Monday, October 18, 2010
A Little Joe II for those who hate to build towers
Under a General Dynamics/NASA proposal, the Little Joe II/Lunar Excursion Module (LEM) would have boosted an Apollo LEM to close to 200,000' where the descent engines could be tested in near vacuum and zero-G conditions. This interesting configuration featured an interesting, bulbous payload section and, obviously, no escape tower. The LJ II/LEM was wind tunnel tested with two different nose shrouds as shown in the attached diagram . One source  indicates that the configuration was proved to be feasible, while another  indicates it was found to be unstable without the addition of larger fins. Either way, the concept was scrapped in favor of a orbital, Saturn 1B-boosted test. I like fat rockets and this is on my short list of future builds (but, it's been there a long time). More scale data can be found in ref. .
 Rogers, Charles, Apollo Little Joe II, High Power Rocketry, Vol. 13 No. 6, August 1998, p. 79, 82, 84.
 Data and Analysis of an 0.03 Scale Model of a Little Joe II/LEM Configuration (Langley 8-Foot Transonic Pressure Tunnel Test No. 288), Convair Report GDC-63-243, December 1963.
 Little Joe II, Encyclopedia Astronautica.
 Harris, C. D., Luoma, A. A., Static longitudinal aerodynamic characteristics of a hammerhead-shaped Little Joe II - Lunar module model at Mach 0.30 to 1.2, NASA-TN-D-4139, Langley Research Center, October 1967.