Saturn I/IB Quarterly Film Report Number Fourteen – December 1962 (archival film)
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Saturn I/IB Quarterly Film Report Number Fourteen – December 1962 (archival film)

January 14, 2020


Highlighting this report period on November
16 was the successful launching form Complex 34 at Cape Canaveral of the third Saturn C-I
flight vehicle, SA-3. Similar in major aspects to the previously
successful SA-1 and SA-2 flights, SA-3 performed several additional missions contributing to
development of the Block II SA-5 and beyond version of the vehicle. For example, an engineering model of the ST-124
stabilized platform was carried as a functional passenger, though not in control. Though no stage separation was attempted,
Block II retrorockets were successfully test fired. The booster carried a full load of propellant,
some 750,000 pounds instead of the 620,000 pounds carried earlier. SA-3’s weight was almost as great as that
of later vehicles, which will have 188,000 pound thrust engines, although SA-3’s eight
H-1 engines were rated at 165,000 pounds thrust each. SA-3 was the most heavily instrumented rocket
ever launched by the United States, transmitting 716 measurements to ground stations. Analysis of telemetry data indicated that
the vehicle performed precisely as expected. SA-3 reached maximum altitude of 104 miles,
range was 270 miles, and velocity 4,000 miles per hour. Flight time to impact was slightly over eight
minutes. SA-3’s two inert upper stages, laden with
ninety-five tons of water simulating fuel, were deliberately exploded on schedule at
104 miles altitude, 292 seconds after liftoff, in a study of the basic physics of the ionosphere. Satisfactory data on this experiment, known
as Project Highwater, were recorded. A similar experiment had been conducted on
the SA-2 flight. More damage was done to ground support equipment
by SA-3 than on previous launches because of lower liftoff acceleration resulting from
the additional 160,000 pounds of propellant. However, damage was not considered excessive. Half a mile north of SA-3’s launch site,
construction progress is on schedule at Launch Complex 37, being built to handle launching
of Block II vehicles. Pad B it expected to be operational in March. Beneficial occupancy and final inspection
of the launch control center was accomplished in early November. Work on the launch site service structure
is progressing with hydraulic lines being installed and work on pneumatic lines underway. Pad A is scheduled to be operational about
three months after Pad B. Erection of primary structural steel for the
umbilical tower is complete, and delivery of structural steel for the launch pedestal
has begun. At the automatic ground control station, concrete
is being finished, and drains and electrical conduit installed. The new combination support and hold down
arms for Block II launch pedestals were delivered by the manufacturer, Hayes International of
Birmingham, to the Marshall Space Flight Center this quarter for testing. Afterwards, they’ll be shipped to the Cape
for installation at Launch Complex 37. The arms will support and hold down the Saturn
vehicle after ignition until proper thrust condition for liftoff. The fourth Saturn flight vehicle, SA-4, was
removed from Marshall’s Static Test Stand on October 1, having completed its static
testing with a full duration firing the previous week. After undergoing post-static rework and modification,
the SA-4 booster was transferred to final checkout on October 22. A micrometeorite detector device designed
to measure the density of small, high speed particles encountered at high altitudes, will
be initially flown aboard SA-4 as an inactive passenger to see how it withstands environmental
conditions. If telemetered results are satisfactory, the
device may be operative on later Saturn flights. Three static firings of the test booster,
SA-T4.5, were held during this report period, with engines developing one and half million
pounds thrust. Test objectives were to check integrity of
the propulsion system and effect of the 188k engines on the flame deflector. The test booster was removed from the stand
on November 15. The final engine was installed on the booster
for the fifth Saturn flight vehicle, SA-5, on October 11, and the stage was later release
for pre-static checkout expected to be completed in mid-January. A decision has been had to fly a Jupiter-type
payload body on SA-5 rather than the Apollo boilerplate configuration as originally proposed. Assembly of the booster for the sixth Saturn
flight vehicle, SA-6, begun on September 24, proceeded this quarter with clustering of
tanks completed and installation of engines underway. Fabrication of the tail section of the booster
for the seventh flight vehicle, SA-7, was finished in December. The vehicle’s interstage adapter was also
completed. SA-7 booster assembly is scheduled to begin
in January. Modification of Marshall’s Dynamic Test
Stand to accept the dynamic test vehicle, SA-D5 was finished in October. Major alterations included cutting away of
a portion of the grillage in order to accommodate the longer Block II-type vehicle, plus installation of new support pedestals
at the base of the stand. Assembly of the Block II dynamic test booster
was completed early this quarter and the stage was erected in the Dynamic Test Tower on November
13 after weighing and center of gravity determination. The S-IV hydrostatic dynamic stage, which
forms the upper stage of the SA-D5 dynamic test vehicle, was completed this quarter by
Douglas Aircraft Company, S-IV prime contractor at Santa Monica, and was prepared for shipment. On October 26, the stage was moved from the
Douglas plant to the docks at nearby San Pedro. Cradled in a specially built twenty-five ton
transporter, the S-IV was loaded aboard a steam ship to begin its 3,500 mile journey
to the Marshall Space Flight Center. This marked the first time a Saturn stage
has been shipped by water from a west coast manufacturing site through the Panama Canal
to a test or launch site in the east. Other stages will follow. The S-IV stage arrived at Marshall on November
16 after a twenty-three day journey. It had been transferred to the Saturn barge,
Promise, at New Orleans for the river portion of the trip. At Marshall, the S-IV stage was installed
atop the SA-D5 booster. The stage is scheduled to remain at Marshall
for several months. Its external configuration, weight, and other
characteristics are the same as those of the flight stage, which will be a part of SA-5. After installation of the instrument unit,
payload adapter, and payload to complete the vehicle, SA-D5 was made ready for dynamic
testing, scheduled to begin in January. Modification of Marshall’s C-I Static Test
Stand to accommodate two boosters continued this quarter. Steel superstructure and basic plumbing now
stands at the fourth level. Adjacent to the stand is the annex, which
will house office and shop personnel. Units such as the elevator, air conditioners,
and heating ducts are being installed. Using a scale model of the Saturn booster
tank assembly, a series of liquid oxygen boil off tests were run at Marshall to determine
system flow under simulated flight conditions. For safety, liquid nitrogen was used to simulate
LOX. Purpose of the test is to find out how much
boil off occurs in a given time and to verify the tanks empty simultaneously. Discharge tubes carry the liquid nitrogen
from the test stand to the point of discharge. Liquid nitrogen vapors hold close to the ground
and are highly toxic. Line flow is monitored by movie cameras to
study vortexing conditions in the suction line and undesirable gassing in the system. Using scale model tanks to represent Saturn
boosters, tests are being run at Marshall to determine the most desirable method of
controlling propellant dispersion in even of rain safety destruct or accidental explosion. An external destruct system has proven most
effective using Primacord and flexible linear shaped charges installed longitudinally on
the cylindrical portions of all tanks. Upon ignition, these charges rupture the containers
and internal tank pressure causes an outward dispersion of the LOX and RP-1 propellants,
greatly reducing their mixture and the resulting explosion. [Sound of Explosion] After engineering refinement,
the external destruct system will be employed on SA-5 and subsequent vehicles. The first two production models of the ST-124
stabilized platform were delivered to Marshall this quarter by the manufacturer, Bendix Corporation. ST-124 units will be flown as functional passenger,
though not in command, aboard SA-5 and SA-6. Beginning with SA-7, the ST-124 will be the
command unit. One of the ST-124s was later shipped to Holloman
Air Force Base, New Mexico, for a series of rocket sled tests. Four telemetry lengths provide forty-eight
channels of information to measure performance during the seven second, five mile trip along
the sled track, where the unit sustains a maximum of 8gs for three seconds. The sled reached maximum speed [Sound of Test]
of approximately 1,000 miles per hour. Test results were satisfactory, indicating
the ST-124 will stabilize as desired. A prototype of the Saturn Block II instrument
unit, which will house the ST-124 stabilized platform, together with other components necessary
to perform the functions of guidance, navigation, instrumentation, measurement, and telemetry
began undergoing checkout this quarter in a recently completed automatic checkout facility
at the Marshall Center’s Astrionics Division. The facility, which will also simulate Saturn
C-I vehicle checkout at the launch site, consists of a launch controlled computer, signal conditioning,
countdown clock, digital data acquisition ground station, automatic instrumentation
stimulus, instrument unit electrical support equipment, manual electrical support equipment,
S-I stage substitute, power distribution, systems interface, facility recorders, propellant
tank system, and instrumentation unit interface. The automatic checkout facility has the prime
objective of assuring compatibility of the entire Saturn vehicle with each unit of its
electrical support equipment and confirming design of such equipment prior to its installation
at Cape Canaveral. The vehicle is simulated for checkout purposes
by utilizing flight-type distributors, sequencers, and other electrical flight hardware. At Marshall’s Quality Assurance Division,
an automated checkout concept for Saturn stages was used in part for the first time this quarter
in connection with the SA-4 booster and will be used in its entirety next quarter on the
SA-5 booster. The checkout concept includes ten widely separated
remote stations, each assigned specific test missions, serving as satellites to the central
computer complex, the heart of the entire system. The computer complex consists of three Packard-Bell
250 general purpose computers communicating with each other by sharing common memory elements
under a master slave structure. The Saturn hardware forms a closed loop system
which provides stimuli generation, switching, and response retrieval, all under computer
control. Transmissions between the computer and test
stations are digital, permitting location of the test stations at a considerable distance
from the computer complex. The test stations include instrumentation
and telemetry systems and components, guidance and control systems, radio frequency systems,
network systems, electrical components and mechanical systems, assemblies, and components. At Marshall’s Michoud Operations in New
Orleans being readied for Chrysler’s production of C-I, C-IB boosters, renovation and construction
work this quarter included buildup of the shipping and receiving ramps from which the
huge plant is serviced by rail and truck. A new forty foot vertical lift door is also
being installed at one end of the building to permit movement of boosters. All construction work is being done under
direction of Michoud services contractor, the Mason-Rust Company. Installation of Saturn booster assembly fixtures
at Michoud by Chrysler was well underway this quarter. Early in November, the barrel assembly fixture
was emplaced in the tail assembly area. Here the booster’s upper and lower thrust
rings, skin assembly, and sheer web assembly will be constructed. The thrust structure fixture was also installed
on its foundation. Optical alignment to precisely level the large
fixture was accomplished by the vendor and checked by Chrysler tool engineering personnel. This fixture will be used to tie together
the barrel assembly, the eight outriggers, and their connecting structure. Installation of rails, control cabs, hoists,
and electrical circuits for the overhead crane systems and the tail assembly area continued. These cranes will be used to move the upper
and lower thrust rings, barrel assembly, thrust structure, and other components from one work
station to another in the tail assembly area. Work on the surface treating pit is progressing
with laying of form and pouring of concrete accomplished. The sub pump area and flooring and side walls
for the area to contain the large treating tanks have also been finished. At Douglas Aircraft Company’s Sacramento
test facility, [Sound of Engines Firing] a highlight of this report period occurred on
October 4, the first successful full duration static firing of the six engine S-IV stage
battleship configuration. All RL-10 engines ignited properly under simulated
altitude conditions and fired for seven minutes at full thrust of 90,000 pounds. The bottom sections of all diffusers of test
stand Number 2 exhibited extreme erosion and required replacement with diffuser caps taken
from test stand Number 1. Certain modifications were made to allow greater
cooling of these caps by increased water flow through them. The S-IV all-systems vehicle, after tank cleaning
in Douglas’ hydrostatic tower, has been moved into a plant area where installation
of its electrical systems will take place and the stage made ready for its static firings
at Sacramento in 1963. In the vehicle checkout area, the first set
of ground support equipment has been installed. This is the Phase 1 set of GSE, which had
previously been systems tested in Douglas’ Culver City facility system integration area. All available articles of Phase 2 GSE have
now been installed in the systems integration area, and GSE system tests have begun with
the GSE test set and the S-IV stage mockup. A telemetry test and evaluation console is
used to monitor the various instrumentation circuits. During these operations, checkout and calibration
procedures are also developed. In an adjacent testing bay, vehicle and GSE
end items and subsystems, which require individual checking, are acceptance tested against specialized
consoles. Phase 2 equipment will be shipped to Sacramento
for use on the all-systems vehicle in January. Other sets will later be checked out for delivery
to the Saturn launch site at Cape Canaveral. Douglas has also begun studies on application
of the S-IVB stage, third stage of the advance, or C-V, Saturn to the C-IB vehicle. The work includes investigation of minimum
changes to the C-V-type stage for C-IB missions, plus S-I, S-IVB interface and stage separation. The S-IVB structural layout drawings being
prepared by Douglas are nearing completion, and work had begun on detail stage structural
drawings. Plans for a facility for ground testing of
S-IVB stage at Douglas Aircraft Sacramento area were outlined in late November. The test complex will include static test
stands, blockhouse, propellant and high pressure gas systems, and supporting utilities. At Rocketdyne Division of North American Aviation,
contractor for the J-2 engine, which will power the S-IVB stage, a major milestone was
reached this quarter when, on October 4, the first full duration static test of the liquid
hydrogen fueled engine was held. Coming eight months and five days from the
time of the J-2’s initial static test, the firing ran for more than four minutes at full
thrust of 200,000 pounds.

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