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Topics - MadDogBV

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As of 125:46:35 GET - still more than 12 hours away from entry interface and splashdown - the CSM is out of potable water in the surge tank, meaning now there are only two ways to get drinking water for the crew: the PLSS, which people are generally hesitant to use in case it's needed as a backup for the LM; and any water remaining in the LM descent tanks.

The conversation between TELMU and SURGEON on the MOCR loop is polite and considered, but there is obvious strain and tension in their voices as they negotiate between two competing needs - the desire to keep the crew alive by having sufficient water to power equipment in the LM, and the desire to keep the crew alive by having sufficient water to avoid dehydration.

Link 1 (SURGEON, 125:46:35):
Link 2 (SURGEON, 125:52:02):

A flight dynamics assistant during the Gold team shift just prior to re-entry at 123:11 GET calls up FIDO Bill Stoval essentially to ask if he can go home early due to fatigue. He had been off his game all night, including a really serious blunder earlier in the evening that resulted in GUIDO Bales and RETRO Spencer arguing over whether a REFSMMAT stored in the RTCC was the same one as earlier in the morning. It had been stored incorrectly.

Amidst all of the technical jargon on the FIDO loop, clips like these really show the human impact that the Apollo 13 incident had on the flight controllers who were trying to manage the situation on the ground, many of them not getting enough sleep or just outright pulling all-nighters.


Apollo geeks and flight dynamics nerds brace yourselves - this is going to be your lucky day.

This is by far the highlight of the FIDO loop. During the Black Team shift starting at around 110-112 GET, FIDO Dave Reed, RETRO Chuck Deiterich and GUIDO Ken Russell are manning the trench along with YAW Will Pressley. This will also be the same group of personnel that works the White Team's shift during re-entry.

Dave, a stickler for organization and "doing the right thing", sets aside time with Chuck and Ken to draft a re-entry checklist for the flight dynamics team during the hours leading up to entry interface. This is required due to the massive amount of work needing to be done in a very short timespan, getting both the CSM reactivated and aligned, the service module and LM jettisoned, and the midcourse correction required to stay in the corridor.

What follows from this point on is truly remarkable: an unbroken three-way discussion that goes on for over an hour, essentially a planning meeting taking place on a live MOCR loop. During this time, Dave has backup personnel respond to inquiries from other flight controllers so that his team can focus on drafting the checklist. Presumably, he got permission from Lunney to do this since even FLIGHT avoids bugging him with questions. (AFD is not so lucky when he tries later on.)


It is now 8:43AM local time. FAO Bob Lindsey is reaching out to RETRO (but instead getting FIDO Bill Boone) to ask whether there's going to be an 8am re-entry meeting. Boone doesn't know about that - but he does know about Bill Tyndall's data priority meeting, and he wonders if perhaps that's what FAO means?


Apollo 13 was on its way back to Earth. Although the PC+2 abort burn was executed as correctly as could be under the circumstances (with subsequent tracking indicating that a MCC5 would still be necessary), flight control still had one major problem to contend with: re-entry - all the activities that would be needed in the last six hours of flight.

One of the most key aspects of Apollo 13 after the oxygen tank disaster is the total, industry-wide mobilization that occurred in order to solve rapidly-developing problems that urgently needed an answer by a certain timeframe. From one end of the Manned Spacecraft Center to the other, there was one practice that was a near-constant throughout the mission: Meetings. Meetings. Meetings. Sometimes planned, but more often improvised, all to tackle different problems, all vacuuming up different flight controllers with all of their varying levels of expertise.

This is why when listening to the FD loops after the abort burn, you sometimes can hear up to 3 or 4 different officers manning one station during a single shift. They frequently had to be swapped out as managers such as Gene Kranz, Bill Tyndall, Neil Hutchinson and Jerry Bostick yoinked controllers and brought them from one meeting to the next.

Within three minutes of the free return burn, FLIGHT Glynn Lunney suddenly notices that the wall clock in the MOCR is off by a large amount. Once RETRO Tom Weichel provides a countdown from his retro clock indicating the time left before the burn, Glynn suddenly becomes a lot more animated over the loop.

It was shortly thereafter determined that the wall clock had been improperly set by the comm staff, and that both the spacecraft and the retro clock were properly synchronized to the burn time.


As an addendum, later before the PC+2 burn, FIDO Bill Stoval (also in the MOCR at the time of the free return burn, sitting next to Bill Boone) reminds Bobby Spencer to check the wall and retro clock to make sure both are aligned - "I'd hate to get zapped on that one again."

This is prompted by a question from Jim Lovell, who wanted to know how the command module will be aligned for re-entry, particularly with the LM still hanging onto it. As far as I know, these are the absolute first ever words spoken over the Flight Director loop regarding the actual techniques involved. It comes across as a somewhat informal conversation, with GUIDO Gary Renick essentially walking through the process and CAPCOM Jack Lousma repeating his own interpretation of the words back to him (off the loop), to make sure that his understanding is correct for when he passes it up to the crew.

There's a lot of background noise on the GUIDO and CAPCOM loops, so for the sake of ease on the ears, this is just the isolated flight director loop.


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. *

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."

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.

This is one of the greatest examples of having to evaluate quick decision-making during a crisis, in the midst of what is likely considered the apogee of peril during the Apollo 13 mission, minutes before an imminent shutdown of the CSM and the LM not yet being operational.

GNC Jack Kamman makes a call to an IMU heater expert to determine whether the heaters need to be powered up for the crew to return home safely. Then someone else jumps into the call in the nick of time to clarify the nature of the question. The person they are calling is probably Dick Freund, based on the dialogue in the call as well as the fact that he makes reference to "AC doing a study". That "AC" is ACDelco, a subsidiary of General Motors. They were the manufacturer of the IMU used inside the command module, and in the flight controller assignment list, Dick is identified as an employee of that company.

Well, this is a little unfair on BOOSTER. Based on subsequent dialogue, the abort commands weren't being transmitted due to a console selection issue - FIDO and FLIGHT's consoles were linked up to the spacecraft but not BOOSTER's. Although the commands are sent successfully shortly thereafter and FLIGHT Milt Windler attempts to pass it off as just a minor glitch, STC Skip Chauvin is clearly not satisfied and he continues to pursue the cause of the issue, specifically trying to rule out a spacecraft problem.

Based on subsequent dialogue on the FLIGHT loop, it sounds as if there may have been a phone call between Skip and Milt after the glitch to clear up the issue. It's unknown what the content of the call was, but one could guess that it likely wasn't a flattering assessment of RTC or BOOSTER's role in a usually routine command check.

FLIGHT loop:

General Discussion / Apollo 13 Mission Ops Report - Sections of interest
« on: August 28, 2023, 09:01:27 am »
This thread will serve as a compilation of several interesting sections or pages from the Apollo 13 Mission Operations Report. That document was published after the completion of the mission, written by the flight controllers who were scheduled to work during the mission. It served the following purposes:

  • Provided a debriefing from flight controllers regarding events and anomalies specific to their position.
  • Allowed controllers to suggest recommendations to existing procedures in order to resolve future anomalies.
  • Served as a repository for special documents that were used or created throughout the mission, such as the diagram for building the Mailbox (CSM-to-LM LiOH adapter), the modified re-entry checklist, and the LM power transfer.

The document is available for everyone's perusal from the Apollo 13 Flight Journal, and I encourage everyone to partake in it.

I'll post the first section of interest later today in this thread.

Chuck Deiterich is quite a character, in a way that I think is underestimated by listening just solely to the Flight Director loops. When listening to the Flight Dynamics loops in particular during the re-entry phase, you can detect a great deal of anxiety and chariness about him in a way that tends to be somewhat charming. 😊

The below recording is just one of many instances in which his nervousness is on display when YAW asks him a question that sounds innocuous on paper, but which would understandably prompt panic under different circumstances. Given the proximity to entry interface and considering the fact they've already done a midcourse and an SM sep, their options for recovering from a mistake were greatly limited.


Every flight controller (with the occasional exception of the FIDO officer) was expected to listen to the air-to-ground loop any time that the crew started transmitting, so that the crew wouldn't have to waste time repeating themselves and also to ensure any urgent questions or comments were addressed. Any controller who repeatedly failed to do so would usually find themselves shown out of the MOCR with another controller to take their place.

But even on Apollo 13, some controllers would be caught flat-footed. Below is a list of links to instances in which FLIGHT reprimanded the controller for apparently failing to listen to the loop.

Link 1: 060:47:52 - Black FLIGHT (Lunney) to INCO (Scott)
Link 2: 073:24:16 - Gold FLIGHT (Griffin) to CONTROL (Wegener)
Link 3: 084:28:16 - Maroon FLIGHT (Windler) to FAO (Gardner)

And at about 139:39:11, a little bonus clip here where YAW (I think Pressley or Wells?) tells INCO (Hanchett) to listen to the air-to-ground during an exchange that essentially amounts to YAW saying "We're too busy to do your work, INCO."

This is a follow-up to this thread posted earlier by Ben Feist. In the original thread, Lunney had an argument with RETRO Chuck Dieterich and FIDO Dave Reed (nominally the lead RETRO and FIDO on this mission) about having the hatch open or closed during LM SEP. Lunney eventually got his way there since the higher-ups had firmly agreed that the tunnel would be pressurized with the hatch closed, as they had done on Apollo 10.

Here, he returns an hour later to discuss moving the midcourse correction to an earlier time, based upon feedback from John Young (backup CDR) over the re-entry procedures being too crowded -- although this is less a discussion and more a circus tamer fending off angry lions. This time, the flight dynamics branch prevails, but only due to the combined feedback of the other astronaut pilots in the MOCR (off the loop) and Lunney's agnosticism on the issue.


Edit: As a note of interest, they do eventually succeed at de-crowding the re-entry timeline, but primarily as a result of taking advantage of a newly-developing situation. This is because Maroon FLIGHT Milt Windler makes an executive decision at 133:21:53~ to power up the PGNS three hours early as part of a larger effort to warm the crew up. They were able to do this thanks to the wide water and power margins that they had accumulated for themselves as a result of their brutally marginal power profiles. Because of this, they were able to tweak the re-entry procedures (see 135:45:50) around having the PGNS available early.

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