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Apollo "spying" mission??

carmelo

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A friend of mine told me that in 1964 circa was a proposal to USAF (maybe from North American Rockwell) for a alternative to MOL/GeminiB surveillance laboratories.
The proposal was based on Apollo hardware and tecnology.
A Saturn ( i believe Saturn 1B) would have put in orbit two USAF Astropilots in a Apollo command/service module for LEO.
The crew maneuvered the Apollo 180° to dock with the S-IVB adapter and extract a recoinnassance module.
They would have bet the recoinnassance module on earth surface,and started a one/two weeks surveillance mission.
Finally,the CMP would have accomplished a EVA for retire the films from cameras in the recoinnassance module.
At last the recoinnassance module would have been jettisoned and the Command Module would be returned.

I think that the whole thing would have seemed as the Lunar recoinnaissance mission proposed for AAP.
Her a sketch from our friend Giuseppe De Chiara:



Anyone have information on this proposal,or know because was rejected in favor of MOL?
Was from from Rockwell or a USAF internal proposal ?
 

Michel Van

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So far I Know

NRO had intrest in Apollo Hardware in begin of MOL program !
but that was early stage of Program in mid 1960s
But there were several thing that complicated the matter,

First: Apollo was High priory Program to get Astronaut to Moon, not as Spy Mission in Low polar Orbit.

Second: USAF got Gemini from NASA for own programs, since NRO sticks to USAF to launch there hardware.
So was the Gemini logical good choice since that Hardware had flew, while Apollo had terrible accident with 3 dead astronaut.

Third: a Saturn Ib cannot bring a Apollo CSM and Spy hardware together in Low polar Orbit from KSC
so insane it sound, they needed a Saturn V to do the Job !
Since Apollo is High priory Program for Moon landing, NASA would be not so happy to give needed Saturn V to NRO for Apollo Spy missions.
also the Extrem cost of such mission pace the benefits and results.
Here was the Titan IIIM much cheaper Launcher !

Forth: Do we need manned systems ?
During MOL program the concept of Manned Spy station was outdated by new Technology
eliminated the need for Human on board.
A similar fate a MOL with Apollo hardware would have in 1968. As expensive obsolete concept...
 

Archibald

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There were talks about merging (or trying to merge) MOL and AAP wet workshop circa 1965-66. Congress wondered why the United States were developping two space stations, a civilian (that become Skylab) and a military (MOL). A reluctant NASA and a very pissed-off USAF / NRO patiently explained Congress that their requirements were much, much differents.
Go to this page and put "AAP" in the search engine. There are a dozen of documents on the subject.
http://www.nro.gov/foia/declass/collections.html

There were talks about Skylab / MOL merging, and an Apollo carrying a KH-7 on its nose, and of Skylab carrying the module in its place. NASA also briefly examined civilian MOL modules for Apollo - MOL pressure vessels stripped of every single NRO hardware.
 

carmelo

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Michel Van said:
First: Apollo was High priory Program to get Astronaut to Moon, not as Spy Mission in Low polar Orbit.

Since Apollo is High priory Program for Moon landing, NASA would be not so happy to give needed Saturn V to NRO for Apollo Spy missions.
Michel i not have well understand..you can clarify me a point ?
We assume by hypothesis that USAF had decided to use Apollo hardware for his purposes.
I presume that in this case USAF would have ordered Apollo vehicles to North American Rockwell and Saturn rockets to Chrysler and Douglas Aircraft Company...NASA would not have given his Apollo capsules and his rockets.
So,i not see interference with lunar program...the corporations would have had two different customers from the same products
(and,i imagine,built more capsules and more rockets).
 

carmelo

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Archibald said:
There were talks about merging (or trying to merge) MOL and AAP wet workshop circa 1965-66. Congress wondered why the United States were developping two space stations, a civilian (that become Skylab) and a military (MOL). A reluctant NASA and a very pissed-off USAF / NRO patiently explained Congress that their requirements were much, much differents.
Go to this page and put "AAP" in the search engine. There are a dozen of documents on the subject.
http://www.nro.gov/foia/declass/collections.html

There were talks about Skylab / MOL merging, and an Apollo carrying a KH-7 on its nose, and of Skylab carrying the module in its place. NASA also briefly examined civilian MOL modules for Apollo - MOL pressure vessels stripped of every single NRO hardware.
Wow!
Very,very,very, interesting,thanks !!

http://www.nro.gov/search.html?cx=015590104425676775007%3Agytvgaaswoc&cof=FORID%3A10&ie=UTF-8&q=AAP&sa=

"Additionally, the Michoud facility might eventually be phased out, and Saturn V fabrication transferred to the Marshall Space Flight Center. There Nasa, employing 'arsenal" concept, could the utilize NASA personnel for production of the limited number of Saturn Vs required for further lunar exploration, deep space 'and/or the large earth orbiting station. under study by NASA".
 

Archibald

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Those declassified NRO documents are fascinating. Ten years ago I started writting a big alt-history about the space program. During that decade all those documents were declassified and Blackstar (God bless his soul) analyzed them and published a lot of things at The Space Review, in Quest, and elsewhere. This was a godsend for my imagination and writting.
I did not knew much about the NRO and spysats, but the entire story is fascinating. Notably their interactions with NASA.

NASA and NRO (so far, what we know)

- Lunar Orbiter technology was borrowed from a failed spysat, SAMOS
- LM&SS: Apollo to carry a KH-7 in lunar orbit. Further proposals to attach the thing to Skylab.
- PERCHERON: General electric proposal for "discount" spysats to NASA
- CORONA satellites proposed as alternatives to Landsat for remote sensing
- Skylab and STS-1 imaged by the NRO to help NASA
- NASA interest in the cancelled MOL 72-inch mirrors - which ended on the ground-based MMT telescope in Arizona
- Studies to launch KH-9 and KH-11 from the space shuttle, thus the 15X60 ft payload bay - it was the NRO that requested it
- Hubble & KH-11 connection (the 94-inch mirrors, Kodak, Perkin Elmers, Lockheed)
- and finally - the failed FIA spysats given to NASA in 2012 for WFIRST
There are probably a bunch of other join projects like this, waiting in the archives.

That's quite a lot of interactions between a civilian, white agency and a deep classified, black military / intelligence agency...
 

Michel Van

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carmelo said:
Michel Van said:
First: Apollo was High priory Program to get Astronaut to Moon, not as Spy Mission in Low polar Orbit.

Since Apollo is High priory Program for Moon landing, NASA would be not so happy to give needed Saturn V to NRO for Apollo Spy missions.
Michel i not have well understand..you can clarify me a point ?
The Apollo program was JFK Presidential Order and supported by LBJ Administration.
There goal to beat the Soviet in Moon race and that was top priority nothing else.
and the Pentagon with NRO can't simply walk into NASA and say "hey we need bunch of Saturn V with Apollo CSM for secrets missions"
special during Apollo Hardware Testing phase in middle of 1960s NASA response is "GO TO USAF"

Next to that is Capitol Hill asking "ehh why are Saturn V with Apollo CSM diverted from Moon Program, toward the Military ?!"
the politicians would go ballistic on launch cost a Saturn V cost $1.16 billion compared to Titan IIIM with $0.20 Billion (in today value)
from this point of view MOL mission was cheaper for NRO as a CSM mission
but the MOL concept became obsolete do new technology and manned component was removed what gave more savings.
 

carmelo

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Michel Van said:
carmelo said:
Michel Van said:
First: Apollo was High priory Program to get Astronaut to Moon, not as Spy Mission in Low polar Orbit.

Since Apollo is High priory Program for Moon landing, NASA would be not so happy to give needed Saturn V to NRO for Apollo Spy missions.
Michel i not have well understand..you can clarify me a point ?
The Apollo program was JFK Presidential Order and supported by LBJ Administration.
There goal to beat the Soviet in Moon race and that was top priority nothing else.
and the Pentagon with NRO can't simply walk into NASA and say "hey we need bunch of Saturn V with Apollo CSM for secrets missions"
special during Apollo Hardware Testing phase in middle of 1960s NASA response is "GO TO USAF"

Next to that is Capitol Hill asking "ehh why are Saturn V with Apollo CSM diverted from Moon Program, toward the Military ?!"
the politicians would go ballistic on launch cost a Saturn V cost $1.16 billion compared to Titan IIIM with $0.20 Billion (in today value)
from this point of view MOL mission was cheaper for NRO as a CSM mission
but the MOL concept became obsolete do new technology and manned component was removed what gave more savings.
I have read the papers of NRO.
Seems that the concept above comes out from a study on the possibility to use for the USAF purposes one of early AAP proposals: "Apollo X".
We are in 1965.

Anyway if for absurd USAF had decided to use Apollo and saturn for his own space program ( we talk in hypothetical way), i think that would not have been none interference with NASA or Apollo lunar program.
Simply USAF would have ordered to Rockwell,Chrysler and Douglas to produce Apollo vehicles and Saturn rockets, in paralel to Apollo and Saturn for NASA.
So none CSM or Saturn would have diverted from NASA Apollo program.

This obviously is a hypotetical talk,because as you rightly point out MOL mission was cheaper for NRO as a CSM mission.
 

blackstar

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Archibald said:
- Studies to launch KH-9 and KH-11 from the space shuttle, thus the 15X60 ft payload bay - it was the NRO that requested it
You should add ZEUS, which would have involved a high-powered camera in the shuttle bay (also some deployable cameras). Would not necessarily have required all-military crews, could have included NASA shuttle and partial NASA crews.
 

Byeman

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carmelo said:
Simply USAF would have ordered to Rockwell,Chrysler and Douglas to produce Apollo vehicles and Saturn rockets, in paralel to Apollo and Saturn for NASA.
So none CSM or Saturn would have diverted from NASA Apollo program.
No, NASA would not allow that. Gemini-B and Blue Gemini was ok with NASA because it was going to be finished with Gemini and the USAF could just take over.

And it is not that simple just to buy the vehicles, the USAF would have needed a MSOB to prepare the spacecraft and also crew training facilities.
 

Byeman

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carmelo said:
Anyone have information on this proposal,or know because was rejected in favor of MOL?
Was from from Rockwell or a USAF internal proposal ?
Never heard of it. If so, it was likely Rockwell.
 

Byeman

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carmelo said:
Wow!
Very,very,very, interesting,thanks !!

http://www.nro.gov/search.html?cx=015590104425676775007%3Agytvgaaswoc&cof=FORID%3A10&ie=UTF-8&q=AAP&sa=

"Additionally, the Michoud facility might eventually be phased out, and Saturn V fabrication transferred to the Marshall Space Flight Center. There Nasa, employing 'arsenal" concept, could the utilize NASA personnel for production of the limited number of Saturn Vs required for further lunar exploration, deep space 'and/or the large earth orbiting station. under study by NASA".
Not really. The first S-IC stages were produced at MSFC. Also, this was just the first stage and not the second or third.
 

Archibald

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I would not be surprised if North American tried his chance, making an Apollo CSM sale pitch to the NRO...

"why would only Lockheed or G.E benefit from LM&SS when an Apollo CSM, that I build, is involved in the scheme ?"
 

Michel Van

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Grumman try that with Lunar module
They wanted to sell the LM as Covert Space Denial around 1964 to USAF
But USAF was not Impress

http://www.astronautix.com/a/apollolmcsd.html
 

Archibald

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There is also project Able, the LM with giant reflectors to turn night into day over the Ho Chi Minh trail...
 

chimeric oncogene

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There is also project Able, the LM with giant reflectors to turn night into day over the Ho Chi Minh trail...
The giant reflector (~100m?) was intended to make the Ho Chi Minh trail bright enough for starlight scopes and other sensors to work, not turn night into day. Think Venus-bright, not full-moon bright. A similar proposal was made under Destination Mankind/ManStar, to celebrate the US bicentennial. The brightness would have been 1/10 that of a full moon.

 

blackstar

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A friend of mine told me that in 1964 circa was a proposal to USAF (maybe from North American Rockwell) for a alternative to MOL/GeminiB surveillance laboratories.
The proposal was based on Apollo hardware and tecnology.
A Saturn ( i believe Saturn 1B) would have put in orbit two USAF Astropilots in a Apollo command/service module for LEO.
The crew maneuvered the Apollo 180° to dock with the S-IVB adapter and extract a recoinnassance module.
They would have bet the recoinnassance module on earth surface,and started a one/two weeks surveillance mission.
Finally,the CMP would have accomplished a EVA for retire the films from cameras in the recoinnassance module.
At last the recoinnassance module would have been jettisoned and the Command Module would be returned.

.....

Anyone have information on this proposal,or know because was rejected in favor of MOL?
Was from from Rockwell or a USAF internal proposal ?
Looking back at this post, I think your source was misremembering. There was an "Apollo X" proposal from the latter 1960s that would have involved a large sensor platform that an Apollo CSM would have pulled out of the upper stage and operated in Earth orbit. But this was not an NRO program, just NASA Earth remote sensing. The Apollo Applications Program had a lot of iterations and side proposals.
 

Archibald

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Well there were proposals for G.E KH-7 (PERCHERON) and Lockheed KH-8 (UPWARD) . Spysat technology for NASA maybe but NOT for military purposes, since this is not the job of the space agency - not its charter, plus its transparency would be a disaster as far as spying goes. UPWARD and PERCHERON were G.E and Lockheed proposals to NASA to use spysat technology BUT for remote sensing, somewhat a "super LANDSAT". Of course the NRO blew a fuse and shot down these proposals.
 

Graham1973

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Here's a picture of the AAP-1a mission sensor 'bus', somewhere I have the documentation for this one.
 

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blackstar

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Here's a picture of the AAP-1a mission sensor 'bus', somewhere I have the documentation for this one.
Yeah, that's it. I've seen a report description of this, possibly with some line drawings. I cannot remember if there was a very extensive (hundreds of pages) report done, but the fact that they built a physical model of it implies that they did a more extensive study.

The problem with this concept is the standard one for all these low Earth orbit platforms that include humans: what do you need the humans for? You could take that sensor platform and add a bus and solar panels and not only would it have a much longer lifetime in orbit, but it would undoubtedly be a lot cheaper. A similar argument was made for flying the DAMON payload in the space shuttle when proponents claimed that they could avoid the expense of a satellite bus because the shuttle would provide the power and pointing. Except that while you may have saved money in the short term, you have also dramatically limited the lifetime of the mission, although at least in the shuttle case--unlike this Apollo proposal--you were not throwing the entire human spacecraft away at the end of the mission.

There was a lot of unreality around the AAP proposals of the 1960s. It was like many of the people working on them had no idea how projects got approved and funded. So there were people proposing monthly launching Skylab-type missions and using them for "weather observation" (oblivious to the existence of Tiros). I think that in the mid-60s so much money was going to NASA that a lot of people forgot that it was really only because of the lunar goal, so they started imagining all kinds of other things to do. They started to face harsh reality by around 1966-67 when the budgets began heading south and the layoffs began.
 

Graham1973

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I've found the documentation I have, which all dates from 1967. From a quick re-read it looks to have been a quickest into orbit option to test instrumentation with a flight duration of around 14 days. Amusingly the study had a 'target' launch date of 1 April, 1969. I'm attaching a screenshot of the scaled diagram from the document 'AAP 1A Mission Study, Final Report (September 1967).
 

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Graham1973

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I searched the NTRS and located most of what I have on that system, (For some reason Part 2 of the 'Compilation of Trade Studies, Engineering Analyses and Other Reports Prepared During AAP Mission 1A 60-day Study' is not online, nor is the document I mentioned in my last post.), what it looks like is an attempt to carry out the mission objectives of Skylab, without going to the expense of building a space station, though I have seen drawings from around that period showing that carrier docked with Skylab at one of the then four MDA docking ports.

Here are the documents still on the NTRS that relate to hardware.

Technical Data AAP Mission 1A 60-day Study (53mb)

Compilation of Trade Studies, Engineering Analyses and Other Reports Prepared During AAP Mission 1A 60-day Study, Part 1 (35mb)

Compilation of Trade Studies, Engineering Analyses and Other Reports Prepared During AAP Mission 1A 60-day Study, Part 3 (9.5mb)
 
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