Apollo: Learning From the Past, For the Future Apollo? ?· Apollo: Learning From the Past, For the Future…
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Apollo: Learning From the Past, For the Future
NASA's Constellation program, the successor to the Space Shuttle program, proposes a return tothe Moon using a new generation of vehicles. The Orion Crew Vehicle and the Altair LunarLander will use hardware and techniques descended and derived from both Shuttle and theoriginal Apollo lunar landing project. However, the new generation of engineers and managerswho will be working with Orion and Altair are largely from the decades following Apollo, and aregenerally unaware of the hardware and techniques developed in the 1960s. In 2007 a project atNASA's Johnson Space Center was begun to find pertinent Apollo-era documentation and gatherit, format it, and present it using modern tools for today's engineers and managers. This "ApolloMission Familiarization for Constellation Personnel" project has been put onto a web siteaccessible from any NASA center for those interested in learning "how did we do this duringApollo?"
The first step was to gather the documentation in most cases, reports and handbooks that werewritten between the mid-1960s and mid-1970s, and residing in various technical libraries at NASAand elsewhere in scanned electronic format only and make it available in a central location. Inmany cases, the original authors left "lessons learned" sections in their reports for futureengineers and designers. Next, the various instructors, flight controllers, and other specialists onthe team reviewed and summarized the pertinent information using collaborative documentationsoftware (aka "wiki" software), and created short summary briefings using presentation softwareand captured video. The video briefings, the technical wiki web pages, and the originaldocuments are all available from a single web site, and cover a variety of topics from systemsbriefs to mission techniques. As the project has developed, its scope has expanded and otherrelated information has been added, such as video presentations by Apollo-era experts, briefingsby current lunar scientists ("Moon 101 "), and photographs of flight hardware from the KansasCosmosphere.
The purpose of the Apollo Mission Familiarization website is to provide training material andreference documentation on the Apollo program for Constellation program personnel. A work inprogress, this site focuses on three main areas: spaceflight fundamentals, the lunar environment,and Apollo mission techniques. The ongoing project has high visibility from NASA managementand has won high praise from its users.
APOLLO: LEARNING FROM THE PAST, FOR THE FUTURE
Michael R. GraboisUnited Space Alliance LLC, Houston, Texas (USA)
michael.r. uaboisCrznasa. gov
This paper shares an interesting and unique case study of knowledge capture by the National Aeronauticsand Space Administration (NASA), an ongoing project to recapture and make available the lessons learnedfrom the Apollo lunar landing project so that those working on future projects do not have to "reinvent thewheel". NASA's new Constellation program, the successor to the Space Shuttle program, proposes a returnto the Moon using a new generation of vehicles. The Orion Crew Vehicle and the Altair Lunar Lander willuse hardware, practices, and techniques descended and derived from Apollo, Shuttle and the InternationalSpace Station. However, the new generation of engineers and managers who will be working with Orionand Altair are largely from the decades following Apollo, and are likely not well aware of what wasdeveloped in the 1960s. In 2006 a project at NASA's Johnson Space Center was begun to find pertinentApollo-era documentation and gather it, format it, and present it using modern tools for today's engineersand managers. This "Apollo Mission Familiarization for Constellation Personnel" project is accessible viathe web from any NASA center for those interested in learning "how did we do this during Apollo?"
Constellation is the name given by the NationalAeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)to the program intended to succeed the SpaceShuttle as its next-generation space vehicles. Thevarious vehicles in Constellation include thecrew vehicle Orion, the lunar lander Altair, andthe launcher Ares. With the similarity in formand function of the Constellation vehicles to theApollo program the late 1960s and early 1970s, aproposal was made by the Constellation ProgramMana ger to review the old documentation to seewhat is relevant in today's space program, ratherthan "reinventing the wheel" for missiontechniques.
The vast majority of Apollo-era engineers whoare with the space program today are theagency's senior managers and leaders, and therank-and-file NASA and contractor engineersand middle managers have gained theirexperience only with the Space Shuttle orInternational Space Station. Consequently, fewhave working knowledge of Apollo hardware,practices, and nussion techniques that may proveuseful in the Constellation program.
In late 2006 ; the Constellation Program Managerat the Johnson Space Center (JSC) requested
some Mission Operations Directorate (MOD)personnel to form a team with three tasks: tocreate generic training material on thefizndamentals of spaceflight, to turn the oldApollo Mission Techniques documents intolessons on the basics of flying to the Moon andback, and to establish training materials forengineers on the lunar environment. This projectshould be made available to the NASAcoimnunity (those behind the NASA Internetfirewall) in a distance learnin g format. Theoriginal intent was to focus more on the "what"and "why" than the "how".
The project manager for the "Apollo LessonsLearned" Knowledge Management task, as itcame to be known, created a team of volunteersfrom within MOD, consisting primarily of seniorSpace Shuttle instructors and flight controllers.Some of the flight controllers were Apolloveterans with first-hand knowledge of Apollosystems. The team members would use theirknowledge of Shuttle systems to understand thecorresponding Apollo systems, with topics suchas electrical and environmental control systems,engines and propulsion, rendezvous,communications, extra-vehicular activities(EVA) and lunar surface operations, andguidance/navigation/control (GNC).
In most cases, the Apollo mission reports andhandbooks were written between 1965 and 197.5,and the original authors frequently left "lessonslearned" sections in their reports for futureengineers and desi gners. However, there was nofollow-up planned, and limited effort had beenmade since the creation of the documents toassemble a comprehensive archive of theselessons.
Nevertheless, the documents containedinformation on the problems and limitations ofthe hardware, software, and techniques thatneeded to be brought out. The Project sought todetermine how these limitations drove missiontechnique design.
OBTAINING AND PREPARING THEORIGINAL MATERIAL
Critical to developing the lessons was having theoriginal source material the various ApolloFamiliarization Manuals, Experience Reports,Operations Handbooks ; Mission Techniques, andgraphics,-photos available to the researchers.There was no single resource (library or website) that had all of the desired documentation-
'ZONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE AbMINISTRAIION
MSC INTERNAL NOTE
APOLLO MISSION TECHNIQUESMISSION J-1
LUNAR ORBIT ACTIVITIES
"I APOLLO SPACECRAFT PROGRAM OFiICE,N.ANNED SPACECRAFT CENTER
Fig. L Cover sheet of typical MissionTechniques document
Figure 1 shows the cover to a typical document,this particular one presenting the guidance andnavigation sequence of events, data flow, andreal-time decisions for the Mission J-1 (Apollo15) lunar orbit activities.
The JSC Technical Library was the first locationchosen for searching. Many documents were notavailable in Portable Document Format (pdt) viadownload from the library's website. Turnaroundtime for those documents which were notimmediately available, and were requested viaemail, was less than a day for the documents thathad already been scanned, and up to two weeksfor documents that had not yet been scanned.Many of the documents from the JSC library hadInternational Traffic in Arms Regulation (ITAR)covers, and most had been marked withdeclassification stamps.
Only documents obtained from the JSCTechnical Library had ITAR covers. Copies ofidentical manuals downloaded from othergovernment-maintained web sites, such as theNASA History Office's Apollo Lunar SurfaceJournal (ALSJ, athttp://history.nasa.gov/alsi/frame.html) and theNASA Technical Reports Server(http://ntrs.nasa .^zov/search-isp), did not. ALSJhas many documents available for publicdownload without an ITAR cover that, whenrequested from the JSC library; do have ITARcovers. All documents were saved off to a localdocument repository.
Some documents were obtained from privateindividuals (such as amateur and semi-professional space historians) who werecontacted directly and who have made the filesavailable online for download via the web(Andrepont, 2008) or offline via Di gital VideoDisc (DVD). Other documents were obtainedfrom several web-based projects dedicated toexplanation and emulation of the ApolloGuidance Computer (Brown, 2003; Burkey,2009; Katz, 2006). Most of these tiles had beenpreviously obtained in person from the NationalArchives and Records Administration (NARA)by those individuals, as there was no publiclyavailable downloading capability from NARA.
Of those documents that did not exist in easily-obtainable electronic format, the JSC library wasable to scan many from original paper copies orfrom microfiche. The microfiche copies wereconsistently of much lower quality than the
modern scans and appeared to have gone throughseveral generations of photocopying before beingscanned for fiche.
For ease of searching and copying text, all of thedocuments were processed through AdobeAcrobat, a commercially-available OpticalCharacter Recognition (OCR) software package.Full licenses were available to members of theproject team who then processed the files. Thepublicly available documents had beeninconsistently OCR processed, while none of theJSC library files had been OCR processed.
Photographs and Drawings
In addition to the Manuals and Reports, theresearch team obtained photographs, schematics,and drawings from a number of sources,including NASA's online photo archives andprivate enthusiasts. Some schematics anddrawings were cleaned up, enhanced, and/orcolored using various graphics programs fromMicrosoft Paint to Adobe Photoshop.
The JSC Photography Branch and the StillImagery Repository provided requestedelectronic photos showing hardware and closeoutphotos.
The Kansas Cosmosphere in Hutchinson. Kansaswas very helpful in providing photos for theproject from their hardware on display, includingthe Apollo 13 Cornrnand Module (CM) Odysseyand a Lunar Lander mockup. The Cosmosphereobtained permission from the SmithsonianInstitution's National Air and Space Museum toopen up the sealed CM and photograph panelsand switches for use in this project free ofcharge, in exchange for an acknowledgementcredit in any briefing material which used theirphotos. Figure 2 shows a typical photo taken bythe staff at the Cosmosphere for this project.
In other cases, personal photographs found onthe Internet were desired. The copyright ownerswere contacted and all were cooperative,permitting NASA to use their work forGovernmental purposes without the payment of alicense fee, provided their copyright notice wasincluded beside the image and included astatement that its use was with their permission.
Fig. 2: Typical Kansas Cosmosphere, showingpanel 02 in the Apollo 13 CommandModule Odyssey.
CHOOSING AND USING SOFTWARE
The Apollo Lessons Learned project wasdesigned to be an Internet-based distance-leaminQ experience, but behind a NASA firewallsuch that users could only access the web sitefrom any NASA facility and authorizedcontractor sites across the United States.
The target student was defined as someone whois technical and familiar with the space program,most likely a veteran of the Shuttle program whowants more information on Apollo techniquesand systems. The typical student could be eitheran engineer or a manager.
The project manager investigated various optionsfor capturing the lesson content and presenting itto the student, ultimately deciding on a two-prong approach: streaming video lessons forshort overview-level briefings, and static webpages for longer, more detailed descriptions.
Collaborative media software allows severalconcurrent users to create and manageinformation in a website. For the Apollo LessonsLearned project, a collaborative projectmanagement tool was desired that could create a"wiki" site; a wiki is a set of interlinked webpages created and managed with software thattracks changes, has revision control, and allowsregistered users to edit any page. The projectmanager also desired a calendar to schedulegroup meetings and notify project memberswhen information is updated.
The project was given a headcount budget, butlittle additional budget for software to producethe video briefing content or the detailed web
pages. Thus, software that was either free oralready licensed was the overriding factor.
To stay within the limited budget, the freeversion of Microsoft's SharePoint v3.0 waschosen for the collaborative media software.Other collaborative software such as Windchill(by Parametric Technology Corporation) andConfluence (by Atlassian) were considered asthey were being used in some Constellationprojects, but only users who were alreadyfirewalled for Constellation could access thesoftware. Not all of the lesson developers werecleared, so the decision was made to useSharePoint.
The original plan for document storage was touse SharePoint's capability, but two factorsworked against that: too many documents, andthe web server had limitations that preventedlarge files (frequently over 50 MB (megabytes),with the largest at over 470 MB) from loading.Instead, the 20 GB (gigabyte) archive wastemporarily housed on some users' desktoppersonal computers until dedicated space wasallocated on an internal network. Currently, anumber of the documents are on the SharePointserver but the majority of them are archived on aseparate server. Only the users who obtained andOCR-processed the documents have write-capability on the server, everyone else has read-only capability.
For video content, MOD has been using the freeMicrosoft Producer to create streaming videolessons for the International Space Station (ISS)program for several years. For the ApolloLessons Learned project, Producer 2007software was chosen over other commercialproducts because of its unique ability to replicatein its streaming format the complex PowerPoint2007 animations created in many of the Apollolessons. Industry leaders Sonic Foundry'sMed...