Building the Apollo Capsules

An Engineer’s Memoir of the Moonshot Program and Its Debt to Hispanic Team Members


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About the Book

This firsthand account of the development of the Apollo 11 mission gives a behind-the-scenes look at the 1969 moon landing mission from an engineer’s perspective. The technical problems and solutions of designing a capsule to carry three astronauts—Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong and Michael Collins—safely to the moon and back are covered in detail from the author’s point of view. The contributions of Latino personnel in the Apollo program are described.

About the Author(s)

Jim De La Rosa is a retired aerospace engineer living in Tucson, Arizona. He has taught Radar electronics in the Air Force, worked for Hughes Aircraft Company, designed electronic circuits for Airborne Radar systems, designed Flight Control Systems for Guided Missiles at North American Aviation, designed systems for the Apollo capsules that took astronauts to the moon, designed electronic systems to fly the Space Shuttle, designed systems for rockets at The Aerospace Corporation and was a Consultant Engineer.

Bibliographic Details

Jim De La Rosa

Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 250
Bibliographic Info: 67 photos, appendix, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2023
pISBN: 978-1-4766-8719-3
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4871-2
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix
Preface 1
Introduction 5
1. The Apollo Unmanned Capsules and Some Eagle Knights 9
2. AFRM 009 and the Eagle Knight Lead Engineer 21
3. The AFRM 009 Control Programmer Team and a New AFRM 009 Mission 34
4. The Control Programmer 41
5. AFRM 009 Control Programmer Supervision 49
6. Finalizing AFRM 009’s Control Programmer on Paper Design 56
7. Control Programmer Initial Tests and Eagle Knight Cruz Mora 61
8. The Baseline Control Programmer Design 77
9. Preparing AFRM 009 for Launch 84
10. The Launch of AFRM 009 97
11. Mission Control Programmer for AFRMs 011, 017 and 020 102
12. Final MCP Design for AFRMs 011, 017 and 020 109
13. Farewell to the Mission Control Programmer 115
14. The Honeywell Resident Representative Assignment 121
15. Fulfilling the Honeywell Commitment and More Eagle Knights 127
16. Returning to Downey and More Eagle Knights 133
17. A New Assignment and More Eagle Knights 140
18. The Manned Apollo Capsules and More Eagle Knights 147
19. Apollo Command Module Problems and More Eagle Knights 154
20. Manned Apollo First Flight and More Eagle Knights 168
21. Prelude to a Moon Landing with More Eagle Knights Participating 178
22. Solving One Last Major Problem Before the Moon Landing 188
23. We Land on the Moon and a Few More Eagle Knights 199
Epilogue 211
Appendix: Notes Taken During My Support of Apollo 10 Mission—May 1969 215
Chapter Notes 231
Bibliography 236
Index 237