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 18

Space Rocket History #105 – Saturn’s First Flight – SA-1 – Part 2

No previous maiden launch had gone flawlessly, and the Saturn C-1 was considerably more complicated than any rocket launched thus far. Launch Operations Directorate officials gave the rocket a 75% chance of getting off the ground, and a 30% chance of completing the eight-minute flight…

LC-34 Block House Control Room

LC-34 Block House Control Room

Abe Silverstein, Director of Space Flight

Abe Silverstein, Director of Space Flight

Liftoff or Saturn SA-1

All Eight Engines Firing and Liftoff of Saturn SA-1

Saturn SA-1 on Launch Pad 34

Saturn SA-1 on Launch Pad 34

Saturn SA-1 Leaving the Pad

Saturn SA-1 Leaving the Pad

Saturn SA-1  in Flight.

The First Saturn (SA-1) in Flight.

The Michoud Facility near New Orleans

The Michoud Facility near New Orleans

Ground Breaking at MSC

Ground Breaking at MSC

Mar 12

Space Rocket History #104 – Saturn’s First Flight – SA-1 – Part 1

Just as launch complex 34 dwarfed its predecessors, Saturn’s checkout represented a new magnitude in launch operations. The Saturn C-1 stood three times higher, required six times more fuel, and produced ten times more thrust than the Jupiter. Its size, was only a part of the challenge to the Launch Operations Directorate at Cape Canaveral…

Early Concepts of C-1 and C5

Early Concepts of C-1 and C5

First Horizontal Mating of Saturn

First Horizontal Mating of Saturn

Configuration of Saturn Block 1 and 2

Configuration of Saturn Block 1 and 2

Test of the Palaemon Barge

Test of the Palaemon Barge

Booster Movement around Wheeler Dam

Booster Movement around Wheeler Dam

S-I & S-IV Stages Aboard Compromise Barge

S-I & S-IV Stages Aboard Barge

Route of the Barge from Tenn. to Fla.

Route of the Barge from Tenn. to Fla.

Unloading Barge in Florida

Unloading Barge in Florida

Lifting Saturn SA-1 First Stage

Lifting Saturn SA-1 First Stage

Hoisting Saturn SA-1 First Stage

Hoisting Saturn SA-1 First Stage

Erecting the Upper Stages of Saturn SA-1

Erecting the Upper Stages of Saturn SA-1

Launch Complex 34 from the Air

Launch Complex 34 from the Air

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)

Feb 26

Space Rocket History #102 – Apollo: Preliminary Design Part 3 – Command Module Contract, Mode, and Launch Vehicles

Max Faget thought the first stage of the moon rocket should use four solid-fueled engines, 6.6 meters in diameter.  He reasoned these could certainly accomplish whatever mission was required of either the Saturn or Nova, and it would be more cost effective.  Faget said it made good sense to use cheap solid fuels for expendable rockets and more expensive liquid fuels for reusable engines. Faget called the individual solid rocket ‘the Tiger.’

Artist Conception of Apollo Direct Accent

Artist Conception of Apollo Direct Accent

Earth Orbit Rendezvous

Earth Orbit Rendezvous

John Houbolt Explains Lunar Orbit Rendezvous

John Houbolt Explains Lunar Orbit Rendezvous

Feb 19

Space Rocket History #101 – Apollo: Preliminary Design Part 2 – Mode, Command Module, and Astronavigation.

In May 1961, NASA was not really prepared to direct an enormous Apollo program designed to fly its spacecraft to the moon. New and special facilities would be needed and the aerospace industry would have to be marshaled to develop vehicles not easily adapted to production lines, but at this point no one had even decided just what Apollo’s component parts should be or how they should look.

Astronaut Positions

Astronaut Positions

A mockup of the Apollo guidance and control system

A mockup of the Apollo guidance and control system

The inertial measuring unit

The inertial measuring unit

Feb 12

Space Rocket History #100 – Apollo: Preliminary Design

In January 1960, President Eisenhower directed NASA Administrator Glennan to accelerate the Super Booster Program that had recently been assigned to NASA. This order ensured the transfer of the von Braun group from the Army Ballistic Missile Agency to NASA, and it gave Glennan the launch vehicle development and management capability that he needed.

By Dave.

By Dave.

Space Task Group's Idea

Space Task Group’s Idea

General Electric's Proposed Vehicle

General Electric’s Proposed Vehicle

Martin Co. Command Modules

Martin Co. Command Modules

General Dynamics Apollo Proposal

General Dynamics Apollo Proposal

Saturn I Test Firing

Saturn I Test Firing