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  Mercury - Gemini - Apollo
  Apollo contingency missions (ATO, TLI plans)

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Author Topic:   Apollo contingency missions (ATO, TLI plans)
Rusty53
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Posts: 7
From: Rochester, NY USA
Registered: Jun 2010

posted 12-29-2013 08:50 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rusty53     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I am curious to know what types of Apollo contingency missions may have been planned for the case of an abort-to-orbit (abort mode III) or, after trans-lunar injection (TLI), a problem with the lunar module so that a landing could not be attempted.

Headshot
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From: Streamwood, IL USA
Registered: Feb 2012

posted 12-30-2013 09:31 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Headshot   Click Here to Email Headshot     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
There are detailed descriptions of contingency missions for Apollos 8 and 10 in the NASA Mission Reports published by Apogee Books.

There were between four and five alternate mission plans depending on the nature of the failure that precluded completion the main mission. For Apollo 8 they were:

  1. Incomplete SV-B burn to achieve Earth orbit.
  2. Failure of the SIV-B to re-ignite for TLI.
  3. Incomplete SIV-B TLI burn resulting in an Earth orbit with an apogee of between 25,000 to 60,000 nautical miles.
  4. Incomplete SIV-B TLI burn resulting in an Earth orbit with an apogee of 80,000 nautical miles or greater.

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From: Streamwood, IL USA
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posted 12-30-2013 02:35 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Headshot   Click Here to Email Headshot     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Lunar landing missions that made it to lunar orbit, but unable to land due to lunar module issues, would have remained in lunar orbit to complete the lunar terrain photography/observations and other scientific experiments that were originally planned.

Bootstrap photography, the detailed imaging of potential future lunar landing sites from orbit, was considered by some scientists to be almost as important for lunar exploration as the landings themselves.

Rusty53
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From: Rochester, NY USA
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posted 12-30-2013 06:35 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rusty53     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks for the info!

I was also wondering what contingencies there may have been for mode III aborts where in there was an early S-II shutdown but the SIV-B would boost the CSM-LM combo into Earth orbit but not have enough propellent left for TLI. Would there have been contingency earth-orbit missions involving the LM?

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From: Streamwood, IL USA
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posted 12-31-2013 07:58 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Headshot   Click Here to Email Headshot     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
For Apollos 8 and 10, yes.

Apollo 8 would have used the SPS engine to boost its orbit to a 4,000 nautical mile apogee. Then the crew would have made some Earth observations/photography and then conducted a high-speed re-entry similar to those planned for unmanned Apollos 4 and 6.

For Apollo 10, I believe they would have also conducted lunar module exercises, similar to those performed on Apollo 9, but in high Earth orbit. How high would depend upon how much SPS propellant was available.

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From: Streamwood, IL USA
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posted 12-31-2013 10:45 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Headshot   Click Here to Email Headshot     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
After Apollo 11 landed successfully, the alternate missions for flights that might have been limited to Earth orbit did not involve the lunar module.

The crew would have retrieved all photographic equipment (camera bodies, lenses, film magazine etc.) from the LM. The LM would have been undocked and sent to a re-entry in the Pacific Ocean. The CSM would remain in Earth orbit while the crew conducted Earth terrain and weather photography along with any "zero-g" experiments that would have been performed on the way to the moon or while the CSM would have been in lunar orbit. Experiments that needed to be performed in deep-space (such as the ALFMED on Apollo 16) or while in lunar-orbit, would have been cancelled.

Fra Mauro
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From: Maspeth, NY
Registered: Jul 2002

posted 12-31-2013 11:33 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Fra Mauro   Click Here to Email Fra Mauro     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Imagine how depressing that would have been!

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From: Streamwood, IL USA
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posted 12-31-2013 12:13 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Headshot   Click Here to Email Headshot     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
You got that right!

To go from a dramatic lunar landing to merely photographing weather patterns would have been a major let-down. Especially when one factors in that the unfortunate crew would most certainly not get another lunar landing assignment.

Rusty53
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From: Rochester, NY USA
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posted 12-31-2013 01:08 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rusty53     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks again for posting that information.

Having the Moon almost in your grasp and then having that happen... Wow.

Ronpur
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From: Brandon, Fl
Registered: May 2012

posted 12-31-2013 08:07 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ronpur   Click Here to Email Ronpur     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Rusty53:
Having the Moon almost in your grasp and then having that happen... Wow.
Just ask the crew of Apollo 13!

moorouge
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From: U.K.
Registered: Jul 2009

posted 01-08-2014 01:49 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for moorouge   Click Here to Email moorouge     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Full details of planned abort missions for Apollo 11 are contained within the pages of the Press Kit.

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From: Streamwood, IL USA
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posted 01-21-2014 03:49 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Headshot   Click Here to Email Headshot     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Description of contingency missions for Apollos 11-17 can also be found in the Mission Rules document for each mission. These are available online in the Apollo Lunar Surface Journal.

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