Encyclopedia Astronautica
Johnson, Caldwell


Johnson, Caldwell Christian (1919-) American designer, at NASA 1937-1972, second part of the creative pairing with American "chief designer" Max Faget. He laid out the basic design for the Mercury and Apollo spacecraft.

Caldwell Johnson was the second part of the creative pairing with American "chief designer" Max Faget. Johnson, the son of a florist, was born and raised in Wythe, Newport News, Virgina. He grew up just a few miles from NACA's Langley Field and his fascination with aviation was fuelled by the various exotic airplanes he could see being tested through the fence. His model airplanes were so exquisite and flawless that NACA's Bob Gilruth hired him in 1937 when he was still a teenager. Caldwell tried college briefly, found it not to his liking, and returned to Langley, becoming the artist and model builder for the design group. Engineer Max Faget found that he and Caldwell made a perfect team. He would give Caldwell a rough sketch of an aircraft design, and instruct him to 'draw it up the way it is'. He knew this would rile Caldwell, who would attack the design and come up with enormous improvements to the internal layout, windows, and so forth, while staying within the aerodynamic moldline dictated by Faget.

When the time came to design the Mercury and Apollo spacecraft, Caldwell was an indispensable part of the team that established the designs that were dictated to the subcontractors and flew in space. It was Caldwell who established the basic layout of America's spacecraft, and Caldwell who came up with the rounded mold line of the Apollo capsule so that it would easily fair into whatever diameter cylindrical service module was ever settled on.

After retiring from NASA, Johnson continued to work with Faget, being named chief of design for Faget's Space Industries, Inc., in 1982.

Birth Place: Wythe, Virginia.


Born: 1919.

More... - Chronology...


Associated Countries
See also
Bibliography
  • Launius, Roger D, NASA Chief Historian, NASA History Office Home Page, Web Address when accessed: here.
  • Gray, Mike, Angle of Attack: Harrison Storms and the Race to the Moon, Penguin Reprint edition, 1994.

Johnson, Caldwell Chronology


During 1958 - . LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas Vega.
  • NASA sketches two-crew Mercury follow-on spacecraft - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Johnson, Caldwell. Program: Gemini. Spacecraft: Gemini. In 1958 H. Kurt Strass and Caldwell C. Johnson of NASA's Space Task Group at Langley Field, Virginia.sketched a spacecraft design concept for a two-man orbiting laboratory to be launched by an Atlas-Vega booster. This was one of the earliest sketches of a two-crew Mercury follow-on. The Vega stage was dropped in favour of the Agena a year later, and a similar one-crew Mercury-Agena space station was proposed by McDonnell some years later.

1958 March 10 - .
  • MISS Working Conference - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Johnson, Caldwell; Schriever. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury; Project 7969. A working conference in support of the Air Force 'Man-in-Space Soonest' (MISS) was held at the Air Force Ballistic Missile Division in Los Angeles, California. General Bernard Schriever, opening the conference, stated that events were moving faster than expected. By this statement he meant that Roy Johnson, the new head of the Advanced Research Projects Agency, had asked the Air Force to report to him on its approach to putting a man in space soonest. Johnson indicated that the Air Force would be assigned the task, and the purpose of the conference was to produce a rough-draft proposal. At that time the Air Force concept consisted of three stages: a high-drag, no-lift, blunt-shaped spacecraft to get man in space soonest, with landing to be accomplished by a parachute; a more sophisticated approach by possibly employing a lifting vehicle or one with a modified drag; and a long-range program that might end in a space station or a trip to the moon.

1959 November 2 - .
  • Planning of advanced spacecraft systems begun - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Gilruth; Faget; Chamberlin; Johnson, Caldwell. Program: Apollo. At an STG meeting, it was decided to begin planning of advanced spacecraft systems. Three primary assignments were made:
    1. The preliminary design of a multi-man (probably three-man) capsule for a circumlunar mission, with particular attention to the use of the capsule as a temporary space laboratory, lunar landing cabin, and deep-space probe;
    2. Mission analysis studies to establish exit and reentry corridors, weights, and propulsion requirements;
    3. Test program planning to decide on the number and purpose of launches.
    Additional Details: here....

1960 January 7 - .
  • Future wind tunnel test needs for advanced Mercury projects. - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Johnson, Caldwell. Spacecraft: Mercury Mark I. Representatives of Engineering and Contracts Division and Flight Systems Division (FSD) met to discuss future wind tunnel test needs for advanced Mercury projects. After Alan B. Kehlet remarked on available test facilities, Caldwell C. Johnson and H. Kurt Strass presented their ideas on advanced configurations. Johnson had been working on modifications to the existing Mercury configuration, chiefly in the areas of afterbody, landing system (rotors to control impact point), and retro-escape system, rather than on advanced configuration concepts. Strass suggested that advanced work be classed as either (1) modifications refining the design of the present Mercury or (2) new concepts in configuration design, and others present agreed. Johnson consented to design models for both program categories. FSD's Aerodynamics Section would arrange for and perform tests necessary to evaluate both modifications and advanced proposals. Strass also suggested another modification, a larger heatshield diameter allowing for half-ringed flaps which could be extended from the portion of the afterbody near the heatshield to provide some subsonic lifting capabilities. Strass stated the need for aerodynamic information on an advanced Mercury configuration under consideration by his group, and on the lenticular vehicle proposed by Aerodynamics Section.

1962 March 6 - .
  • The staffing for the MSC Apollo Spacecraft Project Office was announced - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Johnson, Caldwell. Program: Apollo. Spacecraft: Apollo CSM; CSM Recovery. The organizational elements and staffing for the MSC Apollo Spacecraft Project Office was announced:

    Office of Project Manager
    Charles W. Frick, Project Manager

    Robert O. Piland, Deputy Project Manager

    Command and Service Module
    Caldwell C. Johnson, Chief

    William F. Rector, Special Assistant

    Calvin H. Perrine, Flight Technology

    Lee N. McMillion, Crew Systems

    David L. Winterhalter, Sr., Power Systems

    Wallace D. Graves, Mechanical Systems

    Milton C. Kingsley, Electrical Systems

    (Vacant), Ground Support Equipment

    Lunar Landing Module
    Robert O. Piland, Acting Chief
    Guidance and Control Development
    David W. Gilbert, Chief

    Jack Barnard, Apollo Office at MIT

    Systems Integration
    Paul F. Weyers, Chief

    (Vacant), Reliability and Quality Control

    Emory F. Harris, Operations Requirements

    Robert P. Smith, Launch Vehicle Integration

    Owen G. Morris, Mission Engineering

    Marion R. Franklin, Ground Operational Support Systems

    Apollo Office at NAA
    Herbert R. Ash, Acting Manager

    Alan B. Kehlet, Engineering

    Alan B. Kehlet, Acting Manager, Quality Control and Engineering

    Herbert R. Ash, Acting Manager, Business Administration

    Planning and Resources
    Thomas F. Baker, Chief

1962 December 4 - .
  • NASA Mercury monetary awards to seven individuals - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Faget; Johnson, Caldwell. Program: Mercury. Information was received from the NASA Inventions and Contributions activity that seven individuals, a majority of whom were still associated with the Manned Spacecraft Center, would receive monetary awards for inventions that were important in the development of Project Mercury. These were: Andre Meyer ($1,000) for the vehicle parachute and equipment jettison equipment; Maxime Faget and Andre Meyer (divided $1,500) for the emergency ejection device; Maxime Faget, William Bland, and Jack Heberlig (divided $2,000) for the survival couch; and Maxime Faget, Andre Meyer, Robert Chilton, Williard Blanchard, Alan Kehlet, Jerome Hammack, and Caldwell Johnson (divided $4,200) for the spacecraft design. Formal presentation of these awards was made on December 10, 1962.

1963 February 13 - .
  • Reorganization of Apollo SPO - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Johnson, Caldwell; Maynard. Program: Apollo. Spacecraft: Apollo LM; CSM Guidance. In a reorganization of ASPO, MSC announced the appointment of two deputy managers. Robert O. Piland, deputy for the LEM, and James L. Decker, deputy for the CSM, would supervise cost, schedule, technical design, and production. J. Thomas Markley was named Special Assistant to the Apollo Manager, Charles W. Frick. Also appointed to newly created positions were Caldwell C. Johnson, Manager, Spacecraft Systems Office, CSM; Owen E. Maynard, Acting Manager, Spacecraft Systems Office, LEM; and David W. Gilbert, Manager, Spacecraft Systems Office, Guidance and Navigation.

1963 May 7 - .
  • Reorganization of Apollo SPO - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Johnson, Caldwell. Program: Apollo. Spacecraft: Apollo LM. MSC announced a reorganization of ASPO:

    Acting Manager:
    Robert O. Piland
    Deputy Manager, Spacecraft:
    Robert O. Piland
    Assistant Deputy Manager for CSM:
    Caldwell C. Johnson
    Deputy Manager for System Integration:
    Alfred D. Mardel
    Deputy Manager LEM:
    James L. Decker
    Manager, Spacecraft Systems Office:
    David W. Gilbert
    Manager, Project Integration Office:
    J. Thomas Markley

1964 April 28-30 - .
  • Mockup inspection and review for Block II Apollo CSM - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Johnson, Caldwell; Slayton. Program: Apollo. Spacecraft: Apollo CSM; CSM Block I. At Downey, Calif., MSC and North American officials conducted a mockup review on the Block I CSM. Major items reviewed were:

    • Cabin interior (complete except for hatches, display panel lighting, survival equipment, umbilical connections, and zero-g restraints).
    • CM exterior (complete except for hatches and boost protective cover).
    • Earth landing system.
    • Launch escape system.
    • SM.
    One hundred and eleven request for change forms were submitted to the mockup review board, composed of Robert O. Piland (Chairman), Christopher C. Kraft, Jr., Donald K. Slayton, Caldwell C. Johnson, Owen E. Maynard, and Clinton L. Taylor of MSC; and H. G. Osbon and Charles H. Feltz of North American.

    For the first time, three representative Apollo space suits were used in the CM couches. Pressurized suit demonstrations, with three suited astronauts lying side by side in the couches, showed that the prototype suit shoulders and elbows overlapped and prevented effective operation of the CM displays and controls. Previous tests, using only one suited subject, had indicated that suit mobility was adequate. Gemini suits, tested under the same conditions, proved much more usable. Moreover, using Gemini suits for Apollo earth orbital missions promised a substantial financial saving. As a result of further tests conducted in May, the decision was made to use the Gemini suits for these missions. The existing Apollo space suit contract effort was redirected to concentrate on later Apollo flights. A redesign of the Apollo suit shoulders and elbows also was begun.


1969 April 5 - .
  • ASPO Manager George Low, commented on control of Apollo spacecraft weight - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Johnson, Caldwell. Program: Apollo. Spacecraft: Apollo LM; CSM Hatch; LM Hatch. ASPO Manager George Low, commented on control of Apollo spacecraft weight. Following the January 1967 spacecraft fire at Cape Kennedy, there had been substantial initial weight growth in the CSM. This was attributed to such items as the new CSM hatch, the flammability changes, and the additional flight safety changes. In mid-1967 the CSM weight stabilized and from then on showed a downward trend. The LM weight stabilized in mid1968 and since that time had remained fairly constant. Conclusions were that the program redefinition had caused a larger weight increase than expected, but that once the weight control system became fully effective, it was possible to maintain a weight that was essentially constant. Low told Caldwell C. Johnson, Jr., of the MSC Spacecraft Design Division that the weight control was in part due to Johnson's strong inputs in early 1968. Johnson responded, "Your control of Apollo weight growth has destroyed my reputation as a weight forecaster - but I'm rather glad."

1969 July 15 - .
  • A number of organizations were studying the possibility of zero-g showers for use in manned space flight. - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Johnson, Caldwell. Spacecraft: Orbital Workshop. In a letter J. Hall (LaRC), C. C. Johnson (MSC) related the following: 'MSC has some excellent films of Jack Slight showering in the KC-135 at zerogravity. 'The motion pictures of Jack showering are quite revealing-not of Jack, of the action of water at zero-gravity.... The interesting point is that the water strikes Jack, bounces off in droplets, but then recollects as jelly-like globs on various parts of his body. He can brush the water away but it will soon reattach elsewhere.'

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