Encyclopedia Astronautica
Apollo Lenticular



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Apollo Lenticular
Credit: Mark Wade
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Apollo Lenticular
Credit: NASA
American manned spacecraft. Study 1962. The Convair/Astronautics alternate Lenticular Apollo was a flying saucer configuration with the highest hypersonic lift to drag ratio (4.4) of any proposed design.

The lenticular shape, with deployable wings for final approach, had first been suggested by Alan B. Kehlet of STG's New Projects Panel in 1959. The compact circumlunar version of the spacecraft was only 9.76 m long but also the heaviest Apollo proposed at 8,778 kg.

The saucer was 4.88 m in diameter but only 1.73 m deep, with a total mass of 2867 kg. The unique shape required reverse packaging at launch. Within a large conical shroud the propulsion module was at the top, followed by the saucer, then the pressurized mission module. The crew's seats were set back 90 degrees for launch, then brought upright for normal operations and landing. Access to the mission module was through a hatch in the bottom of the saucer.

Unlike the other Apollo designs, the lenticular required different propulsion and mission modules compared to the M-1 baseline. The lenticular design also provided difficult engineering problems in launch escape and arrangement of the modules. Although favored by many at NASA headquarters, the simpler ballistic approach won out in the end. The lenticular design was further developed by North American for the US Air Force as a 'space bomber' in the early 1960's.

Gross mass: 8,778 kg (19,352 lb).
Height: 9.76 m (32.02 ft).
Span: 4.88 m (16.01 ft).

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Associated Countries
See also
  • Lenticular Vehicles For a brief period in 1959-1964, NASA and the US Air Force actively considered launching manned flying saucers into space. Although very much in tune with UFO mania and science fiction films of the times, the concept lost out to other aerodynamic concepts. More...

Associated Launch Vehicles
  • Saturn I American orbital launch vehicle. Von Braun launch vehicle known as 'Cluster's Last Stand' - 8 Redstone tanks around a Jupiter tank core,powered by eight Jupiter engines. Originally intended as the launch vehicle for Apollo manned circumlunar flights. However it was developed so early, no payloads were available for it. More...
  • Saturn V American orbital launch vehicle. America's booster for the Apollo manned lunar landing. The design was frozen before a landing mode was selected; the Saturn V could be used for either Earth-Orbit-Rendezvous or Lunar-Orbit-Rendezvous methods. The vehicle ended up with the same payload capability as the 'too large' Nova. The basic diameter was dictated by the ceiling height at the Michoud factory selected for first stage manufacture. More...

Associated Manufacturers and Agencies
  • Convair American manufacturer of rockets, spacecraft, and rocket engines. Convair, USA. More...

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