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[i]The National Aeronautics and Space Administration, following an evaluation of operational procedures for Apollo 15, has decided that the astronauts will wear their pressure suits during jettison of the lunar module.
This maneuver is scheduled for 6:55 p.m., EDT, August 2, shortly after the lunar landing crew has returned to the command module following their expedition to the surface of the moon.
The decision to have astronauts David R. Scott, Alfred M. Worden, and James B. Irwin fully suited at that time was based on a reevaluation of the requirements for crew members to wear pressure suits during different phases of the Apollo 15 mission.
The evaluation was conducted following the Soyuz 11 spacecraft accident which resulted in the deaths of three Soviet cosmonauts.
The Apollo 15 flight plan had called for the crew to be in "shirtsleeves" (wearing the inflight cover garments) during jettisoning of the lunar module ascent stage from the command module ...
No change would be made in plans for the crew to be unsuited during reentry and splashdown. Although wearing suits would increase safety during reentry down to approximately 50,000 feet, the time from that altitude to the water is insufficient for removal of suits before splashdown. Since the more probable malfunction would occur at water impact, when wearing suits would decrease crew safety, the overall level of crew risk is lower on a normal mission, by conducting reentry with the crew unsuited.
The reentry event, except for the splashdown phase, is fairly predictable, and stress loads are well within the safety factor of the hardware. The stress loads imposed by the water impact are not so predictable and vary, for example, with wind velocity and direction, wave heights, wave velocity, wave rising or falling and direction.
Therefore, although the probability of a malfunction occurring at splashdown is still low, it is higher than a malfunction occurring during reentry into the earth's atmosphere. In the event such a malfunction did occur on splashdown and emergency egress were necessary, a suited crew would be handicapped.
Furthermore, should the command module remain upside down, egress through the upper hatch under water would be required. It would be difficult and time consuming to attempt to remove suits in this condition, and if an emergency condition should exist, the crew would be severely handicapped.[/i]
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