Encyclopedia Astronautica
1966.07.07 - Three separate study efforts within NASA evaluating the S-IVB stage as a manned laboratory.


In a memorandum to Headquarters staff members, Advanced Manned Missions Program Director Edward Z. Gray summarized the three separate study efforts underway within NASA directed toward evaluating the S-IVB stage as a manned laboratory: (1) The spent-stage experiment support module (SSESM) study, a joint effort by MSC and MSFC. (2) A spent S-IVB-stage utilization study at MSFC. (3) A Saturn V single-launch space station.

Gray noted that the SSESM study had as its chief objective an airlock and attendant subsystems to support an early spent-stag-e laboratory to conduct 30-day, three-man flights. The second study, to be initiated following competition, sought to examine concepts for an advanced spent- stage laboratory dependent upon regular resupply. The last approach, approval for which had yet to be gained, Gray called the ''brute force" approach to a space station. In this concept, to achieve a one-year space station, the S-IVB stage was to be launched by a Saturn V and would not be required to perform as a propulsive stage. No resupply would be necessary except for experiments and crew rotation, and existing subsystems could be employed. Gray emphasized how crucial it was that ongoing and planned study efforts compare the advantages and disadvantages of simple spent-stage concepts, more sophisticated spent stages, and brute-force stations to accomplish the experiments under development. In this manner, when budgetary decisions must be made during forthcoming years, the agency would not be faced with, as Gray said, "a succession of pallet/LEM-lab/workshop-type problems with insufficient information to make sound choices."

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