EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- An air Force jet transport which will play an important communications role in the Apollo moon program landed here today for the start of an intensive flight test program.
L zoom to Cu Air Force EC-135N on ramp at Tulsa
M Jet taxies out for takeoff
M Takeoff of aircraft
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Background: EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- An air Force jet transport which will play an important communications role in the Apollo moon program landed here today for the start of an intensive flight test program.
The four-engine EC-135N, second of a fleet of eight, arrived from Tulsa, Okla., where it had undergone airframe changes at the Douglas Aircraft Modification Division, prime contractor for the Apollo Range Instrumented Aircraft (A/RIA) program.
Major subcontrator for the electronics is Bendix Corp. The overall program in under the direction of the Air Force Systems Command's Electronic Systems Division, Bedford, Mass.
The A/RIA fleet will provide a highly mobile communications network which can be quickly shifted to provide coverage in areas where ground or sea stations cannot offer maximum radio and telemetry contact with Apollo astronauts. The aircraft also will be used on Air Force space missions.
Major gaps exist in the capability of ground and seaborne stations for communications coverage of the planned Apollo lunar mission, including the critical phase in which the spacecraft is injected into the translunar trajectory. This restriction will be removed from the Apollo program by the ??? Purpose of the test program here is to check out the EC-135N's aerodynamic and structural characteristics following the extensive modification.
Most prominent addition to the big jet is a huge protruding radome attached at the nose. The 10-foot-long bulb will house a seven-foot VHF and S-band parabolic dish antenna which will scan for a spacecraft, lock onto it and then transmit and receive voice and telemetry communications.
The first EC-135N off the Douglas modification line made its maiden flight last Sept. 19. It is now undergoing installation of electronic gear and testing at Tulsa, prior to a comprehensive program of electronics flight testing.
Four of the aircraft also will be equipped with optical tracking and photographic equipment.Scenes below were made at Douglas Aircraft Co., Tulsa plant, prior to takeoff for Edwards Air Force Base.