Apr 09

Space Rocket History #108 – Apollo: The Mode Decision – Part 3

“I would like to reiterate once more that it is absolutely mandatory that we arrive at a definite mode decision within the next few weeks. . . . If we do not make a clear-cut decision on the mode very soon, our chances of accomplishing the first lunar expedition in this decade will fade away rapidly.” Wernher Von Braun June 7, 1962.

Rocket Comparison

Rocket Comparison

Shea demonstrates Lunar Docking

Shea demonstrates Lunar Docking

Lunar orbit insertion

Lunar orbit insertion

Apr 02

Space Rocket History #107 – Apollo: The Mode Decision – Part 2

Langley’s brochure for the Golovin Committee described Lunar landers of varied sizes and payload capabilities.  There were illustrations and data on a very small lander that was able to carry one man for 2 to 4 hours on the moon.  There was an “economy” model that could two men for a 24-hour stay. The third model was called the “plush” module, it would carry two men for a 7-day stay on the moon. Weight estimates for the three craft, without fuel, were 580, 1,010, and 1,790 kilograms, respectively…

Langley's Small Lunar Lander Concept.

Langley’s Small Lunar Lander Concept.

Proposed Lunar Lander for an Advanced Mercury

Proposed Lunar Lander for an Advanced Mercury

Design Concepts of Saturn C-1 thru C-5

Design Concepts of Saturn C-1 thru C-5

Mar 26

Space Rocket History #106 – Apollo: The Mode Decision – Part 1

The mode that Apollo would use to land on the moon was the most studied, analyzed, and debated decision made for the lunar landing program.  There were four main choices Direct-ascent, Earth-Orbit Rendezvous, Lunar-Orbit Rendezvous, and Lunar Surface Rendezvous.

Direct Ascent Landing Modes

Direct Ascent Landing Modes

Lunar Surface Rendezvous

Lunar Surface Rendezvous

Rendezvous Methods

Three Rendezvous Methods

Comparison of Lander Sizes

Comparison of Lander Sizes

Apollo Spacecraft Configuration Changes

Apollo Spacecraft Configuration Changes

Mar 05

Space Rocket History #103 – Saturn Development 1957 – 1960

Many historians agree, the U.S. took its first step toward the moon in the spring of 1957, four years before President Kennedy declared the national goal of landing a man on the Moon, and returning him safely to the Earth. While still preparing for the launch of its first Jupiter (May 31 1957), the Army rocket team at Huntsville, Alabama, began studies of a booster ten times more powerful than the 150,000-pound thrust Jupiter…

Configuration of a Clustered Booster

Clustered Booster

Thor-Jupiter Engine

Thor-Jupiter Engine

Early H-1 Engine

Early H-1 Engine

Launch Complex 34, Cape Canaveral

Launch Complex 34 Cape Canaveral

Saturn B

Proposed Saturn B Rocket

Saturn C

Proposed Saturn C Rocket

Saturn with Titan & Atlas Upper Stages

Saturn with Titan & Atlas Upper Stages

Saturn C-1 and Earlier Vehicles

Saturn C-1 and Earlier Vehicles

Proposed Saturn C-2

Proposed Saturn C-2 Rocket

Booster Stage (S-I)

Booster Stage (S-I)

Second Stage (S-IV)

Second Stage (S-IV)

May 30

Space Rocket History #14 – US Space 1958 – Explorer, Vanguard, Pioneer, and NASA

In late March, 1958, President Eisenhower publicly announced the United States’ intention to launch a spacecraft to the Moon.  He assured the nation that  this was not science fiction.  It was an achievable goal presented by leading scientists.  The announcement came less than 2 months after the first US satellite had reached orbit.  The President was committing the nation to a space race to the moon with the Soviets.  If all went well the country would have a spacecraft in orbit around the moon before the summer was over.

Vanguard_1

Vanguard 1 Satellite

Vanguard 1

Vanguard 1

Pioneer_I_on_the_Launch_Pad_-_GPN-2002-000204

Pioneer 1 on the Launch Pad

Pioneer Satellite Replica

Pioneers 0-2 Satellite Replica

 

753px-Pioneer_3

Pioneer 3

May 16

Space Rocket History #12 – Vanguard TV3 – Flopnik

It seemed as if the gates of hell had opened up.  Brilliant stiletto flames shot out from the side of the rocket near the engine. The vehicle agonizingly hesitated for a moment, quivered again, and in front of our unbelieving eyes, began to topple. It sank like a great flaming sword down into the blast tube it toppled slowly breaking apart, hitting part of the test guard and ground with a tremendous roar that could be felt and heard even behind the 2 food concrete wall of the blockhouse. For a moment or two there was complete disbelief. I could see it in the faces. I could feel it myself.”  

Vang1

Vanguard TV3 Launch

Vang2

Vanguard TV3 Diagram

Vang4

Vanguard Satellite