Aerospace Legacy Foundation

Your portal to America's aerospace history

Aerospace Legacy Foundation (ALF) is a community based non-profit organization (501c3) including aerospace retirees and the public at large. Preserving Southern California's Aerospace and Aviation History including Downey's aerospace legacy.

Preserving Our Past, Focusing On The Future

     

 

 

 

Welcome!

The farther backward you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see.
— Sir Winston Churchill
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Explore and Investigate

Southern California Aerospace History

Space Shuttle Concept Artwork- ALF Archive

Space Shuttle Concept Artwork- ALF Archive

Above- Queen Elizabeth visits Rockwell in Downey, 1983. 

Above- Queen Elizabeth visits Rockwell in Downey, 1983. 

Aerial view of the Vultee Aircraft Company in 1936 expanding the former Emsco Aircraft plant, built in 1929, by industrialist E,M. Smith. Downey, CA. Cerritos Ave. (Lakewood Blvd.) passes the plant in this early image. Alameda School can be seen in the upper right.

Aerial view of the Vultee Aircraft Company in 1936 expanding the former Emsco Aircraft plant, built in 1929, by industrialist E,M. Smith. Downey, CA. Cerritos Ave. (Lakewood Blvd.) passes the plant in this early image. Alameda School can be seen in the upper right.

AS-204 Crew at North American Aviation Space Division. Image- NASA The prime crew of Apollo- Saturn 204, Apollo tragic beginning.  

AS-204 Crew at North American Aviation Space Division. Image- NASA

The prime crew of Apollo- Saturn 204, Apollo tragic beginning.

 

Apollo 1  50th Anniversary-

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50th Anniversary of Apollo 1 Fire:

What NASA Learned from the Tragic Accident Space .com


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Lee Atwood and Dutch Kindelberger

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Astronaut John Young

Above- Astronaut John Young left.

Above- Astronaut John Young left.

Above- John Young and Robert "Bob" Crippen

Above- John Young and Robert "Bob" Crippen

NASA Mourns the Passing of Astronaut John Young

Astronaut John Young (above left), who walked on the Moon during Apollo 16 and commanded the first space shuttle mission, died Friday, Jan. 5, 2018, at the age of 87 from complications of pneumonia. Young began his impressive career at NASA in 1962, when he was selected from among hundreds of young pilots to join NASA's second astronaut class, known as the "New Nine."

“Today, NASA and the world have lost a pioneer," acting NASA Administrator Robert Lightfoot said in a statement. "Astronaut John Young's storied career spanned three generations of spaceflight; we will stand on his shoulders as we look toward the next human frontier.

“John was one of that group of early space pioneers whose bravery and commitment sparked our nation's first great achievements in space. But, not content with that, his hands-on contributions continued long after the last of his six spaceflights -- a world record at the time of his retirement from the cockpit."

More here from NASA

Twentieth century man must boldly reach out...
And purposefully strive to discover the hidden secrets of our universe.
— Astronaut John Young

Building 290 was in Downey, California just south of 12214 Lakewood Blvd. (near Alameda St.) and north of the Columbia Memorial Space Center. It was demolished several years ago.

"Building 290 & Parts of Building 6 are Apollo Test & Operation (ATO). I had been working for this Division for about two years. I was an electronic technical employee with 5 years under my belt working for this company-North American Space Division. I wound up working in the Building 290 High Bay for over a year and interfaced with that facility up until a month before the first man walked on the moon. When I first walked into the high bay in Building 290, I had the impression that I had entered an area describe by science fiction movies, only the science fiction music was missing." Anthony Vidana

Read the full story here- "I Remember Building 290" PDF

Above- Building 290 from the Downey Livewire. Image- Downey Historical Society

Above- Building 290 from the Downey Livewire. Image- Downey Historical Society

Above- Building 290 in Downey, CA. North American Aviation/ North American Rockwell - April 1966

Above- Building 290 in Downey, CA. North American Aviation/ North American Rockwell - April 1966

 "The building was designed and constructed in 1964. It consists of a two-story structure of concrete and steel beams with a flat roof on the west side. A High Bay section (80 foot ceiling), a Low Bay section (40 foot ceiling) and a two story section east of the low bay adjacent to Building 6 .The total square footage is 165,100.

This building was originally constructed as the Systems Integration and Checkout Facility for the Apollo Program and later the Space Shuttle Program. More than 20 vehicles where assembled and integrated in this facility. This was the final assembly and checkout area for the Apollo 11 Spacecraft. The High and Low Bay areas of the building are the most significant consisting of approximately 170,000 square feet they were originally configured as a Class 100,000 Clean Room the largest in the world until the Soviets built one in the Soviet Union. The facility had three additional 4,500 square foot clean rooms for bench and instrument testing. Thousands of skilled spacecraft assemblers, technicians, engineers and support staff worked in this facility." ALF 2004

Above- Building 290 clean room. North American Rockwell Space Division 1969. Downey, CA.

Building 290 History

North American Aviation- Rockwell International- Boeing- Downey Studios

Above- Building 290 with captions by Anthony Vidana. Image courtesy- Boeing

Building 290 History

Building 290 & parts of Building 6 were Apollo Test & Operation (ATO)

Above- Building 290 at Downey Studios

Above- Iron Man 2 – Downey Studios set – same curve. Courtesy of Michael Goldman. Building 290 in the background.

Above- Iron Man 2 – Downey Studios set – same curve. Courtesy of Michael Goldman. Building 290 in the background.

Above- Iron Man 2 Monaco waterfront set – Downey Studios. Courtesy of Michael Goldman.Building 290 in the upper left.

Above- Iron Man 2 Monaco waterfront set – Downey Studios. Courtesy of Michael Goldman.Building 290 in the upper left.

 

'Building 290' was the Systems Integration and Checkout Facility for the Apollo Program and later the Space Shuttle Program.

Above- Aerial view of Downey Studios in 2005. Building 6 & 290 , lower right. Lakewood Blvd. to the left and Bellflower Blvd. upper right; Stewart & Gray Road top. Image- Tim Iverson

Above- Aerial view of Downey Studios in 2005. Building 6 & 290 , lower right. Lakewood Blvd. to the left and Bellflower Blvd. upper right; Stewart & Gray Road top. Image- Tim Iverson

Above- Downey Studios in the distance from Columbia Space Center Jan 2008. Image- Larry Latimer

Above- Downey Studios in the distance from Columbia Space Center Jan 2008. Image- Larry Latimer

Downey Studios by Arnstein Jan 2016. Shot from the Columbia  Space Center

Downey Studios by Arnstein Jan 2016. Shot from the Columbia  Space Center

Above- Downey Studios (IRG) took over the Boeing plant in the early 2000's and painted a moonscape on Bldg. 290.

Above- Downey Studios (IRG) took over the Boeing plant in the early 2000's and painted a moonscape on Bldg. 290.

Building 290 was demolished along with most of the buildings at the former Downey NASA Site in 2012.

Building 290 in Downey, California

Systems Integration & Checkout Facility- High Bay

Above- View of Downey Studios Bldg. 290 from the Columbia Space Center

Above- View of Downey Studios Bldg. 290 from the Columbia Space Center


 

Remembering

 Dyna-Soar Program

Above- Martin Co Dyna Soar, 1959. Image- Aerospace Projects Review Blog

"It’s important to note that the X-20 designation associated with the Dyna-Soar – and which, in the context of the time, signified a peaceful research role – lay in the future. Officials were still hoping they would produce not merely an X-15 follow-on but a prototype for a space bomber able to deliver atomic weapons to the Soviet Union from low Earth orbit.

After two contractors were given the go-ahead to submit more detailed studies, on Nov. 9, 1959, ARDC selected Boeing to build the Dyna-Soar vehicle and Martin to built the booster, leaving Bell, which had done much of the pioneering work, with no part of the project."

Defense Media Network

 

Above- Dyna Soar reentry....NASA

"On separation from its booster, the Dyna-Soar would use A-4 or A-9 rocket engines to place the vehicle into an exoatmospheric trajectory from which it would eventually fall away. When it fell far enough, instead of re-entering it would use its wings and some of its speed to generate lift and would bounce (or “skip”) back into space. It would skip around the world until speed was reduced to the point where the pilot needed to select a landing site and return to the atmosphere.

Similarly to the future space shuttle, Dyna-Soar was designed to glide to earth like an airplane under the control of its pilot. It could land at an airfield, rather than simply falling to earth and landing with a parachute. Engineers decided not to use wheels, fearing the affect of heat on tires, so Dyna-Soar was configured with ski-like landing skids.

In 1960, seven astronauts were chosen in secret for the Dyna-Soar program, including Neil Armstrong, who moved to another project and was replaced by the time the names were released in 1962.

Belatedly giving the craft the designation X-20 on June 19, 1962, to imply a peaceful mission was not enough."

Full Article

X-20 Dyna-Soar Spaceplace Was Decades Ahead of Its Time

Dyna Soar Prototype. "Not to be: the X-20 was cancelled by Secretary of Defense McNamara before it ever had a chance to fly, according to McNamara in favor of the Manned Orbiting Laboratory (MOL). MOL was cancelled by Defense Secretary Melvin R. Laird". U.S. Air Force photo

Above- Dyna-Soar Program in early 1960's.

Above- The second of two pieces of full-color artwork photographed at the archive of the Ira G. Ross Aerospace Museum in Niagara Falls. Both of these were painted on thick matte board. Image- US Ship .com

According to Hallion, when Dyna-Soar was cancelled on Sept. 10, 1963 after spacecraft construction had begun, the Air Force had spent $410 million in then-year dollars; Dyna-Soar was two one-half years and $373 million away from its first flight. “If we had pursued it as a black-world program like the U-2, it might have gone ahead,” said Hallion. “I never saw any technical issue that would have been a show stopper.”
— ROBERT F. DORR

Above- Artist's conception of Dyna-Soar separating from its Titan upper stage. Image- Pinterest.

"And that's how the X-20 Dyna-Soar became extinct...". Image- Pinterest.

Above- Dyna-Soar under wing launch.


the M2-F1 lenticular bodies

by NASA/Dryden Flight Research Center (NASA-DFRC)

Proposed Ames M2-F1, M1-L half-cone, and Langley lenticular bodies.

Above- "After the M2-F1 (on the viewer's left) proved the lifting-body concept, NASA and the Air Force began work on a series of heavyweight, rocket-powered lifting bodies able to reach supersonic speeds and altitudes up to 90,000 feet. The M2-F2 (on the right) was the first of these heavyweights. Although the two lifting bodies had similar shapes, there were differences. These included the ''elephant ears'' on the M2-F1, the change in cockpit location between the two vehicles, and the retractable landing gear on the M2-F2 versus the fixed gear on the M2-F1.February 24, 1966 NASA Photo Aircraft 1960s Fleet Description." NASA


Hard To Forget

the Space Shuttle Orbiter

Convair Space Plane concept. Image- Pinterest

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Above- Space Shuttle orbiter rescue scenario. Image- NASA

Above- Space Shuttle orbiter rescue scenario. Image- NASA

Above- Space Shuttle orbiter over the Earth.

Above- Space Shuttle orbiter over the Earth.

Above- Space Shuttle artwork from Rockwell, 1976. NASA

Above- Space Shuttle artwork from Rockwell, 1976. NASA

"NASA'S AMBITION IN 1971 was to build a fully reusable Space Shuttle which it could operate much as an airline operates its airplanes. The typical fully reusable Shuttle design in play in 1971 included a large Booster and a smaller Orbiter (image at top of post), each of which would carry a crew.

The Booster's rocket motors would ignite on the launch pad, drawing liquid hydrogen/liquid oxygen propellants from integral internal tanks. At the edge of space, its propellants depleted, the Booster would release the Orbiter. It then would turn around, reenter the dense part of Earth's atmosphere, deploy air-breathing jet engines, and fly under power to a runway at its launch site. Because it would return to its launch site, NASA dubbed it the "Flyback Booster." It would then taxi or be towed to a hanger for minimal refurbishment and preparation for its next launch.

The Space Shuttle Orbiter, meanwhile, would arc up and away from the Booster. After achieving a safe separation distance, it would ignite its rocket motors to place itself into Earth orbit. After accomplishing its mission, it would fire its motors to slow down and reenter Earth's atmosphere, where it would deploy jet engines and fly under power to a runway landing. As in the case of the Booster, the Orbiter would need minimal refurbishment before it was launched again." Courtesy- Wired .com More here...

IMAGE NASA NORTH AMERICAN ROCKWELL GENERAL DYNAMICS.

IMAGE NASA NORTH AMERICAN ROCKWELL GENERAL DYNAMICS.

THE REUSABLE BOOSTER LANDS ON A RUNWAY LESS THAN AN HOUR AFTER LAUNCH FROM A NEARBY LAUNCH PAD. IMAGE NASA NORTH AMERICAN ROCKWELL GENERAL DYNAMICS

REUSABLE SPACE SHUTTLE WITH REUSABLE ORBITER, TWIN REUSABLE SOLID ROCKET BOOSTERS, AND EXPENDABLE EXTERNAL TANK. IMAGE NASA-MCDONNELL DOUGLAS-TRW.

"Unlike an expendable launcher - for example, the Saturn V moon rocket - a fully reusable Space Shuttle would not discard spent parts downrange of its launch site as it climbed to Earth orbit. This meant that, in theory, any place that could host an airport might become a Space Shuttle launch and landing site.

NASA managers felt no need for a new launch and landing site; they already had two at their disposal. They planned to launch and land the Space Shuttle at Kennedy Space Center (KSC) on Florida's east coast and Vandenberg Air Force Base (VAFB), California. Nevertheless, for a time in 1971-1972, a NASA board reviewed some 150 candidate Shuttle launch and landing sites in 40 of the 50 U.S. states. A few were NASA-selected candidates, but most were put forward by members of Congress, state and local politicians, and even private individuals.

The Space Shuttle Launch and Recovery Site Review Board, as it was known, was chaired by Floyd Thompson, a former director of NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. The Board got its start on 26 April 1971, when Dale Myers, NASA Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight, charged it with determining whether any of the candidate sites could host a single new Shuttle launch and landing site as versatile as KSC and VAFB were together. The consolidation scheme aimed to trim Shuttle cost by eliminating redundancy." Read the full article here at Wired

New Homes For Space Shuttles- From NASA

B-21 Raider? Image- Nationalinterest .org

B-21 Raider? Image- Nationalinterest .org

 

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