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 16

Space Rocket History #121 – Pegasus Wings inside SA-8 (AS-104), SA-9 (AS-103), & SA-10 (AS-105) and a Command Module update for 1965

The Pegasus satellite was named for the winged horse of Greek mythology.  Like its namesake, the Pegasus was notable for its “wings”, a pair of 29 meter long, 4.3 meter wide arrays of 104 panels fitted with sensors to detect punctures by micrometeoroids at high altitudes.  In its stored position with panels folded inside the Apollo service module, the Pegasus was 5.3-meters high, 2.1 meters wide, and 28-cm deep.

Pegasus Stowed Inside the Boilerplate Service Module

Pegasus Stowed Inside the Boilerplate Service Module

Pegasus Micrometeoroid Detection Satellite Deployed

Pegasus Micrometeoroid Detection Satellite Deployed

Pegasus Deployment Sequence

Pegasus Deployment Sequence

SA-9 Launch

SA-9 Launch

SA-8 Launch

SA-8 Launch

SA-10 Launch

SA-10 Launch

Interior of Command Module

Interior of Command Module

Jun 04

Space Rocket History #116 – Apollo: Little Joe II

A few seconds after liftoff, a fin-vane at the base of the booster stuck and started the 13-meter-tall spacecraft-booster combination spinning like a bullet. Twenty-six seconds into the flight the vehicle started coming apart. The abort-sensing system signaled the launch escape tower rocket to fire and pull the spacecraft away…

White Sands New Mexico

White Sands New Mexico

Launch Pad Abort Test

Launch Pad Abort Test

Little Joe II, A-001 with BP-12

Little Joe II, A-001 with BP-12

Little Joe II Flight Profile

Little Joe II Flight Profile

Little Joe II Real Emergency.

Little Joe II Real Emergency.

Little Joe II On the Pad

Little Joe II On the Pad

Little Joe Pad Abort Test

Little Joe Pad Abort Test

A-001 Launch

A-001 Launch

Little Joe II A-002

Little Joe II A-002

May 28

Space Rocket History #115 – Saturn I: SA-4, SA-5, SA-6, and SA-7

Saturn 1, SA-6 was the first orbital launch of an Apollo Spacecraft by a Saturn Launch Vehicle and also the first flight utilizing an active ST-124 Stabilized Platform.

Saturn I SA-5

Saturn I SA-4

SA-5 Demensions

SA-5 Demensions

SA-5 Section Cuts

SA-5 Section Cuts

S-IV Second Stage of SA-5

S-IV 2nd Stg of SA-5

SA-5 on the Pad

SA-5 on the Pad

SA-5 Launch

SA-5 Launch

SA-6 Demensions

SA-6 Demensions

SA-6 Spacecraft

SA-6 Spacecraft

SA-6 on the Pad

SA-6 on the Pad

Von Braun, Mueller and Rees watching SA-6

Von Braun, Mueller and Rees watching SA-6

SA-7 Launch

SA-7 Launch

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