Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The man on the Moon - (English)

The partecipation to MoonZoo project and the recent interview with Dr William Keel have rewakened my interest for Apollo missions and the desire to remember those exciting moments. The post is not complete, will not and can not be, considering the complexity and vastness of the topic. In particular the post will focus on the description of the Apollo 11 mission that brought the man on the Moon. More information will require a dedicated web site and not a simple post. (Clicking on the pictures you can see them in original size). Italian version here.

Apollo 11 Logo (Credit: NASA)

From 17th December 1903 to 20th July 1969 less than 66 years have passed.This is the time elapsed between the first man who gets up in flight with an aircraft heavier than air, at beach of Kitty Hawk, and the first man to set foot on the moon in the Sea of Tranquility.
Less than 12 years since the first artificial satellite, the Soviet Sputnik I, and less than 10 years since the first man in space, Yuri Gagarin.

The mission is preceded by a series of preparatory missions that, from Apollo 7 onwards, bring man closer to the objective almost near to touch our natural satellite.

The objective of the mission is to perform a manned moon landing and return to Earth. 

Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) (Credit: NASA)
The journey that leads the man to the moon starts from very far with the testing and inspection of various components and assembly of the rocket in the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) created for this specific purpose enclosing a space of about three million and 600 thousand cubic meters with a height of 160 meters. In the VAB is mounted the Saturn V rocket, the Apollo spacecraft and the umbilical tower.

The Saturn V is composed of 3 stages.

Saturn V - S-IC  (Credit: NASA)
The first stage (S-IC) is about 42 meters high (138 feet) and has a diameter of about 10 meters (33 feet), contains about 1 million and 500 thousands kilograms (3,307,855 pounds) of liquid oxygen and about 640 thousands kilograms (1,426,069 pounds) of kerosene (RP-1). It's equipped with five F-1 engines, of which 4 ring mounted on gimbals to allow to maneuver the carrier, and a centrally located disk, consuming a total of about 13 tons (29,364 pounds) of propellant per second. The empty weight is about 130 thousands kilograms (288750 pounds), fully loaded and about 2 million 260 thousands kilograms (5,022,674 pounds).

Saturn V - S-IVB (Credit: NASA)
The second stage (S-II) is about 25 meters high (81.5 feet) and has a diameter of about 10 meters (33 feet), contains about 370 thousands kilograms (821,222 pounds) of liquid oxygen and about 70 thousands kilograms (158,221 pounds) of liquid hydrogen. It's equipped with five J-2 engines, 4 of which ring mounted on gimbals to allow the carrier to operate, and a fixed center.The empty weight is about 36 thousands kilograms (79,918 pounds), fully loaded about 477 thousands kilograms (1,059,171 pounds).

The third stage (S-IVB) is about 18 meters high (58.3 feet) and has a diameter of less than 7 meters (21.7 feet) contains approximately 86 thousands kilograms (192,023 pounds) of liquid oxygen and about 20 thousands kilograms (43,500 pounds of liquid hydrogen. It's equipped with a J-2 engine mounted in a central location. The empty weight is about 11 thousands kilograms (25,000 pounds) fully loaded about 117 thousands kilograms (260,523 pounds).

Instrument Unit (IU) (Credit: NASA)
At the top of the third stage there is the Instrument Unit (IU) with a diameter of less than 7 meters (21.7 feet) and a height of about 1 meter (3 feet) that contains guidance systems, navigation, control equipment, telemetry, communications, tracking, crew safety, environmental control and electric central support. The IU has a weight of about 2.000 kilograms (4,306 pounds). In total, the Saturn V rocket and the Instrument Unit (IU) reach about 86 meters (281 feet) high with a total weight load of approximately 180 thousands kilograms (397,974 pounds) and 2 million and 856 thousands kilograms (6,346,674 pounds) with the full propellants.

Lunar Modul (LM) (Credit: NASA)
Above the Saturn V is located the payload of the mission: the Apollo spacecraft. Sequentially over the Instrument Unit are located the Lunar Module (Lunar Module - LM) and the Service Module (Service Modul - SM), the Command Module (Command Module - CM) and the Tower Rescue (Launch Escape System - SLE).

The Lunar Module (LM-5) consists of two stages: Ascending Stage and Descending Stage.It's about 7 meters wide and about 10 m wide from foot to foot. The system at full load, excluding the crew, weighs 14,000 kilograms. For launch the Lunar Module is included, with legs folded, inside a protective cone being designed for use only in vacuum.

The Service Module (SM-107) contains what is necessary to travel through space: oxygen, producing energy, water, propulsion system and consumables. It's less than 8 meters high with a diameter of about 4.5 meters. The gross weight is about 23 thousands kilograms.

Command and Service Module (CSM) (Credit: NASA)
The Command Module (CM-107) is the basic structure of the system where there are crew members. It's a pressurized cone-shaped structure less than 4 meters high and with a larger diameter of just over 4 meters.It has a takeoff weight of about 5 thousands and 500 kilograms. The base is composed of a heat shield needed for reentry.

Tower Rescue is located at the top of the whole system and is composed of three solid propellant motors. The tower is taller than 11 meters with a base diameter of about 4 meters. Fully loaded weighs about 4.000 kilograms.

The overall system is about 124 meters high and weighs just under 3 million kilograms.

Apollo 11 roll out from VBA directed to 39A Command and Service Module (CSM) (Credit: NASA)
As mentioned in the VAB is also assembled the umbilical tower, 130 meters high (380 feet), and the whole complex, without the propellants must be delivered to launch pad 39A 5 Km and 600 mt away(3.5 miles).

The Crawler (Credit: NASA)
To realize this not easy transportation a special vehicle (crawlers) is created wide 46 meters (135 feet) long 54mt (160 feet) high 8.5 meters (25 feet) capable of handling 2 million and 500 thousands kilograms (6 million pounds) on a leveling platform. The vehicle is mounted on four trucks  each about 3.5 meters tall (10 feet) long and 13.5 meters (40 feet) with 16 motors powered by four 1,000 kw generators generated by two diesel engines to 2750 hp . Top speed is about 1.6 km/h (1 mph) and takes about 6 hours to complete the route.

The launch pad 39A is formed by a concrete block in the shape of a truncated octagonal pyramid covers an area of about 1 square kilometer and which rises up to 30 meters on the surrounding area. Inside there is a canal 30 meters wide can guarantee at launch a stream of about 190,000 liters per minute (50,000 gallons per minute) of water needed to cool the structure and avoid the danger of fire resulting from the use of first stage.

Once reach the launch pad, nine hours before departure, start the procedures for loading the propellants that require approximately 4 hours.

Before going on to describe the launch and the mission is due to introduce its crew.

The crew consists of three elements, two of which will go down physically on the moon while the third remains in orbit around our natural satellite.

From Left - Neil A. Armstrong, Michael Collins, Edwin E. Aldrin Jr (Credit: NASA)

Neil A. Armstrong - NASA Astronaut - Apollo 11 Commander - Born Aug. 5, 1930 in Wapakoneta, Ohio (USA). 4,000 hours of flight at launch time and a space mission on board as commander of Gemini 8.

Michael Collins - NASA Astronaut - Command Module Pilot of Apollo 11 - Born October 31, 1930 in Rome (ITA.) 4,000 hours of flight at launch time and a space mission as pilot on board the Gemini 10.

Edwin E. Aldrin Jr - NASA Astronaut - Apollo 11 Lunar Module Pilot - Born Jan. 20, 1930 in Montclair, New Jersey (USA). 3,500 hours of flight at launch time and a space mission as pilot on board the Gemini 12.

Saturn V lift off (Credit: NASA)
The crew gets on board the elevator that takes them on top of the Saturn V, at more than 100m in 25 seconds, 2 hours and 40 minutes and 40 seconds before launch. Sequentially entering Apollo 11: Neil Armstrong (-2h 34m 44s) in the left seat, Michael Collins (-2h 39m 55s) in the right seat and Edwin Aldrin (-2h 23m 46s) in the center seat. Two hours after the launch is closed the hatch of the spacecraft.At 50 seconds after launch power is transferred to the Saturn V, which becomes independent.At 15 seconds, the driving control is carried on board.Starts the final countdown "12, 11, 10, 9, ignition sequence start, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, 0, all engine running (Taken by the emotion Jack King "Apollo Voice" made mistake by saying " all engine running), lift-off. "
At 9:32:00 East coast (13:32:00 UTC) the mission that will lead man on the moon start.

Apollo 11 flight plan (Credit: NASA)
After 2m 41.63s the first stage is turned off, it's detached and the second stage motors starts  (+2 m 43.04s). After 3m 17.9s the Rescue Tower is jettisoned.After 7m 40.62s the central engine of the second stage cutoff, after 9m 8.22s are also turned off the engines outside of the second stage, it's detached and the third stage starts (+9 m 12.2s). After 11m 39.33s the third stage is turned off and after 11m 49.33s happens the insertion in Earth orbit. After 2h 44m 16.2s the third stage is ignited for the second time and cut off after 2h 50m 3.03s. After 2h 50m 23.9s starts the translunar orbital mission that will reach the Moon. The rest of the trip does not pass in plain waiting. During the approach is the separation of the Command and Service Module (CSM) from the third stage, 180° rotation, the attachment of LM, a further 180°  rotation and the subsequent continuation of the orbit, after 4h 17m 3s since launch. Is then a  new ignition of jets to change course after 25h 44m 58.64s lasting about 3s.

After 75h 49m 50.37s is spent the engine is re-ignited for insertion into lunar orbit and subsequent insertion into circular orbit at 80h 11m 36.75s from launch.

Starting procedures for the lunar landing. Commander Armstrong and Aldrin pilot moving to the Lunar Module that now is called "Eagle", symbol of the U.S. and of the mission, and the Apollo capsule, is called "Columbia", remembering the spaceship "Columbiad" named by Jules Verne in his novel "From Earth to the Moon." After 100h 12m the CSM is separated from LM, which begins its descent toward the surface while the CSM remains in orbit with only Collins on board.

The descent is smooth. But when the landing zone approaches the area chosen by the onboard computer is unsuitable due to the presence of a crater, and so the landing is made manually. 

The Moon from LM after landing (Credit: NASA)
At 20:17:39 UTC on July 20, 1969 man landed on another celestial body after 102h 45m 39.9s from takeoff. Moon - Sea of Tranquility. Armstrong announced: "Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed".

Starting immediately after the operations to allow the first man to set foot on the moon.At 2:56:48 UTC on July 21, 1969 Commander Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon, and pronounce the historic phrase: "That's one small step for man ... one giant leap for mankind".
Video taken from LM (Credit: NASA)

He is reached after 12 minutes even by Edwin Aldrin.

The commemorative plate (Credit: NASA)
During the 2 hours of extravehicular activity (EVA), the two astronauts perform many operations, planting the American flag, installed a laser reflector and a seismic station. Also collect numerous samples of rocks for a total of about 22 kilograms (47 pounds). Among other things abandoned on the lunar surface must be recorded on a plaque installed in memory on a leg of the LM.They rentering the LM at 5:11:13 UTC on July 21, 1969.

Throughout the period of stay on the moon, Michael Collins is in orbit, alone, especially, in the 48 minutes when it loses radio contact with Earth, orbiting behind our natural satellite.

At 17:54:00 UTC the Ascendig Stage of the LM detaches from the Descending Stage to reach  Columbia in orbit. The attachment is perfect at 21:35:00 UTC. The crew of the LM moved in the CMS and the LM is ejected.

At 4:55:52 UTC on July 22, 1969 at 135h 23m 42.28s the CMS engine is ignited to perform the orbit of return. At 16:21:12 UTC on July 24, 1969 near the end of mission the Command Module separates from the Service Module and at 16:35:05 UTC, 3m 5.7s to 195h after its launch, SM is back in the atmosphere.
Command Modul splash down (Credit: NASA)

At 16:50:35 UTC Command Module splashdown in the Pacific Ocean.

The challenge is accomplished.

Before closing I want to point out some links used to make this post and where you can learn more:  

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