Lunar Orbiter Project Briefing

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From Spaceflight Revolution: “Top NASA officials listen to a LOPO briefing at Langley in December 1966. Sitting to the far right with his hand on his chin is Floyd Thompson. To the left sits Dr. George Mueller, NASA associate administrator for Manned Space Flight. On the wall is a diagram of the sites selected for the “concentrated mission.” “The most fundamental issue in the pre-mission planning for Lunar Orbiter was how the moon was to be photographed. Would the photography be “concentrated” on a predetermined single target, or would it be “distributed” over several selected targets across the moon’s surface? On the answer to this basic question depended the successful integration of the entire mission plan for Lunar Orbiter.” The Lunar Orbiter Project made systematic photographic maps of the lunar landing sites. Published in James R. Hansen, Spaceflight Revolution: NASA Langley Research Center From Sputnik to Apollo, (Washington: NASA, 1995), p. 337.

Boeing Lunar Orbiter Personnel

1966; Boeing employees manning a tracking station near Madrid. From left, Les Kaldor, Jim Currier, Don Fries, Andy Andreas Have, Pat Fiest and Jack Keith, Bendix engineer.
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In foreground: Pat Fiest, left, and Don Fries, both Boeing engineers from Seattle. At rear, from left, Les Holgersen, Les Kaldor and John Graham.
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NASA Wire Photo: Earthrise As Seen By Lunar Orbiter 1

NASA Caption: “First view of the earth and moon from space. Published in: Spaceflight Revolution: Langley Research Center From Sputnik to Apollo, by James R. Hansen. NASA History Series. NASA SP ; 4308. p ii. Caption: “The picture of the century was this first view of the earth from space. Lunar Orbiter I took the photo on 23 August 1966 on its 16th orbit just before it passed behind the moon. The photo also provided a spectacular dimensional view of the lunar surface.” Larger image

Photo: Lunar Orbiter Press Conference at JPL

NASA Caption: “Lunar Orbiter press conference at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. A mockup of the solar-powered spacecraft (called the “Two-Eyed Robot”) is shown on the right. It was built by Boeing for the NASA Langley Research Center. From Edgar M. Cortright, “Scouting the Moon” in Apollo Expeditions to the Moon: “It was in its photo system that Orbiter was most unconventional. Other spacecraft took TV images and sent them back to Earth as electrical signals. Orbiter took photographs, developed them on board, and then scanned them with a special photoelectric system–a method that, for all its complications and limitations, could produce images of exceptional quality. One Orbiter camera could resolve details as small as 3 feet from an altitude of 30 nautical miles. A sample complication exacted by this performance: because slow film had to be used (because of risk of radiation fogging), slow shutter speeds were also needed. This meant that, to prevent blurring from spacecraft motion, a velocity-height sensor had to insure that the film was moved a tiny, precise, and compensatory amount during the instant of exposure.” Published in Edgar M. Cortright, “Scouting the Moon, ” in Apollo Expeditions to the Moon, ed. Edgar M. Cortright, (Washington: NASA SP-350, 1975), p. 93.” Larger image

Lunar Orbiter Contract Signed

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Representatives of NASA Langley and Boeing signed the Lunar Orbiter contract on 16 April 1964 and sent it to NASA headquarters for final review. Three weeks later, on 7 May, Administrator James E. Webb approved the $80-million incentives contract to build five Lunar Orbiter spacecraft. Published in James R. Hansen, Spaceflight Revolution: NASA Langley Research Center From Sputnik to Apollo, NASA SP-4308, p. 331.