Saturn Apollo Program
The Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) played a crucial role in the development of the huge Saturn rockets that delivered humans to the moon in the 1960s. Many unique facilities existed at MSFC for the development and testing of the Saturn rockets. Affectionately nicknamed “The Arm Farm”, the Random Motion/ Lift-Off Simulator was one of those unique facilities. This facility was developed to test the swingarm mechanisms that were used to hold the rocket in position until lift-off. The Arm Farm provided the capability of testing the detachment and reconnection of various arms under brutally realistic conditions. The 18-acre facility consisted of more than a half dozen arm test positions and one position for testing access arms used by the Apollo astronauts. Each test position had two elements: a vehicle simulator for duplicating motions during countdown and launch; and a section duplicating the launch tower. The vehicle simulator duplicated the portion of the vehicle skin that contained the umbilical connections and personnel access hatches. Driven by a hydraulic servo system, the vehicle simulator produced relative motion between the vehicle and tower. On the Arm Farm, extreme environmental conditions (such as a launch scrub during an approaching Florida thunderstorm) could be simulated. The dramatic scenes that the Marshall engineers and technicians created at the Arm Farm permitted the gathering of crucial technical and engineering data to ensure a successful real time launch from the Kennedy Space Center.