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Space Science

Moon Rocket Scrubbed and Blown Dry 305

Posted by Hemos
from the preseving-our-past dept.
loid_void writes "Reutersis is reporting that a giant Apollo moon rocket that never got off the ground is about to get a face-lift after years of rusting away in the Texas heat and humidity at the Johnson Space Center. Workers will construct a shelter for the Saturn V rocket and give it the equivalent of a "blow dry" in the first steps to preserve the relic of NASA's golden age, said Allan Needell, Apollo program curator for the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum. The 363-foot-long behemoth has lain on its side in front of JSC since 1977, a favorite sight of tourists, but also a victim of the elements. Instead of launching astronauts to the moon as it was built to do, it has become a slowly fading hulk of peeling paint and corroded metal where birds live and plants sprout, Needell said on Wednesday during a visit to the rocket. "There's a lot of biology growing on there," he said, pointing out streaks of algae staining the rocket's white skin."
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Moon Rocket Scrubbed and Blown Dry

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  • by KRYnosemg33 (709857) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @05:36PM (#9457083)
    I know large ships are often sunk as artificial reefs.

    How cool would it be to sink a Saturn V rocket as an artificial reef!

  • by ChristTrekker (91442) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @05:38PM (#9457104)

    Sink it nose up in 300' deep water.

  • Kansas Cosmosphere (Score:5, Interesting)

    by OverlordQ (264228) * on Thursday June 17, 2004 @05:43PM (#9457142) Journal
    I wonder if they'll have any involvement. After all they [cosmo.org] single-handedly restored the Liberty Bell 7 [cnn.com] (their link here [cosmo.org]. And also helped with the restoration of the Apollo 13 [nasa.gov] as well. When you tought of Kansas, you probably didn't think of space now did ya?
  • YES! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Sounder40 (243087) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @05:51PM (#9457206)

    I drive past it several times a week (down Saturn Drive for the locals), and it just makes me sick to see it in the shape it's in. Thank God it's finally going to be taken care of and treated as the treasure it is. The pictures don't do justice to the damage being done to the ship.

    By the way, as a teenager, I was horrified to hear that they were going to display it on its side. I thought for sure that it was going to be displayed upright. What a dweeb I was (am?). Yeah, that would be great: make it so you could only see the bottom. And then there's the problems it would cause with low-flying aircraft, (lots of them, including those annoying advertizement-pulling planes). Oh, and we get hurricanes down here in these parts.

  • by wowbagger (69688) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @05:56PM (#9457264) Homepage Journal
    Sad to say, but I just went through JSC a couple of weeks ago, and I really wasn't impressed.

    This is Johnson freaking Space CENTER for crying out loud - yet the items they had on display at the visitor's center weren't much better than the items in the Hall Of Space at the Cosmosphere - in many ways KSC has them beat (KSC's Redstone rocket is in better shape, KSC has an SR-71 in addition to the T-38, KSC has the original Apollo "White Room").

    Look, JSC *is* NASA - KSC is a private sector organization in the middle of Kansas (more or less).

    It just doesn't seem right for me to be walking around JSC's visitor center saying "Yawn. Ho-hum. Got anything better?"
  • by cmowire (254489) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @05:58PM (#9457280) Homepage
    It all depends.

    The 60s/70s are definately the infancy of humanity in space. They hopefully are *not* the only golden age of humanity in space.

    They may, however, be the golden age of NASA, when NASA could do no wrong.

    It all depends on the next 20 years, I'd say. Will NASA continue to be the only road to space, or will National Geographic or the Discovery Channel be able to mount their own space missions? I mean, the last space IMAX film made 50 million. That doesn't buy you much now, but if launch costs are down, you might be able to fund a mission just for the IMAX film.

    It's really an open question for me if the government, academia, or private industry is best suited to really explore space. Each one has their drawbacks, but so far the government has been in the driver's seat.

    So yeah, there's probably room for a even-more-golden age in the future (call it the palladium age ;) ) but it may not be at NASA's behest.

    Our current Babylon-5-esque best hope for space is probably the garage hacking of Scaled COmposites and Armadillo Aerospace.
  • do something useful (Score:3, Interesting)

    by real gumby (11516) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @06:10PM (#9457386)
    The best way to honor the memory of "NASA's golden age" would be to top it.

    NASA does excellent unmanned science, but the moon shot, cool as it was, wasn't good science or space policy.

    Good thing private efforts are starting to pick up the slack. [xprize.org]

    I must add that the most awe-inspiring thing to me is that all the construction, design and launch was done on slide rules [hpmuseum.org].
  • by Flying Purple Wombat (787087) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @06:13PM (#9457409)
    They ought to auction it on ebay. I wonder what it would go for...
  • Saturn V Engines (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Sounder40 (243087) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @06:15PM (#9457420)

    When I was at Marshall Spaceflight Center in Huntsville, Al., they used to test the SSME (Space Shuttle Main Engines) at a test stand a few miles from my building. I was amazed at the power and noise of the SSMEs until an oldtimer told me what it was like when they tested one of the Saturn V engines: He said your coffee cup would literally bounce off of the desk, and forget talking on the phone during a test fire. And that was just the one engine. Imagine what it was like when they all fired at the same time...

  • Re:Saturn V Engines (Score:4, Interesting)

    by domodude (613072) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @06:33PM (#9457617)
    All of that testing actually worked. Not one of the 32 Saturn V rockets ever exploded; this is amazing when you think of how there are literally millions of parts that could break and cause a critical failure. Wernher von Braun, who also helped with the German V2 rocket, truly was a genius.
  • by Elentar (168685) <slashdot@ul[ ]violet.us ['tra' in gap]> on Thursday June 17, 2004 @06:58PM (#9457886)
    There's a good statement to be made here about the implied social contract that a representative government makes with it's citizens. As the US population continues to grow, the percentage of people with no marketable skills will likewise continue to increase. And if our society is going to support the idea that we can keep producing more people despite the fact that there are less resources available for them, we need to find a way to keep everyone happy and feeling productive, without overburdening the government or creating a negative social status (welfare).

    Put simply, the government needs to be able to support people who want to be artists, writers, musicians, hobbyists, explorers, naturalists, scientists, inventors, or any other interest that involves individual dedication and creativity. The product of the work those people do would be public domain, benefitting everyone, without consuming many resources or putting taxpayer's money to poor use. Meanwhile, anyone with a line on a normal form of employment or who wished to retain ownership of their works would follow the normal, self-supported way of life we all try to have today. Anybody could choose which path to take, and the cost of the system is not as high as you think - it doesn't take much money to pay someone a basic income to relax at home and write poetry. And by supporting people's interests we would be encouraging people to follow them, rather than paying based on the number of children a welfare family can crank out, as we do today.

    Until recently, Oxford, Cambridge and other universities in the UK were completely free for citizens to attend. Graduates of those institutions could go on to hold a post with the government, researching various things for a moderate income for all their lives. This is the way things should be, not requiring students to pay hundreds of thousand of dollars to feed the over-inflated salaries of university administrators and who then must accept positions that often encourage them to bend their ethics for the purposes of a greedy individual or corporation.

    The government _SHOULD_ be "wasting" millions of dollars paying people to do things like develop a space program. It has benefited us all and cost us much less than the 'war on terror', which has left us only with degraded individual freedoms, dead men and women from mostly lower-income families and more millions into the bank accounts of the businessmen who engineered the whole thing. Thank you, Cheney.

    -Elentar
  • Apollo 18 (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Mike Van Pelt (32582) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @08:11PM (#9458413)
    I worked at the Johnson Space Center for two years, back in 1976-1978, and I was there when they brought in the Saturn V.

    This was actual flight hardware that was supposed to have gone to the moon for the Apollo 18 mission. When they brought it in, it still had red "Remove before flight" tags hanging from various places.

    I am ... really annoyed, saddened, and angry that NASA has let this vehicle rot away.
  • by Gigantic1 (630697) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @08:26PM (#9458514)
    I never saw the Saturn Launch (THE BIG KAHUNA), but I did see a night launch of the Shuttle once from a friend's yard that was 15 miles away from the Launch Gantry.

    I could not see the Gantry, so I had to wait 'till it came over the trees. It was a moonless night. The moment it was ignited, and minutes before I saw it, the sky turned an acetylene-yellow and night became as day. Had I been driving on Interstate 95 there is no doubt I could have turned of my lights and drivrn in complete safety at 70+ MPH: it was THAT bright. About 30 seconds later, the groundwave hit and set of every car alarm in the neighborhood, made every garage door rattle and got every dog withing miles howlin' thier arses off. About a minute or so afterwards, the rumble of the motors was heard.

    An additional minute passed before it came over the trees and headed North.

    What a beast of a machine. I bet the Saturn was at least twice as impressive.

    Rock-N-Roll!!!

    Yeah...I think this beast is worth saving.

  • by willith (218835) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @09:27PM (#9458848) Homepage
    Wikipedia has an extremely informative entry [wikipedia.org] on the Saturn V, which includes a neat table of Saturn V launches and a note about the three Saturn Vs on display. Quoting:

    Currently there are three Saturn Vs on display:

    * At the Johnson Space Center made up of first stage of SA-514, the second stage from SA-515 and the third stage from SA-513

    * At the Kennedy Space Center made up of S-IC-T and the second and third stages from SA-514

    * At the US Space & Rocket Center, Huntsville, Alabama made up of S-IC-D, S-II-F/D and S-IVB-D (all test stages not meant for actual flight)

    Of these three, only the one at the Johnson Space Center is fully comprised of stages that were meant to be launched.

    The third stage of the JSC Saturn V is the one that was removed from SA-513 in 1973 to make room for Skylab.

    I've lived in Clear Lake for my whole life, and the Saturn V at JSC is a familiar landmark. I can't imagine my drive to work without it, and it's a good thing that NASA is going to clean it up. It is a truly awesome sight.
  • Re:What a waste (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 17, 2004 @10:15PM (#9459169)
    Correction: the Alabama Saturn V is at the Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, not at Marshall.

    Also, it's the one laying down at the back of the property. The vertical Saturn V is a replica.
  • Re:What a waste (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 17, 2004 @11:03PM (#9459446)
    I say lets build another and go back. Not going back is like the Vikings and the Spaniards going to the Americas once and never returning. Humans have always pushed the boundaries further back. But now it just seems we're lazy and greedy. I also think we should do more to explore the oceans. That's just as challenging. Imagine what we could learn.
  • May have happened (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Mark of THE CITY (97325) on Friday June 18, 2004 @12:06AM (#9459806) Homepage
    All the launched Saturn V first and second stages are somewhere on the ocean floor. I doubt if they're at reef depth, though.
  • by cluckshot (658931) on Friday June 18, 2004 @08:50AM (#9461886)

    There are actually 4 unlaunched Saturn V rockets. One is on display at the Kennedy Center, One at the US Space and Rocket Center Huntsville, Alabama and one at Johnson and I understand one more exists elsewhere. These were all built and ready for launch when Americans decided to save money going to pay for their "Welfare State" of the 1970's etc.

    If you want to see how big these are, come to the US Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama and there you can see lying down on such rocket and a model standing up. The model is 36 stories tall making it by 25 stories the tallest thing in town other than TV Transmission towers. The fuel tanks for them are so big that a surplus one was made into the dome of the planetarium in Huntsville. The rocket first stage burned 150,000 gallons of fuel a second per each of the 5 engines! I saw the test from my house when I was young. At 9.5 miles range the shaking broke the front window of my house once. The Flames went out about 1 mile or so. It was really quite the thing to see these being transported. In addition I have been on the NASA ships for transporting the boosters.

    Arguing the great cost of such launches is pretty silly when the cost was R&D and Manufacture mostly and that was already out of pocket. This illustrates how STUPID our political discussions get on such issues.

    The B-2 Bomber for example was reported to cost about $2 Billion a plane per the discussion when the project was killed. Actually the production costs were something like $100 Million and the rest was already out of pocket R&D. Ignorant idiots in the media don't understand such things.

    Using the typical Media math the first CPU for a line such as the Pentium V cost something like $1 Billion. The remainder costs just a penny or two to make each. The ammortization would be that if you bought 20 such chips they must cost $50 million a unit. So we shouldn't buy more than 20... Of course buying 100 million units tends to make the cost only $10 a unit... But the reporters would say otherwise.

    This is the high price of moronic reporting. Also when one is at a museum it is often made a claim of the one and only of something when it is not so.

    I came to Huntsville Alabama in 1963 because my father was one of the computer types for the project. I got the inside look see of most of the labs and saw and knew a lot of the inside story on the Saturn rockets. I have also seen the construction of the US parts of the space station and Skylab. Much of this cannot be seen now because Redstone Arsenal is going much more secure. I kind of feel like the old line from the very old movie Camelot.. "Don't let it be forgot.. That once there was a spot..."

Nothing is more admirable than the fortitude with which millionaires tolerate the disadvantages of their wealth. -- Nero Wolfe

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