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The last known unidentified marking on the Saturn V S-IC (apollosaturncom.blogspot.com)
111 points by yanowitz on June 5, 2018 | hide | past | favorite | 64 comments

> I posted some images in the Saturn Rocket History group on Facebook

It saddens me that Facebook has become this big, opaque data hole in the Internet. Even searching for that group name only returns one reference back to it.

All that accumulated recorded knowledge that exists only so long as Facebook determines that Groups have financial benefit. All that knowledge that can't be archived for the greater Internet.

Discord is another big black hole of useful info. Lots of major programming IRC channels were at least logged in an indexable way.

Are people not logging Discord servers as well? If you can read message history you can use a fake client to export a couple hundred thousand messages in 5 minutes. This is how I got old messages. Now I just run it daily. CSV output.

It would be interesting to publicly share these messages so that useful conversations are backed up and shared/indexed

It would, I wanted to do emotion analysis on them but the way my friends and I speak within discord is representative of a conversation, with convenience and spelling variances to declare the dialect something is supposed to be read in so it didn't really work out.

  [5:35 PM] zsh: sopranos in a bit?
  [5:38 PM] Adam: probably
  [5:57 PM] zsh: when
  [6:00 PM] zsh: ?
  [6:04 PM] Adam: whenever tuhe f8uclo i FEDEL LIKE
  [6:04 PM] zsh: im ready
  [6:04 PM] zsh: whenever
  [6:04 PM] Adam: ye thats cool
  [6:04 PM] zsh: im actually going to kill u
  [6:04 PM] Adam: gimme 5 i guess
  [6:04 PM] Adam: idk i just dont feel that hyped to watch it rn
  [6:05 PM] zsh: we can play bf1 idc
  [6:05 PM] Adam: ye i think play bf1 for a bit
  [7:45 PM] zsh: too much effort to get up
  [7:45 PM] zsh: no

  [7:56 PM] Adam: fucking mullinyan kids
  [8:24 PM] zsh: varsity athlete won
  [8:24 PM] Adam: rip bobby
  [8:26 PM] zsh: the bacala man stands true
  [8:27 PM] Adam: bacala vs a gun
  [8:27 PM] Adam: 
  [8:38 PM] zsh: yes
  [8:45 PM] zsh: my estimation of John sacrimoni as a man had plummeted
  [8:45 PM] Adam: what sort of don gets cancer
  [8:46 PM] zsh: the same one that cries
these are surprisingly common examples, being of lesser extremes. Varying capitalization and new lines are used as ways of carrying on a dialogue, instead of writing entire bubbles of text at once, producing the feeling of a conversation instead of reading e-mails. The second being an example of 'soprano-posting,' in which you use references to The Sopranos in an ironic manner. The first being a common conversation. Looking into the idea of trying to extract emotion from this accurately seems... impossible. Most of our writings are extremely foreign to those that aren't 'in the know' and seem almost hostile to one another, while in reality they aren't.

I'm curious if there has been analysis on this type of writing in general. It feels so much more efficient than 'traditional' writing styles.

Probably not as much as they should be.

I wonder if anyone's written an single-click-install integration for Discord, or if it's against policy. If not, I wonder if anyone's written a client-side app that's easy to run and configure.

Not to mention that, depending on how active the group is, after a few days / weeks / month the content will be impossible to find even through Facebook itself.

Some groups are so large and post so frequently that it's not even possible to find postings from the same day (happens sometimes when I'm reading on my phone and want to reply afterwards on my PC).

That... was a tough read, nay, more of a plod, it never came to a solid conclusion after a laborious build up, BAH! And I'm a space/tech geek too, with an appreciation of the arcane, but it needs to be easy to read for those who may not have all the details the author clearly does. My father worked on the A-12 (OXCART), several space probes, Mariner, Pioneer, etc., Project Gemini and Project Apollo. He used to bring me green Anole Lizards that he'd find on the Pad at the Cape and he shot 8mm family movies most times he went down for a launch. Sadly, no cameras allowed in the block house, so I never saw the inside and no home movies of the launches, because he was busy in the block house with the launch. The Saturn 5 on the crawler slowly headed for the Pad was always my fave movie reel, but also the rain storm inside the assembly building when it's clear outside, that was a trip.

> My father worked on the A-12 (OXCART)

The most beautiful airplane ever built.

I watched a history of the Saturn V on Amazon last night. Unfortunately, frustratingly little of it was about the technical details of it, which is mostly what interests me. The only good bit was an explanation of the pogoing problem, the rest was just the usual stuff seen on every "failure is not an option" Apollo documentary.

Reminds me of the locomotive buffs who are interested in every detail of markings on the locomotives, their routes, schedules, and paint colors. Whereas there's very little about the engineering evolution of those locomotives. Sigh.

For example, I'm interested in the transition between trial-and-error seat of the pants engineering and mathematically based engineering.

I took several courses in computational fluid dynamics while in graduate school from a professor who had begun his academic career in the late 50s. He had worked for the Army on ICBM re-entry vehicle dynamics, worked for JPL planning space missions, etc. In class he sometimes spoke about this transition. As I remember it, we were discussing the issues surrounding the design of the injector plate for the Saturn V F-1 engines. These famously took more than 1000 iterations before the designers arrived at a combination of baffles that damped standing waves within the combustion chamber. The professor, who had helped with this work, said something like (forgive me, this is as close as I can remember what he said), "You have to understand, we didn't try this 1000 times because we wanted to try it 1000 times. We had the mathematics to try to explore the workings of this combustion chamber. But we didn't have the computing power to experiment with our mathematical models! Now I can take advantage of many powerful, commercial solvers and have them run many times, tweaking initial conditions, and evaluate the results with statistics. Then, all we could do was sit around and do some very crude math and come up with another baffle configuration and try again until it worked. Because it HAD to work."

> For example, I'm interested in the transition between trial-and-error seat of the pants engineering and mathematically based engineering.

It is difficult to know how best to document this kind of thing, the people who know about it probably don't want to write books or create their own websites.

My grandfather was responsible for part of the engineering side of the early British radar equipment, Wikipedia only really describes the scientific experiments that led up to it. I have plenty of stuff that I could add that he told me when teaching me electronics when I was a kid, but I would expect it to get deleted if I can't point at an external source.

The early British radar used during WWII was some amazing fetes of engineering and mathematics. Some of the beginnings of Operations Research.


Please write it anyway. It's important history. Just be straightforward about how you came by this information.

Heck, I'd like to read it as well!

I know some things about the air war in WW2 told to me by my father (B17 navigator) that I've never seen in any history. I write about them once in a while on the internet.

For example, the air crews would squat on their flak jackets instead of wearing them, for the simple reason that the trajectory of the flak shrapnel was mostly upwards.

Post the extra stuff to your blog, then cite that blog on Wikipedia.

Then you'll just need to get a newspaper to write an article on it, so you can have an 'authoritative' citation. /s

Paging Steele...


Thesis covers an earlier time frame than you want (up to 1800), but is this the kind of analysis you are after?

Would pull in development of precision machining, and various improvements in steel making I imagine. The paper below has a time line and details of 'start ups' involved in UK.


In twentieth century various people tried to adapt the steam turbine to rail use with varying success. Marine turbines dominated ship engines then for larger ships.

I think a carefully worded question on a UK railway forum might yield some results. I can just about remember steam locomotives clinging on in the early 60s (my mother hated them - put your washing out and watch the soot land...)


Has a time line of the companies involved in some of that.

Thank you! Saved for later reading.

Try the book: "Stages to Saturn" by Roger E. Bilstein: https://history.nasa.gov/SP-4206/sp4206.htm

I second this recommendation. This is an excellent book about the Saturn V system. I also highly recommend Jonathan H. Ward's two excellent books, "Rocket Ranch: The Nuts and Bolts of the Apollo Moon Program at Kennedy Space Center" and "Countdown to a Moon Launch: Preparing Apollo for Its Historic Journey". These two books give a history aimed at the engineer, or the "rivet counters". It's full of interesting little details. For example, did you know that one of the firing rooms at the Cape was exclusively used for project management purposes? One huge wall of the room was used for maintaining a Gantt chart of the entire Apollo program all the way until Apollo Soyuz.

Ward goes into excellent detail on the support facilities used for engineering tests, what the engineering tests consisted of, how they were conducted, etc. Even (sad) details on how 39A was immediately reconfigured for STS operations after Apollo Soyuz.

Very interesting day-by-day history of Apollo, archived by NASA: https://www.hq.nasa.gov/office/pao/History/SP-4204/contents....

Makes for a very long, but interesting read for those who are NASA and history buffs.

'Apollo: Race To The Moon', Murray and Cox, is a great popular history that describes a pretty broad swath of the engineering (and management) efforts behind Apollo, including several nice sections on the Saturn V and the F-1 engine in particular.

People who tend to have such interests I guess don't end up making or producing documentaries. I've found oral histories the best, when some old people have been interviewed with the interviewer getting out of the way so to speak. Don't have the list here so might misremember the names but Robert Brulle, Stanley Hooker and Doron Aurbach for example have interesting life stories.

You might read Walt Vincenti's book on this, "What Engineers Know and How They Know It: Analytical Studies from Aeronautical History" Excellent read. https://www.amazon.ca/What-Engineers-Know-How-They/dp/080184...

"How Apollo Flew to the Moon" (https://www.amazon.co.uk/Apollo-Springer-Praxis-Books-Explor...) is pretty exhaustive on the technical details.

Assuming you already have the "Haynes manual" for the Saturn V: http://a.co/53REsWD

Technical as all get-out.

I must thank everyone who replied with wonderful references. I had no idea I'd get such great responses! I look forward to many pleasant sessions perusing this material.

It's probably hard to get that information 50-60 years after the fact.

Are there documentary crews at SpaceX right now?

I'll add to the list of recommendations "V-2" by Dornberger.


Although Dornberger was not an engineer, the book does go through many technical difficulties and how they were resolved. The V2 is, of course, a direct ancestor of the Saturn V, and the solutions to those difficulties are present in the SV as well.

I can imagine him trying to explain his excitement about finding this to his wife, then her patting him on the head and her saying "that's nice honey". Underscoring the amount of effort involved in such a seemingly trivial things that nerds enjoy digging into.

Hah! Last week I was doing some research on a typeface I had found. I was getting visibly excited while looking at my screen. My partner looks up and asks what's got me worked up. I spent about 30 seconds explaining what I found and why I was nerd happy. The response? Cool [https://bit.ly/2sHXrH8]. Goes back to the book.

I’m confused by this comment. Do you know this is specifically know that John Duncan has a wife and that this is how she’d react? Or does this mean something else?

It is a hypothetical that means there are very few people in the world that would share the unique obsessions of Saturn V model makers who care about every detail. So his hypothetical wife, who likely doesn't share the same obsessions, wants to be supportive but doesn't feel the same excitement that he does.

If this is correct, it doesn’t seem very healthy.

While quite possibly statistically likely, it doesn’t seem very healthy to make these assumptions for the purposes of a joke.

Might have been better to just say “a friend” rather than “wife” which makes a number of assumptions...


Basically no one is as into the markings on the Saturn V first stage as this guy, so I don't see how assuming his wife (if he is married) wouldn't be super into it is offensive.

Also if I had said 'partner' or 'friend' instead of 'wife' the comment would probably have been less humorous, as it plays on a cliche situation. I'd rather not live in a world where I'd have to neuter such a statement in the name of absolute correctness over common sense.

The cliche draws upon a stereotype. It’s not a great stereotype to perpetuate in my opinion. Better to just not make the joke than to perpetuate a stereotype.

What stereotype? Sounds to me like you are the one making negative assumptions here.

That men in tech all have wives and that their wives are not interested in technical things that interest them.

If you see a man on the Internet and think “this man must be married and his wife must not be interested in this because wives (women) are not interested in these things”... that’s pretty unhealthy. And making a joke about it, and it becoming a social norm is even more unhealthy.

SV/the tech world at large clearly has issues with stereotypes and being inclusive. Why not avoid doing that and just say “friend” rather than making a lame stereotyped “my wife” type joke...

The joke was about imagining such an individual in a hypothetical scenario after the fact. It does not rely on having any direct accuracy to the individual in the article to get the point across, it's merely a character at that point.

How healthy, in your opinion, is diagnosing the mental health of strangers on the Internet based on a single comment they made?

My intended meaning is that it leads to a unhealthy community... not that anybody has specific mental health issues.

I don't really think assuming that one person might be similar to 80% of the rest of the population for the purposes of a joke would lead to a unhealthy community.

However, your own comments are definitely making the community worse, by arguing on minor points of an unassuming joke. Especially as you eventually admit to assuming yourself that this might be a joke at the expense of women (I don't think anyone else had thought this).

This is the kind of comment that only adds tension within a community.

Where do you get 80% from?

From the stats I can find slightly more than 50% of the population is unmarried.

How is the joke not at the expense of women? The commenter even said it drew on the cliche of a wife not being interested in a husbands activity?

If it’s not at the expense of women, why not “friend” or “partner” (the commenter rejected both of those).

According to this: https://flowingdata.com/2017/11/01/who-is-married-by-now/ 80% of men are married by 43 and since the author was a kid in the 70s according to his website, he is most likely more than 43 anyway. The chances of him being married to a woman are closer to 90%.

The joke was at the expense of geeks in general, who often find themselves explaining something with excitement to their partner (in this case, most likely a wife - more importantly, this doesn't matter at all) only to receive a disappointingly laconic answer.

This is not a joke at the expense of women. Seems like you're looking for chances to jump to that conclusion. In my mind the joke is on the hypothetical husband who obsesses over minute details that almost no one else cares about.

IMHO a healthy community is one where people can relax a little and post a mildly humorous comment, without it getting picked on and criticized in detail as though it was a serious social transgression and threat to the health of the community, leading to a wasteful thread arguing over a triviality.

I didn’t think I was “picking” on anybody or making an overtly offensive comment.

I’d honestly be interested in knowing why this joke is “ok” and why it wouldn’t be better not to make generic assumptions about someone’s sexuality, marital status, and the interests of their spouse...

Yea, possibly doesn’t seem like a big issue to you. But if you’re a member of a minority the message it sends is “we just assume people are heterosexual, married, and wives/women are not interested in this stuff as a default”...

If you really think this thread is wasteful arguing over a triviality then it’s probably better not to engage?

It wasn't making any assumptions, because it was a joke. It was clearly a fantasy, not to be taken seriously, and not representative of actual opinions or facts, but instead poking fun at and satirizing such stereotypes. That's why you're getting so many down votes. If someone satirizes a stereotype as being silly or ridiculous, it doesn't make sense to then accuse them of holding or promoting that stereotype.

I can’t see anything that suggests this was satire. The explanations given by the original commenter don’t suggest it was meant as satire. And I don’t see anyone else suggesting it as satire.

If it really was satire, then that’s interesting, and why I asked for the joke to be explained...

To be honest it seems more like it was meant as an honest joke... playing on the stereotype that wives often don’t understand things their husbands do... and that this is normal and this is how normal people are in this community.

When my friend got his first rollover event (after much tribulation) show a different image on a website in the 90s he was ecstatic. His wife said "so what? I see that all the time" _sigh_

I think the op's comment is the same kind of thing...

It looks like a metal ruler glued or welded to the surface of the rocket. After all that build up in his story, I wish he explained what it was, and a bit more about what it does, even if it seems obvious to him.

It is referred to as an 'alignment mark', the print on it being in reverse because the instruments used to check said alignment might have an odd number of mirrors which would cause the image to be non-reversed. I'd say the purpose of the strip to be to align the stage either in relation to the other stages or to the launching platform.

I mean I’m pretty into space stuff and I read the article.. maybe it’s a bit niche for me.. :)

I'm into space stuff, and I could just feel his excitement in his words. It's always nice to see people really enjoying their hobby I think. If you have any level of OCD then this sort of article would appeal to you.

This is not what OCD is. I wish people would use the term appropriately.

I wish people would use the terms Depression, Anxiety, and Suicidal appropriately, but they don't do that either.

Apologies if I offended you/anyone with my use of the term OCD. If he can ignore it and move onto something else then it's clearly not OCD. However, the author is obsessed with finding out everything he can about Saturn V, to the extent he travels across the country to look at a sticker on one of parts that on display. Some people would call that an unhealthy level of obsession.

I'm not offended, I'm just perplexed why people (and not just you) use "OCD" when "obsessive" expresses their meaning better, and without involving a medical diagnosis that they're not actually referring to.

I read the article and while the marking was not interesting to me, the passion and persistence of the author was quite heartening.

I _have_ OCD - it didn't make the subject matter appealing.

Thank you. I always appreciate reading the tales of those who are so deeply passionate about an extremely niche hobby.

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