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  My personal Apollo story (Dan Schaiewitz) (Page 1)

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Author Topic:   My personal Apollo story (Dan Schaiewitz)
Daniel on the Moon
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From: Bronxville, NY
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posted 12-24-2015 11:55 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Daniel on the Moon   Click Here to Email Daniel on the Moon     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Ever since I can remember, I wanted to be an astronaut. When President Kennedy made landing a man on the moon a national goal, I wanted to become involved in the lunar landing program. I established my long range goals, i.e. obtaining a degree in engineering and getting a job involved with the complexities of keeping a man alive on the moon.

After obtaining my engineering degree in 1967, I was fortunate enough to have been offered a position with the company that had the contract for the Apollo Portable Life Support System (PLSS) which included the Emergency Oxygen Supply System called the "Oxygen Purge System" (OPS).

I arrived at Cape Kennedy Thanksgiving Day, 1968. I was so excited that I forgot it was a holiday and spent the entire day at the Visitors Information Center. Seeing the Vehicle Assembly Building, the Apollo 8 rocket on pad 39 and the rest of the space center was beyond the realm of my imagination. It was difficult to believe that I would be a part of a team that would change science fiction to science fact.

As I began my assignment at the Kennedy Space Center, I became very inquisitive and was determined to get involved in every way possible. I read every document and manual related to space suit operations I could get my hands on.

As we got closer to Apollo 11, the mission the whole world was looking forward to, I realized that I was an important part in making the mission a success. I worked six and seven days a week, 16 to 18 hours a day much of it on my own unpaid time looking for and "making" work. I felt guilty getting paid for the one thing I always dreamed of doing.

One of my most vivid memories was charging the Apollo 11 Life Support Systems. Four individuals, one technician, two quality control personnel and myself adding the life sustaining water and oxygen to the hardware that would be used in just a few days to support the first humans to walk on the moon. I felt a lot of pride along with a lot of butterflies.

Alone one night at about 1AM at our KSC office, I found a memo that stated the Apollo 11 astronauts (Armstrong and Aldrin) were coming to KSC to practice their lunar surface activities and that our support would be needed. The following day I contacted the Manned Spacecraft Center in Texas to find out all I could about the support that would be required. I then informed responsible parties at KSC of my desire to handle the support required without it interfering with my other responsibilities.

Subsequently I was assigned the position of Extravehicular Crew Training Engineer at KSC. The Apollo 11 training exercises went so well at KSC that the Apollo training office at the Manned Spacecraft Office in Texas decided to conduct most of the lunar surface training exercises at KSC.

One of the many aspects that made my "adventure" in the crew training area so interesting were the many times that I explained the functional aspects of the Astronaut Life Support System to so many inquisitive people, i.e. workers, reporters, dignitaries, etc. Being so interested in and so enthusiastic about my work, it gave me much pleasure and satisfaction to convey my enthusiasm to others.

I will never forget the first opportunity to wear the Apollo space suit, more specifically Neil Armstrong's suit. The scene took place in our "clean room". The purpose was to check out the Apollo 11 PLSS communications from the Space Suit to the Spacecraft on Pad 39 to The Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston, Texas. The date was May 5, 1969. What an incredible experience knowing that I was verifying that the Spacesuit communications from the moon to earth and back was in fact working as designed to transmit the voices of the first men on the moon to the entire world.

Above: Here I am checking Apollo 11 communications.

Subsequently, I had many opportunities to work with and test procedures using Apollo suits. Being intimately familiar with the procedures used by the astronauts inside the Lunar Module (LM), I was delegated to wear the space suits to develop, troubleshoot and verify procedures used by the astronauts. How close to actually being an astronaut can you get!

Above: Here I am on my way to the simulated lunar surface outside the KSC crew training building to test out modifications made to the life support training "backpacks."

Above: Here I am going through EVA prep and post procedures before the astronauts went through the same procedures.

Above: Here I am evaluating Apollo 11 prep and post procedural changes before the Apollo 11 liftoff in the training LM at KSC wearing Armstrong's training suit.

My most memorable experience was the "journey" to the Apollo 11 spacecraft the night before the Apollo 11 launch to deliver the Astronaut Suit Life Support Equipment and "stow" it in the Lunar Module. There we were, four of us riding along the same route the giant crawler carried the 40 story rocket to pad 39. The destination of that monstrous rocket could be seen that night as a beautiful half sphere.

While riding toward the spacecraft, I kept having flashbacks of moon rockets I had seen in "Flash Gordon and Captain Video" TV series of the early 1950s. The closer we got to the base of the Saturn V rocket the faster the "butterflies fluttered"! Then the elevator ride to the Lunar Module level 36 stories high. The ride to our LM destination seemed endless as I watched the diameter of the rocket get smaller and smaller. When we passed the giant American Flag painted on the side of the rocket I felt proud to be an American.

Once inside the protective room that surrounded the Lunar Module, we removed the two Portable Life Support Systems (PLSS) and The Emergency Oxygen Purge Systems (OPS) from their protective containers. We then installed the hardware in their respective stowage locations. I had the distinction of crawling through the LM hatch into the LM to make the final verification of the PLSS controls and switches. I again could not believe where I was and how I got there. It was hard to comprehend that in just a few days these amazing Life Support Systems ("backpacks") would help make one of man's oldest dreams come true.

With respect to succeeding missions, I'll never forget the instance that my name was referred to by Apollo Astronaut Eugene Cernan commander of the Apollo 17 flight while on the lunar surface.

Kite
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From: Northampton UK
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posted 12-24-2015 12:21 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Kite     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
What a fantastic story. Thanks for sharing it with us Daniel. As someone who lived through those times what I'd done to change places with you.

p51
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From: Olympia, WA
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posted 12-24-2015 12:28 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for p51   Click Here to Email p51     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Wow!

Thanks for posting that, I never thought of anyone testing out the suits like that. Just goes to show you really DO learn something new every day!

chet
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From: Beverly Hills, Calif.
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posted 12-24-2015 12:37 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for chet   Click Here to Email chet     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thank you, Mr. Schaiewitz, for sharing your story, and the photos of you performing your duties prior to the launch of Apollo 11.

(For space junkies, how much more Walter Mitty-like could an experience get?)

space1
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From: Danville, Ohio
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posted 12-24-2015 04:31 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for space1   Click Here to Email space1     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks for sharing such an amazing story. When will such dreams be lived again in human history?

Were you just extremely lucky to be Armstrong's size, or was a close fit not really important for your tests?

Daniel on the Moon
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From: Bronxville, NY
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posted 12-24-2015 04:52 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Daniel on the Moon   Click Here to Email Daniel on the Moon     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by space1:
Were you just extremely lucky to be Armstrong's size, or was a close fit not really important for your tests?
A close fit was not a priority, although, I was fairly close to Armstrong's size. There was enough "wiggle" room in the suits allowing me to also conduct tests in both Shepard and Cernan's PGAs.

stsmithva
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From: Fairfax, VA, USA
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posted 12-24-2015 07:33 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for stsmithva   Click Here to Email stsmithva     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Fantastic! A real pleasure to learn about.

mach3valkyrie
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posted 12-24-2015 10:29 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mach3valkyrie   Click Here to Email mach3valkyrie     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks for sharing your experiences!

Mike Dixon
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posted 12-24-2015 10:41 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Mike Dixon   Click Here to Email Mike Dixon     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Amazing story and I thank you for telling it

bunnkwio
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From: Naperville, IL USA
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posted 12-25-2015 12:01 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for bunnkwio   Click Here to Email bunnkwio     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Such a fantastic story and amazing photographs! To have a pictures showing "oh yeah, that's me in Armstrong's training suit". WOWZA!!

Thank you so much for sharing!!

East-Frisian
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From: Germany
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posted 12-25-2015 02:29 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for East-Frisian     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Raelly great story. Thank you.

Indy500
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From: Indianapolis, IN, USA
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posted 12-25-2015 03:28 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Indy500   Click Here to Email Indy500     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Awesome story! Thanks for sharing!

Rick Mulheirn
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posted 12-25-2015 06:20 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rick Mulheirn   Click Here to Email Rick Mulheirn     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Awesome story Dan. Great photos. Great memories.

Joel Katzowitz
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From: Marietta GA USA
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posted 12-25-2015 08:12 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Joel Katzowitz   Click Here to Email Joel Katzowitz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
What an amazing experience to carry around in your head. Thank you for sharing.

mark plas
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posted 12-25-2015 08:45 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for mark plas   Click Here to Email mark plas     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Forgot to close my mouth while reading! Just Wow!

Robert Pearlman
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posted 12-25-2015 08:53 AM     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 Daniel on the Moon:
I'll never forget the instance that my name was referred to by Apollo Astronaut Eugene Cernan commander of the Apollo 17 flight while on the lunar surface.
This closing tidbit was too good not to follow up (how many people can say they've had a shout out from the moon?) and so here's the relevant passage from Apollo 17's EVA-1 on the Apollo Lunar Surface Journal...
116:46:42 Cernan: Got it. (Pause) I'm going to miss Danny being out there to hand us those light PLSSs.

116:46:48 Schmitt: That's right. (Pause)

[This is a reference to training exercises. They had practiced donning full-sized PLSSs inside the LM and then trade those for smaller, lightweight units once they were outside. Danny Schaiewitz was the engineer who handed them in. He worked for the manufacturer, Hamilton-Standard. According to Ed Brisson, who headed up the Hamilton-Standard operation at the Cape, Schaiewitz was well liked by the crews and socialized with many of them.]

KSCartist
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posted 12-25-2015 05:42 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for KSCartist   Click Here to Email KSCartist     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thank you for sharing your story and for your service to space exploration.

You might contact the US Space Walk of Fame Foundation in Titusville. They have been conducting oral histories for years.

Cozmosis22
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From: Texas * Earth
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posted 12-25-2015 08:56 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Cozmosis22     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Congratulations for your dedication to he program. That is a fabulous bit of history.

Thanks for the "Christmas present."

RobertB
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From: Israel
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posted 12-25-2015 11:22 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for RobertB   Click Here to Email RobertB     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'd like to know how tempted you were to stow away.

Daniel on the Moon
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From: Bronxville, NY
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posted 12-26-2015 01:17 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Daniel on the Moon   Click Here to Email Daniel on the Moon     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Kite:
As someone who lived through those times what I'd done to change places with you.
Thank you reading my post and thank you for your comment. I had a dream and I was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time.

Daniel on the Moon
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From: Bronxville, NY
Registered: Jun 2015

posted 12-26-2015 01:29 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Daniel on the Moon   Click Here to Email Daniel on the Moon     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by KSCartist:
You might contact the US Space Walk of Fame Foundation in Titusville.
Thank you for your suggestion and thank you for taking time out to read about my once in a life time "dream" come true.

Daniel on the Moon
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From: Bronxville, NY
Registered: Jun 2015

posted 12-26-2015 02:24 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Daniel on the Moon   Click Here to Email Daniel on the Moon     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by RobertB:
I'd like to know how tempted you were to stow away.
The obvious answer most "space junkies" would give is a resounding YES. However, my answer to your question would probably be either "yes with reservations" or even "no".

Being as intimately involved with the complexities of the project and hardware on an everyday basis and witnessing test failures, design changes, procedural changes and then try to make "optimism trump pessimism" was difficult and I believe that a majority of workers that were involved with the daily successes and failures were pessimistic but none of us talked about it. The 24/7 schedule to meet deadlines didn't give us time to think or dwell about our pessimism. The fact that you were where you were and doing what you were doing created an incredibly exciting and motivating experience day in and day out. The fact that the ultimate objective to reach the moon was realized made me as well as most workers extremely proud along with a "sigh of relief" that everything "worked".

As I look back 40+ years later, I realize that I could have been more pessimistic than I was knowing that we did not have use of technology we have today, one of the most obvious example being the "stone age" computing power that was used. It is more "mind boggling" today than it was then for obvious reasons.

Chariot412
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posted 12-26-2015 09:18 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Chariot412   Click Here to Email Chariot412     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I love this story.

Jonnyed
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From: Dumfries, VA, USA
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posted 12-26-2015 07:26 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jonnyed   Click Here to Email Jonnyed     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Danny, what a great story. I imagine that like a lot of us you are also a space artifact collector / signature collector - true?

If so, what are two or three of your favorite items in your collection? I imagine your "insider" position allowed you to get some pretty cool stuff.

Daniel on the Moon
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From: Bronxville, NY
Registered: Jun 2015

posted 12-26-2015 09:12 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Daniel on the Moon   Click Here to Email Daniel on the Moon     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Jonnyed:
If so, what are two or three of your favorite items in your collection?
My most prized possessions are two Sterling Silver Charms that Charlie Duke and John Young brought to the moon and back in their Personal Preference Kit (PPK). Letters from other moon walking astronauts thanking me for my effort(s) rank very high!

ApolloEra
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From: Woodland Hills, CA, USA
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posted 12-26-2015 10:34 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ApolloEra   Click Here to Email ApolloEra     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thank you so much for sharing, and especially the one-of-a-kind photos! Happy Holidays!

GACspaceguy
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From: Guyton, GA
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posted 12-27-2015 06:49 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for GACspaceguy   Click Here to Email GACspaceguy     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
No disrespect to Star War fans but this is the best spaceflight story this month! Reality trumps sci-fi every time!! What a fantastic history to have!

I have often said in various recruitment efforts that it was not Velcro and other material that were spinoffs from the program it was scientists and engineers.

Danny you said: "When President Kennedy made landing a man on the moon a national goal, I wanted to become involved in the lunar landing program. I established my long range goals, i.e. obtaining a degree in engineering..."

Graduating in 1967 and two years later working Apollo equipment and doing the install before flight, WOW, how amazing is that for a young engineer!

Thanks for sharing, as said above thanks for the Christmas present.

intrepid12
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From: decatur,il
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posted 12-27-2015 11:00 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for intrepid12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks for sharing, I really enjoyed reading. Feel free to share more.

Jonnyed
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From: Dumfries, VA, USA
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posted 12-27-2015 08:12 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jonnyed   Click Here to Email Jonnyed     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Danny, sorry to ask a somewhat uninformed question but I imagine that none of the Apollo PLSSs used on the lunar surface ever made it back from the moon trips (i.e., they're still stowed in the LM ascent stages). Is that correct?

Also, did the Apollo 13 PLSSs ever come into play during that ordeal?

Thanks again for sharing your story.

Daniel on the Moon
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From: Bronxville, NY
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posted 12-28-2015 12:49 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Daniel on the Moon   Click Here to Email Daniel on the Moon     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The two PLSSs were "tossed" out the hatch along with other items used and no longer needed to save as much weight as possible for LM ascent stage lunar liftoff. The more non needed equipment jettisoned, the more rock samples they were able to return to earth. There were LM ascent stage liftoff target weights including a factor of safety. All equipment weights were known prior to earth liftoff. the only unknown were the lunar rock sample weights. However, those weights were determined prior to LM liftoff using a scale. With all weights known, a "go"/"no go" based on weight was easy to determine. One other interesting fact: The Oxygen Purge Systems (OPS) were not left on the moon. One OPS was used by the CMP (mounted behind his EVVA) to do an EVA through the CM hatch to retrieve the cassette in the SIM Bay. Also, if a contingency transfer (as a result of a LM/CM docking problem) was needed the OPSs would have been used (mounted around the waist).

With respect to your Apollo 13 question, "Did the PLSS's come into play." The answer is no. However, Contingency procedures were written "real time" during the mission for possible PLSS use for the following situations: 1) To Use PLSS Water in the LM ECS For Cooling, 2) To Use PLSS Feedwater for Drinking.

I hope I've been able to satisfactory answer your questions. If you need further clarification, please don't hesitate to ask.

Tykeanaut
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From: Worcestershire, England, UK.
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posted 12-28-2015 06:13 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Tykeanaut   Click Here to Email Tykeanaut     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Amazing! Your story would also make a great contribution to the BIS Spaceflight magazine too.

Paul78zephyr
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From: Hudson, MA
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posted 12-30-2015 09:11 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Paul78zephyr     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Great story. Thank you for sharing. Where exactly was the access to the LM with the vehicle stacked on the pad?

Daniel on the Moon
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From: Bronxville, NY
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posted 12-30-2015 10:45 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Daniel on the Moon   Click Here to Email Daniel on the Moon     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The LM had two hatches: the "overhead hatch" and the "forward hatch."

The "overhead hatch" was used for docking with the Command Module (CM) in both earth and lunar orbit and was the "path" used by the CDR and LMP to enter and exit the LM when docked with the CM.

"Stacked" on Pad 39 in launch configuration, the LM was located vertically below the CM with its "overhead hatch" facing the CM heat shield. Access into the LM was provided through the horizontally located "forward hatch" via a horizontal "bridge" from the gantry elevator. The entry from the elevator exit to the open LM forward hatch was covered to provide a "clean room" environment. Before entering the LM to stow equipment (in our case the PLSSs, OPSs and RCUs) we had to take off our shoes and dress in the familiar clean room white suits.

ejectr
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posted 12-30-2015 01:34 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ejectr   Click Here to Email ejectr     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Did you work for Hamilton Standard in Windsor Locks, CT? I've been there many times when I sold them computerized machine tools to make their equipment.

Daniel on the Moon
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From: Bronxville, NY
Registered: Jun 2015

posted 12-30-2015 01:54 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Daniel on the Moon   Click Here to Email Daniel on the Moon     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Yes, I did work for Hamilton Standard. I began with HSD in 1967. After being in Windsor Locks for a little more than a year, there was an opening for an engineer at the HSD KSC office. Being single at 24 with no family obligations, I of course accepted the position at KSC. It was the best decision I ever made (besides marrying my incredible wife).

Paul78zephyr
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From: Hudson, MA
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posted 12-31-2015 10:05 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Paul78zephyr     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Daniel on the Moon:
The entry from the elevator exit to the open LM forward hatch was covered to provide a "clean room" environment.
Danny, I am familiar with the design and configuration of the LM and its hatches. What I'm trying to understand is how those hatches were accessed with the LM enclosed in the Saturn V SLA/adapter section. Was there a hatchway in one of the SLA petals or what?

This 2009 cS thread in response to a slightly different question does not answer the question either.

Paul78zephyr
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From: Hudson, MA
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posted 01-01-2016 02:42 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Paul78zephyr     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I found this pic on Historic Space Systems.

It shows the CSM/LM/SLA prior to install on top of the S-IVB. You can see what appears to me a squarish 'hatch' on the SLA panel facing the camera. You can also see that the LMs forward hatch (not visible) would be located behind there in about that same area as you can see the landing leg ladder. Can anyone say if that is in fact the access hatch to the LMs forward hatch?

Daniel on the Moon
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From: Bronxville, NY
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posted 01-01-2016 04:11 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Daniel on the Moon   Click Here to Email Daniel on the Moon     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Here's another SLA photo showing the SLA LM porch access hatch:

sev8n
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posted 01-01-2016 05:23 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for sev8n     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Paul78zephyr:
You can see what appears to me a squarish 'hatch' on the SLA panel facing the camera.

In that photo the SLA (and CM/SM) is wrapped in a protective fabric cover. The hatch you see is a flap in the fabric cover. Behind it is an access door on the SLA panel to enter the SLA and access the LM.

Paul78zephyr
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From: Hudson, MA
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posted 01-01-2016 08:13 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Paul78zephyr     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks Danny and sev8n.

So the horizontal bridge from the clean room/gantry led right to this hatch — that's very interesting. Was the fabric cover and its 'flap' over the SLA hatch installed during the time that you accessed the LM inside the SLA?

How much space was there between the SLA hatch and the LM forward hatch? How difficult was it to get in/out of the LM through the SLA hatch/forward hatch with the vehicle on the pad in a 1G environment considering the LM had really be structurally designed for 1/6 G?


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