Engineers of the Boeing Company and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration are making final preparations to launch one of a series of Lunar Orbiters.
The Primary Mission --To take sharp, close-up photographs of the moon so scientists can pinpoints the best possible landing sites for Apollo astronauts.
Secondary Missions -- To photograph specific areas of the moon other than possible landing sites; to continue in orbit after its film has been exhausted to transmit to earth valuable information about micrometeroids, radiation and gravitational fields around the moon.
The Spacecraft --Unmanned, 850-pound open-truss structure. Space-proven, high-reliability components with the flexibility to fulfill several mission assignments have been used throughout. Not counting the solar panels and antennas, the spacecraft is 5 feet wide and 5 1/2 feet tall. With the panels and antennas deployed, the maximum span is 18 1/2 feet along the antenna booms, and 12 feet 2 inches across the solar panels.
The Launch Vehicle --Atlas-Agena D.
Delivery Date --May, 1966 at Cape Kennedy, Florida.
Principal Participants --System management of the program is handled by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Langley Research Center. Overall direction of the program is being handled by the Office of Space Science and Applications, NASA Headquarters. The Boeing Company is prime contractor, responsible for design development and production of spacecraft, and mission support. Major sub-system, and Radio Corporation of America for electrical power and communications equipment.
Number of Spacecraft --Five flight models and three ground-test models.
Contract Value --Approximately $125 million. Includes operation of photo-acquisition equipment at tracking stations in Australia, Spain and California.
Production Site --Lunar Orbiter spacecraft are built at Boeing's Missile Production Centre in Seattle, Washington.
Number of Employees --Approximately 1,000 employees were assigned during peak production period.
Typical Mission Profile -- Following launch and separation of boosters, the Lunar Orbiter will orient itself in space, perform one or two midcourse corrections, and inject itself into a temporary, elliptical orbit around the moon. When lighting conditions in the "target" area are right, the Lunar Orbiter will be inserted into a second elliptical orbit, this one approaching within 28 miles of the moon's surface.
Camera Capability --Each spacecraft will carry a camera equipped with both a medium- and a high-resolution lens.
From an altitude of 28 miles above the moon, each high-resolution photograph will cover 20 square miles of lunar surface. A medium-resolution photograph will cover a 350-square-mile area. In a single mission, the Lunar Orbiter's high-resolution lens could photograph an area of the moon roughly equal to a continuous strip one mile wide extending from Seattle to Cape Kennedy, and with enough clarity to show objects a yard square. At the same time, the medium-resolution lens will photograph four times that area with overlap to provide three-dimensional viewing.
Enough film is carried by each Lunar Orbiter to photograph up to 3,000 square miles of the moon's surface at one yard resolution, and 14,000 square miles at nine yards resolution.
Important Milestone --NASA selects Boeing to design and build Lunar Orbiter (December, 1963). NASA gives go-ahead to start work on Lunar Orbiter (March, 1964). Boeing-NASA sign Lunar Orbiter contract (April, 1964). Fabrication of spacecraft begins (September, 1964). Preliminary Design review held (October, 1964). Assembly of first spacecraft begins (February, 1965). Design "frozen" (March, 1965). First flight spacecraft shipped to Cape Kennedy (May, 1966).
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Background: Engineers of the Boeing Company and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration are making final preparations to launch one of a series of Lunar Orbiters. The satellite's primary mission is to photograph landing areas on the moon for America's astronauts. An Atlas-Agena booster will launch the Orbiter from Cape Kennedy.
When orbital speed and altitude are achieved....
The Atlas booster and nose shroud will separate....
And the Agena will fire to place itself and the Lunar Orbiter into a one hundred mile high orbit around the earth.
They must travel to the exact point in space from which Agenda can put the Lunar Orbiter on its path to the moon.
When this point is reached, Agena fires again. Soon after burnout Agena separates, and the 850 pound Orbiter will be on its way.
Now speeding through space at 25,000 miles per hour, the vehicle will.....
....extend its two-way earth communication antennas. And solar panels will open to capture and convert the sun's energy into electrical power for orbiters systems.
Tiny attitude control jets located on the corners of the heat shield, will be fired to position the vehicle...
....to aim its tracker for a fix on its navigational star, Canopus.
After 15 hours of flight toward the moon, Lunar Orbiter will fire its velocity control rocket to make a mid-course correction.
Later in the journey as the Orbiter gets closer to the moon, the velocity control rocket will be fired again to slow the spacecraft.
This will serve to trap the spacecraft in an off-centre orbit around the moon, where it will circle from four to six days. By tracking this orbit, scientists on earth will obtain their first precise information about the effects of the moon's gravitational field on the space craft.
With this knowledge, they will be able to lower the vehicle's orbit to a close 28 miles for photography of the moon's surface.
Control of the space craft is accomplished through instructions stored in an on-board computer. Mission control personnel can radio new instructions for storage or can by-pass the computer to control the Orbiter directly.
Operation on these instructions the lunar Orbiter will turn itself to aim its two camera lenses downward during picture taking orbits.
The as it soars over the desired areas it will take a series of pictures.
One lens will cover an area of 25 squares miles and record objects as small as a car table.
The other will make overlapping photographs of 440 square miles sections.
during it's mission the Lunar Orbiter will take 160 pairs of pictures while filming 12,000 square miles, an area as large as the combined area of Mass, and Conn.
While photography is in progress, the camera will begin to automatically develop and store and exposed film.
Following each series of exposures the Orbiter will again aim its solar panels at the sun. When picture transmission takes place, the stored images will be sent in the form of an electronic signal produced by a light scanning the stored negatives.
At Goldstone, near an abandoned gold mine in California's Mojave Desert, this 85-foot-diameter antenna is the communication link with the Lunar Orbiter. It's similar to two other antennas, in Australia and Spain. Surrounding hills protect it from random radio signals.
The antenna control team tracks the Orbiter with signals the Orbiter sends back to earth. The team also directs the flow of signals from the antenna to the Orbiter.
This equipment generates signals to the spacecraft. The Orbiter's computer responds tot eh signals and controls the Orbiter accordingly. These men are the last human link between earth and the space-craft.
Incoming photographic information from the Orbiter is fed into this equipment where electronic wizardry converts the electronic signal to a pinpoint of light o varying intensity. The tiny beam sweeps back and forth, exposing a moving strip of 35mm film.
When processed, the resulting negative shows what the Orbiter's camera saw. At the receiving station technicians will process and study samples of the exposed negative to ensure that signals are coming back properly and that the Orbiter's camera is correctly set. Most of the 18 miles of film exposed on earth will be sent to a reassembly facility, where the strips will be developed and arranged into large negatives. Prints of these negatives. Prints of these negatives will form the basis for lunar maps.
Although direct communication with the Lunar Orbiter is via Goldstone, Australia or Spain, the mission directed from the Space Flight Operations Facility in Pasadena. Sitting side-by-side, NASA and Boeing engineers evaluate and act upon information received form the antennas. The information comes to the Pasadena computer centre and is translated into a form understandable to engineers.
They use it to determine the Lunar Orbiter's velocity, attitude, temperature, power situation and some 50 other conditions. (This automatic drawing machine charts the data.)
Other engineers keep track of the Orbiter's location and direction. They plot course changes and calculate when and how the spacecraft should be maneuvered.
This control room is the nerve centre of the entire mission. The operations director and his assistant are in voice contact with key personnel at those installations throughout the world which gather and record flight information. Engineers here at Pasadena interpret the information and the operations directors use the results to make final flight decisions. (They run the mission from this dimly-lighted room.)
When its photographic mission has been completed in about a month, the Lunar Orbiter will continue to circle the moon, providing information about micrometeoroids and radiation in the moon's vicinity. This data along with the photographs, is vital to landing men on the moon.