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Messages - MadDogBV

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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.

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.

Good point! As I went back and listened to some of the tapes, he indeed acknowledged and agreed to having the strip charts replicated on a Xerox rather than doing another playback to get the same data. Neil Hutchinson is certainly an experienced flight controller, having previously been a GUIDO before taking his current role in SPAN, so it's slightly amusing to see him struggle with something as trivial as strip charts.

He has a bit of an attitude too, based on his prior interactions with John Aaron before his complaint about the unwieldiness of the Xerox. And after all is said and done, they share this smart-ass dialogue exchange:

SPAN: "Forty-five minutes of backbreaking work."
EECOM: "We live and learn, don't we?"
SPAN: "I HOPE so! 🤨"

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:

ITEM 1 - Comm Problems

Three major INCO incidents occurred during the mission. These incidents went virtually unstated in the Flight Directors Report, even though the FDs on duty for each one were progressively annoyed with the INCOs' apparent incapability of resolving each issue. In two of the incidents, the scheduled controller was accompanied by a second INCO, Ed Fendell - you may know him as Captain Video - a former Air Force air traffic controller who knew his stuff. When the comm guys became aware of the deteriorating situation on board the CSM after the accident, Fendell was one of those called for reinforcements. You can tell just from listening to the FLIGHT loops from the LM lifeboat procedure all the way to the building of the Mailbox that he was in it for the long haul. As he put it in the Oral History: "The mission, it was really tiring, but you weren't tired. I think I worked three straight days without any sleep." Even then, he's right there during the re-entry shift, sitting next to Tom Hanchett at the INCO console.

But even if the mission was regarded in all respects as a total success and the communication problems went mostly undocumented by the Flight Directors, who wanted to praise their employees in every respect possible, you can tell from reading the mission ops report that Ed Fendell (and his friend in PROCEDURES, Jim Fucci) wanted to really put it to the simulation team for the inadequate training on how to deal with the INCO problems that occurred during the mission.

From INCO section on simulations:

From PROCEDURES section on simulations:

The flight director losing confidence in INCO is not a trivial matter either, particularly for performance of the mission. During the entry anomaly when they were forced to go to low bitrate after repeated problems with locking up with the CSM for uplinking a state vector and target load, INCO Tom Hanchett had told FLIGHT Gene Kranz that they were finally in the proper configuration to go back to high bitrate and speed up the uplinking. Kranz told Hanchett bluntly, "Let's not take a chance."

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.

The only flight controller on the loops who seems to be the most calm and collected, during either the accident or the re-entry, is the GNC on the White Team, Buck Willoughby. And to your point... he was a former Major in the U.S. Marine Corps, an aviator just like the company he kept.

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.


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