Feb 11

Space Rocket History #148 – Apollo 4: Operation Big Shot

“…our building’s shaking here. Our building’s shaking! Oh it’s terrific, the building’s shaking! This big blast window is shaking! We’re holding it with our hands! Look at that rocket go into the clouds at 3000 feet!…you can see it…you can see it…oh the roar is terrific!…”  Walter Cronkite – Apollo 4 launch.

Apollo 4 mating of SC -017 with Saturn 501

Apollo 4 mating of SC -017 with Saturn 501

Apollo 4 on Launch Pad

Apollo 4 on Launch Pad

Apollo 4 the night before the launch

Apollo 4 the night before the launch

Apollo 4 lift off from LC-39A.

Apollo 4 lift off from LC-39A.

Apollo 4 leaves the launch pad

Apollo 4 leaves the launch pad

View of crescent Earth from Apollo 4.

View of crescent Earth from Apollo 4.

Nov 12

Space Rocket History #137 – Apollo 1: Changes and Recovery

After the uncertain days of February 1967, NASA officials began to realize that a recovery from the tragedy was under way. Through hard work and problem solving, morale of Nasa personnel started to improve…

Remains of Launch Complex 34

Remains of Launch Complex 34

Memorial benches on the edge of launch pad 34

Memorial benches on the edge of launch pad 34

Memorial plaque attached to launch pad 34

Memorial plaque attached to launch pad 34

Memorial plaque attached to launch pad 34

Memorial plaque attached to launch pad 34

Apollo 1 medallion flown on Apollo 9

Apollo 1 medallion flown on Apollo 9

Aug 20

Space Rocket History #126 – Apollo-Saturn IB: AS-201, AS-202, and AS-203

Apollo Saturn 201 employed the Saturn IB launch vehicle, which  was the up-rated version of the Saturn I rocket flown in ten earlier Saturn-Apollo missions. It featured an upgrade of the first stage engines to increase thrust from 1,500,000 lb-ft of thrust to 1,600,000 lb-ft. The second stage was the S-IVB.  This stage used a new liquid hydrogen-burning J-2 engine which would also be used on the S-II second stage of the Saturn V lunar launch vehicle…

AS-201 Recovery

AS-201 Recovery

Apollo-Saturn 201 Launch

Apollo-Saturn 201 Launch

AS-202 Launch

AS-202 Launch

AS-203 Launch

AS-203 Launch

Jul 23

Space Rocket History #122 – Apollo: Serious Problems with the Lunar Module and Grumman

Toward the end of January 1967, it was revealed that Lunar Module 1 would not reach the Cape in February, as expected. This meant, the moon landing might be delayed because the lander was not ready. But the mission planners could not wait for the Apollo engineers to iron out all the problems. They had to plan for a landing in 1969 and hope that the hardware would catch up with them.

Lunar Module Diagram

Lunar Module Diagram

John Disher Explains the Components of the Apollo Program

John Disher Explains Apollo Components

Lunar Module Test Article LTA-2R

Lunar Module Test Article LTA-2R

Jul 16

Space Rocket History #121 – Pegasus Wings inside SA-8 (AS-104), SA-9 (AS-103), & SA-10 (AS-105) and a Command Module update for 1965

The Pegasus satellite was named for the winged horse of Greek mythology.  Like its namesake, the Pegasus was notable for its “wings”, a pair of 29 meter long, 4.3 meter wide arrays of 104 panels fitted with sensors to detect punctures by micrometeoroids at high altitudes.  In its stored position with panels folded inside the Apollo service module, the Pegasus was 5.3-meters high, 2.1 meters wide, and 28-cm deep.

Pegasus Stowed Inside the Boilerplate Service Module

Pegasus Stowed Inside the Boilerplate Service Module

Pegasus Micrometeoroid Detection Satellite Deployed

Pegasus Micrometeoroid Detection Satellite Deployed

Pegasus Deployment Sequence

Pegasus Deployment Sequence

SA-9 Launch

SA-9 Launch

SA-8 Launch

SA-8 Launch

SA-10 Launch

SA-10 Launch

Interior of Command Module

Interior of Command Module

Jul 09

Space Rocket History #120 – Apollo: Stages S-IV and S-IVB

The key to high-energy stages was to use liquid hydrogen as the fuel.  Liquid hydrogen fuel appealed to rocket designers because of its high specific impulse, which is a basic measure of rocket performance. Specific Impulse is the impulse delivered per unit of propellant consumed.  You might think of it as the efficiency of the rocket.  Compared to an RP-1 (kerosene) fueled engine of similar size, liquid hydrogen fuel could increase the specific impulse or efficiency of an engine by 40 percent.  The combination of hydrogen and oxygen for propellants made the moon shot feasible.

S-IV Rocket Stage

S-IV Rocket Stage

S-IV & S-IVB Stage Position

S-IV & S-IVB Stage Position

S-IV Stage in Saturn IB and V

S-IV Stage in Saturn IB and V

S-IVB Differences Between Saturn IB and V

S-IVB Differences Between Saturn IB and V

Jul 02

Space Rocket History #119 – Apollo: Lunar Module Design – Part 3

At various stages of lunar module design, mockup reviews were conducted to demonstrate progress and identify weaknesses. These inspections were formal occasions, with a board composed of NASA and contractor officials and presided over by a chairman from the Apollo office in Houston.

Rendezvous Radar Antenna

Rendezvous Radar Antenna

TM-1 Mockup of the LEM

TM-1 Mockup of the LEM

Lunar Module in the Stack

Lunar Module in the Stack

Panel Separation by Explosive Charge

Panel Separation by Explosive Charge

Removing the LEM

Removing the LEM

Jun 17

Space Rocket History #118 – Apollo: Lunar Module Design – Part 2

The Lunar Lander originally had two docking hatches, one at the top center of the cabin and another in the forward position, or nose, of the vehicle, with a tunnel in each location to permit astronauts to crawl from one pressurized vehicle to the other…

A rope instead of a ladder?

A rope instead of a ladder?

Ladder works better than a rope.

Ladder works better than a rope.

Improved Lunar Module

Improved Lunar Module