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  Mercury - Gemini - Apollo
  Recovery for stranded Apollo command module?

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Author Topic:   Recovery for stranded Apollo command module?
JasonB
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posted 04-08-2011 09:19 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for JasonB   Click Here to Email JasonB     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I saw an interview with Alan Bean where he says he thought the service module had possibly become detached from the command module (CM) during liftoff on Apollo 12. If this had happened and a crew had no way to get back was there any possible procedure for getting them back or were they just pretty much lost?

I was thinking about it and thought that even if they could get a rescue ship up in time to get them there's only three seats to a capsule so they'd either need two recovery capsules or to bring back more than three at a time.

So I guess my second question would be would it have been possible to bring more than three crew members back at a time? Would everyone have to be strapped into a seat for reentry or could they have one or two extra passengers simply for reentry without it being completely unsafe or unfeasible?

Just something I've been wondering about.

328KF
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posted 04-08-2011 11:49 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for 328KF   Click Here to Email 328KF     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Al has often recalled that his intitial reaction to the electrical anomalies he was faced with during launch was the result of the umbilical between the CM and SM disconnecting. I don't think he was meaning to imply that the two ships had physically separated, but rather the "plug fell out" so to speak.

Of course, this did not happen. The low voltage was the result of the fuel cells dropping off-line and putting the load of the essential electrical equipment on the CM batteries, which were rated at 24 volts.

If indeed the umbilical had become dislodged, the CM batteries would have been drained rather quickly, and I think the priority upon orbit insertion would be to restore that power or get back out of orbit as soon as practical. I do not know what kind of procedures were in place to accomplish this, but you'd be looking at either fixing the umbilical (EVA?), T&D with the LM to buy some time, or using the S-IVB for a quick de-orbit burn.

golddog
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posted 04-08-2011 07:22 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for golddog     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
My understanding in reading Chaikin was that Bean has said that his first quick initial response to the lighting strike (though he did not know that was what it was at the time) was that the electrical anomalies might be due to the umbilical becoming detached, and that perhaps the launch escape system had fired and they had aborted, but that he quickly discounted that due to the fact he had not felt a massive jolt or any of the g forces that such an event would have created.

328KF
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posted 04-08-2011 08:30 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for 328KF   Click Here to Email 328KF     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Yes, I have also heard him say that he thought they had aborted, but I think that was proven wrong in a split second of realization. Then the troubleshooting started, and I think the only person more at a loss than Bean as to what had happened was the guy sitting immediately to his left.

FFrench
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posted 04-09-2011 05:14 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for FFrench     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by JasonB:
So I guess my second question would be would it have been possible to bring more than three crew members back at a time?
Yes, they had it ready to go if needed for Skylab.

Lou Chinal
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posted 04-10-2011 01:00 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Lou Chinal   Click Here to Email Lou Chinal     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by JasonB:
Would it have been possible to bring more than three crew members back at a time?
This raises the question, could you launch more than three crew members at a time? Francis French's diagram answers this perfectly. And if five, why not six? The electronics has vastly improved in 40 years. You would not need equipment lockers if you had the capability of launching a Skylab sized craft (or even a unmanned Saturn 1B support vehicle). You could man the ISS with one launch this way.

Some people are called 'Shuttle Huggers' on this forum, call me an 'Apollo Hugger'.

Spaceflight is 50 years old and the U.S. has no way of accomplishing (after STS-135) manned orbital flight.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 04-10-2011 01:48 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
What you are describing Lou, more or less, is Lockheed Martin's Orion, as well as Boeing's CST-100 and SpaceX's Dragon. All are modern day reinventions/upgrades of the Apollo command module and will be what the U.S. launches after the space shuttle (NASA is expected to announce the winners of its CCDev2 crewed capsules contract this week).

Byeman
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posted 04-10-2011 05:06 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Byeman   Click Here to Email Byeman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by 328KF:
but you'd be looking at either fixing the umbilical (EVA?), T&D with the LM to buy some time, or using the S-IVB for a quick de-orbit burn.
None of this would be feasible if the umbilical disconnected, since more than just power passes through the umbilicals. There are data, command, cooling fluid, O2, etc.

EVA would deplete the CM reserves since the SM are unavailable.

T&D is unworkable since there is no way to command the systems of the SM.

S-IVB deorbit, see above.

JasonB
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posted 04-19-2011 11:15 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for JasonB   Click Here to Email JasonB     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
So basically if that had happened on Apollo 12 the crew would have been stranded and lost? I assume they couldn't have gotten another capsule up in time to help them.

That leads me to another question I have-did they have another capsule-rocket kind of on standby in case something like that happened? Seems like a lot of work with the pad, rocket, capsule and I hadn't heard anything about it. Just wondering.

Lou Chinal
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posted 04-19-2011 02:52 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Lou Chinal   Click Here to Email Lou Chinal     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Jason, I'm sorry to say no. There was no Saturn standby.

The only thing one could hope for was the sharp eye of a ground controller and the quick reflexes of Pete Conrad.

That's why they picked test pilots in the first place.

All times are CT (US)

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