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  Mercury - Gemini - Apollo
  Secret Apollo: Chapel Bell experiment

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Author Topic:   Secret Apollo: Chapel Bell experiment
Obviousman
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Posts: 438
From: NSW, Australia
Registered: May 2005

posted 11-28-2007 03:20 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Obviousman   Click Here to Email Obviousman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
An offshoot from another thread, and a question which apparently has not yet been answered.

Does anyone know what the classified "Chapel Bell" experiment was?

nasamad
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Posts: 2059
From: Essex, UK
Registered: Jul 2001

posted 11-28-2007 03:46 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for nasamad   Click Here to Email nasamad     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Rumours on the net believe it was to do with the crashing of the ascent stages and S-IVB stages into the lunar surface and measuring the impacts with the seismic stations.

But as always on the net no-one knows what the "secret" bit of the experiment was!

mjanovec
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Posts: 3791
From: Midwest, USA
Registered: Jul 2005

posted 11-28-2007 11:25 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for mjanovec   Click Here to Email mjanovec     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Perhaps the secret was that they were really crashing the S-IVB stage into a studio set in California.

kr4mula
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Posts: 642
From: Cinci, OH
Registered: Mar 2006

posted 11-28-2007 11:32 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for kr4mula   Click Here to Email kr4mula     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I don't think this mystery is that difficult to figure out. Chapel Bell was a now-declassified Over-the-Horizon (OTH) radar (you can google it and read all about it). OTH radars track missile launches and warheads in orbit and during reenty. They're still part of missile early warning systems.

It seems logical that an Apollo spacecraft and upper stages stuck in Earth orbit would make an inviting target to track with such a radar system all the way through descent because you know exactly its parameters, trajectory, etc. Perhaps the DoD could even ask for a particular reentry profile. It might even be feasible to have the S-IVB do some maneuvers in orbit after the CM departed.

It would be a great way to test or verify system performance without needing a specific launch. Such piggy-backing was often used in early radar system tests, going way back to V-2 launches in the American Southwest.

Anyway, given that the military doesn't re-use code names, this seems like a much more likely scenario than anything involving the moon, seismometers, etc. This is just my educated guess, not based on any hard facts, other than what Chapel Bell was.

YankeeClipper
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Posts: 507
From: Dublin, Ireland
Registered: Mar 2011

posted 05-21-2017 06:40 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for YankeeClipper   Click Here to Email YankeeClipper     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Document AD373294 gives an insight into Chapel Bell experiments.

YankeeClipper
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Posts: 507
From: Dublin, Ireland
Registered: Mar 2011

posted 05-21-2017 09:27 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for YankeeClipper   Click Here to Email YankeeClipper     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The International Telephone and Telegraph Corp. Electro-Physics Laboratories Inc. (ITT-EPL) in Maryland, under the direction of the Office of Naval Research (ONR) in Virginia, were heavily involved in Chapel Bell studies.

HF radar sites included the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA)-ONR Chapel Bell facilities at Whitehouse, Virginia, and Muirkirk, Maryland. Missile and space vehicle signatures were probed with a mix of direct-look/line-of-sight and over-the-horizon technology.

This document gives detail of Project May Bell in 1970, and more background to technology being explored at the time.

Blackarrow
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Posts: 2743
From: Belfast, United Kingdom
Registered: Feb 2002

posted 11-16-2017 07:28 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by kr4mula:
It seems logical that an Apollo spacecraft and upper stages stuck in Earth orbit would make an inviting target to track...
Would it be reasonable to conclude that, on Apollo 17, the then-classified Chapel Bell experiment would only have been performed in the event that Apollo reached Earth orbit but could not perform the TLI burn and had to perform an Earth-orbital mission only; and that since Apollo 17 DID go to the Moon, the Chapel Bell experiment was not actually conducted?

(I am assuming there would have been insufficient time to perform Chapel Bell in the brief time that Apollo 17 actually remained in Earth orbit.)

All times are CT (US)

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