Apollo: Learning from the past, for the future

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  • Apollo: Learning from the past, for th

    Available online 19 September 2010




    Knowledge capture

    Lessons learned

    an i

    tics a

    le th


    Constellation program, the successor to the Space Shuttle program, proposes a return to

    the Moon using a new generation of vehicles. The Orion Crew Vehicle and the Altair

    Lunar Lander will use hardware, practices, and techniques descended and derived from

    en byationSpace

    er atNASAs Johnson Space Center (JSC) requested some

    material on the fundamentals of spaceight, to turn the

    Contents lists available at ScienceDirect

    journal homepage: www.else

    Acta Astro


    under Contract NNJ06VA01C. The U.S. Government retains a paid-up,

    nonexclusive, irrevocable worldwide license in such materials to

    Acta Astronautica 68 (2011) 135313600094-5765/$ - see front matter & 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

    doi:10.1016/j.actaastro.2010.08.010old Apollo Mission Techniques documents into lessons onthe basics of ying to the Moon and back, and to establishtraining materials for engineers on the lunar environment.This project should be made available to the NASA

    reproduce, prepare, derivative works, distribute copies to the public,

    and perform publicly and display publicly, by or on behalf of the U.S.

    Government. All other rights are reserved by the copyright owner.

    E-mail address: michael.r.grabois@nasa.govMission Operations Directorate (MOD) personnel to forma team with three tasks: to create generic training

    This paper was presented during the 60th IAC in Daejeon.$$ Copyright & 2009 by United Space Alliance, LLC. These materials

    are sponsored by the National Aeronautics and Space Administrationprogram.In late 2006, the Constellation Program Managnext-generation space vehicles. The various vehicles inConstellation include the crew vehicle Orion, the lunarlander Altair, and the launcher Ares. With the similarity inform and function of the Constellation vehicles to theApollo program of the late 1960s and early 1970s, aproposal was made by the Constellation ProgramManager

    engineers and middle managers have gained theirexperience only with the Space Shuttle or InternationalSpace Station. Consequently, few have working knowl-edge of Apollo-specic hardware, practices, and missiontechniques that may prove useful in the Constellation1. Project origins

    Constellation is the name givAeronautics and Space Administrprogram intended to succeed theengineers and managers who will be working with Orion and Altair are largely from the

    decades following Apollo, and are likely not well aware of what was developed in the

    1960s. In 2006, a project at NASAs Johnson Space Center was started to nd pertinent

    Apollo-era documentation and gather it, format it, and present it using modern tools for

    todays engineers and managers. This Apollo Mission Familiarization for Constellation

    Personnel project is accessible via the web from any NASA center for those interested

    in learning answers to the question how did we do this during Apollo?

    & 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

    the National(NASA) to theShuttle as its

    to review the old documentation to see what is relevant intodays space program, rather than reinventing thewheel for mission techniques.

    The vast majority of Apollo-era engineers who are withthe space program today are the agencys senior managersand leaders, and the rank-and-le NASA and contractorApollo Apollo, Shuttle, and the International Space Station. However, the new generation ofMichael R. Grabois

    United Space Alliance, LLC, Houston, TX, USA

    a r t i c l e i n f o

    Article history:

    Received 29 January 2010

    Received in revised form

    16 July 2010

    Accepted 15 August 2010

    a b s t r a c t

    This paper shares

    National Aeronau

    and make availab

    those working one future$,$$

    nteresting and unique case study of knowledge capture by the

    nd Space Administration (NASA), an ongoing project to recapture

    e lessons learned from the Apollo lunar landing project so that

    re projects do not have to reinvent the wheel. NASAs new



  • and emulation of the Apollo Guidance Computer [46]. Mostof these les have been previously obtained in person fromthe National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)by those individuals, as there was no publicly availabledownloading capability from NARA.

    Of those documents that did not exist in easilyobtainable electronic format, the JSC library was able toscan many from original paper copies or from microche.The microche copies were consistently of much lowerquality than the modern scans and appeared to have gonethrough several generations of photocopying before beingscanned for che.

    For ease of searching and copying text, all thedocuments were processed through Adobe Acrobat, acommercially available Optical Character Recognition(OCR) software package. Full licenses were available tomembers of the project team who then processed theles. The publicly available documents had been incon-sistently OCR processed, while none of the JSC library leshad been OCR processed.

    2.2. Photographs and drawings

    In addition to the manuals, reports, and other docu-ments, the research team obtained photographs, sche-matics, and drawings from a number of sources, includingNASAs online photo archives and private enthusiasts.Some schematics and drawings were cleaned up, en-hanced, and/or colored using various graphics programsfrom Microsoft Paint to Adobe Photoshop.

    M.R. Grabois / Acta Astronautica 68 (2011) 135313601354Critical to developing the lessons was having theoriginal source material the various Apollo Familiariza-tion Manuals, Experience Reports, Operations Handbooks,Mission Techniques, and graphics/photos available tothe researchers. There was no single resource (library orweb site) that had all of the desired documentation.

    Fig. 1 shows the cover to a typical document, thisparticular one presenting the guidance and navigationsequence of events, data ow, and real-time decisions forthe Mission J-1 (Apollo 15) lunar orbit activities.

    The JSC Technical Library was the rst location chosenfor searching. Many documents were not available inPortable Document Format (pdf) via download from thelibrarys website. Turnaround time for these documents,which were not immediately available and were re-quested via e-mail, was less than a day for the documentsthat had already been scanned, and up to 2 weeks fordocuments that had not yet been scanned.

    Other manuals and reports were downloaded fromother government-maintained web sites, such as theNASA History Ofces Apollo Lunar Surface Journal (ALSJ)[1] and the NASA Technical Reports Server [2]. Alldocuments were saved off to a local document repository.

    Some documents were obtained from private individuals(such as amateur and semi-professional space historians)who were contacted directly and who have made the lesavailable online for download via the web [3] or ofine viaDigital Video Disk (DVD). Other documents were obtainedcommunity (those behind the NASA Internet rewall) in adistance learning format. The original intent was to focusmore on what and why than the how.

    The project manager for the Apollo Lessons LearnedKnowledge Management task, as it came to be known,created a team of volunteers from within MOD, consistingprimarily of senior Space Shuttle instructors and ightcontrollers. Some of the ight controllers were Apolloveterans with rst-hand knowledge of Apollo systems.The team members would use their knowledge of Shuttlesystems to understand the corresponding Apollo systems,such as electrical and environmental control systems,engines and propulsion, rendezvous, communications,extra-vehicular activities (EVA) and lunar surface opera-tions, and guidance/navigation/control (GNC).

    In most cases, the Apollo mission reports and hand-books were written between 1965 and 1975, and theoriginal authors frequently left lessons learned sectionsin their reports for future engineers and designers.However, there was no follow-up planned, and limitedeffort had been made since the creation of the documentsto assemble a comprehensive archive of these lessons.

    Nevertheless, the documents contained information onthe problems and limitations of the hardware, software,and techniques that needed to be brought out. The Projectsought to determine how these limitations drove missiontechnique design.

    2. Obtaining and preparing the original material

    2.1. Documentsfrom several web-based projects dedicated to explanation

    Fig. 1. Cover sheet of typical Mission Techniques document.

  • ing p

    M.R. Grabois / Acta Astronautica 68 (2011) 13531360 1355The JSC Photography Branch and the Still ImageryRepository provided requested electronic photos showinghardware and closeout photos.

    The Kansas Cosmosphere in Hutchinson, Kansas, wasvery helpful in providing photos for the project from theirhardware on display, including the Apollo 13 CommandModule (CM) Odyssey and a Lunar Lander mockup. TheCosmosphere obtained permission from the SmithsonianInstitutions National Air and Space Museum to open thesealed CM and photograph panels and switches for use inthis project free of charge, in exchange for an acknowl-

    Fig. 2. Typical Kansas Cosmosphere photograph, showedgement credit in any brieng material which used theirphotos. Fig. 2 shows a typical photo taken by the staff atthe Cosmosphere for this project.

    In other cases, personal photographs found on theInternet were desired. The copyright owners were con-tacted and all were cooperative, permitting NASA to usetheir work for Governmental purposes without thepayment of a license fee, provided their copyright noticewas included beside the image and included a statementthat its use was with their permission.

    3. Choosing and using software

    The Apollo Lessons Learned project was designed to bean Internet-based distance-learning experience, thoughimplemented behind a NASA rewall such that userscould only access the web site from any NASA facility andauthorized contractor sites across the United States.

    The target student was dened as someone who istechnical and familiar with the space program, most likelya veteran of the Shuttle program who wants moreinformation on Apollo techniques and systems. Thetypical student could be either an engineer or a manager.The project manager investigated various options forcapturing the lesson content and presenting it to thestudent, ultimately deciding on a two-prong approach:streaming video lessons for short overview-level briengs,and static web pages for longer, more detailed descriptions.

    Collaborative media software allows several concur-rent users to create and manage information in a website.For the Apollo Lessons Learned project, a collaborativeproject management tool was desired that could create awiki site; a wiki is a set of interlinked web pages createdand managed with software that tracks changes, has

    anel O2 in the Apollo 13 Command Module Odyssey.revision control, and allows registered users to edit anypage. The project manager also required a calendar as partof this tool in order to schedule group meetings and notifyproject members when information is updated.

    The project was given a headcount budget, but littleadditional budget for software to produce the video briengcontent or the detailed web pages. This essentially mandatedthat software that was either free or already licensed was tobe used.

    To stay within the limited budget, the free version ofMicrosofts SharePoint v3.0 was chosen for the collabora-tive media software. Other collaborative softwares such asWindchill (by Parametric Technology Corporation) andConuence (by Atlassian) were considered as they werealready being used in some Constellation projects. How-ever, only individuals working directly on those Con-stellation projects could use the software, and since manyof the lesson developers did not have this access, thedecision was made to use SharePoint.

    The original plan for document storage was to useSharePoints capability, but two factors worked against that:too many documents, and the web server had limitationsthat prevented large les (frequently over 50 MB (mega-bytes), with the largest at over 470 MB) from loading.Instead, the 20 GB (gigabyte) archive was temporarily

  • omize

    M.R. Grabois / Acta Astronautica 68 (2011) 135313601356housed on some users desktop personal computers untildedicated space was allocated on an internal network.Currently, a number of the documents are on the SharePointserver but the majority of them are archived on a separateserver. Only the users who obtained and OCR-processed thedocuments have write-capability on the server, everyoneelse has read-only capability.

    For video content, the free Microsoft Producer 2007program was chosen over other commercial productsprimarily because of its unique ability to replicate in itsstreaming format the complex PowerPoint 2007 animationscreated in many of the Apollo lessons. Industry leadersMediasite (by Sonic Foundry) and Connect Presenter (by

    Fig. 3. Screen shot of a typical custAdobe) were only able to capture simple animations.Additionally, MOD has been using Producer for several yearsto create streaming video lessons for the International SpaceStation (ISS) program; therefore, the video technologypersonnel already had a familiarity with the software andcould adaptmany of the existing tools and templates used forthe ISS lessons. The Producer software also allows forcustomization, allowing the design team to create a fullycustomized online template with enhanced student features.See Fig. 3 for a screen shot of a typical video lesson.

    Lesson content created with Producer can be playedfrom the beginning or from any section of the presenta-tion by selecting the desired topic from the index abovethe video window. The video always remains synchro-nized with the associated slides. Also provided are links tothe home page, help page, references, instructors e-mailaddress, and with selected lessons, instructor biography.

    4. Creating content

    The members of the Apollo Lessons Learned team wereassigned various systems briengs and mission techniquebriengs depending on their background. The originaldocuments were written by and for knowledgeableinsiders, with many unwritten assumptions includingthat the reader reasonably understands the systems andtechniques being discussed.

    The team members used their knowledge of similar oranalogous Space Shuttle systems to summarize theappropriate material and create text-based wiki entries,in as much detail as was necessary for a full under-standing of the material, and then create video lessons atan overview level with less technical presentation. Mean-while, other team members focused their attention onmajor operational phases of ight (e.g., powered lunardescent, lunar rendezvous, trans-Earth injection, etc.)

    d lesson from Microsoft Producer.found in the Mission Techniques les.The use of Shuttle instructors from MODs Space Flight

    Training section was greatly benecial to the project, asthey had experience distilling information...