This forum is for discussion about content found on 

Very little of the thousands of hours of Mission Control audio on the website has been heard or documented. As you find moments of interest, post them here for discussion.

Show Posts

This section allows you to view all posts made by this member. Note that you can only see posts made in areas you currently have access to.

Messages - Naraht

Pages: 1 ... 3 4 [5] 6

Here we have Retro Chuck Deiterich doing some planning with his backroom, Retro Support, who I'm almost certain is Poppy Northcutt. She's widely agreed to have been, on Apollo 8, the first female flight controller. (Albeit not in the MOCR itself.)

She can be heard sporadically through the rest of this shift.

Understandably she got a good bit of press coverage. Later on Jay Greene tells Chuck Deiterich that "your assistant is calling you... your TV star...":


A computer goes down and they have to restore to a backup from a checkpoint 40 minutes earlier, meaning that 40 minutes of data is lost. A bit of banter ensues with Flight Director Glynn Lunney telling FIDO Jay Greene that "you took [the checkpoint] in the wrong place!" Discussion continues until 022:10:00 or so.

Earlier in the shift, he'd been questioning Greene on the reasons for needing to take checkpoints:

However, as Greene says to his backroom later, the real incident provided the best illustration of why checkpoints are needed. "We scored on the flight director... it's better than any words of explanation."

All really good finds - very interesting to hear the controllers' viewpoint on this! It's also interesting to me that so many people were on console nearly 24 hours before the launch.

In case it's of interest to anyone, RETRO is the second speaker in the exchange linked above (ie not the person who says "I never would have guessed"), and it's Chuck Deiterich.


FIDO Jay Greene, age 27, worked the descent shift on Apollo 11 and landed men on the moon. Now, a couple of days later, he's complaining that he doesn't get any cool catchphrases.

"I wish FIDOs had cool things like that to say. 'This is when we commit to MSFN.' The Networks can say 'battle short.' The FIDOs can't say anything but 'checkpoint.'"

"Everybody's got their own thing."

"Yeah, but I don't say mine on the loop."

That's a good idea. I'll see whether I manage to gather enough together to make it worthwhile, and if I do, I'll get in touch with them.


So says FIDO Jay Greene to RETRO Chuck Deiterich.

"It's not the only one running," replies Deiterich.

"Yeah, but it's the only one they're going to play back."

If the 'word' did end up getting recorded, I haven't been able to find it yet!


FIDO Jay Greene tells himself that someday he'll learn to love Retros, but we know that he never did. He abolished the role, I think when he became branch chief of the flight dynamics branch which would have been at the beginning of the 80s. Per his oral history:

"I decided I didn’t need RETROs. Didn’t matter whether you were going forward or backwards, one trajectory guy was all we needed. That’s in my autobiography. I got rid of the RETROs. John Llewellyn hasn’t spoken to me since, which isn’t all bad. Actually, he has, but not lovingly."


It seems that the "Goddard Maneuvers" team at Goddard Space Flight Center (responsible for all the Apollo comms and tracking) called the flight dynamics team in Houston periodically to ask for updates about vectors, maneuver times, etc. It also seems that FIDO Jay Greene viewed these calls as a personal thorn in his side.

Further encounters between Mr Greene and "those guys from Goddard" can be found at:


Further discussion between Jack Garman and Steve Bales about computer duty cycles and the level of utilization to be expected during ascent and rendezvous. Despite Jack's ominous opening, Steve's conclusion is that "I'm not really too worried."


Preparing for lunar ascent in the wake of the program alarms on descent, AGC Support Jack Garman briefs GUIDO Steve Bales on what a large percentage of computer time a 'monitor' program such as Noun 85 will utilize: "are you ready for this? I know you aren't, I'm not either... seven percent."

Very interesting sliver of history.

I thought so!

Between them, Greene (11, 15, 16, 17) and Reed (12, 14) were the only FIDOs ever to work a lunar descent. And Greene would have done 13 too if events hadn't intervened. So clearly whatever he "screwed up," his bosses didn't hold it against him!


The set-up for this will be familiar to anyone who has seen the film Apollo 13: Jim Lovell asks the ground to check his arithmetic to ensure that he's correctly transferred the guidance alignment from the CM into the LM. (You can hear this at 058:04:03.)

In the film you can see the line of controllers in the Trench frantically scribbling out calculations and immediately giving the thumbs up. In actuality, Glynn Lunney had to chase Guidance about it... three times.

And then who actually did the checking? That voice from the backroom is as clear as a bell: it's Jack Garman, the backroom hero of Apollo 11.

"OK, we have LGC data, look at the (?), and when you're satisfied, as we are, tell him that his arithmetic is good."

Great idea. Here's a shift list.

Thanks, I haven't seen that version of the shift lists before, where did you get it from?

They are a good guide to the overall cast of characters working a mission, but as said they're often misleading when it comes to the particulars. For instance, if you look at this one, you would think that Charlie Dumis was the EECOM on Gene Kranz's team during Apollo 13, when we know for certain that it was Sy Liebergot. I would want to have anything in those lists confirmed by recognizing a voice, hearing someone called by name rather than callsign (if you didn't already know who worked FIDO during the lunar descent, you certainly would after hearing Steve Bales saying "Jay, Jay" every couple of minutes!), or a mention in a reliable book.

The problem is particularly difficult with the Trench because they tended to work particular mission phases (launch/TEI/descent/what have you) rather than being pegged to particular flight directors. Rick Houston says that the Flight Dynamics Branch kept a record of who worked what, and that would be an immense help as a starting point. I'm halfway tempted to try to find his email address and just write to him to see if he's willing to share.

But really it would be great just to have a definitive list of MOCR shift change times as a framework to slot this all into. The Apollo Flight Journal for Apollo 8 is partly organized in terms of which team was on duty, but this annoyingly isn't the case for 11 or 13.


As re-entry approaches, a little bit of banter amongst the men of the Trench about "tightening down a vector" transitions to a slightly out-of-the-blue, slightly mean spirited (IMO) joke from the FIDO on duty, who I think is Dave Reed, about his fellow FIDO Jay Greene, who isn't present.

What did Reed think Greene had screwed up? On Apollo 11, as far as I know, he only worked the descent shift, when there was of course the small issue of targeting and the LM landing four miles long.

Wider context, which may or may not be relevant, is that Dave Reed had been furious about not getting chosen as the FIDO for the lunar descent shift. He left NASA a year and a half after Apollo 11. Both Jay Greene and Ed Pavelka, who made the assignment, think this was because he was so angry about getting passed over for Apollo 11. (Reed denies this.)

I may be completely off base but I think what we're listening to here is a slight case of sour grapes.


John (Llewellyn, probably) phones the MOCR asking for Bobby Spencer, his fellow RETRO, and gets an update on the problem from someone on the FIDO console instead.

Pages: 1 ... 3 4 [5] 6