Apr 16

Space Rocket History #109 – Apollo: The PSAC Strikes Back and Saturn SA-2

After viewing the Apollo spaceport being built in Florida, President Kennedy flew on to Huntsville, Alabama. There, during a tour of Marshall and a briefing on the Saturn V and the lunar-rendezvous mission by von Braun, Jerome Wiesner interrupted Von Braun in front of reporters, saying, “No, that’s no good.”  Webb immediately defended von Braun and lunar-orbit rendezvous. The adversaries engaged in a heated exchange until the President stopped them, stating that the matter was still subject to final review.

Wernher Von Braun confers with Brainerd  Holmes & Nicholas Golovin

Wernher Von Braun confers with Brainerd Holmes & Nicholas Golovin

Saturn SA-2 erected on launch  pedestal

Saturn SA-2 erected on launch pedestal

Lift-off of Saturn C1 SA-2

Lift-off of Saturn C1 SA-2

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

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

May 01

Space Rocket History #61 – Gemini IV with James McDivitt and Edward White – America’s First Spacewalk – Part 2

For the first time Television coverage of the launch had an international audience, as the scene was broadcast to 12 European nations via Intelsat 1 aka the Early Bird satellite of episode 59. Heightened by the prospect of an EVA and the first use of the new Mission Control Center in Houston, interest in Gemini IV reached levels never again matched in the Gemini program…

GT-IV Launch

GT-IV Launch

Zip Gun

Zip Gun

Ed White

Ed White

Ed White

Ed White

By Dave

By Dave

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