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Stationed downrange in the Atlantic in the 300-400-mile range from Cape Kennedy will be recovery ships and planes to locate and recover two camera capsules and to serve as a spacecraft recovery team if there should be an aborted mission.
A secondary requirement will be the sighting and recovery, if possible, of the S-IC booster or any portion surviving re-entry and impact.
An LPD (landing platform dock) will be in the immediate area in which the cameras and booster are expected to impact. Helicopters launched from the ship's heliport will search for the camera capsules ejected some 38 seconds after first and second-stage first-plane separation. Impact point should be some 470 miles from the launch site.
These personnel and those in Air Force planes in the area will also attempt to sight the booster and photograph the impact. Should any portion of the booster survive the impact and float, the LPD will attempt a recovery. Two Marshall center representatives will be on the ship to identify components and decide if they may be safely recovered. The LPD's lower section may be flooded to allow large sections to be hauled aboard. Should the draft of any floating component be too great for the ship, alternate procedures call for towing it to the nearest land and beaching the component.
The booster reentry sighting-and-recovery exercise is being conducted to support an advanced missions study on recovering and refurbishing large space vehicles.
[b]S-IC Booster Break-Up Left Foam & Fuel Slick[/b]
The 138-foot-long S-IC booster, which lifted the Apollo/Saturn V from the launch pad at the Kennedy Space Center earlier this month, broke into many pieces as it re-entered the earth's atmosphere.
Engineers at the Marshall Center had predicted the break-up after the powered flight phase. They hoped, however, that some of the pieces would float on the ocean's surface and could be re trieved for laboratory analysis.
Jack Roach of the Propulsion and Vehicle Engineering Laboratory said "thousands" of small pieces of lightweight foam were found floating in the impact area about 350 miles downrange of the launch site and some were recovered.
No metal parts were picked up, however, from the booster. A fuel slick was sighted near the debris and Roach said that it probably marked the spot where the huge booster's fuel tanks entered the water.
Three second stage ullage rocket fairings were also recovered. The fairings are made of fiberglass honeycomb.
The most important components picked up in the Atlantic were two camera cassettes, which ejected from the second stage of the rocket as planned. They recorded "excellent" motion picture footage of the first stage separation and the critical interstage separation, Roach said.
He said a Dept. of Defense helicopter crew picked up the camera packages about 60 miles from the probable booster impact point. Roach was aboard a helicopter in the impact area to certify the safety of any booster components picked up by recovery forces. He said an airplane with radar tracked the re-entry of the huge booster from a very high altitude.
After boosting the rocket toward space, the booster cut off at an altitude of about 38 miles. Momentum carried it up to about 70 miles after separation. Then it arched over for the plunge toward the ocean.
Radar showed that the spent vehicle broke up at an altitude of about 24,000 to 30,000 feet. Engineers would not speculate as to why it came apart at that point. They said it was probably oscillating very rapidly as it fell into the dense atmosphere.
The pilot of another airplane reported that he was watching the re-entry and saw the vehicle break into many pieces. The radar aboard the second plane confirmed the break-up.
Roach said the P&VE Materials Division is studying the recovered foam to identify its location on the vehicle. MSFC engineers hoped that some pieces could be recovered so they could assess impact damage and salt water effects on mechanical parts.
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