of life. Even with considerable flight experience, thereliability of largemultistage vehicles wasrarelygreaterthan 70percentandoften far less. Many debateswere devoted to possibleways to plan programsthat mightachieveflight objectives. omethoughtit desirable plan a series S to of testflightssolelyto developthevehicleandthespacecraft, andthenadd the scientificpayload.Othersarguedthat eventestflights shouldreckonwith the possibilityof total success. Anotheroften-asked questionwas,shoulda seriesof missions haveidenticalpayloadsso that thoseon failed missions could be duplicatedas soon as possible,or should they be varied?The choices couldwork hardshipto the edgeof cruelty on individual scientists, for thosewhoseexperiments erenot chosen fly might haveto wait for w to severalaunches, erhaps to 6 years,beforetheir instruments l p 4 could beincorporated. n somecases xperimentshatcouldhavebeen I e t significantnever got a chancebecause vehicleor spacecraftfailures.Thesewere worst of cases, though.Lookingback,I amamazed thatfinalresultsseem logicallysequenced, s if we hadhad betterknowledgeof what to expectthanwe aca tually did. If all wentwell andthespacecraft arrivedat its targetplanet,thehour of the scientistwasat hand.Datawould cometo Pasadena sortingandfor for preliminary calibrationand computing.The data alonewerenot enough; onealsoneeded know thespacecraft to locationandattitudeandthetimesat which thedatawereacquired--allessential thescientists not directly to but within their control. It was then incumbenton scientificinvestigatorsto study, analyze,and interprettheir results.Typically, the results would be
published NASA results; would years in the leading would compare that had prepare data gone sometimes journals a special and defend of the disciplines publication would and describing concerned; individual After a mission, frequently and its scientists tense always the mission

a symposium

be held in which executing

their interpretations.

the long, I was

into planning

delighted to observe the cooperative individualistic scientists contributed knowledge. It wasn't petitive unpredictable all roses, venture of course. meant

and coordinated way in which highly to the common store of human of time and work, peak career disappointed. the comyears in an A few

The amount

environment,

and the chanciness

of investing

that some were inevitably

78

A MILLIONTHINGSTODO

complainedthat thework of preparingproposals nd theninstruments a and the difficultiesin meetingstrict schedules nd complicated a integrationprocedureswere so overwhelmingthat their time was better devoted to laboratorywork or otheractivitiesoverwhich theyhadmorecontrol. And so it may havebeen--for them. But for thosewho bravedthe difficulties, waitedfor theopportunities,andsweated risksof nonselection out andmission problems to ultimately derive important new knowledge,it was a thoroughly worthwhile endeavor.Many scientists who worked hard on theseinvestigations, ndsomewho burnedthemselvesut trying, feelthat a o they receivedthegreatest ewards a professional r of lifetimefor their efforts. Many, and perhapsmost,felt that it wasworth whateverit cost. Quite apart from the planningandscientificprocesses payloadselecof tion anddevelopment,hereweremany engineeringnd supportfunctions t a to plan and prepare.Evenwith our missilebackground,there werefew system testfacilitiesthatcouldsimulatethespace environment.Somevibration equipment sefulfor simulatingaspects the launchenvironmentexu of isted,but it wasmeager ndlimited in capability.Considering high cost a the of a missionand the infrequencyof planetarylaunchopportunities,it was importantto checkeverythingscrupulously whilethe spacecraft wasstill on theground.In themomentof truth at liftoff, everyone concerned with a missionwasprey to "for-want-of-a-nail"anxiety. In the beginning,facilitieswereperilouslyjury-rigged patchedup. In or 1960spacecraft wereassembled andtested JPL a buildingleft overfrom at in previousmissilework for the Army. Also usedwas a smallbuilding next door housinga makeshiftshaketableandsmallvacuumchamber.Within 2 yearscontractswerelet andconstruction wasbegunon betterfacilities,includinga realisticthermalvacuumtestingsimulator,but the new gearwas not readyfor useuntil five Rangers two Marinershad beenlaunched. and Doublingup in theuseof these limited facilities andextrapolating conditions well beyondknown capabilities wasa way of life until betterfacilitieswere completed. Scheduling theuseof availablemissile launchpadsandblockhouses as w continuously bothersome. Usuallylongleadtimes wererequiredfor preparation at the site, and uncertaintiesregularly arose about delivery and checkout of essentialequipment.On top of theseproblems, uncertain weatherconditionsandunforeseen ifficultieswerelikely to ariseduring ind terveninglaunches. sa practicalmatter,long-range A scheduling alwayshad

79

FARTRAVELERS

to beiteratedin the shortertermbecause difficultiesandprogramdelays. of Followingan exacttimetable was rare, and it wasno lessworrisomewhen thingsseemed begoingwell. to Factorsof a differentsort that hada grosseffecton planningwere the availability of manpowerand the statusof funding.Manpoweranddollars werenot only essential andof themselves, therateatwhich theycould in but be appliedinfluenced thedevelopment chedule s andthe scope effort. Jugof gling thesefactorswasa major management challenge;to decidethe best waysto spend eitherresource involvedtradeoffs thatultimatelyaffected missionresults. In the early daysof 1960-1962, hen Rangerand Mariner wereunder w development, any engineering m practiceswereoutlined that later became almoststandard.Forexample, hreenonflyingRangers erebuilt to validate t w thefinal model:a spacecraft mockup,a thermalcontrol model,anda proof test model. The first was used to confirm mechanicalaspectsof the spacecraft,ncludingfits and clearances, i cablingharnesses, layout of and equipment.(Evengifteddesigners ndengineersanbenefitfrom insurance a c againstmomentaryspellsof inexplicableoversight.)The thermalcontrol model was suspended a small, early-modelvacuumchamberand subin jectedto the vacuumand simulatedsolar heatingit would encounterin space.The uncertaintieswere large in those days, and for Mariner 2, engineers underestimated heat encountered the path to Venus.This the on resulted thespacecraft in runninga high feverat encounter nddying of it a a few dayslater. The proof testmodel,known asthe PTM, wasassimilar to theflight spacecraft aspossible.t wassubjected vibration andothertests I to somewhatabove the actualpredictedlevels in order to provide suitable marginsagainstthe unforeseen. The processof building additional vehiclesfor test purposesevolved throughmany variationsas time went on. The practicehadthe additional advantage providing a sparespacecraftn caseof troublewith the prime of i article, and it gaveus a duplicateto study on Earth if telemetryreported puzzlingmisbehavior millionsof milesaway. Considerable debatewas devotedto questionsof the best testingdoctrine. One view was that testingshouldnot be performedon hardwareactually to beusedin flight because thestressesf testingmightwearthingsout o and would obviously affect equipmentlife. Another viewpoint was that flight hardware shouldbedesigned ith sufficientmargins withstandboth w to

80

A MILLIONTHINGSTO DO

the rigors of
links strong were

testing cause

and the mission early failure.

itself, a matter The

for this would of choice Goddard crux

eliminate

weak by they

that could opposing competing

An issue that to this day remains positions for taken planetary

was highlighted engineers when debate

by JPL and projects.

of the

centered

around the fact that spacecraft Goddard test engineers believed laboratory strumentation cause they should ard conditions inputs One project because plated systems work. it-all" than He came subsystems environment connections, a failure. that might or components. that occurred try to exercise was

were going to operate "hands off" in space. the best way to wring out a spacecraft in the to operate it through external radio links, hand, with believed no inthat or other connections and evaluate proper that might nonstandof

power,

or prevent

JPL engineers, components occur. This meant

on the other individually

that there had to be synthesized to allow evaluation

and special incident involved of their diagonal

instrumentation

connections during

the thick of competition Goddard and and "doom

for a Mars engineers. for JPL teach help

Bill Stroud, approach, wire-cutting

one of the most outspoken one day and predicting offered to prove

to Headquarters

gloom"

his point

them how to do tests properly.

For emphasis,

he had with him a pair of goldby technicians. According a not their to JPL when that their they were running spacecraft balloon more would

pliers, called "dykes" wires and cables find out went had

to Bill, all we had to do was take the dykes test, cut the many and then The inference impression when concerned, simulations, we would

they were using to support

that JPL cheated his act created, what centers could

on their systems over proven I recall

tests, plus the "knowwith JPL amused I was did and and centers, being

like a lead

engineers

they heard for both approach which struck.

Bill had done. be made to work. is best,

their competence, Of course, techniques if there among is a best. tradeoffs moved a lifetime

sure that either nothing

this episode

to encourage

commonality philosophy

in testing

I still do not know and compromises everything as possible. I believe sterilize

As is often the case with such conflicts In time, though, that flew, subjecting the principle everything was borne

in judgment, the balance complete

were made testing and to simulation

toward

it to as nearly

This gave us confidence bedevilment

that the equipment out by the successes times

was flight-ready, that followed. the requirement

A particular

of those

arose from

that might land on the Moon or planets.

No one objected

81

FAR TRAVELERS to the idea of avoiding seeding them with terrestrialmicroorganisms;he t problemarose from thefactthat thespecified protocolswerecomplex,rigid, andatwar with the questfor reliability. A sureandfirst specified approach washeatsterilization,but manycomponents ould not survivebeingbaked w in a hot ovenfor long periods.A lessobviouscomplicationof sterilization developed from thefact that it hadto beginat the subassembly stageandbe maintainedthrough final assembly and testing,therebyrequiring that all testingequipment ndfacilitiesbeof clean-room a quality, includinghandling gear.In an environmentwhereeventhe hoistsare sterilized,andkept so, work doesnot advance with the speed and precisiononemight want. I alwaystook thepositionthata spacecraft shouldbebuilt at thefactory, checkedout there to the fullestextent possible,and shippedto the Cape ready for launch. Most engineers tended to agreewith this philosophy; however,special ircumstances c alwaysseemed dictatetheneed a comto for pletesystems heckoutat theCape,requiringequipmentor a thoroughtest c f of all finally assembled adjustedhardwarejust beforemating to the and launchvehicle.The field checkoutfacilitieswereidenticalin manywaysto the systemtest facilitiesat JPL;in somerespects they weremore complex because the needto includelaunchvehicleandtrackingelements. apof The parentduplicationbetweenthesefacilitieswas not in fact real; they often performedcomplementaryaskson the sameentitiesfor differentpurposes. t Checkoutcould indicatea needfor replacement, andwith the window inexorably approaching, eturn to the factory mightbe unthinkable. r Thefirst spacecraft assembly andcheckoutbuildingusedfor Rangers nd a Marinersat the Capewas HangerAE. It had beenbuilt in the 1950s for Navahomissilepreparations andhad a low-bay areadesigned a flying for vehicle resting on a tricycle gear. It was a non-air-conditioned,metal building with smallshopareasalongsidethe hangerportion and was unsuitedto thepeculiarneeds spacecraft. of Returningto thesame facility thatI hadbeenassociated with almost10yearsbeforewasa ghostlyexperience. Engineers from JPLand the Capequickly definedmodifications,and I obtainedapprovalfor a high-bayareaadditionwith a 30-foothookheightthat would allow the spacecrafto beassembledndenshrouded t a vertically.Also includedwasan air-conditioningsystem with filtersthat providedthecleanroom conditionsneeded sterilizationcontrol. for Whenfinished,it wasoneof thefirst cleanfacilitiesto be installedat the Cape,saidto becleaner y particulatecount thanmosthospitalsin thearea. b This appraisalled to its beingnamedby Kurt Debus,Director of the Ken82

A MILLIONTHINGSTODO

nedySpace Center,"Hank Levy'shospital."HankLevywas then, andstill is, JPL'sprincipal residentin chargeat the Cape,a manwhosefingerprints haveprobablybeenlaunchedon morelunar andplanetaryspacecrafthan t anyoneelse's. A significantamountof additionalupgrading andmodificationwent on, includingchangeso thespin-testacility, remote for safety reasons, to allow t f
its use ethylene systems steadily for fueling oxide became gas test building midcourse sterilization was correction process. motors While and to support checkout begin the final facilities to treat conpoints and an A new, designed-from-scratch we could

also begun.

prelaunch

less ramshackle, travelers

it was 1964 before efforts and

our interplanetary ducted. of radio around Earth

with the care they deserved. of vital importance stations at were being different of a deep space network which it could (known composed

At the same time, two other tracking, the globe, communications telemetry, a control network

First, there was the establishment center from

command

be directed,

to tie it together. Facility data return universally as the DSIF) misa good launch was not enough; frequencies

The Deep Space Instrumentation was a vital link in the chain. sion success position depended of the Earth stations, on good

Obviously

and analysis.

The geographical to be used,

the communications

the ground handling very real constraints ject to the vagaries heartburn. Second, Space mission acquiring Flight there

rates, and the priorities among spacecraft aloft were that had to be factored into mission planning. The fact stations were on foreign soil, one of them subof an unstable government, also led to occasional at JPL, later and for analyzing commands known equipment cases of as the for

that two of the three tracking

was a flight including

operations (SFOF), data, banks

facility

Operations

Facility telemetry

with quarters and generating

operations,

of computers

trajectories, to be sent

and analyzing

to spacecraft. The SFOF necessarily had a very close relationship with the DSIF, and in fact they shared a common control center. In addition, there were the launch systems operations for tracking needed was facilities and at Cape downrange responsible Rechtin, on space Canaveral support, for preflight plus all the telemetry, Rechtin testing diagnostic properly. and comhad been CalTech a of

equipment munications tions student

to ensure Eberhardt

that the launch

phase was performed for tracking, exploration. whose graduating

The man at JPL ultimately achievements

a near-genius engineering,

telecommunicafrom

left his mark

of Bill Picketing

in electrical

83

FAR TRAVELERS

with a cum laudedoctoratein 1946.During the time the trackinganddata acquisition networkwastakingform, Rechtinwasa key figure,forcefuland enthusiastic, with a reputationfor brilliant solutionsto technicalproblems. Hehadan uncommonknackfor grasping unanticipated the implicationsof largesystems,oreseeing f both problemsandpotentialitiesaheadof others. Rechtinwas joined in the network'sformativeperiod by a numberof othergood men, amongthemWalter Victor, Henry Rector,William Samson,and Robertson Stevens; omeof themarestill makingimportantcons tributions to the field today. The team envisionedthree Earth stations located sothat oneof thethreewould alwayshavea spacecraft viewasthe in globe turned. Thus, information could be receivedand commandssent without interruption.The stationsareabout120 apartin longitude,onein ° theMojavedesertnot far from JPL,onein SouthAfrica (laterreplaced a by facility in Spain),and onein Australia nearWoomera.Eachsite haslarge steerable antennas that canbe pointedaccuratelyin space andaredesigned for maximumefficiencyfor receiving andtransmittingsignals. t the beginA ningthepreferred frequencies erefromabout890to 960megahertz; w signals from this region in the radio frequencyspectrumpass through Earth's ionosphere without muchreflection.Eachstation can transmitcommands andreceive data,in additionto establishing one-andtwo-wayDopplerlinks for determining positionsand trajectories remotespacecraft. of The missioncommandpostwasthe SFOF.First-timevisitors found it a dramaticplace,a large,essentially indowless w building on a hillside,with a well-guarded entrance anda setof big diesel-electric generatorsown below. d In a large,dimly lit roomwith multiplewall displays,thecontrollerson duty "worked" thedistantspacecraft, while dancing numbers thedisplaysconon tinually reported changing measurements. n adjoining rooms other I engineers were concerned with their specialized areas,suchas trajectory computation,datacollectionandreduction,andspacecraft engineering conditions.To visitorsit wasa paradoxicalplace:everythingprogressed inexorably and yet nothing seemedto happen; distances were unnaturally distorted,with SpainandAustraliabroughtnextdoorandan unimaginably distantspacecraft iving its speed g and coursewith extraordinaryprecision. Eventime wasskewed: henthespacecrafteportedan event,a visitor was w r bemused realizethat its"now" hadoccurred to beforehis"now"; evenat the speedof light, signalstook severalminutesto travel to and from distant space.

84

A MILLIONTHINGSTO DO Of coursetheeffectonvisitorswastheleastof theconcerns thosewho of designed SFOF the andobtainedandprogrammed thecomputers that made it work. The manwho deserves themostcreditfor this is MarshallJohnson, who cameto JPLin 1957as a computerengineer. oing today what he D managed do some20yearsagowould be almostimpossible,hanksnot to t just to normalbureaucratic inertiabut alsoto theencrustation controls, of loops,andreviewsthat sproutlike rain-forestundergrowth. hecomputers T hadto be procuredandinstalled;their software hadto bewritten, checked, debugged, nd speciallyadaptedto the uniquecharacteristics f the para o ticularproject;andthenin a few monthsit all hadto bedonedifferentlyfor anotherspacecraft n anothermission.MarshallJohnson o (andhis staff)had thekind of wonderfulcompetence thatblossoms ndertremendousressure. u p Transport of spacecraft ardwareon Earth from JPL or from a West h Coastfactory to a Floridalaunchsite wasnot simple;onedoesnot simply nail a $50million spacecraftn a crateanddropit off at theexpress i office. Protection from contaminationand from shockcalled for a controlledatmosphere containertravelingin a specialair-suspension on a route van precharted avoidlow bridgesandsimilarproblems. venthen,therewere to E thehazards an occasional of blowout, damage inflictedby iratesnipers who didn't like "missiles," and the possibility of collision on the crowded freeways.It wassomething that schedule-minded managers learnedby doing, worrying all theway. The costof disruptinghumanlivesfor unmanned spaceflights erefar w from negligible.Therewerequestions how personnel of shouldbe assigned to the assembly, heckout,andlaunchof almost-ready c spacecraft andwho shouldconcentrate developing nextone.The procedures ontinually on the c evolved,but usuallya large teamhad to spendthe last six or moreweeks beforelaunchat the Cape.Families weresplit upor partially moved,with considerable hardshipin eithercase. Preparations launchmight beginwith civilized8-hour daytimeduty for periods, but as time shortened,working hourslengthened; here always t seemed somecritical milestone be accomplished the smallhoursof the to in night. To visitors, the preparations launchseemedo go on in an inforfor t mal but rather tenseatmosphere. oremenor supervisorswere invisible F amongtheir subordinates--rolling theirsleeves, up joining theworkers,and doingwhat needed be done.Many lovedtheexcitement the effort and to of weresocaughtup in it that they neglected theirfamilies;thesewerepeople

85

FARTRAVELERS

whoworkedhardby preferencendplayedhardfor compensation. always a I felt remorse that thetoll on personaliveswassosevere, ut I knewno one l b who would havetradedtheexperience f a successful o space missionfor any other.

86

A National
Soon excitement feriority ond place. after of our becoming launch

Goal
president, race with vehicles John Russia seemed F. Kennedy and in the fact the on to condemn to focus space showed that United programs interest the near-term States that in the into secmight

of the space

He encouraged serial developments were to the studied, Moon and Low, myself two

NASA and but was

leaders secure the

leapfrog Several sending quarters Chaired O. Task shall) landing in 1968. direct The

preeminence task of outlining

for the

country. for Head1961. E.

ideas men

specific

a program NASA January Alfred from group

assigned

to a group

of five in early Hall, Faget Braun that

members by George and

center

representatives (made up of Eldon Maxime

the group from and

Mayo, the

Pearson, Group reported was Our

Headquarters, Herman Koelle

Space

at Langley, after possible brief mission ascent

of the von study under of options that from orbit.

at MarMoon rules a

4 weeks and could

of concentrated be accomplished a number rocket for

a manned ground

specified but was

study

considered a large called

recommended Nova.

ascent direct

using

booster

to be called Canaveral return

concept without

a trajectory Earth or lunar

Cape The

to a the inhis and conto

landing Moon On famous return

on the Moon was the to require atmosphere. basis of

either from

from

a launch the advice that

the lunar him,

surface President send

directly

to a reentry made Moon and

to Earth's

given the United

Kennedy men to the language

speech them

proposing to Earth

States

safely

within goal

the decade. was important To

The simple and in itself the public

cise definition the of final past success

of a national

a contribution the promise a long Congress and funding among

of the Apollo accomplishment probably future they when

program. Russian discuss

it offered after the To

of a major

space and

in the foreseeable triumphs. with their

future,

string it

represented themselves, mitments.

a clear if need To NASA

goal be, and

could

constituents it with

it came

time

to support and academic

comit pro-

to the industrial

communities,

87

FAR TRAVELERS

vided

a focus on an activity himself, as stated

that was soon to dominate in a speech

the total space effort. in September that will be

Kennedy

given at Rice University

1962, regarded it "...as among the most important decisions made during my incumbency .... " What an understatement[ Approval tial scientific mal coalition of money was not universal. To many who had begun rewards of space exploration and the practical for manned be required, flight to the Moon the decision, with lesser returns, of scientists decried arguing than

to see the potenuses of Earth orAn inforsums were chanwho to

bit, the mandate would

was less attractive. if funding

that far greater missions. to those lunar

neled into unmanned Nor was some foresaw was personal

but exclusively practical and scientific measure of disenchantment restricted even within respected testimony NASA, Deputy a parallel an agency there were elements The widely in public that felt a manned

disadvantage; goal.

with much

gain from the decision, a dubious had Dryden, once noted

landing Hugh

Administrator, between

suborbital the and and

manned flights and "shooting first Administrator of NASA shape the new agency, establishing NASA's results, was another "It probably space..." parent space that

a man out of a cannon." T. Keith Glennan, and a man who had done much to organize off predatory forays by the military

beating

vaunted policy of complete openness about plans and with reservations about sending men to the Moon. apparent that I wasn't 21 years all that excited later, program. I wasn't quickly." Dr. Glennan, attitudes an that people and misby left NASA if the mission in January reflected was 1961. The about man in apin "but it soon became sure what man

became

he told me in an interview we had to have said 'for benefit

the man-in-space of all mankind.' very

To me the law said

something--it

was going

to do for all mankind administration, Congress decades:

But the times were changing appointee public were (and of the previous to some degree

and the tide was running. as well) clearly

to prevail

in subsequent

manned,

cared deeply, and if only instruments flew, interest was lessened somewhat remote. Even the most successful and rewarding planetary sions could never evoke the outpouring had been made remained. of fascinated concern elicited astronauts. Although tions NASA about the decision mission and the goal set, unresolved early days, many on) believed

quesat

design

In the

people

(including

the special

task force I had served

that direct led by to the

ascent was the best approach to manned lunar missions. A group Wernher von Braun favored Earth-orbital rendezvous with launchings

88

A NATIONAL GOAL

Moon from, andreturn to, an orbital platform. Underthe direct approach scheme usinga very largerocketsystem,the spacecraft plusits landingand launchingrockets wastobelaunched directlyfromEarthto a landingon the Moon, with a direct launchfrom the Moon directlyto Earth atmosphere reentry. Work wasbegunon theNova rocketrequired performa directascent to missionand continueduntil sometime after a strongly wordedletter was sentto Headquarters y a Langleyresearch b engineer amedJohnHoubolt. n He opposedboth Earth-orbitalrendezvous the direct ascent scheme, and
arguing orbit, plan. than energy, degree. from almost technical rendezvous) Much Saturn manner vehicle. launch Upper that rearranging descending Though a direct Critics the Moon" basis, a year in lunar approach saw orbit a single vehicle surface before in Earth orbit, in a special launching into lunar to logical to the lunar vehicle, represented a good and returning a more

rendezvous

the trip home appeared flight,

this type of mission and return

to be significantly it required of staging hardware recognized

more complex deal less rocket to a maximum to and a sound After orbit

as it employed

the effective position debate,

concepts was LOR

the scheme

as "scattering

all the way as having detail.

but Houbolt's of analysis and

and the issues were examined adopted.

in more searching (the acronym of efficient

for lunar launch

was officially vehicle stages

initial work went into the development hardware leading that could with was defined, to ultimate

vehicles.

be built and

tested

in a stepwise so in An

integration

into a very large launch relationships flexibility stage. applicathe Early (the using made Space good modifications allowed were to

were visualized

some geometric engines

that initial developments be expected design; early decision With work we could combine

could be applied as many

even though

in the final configuration. to develop

Multiple

as we needed

for a particular

a hydrogen-oxygen choice. efforts difficulties under Agency)

engine for upper-stage rocket

tion was a significant seeds were Advanced sown

technical

these concentrated for later Projects

on high-performance in the development on high specific

engines,

of Centaur. rockets

had been conducted Research

the auspices

of the Air Force and ARPA impulse to develop this technology and assigned to Marshall

hydrogen and oxygen. The NASA decision it desirable for the work to be combined Flight Center. This proved to be both

good

and

bad

for Centaur:

because it made sense to develop the hydrogen rockets for Centaur and Saturn under one roof, and bad because the keener preoccupation of Mar-

89

FAR TRAVELERS

shallpersonnel with SaturnmeantthatCentaurinevitablyslippedinto a secondpriority position.This laterbecame severe a handicapfor NASA'slunar andplanetaryprograms.In reflecting on the attitude of von Braun and the
Marshall team, Dr. Glennan described the situation thus: "Saturn was a of of dream, Centaur was a job." Because of the Saturn-Centaur Saturn putting kerosene) performance ment. huge cluster some from During new at the time of the decision had been limited laboratory less specific technology, having hydrogen-oxygen the time a direct named Nova vehicle a small manned engines Developments to use existing

link, it may be well to review to make to Saturn manned orbit. landing C-1 and C-2 versions, First-stage propulsion for

the status capable engines

a national

goal. were

into Earth

with liquid engines approach was

oxygen-jet planned

fuel (a kind of developthe it would

impulse--roughly to the Moon development, fuel rockets;

half that of the highupper-stage board; was contemplated,

also on the drawing

the large F-1 and J-2 engines preliminary ready work on large contended development development. concept,

under solid and

and some held that it The Air Force had done though had they were far full

might use large solid fuel rockets, to fly, it was

then undeveloped. that NASA When

already

its hands

with liquid fuel engine large solid fuel rocket Houbolt's Nova LOR mission

that the Air Force should the decision its concurrent very was made development budget to dispense

continue to accept would increases

it was possible

with the gigantic

and all the additional

complications came some

have brought. Along with for the lunar tions. Added

these decisions managed

significant exploration coming

program funds of Senior

by the Office

of Space Science Surveyors

and Applicaof the Moon, basic lunar landing in the agree, preparatory people

were to strengthen Rangers for the officials with design

unmanned of the

using hard-landing information spacecraft. step and Apollo took

and soft-landing considered Congress. lunar

to collect manned

value NASA

this an essential Unfortunately, landings,

this position dedicated

program,

to manned

did not always spacecraft arisen

for a variety First, some of successful self-confidence goal, cynical lunar in part effort.

of reasons. had little confidence lunar missions. of a group from a degree intensely of pride that unmanned may have concentrating not far from were capable in part from from the a time-limited unmanned Max Faget This attitude

on a difficult hubris, the leadoff including

and in part

assessment

of the string

of failures engineers

of Ranger, on Apollo,

Some of the leading

90

A NATIONAL GOAL

(whomI hadgottento know duringour special lunar study),took theposition that themanned landinghadto beplanned without countingon any unmanned Since with no ferences Planetary to support American studies with troubling Only lem arose ly founded gressman, importance funded Module and results. the manned common Programs Apollo, Telephone to develop some in viewpoint and were mainly unmanned except largely at programs the unnoticed. closely Inc., tradeoffs arose were Those experts managed level, engineers from separately, these difand of authority administrator

of us in Lunar a division

did coordinate and Telegraph, guidelines moderate

with systems

employed systems to a

Bellcomm, and conflicts detonate Center that

who had been hired to conduct for Apollo. occasionally,

In our meetings but rarely report.

Bellcomm degree.

once did the conflict during seated largely design. Manned to Apollo,

with a resounding Joseph Karth in Houston asked implied that at lunch,

The probto the newThe had Conbeen Lunar Surveyor's

a visit by Congressman Spacecraft next to Max Faget in a context on the basis

and others in 1962. Max about Surveyor

of its probable for pulling on Surveyor. the necessary

importance his punches, In fact,

to Apollo

Faget, never known

flatly told Karth reconnaissance the inciTime Mr. We

they really were not depending plans of their own for obtaining with

Max told him they had

data by orbital

manned vehicles before committing to landing. Decades later, after his retirement from NASA, Max described session we had in his Houston "I made down consulting the incident after asked those mistake us both, so the story Max told about originally. "They were trying

dent in a reminiscing had mellowed as exasperating Karth Karth had once," was,

office. with

did not seem we arrived. me, 'What guys. We've to

as it had he recalled.

a terrible here shortly thing. Karth

I realized

afterwards, it amount

to justify some appropriations. program

an all-day-tell-them-about-the-program would be any bad problem. program. We'd

kind of a problem 'That wouldn't got a great the loss of that thoughts program. course, roughness

to if the Surveyor

failed'?.' I said,

We can do it without anyway.'

big wide landing

gear and we just can't afford go ahead

to be vulnerable

"I tried to explain Actually, gave of the

to him the things we had. Within do if we didn't view. which get any support the unmanned program It gave was pretty

our own shop we had from the unmanned things. of the And, Ranger, fine-grain of course, of idea

on what we'd

did several us some important.

us a close-up terrain,

91

FAR TRAVELERS

Surveyor, by landing, proved that Tommy Gold [a Cornell University astronomer ho hadtheorizedthat the Moon mighthavea surfaceof deep w dustintowhich landers wouldsinkandbelost]wasallwet. I don't think that anybodyreally believed him. But we plannedto makeorbital flights if the other programsdidn't comethrough--somevery low orbits of the Moon.
We had some penetrometers "We could make our penetrometers, face. In many lunar Lunar Moon. survey Module It would we were designing to drop from the spacecraft. own survey of the Moon, make our own

and we were even talking about doing radar scans of the surways it would have been a nice program to carry. We had a module, to allow have a fairly large-diameter as much program, can that would replace the the with Adus to spend as a week but it didn't or so orbiting happen."

been a good

I reminded Mr. Karth--it "Oh, ministrator] pathetic yes!"

Max, "Well, I guess we heard about your conversation caused me to do a lot of writing and explaining." Max exclaimed, for. Gilruth 'I gotta "Next [Director tell you, morning Mr. Webb [NASA called Dr. Gilruth of the Manned you Spacecraft

Center]

and gave him what but he said, how exercised Webb The conversation promptly

had to call me into his office. Max, really blew

He was symit.' He told me

was. Apparently Karth really gave Webb hell about it." made waves for a time at NASA Headquarters. Webb straight about Surveyor's importance to Apollo and

set the record

told Gilruth to make sure his people were properly informed of NASA policy in all external contacts thereafter. And so they were, to some degree. There were no more casual titudes changed were still convinced information about depend Lunar the Ranger statements Those of independence, in charge They although I am not sure atSpacecraft critically openly Center needed of doubts could not much. at the Manned to plan to obtain no longer no control. of those effort of us in the that the of gear. in inforto aid in every to ensure concerned The resolution features landing give visual spoke

that it was necessary missions.

with manned and Surveyor,

but they still held that their program they had Office. high in the minds We made key the urgent

on activities requirements mission and Planetary

over which Programs objectives surface too and large

Apollo the scientific nature

were indeed

considered Obvious

need for data

engineering

design

of Apollo. photos for

questions

of the lunar field--far

its load-bearing a confidently on approach

strength.

the best Earth-based a football Resolution addition

telescope

at that time defined

the size of missions,

designed Early Ranger that could

on the order to providing

of 2 or 3 feet was a must.

TV coverage

92

A NATIONAL GOAL

mation, were also expected to eject a rocket-decelerated spacecraft containing a balsa-covered ball with a seismometer inside it. This was intended to survive impact on the Moon. strength. Three Ranger and capture details about the structure and seismic The impact itself would allow inferences about flights of this type were planned, with the thought activity surface that at

least one of the three could be expected to succeed. This kind of landing on a totally unknown surface was clearly risky, and some evolution on a trialand-error basis was foreseen. vehicles would not successfully when series, they did, sent back Ranger spacecraft We did not foresee deliver the Rangers carrying landers that the early launch to the Moon, and that would not work. It was flight in the spacecraft.

not until July 29, 1964, that Ranger the pictures

7, the first fully successful that misfortune-dogged

that justified

Long after President Kennedy had established a manned lunar landing as a national goal, some measure of controversy fingered. To a few of the unconvinced, barrel funds. tual it was no more these gaps than a stunt--like jaundiced views going over Niagara Many a great from Falls in a tax foresaw intellecto or shooting Fortunately, advance, filling gold bullion into space--certainly inevitably no basis for using create

did not prevail. of everything

that so broad

and difficult

an effort would in knowledge

algebra

zoology. Others saw it in terms of a national for worldwide prestige in an area in which stake. could dams welfare vances benefit There have and were, been bridges. however, spent The way support Apollo methods predicted, those better

race with Russia, a competition national dominance could be at that funds spent on Apollo to human adthe One almost of for schools yielded and hospitals, significant

who argued while scientific is that,

right here on Earth, missions, and

not contributing knowledge. while social specific, benefit knowledge

in the same in engineering of the cannot

as a clinic

or a highway,

peculiarities

of research

immediate always is rarely naan acpart

be safely

a multiplied

accrues. Except to those who argue from glib antithesis, evil; nor is ignorance a proper human goal. Despite tional cepted goal. its critics, manned lunar landing In a sense it exerted the clamorous evident race it seemed a unifying voices influence,

was a steady almost During

and popular the way the earlier

war unifies

of peacetime.

of the space

that the Russians

were leading;

this may

have been a spur for us, in keeping with the observation that when you are number 2 you try harder. On the other hand, the American success with Apollo may have contributed to subsequent letdown and institutional

93

FARTRAVELERS

dissolution,or higheffort wasno longerneeded. ould it havebeen f W better for thenationalgoal to havebeenmoredifficult andopen-ended, examfor ple, to explorethe solar systemand beyond'?. doesnot seemlikely that It future goalsasneatly constrained and definedwill ever occur,but if they should,a greaterdegree open-endedness of could be desirable. As the first unmanned lunar missions began,we wereforcedto cometo gripswith the thornypolicy questionconcerning thedegree openness ith of w which we would release data acquired.Fromthe beginningof NASA, the GlennanandDryden hadbeenadvocates scientificopenness, of mindful of thelanguage theSpace callingfor "... thewidestpracticable of Act andappropriatedissemination information . . . " and"... for thebenefitof all of mankind .... " Therewas reasonto believethat our new Administrator, James . Webb,agreedsignificantlywith his predecessors. E However,when at last Rangerreturned close-upphotographsof the Moon and when SurveyorandLunarOrbiter beganto returna torrent of detailednewdata, thestrongmilitary background somepeoplepromptedthemto arguethe of case constraining for theinformation.Lunar datamight greatlyaid theRussians,they argued,and in a raceonedoesnot presentone'sopponentwith any assistance. Ingenious compromisers roposedintermediate p positionsof selective release anddelayed publication,but thebasicopenpositionproved strongest, ndall Ranger hotoswerepromptly madeavailablein atlasesor a p f the world's observatories,ibraries, and technicalinformation centers.It l was,in retrospect, wisedecision, arnering a g respect ndsupportworldwide a for NASA and the United States. Studiedwith careby thespecialists t JPLandat the MannedSpacecraft a Center,thosefirst successful Rangerpicturesin the summerof 1964gave comfortinginformation on the sizeand distribution of cratersand rocks.
They gave us confidence in the engineering model used for the design of landing surface, anxieties gear. Some debate was still possible on the bearing strength of the however, and it was only after Surveyor 1 soft-landed in 1966 that on this aspect were entirely set to rest. From the viewpoint of some about the Moon was less dramatic but this is, of course, not the way of seven Max Faget, soft-landed were had who on their pleasantly taken the

onlookers, the confirming of assumptions than their overturning would have been,

engineers are trained to think. As Surveyors continued to succeed--five lunar targets--personnel at the results. that he could at the Manned Among them not count surprised position was

Spacecraft

Center spacecraft

on these unmanned

when design-

94

_RIGINAL OF POOR

PAGE

iS A NATIONAL GOAL

QUALITY

ing the manned lunar vehicles. After shape, Max called me at Headquarters hadn't believed we could bring

Surveyor 1 soft-landed in working to congratulate us and to say that he landing, especially not on him felt "eating crow," we respected for our mission's work. been involved in Surveyor

off an unmanned

the first try. Though we reveled in Max's greatly and took his words as high praise Three years later, those of us who had

special pleasure and a certain pride when Apollo 12 landed close to Surveyor 3, and its astronauts, Charles "Pete" Conrad, Jr., and Alan L. Bean, walked over to the silent spacecraft, took pictures of it with the Lunar Module in the end, background, Surveyor's and brought back parts to Earth for analysis. In the importance to the Apollo program could not be denied. cameras dispelled many Lunar Orbiter missions to certify sites as suitable maps for all Apollo the oblique would see as they Surveyors of a crater) constituents that help train photographs, astronauts descended touched

Close-up photos taken by Ranger's about the size of boulders and craters. for mapping landings. by-product flight through the surface orbiter the awesome and for helping particularly that In addition to providing images, terrain

uncertainties were notable for manned landing sites, to steer to the surdown at allowed

primary

simulators

to be developed also provided that never

they would faces Earth. the inside

face. Lunar Orbiter side of the Moon five different physical provided samples knowledge mutually cessful our current withstood ways

most of the knowledge

we now have of the the strength, material. They

gently of surface

sites (including

to examine

characteristics, a wealth brought back

and chemical by astronauts, lunar with

of information,

later complemented contributed provided combined guessers,

by the soil and rock much to our basic data most in a of

of the properties reinforcing manner, and

of the Moon. programs only scientific All told, to produce fashion have if any, modest-_verlap. in a logical 13 sucthat has shown achieved.

The unmanned unmanned

and manned 6 manned Very

spacecraft few second

knowledge

of the Moon,

assembled

the test of time. the national

in which

goal might have

been more efficiently

95

Ranger: Murphy's
If it is proper Like the firstborn with great Worst

Law
to feel sorry of pioneers,

Spacecraft
for spacecraft, unknown Rangers deserved sympathy. parents with. credited to cope principle about,

they had inexperienced affinity

and distracted

expectations,

and a wholly

environment

of all, they had a perverse

for that malicious

to Murphy: if anything can possibly go wrong, it will. When the first definition of a lunar program came States New was people just beginning were being invented, to organize hired and the National into teams, Administration tures were being and operations groups into the singularly competent sorted organization new of planning, predecessor

the United and Space struccontrol, were who become.

Aeronautics it would

managerial quality organizations

and new standards from three or four

were being developed.

At the nucleus

of the new agency

of able engineers

could draw on prior experiences of a somewhat related nature, but no one had ever done what NASA set out to accomplish. This time of ferment was not limited to the new agency. Widely spread in both academic communities were pockets of able, hard-driving find reputation military ballistic services missile and reward were much programs. in the newly a part Born accessible scene, territory drawing period later by of the industry people and eager in to The from 1959,

of space. activities

in this turbulent

in 1958 and when the

Ranger was still struggling for success 3 years derivative succeeded in visiting the planet Venus. The launch Pioneers reach ballistic Ranger vehicles the Moon) program were had being flown was particularly and developed on

its Mariner fact that its

bedeviled perfected and

concurrently.

Earlier

I to 4 (all lunar spacecraft missiles of very limited

that were launched Thor/Able Mission

into space but did not intermediate-range design studies

Juno

payload.

and payload

conducted by JPL in 1958 influenced (rather than a Titan), since the Atlas was well along. Unfortunately,

NASA's decision to use an Atlas ICBM flight test phase had already started and stage suitably matched to the Atlas

an upper

96

RANGER: MURPHY'SAWSPACECRAFT L

for missions theMoonandtheplanets to didnot exist.Theinitial plan called for JPLto developa newupperstage becalledVega;combined to with Atlas it would becapable launchingEarthsatellites of anddeepspace payloadsof 500to 1000pounds.Then,on December 11,1959, ASA canceled N Vegaand directedJPLto relegateto research statusits work on a 6000-pound-thrust Vegaengine.A study group that includedmembers from JPL led to the establishment the Atlas/AgenaB vehicleprogramas a replacement;he of t integrationof thisnewvehiclecombination wasplacedunderthedirectionof the MarshallSpace Flight Center. The initial plan to useVegahadan impacton Ranger esign,not simply d because thechange of from onevehicleto another alsobecause egaand but V Rangerhadbeenconceived asan integratedset.The Vegawasto havehad six longerons--the foreandaft framingmembers--and theRanger pacecraft s was designed with a matchinghexagonal ymmetryto ensurethe lightest s carry-throughstructurefrom the launchvehicleto the spacecraft. WhentheAgenaBreplaced Vegaastheupperstage thelaunchvehicle, of a considerable amountof work had alreadybeenperformedto maximize payloadweightandto relieveliftoff timeconstraints. o effectivelylauncha T spacecraftto the Moon it was necessary include a variable coast to phase--sometimesalled a "parking orbit'--and the Agena B's existing c restart ability madethis possiblewithout additionalstaging.The existing guidancesystemshad sufficient precision,providedthe spacecraftcould makea midcourse maneuveror trajectorycorrection. f Asspecifications erefinally established, standard w a USAFAtlas/Agena B could,with minormodifications,carry a lunarspacecraft weighing700to 800 pounds. This vehicle was the only promising and, we thought, reasonably developed capabilityat hand.It wasnot idealfor interplanetary missions;the stagingarrangement asunconventional,oining a 11A-stage w j vehiclewith a restartable second stage.A three-stage launchvehiclewould havebeenmoresuitable,but the time andcoststhat would havebeenrequiredfor development wereprohibitive.Despite beinga combination an of ICBMdesigned delivera 1500-pound arhead 5500-nautical-mile to w ona trajectoryand anupperstageintendedto supplyorbital velocities after launch atopanintermediate-range missile,theAtlas/Agena Thor was,by thestandardsof the time, a formidablebooster. TheAtlas,developed themid-1950sy General in b Dynamics,stoodsome 66 feethigh,weighed130tonsfueled,andhada sealevel thrustof 370000 pounds.The half stageconsisted two big Rocketdyne of engines be jetto 97

FAR TRAVELERS

tisoned2 minutesafter liftoff; the remainingfirst stagewasa singlelarge Rocketdyne sustainer ngine,supplemented ith vernierengines fine tune e w to the velocity.Thebulk of thevehiclewastakenup by giantpropellanttanks containingliquid oxygenand RP-1,a kerosene-like fuel. So thin were the tank walls that the erected Atlas would crumplefrom its own weightif the tankswerenot filled or pressurized. TheAgena,developed thelate1950s in aspart of anAir Force satellite projectandmodifiedfor NASA space mission use,waspoweredby a Bellrocketengineof 16000poundsthrust. Its propellantswere two unsavorychemicalsknown as unsymmetrical imethyl d hydrazineandinhibitedred fumingnitric acid. The transition of responsibilities launch vehiclesfrom military to for space usersbeganin the early daysof NASA. High-levelnegotiations betweenNASA andAir Force officialsinitially focused launchvehicleproon curementand launch responsibilities.The fact that all potential space vehicles the timewereoutgrowthsof missiles at meantthat themilitary had beenin controlof thesedevelopments. Theformationof NASA asa civilian agency gaveit authority to developvehicles, ut therewasno prudentway b to beginwithout working out arrangements themilitary for an orderly with integrationof requirements nd procurements. a The Air Forceinitially said regardingthe Atlas/Agena,"Don't worry abouta thing, NASA, we'll put you FOBon orbit," meaning that theywould accepttotal responsibilityfor launchvehicleprocurement,aunch,andoperation.This proposalwasnot l accepted, ndmeetings a continuedat all levelsuntil agreements eresigned w allowing NASA to have its own contractsfor vehiclemodificationsand establishingNASA-controlled launch operationswith military support. Therewas,however,a truly difficult transitionperiodthat lastedwell into the mid-1960s. The Atlas/Agena B launchvehicle and associated facilities, including launch-to-injection rangesupport,wereoriginally under the cognizance of the NASA Marshall SpaceFlight Center.This was an inheritedresponsibility, however,andMarshallprocuredthe vehiclesthroughthe Air Force Space Systems ivision(AFSSD). FSSDadministered D A thecontracts anddirectedthecontractors thatMarshall"couldobtain maximumbenefitfrom so established Air Forceprocedures"and so that interferencebetweenthe NASA programs and high-priority military programs was minimized. Lockheed Missiles andSpace Companysupplied theAgenastage andwasthe vehiclesystem contractorresponsible suchareas for asstructuralintegration, trajectory and performanceanalysis, testing, operationsplanning, and 98

Ranger 3 mission payloads

99

FAR TRAVELERS

documentation. Atlas; some both uncertain

General contractors to integrate

Dynamics/Astronautics had complete of responsibility

was for their

the contractor for their integration. stages,

for the with Marshall

responsibility

assignments

was supposed

the two stages built by contractors,

and JPL was to

be responsible for overall integration of the vehicle with the spacecraft. The Marshall assignment was a tough one; there were coordination problems and problems related to the inherited contractor arrangements, and the tasks were interwoven with Air Force activities. The Air Force actually had a more complex organization than NASA, with interfaces between its Space Systems Division and its contractors within Marshall, and its contractors, and the Launch Operations Division at Cape Canaveral. In addition, as already mentioned, the Atlas-based vehicles competed bogged at the with the new Saturn

program for personnel resources. In August 1963, after work on the Centaur for the Atlas-based Lewis Research vehicles, Center. both Agena Launch operations

down,

responsibility to the Range, Missile

and Centaur,

was transferred Atlantic

previously under the direction of the launch operations directorate of Marshall, were reassigned to the Goddard Space Flight Center launch operations branch. On December letter about outlining the Moon's of 21, 1959, NASA five lunar flights data surface. useful Headquarters that return sent JPL a detailed obtaining that a survivable guideline the emphasized also requested from information package basis for

The letter

JPL "evaluate

possibility incorporating

. . . a lunar seismometer."

This letter was the formal

what became the Ranger Program. Aside from the faint, ghostly Vega influences mentioned earlier, other influences shaped Ranger, some of them more useful to later interplanetary called flights than to the immediate to carry lunar a variety misof sion. The Ranger concept for a basic spacecraft

payloads, allowing development several missions. Three different all were planned for launch interplanetary spacecraft distances from Earth, technologies intended trometry, and to and adapting block make The second

experience and costs to be amortized over types of Rangers were developed. Although trajectories, the first two were actually information at great the basic spacecraft vehicle. in concept, gamma-ray payloads were specon the

on lunar

intended to obtain scientific with goals of developing to the new Atlas/Agena Rangers, measurements, containing

launch

of three scientific

more sophisticated including seismometer

on the way to their destination, survivable capsules

to take TV pictures

on approach,

to land

100

RANGER: MURPHY'SAWSPACECRAFT L

Moon. Though none succeeded, the attempt was brave teresting, paving the way for future successes. The last four Rangers of the Moon's thousands While payloads, represented It should from proven believed series or block into grouped the merits paid somewhat this surface, of frames block had the specific using goal of returning cameras before three than six television

and technically close-up

in-

pictures

capable crashing brilliant landing

of returning on the Moon. survivable and successes

during

the last 2 minutes produced that comes concept industry.

less ambitious of Rangers in planning that

technologically

a maturity be noted practices

with experience. used with Ranger Efficiency was derived were for a to see that it In tried to and reliability configuration it was hard I still believe I always

the block

in the aircraft

to be best served of articles, changes

by maintaining only allowing from the early philosophy

a constant line." Although Ranger results, and

new developments

or modifications

to the "production the total lineage

of this concept

off, considering

of Ranger

Mariner

hardware.

spite of this production-based

for manufacture,

get the project team at JPL to regard each spacecraft as if it were the only one we had, vainly trying to achieve 100-percent success from the outset. After several failures, that management Ranger success position a "shoot was questioned and hope" project. of NASA by our critics, some sarcastically labeling But as far as I philosophy for a It

am concerned, 100 percent from the outset. While not all the concepts evident be very trip to the Moon, had become tests would would designs.

was a basic aspect into Ranger

factored

design were essential of interplanetary

they made it a kind of forerunner

craft.

that opportunities for engineering limited for this class of spacecraft yet mission criteria demanded

development flight because the costs spacecraft of success

be so high, Thus,

sophisticated

there was little hope of reaching

a high probability

for a single launch unless major parts of the spacecraft design remained the same from flight to flight to permit development experience. All hardware could not be new at every launch, in other words, and still provide a high probability of success. tion of total spacecraft landing on the Moon, spacecraft approaching trajectory Ranger/Mariner missions. A Ranger minimum energy This view, together with recognition that only a fracweight could be decelerated by a retro rocket for a led that the would to the bus-and-passenger a hallmark from the impact concept of lunar distance for the has been Moon and planetary of Earth on a

normally

at more than 4500 miles

101

FARTRAVELERS

per hour. After arriving within a predetermined distanceof the surface,a capsule-equipped Rangerwasto be orientedto align its capsulerocket axis
with the vertical spinup, separation ing to completion, fall to the surface descent velocity vector, approach and a marking of the rocket. velocity would impact radar was to call for After allow rocket burnto a capsule from the bus, and firing the reduced of the Moon at a survivable

velocity.

It was a novel solid

capsule system, weighing a total of 300 pounds, rocket and a mini-spacecraft enshrouded in balsa After Motor studies by had three contractors, Company, been chosen to design,

made up of a small wood. a division test, and deliver

Aeronutronics, build,

of Ford three

flight articles for a total of $3.6 million. Included were pellant retro motor, a radar altimeter to bounce signals face and trigger the retro at the proper instant, capable of withstanding and a spherical metal distribute and dampen

a special solid profrom the lunar surouter shell

a crushable

impact on hard rock at up to 250 feet per second, instrument package floated inside in a fluid to impact loads. The flotation feature in some ways

resembled the design of an egg, known to offer impact protection by reason of the fluid, inside; it also provided for automatic erection and orientation of the package after landing. The instrument carried was a single-axis seismometer; ter to report the Moon. also included were signal-conditioning to Earth, and batteries to provide power The crushable outside structure tests of a variety of materials. electronics, a transmitfor a 30-day lifetime on after an extended out, the best As it turned

was developed

series of engineering

impact absorbers were made of balsa wood, assembled around the capsule with the end-grain about 4 inches thick oriented in a radial direction. This sophisticated little spacecraft-within-a-spacecraft system was carried toward the Moon on three occasions. On the first try a launch vehicle failure spoiled its chances; on the second and third trials missions on the its head camera troubles using through system aboard the Ranger concept bus brought for landing that, it to naught. of follow-up would poke The the capsule was other kinds of payloads Moon. One mirror and a facsimile do a were

For a time we had hopes camera line scan developed before Ranger after landing,

the balsa shell for a that would its capsule

look around;

it was a simple device landscape. and tested

with a nodding on Earth,

of the lunar satisfactorily bore

but the program imposed

was canceled by sterilization. by acci-

this system

got a chance

to prove

its worth. constraint of the Moon or a planet,

the brunt

of the difficult

Any spacecraft

likely to land on the surface

102

RANGER: MURPHY'SAWSPACECRAFT L

dentor by intent, had to befreeof Earth'spervasive microbialpopulation. This scientificallyimposedinternationalrequirement laceda tremendous p burden on Rangerengineering and development, nd greatly multiplied a costs.Of course,it also took its toll on the usefullife and reliability of sterilized components ndis believed havehada seriously a to degrading effect on earlyspacecraft erformance. p As an aside,thestringentrequirements heatsterilization for mayhave,in thelong run, resulted thedevelopment morereliable hardware, in much in of
the same resistance. stringent way that insecticides Ranger While cause there insects never to develop was any an evolutionary these that proof But early requirements. spacecraft had to pay the price of meeting positive

sterilization caused difficulties with electronic gear in space, there were many reasons to believe this was a factor in the high initial failure rates. One to mind prototype antenna smaller incident from my earliest I noted tubes that association "growing with the Ranger pains." supports Having between torsion," given. project comes the to the as an illustration spacecraft, were just four diameter of project attached with heavy On first viewing upward

the superstructure shaped emphasis omni.

for the omni been trained structural this structure I asked. "Oh,

to the bus and sloping

base of the cylindrically engineer

as an aeronautical

on light-weight

design, I was immediately conscious of a difference and trusses common in aircraft structures. "Where there almost won't are the diagonal be any torsion members loads," to react against was the reply

I knew

well that

any combination

of compressive

and lateral loads would "takeover"

result in torof the delicate

sion on a tapered relationship

structure,

but being new and very conscious by the NASA

that had been created

of JPL, I merely showed the need Diagonal were spend two with time

registered concern and went on to other matters. In just a few weeks the vibration tests of the structure for diagonal members again contributing the conduct worrying ing were trained courses operating people many bracing, times. factors: about like as the torsional added, (1) There mission My assessment deflections of the problem that design JPL project problems, academic without were quickly and I learned was so much of a situation was officials (most high technology

were very severe. that there didn't

I was to encounter associated

of a space in electronics

freshman-level Statics), expected and

young

JPL engineers style then

and may have had little regard (2) the responsibilities

for civil engineerinexperienced

management to many

at JPL gave who were

independent to function

supervision.

103

FARTRAVELERS

This was vastly was used made years more to, where all key design

different a Chief decisions

from the aircraft industry Engineer from and a highly the top down.

style of management structured Of course, organization after twelve

I

in the industry environment discipline, and spent much

I thought JPL would effort during the years

benefit greatly from that followed trying changes in the JPL of failures in early at the Cape were ex-

to make this happen. But, as already stated, evolutionary management style came slowly, and largely as a result projects. During tremely In the prelaunch phase for Ranger representatives, joined were launch several 1, meetings launch vehicle other

confusing, to

as AFSSD the two

operations contractors, contractors sorting some

representaof this series. General responsible meetings out, many insight the brunt were and of the into of

tives, Marshall addition Dynamics for guidance, difficult breaking pitfalls what

and JPL personnel principal there

on their first mission

and Lockheed, tracking, scrimmages, in a new part team.

and other of the and

services. process

Those

early Ranger

of assembling, team had

By the time Mariner the Mariner four Ranger in early chief functions: determination, and terminal

2 was launched, launches operations (1) systems and the maneuvers, had borne

had

been

discovered, however, jumble.

was necessary;

the transitional ris M. "Bud" which had

One of the key people Schurmeier. major three

involved Bud was project

at the Cape was HarDivision analysis, at JPL, including

of the Systems

flight trajectory design, orbit quired to establish midcourse

overall analyses re(2) systems design

and integration for the basic layout of the spacecraft and the entire supporting elements, and (3) spacecraft assembly, systems test, prelaunch checkout, launch, group" therefore the Cape early when days. I recall early prelaunch including readiness meetings at Cape Canaveral Air Force, a room full of people, the various contractors, and flight operations. who This single division to oversee and Mariner contributed the "core at the of engineers were involved responsibility to both Ranger directly in all missions, missions and it was during

part of Schurmeier's that were essential

a host of activities

Bud and

NASA, and JPL personnel, convened for status reports. These early meetings were initiated without a disciplined agenda and with some uncertainty about who was in charge; the others people where did not know they were presumably they stood each other, to allow each group to report Many to in their preparations and at first there for launch. of the

was no clear understand-

104

RANGER: MURPHY'SAWSPACECRAFT L

ing of the role eachgroup wasplaying. The spokesmenround the room a would gleefullyreportprogress until someone announced thathisgroupwas havinga smallproblem.Upondigginginto details,interactionswith others would usually surface,and the meetingwould end with somepeoplenot having to tell of problems,pendingresolutionof thosethat had cometo light. The hopethatsomeone elsewouldbecome the"fall guy" andallow more time to fix things would sometimes encourage luffing, which only sucb ceeded hiding a difficulty if no oneelseknewof the problem.However, in sincemany interfacesituations existed,therewerelots of waysto be found out. Alert projectmanagers ot people"calibrated" g andwerebetterableto "sniff out" the true situations.A few of the participantswere forced to disclose their problems after all the initial reports around the room--including theirs--hadbeenfavorable;it soonbecame obviousthat it wasmuchlessembarrassing becompletelyforthrightfrom thebeginning. to In reviewing someof his early impressions activities, Schurmeier of described first projectmeetingat the Capein this manner:"That wasa his realeyeopenerin a sense. Thethingthatdepressed mewasthatsomanydifferent groups and organizationswere all involved in various ways. It remindedme of a bunch of ants on a log floating downstream,eachant thinkinghewassteering. ith thebewildering W arrayof peopleinvolvedand incomplete knowledgeof all thefacetsof theoperationtherewasa tendency on the part of theprojectmanagero say,'If everythingis gettingdoneand t going the right way, leavewell enoughalone,andI don't carewho thinks he'sin charge.'" If thingshadreallybeengetting done,this viewwould have beenacceptable, ut resultssoonproved the hoped-forsuccesso be a fanb t tasy. Bud'ssuccessful involvementin so manyof the key projectactivities eventuallyled to his selectionasRangerProjectManager,when,after five failures,it wasdecided thata strengthening f theprojectteamanda change o of principal leadership wasrequired. In May 1961I signedthereviewof qualificationtestsandapprovedshipmentof thefirst Rangero theCape.A multitudeof thingshadtobedoneto t checkout the spacecraft, he launchvehicle,andthe launchfacilitiesafter t thespacecraft rrived.The first RangerlaunchwindowwasfromJuly 26to a August2, with abouta 45-minute windoweachday. In additionto scheduling launches matchthe lunar cycle,therewasa frenziedenvironmentof to launches aboutthe timethatrequiredschedule coordination with rangeservicesand otherprojectoffices.Wethoughteverythingwasreadyon July26, 105

FAR TRAVELERS

only to find to our dismaythat theRange SafetyOfficer, the"badguy" who wascharged with blowingthingsup if theboosters wentastray,did not have the trajectory information he needed.This causeda 1-day delay, to be followedby anotherdelay the day after because Atlas guidance an system malfunctioncameto light. A third daywaslostwhena guidance programerror wasfound in the input to the Capecomputer. Thesedelaysbeforethe first countdowngot underwaywere just the beginning. hen thefirst count waswithin about28minutesof T-zerothe W entireblockhouse wasplungedinto darkness. he timewasabout5:00A.M., T andit turnedout thata shortin primarypowerhadbeencaused the conby tractionof newpowercables that hadmadecontactwith old conductors not yet removed. hoselinescouldbe clearlyseen,perhaps T only a few hundred yardsaway from theblockhouse, hen daylightcame.Talk aboutfrustraw tions[ Countdowns2, 3, and 4 werescrubbedbecause Rangerspacecraft of checkoutproblemsand another Atlas problem that surfaced.The final spacecraftfailure--an electricalmalfunction that triggeredmultiple commandsfrom theCC&S--caused spacecraft be removed the to from thevehiclefor repairsandthe launchto berescheduled the nextmonthlyopporfor tunity in August.The only good thing aboutthefrustratingexperience as w that we still hadour hardware;at leastit wasnot in theocean.This "happy thought"wasonly slightly reassuring the time. at Ranger1 wasfinally launchedin August1961,a testflight not aimedat theMoonbut intended goto lunar distance to andbeyond.TheAtlas/Agena wasfor thefirst time tryinganEarth-escape typeof mission,but failedto put the spacecrafton the highly elliptical trajectory being sought. Instead, Rangerwas injectedinto a low Earth orbit and reentered the atmosphere
after 7 days. cuit controlling though short Postflight viewing analysis suggested Ranger that the problem seemed to have was a switch performed cirright, shadow propellant valves.

times and movements

into and out of Earth's objectives

did not provide a meaningful test. The next flight 3 months later had similar ly comparable few hours. the Agena failure, This time the problem during the parking

and was a disgustingand reentry critical action after a in wiring

with orbit at an even lower altitude was overheating After of some corrective orbit period.

had con-

vinced engineers that neither of these launched with considerable confidence, the surface of the Moon.

failures would recur, targeted to hard-land circuitry

Ranger 3 was a capsule on

This time some booster

that had behaved

106

RANGER: MURPHY'SAWSPACECRAFT L

satisfactorilyon the two previousflights failed,and the spacecraft asacw celeratedto a much highervelocity than desired,causingit to reachthe Moon'sorbit aheadof schedule andto misstheMoon by morethan22 000 miles.This prevented true testof thehard-landing a system, ut whenanatb temptwasmadeto exercise landingsystem the throughcommands, iring w problems wererevealed thatwould havecompromised theresultsevenif the launchhadbeensuccessful. Finally, the launch vehicle for Ranger4 performedbeautifully, and launchcomputations revealed that the spacecraft would arriveat the Moon with no further coursecorrection.Elation at this news was short-lived; engineering telemetrysoonrevealedthat the spacecraft'sentralcomputer c andsequencer, heartof its control system, ad lost its clock andcould the h not performthetimingfunctionsnecessary midcourse for correctionandapproachmaneuvers. After all the earlier troubles, this missionlooked somewhatbetter because predictions of thatthe spacecraft wouldimpacttheMoon. TheRussianshadsenta pennantto theMoon 2 yearsearlier,andNikita Khrushchev had chidedus publiclyby quippingthat theirpennanthadgottenlonesome waiting for anAmericancompanion.AdministratorJames Webb,who was in LosAngelesfor a speaking engagement, wasescorted the Goldstone to trackingstationby Bill Pickeringandmeto witness trackingto impact. the This wasa dubioushonor;I would haveenjoyed trip moreif we wereto the seea successful landing,but Mr. Webbwasverygraciousaboutsupporting the teampublicly in a pressconference followed. that Weneverwill know thecause themalfunction, ut extensive of b engineering redesigns eremadeto the CC&Sthat prevented w sucha problemfrom recurring.Ranger , the lastof theblock of spacecraft 5 intendedto providea survivablelanding on the Moon, was launched October 1962,shortly in afterMariner2 hadbegunitslong trip to Venus. anger's R launchvehicleperformedwell within the desiredaccuracy,placingthe spacecraft n a flight o path that would comewithin 450 miles of the Moon, easily within the capability of the course-correcting rocket onboard. But soon after the
spacecraft engineering cuitry After collision was oriented telemetry a few hours course with so that reported the Sun would a malfunction, illuminate probably and the solar panels, circould it on a of the in the switching the spacecraft have placed the vicinity

for use of solar power. the batteries the Moon. were depleted, to commands to fire the rocket that would

not respond

By the time it reached

107

FAR TRAVELERS

Moon, all systems boardweredeadexcept a
capsule, poignantly reporting the position past its target. The turmoil least, considerable.

for a small beacon of the powerless

in the landing craft as it sped was, at the with into

generated

by this uninterrupted to blaming

series of failures vehicles

In addition

the launch

for the prob-

lems they caused, there was considerable distress at JPL over problems integrating scientific instruments that had little to do with the Moon Rangers. would would ducive relaxed. At Headquarters carry a payload pictures we reluctantly of TV cameras before and of biota, decided testing impact. agreed that Since that trying things simultaneously high-resolution was distracting, and it was decided would that future

to do too many Rangers on taking site be not be con-

concentrate would

the position of electronic it would would

of the crash parts would

be controlled, to propagation It was further intense

since the airless that,

environment

the sterilization even though and redesign all focused In addition Ranger

delay the program be performed, along Bud the chances changes,

for a year, with a more of success Schurmeier

a comprehensive on the next was asked working

review program,

on maximizing policy

attempt.

to these

to take charge

as the new Project

Manager. to the launch system enin Ranger goldin but infinitesimal around flakes

Some 9 months site, a company countered circuits. plated failures

later, just before in a type of diode tiny units peeled

6 was to be shipped on a missile guidance half an inch long,

at Cape Canaveral less than in glass.

that was also used extensively It was discovered the diodes. trouble that

The diodes, elements

employed

encapsulated

flakes of gold sometimes zero gravity the suspect and retest into positions diodes to make were of microscopic

off inside the capsules made

and floated

that short-circuited

The culprit months

size and generally had to be replaced. certain 1964, highly

only in zero gravity,

It took 3 additional

to replace caused The

that the reworking Ranger successful, 6 and

had not inadvertently seemed

new problems. In late January launch appeared

all its systems

ready. was

the midcourse

maneuver

executed

precisely, and it was clear that the spacecraft would impact very close to its selected target site on the Moon. We eagerly awaited camera turn-on and warm-up, due some 15 minutes before impact. What we did not know in those heart-stopping moments was that the cameras could not be turned on, that during the first 2 minutes of launch the rocket had passed through clouds, switch. picking Ranger up a charge of static electricity that had 6 crashed close to its lunar target with arced through the its electronic eyes

108

RANGER: MURPHY'SAWSPACECRAFT L

tightly shut. This failure wasa bitter disappointment, moreso because the successad seemedo near. h s The considerable achievements the launchvehicleandthe spacecraft of werealmost totally eclipsed the failure to return pictures,and Ranger by critics roseup in numbersto disclaimthe valueof the effort. Detailedinvestigations beyondordinary failure reviewswereinstitutedby NASA far senioradministrators andby congressional committees, andpeopleworking hardto keepa numberof NASA programs movingwerecalledon to explain all theproblemsfrom thebeginning Rangerothepresent.t is a tributeto of t I the Rangerteamthat they wereable to copewith their own analyses and necessaryeworkwhileundergoing r intensivemanagement reviewsandcongressionalnvestigations. or a time therewasa questionabout whether i F Rangerwould be terminated asa complete failure. A nowamusingincidentoccurred duringa congressional reviewthatwas symbolicof the times.BudSchurmeier ndI spenttwo daysbeforea Cona gressional OversightCommittee describing thespacecraft systems,eststhat t had beendone,and other technicalfactsrelevantto the Ranger6 failure. Duringa discussion thecamera of turn-oncircuitthathadapparently failed, I referred several times to the "common" switch that allowed the redundant
channel to be activated to ask pointedly about garden-variety spacecraft. After in case the primary failed. Mr. Karth interrupted me our poor judgment that caused us to place a common, in such silence, a sophisticated, I realized multimillion dollar by

component of stunned

a moment

that he had been misled

my use of the term common.

The fact was, the switch was a high technology,

solid-state device that was affected by the thousands of volts produced by a lightning discharge. It was typical Ranger irony that this necessary single element in an otherwise redundant system made had failed; this simple how desperate miscomwe had without thick and munication become. Any some with the congressman recounting of Ranger me realize would

experiences and

not be complete through

mention

of Bill Cunningham

his involvement

thin, from beginning to end. had joined Ed Cortright and planetary did. many physics program activities hired Although a chasm he was while

Bill, christened Newton William Cunningham, the three or four others involved in lunar and at NASA mainly with Headquarters because managerial a few months skills that helped of Ranger. before bridge When I I in of his scientific challenges training

and meteorology,

Bill developed

dealing

the tough

109

FAR TRAVELERS

wasnamedto directlunar andplanetaryprogramsin 1961,Bill wasnamed Ranger rogram P Manager. ehadbeenworkingsideby side;from thattime W on it wasto bemorelike shoulderto shoulder. Bill's dedication andloyalty wereunmatched. lthoughI sometimes A felt he wastoo forgiving andinformal in his dealings with JPL,I knewthat he providedqualitiescomplementaryo my moreserious t andsometimesyrant nical methods.On many occasions e wasthe"Indian scout"who restored h peace andhelpedassuage bitterness JPLpersonnel the of who felt oppressed. WhenBudSchurmeier became RangerProjectManager,Bill workedclosely with him to restoreprojectrelationships with NASA. Theywerevery compatible, both on andoff thejob, andmademy life mucheasierthan it had been. The threeof us weretogethera lot during the 1960s,someof the time with our backsto thewall defending projectagainst ardwarefailures, our h against scientific critics, against adversary failure review boards, and
sometimes association against political committees and administrative fault-finders. Our in countless through meetings, the misery at my good as program at the Cape during of six failures 9 cemented fortune director. launches, our friendship on airplanes forever. with of a I

and in airports, cess that came have Ranger tinually supportive I thought these gifted often

and finally

the glow of suc-

with Rangers

7, 8, and

marveled

in surviving

the problems as "coach"

and remaining aware

My vulnerability,

losing team that was so much superiors, should friends,

in the spotlight to colleagues Ed Cortright. out.

at the time, had made me conlike Bill and Bud and to my I kept trying of God, to do the things the help of and with

of the debt I owed particularly things worked be done,

and by the grace

Ranger 7 was the first spacecraft to return close-up photographic coverage of the surface of the Moon. Aimed at an area chosen by scientific investigators sound evidence turned and before before and Apollo. command before 15 minutes 4316 pictures 500 000 square times better as a candidate to validate on the four impact. Ranger Ranger site for a manned the landing two wide-angle narrow-angle All cameras 7 crashed. the Moon landing, it provided the first A up of gear designs equipped cameras high-resolution functioned The first picture a resolution by Earth developed for warmup cameras perfectly, showed at least for Surveyor 18 minutes warmed transmitting an area a thousand an area

approached

with six TV cameras.

impact,

miles and the last, taken final images the best pictures taken

at very close range, telescopes.

showed

98 by 163 feet. The than

provided

110

RANGER: MURPHY'SAWSPACECRAFT L

Ranger8, also targetedtoward a potentialApollo landing site, and Ranger9, the last in the series and directedtowardlunar highlands,were equallyproductivemissions.Quite suddenlyengineersoncerned c with the designof soft-landers to fly and scientists reoccupied yet p with questions aboutthesurface geologyof theMoonfoundthemselves almostdrowningin a seaof new and superior images.Their varied reactionswere perhaps predictable:the engineers found comfort in their existing landing gear designs, andthelunar scientists nergetically emonstrated e d thatthenewdata confirmedtheir preconceived, often conflictingtheoriesabout the Moon's origin. The wisdom andconfidence thosewho decidedto presson aftersix of failureswasborneout by thesuccesses Rangers, 8,and9andby theconof 7 tributions they madeto the lunar andplanetaryprogramsthat followed.In fact, after the dismal failures, the tide decisivelyturned. The last three Rangers,followed by five of sevenSurveyors(attemptingvastly more challenging missions) nd all five Lunar Orbiters,went on to perform their a prescribed missions, ndmore,with outstanding a success. Fromtheperspective of time we can seethat thosesix Rangerailures were not without f reward;they taughtus to organize andmanage missions,o debugimperfect t launch vehicles,to decideon and execute midcoursemaneuvers, nd to a design,test, andlaunchspacecraft ith a high probability of success. w Rangeralso made incalculablecontributionsto what would shortly become usefulnewtechnologies. diminutiverocketcapsule The designed to separate from Rangers , 4, and5 andlandon theMoon nevergot a chance, 3 but the technologies volvedduringits development e werenot wasted. Although the projecthad a happy ending,Rangersometimeseminded r meof theancientfolk taleof Scottish KingBruce, epeatedly defeated by his r
enemies spider points seventh rallied eluded future and on the verge of despair. trying of support. his fugitive him. lunar The spider soldiers with While hiding in a barn, Bruce watched finally Bruce had before a to swing from one rafter to another, in achieving and Ranger: to spin his web from broad on the that he so long fortune

tried and failed again and again; its goal. This so inspired the victory failures Ranger that paved six sickening at last won

try it succeeded So it was

smiled on the seventh

attempt.

For all its failures,

the way for

and planetary

successes.

111

3.1",.-

. .--

~

Launch of Mariner 2 .

ORIGINAL PAGE COLOR PHOTOGZAPH

The Mariner spacecraft family.

113

~R~GINAL PAGE 15 OF POOR QUALITY

r-

.. .

s

Launch of Navaho missile in 1957. A t the time, this 405 000 pound thrust rocket booster was the most powerful in the world.

Mariner 2 in the systems checkout facility in Hangar AE.

114

~

ORIGIRIPL PAC; IS OF POOR QUALITY

Astronaut Charles Conrad, Ir., examines Surveyor 3 on the Moon. The Apollo 12 Lunar Module landed about 600 feet from the unmanned spacecraft in the Ocean of Storms. Surveyor’s TV camera and other instruments were returned to Earth b y the astronauts.

115

Photos taken by Ranger 9 as the spacecraft approached the Moon prior to impact. The white circle on each photo indicates the point of impact. (a) Altitude, 266 miles; time to impact, 3 minutes and 2 seconds. (b) Altitude, 141 miles: time t o impact, I minute and 35 seconds. (c) Altitude, 95.5 miles; time t o impact, I minute and 4 seconds. ( d ) Altitude, 65.4 miles; time to impact, 43.9 seconds; area shown, 31.6 by 28.5 miles.

I

116

6RIGIP!WL PY.CE IS. OF POOR QUALITY-

! P

I b

Surveyor drop test vehicle successfully funds on Earth.

The worfd’s first view of Earth from the distance of the Moon, taken b y Lunar Orbiter I during its sixteenth orbit.

118

~RIGINWL PXGE IS; .OF POOR QUALITY
I .

L

m1

119

,

Workmen are dwarfed in the massive reflector of the 210-foot Deep Space Network antenna ut the Goldstone facility.

ORIGINAL PAGE COLOR PHOTOGRAPH

This historic first closeup of Mars was made b y hand at JPL as the picture was being radioed to Earth b y Mariner 4. It was composed of 40 000 numbers (200 lines with 200 picture elements each) representing different values of grey, from white (0) t o black (63). T h e picture numbers were printed sequentially on a strip of paper tape and then cut into picture lines. The lines of numbers were stapled, side b y side, to a board, arbitrary colors were assigned to sets o f numbers, and each number was colored with crayons b y hand.

-~

-

~~

First color photo from the surface of Mars, taken by the Viking 1 lander. The s horizon i about 1.8 miles from the camera.

View of Jupiter taken b y Pioneer 10 from over a million miles away. The Great Red Spot and the shadow of the satellite l o can be seen.

122

ORIGINAL PAGE COLOR PHOTOGRAPH

ORIGINAL PAGE COLOR PHOTOGRAPH

Saturn as seen b y Voyager 2 from 27 million miles away.

An astronaut in the manned maneuvering unit prepares to dock a satellite to be returned to Earth in the cargo bay of the space shuttle Discovery.

I

123

Essentials
Looking additional Surveyor back

for

Surveyor
program reports and 20 years of

with the help of detailed I view the goals, with a clearer perspective

experience, program

objectives,

and achievements

of the in its

than when I was involved

planning. Reliving Surveyor challenges and results gives me a warm feeling, for in retrospect, our team did not appreciate the engineering obstacles that would be encountered and overcome. Considering the scope of the total Surveyor Reports effort show and the new technologies Surveyor we did spacecraft recognize that required, performed spacecraft we were design very fortunate challenges in a that five of the seven brilliantly.

general way. However, in some planning documents the fact that Surveyor was to be launched with a newly developed Atlas/Centaur launch vehicle instead of an extensively tested and proven Atlas/Agena was merely mentioned in passing. Considering the problems that changes in specified performance for the new vehicle caused scientists, whose experiments had to be jettisoned because of the reduced payload, the scant reference lem now seems strange. At the time, the experience was almost as if we were selecting to save Centaur development, performance, The transit similar confidence achieving midcourse aspects taken Earth the sinking caused by lot and throwing ship. The reductions some passengers in weight capacity throughout to this probas traumatic at sea of the Atlas/ Surveyor's

overboard

compromising

modifications

making it abundantly clear that, for all its promise of greater the new hydrogen-oxygen technology barely arrived in time. portion of the Surveyor mode for Ranger to perform mission that phase. from launch Nevertheless, solar power firing that to the Moon the matter was of and Mariner; to provide rocket by 1964 there was some and ensure a required all never to be

to the cruise

in our ability

a cruise mode with orientation correction maneuver--another orientation and

of attitude

its many

complexities--was

lightly. Not only had Surveyor to navigate and the Moon, but the landing on the Moon

through space between had to be made using a

124

ESSENTIALS FORSURVEYOR

brand-newretro rocket, terminal radar systems,and modulatedvernier rocketsto allow thevehicleto soft-land240000 milesawayfrom thehumans who haddesigned The frighteningpart wasthat no onecould makeadit. justmentsor do the little thingsthat are often required to make rocket launches successful. When I joined NASA Headquarters 1960,BenjaminMilwitzky was in alreadythere.Benhadbeena long-timeNACA researcher Langleybefore at NASA was formed, specializing in structural dynamics and other sophisticated engineering activities.He was notedfor his sharptechnical skillsandhismeticulous attentionto detail. HeandI wereassigned work to togetheron lunarflight systems andbecame closeassociates throughoutthe Ranger, rbiter, andSurveyorprograms. t thebeginningof theSurveyor O A formal definitionphase,BenwasnamedSurveyorProgramManager. Ben'stechnical ackground dynamics b in hadincludedinvolvementn the i designandanalysisof aircraftlandinggear,anareaof majorimportancein developing Surveyorthat would land by droppingonto theunknownsura faceof theMoon. In additionto thedirectapplicabilityof hisbackground to this andrelatedengineeringhallenges, c Benhadbeenwell schooledin solving toughtechnicalproblemsof any type. Thereweretimeswhen I felt his "research" pproachto solvingproblems a wasatoddswith our development tasksandmanagement assignments, hindsight learlyshowsthe tremenbut c dousbenefitshistalents,skills,anddedication broughtto this undertaking. The coordinateddevelopment a Surveyorengineering efinition was of d oneof Ben'sfirst tasks.Workingcloselywith JPL,Benandthe projectoffice established requirements both missionand spacecraftthat would be for specifiedfor biddershopingto developandbuild the spacecraft ardware. h Because f JPL's o commitmentto Ranger ndMarinerprograms,both largely a being built and testedin-house,we decidedat the outset that Surveyor needed theparticipationof a primecontractor.Thiswasnot lookedon with favor by mostJPLofficials;perhapstheirlaboratorybackground plussome frustratingexperiences contractors with providingmissile hardware werethe reasons their concern.Whateverthe cause,they had reluctantly gone for alongwith the strongNASA Headquarters ositionthat a contractorwould p be usedto develop,build, test, andsupporttheSurveyorspacecraft. After the project boggeddown in midstream,the extent of Surveyor planningwascriticizedby congressional subcommittees andothers.Butconsideringhow the spacecraft ameout I believe remained c it remarkablyclose to the conceptenvisioned during the formativestages. ctually, four conA 125

FAR TRAVELERS

ceptproposalswerepresented primeaerospace by contractors;the oneofferedby Hughes Aircraft waschosen.t wasprimarily the technicalaspects I of theHughesproposalthat resulted its selection, or all of us,especially in f Milwitzky andhisJPLprojectcounterparts, eretechnically w oriented.Much later in theprogramwe cameto appreciate importanceof otherfactors, the aswe learnedseveral anagement m lessons hardway. the It is difficult to put the necessaryngineering e tasksand technologies in properperspective, thenewandmostsignificantchallenge Surveyor but for wasthelanding.The threemajor elements the landingsystem of were(1) a high-performanceolid rocket motor to provide the bulk of the velocity s reductionon approach,(2)liquid propellantvernierengines apable only c not of varying thrustbut alsoof swivellingto allow attitudeorientation,and(3) the landingradar system,which sensed distances from verticaland lateral motionswith respecto theMoon. Becausehe allowablespacecraft eight t t w for Centaur was only about 2150to 2500pounds, the retro rocket that decelerated thespacecraft eartheMoon hadto be very efficient.Evenwith n a highly efficient rocket, the landed weight of the spacecraft would only be
about control, mission poration provided 650 pounds, barely enough and retro to incorporate the power, necessary environmental to make Chemical the Corcommunications, useful. scientific rocket instruments

The solid propellant

designed

by the Thiokol

and later designated the TE-364 high reliability and simplicity. For the Surveyor way, retro,

was chosen because, in concept, it While simple in the operational because weight the margins for the case had to be as light as possiof propellant to total weight from cases had been made

sense, solid rocket error are so small.

design is far from a simple matter the ratio Efficient

ble, or, to put it another

had to be as large as possible.

cylindrical

spiral wound fiber glass, but for Surveyor the case was made spherical because it is the most efficient shape for a pressure vessel. Fiber glass was not suitable for the spherical shape, and steel was used. The large expansion ratio nozzle was embedded as far as possible the case to shorten perimental the rocket but and with to save good weight. design This and involved the development, testing inside ex-

some

Surveyor

rocket produced the highest performance ever for such a large solid rocket. It was designed to produce a vacuum thrust of 8000 to 10 000 pounds with propellant loading to suit the final spacecraft weight and landing Its burn time was approximately 40 seconds, and it produced pulse of about 275 to 280 seconds. requirements. a specific im-

126

ESSENTIALS FORSURVEYOR

The three small vernier engineswere also speciallydevelopedfor Surveyorapplicationby theReaction MotorsDivisionof Thiokol Chemical. Theseengines usedhypergolicliquid propellants with a fuel of monomethyl hydrazinehydrateand an oxidizerof MONO-10(90percentN204and 10 percentNO). Eachof the threethrottleablethrustchambers could produce between30 and 104poundsof thrust on command. ne enginewasswivO elled to provide roll control to the spacecraft. The development f throto tleableliquid rocketshadalwaysbeena challenge because wasdifficult to it maintain proper fuel-oxidizerratios and achievereasonable performance with fixed-geometry thrustchamber andnozzle. lthough the engines A were small, obtaining repeatable performanceand accurateadjustmentwas a significantengineering development. To properlycontrol therocketsystems, radaraltitudeDopplervelocity a sensing(RADVS) systemwas developed the Ryan AeronauticalComby pany. This includeda so-called markingradar,which initiatedthe signalto fire the main retro, andthe closed-loop system,which providedsignals for the operationof thevernierengines uring thesoft-landing. t an altitudeof d A about 59 miles abovethe Moon's surface,a signalwasgenerated the by altitude markingradarmountedwithin the nozzle the mainretro rocket, of and 7 seconds later, at about 47 miles, ignition took place,expellingthe radarunit andinitiating the42-second ainretro rocketburn. At the comm pletionof thisburnandafterjettisonof theemptyrocketcase, urveyorwas S closeenoughto the Moon to receive anexcellent adarreturnfrom thesurr face.Operatingin a closed-loop mode,RADVSsensors rovidedsignals p that wereprocessedy theonboardcomputerandfedinto theautopilotthatconb trolled the three vernier rocket enginesfor steeringand decelerating the spacecraft long a predetermined, a optimumdescent rofile. Finally,at an p altitudeof about14feet,thevernierengines werecut off, allowingSurveyor to drop gentlyto the surfaceof theMoon, touchingdown at a speed apof proximately7 milesperhour. Whileprovidingthe throttling of the engines to reducethe descent elocity, the radar signals also provided the informav
tion necessary to orient the spacecraft vertically motion relative to the surface of the Moon tipover on touchdown. we are given the impression that very large rockets like the Sometimes and to diminish any sidewise which might have caused a

Saturn are more difficult to design and build than small rocket systems like those employed in Surveyor. From an engineering and technology standpoint, this is not necessarily true. Indeed, the vernier retro system of

127

FARTRAVELERS

Surveyorandits closed-loop guidance usingsurface-sensing radarinvolved many technicalfacetsthat were more demandingthan thoserequiredfor control systems a largeboosterrocket.In addition to the sophisticated on technologies,he problem of weight constraintsand sizelimitations prot ducedadditionalchallenges. A further designconcern the Surveyorlandingsystemthat tendedto for beforgottenafterthesuccessful landingswasour uncertaintyaboutthesurfaceof theMoon andits suitabilityfor a landing.At the timeSurveyorwas beingdesigned,heoriesabout the compositionof the lunar surfacevaried t widely. Thespectrumof opinionsrangedfrom manyfeetof soft dustwhich would not havesupported normallandinggearto largebouldersandcraters in sucharray thatSurveyorcouldnot havetoucheddown without impaling itself or overturning. The engineering modelof the lunar surfaceactually usedfor Surveyor designwas developedafter study of all the theoriesand information available.Fortunately,this modelwaspreparedby engineers ho werenot w emotionally involved in the generation of scientific theories,and the resultinglandingsystem requirements ereremarkablyaccurate. venwith w E high praisefor the generation a realisticlunar surfacemodel,however,I of would be the last to say that Surveyorlandingsdid not involve a certain amountof good luck. Indeed,photostaken at every landingsite showed featureswithin view of the cameras that could have causedcatastrophic resultsif a landinghadbeenmadea short distance from the actualpoint of touchdown. Without question,theapproach andlandingradar,thehigh-performance retro rocket system,the attitude control system,and the variable-thrust rockets requiredfor landing involved extremelychallengingengineering tasksthat took somewhatongerandweremore costly than initially envil sioned.In retrospect, heactualdevelopmentimesandcostsdo not appear t t excessive, in the 1960s, henso little wasknown of the entireprocess, but w estimates the scopeof the effort werefar lower than they shouldhave for been. One of the management decisions madein the development f the apo proachandlandingsystemfor Surveyorwas to conductsimulatedlanding experiments the surfaceof Earth with a systemas nearly completeas on possible.I advocatedthis plan, becauseI believedthat we would seem foolish if problemsoccurred duringlandingon thesurfaceof theMoon that might havebeen discovered duringa simulatedapproach andlandingon the 128

ESSENTIALS FORSURVEYOR

surfaceof Earth. Of course,such a simulationinvolved tradeoffs: the gravitiesof EarthandtheMoondifferby aratio of 6 to 1, theatmospheren o Earthproduces aerodynamic effects a testdescent for thatarenot present n o the Moon, androcketperformance the atmosphere differentfrom that in is in a vacuum.It wasthusnecessary introduce to known compromises the into engineering the modelfor Earthlandings.Two aspects the drop tests of of which provedto beextremely valuable were(1)therequirementor exercise f of everylandingsystem componentn concertand(2) thenecessityor subi f systemteam membersto work out problemstogetherthrough a realistic scrimmage beforethe actualmissionon the Moon. In general,the plan involved simplelogic: a numberof tetheredtests would be performed,first using a large craneand later balloons,which would allow performance testingof the radarandspacecraft controlsabove thesurfaceof Earthwithout thedangerof a crash. hefinal testphase T would involve1500-foot ropsfroma balloonin whichtheSurveyorlandingarticle d would actuallyconductits own descent phase,ncludinglandingon thesuri face.Threeconsecutiveuccessful s landings weredeclared tobemandatoryto meetthe goalsof the test.The drop testswereconductedat White Sands, New Mexico. Earlylandingsystem testswerenot successful. Oneof themistakes made initially andrecognized laterwasthatthehardware usedfor droptestingwas not of flight quality in everyrespect. his wasfrustratingandtimeconsumT ing because testhardware the that failedmightnot havebeenusedin the actual missionandmight not havefailed. In additionto hardwareshortfalls, the first testswerenot conducted with the disciplineandrigor that would havebeenpresenthad the testlandingsbeentakenmoreseriously.After a significantamountof difficulty, disciplinewasintroducedthrough special project-likeassignments. Peoplewere told in no uncertaintermsthat they wereto conductthetestactivity asif it werea realmission.Incentiveawards andother means recognizing importance the testswereincludedin of the of the plan.Thefinal resultsweregood,culminating therequirednumberof in successful dropsandprovidingas muchproof aspossiblethat theentireattitude control rocketradarlandingsystem hadbeenintegratedwell enough to achievelandingson theMoon. In October1965,just a few monthsbeforethe first successful Surveyor landingin May 1966,a criticalreviewof theSurveyor rojectwasconducted p by a HouseCommitteeon Oversight.Their reportexpressed concerns in closingparagraphs: 129

FARTRAVELERS

Surveyor asundergone greatnumber f substantial h a o changes. canbeexIt pected f course o thatallcomplexesearchnddevelopment r a projects ill undergo w a certainnumberof significantchanges s the work proceeds. committee a The recognizes thatsuch modifications arenecessary tosuccess andwhen executed a in timelyfashion cancontribute costs to andschedule objectives. Theabove documentary history,however,ndicates i thattheSurveyor roject p hasexperienced anexcessive number f extraordinaryndfundamental o a modifications;theinevitable resultof a poorlydefined project. Whileonecannottakeissue with thegeneralities xpressed thedocument, e in I now feel that the committee's bold expectationsor the project, probably f encouragedy theconfidence b evidentin our earlyplanningdocuments, ere w perhapsinappropriate. Seven yearspassedromprojectinitiation to thefinal flight of theseventh f Surveyor.In 1964,at the midpoint in development,echnicalandmanaget mentproblems wereobvious.This wastheyearthatthevernierengines contractorencountereduchsevere s technicaldifficultiesthat theJPLprojectoffice terminatedthe contract with ReactionMotors Division (RMD), and soughtanalternativesource. his stepwastakenandtheresultspresented T to us at Headquarters a fait accornpli after acceptable progress seemed as
hopeless. initiation Laboratories Although upset by this precipitous action, we went along with the of a new development contract with Space Technology (STL) for replacement verniers. The gravity of the situation and one of the first things I did obvious that we really were in a test results had been spotty, (I and STL the it of (usand poorly equipped

caused me to become personally involved, was visit both STL and RMD. It became bind: the RMD hardware describing needed was in short their manufacturing remember obviously dawn; was rocket course, and test facilities time that

supply, shop"

were run down to come was

the place as a "bucket however,

to my associates), up to speed. worst

we did not have

As is often true that engines.

the case,

the darkness of the contract without

just before Motors, of success

at the time of the termination a lot had happened Cancellation Their

with Reaction

any indication distressed to carry in turning

for the efforts

of the contract determined progress

RMD management, the development the situation around

and they were doggedly significant

a step further.

ing their own funds, I might add) status on a negotiated basis were and management interest 130 officials made project in the Surveyor

plus their willingness to reenter contract commendable. I believe RMD engineers recovery because of a genuine for their of a genuine concern

a remarkable and because

ESSENTIALS

FOR

SURVEYOR

company's

integrity.

In the

terse

language

of the House

Oversight

Report:

In any case, the history of the vernier engine development is noteworthy for two reasons. To begin with, a remarkable sequence of events took place in rapid order. First, JPL ordered the RMD work to be terminated and STL was placed under contract; then the laboratory reinstated the RMD contract and cancelled the STL contract; all within a period of less than four months. It seems fair to assume that this is an expensive On the way other to do business. hand, termination of the RMD contract seems to have had a in the

salutary effect. Evidently, technical and management rather short order when the contractor realized what government was willing to cancel his contract.

problems were solved was at stake and that

In the development lems. vide This

same

year, at Ryan

the radar Aeronautical definitely main retro

altimeter was pushing from

and

Doppler

velocity severe

system technical had

under probto pro-

experiencing the state an altitude

system

was

of the

art--it

triggering the

for the control

of 50 to 60 miles and thrust levels

and from

then apsink

provide proach rate

signals All

for rocket these

orientation had

to touchdown. of about that have

functions at had under

to culminate Looking available,

in a final back,

5 to 10 feet if such been using that into two from

per

second

touchdown! already poor been

it seems

obvious would teresting been

technology it to land the techniques

helicopters It is innot yet

visibility for

conditions. have

to note

developed use by

Surveyor even which the surface after

incorporated Also in 1964,

everyday of the

helicopters, tests--in above

20 years. Surveyor test

initial 1500

drop feet

vehicles were

suspended

a balloon

of the desert discharge apwas to be

dropped caused

to Earth--failed. a failure and in

In the first the release Thus, only. failures

case,

an electrostatic the was test

parently dropped associated 1964, five

mechanism; the failure

vehicle

prematurely with

crashed.

determined

the test environment component some were

In the second were with

drop

test in October some These involved failures tests by

independent and the effort

identified;

the spacecraft, prompted using

associated and and

test equipment. discipline into

to regroup hardware of 1964, January triggering

introduce

the

flight-quality first half On

better

procedures. period for Surveyor, to operate essential the next hearings other after to frustrabeing

In the tions launched planning In addition,

a nightmare 30, Ranger the

occurred.

6 failed review before

successfully, and initiation

failure changes committee

recovery flight. on

of engineering oversight

Ranger

a congressional

held

in April

131

FAR TRAVELERS

the Ranger failures. Preparing for and participating in that 4-day "inquisition" took a lot of my time and the time of several key people at JPL. Selection of a contractor for the Lunar Orbiter had been made in December 1963, and we were inaugurating a new project organization at Langley in addition to the manufacture about the selection in addition from January that period to negotiating a contract with the Boeing Company, new of lunar spacecraft. Because of congressional questions of Boeing, I had several "response activities" to deal with preplanning toward and negotiations a new incentive-type to Seattle that were going contract. for conferences on with March During

to the contract through it was necessary

for me to travel

Boeing and Air Force representatives JPL to encourage good field center Orbiter. In January quarterly 1964 the Mariner reviews and NASA

and also to meet at Langley, Lewis, and management arrangements for the Lunar Mars '64 spacecraft to be shipped was required alone design was frozen, as part of our in the summer for to ensure that test presented reviews, plenty contract projects. in March None added and of difand May

were held in February

management discipline. The Mariners were launch in November, and close coordination results ficulties, Our met preshipping but I really overruns, and requirements. had my hands project the development review of disturbing problems,

Surveyor of plans findings for action.

full with failure of Surveyor returns

for additional 1 initiated

own Headquarters a number surprised

1964 produced of these really more weight

and recommendations. from this review Cortwright Milwitzky,

me, but the formal

to our recommendations

I had been advocating for some time the strengthening ect activities at JPL. Because of JPL's diverse in-house we also felt that perience augment months, retired been with a deputy director and or general manager contracting related management

of the Surveyor projproject involvements, who had was more needed exto matters

the director's staff. the CalTech Board Major General Alvin of the Atomic

Finally, after pressure was applied for several of Directors encouraged Bill Pickering to hire Luedecke Energy as Deputy Director. for several Luedecke years had Commission and was

manager

planning to leave. Luedecke's arrival at NASA I termed Ranger Luedecke jor effort. Headquarters, "recovery 7 had rolled

at JPL on August planning"

1, 1964, was welcomed began to work By this time, somewhat, was the Surveyor

by those of us the. success and of

and I immediately NASA-JPL things

with him on what General as a maof the

for Surveyor. and addressed that

improved

relationships occurred

up his sleeves the first

question

Among

the upgrading

132

ESSENTIALS FORSURVEYOR

projectstaff,beginning with theassignment RobertJ.Parks,thenresponof siblefor JPL'splanetaryprojects,asthe SurveyorProjectManager.Eugene Giberson,who hadbeenthe Surveyormanager, stepped down but remained a valuablememberof the Surveyorteam.To his credit, herecovered from the experience ith knowledge w andskillsthat werelater appliedin the successfulmanagement other majorprojects.Additional JPLstaff members of wereimmediately assigned theeffort because arksalreadyhada number to P of systems ngineers ndothersunderhisaegis; ith thedecision upgrade e a w to the Surveyorteam significantly,some200peoplewereassigned short in order. It is interesting notehowgoodmenrally to worthwhile causes times to in of need.Alvin R. Luedecke appeared a very propitiousmomentin the at history of thelunar andplanetaryprograms.Asalreadymentioned,hewas hired with considerable"encouragement" y NASA after the need for b strongerdisciplinein makingorganization assignments anddealingwith contractualmatters JPLwasrecognized. wouldbeeasy a casual bserver at It for o to assume thatGeneral uedecke L couldhavemadeonlya minorcontribution during his few yearsat JPL;in my view, whathe did wasa keystoneeffort that resultedin significantlong-termbenefits. Foronething,during3 yearsat JPL,Luedecke's many16-hourdaysand 7-dayweeksamountedto 6 or 7 yearsof effort on a normalwork schedule. He was on the job in the office muchof the time, but he wasneveraway from thework, asit washisnatureto spend asmuchtimeasnecessarynhis o tasks.After gettingto knowthis impressive manpersonally,I learned thathe broughttoJPLmanyyearsof experience tacklingtoughjobsandwrestling in themto the ground. A can-do attitude was evidentfrom his earlychoiceof a collegecurriculum to his last appointmentasan actinguniversitypresident. henhe W decidedin 1928to leavethe ranch andattendcollege,he choseto study chemicalengineering, artly because wastold it was the toughestand p he mostchallenging branchof engineering available thetime.Over theyears at his jobs seemed lead him into the newestand least-knownregionsof to technologybecause the samedrive. of An Army Air Corpspilot officer for many years,Luedecke became a general uringWorld War II. Whenthe warended, ewasdirectlyinvolved d h in nuclearenergy,the very newesttechnology the time. His assignments at includedthedevelopment weapons,acilities, ndranges testing,evenof f a for tually leadingto hisselection asgeneral anager theAtomic Energy m of Corn133

FAR TRAVELERS

mission.Fromwhat I havedetermined,trying to manage that large,highly technicalagencywith its many critics, plus the problemsof dealingwith secrecy ndintrigue,would havebeena difficult chorein itsown right. ButI a
never understood while also reporting from pointees how a general to a number all walks manager could survive in that environment were political apto do this sucof commissioners Luedecke who managed

of life. General energy

cessfully for 6 years. The change from Luedecke soft-spoken coming about was what liked manner might

nuclear and were

to space

was just the sort of challenge determination, Of course and his at the time. because down, support settled

to tackle,

I believe

his experience, of the staff

just what by most but methods acquainted playing the

JPL needed

not welcomed happen, get-involved

of uncertainties as Luedecke's this gave and of the Ed conof his leadership. arrived;

in time things soon rallied trip shortly

personalized, Bill Pickering Luedecke precluded Surveyor Cortright

took an extended game with

after Luedecke employees. that a major Company

time to become divisive contract personally Headquarters

with activities

and key personnel, upgrading was required.

by disgruntled Aircraft

At NASA

it was recognized Hughes the preparation

undertook

of a new incentive-type

tract, working directly with General Luedecke, Hughes Surveyor contracts personnel. This was a very difficult task, of the sensitivity the time. Things that could who could finally launch

officials, and partly because

involved in determining the status of contract activities at were generally fouled up, and there were several loose ends be attributed for what. been of NASA to Hughes to inertia: a number of technical changes to tell and negotiated top-level was liftoff. the first 80 incorporated accumulated. on how in the contract, Not until to proceed. officials period success and it was hard 46 modifications these had JPL, and Luedecke been Hughes'

probably

had been made but never was responsible orders had reach the combination hand-delivered occurred signaled essential been change

By late 1964 about Headquarters, by General by Hughes

management

agreement

The revised just hours of planning, story for the

contract before

on the day

and was signed

The signing Another barini. Science

the end of a tumultuous from a jumble person serving in the Surveyor as Chief Surveyor

reprogramproblems. Garin of Space

ruing, and recovering Bob had

of technical

and management Office

was Robert

Engineer

and Applications,

and when

got into trouble,

he pitched

to help in the program full-time concentration

reviews and technical recovery planning. His almost on this freed me from many of the technical manage-

134

ESSENTIALS FORSURVEYOR

ment mattersI had beenoverseeing; is strengths h and experience plus his wonderful attitude in dealingwith peopleweremajor factors in the turnaboutof Surveyor.Bob workedcloselywith BenMilwitzky, who hadlong providedtechnicalstrengthin theprogrammanagement area.Thecombination of Garbarini's managementcapability and Milwitzky's thorough technicalknowledge thespacecraft, of people, ndstatusof all the hardware a andtests provideda powerfulcombination workingwith JPLandHughes for afterNASA andJPLmanagement finally got together. Although continuingto direct the Ranger, unar Orbiter, and Mariner L
activities, action, Surveyor concerning I remained making involved engine in deep in the Suveyor and working contract. trouble and program, on special It is painfully in early 1964. were successful issuing problems clear directives now that for the assignments, was like the one "all the it back to a rash this time. at regular officials. and General of JPL were Puckett, Hughes John project of the could

the vernier program

Fortunately, in putting

king's men" rallied together again. One of the serious of human Intense monthly errors meetings management

to the

cause

incidents attention

I now recall with a smile was related Aircraft Company to the during was directed Headquarters, problems

occurring involving

in the Hughes NASA

JPL, and Hughes

Bob Garbarini, Ben Milwitzky, and I from NASA Headquarters Luedecke, Bob Parks, Gene Giberson, and Howard Haglund usually manager, problems be given and good proach. Mindful The involved. Fred Hughes Adler, officials Bob included and Pat Hyland, a newly Allen Richardson, Sears, named

Bob Roderick. At these meetings we reviewed all aspects and assessed progress and plans so that immediate attention to recovering of morale performance, "carrot" from our series of misfortunes. to encourage and stick" awards and the value of incentives we employed took the the "carrot of form

thoroughness apfor meeting

management

incentive

schedules, maintaining costs, reducing the number of man-hours involved, and so forth. As a "stick" to help reduce human error, I provided a means for Hughes practice, management to recognize those who had caused errors or made visduring target the results ible mistakes. to the firing affectionately target. own pocket, The idea came to me from my Army the targets days when,

GIs in the pits beneath

used flags for signaling

line. The most widely recognized of these was a red flag, known as "Maggie's drawers," which signified a miss of the entire drawers" flag made up, paid for it out of my a vice president of Hughes, with and sent it to John Richardson,

I had a large "Maggie's

135

FAR TRAVELERS

a letter suggesting when a major incidentoccurredduring the test or that fabricationof a Surveyortheflag beflown from the company's flagpolefor all to see.I alsorecommended thatthe groupcausingthe incidentbegivena signin their work areaof the plant to helpothersrecognize themashaving "pulledthe boo-boo"that meritedthe flag. To my knowledgethe flag neverflew from the Hughesflagpole,but, basedon thegrumblingweheardandthe factthat the quality of the testactivitiesimproved,I believeit served purposeasa spurto avoidinghuman its error. After the projectwascomplete andeveryonewasrelaxedagain,John senta nicetongue-in-cheek letter, thankingme for the help, and returning the flag so that I mightuseit on another"worthy" project.Of course,after the remarkable successf Surveyor,I would havebeenhappy to acceptit o hadthe flag beenreturnedwith a punchin the mouth. After so much hasbeensaidabout the development nd management a aspects f Surveyor,it is timeto recalltheexcitingevents themissions o of and thescientificfindings.As initially planned,Surveyorspacecraft wereto have elaborate payloadsincludingseismometers, X-ray diffractometers specand trometers, rills, anda soilprocessorhat wasto receive d t materialfrom a soil mechanics urface s sampler.Launchvehicleconstraints reducedthe payload to only 63.5poundson the first mission,and the instrumentswerepared down to a TV camera andsomeengineering easurements madeuseof m that the landinggearstructure,temperature sensors usefulfor other purposes, and the landing radar data interpreted for measuringreflectivity. By judiciouslyinstrumenting thespacecraft, waspossible deduce it to lunar surfacemechanical properties,thermalproperties,andelectricalproperties. To disappointedscientists, his payloadwas unworthy; but compared t with thepioneerwho hadonly hiseyes,Surveyorwaswell equipped. n adI dition to dataobtainedfrom engineering instrumentation,the cameraproducedandrecordedimageinformationaboutlunar topography,the nature of the surface,the generalmorphologyand structure,the distribution of craters anddebrisona fine scale, nd,from observations thefootpads,an a of ideaof the bearingstrength.It alsoservedasa photometer,giving for the first time a correct photometric function to compare with telescopic observations. SurveyorI waslaunched from CapeKennedyMay 30,1966,on a directascentlunar trajectory. Approximately16 hoursafter launch,a successful midcoursecorrectionmaneuverwas executed,moving the landing point some35 miles,to an areanorth of the crater Flamsteed OceanusProin 136

ESSENTIALS FOR SURVEYOR

cellarum. antennas assured

Because

telemetry

indicated

that

one of the two omnidirectional maneuver was used that executed occurred 10 properly sequence

may not have communications and the

fully deployed, during automatic descent.

a terminal

The spacecraft descent velocity

all commands,

closed-loop

normally. Data indicated feet per second. Of course ing, Karth. along Based with other

that the touchdown

was approximately

I was in the Space Flight Operations Headquarters we had associates on experience,

Facility and

at JPL for the landJoseph success on the first

Congressman

no right to expect

mission, and I was prepared main retro rocket had fired.

for the worst as telemetry reports came in. The The radar had locked onto the surface, and the

verniers were thrusting. The spacecraft attitude was stable, and then came the altitude callouts: 1:000 feet . . . 500... 50 . . . 12 . . . Touchdown. I could hardly believe showed the footpad had it, but then, before on the surface. long, the first pixels of a TV frame The 596-pound craft pushing the surface the Moon's as well. surface Shaking that had accepted

Within a few hours we knew a lot about the Moon. rebounded slightly after touchdown, its footpads outward enough appeared slightly. The evidence Apollo, was clear that to support hospitable and the topography

material was strong a Surveyor

for a manned

spacecraft

hands with Congressman Karth as we celebrated the success brought flashing memories of Mariner 1 and the Ranger failure reviews we had shared--this moment was sweeter than sweet. The early success By the time Surveyor arm could be added of Surveyor I was the stimulus needed to charge ahead. 3 would be launched, a sampling scoop on an extensible to dig in the soil, test the hardness of the material, and see

how it behaved in a pile. This ability to manipulate the surface the way a person might with his hand would add another dimension to exploring. The Sampler formal (SMSS), name for the sampler scoop originator was Soil Mechanics Ronald Surface Scott and and its conceptual Institute to command was Professor

of the California who worked done using it was his honor The camera Roberson could had

of Technology.

Floyd Roberson,

a JPL engineer This was mirror. reversed of the

with Scott,

was to be the operator to see what

of the arm and its scoop, on the Moon. but at a rotating movement model

it to dig the first trench at the surface,

the TV camera to learn

was being achieved

a step at a time.

not look directly to operate

the arm with every

because of the mirror; arm in a sandbox.

this he did by working

with a laboratory

137

FAR TRAVELERS

,
"N_64 "'" 23 in.max; Digging and scooping area (dotted outline)_. about 24 sq. ft. "'*"...... X 35 in. .." .... , _._

----3

40 in. max. height

_,

_

"#.4:_" '". G'e, Ot/_

Surveyor Surveyor did not ignite; I with 2 failed during

surface midcourse

sampler

movements when Procellarum Surveyor a hand one vernier 390 I had to work miles placed engine from man's

maneuver

Surveyor

3 landed

in Oceanus aboard. While and

Surveyor eyes

the soil sampler Surveyor shut

on the Moon, did not and crater.

3 added

an arm

the surface. it made the rim the

Its engines two of nature "touch a small

off before before coming the

touchdown to rest footprints

as planned; at an angle gave

as a result of 14° below insight

go's"

Examining

much

about

of the

surface. the sampler, side against Roberson the in the surface. cohesive conducted He soil. did eight impact bearing tests the lying strength by dropex-

By manipulating tests, ping citing pressing it, and its flat dug four arm

trenches was

However, "object"

most

use

of the

to help

examine

a typical

nearby.

138

ESSENTIALS

FOR SURVEYOR

The object looked like a small white rock, but until now there was no way to be sure what the consistency of the object might be. After 90 minutes of manuevering Roberson inch by inch, approached pausing for television with the scoop verification jaw open. of each step, Careful not to the object

miss, thereby pushing the object away, he closed the jaw, enveloping the sample and lifting it from the surface. Then came the test that could break an Earth-made per square "If you can't with a pressure he cautiously of lunar For Surveyor material. brick: the jaws were commanded to exert pressure inch on the sample. It did not break. a scientist or a whack, described from the U.S. Geological Survey, fingers, crumple it like a soft clod, dig it with your it must be a rock." as "highly of the mission the sample consolidated 6 inches of 100 pounds was ecstatic. or break feeling, analysis it

Hal Masursky,

In spite of this strong material." was the first chemical

5, the climax

It was done by an instrument

on a side, designed

by Anthony Turkevich of the University of Chicago. Lowered to the surface by a cord, the alpha back-scatterer bombarded atoms in the soil with helium nuclei (alpha particles), knocking deduced out protons and scattering and energy back alpha particles and scattered, scientists, aluminum, Surveyor down analysis protons Turkevich to a detector. By the number of the particles of some

the soil's composition.

To the surprise

the three most abundant elements in that order--the same order found 6, carrying soil, took the same Apollo potential landing

were oxygen, silicon, and in Earth's crustal materials. as Surveyor performed performed 5, touched a confirming the first rocket

type of payload site, and

in another of the

30 000 pictures,

flight from the surface of the Moon when its vernier engines were reignited and allowed to "fly" the spacecraft some 8 feet to a new location. After this bold venture, we were ready for a real test. Besides, four potential Apollo sites had been found suitable, and it was time for the scientists to call the shots. The site chosen for Surveyor 7 was in the rugged highlands among

ravines, gullies, and boulders just 18 miles from the rim of the bright crater Tycho. After a look around at the "exciting" terrain, Turkevich's instrument was to be lowered to the surface, but it failed to drop. Roberson and his remote arm were brought into play, and gently lifted it to the surface. After one series of measurements, Roberson then dug a trench and moved the instrument used to the freshly exposed soil at the bottom from for another analysis. Finalits ly, he lifted the instrument the instrument and placed it atop a rock. The sampler was also

to shade

the hot Sun. In addition

to helping

139

FAR TRAVELERS

scientificcolleague, thesampler pickedup andpushedclods,hit andweighed rocks,dug othertrenches, ndmademorebearingtests.The way the men, a the camera,thearm, andthe dry chemistryinstrumentworkedasa teamillustratedthe powerof a partnership. his last missionput the frostingon a T scientificexpeditionto Earth'snearestneighborandwasa turning point in automated spacecraft pplications. a Surveyorwasa once-in-a-lifetimexperience. additionto thewondere In ful opportunity to landsophisticated spacecraft n the Moon, the trialsand o tribulationsduringtheeffort promotedthematuringof suchundertakings.t I might bepresumptuouso say that Apollo engineers nd officialswereable t a to proceed with greaterconfidence because a prior successful of automated venture, but this may have been the case.I know for certain that the Surveyorexperienceondeda groupof us Earthlingstogethern a way that b i nothingbut strugglingand succeedingsa teamcando. a

140

The
Lunar

Back
Orbiter

Side of the Moon
name for one of NASA's most

was a less than imaginative

successful automated projects. After all the hoopla that followed the naming of Ranger, I was somewhat dismayed that a generic label like Lunar Orbiter was affixed Langley concern policies be better Mariner, ploring "Pet." sweeping only minor completed failures primary largely to the lunar photographic mission. the project, This was the name used by engineers who were defining and although I registered

with Ed Cortright, who had been responsible for studies and agency recommending logical evolutionary names, he decided that it would to go Voyager, machines; with hitches useful purpose to broader along Lunar with the new project team. sounded Names like Pioneer, pet a Surveyor, and even Ranger to me like space ex-

Orbiter

had all the romance title, the Lunar

of calling a favorite project then became some,

But even

its unexciting accomplishing lunar photographic spacecraft Apollo

Orbiter goals and team.

success,

all its primary missions. which

with

to stir up excitement failures. missions. objectives; coverage of the Moon, visualized

for the project There

All five orbiters vehicle the landdevoted together Earth, satisfied were

were no launch proposed

and no major

The first three missions was to photograph The final two flights photographing including

of the program, scientific

ing sites for manned the Moon photographed which had

the entire

near side of from

and completing 99 percent only been

of the far side. The five orbiters the side away Luna 3. by the Russian

vaguely

As mentioned earlier, initiated to include both hardware lunar would landing data was to provide from

the Surveyor program was originally an orbiter and a lander. A common Surveyor landing overall retro spacecraft, and coverage motors from which orbit. of the Moon, Surveyor

defined and set of basic would obtain which

the surface

orbiters,

map the Moon gear removed

and provide and different

The orbiters but with the the

were to use the same basic airframe

components

as the landers designed

for placing

141

FAR TRAVELERS

spacecraftn orbit. Of coursethe instrumentpackagesof the two comi plementary spacecraft would havebeendifferentto address thedifferentobjectives orbitingandlandingmissions. he two typesof Surveyorwereto of T serveasa teamandproduceorbital reconnaissance informationplus"local site" landing data, therebygreatly increasingour total knowledgeof the Moon throughthe synergistic benefitsof broad and close-up coverage. Although the earlySurveyorspacecraft pecification s recognized orthe biterfrom theoutset,initial design emphasis asgivento thelandingcraft; it w wasreasoned the orbiting requirements ould almostbe considered that c an extension the cruisemode.JPL'sinvolvementin gettingthe landervehicle of definedand designed, lustheir burdenwith the RangerandMariner projp ects,madeit difficult for themto assign peopleto work on a Surveyororbiter. Whenthedefinitionof theorbiterdid not materialize,houghboth the t Surveyorlanderandthe Surveyororbiterhadbeenapprovedby NASA and authorized Congress, wasevidentthat something by it elsehadto bedoneif wewereto getthe combinationof orbital andsurfaceinformationthat was needed supportthe Apollo mission. to Duringa seniorcouncilmeetingof theOffice of Space SciencesndApa plicationsin January1963,I askedFloyd L. Thompson,Director of the

PLANDER

Surveyor 142

Orbiter and Lander team

THEBACK SIDEOF THEMOON

LangleyResearch enter,if Langleywouldbewilling to studyundertaking C a lunar orbitereffort. EarlierLangley hadbeeninterested lunar experiments in on Rangermissions, ndI knewthis researchenterto havepersonnel ith a c w talent and capabilitywho were not presentlyengaged spaceprojects. in Thompsonagreed exploresucha possibility;thus beganan activity that to led to the LunarOrbiter project. It was clearthat many thingsneeded thestudy of theMoon wereofin feredby orbitingreconnaissance. First,planningfor Apollo missions hadby this time narrowedpossible landingsitesto a zoneon the nearfaceof the Moon borderedby ___20 ° latitudeand +45 ° longitude. Detailed surveys of
the area would high-resolution navigation A spacecraft with always Earth-based faces Earth. obviously photography orbiting be important would, to final selection of course, would side, provide of landing the maps sites, and needed for

and final touchdown. the Moon the back also have obvious that hemisphere scientific been of the had potendone Moon something the same had never

tial for photographing

telescopes,

because

A great deal of conjecture photos. In addition could This, body.

existed about

the back side and obtained inon and and scientific perspective Ranger neighbor

the nature formation, the Moon Surveyor

of its surface, an orbiting data, would

in spite of the fact that the Russians to extremely also provide in conjunction of major significant a new of Earth's interest with spacecraft

some low-resolution

as a planetary

add greatly

to our knowledge questions

would allow the formation lunar missions. After a project formed, Surveyors Langley's with this fresh

of specific

for manned to develop project was and had in a 1963.

participation team.

was approved, experience

steps were taken Orbiter with Rangers,

By the time the Lunar

some 2 years

of instructive

Mariners, practices

at JPL had taught

us a lot about

the management

needed

for major projects. After initial difficulties, NASA Headquarters evolved a system of working with field centers that was spelled out management instruction first published in 1961 and revised in March

As I was part of the team developing this policy and implementing it at JPL, the policies and procedures embodied in NASA Management Instruction (NMI) 4-1-1 were fresh in my mind during the period when we were negotiating with Langley on the Lunar Orbiter project. The document was relatively straightforward in establishing archy gaged of responsibilities in project for NASA Headquarters and activities. In general, it summarized Headquarters'

the hierenfour

for field centers

143

FARTRAVELERS

basic responsibilities:(1) establishing objectives,
milestones requirements), (considering (3) budgeting technical, and obtaining were properly project fiscal, the required implemented management

(2)

scheduling and

the other

manpower, financial

resources, out in the with

and (4) seeing that projects field. Field centers were

and carried

assigned

responsibilities,

project managers having principal authority for implementing the work. In addition, definitions were given for assignments of system managers who would system report to the project manager the launch and be responsible for each major acsuch as the spacecraft, vehicle, the tracking and data

quisition system, ing vertical and controversial, tions cepted. between provided

and spaceflight operations. Although the concept of makhorizontal assignments among centers was initially quite the organization instruction were of projects understood and definiand acby this management office

it was not long before

It was significant our Headquarters

that such a clear framework and Langley on organizational

existed for negotiations of this projand to get on of Orofthe evolution patterns matters during different

at the beginning

ect; it was easy of project

to reach agreement activities

with the job. It had not been possible management operation were proposed. The man assigned direct biter program honor graduate at Headquarters assigned of the Naval in space ficer who had been code for aeronautical vide experience Navy. space ability space, This About was

to do this readily many

at JPL, when

responsibility to NASA Academy duty. that with career for

for managing for a 1-year and would had tour served

the new Lunar naval of duty.

was Lee R. Scherer,

a very capable

He was an Navy to proto the role in in and

as an AED, was intended the Navy faced

engineering activities

His assignment NASA was much

help him be of value to end, When hope

the time his tour his Navy decision outgoing Langley,

curtailed

by the Secretary

of Defense. without

with a probOffice. job

of continuing he opted was guided and a timely a very

for involvement Program

to retire

and join the Lunar NASA, at activities person, Lewis, His skill

and Planetary as he did home with Orbiter.

an excellent officials, interface

smoothly engineers, tween

the many laypersons.

of the Lunar in coordinating progress,

Lee was

scientists, matters bewas a

Headquarters,

JPL, and the many even

contractors though

significant factor in facilitating seem to become too technically He came I thought 144 to work was good looking,

technical involved.

he did not jacket that with

one day in a bright

blue and gray plaid sport it was not quite

but admittedly

in keeping

THEBACKSIDEOFTHEMOON

thedress usuallyworn by Headquarters fficials.Hereceived o alot of
because of this "race track" jacket, but when he wore it at the Cape mission the first launch tion, it became Although Lunar ing, Orbiter, became integrating, to manage tegration overall signed operation and then at JPL during the entire the project's good luck symbol for success. proven Atlas/Agena worrisome vehicle aspect a new and somewhat apparent. and launching

ribbing during opera-

the already

was to be used for the of launch Center team had expanded vehicle inin procurto include been asbut this were invehicle

The role of the Lewis Research vehicles By NASA had just been and ground a new rules,

responsibility

for the Atlas/Agena, this system.

the launch

system manager reported functionally to the Langley project manager, an age-old rivalry between these former NACA research centers made relationship newly terface hardware somewhat such sensitive, as who especially design since both and project the groups arose about assigned matters, between and anxious the Agena to prove should their mettle. Questions procure

interconnect be responsito and role of

and the spacecraft,

or who should

ble for the shroud that protected the spacecraft separated from the vehicle. Lee and I found moderator several times. However,

but also attached ourselves in the

in spite of a few delicate

and potentially

volatile situations involving the two organizations, all vehicle interface and development matters worked out well. For once, all the launches were successful. Beginning from scratch with a new project, Floyd Thompson ford Nelson as Project Manager and assigned a few outstanding work smaller with him in the development called Project Because of plans. Cliff had recently project Fire involving a rocket-launched chose Clifengineers to managed reentry probe space proja

at Wallops.

at the time Lunar Orbiter

was the only major

ect at Langley, close cognizance perience like Israel Broome destined point outlook during that

Thompson and his deputy, Charles J. Donlan, maintained over activities and imparted a considerable amount of exto the process. Assignments were made to old-timers faces like Cal and were cooperative Ed Brummer, giants with and Bill Boyer and to newer jobs on Lunar project. that From had

and wisdom Taback, to become of view,

and Tom Young. dealing

All five did great in the Viking this new project. team, team

Orbiter

my Headquarters a very from the struggles

was a real pleasure--quite the start-up of the Ranger became group to the new NASA to NASA

a different

experience from

In addition was new spacecraft.

a group

the Boeing to prepare

Company Orbiter the orbiter 145

the contractor

to develop

Lunar

The Boeing

had become

"available"

FAR TRAVELERS

proposal

when

a large intact talent

Air

Force

project

called engineers

Dynasoar to work team

was

canceled.

This

left an almost providing ly. Boeing employed more the won

nucleus needed

of first-rate to establish with offering initially was existing unique

on Lunar almost different

Orbiter,

a complete

immediatefrom that with All the to its

the competition proposers, I had of factors

a concept

somewhat stabilized and

by most

a three-axis at Langley and

spacecraft for the task. during

capability

than

envisioned

as necessary undoubtedly

in all, the combination establishment success. The planning of timing of project

at Boeing

of the project

contributed

initiation considered

was

also

significant. critical, for

The and

need the

for Apollo recollection and

information

was

somewhat payloads of Space on a

difficulties

in providing by

scientific the Office

Ranger, and

Mariner, Applications

Surveyor that the

led to a decision orbiter of the between returns design mission Moon. the were and activities, than the

Sciences single involved

would Because system

focus this and

purpose, detailed and

namely, design the

photography tradeoffs scientific systems

objective the

camera to be used photographic with other

spacecraft, mission were by

because

largely

for Apollo planning

support, defined

camera to be

mission

"engineering" munity, rather

"support" way

to be provided around. This

the scientific decision-making the project than had

com-

focused within

responsibilities facilitating experienced Another ware Langley isting from and systems for

for the scientific payload-spacecraft with ground any other rule source missions. adopted would

payload integration by be

equipment

office, been hard-

to a greater office into reviewed

degree was the that orbiter

the project integrated

proven

if possible. on ex-

Boeing that the control, had been developed with that

engineers might

immediately

all information mission,

be applicable stabilization and

to a Lunar control, of

Orbiter midcourse power, system It was that having had

including and

techniques maintaining temperature was chosen of a camera by equipment

attitude

correction, communications, configuration in fact been

housekeeping and used the like.

functions Even

the camera flights.

that

on Earth-orbital

a derivative superseded military to see it equip-

for military greater capability,

reconnaissance but also

such did not

a high wish and

classification used ment required in NASA's allowed

Department open society. and for this

of Defense This use

personnel of proven emphasis

technologies on new

Langley

Boeing mission.

to place

developments

specifically

146

THE BACK SIDE OF THE MOON

The matter of photographing of the unusual photometric

the Moon

was challenging,

partly

because

properties

of the lunar surface.

From Earth-based

observations it was known that the reflective properties of the Moon are quite different from those of Earth; this and the fact that the Moon has no atmosphere for light scattering means that objects within shadows ble. From a study of these lunar characteristics, it was determined of the photography should be obtained during morning to 40 ° above the local horizon. shadows so that topographical This would produce a reasonable features would stand out. are invisithat much of 15 o of balance

Sun at angles

Since the region of the Moon Apollo planning, it was targeted necessary The with respect a time when the proper because reduce course, photos would first requirement arrival angle. for proper at the Moon The Lunar was planned

near the equator was of prime interest to for initial missions to ensure that all the obtained with only five spacecraft. angle of the Sun at rays making was 90 hours, trajectory orbit. to Of satisfied by launching lighting would conditions--the

be successfully

to the region

being photographed--was Orbiter's

find the Sun's morning trip time to the Moon "minimum-energy" for establishing changed, required

the flight the amount the lighting

as a near

of retropropulsion changed as the phase

of the Moon

so any given

mission had to be scheduled to allow the photographic sequence to progress along the surface ahead of the day-night terminator as the shadow moved. Once Moon, lunar an orbit was established, essentially fixed its geometry allow would permit space the orbiter relative to maintain orientation in inertial the rotation to the on its

so that waiting

in orbit would

of the Moon

axis to bring the targets of interest under the low point of the spacecraft orbit. Refinements in the orbit were possible by additional burns of the retro rocket, but because of the risk involved were favorably its solar power If coverage they were kept to a minimum. When the targets was reoriented from series of photographs. located attitude greater under the orbit, the spacecraft to look downward and take a than that achievable built were up by defined on a single overlapping in advance, coverage support resulted oblique was of in

pass was required, blocks of coverage were photography on successive orbits. The overlaps depending provided After the photographs on the cameras by the wide-angle, most of the mapping requirements, of great scientific a used, and, in addition, 80-millimeter photographs number of and general

stereoscopic

lens system. were taken available interest, in direct periods including

Apollo

views

147

FAR TRAVELERS

and pictures
to Apollo. data and and

of regions

other than Lunar

those Orbiter

thought missions

to be of immediate were successful verification maximum of interest. and

interest of earlier 4 scientific

The first three a complete orbital

in obtain-

ing all the necessary 5, higher

Apollo

site coverage, were

with some ordered,

series of maps inclinations

for the region

On missions

coverage was provided cesses and operational scientific The spacecraft was

from these two spacecraft. Because successes of the spacecraft, Lunar to anticipate stabilized a three-axis vehicle,

of the launch sucOrbiters returned about 850

data that we had not dared

at the outset of the program. weighing

pounds at launch by the Atlas/Agena. Electrical power was provided by four solar panels, with batteries for a limited electrical load during periods of sunset or when the spacecraft directional was oriented and for photography. provided Two antennas, communicaone a high-gain one omnidirectional,

tions with the spacecraft in the same general manner as for Rangers and Mariners. Thermal control for the vehicle was primarily passive, with a limited pitch angles sensor number were of electrical heaters. The attitude references panels for yaw faced and provided by Sun sensors so that the solar at right

to the Sun. The roll axis reference was provided by an electro-optical that tracked the star Canopus. The high-gain antenna pointed toward of a rotatable normally boom on the unit which could be prooriented for the The spacecraft maintained this Sun-Canopus

Earth with the assistance grammed.

attitude control, except when it was reoriented to align the rocket engine midcourse correction, for lunar orbit injection, or during periods when cameras were being pointed and the spacecraft was reoriented photography. Most functions of the spacecraft mer. This unit received commands them immediately was functions or stored them memory spacecraft available in the

to allow

were controlled by an onboard programfrom Earth stations and either executed for execution to allow hours. two other forms of informaof several at a later automatic time. Sufficient of the control

system

for a period

In addition

to the photographs

of the Moon,

tion about the space environment were provided. A group of micrometeoroid detectors was located in a ring just below the fuel tanks to record punctures which, by micrometeorite punctured, particles. would Each detector to Earth was a pressurized can when send a signal so that both the event

and the location of the impact could be determined. Two proton radiation detectors were carried to allow evaluation of the environment affecting the film. Shielding on these detectors approximated that at two critical locations

148

THEBACK SIDEOF THEMOON

within the photographic system,andtelemeteredoseratesallowedevaluad tion of the foggingeffectsany solarprotoneventmightcause. heseproton T eventswereof serious concern,andthe latestinformationon solarflareactivity was alwaysfactoredinto prelaunch planning. In a respectful ense, e spokeof the photographic s w systemasa pair of sophisticated "Brownie"cameras housedin a pressurized container,along with a developing systemsomewhatike that usedin laboratoryprocessing l of film, exceptthat liquids werecontainedin webbingmaterialinsteadof pans.The entirephotographic systemwashoused a thin aluminumshell in maintained underpressure etweenI and2 psi,with a high-pressureupply b s of nitrogenavailableto maintainthis pressure the eventof smallleaks. in Temperature controlwithin the unit involveda mountingplatewith fins to radiateheatfrom the underside the shell,plusautomaticallycontrolled of heaters theelectricalresistance of type.Temperatures werecontrolledwithin
+1 ° , and potassium The sulating humidity was maintained thiocyanate pads. lens had in appearance like those at 50+10 from percent with the help of

camera door,

to be protected

the cold of space by the trap-door

by an inspider.

constructed

This light and somewhat flimsy structure was recognized as a success-critical item when it failed to open during thermal vacuum tests before the first flight. This was the only failure shipment and necessitate in a series of systems tests, but it was enough a rework and retest before the first flight. given to the thermal mission; the door door problem, a failure did not close after a to allow use in a to delay did

In spite of special attention occur during the fourth sequence.

photographic

Fortunately,

it had been designed

partially opened state for temperature control, and it was possible to give it step commands that would move it a notch at a time. This command mode was used to save the mission, of commands involved but there were a lot of worried in the process. The incident that were critical people and a of myriad reminder was a frightening to success, many

of the small links in the chain

them easily overlooked during the development of a complex set of hightechnology items, but each as important as the most sophisticated element. The photographic processor, necessary transmitted system was composed of three basic sections: camera, and readout equipment. Of course, many interconnections were to make the system operate as a unit and react to commands from the ground. Kodak type SO-243 High Definition from Aerial Film, As the film was pulled the supply, it passed

The film was Eastman 70 millimeters in width.

149

FAR TRAVELERS

first throughthe focalplaneof the 80-millimeterens,sometimeseferredto l r asthe wide-angle lens.This lens-shutter ssembly a was an off-the-shelfunit modifiedfrom f/2.8 to f/5.6 with a Waterhouse stop.Modificationalsoincludedeliminationof shutterspeed settings, xcept1/25, 1/50, and1/100of e a second.A neutraldensityfilter was addedto the lensto help achievea balancein exposure with the 610-millimeterens.Simultaneously l with exposureof the80-millimeter format,exposure occurred the 610-millimeter on lenssystems, nda 20-bitcodeshowingthetime the photographwastaken a wasexposed adjacentto the 80-millimeter format. The 610-millimeterens, l modificationof an earlierdesignby PacificOptical, useda folding mirror anda focalplaneshutterto expose formatof approximately by 20° vera 5° susthe80-millimeterormatof approximately square. ollowingeachexf 35° F posure,the film was advanced exactly29.693centimeters (11.690inches). This brought the last 80-millimeterframe to a position just short of the 610-millimeter platen,bringingfreshfilm ontoboth platensandreadyingthe systemfor the next exposure.In this manner, the 80-millimeter and 610-millimeterframeswere interlacedon the samestrip of film. A preexposed patternof Reseau crosses aspresent n thefilm for indexing,along w o with a nine-step gray scale,powerresolvingtargets,andreference umbers. n Comingcloserthanabout200kilometers thelunar surface to madeimage motion a significantdegrading factorbecause the speed thespacecraft of of over the surface. herefore,imagemotion compensation as providedfor T w both lenssystems, incesomeof thehigh-resolution s photographs wereto be takenat an altitude of only 20kilometers.To accomplish this, a portion of thefield of view from the 610-millimeterenswasfed to the velocity/height l sensorlocatedphysicallyabovethe cameraplane. This optical signalwas analyzed the sensor,time correlated,nterpreted,and transmittedinto a by i servomechanism output usedto drive both cameraplatensso asto null the image motion. In otherwords,thefilm speed wasadjusted theimagemoby tion compensation sensorsystemto compensate the motion of the for spacecraftpast the target area. Sincethe cameracould take up to 20 photographs rapid successiont framingratesashigh as1.6 seconds in a per photograph,buffer storagewas providedfor the film betweenthe camera and processor. ilm was pulled through the cameraby the film advance F motor and temporarilystored on a camerastoragelooper systemwhich could hold up to 21 framesof exposed film beforesendingit through the developer.

150

THE BACK SIDE

OF THE

MOON

Film __ Composite video to communications subsystem _/Takeup Jand

takeup storage

looper

] __-

Scanner

Readout Processor and dryer_

_ooper

Bimat

Film supply

/
j

takeup

\

Bimat supply

Folding

/
Supply looper V/H sensor

mirror

610 mm jlens

80

mm

lens

Lunar

Orbiter

photographic

system

After Film SO-111 film went

completion into the film

of a photographic processor presoaked took place and with during was

pass, laminated

the

processor with

was

turned Kodak

on. type of the at a were the of

Eastman

Bimat

Imbibant travel

type around

PK-411.

Processing drum Bimat

to a negative

the processing the film and

controlled separated. film passed

temperature The over Bimat the

of 85 ° F. After was dryer discarded drum, into where

processing, the Bimat

takeup

chamber,

and

it was subjected

to a temperature

151

FAR TRAVELERS

95 ° F, and periphery again which essing. takeup exposed, After a hotwire could made readout only through

moisture of the drum.

was

driven

off for drying,

absorption the negative

by

pads

around

the once procbethe were

Following

film was twisted before function, on

90 ° , passing

out of the processor to the looper looper film, served then

and into the readout after the cameras, only a control signaling

looper,

was similar filled

in principle with

At this point, spool to empty

the readout processed

ing partially

the motor

it once again.

In this manner,

the photographs

processed, dried, and stored, all the film had been processed, device, making the processor

ready to be transmitted to Earth. the Bimat developer was cut free by free wheeling so that the readout mode of the all the The selected readout only by the capacity In normal completion to of

proceed until data available looper. selected

all data had been examined. at any time and was limited readout was modes conducted were prior

Two readout

possible.

operation,

photography and processing. one end and continue until readout obtained Images video video vanced vances, about linescan beam was opposite would normally concept

After processing, the readout could begin from all the film had been read. Film travel during of picture taking; thus the last pictures by a linescan tube. first for readout. tube which assembly, pause in turn fed a 0 to 240 hertz the film adbetween by adof the spot,

to the direction be accessible involved

The readout amplifier

a light scan generated the signal

were fed through

optics to a photomultiplier to Earth. In the readout

and transferred

into a 0 to 5 volt, a 23-second was

signal for transmission in 2.5-millimeter 287 lines tube, across the film was clamped which provided

segments.

During

in the readout Light an 800-hertz drum

gate and scanned horizontal anode. The sweep

with a raster

per millimeter. phosphor

for this scan

generated flying

of an electron

a revolving

resulting

approximately 200 microns in diameter, was "minified" 22 times and imaged on the emulsion side of the film. The vertical component of the raster was generated by moving across the film. After reversed, and Light transmitted the minifying lens or scanner lens at a precise rate scan of each segment, the film was advanced, the lens scanned in the opposite direction. and fed to the film was thus and each rethrough the film was collected by optics

the next segment

photomultiplier tube for conversion to electrical signals. The read out in "framelets," each 2.5 millimeters by 65 millimeters

quiring about 23 seconds to transmit. One frame, defined as one 80-millimeter and one 610-millimeter exposure pair with their associated time-code data, required 43 minutes for transmission.

152

0

bO 0

153

E4R TRAVELERS

After Space

receipt

and

processing

at one

of the Earth

stations

of the Deep devices.

Network,

the video

signal was

fed to one of two recording

Predetection video recordings were made of each readout sequence handling on Earth. At the same time, the ground reconstruction electronics were used to regenerate the signal. taking This essentially signal 35-millimeter in the provided and driving film; thus, became framelets These the reverse of the 2.5 20 spacecraft linescan millimeters millimeters readout, was imaged by 65 the video a kinescope whose

onto moving millimeters

each framelet a framelet

spacecraft

by 420 millimeters

on the ground. in lunar

were then laid as they exwith deada number properly, were obof

side by side to provide isted in the photographic Operations ly seriousness, anomalies so that tained. and,

reconstruction system

of all or part orbit. mission during compensator photographs

of the frames

for the first Lunar Orbiter as might be expected The image motion high-resolution

were conducted the first flight, of any did not work value system

occurred. no extremely

In spite of these troubles

with the photographic

and problems

with the orbiter attitude control system, a total of 205 exposed frames resulted. Of these, 38 had been taken in the initial orbit and 167 after the orbit had changed to provide landing the closer approach. and, The spacecraft did photograph all 9 potential sites for Apollo in addition, took picpictures. showed the provided to in addition

tures of 11 sites on the far side of the Moon The pictures of Earth from the vicinity lunar surface offsetting pictures in the foreground some new knowledge the losses was taken They surface of the orbiter in high-resolution during Such pictures a change a calculated camera

plus 2 Earth-Moon of the Moon that capabilities,

were most spectacular system The data.

and actually

first of these Earth-Moon the first photographs in the original in relation unplanned Boeing for the during If it from misto attitude away

orbit 16, about

5 days after

of the Moon sion plan. the lunar photographs project attitude Maneuvering

were taken. required

were not included pointing

in the spacecraft's risk; the prospect caused

so that camera

lenses were

the Moon.

involved of Earth

of taking

early in the flight

some concern

among

leaders. control had

Part of the concern was due to the fact that planning maneuvers and their execution had been completed period occurred of the mission because the mission without as planned, much review of this special picture taking would

the high-activity a problem impossible justly

and checking. that made have

to complete

the team

been

criticized.

154

THEBACK SIDEOFTHEMOON

However, the possibilityof obtainingsuchinterestingpicturesled to a seriesof hurriedly held meetingsamong NASA program officials. Lee Scherer,Floyd Thompson,Cliff Nelson, Jim Martin, and I convinced ourselves thatthe photographs ereworthwhileandthendiscussed w thematter with the Boeingofficialswho wereperformingthe missionunderan incentivecontract.It wasnot reasonable modify the predetermined to incentives;however,thecontractallowedNASA officialsto consider xtraperfore mance theendof theprogram,andif thepicturetakingwassuccessful, at to justifiably rewardthecontractorfor hisextraefforts.As it turnedout, Boeing officialsagreedin spiteof their projectmanagers' concern,andthe picturesweretakenon two differentorbits, 16and26. Not only werethesepicturesspectacularrom the standpointthat they f provided the first view of Earth from the distance the Moon with the of Moonin the foreground,but theyalsogavevaluable insightinto thebenefits of perspective shotsof the lunarsurface. ntil these U weretaken,all pictures hadbeentakenalongaxes perpendicularo theMoon'ssurface t with theidea of providing map-likeinformation.On subsequent LunarOrbiter missions, however,obliquephotographywasplannedandused.In talking with Neil Armstrongafter hisApollo 11missionto the Moon, I learnedthat someof the oblique photographs,which gaveviews of approachconditionslike thosethe astronauts sawfrom their windows,wereextremelyhelpful. It is interestingthatthese benefits mayhaveaccrued incidentallyasa resultof the early missiongamble. Havingbeenconceived with the primaryobjective providing informaof tion essential theApollo program,it is fitting to notethat the successful for LunarOrbiter alsosetthepacefor achieving extraordinary performance. By the endof the third flight, objectives prescribed supportApollo hadbeen to fulfilled. At theendof the fifth, theentirenearsideandsome99percentof the far side of the Moon had beenphotographed. he resolution of the T
photography the back telescopes. tained exceeded side of the that available Moon has from telescopes never been seen many times; of course, Earth-based data were obThe major significant determinalevels in the through new

In addition about irregularities

to the excellent the size, shape, of the Moon's

photographic gravitational

coverage, field were

and mass distribution

of the Moon. very

discoveries, of interest scientifically and important to trajectory tions of orbiting spacecraft. Micrometeoroid data and radiation

155

FAR TRAVELERS

vicinity of the Moon werealsodetermined the first time. Whileno surfor prisesof significance ererevealed w from thesemeasurements, newswas "no goodnews"for Apollo planners. Whileweneverthoughtaboutconducting projectslike LunarOrbiter to learnhow to manage,herewerea numberof goodpeoplewho received t excellenttrainingon this project.Many of theprincipalLangleyteammembers became playersin the successful key Viking projecta few yearslater. Jim Martin, who washired to work on LunarOrbiter because his provenexof perience with industry,became respectedeamleaderand laterguidedthe a t Viking effort asprojectmanager. heteamthat conducted T theLunarOrbiter mission sowell continued distinguish to itselfasgreater hallenges c werefaced. By the time the projectwas over, LeeScherer's jackethad quite a few "missionhours"on it, for it hadbeenin evidence everymajoroperational at activity for all five flights of theLunar Orbiter. Its symboliccontributionto the successf the programfinally cameto an endduring a victory party at o the HuntingtonHotel in Pasadena, when the jacketwas torn to shredsand dividedamongprojectmembers.

156

Tracking, Communications, and Data Acquisition A Revolution
At recited know an Apollo 11 victory banquet, master of ceremonies a "Yogi-ism" he attributed to his friend Yogi Berra: where you're going, you'll end up somewhere else." The Joe Garigiola "If you don't truth in that

bit of humor certainly applies to Tracking and position determination

missions using unmanned spacecraft. are absolutely vital to the process of exa spacecraft technology, principles--star conjunction The weight, of and systems spacecraft the oncomand to on a number during is and we

ploring distant targets, for it is essential to know where where it is heading in order to direct it to its destination. Before would trackers, power, tradeoffs, were many. after World systems board have the days of advanced and traditional radio communications celestial navigation been forced to use onboard position,

sextants, and accuracy

navigation speed, would

techniques--in and direction. have depended and testing

with accelerometers

to compute

of such systems advances with large

and the complexities Fortunately, War II enabled

of developing in radio ground

long-lived

tracking simple,

technologies lightweight

us to use relatively navigation

in conjunction complexities both essential

installations systems.

to obviate involves in flight planet

of self-contained to deliver about intelligence

A second munications, receive ble to plan

in the unmanned commands months its findings of several

spacecraft

equation

to a spacecraft to a distant commands

information

in space. In the 1960s it was not possiusing only had to be planned

a journey

preprogrammed

for the spacecraft;

from the outset. Since these spacecraft always went on one-way trips, they would have been of little use as emissaries for man if they had not been able to communicate Thus, tracking, mination common their findings technologies with accurate for lunar functions and interpretable and planetary capabilities. information. included deterthe Position the pacing missions

communications, and communications elements

and data

acquisition

were always bound

combined, their designers

because

of their radio

disciplines

together.

157

FAR TRAVELERS

For earlyspacemissions, pecialized s trackinganddata acquisitionsystems were developedin parallel with eachspacecraftand its instrumentation; however,it wassoonrecognized thatit would bebestif groundfacilitiesfor performingthesefunctionscould bedesigned ndbuilt to servea numberof a projects.Theconceptof a DeepSpace Instrumentation Facility(DSIF),combinedwith a DeepSpace Network(DSN),emerged standard meeting asa for the needs the many lunar and planetarymissions of and evolvedover the yearsto supporta spectrumof flight projects. In summary,deepspace missions requireseveral asictypesof support b from the tracking,communications, anddataacquisitionfacilities.Forcommandsnecessary ensure to controlof spacecraft, thereisa normalor routine capability,an emergencyapabilitythat usuallyis engineered work under c to off-designconditions such as low power or unusual attitudes, and an emergency weak signalmode that allows searches lost signalsor for for recoveryfrom out-of-syncconditions.Radionavigationinstrumentation is essentialor determinationof trajectoriesor orbits. This usually involves f Dopplertransponders nd accuratepointingcapabilities.For data acquisia tion, thereareusuallyhigh andlow bit ratemodesto accommodate difthe fering requirementsof continuously monitoring engineering data or interplanetary phenomena thatdo not vary rapidly, aswell asthehighbit rate requirements imagingsystems ndencounterinstrumentation. hereare for a T also specialrequirements so-calledradio science for experiments that use radio signals andanalyzechanges themcaused atmospheres in by andtheinterplanetary medium. Theamazing quality andperformance theNASA trackinganddataacof quisition systems cannotbe recalledwithout giving credit to EdmondC. BuckleyandGeraldM. Truszynski,who cameto NASA Headquarters from Langleyto leadthe development f this enormoussystem.Ed Buckleywas o for a time AssistantDirectorfor Spaceflight perationsunderAbe SilverO steinandwaslater theheadof theOffice of TrackingandDataAcquisition until his retirementin the 1970s.He cameto Washingtonasa very experienced NACA engineer ith anextensive w background telemetryandtrackin ing systemdevelopment nd operations.One of his majorefforts involved a development theWallopsIslandrange,a rocketlaunching,free-flighttest of facility thatwasbuilt for free-flighttransonic aerodynamics testsafterWorld War II. Gerald Truszynski,who later replacedBuckley, had similar experience and continuedthe advanceof capabilities,includingtrackingand data relaysatellites andotherinnovations. 158

TRACKING, COMMUNICATIONS, DATA AND ACQUISITION

Although completelydifferentby nature,Ed Buckleyat Headquarters and Eb Rechtinat JPLrespected eachotherand got alongwell. They provided an excellentexampleof headquarters andfield centercounterparts leadingdevelopments a requiredtechnological while managing for base programs and dealing with administrativechores.The telecommunications functionsthey providedwereprimeingredients thesuccessful in exploration of space.Justas impressivewas their remarkable of satisfyingusers' job needs. From a program office point of view, working with these people--whonevergot theirshareof creditbecausef thesupportivenature o of their task--was indeeda pleasure. Earth-orbitingsatellites had beensuccessfully trackedand interrogated by stationslocatedwithin theUnitedStates, lthoughoneor two stationsin a the southernhemisphere elped.The fact that a low-altitudesatellitecame h into view every90 minutesmadeit relativelyeasyto track its location. Of coursea satellitein Earthorbit wasalmostlike a train on a railroadtrack; it tendedto retracethesame general pathin inertialspace, rbit afterorbit. For o tracking lunar and planetaryspacecraft, owever,the process h would be morelike trackingcelestial odies,because singlestationon the rotating b a Earth could seea distant spacecraft nly duringone-third of a day. This o would not allow sufficientcoverageto monitor critical functionsand to transmit commands. ad groundstationsbeenlocatedonly in the United H States,very complextradeoffs would havebeennecessary timingevents for when the stationswerein view of thespacecraft. It did not take long for Rechtin,his principalsystemdesigner, alter W Victor, and theengineers tJPLto developaplanfor a networkof threestaa tions locatedapproximately120 longitudeapart, so that oneof the three ° would alwaysbe in view of any spacecraft. Obviouslyit wasdesirable for the principal stationto benearJPL,if possible,andin the springof 1958,a remotesite suitablefor a sensitive receiver(freefrom manmaderadio interference) aslocatedin a bowl-shaped w areaat CampIrwin, an Army post some50 milesnorth of Barstow,California,in theMojave Desert.As this wasa government eservation,t wasnot difficult to obtain approvalto use r i this site.Theproblems associated ith selecting andimplementing w sites plans for the other two network stationsweremore difficult, asone of the sites selected was in a dry lakebedneartheWoomeratestrangein EastCentral Australiaand theotherin a shallowvalleynearJohannesburg, SouthAfrica. Approval for thesesites,of couse, equiredtheDepartment Stateto work r of out arrangements ith the respective w governments, includingconstruction 159

FAR TRAVELERS

and over the 1965,

staffing

with

nationals.

During

the

1960s,

concern

occasionally of political unrest

arose and In this

the permanence relationship an additional condition signals of

of the South the South

African

site because and United

African established

States Spain, the

governments. to backstop longitude. often

site was and

at Madrid, near with

uncertain The from

to ensure by small

coverage radios

Greenwich antennas

received stations early were to make signals from

built-in

come power. of the and

commercial of the power receivers

with Ranger

as much and

as 50 000 watts spacecraft,

of broadcast only

In the case transmitter ground sort radio and

Mariner This

3 to 4 watts burden To acquire and on

available. sense out

placed

a significant weak signals. noise had

of the very galactic tracking that they

out weak signals highly

random Earth, meant

background antennas had

manmade large

bouncing directional. the weak of the "Az-E1," derived antennas

around This signal Earth

to be very

to be accurately to focus were so that surface driven

steerable, on that by single what

for gathering source. were were point, Most called simply and

depended satellite

on their tracking drive

ability

antennas systems, to the

azimuth-elevation as normal were driven and

the coordinates of Earth at the

parallel axes.

in two

Goldstone, California

I I I I I I

\
\ South % % % %
.%

Africa

Woomera, Australia

Location 160

of Deep

Space

Network

stations

TRACKING,

COMMUNICATIONS,

AND DATA ACQUISITION

Two principal Merrick, borrowed They polar this matter. an equatorial celestial mounted;

members chose The

of the JPL staff, Robertson design from

Stevens

and William to deal with equipped was with polar to the for tracking

an antenna mount gear based

radio astronomers requirements the antenna

a parabolic system

dish 85 feet in diameter, on astronomical that moved or hour-angle

bodies.

that is, the axis of the polar

gear was parallel

polar axis of Earth and thus pointed toward the North Star. This gear swept the antenna in an hour-angle path from one horizon to another. The declination gears suited ment gear could wheel, the smaller either of the separately two gears, was mounted on an axis The precise moveparallel tracking. to Earth's The equator, thus allowing mounts the dish to pivot up and down. or simultaneously they allowed of Earth to provide dishes provided principal

be moved equatorial

used for the deep space spacecraft;

were better the other.

for tracking around

interplanetary

only one axis,

since the rotation

The standard perforated metal ly called stories a "dish."

ground station antenna was a large parabolic reflector--a mirror that looked like an inverted umbrella and was usualThe antenna hundreds and its supporting of thousands structure of pounds. stood 10 to 20 Since the anten-

high and weighed

na had to point directly at the object being tracked to receive the strongest signal, a servo system normally operating in a feedback or slave mode was used. Pointing angle information computer in advance and then during a mission. All parts was based on trajectory data predicted by updated by actual trajectory data obtained were so precisely balanced and

of these antennas

aligned that, in spite of their weight, they could be rotated very sensitively, with only small deflections or vibrations that might cause the signal to be fuzzy. Astronomical antennas that were the starting point for deep space tracking and data acquisition antennas did not have two-way communication capability, Thus it was for there necessary allow was little reason to broadcast commands to the stars. and the and as well as to provide for diplexers the communication to permit simultaneous transmitters antennas

feeds that would receivers.

the dishes to serve as transmitting

This called

transmission

reception using a single antenna. Added capabilities were referred to as the uplink and downlink functions. Devices were also added to the antennas for tracking driving for the the spacecraft requires of interest and for "closing (1) a measure the loop" of angular in the sense of displacement and (2) the antenna-pointing spacecraft with mechanisms. respect to a reference system on Earth

Tracking

two parameters:

161

FAR TRAVELERS

measurement the distance of from the tracking antennato the spacecraft. The angularmeasurements be obtainedby accuratelycalibrating the can directionalpointingsystemfor the antennaasa function of its drive actuators. The distancemeasurement basedon the Doppler principle,well is known for its usein determiningthe relativespeed a celestial ody or a of b starwith respectto Earth.The so-called Dopplershift is really the apparent change frequency a signalreflected in of from or emittedby a movingobject as the objectmovestoward or away from the observer.Everyonehasexperienced theDopplereffect:thewhistleof anapproaching train sounds high pitched,andthe pitch dropsas the train passes. samething happens The to radio signals,and it is possibleto accuratelydeterminerate of changein distance measuring frequencyshift. by the Early spacecraftused one-way Doppler; that is, signals from the spacecraft eretransmittedto the groundand changes frequencywere w in measured the same in way thesoundfroma train whistlemightbemeasured for its changein frequency.This technique depended knowledgeof the on precisetransmittingfrequencyof the spacecraft;ts accuracywas limited i because frequencies erealwayssubjectto change.Two-wayDopplerwas w developed increase to accuracy from about90feetper second aslittle as1 to inchper second. heconceptof two-wayDoppleris simple:a precise T signal transmittedfrom the groundis received the spacecraftransponder nd by t a retransmittedat a new frequencyin a preciselyknown ratio to the one received. his allowsmeasurements frequency T of change thesignalon the in way up andon the way down, tremendously increasing theprecisionof the Dopplerinformationandthevelocitycalculations. singtwo-wayDoppler, U the distance a spacecraft everal illion milesawaycouldbe determined to s m within 20to 50statutemiles.Later,an automaticcoded signalin conjunction with theDopplerinformationprovidedmeasurements an accuracy with better than45 feetat planetaryranges. Becausehe Dopplershiftsdueto changes the velocitiesof spacecraft t in variedwidely, receivers adto becontinuallytunedtoa narrowrangeof freh quencies. This wasa troublesome problemuntil a technique wasfoundthat provideda phase-lock methodof signaldetection,maintaininganautomatic frequency controlandkeepingthereceiver lockedwith the received frequency. Thus,eventhoughthefrequencies erechanging w with the speed the of spacecraft ndthe relativespeed a dueto the rotationof Earth,it waspossible to maintaina coherenttrackingof thespacecraft nderwidely varyingconu ditions. 162

TRACKING, COMMUNICATIONS, DATA AND ACQUISITION

Automatic phasecontrol originsdateback to the 1920s and 1930s, ut b the first known applicationwasin a horizontalline synchronization device for televisionin the 1940s.RechtinandR. M. Jaffee showedin 1955how a second-order phase-locked couldbeusedasatrackingfilter for a missile loop beacon, ndspecified a how to copewith Dopplersignalshiftsin weaknoise. W. K. Victor further developed theoryand practicefor automaticgain the controlfor suchclosedloops in conjunctionwith his manyother contributions to spacecraftracking. t Accordingto seniorJPLengineers, transitionfrom vacuumtubesto the solid-state technologywas not without trauma.It is understandablehat a t changefrom such a highly developedand known technologyto the mysterious new promiseof transistors anddiodescaused projectengineers many headaches. Most engineers involvedwith spacecraft ardwarewere h familiar with the shortcomings vacuumtube technology;vacuumtubes of wereparticularlysubjectto problemscaused thesevere by acceleration and vibration environment uringrocketlaunch.However,tradeoffs d involvedin dealing with known qualities versus the uncertain effects of a new technology weredifficult to assess. took manyyearsto develop It confidence in the applicationof solid-state electronics, eventhoughtheprincipleswere provenandunderstood. anger ndMarinerspacecraft R a wereamongthefirst to befully committedto the useof suchdevices, ith the major exception w that their power amplifierswerevacuumtubetriodes. RobertsonStevens cited threemajorfactorsresponsible the low bit for rate that was achievedwith Rangersand early Mariners: limitations in power,limitationsin antennasize,andlow transmitting frequencies. One of the reasons power limitationsin early missions for wasthe fact that transmitterswerepoweredby vacuumtubetriode amplifierswhich wereheavy and inefficient power consumers.t was not until traveling wave tube I amplifierscameinto use(thefirst lunar andplanetaryspacecraft application wasSurveyor)thata significantincrease 20wattswasmadein transmitter to power. The antennasizewas of courselimited by the difficulty in packaging antennas fit within the shroudson top of boosters, swell asthe weight to a availablefor suchstructures. The frequencylimitation wasrelatedto several actors,not the leastof f which wasthe greateraccuracy antennageometry of requiredfor operation at high frequencies.n addition, therewereproblemsin discriminatingand I dealingwith high-frequency signals. oliticalfactorsalsoinfluencedtheuse P 163

FAR TRAVELERS

of newradio frequencies; therewasconsiderable internationalconcern over the allocationof the usableradio frequency spectrum. TheearlyRanger ndMariner missions a operated L-bandfrequencies f at o about890to 960megahertz. During themiddleof theRangeractivity, there was suchdemandfor aircraft communications thesefrequencieshat a at t changeover asplannedto S-band(2110to 2300megahertz), aking the w m L-bandregionof the spectrum availablefor Earthcommunication links with aircraft andotherusers.This change was to haveoccurredwith Ranger10 andsubsequent Rangers hich werecanceled;heupgradein frequency w t was madein 1964for Mariners3 and4. The conversionto higherfrequenciesequireda major modificationof r equipmentand procedures all DSN stations;however,this changehad at merit for space applicationoncethe engineering adbeendone.The simple h matteris that, for an antennaof a given size,higherfrequencies llow nara rowerbeams, ighergains,andimprovedperformance. earlyExplorers h The usedsignalsin the100-megahertz region,andtheantennas spread datain all directions; the current capability of Voyager at frequenciesof 8500 megahertz (almosta hundredfoldincrease) rovidesenergy105timesmore p focused becausef the narrowbeam.Of coursethis translates a burden o into for accurateattitude orientationor pointing, both for the spacecraft nd a ground-basedntennas. timepassed, waspossible build largerantena As it to nasfor groundusethathadthe stabilityrequiredfor highfrequenciesn adi dition to greatercollectingareas.Thefirst DSNdishes wereabout26meters (85feet) in diameter;thesewere later supplantedby 64-meter(210-foot) dishes with greatlyincreased signal-gatheringapability. c At the time the DSN was beinginitiated, signalsreturnedfrom space wereamplifiedwith tubeamplifiers,whichwereconnected cablefrom the by antennaand,beinglarge,bulky devices, erehoused w nearby.Becausehey t operated hightemperatures, addedradio noiseto the signals at they received from space.In addition to their own noise, the cabling and mechanical filamentspickedup noisefrom extraneous ources,so that the total signals to-noiseratio wasquitelow. Eventhoughinefficient,these amplifierscould amplify the signalsas muchas1012timesthe receivedsignalstrength;this wasof coursenecessaryo makethe very weaksignalsuseful. t Earlyin the 1960s parametricamplifiersweredeveloped. hesewereapT plicationsof solid-statetechnologyand usedcooled devicesoperatedat temperatures muchlower thanthehot elements vacuumtubes.Parametric in amplifiersprovidedsomething a factor of 10improvementin thereduclike 164

TRACKING, COMMUNICATIONS, DATA AND ACQUISITION

tion of noiseandthereforegreatlyincreased theamplificationprocesses for weaksignals. An outgrowth of this coolingamplificationtechnology wasthe developmentof themaser, namplifierthatusedelementsooledby liquid heliumto a c 4 K, very closeto absolutezero. Maseris an acronym for "microwave amplificationby stimulated emission radiation."(I wasamused of whentalking with Stevens, who hadbeeninvolvedin thetechnology before,during, andafter the maser asinvented,that hewasableonly with someeffort to w recallthelabelingfor eachof thelettersin theacronym.Thisis typicalof the problemswe engineers enerate usingthe "alphabetsoup"approachfor g by describingthings.) The heart of the maseramplifier is a syntheticruby crystal,immersed liquid heliumto keepit at a very low temperature.t in I operates with a "pumped-in"sourceof microwaveenergyto augmentthe strengthof the incomingsignalwithout generating uchinternal noise. m I wastold aninteresting accountof maserdevelopment involving Walter Higa, a JPLengineer ho went to Harvardandworkedasan apprentice w to the inventor of the maseramplifierconcept.Higareturnedto JPLand immediatelywent to work to build a maserfor space application.It wasobvious that to receivethe full benefitsof suchan amplifier, it should be locatedat the feedof the antenna,asnearaspossible the point at which to the signalwascollected,thusavoiding the additionof noiseby cables that might sense spurioussignals otherinterference. or Thismeantthat the liquid heliumcoolingsystemalsohadto be on the antenna andmovewith it asit tracked a spacecraft.In the very early application, liquid helium was availableonly in largevacuumDewars,and thereservoiron the antenna itself hadto berefilledaboutevery10 hoursby a manraisedwith a cherry picker cranedevice.After doing this onerouschorefor sometime, an ingenious JPLtechnician who had beenan automotive mechanic developed a refrigerator systemthat eliminated this unpleasant uty. His scheme d involveda smallrefrigeration with connections unit from thebase theantenof na, providing thegeneration liquid heliumonthe antennafrom a source of on the ground,so that the operationcould be self-sustaining. Regarding noisecontributionof the system,he maserandthe large the t dishtechnologies avebeendeveloped h sowell thattheremightnot bemuch moreto gainby furtherrefinements. Accordingto Stevens, improvement an of lessthan 20 K in noise temperatureis theoreticallypossible.Of this amount, about4 K is attributableto the background noiseof space which cannotbeeliminated,about3 to 4 K is dueto masernefficiencies, i andabout 165

FARTRAVELERS

6 to 8 K is dueto atmospheric effects,depending thefrequencyused.Of on course,the higherthe frequency,thebetter,althoughweatherdefinitelyaffectsthe noise,evenat X-band,which is 8500megahertz. problemalways A exists because theantennatemperature:his is caused theproximity of of t by Earth and the reflectiveobjectswhich radiate heat to the antenna.It is estimated that a factorof two in gainmight bepossible,evenif an antenna werelocatedon thebacksideof theMoon to minimizetheheatingandnoise effects. One additional trick that is beingusedto improve capabilityis called "arraying."This involvesthe concurrent seof several ntennas the same u a in general egionto effectivelyincrease r thedisharea.By usingfour antennas in Australia, for example,a data rate of 29.9kilobits per secondcan be returnedby the Voyager spacecraft hen it passes w near Uranusin January 1986.And this remarkable rate is achieved usinga spacecraft ntennaonly a 3.6 metersin diameter,transmittingsignalsover a distanceof 3 billion kilometers! An interestingoutgrowthof deepspace trackingis that theknown location of stationson Earthwasimprovedgreatlyin the process. s a resultof A theMarinermissionto Marsin 1964,it wasestimated theabsolutelocathat tion of the Goldstonetrackingstationwasimprovedfrom an approximate position within 100metersto within 20 meters.This figure hasbeenimprovedduring subsequent missions within lessthan 1 meter. to from the Dopplerdata The way in which stationlocation is determined t may be understoodby supposing spacecrafto be fixed in spacewith the respecto thecenterof Earth.The onlyDopplertonewould becaused the t by station'srotationalvelocityalongthe directionto the spacecraft:herefore, t the observed Dopplertoneat the stationdepends the latitude,longitude, on andradiusfrom the centerof Earth.Sincethousands measurements of were obtainedduring the many trackingpasses the network stations,it was of possibleto deducethe proper combinationof station location errors to matchthedata.It is alsointeresting notethat the massesf theMoon and to o the planets weredetermined a similarfashion.In thecase theMoon, for in of example,the variation in Dopplertonewas dueto the movementof Earth aroundtheEarth-Moonsystem's centerof mass,or barycenter.Earthmakes onerotationaroundthisbarycenter every28 daysat a speed 27milesper of hour. This could bemeasured accurately the trackingsystem. by In every case,the orbit of a spacecraftlying past a planetarybody is f deflected the gravity of that body. The amount of deflection,coupled by 166

TRACKING, COMMUNICATIONS, DATA AND ACQUISITION

with theknowledgeof thedistance from thecenterof mass, llowsscientists a to calculate very accurately themassof thebodyin question.Trackingdata obtainedfrom Lunar Orbiter spacecraft roduceddata which allowed the p scientificdiscoveryof mass variationswithin thebodyof theMoon. PaulM. Muller and William L. Sjogrenwereable to usethe accuratelydetermined variationsin the track of Orbiter aroundthe Moonto identify massdeviations and even to locatethem approximatelybeneaththe surfaceof the Moon. Theseanomalous concentrations, called"mascons," erediscovered w to be presentin the greatcircularmarebasins,suggesting largechunks that of heavymaterialmay havesunkinto a plastic,perhaps moltenMoon until the gravity field wasrestored equilibrium.Thefindingswerenot only of to interestscientifically,theywerealsosignificantforplanningApollo missions to theMoon, because themascons efinitelyaffectthe orbital andtrajectory d parameters lunar spacecraft. of The radio signalsusedfor trackingpurposes havealsoserveda number of additionalscientificstudies.Whenever spacecraft pasta planetin a a flew way that caused radio signalsto passback throughits atmosphere, the the attenuationand distortion of the signalsalloweda greatdeal of deduction about the nature of the planet'satmosphere and ionosphere.Such experimentsgave the first definitive informationabout the atmospheres of Mars and Venus. Although direct communication links with spacecraft ereprime conw siderations,t mustberemembered i thata large,Earth-based complex wasinvolvedin thetotal process.ncludedwerethe Space lightOperations I F Center colocatedwith the SpaceFlight OperationsFacility, the LaunchControl Centercolocated with thelaunchfacilitiesatCape Kennedy,certainAtlantic MissileRangestations,andan interconnectingroundnetworkof radioand g telephone systems.n manycases, I gettingdatabackto JPLafterits receiptat a Deep SpaceStation presentedsignificant challenges. roblems often P developed with leased landlinesor transoceanicommunications--problems c that were mademoredifficult because the coordinationinvolved. The of curiousanomaly of beingable to communicate millions of milesbetween planetswith greaterassurance than from pointson the surfaceof Earth alwayspuzzledme. In recallingmissionactivitiesduringyearsofassociation with lunar and planetary programs,it seemsto me that the telecommunicationystems s probably werethe mostdependable f all. I know of no major difficulties o resultingfrom technological mishaps from overestimating capability or the 167

FAR TRAVELERS

of the tracking,dataacquisition,andcommandprocess.In discussing this subject ith a respectedPLprojectengineer, eofferedtheopinion that the w J h telecommunicationsuys always cheatedin the gameof balanceddesign g marginsfor spacecraft. saidthey madea practiceof computingmargins He basedon the simpleadditionof all factorsandwereneverforcedto usethe statisticalprobabilitiesthat mostotherengineering tradeoffsinvolved. As a result,he thinkstheynormally enjoyedgreatermarginsandwereableto do morethan was predicted.If he is right, this practicemay haveresultedin someunfavorabledesigncompromises other areas;however,it always in mademe feel good knowing that we could count on telecommunications
operations to produce the promised performance.

168

The Matched Pairs Viking Orbiters and Landers
Although sider different was unique. walking plore was Earth, mountaintops from aircraft, not given ways much thought at the time, our opportunity and to plan to do so from from a local point men viewed to conscratch

of exploring

a planet

Until our generation, and its exploration circles.

the only planet had begun After a time,

men had been able to exof view, by valleys from

in ever-widening

and finally saw both mountains and valleys at the same time but never from the perspective that would have been afforded from elsewhere in our solar system. of maturing experiences, I am amused to recall our As the

space travelers arriving After several years blas6 approach engineers and technologies that needed occur

to planning the first missions to the Moon and planets. scientists, we had confidence in our abilities and

available, to happen

and we simply set about planning to do the things if we were to achieve our goals. Occasionally it would lucky to belong to the first generation always fleeting and having replaced

to me that we were very

such an opportunity, but these thoughts were quickly by the demands of tasks at hand.

No matter how one addressed the question of exploring the first requirement was to get closer. The flyby mission challenge orbiting recognized ultimately planet. Making was obviously synoptic erties and simultaneous a desirable would insight observations means allow from orbiting at first, and that mode to extend the period as next-generation needed to assess occupied of observation extensions the nature and to increase

a distant planet, was enough of a of coverage were

us fully for a time. The benefits

of the flyby mode: landings were of the surface and features of the and landing obtained spacecraft of propat a specific

of multiplying broader

returns.

The combination of the "global" information.

views from orbit and the detailed provide

information

site on the surface

interpretations

for the interpretation

of point

169

FAR TRAVELERS

The Surveyorprogramwas originallyconceived combinations oras of bitersandlanders,but because theMoon is a relatively "dead"body, there wasno greatneedfor orbiting and landingmissions occurat exactlythe to sametime.Conditionson theplanetMars, however,aredynamic,with frequent changes atmospheric in conditions,changingseasons, frequentdust storms,and frost-covered polar caps;thus, obviousbenefitscould accrue from concurrentobservations. herewasanotherpowerful reasonfor the T simultaneous launch of orbiter-landercombinationsto Mars and Venus. Because f the roughly2 yearsbetweenlaunchopportunities,completeino formationwould be obtainedmuchsoonerif orbitersandlanderscouldbe dispatched the sametime. at Howeverdesirable,he first opportunityto plan for sucha concept ame t c with a programnamedVoyager.Early studiesfor Voyagerbeganin 1962; however,it wasnot until the 1965-66 periodthatprogramapprovalwasobtained.The Voyagerprojectplan envisioned development the anduseof an orbiter-landerspacecraft combinationhavingbroad capabilities conductfor ing missions MarsandVenusatseveral pportunities.Thelong-range to o objective was to allow systematicexploration of theseplanets with two launchesper opportunity, using production-likehardware in a manner similar to that beingappliedto missions the Moon. Initially theVoyager to launch vehiclewas to be a Saturnlb integratedwith the Centaurupper stage,a development hought to be relatively straightforward,sinceboth t vehicles alreadyexisted andwereseemingly compatible. sno otherplanned A usesfor this vehiclecombinationexisted,it would havebeendedicated exclusivelyto Voyagermissions. fter a while, the undesirable A economics of this exclusiveuse situation contributedto an alternatedecisionto adapt Voyagerto the Saturn5 vehiclethat wasalreadybeingusedfor Apollo. It wasa largerandmorecostlyvehicle,but by this time it waswell alongin its development,and being advocatedas a productionvehiclefor long-term use,makingit moreattractivefor the long-termVoyagerprogramthan the Saturn1b/Centaur. Those of you familiar with the 1980sachievements the Voyager of spacecraftthat have successfullylown by the planetsJupiterand Saturn f may be wonderinghow Voyagerwastransformed from a Venus-Mars program to an outer planetsprogram.Perhaps this junctureit is well to exat plain that theoriginalVoyagerprogramwascanceled beforeit really got going, and that the name Voyager gram that had been identified was later given to a Jupiter-Saturn flyby proor for a time as the Mariner-Jupiter-Saturn,

170

THEMATCHEDPAIRS

MJS,project. A namechange wasorderedby NASA Headquarters porto tray the increasein scopeover earlier Mariner-class missions,and since Voyagerhad beendroppedsome20 yearsearlier,it was decidedthat the namecould be usedagain.In spiteof someJPLconcerns that the newprogrammightbe taintedwith the handed-down monikerfrom an unsuccessful effort, the programturned out well, as described briefly in a subsequent chapter. In reviewingthe settingfor Voyagermissionplanning, it is helpful to recalltheimpactof Mariner4 resultsobtainedduringthe1965 flyby of Mars. Likeits Mariner2 predecessor, Mariner4 wasthesecond a pairof modest of spacecraftlaunchedby an Atlas/Agena,with Mariner 3 sufferinga fate similarto that of Mariner1.Thistimeit wastheshroudatopthelaunchvehicle that caused heartbreaking the failure and not the vehicleitself, but the resultswerethe same. ariner4 madethelong trip to Mars in late1964and M into 1965,gallantlyphotographing planetwith a televisioncameraand the returningthe picturesat the painfully slowrateof 81/s bits per second. A mostsignificantfindingfrom theclose-up Mariner4 pictures--only21 and a fraction weretaken--was the fact that Mars appeared lot more a Moon-likethanEarth-like.To the surprise everyone,ncludingthe scienof i tific community,Marswasfoundto beheavilycratered, ith noevidence w in any of the photosof the canal-likefeaturesthathad beenenvisioned from astronomical bservations o usingtelescopes. After thisrevelationby Mariner4, reasonsor thelargenumberof craters f were readily forthcoming,yet searches f the scientificliteraturerevealed o only a few brief inferences y scientists b thatsuchmight beexpected. During theplanningfor Mariner4, I hadneverheardanysuggestion from our scientific advisorsthat they expected Mars to becovered with craters.This incidentmademea little morewary of theprofoundprojectionssomescientists wereproneto make;several f theinvestigators' o reportsgavetheimpression that they, too, weresomewhat umbledby theoversight. h The dashedhopesof finding "little greenmen"was devastatingto the supportfor Marsexploration--especiallyrom administrators nd members f a of Congress. WhileMariner4 resultswerealsodisappointing thosedirectto ly involvedin the "business," omeof us felt thatthe evidence s wasso scant that wesurelyoughtto conducta morethoroughsearch beforewriting Mars off as a dull, lifelessplanet. Accordingly,our determinedpursuit for approval of more Mariner missionscontinuedwhile planningbeganfor the Voyager-typeprogram. 171

FARTRAVELERS

Threeburningquestions wereformulatedconcerning thematterof life on the planet: Is therelife of someform on Mars now? If not now, hastherebeenin the past'?. Could the planetbecome habitablefor life as we know it? In additionto these science uestions,hereweremanyvalid scientific life q t questions abouttheplanetthathadnot beenanswered theMariner4 findby ings--detailsconcerning body properties,its atmosphere, mysterious its its polar caps,whethervolcanicactivitiesexisted,andthe like. As discussions aboutMars wereagainstimulated,a newwaveof excitement rosein the a scientificcommunitywhich alsobeganto infectotherswho hadlost interest in Mars afterMariner 4. Voyagerflights werenot plannedto beginuntil the early 1970s,so we boldly continuedto work towardMarinerMars missions 1969and1971. in The1969 flights wereto bemoresophisticated flybys,andin 1971wehoped to orbit the "red planet," producingmapsand other data that would be usefulfor planningVoyagermissions. s it turnedout, theseMariner misA sionswereextremelyimportant, anda slight digression warrantedto exis plain why. Frommy viewpoint, theevolutionaryadvances missioncapabilityafin fordedby the smallerMariner-class pacecraft eremorelogicalstepsthan s w the "orderof magnitude," scaled-up effortsrequiredto developandoperate Saturn-launched Voyagerspacecraft.I was worried that we would find ourselves ith all our eggsin onebasket--with higherrisksandwith finanw cial, management, andorganizational hallenges c muchharderto control.As a matterof fact, technologicalmprovements the Marinershad already i in madethemappearcapable addressinghemostimmediate of t scientificquestions, at leastuntil after we had beenable to conductorbiting missions to observe andmap mostof the planet. I mademy viewsknown,but theenthusiasm seniorNASA officialsfor of proceeding largespacecraft to andSaturn-classehiclesoverswept y more v m modestambitions,andI foundmyselfspending moreandmoretime organizing the large-scale oyagereffort. Fromthe outsetit wasobviousthat the V programwould requirea coordinated effort of several ield centers. t this f A timeJPLwasvery busywith theRanger,Surveyor,andMariner programs; furthermore,for Voyager we were talking about launchingsof multiple 172

THEMATCHED PAIRS

spacecraft n a productionbasis.Fora programof this scale,it wasdecided o that the effort shouldbe organized alongthe linesof Apollo, with a Headquartersprogramofficeanda NASA projectmanager reportingdirectlyto a Headquarters programdirector.This decisiondisappointed JPLbecause it meantthat their organization would not beeligiblefor thesametype of lead rolethey hadperformed Mariners,Rangers, for andSurveyors. heyclearly T wereto beinvolvedasprincipals--noothercenter adasdirectexperience h in planetaryprogramsasJPL,plus direct responsibilityfor many of the key facilities. However significant the JPL role might have been, the new
management management The way concept the program for Voyager precluded JPL's being given project responsibility. office was finally established, my title was changed of Voyager P. Hearth, for Lunar and quickly and who and began

from Director of Lunar and Planetary Programs to Director Acting Director of Lunar and Planetary Programs. Donald had been Chief of Supporting was named Research Acting and Project Technology Manager Planetary Programs,

setting up a project scientists. A floor Pasadena,

office using a cadre of experienced JPL engineers and of a new bank building was rented in downtown not have space that could be dedicated to a new to spend most of and never made

as JPL did

organization of the size required for Voyager. Don began his time in Pasadena, but he "commuted" from Washington a permanent move.

Although I became engrossed in Voyager, I was very pleased to be allowed to keep responsibility for directing all other lunar and planetary programs. Surveyor, would into direct have them. those I was in the thick blow required or Voyager, even though of things Apollo with the ongoing Lunar activities, Orbiter, and it to the Mariner, Had Pioneer, Science, and related between opted

been a major I been programs, programs

to give those to make being I would

up after so much a choice have Director

had been put continuing with

to stay

several smaller prestigious. The initial for two 2200-pound Saturn single Saturn gross weight orbiters,

of Voyager

was more called and a to the with a having a

plan to use the Saturn at each capsule

1b/Centaur of

vehicle a 2000-pound

for Voyager orbiter to change

launches landing 5 meant

opportunity combination. could Stacked

The 1965 decision orbiter-lander on one Saturn laboratories,

that one launch

be made at each opportunity, combinations would

5 carrying

two Voyager two surface

of 62 700 poundsl

have been two

two landers,

science

and all the attendant

173

FAR TRAVELERS

retro motors, entry capsules, nd ancilliaries.Sucha missionwould have a truly beenan exploratoryexpedition,launchedsimultaneously a single on rocket.This would indeedhaveput a lot of eggsin onebasket! In beginningtheVoyagerprogram,Headquarters ad to givethe major h field centerstheir projectassignments. ensure To that properattentionwas paid to thismatter,I organized VoyagerBoardof Directorswith theblessa ingsof Ed Cortright and HomerNewell. A generalmanagement plan had beenroughedout, prescribing programdirectionby our management team at Headquarters in Pasadena, and with major centerparticipationby JPL, Langley,Marshall, and Kennedy.The directorsof thesecenters,William Pickering,Floyd Thompson,Wernhervon Braun, and Kurt Debus,were very cooperative agreeing serveontheVoyagerBoardwith Don Hearth in to andme. Our understanding was that we would meet quarterly to establish organizationalrelationshipsand to developguidelinesfor all major activities. I knewthat sucha beginningrelationshipwith the centerdirectors meantwe wouldgettheright kind of peopleassigned. With regularlyscheduled quarterly meetings, e would also havea good meansof reviewing w progress and, if necessary, dealingwith problems.The first Voyagerdirectorsmeeting washeldatNASA Headquarters n April 27, 1967,andthe seco ondwas3 monthslaterat JPL.The boardstartedoff well, andit lookedasif theVoyagerprogramhadeverythinggoingfor it shortlyafterit wasofficially initiated. A LunarandPlanetary MissionsBoardwasalsoestablished t aboutthe a sametimethroughtheNationalAcademyof Sciences provideadviceconto cerningthescience activitiesrelatedto theVoyagermissions. hegroupwas T chairedby Harry Hess, renowned geologist from Princeton, and included a a
"Who's Who" list of scientists biology from from astronomy, around life sciences, geology, radio astronomy, and the country. and scientific of 1967, shortly the Voyager support program for the prowas dealt a after the management budget. The

Unfortunately, and death planning blow

all this administrative In the summer were established, pared

gram was not enough. efforts when

Congress

it completely

from the NASA

problem perceived making

was not so much sentiment against need to stop what some considered this large new program a target

Voyager per se as a generally a runaway budget situation, reduction. Everyone inthat of it became clear the momentum

for a major

volved fought appropriations

to save the program, but by September would not be forthcoming to sustain

174

THE

MATCHED

PAIRS

Baseline Characteristic 1973 Spacecraft bus/orbiter Capsule Propulsion Total (one planetary vehicle) Net injection weight (two planetary vehicles) Shroud/adapter Project contingency Gross injected weight Original Voyager 9,300 5,000 55,300 concept 2,500 5,000 13,000 20,500 41,000

Typical growth potential 1975 2,500 6,000 14,000 22,500 45,000 9,300 3,700 58,000 1977/1979 2,500 7,000 15,000 24,500 49,000 9,300 2,700 61,000

Voyager. mustered program. our support

The for

political the

climate

was

such

that

support

simply and

could

not

be

combined to fight important

requirements for Voyager commitments, office

of Apollo would

a large have

planetary

Continuing for other closed

clearly with

compromised of success. the Board of

no guarantee disbanded

We bit the bullet, Directors. Our struggle

the project

at JPL, and

to maintain missions

continuity with

for only

planetary one failure a flyby in 1969, and

exploration

through of in

Mariner-class the 1967, series.

succeeded, 5 successfully 7 made 10 flew bridged flybys by

in the remainder mission to Venus 9 orbited in 1974.

Mariner 6 and Mariner

performed of Mars both that Venus would effort.

Mariners and

Mariner Mercury developed view the

Mars These had total the afstudy

in 1971, Mariners been planetary Mariners fording through

effectively program and the several the

the gap of the out well,

have

if they that fact the that

abandoned

in favor turned Viking planetary 7, both

Voyager

It is my account were basis

taking

into

replacement opportunities. successful

for Voyager a meaningful

complementary, for continuing

scientific

community

Mariners technology rule that

6 and over

flybys, their and

clearly was only the

showed begun the scientific way to

their with

superior

Mariner

4, although would (or

design

the ground instruments upgrade The the most

the spacecraft Unfortunately return required

be the same fortunately),

upgraded. science

best in the

technological

advances

spacecraft.

175

_2'

FAR TRAVELERS

notable the paltry

improvement

was

in the communications of Mariner markedly

bit rate--increased with two specially as those subsystem: requirements

from In addidesigned 4.

81/3 bits per second

4 to 16 200 bits per second.

tion, the data subsystem tape recorders Improvements scan platform accommodate two spacecraft The greatly vided many many types Moon-like were

was upgraded

to meet requirements also made had the ability modifications to perform improved that surprises. Our clouds, to adapt

35 times as great to changing

of Mariner the remarkable

in the telemetry

as well as to the

in the second complementary images concept

flyby mission, thus allowing rather than repetitive roles. by Mariners again, Earth-like changed from body

of Mars obtained of Mars lifeless to a more

6 and 7 proa barren having of eroharby 8

planet

appeared

of terrain, suggesting

variations

in atmosphere,

and evidence

sion, strongly bored The

that water

had once been abundant. This interest

These findings life had been shared

led to a revitalization scientists, result with was

of interest

in Mars as a place where and politicians becoming

at some time, if not in the present. administrators continuing support

was quickly advocates missions could

as well.

for the orbiting If the planet

of Mariners not be surveyed

and 9 planned concurrently conducting sophisticated After result

for the 1971 opportunity.

from orbit and on the surface, orbital surveys, preparing planning vehicle normally for landing failure. until of successes, Mariner The shortly

at least the next most vital steps, maps, and allowing more could proceed. statistic and ignition as a of the well, and powered just another

site selection, 8 became Atlas after

a string

of launch

performed separation

flight proceeded Centaur stage. control system

At that point, a pitch control problem in the Centaur flight allowed the stage to tumble and shut down. This disheartenby the usual reviews, modifications, and adjustments, successfully. Mariners at much of the soincluding of to relevant 8 in time for Mariner goals detailed photographic Special the along edges surface of other 9 to be launched exploration, were to be made polar caps, surveys studies of the

ing loss was followed In keeping and 9 were higher called water "wave resolution

but these were completed to provide

with the general

for planetary

of the planet

than ever before. related

of darkening"

measurements molecules, the question

to temperatures,

composition,

the presence

and the existence

conditions were

generally keeping

of life. 1971, astronomers who a watch on the as of cloud forming in the southern region known been seen on Mars before, but this one was

In late September

planet saw a bright yellow Noachis. Dust storms had

176

THEMATCHEDPAIRS

specialinterest,
storm ever been

as Mariner

9 was to experience it peaked--apparently duration.

it from worse

nearby.

When 14, when

this the

was in its fifth week, observed

than any

that had

both in area and

By November

spacecraft was placed into orbit by firing its retro rocket, the worst of the storm had subsided, but only five distinct surface features could be identified. Conditions planned, desirable so plans feature Fortunately, definitely had Mariner for an were not those envisioned had the capability when the mission was to be changed. for reprogramming, made possible a highly by imexploratory mission,

provements in technology. Actually, proved provided much new insight,

observing the changes as conditions imand since Mariner 9 was viable for more a thorough a giant study of this Martian named

than a year (the design goal was 3 months), dust storm was possible. One of Mariner 9's revelations was

volcanic

mountain,

Olympus Mons, and an almost unbelievable canyon system, Earth's Grand Canyon, named Valles Marineris in honor discoverer. long-term Of course, mission the multiple-orbit cartographers types with several imaging coverage detailed allowed to prepare

far larger than of its Mariner provided maps about by the of Mars conmis-

and provided scientists ditions on the surface. sion concept continuing results the surface been broad was born for several

of data for speculation project,

Not long after the termination years

of the Voyager Advanced designed

a new landing a hard

from the ashes. on capsules

technology to survive

work had been landing; data from

were encouraging

to those who hoped

to obtain

important

of Mars. In addition to the scientific stimulus, there had always support for landing on Mars; this was, after all, a clear milestone

in the space race that the Russians had been trying to achieve for a long time, if only for its propaganda value. The new mission required a new name to give it a fresh start and to distinguish flights gram, were it from proposed Voyager. Viking was the name chosen, and the first profor the launch orbiter opportunity and a simple, but it soon did not mesh. toward made worse in 1973. The Viking was initially hard-lander became After the

proposed

to be a bargain the project that had down. advance

at only $364 million, in 1968, been beyond done were

conceived spacecraft. that

to involve Congress funding studies difficulty make

a Mariner-derived approved and the scope planning

apparent

of the mission Matters

grandiose desire requiring to

and

Voyager,

we experienced

in scaling

by a strong missions,

a quantitative

the 1971 orbiting

177

FAR TRAVELERS

thelandingspacecraft havea greatercapabilitythan a hard-landingcapto sule. After a good bit of trauma and failure to match requirements and availablefunding,launchwaspostponed from 1973 1975,with a continuto ing programfor development hroughoutthe 2-yearinterval. Many of us t weredisappointed passthe1973 to Marsopportunity, for theplanetaryorbit geometryof Mars and Earth at the time would have allowed the largest payloadfor a givensizedlaunchvehiclefor yearsto come.But asit turned out, the Viking missions 1975-76 in wereprobablybetterfor the delay. Thepostponement wasconsidered bea mixedblessing. hetotal projto T ectcosthadto goup becauseeople p werekept atwork longer;thedelayprovided opportunityfor betterplanningandapplicationof newtechnologies. Different management rrangements a were worked out, borrowing from earlierproject experiences from the conceptestablished managing and for Voyager.At this time it was agreedthat project management Viking for would reside the field. Although I hadaccepted plan for Voyagerand in the hadbeennamedto directthe programfrom Headquarters, neverdid think I this wasassoundin concept smakinga fieldcenterresponsible. reason a The wassimple:a manager eeded qualifiedstaff at his fingertipsto dealwith n a management problems, ndI did not think thatwecouldeverassembleuch a s a teamat Headquarters. TheApollo programhadbeenmanaged way, that but the Apollo Headquarters managementeam depended Bellcomm, t on Inc., a complete systems organizationunder contract,which we could not havefor Viking. Although Apollo wasa successful program,I was never convinced that it couldnot havebeenmanaged successfullyy a field center b alongthe linesemployed lunar andplanetaryprograms. for Viking missions werebased usingtheTitan 3C/Centaurlaunchvehion cle insteadof the Saturn,so direct involvementof Marshall SpaceFlight Centerwasno longerrequired.Lewiswasresponsible Centaurdevelopfor mentandfor integrationof theTitan 3Cwith the Centaur.Thus,Lewiswas the obvious choiceto managethe launch vehicle system.Either JPL or Langleymight havebeenchosen theprojectmanagement for centerassignment, but threefactorsfavored Langley:(1) Langleywas truly a NASA centerandnot a "contractor"operationthat, at thetime,wassomewhat ut o of sortswith NASA Headquarters,2) Langleyhad successfullyompleted ( c theLunarOrbiter projectandhada readyteamwith nootherprojectassignmentat the time,and(3)Langleyhada strongresearchapabilityto backup c development a newlandingvehicle.Thelandingcraft wasto bebuilt by a of

178

THEMATCHEDPAIRS

contractor,but the engineering ndtestingof landingsystems,ncludingena i try aeroshell,parachute, and landing gear, nicely fitted the Langley background. JPLwasthe obviouschoiceto manage theViking orbitersystemaswell as the Deep SpaceNetwork. The Mariner-derivedorbiter was to be an upgraded adaptationof a Mariner busdesigned transportthe landerto to Mars and provide injectioninto orbit. JPLwould alsoplay a vital role in space flight operations, stheywereresponsible the Space a for FlightOperations Facility, where missionoperationswereconducted.However disappointed someJPLmembers may havebeen,therewasno evidence bitof terness theyturnedto thetasksassigned as andperformedthemadmirably. By the time Viking began,therehad beenenoughlaunches satellites of andinterplanetary spacecrafthat manypeople t tendedto think of Viking as just another,slightlymoresophisticated ission, singexistingtechnologies. m u Actually, this wasnot true, for the Viking projectelements,ncludingboth i hardwareand software,werean order of magnitudemore complexthan anything that hadgonebefore. Perhaps thesimplest ay to explainthispremise to describe w is theViking spacecraftjust prior to launch. A launchvehiclemanagermight, out of habit, referto it simplyasthe"payload"awaitinglaunchatophisrocket,but it wasreally a combinationof four spacecraft, each with a differentfunction andpurpose.Completelyseparate tightly integrated yet entitieswerean interplanetarybus, an orbiter, an entry capsule, nda lander. a Fortransportinginstruments andequipmento thevicinity of theplanet t therewasthe"bus," aninterplanetary vehiclewith attitudecontrol, thermal control, powersupply,communications link, midcourse correctioncapability, andall the systemsequiredfor a Marinerflyby mission.To performthe r retro maneuverat the planet a relativelylargerocket motor was required that could survivethe long transit periodof thetransferorbit and then be controlledpreciselyto injectthe spacecraftnto a preselected rbit. i o After servingasan interplanetary spacecraft andinjectinginto Mars orbit, an additionalduty of thebus, now an orbiter,wasto serveasa launch platform for the entry capsule. his requiredprecise T attitude orientation, timing, andseparation signalsfor ejectingthe capsule that it would enter so theatmosphere anddescend towardthesurface. After this,theorbiterwould observeMars from orbit, in much the sameway that an orbiting Earth resources satellitemight observeour planet.Onecontinuousand very im-

179

FAR TRAVELERS

portantsupportingfunction for the orbiter throughoutthe missionwasits roleasa communicationselaysatellite transmittingdatafrom landersto r for Earth. In the early daysof missiledevelopment,earningto designand build l vehiclescapableof reenteringEarth'satmosphere had beena significant technicalchallenge. o do the samething for anotherplanet with an atT mosphere lessdefinedthanthat of Earthwasthe challenge far facedby Viking entry capsule designers. Apollo andViking had generally similar design requirements an aerodynamically for stabilizingshape,thermalprotection from heating,andbasestructureandretro motor integration;however,the Viking entry capsule alsohad to deploya landingspacecraft t the proper a time without damaging complexequipmentandappendages. its A speciallydeveloped parachute systemwascarriedto slow the descent for landing;afterdecelerating entry capsuleto abouttwice the speed the of sound, further use of atmosphericdrag was thus made. The parachute systemdemanded technological evelopments eyondthosebeingusedto d b return sounding rocket payloadsto Earth becauseof the different atmosphere and approachconditionson Mars. The last official duty of the parachutesystemwas to pull the aeroshell asestructureaway from the b landerspacecraft sothat it couldextendits landinggearandprepareto land. In addition to its engineering tasks,the entry spacecraftprovidedfor scientific measurements during its passagethrough Mars' tenuous atmosphere. Datawerecollected andtransmittedto Earth;thus,theViking entry systemalsoprovidedfor in situ examination the unknownMars atof mosphere. This alonewas the equivalentof a sounding rocket missioninto Earth'satmosphere. Becausettentionwasfocused theactivitiesof the orbiter andlander a on spacecraft, achievements the entryspacecraft, parachute, ndcomthe of its a plexsystems werelargelyunheralded; few yearsearlier,these a would have beenregarded asvery significant.Of course,hadany components the enof try systems failedto work, their importanceto the successf theentiremiso sionwould havebeenpainfully obvious. Most peoplewould recognize lander spacecraftas a major design the challenge, lthoughby the time Viking was beingdesigned Surveyors a the hadremoved someof thedoubtsaboutthetechnicaleasibilityof developing f suchspacecraft. onetheless, esigninglanding spacecraftfor Mars very N d nearlyrequiredstartingfrom scratch.A majorfactorwasMars'atmosphere, for duringthe landingandtouchdownphase,aerodynamics hadto be considered stabilityandcontrolaswell asrocketperformance. for This wasnot 180

THEMATCHEDPAIRS

a requirementor landingspacecraft n the airless f o Moon. Mars alsohas a significantlygreatergravitationalpull to overcome than doesthe Moon, so all-newrequirements existedfor engineering design.And, eventhough the attitude stabilization, Doppler radar, and retro rocket systemswere genericallysimilar to thoseof Surveyor,theyweredifferentenoughto demandspecialdetailin theirdesign. n entirebookcouldbewritten aboutthe A Viking landersand their almostunbelievable qualities;to discuss themin a few paragraphs almostan injusticeto thosewhoshouldbecredited the is for design,development,and operationof thesemagnificent,self-sufficient, automaticallycontrolledyet responsive machines. The first duty of the spacecraft as to automatically w land safelyon the unknown surfaceof Mars without damaging any of the preciouscargoof scientificinstruments. o do this it hadto determine T how far abovethe surfaceit was, adjustdescent ndlateralvelocities asto touchdown within a so prescribed limits, and thenshut off the rocketmotorsat preciselythe right speeds and altitudes.Because f the 20-minute in communications o lag between Mars and Earthat the time of landing,the spacecraft's akerson m Earthwereabsolutely nohelpin performingthereal-timeactivitiesnecessary to successful landings.I clearlyrecalldiscussions the Space in Flight OperationsFacilityat JPLduringtheperiodwhenweknew thateitherthe landing had beendone successfully the lander had crashed,as we anxiously or awaiteddata that would tell us what had happened.n somerespects I this waslike watchinga TV replayto learn theoutcome a sportingeventthat of had alreadybeendecided. After landing,thespacecraft became science a laboratoryextraordinaire. It wasat the sametimea weatherstation,a geophysical observatory,a life sciences chemistrylab, a remotematerials manipulator andprocessor, data a acquisitionandprocessing station, and a datatransmitter.It had its own powersupplyin theform of two radioisotope thermoelectriceneratorshat g t usedplutonium238to provide 70watts of continuous power.It alsocontaineda computer-centered "brain" calleda guidance, control, andsequencingcomputer(GCSC),whichcouldcontainup to60daysof instructions. f O course,thememorycouldbemodifiedor updated from Earthwhenchanges seemed necessary, the spacecraft ould easilytake careof itself during but c the12-hourperiodswhenit wasout of sightof Earthbecause therotation of of Mars. Because major goal of Viking missions a wasthe searchfor life, it was essentialhat Viking landersnot take any form of life to Mars. Thus, the t spacecraft hadto besterilized aftertheywerebuiltandtested. o achieve T the 181

FARTRAVELERS

prescribeddegree of sterilization necessaryto satisfy internationally establishedlanetaryquarantine p requirements, landerspacecraft weresealed in their bioshieldsand bakedat temperatures above 113 C for about 24 ° hours.This hadbeenshownto beadequate ensure to that the chances ere w lessthan 1 in 10000that a singleorganismwould be transportedto Mars from Earth. Heatingfor thepurposeof killing living organisms alsoproducedrisksto landerhardware,especially electroniccomponents. n orderto plan for to I this last-minutetreatmentbeforelaunch, a greatdeal of componentand materialstestinghad to be donebeforeselections weremadein the design process. venso, this exposureto unusuallyhigh temperatures as made E w with a certainamountof concernaboutits effecton the lifetimesof critical components. any lingeringfearsremained M after the sadexperiences with Rangerthat werebelievedrelatedto sterilizationrequirements. Thescience instruments hosen Viking landerspacecraft c for wereselected very thoughtfully in accordance ith majormissionpriorities andthe state w of theart in instrumentation technology. ot only wasit criticalthat eachinN strumentbecapableof makingcontributionsto knowledgeon its own, but mostinstruments hadto become components a laboratory-likecomplex. of Findingscould be expected be mutually reinforcing,suchthat the whole to would begreaterthan thesumof theparts.In somecases, componentina tended primarily for a scientificpurposealsoserved supportingfunctionin a anotherscientificinvestigation. The choicesfor meaningfulexperiments weremany; the final complement of Viking instrumentswas believedto address highest-priority the questionsabout Mars. There werecamerasto seeand observeas an inquisitive explorerwould havedone; meteorologysensors measure to and recordthe atmosphericconditionsand report on the weather;"tools" for scratching surface the andfor quantifyingthe physicalproperties thesoil; of experiments determine to chemicalconstituents, ineralcontent,andcomm positionof the soilandatmosphere; and,very importantly, therewerethree ways of measuring biologic activitiesthat would answerburningquestions about life on this neighboring world. Of all the scientificinstruments that havebeencarriedinto space,none are moreappealingto mostof us than cameras. hrough our eyeswe see T thingsfor ourselves;through the camerasonboardViking our eyeswere allowedto sense mysteryandbeautyof this distantworld asif we were the there.Thecameras usedin the LunarOrbiter weresometimeseferredto as r 182

_RiGINAL OF

P'AG_. i$7, .

POOR QUALITY" THE MATCHED PAIRS

Scanning mirror and elevation drive _ f _ _ / cover Dust windows Entrance

Optics--...._ Photo sensor array

'[[

_,_

_.._-

U

"" i "_ _ _

drive Azimuth

,. Insulation-._ 1

¢ I\

,.. Main electronic unit

__Te

Flight

st

ir -'_TTF_--c co

A zim u th scan-'_n _

,rror
Encoder _ lin_ Fi_m drum .._

//////
HI

_:z:3L_

Teles c° Pe

_L) _'_'_

_. /

,Radio telemetr¥_

? _"

,,r/_

Decode

___u_minator

Viking imaging system "large Brownies," simply because they functioned much like the hand-held cameras seen around us every day. The other cameras commonly used in space were video or television cameras, somewhat less familiar at the time, but now commonly in use. Viking lander cameras differed from both of these

183

FAR TRAVELERS

in several espects. r Theyemployed engineering rinciples p thathadbeenused before,but the methodof implementation wasdifferent. They werecalled "facsimile"camerasbecauseof the way they viewed and reconstructed scenes. In principle, an imagecan be constructed a light sensorthat sees by "elements" neat a time. If the elements o areviewedin a row or line, and storedor transmittedelectronically,they canbe reconstructed elements as havingthesameintensity.Elementseconstructed r andplacedin contiguous lines combineto become whole images. ariner 4'spicturesof Mars were M comprisedof 200 TV lines with 200 picture elementsper line (called pixels)--each representedy 64shades gray. Over81/2 b of hoursof transmissiontime wasrequiredto return the datafor a singlepicture. In talkingabouttheprocess datareturnandpicturereconstruction, of we jokingly discussed thepossibilityof putting up a largebillboardwith 40,000 nails on which to hangsmallsquarecoupons.With a supply of coupons representing 64 gradations,it would have beenpossibleto hang the the numbers placeastheywerereturnedby telemetrysothat a picturewould in be revealed,almostasif paintingby number. A process closeto thisactuallymaterialized, sthenumbers a representing shades graywereprinted out sequentially paperticker tape.The colof on umns of numbersrepresenting vertical strip 200pixels long were then a stapledsideby sideon a pieceof beaverboard, and coloredcrayonswere usedto colorcorresponding shades gray. The resultwasa false-colormof i ageshowingthe edgeof the planetin somedetail,aswell asthevarying intensitysky above. This historicpicturewaslater framedandhungin theJPLDirector'sofricearea--a fitting mementoof the first successful close-upimagingof the planet Mars. The display is now a museumpiece,and destinedto be of significantinterestto future generations. The Viking cameramadeuseof light detector,lens,andmirror systems to performa linescan. nodding,rotatingmirror allowedsuccessive A sweeps to reflectan image thesurroundings the lens.Twelvedetectors,hree of into t of whichhadcolorfiltersof red,blue,andgreen,allowedselective images to berecordedandreconstructed color. By electronically in recordingthevarying intensities reflection,linescans ereconvertedto digital signalsthat of w couldbe transmitteddirectly or storedin memory.With simpleindexingof position and movement,contiguouslyplacedreconstructions eachline of became imageor "picture" fashioned an from the composite bits of data. 184

THEMATCHEDPAIRS

Forthe facsimileprincipleto work, the features beingimagedhadto remain stationarylong enoughfor the scanning process becompleted. bto O jects moving about as the facsimilescanning processoccurredwould not have been seen,exceptperhapsas small disturbances line elements. in Cameradevelopers jokingly suggested that it was possiblethat a mobile Mars creaturemight have movedacrossthe field of view of the Viking cameras ithout detection; owever,sincetherewereno signsthat this had w h happened,even those hopeful of such discoverieshad to be skeptical. Although thefacsimile principlemay seem rathersimple,the Viking camera represented significantadvance thestateoftheart at thetimeandwasby a in no meansa simpleinstrument. Thosewho followedthe Viking missioncloselywill recall that the first picturesreleased thepress to showed Marsasa veryredplanet.Unfortunately, this portrayal wasgenerally keeping in with scientificspeculation, nd2 a dayslater, whenthe imagedatahadbeenthoroughlycalibrated,red-faced NASA officialshadto tell thepressthat therehadbeena slightmisrepresentation. Forseveral oursthegroundreconstruction h process wasrecalibrated and equipmentadjusted;after this wasdone,someof the redness wasreduced.In all fairness,the premature release wasprobablydueto the terrific pressure producedby thedesireto sharefindingswith thepublic asquickly as possible,before completingthe data processing checksknown to be required. In a recentdiscussion with Cal Broome,who hadprojectresponsibility for camera development, heindicatedthathisfondest emories m from Viking wel"e thecamera of developmentsndtheproductstheyprovided.Hevivida ly recalledthe experience f viewingthe first pictureandproudly took the o position, "As far asI'm concerned,hat'swhatMars lookedlike that day." t Healsorecalled traumathatresulted the whentheall-electronic scanning cameraproposedby the Itek Corporation wasbeing considered. large A amount of developmenteffort by Aeronutronics,conductedduring the Rangerproject, had produceda successful facsimile camerathat hadbeen fairly well proven,involving both mechanical systems andelectronics its in operation.Whileit appeared that the Rangercamera would haveprovided the necessary asiccapabilities,t wasneitherasversatilenor ascapable b i of electronicprogramming andselective applications promisedfor the new as concept.In reflectingon thesituation,I believe wassimplyan example this of progress beingmadesorapidly in fast-moving technologieshatexcellent t concepts became obsolete beforethey could beused.Regardless, wasthe it 185

FAR TRAVELERS

judgmentof thoseresponsible Viking that the advantages the adfor of vancedsystemoutweighedthe risks involved in its development, nd the a Itek conceptwasselected. This belief wasjustifiedby the fact that theelectronic scanning cameras worked well. When contactwas lost with Viking LanderI in 1983,tscameras erestill working after7 yearswithout a glitch. i w In his excellent ook The Martian Landscape, Tim Mutch, Team Leader b
for the Imaging Science Team, described in a clear and fascinating way the tradeoffs and other aspects of establishing camera design characteristics. When you and I choose a camera from the marketplace, we have no choice but to select from concepts generated by designers who decided what the public would buy. However, team was able to establish against smallest had existing detail technologies. to be resolved of the tradeoffs. for With years the definition was the nature been Research the team cluding bit rate, Mars. The in the case of camera design for Viking, the requirements from scratch and iterate them The most also implied According by Fred fundamental element a maximum to Mutch, Huck, an of Glenn choice was resolution, the for such Langley inand to to be seen. Selecting field of view, many engineer Taylor, at the

of image size for the smallest

of these tradeoffs also of Langley, performance, power, mission

studied Center.

the collaboration by spacecraft

was able to examine those and dictated arrive

all the variables constraints design

of camera

such as weight,

at a balanced

for the hypothesized seemed that remarkably

Superficially, photosensor across. incoming inches) mounted photodiodes recreation

the operation array Twelve and

of the cameras in a small assembly able could of red,

simple. of (1.3 were of the

all the electronics each lengths filters

processed

the points data, Some green

light were clustered so that were of color different equipped images.

only 3.4 centimeters to obtain blue, and image be achieved.

photodiodes, focal with

to permit window nodded light Five al-

A slot near the top of a small cylinder formed through which a small nodding mirror could peer. around from times lowed a horizontal the objects a second axis, it swept while cylinder mirror a vertical was rotated Indexing Actual line, in view, the small electronic circuits

the "pinhole" As the mirror scanning

reflected intensities.

recorded

so that

the slot position

a new vertical

line to be scanned. was contiguous. resolution

for these vertical controlled the diameter positions

lines and

the timing

for the nodding element

had to be precisely one-tenth

so that each of a human

pixel or picture to an accuracy hair--in 186 order

had to be indexed

of 0.01 millimeter--about for the required

to be achieved.

THEMATCHED PAIRS

The capabilityof adjustingsignalgainsallowedimagesto be obtained and processed various light levels,and the variety of photodiodesalfor loweda selectionof amplificationfor eitherclose-upor distant views. By simultaneously imagingthe samescene with two cameras placedabout 1 meterapart, stereoscopiciewswereobtainedto permit three-dimensional v viewingin thesame way thatoureyesperform.Byanystandards,hese t were remarkable cameras! In a fashiontypical of planetarymissions,he launchvehicleusedfor t Viking wasspeciallyintegratedfor this setof missions. he Titan 3 wasa T military vehicleoriginallydeveloped theMartinMariettacorporationfor by the Air Force.It includeda two-stage corerocketsystemusingliquid propellants,plustwo largestrap-onsolid rockets.While not nearly aslargeas thoseusedto help boostthe Space Shuttle,these strap-onsolidsperformed the samefunction of providing initial acceleration. hey were 10 feet in T diameter,andeachproduced about1.2million poundsof thrustfor about2 minutes.After burnout, theywerejettisonedanddroppedinto the Atlantic Ocean. The first stageof the Titan vehicle,also10feetin diameter,ignitedjust beforethe solidsburnedout for about21/2minutes.The second stagethen separated andfired for 31/2 minutes.Both these corestages useda blendof hydrazineandunsymmetrical dimethylhydrazine, ith nitrogentetroxideas w an oxidizer. The Centaurupperstagewasbasicallythe same General ynamics-built D liquid hydrogen,liquid oxygenrocketusedfor Surveyor.After separation fromTitan, its two Pratt & WhitneyRL-10 engines roduced total of about p a 30000poundsof thrustto sendthespacecraft onits way. Its relightcapability allowedtheVikingsto bepropelledinto a 90-mile-high parkingorbit until theright positionaroundEarthwasreached injectioninto thetransferorfor bit. Thecoastperiodscouldvary from6 to 30minutes,depending timeof on launch.After burnout,thefinal actof Centaur wasto separate itselffromthe spacecraft nd, by expellingits residualpropellants,changeits trajectory a slightly so that it would haveno chance impactingand contaminating of Mars.It then became silentcompanionto Viking, slowly separating a from thespacecraft asboth objects coursed aroundtheSunin thegeneral irection d of Mars' orbit. After the Voyager programwascanceled, planningfor Viking wasbegun in a very austereenvironment.The orbiter-buswas envisioned a direct as outgrowthof theMariner'71spacecraft, with a modest cale-up theaddis for tional requirementsof Viking. While actually resembling Mariner and a 187

FAR TRAVELERS

benefiting greatlyfrom its heritage, heViking orbiterbecame t anentirelydifferentspacecraft. Thepropellanttanks,for instance, adto beroughlythree h timesthe sizeof thoseusedto provideinjectionof Mariners8 and9 into orbit. The basicstructurewasenlarged accommodate landeraeroshell, to the and thesolarpanelswereincreased sizeto providemorepower.Over 15 in squaremetersof solarcellssuppliedabout620watts of electricalpower at Mars, chargingtwo 30-ampere hour nickel-cadmium batteriesto be used whenthe cellswerenot in directsunlightor whenthespacecraft wasoriented for pointinginstruments activatingthe capsule or launch. Another significantimprovementincludedthe addition of extra "brain power"to allow theorbitersto performmorecomplex functions.Viking orbiters possessed two 4096-word,general-purpose computersthat could operatein parallel or tandem modes.Thesereplacedthe small specialpurposecomputers containedin Mariners8 and 9. The capabilityfor more rapid picture taking allowed for better site surveysand specialregional studies.This capabilitywasaugmented y taperecordersystems could b that store2.112megabits second,with a capacityof 55TV pictures--over per half a billion bits of information. Viking orbiter communications systems usedboth S-bandand X-band frequencies. parabolichigh-gainantenna, 7.9inches diameter,providA 5 in edfor thehighly focusedtransmission andreceptionof radio energyto and from Earth.Thisantennawasbackedupby a rod-shaped low-gainor omnidirectionalantennasimilar to the oneon Mariner 4, so that no matterwhat the orientationof the high-gainantenna,communication a low bit rate at waspossible. rbitersalsohadrelayantennas receivingandtransmitting O for signalsto and from the Viking landerspacecraft; his allowed contactbet tweenEarth and the landersevenwhenthey wereon the oppositesideof Mars,providedthey werein view of Earth. Transmitter powerfor the orbiterswasabout20watts,allowingbit rates of 16000 bits per second.While extremelysmall comparedwith the transmitterpowersusedby broadcast tationson Earth,thiswasaboutfive s timesthepowerMariner 4 usedto providea bit rateof 81/3 per second. bits Anothersignificantfactor wasthe development f very sensitive o receivers and transmittersin the DeepSpaceNetwork, as highlightedby the huge 64-meter 210-foot)-diameter ( dishes. While servingas the buses transportingthelandersto Mars, the orfor bitershadto serveas "hosts,"providing the necessary ower, thermalenp vironment,engineering status,midcourse corrections,andattitude orienta188

THEMATCHEDPAIRS

tion for capsule ejection.Of course,orbiters
through Mars, scientific television topographical to allow alone truly the communications but they really spacecraft. cameras studies, studies Their for relay function a major site important performed conducting

continued

to serve

the landers of as two and These these four

after they reached mission surveys function instruments and making

the surface included maps

on their own

scientific water

an atmospheric justification

detector,

and a thermal

mapper

of temperature multipurpose spacecraft.

variations spacecraft

and to look for hot spots. missions, work but in fact, of at least did the

were adequate remarkable

for the orbiter

special-purpose

As impressively self-sufficient as the Viking orbiters were, three major systems that never their success. These systems formed

launch vehicles, left Earth were between

landers, and necessary to the people in-

the connection

volved in the missions and the space machines. They were the launch facilities at Kennedy Space Center, the Deep Space Network (based at JPL but spread JPL, where Visions have tually vital many around mission the world), operations complex coverage and were the Space conducted. come to mind immediately; and flame pits in action. facilities--were were multipurpose, in Building and complete we AcFlight Operations Facility at

of the launch more

at Kennedy of the gantrys even projects,

all seen television to the launch

components--and operation. Although

just as that is, adapted Landers building, being for

several

they might to Viking with were mated moved launch granted The complex another their with

also be used for other requirements. propulsion in the the orbiters, Many Orbiters systems Spacecraft where

most had to be especially Safe Facility. Encapsulation with

were assembled Assembly they

AO and mated

in the Environmental

assembled

and encapsulated

in their heat were mated

shields before

to the launch vehicles.

pad,

the Titan/Centaur taken recognized. the most missions to entry, landto Mars every maat the right time, presented

of these vital facilities them will never and spacecraft

that are sometimes be sufficiently systems

did not just happen Viking launch

to be in the right configuration

but the "heroes"

who provided vehicle

array of space hardware ever assembled for unmanned planet. The combined fleet of interplanetary, orbiting, spacecraft and that comprised advanced engineering. the Viking technologies Dedicated flexibly

ing, and laboratory jor discipline most tle human

expedition

in 1975 and 1976 incorporated of science intervention; of these automatons

from almost effectively

to a single set of goals, with litto rereprogrammable

were programmed however, all were

to function

189

FAR TRAVELERS

spondto requirementsetermined human"masters" n Earth.TheViking d by o team, madeup of humansand spacecraft,clearly proved that men and machines canwork togethern marvelous i harmony,providedtheyareguidedby commonaimsanda willingness subjugate to individualpurposes the to greatergood.

190

A Task
The stood time

Force
finally came

Extraordinaire
to Mars to begin. was In August Viking 1 scrubbed

for the expedition for launch. The

1975, almost

exactly

10 years 41, ready

after plans for Voyager

were initiated,

tall on Pad

first attempt

because of a valve failure in the launch vehicle, and, while awaiting another try, the batteries in the spacecraft discharged. This resulted in the substitution of the second anomalies Amid meetings, spacecraft while the first was checked the planned of anxious occurred, waiting as glimpses to make sure no had occurred, these preparations assessment frustrations and reversing order of spacecraft of the long hours launches. of planning, of the evolu-

were periods tests. Flashbacks over Voyager

for final word

on the problem

tionary steps toward Viking were recalled. I even had a brief mind-trip back to 1957, when I was an engineer at North American Aviation's Missile Development were engaged propelled volved craft--as the Autonetics to fly around sion integration; Division. in a study Missile Divisions. many Mars, About Efforts Our gather the time Sputnik being coordinated Rocketdyne, proposal during 1 was being expedition Atomics envisioned launched, employing office we ioninand spaceI led a of planof a Mars reconnaissance

spacecraft.

by the corporate multiple

Development,

International,

ambitious be launched data,

as four--to

the 1964 Mars opportunity, of Earth. trajectories, and propul-

and return

to the vicinity

small team concerned ning a visit to Mars satisfied. After all the years

with spacecraft and the beginning

performance, of a longing

this study

was my first exposure

to the excitement

that has yet to be fully I could not

of exposure

to missile and space launches,

help but think of the launch as the key milestone to launch meant releasing the precious hardware to prior influence and judgments; the mission, after a missile launch and not much For Viking, there

in any project. Committing and all direct control over it was nothing the launch one could _vas more do to lunar like a for the early

more could be done however,

planetary

spacecraft.

191

FARTRAVELERS

commencement

exercise

for a college

graduate.

It was

the end of a long of a but

period of programmed experiences new and uncertain life. Of course by now confidence in launch for landing on another planet For those project members

and hard work, yet just the beginning the launch was still critical to success, was high, whereas unproven. skills had been

technologies were relatively whose special

technologies applied to the

engineering, design, and te_t of the launch vehicle, the trial was over as soon as a good orbit was reported. To be sure, there were data to be analyzed, reports to be written, and post mortems to be conducted, but the victory celebration came first and could be savored without reservation. Soon it would gotten be necessary behind to concentrate the current on the tasks for the next vehicle launch demanded had attention, a variety for those that had because but that was In in-

understood and to be expected. For the spacecraft engineers, fact, volved people, assigned several future. there were so many design, to think Whether meant different in spacecraft

the launch possibilities

of meanings. who had been

development, as a single succeeded

and testing class.

that it was not entirely hardware vehithe Vikof the

appropriate cle people. ing launches

of them the mission

For the hands-on

the work was over with the launch, tasks necessary to bring

just as it was for the launch or failed, career; they they had completed For some, had been to conclusion.

their efforts

the end

of a known

so busy for

years that there had been little place in their minds for thoughts Suddenly, almost catastrophically, their Viking jobs ended.

For others, the launch meant simply that their jobs would would continue in the same manner, and some were to start work, with the thread types" during of continuity worked being alongside phases, provided the of the hardware operational engineers tional studies, or software who they had helped to develop.

change: some a new type of knowledge software operaas they in a real of names meant new

by intimate hardware and

A few were "born conducting when,

the development and providing

giving counsel,

planning

to support

the developments

went along. For them, Viking really came to life after launch, sense, it became a different creature. An entirely reappeared, involved new organization from chart the outset, was prepared; differences. changed but there were in the project significant For many assignments

a number

who had been

titles and work with new groups having different objectives and procedures. Returning to their home center or to JPL after being displaced for weeks or even months at the Cape also meant adjusting to new office environments, as

192

A TASKFORCE EXTRAORDINAIRE

well asto newassociates andassignments. Projectmanagement officialshad wiselybeguna transitionto theoperations phase reassigning a core group by
to join the comfortable of conducting A frightening months amount planned. planetary preparation operation. full-time operations experts well before launch. adjust Those already in this new phase were able to help others flight operations. aspect of this, at least to me, was the fact that during were been to be on their way for the missions The systems capabilities not know process or manpower to Mars, the 10 as the a sobering all to the challenge

or so the spacecraft There had not

of work had to be done in order time operations

to be performed

to "engineer"

until after the launches. and programming operations; the

had been designed to allow en route how well that goal or actual after the

and built with the flexibilities for planetary Needless had been achieved

we would

until after the cut-and-try to say, discovery

of simulations deficiencies

of design

hardware was millions of miles away would not have been very satisfying. Although there had been a certain amount of new activities and operational training during the cruise periods of the Mariners, their limited capabilities to be more on the way, commodate maneuvers, experiment left far fewer options after launch. Furthermore, there were never than two machines operating in the vicinity of Mars at the same successful. forward orbital relay very With both sets of Viking spacecraft we could look arrival times, communications timelines for four to juggling injections, periods, sophisticated people and facilities to acsite selections, deboost orbiter and lander at spacecraft, all arriving had been defined in and use.

time, even if both were totally

and critical

Mars and requiring careful attention within a few days. By the time of the launches, Viking's primary missions and basic arguments ner in which concert with hardware involved a general settled concerning would the scientific this moderated capabilities. and mission the spacecraft perform. These objectives original To ensure strategies orbiters

objectives

and the manhad evolved desires very to coinplainly

development; all used objectives

cide with hardware individuals spelled There landers. broad The was out scientific Later, guidelines primary and

and software

that the teams Office and for operational

the same

list, the Project two

set of these

for the

a set for both the same surface had

more specific were designed for mission purpose water

tasks were to be assigned to be interchangeable objectives. of the orbiters readings. was While

to each, but the pairs

of spacecraft

and thus shared to obtain these pictures,

temperatures,

vapor

data

obviously

193

FAR TRAVELERS

scientificvaluein their ownright, all wereto beusedin selecting landingsites for the Viking landers,as thefirst requirement f everyViking element as o w to helpensure thatlandershadthebestpossible chance landingsafelyand of conductingworthwhile experiments.The orbiters' scientific instruments therefore hadto servethegoodof theentiremission beforetheywereto concentrateon importantscientificfunctions.Wehavealreadymentioned how the orbitersservedas buses interplanetarytransportation,aslaunching for platforms,andas communicationselay links. r
The surveys landers. extend landing The mind, second begun Orbital and objective by Mariner water coverage for vapor coverage for the obtaining orbiters was to continue during data, the the photographic and addof the to in to be used to emphasis the future vapor data 9, repeating of landing some coverage sites and similar lander was of the planet lifetimes areas would adding with

ing thermal

measurements of local orbiters images would process

the meaningful site studies. third objective

prescribed

for it specified

and thermal do the complete

and water

help planners supposed

in the site selection particularly

for subsequent

missions.

No one Mars

that the first landers

job of exploring

with just two landings, the most hospitable sites for life to exist. Earth would had been and The fourth thermal chosen and

considering how

the importance rather incomplete your fields?

of choosing impression spots of that

sites for the first landings Can you imagine observe they looked specified vapor

than the most hospitable

be if you could because water objective

it only from two flat, smooth like safe landing that orbiters to be used

clearly information

were to obtain in the study

images of the

dynamic and physical characteristics last, thought some scientists, science data chores would be gathered in regard were done in behalf

of the planet and its atmosphere. At for the sake of science! Although much objectives, would not until the expedition priorities rest with rule of life: for

to the first three

of the whole

the scientists.

The objectives

list was a reminder

of an everyday

we must ensure our survival before There was also a very important scientific junction transmitted passes, spacecraft tions. investigations with at various passed flyby using radio wavelengths analyzing Mars communications, and behind

we can achieve higher goals. fifth objective for orbiters; it called system data. We think the of radios through signals many because effects electromagnetic on radio to make

in conenergy which as deducit the

but

is affected these

by the media scientists respect

measuring Earlier

also allowed had generated

experiments

for this "by-product"

194

A TASKFORCE EXTRAORDINAIRE

applicationof theradiosignals
and the interplanetary transmit

for studies of the ionosphere, Viking's use of two a measure would provide systems.

the atmosphere, frequencies to of the electron of comof the spacecraft in-

constituents.

signals from Mars to Earth in interplanetary capabilities during and of Mars approach on spacecraft and theory for future

concentration munications transponder of the fluences signals orbit

space, enhancing and orbit would to be deduced trajectories. orbited of relativity.

our understanding produce from

Radio tracking

data for calculations the gravitational the analysis provide and of radio informalanders

mass of Mars, Mars

Finally,

as the spacecraft Einstein's took goals

the Sun would

tion to verify These

into account

the fact that Viking

orbiters

were expected to continue operating over a significant seasonal change on Mars. Although it may seem

portion of a cycle of that more than one

photograph or water survey of a planetary site would merely be repetitious, this was not the case for Mars, for it experiences seasonal changes very much like Earth, other with winter scientific with "frost" storms, dust storms with blowing continuous studies of the sand, of regions orbiters and of and phenomena, such as erosion by wind, that bring on synoptic objectives changes.

In fact, major interest. Compared

gains might depend the primary scientific

landers, expectations stated. The Primary

for the entry science experiments were very briefly Mission Summary document said simply, "Entry: Deter-

mine the atmospheric structure and composition." Easy to say, but to learn these things about a new planet during rapid passes through its tenuous atmosphere define teraction abundance centration mosphere, with data tific input, mance engineering objectives at two locations! with the solar wind. of neutral and ion pressure, species and What was meant to happen was an attempt the composition along In the lower to and atwere the physical and chemical state of the Martian atmosphere, distributions. to be measured, energy density, systems. atmosphere and its in-

In the upper were

with the ion conweight

electron pressure guidance

temperature,

and mean molecular These data the design

to be determined

by direct

and temperature

measurements criteria

together and perforfor the

from the lander but would of future

were all good scieninsight

also serve in evaluating systems, missions. objectives scientific in addition

of the entry

to lending

valuable

The lander's

scientific

had neither priorities

the mystique to the burning

of the orbiter They an questions

nor the simplicity giving

of those for the entry science

experiments.

were straightforward,

195

FAR TRAVELERS

"objective"scientistmight have askedhad he personallyset foot on the strangenewplanet: Visuallycharacterize landingsite the Search evidence living organisms for of Determinethe atmospheric compositionandits temporalvariations Determinethe temporalvariationsof atmospheric temperature, ressure, ndwind velocity p a Determinethe seismological characteristics f the planet o Conductscientificinvestigations usingthe Viking Lander radio systems, ngineering e sensors, magnet, a and otherinformationfrom the landers Determinethe elemental compositionof the surfacematerial The orderof theseobjectivestook into accountnot only their scientific relevance determined the science as by teamsandprojectofficials,but also the time-criticalaspects f learningasmuchaspossible o assoonaspossible in casedifficultiesarose.The missions wereplannedto continuefor months, but therewas alwaysthat hauntingpossibilityof premature truncation for any oneof a varietyof reasons. othVikingswerelaunched B from Pad41on the last days of their preferredlaunch opportunities.For mission1, this allowedencounterdateson or beforeJune18, 1976,and for mission2, a nominalencounter ateof August7.Thesedates d wereimportantto permita goodmatchof the retropropulsion requirements ndperformance a limits and to staywithin acceptable landingsite lighting anglesat the time of arrival. Sincethe first and most important task for the orbiterswas to help the landers providingsiteselection by data,it wasdesirable that theybeginthese tasksimmediately upon arrival at Mars. The cruisephase the Viking missions of wasdefinedasthe period from the launchof thefirst spacecrafto 40 daysbeforeit wasto be injectedinto t orbit aboutMars. At that time, the approachphase,which lastedthrough Mars orbit insertionof the second spacecraft, fficially began. o Shortly after beinglaunchedfrom its parking orbit around Earth,each Viking spacecraft acquiredtheSunandorienteditssolarpanelsnormalto it. About 80 minuteslater, the biocapsthat hadprovidedhermeticallysealed containers theentry capsules for wereseparated andallowedto float away so asto missMarsentirely.About 2 dayslater, a 720 roll turn aroundthe ° 196

_RJGINAL

FAC-_. is

OF POOR QUAL|T_

_s
©

u_ o co0 0

a
_J Iz _ I <:_

_8 m
u_

o •¢_._ E:D OZ uJ_ o_z

<_

B" .__<]
cow

_o
og(J

__t.
ma_ 0

£O_ N

--_

[> _-_

<_1

q

_<

,'-_>
---_q
o

u_

_-_
t.i x ) o

q8
o

u cl

m J

t_

q

_
©

qq_

8_8
co Z

82>-<{ CC

g
I.._<] (5 d_
O9 C_ P-O 0 F-: FLU 2_ {..} H I.U

_E:

o o co_ i

o4

'

Z c-4

c_

c-i

w >-

B
_D

o

y.

_'_ #'_

6 >

' _

'_ z_

_

g

197

FAR TRAVELERS

Sun axis provided days after celerometer An

for a star map and

tracker

calibration

sequence.

Several

this, and several times throughout the misssion, gyro and accalibrations were performed to ensure that these components properly, midcourse as they would maneuver was be needed executed for critical on each maneuvers. mission at the

were working early

earliest opportunity following propellant warmup. These early maneuvers were to correct the major vehicle injection errors as soon as they were known. days about The first correction on mission 30 days 2. Such postlaunch, occurred midcourse after after which 7 days the on mission were orbiter 1 and after 10 by system maneuvers to be completed propulsion

pressurants were to be shut off to prevent any possibility of leakage during cruise. Leaks of any sort would cause unwanted trajectory and/or attitude changes, much like the effects of firing small rockets. During the early cruise periods until about 100 days munications with the spacecraft were generally after launch, using com-

maintained

the low-

gain antennas, except for periods such as the midcourse maneuvers and the early scan platform and science instrument checkouts, when the high-gain modes were needed to return data. A number of engineering tasks and instrument calibrations chromatograph bakeout, conducting players were Throughout and tape were carried mass recorder testing out during maintenance. the Viking Flight Team making on Earth was sure that all A shortand training when exercises, the planet cruise, including venting of the gas GCMS spectrometer (GCMS), battery conditioning,

the entire cruise period ready for their duties

personnel

was reached.

hand summary of the cruise activities as used by the Flight Team is included here to illustrate the manner in which the activities were integrated. There were also important were occurring interfaces same with Helios time and and Pioneer common operations; DSN as these and SFOF at the sharing

facilities, close coordination between The approach phase, beginning signaled arrival made could planned closest propellant the start of the intense at the destination. period During

projects 40 days

was necessary. before Mars orbit activities final adjustments

injection, with to be that been The corwere

of rapid-fire

associated

this period,

to the trajectories, and all science instruments be checked out were exercised. One midcourse for each spacecraft approach; supply valves to finally align the flight these were done about 10 days before

and equipment maneuver had paths orbit injection.

and set times of

that had been closed

after the initial midcourse

rection had to be reopened, of course, to enable the final correction to occur. When the valve was opened on the mission 1 spacecraft, a slight leak was 198

A TASKFORCE EXTRAORDINAIRE

detected which would haveledto an overpressure the propellantsystem in after a time, and possiblyto an explosionof the propellant tank. It was decidedthat two large-magnitude idcoursecorrections,compensating m in the sense their vectorsums that would achieve theequivalentof the smaller correctionneeded, ould beperformedto allow thebleed-down pressure w of to a safelevel. To perform suchcomplexmaneuvers near the planet so without much trackingtime to assessesultsby the time of orbit injection r wasa risk, but moreappealing thana possible blowup.This decision clearly points out how far confidencein propulsionand guidanceand control technologiesadprogressedince h s Mariner4; thecapabilityto performa secondmidcourse correctionon Mariner4 hadbeen addedafteragonizingconsiderations, ut everyonehadfelt a sense reliefwhen the first correction b of satisfiedthe grossflyby distancecriteriaand thesecondfiring was not required. In supportof the two correctionmanuevers, extensive observations of Mars and adjacentstarsweremadethat providedoptical datato augment the radio trackinginformation. Much was learnedabout optical guidance techniquesrom this activity; latermissions f toJupiterandSaturninvolving flyby encounters with severalmoonswereto employsimilar techniquesn i their final guidance input. As the Vikings approached Mars,many observations eremadeof the w planetto aid in calibratinginstruments andchecking their operationbefore arrival. During the period from about5 daysout to about1 day away, a complete setof science observations asmade,ncludingcolorphotography w i andglobal-coverage infraredmeasurements. Thelast 3 daysbeforeinjection werevery excitingasViking I pointedits TV cameras t theMartian moon a Deimos,capturingthefirst close-up colorimages that small,rocky object of against a starry background.Theseimagesalso provided final optical navigationdatato helpin designing orbitalinjectionmaneuver. the Because f theleakypropellantvalveon thefirst spacecraft, o thevalveon Viking 2 was not openeduntil just beforethefinal midcourse correction. This time thingswent accordingto plan, andonly onemaneuverwas required.Aswith Viking 1, a series approach of science ndopticalnavigation a observations weremade.SinceViking 2 did not reachMars until 50 days afterViking 1,the operations teams hadmuchadditionalexperience toapply to the approachandlandingphases the second for encounter. Finally,aftera 10-month journey,Viking I wasinjectedinto orbit about Mars. This beganthe phasedesignated planetaryoperations,signalingthe beginningof the activitiesin orbit andon thesurface Mars.The so-called of 199

FAR TRAVELERS

MissionProfileStrategy this phase for wasthetop-leveloverallplan for the missionandhadreceived greatdealof reviewanddiscussion a amongall interestedparties,from administrators technicians.n addition to beinga to I menufor all activities,it was the basisfor interactionsamongscientists, engineers, management and officialswho had worked togetherto plan the missionsand who would now be carrying them out. The Viking systems allowedfor a fair amountof flexibility in operations, ut thereweremany b possible actionswhichwereirreversible. hephysics orbits,limitationson T of propellants,timeswhenviewingconditionswereaffected spacecraft by position, time of day, and Earth-Mars-Sunelationships r werejust a few of the constraintsthat hadto beconsidered. he operationalinterrelationships f T o both orbitersandboth landershadto becarefullyregarded from the outset to avoid conflictswhen multipleoperationswould be required. Keyfactorsfor orbiterstrategies included four considerations: propulsive maneuvers, orbit walks to relocatethe spacecraft rbital parameters,deno i tificationandrelativepositionsof referencetars,andEarthandSunoccultas tions that would influenceattitude control and communications. ny reA quirement for orbiter operationshad to consider these basic factors, regardless f otherconsiderations. o For the landers,the basicstrategyfor operationsrevolvedaroundthe biologyanalyses ndtheorganicanalyses; a theseweretheprincipalpriorities for thelandingmission.It almostwentwithout sayingthat theyshouldenjoy the first consideration protocol development. in From earlier data obtainedprimarily by Mariner 9, a regionon Mars known asthe ChryseBasinhad beenchosenas the targetareafor Viking Lander1. The selectionof the initial site was basedon both safetyand science considerations, with safetyclearly comingfirst. If severalsitesappearedto beequallysafeafterbeingsurveyed,thenscientificinterestwould become thebasisof choice.A backupsitewaschosen onthe othersideof the planet in another type of geologicalformation, within the samelatitude band,in casethe primary site appeared be questionable, ut it wasnot to b used. The safetyissueshat mightaffectthe successf landingweremainlythe t o altitude of the site, the wind conditions,and local surfacehazards suchas boulders.Sincetheatmosphere wasa primefactorin providingbrakingduringdescent,hehigherdensityat loweraltitudesmadethemfavoredchoices. t Wind conditionswereestimated observingstreaks the surface, very by on a indirect indication of existingconditions,but at leastproviding a clue of 200

A TASKFORCE EXTRAORDINAIRE

somebenefit.Areaswith noticeable streakswereavoided,aswereregions wheresurface changes adoccurred h since Mariner9 flyby. Sincethebest the orbiter cameracoverage only providedresolutionof objects100metersin size,andsincebouldersgreaterthan 22 centimeters sizecould damagea in lander,this hazardwasdealtwith by extrapolation orbiterphotosandinof terpretationsor inferencesrom ground-basedadardata. f r Whileit hadbeenhopedthat thehistoricfirstlandingon Marscouldoccur on July4, 1976,thebicentennial theDeclaration Independence, of of the 4 weeksrequiredfor reconnaissance resulted a delayof the landingfrom in July4 to July20. Thiswasa goodseason arrive,beingnearthebeginning to of summerin the northernlatitudesof Mars. If organisms erepresentand w growing,this shouldhavebeena goodtime to look for them. Oneaspect f Marsthathasalwaysfascinated eis itssimilarity toEarth o m asa planet.It orbitsthe same Sunin nearlythesame plane,with its rotation axistilted 25° ascompared with 23.5°for Earth,andwith a rotationaround its axisevery24 hours39minutescompared with 24 hoursfor Earth.This amazingcoincidence (isit really?)meansthatMarsdaysarealmostexactly the sameas ours;but, moreinteresting,the tilt of its axismeans that Mars undergoes seasonal changes eachhemispherehesame in t way theyoccuron Earth.Mars' orbit is farther from the SunthanEarth's;it takesabout687 Earthdaysfor Mars to travelcompletelyaroundthe Sun.ThustheMartian year is almosttwice aslong as Earth's,which is the majordifferencein its general ehaviorasa planet. b Thetwo approach midcourse correction maneuverselayed d thearrival of Viking I at Mars by about6 hours.The sitecertification plan hadcalledfor the spacecrafto be overthe preselected -1 sitein a synchronous t A orbit so that site surveyscould beginimmediatelyafterinjectioninto orbit, but the delay precluded that. An alternate plan wasselected involvedan orbit that with a periodof 42.5hourssuchthat thecraft wouldessentially overfly the A-1 site on the second orbit, allowing a retro maneuverto synchronize at that time.This alternate wasexecuted splanned, ndreconnaissance A-1 a a of beganon the third revolutionof Mars. Although a successful wasa majormilestone orbit achieved,thefirst images A-1 produced of something a jolt to theprojectteamviewingthemin of Pasadena. When orbitercoverage the originallychosen of Chrysesite was studied,many craters wereevident,andit appearedhat therehadbeenext tensiveerosion activity and exposureof boulder fields as seenat the 100-meterresolution. The photos were more detailed than those from 201

FARTRAVELERS

Mariner 9 andshowed manygeologic features largeenoughto represent real hazards landers. ommonsense to C suggested thatit wasnot a very goodsite. The areato the southwasknown to be very rough,with deepchannel beds,while images theregionto the eastindicatedthat therehadbeenan of enormousamountof flooding in the ancientpast.To the westwas a vast areaerodedby winds,andit almostseemed desirable usethebackupsite to on the oppositesideof the planet. Landingsite selection(LSS)meetings had beenplannedall along, but theynowtook on a moreserious character. n June O 24,thefirst LSSmeeting washeldamidstexciting speculation aboutthepreselected site;a roomfull of scientists andprojectpersonnel erepresento seeanddiscuss w t findings.Hal Masurskyof theU.S.Geological urveyhadbeenaskedtoleadthesiteselecS tion studies, ut it wouldfinally beup to TomYoung,MissionDirector,and b JimMartin, ProjectManager,to decide.In additionto their own vibrations, they would rely heavilyon input from GentryLee,responsible mission for analysis anddesign, ndonGeraldSoften,who, asProjectScientist, asofa w ficial spokesman the scientists. for At the June26 LSSmeeting,Gentry Leebeganthe discussion anby nouncingthat the July4 landingwasin jeopardyandthat a decisionhadto bemadeaboutwhetherto movethesurveyto alternate siteA-2 or to move the search the northwest,wherescientists to had hypothesized that a sedimentbasinmightexist.JimMartin explained thegeologic that appearancef o siteA-1 asshownin orbiterimages not correlate did well with findingsfrom ground-based radar and that better correlationwas necessary. Following considerable iscussion, vote wastakenon whetherto examine d a thenorthwestor to usesiteA-2; the resultwasoverwhelmingly favor of extending in observations northwesttoward a newsite areacalledA-1NW. As photomosaicsf the newareaweremade,theories o aboutthegeology of the regionseemed be confirmed.However, the site had somerough to areas,and it was not until Monday night, July 11, when the last mosaics wereready,thata sitecouldbechosen. imMartin hadstatedthata decision J had to bemadethe nextday; he scheduled LSSmeeting beginat 3:00 an to A.M.andcontinueuntil a decision wasreached theeventthattheissue in was not resolvedat the 11:00P.M.meeting.Threesitesin the A-1NW areawere final candidates.After discussionsof detailed studiesand analyses,a unanimous vote allowedeveryoneto go homeaboutmidnight. Hal Masurskywasableto announce thepressthe next morningthat the first Viking to landerwouldbetargeted landingon theGoldenPlain,ChrysePlanitia,at for 2O2

A TASKFORCE EXTRAORDINAIRE

22.5° N, 47.5° W. JimMartin praisedthe LSSprocessedby Masurskyand l the Orbiter ImagingTeam,indicatingthat hewasconvincedthat they had pickedthe safestsitepossible a reasonable in time. After thelandingsitefor Viking I hadfinallybeenchosen, groundcoma mandwassentto initiate theseparation andlandingsequence. this time, At Mars andEarthwereabout200million milesapart,andthe roundtrip time for communications amountedto some40 minutes.The fully automated landingsequenceegan,first separating b thelanderanditsaeroshellrom the f orbiterbusto which it hadbeen attached solong.After a gentle for nudgeby separation springs,theaeroshell-lander combination wasorientedsothatthe deorbit rocketmotor couldbe fired to beginthelong descentrom orbit to f thesurface. helanderthencoasted about3hours,gainingspeed apT for asit proached theMartian atmosphere. Meanwhile,t wassending i datato the orbiter to berelayedto Earth.Justbeforearrivingat the fringesof Martian atmosphere,some 300 kilometers above the surface, the aeroshellwas reorientedfor its aerodynamic entry. Its ablatableheat shieldprotected landersystems from the intense heat, decelerating landerto a speedof the about 250meters second that a parachute per so could be deployedfrom a canby a smallmortar.Thisdevice,50feetin diameter, adbeenpacked h into a smallcontainerwellbeforethelaunch,muchlongerthanthe90-to 120-day maximumnormally specifiedbeforerepackingis requiredfor emergency parachutes.The parachuteessentiallypulled the lander away from the aeroshell, llowingit to drop to thesurface, sit slowedthe landerto about a a 60 meters second per some1.5 kilometers abovethe surface. At that height,a markingradarcalledfor thefiring of threeretro rockets mounteddirectly on the landerspacecraft. These engines burnedfor about 40seconds, eingthrottledby commandsrom thecomputer,basedon senb f sor information from the radarsystem.The last30 metersof altitude were coveredwith the spacecraft escendingerticallyin a gentlefall at about2 d v metersper second.A switchon a landingfootpadsignaled shutoff for the rockets,andViking landed. Landingsiteshad to be elliptical in shape,about 100by 300metersin size,to allow for uncertaintiesn controlovertouchdown. anderI touched i L downwithin 20metersof thecenterof thechosen llipse,so the"guesses" e of the engineers usthavebeenbetterthanexpected. m During the design anddevelopment periodfor the landingrockets,there was concernaboutthe effectsof jet blastson surface materials.Simulation firings of motorsin dust led to studiesof multiplenozzleconcepts the and 2O3

t"
o

i

.!

be

I L

,i

204

A TASK FORCE EXTRAORDINAIRE

development pingement chemical,

of an 18-nozzle

rocket

that showed

minimal

effects

from

im-

on the surface. Many tests were run to determine temperature, and mechanical problems that might be induced by the motors. To the effects developed, were well analyzed, the multiple-nozzle and no known problems occurred as a inin

make a long story short, rockets were successfully result of using rockets

to achieve

the soft landing. the upper atmosphere, entry science measurements of the ions and electrons

During the descent through struments in the aeroshell made the upper atmosphere Pressure, temperature, ing descent. minutes been before those

and the neutral and acceleration in about of us patiently

species in the lower atmosphere. measurements were also made dur10 minutes, but it was another that 20 in the SFOF knew it had

All this happened successfully.

waiting

accomplished

During the entry and landing period, shared by mission directors Tom Young crowded Viking, specialists soles. ficials vided and with the Viking project the place Surrounding was packed. tightly members Several like me from Headquarters, with their Langley, spaced

I was stationed in the "glass cage" and Bob Crabtree. The SFOF was who had to be there; "bullpen" areas housed and with visitors build conofengineering telecom that had helped

and corporations desks, videomonitors,

these were display

the glass offices occupied and communication but allowed almost

by management

their special

systems.

The glass proteam to

some shield from noise,

all of the operating

view the comings communications augmented by human hand

and goings of colleagues.

It was a scene of high technology

activities, but I was amused to see it occasionally a frantic wave, by pointing, or by some other primitive, used as an expedient. of the inforthe at ad-

signal

I could think of no place I would rather be during the final minutes first landing on Mars. The two mission directors had as much real-time mation highest available respect to them as anyone had been positions Torn Young Lunar Director on the team, involved until Orbiter and I had developed for their competence Bob Crabtree responsible the successful as Mission over the many years days of Mariners he was from program develop

we had been workactivities Viking I and 2, quietly

ing together. vancing operations. engineer critical

in the operations leading

JPL and at the Cape from the very early to more during position I had watched

orbiter very the

a mission

integration

to his present sure to have

for Viking. and I was proud

We were

facts as soon as they were known, "Vikings" in this crucial period.

to be with two of the key

205

FARTRAVELERS

Wordsseeminadequate
quence. thought I may have been

to describe in a state

the last 10 minutes of suspended After

of the landing although

seI this

animation,

at the time I was just being

cool.

all, I had been through

process seven times before during Surveyor landings on the Moon. think Surveyor even entered my mind as the key events of chute ment, aeroshell jettison, engine start, and velocity-altitude callouts followed finally by the indication from 4000 to 16 000 bits per touchdown, signal would then we were mutual linescan solidly On forget. was the mark not have quickly been given. caught This made rocky surface

I don't deployoccurred,

that the telemetry bit rate had switched second. This signal, 10 seconds after had the landing almost been destructive, and backslapping and before the of long resting and It seemed too good to be true, but

of survival;

up in the handshakes by the appearance

congratulations. image of Mars'

the time pass quickly, and a Viking footpad,

the festivities

were interrupted

on the monitors

of the first

clearly

on the target planet more than 200 million miles away. the heels of the thrills that went with the successful landing pictures came one of my other small personal around experience visiting lander It was a result wandering with

remarkable everywhere

I will not friends separation

in the SFOF during

the long period

between

and entry into Mars' atmosphere. I entered a glass cage where of Langley, John Goodlette of Martin, and other systems waiting Orbiter fort. for the next events. Taback grin, had been asking a respected friend days and had functioned recognized as chief engineer if I would setup, throughout

Israel Taback experts were since Lunar the Viking efI

He met me with a broad

like to get in the pool.

immediately

this as a sucker

with me as the sucker,

but I

naturally responded with, "What pool?" "The blackout pool," he said, meaning a pool for guesses as to how long the radio blackout would last as the entry capsule passed through the atmosphere. spacecraft lesser extent fect as part calculations "donation" Just as communications to Earth, Naturally blackouts always occurred was expected about of some when to a astute of the I a in this efwere returning for Mars. to support was only this same phenomena had

these men had been for all I knew, or two, Nevertheless, to enter

thinking

of their jobs and, a dollar

the benefit into

their guesses.

since the amount the spirit

of things, had

joined the pool. When faced with hunch that the very engineers, munications

the challenge tenuous who always

of picking and had

a number,

I suddenly

atmosphere

the conservatism amount

of the comof margin

a surprising

206

A TASKFORCE EXTRAORDINAIRE

their predictions,mightjust combineto resultin no perceivable blackoutat all. The rest you can guess;my "zero" blackout time won, and Taback sheepishly cameto mewith a handfulof bills andthe secret allotsthat had b beencastby "usionospheric physicsexperts" who wereconfirming"prior" knowledgeof conditionsat Mars. Almost like thechrysalistransitionfrom a caterpillarto a butterfly, Viking becamea different object upon landing.What had been, moments before,a flying machineof themostsophisticatedort, wasnow a scientific s laboratory,immobileandwedded the soil.Changed, to too,weresomeof its masters,or therewereno longerany tasksinvolvingrocketor attitudeconf trol functionsto perform, andthosewhohadplayedsucha vital role in getting to the surface Marswereno longerneeded. heViking LanderI was of T now a laboratory dedicated the conductof premierscientificinvestigato tionsof historicproportions.New masters came forward to commandit. There were still many engineeringfunctions to be performed and monitoredfor the Viking laboratory, just as thereare for laboratorieson Earth,which demandengineering supportto operateas effectivefacilities. Such functions were not unimportant; they simply assumed different a priority when the scientificinvestigations began. The lander's presence Marsalsobroughtabouta subtlechange our on in thoughtsabouttime.The landerwasnow a creature a newworld where of thedayswere24hoursand39minutes long.Notmuchdifferentfrom whatit wasusedto, but enoughto accumulate overa periodof time andmakethe sunrises andnoontimes change.f it wasto operate I asanentity studyingthe environsof this strangeplace,it would haveto operateon local time, the sameway you or I would adjustin a foreignland.And so, too, would its masters Earthhaveto adjust. on To dealwith operationaltimebased ona Martianday, thetermSOLwas invented.Fora long time I supposed to beanotheracronymthat I needn't it botherto learn,but I haven'tfoundanyonewhoknowshow it cameto be. As a substitutedefinitionfor a "Mars day," these SOLsbecame units of the time for planningall operations Mars,eventhework shiftsof thepeople on involvedin landeroperations.However,their dayswereso unroutinethat thereneverwassucha thingasa 9 to 5 shiftgeared SOL.Theentireoperato tion was, at best,on flextime;realistically,it wasprobably morelike continuousovertime. Whileeveryoneelsewasgasping andexclaiming over theimages coming in on their screens,he entry science t teamwaspouring over the datathey 207

FAR TRAVELERS

hadreceivedconcerning atmosphere. majorquestionhadarisenover the A argoncontent,primarily because a Russian of estimatethat argonmadeup 35percentof the atmosphere. the Russian If estimate hadbeencorrect,the GCMSinstrumentmighthavehaddifficulty. After a few hoursof study,the resultsclearlyshowedthat the argonconcentration was only about 2 percent,a muchmorereasonable numberand no causefor alarm. Thefoldedmeteorology boom,carryingsensors uchlike thoseseen m on a smallEarth weatherstation, extended soonafter launch. Rightafter the first look aroundwith the cameras, iking did what any newarrival would V havedoneandobserved statusof the weather. the Themeteorology teamgavetheir first Marsweatherreportearlythenext morning,tellingusthattherewere"light windsfrom theeastin thelateafternoon,changing light windsfrom thesouthwest ftermidnight.Maximum to a wind was 15 mph. Temperature rangedfrom -122 ° F just after dawn to -22 ° F [but this wasnot themaximum].Pressure steadyat 7.70millibars." This wasthefirst of a daily (SOLy?) series reportsfrom theViking lab on of thechanging weatherconditionson the surface Mars.Quite a while later, of a morningreport told of a winter stormthatwasverifiedby cameraimages showing what appearedto be light snow covering the ground. The meteorology instruments workedwell on both Viking landers,andwe soon hadenoughseasonal dataonMarsweatherto jokeabouta MartianFarmer's Almanac. The next instrumentto be activatedwas a seismometer. While not a primaryinstrumentin the search life, it wasexpected providebasicinfor to formationaboutthe origin andevolutionof Mars.Effortsto uncagethe instrument eredisappointing, ndtroubleshooting not succeed getting w a did in it to work. Fortunately,itscounterpartonViking 2 performed flawlessly,so that data about Mars quakeswereobtained.Mars appears fairly inactive seismically,and most of the disturbances measured were believedto be relatedto the effectsof wind. As if to proveitshumanqualitiesby showingthat "nobody'sperfect,"a command the surface to sampler controlassembly (SSCA) caused thecollector head to retract too far, crunchinga restraint or latchingpin and inhibiting its release. his causeda stir in Mission Control, for the surface T sampler asvital to the biologyandchemistryexperiments. w TheSSCAwas the"armandhand"thathadto reachout andcollectsamples, ick themup, p andload the hoppersof the "chemistrylab," whoseexoticand uniqueinstruments would havebeenuseless without them.This brings to mind the dependence scientists mustoften placeon technicians who serveloyally in 208

A TASKFORCE EXTRAORDINAIRE

laboratorieson Earth, as well as the fact that they are often taken for granted--until they do not respondasexpected r makemistakes. further o A object lesson of the Viking surfacesamplerexperience camefrom the troubleshooting activitiesthatwerebegunimmediately,or theyshowedthe f problemto havebeencaused an incorrectcommand,not an improper by response. A diligenteffort on thepart ofa teamledby LenClarkof Langley quickly determinedwhere the trouble was and how to remedyit. This involved reworking the commands and checkingthem carefully on the prototype hardwareusedin simulations.Wheneverythingwas ready,includingnew commands pointingthe cameras observe release for to pin andthe location of the sampler afterit wasdroppedto thesurface,he newinstructions t were sent and executed perfectly.All theseunplanned activitiesmeantthat the SSCAwasunableto performuntil SOL5 instead SOL2 asscheduled, of but everyonewas so relievedto have thingsright again that Clark was congratulatedfor hisheroic effort. The development f the surfacesamplerarmandhandinvolveda como bination of electromechanical technologies ndthe fundamentalphysicsof a its humancounterparts.t hadto becapable beingstowedout of theway I of until after the landing,ableto extendin thedesired direction,reachsurface features overa nearbycirculararc,manipulate thesurface, ick up samples, p and placethem in receivers that allowedthe samples be processed. to We humanstake our arms and hands for granted,but thosewho havecontemplated design their replacements the of arewell awareof the magnificent sophistication the combination sensors ndthemechanical of of a andcontrol systemsinvolved. Comparedwith the dynamic,adaptablequalitiesof a humanarm, theSSCAwasextremely simple;nonetheless, waseffectivein it the Martian environment. The SSCAcouldextend13feetfrom itsmount,reaching thegroundfrom 3 to 10feetfrom the spacecraft. radiusof operation Its wasabout120 giv°, ing it a surfaceareacoverage about95square of feet.Normallyit would be programmedto the desiredazimuth, extended desiredamount, and the loweredto the surface.It would then extendinto the soil about 16 centimeters with itsjaw open,acquirea sample,retractthe collectorheadwith the jaw closed,and then elevateand deliver the sampleto the desired receiver.Of courseit couldbe usedin otherways:asa trenchingtool, asa rock hammer,or to movea rock on the surface. additionto its scoopand In backhoe,it carriedmagnets nda thermocouple determine a to magnetic propertiesand surface temperatures. motor loadcouldberecordedto givean Its 209

FAR TRAVELERS

idea

of the

cohesion installed head

of the soil so that

or the forces loose soil

required could

to scrape be shaken

a sample. loose

A from

vibrator the

was

samples limited

collector area,

if necessary. sampler

Though

to "feeling"

Mars capability and to

in a very for the its ap-

narrow scientific technician propriate

the surface who faithfully

did provide

this surrogate on Mars, given

explorers role

commanded as long as

its actions the

it served it were

commands

to its basic ways, and and process Lander and These now the its

capabilities. design and operation of prosthetic requirements status 200 for of the control surface Its and sampler substitution manipulation 1976 This about of the described experience the nature rocks state near for a presents for a re-

In some an eerie human quired the with the arm skill Viking lander.

parallel

to applications special

devices.

learning.

A mission rocks from been

bulletin million

in October miles away. more some

tricky

of pushing 2 resulted had all

the desire observed to turn longer

to learn in their

of the rocks

Martian

surface

materials

by moving

undisturbed and far was

period it was process tools.

of time; like.

it was

reasonable taken

one over to get this

to really in the not

see what

Although of the might

it had remote have

exploration from and

because The account

operations, taken had read

the he been

action able

different hands

that an explorer

to use his own

in the

bulletin

as follows:

Well, we tried one and it didn't not far enough. So we did it again. ceeded. The first attempt was with ducted October 4, but there was no say, "unmoved" it has probably The conclusion

. . . and then we tried another and it did--but That's the way the first rock-pushing event prorock 1-ICL rock. A nudge was successfully conbudge with the nudge! ICL rock was, one might place

by the Lander's attempt to dislodge it from its place of rest--a occupied undisturbed for perhaps millions of years. is that the rock is like a floating iceberg--most of it buried

and

simply too large to move. Not to be foiled by this kind of development on a planet that seems to take pleasure in confounding our spacecraft (we're getting wise to its tricks), a second sequence was already in the system to transfer the soil sampler's affections to rock 3--and that push was successfully conducted October 8 on the same schedule planned for rock 1. But the game wasn't over yet.

Have you ever tried to push a good sized rock out of the way in your garden with--say--the handle end of a hoe or some other kind of long implement with a small contact area at the pushing end? Unless the contact point is very precisely centered on the mass of the rock, when the rock is pushed it might do any number of strange things. These physical laws still apply on Mars, and the boom-extended surface sampler is not immune to their effects. During the first push, it appears that the rock rotated more than it moved in a straight line, and there was agreement that it

210

A TASKFORCE EXTRAORDINAIRE

hadnotbeen moved farenough. Thiswasa "trick"weweren't repared p for,andit is a tributeto thedesigners thesurface of sampler command sequences thattheywere abletogetanewsequence designed andimplementedveryshortorderduringthe in weekendo that thenewpushcouldbecarried s outOctober 11.Thepictures illustrating theirsuccess werereceived thatevening. Rock3 not only moved adequately,but liftedout of itssemi-buried positionto revealtselfto bemorethan i twiceits original isiblesize. v Returning theproblemwith thesurface to sampler in thatwassolvedon p SOL5, it wasSOL8 beforeeverythingwasreadyand a trenchwasdugby thesampler.A sampleof Martian soilwastransferred the chemistrylab, to technicallydescribed asthe biology, gaschromatograph, andX-ray sample processingand distribution assembly.The most interested "Vikings" gatheredat 6:30A.M. to watch, asimages thetrenchdugby the sampler of werereturnedslowly on the directvideo link from the lander.The surface looked appropriately disturbed, and presumablythe sampleshad been delivered.Engineering data showedthat the biology instrumenthad obtainedenoughof a sample, ut something b hadapparentlygonewrong with theprocessing the GCMS.Evidence for initially pointedto a low levelor insufficient samplesize, but no one knew why that could have occurred. Needlessto say, this causeda great deal of worry, and theorieswere developed aboutwhat hadhappened andhowto recover.Threepossibilities wereconsidered: no soilhadbeendelivered thedistributionassembly, (1) to (2) the level-fullindicatorhadnot operated, r (3)someunusualquality of o the soil hadkept it from flowing throughthe distributor. After muchdiscussion,t wasdecided a reasonableourseof action i that c wasto collectanothersample SOL14,disable on thelevel-fullno-gosignal, and attemptto perform experiments the availablesample,evenif the on quantitywassmallerthandesired. f course,theTV wasusedto observe O the sample site,theprocessing anddistributionassembly, andthedumpedsample remainingin the collector head that did not passthrough the sieve. Followingthis day of work, thespacecraft wouldbe commanded analyze to the sample SOL15andagainon SOL23. Thelimited amountof "equipon ment and expendables" containedin the Viking chemistrylab plus the extremecarenecessaryo ensure t propercommandsndinterpretationof data a madeit prudentto proceedslowly. Meanwhile,rumorsflew asthe scientists eton SOL11, for thebiology m team had receivedits first data and was to report on the results.Vance Oyamafrom NASA Amesdescribed findingsfrom thegasexchange xhis e 211

FAR TRAVELERS

periment,

in which

water

vapor

was released

into the soil and evolved

gases

were analyzed to determine whether organisms would exhale exhaust products. His results indicated that the soil was active in some way, but he was cautious produced. growing, Data about This the reason was there seemed to be such a large amount of oxygen were were that By this the kind of happening experiment to be expected described was introduced carbon dioxide if plants

but . . . from the labeled

release

by Pat Straat marked nutrient

even more exciting. might be "devoured" monitoring could pret experiment these significant terpretation Team. be obtained showed results abundance,

In this experiment by living about of radioactive the quantity amount of both

a radioactively

organisms

into the soil. produced, Results forms from

the amount

an idea to interof life, in possible inAnalysis oxygen could This

of such organisms. of activity. plant and animal

an incredible as indicators

It was possible another

but soon after these presentations by John Oro, a member that it might be possible to obtain

was offered

of the Molecular

He suggested

such results if Martian

soil contained peroxides that were decomposing to release the detected in the gas exchange experiment. Such chemical constituents also break down unusual being the formate causing theory blown that the and large other signal hopes might of organic accepted enough ingredients carbon release somewhat future Mars from nutrient, analyses, suggesting dioxide.

of the labeled pending of life on analysis or of

was reluctantly out of proportion the matter or absence results;

as a possibility to keep reports

but it dampened

in the newspapers. be settled organic by detailed which would compounds had been be able to carbon to the

There determine molecules.

was hope the When,

data from the gas chromatograph presence did show

mass spectrometer,

on SOL 14, the sampler positive Klaus results seemed based of organic Beimann concerning to confirm

again performed a sample

its task, the leveldelivered

full indicator GCMS reporting ning periments tions-not tive biology Many Christmas come planning

soil processor. no evidence and analyses expected indications. of the negative

presented evidence

bad news for the biologists, for life, as repeated responsible ex-

substances

in the soil. This was the beginthe theory that chemical combinafor the ac-

on Earth

conditions--were

of us were very as a kid, only All those to find out about

disappointed. It had been a little like waiting for to find on Christmas morning that Santa didn't years of talking about the possibility hope of life and that exciting it had built up the tremendous

through.

212

A TASKFORCE EXTRAORDINAIRE

resultsmightbe obtained.Butafterthinkingaboutthe negative resultsfor a long time now, I havereplaced thosedisappointments with other thoughts perhapsmoreexciting.Maybethe fact that thereappearsto be no life on Mars is betterthan finding that therewereonly somelow formsof algaeor distortedmicrobes little significance. of Marsmaybea pristinesitefor future development hrough "planetaryengineering"; t perhapswe can makeit an habitableand otherwiseusefulplacefor expansion.After all, the future residents Marsmightnot haveto worry aboutantsat theirpicnicsor conof tendwith virusesthat havea long history of development. Suchbiologicalspeculationsrefar beyondmy qualifications,but I will a be readyto considerhow we might createanatmosphere satisfyother and environmental equirementso enable manned r t a expeditionto succeed. The factthat theplanetrepresents lot of realestate--notmuchmorebleakthan a the deserts Arizona--makesit a "place"to exploreandexamine its inof for trinsicvalue.It hasmountains, anyons,argevolcanoes, ndotherfeatures c l a that are magnificentlyawesome. hat little we have deducedabout its W history indicatesthat it hasseendynamicperiodsof flooding anderosion thatmighthavebeen accompaniedy spectacular b developments--unimaginable,almost, until onereadsaboutthe continentaldrifts, the ice ages,the dinosaurs,andother stranger-than-fictionccurrences our planet.What o on might we find if we could roamthe Martian surface anddig around?After all, its land surfaceareaof 55 million square milesis equalto about40percent of the land areaof Earth,andwe haveonly beenableto scratch180 squarefeetwith our samplers.

213

Spinners
Not caravels different Often all sailing family: thought

Last
across

Forever
travelers are like the Vikings, sophisticated are from of threeis a stabilized in three axes. Some

interplanetary spin-stabilized systems

vast space,

spacecraft

that trade the complexity of constant rotation.

axis attitude

control

for the simplicity

of as no more than a toy for 10-year-olds,

the gyroscope providing principles compass,

actually a subtle and versatile inner ear for machines, reference and control where nothing else can. Gyroscopic in all manner wheelhouse making of devices, from bicycles given to nuclear to flighty Aircraft a gyro supplements instrument for precise the traditional magnetic

attitude are used In a ship's using inand in the In inis rich

warheads.

puts from this ancient it useful

and deviate

behavior,

navigation.

instrumentation

gyros, notably in the automatic pilot that relieves the human pilot from constant attention needed to fly a steady course in a turbulent medium. submerged every tegrating submarines the multiple gyros and variables are part every with of a marvelous variation such precision machine and that that the change in heading in speed current,

senses skipper,

although functionally without a conventional dure a high-G These formed defined different launch, and candescent reentry,

blinded, can know his exact position after weeks real-world fix. In ICBM guidance systems, gyros enarc a thousand guide range mulishly their from miles upward warheads the everyday no mortal wickedly mechanisms could gyros have into space, to target. are perunaided. In that manage earned use concepts two quite obsurvive in-

feats, which by sensitive, tasks

to the apocalyptic,

independent navigation, in three

by Isaac Newton classes of duty.

to do things

the delicate

of interplanetary that are stabilized

For spacecraft

axes by sighting

on distant

jects, it is periodically necessary to give up this cruise orientation and slew to a different attitude before firing trajectory-correcting rockets. Gyros in an attitude reference package allow this to be done precisely, maintaining reference coordinates all the while. After the velocity corrections have been

214

SPINNERS LASTFOREVER

made,thespacecraft aybereorientedto its originalcruiseattitude.For all m thesetasks,gyrosservenicely,keepingthecontrolcomputerawareof which way is "up" in a universewithout up. The otherapplicationof gyroprinciplesto spacecraft functionis of a differentorder.If theentirecraft is madeto spin,it becomes effecttherotor in of a largegyro andis therebystabilized inertialspace in alongitsaxisof rotation. Althoughit hasdrawbacks,hisis a long-lived,ow-energy t l way to keep a spacecraft rientedduring its travels. o The principleby which a gyro works seemsncomplicated, et its reacu y tions to externalforcesaremysterious.Spina wheeland observethat the axison which it turnshasgainedan oddproperty.It resistsdeflectionand "wants" to hold position againstside loading.But if you overcomethis resistance compelit to point in a differentdirection, note that, unexand pectedly,it precesses and"wants" to movein a plane90° to the deflecting force. (This is what givesso curiouslyanimate feelingto a handheldtoy a gyro, like a little animaltrying to escape.) nclosehe spinningwheel'saxis E t in a polar hoop, andthenenclose that hoop in an equatorialone,andyou havethe heartof a neatdevicecapableof keeping orientationin inertial its space. Of course,therealitiesof applyingsimplephysical rinciplesto machines p canbedifficult, andthegyro applicationinvitescomplication.Muchskilled instrumentengineering asgoneinto gyrosto makethempractical,rugged, h and reliable.Furthereffort hasbeendevotedto attackinga constitutional sensitivityto external orces:in time theheading f establishedy a gyro drifts b into error. No matter how carefully the instrumentis made, it remains susceptible the accumulated to effectsof tiny forcescaused bearingfricby tion, temperature fluctuations,or even the presence absence small or of magnetic fields.Overtime, theseinfluences addup to error. In recentyears the limitations of mechanicalgyros--neverso great as to impair their usefulness over moderateintervals--hasbeenmoderatedby an exciting development,helaserring gyro. In effectthese t gyrosaremadeby replacing the rotatingmechanical partswith ringsof laseright, rotatingwithout fricl tion. Eachlasergyro consists two ringsof lighttravelingin opposite of directions;motioncauses thefrequency onebeam beupshiftedandtheother of to downshifted. he sensitivities T aresuchthat changes rotationat therate of in 10° anhour cause detectable a frequency shift.Thesedevices arefinding applicationasmechanical gyro replacements, andnewordersof accuracy and stability canbe expected when they fly on interplanetary errands. 215

FAR TRAVELERS

Fromtheearliestdaysof
during the rocket burn.

rocketry,

spin stabilization on the shaft

has been employed of an arrow or the

Just as the feathers

rifling in the bore of a gun provide spin to stabilize a projectile, spacecraft are often mounted on final-stage solid propellant rockets that are spun to give a fixed thrust remain changed, the same direction during burn. After rocket burnout, the spacecraft may attached or may be separated, is achieved yo-yo launch, weights. one early Explorer that successfully was remarkable the desired progressed for those trajectory. of inall going well (which oversight in either case continuing or if the rotation technique to spin about rate must be and

axis. If the spinning despinning small

is undesirable, by a simple

of unwinding

then releasing through days), Then,

JPL engineers until thanks

still recall

a multistage

the spacecraft to a certain

and its final stage achieved prelaunch

concerning

the moments

ertia, the spin axis changed from the longitudinal axis of the launch to 90 ° from this axis, where the small vehicle was actually more stable. The laws of physics were still perfectly event obeyed, occurred but this embarrassing failure, several about years bird preferred to spin sideways. experience. It was an instructive the only salvation of the

A related

later when a more expen-

sive advanced technology satellite direction opposite to the intended weight system to unwind

was tipped on separation and spun in a one, making it impossible for its yo-yo In this case, the sure-fire orientation arises from aspects has to engineers. to provide One

and stop its spin.

of spin stabilization will forever haunt Spinning an interplanetary vehicle several manage implications scientific outward that deserve observations radially

in space the need

discussion.

in some uniform will sweep orbits its parent swaths radiation

fashion. body--the on mode

A spinner

with sen-

sors looking able manner. counted spatial course, it can on

the sky in a systematic of coverage medium background

and predictand For Of later,

As the spacecraft to view the

Sun in the case of can be predicted a regular levels, has clear basis. and merit.

most interplanetary measurements

vehicles--these fields, where for

interplanetary

of magnetic

similar less than scanning vehicle

information, for a planetary be employed.

this controlled flyby, But offers few advantages,

scanning the desired

look angle is much observations, the

360 o, a spin mode

even though,

as will be noted

interplanetary

qualities of a spin-stabilized A second factor affected is the generation position arrays

spacecraft are useful. by the stabilization of an interplanetary

of solar power. With three-axis stabilization it is possible to of solar cells perpendicular to the Sun, the most efficient

216

SPINNERS LASTFOREVER

angle.With a spinner, the designermust settlefor somewhatless,even thoughsomearrangements areentirelypracticable.f the spinaxisis normal I to theplaneof theecliptic(theplaneoccupied the Sunandplanets),then by a cylindricalspacecraft havingabandof solarcells thatencircles thespinaxis will be orientedso that the Sunseriallyilluminatesall cells,creatinga continuous ripple of power. Of course,more cellsmust be carriedfor sucha cylindricalarraythanfor a simple planararray,sincethe entirebandof cells is neverilluminatedat the sametime. Thethird aspect f spinners beconsidered o to involvescommunicationso t andfrom Earth.The earliestspinningspacecraft usedlow-gain,omnidirectional antennas, andy if somemischance h tippedor cantedthe spacecraft into an unplannedattitude, but lessthan desirable a large volume of for error-freecommunication. s thetwo-waydatalink to Earthwasof critical A importance, igher-gain h antennas produced that fan-beam,focused patterns were developed;if alignedso that the pancake-shaped beamintercepted Earth,they werenot affectedby the spin. Aiming the antennas Earth-orbitingsatellites of toward Earthpresented smallproblems,but the geometrygrewtrickier when spacecraft eredisw patchedto the fartherreaches thesolarsystem. he problemarosein the of T designof thesecond blockof Pioneers, designated though9, sentinto solar 6 orbit to examinethe interplanetarymedium.Unlike the first block of Pioneers, hich,exceptor Pioneer5,wereearlylunarprobesplagued erw f by ratic launches and unreliability, this second block, launched from 1965to 1968,wereuncommonly successful spacecraft, reliableandrichly rewarding in scientificreturn.Theantenna-pointingroblem p couldhavebeensevere, s a thesebirdswereput into solarorbits not unlikethe Earth's,but trailing or leadingthe homeplanetby largefractionsof its annualpath. They useda Franklinarrayantennathat transmittedandreceived signalsin a fan-shaped pattern orientedto includeboth the Sun andEarth in its coverageof the ecliptic. It may be well to examinehow constantlyspinning spacecraft an be c adaptedto the imagingof objectsin space.Several ingeniousmethods have been used: one employed in a final block of Pioneers, the highly sophisticated ioneers P 10and11,made useof aninstrument nown asanimk agingphotopolarimeter. ookingradially outwardfrom thespinaxisasthe L spacecraftlew pasta planet,it collecteda narrowswathof image f information as spacecraftotation caused to scanthetarget.On successive r it rotationsan adjoiningswathwasviewedby slightlyadjustingthefield of view, 217

FAR

TRAVELERS

and would Putting on areas tures

so

on be

until

the

entire

planet to into the

had Earth

been and

imaged. reassembled involved angle as

The

swaths into

of

light

data image.

transmitted simple of

serially principle the flyby,

a single

this

practice prevailing

sophistication of the illumination, beautiful

depending and Pioneer the pic-

the of

geometry particular

scientific testify, approach

interest.

However, entirely workable. for Solar of was forces weightlessness so that friction the

of Jupiter A different

it proved to on

compensating the Orbiting portion portion

the

inconvenience

of satellites

spinning in to Sun the spin (the thus on the

instruments 1960s. while object maintained connecting in maintaining A an

was separate,

used

Observatory spacecraft relative the spinning was

free-turning

made to the

instrument-carrying viewed). orientation, bearing the were spin The and,

oriented on

being

gyroscopic in the

portion the forces

of orbit, was not

minimal, rate of the

a significant

factor

rotating

section.

Scan limit

Width of scan data beam 0.5 by 0.5 milliradian

-

/

/

14 deg

\
I- l-

L

Direction of I scan data beam

\ \ \ Spin axis of ,_\_ spacecraft \ \ \ \ / 10 deg
\

Look angle (can be varied 151 deg)

Closest telescope position to spin axis Pioneer imaging photopolarimeter

218

SPINNERS

LAST FOREVER

The across tional seemed, what destined

engineering the spinning quality counted. and The the Orbiting

problem interface precision. concept

of carrying was solved However of the

multiple

electrical they in orbit,

connections may which have was is plat-

by using slip rings made with excepRube Goldbergian nicely spin-stabilized scheduled worked

Solar Observatories the Galileo

two-part spacecraft,

spacecraft to study instrument Jupiter

to fly again when

in the late 1980s, will be spin stabilized, form. Although Pioneers suffered Pioneer Sonett, before Horrified they never won much

with a nonrotating attention

public

and respect,

the early

were interesting spacecraft. The first one, launched in August 1958, the misfortune of a flawed first stage that failed; it became known as Zero. then launch, It nevertheless a scientist he climbed lingers in the memory a magnetometer had come of Charles aboard P. "Chuck" the craft. down, Just bornursemaiding

up the gantry

for a last look at his instrument. loose, he hurried back up again when he was stopped can't plug that thing in," he was here." Expostulation was useless. heated A from the rocket, down the solderand

to find that a vital shield

rowed a soldering by an imperious ordered. technician ing iron, shield repeated of course; until "We've found

iron, and was starting safety officer. "You got live rockets an electrical cooled, stacked away outlet

unplugged the iron the process

it, raced up the gantry, scurried launched back

made a few dabs at the loosened to reheat the iron, effort was futile,

until the shield was secure. The valiant the spacecraft

the rocket failure

to disaster.

Three months later Pioneer I was launched. It failed to reach the Moon, its nominal destination, but it did return 43 hours of data about the then mysterious our ignorance first four which interplanetary Pioneers had medium. been planned 4 achieved and It is not easy to recapture everything as lunar back the highest we learned reconnaissance orbit, significant the extent was new. spacecraft, quantities advanced of The at a quarter-century Pioneer It was ago;

they failed; data.

approaching

within of inthe of Earth, but

37 300 miles terplanetary definition following Pioneer

of the Moon

sending

this series of spacecraft

that greatly

of the Van Allen and other radiation belts in the vicinity their initial discovery by Explorer 1. 5 had originally been planned for a possible flyby

of Venus

was not ready in time for launch at the planetary opportunity in late 1959. It did achieve a solar orbit and became the first spacecraft to send data back over a distance of 22.5 million miles, the longest radio transmission distance achieved at the time. The information that it transmitted from March

219

FARTRAVELERS

throughJune1960fascinated interplanetaryscientists y revealing b temporal andspatialvariationsof particles andfieldsin the regionbetweenEarthand the orbit of Venus. This seriesof spinners--Pioneer through 5--was begunprior to the 0 creationof NASA and was the continuationof a programstartedin the earliestdays of U.S. spacedevelopment.With NASA attention turned towardRangers, Surveyors, ercurys,anda full complement physicsand M of astronomy satellites,heappetites a smallbut increasingly t of interested cadre of interplanetary scientists erewhettedjust whentheoutlook for futureinw terplanetarylaunches disappeared. Having beenheavily involved in the early Explorersand Pioneersat Space Technology Laboratories California,ChuckSonettwasa leaderin in the interplanetaryfield. He came to work at NASA Headquartersin November1960, bringing not only a strong scientificbackgroundand understanding aboutfieldsandparticlesin interplanetary space,but alsoa significantamountof engineeringxperience thedesignof instruments e in and interplanetary spacecraft. Hisearlyattempts satisfytheincreased to interests of interplanetaryscientists with instruments riding on RangerandMariner spacecraft esultedin frustration, because the priority conflicts in the r of selection scientificobjectives. xperiments imedat gatheringnewinforof E a mation about the Moon or a planet at arrival always seemed receive to priority over thoseexamining interplanetary the environment.This resulted in compromises that preventedorderly planning and acquisition of interplanetary facts. Thesuccessf the earlyPioneers, lthoughmodest, asenoughto cono a w vinceSonettthat special interplanetary spacecraft were a much-needed element in a total program, data but also to support rewarding not just for their return modeling of interplanetary of spacecraft the engineering and design

that were to journey through space to other planets. Many questions remained about the radiation environment and its effects, especially transient energetic erly model events like solar flares, fields. and about related study Center, such ill-defined factors planets. as micrometeorites and magnetic At the time, data did not exist to propbecame a major laboratory that aerodynamic project conactivities.

the solar constant

at distances

to the nearer eventually a NASA reentry in space

This special interest in interplanetary factor involving the Ames Research previously cepts, had played had a large but which not become

role in developing a participant

220

SPINNERS LASTFOREVER

WhenNASA wascreated andformerNACA laboratories became heavilyinvolvedin space projects,there was a great deal of change and, some thought,
erosion in existing research activities. This was a concern to NASA's Deputy Administrator Hugh Dryden and to Ira Abbott, who headed the office responsible guidelines Langley, Langley tually sonnel and had for advanced that encouraged with Lewis, already research. research minimum As a result, and dilution Headquarters work project established at Ames, activities. to manned resulting Several evenkey perdevelopment from space

undergone of some

a significant

transformation to Houston.

space activities,

with the assignment Center

of a Space Task Group, had come to Washington

in the transfer

250 researchers

from the Lewis Research flight organization any major space

to help staff

the space undertake

under Abe Silverstein. Only Ames had failed to project after 21/2 years as part of NASA. Space Flight Center for physics, Furthermore, and planetary senior impelled had been assigned programs, to strain a prinprojects astronomy, and applications and the opofficials against the at

By this time, the Goddard cipal role in Earth satellite areas, tions for new efforts

JPL was up to its ears in lunar were limited.

management

at Ames and at Headquarters did not seem "avoid diluting research" guidelines. This view was not shared Ames. and ment good They were specifically for making and they conceived be ideal quirements by a small group interested that would

of engineers travel inward

and scientists toward The

in the Sun and its effects measurements.

on Earth, the Sun re-

a solar probe

interplanetary

technical

for a spacecraft

that was to operate

in an extremely

hot environ-

could be studied with facilities existing at Ames and appeared to be a match for their scientific talents. Like the other NACA laboratories, array of talented people who had been working on the fringes of space for years and were ready support and Harvey to the rest of NASA. synonymous and many Chapman Names with Eggers, flight. analytical the physics A1 Seiff were in to like highentry bet-

Ames had an unusual high-technology areas contribute Harvey trajectories temperature, more Allen, Alfred high-speed and other

than research

had made planetary easier, of aerodynamic heating

determinations and chemistry

engineers

at Ames understood ter than most. Charles 1961; solar Ames mission, Hall came engineers and

to Headquarters had done evident their that

to make a presentation homework the group toward very much

in December defining a good to wanted

it was

,

221

FAR TRAVELERS

become involvedin theprojectmanagement a space of mission.At the same time,planswereunderwayto defineexperiments supportof an Internain tional Quiet SunYear,and therewas interestin a meaningful ission. m At Headquarters wereinterested wary. While the projectcould we but fulfill a basicscientificneed,and the Ames engineers had distinguished themselves research in activities,noneof themhadobviouslyrelevantprojectmanagement experience. proposedprojecteffort would clearlynot The besimple;onewondered how Ames,startingfrom scratch,would dealwith the launch vehicleinterfaceproblems,the scientificcommunity, and the challengingdata acquisition problemsthat would have to be solved. Although it was not squarelyin my provinceof lunar and planetaryprograms, I could seethe problemsand possibilities. I was also aware that
Chuck Sonett, and an outstandingly of Headquarters Sonett group Newell. experiments. and Homer good man, and was becoming to return saturated with the of with with papermill hardware members aspects yearned to the world talking the matter

and I paid a visit to Ames, there, and I also discussed

of the enthusiastic

Ed Cortright The pieces Chuck Sonett, his deputy, approval efforts

began to come together in May 1962 when Homer Newell, and I met with Smith DeFrance, Director, and John Parsons, A general authority. approach Ames was outlined, consider of (1) advanced (2) project series, subject, studies of course, and analytical of an inof a to would a role in space exploramanagement

at Ames. by higher

tion with a three-part pointed toward terplanetary program

plan consisting a solar based probe,

on the Pioneer

and (3) establishment

space science division headed The logic for a Pioneer-based to be favorable: it was tracking Deep understood; and data Space Network the spacecraft the Delta acquisition

by Sonett, who would be transferred to Ames. flight program included several factors thought concept launch services seemed vehicle could developed to be used be obtained Satellite to the point was either Net. proven, through where and the

at JPL or from the Goddard the skills of project agreement

For starting this plan

up a new project and developing seemed well suited. After activities would approval, reaching would a gentleman's be viewed

management,

with DeFrance and what of getting

on how the three and interfaces Hugh Dryden's I outlined for

by Headquarters

controls

be logical,

we also discussed

the importance

the final prerequisite.

On my return

to Washington,

Dryden the general plan we had worked out, and he explained in some detail his concern that in the rush toward space, NASA might inadvertently injure

222

SPINNERSASTFOREVER L

thecontinuance theresearch which it hadbecome of for known.But hewas sympathetic theidea,andagreed considerheproposalonitsmeritsin a to to t face-to-face discussion with DeFrance, that couldbe arranged. if In the 1920s,a near-fatalplanecrashhad causedSmitty DeFrance to pledgeto hiswife that hewould neverfly again,apledgethathehonoredinto the jet ageandthroughouthisdirectorshipofanoutstanding aeronautical laboratory.His trips across thecountrywerelimitedto aboutonetrain ride eachyear. DeFrance madehisannualpilgrimageto Washington followthe ingweek,endorsed plan,satisfied the Dryden thatAmeswould continueto excelin research, ndDrydenapproved.It thentook only a few monthsof a countless meetings and memoranda establish projectoffice, definethe to a mission,obtain billetsfor the necessary anpower, rrangefundingfor the m a threepartsof the plan, andseeto ChuckSonett's transferand replacement.
As mentioned earlier, this second block of Pioneers was to use the Delta as a launch vehicle. The Delta something less than 150 pounds, had been used on many cle suitable vehicle other entangled Among along from for interface became status projects missions, fuzzy: dictated including a modest spacecraft weight of instruments. However, since it to be a mature being launch vehiteam. As it happened, and the new project the scientific shaped payload the launch team became restricted to design.

it was thought improvements With objectives

with a new project options for Pioneer,

soon became

made on the Delta for

in resolving these were

these choices. specific

20 to 40 pounds, the plane spacecraft

various

the spacecraft's

the desirability and transfer

of pointing part-time;

instruments high data modes

in all directions from instruments, rate transmission allowof time; magnetic re-

of the ecliptic; to Earth; to modify

continuous

data sampling

as opposed

to recording

several

commandable particularly prior Added qualities unexpected had

of operation, over a period residual

ing experiments a favorable field (spurious life in orbit quirements of these

their use of the instruments many

spacecraft of 6 months

environment, to a year. desirable placing

a low

fields had plagued

experiments); to these was tough

and a long useful engineering the The net effect available

was the fact that the spacecraft constraints and

was to be a spinner. to drive demands

technology to the limits, Ames team. A spin-stabilized had equal to be designed weight

on the skills of the balanced. Every something components to part of

spacecraft and placed with balancing

to be sensitively a way

in such

that it matched in mind.

and moment

on the other

side, and all subsystem

had to be chosen

the spacecraft

It was impossible

223

FAR TRAVELERS

do this perfectlyon thedrawingboard;only afteractualflight hardwarewas deliveredandinstalledandthecraft experimentally spintested could thelast few pounds held back for balance weights be added and adjusted. Allowances had to be madefor everythingaboardthat movedor that had any weightchangeduringflight. Magnetic cleanliness was especially important if magnetometers-instrumentsof particularinterestin theinterplanetary medium--were not to beaffected thespacecraft'swn field.This wasa difficulty because by o almosteverythingdealingwith electrical owerandmetallicstructures p could affectthespacecraft field. To measure thevery smalllevelsof interplanetary fields,the spacecraft's wnfield hadto be assmallaspossible, ndfurthero a more,it hadto remainthesame throughoutthemission.Twistedwirepairs, thesedulous avoidance anycablingthat created magnetic of a loop, andextensive useof nonmagnetic aterials components ll helped.Theonboard m in a transmitters usedtraveling-wave tubesthat seemed first anuncorrectable at source magnetic of contamination;heremedywasto spotnearbysmallpert manentmagnets orientedto cancel ut the tubes'magnetic o influences. onC siderableeffort went into the design of a facility to test the magnetic cleanlinessf the spacecraft, merelyat oneinstant,but underall condio not tions.This attentionto magnetic cleanlinessndwaysto achieve weremaa it jor contributionsof Amesandits contractors. The Franklin array antennawasanotherconceptthat had not beenextendedasfar in a technological sense asPioneerrequired.This involvednot only orientingthe antennaon the spinaxisbut alsoa designto produceas higha gainasfeasible thetoroidal(doughnut-shaped) in patternit produced. As the gain increased,he sensitivityto exactalignmentincreased;hus the t t pointingof theantenna hadto becorrected asthespacecraft traveledfarther away from Earth. For Pioneersit was decidedthat the spin axis of the spacecraft shouldbechanged asneeded the commanded by firing of a small thrusteron a boomat right angles theaxis,changing to thespinaxisandthe swathsweptby theinstruments theprecise to planedesired.(It alsosetup a modestwobblein the spin,like the wobblein a slowingtop, but a wobble dampertook careof that.) Two different spin-correcting maneuvers were calledfor: an automaticone during the launch sequence, ccurringright o afterinjection,to ensure thatthespacecraft'spinaxiswasasintended;anda s commandableneto beinitiatedfrom Earthasneeded o afterweeks months or of cruisehadalteredthe geometryof the antennaandinstruments.Persons responsive the aesthetics f mechanism find pleasure studyingthe to o will in 224

SPINNERS LASTFOREVER

axis-torquing systems aboardthesePioneers; heyweresimple,clever,imt aginative,and they worked!
A communications development highly important to the success of these Pioneers, though not first used on them, was phase-lock operation, a method that allowed the matching of signals from Earth and from the spacecraft to increase the sensitivity of reception over immense distances. In simplified form it worked this way. Let us suppose that a Pioneer is sending its Doppler tracking signals Earthward as it cruises along 100 million miles away. The spacecraft is operating on its own, with its transmitter frequency by its own crystal-controlled oscillator. This is a "noncoherent" operation. Simply tracking of limited weak voltage feedback frequency sends control have spacecraft cy received signal and Locking cy received consists governed mode of

by listening to it, Earth can manage one-way Doppler accuracy. When the Deep Space Network picks up the onto it, matters and retransmitting the ground downlink toward the transmitter spacecraft. disconnected This creates relationship needed, of exceptional take a turn through for the better. a feedback loop and a the the frequenIn effect, carrier the of directing the signal

"locks" oscillator forces Once carrier

control circuit

it back at precisely to match When a precise uplink

from the spacecraft exactly. oscillator

but with a 90 o change in phase. lock is established, the ground

the spacecraft

transmitter to a voltage and the two and tracking is simply returns to

its own oscillator

this is received,

is automatically the Earth a coherent Doppler is no station. roundtrip tracking longer

and switched lock,

that generates

a signal having

ratio to the frequenspacecraft When mode

from

now formed

between precision.

Earth that supplies of this high broken at the ground

accuracy

the coherent

transmitter,

and the spacecraft

automatically

the frequency established by the onboard crystal-controlled oscillator. Twoway phase lock has the particular merit of eliminating the effect of slight frequency drift that may have changes, occurred onboard the spacecraft Another advantage as the result of temperature radiation, and aging. is its ability

to supplement the distant, relatively weak and unattended spacecraft equipment with powerful and fresh electronic gear on the ground. It makes possible those that There astonishingly nontechnical precise calculations in the block of spacecraft launched speed and position 1968, surprise onlookers. from 1965 through informative about influence of Earth. bursts of cosmic the inThey told radiation

were four Pioneers

all productive, hardworking spacecraft, terplanetary medium away from the disturbing us much about the solar wind

and the fluctuating

225

FAR TRAVELERS

_Low Boom cradle

gain

antenna

Top cover

High

gain

antenna_

(insulation)--_x

_ Magnetometer experiment--

Solar Sun

array sensor

frames _Sun B sensor C

Sun

sensor

brackets D

sensor obble damper

nSUn sensor

sensor Solar Insulation band

Equipment Orientation nozzle

louvers

Platform Pneumatic orientation bottle system

Interstage

StrL

Pioneer

spacecraft

226

SPINNERS

LAST FOREVER

of both solar and Earth's--two were were specific spaced around solar events.

galactic slightly

origin. They traveled in orbits approximating inside Earth's track and two were outside--and differential sentinels timing of the arrival of in space were also an imporagainst Nineto

the Sun to allow These four lonely

tant part of a warning potentially dangerous The original teen some when pond years after degree. spoken target

system designed to protect Apollo astronauts radiation resulting from solar eruptions. lifetime of a year in orbit was easily achieved. was launched,

the first of the four

all are still working

Pioneers 6 and 9 still possess all their faculties and still speak to; Pioneers 7 and 8 have lost their Sun sensors and can resthe geometry longevity of their continues orbits points their the antennas engineers Earthwho to surprise

only when

ward. Such dogged worked on them.

Heartened by these quiet newer, larger, more capable feats. Essentially all previous

successes, Ames began developing a pair of Pioneers designed to attempt more difficult interplanetary exploration had been directed

toward Venus and Mars, Earth's nearest neighbors; now it was time to try to send probes through the unknown barrier of the asteroid belt to scout the distant gas giant, Jupiter. If that could be managed, it might even be possible belts and gain planet Saturn. would be to have to make a close pass through Jupiter's unknown radiation enough swing-by energy to travel even further, to the ringed To suit the requirements have to be drastically to create too distant enough of so ambitious At Jupiter cell power; solar a voyage, and beyond, modified.

the spacecraft would

the Sun would

the spacecraft

carry a radioactive thermoelectric to heat an array of thermocouples. pattern could not produce distance. It would be replaced axis and aimed back at Earth Pioneers' simple little thruster nudges to precess

generator, which uses plutonium isotopes The Franklin antenna with its pancake strength that could cope with such a

a signal

with a parabolic antenna mounted on the spin with rifle-like precision. In place of the earlier systems for initial orientation and another for now be no less than four pairs of

the spin axis, there would

thrusters arranged so that they could increase or decrease the spin rate, torque the spin axis around in different directions, or even accelerate or decelerate bigger larger The within the whole spacecraft. Only one change was not in the direction at a stately the antenna of and more; greater the earlier Pioneers of inertia had spun at the rate of 60 rpm; the new, to hold orientation by the fact that second 4.8 rpm. had to fit

ones had moments the 10-foot shroud

diameter--limited

of the Centaur

stage--did

not ease the lot

227

FARTRAVELERS

of spacecraft nd instrumentdesigners. t first it was hopedthat enough a A weightcould besparedto makethese Pioneers partly autonomous, ith onw board computersand memoryto permit storedsequencesf commands. o However,astheinevitableweightcrunchgrew,it became necessary leave to the sophisticated brainson Earth.The long communications time imposed extrastressesn terrestrialcontrollers.Eventhoughradio commands o travel at 186000milesa second,the distances weresuchthat it took 92 minutes betweencommandand acknowledgment t Jupiter and more than 170 a minutesat Saturn.Oneof the mind-stretchersf interplanetary o exploration is to try to visualizelong trainsof commands racingat almostunimaginable speed onedirection,andlong trains of dataand imageryracingback to in Earth,both trains, for all their velocity, requiringlong periodsof time to makethe trip. Fortune smiledon Pioneers 0and11,for both provedto besingularlyef1 fectivespacecrafthat accomplished t historicmissions. aunched March L on 2, 1972,Pioneer10accelerated 17minutesatopits hydrogen-fueled enfor C taur to a speed 32 114milesper hour--at that time, the highestvelocity of everachieved a manmade by object.In 11hoursit crossed theMoon'sorbit, a distance thathadtakenApollo astronauts some31/2 daysto traverse.Five andahalf monthslater, pasttheorbit of Mars,it entered theasteroid belt, an utterly unknown band of scatteredsubplanetarydebris,and in February 1973it emerged unscathed. Choosing thebestflyby trajectoryof Jupiterwasagonizing,equiringnot r just thoughtaboutlighting,satelliteposition,andcommand sequencing, but alsoprudentestimation abouthow closethespacecraft shouldpassto the intense andpotentiallydisablingradiationknown to encirclethegiantplanet. Complexities rosefrom thefact that theradiationcouldgenerate a falsecommands,andthecommunicationselaycouldpreventtheir timelycorrection. d The remedywas to prepareand transmit a seriesof redundantcorrective commands againstthe chance that falsecommands would be setoff by the intense radiation.Bathed thissteadyingelectronic in reassurance Earth, from Pioneer10flew closeto Jupiteron December , 1973.It was accelerated to a 3
velocity a course orbits of 82 000 miles per hour by the mass of the huge planet that has taken and it out of the solar Pluto, still turning system. of Neptune in its stately fashion and flung on the and responIn June 1983 it passed

ding to questions at a range beyond 2.8 billion ed in the direction of the constellation Taurus of the star Ross 248 in about 32 000 years.

miles from the Sun. It is headand should reach the distance

228

SPINNERS LASTFOREVER

Pioneer10'slist of firsts is too long to coverin detail,but it shouldbe creditedas the first to fly beyondMars,the first throughthe asteroidbelt, the first to fly by Jupiter,andthe first to leaveour solarsystem.Engineers hope it will be possibleto keep in touch until 1994, when Pioneer's radioisotopethermoelectric generators shouldexpire. Althoughthiswasa toughactto follow, Pioneer 1succeeded 1 andin one importantaspectdid evenbetter.Whenit arrivedat Jupiterin late 1974,its controllerswerebetterinformedaboutthelethalradiationandwereableto managea closerpass.In addition, the prevailingplanetaryconfiguration allowedPioneer11to beguidedona course thatflung it off to pass, lmost5 a yearslater, theringedplanetSaturn,neverbeforeobserved from space.It is a commentary onthepaceof planetaryexploration those in giddy yearsthat, though the Pioneers addedimmeasurably our scantstoreof knowledge to abouttheoutersolarsystem,hedataandimages t theyreturnedweresoonto be overshadowed y moresophisticated b exploringmachines. Likeits brother, Pioneer 1is destined leavethe solarsystem 1 to forever, but in anapproximately opposite direction.At thiswriting it is perkingalong at a rangeof about12astronomical units(overa billion miles)from theSun, healthy and mannerly. It bears a plate engravedwith symbols and mathematicalnotation telling whereit camefrom and when. This Earth's signature, r builder'smark, is situatedin a place o that shouldbeshielded for incalculableagesfrom erosionby interstellardust. Perhapssomewhere a hundredthousand yearsfrom nowPioneer's strange message from Earthwill become hauntingreminderof beingsreaching a out.

229

Interplanetary
In the preparation ing way the Moon throughout the 1960s. years; others Many to illustrate the threads the world Some barely and planets.

Billiards
of this book, I was continually were woven pursued had space reminded of the amazof missions in laboratories flight possible and waiting in for to like to

of technology Developments evolved arrived

into the fabric independently

miraculously ahead

to make space been ready

of these

developments to successful

of the need. missions were not present I would came of their special contributions,

who contributed briefly how

see their research long after their laws of planetary ing the behavior

pay off. Because the works Kepler, which deaths.

of two such researchers after working and spacecraft

into play developed to defin-

The first is Johannes motion

who, bodies

for 18 years, but crucial in orbits.

are beautifully

simple,

of planetary

As is usually

the case in science, his work built on the efforts not have been possible without the observations, recording of times, and the determination earlier by Tycho Brahe and other astronomers. and his own efforts, Kepler was able to arrive define orbits, the orbital relationships of satellite His first profound that the heavenly cepts were which words, mination curately based becomes a circle determination moved when was that Before Kepler, in circles, Of course, having behavior

of others; his findings would the positional sightings, the periods obtained But by 1618, with these data at three basic laws that clearly the planets most move in elliptical believed consection in other deterwas acof studysystems

of planetary

systems. astronomers is a conic to zero; Kepler's its path on years

with the Sun at one focus. bodies a circle is simply on this premise.

and their planetary the ellipse is reduced coincident conclusion was based that

its eccentricity

an ellipse of planetary

focii.

of this feature of Mars, defined

ing the orbit

leading

to his final

as an ellipse.

230

INTERPLANETARY BILLIARDS

His second law, called"the law of areas," saysthat the line joining the Sunand a planet sweeps equalareasin equaltimes.While this simple out geometrical elationshipwas alsothe result of observations,t provideda r i basisfor relatingthe speed a planetto its positionin orbit. of The third law, called"theharmoniclaw," simplysaysthat the square of thetime of revolution(in years)of anyplanetisequalto thecubeof itsmean distance from theSun(in astronomical units).Whilethe lawof areas enabled changes a planet'sorbital speed becalculated,rom the harmoniclaw in to f wecanobtaineitherthe distance thesatellite of from the parentbody or the periodof revolution,providedthe otheris knownfrom observation. At the time thesediscoveries werepresented, epler was working in K Prague,Czechoslovakia. any milesaway in Englandand some47 years M later, Isaac Newtonstudiedthelawsproduced Kepler'sobservations, by trying to understandthe causes. is studiesled him to developgravitational H theories asto why the planets movein ellipticalorbits, andheproducedthe mathematical elationships attractiveforces r of betweenbodies.I find it interestingthat it was almost 20 years beforehis works were published, reportedlybecauseewaspersuaded do soby Halley,anastronomer ho h to w sawthesignificance thework. Newton's of brilliant discussion 1687,called in thePrincipia--System of the World, showed mathematical relationships for
all the known motions of the Moon, tides--allowing the planets, precise and comets--even in terms the rise of his laws trajectory on its way to a combination effect their of the for reas direction and fall of the ocean calculations

of motion and gravitation. Of course these principles determinations. the Moon, of velocity Moon entry into When Apollo flyby for example, and lunar return

are fundamental 13 was disabled

to all spacecraft by an explosion required

the only hope distance Thus,

for recovery

such that the gravitational to Earth gravitational in the proper forces and

would

the spacecraft

the atmosphere.

effects,

originally worked out by Kepler and Newton, became the tools by which Apollo mission controllers and astronauts were able to direct the damaged spacecraft The to a safe return same classical and recovery on Earth. while used in the conduct of every in some of the planetary flyby 10 mission, in which a single to Mercury, for three close makento Mercury developments,

space mission, became strikingly significant missions. A notable case was the Mariner spacecraft ing orbits was sent from Earth around the Sun and to Venus returning

and from Venus

231

FAR TRAVELERS

counters Newton findings,

before

completing

its

mission. have

It is doubtful

that

Kepler who

and

ever dreamed but surely studies

of the Apollo they would for using

13 and Mariner respected

10 applications

of their so deftly became during

the engineers trajectories, although to trajectory mission. to Earth,

applied them. Feasibility known, aware were of their

gravity-assist dedicated and return

as they it was One

first recorded potential

in the 1920s and 1930s, for the Venus-Mercury to Venus

the 1960s that a team of JPL engineers studies was a flyby mission

design became of the first which

a trajectory

would be extremely important to a manned flight for reconnaissance. During these studies, it was determined that a near minimum energy condition would exist for a launch thereafter, Academy At and the the funds more past Venus and on to Mercury in 1973. Soon National obtained. significantly, tailed, forces mission periences Mariner had evolved extremely during discussions of Sciences, strong time, the NASA planetary Mariner per dollar some of the for future science with the Space Science Board of the endorsement for such a mission was budget was beginning were being of using Project memorable advanced rocket to decrease sharply evolution planetary technologies energy, curand exthat the orprecise interplanetary missions concept was exciting. most

Venus-Mercury provided

to obtain to date.

operations

10 embodied while

a combination requiring and

of many

over the years. accurate guidance

The gravity-assist control

concept systems

for redirecting to produce the

bit of a spacecraft,

no additional

demanded

flyby distances and velocities necessary. Earlier missions had refined our knowledge of the factors that tend to affect orbits, such as gravitational fields for the planets, and solar radiation pressure. Advances in attitude control and autopilot systems, plus improvements in tracking, allowed precise determinations of the trajectories and initial conditions required for velocity corrections. trajectory Added adjustments. the close flyby corrections--at of Venus with precision Earth would retrajectory between mission least two between and Venus to this were improved vernier rocket systems used for

To be able to achieve quire multiple and two more first Mariner maneuver

Venus and Mercury. You will recall that during the to Venus it was debated whether a midcourse of the hazards and uncertainties associated These could orientation maneuver and such that we were confident rocket firing. the spacecraft

should

be tried because

with the remote spacecraft technologies had advanced

232

INTERPLANETARY BILLIARDS

be put within 250milesof an aim point at Venus,so that after passagey b Venusit would approachMercurywith enoughprecisionto obtain meaningful scientificdata. Another technology that hadliterally soared during previousyearswas communications. ecallingthat the first Mariner missionto Venushad a R datareturn rate of 81/s bits per second, Mariner 10 transmitted up to 118 000
bits per second--making it possible to send TV data in virtually real time while concurrently transmitting other science and engineering data at 2 450 bits per second. mand modes storage Also trip and control for playback. significant to the Venus-Mercury in value by four which of Mercury, such orbits spacecraft and a half was the fact times during that the the increased Mariner's These phenomenal or nonimaging increases science, in data rates, plus a new comprovided data, 21 data and data system for processing and programming, engineering

television

solar constant thermal corporate toward cool" combination during One control

to the vicinity features

close around could

the Sun. Thus

system for the spacecraft as solar louvers, panels

could not be passive, that within bounds. thermal

but had to in"edge-on" 10 used a to "keep made

be rotated Mariner blankets

the Sun to help keep temperatures of sunshade, the close approach

and protective to the Sun.

of the solar protective

devices

was an umbrella-like

sunshade

of a Teflon-coated

glass fiber fabric

known

as beta cloth. This simple device, in the same and parts of 10 exto melt 239 ° F. might be for a twothe projhad the and to were

suggested by Robert Kramer of NASA Headquarters, unfurled manner as an umbrella, and shadow shielded the rocket system the spacecraft when pointed toward the Sun. Although perienced temperatures tin, lead, even zinc--the The temperatures

Mariner

near the Sun as high as 369 o F--hot enough temperature of its solar cells never exceeded cameras dropped that the quality of the pictures planned when projects on

of the television

so low at one time dur-

ing the flight that there was concern degraded, but this did not happen. In addition planet phase begun norm space encounter, that almost to wane rather to the challenge Mariner 10 faced

of being the first mission a number As already

of obstacles mentioned, for the space oriented

in its approval program Science

kept it from being. to Congress and reductions the by Joseph and putting

ect was presented than

in 1969, support in scientifically The Karth pressure

exception.

Subcommittee

Astronautics

headed

was giving a great on NASA

deal of emphasis for practical

applications

to use space

233

FARTRAVELERS

purposes. his put proposals T suchastheVenus-Mercury missioninto direct competitionfor funding with Earth resources, communications, nd other a applications missions because they wereall considered y the same b congressionalsubcommittee. is in the record that the chairman told John Naugle, It
Associate believe and until Administrator for Space to withhold changed. Science funding The House and Applications, that he didn't to science, mission did not he was giving enough priorities were priority to applications of as opposed Representatives

that he was going

for the Venus-Mercury

authorize the mission at first, and it took persuasion from the Senate plus a conference between the two houses to obtain fiscal year 1970 funding. Even after ficials cording estimates about Picketing director Mariner 10 was who put in the budget, survive then was Director showed to do NASA Headquarters ofwere concerned based that it would only if costs were kept low. Acof Planetary the mission, guarantee Programs, cost Bill and that the job would

to Bob Kramer, $140 million.

on past Mariner

experience wanted

JPL desperately to Headquarters center

sent a letter of the project

saying, dollars."

"I will absolutely This strong and was accepted only about all associated named Bruce

guarantee by the by NASA for

that JPL will do the job for 98 million

was encouraging allowed

Headquarters with some trepidation. Bob Kramer told me that the budget the video-imaging data analysis, comparatively knew lieved After had what system, young the budget including from but, and photographic scientist meant, prints.

$6 million mission Murray.

the camera, The head CalTech being

costs, Bruce

of the imaging person, the budgeted than any times

team was a he also beamount. out than would a film spacecraft faster

an aggressive

that JPL might be able to find a way to modify the mission was approved, would by a planet be going past Mercury At that speed, produce

Bruce came to Washington faster like three only a blur.

and pointed

that the spacecraft ever flown any previous not really system Orbiter estimate your

before--something

planetary

encounter. they would

he said, the cameras He proposed

see anything;

with image motion which developed

compensation patterned after the system on Lunar film in flight and read it back slowly. A cost and, according "Bruce, with to Kramer's that won't memory, quite it So he said, came was and that back fit into

was made for such a system, like $57 million. dollar developed budget." Bruce up easily,

was something six million giving being that Not camera, assuming million 234

a proposal Kramer

for a dielectric $40 million, that $6 fit.

by RCA,

at a price successful.

estimate

of about wouldn't

its development

told Bruce

was still the budget

such a camera

INTERPLANETARY BILLIARDS

FinallyMurray startedtalking to the systems ngineers e andthe imaging science teamaboutthe problems. hey all recognized thelow transmitT that terbit rate wasa major factor, alongwith limited taperecordercapability. As Murray had pointedout, a physicalaspect f the high-speed o flyby was the fact that high-resolution data had to be obtainedvery quickly; there seemedo benoway thatpictures t couldbetakenandstoredsatisfactorily for later transmission. The imagingteamandthe systems ngineers e beganto collaborate the on development f a conceptfor sending o backa quarterof the pixelsfor each imagein realtime,while storingtheothersfor transmittallater. This would makethebestuseof the limited communicationsndrecordingcapabilities a andensure thatsomepicturedatawereobtained, venif recordingandlater e transmission not panout. did After the telecommunication,camera,and recorder tradeoffs were studied, the samevidicons that had been usedsuccessfully the 1971 on Mariner orbiter wereadopted,with the basiclensor optical elements extendedto 1500-millimeterocallengthsso thatthey became f real telescopes, able to provide magnifiedimages.The option of sendingback only onequarterof the full frame(everyfourth pixel)or thefull framewasretained. Either modecouldbe commanded from Earth.In the quarter-frame mode, thousandsof images could be sent that weresuitablefor mosaickingthe wholeplanet.Byscanning across planetduringthefastencounter,t was the i possibleto obtain excellent hotographiccoverage. p Although the systemwas designed providegood coverageat high to resolution,onedesire wasnot fulfilled: full-frameimagingof theplanet.For 1971Mariners,onecamerahad a wide-angle lensand onehad a narrowanglelens,so that both typesof informationcould be obtained.Sincethis option would not fit within the $6million budget,ingenuitycameinto play again.Smallmirrorswereaddedto filter wheels usedfor viewingin different colors, so that imagescould be directedtoward small wide-anglelenses mountedon top of thecameras. he mirrorsandsimplelenssystems T (just 3 or 4 incheslong and 11/2inchesin diameter) allowed eachinstrumentto become wide-angle a camera simplyflippingthefilter wheelaroundto the by mirror. Thus, for $6 million the imagingteamgot almost everythingit wanted,rangingfrom extremelyhigh-resolution images VenusandMerof cury to wide-angle viewsof the planetson approach anddeparture. Suchingenuity helpedensurethat the entireVenus-Mercury Mariner project was completedwithin the $98million guarantee.The outstanding projectmanagement effort wasledby Eugene iberson,he first manager f G t o 235

FARTRAVELERS

Surveyorwho wasreplaced whenthe projectgot so deeplyin trouble.The success Mariner10providedproof thatGenereallyhadwhat it took to be of agoodprojectmanager, ndI wasvery proudof hiscomeback. a This wasnot to be his last success; alsomanaged Seasat issionwhich taughtus he the m muchaboutEarth'soceans and wastheforerunnerof many newactivities. With the remarkable "parentage" rovidedby the teamof scientists p and engineers ho devised w theVenus-Mercury ariner mission,it is not surprisM ingthat Mariner10developed very interesting a personalityof itsown. The mission became oneof the mostexcitingto follow on a day-by-daybasis,as troublesdeveloped andwereovercome unexpected in ways. Within a day afterlaunch,wheninstruments werebeingchecked out, the cameraheaterswould not come on. Heaterswere neededto keep the vidiconsat reasonable temperature when thecraft wasfar from Mercury; it waseasier shieldthe spacecraft henit wasnearthe Sunand to provide to w heatwhenit wasfar from theSun.Therewasgreatconcernthat thecamera opticswould cooldown somuchthat theywould not remainin focus,sothe vidiconswereswitchedon to maintainsomeheatwithin the cameras. ith W these precautions,hetemperature f thecameras tabilized t o s atlow but viable values,andthe picturedatanevershowedany degradation resultof the asa low temperatures. About 2 weeksbefore encounterwith Venus,the heatersfor the TV camerasmysteriouslycameon. There had been great concern that the cameras might not operateproperly during the Venusencounter,as their temperature haddroppedwell belowfreezing.It wasnot possibleto know exactlywhat had happened, ut engineers ecidedthe problemmighthave b d beentheresultof a shortcircuit in anotherheaterwhich hadbeen biasingthe TV heater.To avoid any risk to the cameraheaters,the heatersin the related,suspectcircuit were turned off. By this time, the spacecrafthad warmedup enoughwith its closerapproachto the Sunthat not all of the heaters wereneeded. Two monthsafterlaunch,themostsignificantpower-related problemoccurredwhenthespacecraft automaticallyswitched from itsmainto itsstandby power mode.This automaticswitchoverwasirreversible.It wasof great concern because the possibilitythat it might havebeencaused a fault of by commonto both power circuits and might eventuallycausethe backup power supply to fail, ending the mission prematurely. Following the automaticswitchoverto the backup system,engineers were very careful whenmakingchanges the power statusof the spacecraft. arewas also in C 236

INTERPLANETARY BILLIARDS

taken in maneuvering relative to the Sun to avoid automaticswitchover from solarpanelto batterypower, shouldsunlightbelost. Another problemoccurredon Christmas Day when a part of the feed systemof the high-gainantennafailed, causinga drop in signalstrength. Diagnosticcommands providedindicationsthattemperature changes uring d flight may havecaused problem.It was of concernbecause the shouldthe high-gainantennanot performproperly, the real-time sequences TV would not bepossible Mercuryencounter, reatlyreducing coverage at g the andthe benefitsfrom theclevermosaictechnique thathadbeenworked out. About 4 dayslater, the feedsystemhealeditself, andthe high-gainantennaperformednormallyagain.However,reliefwasshort-lived,for within about4 hoursthefault reappeared, indicatingthatit wasanintermittentglitchwhich might recur at any time. The problem with the antennawas a threat throughout the mission,but it apparentlywassolved by the increasein temperature and did not compromise of the pictures. any A seriousattitudecontrol problemdeveloped abouta weekbeforethe flyby of Venus.The trouble occurredafter Mariner 10 starteda seriesof eightcalibrationrolls to allow thescanplatformto obtaindiffuseultraviolet data over wide regionsof the sky. Oscillations begansuddenlyin the roll channelof theattitudecontrolsystem,causing expulsion attitudeconthe of trol gasat a very high rate. Watchingthe gaspressure drop, missioncontrollersknew that the spacecraft ould die if this continued.In the hour it w took to recognize, nalyze, ndrespond theproblem,about16percentof a a to the 6 poundsof nitrogengas--thetotal supplyof attitudecontrolgas--had beenlost. Whenthe fault wasdetermined bethe resultof a gyro-induced to instability, the gyroswereturnedoff and thegaslossstopped.Laterit was decidedthat the oscillation was causedby a long boom supportinga magnetometerat some distancefrom the spacecraft,which apparently entered into a resonantdynamic relationshipwith the attitude control system. After an extensiveanalysis,commands were sent to place the movablesolarpanels andscanplatformin sucha positionthatsolarpressure could help preventthe oscillationandavoid further lossof gas.Spacecraft attitude maneuversand trajectory correctionswere also modified to minimizegasusage. It hadbeenplannedto usethegyrosduringthe Venusencountero ent sureproperstabilizationof the spacecraft. Thereason wasthat theCanopus tracker,a light sensor, ightbe affected particles m by nearthespacecraft, by thebackgroundlight from theplanet,or by someothersourcewhich could 237

FARTRAVELERS

cause lossin attitudestabilization a criticalperiodduringencounter. s a at A therewasnot enoughtimeto determine cause the gaslossproblem,a the of quick decisionwas madeto take theserisks andmaintainattitude control during flyby using the celestialreferences the Sun and Canopus. of Everything workedbeautifullyduringencounter,andall thedata, including a grandtotal of 4165images the cloud-shrouded lanet,wereobtainedas of p planned. Oncepastthe successful encounter ith Venus,engineers ad to decide w h how to plan thecorrectionmanueverhat would allow the spacecrafto go t t pastMercurywithout usingthegyros.Experiments ereperformed w with the tilt of thesolarpanelsto determine how to usethese as"solarsails"or "rudders"andtherebysaveattitudecontrol gas.About 2 weeksafter encounter with Venus,the gyrosweretestedagain.They seemedo functioncorrectly t at first, but thenthe oscillations began.As a result,a decision wasmadeto plan a trajectorycorrectionwith a so-called"Sun-linemaneuver."This requireda wait until thespacecraft ttituderelativeto its trajectorywassuch a that a simplefiring of the rocket without attitudechangewould producea suitabletrajectorycorrection.Calculations showedthat this would delayarrival atMercuryby 17minutes,but would still besatisfactory thescience for objectives. Shortlyafter this decision,the spacecraftost its Canopus l reference and begandrifting abouttheroll axis;thegyro modehadto beturnedon andoff to stopthe motion andto reacquire Canopus,resultingin additionallossof the precious attitudecontrolgas.Similarevents wereto occurabout10times a weekthroughearlyMarch, when conditionswereright to makethe Sunline coursecorrection. With theparticularorientationof thespacecraft thismaneuver,t was for i not possibleto obtain good Dopplerdata during the rocket firing; a considerable amountof trackingwasneeded after the maneuverto determine whether it had been successful.Refined trajectory calculationsfinally showedthat the spacecraft ould be passing124milescloserto Mercury w than hadbeenplanned,but still within a satisfactoryrange.Like an unruly child who behaves very badly and becomes modelchild just as anxious a parentsexpectto be embarrassed, Mariner 10 beganto function perfectly againjust prior to its encounter ith Mercury. The high-gainantennahad w recovered, everto fail again,andhigh-resolution n photographic coverage of Mercury was achievedas planned. This first return of high-resolution photographs Mercuryproduced of excitingnewinformationof a Moon-like 238

INTERPLANETARY BILLIARDS

planet,with manyfeatures thathadneverbeen seen from Earth.Techniques developed themosaic for process orkedasplanned, ndthewide-angle w a lens featureworked well. Scientists everywhere wereecstatic. Shortly after encounter,in now typical Mariner 10 fashion,problems beganto recur. An additional90-watt load was registered the power on system,accompanied a rapid risein the temperature thepower elecby of tronicsbay. This anomaly,following the still unexplained switchoverfrom primary to standbypowerearlyin the flight, wasindeedforeboding.Many tired engineers spenthoursdeveloping similiesto theproblemand devising work-aroundsto control the temperature the bestpossible in way without addingstress the powersystem.Otherfailuresfollowedduring the same to week:the taperecorder powerturnedon andoff several imeswithout comt mandandsoonfailedaltogether;commands changethe transmitpower to level were not actedupon; and the flight data subsystem experienced a failurewhich caused dropoutof several ngineering atachannels, aking a e d m it very difficult to determinewhat was happening and to nursethe ailing spacecraft aroundtheSunto reencounter Mercury.Since analyses f theloss o of attitudecontrolgasshowedthatgasusage would haveto bereduced well below the normal cruiserate if thespacecraft wereto encounter ercury a M secondand third time as hoped, further multiple trajectory correction maneuvers to beconducted, ndsomeway had to be found to usethe had a gyros without causingthe oscillationproblem.Engineers ad by this time h determined how themovablesolarpanelsandthe high-gainantenna worked as"solarsails,"sothatattitudecontrol couldbemaintained, ndsomeslight a modificationsin the trajectorycould beeffected usingsolarpressure. To redirectthespacecraft a returnto Mercury,a very largemaneuver for was requiredwhich would havemeant a long rocket burn. To prevent overheatingof the rocket engine,the maneuver as programmedin two w phases. his two-phase T maneuver efinedtheaimingpoint of thespacecraft r sothat it would returnto thevicinity of Mercuryaftermakinga passaround the Sun.As thespacecraft passed behindtheSunfrom Earth,datawereobtained on the Sun'scorona,addingto the planetarydata collectedabout VenusandMercury. Whenthefifth trajectorycorrectionmaneuver wasmadein July1974,the spacecraft wasonthefar sideof theSunfromEarth.Justafterthespacecraft beganits attitude changefor the maneuver, ll the penson the plotters a droppedto zeroandmadestraightlines,indicatingthattelemetry signals had ceased andno datawerebeingreturned.In spiteof the fact that themission 239

FAR TRAVELERS

controllerswerenot ableto see what happened,he spacecraft t completed its automaticcommands exactlyas they hadbeenstored;after the maneuver, the spacecraftcommandeditself back to the cruise orientation, and telemeteredignalswereagainreceived.With this neworbit, a passagey s b Mercuryfor the second timewasassured;n addition,the trajectorychange i caused the encounterwith the planet and its gravitational field made by possible third encounter fteranotherorbit around the Sun. a a Followinga brilliant performancein the vicinity of Mercury, Mariner onceagainactedup. This time it lost Canopuslock andbeganan uncontrollableroll. Theautomatic reaquisitionsequence hadbeeninhibitedto save gas,andrepeated reacquisition attemptsusingcommands thebasisof the on star trackerroll-error signaltelemetrywereunsuccessful. Eachof theseattemptsrequireda momentaryturn on of the gyrosandtheattendantuseof the almostdepleted gassupply.Roll axisstabilizationhad to be abandoned for thisportion of thetrajectoryin which theattitude,otherthansolarorientation, was not critical. A roll-drift mode,allowing the spacecrafto roll t slowly, wasused.The ratewascontrolledby differentiallytilting the solar panels;in a sense these became "propellerblades,"with pitch changes commandedfrom Earthto moderate roll rates. the This complicated operationaltechnique wasmademoredifficult by the lossof theengineeringelemetrychannelhat hadoccurred t t earlier.But, after somestudy,engineersoundthat they wereableto measure roll rateby f the analyzingthe signalfrom the low-gainantenna.This signalvariedwith roll position due to the nonuniformity of the antennaradiation pattern. Of course,signalstrengths hadbeenmeasured duringtestingbeforethemission began;aftera few hoursthistechnique became suitablemeans determina of ing the roll attitude and drift rate of the spacecraft. y using this "roll B stabilized"mode,only 25percentof the normalcruiseusage attitudegas of was required,allowingMariner to reachMercury for the third time with a slimmargin--justenoughto covertheencounter nda few daysafter.Three a important trajectory correction maneuverswere completed, and the spacecraft wasplacedon a very closeplanetaryencounter, etermined be d to only 2035milesabovethe surface. A few daysafter the encounter,trouble againdeveloped, nd the final a significantdramafor Mariner 10engineering perations o occurred. uringan D attemptto reacquire Canopus,he spacecraft t rolledinto a positionsuchthat the low-gainantennawasin a deepnull andcommunications ith Earthusw ing the 85-footdishes werecompletelyinterrupted.To compoundtheprob240

INTERPLANETARY BILLIARDS

lem,thelargedishes theDeepSpace of Networkweretiedup with a very important Helios missionthat was approaching Sun. In order to save the Mariner, the controllersof Helioswere askedto allow someuse of the 210-footantennas, ndthey acceded this request. singthe morepowera to U ful transmitterandantennaatMadrid, it waspossible arouse to theMariner spacecraft ndcommand to its properorientationjustin timefor thethird a it flyby of Mercury. The third encounterproduced some of the most remarkablydetailed picturesof theplanetandadditionalinformationon the magnetic field because the very close620-mile of flyby trajectory. About a weeklater, Mariner 10'snitrogensupplywasdepleted,andthe spacecraft eganan unprogrammed b pitch turn which told engineers had it finally exhausted capabilities. ommands ere immediatelyset to turn its C w off its transmitter,andradio signalsto Earthceased. thenbecame silent It a partner to Mercury, foreverin orbit aboutthe Sun. But it hadperformed brilliantly, andall associated ith it had learnedto respectits personality. w Howeverobstreperous, Mariner10alwayscamethrough in the crises. The interplanetary billiardssuccessfully initiatedby Mariner10andused by Pioneer11 to swingby Jupiterand on to Saturnwerefollowedby the spectacular flights of Voyagers and2. Bothspacecraft avevisitedJupiter 1 h andSaturn,with closeencounters f several oonsin orbit aboutthosegas o m giants.Voyager1,havingcompleted itsplanetary exploration,is nowsailing into the far reaches the solarsystem.Voyager is on a courseto Uranus of 2 and is expected continueto Neptunefor closeencounters 1986and to in 1989,respectively. It is appropriate class to theVoyagers asplanetary systems explorers, for,
by judicious use of sophisticated navigation and guidance techniques, they examined 20 known satellites and more than a dozen new ones discovered during Pioneer and Voyager missions. The four planet-like Galilean satellites of Jupiter were of special interest, as was Titan, the almost Earth-like moon of Saturn. because several and taken The Voyagers water-ice findings also examined the moons oceans Saturn's six icy satellites, surfaces. active of interest Among atmospheres, position At the is the dominant about material on their some have from failed

most exciting Titan These after the time Mercury

of Jupiter and Saturn

is the fact that

of them are still active at least may have extraordinary a program called

volcanically;

of liquid nitrogen resulted Tour"

or methane. a fall-back to win approval.

achievements "The Grand

gravity-assisted trajectories were being studied mission, engineers discovered that in the late

for the Venus1970s the outer

241

FARTRAVELERS

planets wouldberoughlyalignedin amannerto makeall of themobservable by a singleflyby spacecraft. fter passingby Jupiter, the craft could be A redirected towardSaturn;from thereit could go by Uranus,thenNeptune, andfinally, afterabouta decade, astPluto. p This excitingopportunityhadlast occurredwhenThomasJefferson was president ndwould not recuruntil some175yearslater. To do theoppora tunity justice,a setof sophisticated andexpensive spacecraft ould haveto w be developed,for the requirements of the long-lived, complex operation
would returns be demanding. activities Those of us supporting seemed the plan believed and other the potential inmatters made lesser, The of the were the from a single program less attractive approved using too good to pass up, but waning

terest in space the proposition more affordable Voyager multiplanet most complex These systems

and troubles

with Viet Nam to Saturn the

to Congress. in 1972,

It was not very long before by way of Jupiter. basic concepts that their

goals were set for a mission advanced

program, flyby, latest

preserved

Mariner-class spacecraft or Vikings

spacecraft and from

ever designed operational

and built by JPL. planetary marvelous 3.7 for The prointhe the configurational

can be compared

with Mariners

viewpoint; however, a principal difference is the large central antenna meters in diameter, outsized because of the communication requirements the far travelers other obvious vides struments; magnetic as they journey configurational platform serves by to the outer differences containing the spacecraft. panels which to locate reaches of the solar system. booms. other away One science from and are the extensible TV cameras The could magnetometers

for a steerable another fields

sensitive

produced

same Mariner-like, not provide radio enough systems

multipower were miles at 81/3 in

sided bus structure

was used, but a bank

of three radioisotope

thermoelectric

generators replaced the solar so far from the Sun. For employed; from bits Earth, per such long distance even though

operations, power larger

redundant to operate

they were expected

up to a billion 2 to transmit other

the transmitter but the

for each is only 23 watts. used by Mariner and several antenna

This does not advances

seem like a large gain over the 41/2 watts second,

technology resulted in a bit rate at Saturn of a whopping 44 800 bits per second. Since the communication system is as critical to an automated exploring machine as a reentry rocket is to a manned deserve vehicle, great the tremendous strides in telecommunications technologies applause.

242

INTERPLANETARY BILLIARDS

At the greatdistances being traversedby Voyagers,accurateposition determinations areaidedby theuseof simultaneous, two-stationrangingto increase viewingbaseline. wo Earthstationsmanymilesapartwork as the T a teamto obtainangleandDopplerdata.Uplinktransmissions atS-band frequencies andtwo downlink frequencies t both S-band a andX-bandthat are coherent ith theuplink providediscrimination the dispersive w for effectsof chargedparticlesalongthe signalpaths. Maneuvering amongthemoonsof JupiterandSaturnandflying through the ringsof Saturnhavebeenfacilitatedby opticalguidance techniquesirst f experimentally sedby Mariners6 and7. In principle,a camera u mountedon an accuratelypositionedscanplatform can centeran objectin its field of view and indicatepointingdirectionrelativeto spacecraft coordinates. he T information from the optical systemcan be usedto adjust the platform toward other objectsor to reorient the spacecraftor retromaneuvers,f f i desired.Changing from inertialcoordinates targetobjectcoordinates to can improve the approachand flyby accuracies. Optical techniques combined with Dopplersystems sedfor baseline u cruise havebeenveryeffectivein obtaining close-up images the satellites Jupiterand Saturn. of of From the navigationstandpoint,the Voyager1 encounterwith Saturn wasprobablythe mostcomplex everexperienced. Saturn's moonTitan, the largestmoon in our solarsystem,wasof specialnterestfor a closeflyby. i This wasa difficult requiremento meet,partly because t precise information about Titan's massand orbit was not availablein advance.Severalvery smallrocketburnswereusedalongwith opticaldatato refinethetrajectory, and during the Titan encounterDoppler data wereprocessed quickly to allow accurate instrument-pointing adjustments theoutboundimagingof for the satellites Mimas,Enceladus, Dione, andRhea. CharlesE. Kohlhase,VoyagerMission DesignManager,might alsobe labeled "ChiefNavigator."It wasCharlie'sjobto planthe trajectories sothat properflyby timesanddistances ould resultindesired w velocitychangesnd a viewinggeometriesor thescientificinstruments. f Also hiswasthe challenge of determining coursecorrectionrocketfirings.Because f the relevance o of attitudeorientationandcelestial echanics, m histeamwasalsoableto figure out how to rotate the spacecraftfor pointing when the scan platform azimuthsystem malfunctioned. It is impossible outline the stridesthat havebeentaken during the to yearssinceCharliefirst begancalculating trajectories guidance for andcon-

243

FAR TRAVELERS

trol

of

Mariners. and

I

can

express

my

respect

and

admiration that here even

for

his

achievements acclaim principles would

for those from

of his colleagues, Kepler and Newton,

but I am sure were they

greater

come

to see their

being

applied.

GER 1

Gravity-assisted 244

trajectories

of Voyagers

1 and 2

Partners
Without

to Man
sanctifying the results through comparison, man's creation of

spacecraft "in his own image" follows the example set by God in the creation of man. Only through faith can we hope to assess God's noble reasons for creating devised solutely man, essential but we clearly to do what understand and we wanted why automated planets. At the time, spacecraft they were to help explore the Moon were abof doing

to do but were not capable

ourselves; our stead,

our only choice was to devise machines that could go into space in doing our bidding and performing under our direct control. to note that the evolution of our God-given talents made it and operating created, while qualities forth they of in the have

It is fitting

possible for us to do the technical things needed for building spacecraft. It is also noteworthy that the spacecraft we have similar name to humans of our now in function, they have seeking awareness do not exhibit served While answers, and the most setting life. Nevertheless, societies and us well as partners, broadening man's

significant going horizons, precedents

country,

for civilized and its uniqueventured infor for of

to follow.

also provided a better ness in the universe. Lest it appear to space almost plementary the future. exploring thinking aspects Perhaps caused

of our earthly

environment

we have

overlooked

the fact that man himself I would suggest

at the same time as our robots,

that the com-

of manned and automated missions typify the trend the inference that automation was devised as a means go ourselves polarization was true but incomplete--such of views concerning the merits

until we could

limited

an undue

manned versus unmanned missions during the first two decades of space exploration. The truth is that there were no such things as unmanned missions; it was merely he sent remotely, and a question in other of where and man stood to conduct them them. In some cases them equipped his instruments equipment into space while controlling

cases he accompanied systems. of manned

in spacecraft

with suitable life support arguments over the merits

It should be noted that the spurious versus unmanned missions were never 245

FAR TRAVELERS

betweenmachines men, but betweenmenand men.Perhaps mere and the fact that arguments ever occurredover the competitiveaspects manned of versusautomatedmissionsatteststo the potential of robotic partnersin space operations. Now that we havea quarter-century experienceo look back on, it is of t possible assess to someof the resultsandcontributionsmadeby our exploring machines. erhaps P oneof the mostsignificantobservations, adeby a m number of writers, is the fact that the adventuresof our automated spacecraft havebeen enjoyedandshared with mankindin a real-time drama, literally unfolding beforemillions of eyes.While I have often thought of thesemissions assimilar to theexpeditions greatexplorerslike Lewisand of Clark, onebeautifulconsequence today'scommunication of systems the is immediacyof sharingthe experiences, findings, and resultsof exploratory missions. havehearda numberof scientists I express feelingof "being the there"with Mariners,Surveyors,andthe like, for they couldassociate ith w those lifelike machines,superposingtheir own human characteristics, without havingto consider"the otherhumanbeing."Thus,our automated explorershave truly beenextensions man in fulfilling our exploratory of desires a brieferspanof timeandwith broaderparticipationthan otherin wisewouldhavebeenpossible. heyhaveallowedusexperiences T thatin the pastwould only havebeenavailableto thehardyexplorer,without our risking life, limb, andpersonalresources. In lookingbackwe fondly recalltheadditionalknowledge Venusproof videdby Mariner 2. Its flyby trajectoryled to anaccurate determination of theplanet's mass andorbit, fundamental parametric qualitiesessential furto therscientificstudies,f not of particularinterestto mostpeople.Still, I think i that almost everyonesharessomewhatin the pride of knowing that we gainedbetter insightinto our nearestplanetaryneighboron that first mission.Mariner2 alsogaveusour first conclusive informationaboutthedense atmospheref Venus,includinga measure temperatures differentlevels o of at in the clouds.While modestfindingsin themselves, close-updatafrom the Mariner enhancedthe value of sightingsfrom Earth and from scientific studies employingassumptions ow better qualified. n Mariner 5, a somewhat improved descendantof Mariner 2, was transformed from a sparespacecrafto performanotherflyby visit to Venus t in 1967.Equipped with betterinstruments,it madedefinitivemeasurements of Venus'magneticfield, ionosphere, nd radiationbelts. It told us much a more about the compositionof the atmosphere and disappointinglycon246

PARTNERSO MAN T

cludedthat Venushada chemicallypollutedenvironmentthat wasat least 750 F nearthe surface. ° Almost 5 yearslater, the Sovietssucceeded probingthe atmosphere in with Venera7, confirmingwith in situ measurements carbondioxide that wasthepredominant onstituent.On its way toMercury,Mariner10swung c pastVenusfor anotherlook in 1974,followedshortlyby Veneras and10, 9 which found the surfaceof the planet to befirm androcky. In 1978the MarinersandVeneras received helpfrom two Pioneers that orbited the planetandfired probesinto its surface. he VenusPioneerwas T the first spacecrafto be placedin orbit aroundVenus,supplyinga radar t map of the surface.A giantrift canyon,the largesteverdiscovered the in solarsystem,measured 15000feetdeepand900mileslong. In additionto muchimprovedknowledge theplanetwide of cloudcoverage, Pioneer enus V 1 detected almostcontinuouslightning activity. PioneerVenus2 launched four entry probes3 weeksbeforereaching Venus;duringentry theseprobes relayeddirect measurements the structureand compositionof the aton mosphere. heyalsoprovidedtemperature ndpressure T a profiles,plustracking data showingdeviationsin their trajectories which gaveindicationsof Venusianwind velocities.Sincethat time, visitsto Venushavebeenleft to Veneras. Mercury was looked over well by Mariner 10 during its two-for-one flyby after leavingVenus,using gravitationalassistance changecourse to andvelocity.In additionto its first useof a planetaryswing-bytrajectoryto visit another planet,Mariner 10'sthreeencounters with Mercury wereof great interest.This feat surely put Mariner 10 in the lead as our most economical ndefficientspacecraft. a Beingclosest f any planetto the Sun, o Mercurywould not evenbe"a niceplaceto visit," so it wasjust aswell that Mariner 10wenttherefor us.Wenow haveanswers manyquestions to concerning Mercury that also help to completeour understanding solar of systemmysteries. Mars wasfirst visitedby Mariner4 in 1965. lthoughthis first successful A Mars missiontaughtus many things,perhaps mostsignificantwas the the finding that Mars'surface pockmarked is with craters,muchlike theMoon. The second finding of greatinterestwasthe factthat its atmosphere very is thin, aboutone-tenth thedensityof Earth's.FouryearslaterMariners6 and 7 told us quite a bit more about Mars' planetaryenvironmentand atmosphere, improvingknowledge doubthelpfulto thedesign theSoviet no of Mars 3, which landedin 1971but ceased transmitting seconds fterland20 a 247

FARTRAVELERS

ing.During thesame MarsopportunityMariner9 wentinto orbit whileMars was totally obscured a giganticdust storm.After waiting several eeks by w for the dustto clear,Mariner9 did a goodjob of filling usin on detailswhile returning7300photographs from orbit. New findingsof specialnotewere thehugevolcanoes p to 16mileshighanda "grandcanyon"over3000miles u long.Mariner9 alsoobserved PhobosandDeimosfrom orbit, givingus our first close-up viewsof thosesmallsatellites Mars. of Viking orbitersandlandersperformed sonotablywhileexploringMarsin 1976-83 that, eventhough their adventures were presented two earlier in chapters,they deserve mentionagain.Thefact that two orbiters,two entry vehicles,and two landersconducteda significantexploratoryexpedition, sending backdetailedinformationduring two Martianyears,will bea hard act to follow. Perhaps menwill accompany next robotssentto Mars. the Pioneers10 and 11 and Voyagers1 and 2 receivecredit for firsthand observationsof the asteroid belt, Jupiter, Saturn, and their moonsand asteroidrings.The beautifulimages returnedby thesesuccessful craft have not only awedscientists surelyhaveappealed the artistic qualitiesin but to all who respecthe beautyof color and form. Thereis somethinginspiring t aboutthegiantredspoton Jupiter,moresonow thattime-lapse images have clearlyshownthedynamicnatureof thisfeature.Is thereany form moreenthralling than beautifully colored Saturn highlighted by its shining, geometrically perfectsystem rings?Or is thereanymoretantalizingobject of begging scientific examination thanSaturn's satellite Titan, thelargestmoon in our solarsystemand the only one thought to have oceansand an atmosphereresemblingthosebelievedto have existedon Earth during its primitive times?VoyagerI brought in a flood of findingsbut is all themore memorable clearlyframingthesefantasticquestions. for While these summary paragraphsdo not do justice to the total achievements our principalplanetarymissions, erhaps of p they will serveto verify our thesisconcerning thepromisefor automated spacecraft ndtheir a role as partnersto man. None of the missionsdescribed could have been donewithout them,andit may bea long timebeforewe visit all theplanets in person--evenif we want to. Sincethereare powerful arguments using automatedspacecrafto for t conduct planetarymissions,why are there debatesamong sophisticates regarding themeritsfor both mannedandunmanned missions theMoon'?. to Onereason may be thatman, asa generalized "scientific instrument" suited

248

PARTNERSO MAN T

to exploration and discovery,has not beenequalledby any manmade package fitting thesamemold.Anotherreason maybethatsomeseea competition betweenthe two approachesor dollars,manpower,and prestige, f causingthemto choose sideswhetherthe competitionis real or imagined. In someways, it was almost ironic that the technologies neededfor mannedflight evolved concurrentlywith thoseneededfor automation. Many of the needs were the same;somewerenot. Of courseboth modes sharedtechnologiesor rockets,guidance,andtrajectorycontrol systems; f the biggestdifferences erethe one-waynatureof automated w missions that obviatedthe Earthreturn requirement nd thelife supportneeds human a of flights into space.I believethe emphasis capableautomatedmissions for restedlargely on control and communications technologies, hereasrew quirements mannedmissions for depended moreon solvingreentryandenvironmentalcontrol problems. t any rate, theheritageof missileryserved A to bring capabilities into focusso that manned craft or automated machines offeredoptions or complementaryunctionsin the samedecade. f A strong reasonto expectthe far-term blend of mannedflights and automated missions that increased is capabilities certainfunctionscanbe in easilyachievedwith automatedsystems.Forexample, achines have m can response timesmuchfasterthan humans;instrumentation derivedfrom extensions microscope of andtelescope technologies areobviouslysuperiorto man'snakedeyes.On the otherhand,man'sability to assimilate input data, to retainandproperlyintegrate information,andto reason, lusa significant p array of physicalcapabilities, akehim a powerfulmachine which there m for is no equal. Settingasidethatphilosophical iscussion, usreturnto our reviewof d let achievements a look at the missions theMoon. Herewecanseenot with to only the contributionsof automated systems, ut wecanexaminethecomb plementaryqualitiesof mannedandautomated missions with aneyetoward future possibilities.For completeness e mustrecognize w that Luna 1 impactedthe Moon carryinga Russian medallionandthat Luna3 returneda low-resolutionpicture of the far sidein 1959.It was 5 years later that Rangers 8,and9 showedclose-up 7, details.In1966,Luna9 andSurveyor1 landed,testingthesuitabilityof thesurface andtopography Apollo landfor ings.Sincethefindingsof Surveyorcorroborated theengineering odelthat m hadbeenusedfor designing thelandinggearfor theApollo LunarModule,it might seemthat Rangerand Surveyormissions wereunnecessary. Perhaps

249

FARTRAVELERS

this is so, but no one knew at the time. Supposethis had not
case--how landing formed would could we have felt today safely'?. of Surveyor facilitated sites, after an Apollo discovery not be made Orbiters

been

the

that such a perof

Even given

the acceptability greatly

the reconnaissance and execution

by Lunar

the planning

Apollo missions. Such mapping available by Lunar Orbiters would perhaps coverage mandatory There missions. Surveyors, many things at far greater of the Moon for supporting cost and would have

and topographical data as were made have had to be obtained some other way, It is also doubtful resulted, since objectives. of the findings from the several Rangers, Lunar Orbiters, and astronauts, without combined to teach The us imthe combination. that the broad not have area been it would

risk.

the Apollo

are other complementary aspects The 13 successful flights of plus the 8 trips made by Apollo we would not have known

pact in the crater Alphonsus by Ranger 5, the near polar orbit views of Orbiter 5, the landing of Surveyor 7 near crater Tycho in the rugged highlands, the visit of Apollo 12 to the Surveyor 3 site, the rover excursions by astronauts gathering broader views and samples to couple with point data, the tremendous benefits from returning lunar samples for examination in laboratories here on Earth--these are but indicators, for there is a long list of synergistic benefits Our "obedient" might equipment vironments ing hours wrong where from the combined activities. spacecraft have done for us some in the past. not go; They have they have when we could of the things carried braved the servants and enor

have done for explorers

our sensors hostile

of space and other planets; on end, of being sacrificed turned in the name

they have never of science.

complained

of work-

off forever

their jobs were done, It encourages

even of being that endowing of God's beings.

Fortunately,

there is nothing me to think may be a part of living then

with this treatment plan for helping

of inanimate us rise above of space or Mars

machines. slavery.

us with the capability

to build such "creatures" we have discovered

So far in our conquest

no evidence

If we view the Moon

as territories

for future

expansion,

we must plan to establish our bases, dig our mines, build our ports, and perform other necessities without help from "the natives." Today, we might think of colonization through transport of those willing to leave Earth and begin new lives elsewhere. Perhaps Oklahoma and Alaska offer parallels during the time the hostile extraterrestrial the development for consideration. environments of territories like On the other hand, of the Moon and the

250

PARTNERSO MAN T

planetsarebeingtamedwith environmentally uitablehabitatsfor humans, s building andotherdevelopments ight bebestdoneby machines. ikeour m L spacecraft xplorers, hey would haveno concern the environmentand e t for needno consideration regarding hours or working conditions;they might evenbe perceived being"perfectlyhappy"doing our work for us. Men as would be presentin limited numbersto apply our specialqualitiesas yet unassembled into automatons,but in roles as supervisorsand not as laborers. Almost everyone enjoys being a sidewalk superintendentat times--wouldit not befun to watcha lunar base beingbuilt by a variety of specialized machines? Whatcanweexpecthese t machines tobelike?Thereisno simpleanswer, for they will surelytake manyformsandplaymanyroles.Perhaps someof themwill combinethequalitiesof manandmachine,emindingusof theimr pressionseceived IndiansuponviewingtheSpanish r by horses andridersof Cortez,which they thoughtto be somenewform of creature.We are accustomed seeing manandabulldozerat work asa team;it is not hardto to a imagine sucha machine operated its controlandcommunications nit doby u ingthebiddingof a distantmaster.n the1960s I wespokeseveralimesof an t idea for dispatchingroving vehiclesto perform"Lewisand Clark expeditions" on the Moon while underthe supervision scientists engineers of and hereon Earth.Theconceptenvisioned tuningin on TV from our armchairs to seewhat washappening eachday, to observe findingsin nearrealtime, and to direct future actions.Justthink how muchmorerewardingand exciting that would be than shootingat monsters through the mediumof a video game! I alsothink it is excitingto considerthechallenges developing of specialpurposemachines do the many thingsthatcan conceivably doneby to be robots. Already machines beginningto do thingsfor us on Earth that are they can do betterthan man. Productionfacilitiesare ideal for machines, whereroutine functionslike welding,or assemblingarts, painting, or inp specting canbeperformed precisely preprogrammedystems. by s Thesetasks do not needthe higher order of intelligence possessedy man, and the b substitutionof machinesfor men in theseinstances freesmindsfor more creativeventures.Therearemanyfunctionsto beperformed robots,and by asour capabilitiesto engineer thesesystems dvance,t shouldbeexpected a i that we will improveour machines givingthemmore"brainpower." by Already many storiescanbe told aboutthe uncannyactionsof control systemprocessors hich had beenprogrammed performcomplexfuncw to 251

FARTRAVELERS

tions. An examplecomesto mind from Viking that occurredwell into the mission,whenMars wasapproaching conjunction;that is, when Mars full andEarthwereaboutto be on completelyoppositesidesof the Sun,so that theViking orbitersnot only became blockedfrom viewby Marsduringeach orbit, but wouldalsobeeclipsed theSun.TheeventthattriggeredViking by Orbiter I into anargument ith itselfwasits not beingableto seeeitherthe w Sunor Earth.Theproblembecame apparentto controllerswhentheorbiter reappeared its S-banddata streamwasmissing.The X-bandlink was and strong and nominal, and sinceit madeuseof the Earth-pointedS-band antennafor someapplications,it seemed likely that the orbiter was still orientedproperly. The low-gain link wascheckednext, for the spacecraft ad beenproh grammed switchto the low-gainmodeif the high-gainlink werelost for to any reason. igh-gaindatacouldmissEarthwith evenslightpointingerrors H of the orbiter, for example, ut low-gain data could be receivedon Earth b evenwhenthe spacecraft waswell out of alignment(thereason this kind for of automaticemergency rocedure).The searchsweep p quickly locatedthe low-gaindatastream, ndit wasthenpossible acquirethe engineering a to informationneeded examine problem. to the The problemwas tracedto the two data processors ssociated a with the orbiter'scomputer.These processors ereprogrammed recognize Sun w to the asanattitudecontrolreference, andthey reactedto the lossof thereference by "sating" the spacecraftwith an emergencyroutine that included spacecraft shutdownevents,search activities,andtheS-banddatatransmissiontransferfrom high gain to low gain.This procedure wasneeded preto vent the spacecraft from performingincorrectmaneuvers goingout of and controlif an onboardfailurecaused thelossof a navigationalreference--like the Sun. Whenit wasknownin advance a naturalreference that losssuchasa Sun occultationwasgoingto occur,theprocessorsadto betold to disregard h the lossandinhibit thesatingroutine.Bothprocessorsadbeentold to disregard h the loss of the Sun during solar occultation, but processor somehow B forgot. TheresultwasthatB thoughtsomething waswrongwith A whenA did the right thingby disregarding lossof the Sun.By design,the procthe essorthat sensed problem(or thoughtit had) became priority proca the essor.Consequently, whenBdecided A waswrongfor not reacting that with anemergencyesponse thelossof theSun,it took charge r to andshutA off. This story was quickly reconstructed after the low-gain data rate was 252

PARTNERSO MAN T

precisely adjusted command by from Earth,but therewasa bit of finesse involved in gettingprocessorB to relinquishcontrol to processor The A. reason wasthat orbiter processors eredesigned that they couldnot be w so simplycommanded engineers off, actually "fooled"processor into relinB quishingcontrolby deliberately sending commands hich caused to err; it w it the storedprogramthen automaticallyswitched A. to Wehavemuchto learnaboutthe useof computer rocessors, p asour efforts to date haveproducedsystems morelimited and primitive than far manyof thosepossessed simplecreatures by allaroundus.Who canexplain the mysteries the navigationsystems of usedby migratorybirdsand turtles sufficientlyto allow modelingtheir systems usein spacecraft? ow is it for H that tiny insects arecapable attitudestabilization of within thelimits of their weight and volume/ How can the blend of chemical, electrical, and mechanical systems resentin mostcreatureseachus to apply similarprinp t ciplesto our machines? urelywe havea longway to go. S From the meagercapabilitiesof the CC&Sof Mariner 2, we now find Voyager spacecraft ith 27 processors; only are they performinginw not dividual chores,but computers areactually supervising othercomputers in distantspace. his iseffective T because thesupervisoryunctionsrequirerealf timeinformationandrapidresponses humans that directingoperations from Earthcannotprovide. Thelong time delaybetween sending commands and receiving acknowledgment from distances f over500million milesis an abo soluteto be reckonedwith. Of course,this applicationof computersupervisionplaces burdenof responsibilityontheengineers hohaveto provide a w onboardlogicand preprogrammed intelligence sendon the mission.The to learningability ascribedto computerapplications hasbeenlimited, so the necessaryackground b andexperienceo beusedin flight must,for themost t part, be anticipatedandprovidedin advance the humansin charge. by John Casani,Galileo Projectmanagerat JPL,recentlytold me about engineersending load of commands a Voyager s a to spacecraft n itsway to o Saturn.Voyageracknowledged receiptof thecommands, ut repliedthat it b would not execute them as sent,for they would produceunwantedconsequences. This seemingly utinousresponse asat first alarming.Dayslater, m w after detailedstudy andsimulations,a mistake wasfound in the command seriesthat the spacecraft adproperly detected, venthough it had been h e overlooked by its makers. Fortunately, the thoroughness their preof programminghad exceeded quality of checkoutapplied to en route the instructions. 253

FARTRAVELERS

Howeverfuture chaptersof history may be written, it is clear that the spacecraft usedin our initial explorationof theMoonandplanets wereeffective prodigies--forerunners f a newage.As automatons o become moreimportant in our society, the heritageof early electromechanical Mariners, Rangers, ndother spacecraft ill assume a w moresignificance. Future applicationsof suchsophisticatedtechnologies will remain as reflections of their masters--eithergood or evil. Thus far automated spacecraft avealways servedas partnersto man, "for the benefitof all h mankind."How their descendants servewill dependon the nobility of man.

254

About
Oran 16, earned a pilot's he returned Nicks'

the Author
lifelong interest in flight began at age 2, when He began degree learning his uncle took he was War II, Aviaat North (Navaho) conducting Jet at Edbiplane. engineering serving to fly when After World American

him aloft in a barnstorming an aeronautical to college license in 1945, while

when he was 19, and obtained North

in the Air Corps. and joined

for a second

degree

tion in 1948 as an aeronautical engineer. American he was involved in a supersonic and projects related Laboratory. to high-speed flight research Propulsion wards The career. American and development

During his 10 years cruise missile project and rocket centers launches,

testing at three NACA He also participated Canaveral.

and at CalTech's

in flight tests of missiles impact studies

Air Force Base and Cape

launch of the Soviet Sputnik had a profound He organized a technical group to do space and led a team at the Chance Vought Corporation

on Nicks' at North

that developed

the Scout launch vehicle. He joined NASA in 1960 as Head of Lunar Flight Systems; in 1961 he was named Director of Lunar and Planetary Programs and became directed Moon Space vanced Langley tivities, His awards, responsible Lunar that for the Mariner Orbiter, launched more with missions to Venus and Mars in addiNicks the for toward tion to Ranger, and Surveyor. Deputy continuing Associate involved and During the next 6 years, spacecraft Administrator

programs Science Research Research including including and

than 30 U.S.

and the planets. programs,

He then became and

Associate

Applications

responsibilities Administrator Deputy shuttle earned Service, in a broad space

for lunar for AdDirector range him technology. many Outstanding He of of ac-

and planetary

then Acting he was

and Technology. Center, to lunar NASA where and medals the Viking Mars

In 1970, he became program planetary for

contributions

programs

Distinguished

Leadership, and Exceptional In 1980, Nicks returned wrote the present volume managing Center. an aerodynamic

Service. to his first love, at Texas research A&M facility,

aeronautical while and directing

engineering. doing a Space

University,

research, Research 255

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful