A Slice of Life
I would design and have built any test fixtures required. Then I would coordinate with the various support groups necessary for each test. In most cases, the specimen would have to be tested in at least the three realms I mentioned (high temp, low temp, vibration) to verify that they would function under those conditions. This meant the Ordnance Design Engineer had to have at least three of his system specimens built and supplied to the Test Group for testing. It was something to be able to blow up these various test specimens when they worked as designed, but when they didn’t, and the Ordnance Design Engineer had to take the mangled pieces back to his office and his drawing board, to figure out how to make the system work properly, it was rather sad for him. You might have heard the old saying, “Well, it’s back to the drawing board.” Well, that’s just what he had to do. This would go on until the system was perfected and the test results satisfied the original/modified system designed acceptance requirements. Of course, everyone had their own critical time schedule that they were working to, and any delays caused by malfunctions or unexpected test results only added to the pressure each group involved would feel.
Many of the system specimens we tested were small, which made them easy to setup and test. They included mostly self-contained fuse assemblies and guillotine type cutters, used for cutting such things as parachute shroud lines, etc. The guillotine cutters used pressure cartridges to instantly force the cutting blade thru the lines. The reason most of the explosive systems used on the Apollo Spacecraft and the Saturn V Launch Vehicle had to be self-contained was to prevent damage to the vehicle in which they were located.
For example, one of the main explosive systems used to ignite solid rocket motors was Confined Detonating Fuse (CDF). This was a small flexible lead sheathed explosive core wrapped in alternating layers of plastic and fiberglass weaved cloth. This allowed the explosive train to be routed thru various parts of the vehicle to the rocket motors, or other explosive devises, and still confine the explosion. Then there were the parachute mortars, which were used to deploy the various parachute systems during spacecraft re-entry. The diagram below shows an example of how CDF was routed and connected for use on a retrorocket system.
There were also various methods of separating the multiple components and stages from each other. All of these explosive devises had to work as designed and exactly when required to insure specific component and overall mission objectives.
—–To Be Continued—–