Sep 10

Space Rocket History #129 – Apollo Mission Control: An Introduction to Eugene Frances Kranz

As Procedures Officer, Kranz was put in charge of integrating Mercury Control with the Launch Control Team at Cape Canaveral, Florida, writing the “Go/NoGo” procedures that allowed missions to continue as planned or be aborted, along with serving as a sort of switchboard operator using teletype between the control center at Cape Canaveral and the agency’s fourteen tracking stations and two tracking ships located across the globe.

Kranz & his F86 Saber Cat

Kranz & his F86 Saber Cat

Kranz at his console in 1965

Kranz at his console in 1965

Kranz and his teacher Chris Kraft

Kranz and his teacher Chris Kraft

Sep 03

Space Rocket History #128 – Apollo Mission Control: Christopher Columbus Kraft – Part 2

At the beginning of the Apollo program, Kraft retired as a flight director to concentrate on management and mission planning. In 1972, he became director of the Manned Spacecraft Center, following the path of his mentor Robert Gilruth.

Kraft in Mission Control for Gemini 5

Kraft in Mission Control for Gemini 5

Ad. Abhau, Robert Thompson, and Kraft

Ad. Abhau, Robert Thompson, and Kraft

Kraft with his new flight Directors

Kraft with his new flight Directors

Jul 23

Space Rocket History #122 – Apollo: Serious Problems with the Lunar Module and Grumman

Toward the end of January 1967, it was revealed that Lunar Module 1 would not reach the Cape in February, as expected. This meant, the moon landing might be delayed because the lander was not ready. But the mission planners could not wait for the Apollo engineers to iron out all the problems. They had to plan for a landing in 1969 and hope that the hardware would catch up with them.

Lunar Module Diagram

Lunar Module Diagram

John Disher Explains the Components of the Apollo Program

John Disher Explains Apollo Components

Lunar Module Test Article LTA-2R

Lunar Module Test Article LTA-2R

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 30

Space Rocket History #111 – Apollo: Early Lunar Module Design and Saturn SA-3”

During 1962, NASA faced three major tasks: first the mode selection and its defense (covered in episodes 106-109), second keeping North American moving on the command and service modules (covered in episode 110) and third finding a contractor to develop the separate landing vehicle required by that approach.  Which we will cover today in episode 111.

One-eighth scale Lunar Module shown by Grumman

One-eighth scale Lunar Module shown by Grumman

Bell Aerospace Lunar Landing Research Vehicle

Bell Aerospace Lunar Landing Research Vehicle

Saturn SA-3 Launch

Saturn SA-3 Launch

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