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Messages - MadDogBV

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General Discussion / Re: Accurate edition of Apollo 11 (2019) movie?
« on: November 27, 2023, 09:30:18 AM »
Documentary authors have to weave a difficult line between being making a film that is appealing and compelling in the narrative sense, which does involve taking creative liberties, versus being as historically accurate as possible. Once upon a time, I thought it was more important to adhere to the latter principle, but I've come to realize that when most film reviewers - be they a professional like Roger Ebert or just the word of a friend whom you trust - scrutineer documentaries about topics such as the space program, they're not so concerned about whether or not the biomed readings were accurate. They are more focused on ensuring that the drama, ambition, wonderment, and scientific innovation of that time period was successfully captured on film so that the viewer can relive an enthralling and engaging if not believable simulation of those pivotal moments in human history.

Frankly, compared to other frequently-espoused historical myths, the implications of that rather pales in comparison to something like the infamous "the two stood eye to eye and the other fellow blinked" in reference to the Cuban Missile Crisis, a myth that persists in popular AND historical media to this day. 😁 I'd say "Apollo 11" gets a pass.

For strictly reliable secondary sources of the events that took place during the Apollo program, the best place to go would probably be the Apollo Flight Journal - and as for primary sources, I would say those would be the MOCR tapes themselves. It's wonderful that NASA had such a keen eye towards posterity particularly in those days.


Recovery Houston (id unknown) offers Recovery Pacific (id unknown, but likely on a ship in the Pacific) a trade of a six pack of "Cold Pearl" for two pineapples on return. Haggling ensues.

To further emphasize the human quality of what these ironclad-willed flight controllers do on a daily basis, you want to know what EECOM John Aaron was doing at the exact same time that RECOVERY was making a trade for pineapples?

Looking for a trash can.


I found this particular gem because it's just one minute past a much more important historical artifact: confirmation that the IRIG-B time signal encoded on the MOCR tapes is lock-step with the clocks used by the human controllers and support crew. Just a minute before this barter there is an exchange between Houston Recover and Pacific Recovery where Houston clearly counts down the GMT and GET clocks so that Pacific Recovery can adjust their ship clocks to match.

In the attached annotated spectrogram, the speaker speaks the phrase "eight, nine, MARK, 50 seconds". Below each utterance are the time code markers output by the IRIG-B decoder software that we wrote for Apollo In Real Time. The "MARK" phrase lines up perfectly with the GET timestamp "33:53:50" / GMT timestamp "1970-04-14T05:06:50".

This is an absolute gem of a find. Thanks for locating this. It really truly drives home how history was made 53 years ago, and how we sometimes take for granted that what we're listening to is just the digital facsimile of the media of that era.

General Discussion / Frank Borman
« on: November 09, 2023, 05:03:00 PM »
And now Frank Borman. One of the most accomplished astronauts, including CDR of Apollo 8, has passed away at the age of 95.

Ad Astra. *

What I plan to do at some point, as I have time, is just a few compilation YouTube videos (or well, audios) of some of the Trench officers - Reed, Deiterich, Bales, possibly even Boone - just as a highlight reel of stuff they say on the loops. Each compilation video would probably be themed in some way. Perhaps Bales would be a mix of him being overly enthusiastic versus quiet and somnolent; Reed would be all the times he lost his temper, etc..  ;D

Oh yes, I've listened to him in some of the prelaunch dialogue; he does have a little bit of a temper, yes.  ;D

Listen carefully in this one, when he speaks to Gary again (he slams the desk!):

I've regarded him as probably one of the most senior FIDOs in the Trench, particularly after Bostick and Shaffer became leaders of the Flight Dynamics branch. Jay Greene was brilliant, of course, but Reed had all the confidence in the world - a must when dealing with other members of his cohort.

A small addendum to this one: Compare and contrast FIDO Dave Reed at 134 hours with FIDO Dave Reed almost exactly 20 hours prior. He sounds more like a pilot on a commercial airliner flying to Honolulu. ;D Everybody must have felt pretty confident about how the last day of the flight would play out, until of course the actual reality of the situation hit everyone in the face.


FLIGHT Milt Windler had surprised the flight dynamics crew by calling for the PGNS to be activated early, partly due to generous power margins, but mostly to help warm up the freezing crew. As a result, the trench suddenly became very active, but the backrooms and computers are still operating on a skeleton staff due to not anticipating a power-up until the planned midcourse at 137 hours. It's currently 134.

GUIDO Gary Renick has been trying to get the dynamics officer in the RTCC, Ken Leach, to run a starsearch. However, Ken is the only dynamics officer on duty and he has been prioritizing the FIDO's requests. After Gary complains about his slowness in computing the search, Ken fires back a blunt rejoinder about the trench's lack of organization. Then FIDO Dave Reed, who is about as stressed out as any flight dynamics officer can be, decides it's time to have a word with his guidance officer.

The two have argued with each other before; when Dave had pressured him to tell Windler that it was not practical to run a P52 in the current compressed entry timeline, Gary buckled: "He is the FLIGHT, Dave."

General Discussion / Re: Other Apollo Missions
« on: October 06, 2023, 10:18:05 PM »
Oh my goodness. Apollo 8. That one is going to be a blast.

And evidently Apollo 9. On the EECOM loops in Apollo 13, when the question is asked by an ECS man "how can I tell it's night on Apollo 9?", John Aaron tells him jokingly to look for when "Liebergot woke the crew up." Which makes me wonder what he did.

This was a topic actually discussed in the 13 Things That Saved Apollo 13 series. The decision to use the LM DPS engine to perform a PC+2 abort and fly around the Moon was considered one of the most vital choices ever made to save the lives of the crew, as it discarded the need to use an SPS engine that (at that time) was in unknown condition given its location in proximity to the explosion.

However, although DPS aborts had been practiced in sims, there was a concern regarding whether the engine liner could stand the treatment of a long burn of 800 ft/s or greater, particularly after having already used it for a midcourse to free return and with two more MCCs planned after the abort burn. During the Accident+1 Griffin shift, FIDO Dave Reed and CONTROL John Wegener discuss these potential problems, as it has a pretty major effect on their abort planning.


Note that due to the tape drift glitch, the GOSS-4 loop is used to capture CONTROL's portion of this conversation.

Apollo 13 Moments of Interest / Re: Apollo 13 Film vs Reality
« on: September 22, 2023, 01:52:07 PM »
Every time they tried to get BIOMED data on the return voyage home, the signal strength was just too weak to bring back anything useful to the ground, since the POWERAMP for the transceiver was turned off in order to save power. It also interfered with comm and tracking, so the flight directors hesitated to bring it up each time the surgeons asked for it. Example here when INCO Hanchett and SURGEON Ziegleschmidt negotiate with Glynn Lunney:

As far as what was done for Fred Haise's fever - I don't think anything was done, certainly not on the ground. The infection became truly acute at the end of the mission, and nothing was ever mentioned on the loops about it. Everybody was trying to focus on getting the spacecraft configured for a successful re-entry. From the Flight Journal:

Undiscussed on the air to ground radio loop, Fred is feeling worse for wear. He has developed a urinary tract infection as a result of insufficient water intake.

Lovell, from 1970 Technical debrief: "Fred woke up with chills before we did midcourse correction 7."

Haise, from 1970 Technical debrief: "Yes. I wasn't sure what gave me the chills. I was back in the CM at about that time, and I had to go to the bathroom. I stripped naked in the 42 degree temperature ricocheted around touching bare metal, and it just chilled me to the bone every time I'd touch anything. You can't help but bounce all around in there. I was really cold for the next 4 hours. From that time on, it sort of began to catch up with me. I began to feel tired. Before that, I really didn't feel much effect at all."

General Discussion / Re: Apollo 13 Mission Ops Report - Sections of interest
« on: September 17, 2023, 09:47:04 AM »
ITEM 2 - The Mailbox

Well, this hardly needs any introduction. The CSM LiOH cartridge adapter: It's one of just many improvisations created by the engineers of Apollo 13 to get the crew home. Of course, it should be noted that there were multiple methods being considered to scrub out carbon dioxide from the spacecraft, and Sy Liebergot briefly mentions one such method on the FLIGHT loop during Gerry Griffin's first shift after the accident, at around 70:27. However, this was the one that flight control and the crew eventually settled on. By the time that Milt Windler assumes command of the MOCR after the PC+2 burn, manned spaceflight has already christened it with a name: The Mailbox.

There are multiple diagrams to be found of this contraption online, particularly on the Apollo 13 Flight Journal. This diagram attached was the copy that was included in the Mission Ops Report. You can see that the TELMU engineers have taken a Xerox of the diagram of the then most recent iteration of the LM (note the date at the top-left corner of 2/20/70) and added their own drawings and notes to indicate how the Mailbox was to be configured.

From TELMU section, enclosure:

I don't remember if I ever pointed this out, but in the Apollo 13 Mission Operations Report, the EECOM team gives a brief shout-out to the EPS team for their performance during the anomaly. That would, of course, zero in on Dick Brown as he was the prime EPS responsible for tracking the O2 Tanks. Considering that many hundreds or thousands of people who saved Apollo 13 went unnamed in history, and considering that the majority of the Mission Ops report spends about 90-95% of its text discussing problems, anomalies, recommendations for change, etc., this is high praise indeed.

And as well it should have been: He gave recommendations to power down, advised on whether the voltage current could hack the loads during troubleshooting, and he made the call (which John Aaron passed up) to turn on battery A when fuel cell 2 finally bit the dust. Even after this was done, he kept track of the battery usage, which would become essential later when the procedure was created to charge the CSM batteries from the LM.

General Discussion / Re: Other Apollo Missions
« on: September 12, 2023, 12:52:55 PM »
As noted in an earlier post, there was a delay - likely as a result of COVID-19 and budget constraints - and it looks like the end date of the project was pushed back to August 2024 according to NSF's award page.

There was definitely an operational MER during Apollo 13. Throughout the mission on most of the loops - the first 2/3 of the Kranz shift just before the accident is a good example - the controllers make reference to Building 45 and Don Arabian. Bldg. 45 was the location of the MER, and Don Arabian was its leader. During that shift, he and the SPAN bigwigs (Joe Roach and a few others) talked about how they were going to bleed down the SHe (supercritical helium) if the telemetry showed excessively high readings during the LM pass.

The problem apparently was so critical that when Kranz called up SPAN to let them know he was powering up the LM early, there was nobody available in SPAN to give him either a go or no-go. The controller who answered him, Bill Blair, was a North American contractor. 😅


During and after the accident, the MER spread out to encompass nearly the entire Manned Spacecraft Center as they vacuumed up controllers and contractors, working furiously to develop procedures and solve imminent problems regarding the spacecraft. John Wegener, who was the CONTROL during one of the Griffin shifts during translunar coast, is never seen or heard from again after that shift. It's plausible to guess he was conscripted for MER duty, and I'm sure there were others.

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