Aug 08

Space Rocket History #24 – Mercury Redstone Test Flights – Ham in a Can

The objectives of the Mercury Project, were as follows:
1. Place a manned spacecraft in orbital flight around the earth.
2. Investigate man’s performance capabilities and his ability to function in the environment of space.
3. Recover the man and the spacecraft safely.
After the objectives were established for the project, a number of guidelines were created to insure that the most expedient and safest approach for attainment of the objectives was followed. The basic guidelines that were established are as follows:
1. Existing technology and off-the-shelf equipment should be used wherever practical.
2. The simplest and most reliable approach to system design would be followed.
3. An existing launch vehicle would be employed to place the spacecraft into orbit.
4. A progressive and logical test program would be conducted.

MerCapEscSys

Escape System

MerCapInt

Capsule

3AxisHandController

Hand Controller

mercury1

Capsule Interior

Assembly

Assembly

Parachute Canister

Parachute Can

MR-1

MR-1

Ham

Ham

Ham

Ham

Jul 11

Space Rocket History #20 – Tiros 1 and Echo 1 – The First Weather and Communications Satellites

“Who can say what contraption the future will bring?
There can be not a doubt, some more wonderful thing.

And if anyone ventures the future to scan,
Why indeed should it not be your old Weather Man?

Have you noticed how often in times that are past
We have used new inventions to improve the forecast?

Television is coming, it is not far away;
We’ll be using that too in a not distant day.

Photographs will be made by the infra red light
That will show us the clouds both by day and by night.

From an altitude high in the clear stratosphere
Will come pictures of storms raging far if not near

Revealing in detail across many States
The conditions of weather affecting our fates….” By George Mindling (Weather Bureau), 1939

Thor-Able

Thor-Able

TIROS -1

TIROS -1

photo1

First Picture From TIROS-1

TIROS-1

Echo-1

Echo-1

442px-Echo_1_Communications_Satellite_(flight_spare)_-_Udvar-Hazy_Center

Echo-1 Mockup

May 30

Space Rocket History #14 – US Space 1958 – Explorer, Vanguard, Pioneer, and NASA

In late March, 1958, President Eisenhower publicly announced the United States’ intention to launch a spacecraft to the Moon.  He assured the nation that  this was not science fiction.  It was an achievable goal presented by leading scientists.  The announcement came less than 2 months after the first US satellite had reached orbit.  The President was committing the nation to a space race to the moon with the Soviets.  If all went well the country would have a spacecraft in orbit around the moon before the summer was over.

Vanguard_1

Vanguard 1 Satellite

Vanguard 1

Vanguard 1

Pioneer_I_on_the_Launch_Pad_-_GPN-2002-000204

Pioneer 1 on the Launch Pad

Pioneer Satellite Replica

Pioneers 0-2 Satellite Replica

 

753px-Pioneer_3

Pioneer 3

May 23

Space Rocket History #13 – Explorer 1 – Juno 1

At approximately 12:48 a.m. EST, the first listening stations began reporting that they had received radio signals from the “Explorer” satellite. The first station to confirm the signals was the San Gabriel Valley Amateur Radio Club near Pasadena, California.  However, ABMA officials were waiting for confirmation from the Goldstone radio tracking station in Earthquake Valley, California.  Finally, 1 hour and 57 minutes after launch the confirmation was finally relayed to ABMA officials in the form of the simple phrase, “Goldstone has the bird!”

exlaunch1958

Explorer 1 – Jupiter C Launch

exlaunch

On the Pad

ex

Pre-Launch

ex1

Explorer 1 Satellite

 

206689main_van-allen-516

Van Allen

206623main_pickering-273

Pickering

206615main_medaris-516 (1)

Medaris

206619main_pic-516

Explorer 1 Satellite

207199main_conference-516

Pickering, Van Allen, Von Braun Holding Satellite

206607main_launch-516 206601main_explorer-stand-516

May 16

Space Rocket History #12 – Vanguard TV3 – Flopnik

It seemed as if the gates of hell had opened up.  Brilliant stiletto flames shot out from the side of the rocket near the engine. The vehicle agonizingly hesitated for a moment, quivered again, and in front of our unbelieving eyes, began to topple. It sank like a great flaming sword down into the blast tube it toppled slowly breaking apart, hitting part of the test guard and ground with a tremendous roar that could be felt and heard even behind the 2 food concrete wall of the blockhouse. For a moment or two there was complete disbelief. I could see it in the faces. I could feel it myself.”  

Vang1

Vanguard TV3 Launch

Vang2

Vanguard TV3 Diagram

Vang4

Vanguard Satellite

May 02

Space Rocket History #10 – The Space Race

On October 4th 1957, the Soviet Union demonstrated that it had to be taken seriously. Only a few years prior they had lagged the US badly in both bombers and Nuclear weapons. Now, there was deep concern that the Soviet’s could launch a nuclear attack on the US with their new R-7 ICBM. To add fuel to the fire, Just 4 days after Sputnik launched the Soviet Union detonated a 20 megaton Hydrogen bomb.

“The success of the Russian Sputnik was convincing and dramatic proof to people around the world of the real prospects of space travel in the not too distant future. The fact that a 23-in. sphere weighing 184 lb has been placed in an almost precise circular orbit indicates that a number of important technological problems such as high thrust rocket engines, lightweight missile structures, accurate guidance, stable autopilot control, and large scale launching methods have been solved, at least to the degree required for a satellite project.” Astronautics, Nov 1957.

NewsPaper1 sputniklifex-large


newspapers r7-sputnik

 

 

Apr 18

Space Rocket History #8 – Redstone

By the late 1940’s, it became obvious that Army ballistic missile research activities required more room than what was available at Fort Bliss, Texas. After a long and through search the decision was made to move to the Redstone arsenal at Huntsville, Alabama. A farm town know for watercress, cotton and mosquitoes. The Redstone Arsenal was chosen for several reasons: it was on a large tract of government property, its location on the Tennessee River gave it access to the electrical power of the Tennessee Valley Authority, the climate was good, and it was not too far from Cape Canaveral, whose long range proving ground was growing in importance.  

First_Redstone_Rocket_Firing

Redstone

Loki-dart_display

Loki

Viking

Viking

Jupiter_c_pad

Jupiter

Apr 11

Space Rocket History #7 – Inter-service Rivalries

It’s important to understand that in the late 1940s within the United States there were three concurrent programs for military rocket development. This was due to continuing inter-service rivalry between the Army, Navy, and Air Force.

v2Wac Corporal

Bumper-WAC

270px-Hermes_A-1_Test_Rockets_-_GPN-2000-000063

A-1

Aerobee

Aerobee

WAC_Corporal

WAC Corporal

Viking

Viking

 

MX-774

MX-774