Podcast Archive

Space Rocket History #112 – Apollo: Headquarters

January 4, 2019 @ 12:02 pm

“The contractor role in Houston was not very firm. Frankly, they didn’t want us. There were two things against us down there. Number one, it was a Headquarters contract, and it was decreed that the Space Centers shall use GE for certain things; and number two they considered us (meaning GE) to be  Headquarters spies.”  Edward S. Miller of General Electric.

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

January 4, 2019 @ 11:50 am

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.

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Space Rocket History #110 – Early Apollo Command Module Design

January 4, 2019 @ 11:25 am

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 astronaut not wearing his pressure suit.

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Space Rocket History #109 – Apollo: The PSAC Strikes Back and Saturn SA-2

January 4, 2019 @ 11:06 am

After viewing the Apollo spaceport being built in Florida, President Kennedy flew on to Huntsville, Alabama. There, during a tour of Marshall and a briefing on the Saturn V and the lunar-rendezvous mission by von Braun, Jerome Wiesner interrupted Von Braun in front of reporters, saying, “No, that’s no good.”  Webb immediately defended von Braun and lunar-orbit rendezvous. The adversaries engaged in a heated exchange until the President stopped them, stating that the matter was still subject to final review.

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Space Rocket History #108 – Apollo: The Mode Decision – Part 3

December 3, 2018 @ 10:07 am

“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.

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Space Rocket History #107 – Apollo: The Mode Decision – Part 2

December 3, 2018 @ 9:54 am

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…

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

December 3, 2018 @ 9:41 am

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.

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

December 3, 2018 @ 9:22 am

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…

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

November 9, 2018 @ 1:31 pm

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…

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Space Rocket History #101 – Apollo: Preliminary Design Part 2 – Mode, Command Module, and Astronavigation

November 9, 2018 @ 1:27 pm

In May 1961, NASA was not really prepared to direct an enormous Apollo program designed to fly its spacecraft to the moon. New and special facilities would be needed and the aerospace industry would have to be marshaled to develop vehicles not easily adapted to production lines, but at this point no one had even decided just what Apollo’s component parts should be or how they should look.

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