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  Skylab: Identifying photo of Saturn IB on pad

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Author Topic:   Skylab: Identifying photo of Saturn IB on pad
J.L
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From: Bloomington, Illinois, USA
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posted 04-24-2012 12:13 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for J.L   Click Here to Email J.L     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Been doing detective work on this photo for some time now. Are there any Saturn 1B experts put there who might want to help determine which mission this is?

I can say for sure it is not the Skylab Rescue Vehicle or ASTP.

Blackarrow
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posted 04-25-2012 04:59 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
That picture seems to have been taken shortly before sunset or shortly after dawn, so anyone with a good knowledge of the orientation of the launch-pad might be able to deduce the mission from the sun's position relative to the pad (since the launches were on 25th May, 28th July and 16th November,all 1973). There would be some element of guess-work depending on the times between the Saturn reaching the pad and being launched. Does this help at all?

Ken Havekotte
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posted 04-25-2012 05:19 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ken Havekotte   Click Here to Email Ken Havekotte     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
J.L., can you somehow magnify or enlarge the photo image of the Saturn 1B rocket to see what AS-2__ number is on it to identify the Skylab mission? I am more inclined to say it would be AS-208/SL-4.

Go4Launch
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posted 04-25-2012 09:34 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Go4Launch   Click Here to Email Go4Launch     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
That picture is looking toward the west-northwest, with the sunrise in the east behind and to the right of the photographer.

J.L
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posted 04-26-2012 12:15 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for J.L   Click Here to Email J.L     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Ken Havekotte:
J.L., can you somehow magnify or enlarge the photo image of the Saturn 1B rocket to see what AS-2__ number is on it to identify the Skylab mission?
I will dig the slides out and re-scan them. I had always assumed they were SL-4 as well, until I realized it was totally dark when the MSS was retracted. It was cloudy at SL-3 retraction, and it looks too nice out for SL-2. This leaves the countdown test for SL-2? SL-3 and SL-4 had fueling tests, but this vehicle does not appear to be fueled.

I will report back after I get some new scans. They are too beautiful to be without a mission designation!

Headshot
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posted 04-26-2012 06:47 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Headshot   Click Here to Email Headshot     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
If the slides you have are originals and were developed by Kodak, there should be a month/year date stamp, either embossed on the cardboard mount, or inked on.

Just a thought.

Blackarrow
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posted 04-26-2012 05:20 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Go4Launch:
That picture is looking toward the west-northwest, with the sunrise in the east behind and to the right of the photographer.

Surely if the camera is facing WNW, that's sunSET to the right. Assuming this is a week or two before launch, it must be mid-summer, which suggests the second Skylab mission, which launched on 28th July.

Go4Launch
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posted 04-26-2012 10:35 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Go4Launch   Click Here to Email Go4Launch     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Blackarrow:
Surely if the camera is facing WNW, that's sunSET to the right.
No, if you're looking WNW, which is toward the left of the photo, then east is to the right. If you were taking this photo, the Atlantic Ocean would be behind you with the sun coming up. At least on this side of the Atlantic.

Jay Chladek
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posted 04-27-2012 08:39 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Chladek   Click Here to Email Jay Chladek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Considering the rockets are practically identical looking (only seeing the number at the base would give a clue as to the specific one) it is very hard to determine that. Even ASTP looked almost identical except for a couple of the fins being swapped for ones on the backup Saturn.

It looks to me like a sunset shot. Without knowing the film exposures it is hard to say though. But the pad and the rocket seem to be illuminated almost entirely by the xenons while the concrete base it is on looks dark. If the sun were creeping up behind the photographer, I would expect the LUT to have more illumination on it than that (I think the film exposure is at least showing them). The clouds in the sky are also are darkened somewhat with the sun appearing to be setting behind them.

So I would say this is likely a shot taken before fueling had begun the night before a launch. That would explain the flood lights being on.

With that bit of "using the force," I am going to take a blind stab and say SL-4. Reason being, is the launch took place in mid-November. When I was down for Ares 1-X which launched at the end of October, the sun angles I got in my night before the launch shots are very similar. One would figure if it is a pad countdown test photo, that would still place it within similar lighting conditions to what I experienced. Both rockets went off of pad 39B as well.

In my case, most of my photos were taken of Ares 1-X looking to the WSW say about a 30 degree offset compared to this photo since you can see the LHX tank in the background and KSC had the photographers set up close to the LOX tank (with it being in the foreground of a couple of my pictures) and both tanks are a little north of the pads.

But I concede it still could be any one of the three.

LM-12
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posted 04-27-2012 10:35 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I believe it was on Skylab 4 that the damaged stabilization fins were replaced on the Saturn 1B (SA-208) launch vehicle. Was this done at the pad?

Ken Havekotte
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posted 04-27-2012 10:42 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ken Havekotte   Click Here to Email Ken Havekotte     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Am still checking my own photo files, but rest assured, it certainly isn't AS-210/ASTP as there is no 80-foot-tall fiberglass lightning mast mounted atop MLP-1's LUT.

But there were a number of different images like this shot of SL-4 once the launch vehicle arrived at the pad on Aug. 14, 1973 and throughout the nearly 3-month period it was on the pad before its Nov. 16 liftoff.

J.L
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posted 04-27-2012 11:02 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for J.L   Click Here to Email J.L     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The main reason I doubt it is SL-4 — it was totally dark when the MSS began retracting from the vehicle on launch eve. There would not have been any sunset photo ops with the vehicle exposed like this. Ken, I believe the shot you are thinking of is a NASA release taken at sunrise on launch morning.

Also, someone had mentioned looking at the slides. These were shot by a private individual and the the frames were in unmounted strips. I had to put them in slide mounts, so unfortunately there were never any dates. That would have been a huge help.

Ken Havekotte
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posted 04-27-2012 11:55 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ken Havekotte   Click Here to Email Ken Havekotte     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Was the photo referred to here shot by a NASA/contractor photographer, or, was it by a photojournalist?

For sure, if shot by a member of the press corps, it might limit — but not in all cases — a particular time-frame or news media photo opportunity. By any chance, did it come from Tiziou?

J.L
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posted 04-27-2012 02:07 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for J.L   Click Here to Email J.L     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Photojournalist yes, Tiziou no.

Tom
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posted 04-29-2012 12:04 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Tom   Click Here to Email Tom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I found a similar photo (taken from the opposite side) of Skylab 4 (courtesy of Specefacts.de).

golddog
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posted 04-29-2012 02:40 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for golddog     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by LM-12:
Was this done at the pad?
SL 4's fins were replaced on the pad. In Dick Latimer's book "All We Did Was Fly to the Moon" (page 112) there is a photograph of this being done.

J.L
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posted 04-29-2012 02:50 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for J.L   Click Here to Email J.L     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Tom:
I found a similar photo (taken from the opposite side) of Skylab 4 (courtesy of Specefacts.de).
Just to prove my point with regards to why the initial photo cannot be Skylab 4. The photo in question has no MSS attached. The B&W photo below was taken on launch eve. Note that it is totally dark.

Headshot
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posted 04-29-2012 04:20 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Headshot   Click Here to Email Headshot     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I notice that there appears to be LOX venting in Tom's image, but I am not very certain there is similar venting in J.L.'s image in question. How soon before launch did they load the LOX on board a Saturn IB?

garyd2831
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posted 04-29-2012 06:01 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for garyd2831   Click Here to Email garyd2831     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
What Saturn IB is in this photo? If you look closely, you will notice extra structure support between the launch tower and the milk-stool.

None of the later photos I have seen show this extra structural support? Could this have been a fit test prior to the Skylab?

Ken Havekotte
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posted 04-29-2012 07:02 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ken Havekotte   Click Here to Email Ken Havekotte     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
If I recall, the above photo is an technical or mechanical rendering of what a 1B would look like on Pad 39. It wasn't a "real" photograph and let me comment later, as I am waiting on more photo-info., regarding J.L.'s 1B picture that started this topic.

Tom
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posted 04-29-2012 07:11 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Tom   Click Here to Email Tom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by garyd2831:
Could this have been a fit test prior to the Skylab?
It's definitely not a Skylab launch vehicle. The first stage markings look more like those of Apollo 7. See example.

golddog
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posted 04-29-2012 10:46 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for golddog     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It cannot be Apollo 7, as that mission was launched from LC34, where it was mounted on a launch pedestal and not the "milk stool"

J.L
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posted 04-29-2012 11:03 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for J.L   Click Here to Email J.L     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Ken Havekotte:
If I recall, the above photo is an technical or mechanical rendering of what a 1B would look like on Pad 39.
Exactly as Ken has stated. This is a technical rendering or "preview" of what the Saturn 1B would look like sitting on the LC-39 extension (milkstool). The photo number is 70PC-32 (KSC) and is dated June 10, 1970.

The Saturn 1B for Skylab 2 was first rolled to Pad 39A on January 11, 1973 with a "facilities" SLA and CSM attached, and without an LES. This rollout allowed launch teams the opportunity to do fit checks with the Saturn 1B and "milkstool". Actual rollout with flight hardware did not take place until February 26, 1973.

Rusty B
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posted 04-30-2012 12:28 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rusty B   Click Here to Email Rusty B     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Here's a newspaper photo of the Skylab 2 rollout test on Jan 10, 1973, without a LES.

Tom
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posted 04-30-2012 06:50 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Tom   Click Here to Email Tom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by golddog:
It cannot be Apollo 7, as that mission was launched from LC34, where it was mounted on a launch pedestal and not the "milk stool"
As Ken noted earlier, the photo is no doubt a "composite".

The vehicle they superimposed is similar to the Apollo 7 vehicle, see markings on first stage, less "black" on Skylab and ASTP versions.

Rusty B
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posted 04-30-2012 08:35 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rusty B   Click Here to Email Rusty B     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Here's a December 1970 issue of Popular Mechanics magazine that has an article about plans for Skylab. There is a composite picture showing what the Saturn IB would look like on the Saturn V pad. Notice the "milk stool" legs are triangular shaped in this illustration, very different than what was ultimately built.

garyd2831
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posted 04-30-2012 11:33 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for garyd2831   Click Here to Email garyd2831     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks for all the great inputs in regards to my photo. If you look at the Dec 1970 Popular Mechanics magazine photo showing the Saturn 1B, it appears to be the same photo as mine but with a different milk-stool configuration.

Rusty B
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posted 04-30-2012 12:20 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rusty B   Click Here to Email Rusty B     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Gary, I found your photo on a NASA KSC server. Your photo number is NASA Photo ID: S71-00163 (photo description).

garyd2831
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posted 04-30-2012 04:18 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for garyd2831   Click Here to Email garyd2831     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks Rusty B for the research. It is a great photo of a concept that wasn't to far off. I love seeing and owning vintage photos of the things that might be.

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