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

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

Sep 18

Space Rocket History #80 – Gemini X with John Young and Mike Collins – Part 1

Deputy Administrator Seamans wanted a mission review board created to study:
(1) Corrective measures for the Atlas-Agena failure
(2) The guidance update problem that delayed the launch two days
(3) The shroud incident
(4) The suit environmental control difficulties

Gemini X Crew

Gemini X Crew-Collins & Young

Gemini IX to X Handoff

Gemini IX to X Handoff

Mike Collins Suiting Up for Launch

Mike Collins Pre-Launch

Atlas-Agena Prep.

Atlas-Agena Prep.

G10 Atlas-Agena Launch

Gemini X Atlas-Agena Launch

Aug 21

Space Rocket History #76 – Tragic Prelude to Gemini IX with Elliot See, Charles Bassett, Tom Stafford, and Gene Cernan

In October 1965, Elliot M. See and Charles A. Bassett II were selected to fly Gemini IX. Chief Astronaut Deke Slayton also told them that their backups would be Thomas Stafford and Eugene Cernan.  At that time Stafford was copilot for Gemini VI…

Elliot See

Elliot See

Charles Bassett

Charles Bassett

Gemini IX Crew

Gemini IX Crew

Apr 24

Space Rocket History #60 – Gemini IV with James McDivitt and Edward White – Part 1

The success of Gus Grissom and John Young’s Gemini 3 flight paved the way for long duration space missions. The longest U.S. manned space flight to date was Gordon Cooper’s 34 hour Mercury flight. The Soviets, however, had four long duration flights to their credit, ranging from 70 to 119 hours. It was time for the US to attempt a long duration flight.

James A. McDivitt

James A. McDivitt

Edward White II

Edward White II

Gemini 4 Astronauts

Gemini 4 Crew