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Effect of Sterilization in Spacecraft DesignModern spacecraft design no longer involves only the Engineering Sciences. To get "the bugs" out of a system must now be taken literally to signify eradication of actual free-living microorganisms. A severe impact of a non-sterilized space vehicle could result in overt, reckless contamination, virtually eliminating a celestial body as a scientific base for the exobiological phases of space exploration. Recognizing the potentially damaging effects of septic launches, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration in December, 1960 authorized spacecraft sterilization and decontamination as National policy, thereby elevating the space effort onto a higher scientific plane. In the NASA directive, the basic reasons for sterilization were established, viz., "to preserve clues to the origin of life and of the universe, which may be hidden beneath the lunar strata or under the atmospheres of strange planets, to prevent inadvertent seeding of extraterrestrial surfaces by earth-life cultures, and to protect the earth from mutual contamination." In light of the foregoing, spacecraft sterilization should be regarded as the most significant single mission as well as design requirement of planetary space exploration --- especially if our objectives are primarily scientific.
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
Albin M Nowitzky (Lockheed Missiles and Space Company Sunnyvale, California, United States)
Date Acquired
August 1, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 1962
Publication Information
Publication: Proceedings of the National Meeting on Manned Space Flight (Unclassified Portion)
Subject Category
Spacecraft Design, Testing and Performance
Meeting Information
National Meeting on Manned Space Flight(St. Louis, MO)
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.
Ranger project
Lunar probe

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IDRelationTitle19620004468Analytic PrimaryProceedings of the National Meeting on Manned Space Flight (Unclassified Portion)
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