Washington Redraws Management Lines

On 30 October 1963, NASA announced a revision of its Saturn flight program, eliminating manned Saturn I missions and the last 6 of 16 Saturn I vehicles.* NASA discarded the building block concept and introduced a new philosophy of launch vehicle development. Henceforth the Saturn vehicles would go all-up that is, developmental flights of Saturn vehicles would fly in their final configuration (without dummy stages). George E. Mueller, Holmes's replacement as Director of the Office of Manned...

The Mobile Launch Concept

During the early months of 1961, LOD took under consideration a third launch alternative, one that would eventually place men on the moon - the mobile launch concept.* The great advantage of a mobile launch concept lay in its promise of faster launch operations. With the fixed launch operation, e.g., SA-1 at LC-34, all rocket systems were mated and went through a thorough checkout at the pad. In the new scheme, LOD proposed to mate the vehicle and conduct these checks in an assembly building...

Acquiring a Launch Site

Joint Air Force-NASA Hazards Analysis Bd., Safety and Design Considerations for Static Test and Launch of Large Space Vehicles, 1 June 1961, part I, Hazards Analysis, p. I-A-1. 3. 3. Ibid., part I, pp. I-D-3, I-B-1, and I-B-2. 4. 4. AFMTC, NASA, & Pan American, Preliminary Field Report, Cumberland Island & Vicinity for Nova Launch Facilities, 13-14 June 1961, pp. 22-23 Hal Taylor, Big Moon Booster Decisions Looming, Missiles and Rockets, 28 Aug. 1961, p. 14. 5. 5. Charles J. Hall to R....

The Ground Support Equipment

The blockhouse at LC-34, with the service structure rising behind it, November 1960. The blockhouse at LC-34, with the service structure rising behind it, November 1960. At Marshall Space Flight Center the development of ground support equipment proceeded under a new office. With the reorganization of ABMA, on the takeover by NASA in March 1960, the Systems Support Equipment Laboratory disappeared. Most of the laboratory's personnel joined LOD as members of Theodor Poppel's Launch Facilities...

LC39 Plans Take Shape

Logsdon, NASA's Implementation, p. 22 Ivan D. Ertel and Mary Louise Morse, The Apollo Spacecraft, A Chronology, vol. 1 (NASA SP-4009, 1969), pp. 95, 108-109. 2. 2. Logsdon, NASA's Implementation, p. 34. 3. 3. Ibid., pp. 40-44 Shea interview Rosen interview, 14 Nov. 1969 Ertel and Morse, Apollo Chronology, 1 118-20, 134. 4. 4. Ertel and Morse, Apollo Chronology, 1 131-34 Akens, Saturn Chronology, pp. 33-35. 5. 5. James Grimwood and Barton Hacker, with Peter Vorzimmer, Project Gemini, A...

Ceremonies at Completion

With construction nearing completion, Kennedy Space Center celebrated two formal dedications in the spring of 1965. On 14 April, 30 dignitaries came for the topping-out ceremonies at the vehicle assembly building officials of KSC, the Corps of Engineers, the newly renamed Eastern Test Range, U.S. Steel, the Morrison-Knudsen, Perini, and Hardeman consortium of contractors, and the design team of Urbahn-Roberts-Seelye-Moran. In a brief address, Debus stated This building is not a monument - it is...

The Remaining Block II Launches SA6 SA10

Later Saturn I missions brought new requirements and major launch problems, but none of the subsequent operations dragged on like SA-5. Launch preparations for the remaining five Saturns averaged 91 days, 70 days less than the SA-5 operation. An Apollo boilerplate, duplicating the weight and external configuration of the fully equipped spacecraft, flew on the May 1964 launch of SA-6. Boilerplate 13, the payload for SA-6, was one of 30 spacecraft built by North American for preliminary Apollo...

The Mobile Concept Initial Studies

Although LOD officials had appreciated the advantages of a mobile launch system for years, a Russian space achievement provided the impetus for the study that culminated in launch complex 39. Reports in early 1961 indicated a Russian capability of launching rockets from the same complex within a few days' time. LOD leaders saw a need to reassess American launch methods. Appropriately, considering the thousands of hours of overtime put into the future moonport, the initial plans were laid after...

Grand Fenwick Overtakes the US and USSR

In spite of the launchings at the Cape, the development of the Launch Operations Center, the agreements between the Air Force and NASA, the preliminaries for the construction of launch complex 39 and the industrial area on Merritt Island, not all was ultraserious. The Spaceport News for 20 June 1963 carried this interesting headline The Duchy of 'Grand Fenwick' Takes Over the Space Race Lead. The article told of the premiere of a British movie, a space satire called Mouse on the Moon, at the...

URSAM and the Design Contract

On 4 December the contract to design the vertical assembly building, launch control center, and adjacent permanent facilities was awarded to URSAM for 5,494,000. The New York firm had already begun work on the project and proposed to complete it by 23 September 1963. URSAM put a hundred men of its own staff to work on the VAB design and hired an equal number to supplement their efforts. The team of designers produced 2,700 general drawings and a grand total of 18,000 shop detail drawings...

The Swing Arm Controversy

The most difficult of all launch mechanisms to describe verbally is the mobile launcher, at times called the launch umbilical tower. It consisted of three main features a two-story platform 49 meters long by 40 meters wide, on which the launch vehicle stood both on the crawler-transporter during its journey from the VAB to the pad, and on the pad itself, held erect by four hold-down arms a tower that resembled the Apollo-Saturn in shape and size, and stood beside it surmounted by a hammerhead...

Debus Davis Study

The Fleming Committee's final report, 16 June 1961, listed construction of the launch complex as a crucial item and recommended that a contractor immediately be brought aboard to begin design.42 One week later Robert Seamans initiated a joint NASA-Air Force study of launch requirements, methods, and procedures for the Fleming Committee's flight program. LOD would concentrate on establishing mission facility criteria Maj. Gen. Leighton I. Davis's Air Force Missile Test Center would determine...

Conversations with the Air Force

The purpose of the MFL staff meeting on 26 September 1958 was to determine the support requirements needed from the Air Force. A number of topics were discussed including safety zones, construction costs, fuel requirements, instrumentation, a service structure, and a launch site. The matter of a site, for what would eventually be launch complex 34, received further attention that Friday afternoon when Debus introduced the Saturn project to Maj. Gen. Donald N. Yates, Air Force Missile Test...

The Crawler Makes Its Debut

On Lincoln's birthday, 1962, an LOD team visited Paradise, Kentucky, to watch a Bucyrus-Erie 2,700-metric-ton crawler-shovel in action. Albert Zeiler's report compared the crawler favorably to LC-34's service structure. The work platform, stabilized by hydraulic cylinders at the four corners, varied no more than one-half degree from level. Nearby, Bucyrus-Erie was constructing for the Peabody Coal Company a larger crawler-shovel which would have a load-bearing capacity in excess of the expected...

The Test Catalog for SA1

LOD began preparing for the first Saturn launch in mid-March of 1961 when Debus directed the Scheduling and Test Procedures Committee to review launch procedures. The Director did not want to automatically transfer into the Saturn, things that may have been important in past operations. 11 The committee - composed of the operations office deputies Gorman, Moser, and Williams - agreed that Saturn required basic changes in launch procedures. For example, LOD personnel had conducted a detailed...

The Troubled Launching of SA5 January 1964

The block II version of Saturn I (SA-5 through SA-10) represented a sizable increase in launch requirements over block I. Additional RF links, calibrations, and systems tests in the two-stage rocket nearly doubled launch checkout time. see table 1, chapter 2-1 The greatest change in the block II rocket was the addition of a hydrogen-fueled second stage. Douglas Aircraft Corporation had won the contract for the S-IV stage in April 1960, five months after NASA adopted the Silverstein Committee's...

The Fire That Seared the Spaceport

Senate Committee on Aeronautical and Space Sciences, Report on Apollo 204 Accident, report 956, 90th Cong., 2nd sess., 30 Jan. 1968, pp. 3-7. 2. 2. Idem, Apollo Accident Hearings, 90th Cong., 1st sess., pt. 1, pp. 13-54. Dr. Charles A. Berry, chief of medical programs at MSC, introduced and discussed Dr. E. Roth's four-part report, The Selection of Space- Cabin Atmosphere. 3. 3. Frank J. Handel, Gaseous Environments during Space Missions, Journal of Space Craft and Rockets 1 (July-Aug. 1964)...

Launching the Saturn IB

Admin. for Manned Space Flight, Saturn I IB Pad Utilization 13 Nov. 1963 T. F. Goldcamp, memo for record, Modification of LC-34 for Saturn IB, 12 Dec. 1963. 2. 2. OMSF, Mission Operation Report, Apollo Saturn Flight Mission AS-201, NASA report M-932-66-01, pp. 14-17 KSC Weekly Notes, Poppel, 1 July 1965 NASA release 66-32. Apollo Saturn 201 Press Kit, 17 Feb. 1966, pp. 41-43. 3. 3. OMSF, Mission Operation Report, AS-201, pp. 14-17 NASA, AS-201 Press Kit. pp. 41-43. 4. 4....

Man On Apollo

NASA, OMSF, Apollo Program Directive No. 4H, 3 Nov. 1967. 2. 2. KSC, Apollo 5 Daily Status Reports, 3 Mar.-14 Apr. 1967. 3. 3. KSC release 1-68, 3 Jan. 1968 Widick interview. 4. 4. Apollo 5 Daily Status Reports, 23 June, 14-21 Aug., 19 Nov., 22 Dec. 1967, 19 Jan. 1968. 5. 5. Statement of Rocco Petrone and Gen. S. Phillips, Apollo 5 Post-Launch Press Conference, 22 Jan. 1968 NASA, OMSF, Apollo Program Flight Summary Report, Apollo Missions AS-201 through Apollo 8, Jan. 1969, pp. 20-22. 6. 6....

The Launch of SA1

Prelaunch preparation began at 7 00 a.m. on 26 October 1961. Mechanical Office tasks that morning included inspection of the high pressure gas panel, cable masts, and fuel masts ordnance installation and preparation of the holddown arms. At 12 30 p.m., Thomas Pantoliano's 12-man propellants section checked out the RP-1 fuel facility while Andrew Pickett's team pressurized the helium bottle. RP-1 loading began an hour later. The propellant team filled the launch vehicle's tanks to the 10 level,...

URSAM Makes Its Debut

In August 1962, a Launch Operations Center committee asked the Corps of Engineers to select an architect-engineering firm to complete the criteria for the vertical assembly building, or the VAB as it came to be called. The Corps formed a selection board representing its South Atlantic, Southeastern, North Atlantic, and North Central Divisions, as well as the Jacksonville District Office. The selection board submitted a list of five firms. From these the Chief of Engineers selected a New York...

Up and

KSC passed its second major hurdle in March, erecting the 500-F launch vehicle in high bay 1. Crane operators began practice runs in February, using a 9.5-meter spherical water container. Stanley Smith, Bendix senior engineer for the crane and hoist group, simulated the different weights of the Saturn stages by varying the amount of water. On 15 March the 250-ton crane lifted the 500-F first stage from the transfer aisle to a vertical attitude and up 59 meters. After moving the S-IC-F stage...

Saturn Launch Site

With better than 20 years' experience, the von Braun team preached and practiced that rocket and launch pad must be mated on the drawing board, if they were to be compatible at the launching. The new rocket went hand in hand with its launching facility. The short-lived plan to transport the Saturn by air was prompted by ABMA's interest in launching a rocket into equatorial orbit from a site near the Equator Christmas Island in the Central Pacific was a likely choice. Equatorial launch sites...

Apollo 4 The Trial

The problems of the spacecraft threatened, but did not extinguish, the hopes of reaching the moon within the decade. Much depended on the outcome of the first Saturn V mission. If the largest launch vehicle and launch complex yet built both performed satisfactorily, the Apollo program could still meet its schedule. A successful mission would achieve several significant goals. It would mark the first launch from launch complex 39, the first flight of the integrated Apollo-Saturn V space vehicle,...

And Operations

Benson and William Barnaby Faherty. Published as NASA Special Publication-4204 in the NASA History Series, 1978. Library of Congress Card Catalog Foreword Preface Genesis of the Saturn Program The Making of the Cape Conversations with the Air Force A Service Structure for Saturn The Ground Support Equipment o Chapter 3 - Launching the First Saturn I Booster o Chapter 4 - Origins of the Mobile Moonport Ambitious Plans and Limited Space The Mobile Concept - Initial Studies NASA...