Born: 1915-05-23. Died: 1981-03-08. Birth Place: Kamloops, British Columbia.
Canadian-born and trained at the University of Toronto and the Imperial College of Science and Technology in London, Chamberlin had been working in aeronautical engineering and design since 1939 for several Canadian firms. By March 1959 he had become chief of design for AVRO Aircraft, Inc., of Toronto, where he worked on the CF-105 Arrow, an advanced interceptor aircraft. When that project was canceled, NASA was able to recruit Chamberlin and several of his colleagues. Chamberlin joined NASA's Space Task Group in April 1959; by August he had become acting chief of the Engineering and Contract Administration Division. For the next year and half, he directed STG's technical monitoring of Mercury development and production. When, on 1 February 1961, Gilruth assigned him to work on an improved Mercury, Chamberlin remained titular chief of what had since become the Engineering Division but turned over most of his organization's administrative, technical, and operational matters to his assistants. Chamberlin himself went to St. Louis in mid-February; during the next months he actually worked from an office in the McDonnell Aircraft Corporation plant two or three days a week.
Chamberlin was convinced that his job was to redesign the Mercury capsule from the bottom up. Drawing on his experience with fire control and weapons delivery systems for fighter aircraft, Chamberlin sketched a new capsule structure with its equipment located outside the cockpit in self-contained modules easy to install and check out. Chamberlin even proposed an audacious circumlunar flight for the improved Mercury.
Chamberlin had come up with a brilliant concept, but in NASA's view was less then able as a program manager. By the first months of 1963, with the Gemini project having technical problems which translated in cost increases and schedule delays, Chamberlin was replaced by Charles Mathews.
Wikipedia: James A. "Jim" Chamberlin (May 23, 1915 – March 8, 1981) was a Canadian aerodynamicist who contributed to the design of the Canadian Avro Arrow, NASA's Gemini spacecraft and the Apollo program. In addition to his pioneering air and space efforts, he is often cited as an example of Canadian brain drain to the U.S. In the early 1960s, he was one of the key people that proposed and moved that Lunar Orbit Rendezvous (LOR) was the best option for landing a crew on the Moon, the method eventually used on Apollo lunar landing missions. He left NASA in 1970 and worked for McDonnell Douglas, in their Houston offices, until his death in 1981.
James Arthur Chamberlin was born in Kamloops, British Columbia on May 23, 1915. Having maintained a keen interest in model aircraft during high school at the University of Toronto Schools, he took mechanical engineering degrees at the University of Toronto (1936) and Imperial College London (1939).
Chamberlin began his engineering career with the British aircraft company (and later ejection seat manufacturers) Martin-Baker before returning to Canada. He worked on the production of the British Avro Anson at Federal Aircraft Ltd. in Montreal (1940–1941), and later, on training and anti-submarine aircraft as chief engineer at Clarke Ruse Aircraft in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia (1941–1942). His longest tenure began as a research engineer (1942–1945) at Noorduyn Aircraft in Montreal, working on the Norseman and serving in this position until the end of the Second World War.
In February 1946, Chamberlin joined Avro Aircraft Ltd. in Toronto, the Canadian subsidiary of the British Avro, itself part of the Hawker Siddeley Group, where Chamberlin was chief aerodynamicist on the C102 Jetliner and CF-100 Canuck jet interceptor. Later, as chief of technical design for the CF-105 Avro Arrow jet interceptor, he generated many of the ideas that would make the design famous.
Following the Canadian government's cancellation of the Avro Arrow project in 1959, Chamberlin led a team of 25 engineers from Avro who joined NASA's Space Task Group. This group eventually grew to 32 former Avro engineers, collectively known as the "Avro Group", who joined NASA and become emblematic of what many Canadians viewed as a brain drain to the United States.
As head of engineering for Project Mercury, chief designer and NASA's first Project Manager for the Gemini spacecraft built by McDonnell Aircraft, and then troubleshooter on Apollo, Chamberlin played an instrumental role in creating and implementing the first three generations of American crewed spacecraft.
While designing the Gemini spacecraft in 1961, Chamberlin proposed that Gemini be paired with a “bug” that would land a single astronaut on the Moon. Chamberlin had been impressed with NASA engineer John Houbolt’s advocacy of Lunar orbit rendezvous as the method to go to the Moon. Although Chamberlin’s idea of flying Gemini to the Moon was rejected, it helped lead NASA to its decision in 1962 to use Lunar Orbit Rendezvous in the Apollo program, which involved using the Lunar Module (LM) to descend to the lunar surface.
Chamberlin was described by space historian David Baker as “probably one of the most brilliant men ever to work for NASA.” Chamberlin left NASA in 1970 to join McDonnell Douglas Astronautics, where he prepared an ultimately unsuccessful space shuttle bid before becoming technical director for the company's facility at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, a position he held until his death on March 8, 1981. He and his wife had a son and a daughter.
NASA awarded Chamberlin its Exceptional Scientific Achievement, Exceptional Service and Exceptional Engineering Achievement medals. Chamberlin was a Professional Engineer of the Province of Ontario, a member of the Institute of Aeronautical Scientists and an Associate Fellow of the Canadian Aeronautical Institute. In 2001, he was inducted into Canada's Aviation Hall of Fame.
Director Robert R. Gilruth met with members of his STG staff (Paul E. Purser, Charles J. Donlan, James A. Chamberlin, Raymond L. Zavasky, W. Kemble Johnson, Charles W. Mathews, Maxime A. Faget, and Charles H. Zimmeman) and George M. Low from NASA Headquarters to discuss the possibility of an advanced manned spacecraft.
J. A. Chamberlin was appointed head of the office. Duties were divided into four major categories as follows: (1) loads, thermodynamics, structures, and aerodynamics; (2) cabin, life support, and controls; (3) electronics, recovery, and sequencing; and (4) transportation and handling, schedules and testing, and standards and specifications. This action assured continuity of effort in monitoring the McDonnell contract. Also, this office arranged and coordinated meetings with McDonnell personnel and served as a clearing house for all NASA-McDonnell contracts. The committee, of course, received a majority of its data from technical sources within the formal Space Task Group organization.
At an STG meeting, it was decided to begin planning of advanced spacecraft systems. Three primary assignments were made:
Robcrt R. Gilruth, Paul E. Purser, James A. Chamberlin, Maxime A. Faget, and H. Kurt Strass of STG met with a group from the Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation to discuss advanced spacecraft programs. Grumman had been working on guidance requirements for circumlunar flights under the sponsorship of the Navy and presented Strass with a report of this work.
McDonnell had been studying the concept of a maneuverable Mercury spacecraft since 1959. On February 1, Space Task Group (STG) Director Robert R. Gilruth assigned James A. Chamberlin, Chief, STG Engineering Division, who had been working with McDonnell on Mercury for more than a year, to institute studies with McDonnell on improving Mercury for future manned space flight programs. Additional Details: here....
A meeting to discuss Project Apollo plans and programs was held at NASA Headquarters. Abe Silverstein, Warren J. North, John H. Disher, and George M. Low of NASA Headquarters and Robert R. Gilruth, Walter C. Williams, Maxime A. Faget, James A. Chamberlin, and Robert O. Piland of STG participated in the discussions. Six prime contract areas were defined: spacecraft (command center), onboard propulsion, lunar landing propulsion, launch vehicle (probably several prime contracts), tracking and communications network, and launch facilities and equipment. The prime contractor for the spacecraft would be responsible for the design, engineering, and fabrication of the spacecraft; for the integration of the onboard and lunar landing propulsion systems: and for the integration of the entire spacecraft system with the launch vehicle. In connection with the prime contract, STG would:
James A. Chamberlin, Chief, Engineering Division, Space Task Group (STG), briefed Director Robert R. Gilruth, senior STG staff members, and George M. Low and John H. Disher of NASA Headquarters on McDonnell's advanced capsule design. The design was based on increased component and systems accessibility, reduced manufacturing and checkout time, easier pilot insertion and emergency egress procedures, greater reliability, and adaptability to a paraglide landing system. It departed significantly from Mercury capsule design in placing most components outside the pressure vessel and increasing retrograde and posigrade rocket performance. The group was reluctant to adopt what seemed to be a complete redesign of the Mercury spacecraft, but it decided to meet again on June 12 to review the most desirable features of the new design. After discussing most of these items at the second meeting, the group decided to ask McDonnell to study a minimum-modification capsule to provide an 18-orbit capability.
NASA Associate Administrator Robert C. Seamans, Jr., appointed members to the Source Evaluation Board to evaluate contractors' proposals for the Apollo spacecraft. Walter C. Williams of STG served as Chairman, and members included Robert O. Piland, Wesley L. Hjornevik, Maxime A. Faget, James A. Chamberlin, Charles W. Mathews, and Dave W. Lang, all of STG; George M. Low, Brooks C. Preacher, and James T. Koppenhaver (nonvoting member) from NASA Headquarters; and Oswald H. Lange from Marshall Space Flight Center. On November 2, Faget became the Chairman, Kenneth S. Kleinknecht was added as a member, and Williams was relieved from his assignment.
James A. Chamberlin and James T. Rose of STG proposed adapting the improved Mercury spacecraft to a 35,000-pound payload, including a 5,000-pound "lunar lander." This payload would be launched by a Saturn C-3 in the lunar orbit rendezvous mode. The proposal was in direct competition with the Apollo proposals that favored direct landing on the moon and involved a 150,000-pound payload launched by a Nova-class vehicle with approximately 12 million pounds of thrust.
Fred J. Sanders and three other McDonnell engineers arrived at Langley Research Center to help James A. Chamberlin and other Space Task Group (STG) engineers who had prepared a report on the improved Mercury concept, now known as Mercury Mark II. Then, with the assistance of Warren J. North of NASA Headquarters Office of Space Flight Programs, the STG group prepared a preliminary Project Development Plan to be submitted to NASA Headquarters. Although revised six times before the final version was submitted on October 27, the basic concepts of the first plan remained unchanged in formulating the program.
John C. Houbolt of Langley Research Center made a presentation to STG on rendezvous and the lunar orbit rendezvous plan. At this time James A. Chamberlin of STG requested copies of all of Houbolt's material because of the pertinence of this work to the Mercury Mark II program and other programs then under consideration.
James A. Chamberlin, Chief of Space Task Group (STG) Engineering Division, expecting approval of the Mark II spacecraft program within 30 days, urged STG Director Robert R. Gilruth to begin reorienting McDonnell, the proposed manufacturer, to the new program. To react quickly once the program was approved, McDonnell had to have an organization set up, personnel assigned, and adequate staffing ensured. Chamberlin suggested an amendment to the existing letter contract under which McDonnell had been authorized to procure items for Mercury Mark II. This amendment would direct McDonnell to devote efforts during the next 30 days to organizing and preparing to implement its Mark II role.
Space Task Group's Engineering Division Chief James A. Chamberlin and Director Robert R. Gilruth briefed NASA Associate Administrator Robert C. Seamans, Jr., at NASA Headquarters on the Mercury Mark II proposal. Specific approval was not granted, but Chamberlin and Gilruth left Washington convinced that program approval would be forthcoming.
Director Robert R. Gilruth of Manned Spacecraft Center (MSC) appointed James A. Chamberlin, Chief of Engineering Division, as Manager of Gemini Project Office (GPO). The next day MSC advised McDonnell, by amendment No. 1 to letter contract NAS 9-170, that GPO had been established. It was responsible for planning and directing all technical activities and all contractor activities within the scope of the contract.
Manned Spacecraft Center (MSC) formally reviewed McDonnell's engineering mock-up of the Gemini spacecraft in St Louis. The company had begun building the mock-up in January, shortly after receiving the spacecraft contract. Mock-up review had originally been scheduled for mid-July, but informal examinations by MSC representatives, including James A Chamberlin and several astronauts, had produced some suggested changes. The review itself resulted in McDonnell's receiving 167 requests for alterations. MSC inspected the revised mock-up in November.
NASA Headquarters' recent decision to cut the MSC budget for fiscal year 1963 from $687 million to $660 million. Wesley L. Hjornevik, Manned Spacecraft Center (MSC) Assistant Director for Administration, described to members of MSC's senior staff the implications of NASA Headquarters' recent decision to cut the MSC budget for fiscal year 1963 from $687 million to $660 million, the entire reduction to be borne by the Gemini program. Hjornevik feared that the Gemini budget, already tight, could absorb so large a cut only by dropping the paraglider, Agena, and all rendezvous equipment from the program. Gemini Project Office (GPO) reported that funding limitations had already forced Martin and McDonnell to reduce their level of activity. The first Gemini flight (unmanned) was rescheduled for December 1963, with the second (manned) to follow three months later, and subsequent flights at two-month intervals, with the first Agena (fifth mission) in August or September 1964. This four-month delay imposed by budget limitations required a large-scale reprogramming of Gemini development work, reflected chiefly in drastic reduction in the scale of planned test programs. Details of the necessary reprogramming had been worked out by December 20, when GPO Manager James A. Chamberlin reported that December 1963 was a realistic date for the first Gemini flight. Gemini funding for fiscal year 1963 totaled $232.8 million.
To stimulate contractor employees to better performance, Gemini Project Office Manager James A. Chamberlin suggested that astronauts visit with workers at various contractors' plants. Donald K Slayton, Astronaut Activities Office, informed Chamberlin that such visits would be made, beginning with the Martin Company in February 1963.
James A Chamberlin was reassigned from Manager of Project Gemini to Senior Engineering Advisor to Robert R Gilruth, Director of Manned Spacecraft Center. Charles W Mathews was reassigned from Chief, Spacecraft Technology Division, to Acting Manager of Project Gemini.
Director Robert R. Gilruth established the MSC Manned Spacecraft Criteria Board to set up engineering, design, and procedural standards for manned spacecraft and associated systems. The board was composed of Maxime A. Faget, Chairman; James A. Chamberlin; Kenneth S. Kleinknecht; F. John Bailey, Jr.; G. Barry Graves; Jacob C. Moser; and Norman F. Smith, Secretary. Board criteria would become MSC policy; and - unless specific waivers were obtained, compliance by project offices was mandatory.
The new membership of the MSC Manned Spacecraft Criteria and Standards Board, established September 4, 1963, was: F. John Bailey, Jr., Chairman; James W. Donnell, Secretary; James A. Chamberlin, Kenneth S. Kleinknecht, W. R. Durrett, William M. Bland, and Norman F. Smith.
A Development Engineering Inspection (DEI) was held on spacecraft 002 at North American, Downey, California. The NASA Board consisted of W. M. Bland, Jr., Chairman; R. H. Ridnour, J. Chamberlin, S. A. Sjoberg, F. J. Bailey, O. G. Morris, O. E. Maynard, and O. Tarango.
A total of 20 Request for Changes (RFCs) were submitted and reviewed; 12 of them resulted from the design review conducted at MSC prior to the DEI, and eight resulted from the inspection of the vehicle. The final disposition of the RFCs was: seven approved for immediate action; five approved for study; three rejected; and five determined not applicable.
The Development Engineering Inspection (DEI) for Little Joe II 12-51-3 was satisfactorily conducted at General Dynamics Convair, San Diego, Calif. The vehicle had been assigned for Mission A-004, an abort mission in the power-on tumbling boundary region. The DEI was conducted with emphasis on changes which had been effected as a result of the malfunction encountered during the A-003 mission. The following served on the DEI Board: J. A. Chamberlin, Chairman, S. A. Sjoberg, R. F. Gordon, F. J. Bailey, R. C. Duncan, W. M. Bland, R. A. Gardiner, and L. P. Gallagher, Secretary.
MSC's Director of Engineering and Development Maxime A. Faget, at the request of the ASPO Manager, established a Configuration Control Panel (CCP) for government furnished equipment (GFE). The panel would integrate control of changes in the GFE items supplied for the Apollo spacecraft. "Authority to bring change recommendations to the GFE Panel will be invested in Division Chiefs. Changes rejected by the Division Chiefs need not be reviewed by the GFE CCP," the memorandum establishing the panel said. Membership on the panel was as follows: Chairman, Maxime A. Faget; Alternate Chairman, James A. Chamberlin; Members, Richard S. Johnston, Robert A. Gardiner, R. W. Sawyer (sic), and William C. Bradford. Secretary would be John B. See.
An MSC meeting discussed environmental acceptance testing of Apollo spacecraft at the vehicle level. The meeting was attended by representatives of OMSF, MSC, and General Electric. Lad Warzecha presented results of a GE analysis of ground- and flight-test failures in a number of spacecraft programs. GE had concluded that a significant number of failures could be eliminated through complete vehicle environmental (vibration and thermal vacuum) acceptance testing and recommended such testing be included in the CSM and LM programs. James A. Chamberlin, MSC, presented a critique of the GE recommendations and found fault with the statistical approach to the GE analysis, indicating that each flight failure would have to be considered individually to reach valid conclusions. After considerable discussion ASPO Manager George M. Low said that he had reached the following conclusions: