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  Could a moonwalker have carried another?

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Author Topic:   Could a moonwalker have carried another?
Paul78zephyr
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posted 03-26-2011 08:41 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Paul78zephyr     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
In all the contingency plans NASA made for dealing with an incapacitated moonwalker did they ever consider the possibility of one moonwalker carrying the other - especially in the pre-rover missions? What was the total average weight of a moonwalker in his suit on the moon? Would it even have been physically possible to lift an astronaut given the limited range of movement in the suit?

MCroft04
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posted 03-26-2011 10:13 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for MCroft04   Click Here to Email MCroft04     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I don't know if NASA simulated this possibility. But where there's a will, there's a way. Given the 1/6 gravity, and having met many of the moonwalkers who are all over-achievers, my money is on them being able to carry their partner back to the LM if necessary. But good question and I'm anxious to hear if anyone knows if NASA considered this possibility.

Blackarrow
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posted 03-27-2011 01:05 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
A far bigger problem would have been to get the unconscious astronaut back inside the LM. I suggest that this would not have been possible. If the unconsciousness was temporary, better to wait for the victim to regain consciousness. Anything likely to render an astronaut unconscious for any length of time would probably have had fatal consequences, and I doubt if the NASA doctors would have wanted the healthy astronaut to risk a heart-attack trying to force his unconscious buddy through the LM hatch.

Obviousman
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posted 03-28-2011 02:57 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Obviousman   Click Here to Email Obviousman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I seem to remember the hatch scenario being mentioned somewhere; it was believed to be impossible for one astronaut to get an unconscious partner up the ladder and in the hatch. This was based on multiple attempts during training, and the instructions were that if one could not get into the LM, they'd have to be left behind.

Tykeanaut
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posted 03-28-2011 04:26 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Tykeanaut   Click Here to Email Tykeanaut     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Didn't they have an emergency tether on the LM? Some sections of the Apollo 14 tether come up for auction now and then.

I don't know if this would have worked however.

moorouge
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posted 03-28-2011 05:20 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for moorouge   Click Here to Email moorouge     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I tend to agree with Obviousman. Any injury that would prevent ingress to the LM would have resulted in the injured party being left behind. This does not mean that no attempt would be made, but it does mean that at some point a very harsh and difficult decision would have to be made. I do not envy the Flight Director at MSC who would have had to make the call.

As I recall, the only contingency plan was the use of a 'buddy' system in the event of a suit puncture.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-28-2011 08:26 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Tykeanaut:
Didn't they have an emergency tether on the LM?
They had the Lunar Equipment Conveyor (LEC), which according to the Apollo 11 Final Lunar Surface Operation Plan (via ALSJ) "may also be used by the crewmen as a safety tether... as an aid in ascending to the ascent stage."

The LEC was attached by carabiner to the crewman's neckring tiedown strap on one end and to a pulley hanging from the LM's cabin ceiling on the other.

The question is: could the conscious crew member in this scenario attach the LEC to his incapacitated partner, ascend the ladder and enter the LM, and then pull his crewmate up the ladder and then through the hatch?

jasonelam
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posted 03-28-2011 10:04 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for jasonelam   Click Here to Email jasonelam     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The "Buddy System" unit, or BSLSS (Buddy Secondary Life Support System), went into active service on Apollos 14-17 as moonwalk distances increased. It was only designed for sharing cooling water between the two astronauts. It was not designed for oxygen flow between the two.

I agree with Obviousman and Moorouge that if there were any injury that would leave an astronaut incapacitated on the surface and prevent ingress that there would simply be no other choice but to leave them on the surface. Fortunately, it never came down to that.

As for using the LEC to pull up an injured astronaut, it might be possible, but it also depends on how much weight the LEC can hold and if the astronaut did not get snagged on something (like the ladder rungs) on the way up.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-28-2011 10:31 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Another consideration would be to remove the incapacitated crew member's PLSS at the base of the LM ladder (or on the porch), making it easier for him to be pulled through the hatch.

Yes, it would leave him with only the air in his suit, but if the only alternative is to leave him on the surface to die, the risk might be deemed acceptable.

Blackarrow
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posted 03-28-2011 05:02 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Robert, leaving the Oxygen Purge System in place would have provided the unconscious astronaut with around 30 minutes of air. But there's a further problem: in the world of science fiction, that would have been enough for a dramatic rescue. In the real world I suspect that after two hours the Flight Director would have had to make his worst-ever call.

MCroft04
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posted 03-28-2011 06:46 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for MCroft04   Click Here to Email MCroft04     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'm reminded of the story Jim Lovell tells about flying off a carrier and losing all the lights in his cabin. After pondering a while on what to do, he noticed the trail in the ocean from fluorescent phytoplankton, which allowed him to find the ship and land safely. Sure, getting an unconscious astronaut back into the LM would have been difficult. But there do appear to have been options (e.g. the tether) and my money would be on these highly creative guys figuring out a way to get it done. Perhaps a good topic at the next ASF cocktail party.

Skylon
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posted 03-28-2011 10:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Skylon     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I hate to say this, but I could see this being filed under "if it happens, you're probably dead."

What exactly are we imagining could incapacitate a moon walker? Short of a twisted ankle, which you could maybe limp home on, when I hear incapacitated I imagine:

A) A heart attack, or something similar...in which case it would be near impossible to administer any first aid in time.

B) A broken bone, or other form of physical trauma, which, if the trauma has done that to you, probably had the force to puncture the EVA suit or damage it.

MCroft04
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posted 03-29-2011 08:39 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for MCroft04   Click Here to Email MCroft04     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
How about a mini stroke causing temporary paralysis? Or severe cramps? I'm sure a medical doctor could share numerous ways an astronaut could become incapacitated while on the lunar surface without being fatal. I doubt a broken bone would have occurred on the moon. First bones are protected by the rigid spacesuit, and then in 1/6 gravity there would have been much less stress exerted on the body from a fall or similar event. But if an astronaut had been injured on the moon, I would have given them at least a 50/50 chance of being dragged, pushed, or pulled back into the LM.

moorouge
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posted 03-30-2011 02:10 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for moorouge   Click Here to Email moorouge     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This strikes me as being an excellent project for a school experiment. All that is needed is a ladder, a platform, a correctly sized opening (hatch) and a LM interior box.

There are many teachers here on cS, so how about it?

Blackarrow
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posted 03-30-2011 06:30 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by moorouge:
All that is needed is a ladder, a platform, a correctly sized opening (hatch) and a LM interior box...
...and a lot of money to hire a "vomit comet" to simulate one-sixth "gee."

moorouge
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posted 03-31-2011 11:16 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for moorouge   Click Here to Email moorouge     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Blackarrow:
...and a lot of money to hire a "vomit comet" to simulate one-sixth "gee."
Not necessarily. All one needs apart from those already mentioned is a dummy of similar proportions to an astronaut and weighted to simulate what he would have weighed on the Moon.

I suspect that the main difficulty would have been getting the incapacitated astronaut through the hatch and not up the ladder. To push or to pull - that is the question.

Lou Chinal
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posted 03-31-2011 02:13 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Lou Chinal   Click Here to Email Lou Chinal     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
As I remember it Grumman was steadfast against having two astronauts on the ladder at the same time. Initially they felt that one guy should be left in the LM at all times. There was a big fear (I'm not sure by who) that an astronaut would fall and break his leg. A compound fracture might puncture the suit.

I agree with MCroft04 and moorouge.

I can't imagine what trauma would incapacitate the astronaut while leaving the suit intact.

ivorwilliams
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posted 04-07-2011 09:22 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ivorwilliams     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by moorouge:
All one needs apart from those already mentioned is a dummy of similar proportions to an astronaut and weighted to simulate what he would have weighed on the Moon.
But I would expect that more effort would still be required on Earth than on the moon even if a dummy of 1/6th earth weight was used. The able bodied astronaut would still be subjected to 1g.

moorouge
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posted 04-09-2011 01:53 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for moorouge   Click Here to Email moorouge     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
One mustn't confuse mass with weight.

canyon42
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posted 04-09-2011 06:44 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for canyon42   Click Here to Email canyon42     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I don't think ivorwilliams is "confusing mass with weight." I believe the point is that even if the dummy is weighted 1/6 normal for the simulation, the weight of the live astronaut (and his suit and equipment and so on) must also be taken into account somehow or it is not an accurate simulation.

moorouge
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posted 04-09-2011 07:42 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for moorouge   Click Here to Email moorouge     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I think that the weight of the live astronaut is irrelevant. His strength is not affected by gravity. The point of the exercise is to determine whether he would be able to hoist the inert body up the ladder and then manoeuvre this body through the hatch. As I said previously, does one push or does one pull?

Robert Pearlman
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posted 04-09-2011 08:16 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by moorouge:
His strength is not affected by gravity.
His strength may not be affected but his ability to maneuver and steady himself in the lower gravity environment of the Moon is certainly a factor, as is the extent of mobility provided by his suit.

ilbasso
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posted 04-09-2011 03:02 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ilbasso   Click Here to Email ilbasso     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Even in 1/6 gravity, a fully-suited astronaut with a PLSS weighed 50-60 pounds. That's a lot to carry in your arms in a very stiff suit. You couldn't carry the incapacitated astronaut on your back or shoulders because of your own PLSS, OPS, and the antenna. Maybe you could put his feet on top of your feet and dance him slowly across the surface. Too fast, and he'd easily bounce off of your feet.

canyon42
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posted 04-09-2011 03:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for canyon42   Click Here to Email canyon42     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
While his strength might not be affected by gravity, what he can ACCOMPLISH with that strength certainly is. Carrying someone else up a ladder also means that you are exerting a lot of energy to carry yourself up the ladder as well. (I might find climbing a steep and tall ladder a challenge under normal conditions, but much easier under reduced gravity.) A change in gravity changes both of those factors. The changing weight of the suit (and as Robert pointed out its flexibility and mobility) is yet another factor. Ignoring any of those would make for a less-than-definitive simulation.

I would agree that in all likelihood the biggest challenge would be getting the immobile astronaut through the hatch. One question I haven't see addressed here is the size of the porch. Was there enough room on it to put an incapacitated astronaut down for a moment, along with space for the carrying astronaut to stand? If not, it is hard to imagine someone being able to accomplish carrying someone else up the ladder and getting them through the hatch all in one shot without a rearrangement or a place to stand.

Obviousman
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posted 05-14-2011 10:11 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Obviousman   Click Here to Email Obviousman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Might be of interest to some: I found a document on the NTRS discussing lunar mission safety and rescue scenarios (MSC-03978, dated 15 JUL 71).

A torn suit is discussed for lunar orbital operations, but surface ops would be the same:

A pressure suit tear poses two potential, difficult rescue situations: (i) a critical drop in suit static pressure, and (2) exhaustion of either or both backpack and emergency oxygen supplies. Even if the EVA crewman is attached to the station oxygen supply by an umbilical, a suit tear could cause a critical and even fatal suit static pressure drop. In this circumstance, the survival time will be a matter of seconds or minutes at best, thus making rescue marginal and escape out of the question.

If the suit tear could be repaired or sealed off, survival could probably be extended. Another possibility is to provide a pressure garment or bag which could be unfolded / deployed quickly around the crewman and sealed. The oxygen escaping from the suit tear would fill the garment and thereby provide a satisfactory static pressure level. An exhaust pressure relief valve then could maintain the static pressure and composition within acceptable limits during the rescue operation.

Looking through the document, I can't find any reference to one astronaut carrying another except in Table 7-6 (Summary of escape / rescue concepts for lunar surface traverses), where it says that for the walkback concept, a sensitivity to incapacitation is that one crewman must be mobile. Another section later says:
A handcart, similar to that used on Apollo 14, should be carried by each lander tug. The handcart should be capable of carrying an incapacitated man either in a pressure suit or a pressurized stretcher.

Obviousman
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posted 05-14-2011 10:21 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Obviousman   Click Here to Email Obviousman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
A sister report (MSC-03977) discusses the 'broken bone' case:
Effects of Hazard 4, Injury Resulting in Fracture or Flesh Wound

Involvement with the movement, emplacement, and/or erection of large and massive structures or instruments could lead to tip-over or collapse with resultant injuries to crew members involved in setting up these instruments / structures. Fractures or flesh wounds are likely in such events. Although suit rupture in such accidents is also possible, it should be recognized that fractures and bruises could occur without suit damage.

Corrective Measures for Hazard 4

Preventive measures:
1. All of the preventive measures recommended for Hazard 3 are applicable.
2. The construction, erection, emplacement, etc, of all proposed lunar structures / instrumentation should be practiced on Earth without omitting any steps (i.e., a complete training program) in order to uncover any difficulties that could arise on the moon and thus correct them before the lunar mission is initiated.

Remedial measures:
1. A portable lunar shelter should be available in the event the subject emplacements are distant from the base so that a fellow astronaut can supply first aid in the event of accident. A cabin rover should be very suitable in lieu of a portable lunar shelter. Splints and other first aid items should be included as standard equipment in rovers and other lunar shelters.

Escape/Rescue Requirements for Hazard 4
1. If an astronaut is seriously injured he will have to be brought back to the LSB or to the lunar space station or to Earth for treatment of his injuries.

Lou Chinal
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posted 05-15-2011 02:46 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Lou Chinal   Click Here to Email Lou Chinal     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Paul, getting back to your original question the answer I would quess at is 50-60 moon pounds.

Agreeing with just about everybody who chimmed in on this topic - the hatch would be the biggest obstacle to over come.

moorouge
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posted 05-15-2011 04:19 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for moorouge   Click Here to Email moorouge     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The reports make interesting reading. However, the date of publication - July 1971 - makes one wonder why it was left so late into the Apollo programme to consider these matters.

Was it the complexity of the 'J' missions that made planners think about it? And were any of the recommendations in the reports implemented, e.g. the containment bag?

Skyguy48
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posted 08-31-2013 07:18 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Skyguy48   Click Here to Email Skyguy48     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I think to try and haul a dead astronaut up into the LM would be just too damn dangerous for the rescue astronaut. Ladder, hatch, balance, pulleys, everything about the rescue would compromise the safety of the other...

Look at the Gemini mission with Cernan to go on a spacewalk. Slayton took Stafford aside during training and said "If Gene can't get back into the capsule then you will have to make a very difficult decision, cut him loose and come home."

MCroft04
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posted 08-31-2013 07:57 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for MCroft04   Click Here to Email MCroft04     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I asked Bean and Duke this question and neither believed they could have gotten an incapacitated astronaut back in the LM.

Lou Chinal
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posted 09-02-2013 10:14 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Lou Chinal   Click Here to Email Lou Chinal     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Again I have to agree with Skyguy48. A la the Cernan spacewalk, getting the guy back in though the hatch would be the deal maker.

p51
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posted 09-02-2013 10:56 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for p51   Click Here to Email p51     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Getting said injured astronaut even to the base of the LM would have been a chore. No way could someone in the suit pick up another one, as we all know how bulky those suits were. You'd HAVE to drag the guy, then you run the risk of damaging the PLSS or ripping a hose out if face down. Either way, it wouldn't be good.

Taking the PLSS off would indeed leave the person with the O2 in the suit at the time, but they'd get hooked up once they got inside the LM and waiting for re-pressurization. If their suit got badly penetrated, well, they'd have died on the surface. Imagine the agony of having someone die on the surface, I'm sure the other crewman would have done their best to get the body back into the LM. You can all imagine the com traffic on that:

"CDR, Houston, look, we're at bingo, you have to leave him and get into the LM NOW."

"Negative, Houston, I have ____ minutes left, AND I'M NOT LEAVING HIM HERE!"

Sure, once the LM has to lift off, it goes, with or without everyone, they all knew that. But none of them would easily allow a situation where they'd be forever known as, "the guy who left his buddy on the Moon," if there was ANY possible way to avoid it. Better to die than look bad has always been the unofficial astronaut motto, we're all aware of that...

Blackarrow
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posted 09-02-2013 04:38 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
In most cases, the following might have worked:

"This is the President. As your Commander-in-Chief, I order you to board the LM and return to lunar orbit. I can't imagine how difficult this order will be to obey, but obey it you must."

Skyguy48
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posted 09-02-2013 06:13 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Skyguy48   Click Here to Email Skyguy48     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Not being able to retrieve the body of your crewmate is bad enough, but can one imagine having to "cut loose" a crew mate in orbit who is perfectly WELL? Only because Cernan's suit became so stiff he had problems getting back into Gemini 9.

In Cernan's book, he says "Deke Slayton spoke to Stafford about Gene not able to return to the capsule then he must cut him loose." However Tom Stafford was having none of that and said the plan would have been to re-enter with Gene still on the outside of the spacecraft connected to his umbilical. Don't know who's daft "plan" it was, NASA or the crew. Sounds more like a suicide pact to me.

moorouge
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posted 09-03-2013 01:32 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for moorouge   Click Here to Email moorouge     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Skyguy48:
Only because Cernan's suit became so stiff he had problems getting back into Gemini 9.

Didn't all the early EVA's suffer to some extent of getting back in because of stiff suits?

Ed White had problems and the difficulties of Leonov are well documented.

garymilgrom
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posted 09-03-2013 08:17 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for garymilgrom   Click Here to Email garymilgrom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
If the answer to the above question is yes (and I don't know that it is) then how was the "stiff suit" problem solved?

Headshot
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posted 09-03-2013 11:48 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Headshot   Click Here to Email Headshot     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
While this discussion is intriguing, it is somewhat academic in that no Apollo lunar astronaut ever became incapacitated as to require assistance.

A more relevant issue is, are planners and designers (Chinese, U.S., ESA, etc.) of lunar landers/bases now on the drawing boards including provisions for lunar explorers to rescue and return an incapacitated colleague to safety?

p51
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posted 09-03-2013 02:27 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for p51   Click Here to Email p51     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I've brought this up several times in regard to the 'space tourist' companies claiming to soon provide private trips to the moon. I believed then as I still do now that if such a trip went bad on the surface, the families of the rich passengers (and let's face it, only the uber wealthy would be able to afford it) would be demanding that NASA somehow do something to save their loved ones.

Never mind the fact that in the Apollo era, all those men knew full well that they'd die out there if anything prevented their return before the O2 ran out...

All times are CT (US)

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