Paper models, photos and musings of a Paper Kosmonaut

28 July 2012

Redstone MR-3 Friendship 7

Before America was confident enough to send a man in a Mercury into orbit on that silvery Atlas, which had the habit of blowing up sometimes, they opted for so-called suborbital flights.these flight patterns were much simpler than getting a capsule in orbit. It actually just was a ballistic trajectory, where the rocket lifted off in a steep angle, getting as high as possible. Just before reaching that point, the rocket would jettison the capsule, which would rise a little further on a weightless parabola. The astronaut had about 5 minutes left to test the reaction control thrusters, read some gauges and maybe take some pictures before falling back. To help braking, the Mercury used retro rockets, strapped onto the heat shield. They fired one by one to slow the capsule down before they were jettisoned.

This firing of the retro rockets was not necessary with a ballistic flight, but they tested them anyway. From that point it went down again. because of the quick deceleration the astronaut got pressed back in his seat and experienced some 8g's. If the angle of re-entry was too steep it even could be higher.

The candle.
Alan Shepard, America's first man in space, experienced this first hand on his flight. Upon re-entering the atmosphere he got more than 11g's, eleven times his weight pressing down on him. He grunted "I'm O.K." a couple of time to let the control room know he still was alive. At the time he splashed down in the Atlantic, only 15 minutes were passed since his launch.

Shepard's capsule was different from the rest because of its windows. While all of the other flown Mercury capsules had a large rectangular window in front of the pilot's face, Friendship 7 had two small portholes on the left and right side of the astronaut. But there wasn't that much to see for Shepard in those 15 minutes. His time in the cockpit though, was a lot longer. Before he was launched, due to delays on the pad he had to wait for three hours. On top of all that he felt an urgent need to pee. When they said he couldn't egress the capsule, he did it in his suit. He was almost dry again (an airconditioned suit makes this go quite quick) when there occurred a new small anomaly. The control room wanted another delay but Shepard had enough of it all.
"Allright! I'm cooler than you are!", he barked. "Why don't you fix your little problem and light this candle!?" Not much later he lifted off the pad.

The building of this model was very easy. The most parts were in the engine section. The top part with the capsule followed the same process as with the Atlas. This time I made some photos of it all to show how I did it. Pictures after the break.

First I made the vertical struts of the escape tower. This is thin brass rod. The small parts are glued with CA.

After that, the tower got its rocket canister. A solid rolled cylinder of red paper. The windows in the capsule were punched out and I glued a small silver piece of paper on the inside. This gave the capsule some depth.

After drying, the sideways latticework was made. I cut parts of pins and fitted them between the vertical struts. On top of the rocket canister I glued the top probe, also made of a pin.

Some dabs of paint and the three engine bells for the solid rocket escape motors.

And here she stands before the bigger and more powerful Atlas.
Now what's next? I have some ideas. It could be a diorama on Mars, full of action, or it could be another rocket (Falcon 9 / Dragon) or I could go and make the Hubble Space Telescope.

Besides all the space stuff I want to start on something very earthy soon, too. I'll keep you posted.

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