Friday, July 3, 2009

(S)pace Yourself


Apollo CSM
The Command Module is the blue area, which held the front docking probe, internal controls, food & water, parachutes, plus the yaw, roll and pitch jets all around the inhabitants. Seated left to right: lunar module pilot, command module pilot, commander.

This cone-shaped "CM" contained 15 miles of wiring and over 2 million different parts. It was 12 feet tall and 12 feet, 10 inches at it’s base. It weighed 12,392 pounds and was constructed of aluminum alloy, stainless steel and titanium. The crew panel included 24 instruments, 566 switches, 40 event indicators and 71 lights.

The green area is the Service Module, which held fuel dells, liquid oxygen and hydrogen tanks, reaction control jets, fuel inlet, and toward the back is the high-gain antenna. The purple area is the SM engine and nozzle extension skirt.

All together, they make up the "Apollo Command/Service Module."

Apollo LMThe Lunar Module was a two-stage spacecraft, standing 23 feet tall. The upper “ascent” stage contained living quarters, controls, communications and the attitude guidance, navigation and radar systems used for maneuvers.

The brain of the “LM” was housed in a state-of-the-art computer with 36,864-word fixed and 2,048-erasable memory. Basically, the 2009 posts alone of my blog are already bigger than what their computer could store!

The lower “descent” stage had propellant used to get the craft down to the Moon surface. Triangular bays supported batteries, water tanks and helium used to pressurize the propulsion system. When EVAs were completed, the descent stage provided the platform for launch off the Moon.

The external skin of both was paper-thin aluminum, the lower stage covered by multiple layers of gold Mylar insulation. You could easily poke a pencil through the side of the spacecraft. Designed only to operate outside Earth’s atmosphere, the LM had no heat shield and was incapable of safely entering Earth’s atmosphere.

If you're interested in seeing more detail, the NASA History Division has some fascinating project diagrams and the Encyclopedia Astronautica has an exhaustive history of development for all the Apollo hardware.