Mar 26

Space Rocket History #106 – Apollo: The Mode Decision – Part 1

The mode that Apollo would use to land on the moon was the most studied, analyzed, and debated decision made for the lunar landing program.  There were four main choices Direct-ascent, Earth-Orbit Rendezvous, Lunar-Orbit Rendezvous, and Lunar Surface Rendezvous.

Direct Ascent Landing Modes

Direct Ascent Landing Modes

Lunar Surface Rendezvous

Lunar Surface Rendezvous

Rendezvous Methods

Three Rendezvous Methods

Comparison of Lander Sizes

Comparison of Lander Sizes

Apollo Spacecraft Configuration Changes

Apollo Spacecraft Configuration Changes

Mar 18

Space Rocket History #105 – Saturn’s First Flight – SA-1 – Part 2

No previous maiden launch had gone flawlessly, and the Saturn C-1 was considerably more complicated than any rocket launched thus far. Launch Operations Directorate officials gave the rocket a 75% chance of getting off the ground, and a 30% chance of completing the eight-minute flight…

LC-34 Block House Control Room

LC-34 Block House Control Room

Abe Silverstein, Director of Space Flight

Abe Silverstein, Director of Space Flight

Liftoff or Saturn SA-1

All Eight Engines Firing and Liftoff of Saturn SA-1

Saturn SA-1 on Launch Pad 34

Saturn SA-1 on Launch Pad 34

Saturn SA-1 Leaving the Pad

Saturn SA-1 Leaving the Pad

Saturn SA-1  in Flight.

The First Saturn (SA-1) in Flight.

The Michoud Facility near New Orleans

The Michoud Facility near New Orleans

Ground Breaking at MSC

Ground Breaking at MSC

Mar 12

Space Rocket History #104 – Saturn’s First Flight – SA-1 – Part 1

Just as launch complex 34 dwarfed its predecessors, Saturn’s checkout represented a new magnitude in launch operations. The Saturn C-1 stood three times higher, required six times more fuel, and produced ten times more thrust than the Jupiter. Its size, was only a part of the challenge to the Launch Operations Directorate at Cape Canaveral…

Early Concepts of C-1 and C5

Early Concepts of C-1 and C5

First Horizontal Mating of Saturn

First Horizontal Mating of Saturn

Configuration of Saturn Block 1 and 2

Configuration of Saturn Block 1 and 2

Test of the Palaemon Barge

Test of the Palaemon Barge

Booster Movement around Wheeler Dam

Booster Movement around Wheeler Dam

S-I & S-IV Stages Aboard Compromise Barge

S-I & S-IV Stages Aboard Barge

Route of the Barge from Tenn. to Fla.

Route of the Barge from Tenn. to Fla.

Unloading Barge in Florida

Unloading Barge in Florida

Lifting Saturn SA-1 First Stage

Lifting Saturn SA-1 First Stage

Hoisting Saturn SA-1 First Stage

Hoisting Saturn SA-1 First Stage

Erecting the Upper Stages of Saturn SA-1

Erecting the Upper Stages of Saturn SA-1

Launch Complex 34 from the Air

Launch Complex 34 from the Air

Mar 05

Space Rocket History #103 – Saturn Development 1957 – 1960

Many historians agree, the U.S. took its first step toward the moon in the spring of 1957, four years before President Kennedy declared the national goal of landing a man on the Moon, and returning him safely to the Earth. While still preparing for the launch of its first Jupiter (May 31 1957), the Army rocket team at Huntsville, Alabama, began studies of a booster ten times more powerful than the 150,000-pound thrust Jupiter…

Configuration of a Clustered Booster

Clustered Booster

Thor-Jupiter Engine

Thor-Jupiter Engine

Early H-1 Engine

Early H-1 Engine

Launch Complex 34, Cape Canaveral

Launch Complex 34 Cape Canaveral

Saturn B

Proposed Saturn B Rocket

Saturn C

Proposed Saturn C Rocket

Saturn with Titan & Atlas Upper Stages

Saturn with Titan & Atlas Upper Stages

Saturn C-1 and Earlier Vehicles

Saturn C-1 and Earlier Vehicles

Proposed Saturn C-2

Proposed Saturn C-2 Rocket

Booster Stage (S-I)

Booster Stage (S-I)

Second Stage (S-IV)

Second Stage (S-IV)

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

Jan 30

Space Rocket History #48 – Gemini Design – 1961

“The main trouble with the Mercury capsule was that most system components were in the pilot’s cabin; and often, to pack them in this very confined space, they had to be stacked like a layer cake and components of one system had to be scattered about the craft to use all available space. This arrangement generated a maze of interconnecting wires, tubing, and mechanical linkages. To replace one malfunctioning system, other systems had to be disturbed; and then, after the trouble had been corrected, the systems that had been disturbed as well as the malfunctioning system had to be checked out again.”  James Chamberlin

Proposed Lunar Lander

Proposed Lunar Lander

Modified Titan II Booster

Modified Titan II Booster

Adapter Section of Mark II

Adapter Section of Mark II

Ejection Seats

Ejection Seats

Fuel Cell

Fuel Cell

Rendezvous

Rendezvous