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The Paper Mache-te

I'd previously loaded up the blog with a series of Stranger Things-themed placeholders as I worked on a major project. Except, when I planned them all I was going to make one thing, then ended up making another as they counted down. The end result:

Paper Machete.gif

So what is it? Originally, it was going to be a cutaway of the skirt from an Atlas booster, revealing interactive details of the rocket's internals. However, in preparation for meeting with someone from a museum housed on a WWII airbase which flew B-24 Liberators, I switched to making the very nose of a Liberator I dubbed "The Paper Mache-te."

Again, what is it? It's a portion of one of these WWII bombers built out of cardboard and covered in paper mache for its sculpting properties. It includes the Liberator's bombadier's station (the lower glass seen in the GIF) and the nose turret above that. I built it as a test of an idea I'd previously posted about (see "Preliminaries for a Small Museum"), where museums could turn the rarity of flagship artifacts to their advantage by the very fact that a replica is more flexible than the original. How the replica is produced can present teaching opportunities that would be impossible with an original's demanding preservation requirements. 

I envisioned creating such replicas out of concrete for its durability and relatively low cost. However, concrete's permanence and malleability requires some kind of forming and testing beforehand—enter cardboard and paper mache as rapid prototyping materials. Not only would such a prototype allow for structural testing and checking the accuracy of the production before any permanent, and heavy, concrete was poured, depending on the article, the prototype could even be used at an event to gauge patron interest in different interactive features. 

The total cost of this prototype was less than $5—I found the boxes for free and only bought a bottle of white glue (which was actually unnecessary) and a bag of flour. Paper was donated by family members. Building this prototype took somewhere between 60 and 80 hours. Even though this is a small section of the aircraft, it suggests that even a complete airframe could be done in less than 95,000 hours (the time it took to restore the Collings' Foundation B-24 Liberator to flying status), much less the 270,000 hours an all-volunteer group in Werribee, Australia has spent restoring their Liberator.

While I was unhappy with the completed product, the process has promise in expanding a museum collection in an educational way.

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Stranger Thing 3

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Stranger Thing 3

While it's not as big as, say, the Department of Energy building in Hawkins, Indiana, not only has the project I've been teasing been a flagship project for me, it's technically too large to fit in our basement.

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Stranger Thing 2

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Stranger Thing 2

Just like Mike, Will, Dustin, Lucas, and El in Stranger Things, I've been working on this project in our basement. It's progressing smoothly, but still not ready to be seen!

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Stranger Thing 1

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Stranger Thing 1

In honor of Stranger Things s2 (we're fans!), and to try and keep our streak of posts going, I just wanted to drop this teaser (1 of 4). Something is Coming. Chris has started a project in his spare time which will eventually be showcased here, but until it gets far enough along for there to be anything worth seeing, these Stranger Things-themed teasers will keep the blog (a little) active.

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Preliminaries for a Small Museum

I recently went through the interview process for a small aerospace/missile museum in a small rural community. While I ultimately did not receive an offer, I had plenty of time between the initial application and interview to consider what sort of programs and artifacts I could bring to the institution.


First, considerations of serving the community with entertainment as well as education. My experience with patrons, and the "war stories" of more experienced employees, has suggested to me that many comes to museum less with the intent to be educated than to be entertained.

A satellite view of the museum with two artifacts (standing) added and an entertainment/educational piece laid on the ground.

Providing entertainment at the museum could be done in a way that could enhance education in other settings. In this case, I favored a full-scale mockup of a Cold War missile that was creatively cutaway to provide spaces for play while highlighting features that could be used in tours and instruction.

From this angle, the first stage nozzles are easily apparent, with spaces cut out of the first stage to allow crawling through it. The spaces could also be sized so as to allow wheelchairs access. Large, easy to grab, handles (in green) move the nozzles in sockets to show how the first stage is steered. The second stage nozzle (which steers differently) uses blue blocks that move in and out of the nozzle to represent cold gas injection. A rod which can move in and out of the body of the missile represents the attitude control system, and the yellow splotch near the top of the missile would be a gyroscope.

A cutout of the third stage reveals the star grain pattern that helped revolutionize solid-rockets. The warhead, which would here be nuclear, would be a solid piece and, in an ideal world, cold, to create an aura and, hopefully, avoid idolizing the destructive potential of such weapons. At the far left is a standing plate, which could have different patterns to match the first stage nozzles to as a demonstration of how the missile moved. Hopefully it could be a blast shield sourced from relatively near Air Force bases to extend the museum's invested community and procure an artifact. 

The construction of such a piece would not have to be costly if the materials were chosen carefully and the articulations made simple enough. It could even be trialled at an existing event by creating a temporary version of one stage and gauging reactions and use. Having a "self-guided" place to play would also help at a museum where guided tours dictate the timing of your visit. Finally, depending on local support, since the museum was located away from its nearest community, a twin could be built in a more centrally located space as well as a source of good will and constant reminder of its presence.


Next, considerations of building the museum's profile by beginning a sustainable building of the collection. Leveraging the creation of the mock-up may help the museum acquire the actual artifact as well. Failing that, or to fill in the time frame needed to find and move such a piece, two other artifacts would serve as good stepping stones.

I know of a Nike-Hercules missile currently in storage, which could be useful in building a base of volunteers with restoration skills. It would fit into the museum's theme because the Nike-Hercules served in an anti-tactical ballistic missile role and the high cost of its successor helped spur treaties to limit anti-ballistic missile systems during the Cold War.

The successor to the Nike-Hercules was the Nike-Zeus, which quickly morphed into the Spartan and Sprint missiles. The Spartan missile, in particular, is well-represented in the area, with several communities having actual examples or mock-ups, which could be negotiated for (in the case of the former) or replicated (in the case of the latter) in exchange for a mock-up or piece similar to the interactive above. Such would be fitting, as, thankfully, the program responsible for those missiles was the only real casualty of the museum's primary missile. It would also help distinguish this site from others like it.


Next, considerations of advertising the museum in ways that involved the community. Since the museum was not located near major travel routes or cities, I felt it was especially important that whatever it was doing, it do with the community. I'd thought of several ideas, including creating a mod for Fallout 4 that modeled the museum and was programmed by local students to give them a taste of computer science and programming.


As mentioned above, these were all preliminaries, but I enjoyed thinking of them and thought maybe they could provide some inspiration to anyone who happened to stumble across them.

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Research: Redstone Redux

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Research: Redstone Redux

Researching NASA's experiments in recovering Mercury-Redstone boosters (here) led me to researching Redstone booster serial numbers (here) aided greatly by Heroic Relics, Encyclopedia Astronautica, Jim Ryan's "My Army Redstone Days" and, later, by Gunter's Space Page. Unfortunately the Redstone components with which I am most familiar with are part of a collection which is not fully documented. While studying the components for hints as to the serial numbers, I found a note on Heroic Relics that pointed out that the gold/brass-colored piece pictured below (at the aft end of the body unit) is a mystery:

 Picture originally by Mike @ Heroic Relics

Picture originally by Mike @ Heroic Relics

On displayed Redstones, it's unique to the Cosmosphere's unit. Intrigued, I started by emailing Jim Ryan of My Army Redstone Days to see if a field artillery veteran would recognize the piece. He did not, but suggested the component was related to calibrating the missile prior to its being dispersed to a field unit. From this, I concluded that the component did not appear on tactical missiles in the field, leaving two or three possibilities: 1) that it was used in the manufacturing process, 2) that it was used in acceptance testing or battalion level operations, and 3) that it was used in non-tactical scenarios or tests. 

(1) was easy to rule out: thanks to Jim Ryan's collection of pictures I found no instances of the component during manufacturing.

(2) also became unlikely on reading the technical documentation he had, though still possible.

(3) was the most likely candidate. Since Jim didn't remember seeing it, I focused on post-retirement projects that involved the Redstone. This meant it could have been added during Chrysler's refurbishment of the vehicles, of which I found very few pictures. It didn't appear in any photos of Project Sparta, and there seem to be no pictures of the Redstones involved in Project Defender or Nike intercept tests. Another Redstone project was the Television Feasibility Demonstration, where the TV Reconnaissance Capsule "TV-1" would be ejected from the missile to assess the warhead's results. 

Via ubtrue2.net, click for source

It was this last project where I began to find answers. In the above picture taken by the TV-1 capsule (a Chrysler modified Jupiter nosecone) there seemed a possible shadow corresponding to the position of the mystery component at the 1 o'clock position. I thought maybe the mystery component could be related to the ejection of the TV-1 capsule as the serial numbers on the aft unit at the Cosmosphere (CC-2025/CC-2035) were close to some of the serials used in the project. Perhaps it was part of the equipment holding the capsule or commanding its ejection. Unfortunately a video from the project revealed that not to be the case, as the cradle design was not at all present on the artifact and the booster in that video lacked the mystery component:

However, a second video of the project did show the mystery component. More sightings followed: the boosters used in the Hardtack nuclear tests, pre-Block I boosters testing in Cape Canaveral and White Sands, and tests of late tactical boosters.

Given the component's absence on tactical boosters but presence in situations where measurements on their performance were germane and the co-axial-looking plugs, I began to suspect it was an antenna. Since it appeared in multiple projects, I assume the antenna was not payload specific but was for telemetry or tracking.

The unusually solid design left some question in my mind if the mystery component indeed was an antenna, so I sought verification on the forums of Antenna-Theory. The admin there, in two helpful posts, confirmed that it was probably an "Inverted 'F' Antenna" (IFA) or "Planar Inverted 'F' Antenna" (PIFA) operating in the UHF range at ~300MHz. These helpful specifics helped produce literature on tracking and telemetry systems used in the period.

Some systems could be ruled out because a second look at the body unit revealed there were plates appropriate for mounting the mystery component located every 90 degrees versus the 120 degrees mentioned in conjunction with certain systems. It also revealed a third cable leading into the pressurized compartment, presumably providing a hook-up to the ST-80 guidance platform.

The hanging plug and attached wire (nearly behind plug and disappearing into bulkhead) probably to connect the ST-80 or other instrumentation and the telemeter.

Thus, I believe the "mystery components" are telemetry/tracking antennas, given their uniform appearance on non-tactical and testing. The telemeter was probably an AN/DKT-2 (originally used on captured V2/A4) or AN/DKT-3. One source lists the AN/DKT-8 just as "used by Army," but the AN/DKT-8 is referenced in another as the XO-2.

From "Waveform Distortion in an FM/FM Transmitter System" by Simpson, Richard S., Ronald C. Houts, and Fred D. Parsons, p10.

A third reference lists the Redstone's telemeter as the XO-1, meaning its designation is probably less than 8. It is not a visual match to either the AN/DKT-7 or AN/DKT-5:

Screen Shot 2017-09-19 at 10.45.37 PM.png
Saturn I Recovery.png

However, a Bendix ad for the AN/DKT-3 shows only a close match (with the long "telemetering case with sub carrier oscillators"):

Screen Shot 2017-09-19 at 10.45.17 PM.png

So if the antennas and plugs were attached to a period telemeter, the AN/DKT-2 seems most likely. However, a tracking system is an even better candidate for being attached, as the Saturn I and Mercury-Redstone telemeters and antennas seem to be internal to those rockets while other documents show or indicate tracking antennas to be external.

The document "The Evolution of Electronic Tracking, Optical, Telemetry, and Command Systems at the Kennedy Space Center" provided a helpful grid summarizing the tracking systems used at KSC and which rockets they were used with. This allowed the construction of the following visual comparison:

This leaves the mystery component visible on the central booster to be the Beat-Beat DOVAP (Beat-Beat Dopplar Velocity And Position) antenna, a system for tracking the booster's deviation from its projected course. I believe this is a plausible definition on several points:

  1. Beat-Beat DOVAP would not have been used on tactical missiles as those would not employ post-launch tracking, hence why they were not on the missiles Mr. Ryan handled.
  2. Beat-Beat DOVAP was used on multiple types of missions with multiple types of payloads, hence why the component can be seen on pictures of different launches/types of launches.
  3. However, Beat-Beat DOVAP used a 36MHz frequency, which is an unexplained anomaly with what the Antenna-Theory.com said I should expect.

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Project: Pirate Ship Facade

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Project: Pirate Ship Facade

Building on the library's experience with the crane Chris built for the summer celebration, he was commissioned to disguise a donation bin for Halloween candy as a pirate ship. Since this commission didn't require the interactivity of the crane he opted for a simpler construction made of just cardboard.

 A (poorly) chalked grid for transferring enlarged sketches to the work surface (garage floor!)

A (poorly) chalked grid for transferring enlarged sketches to the work surface (garage floor!)

 The outline of the ship transferred to the grid.

The outline of the ship transferred to the grid.

The ship was designed to resemble the caravel Victoria, Magellan's flagship. It was to be a 2.5D production, with the design able to lay flat for storage or wrapped around a barrel, the barrel giving it shape.

To help make the cardboard appear like wood, and disguise different colorations of cardboard from the donor boxes, Chris broke down boxes and marked them for two different sizes of planks: a large size for the hull and a small size for the fore/aft castle.

In Progress.gif

The results worked out quite well, and removable masts of recycled movie-poster tubes furnished by a friend of Team Givan added to the looks with red sails.

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The Great American Eclipse

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The Great American Eclipse

Team Givan drove to Kansas City to view The Great American Eclipse (2017) and have a mini vacation. We revisited the National World War I museum, an incredible collection of artifacts from the lost generation, where we preceded to take one, single, picture (it was crowded and we were busy reading displays).

Translation: "The Hour Discovered [lit. Probably revealed or arrived in spirit]. The Machine to Finish the War"

Our original plan had been to drive north to St. Joseph, Missouri so we could take in the eclipse and one of Theresa's favorite museums: Glore Psychiatric Museum. The weather thwarted that plan so we drove east and viewed the eclipse with friends in Jefferson City, Missouri. Besides a beautiful setting it allowed us to try out practical STEM/STEAM projects for viewing the sun and over optics in general while staying on a hill overlooking a large rock described in Lewis and Clark's journals as they traveled down the Missouri river.


Created with flickr slideshow.

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Research: "A Gift of Olive Beech"

At an antique shop, accidentally hidden by a large metal sign, Team Givan found two paintings. They were, at first glance, nondescript--a sharp looking jet painted in red, white, and blue whisking four well-dressed gentleman past a coastline somewhere/through a mostly clear sky. Chris didn't recognize the jet, an occasion that has been growing rarer. On the back of each picture was:

Beechcraft

Gift of Olive Beech

To [recipients]

1958

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A "Gift of Olive Beech"...we had just seen the total eclipse, and this find still ranks as "memorable," not an easy feat on that day. With Beechcraft as a clue, Chris' instinct was that we were looking concept art of the Jet Mentor a la mode biz jet. That was a particularly exciting prospect as Team Givan's visits to the Kansas Aviation Museum meant we'd seen the sole prototype in person. On reviewing the pictures from KAM though, he realized it was a different aircraft still.

As it turns out, the aircraft pictured was a French-made Moraine-Saulnier MS.760 Paris. An adaptation of that company's losing competitor in a French jet trainer run-off, which resulted in the Fouga Magister, Beechcraft had purchased the North American manufacturing rights in 1955 [1]. There is even crossed French and American flags painted underneath the cockpit in the spirit of the arrangement. The Paris has characteristics common to the Magister, Temco's Pinto, Cessna's Tweet, Canadair's Tutor, BAC's Jet Provost, and, most interestingly, Beech's Jet Mentor.

This story isn't an unending string of surprises—although the Jet Mentor and the Paris were designed in the same time period, with the Jet Mentor taking flight the same year Beechcraft purchased rights to the Paris, there is probably no influence [2]. The similarities that can be seen between the two and between the other aircraft mentioned are probably just the result of prevailing theory and available engines.

Neither the Paris nor Jet Mentor worked out for Beechcraft, with perhaps two Paris' sold [1] and no Jet Mentors at all. The Tweet's similar 2+2 business jet version (Cessna Model 407) also failed to find success, customers preferring the Learjet and Lockheed models with more conventional layouts. While the Paris didn't excite Beech's customers, the appearance of this pictures in that antique store, and the mention of Olive, certainly excited Team Givan!

(for more on these aircraft and their stories, see Chris' reflections here)

Beech's MS.760s:

S/N 3/1043 S/N 005 S/N 006
1959 N776K 1961 N760H F-WJAB
J.W. Keeney, St. Barbara CA Henry & Louise Timken, Canton OH 1961 N84J
1963 N760C 1973 N2NC Beech Aircraft Corp, Wichita KS
1966 N760S 1981 N2TE 1965 N760J
B Air Inc, Alexandria VA 1990 XB-FJO Ran off runway at Andrau Airpark, 1981
Registered in Mexico Presumed Scrapped
1996 N2TE
Destroyed in Fatal Crash, 1997
Presumed Scrapped
 N776K via Ed Coates. Click for source.

N776K via Ed Coates. Click for source.

 N760H and Louise Timken via Alex Kvassay. Click for source.

N760H and Louise Timken via Alex Kvassay. Click for source.

 N84J in a Beechcraft ad.

N84J in a Beechcraft ad.

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Research: Redstone Booster Recovery

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Research: Redstone Booster Recovery

On April 12, 1981, while everyone's attention was focused on the still-climbing STS-1, another significant moment was happening mostly out of sight: the recovery of an orbital-class booster by flotation with the intent to reuse it. But almost 20 years earlier, a nearly identical plan had been formed to recover Redstone boosters and reuse them, going so far as  drop, float, and practice booster recovery with the United States Navy.

(cover image: SRB Splashdown superimposed with "Water Impact" drawing of Redstone Booster)

 The only flotation recovery and reuse of a rocket ever used was the Space Shuttle SRBs. The Redstone booster recovery was a remarkably similar plan, but 20 years earlier. (Freedom Star & STS-135 Solid Rocket Booster by Shannon Moore)

The only flotation recovery and reuse of a rocket ever used was the Space Shuttle SRBs. The Redstone booster recovery was a remarkably similar plan, but 20 years earlier. (Freedom Star & STS-135 Solid Rocket Booster by Shannon Moore)

The first instance of recovered and reused rockets that this author knows of is some of Dr. Goddard's early rockets—he would do so to save money. He did so both with rockets that were failures (see his A3) and attempted to design ones that could be parachuted and reused (see his A5) [1: Alway, Peter. Retro Rockets: Experimental Rockets 1926-1941. pp26, 28].

The next instance is, much like the Redstone family, part of Von Braun and his team's space flight revolution. To support the development of the A4/V2 rocket, the team had been using a rocket they deemed A3 but which proved unsatisfactory. It was replaced by their A5 which could be recovered by parachute and water landing for reuse, probably, in part, due to the extremely incremental approach to development that would later pit Von Braun's methodology against George Mueller's [2: Ibid. p66].

The effort to reuse Mercury-Redstone boosters occurred at the dawn of manned spaceflight, somewhere around 1961. Despite being considered a success, its results weren't adopted for reasons which I'll consider towards the end of this post. Also, linked here, is a more philosophical piece on why reusability has, thus far, been limited in operation.

I've found two reports on the project to recover Mercury-Redstone boosters. One is a summary of the project and its results as included in a larger summary of the Mercury program, linked here. The other is from a 1962 conference on reusable concepts and research and includes both diagrams and photographs, linked here. A compendium of presentations from the conference, including plans to attach giant Rogallo wings to the Saturn I, is linked here.

There were two prongs to the research: tests with the thrust unit of a PGM-11 Redstone missile (serial number "RS-33" although a list of Redstone Serial Numbers indicates there was only a CC-33) and tests with an H1 engine. The tests on the engine were a series of immersions, treatment for corrosion, disassembly and inspection, then test firings. The program calculates that the cost of this work on the H1 engine was 5% the cost of a new engine.

The booster used in all of the tests was not a space launcher but a military Redstone reserved for training use. However, the report states it was "altered in weight and configuration so as to simulate MERCURY-REDSTONE," so perhaps it was extended to match the length of the MRLV. After successful drop tests in a quarry near Redstone Arsenal (identified via this document), an operation testing retrieval was conducted with the Navy. The pictures come from that, although they are of an extremely poor quality and I am searching for better ones.

 
 One of two "saddles" to support the booster is seen here in the well-deck of the Landing Ship.

One of two "saddles" to support the booster is seen here in the well-deck of the Landing Ship.

First, a recovery ship had to be adapted. The Landing Ship, Dock (LSD) type was chosen because they had an open deck that could be flooded and the booster floated into. To support the booster when it was not floating, the LSD required two "saddles" in the well deck.

After a booster had landed in the water, the LSD would dispatch smaller craft to safe and tow the Redstone. A Landing Craft Personnel, Vehicle (LPCV) was used in the tests. I've identified the second picture in the series as the LPCV towing the booster (the booster either being out of frame, at the starboard hip of the LPCV and hence out of sight, or being in the overexposed region of the image).

When the LPCV's bow was even with the stern gate of the LSD (the gate used to dam off the well-deck), it would disconnect the tow line and reverse away from the booster and LSD. Swimmers from the LSD would approach the booster and attach two sets of three lines to a six-place connecting web. 

 The booster being pulled into the well-deck of the landing ship.

The booster being pulled into the well-deck of the landing ship.

The six lines attached to the booster were used to float it over the saddles while the well-deck was still flooded. Once it was in position, the well-deck could be emptied.

Once emptied, the booster would sit in two saddles, one fore and one aft. The project concluded a freshwater rinse was sufficient to prevent corrosion from the sea water.

In addition, parachute designs were drawn up, equipment bays designed, and the whole project appeared to have promise when the funding apparently ran out. So why wasn't it a higher priority?

I believe the primary reason was money. In an unusual twist, however, I think there was too much money being put into NASA to make the funds required to achieve reusability a worthwhile investment. The tight, and very public, deadline for the moon landing probably compounded this. Building any launch vehicle requires massive investment, but, in order to achieve space flight your rocket only has to be able to launch once. Spending money on making your rocket launch more than once is technically unnecessary and an investment that carries additional risks. In short, NASA needed rockets that would successfully launch in order to achieve their pressing goal--any additional ability of the launcher was a further risk.

Another reason was the choice of vehicle itself. The Redstone was too little of a booster to see much use past the early days of the space program. And, it was too late of a study to make use of the results. The last use of a Redstone-derived launcher for satellites was in 1958, further Mercury-Redstone Launch Vehicle flights were cancelled in 1961, and the missile would be out of production by 1964 [4]. With Saturn I development begun in 1958 [5] and Titan III in 1959 [6], the community's focus was probably on heavy-launch vehicles and the possibilities they were opening up. Additionally, Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) was overseeing the design of the Saturn rockets. The Redstone's meager lift capability meant little interest in further developing it. The joint US Army - Australian Project Sparta would not be started until 1966, two years after the missile was declared obsolete [7]. The study's use of the Redstone booster meant results that were, at best, only analogous to other vehicles.

The difficult economics of developing reusable rockets naturally played a role as well, but I'm interested in why this specific project has been generally forgotten. The Mercury-Redstone Launch Vehicle used ballast in its design, which meant that replacing the ballast with a recovery system didn't face the usual dilemma of increasing payload at the expense of reducing launch capability. This is a rare condition for a space launch vehicle, in my experience. If one were to do the math I expect that it is more immediately profitable to replace, after every launch, a more powerful launch vehicle (if one replaced the ballast with fuel) or a launch vehicle capable of carrying more payload (if one replaced the ballast with payload) than it is to develop a successful recovery system. The last relies on frequent reuse to recoup its high development cost, a premise which the space shuttle showed could be undone by other factors that affect launch rate. Thus, there is a substantial risk that one cannot recoup the high development costs needed to perfect a recovery system when compared to the lower risks and increased profits of replacing the ballast with fuel or payload.

Besides NASA's then-prodigious budget, the Redstone's semi-retired status, and the Redstone's unique opportunity to replace ballast with a recovery system, the project used the boost portion of a PGM-11 Redstone, meaning the results had to be extrapolated to apply to the space launch versions. Reading the report, it is clear that as much as possible was done to make the unit a clear analogue to a space launch version, but there is always room for surprises between mock-ups and reality.

For example, drop tests of the booster were conducted from 25 feet to simulate the estimated descent rate of a space launcher under parachute. During development of the Space Shuttle's Solid Rocket Boosters, a 48,000lb SRB "drop test vehicle" (SRB-DTV) was dropped from NASA's NB-52B to test the parachute systems [8]. The empty weight of an SRB was 190,000lbs [9]. Additional drop tests were conducted from a height of 200 feet using a scale model and pressure tests were conducted to verify reusability of up to 20 times [10]. Still, in operation, the boosters were damaged by impact and seeping seawater, requiring the parachutes be redesigned [11]. Given the extent of the SRB tests and the fact that operations still required changes it would make sense that the Redstone project's results would have required further modifications after entering service. More cautious members of the spaceflight community may have been pessimistic that the results were as good as they seemed.

Another example: the solid rocket boosters used in the shuttle program never reached their goal of "wash, dry, and fly" because of complications—meaning the assessment that the Redstone only had to be flushed with freshwater after immersion may have been overly optimistic too [12]. Such optimism would have been impossible to prove right/wrong short of an actual demonstration, requiring funding diverted from another project.

The conference proceedings do note that "A program of this nature is needed in the near future possibly in the form of subscale test vehicles, but preferably through recovery of operational vehicles most closely approaching expected future vehicles." This clearly rang true with the SRBs and could explain the success SpaceX has shown given their incremental approach to recovering operational hardware.

Finally, as the report indicates, the Redstone booster was chosen for the project because its structure was conducive to the stresses of a water landing and flotation. Few launch vehicles are.

From my personal collection

The Atlas rocket, which was the Redstone's successor for manned launches and a successful satellite launcher, with its "balloon tanks" almost certainly would have required an extremely slow descent and gentle landing. Even if it survived the landing, it would have required some pressurization system to keep its tanks "inflated" or risk damage like what is pictured to the right. UPDATE: I've since learned of studies for adding wings and jet engines to recover Atlas boosters, conducted by Convair under Air Force SR-89774. See To Reach the High Frontier: A History of US Launch Vehicles p92, Launius and Jenkins, eds. Images of a model here.

NASA's third manned launch vehicle, a variant of the Titan II was not as delicate and a portion of it even recovered from the Gemini 5 mission, albeit damaged from its unarrested descent and landing.

Famously, solid rockets are well-suited to this kind of recovery and reuse. The steel casings of the space shuttle SRBs were recovered on almost every flight [13], although they required significant refurbishment before reuse. The Ariane V boosters, while not reusable, can also be recovered via floatation [14].

Captured from SpaceX's "How Not to Land an Orbital Rocket" https://youtu.be/bvim4rsNHkQ

Prior to the Falcon 9's successful landings, it simulated landing on the ocean surface. No Falcon 9 survived the fall from vertical to horizontal after engine cutoff, demonstrating the significant structural demands for reuse placed on a liquid fuel booster. Additional problems could arise from leftover fuels if hypergolic or presented with an ignition source.

In short, it seems the reusability project may have been 'short-circuited' by the generous funding available for MSFC's giant rockets and tight deadline to use those rockets, the use of a launch vehicle with little growth potential and lift capacity, a launch vehicle unique for its under-utilization of onboard weight, and the need to extrapolate its results to other launch vehicles.


Addendum: Which Ship?

Between the images and specific references in the reports, I believe I've identified the ship involved. The report is explicit in calling the larger ship an LSD (Landing Ship, Dock) and that it either had or was accompanied by an LCVP (Landing Craft Vehicle, Personnel).

In 1961-1962 there were three classes of LSD in service: Ashland, Casa Grande, and Thomaston. I believe the horizontal lines on the stern gate in the first picture identify the LSD as one of the Thomaston class. The lines appear to extend the full length and to the full height of the stern gate. As can be seen in the picture of the Ashland class USS Belle Grove, below, it is clear the horizontal grid lines on the stern gate do not extend the full height—it is the same for the Casa Grande class.

 Click for original.

Click for original.

Additionally, the LCVP in the report's pictures appears to have "FS" painted on its bow. LCVP associated with a landing ship were painted with a two letter code identifying their ship of origin [15][16]. The pictures below show one from the Thomaston and another from the Plymouth Rock.

Plymouth Rock LCVP.JPG

In 1962 there was a Thomaston class landing ship named USS Fort Snelling in service. It was home-ported in Norfolk, VA [17]. The booster project tested sea recovery practices 50m offshore from Norfolk. Looking at all landing ships in service at that time, no others make as much sense to be abbreviated "FS."

Given the photographic evidence, the plausible abbreviation, and the appropriate location at the time, I thus believe it was the USS Fort Snelling that took part in the project.

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Project: Fairbairn Crane

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Project: Fairbairn Crane

The library summer reading programs this year used the theme "Build a Better World." Chris volunteered to build an interactive crane for the opening celebration, detailed below.

First, a suitable model was chosen. Chris had already been doing some Team Givan related research into transportation museums and wondering about their cross-gender appeal—what could enhance, how various artifacts affected it, what role aesthetics could play in breaking the masculine stereotype of "big" equipment, etc. So, it was decided to model the crane after the graceful Fairbairn steam crane.

 Fairbairn crane in Seville. By  Jose Manuel Lara Perona .

Fairbairn crane in Seville. By Jose Manuel Lara Perona.

 Fairbairn crane in Helsingor, Denmark. By  Håkan Dahlström

Fairbairn crane in Helsingor, Denmark. By Håkan Dahlström

The crane would be made out of cardboard because it's easy to work with and cheap to acquire. In fact, the library had recently installed new cabinets in the break room, so there were extremely large boxes available for raw materials. To increase the interactivity, the crane was to include both a hoist and a pneumatic swinging action—although the latter actually went back and forth between a swinging action or an articulated claw, the swinging action became necessary based on how it could be built.

The crane was to be placed on the second floor of the library, to pick up targets on the first floor. There is a railing with a metal grating that runs around the second floor, so the crane was designed to run bolts through the existing grating. This gave it a solid placement without having to build a heavy base to preclude the crane tipping over under load. To increase durability, all of the working portions of the crane were suspended on the far side of the railing, and visitors only interacted with a "control panel" on the near side, made of several layers of cardboard bonded together. The edges of most pieces was also taped off. On working portions this was partially aesthetic, replicating the weld lines of the metal plates. On interactive portions this was to prevent fraying or separating of the cardboard during use.

Since the shape of the crane was relatively complex, Sketchup was used for basic design work. Most portions were joined with brads, to replicate the riveted look of the originals. Critical portions were glued first, then joined with brads as well.

Given how the project had started with attention to its aesthetics, choosing a color for the crane was difficult. Actual examples are painted silver, orange, and blue. Some are simply bare or sealed metal, it seems. Eventually the decision was made by coincidence. While shopping for spray paint, a can of "Allis Chalmers Orange" was found which seemed exceedingly appropriate.

The crane was successfully installed, but its hydraulic system never proved satisfactory. The tubing available, cheaply, didn't seal well enough. The weakest part, from an interactive perspective, was the ability of the crane's line to miss the reel and instead twist around the axle, a problem which manifested both in practice and in use. The intended durability features worked as expected, it was simply the working mechanisms that suffered from design issues. Ultimately the crane did succeed in one area—it looked inviting and fun when installed.

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Western Museum of Flight, Torrance California

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Western Museum of Flight, Torrance California

The Western Museum of Flight was an unplanned stop on Theresa and I's elopment/honeymoon. Not a large facility, it makes up for it in character, with lots of artifacts exuding a classic feel. Focused on the Northrop Corporation (the museum was originally based at Northrop's hometown, Hawthorne), there's models and ephemera that appear to be donated by former employees of the industry. On site they have several rarities, including an early flying wing of Northrop's, as well as the prototypes YF-17 and YF-23 (no pictures of those, unfortunately, because we needed to get back on schedule and hadn't realized they'd been moved to an air park) just down the road.

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USS Batfish, Muskogee Oklahoma

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USS Batfish, Muskogee Oklahoma

Another unscheduled stop on our visit to Oklahoma, the USS Batfish is a WWII-vintage submarine that had been barged up the Arkansas River and set on dry land. Part of a memorial park with various military equipment, you can wander through the submarine as you see fit, exploring its cramped quarters. It was definitely worth our two-hour detour!

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Kansas Aviation Museum

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Kansas Aviation Museum

Team Givan visited the Kansas Aviation Museum (in Wichita, near McConnell Air Force Base) recently. A collection of aircraft that covers the common (F-84) to the rare (a 1929 "American Eagle") so long as the aircraft was at least partly made in Kansas.

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