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