Jim Snoddy and other NASA engineers didn’t just go to the drawing board or a warehouse when they needed ideas – and parts – for America’s next lunar rocket. They went to space museums.
Facing tight deadlines and uncertain budgets as it works on President Bush’s plan to send astronauts back to the moon and on to Mars, NASA is both cannibalizing and analyzing pieces of its glory years, namely the Apollo program that first put humans on the lunar surface in 1969.
Snoddy, a manager at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, has been removing valves and other parts from Apollo exhibits as he oversees construction of the upper-stage engine on the new moon rocket, dubbed Ares 1. Some of the pieces and accompanying documentation are not available anywhere but museums, he said. … Don Krupp, chief of the vehicle analysis branch at Marshall, said it is unlikely any of the antique parts will actually fly in space; instead, they will be used for research and development. – more