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.

Apollo History Gallery

Apollo Space Program

 

North American Aviation  was the prime contractor for the Apollo Space Program. 

Downey's Space  & Information Systems Division was the "shop" and plant where Apollo was born.

Over 25,000 people worked in and around the Space Division at Downey, CA  during  the 1960's.

                     ”When I first looked back at the Earth, standing on the Moon, I cried.”

Alan Shepard talking about his time on the lunar surface during the Apollo 14 mission in February 1971.

 

Apollo in his Chariot with the hours. John Singer Sargent.

Apollo Program

"Photographs showing Neil Armstrong taking his first 'small steps' on the moon are some of the most iconic images in the world. Now a Polish photographer has stitched together a collection of Nasa images into a series of stunning panoramas to show the Apollo missions like they've never been seen before. This one gives a fresh look at Apollo 11, including the famous flag, lander and footprints."  Image- NASA, quote from dailymail .com

 

 

Apollo's Goals

National effort that enabled Astronaut Neil Armstrong to speak those words as he stepped onto the lunar surface fulfilled a dream as old as humanity.

Project Apollo's goals went beyond landing Americans on the moon and returning them safely to Earth.

They included:

·        Establishing the technology to meet other national interests in space.

·        Achieving preeminence in space for the United States.

·        Carrying out a program of scientific exploration of the Moon.

·        Developing man's capability to work in the lunar environment.

 

 

NASA spacecraft comparison

Comparing Apollo, Mercury and Gemini

Above- NASA spacecraft comparison NASA illustration comparing boosters and spacecraft from Apollo (biggest), Gemini and Mercury (smallest).

Below- the Saturn V command module (CM) configuration

This is a cutaway illustration of the Saturn V command module (CM) configuration. The CM was crammed with some of the most complex equipment ever sent into space at the time. The three astronaut couches were surrounded by instrument panels, navigation gear, radios, life-support systems, and small engines to keep it stable during reentry. The entire cone, 11 feet long and 13 feet in diameter, was protected by a charring heat shield. The 6.5 ton CM was all that was finally left of the 3,000-ton Saturn V vehicle that lifted off on the journey to the Moon. NASA

Above- Apollo Service Module diagram. NASA

Above- Command/Service Module / Lunar Module Comparison from Apollo Training Manual "Apollo Spacecraft & Systems Familiarization" 
(March 13, 1968)

For All The Project Apollo Diagrams Click Here

Let's Get Specific- The Apollo Command Module in Detail

From NASA archives- "CSM06 Command Module Overview pages 39-52"

Command Service Module 06 was used for demonstrating tumbling debris removal system

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Rocket and Spacecraft

The flight mode, lunar orbit rendezvous, was selected in 1962.

The boosters for the program were the Saturn IB for Earth orbit flights and the Saturn V for lunar flights.

Apollo was a three-part spacecraft: the command module (CM), the crew's quarters and flight control section; the service module (SM) for the propulsion and spacecraft support systems (when together, the two modules are called CSM); and the lunar module (LM), to take two of the crew to the lunar surface, support them on the Moon, and return them to the CSM in lunar orbit. Source- NASA

Above- This concept is a cutaway illustration of the Lunar Module (LM) with detailed callouts. The LM was a two part spacecraft. Its lower or descent stage had the landing gear, engines, and fuel needed for the landing. When the LM blasted off the Moon, the descent stage served as the launching pad for its companion ascent stage, which was also home for the two astronauts on the surface of the Moon. The LM was full of gear with which to communicate, navigate, and rendezvous. It also had its own propulsion system, and an engine to lift it off the Moon and send it on a course toward the orbiting Command Module. 

Lunar Module Illustration by NASA/Marshall Space Flight Center

 

Resisting Intense Heat- Special Ablative Material

Above- Artist concept of the Apollo Command Module reentering the earth's atmosphere upon its return from a lunar mission. 1965. NASA

About the image above...

"After jettisoning the LM, the Apollo spacecraft was ready to return home. NASA used the SM's propulsion system to insert the spacecraft into a transearth injection (TEI), which means Apollo would be heading back to Earth in a trajectory that allowed for a controlled descent into the Pacific Ocean.

To prepare for the return trip, the astronauts had to retrieve the launch couch and reinstall it for landing. Just before re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere, the astronauts jettis­oned the service module from the command module. The CM then adjusted its attitude -- or orientation respective to the Earth's surface -- using its thrusters so that the base of the module faced towards the Earth's surface. 

The temperature on the CM's surface climbed up to 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit, but the heat shields protected the inner structure of the CM. The heat shield was ablative, which means that it was designed to melt and erode away from the CM as it heated up. From the ground, it would look as if the CM had caught on fire during its descent. In reality, the ablative covering is what kept the astronauts inside the CM safe -- the material diverted heat away as it vaporized.

Above- Resisting Intense heat- Special Ablative Material

The atmosphere acted like a braking system on the spacecraft. To further slow the CM's descent, the spacecraft used mortar-deployed parachutes. The Apollo spacecraft had three large parachutes and could safely land with only two deployed. Eventually, the CM splashed down into the Pacific Ocean. The top of the CM housed several balloons and air compressors. If the CM landed upside down in the ocean, the astronauts could activate the balloons in an attempt to turn the spacecraft upright.

Once safe in the ocean, the spacecraft's ventilation system allowed fresh air into the capsule. The astronauts used VHF recovery beacon and radios to guide a recovery ship to the spacecraft's location. A ship recovered the crew and capsule.

The information gathered by the astronauts during the Apollo missions has become invaluable to NASA and scientific knowledge in general. In the future, NASA hopes not only to return to the moon, but also build a lunar station where people can study the moon during extensive stays."

How Stuff Works


Above Lunar Excursion Module LEM. NASA

The greatest enemy of progress is the illusion of knowledge.
— John Young

The Apollo Program and Downey, CA

 

"Cruising To The Moon"

Above- Dixon Evening Telegraph Sat Apr 7 1962

'Tepee Village' Downey, California

Above- Star Tribune Fri Aug 10 1962

Apollo capsule. The La Crosse Tribune Fri Apr 5 1963 .

Above- The Central New Jersey Home News Wed Jul 21 1965

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Employees- Making A Difference

The Apollo Program was all about the people, employees that made a difference in winning the Space Race                             

Dale Myers

Dale Myers was an example of the loyalty and dedication North American Aviation embodied.

Above- Dale D. Myers- North American Aviation / Rockwell - Program Manager of the Apollo program's Command/ Service Module Program

Program Manager of the Apollo program's Command/ Service Module Program

Dale Myers was pioneer in American aviation

"In 1963, Dale worked for what had become Rockwell International, and the following year he began to contract work for NASA's space program. From 1964, he was the Program Manager of the Apollo program's Command/ Service Module Program. After a fire destroyed Apollo 1 in 1967, much of the program's management was discharged; Dale, however, was retained.

Soon after he had been a key member of the team that successfully landed Apollo 11 on the moon, Dale joined the Space Shuttle program in 1969. Dale would always describe his work with Apollo as a highlight of his career.

In 1970, Dale was promoted to Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight at NASA. In this role, he had responsibility for the planning, direction, execution and evaluation of NASA's Manned Space Flight Program. He directed and had oversight of the Apollo Program of Lunar Exploration, the new Skylab Space Station Program, the new Space Shuttle Program, Cape Kennedy, Marshall Space Flight Center at Huntsville, Alabama, and Manned Spacecraft Center, Houston, Texas.

During his four-year tenure, NASA nearly lost and then rescued a stricken spacecraft, the mission profiled in Ron Howard's 1995 film, "Apollo 13." His teams also sent four more missions to the moon and launched Skylab, America's first space station. NASA also orchestrated the meeting of US and Russian astronauts in space with the Apollo-Soyuz mission."

The Downey Patriot. More here- Dale Myers was pioneer in American aviation

 

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Norm Casson

Above- Norm Casson- ALF Archive

"Norman Howard Casson has spent his technical career of six decades in aerospace. Though Casson was employed as a launch test conductor for the Titan I Intercontinental Ballistic Missile, and later the Titan II – and received many honors for his work there – he is best known for his contributions to the United States lunar landing program, “The Apollo Project.”

NASA trusted Casson with the responsibility to thoroughly test and checkout every NASA manned spacecraft and take it through testing, and mission rehearsal with the actual astronaut crew members. After proving himself capable of managing Station C of the state-of-the-art Building 290 (constructed specifically for these operations), he was eventually given the responsibility of managing all Technicians, the Test Procedure Writing engineers, four control rooms, tank farm fluid and cas facilities, the systems engineers, the senior engineering test project managers, as well as all clerical and operations support personnel and the Apollo Post Recover operation and budget. This last was a team of engineers and technicians required to travel to the “splashdown” area of all Apollo Spacecraft returning from space, to save the systems and take steps to prevent hostile contamination from the surface of the moon.

Casson was immensely successful. He completely restructured the organization into what he believed was a “lean and agile” machine. He set up systems to assure the engineers working on the project were up-to-date with certification and qualifications as well

Casson worked on the Apollo Missions for NASA as an engineer as well. He has a wealth of information on the American Space program. Casson lives in Arkansas and visits the Library & Archives when he is in the San Diego Area. He has donated personal papers and pictures about the Apollo Mission and his time working for NASA to the Library and Archives. " San Diego Air & Space Museum

More photos etc. here from San Diego Air & Space Museum *

* Mr. Casson also donated numerous Apollo Program images to the Aerospace Legacy Foundation on January 27 of 2010

Above- Apollo  002 at Downey ready to ship to White Sands New Mexico. John Esslinger, Norm Casson and Dan Jannes. Bald Eagles Newsletter.


 

The Apollo Project- Bringing America Together

Above- Views on the manufacturing of Spacecraft 009. NORTH AMERICAN AVIATION INC., DOWNEY, CALIF. Image- NASA, Courtesy-jakej

Above- Article from The Orlando Sentinel Sun Aug 7 1966.

  Above- The members of the prime crew of the first manned Apollo space flight Apollo/Saturn 204 AS-204 inspect spacecraft equipment during a tour of North American Aviation's NAA Downey facility. In the foreground, left to right, are astronauts Roger B. Chaffee, Virgil I. Grissom, and Edward H. White, II. NAA engineers and technicians are in the background. NORTH AMERICAN AVIATION, INC., DOWNEY, CA. NASA Image courtesy-  SJO'Connell

Above- The members of the prime crew of the first manned Apollo space flight Apollo/Saturn 204 AS-204 inspect spacecraft equipment during a tour of North American Aviation's NAA Downey facility. In the foreground, left to right, are astronauts Roger B. Chaffee, Virgil I. Grissom, and Edward H. White, II. NAA engineers and technicians are in the background. NORTH AMERICAN AVIATION, INC., DOWNEY, CA. NASA Image courtesy- SJO'Connell

  Above- Apollo 1 prime crew: Astronauts Roger B. Chaffee, Virgil I. "Gus" Grissom,  and Edward H. White II. NAA Downey 1966. Image- NASA

Above- Apollo 1 prime crew: Astronauts Roger B. Chaffee, Virgil I. "Gus" Grissom,  and Edward H. White II. NAA Downey 1966. Image- NASA

 

WITH THEIR EYES ON THE STARS-

The documentary "With Their Eyes on the Stars," was produced in 1963 by North American Aviation and NASA to encourage support for the Apollo program. John Stewart together with brother Mike's group, "WE FIVE," John Phillips and Scott McKenzie recorded the score using traditional American folk songs as well as songs written by John and Mike. Directed by Cal Reed. Produced by Cedric Francis. (Thanks to Jerry Burgan).

"I uploaded this video from the DVD provided by Stan Barauskas of Aerospace Legacy Foundation Museum in the old Rockwell Plant in Downey. Here is the headline of "SKYWRITER", a publication of North American Aviation, dated Jan 17, 1964: DOWNEY PREMIERES LUNAR FILM Jan. 21. "With Their Eyes on The Stars", a film keynoting, the historical and importance of the nation's lunar program, will be given its local premier Tuesday night at Downey. The 22-minutes color-sound film will be shown at the Meralta Theatre, 10912 Downey Ave. Premier ceremonies will begin at 7 p.m. and will feature officials from NASA, the City of Downey, top management representatives of the division. Personal Appearance Making a personal appearance will be John Stewart of the Kingston Trio, who wrote the original folk music and lyrics for the movie. ....... I have included several stills of the newspaper at the end for you to read."

Snoopy fixed.jpg
  Apollo- Command Module- Manufacturing, 1966.  Image- NASA. Courtesy- SJO'Connell

Apollo- Command Module- Manufacturing, 1966. Image- NASA. Courtesy- SJO'Connell

  Apollo Command Module- "Inside the Cockpit".  Air & Space Magazine

Apollo Command Module- "Inside the Cockpit". Air & Space Magazine

Photographer Lyle Jansma started creating 360º views of cockpits in 2005, and has documented historic aircraft in several collections, including the Heritage Flight Museum, Museum of Flight, Erickson Aircraft Collection, Evergreen Air & Space Museum, and the National Museum of the Air Force.  See more here...

  Apollo 17 Apollo Command/Service Module viewed from the lunar module during Scientific Instrumentation Module SIM Bay Inspection. Moon in background over Sea of Crises, revolution 52. Original film magazine was labeled D film type was SO-368 Color Exterior CEX, Ektachrome MS,color reversal, 60mm lens. Principle Point Longitude 54.0 East. 1972.  Image- NASA

Apollo 17 Apollo Command/Service Module viewed from the lunar module during Scientific Instrumentation Module SIM Bay Inspection. Moon in background over Sea of Crises, revolution 52. Original film magazine was labeled D film type was SO-368 Color Exterior CEX, Ektachrome MS,color reversal, 60mm lens. Principle Point Longitude 54.0 East. 1972. Image- NASA

  Click the image for larger view...PDF

Click the image for larger view...PDF

  Above-  Congressman Earle Cabell and other members of the United States House Subcommittee on Manned Space Flight inspecting a main crew compartment wire harness during a tour of the High Bay Clean Room Facility. NAA, DOWNEY, CA 1967

 Above- Congressman Earle Cabell and other members of the United States House Subcommittee on Manned Space Flight inspecting a main crew compartment wire harness during a tour of the High Bay Clean Room Facility. NAA, DOWNEY, CA 1967

  1966 7-9 Test supervisors -Senior engineers meeting. Courtesy- Anthony Vidana

1966 7-9 Test supervisors -Senior engineers meeting. Courtesy- Anthony Vidana

  1966 7-9 Apollo 104 (6-30-68) Chart Conference Room 1. Courtesy- Anthony Vidana

1966 7-9 Apollo 104 (6-30-68) Chart Conference Room 1. Courtesy- Anthony Vidana

 

Apollo 9 Mission

  Documentary views of Apollo  CM  manufacturing at the North American- Rockwell, Downey, Calif facility. 1- 31 -1968.  Image- NASA

Documentary views of Apollo CM manufacturing at the North American- Rockwell, Downey, Calif facility. 1- 31 -1968. Image- NASA

Mission Objective


The primary objective of Apollo 9 was an Earth-orbital engineering test of the first crewed lunar module, or LM. Concurrent prime objectives included an overall checkout of launch vehicle and spacecraft systems, the crew, and procedures. This was done by performing an integrated series of flight tasks with the command module, or CM, the service module, or SM, the joined command and service module, or CSM, the LM and S-IVB stage while they were linked in launch or various docked configurations, and while they were flying separate orbital patterns. The LM was to be tested as a self-sufficient spacecraft, and was also to perform active rendezvous and docking maneuvers paralleling those scheduled for the following Apollo 10 lunar-orbit mission. NASA

  Documentary views of Apollo manufacturing at the North American- Rockwell, Downey, Calif facility 1-31-1968.  Image- NASA

Documentary views of Apollo manufacturing at the North American- Rockwell, Downey, Calif facility 1-31-1968. Image- NASA

  Apollo crew compartment stowage review at North American, Downey, Calif., for the Apollo 9 crew training. May 2, 1968.

Apollo crew compartment stowage review at North American, Downey, Calif., for the Apollo 9 crew training. May 2, 1968.

Apollo 9 Mission Objective continued...

The flight plan's top priority was the CSM and LM rendezvous and docking. This was performed twice - once while the LM was still attached to the S-IVB, and again when the LM was active. Further goals included internal crew transfer from the docked CSM to the LM; special tests of the LM's support systems; crew procedures; and tests of flight equipment and the extravehicular activity, or EVA, mobility unit. The crew also configured the LM to support a two-hour EVA, and simulated an LM crew rescue, which was the only planned EVA from the LM before an actual lunar landing. NASA

 Apollo 9 Integration

Apollo 9 Integration

The LM descent and ascent engines fired on orbital change patterns to simulate a lunar-orbit rendezvous and backup abort procedures. The CSM service propulsion system, or SPS, fired five times, including a simulation of an active rendezvous to rescue an LM that had become inactivate. NASA

  Apollo 9 Crew Training

Apollo 9 Crew Training

  Apollo 9 in space.

Apollo 9 in space.

  Crew training. Altitude chamber test runs #3 and #4 with Apollo 9 prime and backup crews in the MSOB, KSC. Image- NASA

Crew training. Altitude chamber test runs #3 and #4 with Apollo 9 prime and backup crews in the MSOB, KSC. Image- NASA

  Saturn-504 Apollo 9 lunar module-3 simulated altitude chamber run with the prime crew, KSC. 1. Apollo 9- Pre-Launch. Image NASA. Courtesy-  SJO'Connell

Saturn-504 Apollo 9 lunar module-3 simulated altitude chamber run with the prime crew, KSC. 1. Apollo 9- Pre-Launch. Image NASA. Courtesy- SJO'Connell


Apollo Slideshow

"In 1961, in an attempt to rally enthusiasm for space exploration as a national priority, President John F. Kennedy issued a proclamation calling for a new effort aimed at “placing a man on the moon and returning him before the decade is out.”

To accomplish this goal, NASA put out a two bids for space program contracts. The first was for the Saturn S-11, the second stage of the Saturn V Launch Vehicle designed to send multi-ton payloads into space. The second was for the Project Apollo Spacecraft Development Program, comprising the command module and service module. North American won both awards, and in so doing, made Downey the industrial center for America’s lunar space program.

To support the Apollo program, NASA established the Resident Apollo Spacecraft Office (RASPO) at the Downey plant. During the peak of the Apollo program, the number of resident government and support contract personnel (including astronauts) was over 300.

Employment at the Downey site grew rapidly, as well. At its peak in the mid 1960s, the NASA Industrial Plant, Downey (as it was officially renamed in 1964) supported more than 35,000 workers". Columbia memorial Space Center in Downey. More here...

   North American Aviation plant in Downey, California. April, 1961.

North American Aviation plant in Downey, California. April, 1961.

"The Downey missile operation, now advertising itself as the Space & Information Systems Division, proposed and was accepted as a qualified bidder for the Saturn S-II launch vehicle system, the massive mid-stage for a family of NASA super booster concepts for launching multi-ton payloads into space. The Saturn S-II was the richest prize so far to be offered in the ordained National Space Program and it was integral in the Apollo space vehicle which would essay the lunar mission. The S&ID proposal team, a coupling of seasoned Navaho engineers and newcomers from other North American divisions submitted its bid and in September 1961 the space agency selected S&ID as the SII contractor. The Downey plant was suddenly in the forefront of space plans. It would survive; it would even grow some. The winning of the Saturn S-II prime contract also forced a tough business decision, for while the S-II proposal had been in submittal, S&ID was preparing a bid for the Project Apollo Spacecraft Development Program, encompassing the man-carrying command module and attached service module. The Apollo Spacecraft program engendered the greatest technological task in history." Cradle of the Cosmic Age, Russ Murray

  North American Aviation Space and information Division home of the Apollo Spacecraft, 225 acres at Downey, CA, 1960's. Lakewood Blvd. is on the right, Imperial Hwy. is on the top, Bellflower Blvd. is on the left and Stewart & Gray Rd. is on the bottom.  Image- ALF

North American Aviation Space and information Division home of the Apollo Spacecraft, 225 acres at Downey, CA, 1960's. Lakewood Blvd. is on the right, Imperial Hwy. is on the top, Bellflower Blvd. is on the left and Stewart & Gray Rd. is on the bottom. Image- ALF

  Rotational Test Facility at North American Aviation plant in Downey, CA.  Image- ALF Archive

Rotational Test Facility at North American Aviation plant in Downey, CA. Image- ALF Archive

  Apollo drop test tower in Downey at North American Rockwell.  Image- ALF Archive/ NASA

Apollo drop test tower in Downey at North American Rockwell. Image- ALF Archive/ NASA

  North American Aviation Rotational Test Facility - North American Aviation Space Division, Downey, CA

North American Aviation Rotational Test Facility - North American Aviation Space Division, Downey, CA

 

North American Aviation 150-foot-high Impact Test Facility

  Apollo Program Impact Test Tower at North American Aviation Space Divisionl in Downey, CA.

Apollo Program Impact Test Tower at North American Aviation Space Divisionl in Downey, CA.

   150-foot-high Impact Test Facility at Downey, CA.

150-foot-high Impact Test Facility at Downey, CA.

"The Apollo command and service modules were built at North American Aviation's plant at Downey, California. The lunar lander, in the eyes of some observers, was the most critical part of the Apollo vehicle. The many things that could doom the crew made ground-testing all the more important, so the company built a 150-foot-high Impact Test Facility. It looked like a gigantic playground swing and checked the module's structural integrity and impact loads by drop-testing it on water (shown here), sand, gravel and boulders". Courtesy- Boeing

 

  Astronaut Virgil I. Grissom and other members of the first Apollo crew inspect spacecraft equipment during a visit to North American Aviation.  NORTH AMERICAN AVIATION, INC., DOWNEY, CA , June 24, 1966.

Astronaut Virgil I. Grissom and other members of the first Apollo crew inspect spacecraft equipment during a visit to North American Aviation. NORTH AMERICAN AVIATION, INC., DOWNEY, CA , June 24, 1966.

  Apollo Capsule Heat and Cold Testing-  Image- Boeing

Apollo Capsule Heat and Cold Testing- Image- Boeing

  This high angle view shows the Apollo spacecraft Command Module for the AS-204 mission (later renamed Apollo 1), looking toward -Z axis, during preparation for installation of the crew compartment heat shield, showing mechanics working on aft bay. Image- Space.com

This high angle view shows the Apollo spacecraft Command Module for the AS-204 mission (later renamed Apollo 1), looking toward -Z axis, during preparation for installation of the crew compartment heat shield, showing mechanics working on aft bay. Image- Space.com

  Apollo Command Module fabrication at North American Aviation's Downey plant.  Image- ALF Archive

Apollo Command Module fabrication at North American Aviation's Downey plant. Image- ALF Archive

  Rockwell Building 4 at Downey, acre of computer

Rockwell Building 4 at Downey, acre of computer


The Advanced Apollo Project by Erwin A. Ulbrich, Jr. (NAA Bald Eagles Newsletter Winter 2014

"Late in 1964, the Apollo Program was in full production with various designated Command Modules (CM) and Service Modules (SM) in various stages of completion. There was some worry over the large number of authorized Change Orders outstanding on every assembly, but a greater concern was that the Lunar Excursion Module (LEM and later LM) was a year late. The Apollo Project Engineering Department headed up by M.W. “Jack” Bell decided to investigate a possible back-up program using NAA funding. The basic question that arose was how to perform the lunar mission if the LEM was cancelled! The basic solution conceived was to send a Refueling Module up to the Moon and land it using an automatic landing system. Then, a modified CM/SM manned vehicle would be designed to land on the Moon next to the Refueling Module. The Project Office initiated the action to build a simulation of such an arrangement to prove feasibility and demonstrate the concept. The landing of the manned vehicle would have to be close enough to allow some sort of cryogenic hoses for both rocket fuel and oxidizers to be transferred from the Refueling Module for the return to Earth. The multiple steps of LEM extraction, crew transfer, landing and return to orbit, docking, discarding the used LEM, etc. would be avoided. It was decided to do this simulation in Building 4 in Downey using existing simulation hardware existing in the Computing and Simulation Center. " Article continued here...

 

  Apollo Spacecraft 100 Command Module 2-S2 forward wall, with crew transfer tunnel, after primary bonding operations. NORTH AMERICAN AVIATION INC, DOWNEY, CALIFORNIA 1966. Image- NASA

Apollo Spacecraft 100 Command Module 2-S2 forward wall, with crew transfer tunnel, after primary bonding operations. NORTH AMERICAN AVIATION INC, DOWNEY, CALIFORNIA 1966. Image- NASA

The Apollo Experience

"The Apollo program was designed to land humans on the Moon and bring them safely back to Earth. Six of the missions (Apollos 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, and 17) achieved this goal. Apollos 7 and 9 were Earth orbiting missions to test the Command and Lunar Modules, and did not return lunar data. Apollos 8 and 10 tested various components while orbiting the Moon, and returned photography of the lunar surface. Apollo 13 did not land on the Moon due to a malfunction, but also returned photographs. The six missions that landed on the Moon returned a wealth of scientific data and almost 400 kilograms of lunar samples. Experiments included soil mechanics, meteoroids, seismic, heat flow, lunar ranging, magnetic fields, and solar wind experiments." Wiki

"More than 500 contractors worked on both large and small aspects of Apollo. For example, the Boeing Company was the prime contractor for the first stage of theSaturn rocket, North American Aviation for the second stage, and the Douglas Aircraft Corporation for the third stage. The Rocketdyne Division of North American Aviation was responsible for the rocket engines and International Business Machines for the instruments. These prime contractors, with more than 250 subcontractors, provided millions of parts and components for use in the Saturn launch vehicle, all meeting exacting specifications for performance and reliability." NPS

 

Apollo 11

  Guenter Wendt and the Apollo 11 Crew within the White Room atop the gantry at Launch Complex 39, Pad A. The Apollo 11 astronauts egress from the Apollo spacecraft after participating in the Countdown Preparation Test. Pad leader Guenter Wendt speaks with Neil Armstrong. Astronaut Michael Collins stands to Mr. Armstrong's left.  NASA

Guenter Wendt and the Apollo 11 Crew within the White Room atop the gantry at Launch Complex 39, Pad A. The Apollo 11 astronauts egress from the Apollo spacecraft after participating in the Countdown Preparation Test. Pad leader Guenter Wendt speaks with Neil Armstrong. Astronaut Michael Collins stands to Mr. Armstrong's left. NASA

This clip is raw from Camera E-8 on the launch umbilical tower/mobile launch program of Apollo 11, July 16, 1969. This is an HD transfer from the 16mm original. Even more excellent footage is available on our DVDs at our website at http://www.spacecraftfilms.com The camera is running at 500 fps, making the total clip of over 8 minutes represent just 30 seconds of actual time.

 

Apollo 11 Command Module (below)

  Apollo 11 Command Module (CM-107) during construction and testing at the Rockwell plant in Downey, California.

Apollo 11 Command Module (CM-107) during construction and testing at the Rockwell plant in Downey, California.

  July 19, 1969, Apollo 11 flag...

July 19, 1969, Apollo 11 flag...

"At 10:56 p.m. EDT, American astronaut Neil Armstrong, 240,000 miles from Earth, speaks these words to more than a billion people listening at home: “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” Stepping off the lunar landing module Eagle, Armstrong became the first human to walk on the surface of the moon." History .com

Two weeks ago 10,000 photographs taken by the astronauts on the lunar missions in the 1960s and 70s were uploaded to Flickr by Apollo archivist Kipp Teague.jpg
 
“It was a wondrous opportunity to be part of something historical. We just had a hard time comprehending what it would mean to other people, what it would mean to ourselves.” – Buzz Aldrin
  North American Rockwell News Apollo 11. The Space Division Skywriter.

North American Rockwell News Apollo 11. The Space Division Skywriter.

  North American Rockwell News - Skywriter about Norm Casson    

North American Rockwell News - Skywriter about Norm Casson

 

”I didn’t feel like a giant. I felt very, very small.”
Neil Armstrong on looking back at the Earth from the Moon in July 1969.
 
  "Astronauts say thanks". Chicago Tribune Sat Sep 27 1969

"Astronauts say thanks". Chicago Tribune Sat Sep 27 1969

  November 1965 North American Aviation Space Division, Apollo. Courtesy-  Norm Casson

November 1965 North American Aviation Space Division, Apollo. Courtesy-  Norm Casson

  Photograph taken from the Apollo 11 spacecraft during its translunar coast toward the moon.    Apollo 11 was already 98,000 nautical miles from Earth made on July 17th, 1969.    

Photograph taken from the Apollo 11 spacecraft during its translunar coast toward the moon.

Apollo 11 was already 98,000 nautical miles from Earth made on July 17th, 1969.

 

  Apollo 11 Mission Summary Courtesy Harold Orland .  Click here for full image.

Apollo 11 Mission Summary Courtesy Harold Orland. Click here for full image.

  North American Aviation Space Division Skywriter, July 18, 1969.   For more click here.

North American Aviation Space Division Skywriter, July 18, 1969. For more click here.

  The Los Angeles Times Sun July 17, 1994

The Los Angeles Times Sun July 17, 1994

apollo 13.jpg

Apollo 13 at 40: Houston, We Have a Miracle

By Jeffrey Kluger Saturday, Apr. 17, 2010

 

"Say this about the flight of Apollo 13: The spashdown, which occurred 40 years ago today, was perfect. That's not just because the crew actually managed a splashdown, as opposed to bouncing off the atmosphere or burning up on reentry. It's because the maneuver was executed so deftly. The conical Apollo command modules were deliberately hung crookedly from their parachutes so that the ship wouldn't slap into on the water on its blunt bottom, but would instead knife into it. That didn't always happen, since the craft could still catch a nasty wave as it hit. But Apollo 13 caught no wave and slipped into the ocean with almost balletic ease — the only thing about the mission that went just right."

More at Time Magazine

Click here to see article in Adobe Acrobat Reader

 

NASA Langley Research Center

  Astronauts train at Langley Research Center, 1959. From left to right are Air force Capt. Virgil Grissom, Air Force Capt. Donald Slayton, Air Force Capt. Beroy Cooper, Marine Lt. Col. John Glenn, Navy Lt. Malcolm Carpenter, Navy Lt. Cmdr. Alan Shapard and Navy Lt. Cmdr. Walter Schirra. - Photos - NASA archive photos - NY Daily News

Astronauts train at Langley Research Center, 1959. From left to right are Air force Capt. Virgil Grissom, Air Force Capt. Donald Slayton, Air Force Capt. Beroy Cooper, Marine Lt. Col. John Glenn, Navy Lt. Malcolm Carpenter, Navy Lt. Cmdr. Alan Shapard and Navy Lt. Cmdr. Walter Schirra. - Photos - NASA archive photos - NY Daily News

 

NASA Langley Research Center's Contributions to the Apollo Program

"More than twenty years after the first manned landing on the moon, President Kennedy's commitment to the lunar mission sounds as bold as it ever did: American astronauts should fly a quarter of a million miles, make a pinpoint landing on a strange planet, blast off it and return home safely after an eight-day voyage through space. When Kennedy challenged the nation to risk this incredible journey, the only United States manned spaceflight up to that time had been Alan B. Shepard's 15-minute suborbital excursion in Mercury capsule, Freedom 7. NASA was not exactly sure how the lunar mission should be made at all, let alone achieved in less than ten years' time.

Answering President Kennedy's challenge and landing men on the moon by 1969 required the most sudden burst of technological creativity, and the largest commitment of resources ($24 billion), ever made by any nation in peacetime. At its peak, the Apollo program employed 400,000 Americans and required the support of over 20,000 industrial firms and universities.

This NASA Fact sheet pays tribute to the contributions NASA Langley Research Center made to the first manned lunar landing, made July 20, 1969, by Apollo 11 astronauts Neil A. Armstrong, commander; Michael Collins, Command Module pilot; and Edwin E. "Buzz" Aldrin, Lunar Module pilot."     
More here...

The Rendezvous That Was Almost Missed:
Lunar Orbit Rendezvous and the Apollo Program

In the opinion of many space historians, NASA Langley's most important contribution to the Apollo Program was its development of the lunar-orbit rendezvous (LOR) concept. The brainchild of a few true believers at Langley, LOR's basic premise was to fire an assembly of three spacecraft into Earth orbit on top of a single powerful rocket.

"The basic premise of LOR was to fire an assembly of three spacecraft into Earth orbit on top of a single powerful rocket (the Saturn V). With the Apollo spacecraft, the Saturn V stood 363 feet tall. Pictured is the launch of Apollo 11, the first mission to land men on the moon, on July 16, 1969".

More here on Lunar Orbit Rendezvous, "Enchanted Rendezvous"

Armstrong at Langley Research Center. Image- NASA

"When the United States set a goal of landing a man on the moon, NASA Langley Research Center tackled the many challenges of spaceflight, trained astronauts, managed Project Mercury, and assumed major roles in both the Gemini and Apollo programs. Langley led the Lunar Orbiter initiative, which not only mapped the moon, but chose the spot for the first human landing. Langley aerospace engineer John Houbolt championed the lunar-orbit rendezvous concept, enabling the Apollo 11 moon landing and the safe return of its crew to Earth.

Neil Armstrong, the first human to set foot on the lunar surface, trained at Langley's Lunar Landing Research Facility on equipment that cancelled all but one-sixth of Earth's gravitational force to match that of the moon's. This photograph shows Armstrong at the Lunar Landing Research Facility on Feb. 12, 1969. Twenty-four astronauts practiced touchdowns at the facility, where overhead cables supported five-sixths of the weight of a full-size model lander, and thrust was provided by a working rocket engine.

Part of the landing facility was the Reduced Gravity Simulator, which was attached to an overhead, lightweight trolley track. There, suspended on one side by a network of slings and cables, an astronaut's ability to walk, run, and perform the various tasks required during lunar excursions was evaluated.

Armstrong offered what was perhaps the greatest tribute to the importance of his Langley training in Apollo 11's success. When asked what it was like to land on the moon, he replied: "Like Langley." All Courtesy- Langley Research Center

More: NASA Langley 100 - A Storied Legacy, A Soaring Future

Image Credit: NASA

 

Ames Research Center Contributions to Apollo

"Ames researchers quietly contributed to the Apollo mission. Public attention focused on the spectacular—powerful rockets, massive spaceports, mission control centers, and charismatic astronauts. Ames hosted none of these spectacles. Perhaps the most exciting photographs to emerge from that era, around Ames, were of tiny capsule models ablaze in a high-speed ballistic range or a high-temperature arc jet tunnel. Instead, behind the scenes, Ames researchers gathered knowledge about new scientific fields that needed to be known and tested their technologies with painstaking precision. And they did so with a style that was uniquely Ames. Researchers with many areas of expertise discussed their work persistently and freely, then cooperated to bring every tool they had to solve a very complex problem. And they were given the freedom to work quickly and to their own ideal of thoroughness.

Ames developed some key Apollo technologies, most importantly technologies to allow the astronauts to return safely to earth. Building upon what was already two decades of research on re-entry physics and material science—a discipline today known as aerothermodynamics— NASA researchers at Ames devised the basic shape of the Apollo capsule and its thermal protection system. Today, almost sixty-five years later, all spacecraft are still derived from essential insights earned at Ames.

Before Ames began its work many thought that a spacecraft re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere at meteoric speeds would, like a meteor, burn into a fireball. Those who speculated about spacecraft design suggested pointy cone-shape tips of hardened metal to pierce the atmosphere with the least possible friction and the slowest possible melting. Harvey Allen stepped outside the conventional thought, and took an entirely fresh approach. In 1948 Allen advanced the blunt-body concept, which was further developed by Alfred Eggers and Dean Chapman." More here...

 

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  Astronaut Eugene A. Cernan, wearing Block II A5L Pressure Garment Assembly, ingressing Apollo SC 101 CM during Apollo Crew Compartment Fit and Function C2F2 Test. North American Aviation, Inc., Downey, Calif. 1967 . NASA Image

Astronaut Eugene A. Cernan, wearing Block II A5L Pressure Garment Assembly, ingressing Apollo SC 101 CM during Apollo Crew Compartment Fit and Function C2F2 Test. North American Aviation, Inc., Downey, Calif. 1967. NASA Image


Remembering the Apollo 1 Crew

"On Jan. 27, 1967, veteran astronaut Gus Grissom, first American spacewalker Ed White and rookie Roger Chaffee (left-to-right) were preparing for what was to be the first manned Apollo flight. The astronauts were sitting atop the launch pad for a pre-launch test when a fire broke out in their Apollo capsule. The investigation into the fatal accident led to major design and engineering changes, making the Apollo spacecraft safer for the coming journeys to the moon".

Apollo 1 crew meeting in Downey fixed 75.jpg

Image above- Aug. 4, 1966 file photo, command pilot Virgil Grissom speaks during a news conference in Downey, Calif., with a mock-up of the Apollo spacecraft at right. Grissom's crewmen are Roger B. Chaffee, right, and Edward H. White, second from right. Image- Norm Casson Collection

 

  Apollo 1 North American Crew Pre 8-19-1966. Pre-Shipping-from cuervo. Courtesy- Anthony Vidana

Apollo 1 North American Crew Pre 8-19-1966. Pre-Shipping-from cuervo. Courtesy- Anthony Vidana

  Apollo 1 crew at Downey (NAA Space Division) 8-24-1966. Courtesy- Anthony Vidana

Apollo 1 crew at Downey (NAA Space Division) 8-24-1966. Courtesy- Anthony Vidana

  Apollo 1 astronauts L-R in suits Ed White II, Roger Chaffee and Gus Grissom . Image- North American Aviation Space Division April 1966.

Apollo 1 astronauts L-R in suits Ed White II, Roger Chaffee and Gus Grissom . Image- North American Aviation Space Division April 1966.

  Prime crew of Apollo Saturn Mission 204 at North American Aviation Space Division in Downey, CA facility during training. Image- NASA

Prime crew of Apollo Saturn Mission 204 at North American Aviation Space Division in Downey, CA facility during training. Image- NASA

  This photograph shows Apollo 1's Command Module a day after the fire that took the lives of astronauts Grissom, White and Chaffee

This photograph shows Apollo 1's Command Module a day after the fire that took the lives of astronauts Grissom, White and Chaffee

  Ed White and Gus Grissom inspect Apollo Command Module at North American Rockwell in Downey, California. 1966

Ed White and Gus Grissom inspect Apollo Command Module at North American Rockwell in Downey, California. 1966

  Image- Norm Casson                Apollo command module work at North American Rockwell Downey, CA 1966

Image- Norm Casson                Apollo command module work at North American Rockwell Downey, CA 1966

Apollo 1 Tragedy (NASA)
Jan. 27, 1967, tragedy struck on the launch pad at Cape Kennedy during a preflight test for Apollo 204 (AS-204). The mission was to be the first crewed flight of Apollo, and was scheduled to launch Feb. 21, 1967. Astronauts Virgil Grissom, Edward White and Roger Chaffee lost their lives when a fire swept through the command module, or CM.

The exhaustive investigation of the fire and extensive reworking of the Apollo command modules postponed crewed launches until NASA officials cleared them for flight. Saturn IB schedules were suspended for nearly a year, and the launch vehicle that finally bore the designation AS-204 carried a lunar module, or LM, as the payload, instead of a CM. The missions of AS-201 and AS-202 with Apollo spacecraft aboard had been unofficially known as Apollo 1 and Apollo 2 missions. AS-203 carried only the aerodynamic nose cone.

In the spring of 1967, NASA's Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight, Dr. George E. Mueller, announced that the mission originally scheduled for Grissom, White and Chaffee would be known as Apollo 1, and said that the first Saturn V launch, scheduled for November 1967, would be known as Apollo 4. The eventual launch of AS-204 became known as the Apollo 5 mission. No missions or flights were ever designated Apollo 2 or 3.

 

The second launch of a Saturn V took place on schedule in the early morning of April 4, 1968. Known as AS-502, or Apollo 6, the flight was a success, though two first-stage engines shut down prematurely, and the third-stage engine failed to reignite after reaching orbit. More here- http://history.nasa.gov/Apollo204/

 

 Portrait of Apollo 1 prime crew for first manned Apollo space flight. Left to right, are Astronauts Roger Chaffee, Virgil I. Grissom, and Edward H. White II. 1966. Image- NASA

Portrait of Apollo 1 prime crew for first manned Apollo space flight. Left to right, are Astronauts Roger Chaffee, Virgil I. Grissom, and Edward H. White II. 1966. Image- NASA

15-white-flying-pigeon-png-image.png

Crew
Virgil I. Grissom
Edward H. White
Roger B. Chaffee


Backup Crew
Walter M. Schirra Jr.
Donn F. Eisele
Walter Cunningham


Payload
Spacecraft-012

Apollo Pad Fire
Emergency Transmission: Jan. 27, 1967; 6:31:05 p.m. EST
Launch Complex 34
Saturn-IB AS-204
CSM-012

  Apollo Block 1 work at Rockwell in Downey, 1966. Image- Norm Casson Collection       

Apollo Block 1 work at Rockwell in Downey, 1966. Image- Norm Casson Collection

 

 


Apollo 17

Apollo 17.jpg

"This week in 1972, the Apollo 17 crew returned to Earth following a successful 12-day mission. Apollo 17 marked the final crewed lunar landing mission. Here, Apollo 17 commander Eugene Cernan approaches the parked Lunar Roving Vehicle. NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center designed, developed and managed the production of the Lunar Roving Vehicle that astronauts used to explore the Moon. Today, Marshall is developing NASA's Space Launch System, the most powerful rocket ever built, capable of sending astronauts to the Moon, Mars and deeper into space than ever before. The NASA History Program is responsible for generating, disseminating and preserving NASA’s remarkable history and providing a comprehensive understanding of the institutional, cultural, social, political, economic, technological and scientific aspects of NASA’s activities in aeronautics and space. For more pictures like this one and to connect to NASA’s history, visit the Marshall History Program’s webpage. (NASA)" 

Last Updated: Dec. 20, 2017

Editor: Lee Mohon

  Apollo 17 Commander Eugene A. Cernan and Lunar Module Pilot Harrison H. Jack Schmitt are preparing the Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV) and the Communications Relay Unit (LCRU) mission simulation. Support Team Astronaut Gordon Fullerton, standing, left, discusses test procedures to be performed in the High Bay of the Manned Spacecraft Operations Building (MSOB). The Lunar Module Ascent and Descent stages also receive preflight checkout in preparation for the sixth U.S. manned lunar landing mission . NASA

Apollo 17 Commander Eugene A. Cernan and Lunar Module Pilot Harrison H. Jack Schmitt are preparing the Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV) and the Communications Relay Unit (LCRU) mission simulation. Support Team Astronaut Gordon Fullerton, standing, left, discusses test procedures to be performed in the High Bay of the Manned Spacecraft Operations Building (MSOB). The Lunar Module Ascent and Descent stages also receive preflight checkout in preparation for the sixth U.S. manned lunar landing mission. NASA

  Apollo 17 Mission Commander Eugene Cernan Drives Lunar Roving Vehicle   NASA

Apollo 17 Mission Commander Eugene Cernan Drives Lunar Roving Vehicle  NASA

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Building 290

 Building 290 image from the Downey Live-wire Newspaper. Courtesy- Downey Historical Society.

Building 290 image from the Downey Live-wire Newspaper. Courtesy- Downey Historical Society.

  Apollo Building 290 North American Rockwell 4-15-1966.

Apollo Building 290 North American Rockwell 4-15-1966.

  NAA Skyriter 1965- Joe Shea visits North American Aviation's Space Division at Building 290.

NAA Skyriter 1965- Joe Shea visits North American Aviation's Space Division at Building 290.

  NASA Industrial Plant in Downey,  Systems Integration & Checkout Facility  Building 290. Formerly, North American Rockwell Space Division. 2012

NASA Industrial Plant in Downey, Systems Integration & Checkout Facility Building 290. Formerly, North American Rockwell Space Division. 2012

  NASA Industrial Plant Downey, Systems Integration & Checkout Facility Bldg 290 front, Downey Studios. 2012

NASA Industrial Plant Downey, Systems Integration & Checkout Facility Bldg 290 front, Downey Studios. 2012

  NASA Industrial Plant Downey,  Systems Integration & Checkout Facility Bldg 290  front. As Downey Studios Bldg. 290. 2012    

NASA Industrial Plant Downey, Systems Integration & Checkout Facility Bldg 290 front. As Downey Studios Bldg. 290. 2012

 

  Rockwell International's Building 290 on Lakewood Boulevard in Downey, California.

Rockwell International's Building 290 on Lakewood Boulevard in Downey, California.

  Building 290 facing Gate 19 entrance. March, 2009. Latimer Images.

Building 290 facing Gate 19 entrance. March, 2009. Latimer Images.

  Image-  Aerospace Legacy Foundation Retiree  Luncheon at Downey Studios, November 2008.

Image- Aerospace Legacy Foundation Retiree Luncheon at Downey Studios, November 2008.

Southern California engineers built Apollo spacecraft

"Before that “giant leap for mankind” 40 years ago today, a hundred-thousand small steps guided American astronauts toward the moon. Many of those steps originated in the Southland. KPCC’s Washington Correspondent Kitty Felde has this story about how the Apollo 11 command module got to the Smithsonian Institution via the moon... and Downey, California." More here...

Blackburn: "When we won the contract to go build Apollos, nobody had ever done that before. And so there was no book on the shelf that you went to and said here’s how you build a spacecraft. We had to start with building cardboard models.

So we actually built full-scale mockups, they are called, out of cardboard and wood to see, well, what would it look like, and how big would it be, and how would you get in, and where would the switches and panels be, where do the windows go?" More here...

 

Apollo's Home Base- North American Rockwell in Downey, California

 Rockwell International early 1990's aerial view.

Rockwell International early 1990's aerial view.

 

 

 

 

 

Apollo Space Program Downey, California      

Southern California's Aviation and Aerospace History      

America's Aviation and Aerospace History