Space Task Group (STG) issued a Statement of Work for a Design Study of a Manned Spacecraft Paraglide Landing System. The purpose of the study was to define and evaluate problem areas and to establish the design parameters of a system to provide spacecraft maneuverability and controlled energy descent and landing by aerodynamic lift. McDonnell was already at work on a modified Mercury spacecraft; the proposed paraglide study was to be carried on concurrently to allow the paraglide landing system to be incorporated as an integral subsystem. STG Director Robert R. Gilruth requested that contracts for the design study be negotiated with three companies which already had experience with the paraglide concept: Goodyear Aircraft Corporation, Akron, Ohio; North American Aviation, Inc., Space and Information Systems Division, Downey, California; and Ryan Aeronautical Company, San Diego, California. Each contract would be funded to a maximum of $100,000 for a study to be completed within two and one-half months from the date the contract was awarded. Gilruth expected one of these companies subsequently to be selected to develop and manufacture a paraglide system based on the approved design concept. In less than three weeks, contracts had been awarded to all three companies. Before the end of June, the design study formally became Phase I of the Paraglider Development Program.
James A. Chamberlin, Chief, Engineering Division, Space Task Group (STG), briefed Director Robert R. Gilruth, senior STG staff members, and George M. Low and John H. Disher of NASA Headquarters on McDonnell's advanced capsule design. The design was based on increased component and systems accessibility, reduced manufacturing and checkout time, easier pilot insertion and emergency egress procedures, greater reliability, and adaptability to a paraglide landing system. It departed significantly from Mercury capsule design in placing most components outside the pressure vessel and increasing retrograde and posigrade rocket performance. The group was reluctant to adopt what seemed to be a complete redesign of the Mercury spacecraft, but it decided to meet again on June 12 to review the most desirable features of the new design. After discussing most of these items at the second meeting, the group decided to ask McDonnell to study a minimum-modification capsule to provide an 18-orbit capability.
Manned Spacecraft Center notified North American to proceed with Phase II-A of the Paraglider Development Program. A letter contract, NAS 9-167, followed on November 21; contract negotiations were completed February 9, 1962; and the final contract was awarded on April 16, 1962. Phase I, the design studies that ran from the beginning of June to mid-August 1961, had already demonstrated the feasibility of the paraglider concept. Phase II-A, System Research and Development, called for an eight-month effort to develop the design concept of a paraglider landing system and to determine its optimal performance configuration. This development would lay the groundwork for Phase II, Part B, comprising prototype fabrication, unmanned and manned flight testing, and the completion of the final system design. Ultimately Phase III-Implementation-would see the paraglider being manufactured and pilots trained to fly it.
Representatives of the Space and Information Systems Division of North American, Langley Research Center, Flight Research Center (formerly High Speed Flight Station), and Manned Spacecraft Center met to discuss implementing Phase II-A of the Paraglider Development Program. They agreed that paraglider research and development would be oriented toward the Mercury Mark II project and that paraglider hardware and requirements should be compatible with the Mark II spacecraft. Langley Research Center would support the paraglider program with wind tunnel tests. Flight Research Center would oversee the paraglider flight test program. Coordination of the paraglider program would be the responsibility of Manned Spacecraft Center.
A week after receiving it, McDonnell accepted Letter Contract NAS 9-170 to 'conduct a research and development program which will result in the development to completion of a Two-Man Spacecraft.' McDonnell was to design and manufacture 12 spacecraft, 15 launch vehicle adapters, and 11 target vehicle docking adapters, along with static test articles and all ancillary hardware necessary to support spacecraft operations. Major items to be furnished by the Government to McDonnell to be integrated into the spacecraft were the paraglider, launch vehicle and facilities, astronaut pressure suits and survival equipment, and orbiting target vehicle. The first spacecraft, with launch vehicle adapter, was to be ready for delivery in 15 months, the remaining 11 to follow at 60-day intervals. Initial Government obligation under the contract was $25 million.
Representatives of McDonnell, North American, Manned Spacecraft Center, and NASA Headquarters met to begin coordinating the interface between spacecraft and paraglider. The first problem was to provide adequate usable stowage volume for the paraglider landing system within the spacecraft. The external geometry of the spacecraft had already been firmly established, so the problem narrowed to determining possible volumetric improvements within the spacecraft's recovery compartment.
Harold I. Johnson, Head of the Spacecraft Operations Branch of Manned Spacecraft Center's Flight Crew Operations Division, circulated a memorandum on proposed training devices for Project Gemini. A major part of crew training depended on several different kinds of trainers and simulators corresponding to various aspects of proposed Gemini missions. Overall training would be provided by the flight simulator, capable of simulating a complete mission profile including sight, sound, and vibration cues. Internally identical to the spacecraft, the flight simulator formed part of the mission simulator, a training complex for both flight crews and ground controllers that also included the mission control center and remote site displays. Training for launch and re-entry would be provided by the centrifuge at the Naval Air Development Center, Johnsville, Pennsylvania. A centrifuge gondola would be equipped with a mock-up of the Gemini spacecraft's interior. A static article spacecraft would serve as an egress trainer, providing flight crews with the opportunity to practice normal and emergency methods of leaving the spacecraft after landings on either land or water. To train flight crews in land landing, a boilerplate spacecraft equipped with a full-scale paraglider wing would be used in a flight program consisting of drops from a helicopter. A docking trainer, fitted with actual docking hardware and crew displays and capable of motion in six degrees of freedom, would train the flight crew in docking operations. Other trainers would simulate major spacecraft systems to provide training in specific flight tasks.
North American to develop an emergency parachute recovery system for flight test vehicles of the Paraglider Development Program. Manned Spacecraft Center directed North American to design and develop an emergency parachute recovery system for both the half-scale and full-scale flight test vehicles required by Phase II-A of the Paraglider Development Program. They further authorized North American to subcontract the emergency recovery system to Northrop Corporation's Radioplane Division, Van Nuys, California. North American awarded the $225,000 subcontract to Radioplane on March 16. This was one of two major subcontracts led by North American for Phase II-A. The other, for $227,000, went to Goodyear to study materials and test fabrics for inflatable structures.
Meeting to review the design and testing philosophy for the half-scale test vehicle (HSTV) in phase II-A. Representatives of North American, NASA Headquarters, Langley Research Center, Flight Research Center, Ames Research Center, and Manned Spacecraft Center met to review the design and testing philosophy for the half-scale test vehicle (HSTV) in phase II-A of the Paraglider Development Program. After the emergency parachute recovery system had been qualified, the HSTV would be used to evaluate paraglider stability and control in drop tests with the wing predeployed and to provide empirical data on the functioning of vehicle systems in deployment tests. At the end of the review, the NASA Half Scale Test Vehicle Design Review Board recommended 21 changes in test vehicle design and test procedures to North American.
James E. Webb, NASA's new Administrator, reviewed the Gemini program. Project Gemini cost estimates at this point ($744.3 million) had increased substantially over the original estimate of $250 million. Estimated spacecraft cost had risen from $240.5 to $391.6 million; Titan II cost, from $113.0 to $161.8 million; Atlas-Agena, from $88.0 to $106.3 million; and supporting development (including the paraglider program), from $29.0 to $36.8 million. Estimated operations costs had declined from $59.0 to $47.8 million.
Manned Spacecraft Center concurred in McDonnell's proposed sequencing of the paraglider recovery system. In a normal mission, the drogue parachute (a small parachute to pull the recovery compartment away from the spacecraft and strip the paraglider from the recovery compartment) would deploy at 60,000 feet, followed by the release of the rendezvous and recovery section at 50,000 feet. Starting at 10,000 feet, all reaction control system propellant remaining after the paraglider had been deployed would be dumped. The paraglider wing itself would be jettisoned shortly after touchdown. At this point, plans called for the paraglider to be used on all Gemini missions except the first.
Ames Research Center began the first wind tunnel test of the half-scale inflatable paraglider wing in support of the Paraglider Development Program. This was the first test of a large-scale inflatable paraglider wing in the full-scale test facility. Purpose of the test was to obtain basic aerodynamic and loads data for the combined wing/spacecraft system and to spot and evaluate potential aerodynamic and design problem areas. The flight regimes studied included wing deployment as well as glide, preflare, and flare. In the last stages of the test, the sail ripped. Since the basic objectives had already been achieved, and the failure occurred under conditions more stringent than any expected during flight testing, only minor corrective action was considered necessary and the test was not repeated. Testing ended July 25; at a paraglider landing system coordination meeting on July 26, the Ames test program was considered completed.
North American began a test program to qualify the emergency parachute system for the half-scale flight test vehicle required for Phase II-A of the Paraglider Development Program. The first two drop tests were successful (May 24, June 20); but during the third (July 10), the main recovery parachute failed to deploy. The trouble was analyzed and detailed modifications were worked out at a meeting on August 16 between North American and Northrop Ventura. The modifications proved successful in the fourth test (September 4), and Manned Spacecraft Center concurred with North American in judging the emergency parachute system for the half-scale test program to be qualified.
McDonnell was authorized to procure an additional boilerplate spacecraft for parachute landing system tests. The original plan called for McDonnell to use the boilerplate spacecraft fabricated by North American for qualification testing of the emergency parachute system for the paraglider drop tests. McDonnell estimated, however, that modifying the North American boilerplate would cost from $17,000, to $19,000, whereas a new boilerplate would cost from $10,000 to $12.000.
Manned Spacecraft Center authorized North American to go ahead with Phase II, Part B(1), of the Paraglider Development Program. Letter contract NAS 9-539 followed. Under this contract, North American was to design, build and test an advanced two-man paraglider trainer, to initiate a flight simulation program for pilot training, and to complete the design of a man-rated Gemini paraglider wing. The final contract was awarded on October 31, 1962.
A paraglider full-scale test vehicle Design Engineering Inspection was held at North American's Space and Information Systems Division in Downey, California. The Manned Spacecraft Center inspecting team reviewed the design of the full-scale paraglider wing, capsule, and associated equipment, as well as the test program and schedules for Phase II-A of the Paraglider Development Program. The team suggested 33 changes, mostly related to hardware.
The capability for successfully accomplishing water landings with either the parachute landing system or the paraglider landing system was established as a firm requirement for the Gemini spacecraft. The spacecraft would be required to provide for the safety of the crew and to be seaworthy during a water landing and a 36-hour postlanding period.
Gemini Project Office and North American agreed on guidelines for the design of the advanced paraglider trainer, the paraglider system to be used with static test article No. 2, and the paraglider system for the Gemini spacecraft. The most important of these guidelines was that redundancy would be provided for all critical operations.
North American began a test program to qualify the emergency parachute recovery system for the full-scale test vehicle in Phase II-A of the Paraglider Development Program. The first test was successful. In the second test (August 22), one of the three main parachutes was lost after deployment, but no damage resulted. In the third test (September 7), only minor damage was sustained despite the loss of two parachutes. The test series ended on November 15 when all recovery parachutes separated from the spacecraft immediately after deployment and the test vehicle was destroyed on impact. Manned Spacecraft Center decided to terminate this portion of the test program but directed McDonnell to supply North American with a boilerplate spacecraft for further tests at a later date.
North American began flight tests of the half-scale vehicle (HSTV) in Phase II-A of the Paraglider Development Program two months behind schedule. The instrumented HSTV with the paraglider predeployed was towed aloft by helicopter. Objectives of the predeployed flights were to evaluate flight performance, longitudinal and lateral control characteristics, effectiveness of control, and the flare maneuver capability of the paraglider. Despite various minor malfunctions in all five test flights (August 14, 17, 23, September 17, and October 23, 1962), test results verified the stability of the wing/vehicle combination in free flight and the adequacy of control effectiveness.
He replaced N. F. Witte, who remained as Assistant Program Manager. This organizational change reflected the elevation of work on paraglider from project to program status within North American's Space and Information Systems Division. The paraglider program achieved operating division status three months later when Jeffs was appointed Vice President of Space and Information Systems Division.
NASA Headquarters' recent decision to cut the MSC budget for fiscal year 1963 from $687 million to $660 million. Wesley L. Hjornevik, Manned Spacecraft Center (MSC) Assistant Director for Administration, described to members of MSC's senior staff the implications of NASA Headquarters' recent decision to cut the MSC budget for fiscal year 1963 from $687 million to $660 million, the entire reduction to be borne by the Gemini program. Hjornevik feared that the Gemini budget, already tight, could absorb so large a cut only by dropping the paraglider, Agena, and all rendezvous equipment from the program. Gemini Project Office (GPO) reported that funding limitations had already forced Martin and McDonnell to reduce their level of activity. The first Gemini flight (unmanned) was rescheduled for December 1963, with the second (manned) to follow three months later, and subsequent flights at two-month intervals, with the first Agena (fifth mission) in August or September 1964. This four-month delay imposed by budget limitations required a large-scale reprogramming of Gemini development work, reflected chiefly in drastic reduction in the scale of planned test programs. Details of the necessary reprogramming had been worked out by December 20, when GPO Manager James A. Chamberlin reported that December 1963 was a realistic date for the first Gemini flight. Gemini funding for fiscal year 1963 totaled $232.8 million.
North American began deployment flight testing of the half-scale test vehicle (HSTV) in Phase II-A of the Paraglider Development Program. The HSTV was carried aloft slung beneath a helicopter. The main purpose of the deployment flight tests was to investigate problem areas in the transition from release of the rendezvous and recovery canister to glide - the ejection, inflation, and deployment of the paraglider wing. The first flight partially substantiated the feasibility of the basic deployment sequence, but emergency recovery procedures were necessary. In the second test (January 8, 1963), the sail disintegrated, and in the third (March 11), the rendezvous and recovery canister failed to separate. In both instances, attempts to recover the vehicle with the emergency system were thwarted when the main parachute failed to deploy, and both vehicles were destroyed on impact.
Design Engineering Inspection of the full-scale test vehicle (FSTV) for Phase II-A of the Paraglider Development Program. Representatives of Manned Spacecraft Center, NASA Headquarters, Flight Research Center, Langley Research Center, and Ames Research Center conducted a Design Engineering Inspection of the full-scale test vehicle (FSTV) for Phase II-A of the Paraglider Development Program. As conceived during Phase I of the program, the FSTVs (the contract called for two) were to be a means of meeting a twofold objective: (1) the development of systems and techniques for wing deployment and (2) the evaluation of flight performance and control characteristics during glide. After reviewing flight test objectives, test vehicle hardware, and electrical and electronic systems, the inspecting team submitted 24 requests for alterations to North American.
A 10-percent fluctuating-pressure model of the Gemini spacecraft completed its exit configuration test program in the mach number range of 0.6 to 2.5, the region of maximum dynamic pressure. On January 15, 1963, a Gemini spacecraft dynamics stability model also completed its test program providing dynamic stability coefficients for the spacecraft reentry at mach numbers 3.0 to 10. These tests completed all the originally scheduled wind tunnel testing for Project Gemini; however, three additional test programs had been initiated. These included additional testing of the spacecraft 20-percent ejection seat model, testing of the astronaut ballute model to obtain data for design of the astronaut stabilization system, and testing of the rigid frame paraglider model to determine optimum sail configuration.
Design Engineering Inspection of the advanced trainer for the Paraglider Development Program, Phase II-B. Representatives of Manned Spacecraft Center, NASA Headquarters, Flight Research Center, Langley Research Center, and Ames Research Center conducted a Design Engineering Inspection of the advanced trainer for the Paraglider Development Program, Phase II-B(1). North American received 36 requests for alterations.
These included onboard controlled reentry for all aborts, except in the event of guidance and control system failure; onboard selection of one of the emergency abort target areas; navigational accuracy to a two-mile radius error at the point of impact; and crew capability to eject from the spacecraft with the paraglider deployed.
North American received a letter contract for Phase III, Part I, of the Paraglider Development Program, to produce a Gemini paraglider landing system. This contract was subsequently incorporated as Change No. 6 to Contract NAS 9-539, Phase II-B(1) of the Paraglider Development Program.
Astronaut trainees concluded their formal academic training with a course on orbital mechanics and flight dynamics. Flight crew personnel had been receiving basic science training for two days a week over the past four months. During this period, they also received Gemini spacecraft and launch vehicle familiarization courses and visited several contractor facilities, including McDonnell, Martin, Aerojet, and Lockheed. Among subjects studied were astronomy, physics of the upper atmosphere and space, global meteorology, selenology, guidance and navigation, computers, fluid mechanics, rocket propulsion systems, aerodynamics, communications, environmental control systems, and medical aspects of space flight. Flight-crew training plans for the rest of the year, which were being formulated during February, called for space science and technology seminars, celestial recognition training, monitoring the Mercury-Atlas 9 flight, weightless flying, pressure suit indoctrination, parachute jumping, survival training, instruction in spacecraft systems and launch support, paraglider flying, centrifuge experience, docking practice, and work with the flight simulator.
Gemini Project Office (GPO) published a bar chart depicting preflight check-out of the Gemini spacecraft in the industrial area at Cape Canaveral. The chart outlined tests on all sections of the spacecraft, the target docking adapter, and the paraglider, from initial receiving inspection through completion of preparations for movement to the launch pad. GPO expected industrial testing to take about 90 working days, based on two full shifts of testing per day and a third shift of partial testing and partial maintenance.
A series of problems in the Paraglider Development Program culminated in the loss of a second half-scale test vehicle in a deployment flight test. As early as October 19, 1962, budget pressure had prompted some consideration of dropping a paraglider from the Gemini Program. Additional Details: here....
North American let the first of three major subcontracts for the Gemini Paraglider Landing System Program to Northrop for a parachute recovery system in the amount of $461,312. A $1,034,003 subcontract for the paraglider control actuation assembly went to the Aerospace Division of Vickers, Inc., Detroit, Michigan, on March 25. The third major subcontract, $708,809 for the paraglider electronic control system, was let to the Aeronautical Division of Minneapolis-Honeywell on May 13.
NASA Headquarters approved rescheduling of the Gemini flight program as proposed by Gemini Project Office (GPO). Late delivery of the spacecraft systems coupled with the unexpectedly small number of Mercury systems incorporated in the Gemini spacecraft had forced GPO to review the flight program critically. In the revised program, the first flight was still set for December 1963 and was still to be unmanned, but it was now to be orbital rather than suborbital to flight-qualify launch vehicle subsystems and demonstrate the compatibility of the launch vehicle and spacecraft; no separation or recovery was planned. The second mission, originally a manned orbital flight, now became an unmanned suborbital ballistic flight schedule for July 1964. Its primary objection was to test spacecraft reentry under maximum heating-rate reentry conditions; it would also qualify the launch vehicle and all spacecraft systems required for manned orbital flight. The third flight, formerly planned as a manned orbital rendezvous mission, became the first manned flight, a short-duration (probably three-orbit) systems evaluation flight scheduled for October 1964. Subsequent flights were to follow at three-month intervals, ending in January 1967. Rendezvous terminal maneuvers were planned for missions 3 (if flight duration permitted) and 4, a seven-day mission using a rendezvous pod. The sixth flight was to be a 14-day long-duration mission identical to 4 except that no rendezvous maneuver missions with the Atlas-launched Agena D target vehicle. Water landing by parachute was planned for the first six flights and land landing by paraglider from flight 7 on.
Work under the contract was to be completed by May 1, 1964, and initial funding was $6.7 million. This contract reflected a reorientation of the paraglider program. Its primary purpose was to develop a complete paraglider landing system and to define all the components of such a system. Among the major tasks this entailed were: (1) completing the design, development, and testing of paraglider subsystems and building and maintaining mock-ups of the vehicle and its subsystems; (2) modifying the paraglider wings procured under earlier contracts to optimize deployment characteristics and designing a prototype wing incorporating aerodynamic improvements; (3) modifying the two full-scale test vehicles produced under Contract NAS 9-167 to incorporate prototype paraglider landing system hardware, modifying the Advanced Paraglider Trainer produced under Contract NAS 9-539 to a tow test vehicle, and fabricating a new, second tow test vehicle; and (4) conducting a flight test program including half-scale tow tests, full-scale boilerplate parachute tests, full-scale deployment tests, and tow test vehicle flight tests. Contract negotiations were completed on July 12, and the final contract was dated September 25, 1963.
North American began testing the half-scale two test vehicle (HSTTV) for the Paraglider Landing System Program. The first series of tests, 121 ground tows, ended on July 29. Various wing angle settings and attach points were used to provide preliminary data for rigging analysis and dynamic tow characteristics. The HSTTV was then delivered to Edwards Air Force Base on August 19, where Flight Research Center began its own series of ground tows on August 20. This series of 133 runs was concluded in September and was followed by 11 helicopter tow tests in October. Primary test objectives were to investigate paraglider liftoff characteristics, helicopter tow techniques, and the effects of wind-bending during high speed tows.
North American began a series of five drop tests, using a boilerplate test vehicle, to qualify the parachute recovery system for the full-scale test vehicle in the Paraglider Landing System Program. The reoriented paraglider program had begun with two successful bomb-drop tests of the parachute recovery system on May 22 and June 3. The first boilerplate drop test saw both the main parachute and the boilerplate suffer minor damage; but boilerplate drops No. 2 (July 2), No. 3 (July 12), and No. 4 (July 18) were successful. A series of malfunctions in the fifth drop test on July 30 produced a complete failure of the recovery system, and the test vehicle was destroyed on impact. North American considered the objectives of the flight qualification program on the parachute system to have been met, despite this failure, and requested, since the boilerplate vehicle had been damaged beyond repair, that the parachute program be considered complete. Manned Spacecraft Center denied this request and, in Change Notice No. 3 to contract NAS 9-1484, directed North American to support McDonnell in conducting two further drop tests. Wind tunnel tests on a 1/20-scale spacecraft model isolated the source of trouble, and the modified parachute recovery system was successfully tested with a new boilerplate test vehicle on November 12. Results from this test were confirmed by a second drop test on December 3, and the parachute recovery system for the full-scale test vehicle was judged and fully qualified.
In support of the Paraglider Landing System Program, Ames Research Center began wind tunnel tests of a half-scale paraglider test vehicle. Principle objectives of these tests were to obtain data on the longitudinal aerodynamic characteristics, lateral aerodynamic stability characteristics, and the static deployment characteristics of the new low-lobe wing which North American and NASA had jointly agreed on. The new configuration was expected to present lateral stability problems. This series of tests ended August 8.
Design Engineering Inspection of the full-scale test vehicle for the Paraglider Landing System Program. A Design Engineering Inspection of the full-scale test vehicle (FSTV), with associated wing and hardware, for the Paraglider Landing System Program was held at North American's Space and Information Systems Division. This was the first such inspection under the new paraglider contract, NAS 9-1484. Under this contract, the two FSTVs were to be used solely to develop systems and techniques for wing deployment. As originally conceived, they were also to provide the means of evaluating flight performance and control characteristics during glide; but this objective was dropped to minimize cost and to simplify vehicle systems. The inspection resulted in 30 requests for alterations, most of them mandatory.
A Development Engineering Inspection of the tow test vehicle (TTV), its associated wings, hardware, and mock-up, for the Paraglider Landing System Program was held at North American's Space and Information Systems Division. The TTVs (the contract called for two) were manned vehicles to be flown with the wing predeployed to evaluate flight performance and control with particular emphasis on the landing maneuvers. The inspection resulted in 33 requests for alteration, 24 of them mandatory.
North American stopped its effort to retrofit the full-scale test vehicle (FSTV) to Gemini prototype paraglider deployment hardware. The contract for the Paraglider Landing System Program had provided for North American to incorporate Gemini equipment, insofar as possible, in the FSTV as it became available - this was the so-called retrofit. The decision to stop work on retrofit was made at a conference between North American and NASA on September 26; retrofit was deleted as a contract requirement on November 7 by Change Notice No. 5 to Contract NAS 9-1484.
North American completed work on the first full-scale prototype paraglider wing for the Paraglider Landing System Program and shipped it to Ames Research Center for wind tunnel tests. Test objectives were to determine the longitudinal aerodynamic characteristics, structural deflections, and spreader bar buckling limits of the full-scale wing. Testing ended October 28 but yielded very limited data. As a result, a second test of the full-scale wing was conducted from December 4 to December 9; this time all test objectives were met.
North American finished modifying the Advanced Paraglider Trainer to a full scale tow test vehicle (TTV), as required by the Paraglider Landing System Program. The vehicle was then shipped to Edwards Air Force Base, where ground tow tests began on December 28. Preliminary ground tow testing was completed on January 14, 1964. The second TTV was completed on January 28 and shipped to Edwards on February 14. Further ground tow tests were conducted through June. Installation of flightworthy control system hardware began in April.
Manned Spacecraft Center (MSC) began a drop-test program over Galveston Bay using a helicopter-towed paraglider half-scale tow test vehicle to investigate trim conditions and stability characteristics indifferent deployment configurations. The first drop successfully tested the U-shaped deployment configuration. The second test (November 19) was abortive, but damage was slight. The third test (November 26) was also abortive, and the wing was damaged beyond repair on impact. MSC procured another wing from North American and conducted a fourth test, partially successful, on December 19. No further tests were conducted.
North American began deployment flights of the full-scale test vehicle for the Paraglider Landing System Program. The contract called for 20 tests to demonstrate deployment of the full-scale wing from the rendezvous and recovery can, followed by glide and radio-controlled maneuvering; each test was to be terminated by release of the wing and recovery by the emergency parachute system (which had been qualified on December 3, 1963). Additional Details: here....
George E. Mueller, NASA Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight, informed the staff of the Gemini Project Office (GPO) that all 12 Gemini flights would end in water landings, although Project Gemini Quarterly Report No. 8 for the period ending February 29, 1964, still listed the paraglider for the last three Gemini missions. Additional Details: here....
Representatives of NASA, McDonnell, Weber Aircraft, and Air Force 6511th Test Group met to define the basic objectives of a program to demonstrate the functional reliability of the Gemini personnel recovery system under simulated operational conditions. Such a program had been suggested at a coordination meeting on the ejection seat system on October 30, 1963. The planned program called for the recovery system to be ejected from an F-106 aircraft, beginning with a static ground test in September, to demonstrate compatibility between the recovery system and the aircraft. Two full system tests, using a production configuration recovery system, would complete the program in about a month. The program was delayed by the unavailability of pyrotechnics. The static ground test was successfully conducted October 15, using pyrotechnics from the paraglider tow test vehicle (TTV) seat. The TTV seat pyrotechnics were adequate to demonstrate system/aircraft compatibility but lacked certain items required for full system test. Full system testing accordingly did not begin until January 28, 1965.
North American conducted the first tow test vehicle (TTV) captive-flight test required by the Paraglider Landing System Program. A helicopter towed the TTV to 2600 feet. After about 20 minutes of total flight time, the test pilot brought the TTV to a smooth three-point landing. The tow cable was released immediately after touchdown, the wing about four seconds later. This highly successful flight was followed on August 7 by a free-flight test that was much less successful. After the TTV was towed by helicopter to 15,500 feet and released, it went into a series of uncontrolled turns, and the pilot was forced to bail out. North American then undertook a test program to isolate the malfunction and correct it, including 14 radio-controlled, half-scale TTV test flights between August 24 and December 13. Two highly successful radio-controlled, full-scale TTV free flights on December 15 and 17 justified another attempted pilot-controlled flight on December 19, with excellent results.
NASA advised North American that no funds were available for further flight testing in the Paraglider Landing System Program, following completion of full-scale test vehicle flight test No. 25. NASA did authorize North American to use the test vehicles and equipment it had for a contractor-supported flight test program. North American conducted a two-week test program which culminated in a highly successful manned tow-test vehicle flight on December 19.