Dec 14

Space Rocket History #189 – John Glenn Remembered

With the passing of John Glenn last week, I thought it would be appropriate to pause my coverage of Apollo 10 for a week and create an episode that celebrates the life of the American Icon, John Glenn.  I covered John Glenn’s Mercury flight in episodes 30-31.  I am going to re-release those episodes over the next 2 days.  So I won’t spend a lot of time on his Mercury flight in this episode, that will be covered tomorrow.

John Glenn - Mercury-Atlas 6

John Glenn – Mercury-Atlas 6

Senator John Glenn

Senator John Glenn

John Glenn - STS-95

John Glenn – STS-95

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 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

Jun 20

Space Rocket History #17 – The Mercury 7

On April 1, 1959, Robert Gilruth, the head of the Space Task Group, Charles Donlan, Warren North, and Stanley White selected the first American astronauts. The “Mercury Seven” were Scott Carpenter, L. Gordon Cooper, Jr., John H. Glenn, Jr., Virgil I. “Gus” Grissom, Walter M. Schirra, Jr., Alan B. Shepard, Jr., and Donald K. “Deke” Slayton. 

The Mercury 7

The Mercury 7

Mercury Capsule and Astronauts

Mercury Capsule and Astronauts