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

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 29

Space Rocket History #98 – Apollo Beginnings

President Kennedy proposed the manned lunar landing as the focus of the US space program but, at the time of his address, only one American, Alan B. Shepard, Jr. had been into space, on a suborbital lob shot lasting 15 minutes. No rocket launch vehicle was available for a lunar voyage and there was no agreed upon method for placing any kind of spacecraft safely on the lunar surface and getting it back to the earth. Nor was there agreement within NASA itself on how it should be done.

Astronauts leave the spacecraft to investigate the lunar surface.

Astronauts leave the spacecraft to investigate the lunar surface.

The return vehicle takes off from the moon.

The return vehicle takes off from the moon.

The reentry vehicle begins to enter the atmosphere after jettisoning the propulsion unit.

The reentry vehicle begins to enter the atmosphere after jettisoning the propulsion unit.

Jul 30

Space Rocket History #73 – Gemini VIII with Neil Armstrong and Dave Scott – Part 2

This was the most complex mission attempted to date. The primary mission objectives were to perform rendezvous and four docking tests with the Gemini Agena Target Vehicle (GATV) and to execute an ExtraVehicular Activity (EVA)…

Atlas-Agena Launch

Atlas-Agena Launch

Gemini 8 Launch

Gemini 8 Launch

GATV seen from G8

GATV seen from G8

Jul 24

Space Rocket History #72 – Gemini VIII with Neil Armstrong and Dave Scott – Part 1

On September 20th 1965, NASA named the crew for Gemini VIII. The command pilot selected was Neil Armstrong, a civilian test pilot with much experience in the X-15 rocket research aircraft program. David Scott was selected as pilot.  Scott was the first of the Group 3 astronauts selected for a mission. The backup crew for Gemini VIII, was  Navy Lieutenant Commanders Pete Conrad and Richard F. Gordon, Jr.

Scott & Armstrong

Scott & Armstrong

Armstrong

Armstrong

David Scott

David Scott

Armstrong and Scott

Armstrong and Scott

Armstrong

Armstrong

Armstrong over Korea

Armstrong over Korea

Apr 24

Space Rocket History #60 – Gemini IV with James McDivitt and Edward White – Part 1

The success of Gus Grissom and John Young’s Gemini 3 flight paved the way for long duration space missions. The longest U.S. manned space flight to date was Gordon Cooper’s 34 hour Mercury flight. The Soviets, however, had four long duration flights to their credit, ranging from 70 to 119 hours. It was time for the US to attempt a long duration flight.

James A. McDivitt

James A. McDivitt

Edward White II

Edward White II

Gemini 4 Astronauts

Gemini 4 Crew