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  Apollo 11 program alarms recognized by Duke

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Author Topic:   Apollo 11 program alarms recognized by Duke
BA002
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posted 07-03-2015 03:32 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for BA002   Click Here to Email BA002     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
In this article, the author states that thanks to a previous simulation, Apollo 11 capcom Charlie Duke recognized the 1202 and 1201 program alarms. I don't think I'd ever heard that detail before.
An unsung hero of the decision not to abort the landing is Richard Koos, a NASA simulation supervisor who, on the afternoon of July 5, 11 days before the launch of Apollo 11, put the team of controllers including Bales, Garman, and capcom astronaut Charlie Duke, through a simulation that intentionally triggered a 1201 alarm. The astronauts involved in the simulation were Dave Scott and Jim Irwin, the backup crew for Apollo 12 and the prime crew for Apollo 15. Unable to figure out what the 1201 was, Bales aborted that simulated landing. He and Flight Director Gene Kranz were dressed down for it by Koos, who put the team through four more hours of training the next day specifically on program alarms. When the 1202 and 1201 alarms occurred during the actual landing, Garman, Bales, and even Duke recognized them immediately.

David C
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posted 07-03-2015 11:26 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for David C     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I've certainly heard this a few times but I don't think that I have never seen the actual date of that sim before. If you listen to the Flight Director's loop you can hear Charlie comment "same thing we had," when they get the first alarm, so it sure sounds like he recognised it.

As an aside, I hate it when terms like "manually" and "thrusters" are bandied about imprecisely. I'm inclined to say that article itself is somewhat misleading.

RobertB
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posted 07-09-2015 09:41 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for RobertB   Click Here to Email RobertB     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
My understanding is that Duke remembered the alarms from the training, since they had occurred on the very last training runs.

However, it was Steve Bales who knew what they meant!

David C
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posted 07-09-2015 10:07 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for David C     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by RobertB:
However, it was Steve Bales who knew what they meant!

My understanding is that it was actually Jack Garman who knew what they meant.

Blackarrow
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posted 07-09-2015 05:11 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
While it's a bit self-serving, could I refer interested parties to "Footprints in the Dust" (Chapter 8, pages 234-235) which deals with this.

There is an interesting irony in the involvement of Dave Scott and Jim Irwin in that 5th July, 1969, abort exercise. If Bales, Garman and others had not been trained in how to deal with the rather obscure 1201/1202 program alarms, Armstrong might have been obliged to abort (as Scott had been told to do in the simulation). Pete Conrad would then have been next in line* to attempt the first lunar landing. As Conrad's back-up, Dave Scott would then have been a broken leg away from becoming the first man on the Moon.

*I discount the reported offer to give Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins a second attempt.

moorouge
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posted 07-18-2015 05:05 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for moorouge   Click Here to Email moorouge     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
There would seem to be a divergence of who was responsible for the simulation that recognised the 1201/2 alarms on Apollo 11.

Jack Garman, in an interview that can be found here says that the simulation took place a month before the actual flight and that he provided the software glitch that produced the alarms in that simulation.

Afterwards, Gene Kranz having recovered from his fury at a simulation that resulted in an abort asked Garman to produce a document that listed all the possible alarms that might be encountered during the descent to the moon. The result of this was the handwritten crib sheet that Garman had in front of him during the actual first lunar landing.

alanh_7
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posted 07-18-2015 07:01 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for alanh_7   Click Here to Email alanh_7     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The book "Apollo" by Charles Murray and Catherine Bly Cox goes into some detail about the alarms

moorouge
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posted 07-18-2015 08:14 AM     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:
If you listen to the Flight Director's loop you can hear Charlie comment "same thing we had," when they get the first alarm, so it sure sounds like he recognised it.
One other thing. Are you sure it was Duke that said this? According to the Murray/Cox book on Apollo it was Gran Paules who said this.

R. Wandelt
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posted 07-18-2015 10:08 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for R. Wandelt   Click Here to Email R. Wandelt     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The recently posted landing video of Apollo 11 shows 1202 occurs first, then three to four minutes later 1201, then MCC says "same type we had." So it wasn't till after the second 120X alarm that the comment was made.

Why not after the first 120X alarm if they were recognized from past training? Could the comment simply mean that the 1201 is the same type as the previous 1202?

moorouge
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posted 07-19-2015 02:39 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for moorouge   Click Here to Email moorouge     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by R. Wandelt:
Could the comment simply mean that the 1201 is the same type as the previous 1202?
You are essentially correct. If you look at the photo of the crib sheet prepared by Jack Garman and contained within my previous link to his interview, you will see that both alarms were caused by an 'executive overflow', i.e. in simple terms the computer was trying to do too much for its limited capacity.

Bear in mind also that the Apollo computers were simply a large box containing miles of wire and knitted together by the 'little old ladies' at Raytheon. If you're into computers, the lunar landing programme can be found here.

David C
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posted 07-19-2015 05:12 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for David C     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by R. Wandelt:
So it wasn't till after the second 120X alarm that the comment was made.
The video posted only has the air to ground recording. The comment I referred to was made after the first program alarm (a 1202) on the Flight Director's loop. The call on air to ground was made much later.

The MCC (audio only) combined console loops (can't recall the precise term) can be heard here.

It can be a bit hard to follow with several concurrent conversations over-talking each other at diferent levels. PDI occurs at around 18:39. After yaw around and landing radar lock on, the first program alarm is announced at around 24:01. The comment is made a few seconds later.

quote:
Originally posted by moorouge:
Are you sure it was Duke that said this?
No I'm not sure. My impression is influenced by the "First Landing" app which has synched the Flight Director's loop to video with some subtitles and comments. This identifies the remark as having been made by the CAPCOM. To me it sounded like Charlie's voice not Gran's, but I'm no voice recognition expert. It does seem more likely that Gran would be commenting on the loop than Charlie. I'd take Murray and Cox's word for it.

Anyway, no question about the fact that someone on the ground, other than Garman, recognised it almost immediately after the first alarm was reported. Garman was however the source for MCC's recommendation to the crew.

moorouge
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posted 07-19-2015 07:27 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for moorouge   Click Here to Email moorouge     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
If you play the tape of the landing found on the Garman interview site you can make out the following.

At 23.24 into the tape comes the first 1202 alarm. Fourteen seconds later Garman gives the 'Go'.

At 27.20 is the 1201 alarm. Garman says, "Same type. We're go."

At 27.56 there is another 1202 to which Garman comments, "Roger. No sweat."

Later, after the landing, at 38.16 into the tape, Gran Paules says, "Hey Jack. Thank God we had that meeting." On this basis, one has to assume that if anyone recognised the alarms before Garman it would have to be Gran Paules.

David C
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posted 07-19-2015 11:28 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for David C     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
OK. But I'm interested in who makes the comment 14 seconds after the first program alarm. This is clearer on some recordings than others, depending on how many loops are included and what their corresponding sound levels are. If you listen to the Flight Director's loop only, it's very clear indeed. On your Garman interview link it's less clear. It's a bit clearer on my link.

According to the ALSJ at MET 102:38:26 the first program alarm is reported. Fourteen seconds later someone (Gran/Charlie?) says, presumably on the Flight Director's loop:

"Yeah, same thing we had."

Assuming he's not talking about dinner last night, and since there have been no other program alarms at that point, it sure sounds like he's referencing the simulator session. It certainly isn't Garman's voice, and he wasn't talking on that loop anyway. There's plenty of chatter about it later on, and after landing, but who made that original remark?

Murray and Cox say it was Gran, but then there are other discrepancies between their account and the ALSJ (though both are considered good sources). The First Landing app (I'm not sure how reliable a source this is) says that it was Charlie. I would guess that Gran was more familiar with it than Charlie. It's amazing how many contradictory accounts exist of this. Take your pick.

moorouge
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posted 07-19-2015 02:30 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for moorouge   Click Here to Email moorouge     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I can't confirm who said the disputed comment even having listened to the tapes several times.

However, I can confirm that the original posting on this thread is wrong about the date of the aborted simulation. Gran Paules in his oral history (Nov. 2006 on p36) agrees with Jack Garman that this took place in the second week in June — not in July as claimed.

Strangely, Gran makes no mention of Jack in the course of his interview.

David C
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posted 07-19-2015 03:39 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for David C     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Yeah, both the Paules and Garman oral history interviews are very interesting. It seems like both teams took a bit of an "us and them" attitude to each other. Unfortunately Paules really didn't go into much detail about the events in question. In his book and 1999 oral history interview Duke doesn't claim any great familiarity with the alarms. Everyone that tells this story seems to give it a different slant.

oly
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posted 07-19-2015 04:39 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for oly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I think Gene Kranz covers the training session a few weeks before Apollo 11 launch regarding similar alarms in his book.

Captain Apollo
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posted 07-19-2015 06:01 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Captain Apollo   Click Here to Email Captain Apollo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Ask Charlie Duke - he has a website and he replies.

moorouge
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posted 07-20-2015 06:49 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for moorouge   Click Here to Email moorouge     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Curiouser and curiouser!

It is now more likely than not that the article quoted in the original posting is almost entirely based on the Kranz book. A clue that this is a correct assumption comes from a note in the Eric M. Jones version of the transcript of the Apollo 11 mission tapes. Though Jones gives the date of the abort simulation caused by the introduction of Garman's glitch as early July (taken from Kranz?), he adds that the result was a 1201 alarm.

As has been pointed out previously, this is completely at odds with both Garman and Paules who both say that this simulation took place in mid-June. So, who does one believe?

There are some other anomalies in the Jones transcript that appears to be based on NASA document AS11_TEC.PDF.

  1. The first programme alarm, a 1202, Jones times at MET 102:38:26. He notes that the Mission Report gives this occurring at 102:39:02, a discrepancy of +36 seconds.

  2. The 1201 alarm Jones times at 102:42:19 yet mentions that the Mission Report has this timed at 102:41:32, a discrepancy of -47 seconds.

  3. At 102:42:41 there is a comment from Duke who says, "1202. We copy it." The NASA AS11_TEC document has this timed at 102:42:58, a discrepancy of -17 seconds. A curious feature about this comment is that the last alarm call from the LM was the 1201 call. So where did this come from, or was Duke mistaken and confusing it with the 1201?
I suppose the lesson to be learnt is that one should be very careful about accepting a single version of an event without seeking to confirm it from other sources.

David C
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posted 07-20-2015 07:44 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for David C     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Yup.

It raises one other question for me. If it's so hard to pin down the details of a very well documented event that took place within many of our lifetimes, what does that suggest about recorded history in general?

oly
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posted 07-20-2015 08:20 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for oly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
One point I am curious about, why were both the landing radar and rendezvous radar powered up? Is it a case that the rendezvous radar needed to be powered up for calibration reasons or was it a case of astronaut being over cautious and wanting the rendezvous radar just in case? It seems strange to power both on by the checklist and not encounter the executive overload in all the training and testing done pre-flight apart from the case of the additional flight controllers simulation prior to launch?

moorouge
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posted 07-20-2015 08:32 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for moorouge   Click Here to Email moorouge     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I forgot to add to my last post that both transcripts quoted mention that the timings have been 'corrected'. This raises the question corrected from what, on what basis and how were they corrected.

And to answer David C., isn't this what keeps historians in business?

And to answer Oly. Aldrin does mention that the alarms seem to be triggered by a computer input. To quote, at 102:39:14 Aldrin says, "Same alarm and it appears to come up when we have a 16/68 up."

Jim Behling
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posted 07-20-2015 09:29 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 oly:
One point I am curious about, why were both the landing radar and rendezvous radar powered up?
The rendezvous radar was powered up in case of an abort and it was per a checklist not an independent move by the crew.

Simulators would not show this since they do not use the actual flight hardware.

As for testing, it would be hard to test both radars at the same time due to locations on the vehicle. They maybe could have done a bench test in the avionics laboratory. But likely, they only looked at each radars' interaction with the computer and not both at the same time.

This may be a case of failing to follow the TLYF (Test Like You Fly) mantra.

Paul78zephyr
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posted 07-20-2015 10:07 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Paul78zephyr     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by David C:
My understanding is that it was actually Jack Garman who knew what they meant.
They all (Bales, Garman, et al) knew what it meant because they had been trained on it just two weeks earlier on 5 July according to Kranz in 'Failure Is Not An Option'/'Simsup Wins The Final Round' pg 267.

The computer alarms were caused because the computer was overloaded (executive overflow). The executive overflow was caused by the additional input from the rendezvous radar. The rendezvous radar was on because the flight manual told the astronauts to put it on. (Ref: Apollo 11: 25 Years Later)

But why — why — were the computer simulations at MIT never done in this configuration which would have found this issue?

moorouge
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posted 07-20-2015 10:51 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for moorouge   Click Here to Email moorouge     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Paul78zephyr:
They all (Bales, Garman, et al) knew what it meant because they had been trained on it just two weeks earlier on 5 July according to Kranz in 'Failure Is Not An Option'/'Simsup Wins The Final Round' pg 267.

This is incorrect or at the very least is open to question. See previous posts.

Paul78zephyr
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posted 07-20-2015 11:44 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Paul78zephyr     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Are you saying Kranz is wrong?

Jim Behling
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posted 07-20-2015 12:18 PM     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 Paul78zephyr:
But why — why — were the computer simulations at MIT never done in this configuration which would have found this issue?
I believe I read this somewhere is that they didn't know about the intent to fly with rendezvous radar on.

moorouge
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posted 07-20-2015 01:02 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for moorouge   Click Here to Email moorouge     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Paul78zephyr:
Are you saying Kranz is wrong?
Both Garman and Paules say so.

Blackarrow
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posted 07-20-2015 04:26 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hansen says 5th July. Chaikin says "first week in July."

Robert Pearlman
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posted 07-20-2015 04:42 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Per the endnotes, Hansen is citing Kranz's book.

David C
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posted 07-20-2015 06:29 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for David C     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Paul78zephyr:
They all (Bales, Garman, et al) knew what it meant...
It depends upon what you mean by "knew what it meant." They all knew it was a program alarm and that one man had the answer — Garman, as to exactly what action to take. Garman had produced a "cheat sheet" with the answers in front of him and could look up any alarm immediately.

So in a very real sense no-one knew what it meant precisely. It had to be checked, and it was one guy's job to have that information - however he did it.

moorouge
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posted 07-21-2015 02:11 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for moorouge   Click Here to Email moorouge     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
My apologies for being a bit of a bore on this, but to make it clear that both Garman and Paules are clear when the aborted simulation took place.

This extract is from a Garman interview for NASA Oral History Project made on 27th March 2001 -

But I clearly recall helping them come up with a couple of semi-fatal computer errors, errors that would cause the computers to start restarts. Well, it was one of those or a derivation of one of those, it was just a few months before Apollo 11, I'm quite sure it was May or June — and I'm sure you know by now exactly when—that a young fellow named Steve [Stephen G.] Bales, a couple years older than I was, was the Guidance Officer, and that was the front-room position that we most often supported because he kind of watched the computers.

One of these screwy computers alarms, "computer gone wrong" kind of things, happened, and he called an abort of the lunar landing and should not have, and it scared everybody to death. Those of us in the back room didn't think anything of it. Again, we weren't in touch with the seriousness of simulation to the real world. "Okay, well, do it again."

But Gene Kranz, who was the real hero of that whole episode, said, "No, no, no. I want you all to write down every single possible computer alarm that can possibly go wrong." Remember, I'm looking at this as, "Well, we should have thought up a better failure," and he's looking at it like, "This stuff can really happen," partially because he didn't understand the computers, but partially because he's absolutely right. He's looking at the forest and not the trees. So he made us go off and study every single computer alarm that existed in the code, ones that could not possibly happen, they were put in there just for testing purposes, right down to ones that were normal, and to figure out, even if we couldn't come up with a reason for why the alarm would happen, what were the manifestations if it did. Is it over? Is the computer dead? What would you do if it did happen, even if you don't know?

So we did. We did. I still have a copy of it. It's handwritten, under a piece of plastic, and we wrote it down for every single computer run and stuck it under the glass on the console. And sure enough, Murphy's law, the onboard computers ran in two-second cycles, which is horribly long in today's computer world.

Garman was interviewed again on 14th April 2014 for Honeysucklecreek as cited in my post on 18th July. Unfortunately, there is no transcript of this so you'll have to listen to it. But at 2.14 into the 20.42 minute tape he says -
"About a month before the flight they did one last one …. They asked me to provide something that was a sort of software glitch. So I did and believe it or not it was one of those alarms."

At 3.41 he comments - "I want to tell you it was gruesome afterwards …. "

In a NASA Oral History Project interview with Gran Paules on 7th November 2006 he says -

"So what we had checked out with the simulation, and we'd done a lot of work after that sim kind of blew up on us in the second week of June, we had MIT run a whole lot of other checks to see if we had to fix the software on the spacecraft or do something differently. Well, by that time it was too late to really make any changes that anybody was going to be confident you'd get in and get right without screwing something else up. So we flew with it that way.
So, you take your pick, Garman/Paules or Kranz.

Paul78zephyr
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posted 07-25-2015 02:37 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Paul78zephyr     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by moorouge:
Both Garman and Paules say so.
I guess when I asked if you were saying if Kranz was wrong I really meant in the context of the thread where I stated that they all knew about the program alarms because they had recently been trained via a simulation on this very alarm. I'm not that hung up on exactly when that simulation was (May, June, July...). The fact is they had seen this before — Kranz, Bales, Garmen, Paules, Duke, et al.

On the subject of oral histories, etc, I was wondering if SimSup Dick Koos was ever interviewed?

All times are CT (US)

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