Apollo Facts and Figures

These are taken from the Apollo Spacecraft News Reference, provided by Ed Dempsey.

The possibility of a micrometeoroid as big as a cigarette ash striking the command module during an 8-day lunar missions has been computed as 1 in 1230. If a meteoroid did strike the module, it would be at a velocity of 98,500 feet per second. The probability of the command module getting hit is 0.000815. The probability of the command module not getting hit is 0.999185.

The heat leak from the Apollo cryogenic tanks, which contain hydrogen and oxygen, is so small that if one hydrogen tank containing ice were placed in a room heated to 70 degrees F, a total of 8-1/2 years would be required to melt the ice to water at just one degree above freezing. It would take approximately 4 years more for the water to reach room temperature. The gases in the cryogenic tanks are utilized in the production of electrical power by the Apollo fuel cell system and provide oxygen for the use of the crew.

When the Apollo spacecraft passes through the Van Allen belts on its way to the moon, the astronauts will be exposed to radiation roughly equivalent to that of a dental X-ray.

With gravity on the moon only one-sixth as strong as on earth, it is necessary that this difference be related to the Apollo vehicle. A structure 250 feet high and 400 feet long in which cables lift five-sixth of the spacecraft vehicle weight is being used in tests to simulate lunar conditions and their effect on the vehicle.

The command module panel display includes 24 instruments, 566 switches, 40 even indicators (mechanical), and 71 lights.

The command module offers 73 cubic feet per man as against 68 feet per man in a compact car. By comparison, the Mercury spacecraft offered 55 cubic feet for its one traveler and Gemini provided 40 cubic feet per man.

The angular accuracy requirement of midcourse correction of the spacecraft for all thrusting maneuvers is one degree.

If you car gets 15 miles to the gallon, you could drive 18 million miles or around the world about 400 times on the propellants required for the Apollo/Saturn lunar landing mission. The Saturn V launch vehicle contains 5.6 million pounds of propellant (or 960,000 gallons).

When the Apollo spacecraft re-enters the atmosphere it will generate energy equivalent to approximately 86,000 kilowatt hours of electricity - enough to light the city of Los Angeles for about 104 seconds; or the energy generated would lift all the people in the USA 10-3/4 inches off the ground.

The fully loaded Saturn V launch vehicle with the Apollo Spacecraft stands 60 feet higher than the Statue of Liberty on its pedestal and weighs 13 times as much as the statue.

During its 3.5 second firing, the Apollo Spacecraft's solid-fuel launch escape rocket generates the horsepower equivalent of 4,300 automobiles.

The engines of the Saturn V launch vehicle that will propel the Apollo spacecraft to the moon have combined horsepower equivalent to 543 jet fighters.

The Apollo environmental control system has 180 parts in contrast to 8 for the average home window air conditioner. The Apollo environmental control system performs 23 functions compared to 5 for the average home conditioner. There are 23 functions of the environmental control system, which include: air cooling, air heating, humidity contol, ventilation to suits, ventilation to cabin, air filtration, CO2 removal, odor removal, waste management functions, etc.

The 12-foot-high Apollo spacecraft command module contains about fifteen miles of wire, enough to wire 50 two-bedroom homes.

The astronaut controls and monitors the stabilization and control system by means of two handgrip controllers, 34 switches, and 6 knobs.

The Apollo command module can sustain a hole as large as 1/4 inch in diameter and still maintain the pressure inside for 15 minutes, which is considered long enough for an astronaut to put on a spacesuit.

The boost protective cover will protect the command module from temperatures expected to reach 1200 degrees during the launch phase.

The power of one Saturn V is enough to place in earth orbit all U.S. manned spacecraft previously launched.

Here is an analogy pertaining to the benefits of the multistage concept as opposed to the single-stage, brute-force method. If a steam locomotive pulling three coal cars carries all three cars along until all fuel is exhausted, the locomotive could travel 500 miles. By dropping off each car as its coal is expended the locomotive could travel 900 miles.

The F-1's fuel pumps push fuel with the force of 30 diesel locomotives.

Enough liquid oxygen is contained in the first stage tank to fill 54 railroad tank cars.

The five F-1 engines equal 160,000,000 horsepower, about double the amount of potential hydroelectric power that would be available at any given moment if all the moving waters of North America were channeled through turbines.

The interior of each of the first stage propellant tanks is large enough to accommodate three large moving vans side by side.

The Saturn V's second stage construction is comparable to that of an eggshell in efficiency, the amount of weight and pressure constrained by a thin wall.

Total amount of propellant (fuel and oxidizer) in the Saturn V launch vehicle, service module, and lunar module is 5,625,000 pounds.

The ratio of propellant to payload in Saturn V is 50 to 1.

The main computer in the command module occupies only one cubic foot.

While an automobile has less than 3,000 functional parts, the command module has more than 2,000,000 not counting wires and skeletal components.

The command module uses only about 2000 watts of electricity, similar to the amount required by an oven in an electric range.

The honeycomb aluminum used in Apollo's inner crew compartment is 40-percent stronger and 40-percent lighter than ordinary aluminum.

The tanks which hold the cryogenic (ultra-cold) liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen on the Apollo spacecraft come close to being the only leak-free vessels ever built. If an automobile tire leaked at the same rate that these tanks do, it would take the tire 32,400,000 years to go flat.

There are approximately 2-1/2 million solder joints in the Saturn V launch vehicle. If just 1/32 of an inch too much wire were left on each of these joints and an extra drop of solder was used on each of these joints, the excess weight would be equivalent to the payload of the vehicle.

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Copyright 1997, 1998 by John Duncan
Comments and questions welcome. All photographs contained on these pages are the author's, unless otherwise noted. No unauthorized reproduction without permission.

Last update: March 1, 1998