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  White room gag gifts and other astronaut humor (Page 1)

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Author Topic:   White room gag gifts and other astronaut humor
LM-12
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posted 06-15-2013 11:39 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Armstrong and Scott with their Gemini 8 shoe phone gag gift. I think the tag reads ECE Emergency Communication Earphone. It sure came in handy on that flight.

SkyMan1958
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posted 06-15-2013 01:19 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SkyMan1958   Click Here to Email SkyMan1958     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Gordo Cooper and Jim Rathmann smuggled a miniature bottle of Cutty Sark and some cigarettes aboard Wally Schirra's Sigma 7 flight. Here is what happened...

Jim's words:

Jo Schirra's recollection of Wally's words:

The remaining cigarettes:

Headshot
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posted 06-15-2013 02:06 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Headshot   Click Here to Email Headshot     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by LM-12:
Armstrong and Scott with their Gemini 8 shoe phone gag gift.
I am curious where you learned of the gag gift for the crew of Gemini 8. Neither Wendt's nor Scott's book mentions a gag gift, which surprised me as I thought no crew was immune to gags, including Armstrong's.

moorouge
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posted 06-16-2013 08:21 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for moorouge   Click Here to Email moorouge     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Slightly off topic, but nevertheless related. There are several instances of smuggled and illicit articles carried aboard the M-G-A flights all of which were, presumably, unaccounted for when it came to calculating fuel loads and launch parameters.

I'm guessing that any excess payload causing a departure from nominal could be put down to anomalies in performance of the launch vehicle and therefore would be accepted as within parameters. So, by how much would an illicit and unknown addition to the calculated weight to be launched have to be to cause someone on the ground to say, "Hey, this vehicle weighs more than it should!"

Blackarrow
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posted 06-16-2013 11:46 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It would never be possible to know the precise lift-off weight of a manned spacecraft powered by a launch vehicle with supercold fuel or oxidizer (such as the Atlas vehicle used on Wally Schirra's flight.) The amount of ice forming on the skin of the liquid oxygen tank could not be calculated precisely, since the amount of moisture in the atmosphere is variable.

I assume a launch vehicle with a slightly heavier-than-average ice load would slightly underperform, but the engineers must have anticipated this. Whatever techniques addressed the variable ice-weight on liftoff must presumably have applied to any tiny weight increase caused by Wally's cigarettes and Scotch.

David C
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posted 06-16-2013 04:59 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for David C     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by moorouge:
Slightly off topic, but nevertheless related. There are several instances of smuggled and illicit articles carried aboard the M-G-A flights all of which were, presumably, unaccounted for when it came to calculating fuel loads and launch parameters.
Or indeed if the entire crew had effective BMs before suiting up! Seriously though, I think you don't appreciate that engineers design these systems not theoretical mathematicians. Performance specifications always have a margin for numerous dispersions and off nominal conditions. A Scotch minature has less than 0.00001% of the launch mass of a Saturn V, well below the range of measurement and irrelevant. The crew having a bit of fun is healthy, helps to relieve the stress of a risky job - so long as it isn't taken too far.

For a further short digression on performance, one technique used by NASA to assure mission success was to not operate the booster near the edge of it's performance envelope. Closed loop guidance and control takes care of the rest. Aircraft in flight test are routinely much closer to the edge.

Right, back to humour.

golddog
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posted 06-16-2013 06:53 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for golddog     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Rathmann and Cooper's gag aside, most of the gags and gifts were presented as the crews entered the white room, in a tradition to Guenther Wendt, and were not carried upon the flight. Scott and Armstrong's overshoe phone is such an example. Collin's fish and Shepherd's german helmet are others.

Corned beef sandwiches excepted.

moorouge
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posted 06-16-2013 11:19 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for moorouge   Click Here to Email moorouge     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by David C:
I think you don't appreciate that engineers design these systems not theoretical mathematicians. Performance specifications always have a margin for numerous dispersions and off nominal conditions.

I thought I said all this when I posed the original question. Of course when working out a nominal trajectory parameter allowances are made for ice on the launch vehicle, variations in engine performance and such like.

So, let me repeat my question from a slightly different angle. A large part of the problems encountered with the returning Apollo 13 was that it didn't weigh enough. The flight controllers initially forgot to include the 250lbs or so of lunar samples in their calculations. I asked the converse of this. What extra weight would be detected on launch?

On edit - just in case this post is misread, the lunar samples weren't onboard and were expected to be when the return trajectories were initially calculated before the accident.

ilbasso
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posted 06-17-2013 09:54 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for ilbasso   Click Here to Email ilbasso     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I don't think any weight in the CM would have been "detected" before launch. The items on the manifest were weighed before they went on board, and so that's how the weight of any non-structural and non-fuel cargo would have been determined.

Regarding the Apollo 13 shallowing trajectory during the return trip, that was determined to be the result of the LM's cooling system discharging vapor during the coast back to Earth. It was not a result of miscalculated vehicle mass or the release of remnant gases from SM damage. Since no mission had ever returned from the Moon with an active LM, they had not planned for the slight but noticeable effect of the LM cooling system's vapor discharge. This was confirmed as a source of the error because the shallowing stopped as soon as Aquarius was jettisoned.

More critical to the safety of the CM was the distribution of items within the CM's stowage areas. They could have affected the center of gravity and thrown off the steering of the CM as it re-entered the atmosphere.

LM-12
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posted 06-17-2013 10:45 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by golddog:
Collin's fish and Shepherd's german helmet are others.
Mike Collins was carrying a package wrapped in brown paper (probably the fish) on the Apollo 11 crew walkout. That brown package can be seen in these two film still photos: 1 | 2

carmelo
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posted 06-17-2013 11:26 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for carmelo   Click Here to Email carmelo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by SkyMan1958:
Gordo Cooper and Jim Rathmann smuggled a miniature bottle of Cutty Sark and some cigarettes aboard Wally Schirra's Sigma 7 flight.
Cutty Sark, cigarettes (for sure girls)... MAD MEN!

golddog
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posted 06-17-2013 06:38 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for golddog     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by LM-12:
Mike Collins was carrying a package wrapped in brown paper (probably the fish) on the Apollo 11 crew walkout.
No doubt about it! As per Collin's autobiography, the fish is definitely in the bag.

Jay Chladek
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posted 06-18-2013 03:24 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Chladek   Click Here to Email Jay Chladek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
That whole comment about ballast (or lack of it) causing Apollo 13 to shallow in its trajectory in the film was total bunk in my opinion, primarily because when the statement was made, the CSM was still hooked up to the LM, which much heavier than a few hundred pounds of moon rocks. It was thrown in for dramatic effect.

When I read Lost Moon, I don't recall ever hearing it being a concern from Mission Control and Lovell's crew apparently made the decision on their own to help stash the CSM with some items to help with reentry weight and balance more so than the trajectory issues. Although I don't know how big an issue that would have been given each Apollo lunar mission had contingencies for coming home light from the moon, due to an abort before a landing or something worse (such as the CMP coming home without two crewmates).

There are always going to be minor variations in weight due to many factors. The skill of the engineer tries to keep what he can control in check so that there is a bit more of a margin available for things like ice buildup (which can vary depending on weather conditions). I doubt a small flask of whiskey or cigs (or postal covers and flags for that matter) would do all that much.

Gonzo
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posted 06-18-2013 05:35 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Gonzo   Click Here to Email Gonzo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Perspective is an odd thing. When we lose sight of it, a lot of weird questions can ensue. Take for example this thread.

When the Apollo missions were launched, they weighed in the neighborhood of 6 MILLION pounds. And as far as coming back, we're still talking many thousands of pounds.

Now I realize this is an exacting science. A lot of things had to happen at exactly the right time and some things had to go exactly as planned. But with all the variables the engineers had to contend with and allow for, do you really think that an extra pound or two of, let's call them "mementos", would really make enough of an impact to be concerning? Believing that, in my opinion, discredits the expertise and abilities of the engineers and technicians that had the task of building and conducting the missions. Successfully. I believe they would have necessarily had to allow for variances in a lot of variables and still have had a successful and safe mission.

Cozmosis22
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posted 06-18-2013 12:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Cozmosis22     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by SkyMan1958:
Gordo Cooper and Jim Rathmann smuggled a miniature bottle of Cutty Sark and some cigarettes aboard Wally Schirra's Sigma 7 flight.
Regarding the cigs smuggled onboard, how many of the Original 7 astronauts were smokers? It's obvious from video footage of the era that smoking was not prohibited in the launch control rooms back then. Though they were careful to keep prying cameras away from astronauts relaxing with a smoke (not unlike they protect our current president).

Have only found a single image of one of them smoking, and that was Wally.

Glint
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posted 06-18-2013 12:27 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Glint   Click Here to Email Glint     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Cozmosis22:
...have only found a single image of one of them smoking, and that was Wally.
Although a member of the Next Nine, not one of the Original Seven, there is this famous photograph of Armstrong lighting a stogie.

There are also quite a few out there of Shepard smoking cigars and cigarettes, such as this one.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 06-18-2013 12:30 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
According to Gordon Cooper, he was the only one among the Original 7 who didn't smoke. More on the subject of astronauts who smoke(d) here.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 06-18-2013 12:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Jay Chladek:
When I read Lost Moon, I don't recall ever hearing it being a concern from Mission Control and Lovell's crew apparently made the decision on their own to help stash the CSM with some items to help with reentry weight and balance more so than the trajectory issues.
While Lost Moon does note that Haise's grabbing of the netting and Lovell's pocketing of the optical sight were as impromptu souvenirs, the book does address the need to transfer equipment from Aquarius to Odyssey to compensate for the "missing" moon rocks.
In the same way that FIDOs needed to know the precise weight of cargo and crew in Aquarius before burning the descent engine, so too did the guidance and navigation officers need to know how much ballast Odyssey carried before aligning the platform and aiming the ship for reentry. The computers in an Apollo spacecraft were programmed to expect a command module returning from the moon to weigh one hundred pounds more on its earthward journey than on its moonward journey — that hundred pounds representing the rocks and soil samples the crew went out there to get in the first place. But this Apollo was returning from the moon rockless, and before it could reenter the atmosphere, the astronauts would have to transfer a few armloads of equipment from the LEM up to the command module, pack them away in the storage areas that were to hold the priceless bits of the moon, and hope that the weight was right and the computer was fooled.

moorouge
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posted 06-19-2013 01:33 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for moorouge   Click Here to Email moorouge     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks for the post Robert. So, I was almost correct - the missing lunar samples were a factor.

LM-12
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posted 06-19-2013 06:44 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
A launch day gag by Wally Schirra for the Gemini 3 crew. Photo 65-H-437 is dated March 23. Looks like they are in the suiting up trailer.

moorouge
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posted 06-24-2013 12:40 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for moorouge   Click Here to Email moorouge     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'm surprised nobody has yet mentioned Stafford's match to light the rocket on Gemini 9.

LM-12
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posted 06-24-2013 10:53 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Here is a photo of that gag. The caption reads:
Gemini 9 at last got off the ground 6/3 and maybe the giant match Tom Stafford carried with him helped do the trick. Stafford was handed the "match", a stick with a red electric bulb on the end, by astronaut chief Deke Slayton when he and Gene Cernan arrived in the white room for the launch.

LM-12
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posted 06-26-2013 01:13 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The Gemini 10 crew was given a pair of giant pliers in the white room just before boarding their spacecraft.

The story behind the pliers is discussed in this flown items thread.

Blackarrow
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posted 06-26-2013 05:46 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Robert Pearlman:
The computers in an Apollo spacecraft were programmed to expect a command module returning from the moon to weigh one hundred pounds more on its earthward journey than on its moonward journey — that hundred pounds representing the rocks and soil samples the crew went out there to get in the first place. But this Apollo was returning from the moon rockless, and before it could reenter the atmosphere, the astronauts would have to transfer a few armloads of equipment from the LEM up to the command module, pack them away in the storage areas that were to hold the priceless bits of the moon, and hope that the weight was right and the computer was fooled.
How does this tie in with the need to target "Aquarius" into an ocean trench to dispose of the plutonium power-pack as safely as possible? (See "Thirteen: The Flight That Failed" by Henry SF Cooper, p. 182). I have often wondered whether there was any compromise on crew safety versus placating the Atomic Energy Commission.

LM-12
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posted 09-05-2013 10:02 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Notice the ejection seat leg strap in this Gemini 11 launch day photo. The last line on the sign looks like "CM3 & CM4 are next".

Here is the same photo from another source.

Jim Behling
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posted 09-05-2013 10:46 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 ilbasso:
I don't think any weight in the CM would have been "detected" before launch. The items on the manifest were weighed before they went on board, and so that's how the weight of any non-structural and non-fuel cargo would have been determined.
The way a heavier than expected spacecraft would be detected would be by the extra propellant margin burned by the launch vehicle. Also, by the reduced delta V gained by timed spacecraft thruster burns or conversely the increased burn times to gain a specific delta V (or just another way of saying the extra propellant burned). Additionally, spacecraft slow response to attitude maneuvers would indicate a change in mass properties.

Most spacecraft are weighed (including the Apollo), it just takes a rigorous process maintaining the weight log to get an accurate weight at launch. For manned flights, stowage is a large change from the measured weight. But there are others like propellant loading and the accuracy knowing how much was loaded. Other puts and takes such as red tags items (like remove before flight covers) and green tag items (battery or ordnance enable plugs) are easy to quantify their weight.

Lou Chinal
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posted 09-05-2013 10:55 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Lou Chinal   Click Here to Email Lou Chinal     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Corned beef and Cutty Sark aside, where is Dave Scott's EVA visor?

LM-12
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posted 10-03-2013 12:29 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Lou Chinal:
where is Dave Scott's EVA visor?
Good question. He does not seem to be wearing it in the gag photo.

Photo KSC-66C-1838 is dated March 11 and shows Scott in the Gemini spacecraft wearing the EVA visor.

Photo KSC-66C-1871 is dated March 16 (launch day) and shows Scott in the Gemini spacecraft not wearing the EVA visor.

Ken Havekotte
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posted 10-03-2013 12:59 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ken Havekotte   Click Here to Email Ken Havekotte     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I've got a few Guneter "gag gifts." One of my favorites is an "Lovell & Aldrin Bank of Pad 19" large presentation bank draft to Guenter Wendt for "DM 1,000,000" and signed boldly by the GT-12 crew.

It was first dated Nov. 9, 1966, crossed out, and with a second (later crossed out) Nov. 10th date.

Finally, it was dated with the actual launch date of the nation's final 2-man Gemini spaceflight on Nov. 11th.

The check number is "No. GT-12" with a another bank number or identification at bottom of "GLVSN-62-12567."

It was "For Unemployment Compensation" to Wendt as he was planning to leave the space program after the Gemini program ended.

But not to be, as Guenter came back to the Cape/KSC for the Apollo 7 flight, at the request of his good friend Wally Schirra, commander of the first-to-fly Apollo mission.

LM-12
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posted 10-03-2013 01:38 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Is the suit tech carrying that "bank draft" in photo S66-59966?

Ken Havekotte
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posted 10-03-2013 02:29 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ken Havekotte   Click Here to Email Ken Havekotte     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Yes, LM-12, the suit tech is carrying the gag bank draft, but Lovell has with him another gag gift that he carried with him up into the white room.

It was a trip ticket, signed or validated by the spacecraft launch pad and closeout crews, for admittance of the flight crew into the Gemini 12 spacecraft.

You can also see a larger portion of the gag ticket in a wire photo that I have of Lovell walking up the gantry ramp of Pad 19, but also on the same photo LM-12 had depicted here.

As LM-12 has pointed out, right behind Aldrin, is a closeout crewman carrying some things in front of him, one of which, is the actual make-believe bank draft. If you look closely, you can see the top portion of the comical check in front of him.

But there is another photo from NASA with a full image of the gag bank presentation while inside the white room atop Pad 19 itself.

It depicts Lovell showing off the prank one million dollar check to closeout and spacecraft crew members. The photo number for it is 66-H-1425 released on the same day as launch; Nov. 11, 1966.

Perhaps there are other photos out there, some that I might not be aware of, depicting the gag check and trip ticket. How about it J.L.?

Hart Sastrowardoyo
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posted 10-03-2013 07:25 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Hart Sastrowardoyo   Click Here to Email Hart Sastrowardoyo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I would like to see the "launch passes" the STS-95 crew used to prank Glenn and Duque.

LM-12
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posted 10-03-2013 08:50 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It looks like the suit tech is also carrying a small brown package, probably the same package that Buzz Aldrin is holding in this white room photo.

LM-12
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posted 10-04-2013 12:04 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Ken Havekotte:
But there is another photo from NASA with a full image of the gag bank presentation while inside the white room atop Pad 19 itself.
The quality is not very good, but there is such a photo in the November 25, 1966 issue of the Space News Roundup on page 4.

MadSci
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posted 11-15-2013 05:15 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for MadSci     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Jay Chladek:
That whole comment about ballast (or lack of it) causing Apollo 13 to shallow in its trajectory in the film was total bunk in my opinion...
It really made me groan too. Since Galileo, its been understood that an object in free fall follows the same trajectory regardless of its weight (or technically, mass). The only way Apollo 13's trajectory could be 'shallowing' as stated in the film would be if there was some ongoing thrust (as later determined), or the initial calculation of their mass was incorrect, resulting in an incorrect calculation for the course correction burns.

If that had happened, their trajectory would not 'continue to shallow', but rather would be off form the moment of engine shutdown and remain just as 'shallow' all the way from that moment on.

No way the controllers or astronauts wouldn't know this, in fact, the distinction between an initially incorrect but consistent trajectory versus an incorrect and changing trajectory is the definitive test for whether the problem is due to ongoing unknown thrust versus an incorrect burn.

p51
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posted 11-15-2013 07:11 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for p51   Click Here to Email p51     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Hart Sastrowardoyo:
I would like to see the "launch passes" the STS-95 crew used to prank Glenn and Duque.
Wasn't that done to other first-time crew as well? I seem to recall that being done to someone else, too.

But yeah, I'd love to see those...

Obviousman
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posted 01-25-2014 03:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Obviousman   Click Here to Email Obviousman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Is there a compiled list of these gags anywhere? For example:
  • MR-3 - Crayons / "No handball" sign
  • MR-4 - etc

MadSci
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posted 03-04-2014 05:52 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for MadSci     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by moorouge:
So, I was almost correct - the missing lunar samples were a factor.
While there were a few ways in which the mass alone could be noticeable, I would bet that, as noted earlier, the biggest concern would be for the center of mass of the CM during re-entry.

The CM was steered during re-entry by using the lift that resulted from the offset of the center of lift of the CM (a function of its shape), and the center of mass of the CM (a function of the distribution of mass in the CM). The resulting force vector could be directed in different directions by rotating the CM via the attitude rockets.

Both the direction and the magnitude of the force vector would be altered if the mass of the CM was less than planned and distributed in a different pattern than planned. Hundreds of pounds of external material (ie Moon rocks) missing form their assigned locations could have been a problem, although somehow I expect that the engineers would have provided for a mechanism, like trim tanks, to normalize the mass/distribution to within tolerances, or just designed the whole thing so that the amount of rocks brought back from the moon had a negligible impact.

Cozmosis22
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posted 03-04-2014 11:03 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Cozmosis22     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Wonder whose idea it really was to put up this sign at the Holiday Inn?

Ah, the Fabulous Sixties at the Cape. (Crummy & Itchy ~ Borman & Lovell)

YankeeClipper
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posted 04-19-2014 08:11 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for YankeeClipper   Click Here to Email YankeeClipper     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Can anyone decipher the meaning of Tom BLFSPKT and Gene's A.T.D.A. Locator in these Gemini 9 hatch door gag signs?


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