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[i]Photographic data were obtained of the service module entering the earth's atmosphere and disintegrating near the command module. Preflight predictions indicated the service module should have skipped out of the earth's atmosphere and entered a highly elliptical orbit. The crew observed the service module about 5 minutes after separation and indicated the reaction control thrusters were firing and the module was rotating about the x-plane.
Based on the film, crew observation of the service module, and data from previous missions, it appears that the service module did not perform as a stable vehicle following command module / service module separation. Calculations using Apollo 10 data show that it is possible for the remaining propellants to move axially at frequencies approximately equal to the precessional rate of the service module spin axis about the X-body axis. This effect causes the movement to resonate, and the energy transfer between the rotating vehicle and the propellants may be sufficient to cause the service module to go into a flat spin about the Y or Z axis and become unstable.[/i]
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