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May 18-26, 1969

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Apollo X "go ahead" despite difficulties

NASA Manned Spacecraft Center Roundup - May 2, 1969
The May 18 1aunch date for Apollo X remains undisturbed so far, despite early-week difficulties in the first stage fuel system.

However, checks are continuing on the launch vehicle at the Kennedy Space Center launch complex 39B to determine if any damage occurred when fuel was inadvertently drained from the stage on Sunday.

Inspection of the forward section of the fuel tank includes a series of dye penetrant checks to assure that no cracks are present. Entry into the stage for further inspection is also planned.

Parallel with these checks, the countdown demonstration tests (CDDT) began Tuesday, aiming for a T-O in the wet portion on May 4 and a T-O in the dry portion on May 5.

The CDDT is a full-dress rehearsal for the final count, with cryogenic fueling of the launch vehicle performed during the wet portion and fueling simulated during the dry portion. The flight crew will participate during the dry portion of the CDDT as they would on launch day.

The Apollo X crewmen held a conference Saturday at MSC where they discussed various aspects of their eight-day mission.

This flight will spend approximately 61 hours in lunar orbit three times longer than Apollo VIII and probably as long as the Apollo XI landing mission.

One of the most important aspects of this flight, in addition to checking systems' operations, is the data to be brought back from the two LM passes close to the Moon's surface.

"There is a possibility of aborting the first landing mission unless we bring back the data to show what we have for altitude tracking on the lunar surface," said Commander Tom Stafford. "From 50,000 feet we will be able to see craters that could get the LM in trouble."

It will be on the second day of lunar orbit that the two vehicles undock. The crew remarked on the difficulty of maneuvering the sections in orbit with a maximum separation of 350 miles.

" I've never really been involved in anything that has required as great an amount of coordination and team work as . . . to work with two vehicles in a lunar environment," said LM Pilot Gene Cernan. He and Stafford will work together in the LM while CSM Pilot John Young operates the command controls.

Assuming all systems check out stable in Apollo X, the Apollo XI lunar landing will go in July. This vehicle is presently in the KSC Vehicle Assembly Building undergoing preparations for the launch.

The LM water glycol system is being serviced and an electrical interface test between the LM and CSM is scheduled.

The first stage of the Apollo Xll Saturn V launch vehicle is due to arrive at KSC tomorrow. It will be taken to the VAB for a checkout and mating with the upper stages and spacecraft on its mobile launcher.

The CSM and LM are in altitude chambers in the Manned Spacecraft Operations Building at KSC. The LM ascent and descent stages were mated at the beginning of the week and an abbreviated combined systems test is continuing on the CSM.

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