A human being is about to be hurled form the earth.He will ride at the?
A human being is about to be hurled form the earth.He will ride at the rearing, blast-furnace thrust of a mighty Air Force rocket - - the most perilous journey man has yet undertaken.These are the anxious moments before launch.The main concern of these who watch and wait is his safe return.
The Safety of the astronaut is also the primary aim behind the thousands of details that are checked and rechecked as Atlas - - - The Mercury launch vehicle is fabricated and made ready for flight.
As the nation's first international ballistic missile, the Air Force Atlas, was not originally designed to lift man into space.However, it was the most powerful and reliable vehicle available to do the job.With modification, it could be made to qualify for the nation's first Man on Space program.
As the agency assigned to provide Mercury boosters--and launch them for the National Astronautic and Space Administration - - the Air Force Space Systems Division in Los Angeles initiated a Mercury Booster Pilot Safety Program.
The program is managed by a team of Air Force officers -- and engineers of the Aerospace Corporation, a public trust organization which provides technical guidance and systems engineering to the Air Force.The objectives: assure basic booster reliability - - - and provide an extra safety margin for the Mercury pilot.
To attain the full measure of reliability inherent in Atlas, these men put into practice a Quality Assurance Program for all phases of its fabrication.
During fabrication, every stop is documented by the Air Force representative at the General Dynamics-Astronautic plant in San Diego.These reports are forwarded to the Mercury Project Office at the Air Force Space System Division.As the Mercury/Atlas takes form, the individual reports grew into a permanent "case history" covering every part- - every component - - every subsystem.
Affixed to all Mercury hardware - - a special decal.This symbol of reliability is attached only to handpicked items having an unblemished performance and inspection record.
Exacting measures to assure quality and reliability in the basic booster are augmented by an Abort Sensing and Implementation System - -or AS-IS, as it's called by Mercury personnel.AS-IS can sense an impending malfunction in the Atlas by continually monitoring the performance of certain critical components.If performance deviates from predetermined limits, an electronic brain shuts down the propulsion system......and activates the Mercury capsule escape system before the pilot can be placed in jeopardy abort-sensing system practically guarantees the astronaut's survival of a major malfunction occurs.
its effectiveness was dramatically demonstrated during a Mercury flight in April 1961 when the booster was destroyed and the unmanned capsule was safely ejected.It was successfully recovered undamaged - - and flown again.
During fabrication, the 300,000 parts of Atlas are individually tested and retested.When production is completed, they are checked again - - this time as interconnected components and subsystems.
THIS is the composite test - - a "simulated flight" the key element in a Factory Roll out Inspection performed on every Mercury_Atlas.It assures the Air Force that the vehicle is complete and is functioning properly.
If it is - - and its full-documented reveals no deficiencies - the booster begins the first log of its journey - - aircraft to Cape Canaveral.
Securely sheltered in its check-out hanger, the booster is groomed for launch.
A Statue Review Team - Air Force officers, NASA personnel, Aerospace Corporation engineers, and technical experts from the various contractors....continuously monitor and record the vehicle's pre-flight preparations.The team decides when the Mercury-Atlas is technically ready for flight.If the booster wins a completely clean "bull of health", a recommendation to launch is transmitted to the Air Force Flight Safety Review Board.
When the Board is satisfied that everything possible has been done to make Atlas safe and reliable, the final step in the all-encompassing pilot safety program is taken......notifying NASA officials that the Air Force Atlas is ready and waiting to lift man into space.