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Apollo 12 pre-launch, Some shots from a VIP tour of KSC, August 1969
nprev
post Jul 30 2008, 03:30 AM
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QUOTE (ilbasso @ Jul 29 2008, 08:25 PM) *
The window displays were expensive; according to NASA Technical Note D-7112, they accounted for about 30-40% of the total cost of the simulators!


Here's an old and almost forgotten word in today's virtual world: "craftsmanship". Physical modeling is nearly a dead art now. We should remember such efforts. God, I'd give a lot to look at these displays...<grits teeth>...

EDIT: Airbag, forgot to thank you for the tip...I'll go hunting for those DVDs. The Saturns are by far my favorite rockets ever, and probably a lot of people feel the same way!


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A few will take this knowledge and use this power of a dream realized as a force for change, an impetus for further discovery to make less ancient dreams real.
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dvandorn
post Jul 30 2008, 04:26 AM
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QUOTE (ilbasso @ Jul 29 2008, 09:45 PM) *
For me, the astounding juxtaposition is seeing that clunker car outside of the building. You have to say it over and over again to make it sink in: we went to the Moon with 1960's technology, and we no longer have the technology to do it!

As for that car -- those weren't clunkers, then. That car in that pic, which is the size of a Cadillac of today, was considered a *sub-compact* car back in '69. And it was stylish for its time, too! smile.gif

And, well -- it's not exactly like we no longer have the technology to go to the Moon. We don't have the infrastructure. There's a difference.

QUOTE (ilbasso @ Jul 29 2008, 09:45 PM) *
To give you youngsters a feel for what 1960's technology was like: When Intrepid came around the edge of the Moon, in powered descent and en route to landing, the engineers in Mission Control were frantically trying to compute an adjusted flight path. They were using paper and pencil and slide rules because THERE WERE NO COMPUTERS IN MISSION CONTROL THAT COULD DO MULTIPLICATION AND DIVISION!!!!

Exactly right! The first electronic calculators to come into wide use wouldn't come around for another year or so. And those were *desktop* calculators, with tiny layered neon tubes comprising the numeric displays. A single digit was made up of elements receding down into the display 'cube' up to 6 or 7 cm.

The roomsfull of IBM mainframe computers ran very narrowly defined and specific trajectory plots, calculating location and vectors in three-dimensional space. They ran a single program each at any given time, with dozens of computers running to support dozens of consoles. There was no such thing as "click on System Tools and pull up Calculator" on those computers.

They actually had a name, back in the '60s and '70s, for computers with the processing and storage capabilities of the computer I'm using right now.

Supercomputers.

rolleyes.gif

-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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mchan
post Jul 30 2008, 06:52 AM
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Adding my thanks for sharing those photos. Official, professional photos sometimes seem contrived compared to personal snapshots which do more for me in giving a sense of life to the history.
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stevesliva
post Jul 30 2008, 04:52 PM
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QUOTE (dvandorn @ Jul 30 2008, 12:26 AM) *
And, well -- it's not exactly like we no longer have the technology to go to the Moon. We don't have the infrastructure. There's a difference.

Yeah, I always think about the pyramids in Egypt. If we really wanted to invest in huge stone edifices....

The Concorde is a more modern example.
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edstrick
post Jul 31 2008, 09:46 AM
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"...and we no longer have the technology to do it!"

We no longer have the technology to build a 1965 vintage color TV.
Mostly, that's a good thing. we have better now.

We have the technology, but not the will, and the money to rebuild the CAPABILITY.

Beyond that, is the really hard question: Why do "Apollo on Steroids"
The essential concept coming out of Griffen and NASA is something like the science bases in Antarctica.

My mantra is that our goal should be the 1.) exploration, 2.) exploitation, 3.) commercial and industrial development, and 4.) settlement of space.
We're still not going beyond 1 and 2, and the Constellation program, using throw-away-hardware, does little to advance beyond those.

<sigh>
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SpaceCat
post Aug 1 2008, 05:13 AM
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Jonathan, let me add my thanks for sharing- I'm just getting caught up on web-reading after after a week of work travel.
These are a real trip down memory lane for me- I arrived in Florida- transferring to Florida Tech [then F.I.T.] in September '69. Apollo 12 was the first launch of any kind that I saw live, despite the rain!
By 13, I had a part-time job at the Cape breadboarding Skylab stuff-- so I got to see 13, 14 and 15 from inside the fence.

A salute to your Dad, too- guys from that generation taught me everything I know!
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dvandorn
post Aug 1 2008, 06:01 AM
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I just wanted to say again how appreciative I am of these images.

And, BTW, I just noted that the VIP tour was in August, just the month after Apollo 11. Which explains the relatively advanced state of Apollo 12's assembly and check-out. Had Apollo 11 failed to make the lunar landing, Apollo 12 (SA-507) would have flown in September from pad 39B. Had Apollo 12 failed to make the landing, Apollo 13 (SA-508) would have flown in November from 39A. And if 13, too, failed, it was thought that Apollo 14 (SA-509) could be made ready to fly in December, from 39B.

That gave NASA a maximum of four shots to get the landing accomplished by midnight on December 31, 1969. Fact is, *no one* believed that Apollo would succeed in its very first landing attempt, and that none of the preceding missions would need to be re-flown.

So, these wonderful images show a Saturn stack that was nearly ready to be rolled out. The Apollo spacecraft (CSM and LM) weren't quite in as advanced state of readiness, but by this time, they knew they had an extra couple of months to play with. Besides, final fitting-out of the spacecraft depended somewhat on its mission, and you would configure things (especially the LM) a little differently for a first landing than for a second. (For example, had 11 failed, LM-6 wouldn't have carried an ALSEP, it likely would have carried another EASEP.)

I think the documentaries don't really give you a feel for the expedited timelines NASA was willing to use to get that landing done by the end of the decade. One telling point is that the last practice run of a lunar landing before Apollo 11 flew used not the prime or back-up crew from Apollo 11, nor even the prime Apollo 12 crew. That final simulation saw Dave Scott and Jim Irwin, the back-up LM crew for Apollo 12, flying the simulator. So, here we were, before Apollo 11 flew, and the crew in the simulator didn't fly for another two years. But had problems developed and it had taken three or four shots at making the landing, Scott and Irwin might have found themselves flying in not much more than 7 or 8 months' time, hence the perceived value in giving them the simulator time.

-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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ilbasso
post Aug 1 2008, 01:01 PM
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I think it was in the discussion doc about the simulators that I referenced above that I read that simulator time was a critical resource, for the reasons you mentioned, Doug. They had these at the Cape and ones at Houston running pretty much 24 hours a day during 1969 to accommodate all of the crews that were getting ready to go. The display technology was so delicate that it broke down constantly. Missions changed. Apollo 12 didn't know for sure that they were going to the Surveyor III site until late August or early September, barely 3 months before the mission. It was a crazy time, driven by that end of the decade deadline!

One piece of trivia that I read yesterday: There were only three astronauts who trained as backups for Apollo missions and who never flew an Apollo mission: Gordon Cooper (who was backup CDR on Apollo 10 and lost his Apollo 13 slot to Al Shepard [whose crew later moved to Apollo 14]), Joe Engle (backup LMP for Apollo 14, would have gone on Apollo 17 but lost his slot to Harrison Schmitt), and Don Lind (backup CMP for Skylab 3 and 4). Cooper resigned after losing his slot; Engle and Lind went on to fly years later on the Shuttle.


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dvandorn
post Aug 1 2008, 03:47 PM
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If you're counting Skylab, both backup crews included a few other people who didn't fly until Shuttle. The Skylab 2 backup crew was Rusty Schweickart (CDR), Bruce McCandless (PLT, or Pilot) and Story Musgrave (SPT, or Science Pilot). The backup crew for Skylabs 3 and 4 was Vance Brand (CDR), Don Lind (PLT) and Bill Lenoir (SPT). Yes, there were only two backup crews for the three Skylab flights.

Of those backup crewmen, Schweickart had already flown in Apollo, on Apollo 9. Brand flew in an Apollo on the Apollo-Soyuz flight. The other four did eventually fly in the Shuttle, McCandless waiting an eternity for his first flight (selected along with moonwalkers Mitchell, Irwin and Duke in 1966, Bruce didn't fly until 1984). Then again, he was the astronaut involved in the AMU jet backpack project, so he waited to fly until the AMU was ready, and became the first person to fly it. But McCandless does have his own place in history, as the CapCom during the Apollo 11 EVA.

-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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