APOLLO-50 (Lifted off now!)

  • Monday July 8th, T-8 days and counting

    To celebrate man’s first steps on the moon 50 years ago, we will soon be releasing the free APOLLO-50 Add-on for the FS2 community -

    brought to you by the following team of 8 community members:

    TomSimMuc, Rodeo, ZoSoChile, Spit40, kenventions, ussiowa, ryansumei, and someone who actually worked on the Apollo program "Ray" Jetjockey10.

    This add-on is centered around the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida, where all the Apollo missions were launched, and covers roughly 1000 sq. miles (2400 sq. km). A big thanks goes to IPACS who provided the orthos for this area.

    We’ll preview some of the highlights of this add-on over the next 8 days.

    PREVIEW: The APOLLO-50 Building

    admin please leave this thread in the General discussion section, as this is a product announcement, intended for all.

    Cheers, Thomas

    Edited 5 times, last by TomSimMuc (July 8, 2019 at 4:19 PM).

  • TomSimMuc July 8, 2019 at 4:19 PM

    Changed the title of the thread from “APOLLO-50 community-developed Add-on (coming soon)” to “APOLLO-50 (coming soon)”.
  • Behind the scenes of the Apollo-50 project ...

    After the Turkey Creek Power Plant Add-on that was released in early May, Rodeo proposed the idea for the APOLLO-50 project (in our old Turkey Creek conversation thread). In a matter of minutes it seemed, everyone was on board with the idea, development started immediately, and "Ray" Jetjockey10 opened a new APOLLO-50 conversation thread. This time, however, we have a launch deadline that we have to hit, July 16th - the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 launch.

    What I find amazing is that all the communication on this project has happened in that private conversation thread - 8 team members from around the globe, having never met in person or talked on the phone or Skype, posting questions, ideas, problems, screenshots, and feedback all in this single APOLLO-50 conversation thread that now has +2000 posts and counting.

    As mentioned in the T-8 intro above, "Ray" is personally attached to this project as he worked on the Apollo programs and was excited to hear the team liked the APOLLO-50 idea ...

    "You know I’m turning cartwheels. This is where I was stationed for Navy Submarine missile shots, and went on to be part of Project Apollo from Apollo 1 thru Apollo 14. I worked at Pad 37, then LC 39A with offices in the VAB. I was at Patrick AFB, then lived in Cape Canaveral, Merritt Island, then Titusville. The Spacecenter Airport where I learned to fly was named TiCo Airport and Dunn’s Airpark in Titusville."

    Throughout this APOLLO-50 project, occasionally something we were working on would trigger "Ray" to remember a funny or interesting Apollo story. Just last week I asked "Ray" what he was doing 10 days before an Apollo launch - I'll share that story tomorrow 8)

    And yes, you can fly through the APOLLO-50 building 8)

  • Tuesday July 9th, T-7 days and counting

    One of the 9 airports included in the APOLLO-50 add-on is a small airport called Arthur Dunn Airpark (X21) that is located on the northwest edge of our APOLLO-50 add-on area. This airpark is unique in that it includes a turf/grass cross runway and was one of the airports where “Ray” took flying lessons.

    PREVIEW: The Arthur Dunn Airpark (X21):

    Cheers, Thomas

    Edited 2 times, last by TomSimMuc (July 9, 2019 at 5:23 PM).

  • Behind the scenes of the Apollo-50 project ...

    I mentioned yesterday that occasionally something we were working on would trigger "Ray" to remember a funny or interesting Apollo story. Last week I asked "Ray" what he was doing 10 days before an Apollo launch - here's his reply ...

    "(we were) still testing. We had things to fix and replace right up to the last minute. About 10 days prior to launch, we had some intensive safety training getting ready to fuel the Lunar Module (LM) tanks 2-3 days prior to launch, but we had dry runs to see how the older folks would hold up in the heat in a SCAPE suit in July in Florida. Our suits were similar to the spacesuits except we had standard rubber gloves and a lot less flex in the joints. We wore liquid O2 tanks on our back and used the same comm headsets as the astronauts. One whiff of that stuff (LM toxic fuel/oxidizer) and you are dead in your tracks.

    SCAPE Suit

    We also did the sliding wire escape near the top of the Launch Umbilical Tower (LUT) / Mobile Service Station (MSS) just to test the tension and see if we would live or die. Usually the first two dummies hit the post so they would know how to release some tension in the cable. ha.

    We were also moving out the contractor trailers (at the base of the launch pad) about 5 days before launch to clear the pad if it blew up early.

    Our LM was enclosed in the Spacecraft-LM Adapter (SLA) for traveling on the rocket until it was ready to be pulled out by the crew usually on the way to the moon. If we hit the panic switch, a couple of 72 ft2 scuba tanks would release the air and power a cookie cutter that sliced a big opening in the side of the SLA so we could jump through it and grab the slide wire. We all knew we would be dead long before we could grab the T-handle. We also knew if we cut the hole, the launch would be cancelled and we would be blamed for letting the Russians beat us to the moon."

    Great story, right?

    When Ray mentioned "We had things to fix and replace right up to the last minute" - he wasn't kidding, for Apollo 11, the LM plaque "We came in peace" was installed the day before launch along with the US Flag that was planted on the moon 8)

  • Does it connect with the Southern Florida DLC

    No it doesn't - it stops just south of the Orlando Melbourne International Airport.

    Behind the scenes of the Apollo-50 project ...

    Ray provided some additional details on the "last minute Apollo" stuff ...

    "The final “flight software” for the landing profile wasn’t delivered to KSC for loading into the LM Flight Computer until the night before the morning of the launch. This was the MIT team of 400 or so in New England. There was even a decision made whether to fly it down to KSC in T-28 or a Grumman Gulfstream. If the delivery plane crashed, the launch would have been cancelled for sure.

    And the flag was not on anyone’s checklist for onboard items. We did not even have an approved drawing for mounting the two piece flag pole or for storing the flag. Neil and Buzz had never practiced installing the flag on the moon’s surface. The spot they chose was hard rock with a couple of inches of dust. They ended up moving it and it was probably blown over by the takeoff blast from the Ascent Engine when they left."

    That would have been embarrassing - Neil looks at Buzz on their way down to the moon and asks "You packed the flag, right?"

  • Wednesday July 10th, T-6 days and counting

    One of the airports near the southern edge of our APOLLO-50 add-on area is the Orlando Melbourne International Airport (KMLB) which includes 3 runways and several helipad locations.

    PREVIEW: The Orlando Melbourne International Airport (KMLB)

    Cheers, Thomas

  • Behind the scenes of the Apollo-50 project - Who was doing What? ...

    Like any FS2 scenery project, it all starts with the orthos so in early May, two guys led the effort - TomSimMuc (Tom) and Rodeo (Karl).

    With that foundation in place, work started on several airports involving our airport experts - Rodeo (Karl), Spit40 (Phil), and ryansumei (Ryan). Custom buildings for the airports and surrounding areas were then developed by our 3D object experts - ussiowa (Michael), ZoSoChile (Jake), TomSimMuc (Tom), and ryansumei (Ryan) with building reference photos provided by Jetjockey10 (Ray) along with static aircraft and other airport cultivations.

    Generic cultivation between airports such as houses, buildings, cars, power poles and street lights were developed by TomSimMuc (Tom) - I provided the photoscenery-positioned trees and lighted towers.

    This process / team effort was repeated several times throughout May, June, and July as new airports and points of interest were added / developed. Tom has been our "Conductor", keeping everyone on the same page with daily download versions that contain all the latest files, and Ray has been that positive coach that keeps pushing for more, more, more 8)

    I'm not sure we would call it a well-oiled machine, but it is an APOLLO-50 machine, T-6 days and counting!

  • Behind the scenes of the Apollo-50 project - Another interesting "Ray" story, this time about shrimp ...

    Early in the project, "Ray" was posting some reference photos - one of which was a T-38A which the astronauts often flew, including Apollo 13 astronaut Fred Haise.

    The T-38A photo jarred Ray's memory about Fred - below is what he shared ...

    "I lived in Biloxi, MS for several years and was active in the Civil Air Patrol that maintained a presence at Keesler AFB. Keesler has a single runway, 03- 21, the shortest active runway in the U.S. Air Force system. Biloxi is also hometown to Fred Haise, Astronaut on Apollo 13, the one that the side blew out on the way to the moon.

    As most of you already know, NASA maintains a fleet of T-38A aircraft, about 30, for proficiency training for the Astronaut corps, and other fun things like flying chase for Shuttle launches and such. Biloxi, on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi is about half way between the Houston Space Center in Texas and Kennedy Space Center in Florida where all the launches originate. As one would expect, there is a bit of T-38A traffic between Ellington AFB (Houston) and Kennedy (KSC).

    In the early 1970s when Project Apollo was still in the news, Fred Haise would make that round trip once or twice each week in preparation for his upcoming moon flight. Also I’m sure you have heard something along the lines of ‘You can take the boy out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the boy’. Being raised in Biloxi, then the seafood capital of the U.S., you never get over the great taste of fresh shrimp. Fred was no different and would stop by for a brief visit to say hi to Mom and pick up a Playmate cooler with 2 or 3 pounds of fresh shrimp when he could work it in with his busy training schedule.

    Once Fred was assigned his own T-38A it only made sense that he would be eager to enhance his proficiency by executing an approach into KBIX on his way back to Texas after a hard day’s work in Florida. Herein lies the problem. The T-38 did not have a baggage area to hold the Playmate cooler with the iced down fresh shrimp that his Mom would have ready and waiting at the AFB for her son.

    Grumman Aerospace to the Rescue ...

    With the Northrop/Grumman merger somewhere along the way, and Grumman being the NASA contractor for the Lunar Module that Fred would land on the moon in Apollo 13, and Northrop supplying the T-38A fleet, it just seems natural someone would STC an update for the T-38A. Specifically a storage space the exact size of a Playmate cooler that happens to hold 3 pounds of fresh shrimp on ice.

    Yep, you guessed it. Fred Haise volunteered to test the STC for the NASA fleet of T-38A aircraft.

    Now the Good Part of the Story ...

    With an empty Playmate cooler tucked neatly in place, Fred contacts Keesler AFB approach control and requests a straight in approach to runway 21 while still climbing out from KSC in Florida. As he gets closer to Mississippi to his surprise he is told by the Tower that T-38s are not approved for landing at Keesler. Fred being quick witted, asks the Tower to place a local telephone call to his Mom and pass along a message to ‘call the General and have him meet me at the base of the Tower’. Can you see where this is going?

    While Fred is lining up his T-38A on a 40 mile straight in for runway 21, the Base Commander, a 2-Star General, and personal friend of the family, is on his way to the Tower. He arrives just in time to hear an Airman 1st Class telling the T-38 for the 3rd time he cannot land at Kessler. Here is how I heard the General tell the story to our local CAP group one day ...

    “Yes, that is all true, and I do respect our technical teams, but I had to explain to my Tower operator, eyeball to eyeball that day: Son, if our Commander-in-Chief has approved Fred Haise to fly an approach and land on the moon, he sure as hell is approved to land a T-38 on my runway. Are we clear?”

    After that little incident it seems that any NASA T-38A was immediately approved for a straight-in approach and landing on the runway of their choice at Keesler AFB. I was also told that after a few landings, Fred didn’t even shut down the engines, he just taxied to the base of the tower, and someone was waiting with the iced down shrimp, opened the special storage area, slid in the cooler, closed the miniature door and gave the pilot the thumbs up and off to Houston he went - usually straight out over the water for a priority landing at Ellington AFB in Texas."

    Thanks for sharing "Ray" 8)