Taming the Beast

Not THAT button!!!

Via Behind the Black, a harrowing story of steely-eyed missile men that arrives just in time for the 30th anniversary of that space-age classic, The Right Stuff: Debugging a Live Saturn V.

As we got closer to the Saturn V it was shrouded in a white cloud of venting gases which relieved the pressures building up inside the vehicle fuel tanks.

Our goal was to enter this two level hermetically sealed, all welded steel coffin called the Mobil Launcher Base topped by a fully loaded 363 ft. high Saturn V, weighing 6.2 million pounds, and the permanently attached 380 ft. high Umbilical Tower, weighing 500k pounds. We finally stopped and left our van to walk up and into the second level of the Mobile Launcher Base. About this time, it came to my mind that during one of our training sessions we were told that one of the fully fueled prototype S-II rocket stages had been exploded out in the desert. The results showed that all buildings better be at least three miles from the launch pads – which they are. We were now within 25 feet of this 363ft tall bomb that sounded like its giant fuse had been lit, and we were soon going to get much closer.

As we climbed up the last step prior to opening the sealed submarine type entry door that led into the second level. We slowly opened the heavy steel hatch-type pressurized door it was like stepping into the jaws of a huge steaming dragon. The nitrogen fog, used to suppress fire, and the dim red glow from the emergency lights of level A made it look like a hollywood swamp scene. We started making our way through the 21 compartments to find our Relay Rack as the noise took on a more penetrating tone that seemed to bounce from wall to wall.

Read the whole thing.

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