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The Apollos That Never Were, Hardware fates and the dynamics of the program
ilbasso
post Jul 26 2008, 05:22 PM
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QUOTE (mcaplinger @ Jul 24 2008, 09:55 AM) *
That number sounds low to me even in 196X dollars. It'd be interesting to know what the true savings of deleting the two missions, if any, was.

NASA usually doesn't do a very good job of realistically accounting for the actual incremental costs of flying a mission (witness the estimates of how much a single shuttle flight costs; I've seen numbers that span nearly an order of magnitude.) I could imagine that any published figure was low-balled significantly. Of course, it'd be harder than you might think to compute the costs.
Even figuring out retroactively how much you spent can get hard on a big project smile.gif

This is getting pretty off-topic for LRO.


Don't know how reliable a resource it is, but astronautix.com lists the total incremental costs of the two cancelled lunar missions at $42.1 million.
"Total savings of cancelling the two missions (since the hardware was already built and the NASA staff had to stay in place for the Skylab program) was only $42.1 million. "

After Apollo 13, even though the astronauts were all willing to fly despite the risks (almost all of them were test pilots, an inherently risky business), NASA leadership was deathly afraid of losing a crew. Many in management, including Gene Krantz, felt an overwhelming sense of relief to have the last of the moon landings behind them - they just wanted to get the whole thing over with. The prevailing thought was that Congress and the American people couldn't stomach another disaster on the way to the Moon, and would call for the end of NASA's manned space program altogether.

Some of the potential targets mentioned for the cancelled flights included Tycho, Schroeter's Valley, and Copernicus. What a shame we didn't get to see them from the ground!

Oh, and one other fun factoid I like about the Saturn V: There were about 2.5 million solder joints in the Saturn V. If just 1 mm too much wire and an extra drop of solder were left on each of these joints, the excess weight would have been equal to the entire payload of the vehicle.


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dvandorn
post Jul 26 2008, 07:03 PM
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As for Tycho, the approach was so difficult, the landing ellipse covered so many areas of extremely rough terrain (er, lurrain) and the trajectory to get to such a southerly site reduced payload enough that Jim McDivitt, the head of the Apollo Spacecraft Program Office in Houston at the time, laid down the law: "You will go to Tycho over my dead body."

Of course, McDivitt also said that he would resign as chief of ASPO before he would approve Gene Cernan to command Apollo 17. And, in fact, he *did* resign after Apollo 16. McDivitt felt strongly that Cernan was not an appropriate choice for a crew commander. Ever.

-the other Doug


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nprev
post Jul 26 2008, 07:26 PM
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oDoug, the book on the insider details of Apollo better be in at least rough draft form from you by now...we're never gonna forgive you if you die in 2089 & not get it published by then!!! tongue.gif

No pressure, of course... rolleyes.gif


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ElkGroveDan
post Jul 26 2008, 07:33 PM
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FWIW this discussion caused me to go looking for some of those "complete" Apollo videos so I can sound more like oDoug in the future rolleyes.gif . From the reviews it would appear that there is a slightly newer series compared to the previous ones. I ordered 12 & 14 and 12 is apparently on backorder. I just received 14 http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000HOJ3I4 I'll let you all know what I think of it.


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scalbers
post Jul 26 2008, 08:07 PM
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Yes I've seen the LM-13 hardware (for Apollo 18) at the Cradle of Aviation Museum on Long Island...

http://www.americanspacecraft.com/


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dvandorn
post Jul 26 2008, 08:11 PM
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But, Dan -- to sound like me, you also have to read the Apollo Lunar Surface Journals several hundred times (as well as contributing some items to them), and read each and every book written about the Mercury-to-Apollo era, preferably re-reading the best ones (like Chaikin's or Murray & Cox's) several hundred times.

Of course, it doesn't hurt that I actually audio taped the Moonwalks (onto cassettes whose iron oxide flakes off if you try and play them today) from many of the missions, live from the TV coverage, and used to fall asleep listening to them. For years.

As I've said in all humility, I am positive there are other people out there who have a broader and deeper knowledge of that era of manned space flight than I do, but I also suspect you could count them on some of the fingers of one hand...

-the other Doug


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imipak
post Jul 26 2008, 08:15 PM
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QUOTE (ilbasso @ Jul 26 2008, 06:22 PM) *
[...]
NASA leadership was deathly afraid of losing a crew. Many in management, including Gene Krantz, felt an overwhelming sense of relief to have the last of the moon landings behind them - they just wanted to get the whole thing over with. The prevailing thought was that Congress and the American people couldn't stomach another disaster on the way to the Moon, and would call for the end of NASA's manned space program altogether.


We don't know that that wouldn't have been the case. And indeed there were plenty of crew loss scenarios that would have been much more protracted and horrible than a sudden loss of signal. (In fact we still don't know, empirically, what effect such an event would have on public support; let's hope we never find out.)


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nprev
post Jul 26 2008, 08:18 PM
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QUOTE (dvandorn @ Jul 26 2008, 01:11 PM) *
As I've said in all humility, I am positive there are other people out there who have a broader and deeper knowledge of that era of manned space flight than I do, but I also suspect you could count them on some of the fingers of one hand...

-the other Doug


Er...maybe half a hand if we're lucky, without false modesty. Seriously, dude...write a book! Everybody who actually did this amazing thing is probably gonna be dead sooner rather than later (unpleasant, but true)...you got the scoop, put it on paper!

Hell, I find your posts on Apollo fascinating, and after the release of In the Shadow of the Moon, I'm sure that many others would feel the same way.


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dvandorn
post Jul 26 2008, 08:24 PM
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QUOTE (nprev @ Jul 26 2008, 02:26 PM) *
oDoug, the book on the insider details of Apollo better be in at least rough draft form from you by now...we're never gonna forgive you if you die in 2089 & not get it published by then!!! tongue.gif

No pressure, of course... rolleyes.gif

Naw... Chaikin wrote my book. Granted, I'd have added some other things than he did. But he basically wrote the book I had been working on desultorily for about 15 years.

The only actual formal interview I ever was able to set up with one of the 12 moonwalkers was with Gene Cernan. I will not speak ill of the famous; all I will say is that it was a most disturbingly unsatisfactory interview. In hindsight, I can see quite clearly Jim McDivitt's point of view.

-the other Doug


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climber
post Jul 26 2008, 08:37 PM
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QUOTE (dvandorn @ Jul 26 2008, 10:24 PM) *
The only actual formal interview I ever was able to set up with one of the 12 moonwalkers was with Gene Cernan. I will not speak ill of the famous; all I will say is that it was a most disturbingly unsatisfactory interview. In hindsight, I can see quite clearly Jim McDivitt's point of view.

So Gene was "The last man (Jim wanted) on the Moon"...


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dvandorn
post Jul 26 2008, 08:44 PM
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QUOTE (climber @ Jul 26 2008, 03:37 PM) *
So Gene was "The last man (Jim wanted) on the Moon"...

According to several reliable sources, yes.

-the other Doug


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ilbasso
post Jul 26 2008, 09:30 PM
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Yeah, for those of us who lived through it, Apollo could easily become an obsession. I still live it! Am still modeling Apollo hardware and collecting souvenirs and autographs all these years later. oDoug, I'm glad to hear I wasn't the only one who used to tape the moonwalks. I also photographed the TV screens during the moonwalks...even the puppets that NBC used after Al Bean fried the Apollo 12 camera.

My dad shared (and fueled) my obsession. His office ran the classified program from which NASA borrowed the technology for the Apollo 11 TV camera, so I have benefitted from having some of the mementos he picked up here and there in his travels. He got a VIP tour of the VAB when Apollo 12 was being stacked - what I would have given to be able to go with him on that tour!!

In high school, I worked as a volunteer tour guide at the National Air and Space Museum before it was in the "new" building. I sneaked away from the tour area and went up to the library during Al Worden's space walk as Apollo 15 came back from the Moon. While I was watching it on the dinky B&W TV, Mike Collins (then director of the NASM) came in and we watched the spacewalk together, just the two of us. It was a thrill I will never forget. We also briefly had a full-size, battery-powered mockup of the Lunar Rover at the museum, and I got to drive that around on the Mall every day for a month - I drove an LRV before I had a license to drive a car!

I wish I knew how to convey to the people of today who didn't live through that era what it was like to be alive at that time. Perhaps it was best to be a teenager then, not having to worry about the Vietnam War or the riots or politics - just to be able to see such a glorious dream come to fruition. The pace of launches in 1968 and 1969 was breathtaking, one just about every 2-3 months. Every one of them broke new ground, every one of them was daring, every one had really cool technology, and every one of them was a chance to see mankind at its best.


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dvandorn
post Jul 26 2008, 10:11 PM
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QUOTE (ilbasso @ Jul 26 2008, 04:30 PM) *
oDoug, I'm glad to hear I wasn't the only one who used to tape the moonwalks. I also photographed the TV screens during the moonwalks...even the puppets that NBC used after Al Bean fried the Apollo 12 camera.

I didn't have access to a camera for Apollo 12, though my older brother borrowed a Yashica (twin-lens reflex) from high school and took pics off the screen during Apollo 11. (I actually accompanied my Dad to the drugstore to get film for the event, thus not returning home until about four minutes into Apollo 11's PDI burn. I nearly sat in the car to listen to the landing without interruption, but decided to tear into the house as fast as I could.)

Starting with Apollo 13, I was working for the school newspaper myself and had access to the same set of cameras, and was all set to take pics off the screen. Then I had to wait 9 months after 13 aborted to take pics during Apollo 14. I continued that practice and took several rolls of film during the remaining Apollo flights.

Over the many years, the prints from those pics have been lost, but I recently discovered that I still have (in moderate to poor shape) the negatives from those rolls. I may get them reprinted someday.

And I was certainly a teenager during Apollo. I turned 13 while Apollo 7 was in orbit. I was 15 years old when Apollo 15 flew, 16 years old when Apollo 16 flew, and 17 years old when Apollo 17 flew. With a birthday in October, it just worked out that way.

So, yes -- I began obsessing with Apollo before they started flying.

-the other Doug


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ElkGroveDan
post Jul 26 2008, 10:28 PM
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I didn't mean to say I wanted to out-do you Doug, just SOUND like you. wink.gif


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ugordan
post Jul 27 2008, 11:58 AM
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QUOTE (ilbasso @ Jul 26 2008, 07:22 PM) *
Oh, and one other fun factoid I like about the Saturn V: There were about 2.5 million solder joints in the Saturn V. If just 1 mm too much wire and an extra drop of solder were left on each of these joints, the excess weight would have been equal to the entire payload of the vehicle.

Where did this tidbit come from? Are you saying all these extra bits would add up to 118 metric tons in a booster which when empty weighs 250 tons? I get the feeling an order of a magnitude was missed somewhere.
Anyway, even if it was indeed 118 tons, if it were evenly distributed across the stages it wouldn't have nearly as big an impact on the payload due to the staged configuration of the vehicle. A kilogram added to the first stage has nowhere near as much payload impact as a kilogram on the third stage, yet the first stage is the biggest and likely to have the greatest number of those solder joints.

The factoid I found cool was that when Apollo 4 lifted off, it had the capacity to put all U.S. manned capsules up to that time into orbit at once. Quite possiblly all the Soviet ones as well.


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