Space Rocket History #116 – Apollo: Little Joe II

February 4, 2019 @ 8:27 pm

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…


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

February 4, 2019 @ 8:12 pm

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.


Space Rocket History #114 – Apollo: Command Module Design and Development 1963-1964 Part 2

February 4, 2019 @ 7:52 pm

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%.


Space Rocket History #113 – Apollo: Command Module Design and Development 1963-1964

February 4, 2019 @ 2:08 pm

…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….


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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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