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  Apollo 12 network moonwalk simulations

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Author Topic:   Apollo 12 network moonwalk simulations
brotherjohn
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From: Hickory, Mississippi, USA
Registered: Apr 2013

posted 04-29-2013 01:05 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for brotherjohn     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I grew up loving the space program. When I was in the third grade, I remember that during the Apollo 12 mission, the cameras were damaged. My third grade teacher made reference to the fact that this had happened, and said that she first became aware of it while watching coverage of the moon landing.

She related that she noticed that the film of the astronauts "didn't look right" and that they had "puppets" acting out the things that the astronauts were doing.

Does anyone have any information on how these simulations were produced? Who would have been in charge of such a project? Are there any screenshots or videos of this still in existence?

alanh_7
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From: Ajax, Ontario, Canada
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posted 04-29-2013 03:11 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for alanh_7   Click Here to Email alanh_7     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I think CBS News ran simulated moonwalks in tandem with the actual moonwalks in order to fill in between portions of the moonwalks which were not televised. I seem to recall them having an elaborate set with a full size lunar module.

When Apollo 12's camera went down I think they used the simulation. Here are segments of it from YouTube for Apollo 15.

Fra Mauro
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From: Bethpage, N.Y.
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posted 04-30-2013 07:07 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Fra Mauro   Click Here to Email Fra Mauro     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I remember watching those simulations. They weren't bad, especially since the networks were scrambling to fill the time slot.

Jim Behling
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From: Cape Canaveral, FL
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posted 04-30-2013 08:12 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jim Behling   Click Here to Email Jim Behling     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I remember the finger puppets that they used.

Lunar Module 5
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From: Wales, UK
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posted 04-30-2013 04:32 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Lunar Module 5   Click Here to Email Lunar Module 5     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
There is footage of the Gemini 9 EVA simulations — fascinating stuff — can you imagine any news station doing that today! And of course most of the networks did the simulations from inside the "spacecraft."

As for Apollo 12, I have seen some snippets from news reports that show the simulation.

I loved seeing the Apollo 15 footage — must have been pretty cool to be picked as one of the simulated astronauts! I wonder who these guys were?

alanh_7
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From: Ajax, Ontario, Canada
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posted 04-30-2013 08:26 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for alanh_7   Click Here to Email alanh_7     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
CBS ran the simulations I seem to remember. They had a very large set with a full scale mockup lunar module. Often they filmed the two "actors" running sims prior to the moonwalks explaining the use of the equipment.

But I believe they often ran those sims live in real time as well and they were very well done.

The mission that stands out the most in my mind for its use of the simulations was the Apollo 15. CBS used the sims to fill the gaps when the crew was in the rover and there was no live tv coverage while the rover was moving.

tfrielin
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From: Athens, GA
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posted 05-01-2013 09:31 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for tfrielin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I make a reference to the puppets being used by NBC, I think, during Apollo 12, in an article I wrote many years ago, "Narrowcasting: Space Stations for the '80s" in Space World magazine, 1980, if I recall the date correctly.

I believe NBC used the famous puppeteer, Bill Baird, for this simulation after the TV went out.

J.L
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From: Bloomington, Illinois, USA
Registered: May 2005

posted 05-01-2013 03:27 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for J.L   Click Here to Email J.L     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by alanh_7:
Often they filmed the two "actors" running sims prior to the moon walks explaining the use of the equipment.
The "actors" were employees of Grumman. I believe Grumman pilot Scott MacLeod filled the role of "commander" during these simulations. The LM and simulated surface were at the Grumman plant in Bethpage.

Dwight
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From: Germany
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posted 05-01-2013 03:55 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dwight   Click Here to Email Dwight     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Stan Lebar (Lunar TV Project Manager Westinghouse) relayed to me that Apollo 12 was NASA's wakeup call to the importance the networks and the public placed on TV for the missions. When the TV on 12 was lost, the switchboard at NASA lit up like a Christmas tree.

Lunar Module 5
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From: Wales, UK
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posted 05-01-2013 04:31 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Lunar Module 5   Click Here to Email Lunar Module 5     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I am wondering if for Apollo 11 the studios had a simulation ready in case the TV camera failed? If they did, was this pre-recorded or was it going to be filmed live with the audio?

If there was a pre-record has anyone ever seen it?

alanh_7
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From: Ajax, Ontario, Canada
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posted 05-01-2013 09:23 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for alanh_7   Click Here to Email alanh_7     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I believe Leo Krupp of Rockwell Aviation was also involved in those moonwalk simulations along with Scott MacLeod. I could not think of another term other than "actors" which they clearly were not.

The sims were very well done and really filled the gaps in the tv coverage. But I cannot recall if they continued to run those sims beyond Apollo 15. My memory fails me.

ea757grrl
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From: South Carolina
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posted 05-02-2013 06:36 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for ea757grrl   Click Here to Email ea757grrl     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Leo Krupp (of North American Rockwell) and Scott MacLeod (of Grumman) were the go-to technical consultants, especially for CBS, during the Apollo days. They'd be stationed inside a mock-up of their company's spacecraft at Downey or Bethpage, and would explain to an on-site correspondent in the mock-up with them what was happening, how certain things were done, etc. It's therefore likely MacLeod, and possibly Grumman engineer Charles Smith as well, were involved in the Apollo 15 simulations carried on CBS.

Glint
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From: New Windsor, Maryland USA
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posted 05-02-2013 03:20 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Glint   Click Here to Email Glint     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I was pretty loyal to Uncle Walt, and never saw the puppets on NBC. Are there any still shots at least floating around the web?

I did find a humorous write up about the Networks' scramble on Apollo 12 in Google Books. The book is "Destination Moon" by Rod Pyle.

Lunar Module 5
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From: Wales, UK
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posted 05-03-2013 04:32 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Lunar Module 5   Click Here to Email Lunar Module 5     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
For those interested here are two reports that include some of Apollo 12's simulations (not well edited at the beginning but I was in a hurry - apologies).

Ronpur
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From: Brandon, Fl
Registered: May 2012

posted 05-03-2013 11:44 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ronpur   Click Here to Email Ronpur     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have an Apollo 12 memory regarding a mock up of the LM. And it is of Captain Kangaroo!! I can remember him climbing on a mock up on a lunar surface showing what the astronauts would be doing. I was only 6, so it is a very fuzzy memory. Anyone else recall this?

alanh_7
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From: Ajax, Ontario, Canada
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posted 05-04-2013 07:32 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for alanh_7   Click Here to Email alanh_7     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The Buffalo CBS affiliate was the clearest station we received. This was the days before cable and 1000 station options. And I was a Walter Cronkite fan, so we watched CBS the most. (Jules Bergman with ABC was also one of the best science editors in my opinion).

I recall being really happy the Apollo 15 took place in the summer when I was off school and able to watch them. I recall Apollo 12 being early in the morning on a school day and being so disappointed when the camera burned out.

Those sims were an important part of part of my memory of the Apollo moonwalks.

Robert Pearlman
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From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 05-07-2013 09:24 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
These simulations were from the networks, not NASA, and therefore are still subject to copyright. Fair use allows about 30 seconds worth of footage to be used, but any longer would require licensing.

rodpyle
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From: Pasadena, California, USA
Registered: Dec 2008

posted 12-02-2014 12:39 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for rodpyle   Click Here to Email rodpyle     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This is a fun thread... it's a topic I've discussed in talks but good to see it here (sorry I am late to the party, as usual)...
  • CBS: As noted, used the concrete moonscape at Grumman's Long Island plant. a good simulation and the guys knew what they were doing. Scale LM mockup too.

  • ABC: Apparently scrambled down the street to Western Costume Co, in Hollywood, because the "spacesuits" were off-the-rack from such previous rentals as "Twilight Zone." They may have been originally from "Destination Moon" or "Conquest of Space," I don't recall. All smooth blue fabric (from the film references) with puffy neck rings, a glass plate in the helmet and, as I recall, no gloves. Goofy as hell, and all in front of a not-great lunar backdrop. Not sure, but I suspect the "astronauts" were grips or stagehands... looked pretty confused most of the time.

  • But NBC took the Darwin Prize on this one. Had a contract that they hoped not to use with Bob Barker Marionettes. So here come Pete and Al, wandering over a dusty talc-and-plaster moonscape, arms and legs dangling in front of them. Looked like a rehearsal for "Thunderbirds Are GO!" Then one of them would say, "Let me grab that hammer" (Conrad's "Universal Tool"), and we would cut away, then return to the puppet with a little hammer taped to his hand. I was 12 and even then (before life's sense of irony set it) laughed till I cried.

Blackarrow
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From: Belfast, United Kingdom
Registered: Feb 2002

posted 12-02-2014 06:14 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It's hardly surprising that simulations were available when live TV was not. It was the same for the Apollo launches: once the Saturn V flew out of sight, simulations took over to show the flight into orbit.

NukeGuy
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From: Irvine, CA USA
Registered: May 2014

posted 12-02-2014 09:24 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for NukeGuy     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Oddly enough, the Apollo 12 EVA simulations is the event that sparked my interest in engineering. I remember watching Apollo 11 as an 10 year old the previous July. The poor video quality was not inspiring. The Apollo 12 simulations allowed me to see everything clearly. I was watching the first EVA that morning and caught the space bug. That day at school I went to the library and took out as many books on space and rockets that I was allowed. That night I designed my own rocket to be made out of an aluminum can, gunpowder from a roll of caps and a funnel for the nose cone. I remember it was Nov. 19, a Wednesday (Hawaii 5-0 was on as I was designing my rocket). Fortunately, I never built my design and soon learned about model rockets. I miss Centuri model rockets!

I had a book that contained the biographies of all the astronauts an realized that most had engineering degrees. And that is how Alan Bean inspired me to be an engineer!

schnappsicle
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From: Houston, TX, USA
Registered: Jan 2012

posted 12-05-2014 12:35 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for schnappsicle   Click Here to Email schnappsicle     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I watched every second of every mission I could starting with Gemini 4. When I came inside during the Apollo 12 EVA and saw the simulation on TV instead of the real thing, I immediately went outside and started playing again. It looked so phony, I couldn't watch it.

Now that I think about it, it really didn't make a difference. We wouldn't have been able to see much more of the EVA anyway since all they had left to do was unload the ALSEP and deploy it.

We would not have seen anything during the second EVA either. I suppose they could have pointed the camera into Surveyor Crater, but with the resolution we had back then, everything would have been a blur, much like we saw on Apollo 14.

Speaking of which, I stayed up all night to watch both Apollo 14 EVA's even though I couldn't see anything. I guess I was just fascinated staring at the landing site for 4 hours.

rodpyle
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From: Pasadena, California, USA
Registered: Dec 2008

posted 11-27-2017 03:50 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for rodpyle   Click Here to Email rodpyle     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
After the camera on the Apollo 12 lunar EVA failed, the three networks had to scramble to set-up surface simulations. My recollection (and I think it's been discussed here) is that CBS cut to guys in training suits at Grumman's training facility, ABC went to to a couple of guys in (somewhat funky) space suit costumes in front of a painted backdrop, and poor NBC cut to EVA suit-clad marionettes (provided by Bob Barker Marionettes, if memory serves) on a tiny lunar surface model of plaster and papier mache.

My questions are:

  1. Is this your recollection, and
  2. Has anyone seen this sim footage since 1969?
Editor's note: Threads merged.

rodpyle
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From: Pasadena, California, USA
Registered: Dec 2008

posted 11-27-2017 03:57 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for rodpyle   Click Here to Email rodpyle     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks for merging these — it refreshed my memory of the previous conversation. Much appreciated!

schnappsicle
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From: Houston, TX, USA
Registered: Jan 2012

posted 12-08-2017 12:18 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for schnappsicle   Click Here to Email schnappsicle     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
For some reason I always thought those simulations broadcasted by the networks were video of Conrad and Bean in training.

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