Author Topic: Pad 39 reconfigurations had Apollos 18 and 19 flown  (Read 2842 times)

Offline the_other_Doug

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At the time of the cancellation of Apollos 15 and 19, the plan was to fly mainline Apollo out through 17 in (roughly) second quarter of 1972.  Skylab was then scheduled for a late 1972 launch, and all three expeditions would have been completed by the end of 1973.  Apollos 18 and 19 would then have been flown in 1974 and 1975.

Now, in the real world, as soon as the Skylab 1 launch was complete work began on reconfiguring 39A for Shuttle operations.  Even though the detailed design for the Shuttle configuration was not yet complete, many basic things were known and a basic tear-down of Apollo-specific hardware began during 1973.  (After all, in 1973 they were anticipating Shuttle launches to begin as early as 1978, so the work had to start as soon as possible.)

Again in the real world, 39B was retained and configured for Saturn IB flights off the milkstool, at that time a cheaper alternative to recommissioning either pad 34 or 37 for Skylab (and eventually ASTP) manned launches.

Assuming the same commitment to Shuttle development but a timely intervention in the cancellation of the last two Apollos, we would now be using 39A for Saturn V operations through as late as mid-1975 and yet would be looking at needing a Shuttle-configured pad as early as 1978 or 1979.  Since you wouldn't realize that the Shuttle first launch was going to extend out as late as 1980 or 1981 until you were about the fly the last Apollo lunar mission, I'd think you would want to have one of the complex 39 pads in work for Shuttle mods well before 39A opened up.

I can think of a couple of different scenarios in terms of how the pads would have been handled, but I think the most likely is that, in this circumstance, they would have recomissioned Pad 37 and used it for the remaining manned Saturn IB launches.  They would have begun reconfiguring 39A for Shuttle use in 1973 and launched the two remaining Saturn V's for Apollos 18 and 19 from 39B.  After the final Skylab flight and the assumed ASTP flight had finished up the run for manned Saturn IB launches, Pad 37 would have been decommissioned.

The only other scenario I can really think of would involve starting the Shuttle mods at 39A after the SL-1 launch (as actually occurred), reconfiguring 39B for the milkstool and then back for the final mainline Apollo Saturn V launches.  That would have eliminated the need for using either pads 34 or 37, but if you do assume that ASTP would be flown between Apollos 18 and 19, it would require some fairly fast turn-around between the Saturn V and milkstool configurations, and I'm not certain how easy that would have been.

-Doug (with my shield, not yet upon it)
-Doug  (With my shield, not yet upon it)

Offline Proponent

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Re: Pad 39 reconfigurations had Apollos 18 and 19 flown
« Reply #1 on: 04/29/2014 06:56 PM »
I don't believe LC-37 was ever kitted out for manned launches.

Offline the_other_Doug

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Re: Pad 39 reconfigurations had Apollos 18 and 19 flown
« Reply #2 on: 04/29/2014 07:03 PM »
Okay, Pad 34 then.  I know there was a lot of discussion of how and when to kit out both pads for manned launch support, but the drastic reduction in flight rates made the discussions moot.

Am I remembering correctly, as well, that Pad 34 had two actual pads, a 34A and 34B?  Were both of them capable of supporting manned launches?

-Doug (with my shield, not yet upon it)
-Doug  (With my shield, not yet upon it)

Offline Jim

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Re: Pad 39 reconfigurations had Apollos 18 and 19 flown
« Reply #3 on: 04/29/2014 07:03 PM »

What mods were done on the pad  for  and a milkstool LUT that prevents a regular LUT from using it?  Why would there be mods?

Offline Jim

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Re: Pad 39 reconfigurations had Apollos 18 and 19 flown
« Reply #4 on: 04/29/2014 07:04 PM »
Okay, Pad 34 then.  I know there was a lot of discussion of how and when to kit out both pads for manned launch support, but the drastic reduction in flight rates made the discussions moot.

Am I remembering correctly, as well, that Pad 34 had two actual pads, a 34A and 34B?  Were both of them capable of supporting manned launches?

-Doug (with my shield, not yet upon it)

No that was 37

Offline Thorny

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Re: Pad 39 reconfigurations had Apollos 18 and 19 flown
« Reply #5 on: 04/29/2014 07:05 PM »
The only other scenario I can really think of would involve starting the Shuttle mods at 39A after the SL-1 launch (as actually occurred), reconfiguring 39B for the milkstool and then back for the final mainline Apollo Saturn V launches.  That would have eliminated the need for using either pads 34 or 37, but if you do assume that ASTP would be flown between Apollos 18 and 19, it would require some fairly fast turn-around between the Saturn V and milkstool configurations, and I'm not certain how easy that would have been.

Since most of the vehicle-specific changes were to the Mobile Launcher, what changes were made to Pad 39B itself that it could not have hosted a Saturn V Mobile Launcher after SkyLab?

Offline Jim

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Re: Pad 39 reconfigurations had Apollos 18 and 19 flown
« Reply #6 on: 04/29/2014 07:08 PM »

Again in the real world, 39B was retained and configured for Saturn IB flights off the milkstool, at that time a cheaper alternative to recommissioning either pad 34 or 37 for Skylab (and eventually ASTP) manned launches.


No, the milkstool came about because it was cheaper to decommissioning pad 34 or 37 and have the Saturn IB capability from 39.    Consoles and pad GSE were take from 34/37 and used on the milkstool LUT, VAB and LCC for the IB.

Offline the_other_Doug

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Re: Pad 39 reconfigurations had Apollos 18 and 19 flown
« Reply #7 on: 04/29/2014 10:42 PM »
Thanks, Jim et al.  That's what I was interested in knowing -- how much the configuration changed at the pad itself for Saturn IB / milkstool ops.  I was aware that the LUT was where most of the changes took place -- i.e., the swing arms were different, plumbing to feed the S-IB stage was different from that used to feed to S-IC, etc.  What I wasn't sure of was how the plumbing and the wiring in the pad itself might have had to have been changed.

For example, the RP1 tanking lines are designed to interface with the S-IC at what, I am sure, was a far different height above the pad than you would have for the S-IB on the milkstool.  I just wasn't certain how much of this had to do with "Well, it feeds into the LUT so it's up to the LUT config as to where it comes out and into the rocket," or whether it was "the RP1 lines can only feed into equipment that will take the propellant to a specific height and feed it into tanks of a particular size," etc.

Makes a lot of sense, though, that you would just move over the appropriate consoles from the decommissioned IB pads to the appropriate locations in the pad 39 flows.

Thanks, guys!

-Doug (with my shield, not yet upon it)
-Doug  (With my shield, not yet upon it)

Offline Jim

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Re: Pad 39 reconfigurations had Apollos 18 and 19 flown
« Reply #8 on: 04/29/2014 11:39 PM »
Thanks, Jim et al.  That's what I was interested in knowing -- how much the configuration changed at the pad itself for Saturn IB / milkstool ops.  I was aware that the LUT was where most of the changes took place -- i.e., the swing arms were different, plumbing to feed the S-IB stage was different from that used to feed to S-IC, etc.  What I wasn't sure of was how the plumbing and the wiring in the pad itself might have had to have been changed.

For example, the RP1 tanking lines are designed to interface with the S-IC at what, I am sure, was a far different height above the pad than you would have for the S-IB on the milkstool.  I just wasn't certain how much of this had to do with "Well, it feeds into the LUT so it's up to the LUT config as to where it comes out and into the rocket," or whether it was "the RP1 lines can only feed into equipment that will take the propellant to a specific height and feed it into tanks of a particular size," etc.

Makes a lot of sense, though, that you would just move over the appropriate consoles from the decommissioned IB pads to the appropriate locations in the pad 39 flows.

Thanks, guys!

-Doug (with my shield, not yet upon it)

I recall that the LOX pumps for the S-IC were to big for the S-IB and they used the replenish pumps for loading and replenishing

Offline Proponent

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Re: Pad 39 reconfigurations had Apollos 18 and 19 flown
« Reply #9 on: 04/30/2014 08:13 AM »
The two attached Bellcomm memos may be of modest interest in the present context.

Offline Matty Picard

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Re: Pad 39 reconfigurations had Apollos 18 and 19 flown
« Reply #10 on: 05/02/2014 02:10 AM »
The two attached Bellcomm memos may be of modest interest in the present context.


Interesting! Thanks for posting.

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