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Command and Provider Module for Longevity (1966)

The Skylab 2 Command and Provider Module sits atop its Saturn IB release car on Pad 39B at NASA Kennedy Area Middle, Florida. The spacecraft, with astronauts Charles Conrad, Paul Weitz, and Joseph Kerwin on board, lifted off on 25 Would possibly 1973, docked with the Skylab house station, and returned to Earth on 22 June 1973. Symbol credit score: NASA.

The Apollo Command and Provider Module (CSM) was once the work-horse U.S. piloted spacecraft from its first release in October 1968 till its closing Earth-atmosphere reentry and splashdown in July 1975. Introduced atop two-stage Saturn IB and three-stage Saturn V release cars, it carried six three-man crews to low Earth orbit and 9 to lunar orbit. Those missions noticed it perform two times by itself, 9 occasions with Apollo Lunar Module (LM) landers, thrice with the Skylab Orbital Workshop, and as soon as with a Docking Module and a Soviet Soyuz spacecraft.

At challenge’s finish, simply previous to reentry, the CSM break up into two portions. The conical Command Module (CM) incorporated a bowl-shaped reentry warmth defend, a pressurized staff compartment with couches and controls, lithium hydroxide canisters for eliminating from its natural oxygen cabin air carbon dioxide exhaled via its staff, a nose-mounted docking machine, reentry response keep an eye on rocket engines, reentry batteries, and parachutes in a nose-mounted compartment. 

The most important a part of the CSM, the drum-shaped Provider Module (SM), incorporated in six inner “sectors” and a cylindrical central phase 3 gasoline cells for making electrical energy and water, radiators, 4 clusters of response keep an eye on rocket engines, the Provider Propulsion Device (SPS) primary engine, and tanks containing cryogenic liquid hydrogen/liquid oxygen gasoline mobile reactants, helium pressurant, and hypergolic (ignite-on-contact) propellants. The SM equipped the CM with electrical energy, oxygen, water, thermal keep an eye on, propulsion, perspective keep an eye on, and (when required) a long-range radio hyperlink to Earth. 

After the 2 modules separated, the SM was once destroyed in Earth’s environment. The CM, in the meantime, descended on its deployed parachutes to an ocean splashdown.

Block II Apollo CM cutaway. Symbol credit score: NASA.
Block II Apollo SM cutaway. Symbol credit score: NASA.

Apollo CSMs may have flown many extra missions had NASA’s Apollo Programs Program (AAP) long past forward as deliberate in 1965-1966. As described in other places on this weblog (see “Extra Knowledge” beneath), AAP aimed to milk Apollo spacecraft and Saturn rocket {hardware} advanced for the Moon program to perform new issues in house at diminished price. It emphasised 3 main subject matters: science experiments, together with lots of doable get advantages to other folks on Earth; complex lunar exploration that includes lengthy lunar floor remains with enhanced mobility; and long-duration Earth-orbital flights. 

AAP, which was once at the start supposed to span from 1968 via 1972, was once proposed via NASA and counseled via President Lyndon Baines Johnson, however some inside Congress, NASA, and the aerospace business had combined emotions about it. Some noticed it as a “make-work” program; a subset of the ones believed that NASA will have to aspire to goals more than mere repurposing of Apollo and Saturn {hardware}. Olin Teague, the chair of the Space Area Subcommittee and a champion of the NASA Manned Spacecraft Middle (MSC) in Houston, Texas, went as far as to name the Johnson Management “derelict” in setting up a post-Apollo function for NASA.

On the similar time, the U.S. army dedication in Indochina was once increasing hastily, making many contributors of Congress uneasy about investment new house tasks — even if the ones tasks aimed to save cash via repurposing house generation already advanced. 

Through June 1966, it had turn into abundantly transparent that Congress would now not fund AAP in Fiscal Yr 1967 on the stage the Johnson Management had asked. In opposition to that inauspicious backdrop, William Hough, an engineer with Bellcomm, NASA’s Washington DC-based making plans contractor, commenced a find out about of a low cost, low-complexity long-duration AAP challenge. 

Hough aimed to decide whether or not NASA may, via minimum upgrades of Apollo lunar program {hardware}, stay one, two, or 3 astronauts in low-Earth orbit frequently for a 12 months. A one-year keep would lay the biomedical groundwork for extra formidable house missions — a big everlasting Earth-orbital laboratory was once prime at the record — starting within the mid-to-late Seventies. 

In a 21 July 1966 technical memorandum, Hough described a spacecraft he known as the CSM for Longevity (CSML), which might be derived from the Block II CSM deliberate for Apollo missions to the Moon. The CSML would faucet complex Apollo generation that engineers at North American Aviation (NAA), the CSM top contractor, had studied to be used in an Prolonged CSM (XCSM) design. NAA described its XCSM within the multi-volume Ultimate File, Initial Definition Section: Apollo Extension Device, which they finished in December 1965-January 1966. The corporate ready the XCSM record on contract to NASA MSC.

The CSML would perform with a Dependent Experiment Give a boost to Module (DESM), which may, Hough wrote, be in response to any of the various Apollo-derived laboratory modules proposed for AAP or “a module as but undefined.” In mid-1966, candidate AAP lab modules incorporated a stripped-down Apollo LM without or with a Descent Level (the “LEM Lab”), a refurbished flown Apollo CM, and a drum-shaped Spent Level Experiment Give a boost to Module (SSESM) connected to an S-IVB Saturn rocket level. Without reference to the shape the DESM took, it might depend at the CSML for electrical energy, existence fortify, thermal keep an eye on, and propulsion. This is able to, Hough defined, allow the lab module to be faithful totally to experiments.

Candidate DESM: LEM Lab. A CSM is proven docked to offer a way of scale. Symbol credit score: NASA.
Candidate DESM: two designs for a refurbished flown CSM. Symbol credit score: NASA.

Candidate DESM: Spent Level Experiment Give a boost to Module (SSESM) and S-IVB level. A CSM is proven docked to offer a way of scale. Symbol credit score: NASA.

At the beginning of the one-year challenge a CSML bearing a staff of 3 would raise off from Cape Kennedy, Florida, and ascend to a 148.2-kilometer (80-nautical-mile) low-inclination period in-between Earth orbit both on its own atop a Saturn IB or atop a Saturn V with the DESM. If the CSML reached Earth orbit on a Saturn IB, the DESM can be released one after the other to period in-between orbit atop a 2d Saturn IB.

Drawing on July 1966 knowledge, Hough estimated that the utmost weight a Saturn IB may ship to period in-between orbit was once 17,100 kilograms (37,700 kilos). He set this as the higher boundary of CSML weight at release.

Within the Saturn IB-launched case, the CSML would rendezvous with the DESM connected to the highest of the spent S-IVB 2d level of the Saturn IB that released it then would dock with the DESM. Within the Saturn V-launched case, the CSML would detach from the Saturn V’s spent S-IVB 3rd level, flip finish for finish, and dock with the DESM connected to the highest of S-IVB. 

If the Saturn V-launched DESM had been in response to the LM or a refurbished CM, the CSML staff would detach it from the spent S-IVB. If the DESM had been an SSESM/S-IVB level, then again, the CSML staff would input the SSESM and vent leftover liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen propellants from the S-IVB level in order that its 6.7-meter-diameter (21-foot-diameter) hydrogen tank may function a laboratory. Finally, once they looked at and ready the DESM the staff would fireplace the CSML SPS primary engine to spice up the CSML/DESM aggregate to a 370.4-kilometer (200-nautical-mile) low-inclination operational orbit. 

A unmarried CSML may now not elevate sufficient consumables to fortify a three-man staff in orbit for a 12 months, so resupply CSMLs similar to the primary CSML can be released periodically atop Saturn IB rockets. “Resupply” was once one thing of a misnomer, for no provides can be transferred to the CSML/DESM aggregate already in orbit. 

As an alternative, as few as one or as many as 3 astronauts on board the CSML/DESM would spacewalk to switch puts with an equivalent choice of astronauts newly arrived within the resupply CSML. After the switch, the astronauts within the just about spent CSML connected to the DESM would undock to go back to Earth whilst the ones within the recent resupply CSML would dock with the DESM in order that the astronauts who transferred from the just about spent CSML may proceed their one-year challenge. 

Whilst Hough started his find out about, NASA released Gemini IX (3-6 June 1966). An afternoon into the challenge astronaut Eugene Cernan carried out the second one U.S. spacewalk. As a result of he lacked good enough handholds and footholds and needed to battle his swimsuit’s inner force to bend his legs and arms, Cernan turned into dangerously overheated. He was once not able to check a U.S. Air Power-built Astronaut Maneuvering Unit backpack as deliberate. NASA was once quickly compelled to reconsider its solution to spacewalking. Regardless that his one-year challenge plan would depend closely on spacewalks, Hough made no connection with Gemini IX in his memorandum. 

All the way through the Apollo 9 challenge (3-13 March 1969) astronauts David Scott (pictured) and Russell Schweickart carried out spacewalks outdoor the CSM Gumdrop (decrease left) and the LM Spider (higher proper) in low-Earth orbit. Had Hough’s plan for a year-long CSML challenge long past forward, a scene very similar to this may have taken position all the way through staff trade between a CSML/DESM aggregate and a newly arrived resupply CSML. Symbol credit score: NASA.

A lot of Hough’s record was once dedicated to figuring out the choice of CSMLs wanted for a one-year keep in house via no less than one astronaut. Now not unusually, this is able to rely on anticipated CSML staying power. On the “decrease certain of technological sophistication” was once a minimum CSML with an orbital staying power of simply 35 to 40 days. This intended that NAA’s XCSM, which was once rated for 45 days, may simply do the task. 

The usage of the XCSM would, on the other hand, imply {that a} one-year keep will require about 12 launches. Hough rejected this means as a result of it might want extra Saturn rockets and Apollo spacecraft than NASA anticipated to have to be had every 12 months for the AAP.

Hough described adjustments to the Block II Apollo CSM required to show it right into a CSML able to working in orbit with out substitute for 94 days (during which case 4 CSMLs would allow a year-long keep) or 125 days (during which case 3 CSMLs would suffice). CM changes can be somewhat minor whilst SM changes can be in depth.

Probably the most vital CM amendment on the subject of weight affect can be substitute of the Block II Apollo lithium hydroxide carbon-dioxide removing machine — aside from for a two-day emergency provide of canisters — with a “two mattress, thermal swing, vacuum-dump molecular sieve” machine. The dual chemical beds would trade; this is, one mattress can be opened to soak up carbon dioxide from the CSML cabin air whilst the opposite can be closed off, uncovered to the vacuum of house, and heated to force out the carbon dioxide it had absorbed. 

In contrast to the Apollo Block II CSM, the CSML would come with nitrogen in its cabin air. Advent of nitrogen was once a concession to house existence scientists who frightened about lengthy astronaut publicity to natural oxygen. Nitrogen can be saved within the SM, so CM weight adjustments because of the brand new air combine can be minimum.

Hough neglected few main points. He famous, for instance, that the CM parachute compartment would progressively lose force all the way through a protracted house keep, and that the vitally necessary parachutes it contained might be broken if uncovered to hoover. He proposed hanging 9 kilograms (20 kilos) of cast “vaporizing subject material” of unspecified composition within the compartment. This is able to slowly flip to gasoline, holding the force stage within the compartment secure. 

Maximum of Hough’s find out about consisted of discovering tradeoffs to stay CSML weight beneath the 17,100-kilogram (37,700-pound) prohibit. A very powerful of those tradeoffs was once deletion of propulsion capacity in desire of added electricity-generation capacity. 

He calculated that simply 1633 kilograms (3600 kilos) of hydrazine gasoline and nitrogen tetroxide oxidizer can be ample to hold out all main maneuvers required of the SPS primary engine: in particular, boosting the CSML/DESM from its period in-between orbit to its operational orbit; resupply rendezvous with the CSML/DESM aggregate in operational orbit; and deorbiting the CSML on the finish of its lengthy keep in orbit. The quantity of propellant required for those maneuvers will be the similar without reference to the length of the CSML challenge.

This amount of SPS propellants totaled lower than 10% of the SPS propellant capability of the Block II Apollo CSM. A couple of latest, shorter SPS propellant tanks in sectors 2 and 5, measuring 1.3 meters (4.25 toes) in diameter via simply 22.9 centimeters (9 inches) tall, would, Hough calculated, suffice to comprise this amount of propellants. That will unlock maximum of sectors 2, 3, 5, and six and the central cylindrical compartment for gasoline mobile reactants and different consumables. 

Block II Apollo CSM sector format. Symbol credit score: NASA.

The small quantity of orbit repairs propulsion required to steer clear of orbital decay all the way through a protracted challenge would, Hough wrote, be equipped via the 4 Response Regulate Device (RCS) thruster quads spaced calmly round external of the SM. The RCS would dissipate a mean of about 9 kilograms (20 kilos) of hydrazine gasoline and nitrogen tetroxide oxidizer consistent with day to care for the CSML’s orbital altitude and keep an eye on its perspective, bringing the full RCS propellant load to about 846 kilograms (1880 kilos) for a 94-day CSML and about 1125 kilograms (2500 kilos) for a 125-day CSML. This will require growth of the RCS tanks.

Hough proposed that 4 complex “asbestos-membrane” gasoline cells exchange the 3 “Francis Bacon-cell” gasoline cells housed in sector 4 of the Block II Apollo SM. The latter had been rated to perform for 400 hours (16.7 days), which was once plentiful time to finish an Apollo lunar challenge. He reported {that a} check model of the asbestos-membrane gasoline mobile had operated frequently for 1200 hours (50 days) and that it was once anticipated to be able to working for as much as 2500 hours (104.2 days). 

Asbestos-membrane gasoline cells featured a to hand in-flight get started capacity, Hough defined, allowing them to be operated in shifts to increase CSML orbital lifetime and building up redundancy. He envisioned that one or two would stay on “chilly standby” at anybody time. He calculated that two may produce 3 kilowatts of electrical energy frequently in the event that they ate up a mean of one.23 kilograms (2.72 kilos) of liquid hydrogen/liquid oxygen reactants consistent with hour. 3 kilowatts was once roughly double the quantity of electrical energy wanted for regimen CSML “house responsibilities” purposes, thus making to be had about 1.5 kilowatts for DESM experiments. 

It’s honest to invite why Hough didn’t imagine techniques as opposed to gasoline cells for producing CSML electrical energy. The Bellcomm engineer may have proposed that the CSML depend on sun arrays or an isotopic machine, both of which might be much less huge than gasoline cells and closely insulated tanks of cryogenic reactants. He defined that neither sun arrays nor a nuclear machine had now not been studied to be used in XCSM missions, so they might now not be thought to be to be throughout the bounds of Apollo generation as he outlined them in his find out about. 

Hough said that, despite cautious tradeoffs, his year-long challenge tended towards tight consumables margins. For instance, he allocated simply 3 days of overlap for every resupply challenge. This intended that “a couple of days of storm watch at KSC on the time of a resupply release would reason termination of the full challenge.”

Regardless that he studied it sparsely, Hough was once now not particularly passionate about the CSML/DESM solution to a one-year challenge. He defined that “it’s possible that the CSML/DESM isn’t the most productive means when in comparison to the self-sufficient new module” means, regardless that he maintained that “apparently to be optimal if the constraint of use of Apollo generation. . .is imposed.” 

Hough argued that the principle reason why to accept the CSML/DESM means — excluding “a conceivable lean 12 months or two of spacecraft launches” led to via AAP investment cuts — will be the look of latest knowledge regarding “guy’s compatibility with long-term spaceflight” that made the viability of lengthy astronaut remains on board a self-sufficient module appear in doubt. If so, making an attempt a one-year CSML/DESM challenge to realize further knowledge forward of a giant funding in a brand new module could be noticed as frugal.

He added that, if ample sources existed for each a one-year CSML/DESM challenge and building of a self-sufficient module, then the CSML/DESM challenge might be noticed as a prudent step ahead despite the fact that the viability of long-duration spaceflight had been confident. Experiments within the DESM may come with a prototype complex energy supply impartial of the CSML’s gasoline cells or check variations of long-duration existence fortify techniques. 

In August 1966, NASA took a step towards a “self-sufficient new module” when it opted to focal point its Earth-orbital AAP efforts at the SSESM/spent S-IVB level laboratory choice. The distance company renamed the SSESM the Airlock Module; the spent S-IVB level turned into referred to as the Workshop. Within the Airlock Module/Workshop situation, the CSM would serve basically as a staff shipping; the Airlock Module/Workshop would come with impartial existence fortify and electricity-generating techniques.

Apollo 9 CSM Gumdrop in low-Earth orbit as considered from the LM Spider, March 1969. Symbol credit score: NASA.


“Gemini 9 Underscores Wisdom Gaps,” Aviation Week & Area Generation, 11 July 1966, p. 37.

“CSM Configuration Learn about for One Yr Undertaking to be Accomplished via Rendezvous and Resupply,” W. W. Hough, Bellcomm, Inc., 21 July 1966.

“Washington Roundup — Apollo Curler Coaster,” Aviation Week & Area Generation, 1 August 1966, p. 15.

“NASA Submit-Apollo Plan Suggested via Dec. 1,” George C. Wilson, Aviation Week & Area Generation, 8 August 1966. pp. 26.

Skylab: A Chronology, NASA SP-4011, Roland W. Newkirk and Ivan D. Irtel with Courtney G. Brooks, NASA Medical and Technical Knowledge Place of job, 1977, p. 88.

Extra Knowledge

Apollo Extension Device Flight Undertaking Task Plan (1965)

Apollo Programs Program: Lunar Module Relay Experiment Laboratory (1966)

“With out Hiatus”: The Apollo Programs Program in June 1966


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