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Post  Dick Russ Mon May 02, 2022 8:52 am

Hello again. I last left you with arriving at the Cape and getting settled in with ID access badges and seeing what was instore for me ahead.
George took me out to the launch pad 39A where we would be performing all of our support functions servicing the Second Stage of the Saturn V. As ironic as it sounds our level was also on the 180 foot level which was the same level as our offices in the VAB (vehicle Assembly Building). We went up to the top floor of the launch tower where the astronauts would be boarding the Apollo Spacecraft. Even thought we didn't have a rocket in place it was important to see what was the escape system incase of a major malfunction or explosion. On the opposite side of the launch tower was a row of 8 chairs suspended on a cable that extended down at about 45 degrees to the safe bunker at the base of the launch tower. That number was significant since it was for the three astronauts and launch support which was a total of 8 people. The ride down in the escape chairs I was advised was 3 seconds. I sure hoped the braking system for the ride down worked. When we finally had the Saturn Rocket in place I was advised that I would be on the RED Crew which would be on the launch tower until the countdown reached T-Minus 10s seconds which at time we were to be seated in the escape chairs which were then released prior to T- minus 6 seconds ignition. After that if there was a major catastrophic event the Apollo spacecraft would be lifted off of the Saturn Rocket by the emergency launch tower on top of the Apollo capsule which would take the astronauts and spacecraft to a safe altitude and deploy the parachutes for a safe landing where the rescue ship was positioned out in the Atlantic to retrieve the Apollo Capsule.
As bad as it could be. it never happened but the training was fun to say the least. The RED crew team which I was one them were told of our escape procedure and were then seated in the escape chairs. When released we were really in for a ride. The ride down to the bunker was in less time than you could breath. We were told to hang on to the handle bars (in front of us) because the stop was exhilarating to say the least. Upon stopping we jumped out of the chairs and headed for a four foot diameter polished stainless steel opening in the base of the launch pad. It had a bar across the top that we were to grab and swing our bodies feet first into the tube and spiral down to the underground safe bunker. Our arrival was something else to say the least, especially since there was others right behind me. At the end of the ride down to the safe bunker (which was 30 feet under ground with five foot solid concrete walls) in the polished tube which terminated into large foam rubber compartment that was fully suspended on springs to break the fall. We were advised that when we arrived at the base we were to immediately roll off to our left where a safety crew would help us up out of the way of others arriving. Now appreciate all of this was performed in less than 10 seconds.
Now the inside the underground bunker was shelves of food and water and communication with the launch control center in the VAB along with a vehicle similar to a tank which I was told was capable of crashing through the steel doors at the end of the escape road out of the bunker leading us to safety when ever the safety officer said it was safe to leave. I will say this; there has never been an amusement park with a ride like this. To be continued!
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Post  GallopingGhostler Mon May 02, 2022 10:36 am

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Last edited by GallopingGhostler on Tue May 03, 2022 6:15 am; edited 1 time in total
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Post  Ken Cook Mon May 02, 2022 3:36 pm

Dick, I enjoyed seeing the Streaker article in this month's Model Aviation. It was a good read.
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Post  Dick Russ Sun May 15, 2022 10:40 am

Well my friends here it is the 15 of May and as promised I will continue my story. I hadn't been at the Cape more than a couple of weeks when the NASA Saturn Director sent out a notice of a general meeting of all personnel to be held in the VAB (Vehicle Assembly Building) and we would be addressed by President Kennedy and the NASA Director. When that morning arrived I was amazed at how many chairs had been set up. I would guess at least two to three thousand. At precisely 10:00 the President took the podium and began his speech. One of his comments was the now famous quote "Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country". His most touching statement to all of of us was he wanted America to have Astronauts on the moon by the end of the decade which was 1970. When he finished the NASA Director took the podium and gave a great speech about the program and where we were headed. Then he made one statement that shocked all attending. He said from this day forward everyone will go on a 60 hour work week and all vacations are suspended until we landed on the moon. Now appreciate thus is 1974 and we did not land on the moon until July 20. 1969. I remember the date so well because it was also my birthday! Regardless of no time off everything went well for Apollo 8 through 10 with a 100% successful  launch program. We did have a problem with my ground servicing equipment. We were using liquid Helium to pressurize the stage (rocket) propellant tanks. The operating pressure was 3000 psi to a roughing regulator which would regulate the pressure down to 1000 psi which could then be regulated to what ever pressure any system needed. The temperature of the liquid Helium was around 450 degrees F. What we didn't realize was at that temperature and pressure the main seal in the roughing regulator which was made of KEL-F 90  couldn't handle the temperature and was failing due to a condition called wire draw. When the system was initiated the cold helium would cut the seal like a knife rendering failed and unregulated pressure to the smoothing regulator which was only designed to handle 1000 psi. This failure didn't happen all the time but when it did happen the test program came to a screeching halt until corrected and NASA considered any disruption in out testing was costing a million dollars a day. Now to pull the regulator and take it to the clean room for repair was at least 8 hours out and another  8 hours to get the system back on line and hope the seal didn't fail again at a critical time of launch. VACCO industries who build the regulators  was now aware of our problem and working on a better seal. But for the time being we had to live with what we had. The seal problem gets more excited that I will cover next time. In the mean time we had another problem. When we were pressurizing the propellant tanks the helium was kept at below 450 degrees F. which was in the stainless supply line that was overhead of where our equipment and technicians were located. When we were on line the helium flowing through the line overhead was freezing the ambient air and dropping the liquid air. This liquid air if a drop fell on your skin would burn a small hole in your shin which was very dangerous. The technicians thought it was fun to catch the liquid air in a cup and watch it boil. Someone brought some small rubber balls kike the kids used playing Jax They would drop the rubber ball in the cup of liquid air and then pore it over the side of launch gantry and when it hit the concrete below it would shatter like glass. One technician found a dead mouse and did the same. When it hit the concrete below it also shattered into million pieces like it was made of glass. So much for the fun with liquid air. I had NASA support install a drain troth underneath the supply line to stop the problem. The troth extended over the gantry and evaporated before anyone could be injured. So much for fun on the job. To be continued
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Post  NEW222 Wed May 18, 2022 8:48 pm

I can't imagine what that mouse looked like after the 'drop'.... Laughing
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