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Spacecraft Propulsion and Power (1965)

Hardin-Simmons University Library

Sound | 1965

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  •  The Propulsion and Power Division at NASA’s Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston 
  •  More about spacecraft propulsion systems and how they developed across Projects Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo 
  •  Review of a lunar-landing mission profile 
  •  The principles of rocket thrust 
  •  The difference between liquid and solid propellants 
  •  More about spacecraft electric power 
  •  How the Gemini fuel cell works 
  •  The difference between thermoelectric and thermionic power systems 
  •  Types of dynamic power systems 
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Produced by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, this 1965 government film focuses on propulsion and power technologies aboard the spacecraft as it is used and needed in space after launch. While the technology of propulsion and power for Apollo spacecraft was designed and constructed elsewhere, the Manned Spacecraft Center was responsible for selecting and testing various systems developed by contractors from around the United States. To explain the propulsion needs of Apollo spacecraft, the film details the steps taken to get the spacecraft from Earth orbit to the moon and back. After detailing propulsion, our attention moves to electrical technologies under development and testing that could be used to generate power aboard the spacecraft for long missions, including fuel cells, solar cells, and thermionic and other types of generators.
As the scope of the American space program grew, NASA’s Space Task Group realized it would need to expand into its own facility if it were to successfully land a man on the Moon. In 1961, the agency’s selection team chose a 1,000-acre cow pasture in Houston, Texas, as the proposed center’s location site, owing to its access to water transport and commercial jet service, moderate climate, and proximity to Rice University. In September 1963, the facility opened as the Manned Spacecraft Center (MSC). 
The Center became the focal point of NASA’s manned spaceflight program, developing spacecraft for Projects Gemini and Apollo, selecting and training astronauts, and operating the Lunar Receiving Laboratory. Beginning with Gemini 4 in June 1965, MSC’s Mission Control Center also took over flight control duties from the Mercury Control Center at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. As a result, the facility managed all subsequent manned space missions, including those related to Projects Gemini and Apollo, the Apollo Applications Program, the Space Shuttle Orbiters, and the International Space Station.
In 1973, the MSC was renamed in honor of the late President and Texas native Lyndon B. Johnson. (As Senate Majority Leader, Johnson sponsored the 1958 legislation that established NASA.) The Center continues to lead NASA’s efforts in space exploration, training both American and international astronauts, managing missions to and from the International Space Station, and operating scientific and medical research programs.