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Author Topic: Apollo 13 Mission Ops Report - Sections of interest  (Read 1841 times)

Offline MadDogBV

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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.

Offline MadDogBV

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Re: Apollo 13 Mission Ops Report - Sections of interest
« Reply #1 on: August 29, 2023, 12:04:12 pm »
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."
« Last Edit: August 29, 2023, 01:07:46 pm by MadDogBV »

Offline MadDogBV

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Re: Apollo 13 Mission Ops Report - Sections of interest
« Reply #2 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: