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

Feb 05

Space Rocket History #99 – Apollo: The Opposition

The goal of the nation’s space program should be the scientific exploration of the moon and the planets but also to recognize that nontechnical factors are vital to public acceptance of a space program. Human exploration of the moon and planets would be potentially the greatest inspirational venture of the 20th century and one in which the world could share; inherent here are great and fundamental philosophical and spiritual values which find a response in man’s questing spirit to explore.  Thus the space exploration program must be developed on the premise that man will be included. Failure to adopt this premise will inevitably prevent man’s inclusion, presumably because of the costs involved. From a scientific standpoint there seems little room for dissent that man’s participation in the exploration of the Moon and planets will be essential, if and when it becomes technologically feasible to include him.

Gilruth, Thompson, Glennan

Gilruth, Thompson, Glennan

Glen, Johnson, Kennedy

Glen, Johnson, Kennedy

Science and Technology Advisor to JFK, Jerome Wiesner.

Science and Technology Advisor to JFK, Jerome Wiesner.

Jan 29

Space Rocket History #98 – Apollo Beginnings

President Kennedy proposed the manned lunar landing as the focus of the US space program but, at the time of his address, only one American, Alan B. Shepard, Jr. had been into space, on a suborbital lob shot lasting 15 minutes. No rocket launch vehicle was available for a lunar voyage and there was no agreed upon method for placing any kind of spacecraft safely on the lunar surface and getting it back to the earth. Nor was there agreement within NASA itself on how it should be done.

Astronauts leave the spacecraft to investigate the lunar surface.

Astronauts leave the spacecraft to investigate the lunar surface.

The return vehicle takes off from the moon.

The return vehicle takes off from the moon.

The reentry vehicle begins to enter the atmosphere after jettisoning the propulsion unit.

The reentry vehicle begins to enter the atmosphere after jettisoning the propulsion unit.