Apollo Missions: The Mechanics of Rendezvous & Docking

Speaker: David Baker
Date: 20th February 2019
Start Time: 19:00
End Time: 20:30
Venue: BIS, 27/29 South Lambeth Road, Vauxhall, London, SW8 1SZ

As each Apollo mission in the Moon programme required orbital rendezvous and docking, beginning with Apollo 9 launched on 3 March 1969, the development of that capability evolved over several years and this technique will be described in detail along with the different options facing mission planners in the years running up to the lunar missions.

The development of orbital rendezvous operations during six Gemini missions pioneered a lot of techniques that helped provide the Apollo programme with fail-operational/fail-safe/fail-safe capability and a considerable experience in evaluating rescue techniques in case a contingency event was triggered by a malfunction.

Also in this briefing, recalling his time with the Mission Planning & Analysis Division, David will describe the evolution and development of the Flight Plan and how flexibility was built in so that the timeline and event sequences could be adjusted, much like the operation of a slide rule. Both rendezvous and docking and Flight Plan development were crucial to the conduct of every mission and from Apollo 9 both were combined and applied to that and following flights. This is the second in a set of four talks to describe and explain the underpinning techniques that brought success to Apollo.


About the speaker:

Dr. Baker joined the space program during Apollo and worked to develop advanced concepts for keeping astronauts on the moon for extended periods of time. Later, Dr. Baker worked on development of NASA’s Space Shuttle and later, during the 1980s, to commercialise payloads and to integrate aerospace technologies in India and other Asian countries. Dr. Baker has written several hundred articles and more than 100 books on air and space histories, including The Rocket and The History of Manned Spaceflight.

Dr. Baker appears regularly in electronic media and has been editor of Aerospace Review, Jane’s Aircraft Upgrades and Jane’s Space Directory.

He is a Fellow of the British Interplanetary Society (BIS), where he chairs the BIS Publications Committee, serves as Editor of Spaceflight and oversees publication of the Journal of the British Interplanetary Society. In 1986 Dr. Baker was elected as a member of the International Academy of Astronautics (IAA). He received the 1998 Rolls-Royce Award for the best propulsion submission “RAeS Aerospace Journalist of the Year Award 1998”.


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