Sep 10

Space Rocket History #129 – Apollo Mission Control: An Introduction to Eugene Frances Kranz

As Procedures Officer, Kranz was put in charge of integrating Mercury Control with the Launch Control Team at Cape Canaveral, Florida, writing the “Go/NoGo” procedures that allowed missions to continue as planned or be aborted, along with serving as a sort of switchboard operator using teletype between the control center at Cape Canaveral and the agency’s fourteen tracking stations and two tracking ships located across the globe.

Kranz & his F86 Saber Cat

Kranz & his F86 Saber Cat

Kranz at his console in 1965

Kranz at his console in 1965

Kranz and his teacher Chris Kraft

Kranz and his teacher Chris Kraft

Sep 03

Space Rocket History #128 – Apollo Mission Control: Christopher Columbus Kraft – Part 2

At the beginning of the Apollo program, Kraft retired as a flight director to concentrate on management and mission planning. In 1972, he became director of the Manned Spacecraft Center, following the path of his mentor Robert Gilruth.

Kraft in Mission Control for Gemini 5

Kraft in Mission Control for Gemini 5

Ad. Abhau, Robert Thompson, and Kraft

Ad. Abhau, Robert Thompson, and Kraft

Kraft with his new flight Directors

Kraft with his new flight Directors

Jun 11

Space Rocket History #117 – Apollo: Lunar Module Design

Since the lunar module would fly only in space (earth orbit and lunar vicinity), the designers could ignore the aerodynamic streamlining demanded by earth’s atmosphere and build the first true manned spacecraft, designed solely for operating in the spatial vacuum.

Lunar module generations from 1962 to 1969

Lunar module generations from 1962 to 1969

James Webb examines models of the LEM and CM

James Webb examines models of the LEM and CM

Underside of LEM descent stage shows fuel tank installation

Underside of LEM descent stage shows fuel tank installation

LEM Descent Stage

LEM Descent Stage

Mockup of LEM cabin with seats

Mockup of LEM cabin with seats

1964 Version of LEM, No Seats and Triangular windows

1964 Version of LEM, No Seats and Triangular windows

LEM Sleep Stations

LEM Sleep Stations

May 21

Space Rocket History #114 – Apollo: Command Module Design and Development 1963-1964 Part 2

Max Faget’s position was that considering the difficulty of the job,  if each mission was successful half the time, it would be well worth the effort.  But Gilruth thought that was too low.  He want a 90% mission success ratio and a 99% ratio for Astronaut safety.  Walt Williams who was currently running the Mercury program believed that astronaut safety needed to be limited to only 1 failure in a million which was 99.9999%.

Launch Escape Vehicle Configuration

Launch Escape Vehicle Configuration

Jettison of the Launch Escape System after a Successful Launch

Jettison of the Launch Escape System after a Successful Launch

Full-Scale Mockup of the Service Module with Panels Off

Full-Scale Mockup of the Service Module with Panels Off

The CM Probe Slips into the LM's Dish-shaped Drogue, and 12 latches on the Docking Ring Engage, to Lock the Spacecraft Together, Airtight

The CM Probe Slips into the LM’s Dish-shaped Drogue, and 12 latches on the Docking Ring Engage

The Cabin Section of the Command Module being Assembled at North American Aviation

The Cabin Section of the Command Module being Assembled at North American Aviation

Command Module Elbow & Shoulder Clearance Problem

Command Module Elbow & Shoulder Clearance Problem

May 14

Space Rocket History #113 – Apollo: Command Module Design and Development 1963-1964

…From the information they gathered on the existing technical problems, Disher and Tischler concluded that prospects were only one in ten that Apollo would land on the moon before the end of the decade….

The "big dish" at Canberra Australia

The “big dish” at Canberra Australia

11/16/63 Blkhouse 37, NASA new Manned Space Flight chief George Mueller briefed. JFK there 6 days before his death

11/16/63 Blkhouse 37, NASA new Manned Space Flight chief George Mueller briefed. JFK there 6 days before his death

Removing LM from S=IVB stage

Removing LM from S=IVB stage

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