Mar 30

Space Rocket History #155 – Apollo 7 – Assembly, Testing, Training, and Launch

Command Service Module-101 started through the manufacturing cycle early in 1966. By July, it had been formed, wired, fitted with subsystems, and made ready for testing. After the Apollo 1 fire in January 1967, changes had to be made, mainly in the wiring, hatch areas, and the forward egress tunnel. It was December before the spacecraft came back into testing. CSM-101 passed through a three-phase customer acceptance review; during the third session, held in Downey on May 7th 1968, no items showed up that might be a “constraint to launch.” North American cleared up what few deficiencies there were (13) and shipped the craft to Kennedy on  May 30th 1967…

AS-205's First Stage on the pedestal

AS-205’s First Stage on the pedestal

Apollo 7 Crew practice climbing out of the spacecraft

Apollo 7 Crew practice climbing out of the spacecraft

Apollo 7 Launch

Apollo 7 Launch

Feb 25

Space Rocket History #150 – Apollo 6: Pogo and the Tang Ceremony

The success of Apollo 4 gave good reason to believe that the Saturn V could be trusted to propel men into space. But NASA pushed on with its plans for a second unmanned booster flight, primarily to give the Pad 39 launch team another rehearsal before sending men into deep space on the Saturn V.  The mission was called Apollo 6…

Apollo 6 patch

Apollo 6 patch

Lunar Test Article

Lunar Test Article

Apollo 6 launch

Apollo 6 launch

Exhaust plume of Apollo 6

Exhaust plume of Apollo 6

Interstage falling away

Interstage falling away

Apollo 6 splashdown and recovery

Apollo 6 splashdown and recovery

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

Jan 28

Space Rocket History #146 – Saturn: S-II Stage Part 1: Common Bulkheads, Gores, & Honeycomb Sandwiches

The structural efficiency of the S-II stage, in terms of the weight and pressures taken by its extra-thin walls, was comparable only to the capacity of one of nature’s most refined examples of structural efficiency, the egg.

Saturn S-II Stage Diagram

Saturn S-II Stage Diagram

Saturn S-II Stage Exploded View

Saturn S-II Stage Exploded View

Saturn S-II Cut-Away Drawing

Saturn S-II Cut-Away Drawing

Aug 20

Space Rocket History #126 – Apollo-Saturn IB: AS-201, AS-202, and AS-203

Apollo Saturn 201 employed the Saturn IB launch vehicle, which  was the up-rated version of the Saturn I rocket flown in ten earlier Saturn-Apollo missions. It featured an upgrade of the first stage engines to increase thrust from 1,500,000 lb-ft of thrust to 1,600,000 lb-ft. The second stage was the S-IVB.  This stage used a new liquid hydrogen-burning J-2 engine which would also be used on the S-II second stage of the Saturn V lunar launch vehicle…

AS-201 Recovery

AS-201 Recovery

Apollo-Saturn 201 Launch

Apollo-Saturn 201 Launch

AS-202 Launch

AS-202 Launch

AS-203 Launch

AS-203 Launch

Jul 09

Space Rocket History #120 – Apollo: Stages S-IV and S-IVB

The key to high-energy stages was to use liquid hydrogen as the fuel.  Liquid hydrogen fuel appealed to rocket designers because of its high specific impulse, which is a basic measure of rocket performance. Specific Impulse is the impulse delivered per unit of propellant consumed.  You might think of it as the efficiency of the rocket.  Compared to an RP-1 (kerosene) fueled engine of similar size, liquid hydrogen fuel could increase the specific impulse or efficiency of an engine by 40 percent.  The combination of hydrogen and oxygen for propellants made the moon shot feasible.

S-IV Rocket Stage

S-IV Rocket Stage

S-IV & S-IVB Stage Position

S-IV & S-IVB Stage Position

S-IV Stage in Saturn IB and V

S-IV Stage in Saturn IB and V

S-IVB Differences Between Saturn IB and V

S-IVB Differences Between Saturn IB and V

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