California Science Center  6            9-2013

Here is the heat shield on the Apollo spacecraft which is made from brazed stainless steel honeycomb coated with phenolic epoxy resin. This heat shield was also ablative and from the ground it would look as if it had caught on fire during its descent. In reality the ablative covering is what kept the astronauts inside safe because the material diverted heat away as it vaporized. This heat shield is over 12 feet in diameter and without it the astronauts would not have survived reentry into the Earth's atmosphere.

The atmosphere acted like a braking system on the spacecraft. To further slow the their descent, the spacecraft used mortar deployed parachutes. The Apollo spacecraft had three large parachutes and could safely land with only two. The top of the spacecraft housed several balloons and air compressors. If the ship landed upside down in the ocean, the astronauts could activate the balloons in an attempt to turn the spacecraft upright.



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This space suit went to the moon and back on Apollo 16. The basic Apollo space suit, which was worn during liftoff was the backup suit needed in case cabin pressure failed.

The Apollo suit consisted of the following: 1) A water-cooled nylon undergarment. 2) A multi-layered pressure suit: inside layer is lightweight nylon with fabric vents; middle layer is neoprene coated nylon to hold pressure; outer layer is nylon to restrain the pressurized layers beneath. 3) Five layers of aluminized Mylar interwoven with four layers of Dacron for heat protection. 4) Two layers of Kapton (Kapton is a polyimide film developed by DuPont that remains stable across a wide range of temperatures, from −452 +752 F) for additional heat protection. 5) A layer of Teflon-coated cloth (nonflammable) for protection from scrapes. 6) A layer of white Teflon nonflammable cloth. The suit had boots, gloves, a communications cap and a clear plastic helmet. During liftoff the suit's oxygen and cooling water were supplied by the ship.

For walking on the moon the space suit was supplemented with a pair of protective overboots, gloves with rubber fingertips, a set of filters/visors worn over the helmet for protection from sunlight, a portable life support backpack that contained oxygen, carbon-dioxide removal equipment and cooling water. The space suit and backpack weighed 180 pounds on Earth, but only 30 pounds on the moon.



I wasn't reading all the display signs while I was walking around that day but was going to once I got back home. Read what you're not suppose to do at the bottom....oops!!

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This is a space suit from project Mercury made by the B.F. Goodrich Company in 1960 for testing and training. This suit only weighed 20 pounds which was a modified pressurized NAVY flight suit made of rubber and nylon. Unlike Gemini, Apollo and Shuttle space suits, the Mercury suit was not designed for use outside the spacecraft but would protect them if the capsule lost pressure.



This is a full scaled version of the Viking Lander that went to Mars. The name Viking comes from the fearless Nordic explorers of Earth. Throughout history, no other planet in our solar system has captured human imagination like the red planet. For centuries, scientists wondered if Mars might be covered with vegetation or even inhabited by intelligent beings.

Today we know Mars to be quite different. It is a frozen desert world with towering volcanoes, now silent and deep canyons. Polar ice caps expand and contract with the Martian seasons. Evidence of ancient rivers and vast oceans indicate a warmer, wetter past.



Much of what we now know is due to the extraordinary efforts of a group of NASA scientists, engineers and technicians who came together in the 1970s and created an robotic mission they called Viking. There were two nearly identical Viking spacecrafts built called Viking 1 and 2.



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This is a 1/5 scaled down version of the Hubble space telescope. The real Hubble is 43.5 feet long, 14 feet in diameter and weighs 24,500 pounds. The Hubble Space Telescope goes around Earth at a speed of 5 miles per second at an altitude of 350 miles, completes one orbit in 97 minutes at a speed of 17,500 mph.


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