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Launch pad descriptions
paranoid123
post Dec 14 2006, 06:10 AM
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Does anyone have a link or document that describes launch pad structures? I'm interested and curious about the launch gantry structure, what structures holds up the rocket, and where does the spent exhaust goes during launch.

Thank you.
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jamescanvin
post Dec 14 2006, 08:41 PM
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I suspect the place to ask this would be at nasaspaceflight.com

Each type of rocket is going to have a different pad - your likely to find the most info about the shuttle pads - a quick Google brings up a few interesting hits.

http://science.ksc.nasa.gov/facilities/lc39a.html

http://www-pao.ksc.nasa.gov/kscpao/nasafact/padstoc.htm

I'm woefully unqualified to answer your questions but I can have a quick stab. No structures hold rockets up, if they are strong enough to survive the ascent they can quite happily sit on the ground under there own weight, the gantry is used to service the rocket, not hold it up.

The exhaust go into a flame trench to direct it away from the vehicle at launch.


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GregM
post Dec 15 2006, 04:31 AM
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Jim from NSF.com
post Dec 15 2006, 02:57 PM
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QUOTE (paranoid123 @ Dec 14 2006, 01:10 AM) *
Does anyone have a link or document that describes launch pad structures? I'm interested and curious about the launch gantry structure, what structures holds up the rocket, and where does the spent exhaust goes during launch.

Thank you.


Actually, nothing holds up a rocket. They are all basically self supporting (not going to go into heritage Atlas here). Some even have to be held down during ignition (Atlas, Delta IV and STS). Titan-IV and Delta II are free standing.
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dvandorn
post Dec 15 2006, 05:28 PM
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The only exception that I am aware of in terms of there being any need to "hold up the rocket" was the original Atlas. And even with that vehicle, it was not done by structures at the pad. That original Atlas vehicle was made with a skin milled so thin that the tanks needed to be pressurized, or the whole missile would crumple and "deflate," like a large metal balloon!

So, for those early Atlas vehicles, when not filled with pressurized fuel, they were filled with pressurized air, which held the rocket up.

Now, on the other hand, you can argue the position that bolting a rocket down at the base "holds it up" since without such a connection at the base, many rockets would fall over sideways, especially under any kind of wind pressure. Most rockets are attached to their pad structures with explosive bolts (the entire weight of the STS vehicle on the pad, for example, passes through the SRB engine nozzle assemblies, which are attached to the pad with explosive bolts). Some, like the Saturn V, have (or had) hold-down arms which keep the vehicle firmly attached to the pad until all engines are up to full thrust and all other indications are clear for release.

The most fascinating pad-release mechanism I ever heard of was for the Saturn V. After the explosive bolts were blown and after the hold-down arms released the vehicle, the Saturn V still had one more process to go through. Huge soft-iron rivet-head bolts were attached to the rocket and through slots in the launcher which were smaller than the bolt heads. As the vehicle lifted off, these bolts were pulled through the slots and the soft iron was literally pulled through the slots, deforming like thick taffy as they pulled through. This attenuated vibrational shocks and especially any tendency for the rocket to lift off in very short, rhythmic "spurts" which could shake the whole stack dangerously. So, the final contact between a Saturn V and the ground was four huge soft-iron bolts that were forced to extrude through slots in the launcher. Fascinating stuff!

-the other Doug


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“The trouble ain't that there is too many fools, but that the lightning ain't distributed right.” -Mark Twain
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Guest_MarkG_*
post Jan 7 2007, 11:43 PM
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'Umbilical Systems: V-2 to Saturn V' might have some of the information you're looking for. It includes diagrams of a lot of the launch-pad systems for different rockets up to the Saturns.

http://www-lib.ksc.nasa.gov/lib/Archives/umbilical.pdf

I know I have some other documents with that kind of information, but with multiple gigabytes to search through, most with non-descriptive filenames from the NTRS server they'd take a while to track down smile.gif.
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