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The Apollos That Never Were, Hardware fates and the dynamics of the program
ilbasso
post Jul 23 2008, 08:22 PM
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QUOTE (jmknapp @ Jun 19 2008, 02:47 PM) *
I was reading up on this mission and have a few questions:

...

3) The launch has been delayed by a month. Is there any possibility this mission might be cancelled? I.e., has NASA (read: US Congress) ever cancelled a mission where the spacecraft had essentially been built?


Sorry for the late reply here, here's another Yes answer. Apollos 18 and 19 had the hardware completely built. They were forced to cancel essentially because the money was not allocated to run the support operations.


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ugordan
post Jul 23 2008, 08:59 PM
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QUOTE (ilbasso @ Jul 23 2008, 10:22 PM) *
They were forced to cancel essentially because the money was not allocated to run the support operations.

What would the price tag of those have been?


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ilbasso
post Jul 24 2008, 12:56 AM
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If I recall correctly, it was in the $20-40 million per mission range - a lot of money at the time, but absolutely minimal compared to the investment in the hardware.

I believe they ended up using one of the leftover Saturn V's for Skylab. The Command Modules and LMs are in museums. The story is that the partially-completed LM originally allocated for Apollo 20, first mission to be cancelled, was chopped up and buried!


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dvandorn
post Jul 24 2008, 02:03 AM
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In terms of the Saturn Vs for the later Apollo missions, the scoop is this:

In mid-1969, the Apollo Applications (later renamed Skylab) program management decided that the "wet workshop" concept, in which what would become the Skylab workshop would have been launched as a fueled and active rocket stage that would then have been outfitted as a workshop after it was orbited as the second stage of a Saturn IB, wasn't going to work. It was much easier to get a good, well-stocked workshop if you didn't have to fill it with liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen.

Problem is, a Saturn IB wasn't capable of orbiting a "dry," pre-outfitted S-IVB workshop by itself. For that you needed a Saturn V.

So, in July 1969, just after Apollo 11 was completed, it was decided that the workshop needed a Saturn V. At that time, the Nixon administration had shut down the Saturn V assembly lines; there were enough built to fly Apollos out to Apollo 20, with none left over. If Skylab needed a Saturn V, that meant Apollo 20 would have to be canceled. Which it was, though the announcement of its cancelation was not made until January of the following year.

So, as of January of 1970, there were eight Saturn V rockets in various stages of assembly. None more would be built. They would have supported Apollo flights out to Apollo 19 plus a Skylab flight.

After the Apollo 13 accident, more conservative heads in NASA management and in the Nixon administration decided that we didn't need to make all that many more moon landings. (The NASA attitude was that we had been lucky, and if we kept flying these things indefinitely we'd start to lose crews. The administration attitude was mostly that they wanted more money to prosecute the war in Vietnam.) So, two Apollos were canceled as money-saving measures.

However, contrary to popular belief, the two missions canceled weren't Apollos 18 and 19. The missions canceled were actually Apollos 15 and 19. Apollo 15, up to that time, was scheduled to be an H mission like Apollos 12-14, with a lunar surface stay of around 45 hours, two 5-hour EVAs, and no lunar rover. After the cancelations, of course, the missions were renumbered and the first J mission, with extended stay times, 3 EVAs and a lunar rover, was moved up from Apollo 16 to Apollo 15, and the later missions renumbered accordingly.

Not that the crews were shuffled. Scott and Irwin simply began training for a J mission about a third of the way through their training cycle, and Young and Duke had the privilege of flying the first J mission taken away from them.

So, when Apollo and Skylab were finished, there were two complete Saturn Vs left over. Portions of them have been on display at KSC, JSC and MSFC over the years.

And in terms of mission costs, IIRC each Apollo mission cost roughly $100 million to fly, though I believe that included the amortized costs of the launch vehicles and spacecraft. That would be equivalent to something like two-thirds of a billion dollars in today's terms. If you just counted the costs that hadn't already been spent -- final assembly and test of the spacecraft/launch vehicles and actual launch and missions operations costs -- I bet the $10 to $20 million a mission would be about right. In today's dollars, less than $100 million per each additional flight.

The thing that really grates me is that, in the late '70s, some of the people on the Appropriations Committees were told what the actual costs of the additional missions would have been versus the potential for additional science, and a large majority indicated they would have been glad to support the appropriations for the additional missions. Such are the portraits we paint of lost opportunities... *sigh*...

-the other Doug


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ugordan
post Jul 24 2008, 10:41 AM
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Thanks very much for this detailed reply, oDoug. It makes things much clearer to me. Missed opportunities, indeed...

Then again, had they actually flown all the Saturn Vs, there would be none left for display for younger generations to marvel at. You win some, you lose some more I guess.


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climber
post Jul 24 2008, 10:51 AM
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Ugordan, this lead to a question : any real size mock-up left ?


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ugordan
post Jul 24 2008, 11:02 AM
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IIRC, there was at least one full scale mockup delivered to KSC before the actual first flight-ready S-V was shipped there so the technicans and engineers could train handling the actual vehicle. I don't know what became of it or whether it was a really accurate replica down to engine details and such. Still, you can't beat the real thing for a museum piece. wink.gif

EDIT: Just checked wikipedia and it says "The U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville also has on display an erect full scale model of the Saturn V", maybe that's the one.


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mcaplinger
post Jul 24 2008, 01:55 PM
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QUOTE (dvandorn @ Jul 23 2008, 07:03 PM) *
And in terms of mission costs, IIRC each Apollo mission cost roughly $100 million to fly...

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.


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Disclaimer: This post is based on public information only. Any opinions are my own.
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ilbasso
post Jul 25 2008, 01:17 AM
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A great place to start for people interested in the 'Apollos that never were' is David Shayler's book, "Apollo: The Lost and Forgotten Missions." He reminds us that the Apollo 204 (aka Apollo 1) mission was not the same as Apollo 7, and that Apollo 14 was not a duplicate of what had been intended for Apollo 13. We learn about plans for manned moon bases in the 1970's and a manned Mars landing by 1985.

There were some interesting ideas that came out of the Apollo Applications Program - lunar observatories, Venus flyby, etc. One sometimes gets the impression that some of these appear to be contractors just trying to find ways for their hardware to be used in all kinds of fanciful ways beyond what it was intended for. Very interesting ideas, had unlimited funding been available!

The one program that went forward was Skylab. The Apollo Telescope Mount was originally supposed to be an adapted lunar module with its descent stage replaced by a telescope. It was initially envisioned to be launched separately and docked to Skylab.


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nprev
post Jul 25 2008, 02:10 AM
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Here's a silly question: Were an equal number of CMs, SMs, and stacks (IBs & Vs) built? Also kind of curious about whatever happened to any engineering mockups.


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siravan
post Jul 25 2008, 03:26 AM
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QUOTE (climber @ Jul 24 2008, 06:51 AM) *
...any real size mock-up left ?


There are three real size mock-ups. IIRC, they are is KSC, JSC and Huntsville. As there were only two Saturn V left, the three mock ups had a mix of flight-ready stages from the two left overs plus some engineering stages.
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dvandorn
post Jul 25 2008, 04:39 AM
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There is a truly excellent resource to answer all of these questions:

A Field Guide to American Spacecraft

This site identifies each and every mockup, boilerplate and flight-ready spacecraft and booster ever built for NASA, what flight (if any) it was used on, and, if it still exists and hasn't been scrapped, where in the world it is located and if it is on public display. When available, it provides links to pictures of each item.

To answer the general question, as of the end of the Apollo era, with the splashdown of ASTP, there were two Saturn Vs left over and two full CSMs left over. There were three full LMs left over, but one was LM-2 which suffered from so many problems it was pulled from consideration for even unmanned test flight. Of the two flyable LMs left over after Apollo concluded, one was an H-mission LM originally scheduled for Apollo 15, and one was a J-mission LM. Another two LMs, in J-mission configuration, were built; one is confirmed as having been scrapped, while the other's fate seems unknown.

-the other Doug


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dvandorn
post Jul 25 2008, 05:18 AM
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QUOTE (ilbasso @ Jul 24 2008, 08:17 PM) *
A great place to start for people interested in the 'Apollos that never were' is David Shayler's book, "Apollo: The Lost and Forgotten Missions." He reminds us that the Apollo 204 (aka Apollo 1) mission was not the same as Apollo 7, and that Apollo 14 was not a duplicate of what had been intended for Apollo 13.

Too right -- for one thing, Apollo 1 was officially an open-ended mission, with a maximum length of two weeks but without a pre-defined date/time for splashdown. Its optics and navigation systems were somewhat different from the Block II design, as well, so there were to be fewer onboard navigation tests.

As for Apollo 13 v. 14, the ALSEPs were rather different; the experiment selections had been made well before the landing sites were chosen, and Apollo 14's ALSEP differed rather a lot from 13's. For instance, 13's ALSEP included a Heat Flow Experiment, complete with lunar drill, while 14's included the Active Seismic Experiment, complete with shotgun-shell-charged thumper and remote-launched grenades. The EVA plans were rather different, too -- 13's designated landing point was as much as 100 meters farther west than 14's, closer to Doublet Crater, with an ALSEP site expected to be on the west rather than east side of Doublet. If for any reason Lovell were to land long, past Doublet, a full work-up had been done for an EVA-2 visit not to Cone Crater to the east but to Star Crater to the west. And, of course, the 13 crew didn't have the MET, the tool-carrying wheeled cart, so in their Cone Crater traverse plan they figured on stopping at Outpost Crater and dropping all the equipment except what they would need on the rim above. They were going to pick up the dropped tools and such on their way back.

QUOTE (ilbasso @ Jul 24 2008, 08:17 PM) *
The one program that went forward was Skylab. The Apollo Telescope Mount was originally supposed to be an adapted lunar module with its descent stage replaced by a telescope. It was initially envisioned to be launched separately and docked to Skylab.

That was part of the planning for the wet workshop concept. A Saturn IB could only loft a wet workshop (with interior fittings covered over by some miracle covering that would protect it from the cryogenic rocket fuels). The ATM (which is actually based around an octagonal frame the size and shape of a LM descent stage) would be launched by a separate Saturn IB, and a third IB flight would carry a crew up on a CSM. The crew would rendezvous with the ATM, grab it and then bring it to the workshop, where it would be installed before the CSM could dock with the workshop (as the ATM would have been attached to the CSM via the docking mechanism).

The *very* first ATM concept was actually something thought up for the later-canceled Apollo I-missions. Those would have been lunar orbital with no landings, orbiting the Moon in polar orbits for up to two weeks. The LM would be replaced with a LM-based module in which the ascent stage would remain somewhat intact but the descent stage would be gutted of its propulsion systems and filled with cameras and remote sensing equipment. The cameras were telescopic in nature, and as soon as someone realized this could also be used in Earth orbit for astronomical or solar studies, the whole thing was dubbed the Apollo Telescope Mount. And for a while, two-week earth-orbital flights of Apollo CSMs with ATMs, sans workshop, were considered as part of the Apollo Applications Program.

-the other Doug


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dvandorn
post Jul 25 2008, 05:30 AM
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One other little item about Apollo 14.

The delay resulting from the redesigns in the oxygen tanks and the addition of an extra oxygen tank plus an extra *big* battery to the service module meant the development of the SIM bay (flown on the J-mission CSMs) caught up with Apollo 14. They could have added a SIM bay to the Apollo 14 CSM, and seriously considered it when they began to re-work its SM.

But Al Shepard vetoed the idea -- he didn't want any added complexities in what amounted to a return-to-flight mission. And, honestly, I also think Shepard didn't want anything taking the spotlight off of him and the lunar surface activities. He pushed to have the TEI burn moved up a few revs so that, as soon as they were back onboard the CSM and had cast off the LM ascent stage, it was Time To Go. The "star" portion of the flight, his landing and moonwalks, would be over, and he didn't want to tarry in lunar orbit an hour longer than absolutely necessary. The SIM bay activities would have begged for an extra day or two in lunar orbit to make proper use of the cameras and instruments, and Al was having none of that.

-the other Doug


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gndonald
post Jul 25 2008, 03:20 PM
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QUOTE (ilbasso @ Jul 25 2008, 09:17 AM) *
The one program that went forward was Skylab. The Apollo Telescope Mount was originally supposed to be an adapted lunar module with its descent stage replaced by a telescope. It was initially envisioned to be launched separately and docked to Skylab.


The LM ascent stage was considered by various NASA contractors as the basis for all sorts of experiments, laser communications, optical experiments, X-ray & visible light telescopes, but the most interesting LM modification was Project ABLE.

This was a quasi-military project which would have seen a series of 300m diameter reflectors mounted to a modified LM placed into orbit to provide the equivalent of a full moon on the ground in Vietnam, every night of the year for at least six months.

The first launch of the series would have been a manned Saturn V launch to test out the basic systems, the remaining launches would have been unmanned.
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