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  Excerpts from Apollo technical crew debriefings (Page 1)

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Author Topic:   Excerpts from Apollo technical crew debriefings
LM-12
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posted 12-11-2012 09:38 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
CM/SM separation on Apollo 11:

FCOD REP: Did you see the service module?
COLLINS: Yes. It flew by us.
ALDRIN: It flew by to the right and a little above us, straight ahead. It was spinning up. It was first visible in window number 4, then later in window number 2, really spinning.

LM-12
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posted 12-11-2012 10:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
LM post-landing activities on Apollo 12:

BEAN: Star, Earth visibility was interesting. We could always see stars at the upper rendezvous window. We could see Dick go by us also.

LM-12
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posted 12-12-2012 04:02 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
PGA doffing and stowage on Apollo 8:

BORMAN: We should re-examine our position on requiring pressure suits for flights that do not include EVA. I would not have hesitated to launch on Apollo 8 without pressure suits. I think that we should. We wore them for about 3 hours and stowed them for 141 hours. I see no reason to include the pressure suits on a spacecraft that's been through an altitude chamber, and we have confidence in its pressure integrity.

dabolton
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posted 12-12-2012 07:31 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dabolton   Click Here to Email dabolton     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by LM-12:
CM/SM separation on Apollo 11
Wonder which type of spinning; rotating on main axis or tumbling?

LM-12
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posted 12-12-2012 08:15 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The SM separation involved a yaw maneuver, so maybe it was tumbling. Section 14.42 describes the CM/SM separation.

Max Q
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posted 12-13-2012 01:23 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Max Q   Click Here to Email Max Q     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This has the potential to develop into a very interesting thread. Please keep it coming.

LM-12
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posted 12-13-2012 04:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
My original intention was to also include the Mercury and Gemini flights, so feel free to add any interesting excerpts you find in those debriefings too.

LM-12
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posted 12-13-2012 05:30 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
re-entry ionization on Apollo 8:

BORMAN: The ionization on these high-speed entries is fantastic. The whole spacecraft was lit up in an eerie irridescent light very similar to what you'd see in a science fiction movie. I remember looking over at Jim and Bill once and they were sheathed in a white glow. It was really fantastic. The lighting was much. much greater than the night entry that we experienced in Gemini.

LM-12
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posted 12-13-2012 08:15 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
splashdown on Apollo 13:

HAISE: The last time I saw, we had miss distance of 0.8 mile. The choppers asked us if we had lat-long laid out and, at that time, we didn't have. It might be of interest to point out that, after we hit and had gone through this smoke and entry, we were all three sitting there on the couches, laying in that 81-degree water, blowing frosty smoke out of our mouths. It was still icy cold in the CM.

LM-12
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posted 12-15-2012 12:04 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
translunar coast on Apollo 8:

ANDERS: The moon was never seen from TLI until LOI, so no opportunity existed to photograph the moon in route.

LM-12
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posted 12-16-2012 08:06 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
powered flight on Apollo 17:

CERNAN: To sum up the S-IC, I personally didn't think it was any different than my previous ride on the S-IC and up through this point being a night launch really didn't make any difference at all. The only thing I did different that I hadn't really thought a lot about until I sat on the pad and began to think about staging was, just prior to staging, I took my hand off the abort handle and held the support arm rather than the translation control handle until after staging. I did this just a couple of seconds prior to staging. I had talked about it with John Young a little bit prior to the flight and it turns out that's what he did also. Probably a good thing.

LM-12
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posted 12-16-2012 10:25 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Gemini 6A launch from Gemini 7:

LOVELL: We missed the Titan launch.
BORMAN: Yes, we did not get the liftoff because of clouds. But we picked them up when we picked up their contrails.
LOVELL: Yes.

LM-12
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posted 12-17-2012 08:36 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
S-IC/S-II staging on Apollo 16:
MATTINGLY: I was well braced for it. I'm sure glad I was. That really gets your attention!
YOUNG: I mean to tell you it does. I was holding on to the bottom of the T-handle, at that point, because I sure didn't want to do the wrong thing.
DUKE: It's a good idea to brace yourself. And, I was surprised with the debris that I caught out of my left eye as it came by the hatch window from the staging.
YOUNG: Hey, that's another thing you remarked on.
MATTINGLY: Yes. That amazing.
YOUNG: The debris was going right along with us.
MATTINGLY: It was passing us. I don't understand that.
DUKE: I think that was from retrofire.
MATTINGLY: No, sir. This was during the powered flight steady state. There were particles; I looked out John's window and particles were going by us in the same direction. I kept looking at that; there's no way. But, it did it. I don't remember it on the S-I; but I remember it on the S-II and the S-IV.
SLAYTON: This wasn't during the staging sequence?
MATTINGLY: No, sir. This was steady state, powered flight well after staging; and, I don't know where they came from. I don't know what they were, but they were there.

LM-12
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posted 12-17-2012 06:09 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
post EVA-3 activities in the LM Orion:

DUKE: We left our helmets on and broke out the scales. We started tying down, just like we're supposed to before the jettison time. We weighed them and then we had to wait about 10 minutes until they decided whether we could keep all the rocks.
YOUNG: One thing we did that was necessary, we had to get the weight of the ISA down to 45 pounds. I had to reach in and pull out the Muley rock to get a rock out from underneath it. I think we took two rocks out of that bag, and put 'em in a half-full SCB to make the weight more balanced. I ended up touching a rock with my bare hands. I really didn't plan to do so. There must be some stray hydrocarbon on those rocks that I touched. They were big rocks.

LM-12
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posted 12-18-2012 09:08 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
the thruster problem on Gemini 8:

ARMSTRONG: Upon mutual agreement, I undocked with the use of the Undocking Switch and I used the forward-firing thrusters to back away from the Agena as quickly as possible, using about a 5 second burst. We did not have excessive rates at separation. What would your analysis be there, Dave?
SCOTT: Yes, it looked like a clean separation to me with very low relative rates, and we backed straight off a good 4 or 5 feet before we started tumbling there and lost sight of the Agena. I might add that before we backed off I sent L-Band ON and UHF Enable to the Agena.
ARMSTRONG: Shortly after backing off, we noticed that we were essentially losing control of the spacecraft in roll and yaw and we suspected that we were over the lifetime of these attitude thrusters. The spacecraft was continuing, however, to accelerate, and we were obtaining rates in roll at least that approached 200 to 300 degrees per second, or perhaps more.
SCOTT: Yes, I would agree with that. It looked like even more to me, and it was by far more in roll than in yaw. The roll was the most predominate.
ARMSTRONG: We realized the physiological limits were being approached, and that we were going to have to do something immediately, in order to salvage the situation.

LM-12
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posted 12-18-2012 11:38 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
stopping short of Cone Crater on Apollo 14:

SHEPARD: If we'd gotten to the point where we'd be willing to do away with the rest of the traverse, we could have made the rim all right. But I personally wasn't willing to do that. I felt that gathering more samples was the better of the two choices. We looked at the map again today and described two boulder fields that indicate we were probably within 150 to 300 feet - depending on those two boulder fields - of the rim and still were not able to see it. That was a pretty good-sized lunar feature, to be that close to the top of the thing and not see it. That is just part of the navigation problem.
MITCHELL: At this point, in spite of my personal frustration - and I know Al felt frustrated in the same way - to have us stop at that point and turn around and come back was a proper decision.

LM-12
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posted 12-19-2012 12:05 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
going down the LM ladder on Apollo 15:

SCOTT: I descended to the surface and hopped out and found that the one sixth-g environment was pretty much as everybody else had said. There was no problem going down the ladder. The front footpad was only very lightly on the ground. There was only very light contact.
IRWIN: I question whether it was even in contact with the ground because it was so free to swivel.
SCOTT: Well, it was when I got out because it made an impression on the ground.
IRWIN: It might have made an impression and then it might have rocked back.
SCOTT: The pad was on the ground when I got down the first time. It was pretty solid when I stepped down because I stood on the footpad before I stood on the ground.

LM-12
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posted 12-19-2012 10:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
the spacecraft emergency on Apollo 13:

LOVELL: The time went pretty fast after the emergency. I might mention the TV show was just over and the scene was set for the incident. We were geared to bangs because Fred had actuated the REPRESS valve a couple of times. These caused a bang in the spacecraft. The first time he forgot to tell us about it, so Jack and I were springloaded to loud bangs. When the actual bang came, I didn't know exactly what the situation was. I thought maybe Fred had actuated the valve again.
HAISE: I was sitting down in the LM.
SLAYTON: Is this the LM REPRESS valve you're talking about?
LOVELL: Yes, it's the LM REPRESS valve.

LOVELL: To the best of my knowledge, Jack, you were in the left-hand seat.
SWIGERT: I was in the left-hand seat.
LOVELL: I was in the LEB, and Fred was somewhere up in the LM.

LM-12
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posted 12-20-2012 12:17 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
the LM Eagle touchdown on Apollo 11:

ARMSTRONG: As we approached the 1500-foot point, the program alarm seemed to be settling down and we committed ourselves to continue. We could see the landing area and the point at which the LPD was pointing, which was indicating we were landing just short of a large rocky crater surrounded with large boulder field with very large rocks covering a high percentage of the surface. I initially felt that that might be a good landing area if we could stop short of that crater, because it would have more scientific value to be close to a large crater. Continuing to monitor LPD, it became obvious that I could not stop short enough to find a safe landing area.

We then went into MANUAL and pitched the vehicle over to approximately zero pitch and continued. I was in the 20- to 30-ft/sec hoizontal-velocity region when crossing the top of the crater and the boulder field. I then proceeded to look for a satisfactory landing area and the one chosen was a relatively smooth area between some sizeable craters and a ray-type boulder field. I first noticed that we were, in fact, disturbing the dust on the surface when we were at something less than 100 feet; we were beginning to get a transparent sheet of moving dust that obscured visibility a little bit. As we got lower, the visibility continued to decrease. I don't think that the altitude determination was severely hurt by this blowing dust, but the thing that was confusing to me was that it was hard to pick out what your lateral and down-range velocities were, because you were seeing a lot of moving dust that you had to look through to pick up the stationary rocks and base your translational velocity decisions on that. I found that to be quite difficult. I spent more time trying to arrest translational velocities than I thought would be necessary. As we got below 30 feet or so, I had selected the final touchdown area. For some reason that I am not sure of, we started to pick up left translational velocity and a backward velocity. That's the thing that I certainly didn't want to do, because you don't like to be going backwards, unable to see where you're going. So I arrested the backward rate with some possibly spastic control motions, but I was unable to stop the left translational rate. As we approached the ground, I still had a left translational rate which made me reluctant to shut the engine off while I still had that rate. I was also reluctant to slow down my descent rate anymore than it was or stop because we were close to running out of fuel. We were hitting our abort limit.

We continued to touchdown with a slight left translation. I couldn't precisely determine touchdown. Buzz called lunar contact, but I never saw the lunar contact lights.

ALDRIN: I called contact light.

ARMSTRONG: I'm sure you did, but I didn't hear it, nor did I see it. I heard you say something about contact, and I was spring loaded to the stop engine position, but I really don't know whether we had actually touched prior to contact or whether the engine off signal was before contact. In any case, the engine shutdown was not very high above the surface. The touchdown itself was relatively smooth; there was no tendency toward tipping over that I could feel. It just settled down like a helicopter on the ground and landed.

LM-12
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posted 12-20-2012 09:19 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
LM ascent stage liftoff on Apollo 11:

ALDRIN: Lift-off, or at ignition, we waited until the last 2 or 3 seconds, or almost simultaneously, Neil depressed the abort stage and threw the engine arm switch to ascent and I proceeded on the computer.

It might have been a second after the T-zero that any motion was detected. There was, as I recall, an appreciable bang of the PYRO's and a fair amount of debris that was tossed out at the same time that we did detect first motion. It was a fairly smooth onset of lifting force. There wasn't any jolt to it. Yaw started gradually; it was not abrupt either starting or ending. As a matter of fact, I really didn't notice it. I was looking more at some of the gages and the altitude rate, both in the PGNS and the AGS. It seemed to take quite a while before we accumulated 40 or 50 feet per second.

LM-12
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posted 12-23-2012 10:08 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
crew egress after splashdown on Gemini 8:

ARMSTRONG: The egress was performed at the destroyer. We waited until the destroyer pulled up alongside the spacecraft, and the spacecraft was attached to the destroyer by means of lines. We egressed directly from the open hatch of the spacecraft to the Jacob's ladder. This was somewhat difficult because of the high sea state and the spacecraft was bobbing up and down alongside the destroyer, perhaps 10 to 15 feet, I would say, bumping along the side. The nose ring of the spacecraft was dented rather badly as a result of the contacts with the side of the destroyer. They could easily saved the chute, but due to a misunderstanding between the swimmers and the hoist operator they lost the main chute during the process of spacecraft recovery.
SCOTT: It got tangled up in the screws.
ARMSTRONG: Yes. I think it did.
FCSD REP: Did you both egress through your respective hatches?
SCOTT: No. I closed and locked mine and got out on his side.

LM-12
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posted 12-24-2012 06:13 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
parachute failure and splashdown on Apollo 15:

WORDEN: The main chutes came out at 10,000; the drogues released just a few seconds before that. The main chutes came out at 10,000 and at about 8,000 we got the cabin configured and started the fuel dump.
SCOTT: When you saw the mains come out, you saw three chutes. Is that right?
WORDEN: That's right. I saw three chutes come out, reef, then disreefed, and I had three full chutes in view. When we started the fuel dump, my view of the main chutes was obscured by a cloud of fuel that was going by the window.
SCOTT: A big red cloud.
WORDEN: A big red cloud going by the window. When we finished the fuel dump and the view cleared, I could see that one of the chutes was not fully inflated anymore.
SCOTT: I think that was just about the time we got a call from Recovery that we had a streamer. Right?
WORDEN: That was just about the same time.
SCOTT: Yes.
WORDEN: I think they had seen it before they gave us a call. It was just about that time when I picked up the chutes again in view.
SCOTT: We might add that that was a very good call for them to inform us at that time. That was an indicator that we had less time to get everything done on the way down than we had normally planned; especially after you confirmed it. The dump and the purge went according to plan. Jim was going through the checklist and I had the feeling you were having to really hustle to get things done.

... and later ...

WORDEN: We came pretty close to that chopper, which could have been disastrous.
SCOTT: We came down expecting to have a rather solid impact, which we had. I had the feeling we hit pretty flat. There was no apparent roll to the spacecraft at all. I could see water up over the windows after we hit. You all got the main release and the circuit breakers, and we ended up in a very stable 1 condition with no rocking or anything.
WORDEN: That was surprising that we went straight down and straight back up, and there wasn't any motion at all, hardly, except for the sea swell.

Henry Heatherbank
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posted 12-24-2012 10:48 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Henry Heatherbank     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
SCOTT: No. I closed and locked mine and got out on his side.
Jeepers, a PLT getting out the CDR's side (or vice versa) would be a pretty tight squeeze, wouldn't it!? Would love to have seen that.

LM-12
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posted 12-25-2012 03:05 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by dabolton:
Wonder which type of spinning; rotating on main axis or tumbling?

Section 16 of The Apollo 11 Mission Report goes into more detail about the SM separation:

Photographic data were obtained of the service module entering the earth's atmosphere and disintegrating near the command module. Preflight predictions indicated the service module should have skipped out of the earth's atmosphere and entered a highly elliptical orbit. The crew observed the service module about 5 minutes after separation and indicated the reaction control thrusters were firing and the module was rotating about the x-plane.

Based on the film, crew observation of the service module, and data from previous missions, it appears that the service module did not perform as a stable vehicle following command module / service module separation. Calculations using Apollo 10 data show that it is possible for the remaining propellants to move axially at frequencies approximately equal to the precessional rate of the service module spin axis about the X-body axis. This effect causes the movement to resonate, and the energy transfer between the rotating vehicle and the propellants may be sufficient to cause the service module to go into a flat spin about the Y or Z axis and become unstable.

LM-12
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posted 12-26-2012 08:00 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
CM/SM separation on Apollo 13:

LOVELL: The separation procedure, which was called up to us for separating from the SM, was very good. I don't know the details of the checklist that Jack went through. When we got to the point to jettison the SM, I thrusted up. Then, Fred went to verify that Jack was going to throw the right switch.
SWIGERT: I wanted Fred there to make sure that I raised the CM/SM SEP switch and not the CM/LM SEP switches.
HAISE: I did go, but he had gray tape over the LM SEP switches. I figured that was enough of a safeguard, and the way Jim thrusted, I needed to be there to control the pitch again with the TTCA.

... and on the CM/LM separation 3 hrs 28 min later ...

HAISE: Maybe it was because of your being busy with the test, whereas I was just an innocent bystander sitting over there, but the LM SEP impressed me as being the loudest pyro event that I heard from stem to stern during the mission.
LOVELL: It was encouraging, I know.
HAISE: It was very close, and it impressed the heck out of me, I know. It actually rocked me off my seat toward the window when it let go.
SWIGERT: I didn't notice that, perhaps because I had both hands at the controls.

LM-12
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posted 12-27-2012 12:05 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The previously-mentioned Apollo Mission Report has some interesting definitions for some of the mission events:
  • lift-off is the time of instrumentation unit umbilical disconnect as indicated by launch vehicle telemetry

  • Earth orbit insertion is the S-IVB engine cutoff time plus 10 seconds as indicated by launch vehicle telemetry

  • translunar injection maneuver starts when tank discharge valve opens, allowing fuel to be pumped to the S-IVB engine

  • beginning of EVA is the time cabin pressure reaches 3 psia during depressurization indicated by telemetry data

  • end of EVA is the time cabin pressure reaches 3 psia during repressurization indicated by telemetry data

LM-12
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posted 12-27-2012 08:12 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
the LM Intrepid touchdown on Apollo 12:

CONRAD: As soon as we started the pitch maneuver, I proceeded on the computer to enable LPD and immediately went outside the window. For the first couple of seconds, I had no recognition of where we were although the visibility was excellent. It was almost like a black-and-white painting. The shadows were extremely black, illustrating the craters and all of the sudden, when I oriented myself down about the 40-degree line in the LPD, our five-crater chain and the Snowman stood out like a sore thumb. I started asking Al right away for LPD angles; as best as I could tell, we had absolutely zero out-of-plane error. We were targeted right dead smack in the middle of the Surveyor crater and I just left it alone. I didn't LPD for quite a while until we got down around, as I remember, 2300 feet or so. I LPD'd one right to move it off the crater and headed for the landing area short of the crater. At that point, I listened to some more LPD angles from Al and I had the feeling that I was a little high; so I LPD'd two clicks short, and I let it go for a while. Then I decided that I was going to land a little short and Al called out something like "30 seconds worth of LPD remaining". I gave her one click forward, let her go for a while, and decided we were high and fast. I didn't like the size of the area short, where we had normally been trying to land, and I looked for a more suitable place. At the same time I took over manually at about 700 feet and immediately killed the rate of descent. It looked like we were going at the ground like a bullet. I had plenty of gas and I wanted enough time to look around. At that point, Al got a little nervous because I had killed the rate of descent to 3 feet a second at 500 feet. I left a very high pitch angle on it, on the order of 30-degrees, because we were moving quite fast and I wanted to get stopped. I had the horizontal velocity under control about the time I passed the near edge of the Surveyor crater. I saw a suitable landing area between the Surveyor crater and Head crater, which now meant I had to maneuver to my left and sort of fly around the side of the crater, which I started to do. I guess I wheeled it pretty hard, because Al commented a couple of times that I was really cranking her around and I told him it was no problem. I had everything under control and I did increase the rate of descent after he called my attention to the fact that we had leveled off quite high at 500 feet. I got down as soon as I got over the area that I wanted to land on. To me, it looked like a perfectly smooth, good area, between Head crater and Surveyor crater and I started a vertical descent from a relatively high altitude, 300 feet at least. It may turn out that I actually backed up a little bit; but I don't think so. As soon as I got the vehicle stopped in horizontal velocity at 300 feet, we picked up a tremendous amount of dust; much more so than I expected. I could see the boulders through the dust, but the dust went as far as I could see in any direction and completely obliterated craters and anything else. All I knew was there was ground underneath that dust. I had no problem with the dust, determining horizontal or lateral velocities, but I couldn't tell what was underneath me. I knew I was in a generally good area and I was just going to have to bite the bullet and land, because I couldn't tell whether there was a crater down there or not. We came down with a relatively low descent rate. I think I speeded up to about 6 ft/sec and got her down around 100 feet, where Al called it, and I slowed to about 3 ft/sec and started milking her down. At that point, the dust was bad enough and I could obtain absolutely no attitude reference by looking at the horizon and the LM. I had to use the 8-ball. I had attitude excursions in pitch of plus 10 and minus 10, which happened while I was looking out the window making sure that the lateral and horizontal velocities were still nulled. I would allow the attitude of the vehicle to change by plus or minus 10 degrees in pitch and not be aware of it, and I had to go back in the cockpit and keep releveling the attitude of the vehicle on the 8-ball. I was on the gages in the cockpit doing that at the time the LUNAR CONTACT light came on. I had that much confidence in the gages. I was sure we were in a relatively smooth area. I had my head in the cockpit when the LUNAR CONTACT light came on and I instinctively hit the STOP button and that's how we got a shutoff in the air. We were, I'd estimate, 2 or 3 feet in the air still when I shut down the engine and it dropped right on in. We landed on a slight slope; therefore, the right plus-Y gearpad touched first and tipped the vehicle to my left. The vehicle plopped on all four gears at that point with no skid marks that we could determine other than the first pad touchdown. When we set it in for a landing and looked around, it turned out there were more craters around there than we realized, either because we didn't look before the dust started or because the dust obscured them.

LM-12
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posted 12-27-2012 09:30 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
the LM Antares touchdown on Apollo 14:

SHEPARD: We came on down to P64, pitchover, and there it was. The landing area model was excellent in that respect. It was an excellent training tool, and there was no problem in recognizing immediately where we were. I think that was probably obvious from the in-flight voice comments. There was no question about where we were. If we hadn't been there, there might have been some question about where we were. But fortunately, we didn't have to make that kind of in-flight test. One LPD was used, I think one left, to designate to the point that I'd originally thought was the right one, slightly south of track. The LPD stayed good up until the point we got below 1000 feet. Then, it appeared as though it was going in a little bit short, right about in the middle of Triplet. So, I took over the PGNS, ATT hold ROD mode at that point. At that point, it became obvious to me that I didn't want to land south of track because the crater size was a little too large, I thought. So, I flew her on over using bank angle closer to the nominal original intended landing point where it looked a little smoother. We used the same techniques that we used in the LMS. Ed was inside the cockpit, mostly, giving me values of velocities, and I was outside the cockpit, mostly.

I think that was the part that looked very smooth, relatively smooth, and I landed. The control of the vehicle I thought was good. Here again, of course, I did practice with the LLTV as well as the LLRF, and in the LMS. I felt completely comfortable and completely in control of the vehicle all the time. The landing spot did turn out to be slightly on a slope. I don't think that was because of touchdown velocity, which must have been pretty low. We didn't have any stroking of the gear at all. The LM ended up in about a 7-degree right-wing-down attitude, which was exactly that of the slope of the hole in which we had landed. In retrospect, maybe a little higher H-dot would have been better. We'd have ended with the vehicle at a more level attitude. But, in any event, with the combinations of slope, 7 degrees was not bad.

For touchdown, we had the habit of waiting about 2 seconds after the lunar contact light came on before shutting the engine down. From the looks of things, we actually were on the ground and stopped before the engine shut off. It must have been a pretty light touchdown.

... and Shepard comments later about the dust ...

I believe that we had less problem with dust than they've had before. I think it's because, as we comment later on, the surface of the general area in which we landed was less dusty, that is, exclusive of the dust around the rim of craters. The general area appeared to have less dust and we certainly had no problem with dust at touchdown.

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posted 12-28-2012 12:49 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
the LM Falcon touchdown on Apollo 15:

SCOTT: I looked out of the window, and I could see Hadley Delta. We seemed to be floating across Hadley Delta and my impression at the time was that we were way long because I could see the mountain out of the window and we were still probably 10,000 to 11,000 feet high. I couldn't see the rille out the forward corner of the window, which you could on the simulator, out the left forward corner. So I had the feeling from the two calls that we were going to be long and south. When we pitched over, we got P64 right on time. As we pitched over and I looked out, there were very few shadows as far as craters go. I think the model gave us the impression that we could see many craters on the surface because of the shadow lines. I believe the overall problem was the enhancement of photography that was a little too high fidelity. In other words, I think they over-enhanced the photography and made themselves think the terrain had more topographic relief than it really did. When we pitched over, I couldn't convince myself that I saw Index Crater anywhere. I saw, as I remember, a couple of shadowed craters, but not nearly as many as we were accustomed to seeing. I measured my east-west displacement by my relative position to the rille, and I could see we were in fairly good shape, relative to the rille, but we were south. I could see the secondaries. I could see some shadowing in the areas in which the secondaries occurred. Knowing that we were 3000 feet south, which I'm sure will be discussed in the debriefing because that's not what they meant. I don't know whether you know that or not. They didn't mean 3000 feet south apparently. They meant azimuth. They meant that we were not coming in on 91 degrees. We were coming in at some other azimuth. But my interpretation was that our landing point had been moved. I'm sure we'll get that in the debriefing, but that was a confusing call. We were south, and I redesignated immediately four clicks to the right, and then very shortly thereafter, after you called me again on the LPD numbers, I redesignated two more right and three uprange.

I saw what I thought was Salyut Crater and the smaller crater to the north of Salyut, both of which are quite subdued on the model. I think, in fact, what I was seeing was Last Crater. Punch that. The Last Crater on the model is rather a sharp rim crater with shadows, and Salyut and the one north of Salyut are rather subdued. I think what I selected was a landing site relative to Last Crater rather than Salyut Crater, but it looked like Salyut and the one north of Salyut to me, and that's where I redesignated to. I'm not sure how many other redesignations I put in heading for the target as Jim called the numbers. I may have put in a couple more. I got busy, at that time, attempting to select a point for the actual landing. I guess our preflight philosophy had been that if we were on target, we would try to land exactly on target. If we had a dispersion, we could select some point within a 1-kilometer circle which looked like a good place to land and would land as soon as possible so as not to get behind on the propellant curve. Once I realized that we were not heading for the exact landing site, and that I didn't have a good location relative to Index Crater, I picked what I thought was a reasonably smooth area and headed directly for that. We got down to 400 feet, and we had planned to switch to P66. I gave one ROD click at that time. Jim called me on the P66, which verified the ROD was working, and I went down to 200 feet and started rounding out at 150 feet.

I could see dust - just a slight bit of dust. At about 50 to 60 feet, the total view outside was obscured by dust. It was completely IFR. I came into the cockpit and flew with the instruments from there on down. I got the altitude rate and the altitude from Jim, and rounded out to 15 feet and 1 foot per second for the last portion. When Jim called a CONTACT LIGHT, I pushed the STOP button, which had been in the plan. Knowing that the extension on the engine bell was of some concern relative to ground contact, it had been my plan to shut the engine down as soon as possible after Jim had called the contact and to attempt to be at some very low descent rate, which we felt that we were at the time. The next event was the contact with the ground, which I guess was somewhat harder than the 1 foot per second.

One of the sensations in the LLTV which helped me was contact on the order of 1 foot per second, which feels rather hard with a tightly sprung system like you have on either of those two vehicles. We landed in a shallow depression on the rear pad. I think the rear footpad was in a 5- by 15-foot shallow crater. Wouldn't you say that was about the order?

IRWIN: 15 to 25 feet in diameter.
SCOTT: It gave us a tilt of about 10 degrees left and 10 degrees up, which was subsequently no problem. There was a rumble when we landed. I think all the equipment on board rattled. It seemed as if I could hear it all when we landed, like you would shake the vehicle. Couldn't you hear that?
IRWIN: Yes, I agree.
SCOTT: Soon thereafter, we called Houston and informed them we were on the ground.
IRWIN: The propellant was about 6 percent.

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posted 12-28-2012 02:12 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
the LM Orion touchdown on Apollo 16:

YOUNG: I think the LPD was perfect. I don't have any gripes there whatsoever. When we pitched over, we were north and long and you could see that. I was just letting the LM float in there until I could see where it was going. I took out the north because according to our preflight maps, the north country was a little rougher. There were more contour lines up north than down south, so we took those out and when we got in close, we backed up a little and put in some rear updates. I don't remember how many there were. But at pitchover, you could see (just like preflight) Gator, Palmetto, and Spook, and the inverted deep shadow pattern through Stubby, Wreck, Trap, Eden Valley, and Cove right into Spook, although at 15-degrees Sun angle, it wasn't as apparent. Of course, we had already seen the landing site on two other occasions when we were flying over it because of the three-rev slip. There's just no doubt in your mind when your at pitchover, and the first thing you see was South Ray. There was some question about whether we'd see the ray patterns at the low Sun angle, but there's no doubt that we were seeing the ray patterns from South Ray at pitchover, and there's no doubt, at least in my mind, as to where that machine was flying to. And it was a simple matter to redesignate to the south and back up a hair.

DUKE: We'd agreed that I was going to look out since I had two good craters on my side, and it looked just like the L and A.

YOUNG: In fact, it was working so well I was tempted to let it do the thing all by itself, but the trouble is we got down low, and I could see that we were going to land in that pothole down there. We took over, I guess at about 300 feet, and pitched forward a little, and we could see the surface all the way to the ground. Right close in there out of my window, I could see that crater down there, so I went forward a little bit and landed. I counted one-potato after we got the contact light and shut the engine down; even so, I think that we fell about 3 feet. I think we're very fortunate that the landing was so flat because I really couldn't judge the slopes. We just lucked into almost zero roll and a couple of degrees or 3 degrees pitchup, and of course we'd taken the yaw out. When we redesignated to the south, we must have had 30 degrees of yaw and took it back out. Like I say, at that Sun angle, we could see the rocks all the way to the ground and I think that was a great help. From 200 feet on down, I never looked in the cockpit. It was just like flying the LLTV; your reference is to the ground outside. You had another thing that nobody has ever remarked about before, and that was the shadow. I really didn't have any doubt in my mind how far above the ground we were with that shadow coming down. I had no scale of reference to the holes but with the shadow out there in front of you and coming down, it really takes all the guesswork out of it. For that kind of a Sun angle, if the radar had crumped, I don't think you'd have had a bit of trouble in just going right in and landing just like a helicopter. First, we could see the thing up all the way to the ground; second, the shadow was right there to help you with the rate of descent. When Charlie says you stopped and you're hovering, there wasn't any doubt in my mind that I was hovering. I could look out the window and see that we're hovering just like a helicopter. We were well into the dust, maybe 40 or 50 feet off the ground. when we're doing that.

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posted 12-28-2012 03:40 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
the LM Challenger touchdown on Apollo 17:

CERNAN: At 13,000 feet, I had the impression we were level with the top of those mountains. I really did. We pitched over, the needles dropped, pitchover occurred, 64, everything was nominal. Our target point was about a crater diameter short of Camelot. I used LPD frequently. I don't know how many times I used LPD, several clicks back, a couple left, a couple right. I just flew it where I wanted to fly it. I brought it back to an area in the vicinity and to the right of Poppy. As soon as I did that, I just sort of tumbled in on that area and did some more LPDs to finally what I'd call a suitable landing site. That suitable landing site became more evident the closer you got. Initial LPD changes to bring the landing site back east were just gross to change the area.

Once I had my area, I started tweaking it up to find what I considered a blockless and level area. I ended up taking over in P66 just a little below 300 feet. The reason I took over is that I wanted to slow our forward velocity down. I did not want to go any farther west, because there were more blocks and more hummocky terrain. As a result of all of our aft LPDing, we ended up (1) with a great deal more fuel than we might have anticipated, between 7 and 9 percent, I believe, and (2) the rate of descent, H-dot, was a little bit higher than normal, because of our steeper descent in the latter phases of the braking and landing. But as far as the CDR was concerned, they were very comfortable rates of descent. The LMP passed them on and said they were a little higher. I knew where we were. I think the most significant part of the final phases from 500 feet down, as far as the CDR was concerned, was that it was extremely comfortable flying the bird, either LPDing in P64, and/or flying manually in P66. I contribute that primarily to the LLTV flying operations. That's why the rates of descent and what have you were just very comfortable.

I kept a good rate of descent down through 200 feet, slowed it down a little bit over 100 feet to 1 or 2 feet per second, and then started it on down again. We started to get dust somewhere around 100 feet.

SCHMITT: In my window, I didn't see dust until about 60 or 70 feet.

CERNAN: The dust layer was so very thin that I could definitely see through it all the way down. It didn't hamper our operations at all. When I was satisfied that that was my landing site, I made sure we had between 1 and 3 feet per second on the crosspointer forward velocity, and to the best of my ability, zero left and right. We continued on down with about 3 feet per second to landing.

I saw the shadow come right on up to me, and this is very well done in the simulator. When it passed on under me, I was expecting a blue light. It seemed like it didn't quite come, when the shadow passed on under for just a split second or two. We got the touchdown light. I had planned to say "1 potato, 2" and then push the stop buttton. But I didn't. As soon as we got the touchdown light, I , like most everybody else, hit the stop button. Then things just went "plunk". We plunked down with a relatively good thud, I'd say.

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posted 12-29-2012 09:50 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
splashdown on Apollo 10:
YOUNG: During the landing and recovery, the only thing that I saw that surprised me was the amount of gas going out of those thrusters. We dumped a lot of ozidizer right into the chutes.
That is an interesting comment considering what happened two years later on Apollo 15. The A15 parachute that failed was never recovered, but it was later determined that the RCS fuel dump was the most likely cause of the parachute collapse.

Apollo 15 Mission Anomaly Report No.1 Main Parachute Failure

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posted 12-31-2012 11:47 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA photo S69-40209 shows the Apollo 11 astronauts during their post-flight technical debriefing in Houston. The crew was still under quarantine at the time.

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posted 01-03-2013 10:17 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
more on the RCS fuel dump just prior to splashdown on Apollo 10:

CERNAN: At the completion of the purge and the closing of the valves, we still had a fire on the right-hand side. A fire out of the thrusters over there that was big enough or hot enough to show flames leaping up past the right-hand window and there were definite flames and I'd say this lasted for at least 60 seconds before it went out.
STAFFORD: Gene says, "Tom we got a fire out here." I said, "what are they going to do about it?"
YOUNG: It went out when we hit the water.
CERNAN: It went out long before we hit the water. It burned itself out probably after about a minute, or a minute and a half. But it was pretty impressive because the flames were leaping by the right-hand window.
YOUNG: We had a fire on Gemini 10 too.
CERNAN: We had a fire on 9 that lasted all the way to the water.

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posted 01-03-2013 11:24 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
opening the hatch for the EVA on Gemini 4:

McDIVITT: When we opened up the spacecraft the hatch came open with a bang. The air that we had inside was obviously of greater pressure than that outside, and we had a great outflow of things including a piece of foam that we had used to pack our maneuvering gun in its box. It was the first thing that we put in orbit. But then throughout the time that Ed was out, he wanted the door wide open. It was pretty obvious that the flow was from the spacecraft to the outside because part-way through his maneuvers his glove floated out and floated away from the spacecraft with a reasonably good relative velocity. The entire time he was out, even after we had the hatch open for 20 to 25 minutes, we were still getting particles floating out through the hatch. It was the flow. The streamlines were very obvious. It was from inside the spacecraft to the outside. I guess the spacecraft was out-gassing at a sufficient rate to cause a reasonably large pressure differential from inside to outside, and it was certainly relieving itself. I noticed this even as we were trying to get the hatch closed. There was still a flow from inside to outside.

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posted 01-03-2013 09:30 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
the Gemini 4 EVA was running long:

McDIVITT: This is what all the fuss was about. They might have been transmitting to us to get back in but we were in VOX and couldn't hear a thing.
WHITE: I did a few things after this time that I wasn't doing to deliberately stay out. But I was deliberately trying to do one last thing. I was trying to get that last picture. And this was one of a couple of times that I kicked off the spacecraft really hard, to get out to the end of the tether. And I wasn't successful in getting the position so that I could get a picture. I felt this was one part of the mission that I hadn't completed. Everything else was successful and I wanted very badly to get that picture from outside. I spent a moment or so doing this. This was also the period of time in which I called down to Jim and said, "I'm actually walking on top of the spacecraft". I took the tether, held onto it, and used it as a device to pull me down to the spacecraft. I walked from about where the angle starts to break between the nose section and the cabin section. I walked from there probably about two-thirds of the way up the cabin, and it was really quite strenuous. Could you see me walking along, Jim?
McDIVITT: No, I couldn't see but I could feel the thumping on the outside.
WHITE: That's when I got to laughing so hard. This was when Jim was saying to come in.

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posted 01-04-2013 07:01 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
WHITE: Whenever I was in a position to get a picture it seemed like I was facing away from the spacecraft. I took a couple of shots in desperation, and I think I might have gotten a piece of the spacecraft. But I never got the picture that I was after. I wanted to get a picture of Jim sitting in that spacecraft, through the open hatch, with the whole spacecraft. I know that I didn't get that. In fact, as time went on, I realized that I wasn't going to get much of a picture. I was trying everything I knew to get out there and get stabilized so that I could turn around and get a good picture. I just couldn't do this.

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posted 01-09-2013 06:19 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
there was this visual observation on Apollo 11:

ALDRIN: In lunar orbit, following ascent, we did note and mention to the ground that approaching CDH when the Earth came up above the lunar horizon, I observed what appeared to be a fairly bright light source which we tentatively ascribed to a possible laser. That seemed to be the best possible explanation until we were coming back in the command module approaching the Earth and were able to observe something that gave about the same appearance. When putting the monocular on the light source, it appeared as though it was the reflection of the Sun from a relatively smooth body of water such as a lake. I think we've revised our initial conclusion as to what the source of that light was that we saw coming from the Earth. If no one owns up to having beamed the laser toward the Moon at that time, it was more probably a reflection off a lake. I still think it's an unusual phenomenon, at that distance, to see so bright a source of light. In the film, it didn't appear as though this was going to show up at all. The Earth was too bright.

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posted 01-09-2013 04:26 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
the LRV had a reverse switch:

SCOTT: I think the wire wheels worked very well relative to traction. The only wheel slippage that we noticed occurred in hard turns at high rates where the momentum of the vehicle would keep it going straight until the speed slowed enough for the wheels to catch. One time we had the wheels spinning in the soil; they were digging in in opposition.
IRWIN: When we got to the ALSEP site.
SCOTT: Yes. As I remember, we picked it up and moved it to another spot and it worked fine. Did we just pull it out?
IRWIN: We just went in reverse.
SCOTT: That's right ...

... and later ...

IRWIN: One time we did a 180; the back wheels just broke loose and they slid around.
SCOTT: Coming down the hill?
IRWIN: Yes.
SCOTT: I think that was just because of the slope. We probably had most of the weight on the front wheels, and I had to make a turn to avoid a crater. There just wasn't much traction on the rear wheels. It was just a matter of going slow when you had obstacles, and catching up on your rate when you had a smooth field in front of you. I couldn't ask any more in controllability of the vehicle. It's just superb. I have no recommendations on any changes in the control system. The reverse switch works fine. The techniques we were taught in how to go into reverse and how to go into forward worked fine. We did use reverse several times. Aside from the fact that you can't see behind you -- when you can tell me which way was clear behind me -- I was very comfortable backing up. Like the time at the ALSEP site -- there was no problem.

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posted 01-10-2013 12:06 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
the smuggled sandwich on Gemini 3:

GRISSOM: The second OAMS burn went without incident. I couldn't hear the forward-firing thrusters, which is disconcerting because you do hear the attitude thrusters. The attitude thrusters sound very similar to those that we experienced in the simulator. Perhaps not quite as loud, but you definitely can hear them. If the attitude thrusters are not firing, you think you've stopped translating. You can tell you're still translating by the debris drifting forward or aft in the cockpit. During this maneuver, I noticed a bolt plastered against the instrument panel. We drove the IVI's down to zero and stopped on John's time hack. We were still having our troubles with the scanners and with the yaw drift.

Shortly thereafter, John unstowed the meal and reached over and asked me if I wanted a bite. He handed me a corned beef sandwich. I took one bite, it tasted pretty good, but it started to crumble and float around the cockpit, so I shoved it in my left knee pocket. John started his food and waste evaluation, and I ran the platform alignment check.


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