The Lunar Surface

We stress here that those beliefs were completely valid when applied with the caveat Noel used, for issues relating to the bearing strength of lunar dust. They were valid in the context of the close-up photos by Ranger spacecraft that gave rise to them. Noel's "dismissal" belief was also valid subject to this caveat in consensus of the 1965 IAU-NASA Symposium "The Nature of the Lunar Surface", which concluded that it was safe for humans to land on the Moon of with a surface of fine, powdered dust.

However, on September 22, 1966, in his consultant role for Bellcomm, Hinners recommended (Memorandum NASA -CR-153663) relaxing a dust specification in (ALSEP Environmental Specification Revision: Lunar Dust (Bellcomm, Inc). The Abstract of an 8-page report recommends for ALSEP requirements that  dust was "less of a potential problem than originally believed." His recommendation was that "vertical and then other non-horizontal surfaces be considered dust free." The Introduction contains the admission that the existing specification for ALSEP "calls for satisfactory operation of the package on the lunar surface even when exterior surfaces and the components are completely covered with lunar surface material or "dust". "As one might suspect, this presents a difficult thermal control problem for certain components (e.g. the passive seismic experiment)."

The Memorandum then states "Combined with recent press  reports that Surveyor 1 has given no impression of lunar dust, this has led to a desire to re-evaluate the environmental specifications in the hope that it may be relaxed and thus relieve some of the engineering problems." (emphasis not in original).

Such a lightly-based reason for a recommendation can be questioned at any time. The reference to Surveyor 1 is evidence of haste. Six Surveyors were dedicated to assist Apollo planning and design. On 17 November, 1967, jet engines of Surveyor 6 were test-fired to  lift it a modest few meters which produced irrefutable photos of before-and-after dust effects. One cannot be a Monday-quarter back to judge such decisions under very heavy pressing schedules and collateral decisions depending on successions of such judgements. Nevertheless, making important decisions based on recent press reports from the first Surveyor certainly did nothing within NASA or Bellcomm to counteract the "dismissal" of dust without the 1964 caveat.