Many folks would like to see us back on the Moon and developing its resources.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Caught the tail end of the movie "Race To Space" on TV.
- LRK -
Race To Space
2002-USA-Animal Picture

A chimp helps bring together a boy and his father -- as well as putting America in the lead of the space race -- in this drama, which was inspired by the true story of the Mercury-Redstone 2 mission in 1961. Dr. Wilhelm von Huber (James Woods) is a German expatriate scientist living in the United States in the early '60s who has been hired by the fledging National Aeronautics and Space Administration to help America launch its newly formed space program. Von Huber is recently widowed, and his son, Wilhelm II (Alex D. Linz) -- known as Billy to most of his friends -- is still dealing with the loss of his mother. The often cold and exacting Dr. von Huber is having trouble reaching out to his son, and Billy is having a hard time making friends at his new school in Florida. One day, while dropping by NASA's labs to visit his father, Billy discovers a secret: NASA has previously been using unmanned missiles in their tests, but before taking the giant step of sending a man into space, they're going to try an experimental mission with a chimpanzee on board to get a better idea of how people might be affected by space travel. Dr. Donni McGuinness (Annabeth Gish), NASA's head veterinarian, makes a deal with Billy: If he promises not to tell anyone about NASA's secret project, she'll give him a part-time job helping to train Mac the Chimp for his big flight. Billy soon becomes quite attached to his new friend Mac, and discovers it's harder than he imagined to send him into space without knowing if he'll come back safely. Race to Space also features William Atherton and William Devane, while Tyler the chimp appears as Mac. ~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide

It wasn't an easy start.

Maybe a few clips about the real Mercury-Redstone 2 mission are worth considering as we continue to work in space. See below.
- LRK -

Thanks for looking up with me.

Larry Kellogg

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Mercury-Redstone 2 Space Capsule

...the flight of this craft tested the rocket, the capsule and the ability to work in space and return safely, in preparation for the first American astronaut's journey into space. Mercury-Redstone 2 carried a chimpanzee named Ham and helped to confirm that humans could safely make the trip


Mercury-Redstone 2 Specs
Launch date: January 31, 1961
Passenger: a four-year-old chimpanzee named Ham Maximum altitude: 262 km (157 miles) Downrange distance: 679 km (422 miles) Duration of flight: 16 minutes, 39 seconds Weightless time: 6 minutes, 36 seconds Maximum speed: 9,762 km/hour (5,857 mph) Maximum G forces: 14.7
Weight: 1,450 kg (3,200 pounds)
External Dimensions: 1.89 meters (6.2 feet) diameter Internal Dimensions: 3.72 meters (40 square feet) - "about the size of a coffin"
Launch vehicle: Redstone rocket
Capsule control: Mercury missions did not require sophisticated control and the basic maneuvers for sub-orbital and orbital flights could be controlled automatically. Many of the instruments inside the capsule were from airplane cockpits.
Materials: Hull made from titanium 0.01 inches thick, blanketed by fiberglass insulation and covered with blackened heat radiating shingles. On the conical sides, shingles are made of a nickel-steel alloy. The cylindrical nose needed protection for higher temperatures, so shingles were made of beryllium. Beryllium heat shield (lost on recovery) to absorb heat on reentry. Plasticized fabric landing bag.
Manufacturer: McDonnell Aircraft Corporation of St. Louis in conjunction with the Space Task Group, formed by NASA and operating out of Langley, Virginia.


Ham Stats
Weight: 16.78 kg (37 pounds)
Age at launch: 4 years old
Birthplace: French Cameroon (now Cameroon), Africa Homes after flight: National Zoo in Washington D.C.; chimpanzee colony in North Carolina
Died: 1983, of natural causes
Could Ham see out of the capsule? No, but he experienced microgravity. A window was added to later capsule designs so the astronauts could look out.


Program Overview

MR-2: Ham Paves the Way
[310] By the end of January 1961, the technical outlook for Project Mercury was much improved. The end of the qualification flight tests was in sight, if only the Little Joe, Redstone, and Atlas boosters would cooperate. First priority was to make sure the Mercury-Redstone combination was prepared for the first manned suborbital flights. Now, according to the progressive buildup plan, the reliability of the system required demonstration by the second Mercury-Redstone (MR-2) flight, with a chimpanzee aboard, as a final check to man-rate the capsule and launch vehicle.

Preparations for the MR-2 mission had begun long before the actual flight.
Between manufacturing the capsule and flight readiness certification, several months of testing and reworking were necessary at the McDonnell plant, at Marshall Space Flight Center, and at Cape Canaveral. Capsule No. 5, designated for the MR-2 flight, had been near the end of its manufacturing phase in May 1960. When it was completed, inspectors from the Navy Bureau of Weapons stationed at St. Louis, in cooperation with STG's liaison personnel at McDonnell, watched it go through a specified series of tests, and the contractor corrected all detected deficiencies. After capsule systems tests and factory acceptance tests, capsule No. 5 was loaded into an Air Force cargo plane and shipped to Marshall Space Flight Center on September 3, 1960. At Huntsville, Wernher von Braun's team hurried through its checkouts of the compatibility of capsule No. 5 with Redstone booster No. 2, and had finished well before its 16-day time limit. On October 11, 1960, the capsule arrived by air at the Cape, where the first checkout inspections, under the direction of F. M. Crichton, uncovered more discrepancies, raising to 150 the total of minor rework jobs to be done.

Because of the complexities of the stacked and interlaced seven miles of wiring and plumbing systems in the Mercury capsule, however, each minor discrepancy became a major cost in the time necessary for its correction.

Checkout work in Hangar S required 50 days for systems tests and 60 days for rework. The capsule designated for the first manned space flight, No. 7, also had arrived at the Cape for preflight checkouts, but the launch vehicle for MR-2 was delivered to the Cape by air freight on December 20, 1960, the day after MR-1A was launched. It too had undergone exhaustive reliability testing in the shops and on the stands in the hills west of Huntsville, Alabama. When Joachim P. Kuettner, representing von Braun, transferred the MR-2 booster to Emil P. Bertram, representing Kurt H. Debus' Launch Operations Directorate, their confidence in this particular booster of the "Old Reliable" series was high but not towering.


This New Ocean: A History of Project Mercury By Loyd S. Swenson Jr.
James M. Grimwood
Charles C. Alexander
Published as NASA Special Publication-4201 in the NASA History Series, 1989.
Page numbers from the original publication are included within the text within square brackets.

Table of Contents


Redstone (rocket)
>From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

First launched in 1953, the American Redstone rocket was a direct descendant of the German V-2. It was used for the first live nuclear missile tests by the United States. It was also known as the Redstone MRBM (medium range ballistic missile).

A product of the Army Ballistic Missile Agency at Redstone Arsenal, Huntsville, Alabama, under the leadership of Wernher von Braun, it was designed as a surface-to-surface missile for the U.S. Army and was first deployed in 1958. A total of four mobile launchers and equipment, with one reload each, (a total of 8 Redstone MRBM missiles) were deployed in West Germany until 1963. The Redstone was capable of flights up to 200 miles (300 km). It burned alcohol and liquid oxygen.




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