Originally Posted by tbzep
Did you have to jump through many hoops to do your commemorative launches on site?
A few, but it was not what I would call 'harsh'. We initially made a written proposal to KSC Public Affairs office of basically what we wanted to do. Then we went down and met with a group of their safety folks about six weeks before the event and went over in detail with them what we were going to launch, how we would do it, etc., and showed them some video of one of our test launches with the Saturn V (Centuri 1/100 scale with a five engine cluster of an Aerotech E with four Estes mini A motors) and the scale pad and tower John had built.
The recovery area there across the street from the VAB right by the countdown clock where we launched is not too very large...the Turning Basin where they barged in the large Saturn stages and later the Shuttle External Tank is right there, and 'splashdown' was a real concern (though luckily we had a 'land landing' for the actual flight).
KSC was planning a big open house event for that Sunday, July 16, 1989, along with a big event with the Apollo 11 crew in the VAB parking lot right across the street from our launch site. I think they had something like 20,000 people on site that day. We launched right after the Apollo 11 crew event, with the countdown clock running towards an 11:00 a.m. launch time. Clock was already running and counting down when we got on site at about 6:30 that morning. At 10:57, they started playing the last three minites of Jack King's launch commentary from Apollo 11, sync'd with the clock. We had a flame/smoke device (pre-approved by the KSC Safety folks) to simulate the build-up of the real Saturn F-1 engines. At zero we lit the Aerotech E, and at first motion on the pad of the Saturn, a microswitch fired the four outboard flashbulbs for the mini-A motors.
It was a lot of fun, but to say we were nervous would be an understatement. It was a great event to be a part of, and over the years doing three of these events (the other two for the 25th and 30th anniversaries were done at the Visitor's Center) allowed us to meet many of the past people involved with Apollo, including some of the astronauts like Neil and Buzz and a number of the old program managers and such who you could tell were just happy to have people 'remember' what they did all those years ago. Could have talked with some of them for days. Now most all of them are gone.