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  Apollo 10: Pad 39B and Firing Room 3

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Author Topic:   Apollo 10: Pad 39B and Firing Room 3
Ben Watson

Posts: 24
From: Jackson, MS USA
Registered: Dec 2002

posted 05-18-2004 06:06 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ben Watson   Click Here to Email Ben Watson     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
If I remember correctly, Apollo 10 was the only Saturn V to be launched from Pad 39B. Does anyone know the reason for this?

I assume it was because the schedule was so tight between Apollo 9, 10, and 11 that 39A couldn't be ready to go again that fast. Just speculation, though.


Posts: 386
From: Leicestershire, England
Registered: Oct 2003

posted 05-19-2004 01:21 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dave   Click Here to Email dave     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Your thinking is correct Ben, it also went using Firing Room 3 I believe? Simply because of the time factor involved between flights... four manned Saturn V launches that year, never happened again of course, guess they were preparing 10 and 11 at the same time almost. I can remember those months as if they were yesterday - fantastic time!


Posts: 386
From: Leicestershire, England
Registered: Oct 2003

posted 05-25-2004 10:29 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for dave   Click Here to Email dave     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
And there is a very nice article on just this subject (Pad 39B and Apollo 10) in the current issue of Kennedy Space Center's Spaceport News which dropped through my door this very morning!

Ken Havekotte

Posts: 2254
From: Merritt Island, Florida, Brevard
Registered: Mar 2001

posted 05-29-2004 05:00 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ken Havekotte   Click Here to Email Ken Havekotte     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Ben, correct, Apollo 10 marked the first and only Saturn V launch from Pad B of Launch Complex 39.

As a matter of fact, as Apollo 10 was moon-bound on May 20, 1969, the Saturn V launch vehicle for Apollo 11's first manned lunar landing mission (AS-506) was rolled out to Pad A for final launch pad preparations with only two months away before her lunar voyage.

At that time Pad B was still in the process of "closing out" from Apollo 10's AS-505 launch to the moon and wasn't even ready to receive Apollo 11's 506, therefore, another reason why another pad was needed to support the extremely busy 1969 Saturn V launch schedule, and why 506 was launched from Pad A.

Yes, a new firing room (#3) was used for Apollo 10 as noted earlier.

Another reason why NASA wanted a mission flown from "B" was to operate for the first "real use" time of the pad's water deluge system, used to cool the pad's flame deflector after the five F-1 rocket liftoff firings. Pad B was again used for all the manned Saturn 1B/Skylab crew missions in 1973 and the Apollo-Soyuz/ASTP launch in 1975.

The first Shuttle launch from "B" was the 25th STS-mission, 51-L/Challenger, that resulted in the loss of crew and vehicle. Pad B was again used for NASA's return to space flight, STS-26/Discovery, in 1988.


Posts: 2113
From: Staffs, UK
Registered: Aug 2002

posted 06-01-2004 02:42 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for spaceuk     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Pad 39B was a 'bit troublesome' for Apollo 10.

Rollout was on 11 March 1969.

But on 27 April during a flight readiness test, thousands of gallons of kerosene were accidentally leaked from the vehicle. Special dye and pressure tests then had to be undertaken make sure vehicle 'pressure tight'.

Then, on 14th May technicians had to be evacuated from the pad for several hours because of a local thunderstorm.

Then during final countdown on 17th May two other problems occurred but this time with the spacecraft. There was RCS helium leak that was traced and corrected and then the humidity content was too high in the Environmental Control System (ECS) but this too was found and corrected and did not require any 'holds'.

Fueling of the Saturn-V was 45 minutes behind schedule as well due to a blown fuse in the Ground Support Equipment (GSE).

[These are from my notes I made for my article on Apollo 10 that appeared in BIS Spaceflight way way back in 1969.]


Posts: 3754
From: Midwest, USA
Registered: Jul 2005

posted 10-14-2006 02:50 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mjanovec   Click Here to Email mjanovec     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Revisiting this old discussion, is there a particular reason why Pad B was used so little during the Apollo program? After all, NASA built two pads for the program, but used one of them almost exclusively. Was Pad B more of a "backup" in the event of an accident at Pad A?


Posts: 667
From: Longview, Texas, USA
Registered: Apr 2000

posted 10-14-2006 04:00 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dtemple   Click Here to Email dtemple     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
As I recall, Pads 39A and B were designed at a time when NASA had plans of not only getting to the moon first but also lunar bases and space stations.

In fact, originally Pad 39C was in the planning. No one realized at the time, Apollo's six landings and Skylab would be all that would actually get funded. I am sure there was also the motivation of redundancy should an accident damage a launch pad.

All times are CT (US)

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