Author Topic: Gus Grissom  (Read 6601 times)

Online trebloc

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Gus Grissom
« on: 03/23/2008 05:38 PM »
Sorry if this has been asked before, but was it ever worked out what happened to the hatch on Grissom's Liberty Bell. I know they they retrieved Liberty bell from the Atlantic, but did it help answer the question once and for all?
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Offline gordo

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Re: Gus Grissom
« Reply #1 on: 03/23/2008 08:01 PM »
The Hatch was never recovered and there was nothing on the capsule to prove or disporve what happened

Good Article here

http://www.space.com/missionlaunches/missions/liberty_bell_000617.html

Offline rsp1202

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Re: Gus Grissom
« Reply #2 on: 03/23/2008 10:03 PM »
Except the curiosity that during testing anyone hitting the ejection button/plate would develop a bruise on his arm, and Grissom never showed bruising.

Offline Rusty_Barton

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Re: Gus Grissom
« Reply #3 on: 03/23/2008 10:09 PM »
Speaking of Gus Grissom, I just bought Spacecraft Films "Man In Space: U.S. Air Force Manned Space Projects". On the DVD is a short clip of Gus Grissom putting on his Mercury spacesuit and getting into an X-20 Dyna Soar cockpit mockup. He tries out switch positions, etc. Interesting historical film clip.

Offline edkyle99

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RE: Gus Grissom
« Reply #4 on: 03/24/2008 02:43 PM »
Gus said that he armed the hatch, but wasn't planning on blowing it until the frogmen arrived.  Then, he said, "it just blew".   After the flight, NASA altered training/procedures to ensure that astronauts didn't arm the hatch until the spacecraft was secured by the frogmen.

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Offline Rusty_Barton

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Re: Gus Grissom
« Reply #5 on: 03/24/2008 04:00 PM »
Here's a short NASA report about the recovered Liberty Bell 7:

Liberty Bell 7 Recovery Evaluation and Nondestructive Testing - November 1999
http://techreports.larc.nasa.gov/ltrs/PDF/1999/tm/NASA-99-tm209824.pdf

Offline Rusty_Barton

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Re: Gus Grissom
« Reply #6 on: 03/24/2008 04:49 PM »
Here's a theory about how the hatch blew. It's only a theory, no way to prove it.

On page 55 of the of "RESULTS OF THE SECOND U.S. MANNED a SUBORBITAL SPACE FLIGHT JULY 21, 1961" - Pilot's Flight Report

http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/forums/thread-view.asp?tid=11462&posts=1&highlight=pdf&highlightmode=1

Grissom said he removed a survival knife from the hatch and removed the protective cap and safety pin from the hatch detonator.

The survival knife appears to be nearly 1-foot long in pictures from the recovered Liberty Bell 7. See Figures 6a & 6b Page 7 in the link below.

http://techreports.larc.nasa.gov/ltrs/PDF/1999/tm/NASA-99-tm209824.pdf

Grissom mentions the knife twice in the pilot's flight report.  Once when he said he removed the knife from the hatch and stowed it in the survival kit. A second time when he said he thought about carrying the knife out with him as a souvenir.

Is it possible, in trying to maneuver this large knife in the confined capsule, tossing in the sea, he accidentally bumped the hatch detonator with the knife? Setting off the detonator in this manner would leave no mark on his hand like later Mercury astronauts received.

I believe the knife was found loose in the bottom of the capsule.

If it happed this way, maybe Grissom was too embarrassed to admit the hatch blew because of a souvenir.

Just a theory.

Offline rsp1202

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Re: Gus Grissom
« Reply #7 on: 03/24/2008 05:41 PM »
How much force was required to blow the hatch; was it touchy or did it take a concerted effort?

Offline Rusty_Barton

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Re: Gus Grissom
« Reply #8 on: 03/24/2008 06:30 PM »
Quote
rsp1202 - 24/3/2008  11:41 AM

How much force was required to blow the hatch; was it touchy or did it take a concerted effort?

According to the mission report:

"The MDF (mild detonating fuse) is ignited by a manually operated igniter
that requires an actuation force of around 5
pounds, after removal of a safety pin. The igniter
can be operated externally by an attached lanyard,
in which case a force of at least 40 pounds is re-
quired in order to shear the safety pin."

With the safety pin in place the pilot could also detonate the igniter with
a fist force of 40 pounds.

Here's a picture of the igniter cover:
http://alecwest.com/hatch.jpg


And here's a diagram from the 1961 edition of the Mercury Familiarization Manual, PDF page 18.
http://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/19740076527_1974076527.pdf

This shows where the survival knife and hatch release initiator are located on interior of the side hatch.

Offline JMS

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Re: Gus Grissom
« Reply #9 on: 03/24/2008 08:27 PM »
Both Schirra and Glenn manually blew their hatches in onboard ship egresses. And both sustained cuts and bruises to their knuckles, through their suits, from the plunger recoil. For this reason, Schirra was adamant that Gus didn't blow his hatch directly with a body part.
The knife theory is possible, as would be a number of other scenario’s, but I don't believe we'll ever know for sure.

For what it's worth, here's the complete Mercury egress history from "This New Ocean".

Shepard -Latch hatch (wasn't equipped with explosive bolts) –water egress
Grissom – Hatch blew – water egress
Glenn – Blew hatch manually– cut and bruise –ship egress
Carpenter – Neck egress – water
Schirra – Blew hatch manually – cut and bruise –ship egress
Cooper – Hatch blown remotely–ship egress

Cooper's egress was most interesting to me back when I researched this as I was initially unaware the hatch could be blown remotely.

"The spacecraft floundered in the water for a moment, then righted
itself, as hovering helicopters dropped their swimmers and relayed
Cooper's request as an Air Force officer for permission to be hoisted
aboard the Navy's carrier. Permission was granted, and 40 hot, humid
minutes later the explosive hatch blew open at the command of MSC
engineer John B. Graham."


Offline Dana

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Re: Gus Grissom
« Reply #10 on: 03/24/2008 11:26 PM »
I've always wondered if there just wasn't a small leak in the spacecraft somewhere that admitted a little seawater, and caused an electrical short of some kind that blew the hatch. Or if it blew as the result of some other electrical anomaly.
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Offline JMS

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Re: Gus Grissom
« Reply #11 on: 03/25/2008 12:11 AM »
Possible... but as I said before, I doubt we will ever know definitively.

Anecdotally though, I believe it's safe to assume that management eventually came to the conclusion that it was some sort of a hardware anomaly in that Grissom commanded the shakedown flight of Gemini, and was chosen to command the maiden Apollo flight as well.

And we certainly know as an historical fact what would happen to an astronaut management truly believed "screwed the pooch"... rightly or wrongly.
There would be no more flight assignments.

As a side thought, I've often wondered why the producers of the "Right Stuff" film (who butchered Tom Wolfe's book so badly) chose Gus as the character to over dramatize when there was a much more "juicy" factual case in the Carpenter mission.

Selfishly, since I know and admire Mr. Carpenter, I'm happy they didn't. But by the same token, their treatment of Gus was disgusting IMHO.



Offline Rusty_Barton

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Re: Gus Grissom
« Reply #12 on: 03/25/2008 01:33 AM »
The hatch firing mechanism used MDF (mild detonating fuse) ignited by a manually operated igniter. I don't believe the hatch was fired electrically. We have seen people fly again that may have "screwed the pooch" if they had friends in high places. An example is Cernan and the Banana River training helicopter crash.

Offline JMS

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Re: Gus Grissom
« Reply #13 on: 03/25/2008 02:21 AM »
Quote
Rusty_Barton - 24/3/2008  9:33 PM
We have seen people fly again that may have "screwed the pooch" if they had friends in high places. An example is Cernan and the Banana River training helicopter crash.

I was speaking specifically about perceived mishandling of a space mission not earthly missteps.
Carpenter, Eisele, Cunningham, Pogue, Carr, Gibson...


Offline Rusty_Barton

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Re: Gus Grissom
« Reply #14 on: 03/25/2008 04:42 AM »

Offline BigRIJoe

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Re: Gus Grissom
« Reply #15 on: 06/12/2008 09:34 AM »
Another squirmin' hatch blower!
« Last Edit: 06/12/2008 09:35 AM by BigRIJoe »

Offline brihath

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Re: Gus Grissom
« Reply #16 on: 06/12/2008 11:08 AM »
Quote
Rusty_Barton - 24/3/2008  9:33 PM
We have seen people fly again that may have "screwed the pooch" if they had friends in high places. An example is Cernan and the Banana River training helicopter crash.

I was speaking specifically about perceived mishandling of a space mission not earthly missteps.
Carpenter, Eisele, Cunningham, Pogue, Carr, Gibson...



True, but there is also evidence that if George Abbey liked you, you got flight assignments, and if he didn't, you were benched.  It is believed that happened with Rusty Schweickhart after Apollo 9.  The time period of Gus' flight was before the leadership of the Astronaut Office under Deke Slayton and Alan Shepherd, who also put their own stamp on flight assignments, although, from all that I have read, Abbey made the final call.
« Last Edit: 06/12/2008 11:09 AM by brihath »

Offline Lancer525

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Re: Gus Grissom
« Reply #17 on: 09/08/2008 01:33 AM »
Correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't there something published recently about the cause of the hatch explosive bolts activation being the result of the parachute shroud lines becoming entangled in the external detonation handle?

I know I read that somewhere recently...
"For some inexplicable reason, everyone seems to want to avoid simple schemes."   -John Houbolt

Offline Rusty_Barton

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Re: Gus Grissom
« Reply #18 on: 09/08/2008 11:11 AM »
Here are screen captures of the interior of the Mercury hatch from the Mercury explosive hatch test video on YouTube.

Mercury Explosive Hatch Test


This series of photos shows the arming of the explosive hatch by removing the detonator cover and removing the protective pin from the detonator plunger. Notice how close the survival knife holder is to the right of the detonator plunger. I have rotated the photos 180-degrees from that shown in the video. The orientation of the hatch is shown as the astronaut would see it from inside the capsule.

The detonator cover and survival knife were both found inside the recovered Liberty Bell 7.

Here's a link to a picture of the recovered knife:
http://www.lostspacecraft.com/work/Restoration/Restoration_22.html

« Last Edit: 09/08/2008 12:01 PM by Rusty_Barton »

Offline SpaceCat

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Re: Gus Grissom
« Reply #19 on: 09/11/2008 03:03 AM »
That's an interesting little video, although the poster's choice of background music is.... strange, to say the least.  The guitar instrumental almost works (anybody know who that is?)... but it would be another 6 or 7 years from the time of Project Mercury for "Daydream Believer" to hit the charts.

Interesting side note though, while made popular by The Monkees, that song was actually written by former Kingston Trio member, John Stewart- who sadly died last January.  John Stewart was a good friend of Scott Carpenter's- as a matter of fact he was the entertainment for the Astronaut Hall Of Fame gala banquet a few years ago.

So in that way, I guess it's distantly related to Project Mercury after all.
« Last Edit: 09/11/2008 03:04 AM by SpaceCat »

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