Space News
space history and artifacts articles

Messages
space history discussion forums

Sightings
worldwide astronaut appearances

Resources
selected space history documents

Websites
related space history websites

  collectSPACE: Messages
  Mercury - Gemini - Apollo
  Locating and recovering spent rocket stages (Page 1)

Post New Topic  Post A Reply
profile | register | preferences | faq | search


This topic is 2 pages long:   1  2 
next newest topic | next oldest topic
Author Topic:   Locating and recovering spent rocket stages
RISPACE
Member

Posts: 56
From: Warwick, RI USA
Registered: Jan 2006

posted 01-09-2006 12:20 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for RISPACE     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Does anyone out there have information or can point me in the right direction on where to find information the the Apollo Saturn V first stage impact areas in the Atlantic? Were there ever any pictures or film of the stages actually hitting the ocean or have there been any pictures taken by the Navy of them on the ocean floor?

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 27328
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 01-09-2006 09:02 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Apollo 11's S-IC broke apart during its descent and was observed by a German ship's crew (small pieces even fell on the deck). The ship's location (at the time) was noted as 30d17m N, 74d15m W.

In 2002, Curt Newport (who led the expedition to find and recover Liberty Bell 7) wrote on sci.space.history the following:

I concluded that the S-1C boosters from Apollo 8, 9, 10, 11, 13, and 16 landed in roughly a 5 x 11 nautical mile area. The biggest unknown was how the boosters were tracked. After checking some documentation, I believe they were not really tracked at all; I think they used estimated theoretical impact locations based on flight models. However, if the boosters were fitted with C or S band radar xponders, then the location would be fairly accurate.

Granted, all of the boosters would have been reduced to wreckage with some large intact pieces, depending upon how they impacted the ocean. I would imagine they were tumbling during descent, as that seems to be what happens to these things once all the fuel is spent and they lose guidance. I imagine that many of the F-1 engine bells would have survived and at least some of them should be recognizable and capable of being recovered. Overall, the paint on the boosters should be intact as would be any lettering, as was the case on Liberty Bell 7. In addition, there will be long debris fields for each booster, with the heavier parts nearest the impact point and lighter wreckage farther down current.

If a photograph was taken, then Newport would likely know of it.

Curt Newport has a website. You might want to contact him and ask.

nasamad
Member

Posts: 1890
From: Essex, UK
Registered: Jul 2001

posted 01-10-2006 10:19 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for nasamad   Click Here to Email nasamad     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Here you go: Saturn Stage Earth Impact data.

nasamad
Member

Posts: 1890
From: Essex, UK
Registered: Jul 2001

posted 01-10-2006 11:50 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for nasamad   Click Here to Email nasamad     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I would imagine the main parts of the S1C stages to survive would be the upper part of the F1 engines and the thrust structure.

I sometimes wonder what happened to the Launch Escape Towers? They fired less than 30 seconds after S1C staging. I don't suppose the canards deployed when they weren't needed so I could imagine they would assume a stable position for the fall to earth.

RISPACE
Member

Posts: 56
From: Warwick, RI USA
Registered: Jan 2006

posted 01-10-2006 03:13 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for RISPACE     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
That is a good question. With all the spacecraft debris (or "space junk") up there, maybe some of the towers actually survived and are still orbiting and a part of that mass. I wonder who could enlighten us on this question?

spacecraft films
Member

Posts: 802
From: Columbus, OH USA
Registered: Jun 2002

posted 01-10-2006 03:18 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for spacecraft films   Click Here to Email spacecraft films     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The towers had nowhere near the velocity needed for orbital insertion.

They would have come down reasonably close to the S-1C, I suppose.... at least in the same general area.

nasamad
Member

Posts: 1890
From: Essex, UK
Registered: Jul 2001

posted 01-10-2006 04:50 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for nasamad   Click Here to Email nasamad     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The S1C fired retro motors to separate it from the S2 stage. The S2 stage then fired for about 30 seconds before the tower fired.

At S1C/S2 separation the vehicle (Apollo 11) was travelling at over 2700 metres per second, if it had stayed at this speed it would have travelled over 50 miles before the tower fired. However it didn't stay at that speed, it was accelerating as soon as the S2 stage began firing so it would have travelled even more than 50 miles. (It takes a better mathematician than me to work it out!)

Obviousman
Member

Posts: 427
From: NSW, Australia
Registered: May 2005

posted 01-10-2006 06:40 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Obviousman   Click Here to Email Obviousman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Looking through the net, I can't find any images of a spent stage. A number of sites mentioned how they'd like to see one.

There were some interesting pics of a Titan that had been recovered off Florida.

CNewport
Member

Posts: 13
From: Potomac, MD USA
Registered: Nov 2005

posted 01-14-2006 07:41 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for CNewport     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by RISPACE:
Were there ever any pictures or film of the stages actually hitting the ocean or have there been any pictures taken by the Navy of them on the ocean floor?
As far as I know, none of the S1-C stages from the Apollo missions have ever been located or photographed. Of course, it would be possible to do that and one thing I thought was interesting when I plotted out the locations as that the boosters from Apollo 11 and 13 landed only a few miles apart.

On an unrelated subject, I believe that an old Redstone booster was located during the Challenger search, as well as a lot of other stuff like aircraft, boats and ships, and even a kitchen sink.

mjanovec
Member

Posts: 3593
From: Midwest, USA
Registered: Jul 2005

posted 01-14-2006 09:41 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mjanovec   Click Here to Email mjanovec     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
One question of interest to me... when launches were made, were there warnings issued to ships in the area of possible falling debris?

I would assume so, but I've never heard of these warnings being issued.

CNewport
Member

Posts: 13
From: Potomac, MD USA
Registered: Nov 2005

posted 01-15-2006 02:57 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for CNewport     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
While I do not have any direct experience with this, I am certain that notices to mariners are issued on a regular basis during space shots from Cape Canaveral, in particular in the areas where the SRBs land on parachute.

Hawkman
Member

Posts: 398
From: Union, New Jersey
Registered: Jan 2001

posted 01-15-2006 03:55 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Hawkman   Click Here to Email Hawkman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'm sure that the Mr. Newport is correct. I can't pinpoint it but I seem to recall a launch or two being delayed a bit because a ship or a plane wandered into the area.

interstage
New Member

Posts:
From:
Registered:

posted 01-19-2006 11:51 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for interstage   Click Here to Email interstage     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
They are quite a bit more careful now than they were, apparently, in the old days.

But imagine finding the F1's that launched the first manned landing on the moon, this is a fascinating interest I've had too, thanks for posts. Would an easier target be the jettisoned escape towers/bpcs? They would certainly be great finds too.

P.S. Was thrilled watching Liberty Bell 7 recovery live back then! Wonder if the explosives really could have exploded after all that time.

RISPACE
Member

Posts: 56
From: Warwick, RI USA
Registered: Jan 2006

posted 01-20-2006 07:59 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for RISPACE     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The "bomb" on LB7 looked like it was in pretty good condition when reviewing the LB7 recovery special. Glad it didn't go off when they removed it.

Anyone know how powerful it was? Were on-board explosives like that meant to totally destroy the Mercury Capsules?

RISPACE
Member

Posts: 56
From: Warwick, RI USA
Registered: Jan 2006

posted 01-20-2006 08:08 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for RISPACE     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
When the LB7 was at the Boston Museum of Science back in 2002, I was amazed on how well perserved it was as well as the items found on board like the mercury nickles and dollar bills. At the depth in which the capsule was found, (3 miles was it?) decay and decomposition is slowed greatly.

Maybe the Saturn V stages or parts thereof have the same good fortune.

Hawkman
Member

Posts: 398
From: Union, New Jersey
Registered: Jan 2001

posted 01-20-2006 06:36 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Hawkman   Click Here to Email Hawkman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by RISPACE:
Anyone know how powerful it was? Were on-board explosives like that meant to totally destroy the Mercury Capsules?
Mr. Newport would know better than I but I believe that the SOFAR (sp?) bomb was meant not to destroy the capsule, but to use the sound of the explosion as a way to triangulate the position of the capsule as it sank for later recovery. Much like your hearing lets you determine from what direction a sound comes from. Liberty Bell 7's didn't go off obviously.

CNewport
Member

Posts: 13
From: Potomac, MD USA
Registered: Nov 2005

posted 01-21-2006 09:07 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for CNewport     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
SOFAR stands for Sound Fixing and Ranging; they were small explosive devices attached to the Mercury spacecraft to indicate the splashdown location. They did this by detonating at a specific water depth in what was called "the SOFAR listening channel," which acted like a waveguide allowing the sound to be heard for long distances, possibly several thousand miles if I remember correctly.

Each device was both armed and detonated by water pressure and contained 11 ounces of HBX, a military explosive similar to TNT. The device attached to Liberty Bell 7 was located and removed by UXB International and fortunately was a dud.

From what I recall, about 10% of these devices did not explode. I find it especially ironic that the one capsule that did sink to a "nonrecoverable depth," had a SOFAR bomb that was a dud. If it had gone off, it would not have destroyed the capsule; however, it certainly would have made a mess of things.

Hawkman
Member

Posts: 398
From: Union, New Jersey
Registered: Jan 2001

posted 01-21-2006 11:06 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Hawkman   Click Here to Email Hawkman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by CNewport:
I find it especially ironic that the one capsule that did sink to a "nonrecoverable depth," had a SOFAR bomb that was a dud. If it had gone off, it would not have destroyed the capsule; however, it certainly would have made a mess of things.
Thank you for your explanation! Having seen Liberty Bell 7 when it was at the Liberty Science Center here in New Jersey, I'm glad that the SOFAR bomb DIDN'T go off!!

RISPACE
Member

Posts: 56
From: Warwick, RI USA
Registered: Jan 2006

posted 01-23-2006 08:20 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for RISPACE     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks for the clarification on the Mercury SOFAR bomb!

aero313
New Member

Posts:
From:
Registered:

posted 01-23-2006 07:13 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for aero313   Click Here to Email aero313     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Interesting thread. A couple of notes. First, the Titan stage that was recovered is on display at the Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville (or at least was about eight years ago).

As for clearing the launch corridor, the launch range (Canaveral or Vandenberg) is required to issue notices to mariners and NOTAMs (notice to airmen) prior to a launch. The caution/hazard corridor within US territorial waters is also cleared by the Coast Guard.

RISPACE
Member

Posts: 56
From: Warwick, RI USA
Registered: Jan 2006

posted 01-24-2006 07:22 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for RISPACE     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
How are the NOTAMs transmitted? Is it via radio only?

aero313
New Member

Posts:
From:
Registered:

posted 01-24-2006 08:58 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for aero313   Click Here to Email aero313     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Actually, that's a good question. The launch range folks take care of it. I just assumed it was something that went to the FAA and they distribute it through their normal channels. I'm not a pilot - maybe someone else here has more info on that.

Brock
New Member

Posts:
From:
Registered:

posted 01-24-2006 09:52 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Brock   Click Here to Email Brock     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Pilots would generally be advised of any NOTAMS during the preflight planning through the Flight Service Stations etc. They can also be picked up enroute. I fly out of Orlando Executive Airport and have flown several times out around the KSC and suffice it to say that the airspace there is severely restricted even when no launches are happening. Before 9-11 if you were able to get permission one could do a low 500 foot pass over the Shuttle Landing facility as long as you stayed west of State Road 3 which is the north south highway adjacent to the VAB and Shuttle Landing facility. Of course that is no longer allowed or wasn't the last time I checked.

I had heard recently that a pilot working on their IFR rating busted Class B Airpsace over Orlando International and ended up over the VAB without calling anyone. Sure enough a few F-16s from Patrick escorted the person back to Orlando and am guessing his flying days are numbered.

Many airline flights out of Orlando heading to the Northeast regularly fly over KSC and the Cape. A month ago I was flying to NYC from Orlando at night and you could clearly see the VAB and the outer perimeter circle lights of 39A and B. So the basic question of flying at the KSC is get permission beforehand and they will often let you transit their airspace without problem. However for obvious reasons 48 hours before a launch is off limits. Don't know the boating rules.

nasamad
Member

Posts: 1890
From: Essex, UK
Registered: Jul 2001

posted 01-24-2006 02:28 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for nasamad   Click Here to Email nasamad     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Curt, I noticed some pics of a helicopter recovery on the Lost Spacecraft website. I'm just wondering if you have any plans or have had any (times are tough for an ROV pilot!) of trying to recover Helicopter 66 (Apollo's 8, 10, 11, 12, 13) from its watery grave?

RISPACE
Member

Posts: 56
From: Warwick, RI USA
Registered: Jan 2006

posted 01-25-2006 07:43 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for RISPACE     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Brock:
I had heard recently that a pilot working on their IFR rating busted Class B Airpsace over Orlando International and ended up over the VAB without calling anyone.
How long ago did the IFR pilot violate the VAB airspace? Must have been a scary sight to have F-16's on his tail.
quote:
Originally posted by nasamad:
I'm just wondering if you have any plans or have had any (times are tough for an ROV pilot!) of trying to recover Helicopter 66 (Apollo's 8, 10, 11, 12, 13) from its watery grave?
I must have missed the Helicopter 66 story. What exactly happened?

nasamad
Member

Posts: 1890
From: Essex, UK
Registered: Jul 2001

posted 01-25-2006 11:10 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for nasamad   Click Here to Email nasamad     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
To tell you the truth I don't really know, I read somewhere on the net (somewhere I can't find now I want to!) that it had crashed off the coast of California. I don't know if people died in the accident and that's why it hasn't been recovered or if they just don't know where it is.

FFrench
Member

Posts: 3093
From: San Diego
Registered: Feb 2002

posted 01-25-2006 11:44 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for FFrench     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It's not far off the coast of San Diego. A couple of years ago a gentleman contacted me when I was working at the Science Center there, interested in raising awareness about it and trying to get it recovered. Did not hear much more from him after his initial messages, but did get him in touch with the SD Aerospace Museum staff who are more versed in such things.

I'd love to hear if Curt has any knowledge or thoughts on it.

Larry McGlynn
Member

Posts: 805
From: Boston, MA
Registered: Jul 2003

posted 01-25-2006 03:26 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Larry McGlynn   Click Here to Email Larry McGlynn     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
While it was some time ago and I would have to really check my files, I did talk with the gentleman that was involved in attempting to generate interest in the recovery of Helo 66.

Mechanical failure caused the helo to crash in the ocean off San Deigo. It landed on it's side seriously injuring the pilot, who later died.

The big problem is it's location. At the time we talked, the chopper was thought to be in 250 feet of water. That depth is a technical dive with decompression, but is a doable dive. Having made such dives, the potential of salvaging the wreck was good.

I know a boat captain out in San Deigo (his wife works for the drysuit manufacturer, DUI), who used to run a tech boat out of a place near Boston, MA. He would have been a great candidate to round up a group of divers capable of diving to the wreck. That doesn't mean they could refloat it, but they could at least see it's condition and retrieve some equipment from the chopper.

Since then, I have heard various accounts that put Helo 66 at a depth of 1,200 feet. Which puts it in the hands of the ROV. At that point, I lost contact with the gentleman involved.

That is all I remember from the whole affair.

nasamad
Member

Posts: 1890
From: Essex, UK
Registered: Jul 2001

posted 01-25-2006 04:58 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for nasamad   Click Here to Email nasamad     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
That's more info than I originally had. Sorry to hear the pilot died though.

If it is at 250 feet sounds like it could be brought back up, maybe they could put it back on the Hornet!

RISPACE
Member

Posts: 56
From: Warwick, RI USA
Registered: Jan 2006

posted 01-26-2006 07:40 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for RISPACE     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Sorry as well to hear the pilot died. Salvage efforts would prove to be costly, I'm sure, no matter what the depth of the copter is. I wonder if the USS Hornet museum could have some say in the matter.

ivorwilliams
Member

Posts: 59
From: Welwyn Garden City, UK
Registered: Jan 2005

posted 12-03-2007 10:16 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ivorwilliams     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Does anyone know if any parts of the flown Saturn V 1st stage boosters have ever been recovered?

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 27328
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 12-04-2007 01:14 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
To my knowledge, nothing has been recovered from the ocean floor, however there were parts of the Saturn V that fell on land (and in at least one reported instance, on the deck of a boat).

For an example, see: Out of Africa

According to The Aerospace Corporation's Center for Orbital and Reentry Debris Studies, "in July 1969 a small fragment (about 30 cm long) fell on the deck of a German ship in the Atlantic Ocean. Other pieces fell in the water near the ship."

The debris was later "identified as debris from the first stage of the Saturn booster used to launch Apollo 11 on 16 July 1969."

ivorwilliams
Member

Posts: 59
From: Welwyn Garden City, UK
Registered: Jan 2005

posted 12-04-2007 05:52 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ivorwilliams     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
That's a really interesting story, thanks for posting the link.

I'm still find it strange that given the size of the boosters, no easily identifiable parts have ever turned up. Just one of the engines would make a fantastic museum piece!

mjanovec
Member

Posts: 3593
From: Midwest, USA
Registered: Jul 2005

posted 12-04-2007 06:14 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mjanovec   Click Here to Email mjanovec     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by ivorwilliams:
I'm still find it strange that given the size of the boosters, no easily identifiable parts have ever turned up.

I assume it's the great depth of the ocean that keeps these boosters from "turning up." At that depth, the size of an object doesn't necessarily mean it's going to be stumbled upon. It took about 73 years for the Titanic to be found, even though its general location was known.

Blackarrow
Member

Posts: 2024
From: Belfast, United Kingdom
Registered: Feb 2002

posted 12-04-2007 06:47 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Going off at a slight tangent (if that's actually possible?) I remember that one S II Saturn V second stage made it into orbit, where it remained for 20 months and 9,533 orbits before (apparently) plunging into the Indian Ocean. Reports at the time suggested that up to 38 tons of metal made it back to sea-level. I'm sure I don't need to explain which Saturn V put its second stage into orbit...

Jay Chladek
Member

Posts: 2211
From: Bellevue, NE, USA
Registered: Aug 2007

posted 12-04-2007 11:58 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Chladek   Click Here to Email Jay Chladek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The biggest sticking point about salvaging Helo 66 would be the Navy. Reason being is they still claim ownership to pretty much anything that was theirs when it went down in the oceans, regardless of how old it is. That has been a major sticking point with aircraft salvagers before who have wanted to bring up wrecks of pre war era and WW2 era fighter planes that have gone down. In a few cases, some of these planes no longer exist and can't even be found in museums. But even if there is one on the ocean floor that can be recovered, trying to get the Navy to approve a salvage is VERY tough. Once in awhile they do grant permission though.

So even if the location of Helo 66 is known, the Navy has to give permission to recover it (potentially tricky if the bird had anything classified on it).

heng44
Member

Posts: 2564
From: Netherlands
Registered: Nov 2001

posted 12-05-2007 02:30 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for heng44   Click Here to Email heng44     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
J.L. Pickering sends this photo, but I'll let him provide the details. J.L.?

R.Glueck
New Member

Posts:
From:
Registered:

posted 12-05-2007 04:03 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for R.Glueck   Click Here to Email R.Glueck     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Talk about a "rocket garden".

tegwilym
Member

Posts: 2284
From: Renton, WA USA
Registered: Jan 2000

posted 12-06-2007 12:11 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for tegwilym   Click Here to Email tegwilym     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'd love to have one of those in the corner of my backyard next to my shed!

art540
Member

Posts: 432
From: Orange, California USA
Registered: Sep 2006

posted 12-06-2007 01:04 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for art540   Click Here to Email art540     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
With your luck, Tom, you would be cited for a neighborhood blight...


This topic is 2 pages long:   1  2 

All times are CT (US)

next newest topic | next oldest topic

Administrative Options: Close Topic | Archive/Move | Delete Topic
Post New Topic  Post A Reply
Hop to:

Contact Us | The Source for Space History & Artifacts

Copyright 1999-2012 collectSPACE.com All rights reserved.


Ultimate Bulletin Board 5.47a





advertisement