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  Countdown protocol for crew family death

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Author Topic:   Countdown protocol for crew family death
robsouth
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Posts: 635
From: West Midlands, UK
Registered: Jun 2005

posted 01-04-2014 05:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for robsouth     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Just wondered what the protocol was for a close family member, of a moon landing, crew member's family, dying after crew insertion?

The obvious answer would be the countdown being cancelled, crew extraction and the crew member being told, but was there an agreement that in such an event the mission would go ahead with the crew member being told upon their return?

randy
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From: West Jordan, Utah USA
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posted 01-04-2014 05:55 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for randy   Click Here to Email randy     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I wonder if it would be the same protocol as the military uses — tell the crewmember after the mission, unless the crewmember has given specific instructions to be notified beforehand. I've heard of Navy crewmembers that only want 'good news messages' delivered to them while they're deployed.

robsouth
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From: West Midlands, UK
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posted 01-04-2014 06:02 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for robsouth     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This is a tricky one. Do you scrub the launch of a multi-million dollar moon flight or go ahead with it? It would seem bad taste for the world to watch cheery reports from a crew member knowing that his wife, parent, child or sibling had died.

I'm guessing that they would call a halt and put the mission back a month and fly the backup in their place.

moorouge
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posted 01-05-2014 11:36 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for moorouge   Click Here to Email moorouge     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Or do as they did for Apollo 13 - simply substitute the bereaved crew member with his back-up counnterpart.

OK - there were different reasons for '13' but the principle is the same.

Fra Mauro
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From: Maspeth, NY
Registered: Jul 2002

posted 01-06-2014 07:16 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Fra Mauro   Click Here to Email Fra Mauro     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Very interesting question. My guestimation is that they scrub and if they can launch in the next day or two, the backup crewmember flies.

Glint
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From: New Windsor, Maryland USA
Registered: Jan 2004

posted 01-06-2014 10:12 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Glint   Click Here to Email Glint     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Lunar landing missions didn't have launch windows extending into "the next day or two." They lasted hours, with the next launch window occuring in the following synodic month.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 01-06-2014 10:23 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I don't know if the practice dates back to Apollo, but (to cite a recent example) Chris Hadfield describes in "An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth" the extent to which the family members discuss topics like this with NASA in advance, such that it is clear what the astronaut and his family desire and what NASA will do in the case of a personal tragedy.

I suspect given how quickly NASA was able to make the decision to fly with Swigert on Apollo 13 that contingencies such as the death of a close family member were also discussed and planned for in advance, in so much that there was at least the basic understanding of what would be done.

That said, I don't recall seeing or reading any of the Apollo (or earlier) astronauts or flight controllers discussing the subject in any detail.

moorouge
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posted 01-06-2014 10:54 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for moorouge   Click Here to Email moorouge     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Glint:
Lunar landing missions didn't have launch windows extending into "the next day or two." They lasted hours, with the next launch window occuring in the following synodic month.

Not strictly correct. The launch window for a particular day did only extend for a few hours. However, in a monthly cycle there could be up to seven days when a launch was possible.

Glint
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posted 01-06-2014 01:27 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Glint   Click Here to Email Glint     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Not exactly correct. They could launch any day of the month if they wanted to -- but not without vioating one or more mission or safety constraint, illumination being the most obvious.

moorouge
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posted 01-06-2014 01:33 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for moorouge   Click Here to Email moorouge     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Mmm... Read Apollo lunar landing launch window: The controlling factors and constraints

Glint
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posted 01-06-2014 01:51 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Glint   Click Here to Email Glint     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Exactly. You're talking monthly launch windows which "could cover a 7 day period." But that window would only have one daily window for any given landing site in which constraints involving temperature and illumination at that site would be within limits. That is when the altitude of the sun is between +5 and +15 degrees and its azimuth is to the read of the landing LM. Those conditions will only last for a few hours, at least in the latitude band centered on the lunar equator.

If that's not what you're referring to then perhaps you'd care to elaborate.

moorouge
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posted 01-07-2014 01:06 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for moorouge   Click Here to Email moorouge     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This quote from Wheeler's paper would imply that the same target landing site could still be reached with a launch delay extending into days, though only with a limited window on each of the days when launch time, launch azimuth and TLI would vary from day to day. Which is what I said originally.
If the mission was scrubbed after the countdown had reached T-6 hours, the minimum time to recycle was in excess of 24 hours, and was as long as 40 hours at T=0. Thus, a minimum launch window required to guarantee a recycle capability is 3 days. This did not allow any additional time for repairs or replacing components. If this activity could not be carried out in parallel with the recycling, 3 days would not be sufficient. Therefore, a window of only 3 days duration was not desirable, but was considered a workable minimum in some situations. In order to provide time for repairs to be carried out and still make the monthly launch window, it had to be as long as possible. Another Bellcomm Labs study from the mid 1960's, indicated that the probability of a successful launch was between 85% and 90% if a 3 day launch window was available, and that this probability increases to about 95% if the launch window is of 5 days duration. Based on this data, the early lunar landing missions were planned only for those periods when at least a 3 day launch window existed, and every effort was made to provide a 5 day launch window.

Glint
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From: New Windsor, Maryland USA
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posted 01-07-2014 10:49 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Glint   Click Here to Email Glint     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I think the implication is that the 3 day window being discussed applies to multiple landing sites during the window. A two day delay for any given equatorial landing site means that the sun would have risen another 24 degrees higher violating the constraint for landing there.

The preliminary early landings were targeted more at touching down practically anywhere safe and snatching a few rocks and some bags of dirt, so the relatively simplistic gameplan would be very similar whether they landed at a location like Mare Tranquillitatis or some other featureless flatland.

And in that case it probably could have worked out, as Fra M. and Robert discussed, that a crew substituion could be made for a different landing site in a day or two.

However, for the later missions, my understanding is that their training and equipment was highly tailored to the target area and as soon as the sun rose above 15 degrees they'd need to wait.

robsouth
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From: West Midlands, UK
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posted 01-07-2014 11:02 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for robsouth     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Surely you couldn't launch a lunar landing mission five days late!

The lighting conditions would not allow a landing after such a delay.

Andrew Chaikins book, 'A Man On The Moon', says of the delay to the Apollo 16 landing, '..the sun was rising over the Descartes highlands, and by tomorrow the lighting conditions would be no good for a landing. They would have to solve this today or call off the mission'.

Surely there was only a very short launch window. Even a six hour delay resulted in some surface activities being lost.

Therefore if the launch was scrubbed it might not be a case of trying again the next day with the backup.

moorouge
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From: U.K.
Registered: Jul 2009

posted 01-07-2014 01:21 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for moorouge   Click Here to Email moorouge     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Okay — yes, the three/five day window did apply to multiple landing sites. If one looks at the Apollo 11 press kit, it shows that the launch window extended from 16th to 21st July with launches possible on 16th, 18th and 21st to three different landing sites.

Going back to the original question. The '11' press kit talks about a back-up crew replacement only being possible ".. several weeks .. before the launch date. If I recall correctly, Swigert replaced Mattingly just 72 hours before launch. So when did this change?

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