Writing the Criteria Book

Criteria development for the Saturn complex proceeded more cordially. Close coordination was required between four groups: MFL, the Systems Support Equipment Laboratory of the Development Operations Division at Huntsville, the Jacksonville District Office of the Army Corps of Engineers, and an architect - engineering firm. Their goal was to collect and organize all the data necessary for satisfactory design and construction. The procedures used in developing Saturn launch criteria followed a pattern set in earlier programs. MFL and the Systems Support Equipment Laboratory prepared basic data on all launch facilities and equipment. The architect-engineer then formalized the data in a criteria book. The Army Corps of Engineers reviewed this document for cost, utility, and compliance with federal and Atlantic Missile Range codes. The launch criteria book provided a general description of facilities, proposed methods of construction, the placement of utilities and equipment, facility dimensions, distances between facilities, cost estimates, and preliminary drawings.6

LC-34 master plan

The master plan for launch complex 34.

The blockhouse for LC-34 was patterned after the control center at complex 20. The reinforced concrete design permitted the planners to locate the structure 320 meters from the launch pedestal. A domed roof would be built up in three layers: an inner layer of reinforced concrete 1.5 meters thick; a middle layer of earth fill 2.1 to 4.2 meters in depth; and a 10-centimeter cover of shotcrete. The last, a concrete with a high cement content was pressure driven through a 15-centimeter tube onto a reinforced mesh screen. The 930 square meters of floor space provided room for 130 persons, with test and launch consoles, instrumentation racks, remote control fueling devices, and television and periscope equipment for the observation of activities on the launch pad. Blockhouse operations required substantial air conditioning for such equipment as computers, as well as for the people. Should a delay in firing occur after the rocket was fueled, the blockhouse could be buttoned up for 20 hours. Two tunnels provided escape routes in case an explosion sealed the door.7

Two Cape veterans, R. P. Dodd and Deese, drew up preliminary criteria for the launch complex. Their plans called for a two-pad complex with only the northern pad (pad A) constructed initially. A raised concrete circle 130 meters in diameter would form the base of the pad. The central area's slight depression facilitated replacement of refractory brick after a launch. Dodd included a water deluge system to reduce the intense heat and wash away spilled fuel, which would be channeled toward a perimeter trench. A skimming basin would prevent kerosene from entering the area's drainage ditches. Beneath the pad, a series of rooms provided space for mechanical and electrical checkout and firing equipment such as terminal boards, instrumentation racks, electrical cables, and generators.

Three facilities along the south edge of the complex would service the Saturn's propellant needs. In the southeast corner near the ocean stood tanks for RP-1, a grade of kerosene, to fuel the Saturn I booster (first stage). The liquid oxygen (LOX) tank in the middle of the southern boundary stored the oxidizer for all Saturn stages. This tank was insulated; in its liquid state, oxygen is cryogenic - super cold - with a boiling temperature of 90 kelvins (-183 degrees C). Dodd and Deese placed a high-pressure-gas facility in the southwest corner of the complex, near the blockhouse. The tanks in this storage area held two gases, nitrogen and helium, used in launch operations. Large amounts of nitrogen were used to purge and dehumidify the cryogenic lines that ran from the LOX tanks to the Saturn vehicle. The nitrogen also actuated LC-34's pneumatic ground support equipment. On later launches, gaseous helium would be used to purge the hydrogen fuel lines to the Saturn upper stages. With an even lower temperature than liquid oxygen, liquid hydrogen boils at 20 kelvins (-253 degrees C). Since nitrogen would solidify in the presence of liquid hydrogen, helium was substituted. A few bottles of nitrogen and helium went aboard the launch vehicle to pressurize some of the subsystems.

In the final plans, the flame deflector and its spare were parked north of the pedestal. The service structure pulled away on rails running from the pad to a parking area 185 meters west. The designers placed the umbilical tower on the northeast side of the launch pedestal. Eventually 70 meters high, it would carry fuel lines and other connections to the Saturn before liftoff. Two requirements governed the location of the umbilical tower and the service structure: the need for clear lines of sight from the erected launch vehicle to radar and telemetry stations in the industrial area 3 kilometers to the southwest, and an anticipated launch azimuth of 75 to 90 degrees.8

6. Glen W. Stover, Chief, Facilities Br., AMR, Army Field Off., memo for record, Criteria Contract, Juno V Facilities, 10 Nov. 1958; Maurice H. Connell and Assoc., Heavy Missile Launch Facility Criteria (Miami, FL, 15 Mar. 1959).

7. ABMA, Juno V Development, p. 55; LOD, "Complex 34 Safety Plan for SA-1 Launch," 24 Oct. 1961, p. 2; Porcher interview.

8. MFL, Juno V (Saturn) Facility; Connell and Assoc., Launch Facility Criteria; Sparkman interview, 13 June 1974. For detailed descriptions of the Saturn C-1 Launch Complex with its ground support equipment, see Marshall Space Flight Center (hereafter cited as MSFC), Saturn SA-1 Vehicle Data Book, report MTP-M-S&M-E-61-3 (Huntsville. AL. 26 June 1961), pp. 133-65, and MSFC, Project Saturn C-1, C-2 Comparison. report M-MS-G-113-60 (Huntsville, AL, 16 Nov. 1960), pp. 33-47, 123-290.

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