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Published: June 28th 2015
This is the second in a three-part series on the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) near Cape Canaveral in Florida.
During the darkest days of the “Cold War”, less than 20 years after WW II, the United States and the USSR were locked in a battle of brains and determination, to see which could produce more powerful and deadlier missiles, and achieve greater military, scientific and international prestige. For some time the USSR was ahead: among their many “firsts” were the first satellite (Sputnik 1 - 1
957), first animal in space (the dog Laika
on Sputnik 2
- 1957), first probe to hit the Moon (Luna 2 – 1959), and first human in orbit (Yuri Gagarin on Vostok 1
- 1961). For full details see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soviet_space_program
Faced with widespread confusion and near panic, the US knew it would have to make a “great leap forward” very quickly. In 1961 President Kennedy stated that America’s goal would be peaceful … to put a man on the Moon by 1970, using NASA’s “Lauch Operating Facility” on Merritt Island, Florida. After his death it was renamed the Kennedy Space Centre, and the program became known as Project Apollo. Work
began immediately, with thousands of scientists, engineers and others working day and night, through trial and error, to do something that had never been done before, and for which there was no background knowledge to guide them. Skeptics thought it was “mission impossible”.
Every piece of equipment, every propulsion system, every event, every failure, every procedure had to be tried, revised, and perfected before proceeding. That’s exactly what was done from 1961 through 1966, and in the end they had a three-stage rocket. Stage One
, 138 ft (42m) high by 33 ft (10m) in diameter, was powered by five F-1 engines (thus the Roman numeral “V”), burning tones of liquid oxygen and RP-1 kerosene. Stage Two
, 81 ft (24.7m) high by 33 ft in diameter, had five J-2 engines, burning liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen. Stage Three
, 58 ft (17.7m) high by 22 ft (6.7m) in diameter had one J-2 engine, burning the same mixture.
Trials, failures, and revisions continued non-stop. In 1968 Apollo 8 carried the first humans into orbit around the Moon. Apollo 9 and 10 continued refining equipment and procedures. In July 1969, Apollo 11 took astronauts Armstrong and Aldrin to the Moon and back,
and a new chapter in human history began. Exploratory missions 12 through 17 followed, and included the use of the Lunar Roving Vehicle as of Apollo 15. The program ended in 1972, having been a resounding success and source of pride! For complete information on every aspect of the Program, go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apollo_program
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