Sunday, September 24, 2017

The Cosmosphere, part 12

In case you missed any of the previous posts, feel free to follow the links to part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5, part 6, part 7, part 8, part 9, part 10, and part 11.  Please be aware, all links open in a new window.

In June, 1965, NASA's Gemini IV launched astronauts Ed White and James McDevitt into space on a mission to perform the first American spacewalk.

White floated free outside the spacecraft, tethered to it, for 22 minutes.    It was a major step toward living and working in space.  Similar in design to the Liberty Bell 7, the Gemini project was larger and held two seats, thus the name Gemini.

Before the space flight, the hatch was difficult to open.  White failed to anticipate the amount of time he had spent outside and ground control was fearful they would be entering total darkness if he didn't return to the ship.  Once inside, the hatch refused to close again.  Since I had trouble reading and remembering the problems they encountered, according to Wikipedia:
The hatch proved to be as stubborn to relatch as it was to open. This would have been disastrous, resulting in both men's deaths on reentry. But McDivitt was able to fix the mechanism once again, so White could close it. The mission plan called for opening the hatch again to throw out White's now-unnecessary EVA equipment, but McDivitt elected not to do this, instead keeping the unnecessary equipment on board for the rest of the flight.
BTW, EVA stands for extra-vehicular activity.

Some of the gear from

this monumental flight.  The flight plan also included a rendezvous with the discarded second stage of the Titan II rocket. It was aborted, however, after pilot Jim McDivitt experienced unexpected difficulties reaching the booster because he had not been properly trained in rendezvous techniques.

This shows the remaining Gemini projects.  Buzz Aldrin held the record for the most number of space walks and Ed White carried a jet pack, but it was never used.  Titan II rockets (like the one I visited outside in part 8) launched 12 Gemini spacecraft between 1964 and 1967.

As the plaque shows,the Gemini project was created to be experience building and would fill the gap between the single person Mercury space crafts and the three person Apollo space crafts  In case you can't read it, these three skills were required: long duration space flight, rendezvous and docking, and space walks.   Also seen in the photo is the Agena, what Gemini pilots used for rendezvous and docking.

Suddenly the Titan missiles were out of the picture and a new missile, the Saturn V, was designed under the direction of Wernher von Braun.

Yes, this is the "fiery rocket that carried Apollo to the Moon."

A total of 24 astronauts were launched to the Moon, three of them twice, in the four years spanning December, 1968 through December, 1972.  The last Saturn V was launched in 1973 without a crew. It was used to launch the Skylab space station into Earth orbit.

Although you can barely see it, this is a Saturn "Q-Ball."  Its purpose was to keep the space craft on track as it shot through the atmosphere and into space.

Here is a better photo of the "Q-Ball."

I'm not quite sure what this is, but I may have taken the photo because I love rust.

This is a full scale replica of the Lunar Explorer Module and a full scale model of the Lunar Rover. 

Somehow I wandered into this area and took these photos.

After reviewing my map, I should have headed for the Apollo Gallery instead.

When I tried to get a picture of the Apollo gallery, someone bumped my arm,

then stepped directly in front of me.

Discouraged, I took photos of the Apollo 13 docking apparatus.  A mock-up of Apollo 13 is shown above the docking station

Yes, that's me in the background in front of the astronauts in space suits.  I photo bombed my own photo.

Then I made my way to the space suits and cameras.

My friend Scott was engrossed in a "small" piece of "big" equipment used in the Saturn V rocket assembly.

He informed me this was tread from the crawler that carried the Titan V.

Shown are the various parts of the Lunar Module, the Service Module, the Command Module, and the Escape System associated with the Saturn V and the Apollo space craft.

This may be a better view.

In order to get a close-up, I lost

much of the overall design.

The first Saturn V launched with a crew was Apollo 8. On this mission, astronauts orbited the moon but did not land. On Apollo 9, the crew tested the Apollo moon lander by flying it in Earth orbit without landing. On Apollo 10, the Saturn V launched the lunar lander to the moon. The crew tested the lander in space but did not land it on the moon. In 1969, Apollo 11 was the first mission to land astronauts on the moon. Saturn V rockets also made it possible for astronauts to land on the moon on Apollo 12, 14, 15, 16 and 17. On Apollo 13, the Saturn V lifted the crew into space, but a problem prevented them from being able to land on the moon. That problem was not with the Saturn V, but with the Apollo spacecraft. The last Saturn V was launched in 1973, without a crew. It was used to launch the Skylab space station into Earth orbit.

My friend Scott was truly impressed.  Be aware, he is 6' 5" tall, so that gives you an idea of the size of this piece.

More people were determined I was never going to get a photo of the Apollo project.

But even though the museum was about to close, I waited until I could get a good shot.  OK, a decent shot.

After a quick look at the various crews of Apollo as well as their space suits and seats,

I was off to check out the "White Room."  Just to the left of the White Room was an actual test unit of the inner crew pressure module of an earlier design of the LM, the part that was supposed to be disposable, but actually carried the Apollo 13 crew safely home when they lost much of their oxygen.

As I worked my way toward the White Room,

I remembered how excited I was to see this authentic Apollo White Room, one of the original artifacts at the Cosmosphere.

This specific White Room was used for Apollo 10 and 11, and several Skylab flights.

It was the last place the astronauts stood waiting for the launch assignment before entering the capsule.

Astronauts enter the white room which was attached to the side of every Titan launch pad

on their way to the spacecraft.

I was in awe of the interior of this fully restored white room.

I have no idea what all these hoses and knobs were for, but I thought it was especially fascinating

This is from the other side, showing the extended arm that fit on the pad platform.  I used a flash for this view.

Another exterior view. this time, no flash.

Here it is, Apollo 13, the command module that actually flew in space.  If you are not familiar with the story of Apollo 13,  it was supposed to be the third mission to land a man on the moon.  James Lovell, John Swigert, and Fred Haise were the flight crew for the flight.  The command module was named Odyssey and the LM (Lunar Module) was Aquarius.  

The lunar landing was aborted after an oxygen tank exploded two days into the flight.  This crippled the Service Module, on which the Command Module depended.

Despite great hardship caused by loss of power and cabin heat, shortage of potable water, and the need to make makeshift repairs to the carbon dioxide removal system, the crew returned safely to Earth six days after launch.  

Although they were unable to land on the moon, they still set a record by circling the far side of the moon which was (and still is) the farthest humans have ever traveled from Earth.

Here you get a different view of the interior of the Apollo 13 command module and some of the instruments.

Due to the Command Module's limited battery power and water, the crew was forced to shut down the Command Module to save it for re-entry.  In turn, they powered up the Lunar Module to use as a "lifeboat."

Mission control decided to use the moon's gravity as a sling shot to propel the space craft around the moon.

In order to do that and save the astronauts, engineers at mission control had to figure out how to make the necessary adjustments to make the lunar module livable using only pieces the astronauts had aboard their two crafts.  I was quite impressed by this and felt it was a genuine human factors project (my Ph.D. field).

Here is the genuine docking station again that was used in Apollo 13 (below) and the mock-up of the command module (left) and lunar module (right, in red, white, and blue).

Again, the docking station used in Apollo 13 and was flown in space.

Many of the Apollo astronauts took both stills and videos. 

They even won cinematography awards for their films.

Some still taken in space are shown here.

Other memorabilia such as articles of clothing and gear used in space are shown here.

Now I don't know why people flock to this, but it seems to be something everyone wants to see.

To me it was just a rock, to others, it was a moon rock!  Apparently it is quite valuable, too.

I had planned to share a few photos of the museum I visited yesterday, but my batteries are all dead (eight total) and I can't get photos off my camera using dead batteries.  I hope to share a few tomorrow.

Thanks for joining me today.  The good news is, unless something new comes up, there will only be one final Cosmosphere entry soon.