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Apollo-Saturn 204 (Apollo I) What-If?  
User currently offlineN328KF From United States of America, joined May 2004, 6484 posts, RR: 3
Posted (6 years 3 months 2 weeks 3 days 13 hours ago) and read 4319 times:

A hypothetical situation...

Let us first assume for a moment that the tragic AS204 fire itself did not occur and that they were able to reach liftoff. Were the design flaws sufficient that the craft would have encountered some other issue during the flight itself? I'm aware that the craft was unsafe...but was this of a high likelihood?


When they call the roll in the Senate, the Senators do not know whether to answer 'Present' or 'Not guilty.' T.Roosevelt
13 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineConnies4ever From Canada, joined Feb 2006, 4066 posts, RR: 13
Reply 1, posted (6 years 3 months 2 weeks 3 days 10 hours ago) and read 4250 times:

Gus didn't hang a lemon from the thing (or was it the simulator ??) for no reason. The Block I s/c was lousy. A WAG (wild-ass guess) is that the USA might have had their first launch abort in flight had they gotten to late February with the thing. Might have set the program back even further, actually.


Nostalgia isn't what it used to be.
User currently offlineThorny From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 2, posted (6 years 3 months 2 weeks 3 days 7 hours ago) and read 4217 times:

I think that if the Fire had never happened, the Plugs-Out Test had turned up so many problems that AS-204/Apollo 1 would have been pushed back at least a month, probably three. The comm situation, in particular, needed to be fixed, and I'm not sure three weeks was enough time to do it (Apollo 1 was scheduled for launch around Feb 20.)

When it did actually fly, I doubt there would have been a launch abort, that would be a Saturn problem, not a spacecraft problem (see Apollo 12), but Saturn IB was pretty well de-bugged by then. There were myriad other problems with the spacecraft, but it isn't clear that any of them would have been fatal. Even the actual accident would probably not have been fatal in space, when the spacecraft would have been operating at much lower pressure. Perhaps, if as is believed (but can never be 100% proven) the Fire started with a short in the environmental control system, then they would likely have been forced to make an emergency splashdown somewhere. I don't think it would have been a "get down NOW!" event, because the crew could have gotten in their spacesuits until a suitable recovery zone came in range. But it would have been an early return, assuming the short still happened (it might have been a result of ground test conditions.)

I think had AS-204/Apollo 1 actually flown, it would have been successful, but would have turned up so many problems that NASA would have been forced to re-instate Schirra's Apollo 2 mission (which had been cancelled) to prove all the debugging.

And yes, Gus hung the lemon on the simulator, not the actual spacecraft.


User currently offlineZkpilot From New Zealand, joined Mar 2006, 4830 posts, RR: 9
Reply 3, posted (6 years 3 months 2 weeks 2 days 22 hours ago) and read 4135 times:

The fire didn't occur right before the actual flight, it occured in pre-flight tests days before-hand. As Thorny suggests, other problems would have prevented launch.
Theres a doco on discovery/nat geo or something that basically says in many ways they were almost glad it happened on the ground so that similar problems didn't happen in space etc where many more lives could have been lost.



56 types. 38 countries. 24 airlines.
User currently offlineN328KF From United States of America, joined May 2004, 6484 posts, RR: 3
Reply 4, posted (6 years 3 months 2 weeks 2 days 19 hours ago) and read 4091 times:



Quoting Zkpilot (Reply 3):
space etc where many more lives could have been lost.

How many more lives could you lose than three?



When they call the roll in the Senate, the Senators do not know whether to answer 'Present' or 'Not guilty.' T.Roosevelt
User currently offlineClassicLover From Ireland, joined Mar 2004, 4636 posts, RR: 23
Reply 5, posted (6 years 3 months 2 weeks 2 days 15 hours ago) and read 4033 times:



Quoting N328KF (Reply 4):
How many more lives could you lose than three?

The only way that I could possibly think of would be if they sent a rescue Apollo...



I do quite enjoy a spot of flying - more so when it's not in Economy!
User currently offlineStealthZ From Australia, joined Feb 2005, 5696 posts, RR: 44
Reply 6, posted (6 years 3 months 2 weeks 2 days 11 hours ago) and read 3991 times:
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Quoting Zkpilot (Reply 3):
where many more lives could have been lost.

Or perhaps less,
As Thorny alluded to, even a pure oxygen atmosphere is less of a fire risk at the pressures the spacecraft operated at in space.
Secondly, and curiously, experience has shown that whilst undesirable actual fires are not the certain disaster in space that one would on first thought assume them to be.
Fires don't propagate well in zero G(or more correctly microgravity).
Wouldn't want to have one but not the certain calamity one would think.... certainly much less so than operating in a pure O2 environment at sea level atmo pressures.

Cheers



If your camera sends text messages, that could explain why your photos are rubbish!
User currently offlineConnies4ever From Canada, joined Feb 2006, 4066 posts, RR: 13
Reply 7, posted (6 years 3 months 2 weeks 2 days 8 hours ago) and read 3969 times:

Had AS-204 flown, March or April 1967, and an Apollo 2 with Schirra-Eisele-Cunningham been required, interesting to speculate on how crew rotations would have been affected.

IIRC, McDivvit-Scott-Schweikart had been announced for AS-205/208 with the CSM & LM launched separately on Saturn 1B's, and then Borman-Williams-Anders on AS-503, to do the high-altitude Earth-orbit flight of the LM. Unfortunately, C.C.Williams died in a flying accident, and was replaced by Mike Collins, who then got back problems, and was replaced by Jim Lovell.

But in the imaginary universe above, maybe Williams gets his ride before the accident really occurred, and perhaps then it never occurs.

I can't recall who the backup crews were for 205/208 and 503 at that time, but I'd guess they would be assigned 504 and 505, doing a lunar orbit LM mission, then the landing, absent any other issues arising from the previous Apollo missions. Or maybe 504 would have gone to the Apollo 2 b/u crew. Who knows? Maybe Gordo would have gotten another chance.



Nostalgia isn't what it used to be.
User currently offlineZkpilot From New Zealand, joined Mar 2006, 4830 posts, RR: 9
Reply 8, posted (6 years 3 months 2 weeks 1 day 2 hours ago) and read 3863 times:



Quoting N328KF (Reply 4):
Quoting Zkpilot (Reply 3):
space etc where many more lives could have been lost.

How many more lives could you lose than three?

A disaster in space.... how would they know on earth what actually went wrong?
It could be anything so another mission and another 3 lives lost.



56 types. 38 countries. 24 airlines.
User currently offlineThorny From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 9, posted (6 years 3 months 2 weeks 20 hours ago) and read 3838 times:



Quoting Zkpilot (Reply 8):
A disaster in space.... how would they know on earth what actually went wrong?
It could be anything so another mission and another 3 lives lost.

The same way they knew what happened to Apollo 13 (they didn't get back the wrecked SM to examine it, remember) by fixing everything that could have been responsible and by going back over all of the manufacturing records and test results looking for clues, and by taking apart a sistership on Earth that was made the same way, looking for problems that might have been missed.

See also Mars Phoenix, nearly identical to the lost Mars Polar Lander. We don't know exactly what caused the loss of Mars Polar Lander (which is now a pile of wreckage somewhere at Mars' south pole), but NASA and Lockheed fixed everything that could have done it. Mars Observer, too. After it vanished, NASA ran lots of tests and simulations and eventually figured out that pressurizing the propellant lines could have really nasty side effects. This was done without having the wreckage to examine.

There is no way NASA would have just said, "Oh well, Grissom's crew is dead. I wonder how that happened! Let's just send up Schirra's crew and try again..."


User currently offlineZkpilot From New Zealand, joined Mar 2006, 4830 posts, RR: 9
Reply 10, posted (6 years 3 months 2 weeks ago) and read 3759 times:



Quoting Thorny (Reply 9):
The same way they knew what happened to Apollo 13 (they didn't get back the wrecked SM to examine it, remember) by fixing everything that could have been responsible and by going back over all of the manufacturing records and test results looking for clues, and by taking apart a sistership on Earth that was made the same way, looking for problems that might have been missed.

Except a fire is quite a different situation... quite simply they wouldn't have got anything back, and they wouldn't have had the crew around to see what had happened. Telemetry was very basic and wouldn't have told them much at all... quite a different scenario.



56 types. 38 countries. 24 airlines.
User currently offlineThorny From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 11, posted (6 years 3 months 1 week 6 days 21 hours ago) and read 3747 times:



Quoting Zkpilot (Reply 10):
Except a fire is quite a different situation... quite simply they wouldn't have got anything back,

We don't know what happened in AS-204, either. The best guess is a short-circuit in the Environmental Control System near Grissom's feet, but the damage was too extensive to be certain.

NASA and North American redesigned nearly everything after the Fire (they pretty much junked the Block 1 spacecraft and moved on to Block 2). That's not much less than they would have done with an in-flight accident that left no evidence.

Yes, the Fire on Earth destroyed the spacecraft so quickly that the crew barely got out a "fire! we hae a fire in the cabin" message, which from Earth orbit may never have been heard. But in space, a fire would not have propogated as quickly. Much lower atmospheric pressure, etc. It is plausible that the crew could have put out the fire before it grew out of control, at least held their own long enough to reach the next ground station and report a fire.


User currently offlineZkpilot From New Zealand, joined Mar 2006, 4830 posts, RR: 9
Reply 12, posted (6 years 3 months 1 week 6 days 1 hour ago) and read 3686 times:



Quoting Thorny (Reply 11):
Quoting Zkpilot (Reply 10):
Except a fire is quite a different situation... quite simply they wouldn't have got anything back,

We don't know what happened in AS-204, either. The best guess is a short-circuit in the Environmental Control System near Grissom's feet, but the damage was too extensive to be certain.

NASA and North American redesigned nearly everything after the Fire (they pretty much junked the Block 1 spacecraft and moved on to Block 2). That's not much less than they would have done with an in-flight accident that left no evidence.

They had enough evidence left over to know that it was a fire from a shortcircuit somewhere... where the shortcircuit was is what they were not certain of but as you mentioned they thought that it happened near Grissom's feet.

In space it could be anything... a power failure/short circuit could have cut out all radio transmissions... in that case NASA would never know what happened... could be anything... could be a meteor or anything.

Sure there was less pressure up there, however any fire even if it wasn't instantaneous death there is nothing they could do... can't exactly open the hatch and step out to fresh air....



56 types. 38 countries. 24 airlines.
User currently offlineThorny From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 13, posted (6 years 3 months 1 week 5 days 19 hours ago) and read 3669 times:



Quoting Zkpilot (Reply 12):
Sure there was less pressure up there, however any fire even if it wasn't instantaneous death there is nothing they could do... can't exactly open the hatch and step out to fresh air....

This is proven false by the fire aboard Mir in 1997.


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