Click the arrow to watch the film. Video source: NASA Langley CRGIS.
I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth.
— President John F. Kennedy
“On Urgent National Needs”
May 25, 1961
The “returning him safely to the earth” part is the subject of this week's Retro Saturday film.
Project FIRE (Flight Investigation Reentry Environment) was a NASA research project to determine how spacecraft could safely re-enter the atmosphere at the 25,000 mile-per-hour velocity Apollo capsules would experience returning from the Moon. Re-entry packages were launched on an Atlas V from Pad 12 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
The film, Project Fire: Flight Reentry Research at Hyperbolic Velocities, was produced circa 1964 by project contractor Republic Aviation Corporation.
Technicians at NASA's Langley Research Center ready materials to be subjected to high temperatures that will simulate the effects of re-entry heating on spacecraft materials. Image source: NASA.