Encyclopedia Astronautica
1968.05.13 - Fire-in-the-hole test of the Apollo LM ascent engine issue deferred


During an Apollo flight test program review at MSC, the question was left unresolved whether or not to perform a "fire-in-the-hole" test of the LM ascent engine (i.e., start the engine at the same instant the two stages of the spacecraft were disjoined - as the engine would have to be fired upon takeoff from the lunar surface) on either the D or E mission.

At the review, several participants had suggested that the test be performed on the D mission because that would be the last Apollo flight containing development flight instrumentation (DFI). Later that day, ASPO Manager George M. Low met with several of the Center's Associate Directors (Christopher C. Kraft, Jr., Donald K. Slayton, and Maxime A. Faget) to pursue the issue further. At that time, Faget stated that, although desirable, DFI was not essential for the test objective. Most important, he said, was obtaining photographs of the base of the ascent engine following the burn. In view of Faget's contention - and because the fire-in-the-hole test added greatly to the complexity and risk of the D mission at the time the engine was first fired in space, Low and the others agreed not to include such an ascent engine burn in the flight. Low asked Faget to analyze ascent engine test experience and results of the LM-1 ascent engine burn before making any decision on such a test during the E mission.

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