Mistakes were made [my mistake, not Fran’s]. Dave Porter writes:
Thanks for the piece on WD-40
. Just a correction, it was used on the Atlas rocket program (not Titan). I was a rocket technician at General Dynamics Space Systems division in the 80s and we heard about WD-40
, though I don’t remember ever using it. Atlas was a General Dynamics rocket, Titan was not. GD also built an upper stage rocket called Centaur that was often paired with Atlas, and also with Titan.
The part about the tanks being balloons is what really blew my mind when I started working there. When we were testing tanks we had to have a 24-hour watch on them to make sure the pressure never fell or they would collapse. Also, when working around them every tool we used had to have a tether on it because one little ding in the tank from a dropped tool could be a disaster.
I included a photo of a dummy Centaur rocket tank that I wired with strain gauges and thermocouples for a stage separation test. The white blocks on the tank are where the rocket motors would attach.
When I worked there, it was at a short-lived commercial division of the company that sold launches.