Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Check This Out

Right now I'm reading "Failure Is Not An Option" by Gene Krantz of NASA. He's the guy played by Ed Harris in Apollo 13. In the book he talks all about the space program from Mercury through Gemini to Apollo. It is really interesting and I recommend it to everyone but the part I really wanted to share was the image below. Look at the difference in size between the rockets for Mercury or Gemini and the Saturn rockets for the Apollo program. I can't believe how much bigger the Saturn rocket was. There is a full scale model of a Saturn V standing erect in Huntsville, Alabama and if you ever find yourself in Huntsville (god forbid) you should really check it out.


P.S. I've been reading a lot about the space race and I just learned two more interesting things.
First off, during the Apollo 12 launch the spacecraft was struck by lightning twice. More specifically they created such a static charge from the thrust of liftoff that they created a discharge down the rocket's plume. Wild.
Second, and perhaps more interesting, the Soviet space program was not a coordinated effort like NASA. Instead it was done as competition between several design teams at once. What this means is that the US was using a planned model while the Russian's were using a free market model but in the end the US victory in the space race served to validate the free market economy of the US as opposed to the planned economy of the Soviet Union. Isn't it ironic? Don't ya think.


AdamB said...

Why the hell would you ever be in Huntsvi...oh.

Not only that, but the Russians did a lot of stuff before we did, and probably with a lot less money.

James said...

as the saying goes: it took the americans one million dollars to design a pen that worked in zero G. The russians just used pencils.