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  Apollo 7 and Apollo 8: CM docking probe

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Author Topic:   Apollo 7 and Apollo 8: CM docking probe
Lou Chinal
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posted 10-15-2011 03:38 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Lou Chinal   Click Here to Email Lou Chinal     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Did Apollo 7 and Apollo 8 carry a docking probe?

LM-12
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posted 10-15-2011 05:12 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
CSM-103 and LM-3 were originally assigned to fly on the first manned LM mission. The LM was behind schedule, so the mission was changed and CSM-103 flew on Apollo 8. LM-3 flew on Apollo 9. CSM-103 may have had a docking probe at one point for the D mission, but I don't think it flew to the Moon with one.

McDivitt-Scott-Schweickart stayed with the D mission and LM-3. They moved from CSM-103 to CSM-104. Borman-Lovell-Anders moved from CSM-104 to CSM-103 and their original E mission was cancelled.

golddog
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posted 10-15-2011 05:15 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for golddog     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Apollo 8 did not.

mikej
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posted 10-15-2011 05:31 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mikej   Click Here to Email mikej     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
No. There was no need to.

As confirmation, refer to page 38 (p. 67 of the PDF) of the Apollo 9 Press Kit:

CSM 104 and LM-3 will carry for the first time the probe-and-drogue docking hardware.

SpaceAholic
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posted 10-15-2011 11:31 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceAholic   Click Here to Email SpaceAholic     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
As evidenced from this image, a docking ring was at least temporarily installed if not flown on S/C 103. If flown, jettison would have been interesting; without the benefit of being attached to the LM, recontact with the ring after separation would have been a concern (remedied with a couple of pulses from the SM RCS).

mikej
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posted 10-16-2011 06:32 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for mikej   Click Here to Email mikej     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by SpaceAholic:
As evidenced from this image, a docking ring was at least temporarily installed if not flown on S/C 103.
Discussions to fly Apollo 8 without a Lunar Module weren't started until August; the above-linked photo is dated July 22.

Looking at some of the Apollo 8 imagery on the Apollo Archive image gallery, the docking ring was still installed as of September 20.

The docking ring appears to have been removed by October 4, and certainly by October 7.

The only pre-flight photo of S/C 101 I could easily find shows no docking ring (but I don't believe that Apollo 7 was ever slated to have an LM).

Lou Chinal
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posted 10-16-2011 10:07 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Lou Chinal   Click Here to Email Lou Chinal     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks guys. I didn't think so, but than someome asked me if any parachute deployment tests were done with the docking probe in place. This would happen during a launch abort.

SpaceAholic
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posted 10-16-2011 10:35 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceAholic   Click Here to Email SpaceAholic     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Wouldn't discount the probability that occurred during (air-drop) qualification of the ELS at El Centro.

Jay Chladek
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posted 10-17-2011 12:51 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Chladek   Click Here to Email Jay Chladek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The curious thing about launch abort tests as they took place with boilerplates or Block 1 spacecraft (and I don't believe a probe mockup was used). I don't recall a block 2 being used. But, I figure chances of the probe causing a problem would have been very slim considering it does tend to keep a pretty low profile on the CSM docking tunnel.

I would go by the black and white of the Apollo 9 book and say if IT says Apollo 9 was the first to fly the probe, it was the first to fly the probe.

Jim Behling
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posted 10-17-2011 07:53 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jim Behling   Click Here to Email Jim Behling     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Lou Chinal:
This would happen during a launch abort.
Not true, the probe would detach and fly off with the LES and BPC.

Lou Chinal
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posted 10-17-2011 11:44 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Lou Chinal   Click Here to Email Lou Chinal     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Where did you get your information from?

Jim Behling
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posted 10-17-2011 01:01 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jim Behling   Click Here to Email Jim Behling     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Lou Chinal:
Where did you get your information from?

Apollo Command Module News Reference page 89

Lou Chinal
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posted 10-19-2011 11:34 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Lou Chinal   Click Here to Email Lou Chinal     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
After spending several hours studying the probe and drogue assembly and learning more about it than I'll ever need to know. I have to say I stand corrected.

During an abort, a pyrotechnic charge separates the docking ring, allowing the LES to take the ring and probe with it. This is due to what is referred to as a "passive tension tie."

One quote I came across in my research was by Mike Collins, in it he stated, "I hated it, and was half convinced it hated me".

To say it was a very complicated was an understatement.

Lou Chinal
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posted 10-29-2011 02:09 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Lou Chinal   Click Here to Email Lou Chinal     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Going a bit further on this subject; what would happen to the docking probe during a high altitude abort? After the LES had separated.

mikej
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posted 11-07-2011 01:00 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mikej   Click Here to Email mikej     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The probe would still be jettisoned, although I was unable to find any detailed information about measures taken to prevent re-contact with the jettisoned probe.

Page 89 (page 135 of the PDF) of the CSM News Reference has a diagram showing the disposition of the probe under normal ascent, LES abort, and SPS abort; here's the diagram of the SPS abort:

There's no actual discussion of SPS aborts in that part of the news reference.

Page 144 (190 in the PDF) discusses aborts, including a detailed description of what happens for a Mode 1a abort. The next page mentions SPS aborts, but merely states, "Aborts using the service propulsion subsystem, since they are at a much higher altitude or in space, follow procedures like a normal entry."

Alas, the "Earth Landing" section (p. 93/p. 139) makes vague mention of the case of low- and high-altitude aborts, but does not discuss the docking ring.

The "Launch Escape" section (p. 137/p. 183) only discusses launch escape tower aborts.

As I said, I could find nothing other than this diagram regarding the docking probe during SPS aborts, or how re-contact is prevented. The Apollo Experience Report: Abort Planning does note that Mode 2 aborts occur after the vehicle leaves the atmosphere (the news reference notes that these occur over 295,000 feet for a Saturn V and over 275,000 feet for a Saturn IB), where aerodynamic loads are less of a concern. Perhaps the velocity imparted by the separation charges is sufficient at that altitude?

Lou Chinal
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posted 11-08-2011 12:49 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Lou Chinal   Click Here to Email Lou Chinal     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Mike, thanks for taking the time and trouble to look this up. Just an idle question lead to this long post. Your a true geek like me.

mikej
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posted 11-08-2011 06:41 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mikej   Click Here to Email mikej     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
As they say, "Enquiring minds want to know."

bernoullis
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posted 01-05-2012 06:33 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for bernoullis   Click Here to Email bernoullis     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The Apollo Operations Handbook, Block II Spacecraft, Volume 1 (dated 15 October 1969) includes the following amongst the details of the Launch Escape systems:
The sequence commanded by the controller for a Mode 1a abort (pad or low altitude) is...
  1. Jettison the launch escape tower.
  2. Fire charges to separate the docking ring.
  3. Jettison the forward heat shield.
  4. Fire the mortar to deploy the heat shield drag parachute.
I assume the probe and docking ring separate together?

Ronpur
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posted 12-04-2012 01:29 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ronpur   Click Here to Email Ronpur     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have been trying to research docking probes to find out if one was carried on Apollo 8. I have found that it was not on Apollo 7, but cannot find any info on the other LM-less flight. And, also, I assume the probe was released prior to re-entry as well.

Editor's note: Threads merged.

golddog
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posted 12-04-2012 01:30 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for golddog     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
No docking probe was carried on Apollo 8 or 7.

Apollo 8 also carried the LTA on the third stage in place of a LM.

bwhite1976
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posted 12-04-2012 08:56 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for bwhite1976   Click Here to Email bwhite1976     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
And did they have anything to do with that LTA on the Apollo 8 mission? I am about 25 miles from my Mission Reports copy and can't remember exactly, but I don't recall any maneuvers ect. with it other than Borman wanting to get away from it as soon as possible.

Thanks for the recent posting on this thread enjoyed reading it.

golddog
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posted 12-04-2012 07:08 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for golddog     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The LTA was described as a "steel cylindrical test article" fitted with instrumentation to measure G levels by six accelerometers attached to its structure. It was attached by aluminum struts to the S- IV. 8 did not perform any maneuvers with it other than to separate away from it and briefly return and fly in formation with the S-IV for a short period. They evaluated the lighting conditions. A good photo of the LTA attached to the third stage appears on page 610 of the May 1969 National Geographic article on 8. It remained on the S-IV. It would be kind of fun if one day they could recover the entire Apollo 8 S-IV stage - presumably it is still in a solar orbit.

Ronpur
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posted 12-04-2012 09:46 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ronpur   Click Here to Email Ronpur     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Wow, I looked everywhere here and did not find this thread! Thanks so much for merging and answering my questions!

Lou Chinal
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posted 12-05-2012 04:29 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Lou Chinal   Click Here to Email Lou Chinal     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks to everyone for taking an interest in this.

I said no right away to the person who asked me. Why would Apollo's 7 and 8 have to they did need one? But then I thought of mass/weight/balance/operations. They might have too.

KSCartist
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posted 11-19-2013 05:25 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for KSCartist   Click Here to Email KSCartist     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Did the CM on Apollo 8 have a docking probe?

Editor's note: Threads merged.

Ronpur
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posted 11-19-2013 05:30 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ronpur   Click Here to Email Ronpur     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have been trying to find this out for a while. I have read no, the same with 7. But I have yet to find a photo to show what the apex of these Command Modules look like.

moorouge
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posted 11-19-2013 11:16 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for moorouge   Click Here to Email moorouge     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Don't know if this quote from the ModelGeek website helps. The 'him' is Jim Lovell -
After I introduced myself, I asked him if it was alright if I threw a technical question at him and he said, "sure" so I took my shot and asked him about Apollo 8's docking probe... and... I stumped him!! He couldn't remember.

After we chatted for a few minutes he said, 'Wait a minute, we never had to open the tunnel hatch in the CM so I never got to see if the probe was there or not. We never trained for it because it wasn't any equipment we'd be using."

He went on to say it was an alternate escape route in the 'stable one' landing condition on splashdown so they all knew how to get out through the tunnel hatch if necessary, but that was about as far as he could remember.

Normally, the docking collar and probe was left attached to the drogue on the upper hatch of the ascent stage of the LM on jettison in lunar orbit but again, without a LM on Apollo 8? So he really didn't know if the technicians left it in place or removed it before flight but he seemed to think it was still there because they just probably didn't get around to removing it.

Then again, he couldn't remember jettisoning it either before re-entry to clear the way for the pyros and chutes.

Ronpur
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posted 11-21-2013 01:29 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ronpur   Click Here to Email Ronpur     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
So, with no probe likely on 7 or 8 I am still still trying to figure out if my model would have the docking ring. Somewhere out there, is a photo that shows exactly what Apollo 7 and 8 looked like before the BPM was put on. I will just keep searching.

EDIT: And I found this. To me it looks like there is no probe. Unless they put it in later...

Lou Chinal
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posted 11-24-2013 03:00 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Lou Chinal   Click Here to Email Lou Chinal     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It seemed so obvious that the answer was no at first. I am glad I started this thread.
quote:
Originally posted by Ronpur:
And I found this.
Thanks for the picture.

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