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CSM Fuel Cell
Part of Apollo Spacecraft Systems Development Diaries Family
CSM Fuel Cell Development Diary - The Apollo fuel cells were specified from the dawn of the program.....the explosion of a fuel cell tank on Apollo 13 would nearly result in the first in-flight loss of life in the American space program





1962 March 8 - .
  • Contract for the Apollo spacecraft fuel cell to Pratt & Whitney - . Nation: USA. Program: Apollo. Spacecraft: Apollo CSM, CSM Fuel Cell. NAA awarded a development contract for the Apollo spacecraft fuel cell to Pratt & Whitney Aircraft Division of United Aircraft Corporation..

1962 March 15-16 - .
  • First monthly meeting of the Apollo design and review team to survey NAA's progress - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Faget, Kraft, Maynard. Program: Apollo. Spacecraft: Apollo CSM, CSM Fuel Cell, CSM Heat Shield.

    Charles W. Frick, Manager of the MSC Apollo Spacecraft Project Office, together with Maxime A. Faget, Charles W. Mathews, Christopher C. Kraft, Jr., John B. Lee, Owen E. Maynard, and Alan B. Kehlet of MSC and George M. Low of the NASA Office of Manned Space Flight, visited NAA at Downey, Calif. This was the first monthly meeting of the Apollo design and review team to survey NAA's progress in various areas, including the Apollo spacecraft heatshield, fuel cells, and service module.


1962 April - .
  • Changes in the Apollo environmental control system (ECS) - . Nation: USA. Program: Apollo. Spacecraft: Apollo CSM, CSM Fuel Cell, CSM Recovery.

    NAA studies resulted in significant changes in the command module environmental control system (ECS).

    1. Among modifications in the ECS schematic were included:
      1. Reduction in the cooling water capacity
      2. Combining into one command module tank the potable water and cooling water needed during boost
      3. Elimination of the water blanket for radiation protection.
    2. More water would be generated by the fuel cells than necessary and could be dumped to decrease lunar landing and lunar takeoff weight.
    3. Airlock valving requirements would permit two or more crewmen to perform extravehicular operation simultaneously. Area control of the space radiator to prevent coolant freezing was specified.
    4. A new concept to integrate heat rejection from the spacecraft power system and the ECS into one space radiator subsystem was developed. This subsystem would provide full versatility for both lunar night and lunar day conditions and would decrease weight and complexity.
    5. Because of the elimination of the lunar supplemental refrigeration system and deployable radiators, the water-glycol coolant system was modified:
      1. Removal from the service module of the coolant loop regenerative heat exchanger
      2. Replacement by a liquid valving arrangement of the gas-leak check provision at the radiator panels
      3. Changeover to a completely cascaded system involving the suit-circuit heat exchanger, cabin heat exchanger, and electronic component coldplate.
    In addition, a small, regenerative heat exchanger was added in the command module to preheat the water-glycol. A separate coolant branch to the inertial measurement unit section of the electronic system provided for the more critical cooling task required in that area.

1962 May - .
  • Study of integrating the Apollo fuel cell and environmental control heat rejection systems - . Nation: USA. Program: Apollo. Spacecraft: Apollo CSM, CSM Fuel Cell.

    NAA evaluated the possibility of integrating the fuel cell and environmental control system heat rejection into one system. The integrated system proved to be unsatisfactory, being 300 pounds heavier and considerably more complex than the two separate systems. A preliminary design of separate fuel cell radiators, possibly located on the service module, was started by NAA.


1962 July 16 - .
  • Beech selected build the Apollo fuel cell vessels - . Nation: USA. Program: Apollo. Spacecraft: Apollo CSM, CSM Fuel Cell. Beech Aircraft Corporation was selected by NASA to build the spherical pressure vessels that would be used to store in the supercritical state the hydrogen-oxygen reactants for the spacecraft fuel cell power supply..

1962 August - .
  • Decision to redesign Apollo command module fuel cell radiator - . Nation: USA. Program: Apollo. Spacecraft: Apollo CSM, CSM Fuel Cell. A final decision was made by NAA to redesign the command module fuel cell radiator and associated tubing to accommodate a 30-psi maximum pressure drop. Pratt & Whitney Aircraft Division agreed to redesign their pump for this level..

1962 September - .
  • Three fuel cells to supply power for Apollo - . Nation: USA. Program: Apollo. Spacecraft: Apollo CSM, CSM Fuel Cell.

    MSC reported that the three liquid-hydrogen-liquid-oxygen fuel cells would supply the main and emergency power through the Apollo mission except for the earth reentry phase. Two of the fuel cells would carry normal electrical loads and one would supply emergency power. Performance predictions had been met and exceeded in single-cell tests. Complete module tests would begin during the next quarter. The liquid-hydrogen liquid-oxygen reactants for the fuel cell power supply were stored in the supercritical state in spherical pressure vessels. A recent decision had been made to provide heat input to the storage vessels with electrical heaters rather than the water-glycol loop. Three zinc-silver oxide batteries would supply power for all the electrical loads during reentry and during the brief periods of peak loads. One of the batteries was reserved exclusively for the postlanding phase. Eagle Picher Company, Joplin, Mo., had been selected in August as subcontractor for the batteries.


1963 December 19 - .
  • First three prototype Apollo fuel cells delivered - . Nation: USA. Program: Apollo. Spacecraft: Apollo CSM, CSM Fuel Cell. Pratt and Whitney Aircraft delivered the first three prototype-A fuel cells to North American..

1964 January 15 - .
  • First Apollo fuel cell delivered by Pratt and Whitney - . Nation: USA. Program: Apollo. Spacecraft: Apollo CSM, CSM Fuel Cell.

    The first fuel cell module delivered by Pratt and Whitney Aircraft to North American was started and put on load. The module operated normally and all test objectives were accomplished. Total operating time was four hours six minutes, with one hour at each of four loads-20, 30, 40, and 50 amperes. The fuel cell was shut down without incident and approximately 1,500 cubic centimeters (1.6 quarts) of water were collected.


1964 February 17 - .
  • During a lunar mission, fuel cells in the Apollo CSM would produce 220 liters of potable water - . Nation: USA. Program: Apollo. Spacecraft: Apollo CSM, CSM Fuel Cell. MSC announced that, during a 14-day lunar mission, fuel cells in the Apollo CSM would produce about 220 liters (60 gallons) of potable water while furnishing power to operate the electronic equipment..

1964 February 20-26 - .
  • Three tests on the Apollo CSM fuel cell - . Nation: USA. Program: Apollo. Spacecraft: Apollo LM, CSM Fuel Cell, LM Electrical.

    North American conducted three tests (4, 20, and 88 hours) on the CSM fuel cell. The third ended prematurely because of a sudden drop in output. (Specification life on the modules was 100 hours.)

    During this same week, Pratt and Whitney Aircraft tested a LEM-type fuel cell for 400 hours without shutdown and reported no leaks.


1964 October 16-November 15 - .
  • Three Apollo fuel cells operated in a simulated space vacuum - . Nation: USA. Program: Apollo. Spacecraft: Apollo CSM, CSM Fuel Cell. Three Pratt and Whitney fuel cells were operated in a simulated space vacuum at North American for 19, 20, and 21 hours. This was the first time three cells were operated as an electrical power generating subsystem..

1964 November 10 - .
  • First firing of the service propulsion system engine - . Nation: USA. Program: Apollo. Spacecraft: Apollo CSM, CSM Fuel Cell.

    Joseph G. Thibodaux, Jr., MSC Propulsion and Power Division, reported at an Apollo Engineering and Development technical management meeting that the first J-2 firing of the service propulsion system engine was conducted at White Sands Missile Range (WSMR). Two fuel cell endurance tests of greater than 400 hours were completed at Pratt and Whitney. MSC would receive a single cell for testing during the month.


1965 March 29-April 4 - .
  • All acceptance tests of Apollo hydrogen and oxygen tanks stopped - . Nation: USA. Program: Apollo. Spacecraft: Apollo CSM, CSM Fuel Cell.

    Beech Aircraft Corporation stopped all end-item acceptance tests of hydrogen and oxygen tanks as a result of interim failure reports issued against three tanks undergoing tests. Failures ranged from exceeding specification tolerances and failure to meet heat leak requirements to weld failure on the H2 tank. Beech would resume testing when corrective action was established and approved by North American.


1965 April 16-May 15 - .
  • North American halted testing on the hydrogen tanks for the Apollo CSM - . Nation: USA. Program: Apollo. Spacecraft: Apollo CSM, CSM Fuel Cell. North American halted testing on the hydrogen tanks for the CSM, produced by Beech, because of weld failures. Testing on a redesigned tank assembly began on May 8..

1965 June 16 - .
  • Total Apollo fuel cell effort reduced - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Shea. Program: Apollo. Spacecraft: Apollo CSM, CSM Fuel Cell.

    The net effect of a decision by ASPO Manager Joseph F. Shea in May was that the total fuel cell effort at both Pratt and Whitney and North American should be no more than $9.7 million during FY 1966. The decision as to the distribution of the funds was left to the discretion of the fuel cell subsystem manager.


1966 January 8-11 - .
  • First Apollo fuel cell system test at White Sands - . Nation: USA. Program: Apollo. Spacecraft: Apollo CSM, CSM Fuel Cell.

    The first fuel cell system test at White Sands Test Facility was conducted successfully. Primary objectives were: 1 to verify the capability of the ground support equipment and operational checkout procedure to start up, operate, and shut down a single fuel cell power plant; and 2 to evaluate fuel cell operations during cold gimbaling of the service propulsion engine.


1966 November 4 - .
  • Concern over the extensive damage to Apollo fuel cell modules from operational errors - . Nation: USA. Program: Apollo. Spacecraft: Apollo CSM, CSM Fuel Cell.

    NASA Apollo Program Director Samuel C. Phillips indicated his concern to MSC over the extensive damage to a number of fuel cell modules from operational errors during integrated system testing. Phillips pointed out that in addition to the added cost there was a possible impact on the success of the flight program. He emphasized the importance of standardizing the procedures for fuel cell activation and shutdown at North American Aviation, MSC, and KSC to maximize learning opportunities.


1967 May 31 - .
  • Apollo fuel cell system failure actions - . Nation: USA. Program: Apollo. Spacecraft: Apollo CSM, CSM Fuel Cell.

    George M. Low told Joseph N. Kotanchik, Chief of MSC's Structures and Mechanics Division, that actions were pending on Pratt & Whitney pressure vessel failures. The pressure vessels were used in the Apollo fuel cell system. Kotanchik had spelled out a list of problem areas in connection with both the vessels and management interface between MSC and principal contractor North American Aviation, and between North American and its subcontractor Pratt & Whitney.


1970 April 19 - .
1970 November 24 - .

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