SARASOTA, Florida (AP) – Few have ever heard of Kenneth Samuels or his contribution to the Apollo 11 moon landing. He will tell you that there is nothing wrong with that.
But a Sarasota man, now 85, who worked as an engineer at Ling-Temco-Vought (the now defunct LTV Corporation) in the spring of 1969, solved the problem of a leaking balloon that prevented astronauts from communicating with NASA during recharges. -Input.
The split sphere containing the radio equipment was connected to an O-ring that could not be held tightly enough to prevent exposure to the hot gas when the space capsule returned to Earth. They gave it to Samuels, who turned it around and turned it back.
“I was a pretty good (strong) person at the time, and they brought it in and made me tighten it up,” Samuels said. “Not that I was as big or strong as they were, but the guy thought about me tightening it, so I tightened it well and tightly and they brought it back and said it worked. This was my contribution to this part of the program. ”
Samuels, who served in the Marine Corps, was a member of the Ground Brigade of the Lunar Landing Research Center at Langley Air Force Base in Hampton, Virginia, where training with Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins took place in the critical months before the moon. landing. He was introduced to the McDonnell Douglas space program on Project Mercury, in which the first man went into space.
The $ 3.5 million lunar portal, built in 1965, was a 400-foot, 230-foot, A-frame steel tower that suspended the lunar excursion module on which Armstrong, Aldrin, and other Apollo astronauts flew to the moon. … … They trained to land on a simulated lunar surface.
Samuels said his brown-suited teammates worked in the background, while white-clad, crew-trained NASA astronauts like Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins were the usual “ducal mix” of men and a “cuddly group people for work “.
Several of Samuels’ crew members worked on a bridge the same height as the deck of the Sunshine Skyway. They could see up to Cape Charles, over 22 miles across the Chesapeake Bay, on a good day.
“When I first went to work there, this gentleman, Mr. Adams, said, ‘You will work at your station there, on the portal,” Samuels said. “I said, ‘Mr. Adams, I can give you a really good job on earth, but up there, I’ll be attached to anything that doesn’t move.’ He grabbed another guy who grew up on a ranch in Colorado. He had more nerves than me. ” Several astronauts from the space program have trained at Langley, but Samuels cannot remember them all. He remembers Armstrong as a friendly person who had occasional conversations with team members and the seriousness associated with the project.
“To be honest, it was work for us grumblers,” Samuels said. “It was not a sloppy place to work because it was too dangerous. We concentrated and there were some good people. ”
Volatile liquids such as 95 percent hydrogen peroxide have been used as fuel to simulate the explosion of real rockets. The crews wore fire resistant clothing.
“We had Air Force firefighters because this thing flowing down the gutters could set the grass on fire,” Samuels said. “Everything had to be very thoroughly wet, including the workers. In winter, we collected ice for costumes that we had to wear. ”
Several months later, while still at Langley AFB, Samuels and his teammates watched Armstrong’s perfect landing hit the lunar surface. Their reaction was muted by their pride.
“I said,“ Uh. He did it, ”Samuels said. “I’m not trying to exaggerate here. I guess I’m not really too worried.
When he thinks about the past tense, Samuels says he has made even more contributions to other projects, including naval warfare, automation, construction equipment, and electronic equipment.
He settled down, started a family, and later moved to Sarasota to be with his son Billy.
NASA will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the landing of Apollo 11 next July.
“It didn’t impress me at the time,” Samuels said, “but when I look back at it now, I was one of the very few people who really participated in this training and all.”