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  Mercury - Gemini - Apollo
  Mercury system failures and warning lights

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Author Topic:   Mercury system failures and warning lights

Posts: 1490
From: U.K.
Registered: Jul 2009

posted 10-15-2012 11:26 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for moorouge   Click Here to Email moorouge     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have been reading a paper by Robert Voas (PDF) on the function of the Mercury astronauts.

In the section on reaction to warning lights he details several possibilities on the Mercury capsule where no warning light can indicate a malfunction to where a green light can can also indicate a malfunction.

This set me wondering if the same situation was possible with the Gemini and Apollo capsules or was it a unique feature of Mercury?

Jim Behling

Posts: 537
From: Cape Canaveral, FL
Registered: Mar 2010

posted 10-15-2012 12:56 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jim Behling   Click Here to Email Jim Behling     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I would say due to the nature of the relay driven avionics of the Mercury, that wouldn't beas prevalent in Gemini and Apollo.


Posts: 506
From: Danville, Ohio, USA
Registered: Dec 2002

posted 10-15-2012 08:42 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for space1   Click Here to Email space1     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I would say that similar things said of the Mercury spacecraft could be said about any complicated system, even today.

The design uses sensors with functional limitations. So a mechanical switch closes when a fairing is jettisoned, or a door is opened, and the circuit turns on a control panel light.

But there could be a mechanical failure of the switch, or a break in a wire, or a broken lamp filament, that could prevent the illumination of the panel light. There would be other possible scenarios where the light would illuminate when it shouldn't.

Part of the piloting function (for a crewed vehicle) and mission control function, is to understand and interpret such sensor readings. This was especially demonstrated with Apollo 13. And we see it with current Mars probes, among many other places.

It may not be the case of a particular light being green or red, but similar sensor interpretations would need to be applied.

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