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[i]July 17 
NASA Associate Administrator George E. Mueller, Apollo Program Director Samuel C. Phillips, and other high-ranking manned space flight officials from Headquarters visited Bethpage for an overall review of the LM program. Greatest emphasis during their review was on schedules, technical problems, and qualification of the spacecraft's principal subsystems. Mueller and Phillips cited several areas that most concerned NASA: [list][*]Delivery schedules from subcontractors and vendors had slipped significantly during the past year, to the point where many components were only marginally supporting spacecraft deliveries.
[*]The large number of hardware changes made during the past year was affecting costs and schedules.
[*]Costs forecast for Fiscal Year 1969 exceeded the current LM budget.[/list][/i]
[i]Events and the situation during June and July had indicated to Low that the only way for the "in this decade" goal to be attained was to launch the Saturn 503/CSM 103 LM-3 mission in 1968. During June and July the projected launch slipped from November to December, with no assurance of a December launch. Later, Low recalled "the possibility of a circumlunar or lunar orbit mission during 1968, using AS-503 and CSM 103 first occurred to me as a contingency mission.
During the period of July 20-August 5, pogo problems that had arisen on Apollo 6 seemed headed toward resolution; work on the CSM slowed, but progress was satisfactory; delivery was scheduled at KSC during the second week in August and the spacecraft was exceptionally clean. The LM still required a lot of work and chances were slim for a 1968 launch.[/i]
[i]At the same time the LEM was causing such headaches, CIA agents working overseas picked up even more disturbing news. According to the whispers coming from Baikonur Cosmodrome, the Soviet Union was making tentative plans for a flight around the moon by a Zond spacecraft sometime before the end of the year. Nobody knew if the flight would be manned, but the Zond line was certainly capable of carrying a crew, and if a decade of getting sucker-punched by Soviet space triumphs had indicated anything, it was that when Moscow had even the possibility of pulling off a space coup, they’d give it a try.[/i]
[i]But by August Gilruth and others had concluded that LM-3 would not be ready for flight that year. This finding left NASA with two excellent command modules, 101 and 103, but no lunar module companions. Low had already recognized this likelihood in July, after Kennedy found the many deficiencies in LM-3. If a lunar module could not be manned in 1968, he reasoned that Saturn V 503 and CSM-103 might be used for a circumlunar or lunar-orbit flight. Low kept his own counsel for a while, waiting for the Saturn V pogo problem to be resolved.
On 7 August, Low asked Kraft to work out a flight plan for such a mission during 1968.[/i]
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