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EXPLORING SPACE - FOR ALL MANKIND-----------------------------------------This blog is to proliferate space travel and exploration to people the world over, in an attempt to inspire a sense of awe and wonder into mankind's greatest accomplishment - the exploration of the stars.---Former NASA History Facebook and Twitter content creator.----------------------Passionate about spaceflight since the age of two, I live and breath rockets, NASA, and anything space. I also enjoy Florida History and World's Fairs. I'm an avid explorer, and I'll occasionally post images from my travels.--------------21 - DC/VA/FL

In addition to the main F-1 and J-2 engines on a Saturn V launch vehicle, two other smaller engines located on the third stage provided key amounts of thrust. The Auxiliary Propulsion System consisted of two pods placed on opposite sides of the S-IVB stage. In fact, without them, a lunar mission would not have been possible. The engines were so vital that each one was quad redundant, meaning there were three other backups in the event one failed.

While visiting the Kansas Cosmosphere last which (which I covered in this post), one of the spare APU’s were on display. It was rather large, and it amused me that this was the ‘smallest’ of all the engines located on the launch vehicle.

It provided two main functions on the vehicle, both of which are vital for a successful launch. First, it acted as a ullage motor, pushing the propellants towards the back of the fuel tank during staging so that the engines could successfully ignite. Second, it provided attitude control in Earth orbit to properly orient the spacecraft in preparation for Trans-Lunar Injection.

When the spent S-IVB stages reached Lunar orbit, the motors were reignited one last time to propel the stage towards impact on the lunar surface.

Nearby, the topmost part of the moon rocket was on display. Known as the Q-ball, the sensor suite was located at the very top of the launch escape system, and was the very top of the rocket. Eight holes in the Q-ball measured air pressure and velocity during ascent; if any of them deviated from precalcuated figures, commands could be sent to move the five massive engines 363 feet below by as much as 1/8 of an inch!

For more information on the APS, click here.

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