Monday, September 2, 2013

Pic of the Day: A Room Full of Saturn V F-1 Rocket Engines

It never fails to amaze me how big the Rocketdyne F-1 is, or how complex they are. Here we've got several in various stages of construction:
--a pair of thrust chambers to the right waiting for their plumbing followed by several more that have been plumbed. It looks like the last one in line has a red shipping cover like the last one on the left.

--the first on the left is getting something welded (pretty neat that the guy's head is mostly clear, but his welding mask is blurred as if he was shot in the act of flipping it). From the looks of some of the other engines, I think he's welding those rectangular tabs onto the "hat bands." These have threaded studs on them for later attachment of insulation blankets to protect the engines from each others' exhaust plumes during launch and flight.

--the last on the left looks like it's being shipped out; it's on a cart and has a shipping cover, but I wonder where the interface panel on top is?

If you zoom in on the closer ones, you can see the tubing that forms the bell-shaped thrust chamber. There are 178 of the larger ("primary") tubes forming the top end and 356 smaller ("secondary") tubes forming the lower end, all brazed together and reinforced by "hat bands". Each primary is brazed to a pair of secondaries. Kerosene fuel is directed to the "down" primaries and their associated secondaries and flows all the way to the bottom, collecting heat as it goes. The hot fuel is redirected upward through the "up" tubes and into the engine injectors to be burned. This "regenerative cooling" keeps the thrust chamber from melting.

There's an extensive tech writeup on the thrust chambers' construction here, at Heroic Relics.

Each one of these monsters burned my car's weight in kerosene and liquid oxygen every SECOND. Just one engine put out some 1.5 million pounds of thrust--more than 1-1/2 times the total thrust of all five of the dinky J-2 engines on the Saturn V's second stage.

Some trivia:
Weight 18,500 pounds dry
Height 19 feet
Diameter 12.3 feet
98 production engines
82 development engines
7 serialized mockups
1 shop-floor engineering model
65 engines flown on 13 Saturn V missions
Most of the R&D engines were destroyed in testing
37 engines remain as museum displays or whatever; MSFC disassembled at least one F-1 in 2011 to study for possible restart of F-1 builds (or derivative engines) for the new Space Launch System.


As a tie-in for the Revell 1:96 Saturn V project, the kit's engines have some sketchy outside detail, but nothing inside the bells. Granted, you're not really expected to pick the model up to look in the engines, since it's supposed to be displayed standing vertically. The engines aren't correct, anyway, since they're covered in insulation blankets before the rocket's rolled out to the launch pad (good picture of the blanket here, at Up-Ship's Unwanted Blog. RealSpace Models sells a set of properly blanketed F-1's for about $30.

I'm not planning on doing any superdetailing on my Saturn at the moment. I'll be content with cleaning up the existing engines and using different shades of silver to make them look...well, better than this:

Lazy astronaut dude wouldn't stand up. Had to discipline him.

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