Feb 04

Space Rocket History #147 – Saturn: S-II Stage Part 2: Trials and Tribulations

“The S-II stage was a nightmare the minute it was conceived, and it only got worse from there. During the course of its creation, it would grind up people and careers the way the transcontinental railway devoured laborers.  Though the methods and materials used to build the S-II were reasonably well known, nobody had ever tried to apply them on such a titanic scale.  Originally, it was to be somewhere around 8 stores tall with a diameter of 22 feet, but the width ballooned from there to 27 feet before the contract was  even signed, then to 30, and finally to 33 feet.  And all the while as the size of thing increased, NASA was trimming the allowable weight.”  Harrison Storms of NAA.

Test firing of S-II Stage in Mississippi

Test firing of S-II Stage in Mississippi

Saturn V S-II Second Stage

Saturn V S-II Second Stage

Saturn S-II Assembly Building at Seal Beach.

Saturn S-II Assembly Bldg at Seal Beach.

S-II during stacking operations in the VAB

S-II during stacking operations in the VAB

S-II Inboard Profile in 1963

S-II Inboard Profile in 1963

S-II Cut-away with callouts

S-II Cut-away with callouts

Nov 12

Space Rocket History #137 – Apollo 1: Changes and Recovery

After the uncertain days of February 1967, NASA officials began to realize that a recovery from the tragedy was under way. Through hard work and problem solving, morale of Nasa personnel started to improve…

Remains of Launch Complex 34

Remains of Launch Complex 34

Memorial benches on the edge of launch pad 34

Memorial benches on the edge of launch pad 34

Memorial plaque attached to launch pad 34

Memorial plaque attached to launch pad 34

Memorial plaque attached to launch pad 34

Memorial plaque attached to launch pad 34

Apollo 1 medallion flown on Apollo 9

Apollo 1 medallion flown on Apollo 9

Nov 05

Space Rocket History #136 – Apollo 1: What Went Wrong

What went wrong?  Even years after the investigators began to sift through the wreckage of Apollo 1 piece by piece, no one could say exactly.  But within weeks the general picture became clear:  The fire was a disaster waiting to happen.

Apollo 1 during the investigation

Apollo 1 during the investigation

Apollo 1 at Langley Research Center

Apollo 1 at Langley Research Center

Seamans, Webb, Mueller, and Apollo Program Director Phillips testify before a Senate hearing on the Apollo accident

Seamans, Webb, Mueller, and Apollo Program Director Phillips testify before a Senate hearing on the Apollo accident

Oct 29

Space Rocket History #135 – Apollo 1: The Investigation

The tragedy of Apollo 1 was widely reported in the Soviet Union. The Soviets sent condolences and letters to the families of the men who had died. But, the Soviet Press criticized the US for an overzealous attempt to send men to the moon.

Apollo 1 Command Module disassembled for the investigation

Apollo 1 Command Module disassembled for the investigation

Apollo 1 Command Module parts were studied and catalogued in the Pyrotechnics Installation Building at KSC

Apollo 1 Command Module parts were studied and catalogued in the Pyrotechnics Installation Building at KSC

Apollo 1 Command Module wiring harness goes through X-Ray inspection

Apollo 1 Command Module wiring harness goes through X-Ray inspection

Oct 22

Space Rocket History #134 – Apollo 1: Plugs Out – Part 2 – The Price of Progress

When Deke Slayton and Stu Roosa arrived at pad 34 they saw ambulances waiting in vain at the base of the launch tower.  They boarded the small elevator and rode to level A-8, 218 feet up, and headed across the swing arm to the clean room…

Exterior of the Command Module was blackened from eruption of the fire after the cabin wall failed

Exterior of the Command Module was blackened from eruption of the fire after the cabin wall failed

Interior of Apollo 1 Command Module after the fire

Interior of Apollo 1 Command Module after the fire

Apollo 1 Environmental Control System, located in the forward section near the floor. The fire may have started in this area.

Apollo 1 Environmental Control System, located in the forward section near the floor. The fire may have started in this area.

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

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