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  Apollo command module launch seating order

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Author Topic:   Apollo command module launch seating order
Ade74
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Posts: 45
From: Peterborough, England
Registered: Nov 2009

posted 03-22-2010 07:59 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ade74   Click Here to Email Ade74     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I've read a few books on the Apollo era and am sure someone could clarify a point on who sat in which seat on take off...

The commander was in the left seat for all Apollo launches but did the command and lunar module pilots change? For example, on Apollo 11 Buzz Aldrin was in the middle seat but was Al Bean (on Apollo 12) in the right seat? If so, what were the seating positions for all the Apollos?

heng44
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From: Netherlands
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posted 03-22-2010 09:39 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for heng44   Click Here to Email heng44     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
All Apollos launched with with the CDR in the left seat, the CMP in the center seat and the LMP in the right seat. For Skylab and ASTP that was similar. Apollo 11 was the only exception with the LMP in the center seat, because Aldrin had trained as CMP for the Apollo 8 backup crew.

Max Q
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From: Whyalla South Australia
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posted 03-23-2010 02:57 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Max Q   Click Here to Email Max Q     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Does that mean that Collins missed out on one of the more important parts of the Saturn launch, center seat, on a historic flight?

Lou Chinal
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From: Staten Island, NY
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posted 03-23-2010 06:39 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Lou Chinal   Click Here to Email Lou Chinal     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Does anyone know the seating order on reentry for Apollos 7 and 8? Was the CDR or CMP in the left seat? For all the other flights the CMP had to be prepared to fly home solo, not counting Skylab.

garymilgrom
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From: Atlanta, GA
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posted 03-23-2010 07:40 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for garymilgrom   Click Here to Email garymilgrom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Max Q:
Does that mean that Collins missed out...
Why do you think Collins missed "one of the more important parts" of the launch? I think anyone in the CM got the full effect of the Saturn V's ascent to orbit.

Max Q
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From: Whyalla South Australia
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posted 03-24-2010 12:03 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Max Q   Click Here to Email Max Q     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by garymilgrom:
Why do you think Collins missed "one of the more important parts" of the launch? I think anyone in the CM got the full effect of the Saturn V's ascent to orbit.
Maybe I should have asked more directly. If the Command Module pilot seat was the center seat then did Collins have an important part of the mission taken away from him or didn't it matter where they sat as long as they got to experience the ride.

Delta7
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From: Bluffton IN USA
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posted 03-24-2010 08:37 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Delta7   Click Here to Email Delta7     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The CDR had the only real potential flying role during launch and was the one with the abort handle. The other two guys were probably more just gauge watchers, so it probably didn't make much difference where they sat; just different things to keep an eye on and call out if necessary. Collins specific role involved flying the CM after launch and once the mission was under way.

Tom
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posted 03-24-2010 04:14 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Tom   Click Here to Email Tom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
While we're on the topic, did all CMPs take the left seat for entry?

Space Cadet Carl
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From: Lake Orion, Michigan
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posted 03-24-2010 08:03 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Space Cadet Carl   Click Here to Email Space Cadet Carl     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Listen to the Apollo 17 onboard voice recorder during their spectacular night launch. Just a couple of seconds before liftoff, you can hear Gene Cernan exclaim: "LOOK AT THE LIGHT!!" as the Saturn V engines were ramping up to their brilliant, full seven and a half million pounds of thrust on the pad.

Cernan was in the left hand CDR couch. He was obviously telling Evans and Schmitt to look out the center hatch window as the night sky around them at Kennedy Space Center lit up bright as daytime. Cernan apparently saw the night sky glowing bright yellow out the hatch window well before the hold down arms let go and the flight began!

ilbasso
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From: Greensboro, NC USA
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posted 03-24-2010 10:07 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ilbasso   Click Here to Email ilbasso     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Delta7:
...The other two guys were probably more just gauge watchers, so it probably didn't make much difference where they sat...

Don't forget "SCE to AUX"!

Jay Chladek
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From: Bellevue, NE, USA
Registered: Aug 2007

posted 03-25-2010 11:53 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Chladek   Click Here to Email Jay Chladek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I think Cernan had a view. Reason being is if I recall correctly, the later Boost Protective Covers had a circular window cut in them so the astronaut seated at the CDR station also had a view outside the front during liftoff in addition to the hatch window.

Now on the Apollo 11 voice transmissions, I believe it was Collins who said "Yeah they finally gave me a window to look out" when the BPC was released because the LMP station didn't have a hole cut there.

As such, Cernan should have had a view, although as bright as it would have been, he likely would have seen the glow through the hatch window as well.

ashot
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posted 03-30-2010 09:23 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for ashot     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The classic seating in Apollo was CDR on the left, CMP in the middle and LMP on the right.

However, at least in two cases (this is what is known to me -- could be more) the seating was different:

  1. Apollo 11 -- Michael Collins was in the right seat (because Aldrin was already trained to fly the spacecraft from the middle seat as Apollo 8 backup CMP, with Collins being added to Armstrong's crew at a later stage.)

  2. Skylab 4 - seating was Carr-Gibson-Pogue (l.t.r).
To make it even more confusing, during re-entry CDR and CMP quite often swapped seats (i.e. CMP took the left and CDR was the middle.) This was for sure the case for Apollo 13 and Apollo ASTP, but I guess there were more missions with a similar seating swap at landing.

I wonder if anybody has more examples of non-standard seating for Apollo/Skylab. Thank you!

LM-12
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From: Ontario, Canada
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posted 01-28-2015 11:05 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Tom:
did all CMPs take the left seat for entry?
No. The flight plans show:
  1. the CDR in the left seat for entry on Apollo 7, 8, 9 and Skylab 2, 3, 4

  2. the CMP in the left seat for entry on Apollo 10 thru 17 and ASTP

Lou Chinal
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From: Staten Island, NY
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posted 01-28-2015 12:58 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Lou Chinal   Click Here to Email Lou Chinal     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
As I recall the boost protective cover only had one window in it. The commander's forward one. Anyone know for sure?

LM-12
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From: Ontario, Canada
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posted 01-28-2015 02:20 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
There was also a hatch window in the BPC.

Headshot
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From: Streamwood, IL USA
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posted 01-28-2015 04:28 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Headshot   Click Here to Email Headshot     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by ilbasso:
Don't forget "SCE to AUX"!
Great comment. So much for just watching gauges during Earth ascent.

Space Cadet Carl
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Posts: 129
From: Lake Orion, Michigan
Registered: Feb 2006

posted 01-29-2015 10:11 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Space Cadet Carl   Click Here to Email Space Cadet Carl     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Lou Chinal:
As I recall the boost protective cover only had one window in it.
One round hatch window was located in the BPS over the hatch.

One of my all-time favorite launch comments happened four seconds before Apollo 17 lifted off the pad. You can actually hear Gene Cernan exclaim to Schmitt and Evans: "Look at the light!" Cernan obviously looked straight out the hatch BPC window and could see the night sky beginning to light up from the brilliant glare of the Saturn V F-1's igniting.

LM-12
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From: Ontario, Canada
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posted 01-29-2015 05:02 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Gene Cernan occupied all five "seat" positions in the Apollo spacecraft:
  • CM-right as Apollo 10 LMP
  • CM-left as Apollo 17 CDR (launch thru TLI)
  • CM-center as Apollo 17 CDR (T&D thru entry)
  • LM-right as Apollo 10 LMP
  • LM-left as Apollo 17 CDR

garymilgrom
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From: Atlanta, GA
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posted 01-29-2015 05:19 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for garymilgrom   Click Here to Email garymilgrom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Very interesting! Thank you.

LM-12
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From: Ontario, Canada
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posted 02-02-2015 08:41 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It is mentioned in Chapter 12 of Lost Moon that Jim Lovell was in the center seat during entry.

LM-12
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From: Ontario, Canada
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posted 03-14-2016 12:00 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Other CM left-seaters:
  • Donn Eisele on Apollo 7 for SPS burns 3 and 6
  • Walt Cunningham on Apollo 7 for SPS burns 4 and 7
  • Dave Scott on Apollo 9 for TD&E and solo ops
  • Dave Scott on Apollo 9 for SPS burns 2, 3, 4, 6
  • the CMP on Apollo 10-17 after TLI to entry
  • Deke Slayton on ASTP for the undocking maneuvers
  • Vance Brand on ASTP for entry
On ASTP, there was an undocking, a second docking test, and then the final undocking and separation.

LM-12
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From: Ontario, Canada
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posted 09-03-2016 10:54 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Which Apollo crewmembers had a window seat in the command module during both launch and re-entry?
  • Apollo 7 - Schirra and Cunningham
  • Apollo 8 - Borman and Anders
  • Apollo 9 - McDivitt and Schweickart
  • Apollo 10 - Cernan
  • Apollo 11 - Collins
  • Apollo 12 - Bean
  • Apollo 13 - Haise
  • Apollo 14 - Mitchell
  • Apollo 15 - Irwin
  • Apollo 16 - Duke
  • Apollo 17 - Schmitt
  • Skylab 2 - Conrad and Weitz
  • Skylab 3 - Bean and Lousma
  • Skylab 4 - Carr and Pogue
  • ASTP - Slayton

John Young had a CM window seat for the Apollo 10 re-entry and the Apollo 16 launch.

Paul78zephyr
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Posts: 544
From: Hudson, MA
Registered: Jul 2005

posted 09-03-2016 06:54 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Paul78zephyr     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by ilbasso:
Don't forget "SCE to AUX"!
As I understand it, Bean not only understood the "SCE to AUX" call, he knew where the switch actually was, and... could reach it. Had he been in the center seat for launch could he have reached it when the call came?

jasonelam
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From: Monticello, KY USA
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posted 09-03-2016 08:07 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for jasonelam   Click Here to Email jasonelam     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It would have been unlikely to hit the SCE switch from the center seat since it was on the far right side of the instrument panel.

LM-12
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From: Ontario, Canada
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posted 09-04-2016 10:14 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
During launch, the astronaut in the right seat of the command module would not have had much to see out that window until tower jettison.

Paul78zephyr
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From: Hudson, MA
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posted 09-04-2016 07:38 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Paul78zephyr     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by jasonelam:
It would have been unlikely to hit the SCE switch from the center seat since it was on the far right side of the instrument panel.

Which naturally begs the question:

If Dick Gordon is in the left seat for launch does he know where the SCE switch is?

schnappsicle
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From: Houston, TX, USA
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posted 09-06-2016 09:47 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for schnappsicle   Click Here to Email schnappsicle     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Yes, Gordon would have known where the SCE switch was. Each crew member had intimate knowledge of the switches within their reach.

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