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Apollo 8

Day 1: Earth Orbit and Translunar Injection

Corrected Transcript and Commentary Copyright © 2002-2024 by W. David Woods, Frank O'Brien and William Smeaton. All rights reserved.
Last updated 2024-03-09
The date is 1968, December 21. It is the first few minutes of the Apollo 8 mission. The third stage of the AS-503 Saturn V rocket has just placed the Apollo 8 spacecraft into Earth orbit but its work is not done. In 2 hours and 38 minutes, the J-2 engine on the aft end of the S-IVB stage is due to be restarted in a manoeuvre that will send Frank Borman, Bill Anders and Jim Lovell further away from the Earth than any human has ever ventured. This is the TLI or Translunar Injection manoeuvre. Meanwhile, the crew must check out the spacecraft's systems to ensure, as far as possible, that it is fit to take them far away from the cool, green hills of Earth.
The post-insertion checklist begin on page L-6 of the TLI checklist, though items in it are detailed in each crewman's own checklist. Items for the Commander, Frank Borman, are to configure the Command Module for space flight rather than a possible return to Earth. Switches, valves and circuit breakers concerned with the Earth Landing System - equipment like the parachute deploy system and the float bag - are verified disabled for the six-day flight. Frank also keeps an eye on read-outs of the pressures in the two propellant tanks on the S-IVB. If the difference between the two tanks exceeds defined limits, he must make an emergency separation from the stage in case the common bulkhead between them fails catastrophically.
The Command Module Pilot, Jim Lovell, ensures the Command Module's manoeuvring or Reaction Control System (RCS) thrusters, are disabled. All being well, they will not be required until the spacecraft re-enters the Earth's atmosphere in six days. Each of the Service Module's manoeuvring thrusters has primary and secondary heating elements attached to its mount. These are thermostatically controlled to ensure the propellants do not freeze in their lines when the engine has been facing deep space for extended periods of time. Jim switches these heaters to the primary system.
Bill Anders' main task while in Earth orbit will be to verify and monitor the spacecraft's electrical and environmental systems. He prepares for a check of the fuel cells' purging system by switching on a heater that warms the hydrogen feed line. Jim, meanwhile, checks the status of the indicators and dials for both sets of RCS thrusters.
The audio for this and the following pages comes courtesy of John Stoll, ACR Senior Technician at NASA Johnson. Audio files for air to ground transmissions and for the PAO announcements are presented separately and as such the timings may overlap occasionally.
[Download MP3 audio file. Clip courtesy John Stoll, ACR Senior Technician at NASA Johnson.]
000:12:19 Lovell: Houston, we're recording altitude HA, 102.6; HP, 96.8; RVI, 25560.
000:12:32 Collins: Roger, Apollo 8. Understand. Apogee, 102.6; perigee, 96.8 and velocity - I understand - 25,560. Could you confirm?
000:12:44 Lovell: That's affirmative.
000:12:45 Collins: Thank you, Jim. [Long pause.]
[Download MP3 audio file of PAO announcer recording. Clip courtesy John Stoll, ACR Senior Technician at NASA Johnson.]
Jim Lovell now has just read us down what he saw on his instrumentation. He's shows an apogee of 102.6 [nautical miles, 190 km], a perigee of 96.8 [nautical miles, 179.3 km] and a cut-off velocity of 25,560 feet per second [7,790.7 m/s]. That's within a hundredths of a percentage point of what we are reading on our scales here in Houston.
[Download MP3 audio file of PAO announcer recording. Clip courtesy John Stoll, ACR Senior Technician at NASA Johnson.]
And now the crew has been advised, we - we have settled on an orbit of 103 [nautical miles, 191 km] apogee by 99, 99 [nautical] miles [183 km] perigee. We were shooting for something a little close to 100 nautical miles [185 km] circular. We have now the tape of the entire launch sequence and we'll play it for you at this time.
Usually there is a significant discrepancy between the onboard computer's values and those derived on the ground. Mission Control use data from radio tracking stations around the world, whereas the spacecraft's information is based on measurements of acceleration from which position and velocity can be mathematically obtained. Jim is reading from the DSKY (Display and Keyboard), the panel that allows the crew to interact with the spacecraft's computer system.
Close-up photo of one of the DSKY panel onboard Apollo 13's Command Module Odyssey.
This photograph, kindly supplied by Bruce Yarbro of Papertrainer.com, is of the DSKY panel on the Main Display Console of Odyssey, the surviving Command Module of Apollo 13. The unit in Apollo 8 is essentially identical - only the programming differs. There are three main areas to the device. At the bottom is obviously the keyboard. As can be seen, the legend on the buttons is worn away in places, particularly the 'Verb' button above the 'Noun' button, and the 'Pro' button below 'Clr'. At the upper left are indicator lights to show the status of the computer. The upper right panel is the display area for one of the earliest uses of seven-segment displays. There are six displays: current program, selected Verb, selected Noun; then three five-digit displays whose content depends on what is currently selected. Jim has likely selected Noun 42 and the three displays are showing the height of their orbit's apogee, its perigee and their current velocity.
Note the small pieces of Velcro glued around the panel. Many loose items carry little patches of the furry version, especially cue cards that the crew refer to when operating the spacecraft and these patches of the hook version allow them to be affixed rather than left floating around the cabin. The size and spacing of these patches is carefully controlled in the light of the Apollo 1 fire to minimize their overall flammability. The Velcro around the DSKY allows glare-shields to be placed around it.
000:13:04 Collins: Apollo 8, Houston. We are rewinding the tape recorder at this time. Over.
The DSE (Data Storage Equipment) was recording telemetry from the spacecraft's systems during the ascent. It can be controlled within the spacecraft or from the ground. It would have recorded the crew's conversation on a separate track though such a recording has not survived.
000:13:10 Borman: Roger. [Long pause.]
000:13:37 Collins: Apollo 8, Houston. We have you apogee 103 [nautical miles, 191 km], perigee 99 [nautical miles, 183 km]. Over.
000:13:46 Borman: 103, 99.
000:13:49 Collins: Roger. [Long pause.]
000:14:28 Collins: Apollo 8, Houston. We have you 1 minute from LOS [Loss of Signal] the Vanguard. We'll see you over the Canaries at 16:28.
000:14:37 Borman: Thank you, Houston; 16:28.
000:14:39 Collins: Roger.
Comm break.
Communications have so far been handled through stations at the launch site; Grand Bahama Island, 150 kilometres off the Florida coast and south of the ground track; Bermuda, 1,500 km ENE of Merritt Island; and most recently USNS Vanguard, a tracking ship stationed in the mid-Atlantic.
USNS Vanguard
The USNS Vanguard was one of three ships converted from oil tankers of World War II vintage though only the bow and stern of the original ships remained. The uses for the four dishes were for general purpose telemetry, C-band radar, satellite data link, and the Unified S-band system used in Apollo to carry the functions of tracking, voice, TV, telemetry and command across a single carrier. There are many more details about the Apollo Instrumentation Ships in a 9.42MB PDF file kindly scanned by Bill Wood from an original supplied by Ed Fendell.
In a few minutes, the spacecraft will rise above the horizon at the Canary Islands off the coast of Africa.
[Download MP3 audio file. Clip courtesy John Stoll, ACR Senior Technician at NASA Johnson.]
000:16:31 Collins: Apollo 8, Houston through the Canaries. How do you read?
000:16:35 Borman: You're loud and clear, Houston, over the Canaries.
000:16:37 Collins: Good; you're clear, too. How's it going?
000:16:43 Borman: Fine. We seem to be going along very well. We noticed about a 10-pound Delta-P between the ox [and] fuel in the SPS zone.
On panel 3 of the Main Display Console, a dual gauge shows the pressure in the fuel and oxidiser tanks for the SPS (Service Propulsion System) engine.
Close-up of SPS propellant and fuel cell gauges from Panel 3 of the Main Display Console.
This picture shows the same gauge (second from the left) in CSM-109, Odyssey. Frank is reporting the pressure difference between the two tanks as seen on this gauge.
000:17:01 Collins: Apollo 8, Houston. That is normal; that's just about what we expected. Over.
000:17:07 Borman: Roger.
Long comm break.
While Bill and Frank carry out checks of the ECS (Environmental Control System) and other systems, Jim unstraps from his seat and turns around to the LEB (Lower Equipment Bay). He will spend much time during the mission using the spacecraft's optics to determine where they are, how fast they are going and whether they are going where they want to go.
[Download MP3 audio file. Clip courtesy John Stoll, ACR Senior Technician at NASA Johnson.]
000:20:28 Collins: Apollo 8, Houston.
000:20:33 Lovell: This is 8. Go ahead.
000:20:34 Collins: Roger, Jim. When you do your P52, you can expect a torquing angle of 0.25 degrees. Over.
000:20:44 Lovell: Roger. Torquing angle of 0.25 degrees when we do P52. Thank you.
000:20:50 Collins: Roger. [Long pause.]
Program 52 is a rather ubiquitous creature in Apollo spacecraft operations. This program allows a crewmember, usually the CMP (Command Module Pilot), to realign the spacecraft's guidance platform, a task which is done regularly to overcome the slow drift these devices exhibit. Mission Control is advising Jim of the course angle he should expect to have to rotate the Z-axis of the platform.
000:21:39 Lovell: [Inadvertent keying] Stand by for the - Main Reg. Okay. Main Reg B valve closed.
[Download MP3 audio file of PAO announcer recording. Clip courtesy John Stoll, ACR Senior Technician at NASA Johnson.]
This is Apollo Control, Houston here; 21 minutes, 40 seconds into the flight and we're out over the Canaries.
000:21:49 Collins: Apollo 8, Houston. Say again.
000:21:53 Borman: Negative. We didn't say anything. Go ahead, Houston.
000:21:54 Collins: I think you were transmitting; Jim was transmitting and disregard.
000:21:59 Borman: Roger. No matter. [Long pause.]
The crew, which is - sounds likely strictly business. It's main spokesman during this pass in the last minute or two has been Jim Lovell and we'll now begin that very anxious business of making sure that all of the systems are settled down and calibrating them, and from all appearances they certainly are. The first one of major concern, of course, is the platform alignment. Right now, we think we see something on the order of a point two-hundredths or two-tenths of a degree out of alignment, which is nothing at all, that's alignment. The communication has been nothing short of outstanding. I don't recall a time of when the communication from a simulator was this sharp and this clear as it is today from this spacecraft. Here's how the conversation is going as we proceed across the Canary Islands.
000:22:28 Collins: Apollo 8, Houston.
000:22:31 Borman: Go ahead, Houston. Apollo 8.
000:22:33 Collins: Roger. You have 1 minute to LOS [Loss of Signal] Canaries. Everything is looking good on board the spacecraft and the S-IVB; we'll see you over Tananarive at 37 minutes. Over.
000:22:44 Borman: Roger. Thank you, Houston. Apollo 8. [Pause.]
From this point in the journal, portions from the DSE onboard voice recording will be included. Readers should note that if an utterance by a crewmember is listed as "onboard", the ground crews are not hearing it live at that time. They will be able to hear the onboard voice after they have replayed it to Earth during a regular dump of the tape.
The Onboard Audio recordings are presented in this Journal just as they were received by NASA. They can be lengthy and at times difficult to follow. These tapes are presented distinctly and the time frames may at times overlap some of the other audio clips presented in the Journal.
[Download MP3 audio file of onboard audio. Clip courtesy John Stoll, ACR Senior Technician at NASA Johnson.]
000:22:47 Borman (onboard): Okay, going to close on A.
000:22:50 Lovell (onboard): Okay, just give it a real small flip.
000:22:54 Anders (onboard): Is that why we've got that Master Alarm?
000:22:57 Borman (onboard): Okay, I'm...
000:22:57 Collins: Apollo 8, Houston. You have the tape recorder, low bit rate. Over.
000:23:02 Borman: Thank you.
000:23:04 Anders: Okay, we've got it.
000:23:03 Collins: You're welcome.
Very long comm break.
Apollo 8 and its S-IVB rocket stage are coasting over Africa. The next tracking station is Tananarive, high in the centre of Madagascar. It was opened four years earlier when another station in Zanzibar was closed after a military takeover.
000:23:06 Lovell (onboard): Okay, Emergency Cabin Pressure number 2 on the [garbled] test.
000:23:10 Anders (onboard): Hit it.
000:23:14 Borman (onboard): It's On here.
000:23:15 Anders (onboard): Got it. That's good.
000:23:17 Borman (onboard): You got it?
000:23:18 Anders (onboard): That's good.
000:23:19 Borman (onboard): Okay.
000:23:20 Anders (onboard): Okay, this is a tape recorder test: 1, 2, 3, 4. 5, 6, 7. 8. 9, 10; 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. And for the record, when we put the radiator to Flow, the Glycol Discharge Pressure dropped. Boy, it's way down there now; something's fishy.
000:23:40 Borman (onboard): What's wrong?
000:23:44 Anders (onboard): Apparently, we're getting the Glycol Discharge Pressure way down.
000:23:51 Borman (onboard): Oh? What was wrong?
000:23:52 Anders (onboard): Wait awhile; it's the glycol pump.
000:23:53 Borman (onboard): Huh?
000:23:58 Borman (onboard): You lost the glycol pump?
000:24:00 Anders (onboard): Guess so.
000:24:02 Borman (onboard): Well, take a look; are we in Primary?
000:24:08 Anders (onboard): Discharge pressure?
000:24:10 Borman (onboard): Not yet.
000:24:11 Lovell (onboard): Huh?
000:24:12 Anders (onboard): You were - Oh, we're in Secondary. That's okay.
000:24:14 Borman (onboard): It looks to me like it's picked up here.
000:24:16 Anders (onboard): Okay.
000:24:17 Anders (onboard): Yes.
000:24:19 Lovell (onboard): Okay, what else do you want here?
000:24:20 Anders (onboard): It's okay.
000:24:24 Anders (onboard): Okay...
000:24:26 Lovell (onboard): Secondary radiator leak check?
The four tubes that comprise the secondary radiator run through the same radiator panels as the primary system. When not in use, they are kept from freezing by running adjacent to the primary system's tubes.
000:24:27 Anders (onboard): I'm ready this time [laughter]. It's secondary [garble] I'm not going over, there.
000:24:38 Lovell (onboard): Okay...
000:24:39 Anders (onboard): Okay, Jim.
000:24:40 Lovell (onboard): ...the pressure's okay?.
000:24:42 Lovell (onboard): What do you want to do? The secondary glycol radiator?
000:24:44 Anders (onboard): The second - let her flow.
000:24:45 Lovell (onboard): Well, wait a second; I'm not under the couch yet.
000:24:48 Anders (onboard): Okay, why don't you get underneath there, Jim, and give Frank a hand when you have a chance?
000:24:52 Lovell (onboard): Well, how about let's take off our gloves and helmets, huh?
Frank, Bill and Jim have been fully suited since donning their pressure garments in the suiting room at Kennedy Space Center about three hours ago. As they travelled from the suiting room to their spacecraft, they carried suitcase-sized oxygen supplies. They were then hooked up to the suit circuit of the Command Module. The suit circuit takes either suit or cabin air, cleanses it and removes carbon dioxide then cools it before passing it back through the suit.
Since the checklist calls for the crew to remove their helmets and gloves, which breaks the suit circuit, they open the Suit Circuit Return valve, causing cabin air to be drawn into the circuit. Though the spacecraft is designed to be operated by a suited crew, just removing helmets and gloves substantially improves their freedom to move, talk and operate the spacecraft's systems.
000:24:54 Anders (onboard): Okay.
000:24:55 Borman (onboard): Yes.
000:24:56 Lovell (onboard): I mean, let's get comfortable. This is going to be a long trip.
000:24:59 Borman (onboard): You got - have you got the bags?
000:25:01 Lovell (onboard): I'll get them.
000:25:02 Anders (onboard): I'll get them right now.
000:25:19 Anders (onboard): Okay, you want to get - Cabin Air Return [means Suit Circuit Return] valve, On.
000:25:23 Borman (onboard): Stand by; wait until I get my glove off.
000:25:32 Borman (onboard): Cabin Air Return valve is Open.
000:25:38 Borman (onboard): Okay?.
000:25:40 Anders (onboard): Okay.
000:25:41 Lovell (onboard): Gentlemen.
000:25:44 Borman (onboard): Thank you.
000:25:45 Anders (onboard): Storage.
000:25:50 Lovell (onboard): That's the gloves.
000:25:57 Borman (onboard): How's the cabin pressure, Bill?
000:25:59 Anders (onboard): Cabin pressure is holding good, Frank.
000:26:00 Borman (onboard): Okay.
000:27:15 Anders (onboard): You want the other bag there, Jim?
000:27:19 Lovell (onboard): Let me see, I'm missing one bag here.
000:27:31 Lovell (onboard): Wait one.
000:27:48 Borman (onboard): Here you are.
000:27:52 Borman (onboard): Okay, you say you've got the EPS [Electrical Power System] power verifications in, Bill?
000:27:56 Anders (onboard): Yes, sir.
Bill followed the EPS Periodic Verification checklist on page S-3 of the LMP checklist. He checked the pressures and indicated quantities in the hydrogen and oxygen tanks. These two elements react together in the spacecraft's fuel cells to produce electrical power and water. He checked the fuel cells' status, the flow of reactants to them and the amperage each is supplying to the spacecraft. He ran through all the electrical buses and batteries to ensure the voltages are correct and that the battery compartment doesn't need venting.
000:27:57 Borman (onboard): ECS monitor check?
000:27:59 Anders (onboard): Yes.
Bill moved to page S-5 of his checklist for the ECS monitor check where the cabin pressure and the flow of O2 are checked, along with various temperatures in the system. The quantities of the various tanks are monitored including the glycol accumulator, the waste water and the potable water tanks.
000:28:00 Lovell (onboard): There is only - Oh, here it is.
000:28:07 Anders (onboard): Hey, it's like sitting on an ice rink, isn't it?
Bill is probably getting used to floating around in zero gravity.
000:28:08 Borman (onboard): Yes. SPS, Bill.
000:28:11 Anders (onboard): SPS is roughly the same as it was. Got that one?
He is probably referring back to the 10 psi indicated difference between the fuel and oxidiser tanks of the Service Module. The SPS monitor check is at the top of page S-1 of Bill's checklist and concerns the large engine at the rear of the Service Module. The main task here is to read the pressures and temperatures within the four large propellant tanks and the pressures in two helium tanks and in two nitrogen tanks. The helium is used to pressurise the propellant tanks; the nitrogen provides pressure to operate the pneumatic valves on the engine.
000:28:13 Borman (onboard): [Garble] TLI.
000:28:18 Borman (onboard): Okay.
000:28:32 Lovell (onboard): Okay. We can breathe a little bit, hear a little bit more, huh?
000:28:34 Borman (onboard): Yeah, that 'was quite a ride, wasn't it?
000:28:36 Lovell (onboard): Yeah.
000:28:37 Anders (onboard): Man, that felt like that 1-C [the Saturn first stage] was like an old freight train.
000:28:43 Lovell (onboard): It is an old freight train, pal. It really goes.
000:29:31 Borman (onboard): What's that noise?
000:29:32 Lovell (onboard): That's me; I'm into the fan area.
000:29:42 Borman (onboard): Why don't we turn those fans off? We don't need them, do we?
By moving into the Lower Equipment Bay, Jim may be reflecting the noise from the cabin fans into the body of the spacecraft, attracting attention to them. The fans in the Command Module are notoriously loud. The onboard recording at this point is reminiscent of a microphone in the wind so perhaps the airflow from the fans is impinging on Jim's suit in some way.
000:29:52 Lovell (onboard): Okay, let's continue on with the checklist.
000:29:59 Lovell (onboard): Okay, secondary radiator leak check, huh?
Jim is halfway down page I-2 in the CMP checklist. This test of the secondary radiator is carried out in conjunction with Bill.
000:30:02 Anders (onboard): Confirmed.
000:30:04 Lovell (onboard): Let me get out my fuel.
000:30:09 Anders (onboard): Okay, we're in Power, manual 1; primary water, Auto - okay.
000:30:26 Lovell (onboard): Is she holding us in the proper attitude?
000:30:28 Borman (onboard): Yeah. I don't have the ORDEAL out yet; I can't tell, but it looks real good.
The attitude they want is to have the pointy-end of the spacecraft facing forward with their heads down towards the Earth. This is an example of an "orb-rate" attitude but their displays are not set up to monitor it properly.
If a spacecraft in orbit keeps a fixed attitude relative to the stars no matter where it is in its orbit, then its attitude relative to the body it is orbiting (Earth, Moon or whatever) is constantly changing. For example, at one point in its orbit, the front of a spacecraft can be pointing directly at the planet below. Half an orbit later, it will be pointing directly away. This is known as "stellar inertial."
Diagram explaining difference between orb-rate and stellar inertial attitude.
Conversely, if the spacecraft is to be flown in 'orb-rate,' keeping the same face towards the surface (to point cameras for example), it must rotate around one of its axes at a rate which matches the orbital period.
Apollo 8 is flying in orb-rate during its parking orbit, and this is the attitude it will be in for the TLI burn. The S-IVB stage is still heavy with propellant and it is better to keep the whole vehicle in the attitude required for the burn to avoid the build up of slosh waves. More importantly, by keeping the "pointy end into the wind" it will reduce the heating on the skin of the spacecraft and S-IVB. All the while, the propellant is being settled to the bottom of the tanks by a small thrust created by the necessary venting of hydrogen gas from the S-IVB.
To monitor attitude, the crew uses the FDAI.
Photograph of FDAI-1 onboard Apollo 13's Command Module, Odyssey.
The FDAI (Flight Director Attitude Indicator) or "8-ball" is one of the most important instruments in the spacecraft. Designers had originally intended to give the crew three separate displays to show their attitude; one each for roll, pitch and yaw. Being pilots, the crews quickly threw out the three displays for a development of the artificial horizon familiar from aircraft instrument panels.
In an aircraft, the Earth's horizon provides an obvious reference against which the artificial horizon displays attitude. In a spacecraft, such an obvious reference may not exist so the inertial platform at the centre of the IMU (Inertial Measurement Unit) provides one - a reference that is constant relative to the stars, known as an 'inertial' reference. The basic function of the FDAI is to display the spacecraft's attitude with respect to the orientation of this platform. Pitch and yaw can be read off the ball directly; roll is shown by a pointer around the edge of the 8-ball. Three meters around the display show the rate of rotation around the three axes. Three additional orange needles in front of the ball graphically display the difference between the current and desired attitude of the spacecraft.
At its simplest therefore, the platform, displays and spacecraft attitude control are all fully inertial, in that they work relative to orientations that are constant with respect to the stars, even as the Earth or Moon slides by beneath. However, this is not always the most useful arrangement.
The function of the ORDEAL (Orbit Rate Display Earth and Lunar) is to provide the correct drive signal to rotate the FDAI at a rate which matches the orbital period. Then, if the ORDEAL is initialised correctly, the FDAI will display attitudes relative to the surface below, essentially using the local horizon as a reference. Because Frank has not installed it yet, they cannot be sure their orb-rate attitude is correct.
000:30:33 Lovell (onboard): Okay, notify LMP when ready to commence.
Jim is ready to begin the secondary radiator leak check with Bill.
000:30:35 Anders (onboard): I'm ready.
000:30:36 Lovell (onboard): Secondary glycol to radiator valve, Normal.
Jim is routing coolant to the secondary radiator.
000:30:40 Anders (onboard): Okay, just give me a buzz when you're - Yes, you're good.
000:30:43 Borman (onboard): You got your 278 circuit breaker 1 and 2, Open, Bill?
Frank is looking for a verification that the Command Module's uprighting system is not powered. The circuit breakers for this are on panel 278 which is to Bill's right.
000:30:44 Anders (onboard): No, I'll go get it.
000:30:45 Borman (onboard): Good show.
000:30:48 Anders (onboard): [Garble] system coming up.
000:30:49 Borman (onboard): Huh?
000:30:50 Anders (onboard): They [the circuit breakers on panel 278]'re Off.
000:30:52 Borman (onboard): Okay.
000:30:55 Anders (onboard): You're doing the radiator leak now, huh?
000:30:57 Lovell (onboard): Okay...
000:30:59 Anders (onboard): Have you got the radiator's talkback gray? Are you ready, Jim?
000:31:01 Lovell (onboard): All set whenever you are.
000:31:03 Anders (onboard): Okay, hit it. Everything is normal. Don't drop, you mother. Looking good. Hold this for a little while longer.
With coolant flowing through the secondary radiator pipes, Bill is watching one of the dual gauges on panel 2 to confirm the level on the accumulator does not drop.
Close-up photo of dual gauges from Panel 2 of the Main Display Console.
Of the five dual gauges shown here, the accumulator levels are at the bottom right. Once they are happy with the check, the coolant is routed to bypass the radiator.
000:31:24 Anders (onboard): Okay, let's go, Jim.
000:31:25 Lovell (onboard): Going to Bypass.
000:31:26 Anders (onboard): Go back to Bypass. Good show.
000:31:29 Lovell (onboard): Okay. Frank?
000:31:30 Borman (onboard): Yeah.
000:31:31 Lovell (onboard): You want the ORDEAL?
000:31:32 Borman (onboard): Yeah.
000:31:36 Anders (onboard): Okay, troops, I'm switching the other compressors.
000:31:39 Lovell (onboard): Here you go.
000:31:40 Anders (onboard): I'm starting the redundant component check.
Bill is at page S-6 of his checklist for the ECS pre-TLI redundant component check where the crew's oxygen supply and the spacecraft's cooling system are reviewed. He checks the suit compressors, the oxygen regulators and the pressures in the O2 tanks. In the cooling system, he checks the operation of both the primary and secondary cooling loops, and the operation of the evaporators.
000:31:45 Borman (onboard): Thank you, Bill.
000:31:46 Lovell (onboard): Bill, let me take out the wire; it's easier on it.
Jim may be referring to the ORDEAL's interface wire.
000:31:47 Anders (onboard): Alright.
000:31:49 Lovell (onboard): Okay.
000:31:53 Lovell (onboard): Now, do you want the - What else do you want?
000:31:57 Borman (onboard): Well, you've got to get the camera bracket out for Bill.
000:31:59 Borman (onboard): Can we - let's see, can we - What are you doing, Bill?
000:32:04 Anders (onboard): I just quit checking the compressor. I'm doing the redundant components check.
000:32:16 Anders (onboard): Okay, secondary glycol pump is On.
000:32:20 Borman (onboard): Can you get that ORDEAL wire in that thing down there, Jim?
000:32:23 Lovell (onboard): Yeah.
000:32:26 Anders (onboard): Okay, secondary coolant loop's going to Evap.
000:32:32 Lovell (onboard): How's that?
000:32:37 Anders (onboard): Oh, you sweet little mother.
Bill is perhaps referring to having got the evaporator working.
000:32:39 Lovell (onboard): Is that okay?
000:32:40 Borman (onboard): Yeah.
000:32:42 Lovell (onboard): Okay.
000:32:50 Anders (onboard): Secondary Evap has stabilized.
000:33:00 Lovell (onboard): Camera bracket.
000:33:03 Anders (onboard): Thank you. That's Frank's.
000:33:08 Borman (onboard): Huh?
000:33:10 Anders (onboard): That's the long one.
000:33:11 Borman (onboard): What are you doing?
000:33:13 Lovell (onboard): Drinking water.
000:33:14 Anders (onboard): I'm not sure, but it sure looks like the long one.
000:33:17 Borman (onboard): Just make sure we get the right one.
000:33:18 Anders (onboard): Well, we'll get the other one.
000:33:22 Borman (onboard): Jim, where's the other camera bracket?
000:33:24 Lovell (onboard): Well, there's - I only saw the one in there; I may be wrong [garble].
000:33:28 Anders (onboard): Yeah, this is yours, Frank. You want to stick it here?
000:33:30 Borman (onboard): I don't want mine up here all the time.
000:33:33 Lovell (onboard): The water's Off.
000:33:35 Borman (onboard): Okay.
000:33:36 Lovell (onboard): You might try the drinking water before we leave on TLI, too, by the way.
000:33:39 Anders (onboard): We can get it out over Hawaii.
000:33:40 Borman (onboard): Hey, I don't want this thing up here; it's going to just be in my way. You sure this isn't yours?
Frank is complaining about a camera bracket which has perhaps been mounted in his field of view.
000:33:46 Anders (onboard): Just stick it up until we get another one.
000:33:48 Lovell (onboard): Should I wait for another one?
000:33:50 Borman (onboard): Yeah.
000:33:52 Lovell (onboard): Well, is there another camera bracket? How many camera brackets in that - that -?
000:33:55 Borman (onboard): I thought there were two in there.
000:33:57 Anders (onboard): I did, too.
000:34:00 Borman (onboard): That's the best we're going to get.
000:34:02 Anders (onboard): Okay, I'm going to secure the secondary evaporator.
000:34:05 Borman (onboard): Jim, are you - You're not using the computer now, are you?
000:34:08 Lovell (onboard): It can go.
000:34:09 Borman (onboard): Can I use a Verb 83?
Verb 83 calls up rendezvous parameters; Range, Range-rate and Theta, on the DSKY.
Diagram explaining the angle Theta.
Theta represents the angle between the spacecraft's plus-X axis and the local horizontal. Frank needs this to initialise the ORDEAL correctly. He sets his FDAI to show Theta on its pitch scale, dials in their average altitude (101 nautical miles) on the ORDEAL box and lets it begin turning the 8-ball at the correct rate to keep it showing their attitude with respect to the Earth below.
000:34:10 Lovell (onboard): Yeah. Yeah.
000:34:29 Borman (onboard): Okay.
000:34:37 Lovell (onboard): Okay, I want to jettison the [optics] covers.
000:34:49 Borman (onboard): Now, I'll unstow the cameras.
Two cameras are unstowed from compartment B3. First, a 16-mm Maurer movie camera, known as a DAC (Data Acquisition Camera), with an 18-mm lens, a magazine of colour Ektachrome film and a cable to power it. Frank also brings out a 70-mm Hasselblad stills camera with its standard focal length lens of 80-mm.
000:34:51 Anders (onboard): I keep looking around here; I won't see it again. We've got a Madaga - What's this coming up? Madagascar or what?
000:34:59 Borman (onboard): Yeah.
000:35:03 Borman (onboard): Okay.
000:35:06 Lovell (onboard): Buzz [Aldrin] has my eye patch.
Buzz is Jim's backup on this mission. Jim is going to spend much time peering through spacecraft optics and he may have intended to bring an eye patch to help him. When looking through an eyepiece, it is much more comfortable if the unused eye is relaxed yet is seeing black.
000:35:13 Anders (onboard): Okay, Evap[orator]'s going Off.
000:35:14 Lovell (onboard): [Singing.]
000:35:18 Anders (onboard): Secondary Pump, going Off.
000:35:19 Lovell (onboard): [Singing.]
000:35:24 Anders (onboard): ECS indicator's Primary.
000:35:25 Borman (onboard): You got the redundant components checked, Bill?
000:35:27 Anders (onboard): Checked, and we passed.
000:35:31 Borman (onboard): You got the fuel cells purge check?
000:35:33 Anders (onboard): Huh?
Frank is asking about item 8 in the TLI checklist. Bill is to follow four steps on page I-2 of his checklist. On panel three of the Main Display Console, three switches allow him to send oxygen or hydrogen gas through the three fuel cells. This will be done regularly throughout the mission to clear contaminants from the cells' reactive surfaces. This check is to make sure the purge lines are clear and that the gases are flowing as expected. A gauge at the top of panel 3 shows flow rate. When he has completed the check, he will switch off the heater that has kept the hydrogen line warm.
000:35:34 Borman (onboard): Does the fuel cell purge...
000:35:35 Anders (onboard): I haven't got that yet.
000:35:39 Borman (onboard): We should be getting - getting over Tananarive.
000:35:54 Anders (onboard): You want to check me off here?
000:35:55 Borman (onboard): Yeah, I'd - I'd like to.
000:35:57 Anders (onboard): Okay, I've done EPS periodic verification.
000:36:01 Borman (onboard): Good enough. Alright.
000:36:04 Anders (onboard): ECS monitoring.
000:36:06 Borman (onboard): Alright.
000:36:08 Anders (onboard): SPS monitoring.
000:36:12 Borman (onboard): Okay.
000:36:13 Anders (onboard): ECS redundant components. I'm ready to go on fuel cell purge.
000:36:17 Lovell (onboard): [Singing.]
000:36:18 Anders (onboard): Purge line heater has been On. Stand by for a Master Alarm. Purging fuel cell 1, H2
000:36:30 Anders (onboard): That it?
000:36:31 Borman (onboard): Yeah.
000:36:32 Anders (onboard): O2.
000:36:37 Anders (onboard): Okay.
000:36:39 Borman (onboard): I didn't get a high [garble] too well...
000:36:41 Anders (onboard): Probably won't [garble] H2, stand by.
000:36:45 Borman (onboard): Yep.
000:36:46 Anders (onboard): Okay. Okay.
000:36:51 Lovell (onboard): How's Verb 83 looking?
000:36:53 Anders (onboard): That it?
000:36:54 Borman (onboard): Perfect.
000:36:55 Anders (onboard): Fuel cell 3...
000:36:56 Lovell (onboard): Ooooh! [Yawn]
000:36:57 Anders (onboard): ...Stand by.
000:37:00 Anders (onboard): Okay. Okay.
000:37:06 Lovell (onboard): Drinking water supply is On.
Frank also installs the COAS (Crew Optical Alignment Sight), an optical sight he will mount in one of the forward-looking windows. Aligned with the longitudinal axis of the spacecraft, it provides a constant line of sight for use during rendezvous with another vehicle and it can also be used as a check of attitude when preparing for engine burns.
[Download MP3 audio file of PAO announcer recording. Clip courtesy John Stoll, ACR Senior Technician at NASA Johnson.]
This is Apollo Control, Houston, 37 minutes into the flight. And we are standing by. We expect contact to occur just momentarily through the Tananarive station. The SURGEON reports during the launch phase, Frank Borman had a peak heart rate of 130 beats per second, that's fairly early on in the mission. 130 was his max. And now we have acquired the crew, let's cut to the crew.
On this, the Green shift at Mission Control, the crew's biomedical sensors are being watched at the SURGEON console by Willard R. Hawkins MD.
[Download MP3 audio file. Clip courtesy John Stoll, ACR Senior Technician at NASA Johnson.]
000:37:06 Collins: Apollo 8, Houston. Over. [Pause.]
000:37:09 Lovell (onboard): I'll unstow the covered cameras here, but first let me get the dust covers jettisoned. Okay?
Jim is working in the LEB and is preparing to carry out the first realignment of the guidance platform. To achieve this, he has to use the spacecraft's optics to sight on stars. However, their delicate external optical surfaces have been protected from contamination while the spacecraft was out on the launch pad and during ascent, by a cover which Jim has to jettison prior to making his first realignment.
000:37:13 Borman (onboard): Okay.
000:37:14 Anders (onboard): Purge - purge check is complete, fuel cell line heaters are Off.
000:37:18 Borman: Houston, Apollo 8. How do you read?
000:37:20 Collins: Apollo 8, Houston. Reading you weak but clear. How me?
000:37:25 Borman: You're loud and clear, Mike. Everything seems to be going very well.
000:37:30 Collins: Okay. Everything looks real good here on the ground with both vehicles [i.e. the CSM and the S-IVB]. We still have you 103 by 99 [nautical miles, 191 by 183 km] on your orbit from my low speed data, and everything is looking very good. Over.
000:37:41 Borman: Roger. Thank you.
Long comm break.
000:37:42 Lovell (onboard): G&N Optics Power, going On.
In preparation for his first realignment of the guidance platform, Jim has installed eyepieces to the spacecraft's optical system. On panel 100, just to the left of the optics eyepieces in the LEB, he throws a switch to apply power to the optics servo system.
000:37:45 Borman (onboard): Well, do you want me to get out of Verb 83?
000:37:47 Lovell (onboard): No, you are okay.
000:37:49 Borman (onboard): When are you going to unstow the camera?
000:37:51 Lovell (onboard): As soon as I get this thing done.
000:37:53 Lovell (onboard): Okay, Optics Coupling, Direct - Direct - The speed in High. Okay, here we go, gentlemen.
By pushing the optics control lever hard to the right, he jettisons the covers.
000:38:02 Lovell (onboard): I'm not going to look into them for a while.
000:38:12 Borman (onboard): Okay, one minute.
000:38:18 Lovell (onboard): [Garble] I still think it's still kind of chilly in here.
000:38:24 Anders (onboard): They [the optics covers] off, Jim?
000:38:29 Lovell (onboard): Yeah, I guess so. Oh, I see a whole bunch of stuff - Oh, here we go.
Lovell, from the 1969 Technical Debrief: "The optics cover jettison worked as advertised; however, when they are first ejected, there is so much debris ejected with them - little sparkles and floating objects in front of the optics - it is hard to tell exactly what occurred. It is very difficult at first to see stars through the optics because of the jettisoning of the covers and the putting out of quite a bit of dust with them. As a matter of fact, during the entire mission some of this dust would come out every time we rotated the shaft."
000:38:33 Anders (onboard): They both Off?
There is a cover for both the sextant and the scanning telescope.
000:38:36 Lovell (onboard): Yes, I - I guess I was just looking at the...
000:38:40 Anders (onboard): It's blacker than pitch out there, remember.
000:38:43 Lovell (onboard): Boy, every time I - Why? Is it dark out?
000:38:47 Anders (onboard): Yeah, you're looking up into pretty much blackness.
000:38:49 Lovell (onboard): Every time I move the thing, I got a whole bunch of - of sparks, or you know, not sparks, but...
000:38:54 Anders (onboard): Did they go?
000:38:56 Lovell (onboard): I guess, I can't see...
000:38:57 Anders (onboard): If you can see the glitter, you got - you've got it.
000:39:03 Anders (onboard): Turn the lights down?
000:39:04 Borman (onboard): Where's the other camera bracket, I wonder?
000:39:09 Anders (onboard): I don't know; I've always expected that other one to come out of there.
000:39:13 Borman (onboard): Listen, don't we have a stowage list in the back of the checklist?
000:39:17 Anders (onboard): That's what I am looking for, but I can't find it.
000:39:23 Lovell (onboard): Okay, can I go into a [Verb] 16 [Noun] 91?
When Jim moves the sextant, he has only two degrees of freedom, known as shaft and trunnion. This little dialogue with the computer allows him to view the shaft and trunnion angles as known by the computer.
000:39:27 Borman (onboard): Yes. Go back to POO first, Jim.
Program 00 puts the computer in a "do nothing" state. Apollo crews usually called it POO, as in Winnie the Pooh, the children's character created by A. A. Milne.
000:39:29 Lovell (onboard): Yeah. Yeah, I'll just skip that. Proceed.
000:39:53 Anders (onboard): Do you have [radio contact with] Tananarive?
000:39:56 Borman (onboard): Yes, we had them when we took the film.
000:40:00 Anders (onboard): Did Jim doublecheck to make sure that wasn't in there?
000:40:03 Borman (onboard): What's that?
000:40:04 Anders (onboard): That other camera bracket.
000:40:05 Lovell (onboard): No, I haven't doublechecked yet.
000:40:07 Lovell (onboard): I don't see anything...
000:40:09 Anders (onboard): ...We can handle that.
000:40:11 Borman (onboard): What did you say, Jim?
000:40:12 Lovell (onboard): I don't see anything in the sextant.
000:40:15 Borman (onboard): You don't?
000:40:16 Lovell (onboard): No.
000:40:22 Lovell (onboard): Now this thing's all the way
000:40:27 Lovell (onboard): I heard something then.
000:40:30 Anders (onboard): I'm flipping switches, and...
000:40:40 Lovell (onboard): I thought I'd see something in the sextant.
000:40:50 Borman (onboard): Can you see out of the telescope?
000:40:57 Lovell (onboard): Yeah, yeah, yeah, I sure do.
The telescope, despite its name, doesn't actually magnify the object it is looking at for it is a unity power instrument. The sextant, on the other hand, is a 28-power instrument and has a narrow field of view. Unless there is a reasonably bright object within this field, nothing will be seen.
000:41:03 Anders (onboard): Why don't you see if we can get the camera stuff unstowed before you go into darkness?
000:41:08 Lovell (onboard): Okay.
000:41:12 Anders (onboard): Those cameras and that other junk.
000:41:15 Lovell (onboard): I - I see something in here. I thought maybe I could maybe get it into the sextant to see better.
000:41:21 Anders (onboard): You're going to be doing that alignment, that P52.
000:41:25 Lovell (onboard): Well, okay. I'm just doublechecking.
000:41:32 Lovell (onboard): I think I see something floating.
Jim is either referring to seeing the optics covers still floating near the spacecraft, or to the dust particles that become obvious when the Sun catches them.
[Download MP3 audio file of PAO announcer recording. Clip courtesy John Stoll, ACR Senior Technician at NASA Johnson.]
And this is Apollo Control. Much quieter pass than we expected, but perhaps it's understandable. The crew is quite busy, with their post-orbital insertion checklist. Frank Borman, well, all three of them, have probably by now removed their helmets and gloves. We have not heard that locally confirmed, but we - I think it's a fair assumption. That event could have come as early as 15 minutes into the mission, while they were still out over the Atlantic. Borman would be probably now mounting a sighting instrument [the COAS] in his window. Lovell is working with his navigation equipment, he has to jettison the cover off his optics through which he observes stars and horizons. And Anders performed a wide variety of systems tests, looks at all of his major systems, and does a quick check on his fuel cell purging operation. So it's safe to assume the crew's very busy. Again, Borman's heart rate, we had him on the biomed loop during launch, the peak rate was 130. We've confirmed to the crew that orbit we gave them shortly after insertion, 103 by 99 [nautical miles, 191 by 183 km], stacks up and defines a good and acceptable and stable orbit. As soon as Lovell is able, he will go through a detailed instrument - Inertial Measurement Unit alignment through several major computer programs. Now we are cutting back to some talk with the crew. Let's switch to that.
[Download MP3 audio file. Clip courtesy John Stoll, ACR Senior Technician at NASA Johnson.]
000:41:37 Collins: Apollo 8, Houston.
000:41:41 Borman: Go ahead, Houston. Apollo 8.
000:41:43 Collins: Roger. We have 1 minute to LOS Tananarive; we'll see you again over Carnarvon at 52:09. Over.
000:41:51 Borman: Roger. We do have the optics covers jettisoned, and everything seems to be going fine.
000:41:56 Collins: Roger. Optics cover jettisoned. Thank you.
Very long comm break.
[Download MP3 audio file of PAO announcer recording. Clip courtesy John Stoll, ACR Senior Technician at NASA Johnson.]
And this is Apollo Control at 42 minutes into the flight. That'll wrap up the communications from Tananarive. We will be back with them at 52, 10 minutes from now. 52 minutes into the flight, Carnarvon should acquire. This is Apollo Control, Houston.
000:42:01 Lovell (onboard): Okay. B3 is what I have right here.
000:42:29 Lovell (onboard): Okay. You want the 16-millimeter camera, right?
000:42:31 Borman (onboard): Yeah, here.
000:42:33 Lovell (onboard): Right now; I'll just give you all these little goodies right now.
000:42:38 Anders (onboard): Okay, if Frank can hold it and hand it up to me
000:42:42 Borman (onboard): What do you want?
000:42:44 Anders (onboard): The 16-millimeter camera and the 18-millimeter lens?
000:42:50 Borman (onboard): Okay, this is the 16-millimeter camera. You got the right kind of film in there? C-EX, ASA sixty...
000:42:54 Lovell (onboard): C-EX? That right?
After they head out of Earth orbit, they will separate from the S-IVB and turn around to view it. The 16-mm camera will be used to record the view. The 18-mm lens to be used with it represents a mild telephoto focal length.
The crew now digging through the various storage compartments looking for cameras and brackets to mount them on the windows. The crew undoubtedly spent the vast majority of their training time on spacecraft systems and procedures, and most likely spent little time on the photography equipment.
000:42:55 Anders (onboard): Jim, you can head underneath and get that spotmeter.
000:42:57 Lovell (onboard): Okay.
000:42:59 Borman (onboard): 18-millimeter lens, and you need a mirror?
000:43:01 Anders (onboard): Yeah, I guess.
000:43:03 Borman (onboard): Huh?
000:43:04 Anders (onboard): Yeah, but I don't - I'm not sure it's going to fit on this - on this bracket here. I don't think it will.
000:43:10 Lovell (onboard): Where have we got the spotmeter located here?
000:43:12 Borman (onboard): Right in here. Can I help you with it?
000:43:15 Anders (onboard): Way under there?
000:43:26 Borman (onboard): And is this the 75-millimeter magazine camera you want here?
Frank may be referring to the 70-mm Hasselblad still camera.
000:43:33 Anders (onboard): That's all I can get now.
000:43:37 Anders (onboard): Do you see it in there, Jim?
000:43:39 Lovell (onboard): No, I'll look for it. I - I might see it if I kind of look for it.
000:43:43 Anders (onboard): Can you hang on to that one for a second, Frank? Okay, we've got the...
000:43:50 Lovell (onboard): Yeah, here it comes up here.
000:43:52 Anders (onboard): Alright.
000:43:53 Anders (onboard): Which way?
000:43:54 Lovell (onboard): This way; to your right. Anything else down here?
000:44:00 Borman (onboard): Nope.
000:44:01 Anders (onboard): We need that other camera bracket. Let's put this one back.
000:44:03 Borman (onboard): We sure do.
000:44:06 Lovell (onboard): How about going into your - into the stowage list and find out where it is. I haven't...
000:44:09 Anders (onboard): I can't seem to find the stowage list, either.
000:44:12 Borman (onboard): Maybe that's in your section.
000:44:14 Lovell (onboard): It's in the Flight Plan.
000:44:16 Anders (onboard): No, this one won't work. We're going to have to use the other one.
000:44:18 Borman (onboard): What one won't work?
000:44:19 Anders (onboard): This camera bracket.
000:44:20 Borman (onboard): Oh.
000:44:24 Borman (onboard): Maybe you want to put the - This is all you need right here now, isn't it, Bill? You want to put that back? Here, I'll hold your checklist.
000:44:33 Borman (onboard): I thought we had one of those stowage lists in the back of your checklist.
000:44:35 Anders (onboard): Okay. I need camera number 2 with a 80-millimeter lens and some C[olor] film in it.
000:44:40 Lovell (onboard): You've got it, haven't you?
000:44:42 Borman (onboard): Camera 2, magazine A, C film; right here.
000:44:52 Lovell (onboard): [Singing.]
000:44:56 Anders (onboard): Coming up on darkness.
000:44:57 Lovell (onboard): [Singing.]
000:44:59 Borman (onboard): Yes, Jim, you'd better start getting ready for the first eclipse.
000:45:02 Lovell (onboard): Okay.
As they launched early in the morning towards the east, they have to cross the entire half of Earth that is in daylight before reaching night for the first time. As soon as the Sun sets on the spacecraft, Jim can commence his first P52.
000:45:13 Anders (onboard): You couldn't check that camera bracket real quick, Jim?
000:45:16 Lovell (onboard): I'll look in here.
000:45:18 Anders (onboard): Okay.
000:45:22 Borman (onboard): 70-millimeter camera; you got all that. You got the spotmeter too, please, Bill?
000:45:25 Anders (onboard): I do. I've got everything I need except that bracket. [Garbled.] This is a good enough place to keep it.
000:45:40 Lovell (onboard): [Singing.]
000:45:43 Borman (onboard): Do you need your checklist, Jim? Here I'll give it back.
000:45:45 Lovell (onboard): Well, I'll be darned.
000:45:50 Borman (onboard): Wait a minute.
000:45:52 Lovell (onboard): Thank you.
000:45:53 Borman (onboard): Well, it doesn't make it that far for TLI.
000:46:12 Borman (onboard): Okay, we're right up there.
000:46:14 Lovell (onboard): How are we doing?
000:46:16 Borman (onboard): We're doing fine. We should be getting there. All we need is that other camera bracket.
000:46:26 Lovell (onboard): I'm warm now. How about you?
000:46:27 Borman (onboard): I'm hot.
000:46:28 Anders (onboard): Man, I'm cold still.
000:46:50 Anders (onboard): Boy, is this [garbled]. Hey, don't let me forget about this camera, when we light off [a reference to the TLI burn] here. It's spread all over the place.
000:46:56 Lovell (onboard): Hey, that's right.
000:47:18 Lovell (onboard): I hope I can see something out of here soon.
If Jim doesn't see anything soon, he will not be able to accomplish the P52 realign. Since this is the first since launch, it is important before they head out of Earth orbit so he tries dimming the cabin lights to let his eyes adapt to the dimness of the stars. Delaying the P52 a few minutes rather than having it directly after crossing the terminator (the line between day and night) might have helped.
000:47:20 Borman (onboard): How's the cabin pressure?
000:47:22 Anders (onboard): It has kind of eased down a little bit.
000:47:27 Borman (onboard): What are you doing, Jim?
000:47:29 Lovell (onboard): I'm okay. I'm just getting this all put together here.
000:47:33 Borman (onboard): Do you want me to read off anything to you - from the checklist? From a checklist, maybe?
000:47:38 Lovell (onboard): I've got the P52 realign. You might kind of doublecheck me on it; maybe - I'm here and I'm going to turn down the floodlights and get - get my eye adapted here, because I don't see schmatz out there right now.
Jim is about to commence the first of 28 realignments he (and his crewmates on occasion) will perform during the mission. They are routine but important.
Crucial to the successful guidance of the spacecraft is an accurate knowledge of where it is and how fast it is going. By the time that Apollo actually occurred, this could be achieved by ground-based radar and Doppler tracking. But when Apollo was being conceived, the intention was that navigation should be the domain of the crew, as much for fear of radio-jamming by the then Soviet Union as for the unknowns regarding ground-based tracking. Changing technologies and politics meant that when Apollo flew, both methods would be practised, one being the back-up for the other, with the ground-based determination dominating. If the communications link between ground and spacecraft were lost, the crew should be able to navigate their way home. Otherwise, the results from one method would be compared with the other as a crosscheck. Apollo 8 is the first opportunity to test the ability of a crew to navigate from the Earth to the Moon and much of this task falls on the CMP, Jim Lovell.
There are three elements to the guidance system: the optics, the computer and the Inertial Measurement Unit, or IMU; these three are interlinked into a single, interdependent system. The basis of the IMU is a gimbal mounted platform which carries three gyroscopes and three accelerometers. The gyroscopes cause the platform to hold its orientation in space while the gimbals allow the spacecraft to rotate around it. Encoders built into the gimbal joints allow the computer to know the spacecraft's orientation with respect to this platform - important when you need to fire engines in a particular direction.
The accelerometers measure changes in velocity caused by powered flight. Mounted at 90° to each other, they resolve acceleration into three components with respect to the platform's X, Y and Z coordinate system. They don't resolve velocity changes caused by gravitational fields when the spacecraft is in free fall - such changes are due to the warping of space-time and are calculated using the Newtonian understanding of gravity.
The computer uses measurements of acceleration, time and the spacecraft's initial position to reach an understanding of its position and speed at any particular moment. This knowledge is stored within the computer as a clutch of seven numbers known as the state vector. Much effort will be expended in refining it. Three numbers represent the spacecraft's velocity, another three represent its position, all with respect to some reference - usually the Earth's or the Moon's current position. The seventh value is the ground-elapsed time to which the six other values pertain. Programs within the computer can be called upon to use this data to calculate a variety of useful numbers; for example, the parameters of a current orbit or the free-fall time or impact position given by the spacecraft's current trajectory.
The measurement of acceleration and the accurate pointing of engines only make sense when carried out with respect to a known orientation. For this the crews of Apollo use the IMU platform which is aligned with respect to stars on which they sight using the spacecraft's optical systems. There are two optical instruments available in an Apollo spacecraft; a unity-power scanning telescope and a 28-power sextant. The former has a wide field of view to allow the general area of the celestial sphere to be identified and the required star to be aimed at. Precision sighting of the star (or perhaps a landmark on the surface of the Earth or Moon) is made with the higher powered sextant.
>View of the optics apertures at the rear of Apollo 11's Command Module.
This photograph of Apollo 11's Command Module taken at the National Air and Space Museum, Washington D.C., shows the orifices at the back of the spacecraft through which these two instruments peered. Note the slit and disk arrangement of the sextant. When rotating the instrument through its shaft angle, the entire disk would rotate. The trunnion angle represented the side to side angle of the objective along that slit.
Diagram of the Lower Equipment Bay crew station when working with spacecraft optics.
This diagram shows how Jim has moved from his couch facing the Main Display Console to the LEB to work at the optics.
Despite the ability of the gyroscopes in the IMU to maintain the platform's orientation, over time it will drift slightly and must therefore be realigned to the desired orientation. This is the task that Jim is beginning now using Program 52 in the computer. It is this program that gives this realignment operation its ubiquitous name, the "P52" and it will be referred to regularly throughout the flight.
The whole operation essentially consists of selecting two appropriate stars from the computer's catalogue, pointing the sextant at each of them and giving a mark to the computer when the reticle in the optics is aligned with each of them. The computer knows where these stars should be. Jim's sightings are telling the computer where the stars really are (with respect to the IMU's orientation in space). The computer can calculate the error in the IMU's alignment and how much the gimbals that support the IMU need to be rotated to bring it back into perfect orientation.
At one point in the planning for the Apollo 8 mission, it had been intended that during the coasting flight between Moon and Earth, the IMU would be switched off to save on power. However some, including Frank Borman, failed to see the need to power down this delicate item. In his autobiography, Countdown, Frank explains how he felt that if an electrical or mechanical device was up and running perfectly, it's best to leave it alone. He passed his views through NASA management and received a reply from one of the system's designers, who listed over two pages good technical reasons why the IMU should be powered down and that there would be no problem operating this way. The chap added a postscript: "However, If I were going on this mission, I'd let it run the whole time, too." The postscript swayed the argument in Frank's favour.
000:47:55 Borman (onboard): Hope it [the sextant] hasn't clouded up.
000:47:58 Lovell (onboard): Frank, I sure hope you're right.
000:48:06 Borman (onboard): Alright, [reading from the checklist] CM - do not key Verb 82. Do you want to go - start right from scratch with P00?
000:48:13 Lovell (onboard): Yeah, okay. I'm going to bring this optics toward zero.
000:48:18 Borman (onboard): CMC, On; ISS is On; PSS is - SCS is operating; BMAGs, three, are Rate 2 - G&N Power Optics, On? Jim?
Frank is cross-checking the steps in the CMP checklist at the top of page G-56. CMC is the Command Module Computer, ISS is the Inertial SubSystem, essentially the guidance platform. SCS is the Stabilization and Control System, a redundant system for controlling the orientation and motion of the spacecraft which has its own gyroscopic reference, the BMAGs or Body Mounted Attitude Gyros.
000:48:29 Lovell (onboard): G&N Power Optics are On.
000:48:31 Borman (onboard): CMC is Free [i.e. the computer will not issue commands to the attitude control thrusters]; Optics Mode, Zero.
Even if the thrusters were to fire, they are not powerful enough to significantly manoeuvre both the CSM and the attached S-IVB.
000:48:36 Lovell (onboard): Okay, stand by. I am going to go - I'm driving it to zero [garble].
000:48:48 Lovell (onboard): Uh-oh, the trunnion won't go any farther than - 45, and...
000:48:58 Borman (onboard): Need the lights down a little bit, Jim?
000:49:03 Lovell (onboard): Now, it's just SCS. Okay, I can see. Okay, I'm going to go to zero. I don't think - It must be going to zero.
000:49:35 Lovell (onboard): Okay, that looks good. [Garble.] Okay, I think I see something out there now.
000:49:44 Borman (onboard): You got the Optics Mode to zero?
000:49:46 Lovell (onboard): Yeah.
When the optics are moved, their angles are measured by optical resolvers that simply generate pulses as the axes are rotated. Count the pulses and you measure the angle. However, the starting position must be carefully defined. To achieve this, the optics are moved to a calibrated, mechanical zero position and the counters are electronically zeroed also. To prevent errors building up, the optics are zeroed regularly, usually before each platform realignment.
000:49:47 Borman (onboard): Optic Mode, CMC.
000:49:48 Lovell (onboard): Optic Mode, CMC.
000:49:51 Borman (onboard): What are you doing now?
000:49:52 Lovell (onboard): Okay, I'll go - I'll go to P00 right now.
000:49:58 Lovell (onboard): That's what you get with the burn.
000:50:00 Borman (onboard): Okay.
000:50:01 Lovell (onboard): And by the way, we used Verb 66 at the end of our burn.
000:50:07 Borman (onboard): We did?
000:50:08 Lovell (onboard): That's affirmative.
In the intended Apollo configuration, which includes a Lunar Module, the computer in the Command Module has space in its erasable memory for state vectors for both vehicles. Verb 66 copies the value of the CM's state vector into that set aside for the LM. In Apollo 8, the software retained the function, but with no LM in tow, the space could be used as a scratchpad for the Command Module's state vector.
000:50:12 Borman (onboard): Hey, are you going to [P]52, now?
000:50:14 Lovell (onboard): Well, are we dark or light out there?
000:50:17 Borman (onboard): Well, you ought to be able to get it even in light. It's getting dark now.
000:50:20 Lovell (onboard): Okay. Well, I want to make sure we got a good one.
000:50:22 Lovell (onboard): Okay, Verb 37, Enter; 52, Enter. You want a REFSMMAT option?
Jim is having a dialogue with the computer. Verb 37 - Change to the following program, then he keys in 52 to begin executing program 52. He then mentions that he wants to use the REFSMMAT option in this program. This extraordinary acronym refers to the simple idea of a reference orientation which can be well defined and used by the crew in their platform alignments. Jim is using the precise orientation of the launch site at Kennedy Space Center at the time of launch as the reference to which the platform is aligned. Jim's realignment will return the slowly drifting platform to the orientation it had at launch. Note that the actual launch site no longer matches this REFSMMAT. The turning Earth has rotated it away from it.
000:50:32 Lovell (onboard): Verb 22, Enter; 3, Enter...
Verb 22 lets Jim enter a number into one of the computer's registers; in this case, entering 3 selects option 3, the REFSMMAT option in the program.
000:50:38 Anders (onboard): There's a couple of nice stars out here.
000:50:40 Lovell (onboard): ...Enter. Okay. All set, gentlemen?
000:50:44 Borman (onboard): Yeah.
000:50:46 Anders (onboard): Hey, there's a bunch of stuff flying off this thing.
000:50:47 Lovell (onboard): I know; that's what I was afraid of.
000:50:50 Anders (onboard): Real bright - I wonder why they're so bright?
000:50:52 Borman (onboard): The Sun's shining.
000:50:54 Anders (onboard): Are we - We're boiling?
000:50:55 Borman (onboard): Is the sun shining, really?
000:50:56 Borman (onboard): Yeah, look here, I got sun in it.
000:50:58 Anders (onboard): Oh Christ [laughter], I thought it was night time over here!
000:51:01 Anders (onboard): I can see a lot of stars over on this side.
000:51:06 Borman (onboard): What are you doing, Jim?
000:51:07 Lovell (onboard): Well, I'm getting the optics adjusted here.
000:51:09 Borman (onboard): Yeah, they make you...
000:51:10 Lovell (onboard): Okay, 06; 06 is what? 06 is Acamar. Worst star in the world for me to look at! Oh, I'm getting more stars now.
Jim is at the stage where he selects the stars he will use for the realignment. The first he has to use is number 6, Acamar or Theta Eridanus. At about magnitude 3, it's not the brightest star he could be given as his first.
000:51:22 Lovell (onboard): Okay, here we go, gentlemen.
000:51:24 Anders (onboard): You got a real bright star...
000:51:26 Lovell (onboard): Zero off, right?
000:51:27 Borman (onboard): Yes.
000:51:28 Anders (onboard): Real bright star - star like...
000:51:30 Lovell (onboard): Zero off.
000:51:31 Borman (onboard): CMC; Optic mode should be CMC.
000:51:34 Lovell (onboard): CMC? Oh, to C, huh?
000:51:49 Lovell (onboard): Holy cow!
000:51:50 Borman (onboard): Any luck?
000:51:57 Lovell (onboard): Well, it stopped by a star. The star's out, but I don't know what it is, though.
Having placed the optics under control of the computer [or CMC], Jim can have it drive them to where it thinks the star is.
000:52:01 Borman (onboard): Can you see it through the telescope?
000:52:03 Lovell (onboard): Yeah. It seems to look like - Okay, I'm going to go to Resolve - Low, and Manual.
Jim then manually steers the sextant until the reticle is precisely aligned with the star. He then presses the Mark button. by setting Resolve to Low, he allows the optics to move at their lowest speed.
000:52:31 Lovell (onboard): CMC; proceed; Spica's the one I want; proceed; okay; 15, that's Sirius.
Star 15, Sirius or Alpha Canis Major, is his second star.
000:52:41 Borman (onboard): We there yet?
000:52:43 Lovell (onboard): Yes, proceeding.
Carnarvon Tracking Station is on the western coast of Australia. It was set up for the Gemini program in 1963 and operated throughout the Apollo era as a communications and tracking facility until it was closed in 1975.
[Download MP3 audio file. Clip courtesy John Stoll, ACR Senior Technician at NASA Johnson.]
000:52:44 Collins: Apollo 8, Houston.
000:52:48 Borman: Go ahead, Houston. Apollo 8. You're loud and clear.
000:52:50 Collins: Rog. You're loud and clear over Carnarvon. We'd like to take DSE away from you for a second.
000:52:55 Anders (onboard): Go.
000:52:56 Borman: Roger. Go ahead.
000:52:57 Collins: Thank you.
Comm break.
By taking the DSE control from Bill, Mission Control can replay telemetry recorded while the spacecraft was out of range. Like any tape player in the home, the DSE can't record while it is being played back.
000:55:03 Borman: Lots of lights down there. [Long pause.]
[Download MP3 audio file of PAO announcer recording. Clip courtesy John Stoll, ACR Senior Technician at NASA Johnson.]
This is Apollo Control, Houston here at 55 minutes into the flight. We have switched our biomed harness selector to Bill Anders and we're watching him breathe and watching his heart beat here on the scope. And we've also put in an establishing call with the crew. There's been no flood of conversation since that point but let's establish it in any case and come back when - when we have something more. Let's hear the tape.
[Download MP3 audio file. Clip courtesy John Stoll, ACR Senior Technician at NASA Johnson.]
000:56:00 Anders: Houston, this is Apollo 8.
000:56:03 Collins: Houston here, Apollo 8. Go ahead.
000:56:06 Anders: Roger. The torquing angle's: 00026; that's plus 00026, plus 00035, plus 00119.
000:56:25 Collins: Roger, Houston - Apollo 8, Houston. And copy plus 00026, plus 00035, plus 00119.
000:56:39 Anders: Roger. We checked on stars 6 and 15, and the error was plus 00001.
000:56:51 Collins: Sounds pretty good.
000:56:55 Anders: Pretty good for a beginner here.
000:56:57 Collins: Rog. [Pause.]
Readers will notice that throughout the mission, the crew and ground regularly exchange lists of numbers. These listings tend to exclude labels and decimal points, making them particularly difficult to understand at the first reading. However, everyone involved had an intimate knowledge of what all this data meant from many months of simulations. Part of what this journal strives to do is to decode all this for the reader.
In the above exchange, Bill informs Mission Control of the results of the P52 platform realignment just completed by Jim. The register displays of the DSKY are 5 digits in size and there are no displays of decimal points. The resolution of the displayed data is set in software and crews simply get to know where to place the decimal point based on the display's context. Bill is reading the three values in Noun 93 which displays the angular error in the orientation of the platform in thousandths of a degree, and in this case, the values for this realignment are plus 0.026°, plus 0.035° and plus 0.119°.
Next, Bill reads down the stars used for the realignment. Forty one celestial bodies (simply described in the literature as 'stars') are listed in the computer and each is assigned an octal, or base eight, reference number. 37 of these are, indeed, pin-point stars; the others refer to the Sun, Earth, Moon and a planet.
The full list of stars, along with their reference numbers is as follows:-
Star Reference List:

NumberStar name
01Alpheratz - Alpha Andromedae
02Diphda - Beta Ceti
03Navi - Gamma Cassiopeiae
04Achernar - Alpha Eridani
05Polaris - Alpha Ursae Minoris
06Acamar - Theta Eridani
07Menkar - Alpha Ceti
10Mirfak - Alpha Pegasi
11Aldebaran - Alpha Tauri
12Rigel - Beta Orionis
13Capella - Alpha Aurigae
14Canopus - Alpha Carinae
15Sirius - Alpha Canis Majoris
16Procyon - Alpha Canis Minoris
17Regor - Sigma Puppis
20Dnoces - Iota Ursae Majoris
21Alphard - Alpha Hydrae
22Regulus - Alpha Leonis
23Denebola - Beta Leonis
24Gienah - Gamma Corvus
25Acrux - Alpha Crucis
26Spica - Alpha Virginis
27Alkaid - Eta Ursae Majoris
30Menkent - Theta Centauri
31Arcturus - Alpha Boötes
32Alphecca - Alpha Coronae Borealis
33Antares - Alpha Scorpii
34Atria - Alpha Trianguli Australis
35Rasalhague - Alpha Ophiuchi
36Vega - Alpha Lyrae
37Nunki - Sigma Sagittari
40Altair - Alpha Aquilae
41Dabih - Beta Capricorni
42Peacock - Alpha Pavonis
43Deneb - Alpha Cygni
44Enif - Epsilon Pegasi
45Fomalhaut - Alpha Piscis Austrini

Since the spacecraft is flying in a heads-down attitude, its windows are generally facing towards Earth with the optics facing into space. The two stars Jim used are from those visible to him as he looks away from Earth. These were number 6, Acamar; and number 15, which is the brightest star in the night sky, Sirius.
Finally, Bill mentions an error of 00001 and congratulates Lovell on the accuracy of his work. The P52 program that Jim used to achieve the realignment includes a check to let the crewman know he has done this properly. The computer knows the angle between the two stars, based on its preloaded knowledge of where the stars are. It also knows the angle between Jim's two sightings. If Jim has made perfect sightings, these two values will be identical. Any difference between them should be tiny. If the error is gross, Jim knows he has sighted on the wrong stars. In this example, Jim's error was only 0.01° showing that his technique at marking stars is pretty good.
A list of the P52 realignments carried out on this mission is given in page 6-49 of the Mission Report. However, it does not include the details of this one.
000:57:05 Collins: Apollo 8, Houston. We have about 1 minute to LOS Carnarvon. Everything is looking good with both the spacecraft and the S-IVB. We'll see you over Honeysuckle Creek at 59:27 - just here shortly.
000:57:18 Anders: Thank you.
Long comm break.
[Download MP3 audio file of PAO announcer recording. Clip courtesy John Stoll, ACR Senior Technician at NASA Johnson.]
And this is Apollo Control, Houston. You heard Mike Collins say we want to take the DSE away from you. That's the onboard tape recorder. The ground wanted to check its function and is proceeding to as the spacecraft moves across southern Australia. Via Honeysuckle, a station in eastern Australia, we should have additional communications and we'll just stand by for those.
Unlike many of the ground stations they have passed over, Honeysuckle Creek is one of the three sites around the world that has a large, 26-metre dish antenna intended for communication with the spacecraft at lunar distances.
Sited south of the Australian capital, Canberra, it was opened in March 1967 and operated in support of the Manned Space Flight Network (MSFN), later the Deep Space Network (DSN), until its antenna was relocated to Tidbinbilla in 1981.
[Download MP3 audio file. Clip courtesy John Stoll, ACR Senior Technician at NASA Johnson.]
001:00:57 Anders: Hello, Houston. Apollo 8. How do you read?
001:01:00 Collins: Loud and clear, Apollo 8. Houston here.
001:01:05 Anders: [Garble]. How do you read?
001:01:06 Collins: Apollo 8, Houston. Loud and clear. Over. [Pause.]
001:01:18 Anders: Houston, Apollo 8. How do you read?
001:01:20 Collins: Reading you loud and clear, Bill. How me? [Long pause.]
Though the pass over Honeysuckle is problematic as the spacecraft cannot hear Mission Control, the time is not wasted as controllers on the ground are able to view telemetry on their consoles. Mike Dinn was part of the Honeysuckle staff.
Mike Dinn, from 2002 correspondence: "I don't remember the problems but we were fairly raw at that stage. We had only Apollo 7 under our belt. Also use of S-band was new to Houston. The problem could have been external to the station anyway."
Honeysuckle does not have one of the smaller 9-metre antenna used by many of the other tracking stations around the world. They must track the vehicle with their 26-metre (85-foot) dish, which has a tighter beamwidth.
Mike Dinn, from 2002 correspondence: "Earth orbit tracking at S-band was a challenge in that the beam width (3dB points) was only 0.3° and (orbit) predicts weren't used to, or needed to be that accurate with other sites. However the antenna was/is capable of tracking at Earth-orbit angle rates - up to 5°/sec. So no problem from that point of view."
Tracking a single vehicle is relatively simple when compared to the problems Mike relates on Apollo 9.
Mike Dinn, from 2002 correspondence: "We had problems on Apollo 9 at Tidbinbilla with angle rates. Although also 85-foot it was an entirely different design antenna which could not support earth orbit rates. We had to use Tid. to track the LM while HSK [the abbreviation for Honeysuckle] was on the CSM during that period when they were separated. So we used the wide beam width (15deg) acq aid on the antenna, the signal being strong, started the antenna early, did its best to keep up, and got a useable signal through the pass."
001:01:55 Anders: Houston, Apollo 8. Over.
001:01:57 Collins: Apollo 8, Houston. Loud and clear. Over. [Long pause.]
001:02:17 Collins: Apollo 8, Houston. Over. [No answer.]
001:02:25 Collins: Apollo 8, this is Houston. Over. [No answer.]
001:02:46 Collins: Apollo 8, this is Houston. Over. [No answer.]
001:03:13 Collins: Apollo 8, this is Houston. Over.
001:03:17 Anders: Houston, Apollo 8 on S-band. If you read, everything is Go.
001:03:21 Collins: Roger. Understand, Apollo 8. [Long pause.]
001:04:10 Collins: Apollo 8, this is Houston. Over.
001:04:13 Anders: Roger, Houston. Read you loud and clear.
001:04:15 Collins: We're reading you loud and clear also, Bill. The problem here over Honeysuckle has been on the ground. Your spacecraft equipment is all working fine. We're going to have LOS in about a minute, and we'll pick you up over Guaymas at 01:28:13. Over.
001:04:32 Anders: Roger. 01:28:13; thank you.
001:04:35 Collins: Roger.
001:04:35 Lovell (onboard): [Singing.]
001:04:37 Collins: We're giving the DSE back to you, Apollo 8.
001:04:40 Anders: Roger. Thank you.
Very long comm break.
The DSE will record spacecraft telemetry and the crew's conversation as they cross the Pacific Ocean.
[Download MP3 audio file of PAO announcer recording. Clip courtesy John Stoll, ACR Senior Technician at NASA Johnson.]
This is Apollo Control, Houston at an hour and 4 minutes into the flight. Over the last couple of minutes, we've been - had a little whisper of a problem here through the Honeysuckle station, Australia. It has been fixed. But the problem was the crew was not receiving us on the relay through Honeysuckle. We could hear them loud and clear but they were not receiving us. And then there was a period of about 2 minutes there where they advised us several times of certain readings, obviously broadcasting in the blind and not getting the confirming information back from our capsule communicator Mike Collins here. The problem has been cleared up, I want to emphasize. Hawaii, this morning, is receiving for the first time - received for the first time a live television picture of the launch and we understand from talking to some people out in the station at Pearl Harbor that they are quite enthusiastic about it. They plan to go out and try to watch the TLI burn which is to occur at 2 hours and 50 minutes. It should occur almost directly over Hawaii, and under ideal lighting arrangements. The local time will be about 5:55 to 6 am. Darkness out on Earth and just the first faint streaks of dawn. So if the clouds are co-operating, they may see it. We have some tape from the Honeysuckle pass which will clarify the comm problem we had which toward the end of the pass gets altogether cleared up. Here's the tape.
[Download MP3 audio file of onboard audio. Clip courtesy John Stoll, ACR Senior Technician at NASA Johnson.]
001:05:00 Lovell (onboard): Okay, what I can do is put this camera bracket. How about putting it in your temporary stowage bag, Bill?
001:05:09 Anders (onboard): Whatever you want. Has anybody seen the - Oh, there it is.
001:05:38 Lovell (onboard): Okay, who's got - You got my TLI checklist, don't you, Bill? Or Frank? Oh, I got it. Now, everyone a Flight Plan out?
001:05:33 Borman (onboard): Okay, [garble].
001:05:37 Lovell (onboard): Or do you want to wait until after TLI?
001:05:40 Anders (onboard): Okay, S-band volume, down. I'm doing - I'm doing the - the - this check.
001:06:10 Lovell (onboard): That booster was quite a ride. I'm still impressed.
001:06:18 Lovell (onboard): I was a little worried at that pogo there on the second stage - something we didn't expect.
001:06:53 Lovell (onboard): [Singing.]
001:07:00 Lovell (onboard): Anyone want me down here for anything else?
001:07:10 Lovell (onboard): Well, I'm going to get prepared to get back in.
001:07:20 Borman (onboard): You going to get that data up?
001:07:22 Lovell (onboard): You want the data now, or do you want to do the TLI checklist?
001:07:25 Borman (onboard): Data box.
001:07:27 Lovell (onboard): You want the data box now, or do you want to wait to TLI?
001:07:34 Borman (onboard): [Garble] be happy. He didn't have the systems book manual.
001:07:39 Borman (onboard): We ought to get those cards, too, Jim.
001:07:45 Lovell (onboard): Well, I hate to keep all these hoses around here [garble] after TLI.
001:08:43 Borman (onboard): Okay. A 5-degree difference between...
001:09:25 Borman (onboard): [Garble].
001:09:28 Anders (onboard): You mean you need it again?
001:09:30 Borman (onboard): Not unless you went to.
001:09:55 Lovell (onboard): Now, let me see. I don't know whether we need these lights on or not.
001:09:59 Anders (onboard): Let me have 4-B in the System Test, will you, Jim?
001:10:03 Lovell (onboard): 4-B?
001:10:04 Anders (onboard): Yes, roughly.
001:10:05 Lovell (onboard): Okay.
Although the crew's instrument panels have a profusion of dials and gauges, there are many sensors throughout the spacecraft which do not have dedicated read-out devices in the cabin. All of these measurements can be telemetered to Earth for monitoring and recording by the flight controllers and their back-room teams. While the most critical readings are displayed for the crew, readings which are less important but still worth making available to the crew can be brought up on the Systems Test Meter.
Diagram of Panel 101, the Systems Test Meter.
The Systems Test Meter is on panel 101 which is next to the navigation station Jim is working at. Two rotary knobs give access to up to 28 readings which can be read off the meter above. The meter makes use of the fact that all measurements are electronically scaled so that their full range runs between zero and five volts. This is a prerequisite for digitising the signals and transmitting them to Earth. It is a simple matter to use a single meter to access these signals. Page S-18 in the Systems sections of the checklists is a chart that gives conversions from the meter display to seven of the available parameters. Selecting 4-B brings up the right-most parameter from that chart, the Battery Relay Bus voltage.
The various setting for the system test meter are: This information was taken from the Apollo 12 CSM Operations Handbook
001:10:08 Anders (onboard): You can go ahead and turn it Off.
001:10:26 Borman (onboard): You want to hand me that metal box, Jim, as soon as you finish?
001:10:33 Anders (onboard): It will be a lot more convenient when we can all get [our suits] undone.
001:10:37 Lovell (onboard): Yes, you want it?
001:10:38 Borman (onboard): Not really, but [garble].
001:10:46 Lovell (onboard): Gentlemen.
001:10:47 Borman (onboard): [Garble] biomed around me. They've been looking at me all the time.
001:10:53 Lovell (onboard): Would you believe that I think I see little gullies here?
001:10:56 Anders (onboard): Huh?
001:10:59 Borman (onboard): Where do we go, to the Center [couch] or what? Must be somebody else.
001:11:01 Anders (onboard): Maybe they didn't want the - Where's the [garble].
001:11:04 Lovell (onboard): They had me for the whole preflight.
001:11:11 Anders (onboard): You're not going to be able to write on that dump list, are you?
001:11:14 Lovell (onboard): Well, we'll see.
001:11:15 Borman (onboard): Hey, you got that metal box?
001:11:17 Lovell (onboard): Coming.
001:11:18 Borman (onboard): You got a [garble] down there.
001:11:24 Lovell (onboard): Well, that's a problem, I can't help that.
001:11:44 Borman (onboard): Don't look at me on that.
001:11:48 Anders (onboard): You beginning to see a little horizon against the Moon there?
001:11:52 Lovell (onboard): [Garble.]
001:11:54 Anders (onboard): Yes, you can see that. It would be good if we had that for retro, wouldn't it? Entry, I mean. The thing is, we [garble].
001:12:06 Anders (onboard): You want to make any comments about the boost part, if you get time to do it?
Bill is looking after the DSE, which is recording the crew's voices. As the first people to ride the Saturn V, it is an opportunity for them all to record their impressions of the launch vehicle's performance while the experience is fresh in their minds.
001:12:12 Borman (onboard): Okay.
001:12:14 Anders (onboard): Make them good and loud and clear; make sure everything's...
001:12:15 Borman (onboard): Are we on there now?
001:12:16 Anders (onboard): Yep.
001:12:17 Borman (onboard): Alright, the boost...
001:12:19 Lovell (onboard): Metal box.
001:12:20 Borman (onboard): Stand by.
001:12:30 Borman (onboard): I can't see where this thing goes in down there. You'll have to help me, Jim. You got a flashlight?
001:12:38 Anders (onboard): Here you go.
001:12:40 Borman (onboard): I can't get it, but I think it's supposed to fit the bottom one here. Okay.
001:12:44 Lovell (onboard): Down below?
001:12:45 Borman (onboard): Yeah. Down here. See? I - that thing fits in underneath here and I can't...
001:12:54 Lovell (onboard): I'll put my feet over here.
001:12:57 Borman (onboard): We'll get those little things to stick in those rings down there. You see what I mean?
001:13:05 Lovell (onboard): I can't get down there, yet. I don't know where I am.
001:13:11 Lovell (onboard): Okay, where are we?
001:13:13 Borman (onboard): Those little holes in the - those little things that - see the holes into the wall?
001:13:20 Lovell (onboard): Is it over here?
001:13:22 Borman (onboard): No, no, right...
001:13:24 Lovell (onboard): Oh, it's over here. Okay.
001:13:25 Borman (onboard): No, it should be right...
001:13:26 Lovell (onboard): I got one. Right here. Twist a little bit.
001:13:30 Borman (onboard): Okay.
001:13:32 Lovell (onboard): There's one. Now let's get the other one.
001:13:37 Lovell (onboard): Oh, shoot!
Jim has caught his life vest on a strut within the spacecraft and it has inflated.
001:13:38 Borman (onboard): What was that?
001:13:40 Lovell (onboard): My life jacket.
001:13:41 Borman (onboard): [Laughter.] No kidding?
001:13:45 Lovell (onboard): It hooked on the tank here. It flicked up.
001:13:52 Borman (onboard): Is it blowing up?
001:13:53 Lovell (onboard): It's too early.
001:13:57 Anders (onboard): Why don't you take it off and give it to me, and I'll try to take it apart while you watch the panel.
001:14:05 Anders (onboard): Lovell just caught his life vest on Frank's strut.
Bill's comment is intended for the DSE. In the tiny, cramped world that is the Apollo 8 Command Module, the inadvertent inflation of the life vest presents more of a problem than might be first realised. First, it is bulky. More important, a small bottle of carbon dioxide has been discharged to inflate it. Deflating it into the cabin will immediately saturate the lithium hydroxide canisters whose job it is to remove exhaled CO2 from the air. Though they have replacement canisters, they don't want to use them up unnecessarily.
In the book, Lost Moon, later renamed Apollo 13 on the release of the film of the same name and co-written by Jim and Jeffrey Kluger, the impression is given that the problem of the life jacket is dealt with prior to TLI. However, further discussion at 012:56:26 indicates they left it alone while they got on with the more important matter of setting out for the Moon.
001:14:14 Lovell (onboard): It's hard to get off, too.
001:14:17 Anders (onboard): That's CO in there?
001:14:18 Lovell (onboard): Yes, CO2
001:14:19 Anders (onboard): CO2
001:14:21 Lovell (onboard): Yes. I think we ought to just leave the life vest just the way it is.
001:14:23 Anders (onboard): Tell you what we'll do: we'll dump it out with the vacuum cleaner over the side there, why don't we.
Less than a minute after the problem occurred, Bill has hit on a solution that is broadly similar to their eventual method. They will eventually dump the life vest's contents into space via the urine dump.
001:14:28 Lovell (onboard): Put it right back here;
001:14:30 Lovell (onboard): Okay.
001:14:32 Anders (onboard): Hey, that power looks low.
001:14:40 Borman (onboard): Yes, turn it off, Jim.
001:14:47 Lovell (onboard): Okay,...
001:14:48 Anders (onboard): Why don't you put it up in the [vacuum cleaner] spout?
001:14:52 Borman (onboard): I'm afraid I'm going [garble] damage.
001:14:55 Lovell (onboard): Okay, when we get communications again, we'll ask them what to...
001:14:58 Borman (onboard): Yes, we - we can live with a little CO2 [garble].
001:15:08 Borman (onboard): Where are you going, Jim?
001:15:10 Lovell (onboard): Well, you want me to get this box, don't you?
001:15:13 Borman (onboard): Yeah.
001:15:17 Anders (onboard): Hey. Jim. When I heard that noise, I looked at the Cabin Pressure real quick!
001:15:22 Lovell (onboard): Well, I knew what was wrong as soon as it happened! [Laughter.]
001:15:32 Anders (onboard): I'm just kind of thankful, too.
001:15:36 Lovell (onboard): Okay, gentlemen. I think we'll - I don't know - There's one thing I'm worried about: this helmet.
001:15:41 Anders (onboard): Where is it?
001:15:43 Lovell (onboard): It's right up here.
001:15:46 Anders (onboard): Can't you stick it right here?
001:15:47 Lovell (onboard): Is there room back there?
001:15:52 Lovell (onboard): I could tie it a little bit.
001:16:01 Borman (onboard): Can you give me those [garble], Jim?
001:16:10 Borman (onboard): What's that knock?
001:16:32 Anders (onboard): The clock?
001:16:36 Borman (onboard): When I raised my head back, I hit it with this.
001:16:20 Anders (onboard): I think I heard this [garble] firing over here.
001:16:27 Borman (onboard): How are we as far as the...
001:16:30 Anders (onboard): We're in good shape. I'm standing by for the backup comm check.
001:16:33 Borman (onboard): Hey, can I put this on the tape about this launch?
001:16:36 Anders (onboard): Yes, it would be a good time to do it.
001:16:38 Borman (onboard): Okay, the launch was nominal in almost every respect. It was no difficulty determining lift-off. Vibrations noticed before the thrust came up to - up to - well, before mainstage commit launch - commit to launch, and then at - when the hold-down arms released, the vibration went away. There was a lot of noise initially in the cabin. It was difficult to communicate. And then as we - The noise died out, we approached Max-Q, when it built back up again. There was no pogo noticeable on the I-C stage. The stagings, to be frank, were all nominal. The only off-nominal factor the whole launch worth mentioning was the slight pogo that was recorded in real time on the S-II stage, and the loud - the audio level inside the - inside the cabin during S-IC burn.
001:17:47 Anders (onboard): Didn't you - didn't you think the thing was still rattling like a freight train before you - as you became clear of the tower? I had the feeling that it was.
001:17:58 Borman (onboard): No, I thought - when we let go...
001:18:01 Anders (onboard): Yes, you could tell it let go, but I meant I thought it kept vibrating. You might make a note that was at 1 hour and 16 minutes if you ever want to find your tape when you debrief.
001:18:14 Borman (onboard): Alright.
001:18:26 Lovell (onboard): Well, I guess I could tie it [the life vest] up - here. Let's ask him.
Jim is looking for somewhere to get the life vest out of the way.
001:18:33 Borman (onboard): Don't tie it on that hatch thing there.
001:18:36 Lovell (onboard): Not the hatch handle. There's a hatch...
001:18:43 Lovell (onboard): Okay, what's the g; one g?
Though they are weightless now, they will experience an acceleration during TLI and whatever Jim ties the life vest to, he will have to take into account the pull it will exert on its fixing.
001:18:47 Anders (onboard): One (laughter) - one g; are you kidding?
Presumably, Bill thinks Jim is talking about their current state.
001:18:48 Lovell (onboard): I mean - during the booster period.
001:18:50 Borman (onboard): Yes, a little over one g.
During the TLI burn, acceleration rises from about 0.7g to over 1.5g.
001:19:02 Borman (onboard): You want to hand out - Well, I guess we won't need a Flight Plan. No.
001:19:20 Anders (onboard): The camera; configured for the backup comm check; checked my two circuit breakers.
Bill is referring to his checklist at the bottom of page I-2. The procedures for the backup comm check begin with him making sure power is applied to the S-band electronics via two circuit breakers on panel 225 to his right. The comm check will be one of many tasks carried out while in contact with Mission Control on the next pass over the United States and he wants to be ready for it.
[Download MP3 audio file of PAO announcer recording. Clip courtesy John Stoll, ACR Senior Technician at NASA Johnson.]
This is Apollo Control, Houston; 1 hour, 19 minutes into the flight, We have had no additional contact with the crew since we left Honeysuckle Creek and before we reach the States, we want to play for the second time, for the broadcast pool, the liftoff tape through about 5 minutes. Through some technical difficulty, it was missed the first time around so now we're going to repeat both the picture and the - the audio track on the early minutes of liftoff. And I'm sure other members of the media in the newsroom will understand. Could you roll the tape please?
001:19:25 Lovell (onboard): What time is it? We ought to keep track of the time.
001:19:27 Anders (onboard): Okay.
001:19:29 Lovell (onboard): I got plenty of time to get back in the couch. Okay, where are the...
001:19:33 Anders (onboard): The primary transponder's going Off for 4 seconds.
001:19:42 Lovell (onboard): Okay, where are the - the - the headpads?
001:19:46 Anders (onboard): Secondary transponder's coming On.
001:19:48 Borman (onboard): The what, Jim?
001:19:50 Lovell (onboard): You want the headpads, don't you?
001:19:53 Borman (onboard): Well, not yet. Let's wait until we - Oh, you mean before the boost?
001:19:57 Lovell (onboard) Yes.
After the launch, the crew has removed their helmets and gloves, which has made them significantly more comfortable. The helmets have a built-in headrest, which supports the astronauts head during launch. To provide the same kind of support with the helmets off, a removable headrest, or "headpad" as Jim Lovell calls it, is installed on the couch.
001:19:58 Borman (onboard): They're in that CO2 thing.
001:20:01 Anders (onboard): They're going to be awful hard to put on; I know that.
001:20:03 Borman (onboard): I think that's them; I'm not sure.
001:20:19 Anders (onboard): And also doing a down-voice backup, and up-voice backup
001:20:33 Borman (onboard): That's down; that's down.
001:20:42 Borman (onboard): Life preserver is - just floating.
001:20:48 Lovell (onboard): Well, that's [garble].
001:21:06 Anders (onboard): I'm putting tape over these transponder switches.
001:21:31 Anders (onboard): Sunrise coming up.
001:21:51 Borman (onboard): How are the fuel cells looking?
001:21:56 Anders (onboard): Secondary looks okay. It reads a little higher than the rest of them. One, even before launch, showed a little bit lower O2 flow than H2. Okay.
001:22:28 Lovell (onboard): You going to put your shoulder harness on again?
001:22:32 Anders (onboard): I never took mine off. Yeah, how do you take them off?
001:22:36 Anders (onboard): Well, just kind of [garble] I just kind of loosened my belt, there at the fastener.
001:22:41 Borman (onboard): I don't know what we'll do with that damn life vest. There's no way we can [garble].
001:22:55 Anders (onboard): Yeah, you can...
001:22:56 Lovell (onboard): Yeah, with the thing you blow it up with.
001:23:16 Borman (onboard): It sure is nice to get that helmet and gloves off.
001:23:20 Anders (onboard): It sure was.
001:23:31 Lovell (onboard): You're recording [garble].
001:23:52 Borman (onboard): Wait a minute. Before you get back to the seat, you're supposed to turn the - You're not back in your seat for good, are you? We got a long time.
001:24:02 Lovell (onboard): Before - Oh, we got 2 hours [means 1 hour] and 20 minutes now.
001:24:04 Borman (onboard): Yeah.
001:24:07 Lovell (onboard): Okay, I'll go back down.
001:24:16 Lovell (onboard): Gee, this is the best flight I ever had.
001:24:26 Anders (onboard): Because you've got to get those circuit breakers before [garble] up here.
001:24:29 Lovell (onboard): Yeah.
001:25:04 Lovell (onboard): You know, this is very clean.
001:25:22 Lovell (onboard): Here comes the Sun.
001:25:31 Lovell (onboard): Well, take a look. It crept up on us.
001:25:34 Anders (onboard): I think we'll feel better when we close this. See that?
001:25:39 Lovell (onboard): Yeah.
001:25:44 Lovell (onboard): Although I noticed it was pretty good, whenever we were over...
001:25:53 Lovell (onboard): Sunrise at 01:25.
001:26:01 Lovell (onboard): Alright now, would you say we lifted off on time, gentlemen?
001:26:03 Anders (onboard): I'd say we did.
001:26:10 Lovell (onboard): There for a while though, when we were counting down there for the last seconds, I didn't think she was going to wait.
001:26:14 Borman (onboard): Yeah.
001:26:16 Anders (onboard): Are the safety boilers still going?
001:26:17 Lovell (onboard): Yes, sir.
001:26:20 Borman (onboard): That's one thing else we should note about the launch. That we didn't hear the noise until about 3 seconds before lift-off, even though ignition commit [garble] the main [garble] came on time.
001:26:32 Lovell (onboard): And the tower jettison was quite noticeable. Although it wasn't the rumble you get in the DCPS.
The DCPS is the Dynamic Crew Procedure Simulator at Houston, an early example of a simulator which could impart motion and vibration to the crew to help them get a feel for the launch experience.
001:26:48 Borman (onboard): You want to say anything else, Bill, that you're working at?
001:26:51 Borman (onboard): Bill - or Jim, how about taking the ECS check?
001:27:00 Anders (onboard): She has been a little bit lower than normal [garble].
001:27:24 Lovell (onboard): Well, we could be [garble].
001:27:29 Anders (onboard): Yeah.
001:27:47 Lovell (onboard): I'm not too in favor of this attitude as far as - Hey, we've been doing an awful lot of upside down flying.
001:27:54 Anders (onboard): You can't see any other way.
001:27:57 Borman (onboard): Can't you see the horizon?
001:27:59 Lovell (onboard): Can you see the horizon?
001:28:00 Anders (onboard): Yeah. I just couldn't the other way.
001:28:06 Lovell (onboard): I guess maybe this is not the - No, wait a second, all I see is [garble].
001:28:17 Lovell (onboard): Yeah, there's some dust out there due to the...
001:28:23 Anders (onboard): Yeah, you ought to give them a little blob on the...
001:28:25 Borman (onboard): Let's give them a window status report as far as contamination.
001:28:29 Anders (onboard): Okay. We want to keep charts from right to left here.
001:28:32 Borman (onboard): Alright. Number 1 window is clean and has lint on it, and then toward the upper part, that's plus-X on the outside pane, it looks like we're already starting to form bits of frost. There was not any evidence of contamination there during staging. Number 2 rendezvous window is good with some, again, specks of lint hanging off the [garble].
[Download MP3 audio file. Clip courtesy John Stoll, ACR Senior Technician at NASA Johnson.]
001:28:52 Collins: Apollo 8. Houston. Over. [No answer.]
001:28:57 Lovell (onboard): Number 3 window has some dust on it, and in the lower - in the lower right-hand corner, there is a smudge on what appears to be the outside pane - I'm not too sure it's not the inside; but the visibility appears to be real good...
The crew have been out of contact with Mission Control for 24 minutes as they coast across the Pacific Ocean. On this pass they are too far south to be received by the tracking station at Hawaii. They are first picked up at the Guaymas Tracking Station in Mexico, roughly halfway along the eastern shore of the Gulf of California. Originally built for the Mercury project, it uses a 9-metre antenna for Apollo communications. It was eventually closed on 30 November 1970.
[Download MP3 audio file of PAO announcer recording. Clip courtesy John Stoll, ACR Senior Technician at NASA Johnson.]
This is Apollo Control, Houston here; 1 hour, 29 minutes into the flight. And the first call from Mike Collins to Apollo 8, has gone out as yet without response.
001:29:06 Collins: Apollo 8, this is Houston. Over. (No answer.)
This will be - this pass across the States this time - should last 15 or 20 minutes - will be a major checkpoint on all the systems, particularly that guidance and navigation system. Jim Lovell will be a very busy boy and so will Frank Borman and - ensuring that all the checks are accurate. In the course of it, Bill Anders is to perform a backup communications check, switching to alternate channels should anything develop or go wrong in the primary communications mode. And as the spacecraft moves across the Atlantic, the crew then will proceed into their Translunar Injection checklist in preparation for the burn on the next rev[olution]. Again, we've put in a call, we've not heard anything, let's just open a line and stand by.
001:29:15 Anders (onboard): But you're never going to be recording there. You've got to talk real loud.
001:29:18 Borman (onboard): Oh, he can't?
001:29:20 Anders (onboard): Okay. There's a little smudge on the lower left-hand portion of the center window, and some dust on both the outside and the inside windows, but the visibility is still very good.
001:29:26 Collins: Apollo 8, Apollo 8, this is Houston. Over. [No answer.]
001:29:36 Anders (onboard): Window number - window number 4 is clear. Window number 5 appears clear, but it's in the shadow at the moment, and it's difficult to tell if there's any frost forming at this point.
001:29:52 Borman (onboard): Okay, very good.
001:29:54 Lovell (onboard): Okay, now let's check to see if we're receiving good.
001:30:10 Borman (onboard): This is backup comm check?
001:30:12 Anders (onboard): Yeah, [garble].
001:30:14 Collins: Apollo 8, this is Houston. Over.
001:30:17 Anders: Houston, Apollo 8. Over.
001:30:18 Collins: Roger. How do you read? [No answer.]
001:30:27 Collins: Apollo 8, this is Houston. Over.
001:30:29 Anders: Roger. Houston, Apollo 8. Standing by for a Go for the backup comm check. Over.
The temporary difficulty in exchanging comm may be due to Bill reconfiguring the spacecraft for a backup comm check. First of all, they both have to establish comm on VHF. Then, once the VHF link is removed, they try speaking on S-band using two channels not normally used for voice. The backup uplink is normally used by Mission Control to send commands to the spacecraft, while the backup downlink usually carries data from the DSE tape recorder or, if they are making a broadcast, a TV signal.
001:30:34 Collins: Roger. Stand by one, Bill. [Pause.]
001:30:43 Lovell (onboard): [Singing.]
001:30:46 Collins: California, inhibit VHF downlink.
001:30:50 Comm Tech: California inhibited.
001:30:52 Collins: Apollo 8, ouston. Go ahead with backup voice check. [No answer.]
001:30:56 Anders (onboard): Roger. This is Apollo 8 on backup voice: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5; 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. How do you read? Over.
001:31:05 Collins: Apollo 8, this is Houston. Go ahead with backup voice check. Over. [No answer.]
001:31:16 Anders (onboard): Down-voice backup; up-voice backup. S-band is key On.
001:31:21 Collins: Apollo 8, Houston. Go ahead with backup voice check. Over.
001:31:25 Anders: Roger, Mike. I gave you a count. I'll give you another one. Are you standing by?
001:31:29 Collins: Roger. Standing by.
001:31:31 Anders: Roger. This is Apollo 8 through backup voice: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. Over.
001:31:42 Collins: Roger, Bill. Reading you weak but clear.
001:31:45 Anders (onboard): Roger.
001:31:46 Collins: Go ahead with Normal S-band voice check.
001:31:49 Anders: Roger. [Long pause.]
Bill continues with the procedures at the top of page I-3 in the LMP checklist, fourth line down.
001:31:52 Anders (onboard): Okay, VHF Vol, Up; [garble] S-band Aux, Off.
001:32:11 Collins: Apollo 8, Houston. Over. [Pause.]
001:32:18 Anders: Houston, this is Apollo 8 on Normal S-band: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. How do you read? Over.
001:32:25 Collins: Apollo 8, Houston. Reading you loud and clear Normal S-band. How me? [No answer.]
001:32:49 Collins: Apollo 8, Houston. Reading you loud and clear on Normal S-band. How me? Over. [No answer.]
001:33:03 Collins: Apollo 8, Houston. Over.
001:33:06 Anders: Roger, Houston. This is Apollo 8. Reading you loud and clear on Normal.
001:33:13 Collins: Roger. Reading you loud and clear on Normal S-band. How me?
001:33:20 Anders: Clear. [Pause.]
001:33:29 Collins: Apollo 8, Houston. Over.
001:33:32 Anders: Houston, this is Apollo 8. How do you read on VHF? Over.
001:33:35 Collins: Apollo 8, Houston. Reading you loud and clear. We are also reading you loud and clear on S-band Normal. How me? Over.
001:33:43 Anders: Roger. I'm reading you loud and clear. I'll give you another count on S-band Normal: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. How do you read me?
001:33:52 Collins: Roger. That's loud and clear, Bill. California, would you enable the VHF downlink, please?
001:34:07 Comm Tech: California enabled. [Long pause.]
001:34:50 Collins: Apollo 8, Houston. Over.
001:34:53 Borman: Go ahead, Houston.
001:34:55 Collins: Roger. We are going to rewind your tape recorder, and we have the TLI plus 90 and TLI plus 4-hour PADs at your convenience. Over.
Required telemetry stored on the DSE recorder has been downlinked and is rewound ready for later use.
The crew are on page L-9 of the TLI prep checklist. Page L-10 is set out as a form ready for a crewmember to fill in the blanks from a stream of numbers about to be read by CapCom. These numbers form what is called a PAD which stands for Pre-Advisory Data. This is a voice update of data the crew may require for a future planned or emergency stage of the mission. PADs will be encountered throughout the mission and usually relate to abort scenarios.
The two PADs referred to above are for abort procedures which would be used in case the spacecraft has to return to Earth soon after TLI. Planners developed a policy of ensuring that a crew would not move into a situation without having the data to hand that would get them home in the event they lost communication with Earth. Therefore, they will not leave Earth orbit without PADs that directly return them to Earth; a PAD will not be allowed to lapse without another being read up to them; they will not enter lunar orbit without the data in front of them to get home. When they do get to the Moon, Frank will take this further by insisting that a fresh 'get-us-home' PAD is given to them for every orbit.
The abort PADs are the responsibility of RETRO, one of the flight controllers in the front row of the MOCR (Mission Operations Control Room). Chuck Deiterich was one of those at the RETRO console during Apollo 8.
Chuck Deiterich, from 2003 correspondence: "There is quite a bit of protocol in the PAD process. Empty PADs were in tablets of no-carbon-required (NCR) paper. We would make about 6 copies and use a red ballpoint on the top (original) so the CapCom would be sure what was part of the printed form and what was data."
Chuck sent the form he used for the Apollo 8 Trans-Earth Injection burn.
Apollo TEI PAD as generated by Chuck Deiterich for Apollo 8.
Deiterich, from 2003 correspondence: "You can see where the capcom checked each item during the crew readback. A printed X on the pad said no data goes here, a printed 0 indicated the computer would always have a zero here (ignition time for example), a heavy box on a square indicated a + or - sign should go here (sometimes a letter like D.) Only the red data was read up, thus saving comm time."
001:35:11 Borman: Roger. Ready to copy.
001:35:13 Collins: Roger. TLI plus 90, SPS/G&N, 63531; minus 1.64 plus 1.29. Are you with me so far? Over.
001:35:36 Lovell: Roger. We're with you.
001:35:38 Collins: Okay. 004:17:42.65; minus 0440.2, minus 0000.1, plus 4838.7; 178, 169, 359; not applicable, plus 0018.5; 4858.7, 6:03, 4838.3; 06, 202.7, 25.0; Earth center, 0123 - correction - down 12.3; I say again, down 12.3, right 2.2; plus 11.23, minus 030.00; 1231.3, 34494, 017:47:39, north set stars; roll, 068; pitch, 097; yaw, 356; ullage none; other: high speed procedure not required. Over.
[Download MP3 audio file of PAO announcer recording. Clip courtesy John Stoll, ACR Senior Technician at NASA Johnson.]
The information that Mike Collins is passing to Jim Lovell is procedural numbers and angles should abort become necessary at two discrete periods after the Translunar Injection burn. Ninety minutes after and then 4 hours after. And we should hear quite a few numbers.
001:38:17 Lovell: Houston, this is Apollo 8. We missed a portion of that maneuver PAD. Can you start with HP and go down to boresight star? Over.
001:38:31 Collins: Roger. I say again. HP plus 0018.5. Are you with me?
001:38:41 Lovell: Roger. We're with you.
001:38:43 Collins: 4858.7, 6:03, 4838,3; 06, 202.7, 25.0; and the boresight star is Earth's center. Over.
001:39:33 Collins: Apollo 8, Houston. Did you copy?
This is the form that Jim is copying the data into.
Standard forms from TLI checklist in which crews copy abort PAD data.
The PAD is interpreted as follows: Local Vertical is a frame of reference that is relative to a line drawn from the spacecraft to the centre of the body it is orbiting, or whose sphere of influence it is in.
Diagram to explain the Local Vertical frame of reference.
Imagine the point where this line intersects the planet's surface. We can further imagine a flat plane at this point parallel to the horizontal. Obviously, as the spacecraft moves across the planet, the absolute orientation of this plane keeps changing but it provides a useful reference for orbital velocity computation. In this arrangement, the plus-Z axis is along the vertical line towards the planetary centre, the plus-X axis is in the direction of orbital motion parallel to the local horizontal and the plus-Y axis is perpendicular to the orbital plane.
Continuing the PAD interpretation: The next five parameters all relate to re-entry, during which an important milestone is "Entry Interface," defined as being 400,000 feet (121.92 km) altitude. In this context, a more important milestone is when atmospheric drag on the spacecraft imparts a deceleration of 0.05g. Among Collins' final remarks is a note that there is no need to perform an ullage burn to settle the contents of the SPS propellant tanks. This is becaue they are full.
The final statement from Collins refers to a high speed procedure not being required. For a long time, the meaning of this was unknown to the journal authors. However, journal reader Niklas Beug has gained insight while working on an emulation of the Apollo Guidance Computer for the Orbiter Space Flight Simulator.
Niklas Beug, from 2016 correspondence with David Woods: "One of the amazing programs of the AGC is the Return to Earth program (P37) which enables the crew to calculate a midcourse correction in the case of loss of communications with the ground. The Apollo 8 AGC has a small issue with this program, or rather an outdated fixed constant. The fixed constant is called MA1 and defined as: 'Maximum allowable major axis of return trajectories with a negative radial component.' Essentially this constant imposes an entry speed limit to the calculated trajectory. The value chosen for the AGC flown on Apollo 8 (and 9, but it only is relevant for lunar trajectories) is not sufficient to work with a nominal return trajectory from the Moon. So instead of calculating a small midcourse correction, P37 tries to slow down the spacecraft's re-entry velocity which usually results in a fairly large radial component of the calculated Delta V vector."
Beug (continued): "Here comes the High Speed Procedure into play. The fixed constant MA1 I explained above is loaded by P37 into a temporary location in the erasable memory, when P37 starts with its calculations. The procedure involves changing the variable in the erasable memory after P37 was already selected. If it was necessary, a comment on the Maneuver PAD usually said: 'use high speed procedure with minus Mike Alpha'. -MA (major axis as explained above) means that a negative value is loaded into the place of the erroneous value. ... We know, that the issue was fixed for Apollo 10 and from there on no such high speed procedure was necessary. I guess with the core rope memory they had to freeze development of the AGC for a specific flight very early, so that this procedure became necessary."
001:39:35 Lovell: Roger, Houston. This is a TLI plus 90 as follows: minus - the weight will be plus 63531; minus 1.64, plus 1.29; 004:17:42.65; minus 0440.2, minus 000.1, plus 4838.7; 178, 169, 359; plus 0018.5; 4858.7, 6:03, 4838.3. We'll have to get the sextant information later; 123 minus 030.
Since an error in the one of these numbers could put the spacecraft on the wrong trajectory, a potentially lethal scenario, the PAD contents are carefully checked by the crew reading them down to Mission Control.
001:41:18 Collins: Apollo 8, Houston. Over.
001:41:19 Lovell: Houston, did you copy?
Already, the vehicle has crossed the United States and is being received by the Bermuda tracking station. After that, comms will be through USNS Vanguard in the mid-Atlantic. The Bermuda Tracking Station supported US space flight up until STS-102 of the Shuttle program on 19 April, 2001.
001:41:21 Collins: Apollo 8, Houston. We are picking you up now over Bermuda. I did not copy your readback after Delta-VC. That was the last quantity - I received.
001:41:32 Lovell: Roger, Houston. Could you give us the sextant information again, the sextant star information?
001:41:38 Collins: That's affirmative. The sextant star 06, shaft 202.7, trunnion 25.0. Over.
001:41:53 Lovell: Roger. Starting out with the sextant star, 06, 200.7, 25.0; Earth's center, down 12.3, right 2.2; plus 11.23, minus 030.00; 1231.3, 34494, 017:47:39; north set; roll, 068; pitch, 097; yaw, 356; no ullage.
001:42:34 Collins: Roger. Jim, on your sextant star, the shaft should be 202.7 - 202.7. Over.
001:42:44 Lovell: Roger. Copy 202.7.
001:42:51 Collins: Apollo 8, Houston. Would you go to P00 and Accept, please? We want to send up the state vector.
The computer is placed into an idle state and the Uptelemetry switch set from Block to Accept, meaning that the computer will accept commands from the ground. Controllers can then directly write the values for the state vector into the computer's memory. This state vector has been calculated from tracking information gleaned by ground stations as the vehicle crossed the States.
001:43:02 Lovell: We are in Accept.
001:43:05 Collins: Roger. You are in Accept?
001:43:08 Lovell: Roger. Go ahead. We are in P00 and Accept.
001:43:11 Collins: Thank you. I have your TLI plus 4-hour PAD when you are ready to copy, and your TLI PAD also.
The TLI plus 4-hour PAD is another intended for an abort situation that, hopefully, will never occur. The TLI PAD on the other hand, will be used as its information is intended for the burn that sends Apollo 8 to the Moon.
001:43:19 Lovell: Ready to copy.
001:43:21 Collins: Okay. TLI plus 4 hours, SPS/G&N. Weight is still 63531 as printed; the pitch and yaw, minus 1.64 and plus 1.29. Are you with me so far?
001:43:43 Lovell: We are with you.
001:43:45 Collins: GETI, 006:47:27.79; minus 0159.4, plus 0000.0, plus 5288.5; 178, 155, 000; not applicable, plus 0019.2; 5290.9. Are you with me? Apollo 8, Houston. Over.
001:44:47 Lovell: This is Apollo 8. You're breaking lock on S-band, and again, you got cut off just at HP.
001:44:53 Collins: Okay. HP, plus 0019.2; 5290.9, 6:27, 5269.4. Are you with me? Over.
001:45:23 Lovell: Roger.
001:45:26 Collins: Roger. Sextant star, 12, 103.7, 21.1; Earth center, down 06.3, right 2.3; plus 10.68, minus 165.00; 1250.5, 35061, 026:42:57; north set stars; roll, 068; pitch, 097; yaw, 356; ullage none, high speed procedure not required. Over.
The PAD is interpreted as follows: The SPS propellant tanks are full, so there is no need to perform an ullage burn to settle their contents. As before, the high speed procedure does not need to be invoked.
001:46:47 Lovell: Roger, Houston. TLI plus 4. Weight remains the same; minus 1.64, plus 1.29; 006:47:27.79; minus 0159.4, plus all balls, plus 5288.5; 178, 155, 000; N/A, plus 0019.2; 5290.9, 6:27, 5269.4; 12, 103.7, 21.1; Earth center, down 06.3, right 2.3; plus 10.68, minus 165.00; 1250.5, 35061, 026:42:57; north set; roll, 068; pitch, 097; yaw, 356; no ullage, high speed procedure not required.
[Download MP3 audio file of PAO announcer recording. Clip courtesy John Stoll, ACR Senior Technician at NASA Johnson.]
And this is Apollo Control, Houston here. While we are still in communication by the Vanguard, I wanted to pass on to you some real-time telemetry we're getting on a few cabin functions. The cabin pressure has been holding at a rock steady 5.2 pounds per square inch since launch. We've switched now to the biomed, switched the biomed harness over to Jim Lovell, on the center couch. And his heart has been running around 69 to 70 beats per minute. He's breathing at a very steady 25 - 20 to 25 respirations per minute. He's been doing a lot of talking, a lot of writing down there, trying to copy all of those numbers. The cabin temperature is a very comfortable 62 degrees. All the other sources, the oxygen pressure is still slightly more than 100 percent, we normally launched about 105 to 106 percent, it's showing 104 percent. All other sources in the cabin, in the the biomed area look quite good. Let's go back now and hear even more numbers as we complete this TLI abort information.
001:48:07 Collins: Very good. That's all correct, and I have a TLI PAD for you whenever you're ready to copy it.
001:48:16 Lovell: Ready to copy.
001:48:17 Collins: Okay. Your computer PAD is in and verified. You can go to Block, and we're going to have LOS here in about 45 seconds. I'll start on the TLI PAD anyway. Time base 6 p[redict], 2:41:36; roll, 179; pitch, 045; yaw, 001; burn time, 5 plus 15; Delta VC prime, 10519.6; VI 35569; roll, 357; pitch, 091; yaw, 001. Comments: TLI plus 10 minutes; abort attitude is 199 degrees, and I don't believe you've got time to read that back. We'll see you over Canaries at 1:50 GET. Adios.
Comm break.
This PAD is structurally different to the others as the TLI manoeuvre is controlled by the IU (Instrument Unit) on the launch vehicle, and not the computer in the CM.
The timings for events relating to the launch vehicle are defined relative to a number of time bases, each of which start with a particular event. This allows complete sequences of events to occur relative to indeterminate points in the flight rather than the overall mission time. The restart sequence for the S-IVB's single J-2 engine is called time base 6. When it begins, all subsequent events to restart the engine such as tank repressurisation, engine chilldown, ullage, etc., follow on, leading to the engine start command 9 minutes, 30 seconds later, and actual ignition 8 seconds after that.
The crew also have tasks to perform in the minutes leading up to the TLI burn and they use their event timer to help them. They will preset it to read 51:00, to give them a nine minute count-up to ignition. Then around 002:41:36, the light will come on for ten seconds to announce the start of TB-6. Thirty eight seconds later, the event timer is started and counts up towards (1:)00:00 and beyond. Items in the checklist are therefore shown with times from 51:00 onwards.
The PAD is interpreted as follows: If the crew decide they need to abort the mission soon after TLI, they should adopt a pitch angle of 199°.
[Download MP3 audio file of PAO announcer recording. Clip courtesy John Stoll, ACR Senior Technician at NASA Johnson.]
You heard Mike Collins. After a conversation that started at 1 hour and 25 minutes into the mission, is now 1 hour and fort - nearly 1 hour and 50 minutes, to give you some understanding of the extraordinarily long periods that we can hold the spacecraft during these Stateside passes, and Mike bobbed that conversation off with an 'Adios' and said we'd pick them up in 1 minute over the Canaries. So essentially we've got, well let's say, on the order of 40 - 35 to 40 minutes of continuous communication starting with Guaymus and running through the Canary station. Let's just leave the circuit up. We'll have them back in just a very few seconds.
001:50:30 Collins: Apollo 8, Houston. Over.
001:50:33 Lovell: Roger. Houston, Apollo 8. Reading you loud and clear. TLI planned 2:41:36; 179, 045, 001; 5:15 10519.6, 35569; 357, 091, 001; TLI plus 10, abort attitude 199 on the pitch.
001:51:06 Collins: Roger, Apollo 8. That is correct. We'd like to double check one number on the TLI plus 90 minutes. When you can dig that out, let me know.
001:51:18 Lovell: Roger. Go ahead.
001:51:19 Collins: Okay. It's - the sextant shaft angle should be 202.7. Over.
001:51:29 Lovell: Roger. Sextant shaft is 202.7.
001:51:35 Collins: Thank you, sir.
Comm break.
Borman, from the 1969 Technical Debrief: "The Apollo 8 crew firmly believes that TLI should not be attempted any earlier than we attempted it on this flight, that is, on the second rev over the Pacific. It seems that we had a very good time line, ample opportunity to check the systems without rushing. We were able to have that one pass over the US with a good systems check by MCC."
[Download MP3 audio file of PAO announcer recording. Clip courtesy John Stoll, ACR Senior Technician at NASA Johnson.]
This is Apollo Control, Houston. The Flight Director has just advised the room that the booster, the S-IVB, all consumable sources, every bit of data we have looked at and examined indicate we should proceed with the TLI burn. (We) go back to the crew.
001:53:09 Collins: Apollo 8, Houston. Over.
001:53:12 Anders: Go ahead, Houston.
001:53:13 Collins: Roger. S-IVB looking good, both from a guidance and a consumable viewpoint; it all looks Go.
001:53:20 Anders: Roger. [Pause.]
001:53:30 Collins: The DSE is all yours, Bill.
001:53:32 Anders: Thank you. [Long pause.]
001:54:18 Collins: Apollo 8, Houston. We will have LOS in 1 minute; we'll pick you up again over Tananarive at 02:09.
001:54:28 Borman: Roger, Michael. Thank you.
001:54:30 Collins: Roger. How does it feel up there?
001:54:33 Borman: Very good, very good. Everything is going rather well. It [the Earth] looks just about the same way it did 3 years ago.
Frank is referring to the fortnight he and Jim shared the cramped confines of Gemini VII in December 1965.
001:54:42 Collins: Has Bill got time from playing with his tape recorder to look out the window?
Bill has responsibility for operating the DSE.
001:54:45 Borman: Roger. We had one little incident here. Jim Lovell inadvertently popped one life raft, so we've got one full Mae West with us here.
001:55:02 Collins: Roger. Understand.
Very long comm break.
Frank is talking about Jim's life vest which floats nearby. Evidently, judging from the laughter that accompanied the event, the crew found the incident somewhat hilarious. In one of the backrooms at Mission Control, someone will be analysing the problem with the life vest by finding out how much CO2 has been discharged and what effect it will have on their budget of lithium hydroxide canisters.
Apollo 8 has passed out of range of the station in the Canary Isles. Its next communication will be via the Tananarive station in Madagascar.
[Download MP3 audio file of PAO announcer recording. Clip courtesy John Stoll, ACR Senior Technician at NASA Johnson.]
This is Apollo Control, Houston. That will apparently wrap it up via Canary Islands. Tananarive, we are due to acquire at 2 hours and 9 minutes into the flight, about 15 minutes from now. You heard on the tag end of that conversation a fairly relaxed Borman commenting on the fact that it looked very much like it did three years ago when he and Jim Lovell were flying Gemini VII, and he also reported that inadvertently a Mae West had been inflated. We're not just sure whose Mae West it was, but the supposition here is that one tank or one side of the life jacket on the Command Pilot might have been inadvertently triggered, and we're sure it's causing no difficulty and it will be deflated and stowed at the proper time with the suits. So at - we'll be back at Tananarive at about 10 to 12 minutes. This is Apollo Control, Houston.
Journal reader Dave Hardin adds: - "The reference to Jim Lovell's life jacket as a 'Mae West', by both Frank and the PAO announcer borrows from the nickname for a life jacket first used by World War II aviators. They used the term to honor Mae West, the buxom star of movies from the 1920s through the 1970s, because those pilots who wore the life jacket in its inflated state tended to take on a more hourglass-like shape, similar to West's famous figure."
002:09:49 Collins: Apollo 8, Houston through Tananarive. Over.
002:09:55 Borman: Roger. Houston, this is Apollo 8.
002:09:57 Collins: Roger, Apollo 8. We don't have anything for you; we are just standing by. You're looking good.
002:10:02 Borman: Roger. Thank you.
Long comm break.
[Download MP3 audio file. Clip courtesy John Stoll, ACR Senior Technician at NASA Johnson.]
002:14:07 Collins: Apollo 8, Houston.
002:14:11 Borman: Gemini 8 - correction: Apollo 8.
002:14:16 Collins: Roger. Gemini 8, Houston. We'd like to bring you up to date on the comm situation while we've got some quiet time here. We'll be LOS Tananarive in another 2 minutes; we'll be picking you up over Carnarvon at 2 hours, 25 minutes and 22 seconds. LOS Carnarvon will be 02:31:55; then we've got ARIA number 1 coming in at about 02:37:30; and after that, we have a hand-off to Mercury to Hawaii to Goldstone, and we should have continuous comm. Over.
002:14:28 Borman: Very good. That's very good. Thank you.
002:15:01 Collins: Rog. [Pause.]
002:15:10 Collins: Thought you were Gemini 7, not 8.
002:15:14 Borman: Roger.
Very long comm break.
Mike Collins has a very quick wit and plays with Frank's slip of the tongue. Frank, however, is all businesslike and focussed on the mission and ignores the witticism.
Mike has advised the crew of their communications links during the lead up to TLI. They have already spoken through Carnarvon during the first orbit. The ARIA aircraft are a fleet of eight aircraft that provide gap-filling comms to the Apollo spacecraft while in Earth orbit. They were modified from Air Force cargo derivatives of the Boeing 707 and first brought into service in January 1968. Originally designated the EC-135N, later the EC-135E, an example is kept at the USAF Museum at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio. Between ARIA 1 and Hawaii, communications are handled by USNS Mercury, a tracking ship similar to USNS Vanguard.
[Download MP3 audio file of PAO announcer recording. Clip courtesy John Stoll, ACR Senior Technician at NASA Johnson.]
This is Apollo Control, Houston at 2 hours, 15 minutes into the flight. We have had a chat with the crew over Tananarive and among other things, Frank Borman reported that this - that he was Gemini VIII, which was a cause for a few smiles. Some wag finally added, 'remember now, you're Gemini 7, not Gemini 8.' And here's how the conversation went.
[Download MP3 audio file of PAO announcer recording. Clip courtesy John Stoll, ACR Senior Technician at NASA Johnson.]
This is Apollo Control, Houston at 2 hours, 26 minutes into the flight. We have just acquired via Carnarvon, and here is how that conversation is going.
002:26:02 Collins: Apollo 8, Houston. Over.
002:26:06 Borman: Go ahead, Houston. Apollo.
002:26:08 Collins: Roger. Loud and clear. We'd like to take your tape recorder for a minute, please.
002:26:13 Borman: Can he have it, Bill?
002:26:15 Anders: Go ahead.
002:26:16 Borman: Thank you.
002:26:20 Collins: By the way, we read out the voice tape, and the quality of the voice tape is good - from the DSE.
002:26:28 Borman: Good. [Long pause.]
002:27:20 Collins: Apollo 8, Houston.
002:27:21 Borman: Go ahead, Houston.
002:27:22 Collins: Apollo 8. You are Go for TLI. Over.
002:27:27 Borman: Roger. We understand; we are Go for TLI.
Long comm break.
Mission Control has given the crew official permission to go to the Moon. They are happy that the spacecraft is functioning well and that there is no reason not to go on. There is another 14 minutes before the Saturn's computer starts timebase 6, the sequence leading to engine start 9½ minutes later. Mike Collins wrote in his superb autobiography that, during his flight on Apollo 11, he felt this call to the spacecraft for TLI (Translunar Injection) was about as dramatic as asking for a second lump of sugar, that there ought to be more to this "umbilical snipping ceremony". Early in the planning for Apollo 8, Mike was the CMP for this mission until a slipped disc in his spine grounded him until corrective surgery could fix it. Jim Lovell replaced him leaving him in the CapCom role. Immediately after going off this shift, Mike attended a briefing for the press where he was asked about his feelings.
Alexander, from the December 21 Change of Shift Press briefing: "George Alexander, Newsweek. For Mike Collins. Mike, can you tell us how you felt, since you were once a member of the crew, how you felt when you gave the Apollo 8 crew the Go for TLI?"
Collins, from the December 21 Change of Shift Press briefing: "It was a great feeling. I never had any doubts that we would be able to give them a Go for TLI and of course, I think we were excited on the ground about it very much, so I'm sure they were onboard the spacecraft. Although they came back rather matter of factly, I think - you know that tends to be the case in these flights, when there are a long sequence of fast-paced events laid together, the crew is always looking for the future. I'm sure right after the TLI burn, although they were very impressed by the fact that they were on their way, their attention was devoted forward in the Flight Plan to the next task coming up for them."
Alexander, from the December 21 Change of Shift Press briefing: "Mike, what I want is your own feelings about not being with them at that point."
Collins, from the December 21 Change of Shift Press briefing: "Well, I think I was in the second best place to be, I'll put it that way."
[Download MP3 audio file of PAO announcer recording. Clip courtesy John Stoll, ACR Senior Technician at NASA Johnson.]
This is Apollo Control, Houston, running through an unusually quiet pass across Carnarvon with very little more than establishing call signs. Our orbital digitals, which we're reading out from Australian sites, show that the present velocity is 25,569 feet per second [7,793 m/s], showing an apogee of 105.5 nautical miles [195.4 km]; and our Translunar Injection burn will have the effect - Here's some comm going up, let's catch up with it.
[Download MP3 audio file. Clip courtesy John Stoll, ACR Senior Technician at NASA Johnson.]
002:31:26 Collins: Apollo 8, Houston. Over.
002:31:29 Borman: Go ahead, Houston. Apollo 8.
002:31:31 Collins: Roger. We'll have LOS in about 30 seconds, and we'll pick you up over ARIA 1 at 02:37 and a half.
002:31:38 Borman: Roger.
Long comm break.
[Download MP3 audio file of PAO announcer recording. Clip courtesy John Stoll, ACR Senior Technician at NASA Johnson.]
Apollo Control back here. The TLI burn will add 10,500 feet per second - perhaps a foot or two more per second than that, but that's pretty close - 10,500 feet per second to the present 25,570. And the duration of the burn'll be slightly more than 5 minutes. It is to occur at 2 hours and 50 minutes into the flight. Now, a combination of stations will be seeing it. The ship Mercury will see it. It's parked about 8, 9 - about a thousand miles southwest of Hawaii. Hawaii also should see it. And in a very few minutes, as the spacecraft starts away from the Earth, the big dish in Goldstone, California, will acquire. At 2 hours and 33 minutes into the flight, this is Apollo Control, Houston.
002:38:21 Borman: Houston. This is Apollo 8. How do you read?
002:38:24 Collins: Apollo 8, Houston. Over.
002:38:29 Borman: Houston, Apollo 8. I hear you garbled but fairly clear.
002:38:33 Collins: Roger. Apollo 8, Houston. We're transmitting through ARIA 1, and you are also garbled.
Long comm break.
That is all the voice communication that goes via ARIA 1. However, voice is not the main reason for setting up the link. Mission Control want to monitor the both the spacecraft's and the S-IVB's systems via telemetry during the final few minutes before TLI. At 002:40:59.54 the launch vehicle's computer in the IU begins timebase 6, which is indicated to the crew by the S-II Sep light on the launch vehicle indicator panel coming on. This time is as given in the AS-503 Flight Evaluation Report and is the start of an automatic sequence that will lead to engine restart on the S-IVB in 9½ minutes. Note that TB-6 has begun just over 36 seconds earlier than predicted in the TLI PAD.
Having preset the mission timer to read 51:00, the crew wait the 30 seconds that the S-II Sep light stays on, and start it counting up when the light goes out. The timer will help them synchronise their activities with the upcoming burn as detailed on page L-13 of the TLI checklist.
Had a problem arisen that would have caused TLI to be waved off, the crew would have thrown a switch at the bottom-left hand side of panel 2 from "Xlunar Inject" to "Safe" Therefore, at 42 seconds into TB-6, the IU makes the first of two checks to see the status of this switch. If the mission is still bound for the Moon, the S-IVB stops venting H2 to allow the tank to repressurise. At the same time, a hydrogen/oxygen burner is started so that helium, from tanks within the hydrogen tank, can be heated to repressurise both the LOX and LH2 tanks.
[Download MP3 audio file of PAO announcer recording. Clip courtesy John Stoll, ACR Senior Technician at NASA Johnson.]
This is Apollo Control, Houston; 2 hours, 42 minutes into the flight. We attempted to establish some communication a minute or two ago through one of our instrumentation aircraft. We heard them, they heard us, but it was just barely. And we are now awaiting contact, which we should have in about 2 minutes, [for communications] through the good ship Mercury. It is entirely appropriate that the ship Mercury should be the relay point for this historic burn, which is planned for in about 6 - 6 minutes from now. Flight Director has just advised that we should standby to receive Mercury data and that's precisely what we're doing. We'll be back to you in about 2 minutes. This is Apollo Control, Houston.
[Download MP3 audio file of PAO announcer recording. Clip courtesy John Stoll, ACR Senior Technician at NASA Johnson.]
This is Apollo Control, Houston; 2 hours, 45 minutes into the flight. And we now are getting data from the ship Mercury and everything looks good. The Booster has advised that the tanks have repressurized properly and here goes the first call up to Apollo 8.
"Booster" refers to the flight controller in the front row at Mission Control responsible for monitoring the systems of the Saturn V stages.
[Download MP3 audio file. Clip courtesy John Stoll, ACR Senior Technician at NASA Johnson.]
002:45:12 Collins: Apollo 8, Houston. Over.
002:45:15 Borman: Go ahead, Houston. Apollo 8.
002:45:17 Collins: Good; you're loud and clear through the Mercury, and you're looking good down here. Everything looks good.
002:45:23 Borman: Roger. Understand. Our O2 flow is a little bit higher than I thought, but Bill says that it's just about what he expected.
002:45:31 Collins: Rog. Understand. [Pause.]
002:45:36 Collins: Your O2 flow looks good down here.
002:45:43 Borman: Thank you.
Long comm break.
The IU makes another check of whether the TLI burn is going ahead before continuing with restart preparations. With three minutes to go, program 47 is started. This will allow the crew to monitor their velocity, their height above the Earth and the rate at which their height is increasing (known as H-dot). Bill starts the DSE recording once more so that telemetry can be gathered during the attitude changes that are about to occur.
[Download MP3 audio file of PAO announcer recording. Clip courtesy John Stoll, ACR Senior Technician at NASA Johnson.]
Here in the Control Center, two big charts dominate the front of the room, and two of the walls. One of them will present the data as it climbs. It's a plot of velocity versus altitude, so we will be able to track that for you. The other plots show the angle of the burn - is following. And still another shows the ever-so-slight out of plane maneuver. Stand by one.
At 002:49:13, the 'S-II Sep' light comes on. The final restart sequence is about to begin but they can still inhibit the burn.
Diagram of the Auxiliary Propulsion System.
At its base, the S-IVB stage has two thruster units, one on either side. Known as the APS (Auxiliary Propulsion System), each one has two thrusters facing to either side of the unit which can rotate the stage in yaw or roll. Each also has one facing away from the stage which allows control of pitch, and one facing the same direction as the main J-2 engine. This last is used as a ullage motor to help push the propellants to the bottom of their tanks and to give a head of pressure in the propellant lines. At 002:49:15, these ullage motors begin firing for one minute, 16 seconds.
002:49:17 Anders (onboard): Okay. Start your watch [garble] see what time it says.
Pressurisation of the propellant tanks is now taken up by tanks of helium at ambient temperature, mounted at the base of the stage. The heater that was previously warming the helium from within the fuel tank is commanded off.
002:49:28 Collins: Apollo 8, Houston. You're looking good.
002:49:31 Borman: Roger. [Long pause.]
[Download MP3 audio file of PAO announcer recording. Clip courtesy John Stoll, ACR Senior Technician at NASA Johnson.]
Immediately following the burn, we should get a detailed report on it from Frank Borman. And meanwhile, Bill Anders, and during the course of the burn, will operate the onboard flight recorder and on which any various comments from the various crewmembers will be recorded. And we will undoubtedly hear some comments from them during the course of the burn. Immediately following the burn, Jim Lovell is to start stowing the many items of camera gear, lenses, mirrors, cables, all manner of camera equipment, including a spotmeter. And the - Apollo 8's been advised once again that they look good for the burn. About every minute, the Flight Director has pulsed the Booster man in this Control Center to get - to get his status.
[Download MP3 audio file of onboard audio. Clip courtesy John Stoll, ACR Senior Technician at NASA Johnson.]
002:49:50 Lovell (onboard): Huh?
002:49:52 Anders (onboard): Call out the time, Frank.
002:49:54 Borman (onboard): 59:17, 18.
The crew are watching the mission timer which is counting up to zero. At 59:17, they have 43 seconds before ignition.
002:49:56 Anders (onboard): Okay, 42 is S-II Sep light, Off.
002:50:01 Borman (onboard): 42?
When the mission timer shows 59:42, there will be 18 seconds to go. This is the TLI commit point.
002:50:03 Anders (onboard): Okay, you're in EMS Mode, Auto?
As well as the spacecraft's guidance system, the crew will monitor their change in velocity, their Delta-V, on the Entry Monitor System.
002:50:04 Borman (onboard): Yeah.
002:50:05 Anders (onboard): Okay.
[Download MP3 audio file of PAO announcer recording. Clip courtesy John Stoll, ACR Senior Technician at NASA Johnson.]
Thirty seconds to TLI.
002:50:13 Collins: Apollo 8, coming up on 20 seconds to ignition. Mark it, and you're looking very good.
002:50:19 Anders (onboard): Okay.
With 18 seconds to go, the 'S-II Sep' light has gone out. They are committed to the J-2 engine restarting and a note in the TLI checklist makes this clear, "TLI Inhibit Signals will not be honoured after 59:42.
On later Apollo Flights, this regime was altered somewhat. By Apollo 15, the TLI burn could be inhibited at any time but with certain provisos. Prior to the T minus 18-second mark, the XLunar Inject switch could be used to inhibit ignition, as with Apollo 8. The controller in the Saturn's IU would recycle back to timebase 5, as if they had just reached orbit. Until T minus 12 seconds, the LV Stage switch could be used for the same purpose by switching it to the S-II/S-IVB position. After T minus 12, the LV Stage switch would still inhibit the burn, but now the inhibit would be permanent, there would be no TLI burn. The Apollo 8 crew have none of these choices. Once they pass T minus 18 seconds, they are going to burn.
002:50:20 Borman: Roger. [Long pause.]
And Mike Collins gives them a mark 20 seconds to ignition.
002:50:21 Anders (onboard): Call 42.
002:50:24 Borman (onboard): We're past 42. That was when our light...
002:50:26 Anders (onboard): That's 58:42 or - 59...
002:50:28 Borman (onboard): 59...
The engine start command is sent at 002:50:29.51 GET. The restart sequence is essentially identical to the other J-2 starts except that fuel is allowed to run through the engine walls for eight seconds before the final ignition.
Borman (onboard, continued): ...9, 8, 7...
With the engine well on its way to firing, the ullage motors within the APS modules are shut down.
Borman (onboard, continued): ...4 - 3, 2, [S-II Sep] light On. Ignition.
Now he [probably Flight Director] is counting, 4 - 2, we see ignition.
002:50:40 Lovell: Ignition.
002:50:41 Collins: Roger. Ignition. [Long pause.]
Lovell confirms ignition and the thrust is okay, Booster says.
002:50:45 Borman (onboard): Go ahead. Boy, it's going off in yaw.
Frank is referring to attitude changes in the vehicle as it begins the IGM or Iterative Guidance Mode for this manoeuvre. The IU's computer knows where it wants to be at a given time and it is aiming the J-2 engine to try and achieve it. The vehicle is on the opposite side of the Earth from where the Moon will be by the time they get there.
Up to the start of the TLI burn, the vehicle has been keeping an orb-rate attitude with the pointy-end forward, parallel to the Earth below. As they start to climb away from the planet, their pitch angle gently increases to match their rising flight path.
002:50:51 Anders (onboard): Okay, the DAP [Digital AutoPilot] is fine over here.
002:50:53 Lovell (onboard): What's your attitude at [garble]?
002:50:54 Borman (onboard): Fine, 45 [garble].
002:50:55 Lovell (onboard): Okay.
002:50:56 Anders (onboard): Okay, align yourself in attitude, we got plus or minus 5 degrees.
002:51:01 Anders (onboard): And the tank pressures?
002:51:03 Borman (onboard): Tank pressures are good.
002:51:04 Anders (onboard): Okay.
002:51:08 Borman (onboard): Are you watching the Delta-P [garble]?
002:51:10 Anders (onboard): Yeah.
002:51:11 Lovell (onboard): 30 seconds.
Flight Dynamics says we look good, Flight - watching this thrust build. Trajectory, Guidance, Flight Dynamics, everybody in the front, what's called the front trench of this Control Center, says they're happy. That includes the Booster.
002:51:12 Collins: Apollo 8, Houston. You're looking good. [Long pause.]
Collins says 'You're looking good.'
002:51:14 Lovell (onboard): You got 18 hours to...
002:51:16 Anders (onboard): Don't worry about that.
002:51:28 Borman (onboard): Everything alright?
002:51:14 Lovell (onboard): 60 seconds.
002:51:44 Lovell (onboard): 20 seconds off.
Two hours, 51 minutes and 30 seconds, that would put us about a minute into the burn. Apogee now 800 [nautical] miles [1,500 km] and climbing.
As more velocity is added to the vehicle, the computers in Houston can predict the orbit that would result if thrust were to terminate suddenly. In particular, they are displaying the apogee of that orbit. At about 198 km, the vehicle is barely higher than its orbital altitude of about 185 km, but the velocity it has gained so far would be enough to raise it to about 1,500 km on the other side of Earth.
002:51:58 Anders (onboard): Things are looking good over here.
002:51:58 Collins: Apollo 8, Houston. Trajectory and guidance look good. Over.
Communications are now passing via Hawaii where they are in the pre-dawn darkness.
002:52:02 Borman: Roger. Apollo 8, looks good here. [Long pause.]
Hawaii confirms that they've got a very solid lock and Borman almost nonchalantly says 'Roger, we look good here,' at 2 hours, 52 minutes.
002:52:06 Lovell (onboard): Okay, cut-off at 02:55:51. Okay, we're coming up on 28,000 (fps).
002:52:19 Collins: Apollo 8, Houston. We're predicting cut-off, 02:55:58, and it looks exactly nominal here.
002:52:27 Borman: Roger. [Pause.]
002:52:28 Anders (onboard): 02:55:58?
002:52:29 Borman (onboard): Right.
002:52:34 Collins: Apollo 8, Houston. That predicted cut-off, 02:55:52, 52, and that's exactly as it should be.
002:52:40 Borman: 02:55:52.
002:52:42 Lovell (onboard): Okay.
002:52:43 Anders (onboard): Shouldn't have that goddamn high flow rate up there.
002:52:52 Lovell (onboard): Coming up on 29,000 [fps, 8,840 m/s]. Okay, our yaw should be coming off now a little bit.
The crew are monitoring their increasing velocity with two separate systems. On the DSKY, they can see the guidance system's take on their overall inertial velocity. This is the figure Jim has just quoted. On the EMS, they have a display of the velocity yet to be gained. This began at 10,519.6 fps (3,206.4 m/s) as given to them in the PAD and subsequently dialled in. As the burn progresses, this display goes down towards zero.
002:52:58 Anders (onboard): 3 minutes to go.
002:53:03 Lovell (onboard): You should have about 8 degrees of yaw yet, compared to what - 35? A weak 35, now 37. Alright, it was what - 9 degrees?
002:53:16 Borman (onboard): Hey, that O2 is pegged high, Bill.
002:53:18 Anders (onboard): Yes, I know. It's just a little warmer up here. I'd - I'm looking at the Delta-P here. The surge tank in the tank 1 [garble] nothing else to worry about.
002:53:31 Lovell (onboard): 30,000.
They want the stage to get them to a velocity of 35,569 fps (10,841.4 m/s).
002:53:42 Collins: Apollo 8, Houston. You are looking good here, right down the center line.
002:53:45 Borman: Roger. Apollo 8.
Comm break.
002:53:52 Lovell (onboard): Coming up on 31,000.
002:54:03 Borman (onboard): How's the cabin pressure, Bill?
002:54:05 Anders (onboard): Holding good.
002:54:16 Lovell (onboard): Coming up on 31,5. [31,500 fps, 9,600 m/s]
002:54:21 Lovell (onboard): 02:54.
002:54:22 Borman (onboard): What time [garble, probably asking for the cut-off time]?
002:54:24 Lovell (onboard): 02:54:56.
002:54:32 Lovell (onboard): 02:55:52.
002:54:52 Anders (onboard): One minute to go.
Flight Dynamics says we're exactly nominal. And cut-off is now predicted; 2 hours, 55 minutes and 58 seconds; 2 hours, 55 minutes and 58 seconds. The crew's been advised that they look - all values look exactly nominal or just exactly what we'd hoped they'd be. Their present altitude is now about 3,000 miles and we're Go and these three crewmembers are traveling faster than man has ever flown before. There is very little conversation with the crew, but let's cut now to the crew and see what we can pick up.
The PAO announcer, Paul Haney, is actually stating the apogee of their current orbit, which is about 5,500 kilometres. With a minute to go, their actual altitude is about 260 km.
[Download MP3 audio file. Clip courtesy John Stoll, ACR Senior Technician at NASA Johnson.]
002:54:54 Collins: Apollo 8. Houston. You're looking good, right down the old center line.
002:54:58 Borman: Roger. Apollo 8. [Long pause.]
[Download MP3 audio file of PAO announcer recording. Clip courtesy John Stoll, ACR Senior Technician at NASA Johnson.]
Their velocity now is about 32,000 feet per second, 32,000 feet per second. Velocity is now 33,000 feet per second. And from Hawaii, we are getting a visual report that people in Hawaii are observing the burn from on the ground.
At the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory on Maui, Hawaii, observers are able to see and photograph the plume from the J-2 engine as the vehicle comes into daylight.
002:54:58 Borman (onboard): Apollo 8...
002:55:05 Lovell (onboard): [Garble].
002:55:19 Lovell (onboard): Stand by.
[Download MP3 audio file of PAO announcer recording. Clip courtesy John Stoll, ACR Senior Technician at NASA Johnson.]
We're about 40 seconds away from cut-off here. The spacecraft moving at nearly 35,000 feet per second. Cut-off in 30 seconds.
002:55:22 Lovell (onboard): 30 seconds to go. 34,000 [fps, 10,360 m/s]. You got the card?
002:55:27 Borman (onboard): Yeah.
002:55:29 Lovell (onboard): Did you see the card, Bill?
002:55:30 Anders (onboard): I got it.
002:55:33 Lovell (onboard): Okay.
002:55:36 Lovell (onboard): 35,000. We should have good [garble].
Present altitude [means apogee], 35,000 [nautical] miles [55,500 km]. 60,000 [nautical] miles [111,000 km] we're approaching. We have passed the 60,000 miles and we are very nearly...
By a quirk of orbital mechanics, the early increase in velocity had a relatively small effect on their predicted apogee. Now, as their velocity gains its last increments, it is making a huge difference to this apogee figure. The function of the TLI burn is to place them in a huge, elongated, elliptical orbit that will be intercepted by the Moon. That orbit will have a apogee in the region of 500,000 km.
The figure for their apogee is monitored for it is used to decide what action will be taken, should the S-IVB shutdown early. Page 2-2a has a table outlining their choices. If their apogee resulting from the TLI burn were less than 60,000 nautical miles (111,000 km), they would make a couple of revolutions to the high altitude before entering a conventional low Earth orbit. If their orbit does have the energy to take them beyond 60,000 nautical miles they would continue on to the Moon, either entering lunar orbit or flying by the Moon on a free-return trajectory to Earth, depending on the propellant requirements.
002:55:38 Borman (onboard): Alright, 15 coming up here.
002:55:42 Lovell (onboard): Real fine. 10 seconds.
002:55:47 Lovell (onboard): 35[,000] - 35,1[00 fps, 10,700 m/s].
002:55:48 Anders (onboard): How's your inertial velocity?
002:55:50 Lovell (onboard): Velocity's looking fine.
002:55:53 Lovell (onboard): 5, 4...
002:55:57 Borman: Okay. We got SECO right on the money.
002:55:58 Collins: Roger. Understand; SECO.
Comm break.
Borman, from the 1969 Technical Debrief : "The S-IVB ullage and ignition was exactly as advertised. The S-IVB started smoothly with the build-up to 1 g. Guidance was very, very smooth and followed the curve right down the middle. There is just no comment other than to say that the whole booster operation was flown exactly as planned with the exception of the Pogo that I mentioned earlier in the later stage of the S-II.
... And Borman says we got SECO. Cut-off was right on the second.
002:56:02 Lovell (onboard): I got a [garble] light; 2 seconds late on SECO. [Garble] got the tape recorder.
002:56:10 Unidentified Speaker (onboard): [Garble] SECO [garble] gimbal [garble].
002:56:15 Borman (onboard): Jim. Go ahead, Bill.
002:56:16 Anders (onboard): SECO plus 10 seconds, light Off. S-IVB goes to attitude hold 20 seconds and begin venting.
002:56:21 Borman (onboard): Okay.
Translunar Injection is defined as occurring at the end of the TLI burn. At that time, their velocity was 10,822 metres per second (35,505 fps) but immediately at cut-off, the Earth is reasserting its pull and lowering their speed. They were 346.7 kilometres above the Earth at cut-off but this is increasing rapidly as their trajectory takes them away from their former Earth-hugging flight path.
Graph displaying how acceleration or g-force rises throughout the TLI burn from 0.7g to over 1.5g.
This graph shows the acceleration experienced by the crew during the burn, the g-forces gently rising as the vehicle lightens. They have broken every speed record and are about to break the altitude record held by Pete Conrad and Dick Gordon. They are breaking free of the Earth's grip for the first time in history on their way to becoming the first humans to explore another world.
At about this time, the first of several in-flight press conferences was held; in this case the post-launch press conference at Cape Kennedy. The recording of this conference is presented in the audio file below. Subsequent to this, press conferences would typically be held shortly after shift changes.
[Download MP3 audio file of post launch press conference recording. Clip courtesy John Stoll, ACR Senior Technician at NASA Johnson.]
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