NASA Podcasts

Historic Recordings: KSC Report 48, Launch Pad A Refurbishment
Interview with Donald Buchanan
1967
 
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Sound of rockets engines firing

LAUNCH COMMENTATOR:
"Five... four..."

Sound of rocket

NARRATOR:
KSC Reports... a weekly coverage of events at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's John F. Kennedy Space Center.

Sound of rocket

NARRATOR:
The Saturn V-01 rocket that launched Apollo 4 into space November 9th was the largest and most powerful rocket to ever lift off the face of the Earth. The seven-and -a-half-million pounds of thrust from the rockets five first-stage engines is the equivalent of one-hundred-and-sixty-million horsepower. The engines were consuming more than 15 tons of fuel and oxidizer during every second they operated. The roar of the engines rattled the roof of the press grandstand more than three miles away and caused plaster dust to fall in the firing room of the Launch Control Center nearby. On the launch pad itself, the mobile launcher was protected by a deluge of water that absorbed much of the heat from the flaming exhaust as the Saturn rocket lifted slowly and majestically skyward. The engineering manager for Launch Complex 39 at the Kennedy Space Center is Donald Buchanan of the Directorate of Design Engineering. We asked him how the facilities came through this first launch.

BUCHANAN:
We were well pleased with the performance in every way. Also how it, pleased with the launch facilities, how they performed and the damage that would be expected from such a launch as this was pleasing to know that our facilities do survive such a hostile environment.

NARRATOR:
Buchanan pointed out that while there was some damage, it was minor.

BUCHANAN:
Some of the tower did sustain some minor damages. We had some storage containers for access equipment, which is used for checking out the stage that did have panels buckled and come apart, partly due to the high acoustical levels, partly due to the over pressures that are present for such a launch. Additionally, there were about three hydraulic fires on the swing arms caused by vibrating, some nuts loose, and spewing hydraulic fluids on the hot steel which caused some fires. But this did not cause any major damage but does cause some rework on the hydraulic system. The equipment, all in all, was highly successful. No structural components of the launcher were damaged to a degree that would cause concern, in fact the exhaust hole area for the launcher umbilical tower was pretty much intact, the flame deflector, likewise, was in very good shape and requires only painting.

NARRATOR:
Buchanan said the launch crew anticipated that certain items would be lost.

BUCHANAN:
Certain things which are lost were expected to be lost, such as some cameras, operational TV cameras, which were on the deck of the launcher. Some of the equipment we didn't expect as much damage on, such as the zero-level engine servicing platform, but it's planned to remove this to a more remote location for subsequent launches.

NARRATOR:
We asked about protective coating for the equipment.

BUCHANAN:
A lot of times it's easier to, and also cheaper, to find out what the equipment will withstand before applying expensive protective coatings or heavy armor plate. And I suspect it will take about two more shots before we have this perfected to the degree that we'll have it on a routine basis.

NARRATOR:
What was learned from this first launch?

BUCHANAN:
From the launch we have learned that our original engineering was good, that the time that has been expected for refurbishment for these launches is pretty much as we expect, although the first one will take a little longer as I've previously stated due to the fact that we're on a learning curve.

NARRATOR:
At the present, crews are busy refurbishing Pad A at Launch Complex 39 in preparation for the next launch of a Saturn V.

LAUNCH COMMENTATOR:
"Five...four..."

Sound of rockets engines

NARRATOR:
This has been KSC Reports... a weekly coverage of events at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's John F. Kennedy Space Center.

Sound of rockets engines

 
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