National Geographic : 1964 Mar
SIKE TOYS IN A BATHTUB, tugs bob fore and aft of a Saturn I booster on Florida's sun-bronzed Intracoastal Waterway. Too large to travel by air, rail, or truck, metal-encased Saturns ride by barge from Huntsville to the space center via the Tennessee and Mississippi Rivers, the Gulf of Mexico, and the waterway. Soviet cosmonaut flights at about 800,000 pounds, more than twice that of an Atlas. With this power the Soviets could put up a manned space station. They might even send one man around the moon and back, though it would be a marginal venture. But they can not land men on the moon and bring them home without building a much larger booster. We believe the United States and Soviet Un ion began that task on fairly even terms. Monstrous Boosters Will Hurl Apollo Aloft So the lunar trip involves a weight-lifting contest, and there are three basic ways to approach the problem. One we call EOR, for earth orbital rendez vous. Using two big first-stage boosters, you put up a tanker rocket and later your space craft, join them, then fly to the lunar surface. In the second, or direct method, you build rockets so monstrously huge that you can blast off to the moon without rendezvous. The third technique, LOR, for lunar orbital rendezvous, represents a choice between ex tremes. With multistage boosters you fly close to the moon, descend to the surface in a spe cial vehicle, and rendezvous later with a mother ship in lunar orbit. We chose the third method for many com plex technical reasons. In essence, however, it seemed safer, less complicated, and repre sented an important saving in payload weight. A comparison of Gemini with Apollo il lustrates the power required. With the Gemini system we will be putting several tons into earth orbit at 17,500 miles an hour. With Apollo we must send 45 tons into lunar orbit, which means all that massive tonnage must be accelerated to about 24,200 miles an hour, the speed necessary to escape earth and enter the gravitational field of the moon. PELICANS FLAP SKYWARD from a sand bar in the Banana River. Lofty gantry looms from the space center's launching area. Displaying little fear of blasting rockets, birds of many species feed and nest here. 376 KODACHROMESBY NATIONALGEOGRAPHIC PHOTOGRAPHEROTIS IMBODEN © N.G.S .