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

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

Nov 13

Space Rocket History #88 – Gemini XII With Jim Lovell and and Edwin (Buzz) Aldrin – Part 3

We left off last week after Buzz Aldrin’s third and final EVA. The hard work for the Gemini 12 mission was now complete.  Even with the problems with the radar, the Agena main engines, and the fuel cells, Gemini XII as a whole had gone very well…

G12 Animated Gif

G12 Animated Gif

G12 into the Sun

G12 into the Sun

Aldrin & Lovell on Wasp

Aldrin & Lovell on Wasp

Mission Patch

Mission Patch

Nov 06

Space Rocket History #87 – Gemini XII With Jim Lovell and and Edwin (Buzz) Aldrin – Part 2

In space, Jim and Buzz began to wonder if everything had been shut down too soon. For 25 minutes, with one brief exception, they heard nothing from the ground. The Ascension Island tracking station had the wrong acquisition time, so its communicators had not talked with the astronauts…

G12 Nose

G12 Nose

Buzz hanging out

Buzz hanging out

Agena on Tether

Agena on Tether

Oct 30

Space Rocket History #86 – Gemini XII With Jim Lovell and and Edwin (Buzz) Aldrin – Part 1

When the  Gemini IX-A Agena fell into the Atlantic Ocean, Gemini XII was threatened with a major hardware shortage of an Agena and an Atlas to launch it. Replacing the Agena was no real problem. Lockheed’s first production model, 5001, used for development testing at the Cape, had already been sent back to the Sunnyvale plant for refurbishment. Now it was simply a matter of tailoring it to the Gemini XII mission…

G12 Prime Crew

G12 Prime Crew

Prime & Backup Crew

Prime & Backup Crew

Agena 12

Agena 12

Mission Patch

Mission Patch

Backup Crew Patch

Backup Crew Patch

Oct 23

Space Rocket History #85 – Gemini XI With Charles (Pete) Conrad and Richard Gordon – Part 3

The rotation rate checked out at 55 degrees per minute, and the crew could now test for a minute amount of artificial gravity. When they put a camera against the instrument panel and then let it go, it moved in a straight line to the rear of the cockpit and parallel to the direction of the tether. The crew, themselves, did not sense any physiological effect of gravity.

Agena on Tether

Agena on Tether

G11 Parachute

G11 Parachute

Recovery of G11

Recovery of G11

By Dave

By Dave