Posts Tagged ‘space history’

Slice of History: Spin Test

Monday, December 9th, 2013

By Julie Cooper

Each month in “Slice of History” we feature a historical photo from the JPL Archives. See more historical photos and explore the JPL Archives at https://beacon.jpl.nasa.gov/.

Spin Test
Spin Test — Photograph number 355-1272B

In August 1964, this test fixture was used by the Spacecraft Design Section at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., to study spin stabilization of spacecraft - in this case, Rangers 8 and 9 (part of the Ranger Block 3 design). Many spacecraft had used spin stability for attitude control during acceleration or thrust, and it was found that a slower spin provided better stability for the coasting phase. One method of decreasing the spin of a spacecraft, or de-spinning, was the deployment of yo-yo devices. Weights were attached to rigid or stretch cords, then released while the fixture was spinning. The cords would unwind, like the arms of a figure skater extending to slow a spin, and then the cords were released. In this photo, the cables and weights can be seen, attached to the outside of the white circle. The test fixture is surrounded by what appear to be bales of paper and trash to absorb the impact of the weights when they were released from the spinning test fixture.

This post was written for “Historical Photo of the Month,” a blog by Julie Cooper of JPL’s Library and Archives Group.


Slice of History: Ranger Impact Limiter

Monday, November 4th, 2013

By Julie Cooper

Each month in “Slice of History” we feature a historical photo from the JPL Archives. See more historical photos and explore the JPL Archives at https://beacon.jpl.nasa.gov/.

Ranger Impact Limiter
Ranger Impact Limiter — Photograph number 292-41A

This photo was taken in November 1960 to show the lightweight balsa wood impact limiter that was to be used in the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Ranger Block II spacecraft design (Rangers 3, 4, and 5). The woman holding the sphere is Systems Design secretary Pat McKibben. The sphere was 65 cm in diameter, and it surrounded a transmitter and a seismometer instrument that was designed by the Caltech Seismological Laboratory. The sphere would separate from the spacecraft shortly before impact and survive the rough landing on the moon. The capsule was also vacuum-filled with a protective fluid to reduce movement during impact. After landing, the instrument was to float to an upright position, then the fluid would be drained out so it could settle and switch on.

Due to a series of malfunctions in 1962, these three Ranger spacecraft either crashed without returning data or missed the moon. In July 1964, the first successful Ranger spacecraft, Ranger 7, reached the moon and transmitted more than 4,000 images to Earth.

This post was written for “Historical Photo of the Month,” a blog by Julie Cooper of JPL’s Library and Archives Group.


Slice of History: 100 Kilogauss Magnet

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013

By Julie Cooper

Each month in “Slice of History” we feature a historical photo from the JPL Archives. See more historical photos and explore the JPL Archives at https://beacon.jpl.nasa.gov/.

100 kilogauss magnet
100 kilogauss magnet — Photograph Number 328-430Ac

An intense magnetic field facility was completed in 1964 by the Physics Section of the Space Sciences Division at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. It was intended for use in studying superconductors, spectroscopy and new materials, and in other experiments where a wider range of measurements was possible because of the high magnetic field. This photo shows the magnet at center. The system also included a control room, cooling tower, pumps and a heat exchanger. The generator was located in a separate room because of the noise. Water was pumped through the magnet at about 440 gallons per minute, to regulate the temperature of the large copper coil in the center of the magnet. The closed loop system contained distilled water with sodium nitrite for corrosion control.

According to a technical report about the facility, the magnetic field of the magnet and bus bars penetrated nearby rooms to a depth of about 30 feet. Any iron that could be attracted to the magnet had to be removed from the area.

This post was written for “Historical Photo of the Month,” a blog by Julie Cooper of JPL’s Library and Archives Group.


Slice of History: Granite Oil Slip Table

Tuesday, February 5th, 2013

By Julie Cooper

Each month in “Slice of History” we feature a historical photo from the JPL Archives. See more historical photos and explore the JPL Archives at https://beacon.jpl.nasa.gov/.

Granite Oil Slip Table
Granite Oil Slip Table — Photograph Number P-2784Ac

In 1963, spacecraft vibration tests were conducted in the Environmental Laboratory at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. A slab of granite, coated in oil, provided a smooth and stable base for the magnesium slip plate, test fixture and Ranger 6 spacecraft mounted on it. There were vibration exciters (shakers) on each end, capable of more than 25,000 pounds of force. The horizontal fixture at left was used for low frequency vibration testing, and the equipment was capable of testing along all three spacecraft axes.

During the 1960s, Ranger, Surveyor and Mariner spacecraft were developed, built and tested at JPL. Because of the heavy use, a similar but smaller test fixture was used for vibration tests on spacecraft components and assemblies. Building 144 still contains test facilities, but this equipment was removed and the room now contains an acoustic chamber.

This post was written for “Historical Photo of the Month,” a blog by Julie Cooper of JPL’s Library and Archives Group.


Slice of History: 1944 Map of JPL

Thursday, November 1st, 2012

By Julie Cooper

Each month in “Slice of History” we feature a historical photo from the JPL Archives. See more historical photos and explore the JPL Archives at https://beacon.jpl.nasa.gov/.

1944 Map of JPL1944 Map of JPL — Photograph Number HC 3-1294

On October 31, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., celebrated its 76th anniversary. It began with a few individuals working on the Caltech campus and testing rocket motors in the Arroyo Seco. By the time this 1944 map of “The Project” was created, JPL was supported by Army Air Corps contracts and the site included more than 50 offices, labs and test facilities.

This post was written for “Historical Photo of the Month,” a blog by Julie Cooper of JPL’s Library and Archives Group.


Slice of History: Is It a JPL Magic Trick?

Tuesday, October 9th, 2012

By Julie Cooper

Each month in “Slice of History” we feature a historical photo from the JPL Archives. See more historical photos and explore the JPL Archives at https://beacon.jpl.nasa.gov/.

magnetic bearing
Is it a JPL magic trick? — Photograph 328-161Ac

In 1960 through 1961, several different experiments were conducted at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., in search of a frictionless bearing for use in space applications, gyroscopes and other machinery. There were cryogenic, gas and electrostatic types of bearings, and the photo above shows a magnetic bearing. It was suspended by counterbalancing the force of gravity and an electromagnet. A servo feedback system continually corrected the current flow through the electromagnet to keep it stable.

This post was written for “Historical Photo of the Month,” a blog by Julie Cooper of JPL’s Library and Archives Group.


Slice of History: Remote Controlled Manipulators

Tuesday, July 10th, 2012

By Julie Cooper

Each month in “Slice of History” we feature a historical photo from the JPL Archives. See more historical photos and explore the JPL Archives at https://beacon.jpl.nasa.gov/.

Remote Controlled Manipulators
Remote Controlled Manipulators — Photograph Number 381-4778B

The NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s 1971 Annual Report featured this photo of a remote controlled system for handling solid propellants. A 1965 Space Programs Summary report indicated that the equipment had been ordered and would be installed in building 197 within a few months. This equipment made it possible to safely mix and load high energy solid propellants into small motors. Building 197 is still known as the Solid Propellant Engineering Laboratory.

This post was written for “Historical Photo of the Month,” a blog by Julie Cooper of JPL’s Library and Archives Group.


Slice of History: Vice President Lyndon Johnson Visits JPL

Monday, February 27th, 2012

By Julie Cooper

Each month in “Slice of History” we feature a historical photo from the JPL Archives. See more historical photos and explore the JPL Archives at https://beacon.jpl.nasa.gov/.

Vice President Lyndon Johnson Visits JPL
Vice President Lyndon Johnson Visits JPL — Photograph Number P-1723A

On October 4, 1961, Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson visited NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. In his role as chairman of the National Aeronautics and Space Council, he toured the Lab and heard presentations about JPL’s lunar programs (Ranger and Surveyor), planetary program, the Deep Space Network and future plans. President John F. Kennedy had made his presentation to Congress several months earlier about putting a man on the moon before the decade ended. During the 1960s, JPL’s role shifted somewhat from lunar and planetary exploration to support of and preparation for manned missions to the moon and planets.

This photo shows Johnson walking out of the cafeteria (then located in Building 114) with JPL Director William Pickering while employees gathered around.

This post was written for “Historical Photo of the Month,” a blog by Julie Cooper of JPL’s Library and Archives Group.


Slice of History: Surveyor 3 Camera Returned from the Moon

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012

By Julie Cooper

Each month in “Slice of History” we feature a historical photo from the JPL Archives. See more historical photos and explore the JPL Archives at https://beacon.jpl.nasa.gov/.

ASurveyor 3 Camera Returned from the Moon
Surveyor 3 Camera Returned from the Moon — Photograph Number P-10709B

In November 1969 Apollo 12 astronauts Alan Bean and Pete Conrad landed on the moon less than 600 feet from NASA’s Surveyor 3 spacecraft, which had been there since April 1967. They removed the camera, some cable and tubing, and the trenching scoop from the lander and brought them back to Earth so that the effects of prolonged lunar exposure could be studied by Hughes Aircraft Company (the spacecraft prime contractor) and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The Surveyor 3 camera was kept under quarantine and studied for several weeks at the Lunar Receiving Laboratory in Houston. Then it was shipped to the Hughes facility in Culver City, Calif. This photo was taken in January 1970, probably at the Hughes facility, where Hughes and JPL employees photographed, disassembled and studied the camera in detail.

This post was written for “Historical Photo of the Month,” a blog by Julie Cooper of JPL’s Library and Archives Group.


Slice of History: Advanced Ocean Technology Development Platform

Wednesday, November 9th, 2011

By Julie Cooper

Each month in “Slice of History” we feature a historical photo from the JPL Archives. See more historical photos and explore the JPL Archives at https://beacon.jpl.nasa.gov/.

Advanced Ocean Technology Development Platform
Advanced Ocean Technology Development Platform — Photograph Number P-23298B

The Advanced Ocean Technology Development Platform (AOTDP) was developed at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in the late 1970s by the Undersea Technology Program Office. The project applied space program instruments and systems to ocean exploration, mapping and resource assessment. This photo was taken in December 1980, after more than two months of engineering tests around Long Beach and Los Angeles harbors. The AOTDP shallow water test team included, from left to right, Sherry Wheelock, Don Hoff, Gary Bruner, Larry Broms, Curtis Tucker, Hal Holway, Garry Paine, Martin Orton and task manager Bill Gulizia.

The submersible vehicle test platform carried digital side-looking sonar for underwater imaging and a tow cable connecting the submersible to its companion surface ship, providing command, telemetry and power links. There was a shipboard control and data acquisition center to process and display the information gathered by the submersible, at rates of up to 250,000 bits per second. It was designed to descend as deep as 20,000 feet, but test tows were conducted at depths of about 600 feet. The project was funded by NASA and tests designed to improve the side-looking sonar instrument were sponsored by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

This post was written for “Historical Photo of the Month,” a blog by Julie Cooper of JPL’s Library and Archives Group.


Slice of History: Freeway Tunnel Simulator

Thursday, October 6th, 2011

By Julie Cooper

Each month in “Slice of History” we feature a historical photo from the JPL Archives. See more historical photos and explore the JPL Archives at https://beacon.jpl.nasa.gov/.

Freeway tunnel simulator
Freeway Tunnel Simulator — Photograph Number P-20673A

In October 1978, this photo was taken of a freeway tunnel simulator, which was used to study the air quality in freeways that were partly covered by buildings, streets or parks in an urban area. The Highway Intermittent Tunnel Simulator (HITS) project was carried out at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory under a contract with the Federal Highway Administration, Department of Transportation. A series of reports from this project were written to assist highway planning and design.

The simulator used electric motors to power two adjustable speed belts traveling in opposite directions, with 75 scale model automobiles attached. They could travel at about 40 “mph” (to scale) along a 110-foot straightaway. A gas was introduced into the tunnels to simulate exhaust fumes. Concentration and dispersion of the gas were measured as the automobiles moved through the tunnels. Test parameters such as distance between openings, type of traffic dividers and traffic speed were varied to see how they affected the air flow patterns.

At left is Bain Dayman, the HITS project manager. At right are Howard Jongedyk, FHA contract manager; Curtis Tucker, facility design engineer; and Robert Baxter, a contractor with AeroVironment, Inc., Pasadena. Most of the people working on this project were part of the Civil Systems Engineering Section at JPL.

This post was written for “Historical Photo of the Month,” a blog by Julie Cooper of JPL’s Library and Archives Group.


Slice of History: Cookie Cutter Missile Propellant

Wednesday, September 7th, 2011

By Julie Cooper

Each month in “Slice of History” we feature a historical photo from the JPL Archives. See more historical photos and explore the JPL Archives at https://beacon.jpl.nasa.gov/.

Cookie Cutter Missile Propellant
Cookie Cutter Missile Propellant — Photograph Number 381-490

The ORDCIT Project at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory was a research and development program about long-range jet propelled missiles. Under a contract with the Army’s Ordnance Department, a series of solid propellants were developed and tested. This photo shows a neoprene based formula referred to as ORDCIT 29, created in 1945.

Ingredients were mixed and formed into a sheet using a small roller mill. The uncured sheet was laid on a table and cut into disks, using a tool that looked like a large cookie cutter. The disks were stacked and wrapped in a neoprene liner. This cylinder was then placed in a mold and compressed. The locked mold was placed in an oven at high temperatures to vulcanize the charge and fuse the propellant and liner into one solid piece.

Twenty-one of these restricted-burning solid propellant cartridges were tested at various temperatures and various chamber pressures. The results were promising, and Progress Report No. 4-25 recommended more extensive testing.

This post was written for “Historical Photo of the Month,” a blog by Julie Cooper of JPL’s Library and Archives Group.


Slice of History: Low Speed Wind Tunnel

Monday, July 11th, 2011

By Julie Cooper

Each month in “Slice of History” we feature a historical photo from the JPL Archives. See more historical photos and explore the JPL Archives at https://beacon.jpl.nasa.gov/.

Low Speed Wind Tunnel
Low Speed Wind Tunnel — Photograph Number 383-6109Bc

In December 1974, this photo was taken of the Low Speed Wind Tunnel. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory had 21-, 20-, and 12-inch wind tunnels that were very well documented, but an April 1967 report about JPL wind tunnels does not mention this facility and very little is known about it. It appears in 1961 drawings of building 80, which was next door to the main wind tunnel building but it may have been relocated years later. The March 1968 JPL telephone book indicates that there was a Low Density Wind Tunnel in building 183, room 601, belonging to the Fluid Physics Section. The section number prefix for this image indicates that it was photographed for the Research and Advanced Concepts Section, but the photo was taken at the request of Paul Massier of the Structures and Dynamics Section. Massier was seen in the June “Slice of History” blog taken in the anechoic chamber.

This post was written for “Historical Photo of the Month,” a blog by Julie Cooper of JPL’s Library and Archives Group.


Slice of History: Anechoic Chamber

Wednesday, June 8th, 2011

By Julie Cooper

Each month in “Slice of History” we’ll be featuring a historical photo from the JPL Archives. See more historical photos and explore the JPL Archives at https://beacon.jpl.nasa.gov/.

Anechoic Chamber
Anechoic Chamber — Photograph Number 383-5765Ac

This aerodynamic noise facility, also called an anechoic chamber, was used to study the noise generating mechanisms in supersonic and subsonic jets in the early 1970s. It was housed at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in building 57 (which no longer exists) located next door to the wind tunnel that was in building 79 at the time. The large round opening in the wall is an exhaust silencer inlet. Standing next to it is Paul Massier, co-author of a technical report about this chamber. On the right is a support structure for microphones. Fiberglass wedge blocks cover the ceiling and walls, which were mostly reinforced concrete. Spaces were left open to allow for observation windows and instruments to record test data. There were also openings in the walls that allowed air to flow into the chamber to replace the air forced out during tests.

This post was written for “Historical Photo of the Month,” a blog by Julie Cooper of JPL’s Library and Archives Group.


Slice of History: Low Temperature Propellant Tests

Monday, May 16th, 2011

By Julie Cooper

Each month in “Slice of History” we’ll be featuring a historical photo from the JPL Archives. See more historical photos and explore the JPL Archives at https://beacon.jpl.nasa.gov/.

liquid propellant jet
Low Temperature Propellant Tests — Photograph Number 6-8

It was 1943 and JPL was at the beginning stages of rocket motor research and development.  Over the next decades, JPL would design and test rocket motors with a variety of sizes and propellants.  This small (50 pound thrust) liquid propellant jet unit was immersed in a bath of ice and salt in order to test the ignition properties of the propellants at temperatures near 0°F. 

This post was written for “Historical Photo of the Month,” a blog by Julie Cooper of JPL’s Library and Archives Group.


Slice of History: Ranger Midcourse Motor

Monday, April 4th, 2011

By Julie Cooper

Each month in “Slice of History” we’ll be featuring a historical photo from the JPL Archives. See more historical photos and explore the JPL Archives at https://beacon.jpl.nasa.gov/.

Ranger Midcourse Motor
Ranger Midcourse Motor — Photograph Number 384-5117B

Engineer Ted Metz proudly showed off the Ranger midcourse correction motor in a photo similar to this one that appeared in the May 1965 issue of Lab-Oratory, the JPL employee newsletter. “Since few Lab employees have seen the Ranger and Mariner midcourse propulsion unit, we show here the rocket motor portion of the system held by Propulsion project engineer, Ted Metz. This 50-pound thrust motor utilizes hydrazine fuel and has successfully corrected the trajectories of the Mariner R, Mariner IV and Rangers VI through IX spacecrafts.”

From 1961 to 1965, there were six Ranger flights that failed for various reasons and three very successful ones (Rangers 7, 8, and 9). Mariner R (based on the Ranger spacecraft, also called Mariner 2) had flown by Venus, and Mariner 4 was on the way to Mars.

This post was written for “Historical Photo of the Month,” a blog by Julie Cooper of JPL’s Library and Archives Group.