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May 14, 2024:

There I was, preparing only the third update since the hiatus, when the site's unofficial motto, "There's no such thing as a small update," struck.

The plan was to upload photos of the LOX domes from the recovered F-1 engines lab, along with a few planned photos of other engines to help illustrate the LOX dome photos.

This eventually ballooned into

Something like 113 new photos in all.


May 4, 2024 (May the Fourth be with you!):

March 2013 saw the recovery of the remains of several F-1 rocket engines from the bottom of the Atlantic ocean, and they were soon after whisked away to Hutchinson, Kansas, to the Cosmosphere's SpaceWorks division for conservation.

In December 2013, I was invited to view the engines while they were being conserved. The Cosmosphere really rolled out the red carpet for me, clearing the lead conservator's schedule for that day so he could tell me about the efforts underway and regale me with stories about how the disassembly of parts had gone, so each component could be put in its own restorative bath.

I was allowed to photograph the engine parts (in fact, the SpaceWorks guys turned off the circulating pumps in the tubs, adjusted lighting in the warehouse, and broke out high-end LED light panels to improve the results of my photography). However, I was asked to not post any photos until after the Smithsonian put their recovered engine components on display.

I also visited some three years later, after the conservation process was complete and the engine parts were in the process of being shipped to their destination museums, again taking photos.

On a recent visit to the U.S. Space & Rocket Center, I spoke with a Marshall Space Flight Center retiree who mentioned and was very interested in the engine recovery effort (the USSRC has at least a thrust chamber and several boxes of small parts but, much to his dismay, the museum not yet had the time or money necessary to put their parts on display).

So I did some searching on the Internet and found the the National Air & Space Museum had placed their components on display in their new "Destination Moon" gallery. A quick email to the Cosmosphere confirmed that I could post those photos, so I've posted an initial grouping of the Recovered F-1 Rocket Engine Conservation photos:

I have photos of additional components which I'll be posting in the coming weeks, to be paired with supporting photo sets at other museums and new info pages, so be sure to check back over the next month or two.


April 28, 2024 (Updated #2):

In support of a much larger project, I've uploaded some photos of an F-1 main LOX valve at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center.

I also added a new diagram and some additional text to my existing F-1 Rocket Engine Main LOX Valve page.


April 28, 2024:

Well, it's been a while.

Those of you with good memories will recall that, back in March 2020 (coincidentally enough, the first day a COVID lockdown was imposed in the U.S.), my computer failed. I had an on-site servicing contract, but of course with the lockdowns, that wasn't going to happen.

Then the "two weeks to flatten the curve" dragged on, and on, and on (and on). Although mask mandates were still in force and travel was generally discouraged, with my service contract coming to an end in March 2022, I finally contacted my vendor and had my "new" PC fixed.

The lockdowns meant no travel, and by the time the lockdowns were eased back, most museums (including my favorite, the U.S. Space & Rocket Center) had limited hours and were open fewer days. Oh, and if you want to travel 11 hours to visit a museum that's not open all that much, you still need to wear a mask.

By the time museums resumed a normal schedule, I got very busy at work, and couldn't afford to take time off for travel.

With my main PC out of commission and living under lockdown, I did what a lot of other people did: I organized my basement. I dusted off my old Apple //e and got into the retro computer scene (if you have any old Apple ][ or very early Macintosh equipment or software you want to get rid of drop me a line).

And I got into U.S. battleships (largely due to the Battleship New Jersey's YouTube channel).

Even though I wasn't posting new content, I was still making minor updates to my site: Every now and then, a Website reader would report a typo or a dead link (or I'd notice one myself), and I'd update that. So, not much, but still keeping it limping along.

But, with the total solar eclipse a couple of weeks ago, I stopped off at the USSRC "on my way home" (which was really nearly five hours in a direction mostly opposite of home). It was good to see my Saturn V again!

And so, with an aerospace museum visit fresh under my belt, I've made the time to create content again.

I've archived 2020's news. It looks like I finished 2020, such as it was, with 15,982 photos and 1,187 supplemental images/PDFs.


January 1, 2020 (Update #1):

With the beginning of the year, I've archived 2019's news. I did upload updates on December 30 and December 31, so be sure to click through to 2019's news if you didn't see those.

I finished the year with 15,898 photos and 1,184 supplemental images/PDFs, an increase of 1,299 and 18, respectively.

2019 was planned to be the year of the unfinished projects, and I did finish many older projects (especially toward of the beginning of the year), but I still have a couple of links on the site to unfinished projects, and I've started a few new ones, so I've got plenty of built-in material for the coming year.


January 1, 2019:

With the beginning of the year, I've archived 2018's news. I did upload three updates in the final week of 2018, so be sure to click through to 2018's news if you missed any of those.

Although work kept me from visiting too many museums, I was able to visit the St. Louis Science Center when it hosted the Destination Moon travelling exhibit, allowing me to visit Apollo 11 without visiting Washington D.C. And, no visit to St. Louis in the summer is complete without a visit to the Prologue Room. Historically, my visits to the Prologue Room have been "add-on" type visits: If my family is visiting St. Louis, I can usually arrange to stop there for a few hours before heading back home. However, as I visited St. Louis by myself, I was able to spend a day and a half taking photos there.

heroicrelics finished the year with 14,599 photos (an increase of 1,341) and 1,166 supplemental images/PDFs (an increase of 96).

It's not uncommon for me to start projects but never finish them: I might be researching one topic and collect a bunch of information on a related topic, thinking that I'll make a page on the other topic, but I never do. Or I might start investigating something only to find that it's a bigger project than I initially thought, or I want to upload some other photo set for an anniversary or due to a special request, or I might simply lose interest.

The overall plan for 2019 to revisit some of these projects and complete them (although this year is the 50th anniversary of Apollo 9, Apollo 10, Apollo 11, and Apollo 12, so I'm sure there'll be some related site updates).


January 5, 2018:

I've archived 2017's news. Although 2017 was a slow year, I did make a number of updates in the closing weeks of the year, so if it's been a while since you visited, you might want to check that out.

2017 was another slow year, when I had less time to dedicate to the Website than I might have liked. When I did have time to work on the site, I wound up researching various topics. It's just as interesting (to me), but of course results in fewer photos being posted. However, I ended the year with 13,258 images and 1070 supplemental images/PDFs, an increase of 655 and 67, respectively.


February 18, 2017:

I've finally archived 2016's news.

2016 was a busy year, leaving less time for the Website than I would have liked.

A lot of my free time early in the year was spent helping Saturn/Apollo historian David Woods with his most recent book, the Haynes NASA Saturn V Owners' Workshop Manual, providing many photos and diagrams as well as fact checking, minor editing, and some (hopefully!) helpful suggestions. I also wrote the introduction to and provided a couple of illustrations for Saturn historian and heroicrelics contributor Alan Lawrie's latest book (in Arcadia's "Images of Modern America" series), Saturn V Rocket. Toward the end of the year I provided consultation to a television production company working on a multi-part Apollo series.

In fall, my youngest son went off to college, meaning that I now had to mow my own grass, rake my own leaves, shovel my own snow, and do my own laundry (I urge you parents to cherish your children while they still live with you :-)

I had planned on writing some updates to the software that I use to maintain my photo sets, but made only a small amount of progress on that front and so that remains to be done in 2017.

I ended 2016 with 12,603 images (an increase of 658) and 1003 supplemental images/PDFs (an increase of 34).


January 1, 2016:

With the start of a new year, I've archived 2015's news.

Less travel again this year, although my trip to Huntsville yielded a good deal of detailed research on interesting topics, some of which I hope to post in the coming months. I've also contributed to several additional books; I plan to add a page with heroicrelics book and media contributions in the coming months as well.

As I mentioned above, I am likely to engage in at least one major, detailed research topic. I've also been telling myself for the past couple of years that I'll make some technical improvements to the Website, but haven't yet. I'll tell myself once again that I'll do that, but since I'm telling you, that will hopefully have a bigger impact :-)

A side effect of this is that I'm likely to have fewer and smaller (although more substantive) updates for at least the initial part of 2016.

I ended 2015 with 11,945 images (an increase of 1,657) and 969 supplemental images/PDFs (an increase of 64).


January 1, 2015:

With the start of a new year, I've archived 2014's news.

For the most part, 2014 was an average year, although I found myself able to travel less than in past years. The highlight of the year was my only 2014 trip to Huntsville, with visits to the UAH and USSRC archives and a return visit to Marshall Space Flight Center.

I assisted with a number of media projects in 2014, two which were released in 2014. First is the "Images of America" series book on the Michoud Assembly Facility, for which I supplied a number of photos and maps and consulted on a number of photo captions. I also supplied a photo for a Spaceflight magazine article on the Apollo 15 stand-up EVA. Two additional projects with which I assisted are expected to be released in 2015.

I ended 2014 with 10,288 images (an increase of an even 1,600) and 905 supplemental images/PDFs (an increase of 106).


January 1, 2014:

Since it's now the year 2014, I've archived 2013's news.

2013, of course, was full of museum and archive visits. I visited two new venues in 2013: I started out in January at the home of Mark Wells (of Rocket Relics fame). He was gracious enough to let me rummage through his collection and set up a bunch of lighting and camera equipment in his office. Later in the year, I visited the Great Lakes Science Center, which inherited a number of the artifacts formerly displayed at the Glenn Research Center Visitor Center when the latter closed in 2009.

One of my other favorite visits included a visit to Marshall Space Flight Center, arranged by an engineer who contacted me through he site. He not only got me a badge which gave me unescorted access to the MSFC grounds, but he also escorted me through the East and West Test Areas and got me inside of all of the buildings of which I'd hoped to photograph the exterior, as well as a couple others of which I was previously unaware (e.g., I didn't know that the S-IC Test Stand had an observation bunker). Over lunch, an engineer whose office was down the hall from his asked him why he'd been over at the remains of the Cold Calibration Test Stand. When he said that he was escorting a photographer, his office mate inquired as to whether it was "that heroicrelics guy"!

I received similar red-carpet treatment when I visited the Kansas Cosmosphere at the end of the year. I visited to see the F-1 engines recovered from the ocean floor (sorry, there are restrictions on photography), expecting to spend an hour or two, but wound up spending the better part of the day with the engine parts. (When I first arrived at SpaceWorks everyone perked up when I was introduced as "Mike from heroicrelics"!) The Cosmosphere staff did everything they could to make my visit successful and productive.

2013 also had a couple of site milestones: August of 2013 marked the site's fifth anniversary, and the final update of 2013 marked the site's 10,000th web page (as defined by the Google Webmaster Tools service).

I ended 2013 with 8,688 images (an increase of 1,420) and 799 supplemental images/PDFs (an increase of 207).


January 1, 2013:

With the start of a new year, I archived 2012's news.

In 2012, heroicrelics was in the media a bit. Ars Technica ran an article about a behind the scenes tour of Mission Control, including a copy of my Apollo 13 Command Module control panel diagram near the bottom of page 4. When Freedom 7 was moved from the Armel-Leftwich Visitor Center at the U.S. Naval Academy, ran an article which included my Freedom 7 spacecraft/earth composite photo. And I supplied a number of diagrams to the Haynes Lunar Rover Manual: 1971-1972 (Apollo 15-17; LRV1-3 & 1G Trainer).

The highlight of my year came in July, when I visited Marshall Space Flight Center to photograph an F-1 engine which had been disassembled. Coincidentally, at the time I was just about finishing up an in-depth series of pages on the F-1 injector, injector baffles, and thrust chamber, as well as a page of F-1 cutaways. Although it was not pre-planned, I also received a tour which included the East and West Test areas, including the top of the Dynamic Test Stand, the Cold Calibration Test Stands, the Static Test Tower, the top of the S-IC Test Stand, and the F-1 Test Stand (which, sadly, was demolished in 2012). I also had some time by myself to photograph the engines in front of Building 4200 and Building 4205, as well as spending some quality time in the Rocket Garden.

In addition to my visits to the "normal" document archives, I also visited the home of aerospace consultant Dave Christensen, scanning a number of V-2 and Jupiter-related diagrams, as well as some interesting reports, including some related to H-1 and Jupiter engine development, as well as the original MSFC memo regarding Esther Goddard's patent infringement claims.

I ended 2012 with 7,368 photos (an increase of 1313, which seems oddly coincidental, going into 2013) and 679 supplemental images/PDFs (an increase of 177).

Shortly before the end of the year, I realized that I had not updated the program I use to count supplemental images when I started posting medium-sized versions of photos (it was already properly filtering out small-sized versions of photos). The program was also not filtering out the small- and medium-sized PDFs. So, I updated that program today, and reset the supplemental images counter to 592 (I didn't change the program and counter earlier, so that I could more easily track year-to-year changes).


January 1, 2012:

With the start of a new year, I archived 2011's news.

It seems that in 2011 I spent more on research and historical documents, rather than uploading photos of artifacts in museums. This isn't any sort of strategic shift, but rather what held my interest long enough to bring a project to completion.

I visited the archives of the University of Alabama at Huntsville several times, taking my laptop and scanner. Many of the items I put online in 2011 came from the archives at UAH.

Some of the original documents I scanned at UAH were already available on the Internet, but of a much lower quality (e.g., the Saturn V Apollo Flight Configuration Saturn V poster -- including the elusive "Sheet 2", a huge Apollo Command Module Main Display -- where all the labels on all of the buttons and switches are clearly readable, and the similarly large Lunar Module Controls and Displays). I also painstakingly restored the famous "Operation Paperclip" photo of the von Braun Rocket Team at Ft. Bliss and made an interactive identification version of this photo.

Something I'd not seen elsewhere on the Internet is my 55-inch-wide Assembly Layout S-IC Stage, Saturn V, an impressive engineering drawing of the Saturn V first stage.

One of my larger research projects included my F-1 Major Configuration Change Points. This started off as a transcript of a memo I found at UAH. I annotated this memo and added many photos illustrating these changes. While several of the photos were ones I'd taken and were already on the site, many of the photos are much rarer, being ones I scanned at the UAH archives or obtained from a Rocketdyne retiree.

I've already got the first road trip of 2012 planned; it includes a stop at the UAH archives, the USSRC, Grissom Memorial, and a stop off at somewhere I've not previously visited, one of the few German-produced V-1s in the U.S.

So, I ended 2011 with 6,055 pictures of relics (an increase of only 470) and 502 supplemental images online (an increase of 247, nearly doubling this number).


January 1, 2011:

With the start of a new year, I archived 2010's news.

2010 saw a number of technical improvements to the site.

Around the beginning of the year, I finished rewriting the software I use to maintain the site. Over the years, I've made several visits to many museums, and I've upgraded my camera between some of those visits. Prior to this rewrite, it wasn't possible to combine the batches of pictures I've taken with different cameras in a single page, because the software only supported a single camera resolution on a given museum page. This forced me to maintain two different data files for each of these museums, and was quite a bother to deal with. But, now I've got all the pictures from each museum residing in a single data file, allowing me to mix-and-match pictures from each trip.

In October, I moved away from "plain-text" info pages. I rolled out a theme loosely-based on the Apollo command and lunar module control panels, making these pages as attractive to look at as they are informative. I hope to modify my software again so I can use this theme on all remaining pages, but that'll be a fair chunk of work.

Another goal in 2010 was to upload at least one picture set from each museum or other venue I've visited. Creating the initial upload for a museum involves a fair amount of overhead, and there'd been times when I wanted to upload a picture set in response to a news event or some forum post, but I couldn't quickly do so because that picture set was part of a museum I'd not yet uploaded. I didn't quite meet that goal – I still have five museums to go – but I'm in a much better position and I hope to get those remaining museums online in the coming weeks.

In the "bragging" portion of this news item, in August I was asked to prepare a version of my S-II stage insulation page for inclusion in NASA's Apollo Flight Journal; it's available via the Journal's home page or at

Finally, in the "vital statistics" portion of this news item, 2010 ended with 5,585 pictures of relics and 255 supplemental images online, an increase of 2,118 and 110, respectively.


January 1, 2010:

With the start of a new year, I archived 2009's news.

The Website continued to grow in 2009. In May I moved away from a "plain text" main page, adding the Mission Control console theme, and splitting the main page into multiple sub-pages.

2009 ended with 3,467 pictures of relics and 145 supplemental pictures online, an increase of 1,779 and 126, respectively. 1,007 of the new relics pictures were added during the nine-day Apollo 11 anniversary.


January 1, 2009:

With the start of a new year, I archived 2008's news.

2008 was quite a year for me, as I'd been talking about starting a Website for several years. I realized that I was never going to be "ready", so I finally just went and did it. 2008 ended with 1688 pictures of relics and 19 supplemental pictures online.

Certainly the highlight of the year came December 22, when collectSPACE ran a feature article (the basis of which was written by Alan Lawrie) about an Apollo 8 F-1 engine I photographed while touring MSFC, and then a day later when a "teaser" version of that same article hit the front page of


August 15, 2008:

Site goes live. "Live" might be too strong of a word for it, as there's nothing here other than a "welcome" page, but at least I do have a presence on the web!


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