May 07

Space Rocket History #112 – Apollo: Headquarters

“The contractor role in Houston was not very firm. Frankly, they didn’t want us. There were two things against us down there. Number one, it was a Headquarters contract, and it was decreed that the Space Centers shall use GE for certain things; and number two they considered us (meaning GE) to be  Headquarters spies.”  Edward S. Miller of General Electric.

GE Employees Monitor Activities of a Spacecraft Test

GE Employees Monitor Activities of a Spacecraft Test

Comparison of Spacecraft and Launch Vehicles Configurations

Comparison of Spacecraft and Launch Vehicles Configurations

Apollo Tracking Network

Apollo Tracking Network

Apr 30

Space Rocket History #111 – Apollo: Early Lunar Module Design and Saturn SA-3”

During 1962, NASA faced three major tasks: first the mode selection and its defense (covered in episodes 106-109), second keeping North American moving on the command and service modules (covered in episode 110) and third finding a contractor to develop the separate landing vehicle required by that approach.  Which we will cover today in episode 111.

One-eighth scale Lunar Module shown by Grumman

One-eighth scale Lunar Module shown by Grumman

Bell Aerospace Lunar Landing Research Vehicle

Bell Aerospace Lunar Landing Research Vehicle

Saturn SA-3 Launch

Saturn SA-3 Launch

Apr 23

Space Rocket History #110 – Early Apollo Command Module Design

The Apollo contract specified a shirt-sleeve environment. For this reason, North American was told not to include in its design a hatch that opened by explosives, like Mercury’s. An accidentally blown hatch in space would cause an instant vacuum and certain death for an astronaunt not wearing his pressure suit.

Major parts of the CM Structure

Major parts of the CM Structure

NAA Apollo Team Storms, Paup, and Feltz

NAA Apollo Team Storms, Paup, and Feltz

Carpenter, Glenn, & Schirra in a full-scale mock up of the CM

Carpenter, Glenn, & Schirra in a full-scale mock up of the CM

The Impact Facility at NAA

The Impact Facility at NAA

Interior of a partial full-scale mockup of CM

Interior of a partial full-scale mockup of CM

Complete Apollo Family

Complete Apollo Family

Jan 29

Space Rocket History #98 – Apollo Beginnings

President Kennedy proposed the manned lunar landing as the focus of the US space program but, at the time of his address, only one American, Alan B. Shepard, Jr. had been into space, on a suborbital lob shot lasting 15 minutes. No rocket launch vehicle was available for a lunar voyage and there was no agreed upon method for placing any kind of spacecraft safely on the lunar surface and getting it back to the earth. Nor was there agreement within NASA itself on how it should be done.

Astronauts leave the spacecraft to investigate the lunar surface.

Astronauts leave the spacecraft to investigate the lunar surface.

The return vehicle takes off from the moon.

The return vehicle takes off from the moon.

The reentry vehicle begins to enter the atmosphere after jettisoning the propulsion unit.

The reentry vehicle begins to enter the atmosphere after jettisoning the propulsion unit.

Jan 23

Space Rocket History #47 – Gemini Concepts

This brings us to Project Gemini.  Gemini started after Apollo had begun, in part to answer a crucial question for Apollo. Was rendezvous and docking in orbit a feasible basis for a manned lunar landing mission?

One Man Space Station

One Man Space Station

Rendezvous Concepts

Rendezvous Concepts

Mark II Spacecraft

Mark II Spacecraft