Encyclopedia Astronautica
1966.02.01 - Douglas summary report covering the activities of three phases of the MORL study.


Douglas Aircraft Company submitted a summary report to LaRC covering the activities of three phases of the MORL study. General objectives of the MORL study were to (1) establish the feasibility of a manned research laboratory; (2) determine the required level of technical, logistic, and economic support; and (3) define a realistic space station program responsive to the needs of NASA and other government agencies in particular and the scientific community in general. The three phases of the study were Phase I (June-September 1963)-System Comparison and Selection Study of a MORL Phase IIa (December 1963-November 1964)-Optimization of the MORL System Concept Phase IIb (December 1964-February 1966)-Development of the MORL System Utilization Potential.

The feasibility of launching, operating, and maintaining a manned research laboratory was demonstrated in the Phase I study, and NASA selected one of the concepts investigated for further study. During the Phase IIa effort, the MORL concept was optimized to satisfy the requirements of a single, low-altitude, low-inclination orbital mission. This part of the study resulted in definition of an MORL concept that became the "baseline" system for the Phase IIb study. The major system elements of the baseline included: (1) a 660-cm-diameter laboratory launched by the Saturn IB into a 370-km orbit inclined at 28.72 degrees to the equator; (2) a Saturn IB- launched Apollo logistics vehicle, consisting of a modified Apollo command module, a service pack for rendezvous and reentry propulsion, and a multimission module for cargo, experiments, laboratory facility modification, or a spacecraft excursion propulsion system; and (3) supporting ground systems. The prime objective of the MORL Phase IIb study was to examine the utilization of the MORL system concept for accomplishing an expanded spectrum of space-related objectives typifying research programs of the 1970s. During this phase, Douglas was associated with several subcontractors whose areas of effort were as follows: Eclipse-Pioneer Division of Bendix, stabilization and control; Federal Systems Division of IBM, communications, data management, and ground support systems; Hamilton Standard Division of the United Aircraft Corporation, environmental control/life support; Stanford Research Institute, priority analysis of space- related objectives; Bissett-Berman, oceanography; Marine Advisors, oceanography; Aero Services, cartography and photogrammetry; Marquardt, propulsion; and TRW, propulsion. A thorough review of the MORL system was conducted to identify potentially critical research and technology requirements. These requirements were contained in the NASA-defined research and technology categories: Research-An activity directed toward an increase in basic scientific engineering knowledge. Advance Technology-Those activities required to advance the state of the art in the field of methods and techniques through the application of science and engineering. Advance Development-The activity of developing subsystems or components recognized to have long development lead times. Supporting Development Those activities leading to the development of backup or alternate systems, subsystems, components, and fabrication or testing techniques. The activities were further divided into the following technological categories. (1) Astronautics dealt with the problems of space flight, including aerothermodynamics, flight mechanics, vehicle dynamics, and navigation, as well as design criteria of a general nature. (2) Biotechnology considered the relationship of man to the vehicle, the environment, and the mission, including the environmental control and life support subsystem, crew environment criteria, crew systems, and crew training. (3) Flight Technology included communications, telemetry, and data processing subsystems. (4) Control Systems consisted of the technologies associated with direction and orientation of the laboratory such as guidance, stabilization and control, and reaction control. (5) Structures dealt with items pertaining to the mechanical design of the spacecraft, including materials technology, mechanical systems, and manufacturing and assembly techniques. (6) Power included the production, conditioning, and distribution of electrical power. The summary listed a number of tasks that had been identified within the aforementioned 10 categories, including some considered as applicable for the Apollo Applications Program. (For a list of these tasks, see Appendix 7.) Analysis of development problems in the program suggested that the critical functional subsystems were stabilization and control, environmental control and life support, and electric power.

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