LUNAR MODULE ASCENT ENGINE
This engine lifted the ascent stage (upper section) of a Lunar Module off the surface of the Moon. The ascent stage then docked with the orbiting Command and Service Modules.
The ascent engine had to perform with high reliability; a serious malfunction could have stranded the astronauts on the Moon.
The ascent engine provides 1587 kilograms (3500 pounds) of thrust. The engine burns liquid propellants: the fuel is 50% hydrazine and 50% unsymmetrical dimethylhydrazine; the oxidizer is nitrogen tetroxide. These propellants are hypergolic; that is, they ignite spontaneously when brought together in the rocket's combustion chamber.
After the journey back from the Moon, the Apollo 11 command module sheds flaming pieces as its protective ablative covering as it hurtles through the Earth atmosphere toward splash down, July 24, 1969.Although the photograph gives the impression of fiery destruction of the spacecraft, the ablative material was performing as it was designed to. By vaporizing and burning away, it protected the interior of the spacecraft from the searing heat caused by friction with the atmosphere.
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