Langley Research Center simulated spacecraft flights at speeds of 8,200 to 8,700 feet per second in approaching the moon's surface. With instruments preset to miss the moon's surface by 40 to 80 miles, pilots with control of thrust and torques about all three axes of the craft learned to establish orbits 10 to 90 miles above the surface, using a graph of vehicle rate of descent and circumferential velocity, an altimeter, and vehicle attitude and rate meters, as reported by Manuel J. Queijo and Donald R. Riley of Langley.
Grumman began "Lunar Hover and Landing Simulation IIIA," a series of tests simulating a LEM landing. Crew station configuration and instrument panel layout were representative of the actual vehicle.
Through this simulation, Grumman sought primarily to evaluate the astronauts' ability to perform the landing maneuver manually, using semiautomatic as well as degraded attitude control modes. Other items evaluated included the flight control system parameters, the attitude and thrust controller configurations, the pressure suit's constraint during landing maneuvers, the handling qualities and operation of LEM test article 9 as a freeflight vehicle, and manual abort initiation during the terminal landing maneuver.
Astronauts M. Scott Carpenter, Walter M. Schirra, Jr., Neil A. Armstrong, James A. McDivitt, Elliot M. See, Jr., Edward H. White II, Charles Conrad, Jr., and John W. Young participated in a study in LTV's Manned Space Flight Simulator at Dallas, Tex. Under an MSC contract, LTV was studying the astronauts' ability to control the LEM manually and to rendezvous with the CM if the primary guidance system failed during descent.
LTV presented the preliminary results of a manual rendezvous simulation study. Their studies indicated that a pilot trained in the technique could accomplish lunar launch and rendezvous while using only two to three percent more fuel than the automatic system.
Several astronauts participated in landing touchdown studies conducted in the LEM landing simulator to verify data collected in previous studies and to determine changes in controls and displays to improve the touchdown envelope. Studies involved landing runs from an altitude of 305 m (1,000 ft) with manual takeover at 213 m (700 ft), at which time the pilot could select a precise landing site.
MSC requested use of Langley Research Center's Lunar Orbit and Landing Approach (LOLA) Simulator in connection with two technical contracts in progress with Geonautics, Inc., Washington, D.C. One was for pilotage techniques for use in the descent and ascent phases of the LEM profile, while the other specified construction of a binocular viewing device for simplified pilotage monitoring. Langley concurred with the request and suggested that MSC personnel work with Manuel J. Queijo in setting up the program, in making working arrangements between the parties concerned, and in defining the trajectories of interest.
NASA awarded a $4.2-million contract to Honeywell, Inc., Computer Control Division, Framingham, Mass., to provide digital computer systems for Apollo command and lunar module simulators. Under the fixed-price contract, Honeywell would provide six separate computer complexes to support the Apollo simulators at MSC and Cape Kennedy. The complexes would be delivered, installed, and checked out by Honeywell by the end of March 1967.
During reassembly of LM Simulator (LMS) 1 at Houston, MSC personnel discovered that the digital-to-analog conversion equipment was not the unit used during the preship tests at Binghamton, N.Y.; it was apparent the unit had never been checked out, because at least five power-buss bars were missing. The unit had not checked out in the preship tests, and at the simulator readiness review test on October 14 Grumman had been authorized to replace the defective digital-to-analog core memory after the unit arrived at Houston. MSC questioned whether the delivery requirement of LMS-1 had been met and asked Grumman to explain why the switch was made without MSC knowledge and what steps Grumman expected to take to correct the situation.
In a memo to Donald K. Slayton, MSC Deputy Director George M. Low indicated that he understood George E. Mueller had stated in executive session of the Management Council on December 21 that he had decided a third lunar module simulator would not be required. Low said, "This implies that either the launch schedule will be relieved or missions will be so identical that trainer change-over time will be substantially reduced."
Visual display systems of complex optical devices were being used with the lunar module mission simulators. To help solve problems that some of these systems were creating, assistance was requested from J. E. Kupperian, E. S. Chin, and H. D. Vitagliano, all from Goddard Space Flight Center.
Grumman proposed a procurement for a study of the mission effects projector, to assist Grumman with an item that had been designed and built by Farrand but did not meet the established specifications. Grumman solicited assistance of qualified firms in the optomechanical field. Of 15 firms approached 7 were interested: Itek Corp., Kollmorgen Corp., Bausch & Lomb, Inc., Kollsman Instrument Corp., Biorad, General Precision Link Group, and Conductron. Technical proposals were received from Itek, Biorad, Link, and Conductron. Grumman considered the Itek proposal most technically acceptable and proposed a letter contract in which NASA concurred.
MSC Director Robert R. Gilruth forwarded plans for the MSC Lunar Gravity Simulation device to Apollo Program Director Samuel C. Phillips. He informed Phillips that "we have moved out on the design and fabrication of the inclined plane 1/6 g simulator and our schedule shows that it will be completed and ready for checkout by May 1, 1969 (see February 5). The vertical system approach is somewhat more sophisticated and our scheduled completion is February 1, 1970." Phillips replied March 28 that he was pleased to read that the simulator program was progressing so rapidly and "I feel very strongly that this device will greatly contribute to our capability to create useful lunar exploration missions."