Encyclopedia Astronautica
1968.08.19 - Changes in planning for Apollo flights


In a Mission Preparation Directive sent to the three manned space flight Centers, NASA Apollo Program Director Samuel C. Phillips stated that the following changes would be effected in planning and preparation for Apollo flights:

Apollo-Saturn 503
  • Assignment of Saturn V 503, CSM 103, and LM-3 to Mission D was canceled.

  • Saturn V 503 would be prepared to carry CSM 103 and LTA (LM test article)-B on a manned CSM-only mission to be designated the C prime mission.

  • The objectives and profile of the C prime mission would be developed to provide maximum gain consistent with standing flight safety requirements. Studies would be carried out and plans prepared so as to provide reasonable flexibility in establishing final mission objectives.

  • All planning and preparations for the C prime mission would proceed toward launch readiness on December 6, 1968.
Apollo-Saturn 504
Saturn V 504, CSM 104, and LM-3 were assigned to the D mission, scheduled for launch readiness no earlier than February 20, 1969. The crew assigned to the D mission would remain assigned to that mission. The crew assigned to the E mission (Frank Borman, James A. Lovell, Jr., and William Anders) would be reassigned to the C prime mission. Training and equipping the C prime crews and operational preparations would proceed as required to meet mission requirements and to meet the newly established flight readiness date.

A memorandum from the ASPO Manager on September 3 summarized the basic and alternate missions for which detailed planning and preparation would be performed. In the basic earth-orbital C prime mission the vehicle configuration would consist of the Saturn V 503 with a payload of 39,780 kilograms (CSM 103 and LTA-B with the service propulsion subsystem fully loaded). Insertion would be into low circular orbit of the earth. The earth-parking-orbit activities would include crew and ground support exercises related to spacecraft system checkout and preparation for translunar injection (TLI; i.e., transfer into a trajectory toward the moon). CSM separation maneuver would occur before TLI.

Alternate earth-orbital missions would include a manned TLI burn to a 6440-km apogee or an SPS burn to achieve a 6,440-km apogee. An alternate lunar orbit mission would include mission planning, crew training, spacecraft hardware, and software to support the mission. In providing support, top priority would be assigned to the lunar orbit mission. The memo indicated that following TLI, simulated transposition and docking maneuvers would be conducted; midcourse corrections and star horizon/ star landmark sightings would be performed during the translunar coast; lunar orbit insertion would be accomplished and a lunar parking orbit established for 20 hours.

On September 13, MSC Director of Flight Operations Christopher C. Kraft affirmed that the impact of supporting the described mission plan had been assessed and no constraints were seen to prevent meeting the launch readiness date. He added that the lunar parking orbit would be established during the course of two elliptic orbits and would be of 16 hours duration, thus giving a total lunar vicinity time of 20 hours.

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