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  Mercury - Gemini - Apollo
  Suggestions for interview about Mercury, Gemini and Apollo spacecraft hardware

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Author Topic:   Suggestions for interview about Mercury, Gemini and Apollo spacecraft hardware
Spacepsycho
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Posts: 711
From: Huntington Beach, Calif.
Registered: Aug 2004

posted 10-11-2008 01:42 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Spacepsycho   Click Here to Email Spacepsycho     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I recently met an incredible man who helped design and build the life support, cryo and fuel cell systems for the Mercury, Gemini, Apollo and Lunar Module programs.

This gentleman was on the leading edge of designing the most state of the art hardware for spaceflight and he is a wealth of information. As the space program progressed, he was sent to assemble a team to develop the system hardware necessary to make the program a success. He was also one of the program managers who developed the fuel cells for Gemini and he built the 1st fuel cell for the Apollo spacecraft.

I've talked this gentleman into sitting down with me and telling his story, with special emphasis on the space program. He thinks that nobody would be interested in what he has to say, which astounds me and after explaining to him how important his knowledge is, he finally agreed to an interview.

While I love collecting and preserving historic artifacts, I'm not smart enough to know what questions to ask and I'd greatly appreciate any input or questions you would like to ask. After hearing about his collection of manuals, blueprints, flow charts, schematics and other design paperwork for the various life support systems, I don't think there's another person more knowledgeable on these subjects than him.

I'm going to ask about the people he worked with, stories dealing with the astronauts, other workers, NASA management and he worked closely with all of them.

I hope to hear from everyone and remember, the only dumb question, is the one not asked. Feel free to email directly.

Ray

LCDR Scott Schneeweis
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posted 10-11-2008 03:20 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for LCDR Scott Schneeweis   Click Here to Email LCDR Scott Schneeweis     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Spacepsycho:
He was also one of the program managers who developed the fuel cells for Gemini and he built the 1st fuel cell for the Apollo spacecraft.
The Gemini fuel cell was based around a polymer electrolyte design developed by General Electric; the Apollo Fuel Cell was a Bacon style alkaline electrolyte technology refined and built by Pratt & Whitney/UTC (the same company producing fuel cells for all subsequent US Manned Space Program applications). Two different companies/different design approaches. Suspect your contact was most likely involved with the design/integration side of the spacecraft ECS itself rather then fabrication the fuel cells.

------------------
Scott Schneeweis
http://www.SPACEAHOLIC.com/

Spacepsycho
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Posts: 711
From: Huntington Beach, Calif.
Registered: Aug 2004

posted 10-11-2008 03:47 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Spacepsycho   Click Here to Email Spacepsycho     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hi Scott,

Here's just a tidbit that he told me.

"Hi Ray, a quick answer to your many questions. Yes, I worked on developing the first fuel cell, we had some trying moments. Problems reducing high pressure gases (oxygen & hydrogen) and maintaining within 5 inches of water on each side of the membrane at equal pressure. I did not work on the Apollo 13 CSM, I was transfered to Grumman aircraft to help further develop the LEM, after Apollo 11. Yes, the Apollo 13 movie was overall great in explaining on how they survived the explosion, but like you said, the never really explained how and why it happened. I think that was political."
From the sounds of it, along with the paperwork, manuals, schematics and blueprints in his collection, it sounds like he was on the ground floor of developing the fuel cells and life support systems.

Ray

LCDR Scott Schneeweis
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posted 10-11-2008 06:21 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for LCDR Scott Schneeweis   Click Here to Email LCDR Scott Schneeweis     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Bet many of us have questions - is he in the "Witness Protection Program" or specifically requesting anonymity? If not, cant you just turn him on directly to this forum where he will feel appreciated?

Spacepsycho
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Posts: 711
From: Huntington Beach, Calif.
Registered: Aug 2004

posted 10-11-2008 06:31 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Spacepsycho   Click Here to Email Spacepsycho     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
As a matter of fact, after he left NAA/Boeing, he started running coke across the border in an old DC-3 to supplement his retirement and SSI. Unfortunately he got caught when one of his engines quit and he had to make an emergency landing at LAX with 4 tons of product.

As a result, he turned states evidence against the Columbian drug cartel and they've been hunting him down ever since. He's currently working at Subway to keep off the radar.

Ok.....the truth is he's not on the computer very much, he has a friend who answers his emails and he's also very busy with other projects. It's all I can do to get him to talk to me. If you have any questions about your fuel cells, let me know and I'll pass them on.

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

posted 10-11-2008 11:27 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Obviousman   Click Here to Email Obviousman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Ask him to please, Please, PLEASE contact this website and tell us all about his experiences.

I would ask ANYONE associated with the space programmes to contact the website and tell their stories.

Believe it or not, there are many of us out there who would LOVE TO HEAR YOUR STORIES & EXPERIENCES!

PLEASE!

Lou Chinal
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Posts: 946
From: Staten Island, NY
Registered: Jun 2007

posted 10-12-2008 09:42 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Lou Chinal   Click Here to Email Lou Chinal     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Ray-

Great idea! The wheels are spinning in my head, I've been thinking of at least 10 people I know.

BTW I got it.

-Lou

Lunar rock nut
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Posts: 680
From: Oklahoma city, Oklahoma U.S.A.
Registered: Feb 2007

posted 10-12-2008 10:59 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Lunar rock nut   Click Here to Email Lunar rock nut     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Obviousman, I recently met a gentleman I would forward your contact request to but I did not find a contact link when I visited your link to the podcast site.

Terry

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

posted 10-13-2008 03:04 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Obviousman   Click Here to Email Obviousman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
apollotalks at gmail dot com.

kr4mula
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Posts: 599
From: Cinci, OH
Registered: Mar 2006

posted 10-14-2008 11:30 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for kr4mula   Click Here to Email kr4mula     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'd like to find out how much influence, if any, Air Force research in fuel cells had on the designs NASA used. The Air Force labs (and its contractors) claim a certain parentage of the fuel cell technology used for space flight, but I've never taken the opportunity to try to fully untangle those threads. From what little I know, the same contractors were used by NASA, so the R&D experience gained via Air Force contracts was leveraged to make the NASA fuel cells.

You may also want to persue the JSC Oral Histories list to search for other (government) guys that worked power systems. I know there are some in there, but the names are escaping me at the moment. Those transcripts might be helpful in providing some background research for you or posing questions. Or just run the lsit by your guy for anyone familiar. You can find it here.

Cheers,

Kevin

LCDR Scott Schneeweis
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posted 10-14-2008 12:01 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for LCDR Scott Schneeweis   Click Here to Email LCDR Scott Schneeweis     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by kr4mula:
I'd like to find out how much influence, if any, Air Force research in fuel cells had on the designs NASA used.
The Air Force approach was predicated on the use of Allis-Chalmers' capillary-type fuel cells (different approach then the Bacon type alkaline Apollo Fuel Cells in my collection and the PEFC technology used in the Gemini Program). If you are Govt (or have access to the DOD TEMS database) can point you in the direction of source documents detailing Air Force work in this area.

Scott

kr4mula
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Posts: 599
From: Cinci, OH
Registered: Mar 2006

posted 10-15-2008 11:36 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for kr4mula   Click Here to Email kr4mula     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks, Scott. I'll have to look into that when I've got some free time to puzzle through it. Electrochemistry was never my thing - I'd much rather read about engines and aeronautics!

Cheers,

Kevin

Apollo Redux
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Posts: 346
From: Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Registered: Sep 2006

posted 10-27-2008 10:59 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Apollo Redux   Click Here to Email Apollo Redux     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Questions:

Which proved to be the most technically challenging problem, that you worked on?

What was the most rewarding experience you had, while working on the space program, and why was it?

What was the most disappointing, and why?

How could NASA and their contractors, take advantage of your experiences, as well as those of your generation's, in helping the present day workforce get Orion to the moon, and beyond?

cosmos-walter
Member

Posts: 406
From: Salzburg, Austria
Registered: Jun 2003

posted 10-28-2008 05:16 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for cosmos-walter   Click Here to Email cosmos-walter     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Till Apollo moon landings astronauts breathed pure oxygen. Breathing oxygen was recycled. I wonder, which gases in which concentrations had to be filtered away from breathing oxygen.

In August 1994 I asked Stuart Roosa and Buzz Aldrin. They could not recall, whether those gases were measured at all.

Best regards from Austria,
Walter

LCDR Scott Schneeweis
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posted 10-28-2008 07:22 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for LCDR Scott Schneeweis   Click Here to Email LCDR Scott Schneeweis     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by cosmos-walter:
They could not recall, whether those gases were measured at all.

Partial Pressure CO2 expellant gases was sensed and either indicated as exceeding safe threshold with an "idiot" light/tone generator or actually gauged in the cabin of all spacecraft (to include Mercury, Gemini, and the Block I CM). All capsule ECS's employed LiOH/Charcoal scrubbers to neutralize CO2 build-up..

All times are CT (US)

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