Dragon DRW50403 NASA Redstone Multi-Stage Rocket with Mercury Spacecraft (1:72 Scale)
"Houston, we have a problem."
- Apollo 13 command module pilot, John L. "Jack" Swigert, communicating with the Houston Mission Control Center three days into their spaceshot, April 14th, 1970
The Mercury-Redstone Launch Vehicle, designed for NASA's Project Mercury, was the first American manned space booster. It was used for six sub-orbital Mercury flights from 1960-61; culminating with the launch of the first, and 11 weeks later, the second American (and the second and third humans) in space.
A member of the Redstone rocket family, it was derived from the U.S. Army's Redstone ballistic missile and the first stage of the related Jupiter-C launch vehicle; but to make it man-rated, its structure and systems were modified to improve safety and reliability. The four subsequent Mercury manned flights used the more powerful Atlas booster to enter low Earth orbit.
NASA chose the U.S. Army's Redstone liquid-fueled ballistic missile for its sub-orbital flights because it was the most reliable of any U.S. ballistic missile at the time, with many successful test flights.
The standard military Redstone lacked sufficient thrust to lift a Mercury capsule into the ballistic sub-orbital trajectory needed for the project; however, the first stage of the Jupiter-C, which was a modified Redstone with lengthened fuel tanks, could carry enough propellant to reach the desired trajectory. Therefore this Jupiter-C first stage was used as the starting point for the Mercury-Redstone design. The Jupiter-C's engine, however, was being phased out by the Army, so to avoid potential complications such as parts shortages or design revisions, the Mercury-Redstone designers chose the Rocketdyne A-7 engine used on the latest military Redstones.
The standard Redstone was fueled with a 75 percent ethyl alcohol solution, but the Jupiter-C first stage had used hydyne fuel, a blend of 60 percent unsymmetrical dimethylhydrazine (UDMH) and 40 percent diethylenetriamine (DETA). This was a more powerful fuel than ethyl alcohol, but it was also more toxic, which could be dangerous for an astronaut in a launch pad emergency. Furthermore, hydyne had never been used with the new A-7 engine. The Mercury-Redstone designers rejected hydyne and returned to the standard ethyl alcohol fuel.
Dragon's Space Collection now features a 1/72 scale ready made model of the successful Mercury-Redstone combination. The full rocket launch system is captured perfectly in miniature, and the Redstone rocket stems from all-new toolings. This replica is impressive to look at, measuring 34cm from its stable circular display stand to the tip of its escape tower. Its size makes it perfect for desktop display. The Mercury spacecraft is perched atop the launch vehicle, and the surface pattern of the ablative heat shield is particularly well done. Colors and markings are accurately reproduced. Mercury-Redstone program was an important step in space travel, and now collectors can make this journey too!
Height: 13-3/4 inches
Base: 1 inch
Release Date: March 2012
Historical Account: "Abort, Abort" - The most important change in making the Mercury-Redstone a suitable vehicle for an astronaut was the addition of an automatic in-flight abort sensing system. In an emergency where the rocket was about to suffer a catastrophic failure, an abort would activate the launch escape system attached to the Mercury capsule, which would rapidly eject it from the booster. Either the astronaut or the ground controllers could initiate an abort manually, but some potential failures during flight could lead to disaster before an abort could be manually triggered.
The Mercury-Redstone's automatic in-flight abort sensing system solved this problem by monitoring the rocket's performance during flight. If it detected an anomaly which might threaten the astronaut, such as loss of flight control, engine thrust, or electrical power, it would automatically abort, shutting down the engine and activating the capsule's escape system. (To keep the rocket from falling on people or facilities in the launch area, automatic engine shutdown was disabled during the first 30 seconds of flight, while the rocket was still over land.)