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Apollo 11

Day 9, part 2: Entry and Splashdown

Corrected Transcript and Commentary Copyright © 2010-2021 by W. David Woods, Kenneth D. MacTaggart and Frank O'Brien. All rights reserved.
Last updated 2021-03-07
Index to events
Entry PAD update 194:16:46
Spacecraft enters Earth's shadow 194:36:41
Jettison of Service Module 194:49:13
Entry Interface 195:03:06
Predicted start of Blackout period 195:03:23
0.05g detected - Entry guidance begins 195:03:34
Command Module velocity below VCIRC. 195:05:19
Predicted end of Blackout period 195:06:57
Deployment of drogue chutes 195:12:07
Deployment of main parachutes reported 195:13:22
Earth landing - Splashdown 195:18:21
Command Module goes to Stable 1 orientation Stable 1
The crew begin to egress the Command Module Crew egress
The crew are picked up from the life raft Crew Pickup
President Nixon greets the crew at the MQF President Nixon
As the mission of Apollo 11 comes to a close, the crew jettison their Service Module and watch it manoeuvre away automatically. A skipping re-entry is followed by a safe splashdown in the Pacific Ocean southwest of Hawaii.
Diagram illustrating Apollo's approach path to Earth.
An Apollo re-entry, when falling all the way from the Moon, is a delicate balancing act between multiple objectives and constraints. The CM's trajectory as it approached Earth, was set to miss the planet's surface by about 40 kilometres as it swung around. Were there no atmosphere to slow it down from a velocity exceeding 11 kilometres per second, it would head back out into cislunar space to a distance further out than the Moon. Such an orbit would take weeks rather than days and given that the CM only has sufficient consumables for a few hours, this would be lethal to the crew.
Diagram illustrating how the atmosphere slows the spacecraft down.
Happily, the atmosphere does provide a convenient means of slowing the CM without using rockets, provided it is carefully managed. If the CM enters too steeply, the deceleration would be very high and likely injurious, even lethal to the crew. Further, the heat of re-entry could overwhelm the ability of the heatshield to withstand the punishment. These issues can be avoided by coming in at a shallow angle. However, if it is too shallow, the CM may not encounter sufficiently dense air to slow it down enough to avoid going back into orbit. The size of any resulting orbit is dependent on how much speed is lost and the crucial value is about 7.8 km per second. This is VCIRC, the velocity that would support a circular orbit around Earth. Once the spacecraft gets below that, Earth landing on this pass is assured. Engineers determined that an entry angle of -6.5° would be a suitable compromise. This would result in a tolerable peak deceleration of between 6 and 7 g's and there would be little chance of the spacecraft exiting the atmosphere while still travelling at above VCIRC. In terms of heat tolerance, it turned out that the Apollo heatshield was over-designed for the entry profile that was eventually used and could therefore have sustained far greater punishment than was taken.
Apollo 11's entry is unique among all the Apollo lunar re-entries because it was deliberately designed to make a small upwards skip-out after it had passed VCIRC in order to have it fly over inclement weather at the original landing site.
Download MP3 audio file. Left channel: clean air/ground. Right channel: air/ground with PAO commentary. Clip courtesy John Stoll, ACR Senior Technician at NASA Johnson.
This is Apollo Control at 194 hours, 10 minutes. Apollo 11 is now 8 thousand, 5 hun...
194:10:13 Evans: Apollo 11, Houston.
194:10:16 Aldrin: Go ahead, Houston. Apollo 11.
194:10:17 Evans: Rog. We have our updated state vector out there for you. Request P00 and Accept. Over. [Pause.]
194:10:28 Aldrin: Okay. You've got it.
194:10:32 Evans: Okay. Here it comes.
Comm break.
A state vector is a package of six numbers relevant to a particular time that, within a 3-axis coordinate system, defines the spacecraft's position and its velocity. The primary method of determining the state vector is through radio tracking from Earth. If this is done, then the updated values must be uplinked to the computer's erasable memory directly from Mission Control. To achieve this, CapCom asks for the Uptelemetry switch to be changed from Block to Accept.
Spacecraft distance is 8,393 nautical miles [15,544 km]. Velocity; 19,512 feet per second [5,947 m/s]. Rescue and ARIA aircraft are reported on station, and the Hornet's helicopters containing the swimmers are reported airborne. Swim One is helicopter number 53. Three swimmers from that helo are expected to place the collar on the spacecraft, flotation collar. Crew of Swim One consists of Lieutenant Commander Donald G. Pitchmand, pilot.
According to a list of key Apollo 11 personnel on the website of the National Air & Space Museum, the pilot of Swim 1 was Donald Richmon.
194:11:55 Evans: Apollo 11, Houston.
194:11:58 Armstrong: Go ahead.
194:12:00 Evans: Roger. The computer is yours now. Looks like you're in VHF range, here. So we'll try a VHF check for you. We'll just send the VHF up to you. Stand by.
194:12:11 Armstrong: Okay.
194:12:25 Evans: Apollo 11, Houston. VHF check on Simplex Alpha. Over.
194:12:32 Aldrin: Roger, Houston. Apollo 11, VHF Simplex Alpha, loud and clear. How me? Over.
194:12:38 Evans: Roger, 11. Houston. You're loud. The standard VHF noise, though, makes you realize that S-band is good.
194:12:48 Aldrin: Roger. Understand. Thank you. [Long pause.]
194:13:19 Evans: Apollo 11, Houston. Backup S-band now, and we're standing by for Command Module RCS activation.
194:13:27 Aldrin: Okay. We're just about there.
Comm break.
Swim One's pilot, Commander Pitchmand, is from Orlando, Florida. Co-pilot Lt. William W. Strawn of Plymouth, Michigan; Crewman James R. Johnson, Raleigh, North Carolina. The swimmers aboard Swim One are Lt JG John McLachlan of Spokane, Washington; Petty Officer 2nd Class Terry A. Muehlenbach, Chatsworth, California; and Petty Officer 3rd Class Mitchell L. Bucklew of Sanford, Florida. These 3 swimmers are scheduled to attach the flotation collar and then move away from the Command Module while helicopter number 66, designated Recovery One, moves into the area and deploys one swimmer, Lt. Clancey Hatelberg.
194:15:15 Evans: Apollo 11, Houston, you're Go for Pyro Arm.
194:15:19 Collins: Thank you, Houston.
Comm break.
Lt. Clancey Hatelberg of Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, will deploy from Recovery One wearing a biological isolation garment and he will hand to the crew through the hatch their biological isolation garments. At 194 hours, 16 minutes; Apollo 11 is 7,512 nautical miles [13,912 km] from Earth, velocity 20,304 feet per second [6,189 m/s].
194:16:36 Evans: Apollo 11, Houston. Your Command Module pressurization looks mighty fine to us.
194:16:41 Armstrong: Looks good here, Ron.
194:16:46 Evans: And 11, Houston, I've got an update for about four items on your Entry PAD.
194:16:55 Aldrin: Ready to copy.
194:16:57 Evans: Roger. Your Max-g, 06.3; your Noun 60, your Gamma at 400k, 6.48; your range to go on the EMS, 1403.3; and your Retro time for V-circular, 02:14. Over.
194:17:40 Aldrin: Roger. Copy Max g, 6.3; R2 at Noun 60, 6.48; range to go EMS, 14033; RET V-circular, 02:14. Over.
194:17:58 Evans: Roger. Readback is correct there.
Long comm break.
To expand on the Entry PAD update, the maximum deceleration the crew should experience during the initial part of the re-entry is 6.3 g's, down from 6.4. The figure for Gamma, which is the flight path angle at Entry Interface, is now 6.48°, down from 6.49°. The 'Range-to-go' figure that will be entered into the EMS is now 1,403.3 nautical miles, down from 1,404.5. Finally, the time between Entry Interface and the moment when they are at a velocity that would support a circular orbit is now 2 minutes, 14 seconds, up from 02:13. The significance of this moment is that they would no longer have sufficient velocity to support an orbit around Earth. Such an orbit would be dangerous in a spacecraft with extremely limited consumables. Once they pass this time, their landing is assured.
The crew of helicopter 66, Recovery One; the pilot Cdr. D. S. Jones of Madison, Wisconsin; Co-pilot Lt JG Bruce A. Johnson, Bremerton, Washington; and the two crewmen who will assist the astronauts into the Helo; Chief Petty Officer Norvel L. Wood of Carmi, Illinois and Chief Petty Officer Stanley G. Robnett of Portales, Mexico - New Mexico.
Download MP3 audio file. Left channel: clean air/ground. Right channel: air/ground with PAO commentary. Clip courtesy John Stoll, ACR Senior Technician at NASA Johnson.
At 194 hours, 22 minutes; distance is 6,509 nautical miles [12,055 km]. Velocity; 21,366 feet per second [6,512 m/s].
Download MP3 audio file. Left channel: clean air/ground. Right channel: air/ground with PAO commentary. Clip courtesy John Stoll, ACR Senior Technician at NASA Johnson.
194:24:37 Collins: Houston, Apollo 11.
194:24:39 Evans: Apollo 11, Houston. Go.
194:24:43 Collins: Roger. The first horizon check 194:23:06 at a pitch angle of 298 does not quite fall on the 31 7 line. It's just a little high. It's within 5 degrees tolerance.
194:24:57 Evans: Apollo 11, Houston. The horizon check there was supposed to be at 33. Over.
Collins has carried out the horizon check ten minutes early. It should have been 194:33:06.
194:25:05 Collins: Okay. That's fine, sir. Thank you.
194:25:07 Evans: Roger.
Long comm break.
The crew will make re-entry without suits or helmets on. Although this was a controversial decision on the first Apollo flight, Apollo 7, when the crew wore suits but no helmets contrary to MCC's advice, by now it is regarded as routine.
Helo number 64 is designated Swim Two. If that helicopter is closer than Swim One to the landing point, swimmers will be deployed from Swim Two to attach the collar. Those swimmers are Lt J.G. Wesley T. Chesser of Arlington, Virginia; 3rd Class Petty Officer Michael G. Mallary of Alderwood Manor, Washington, and Seaman John M. Wolfram of Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin. The Helo's crew consists of pilot, Lt. Richard J. Barrett of Squannanoa [Swannanoa], North Carolina; copilot, Lt. George R. Conn, Imperial Beach, California. Crewmen are Petty Officer 2nd Class Curtis E. Hill, Black Rock, Arkansas, and Petty Officer 2nd Class Richard B. Seaton, Hibbing, Minnesota.
Apollo 11's distance now 5,411 nautical miles [10,021 km]. Velocity; 22,642 feet per second [6,901 m/s].
194:29:00 Evans: Apollo 11, Houston. Command Module RCS looks fine to us.
194:29:05 Collins: Same here, Ron. Looks very good. Doesn't make as much noise as we thought. Some of them are barely audible.
About now, 4 minutes after completing the horizon check, Mike has moved into the left hand seat to test the CM RCS with the hand-controller. Although the left seat is usually the CDR’s seat, it is normal for the CMP to occupy it at this point in an Apollo mission. He certainly sat here during the forthcoming re-entry, as recounted in his book "Liftoff: The Story of America’s Adventure in Space," Aurum Press, 1988, page 13: "Over in the left couch, I am watching my instruments like a hawk, ready to take over manually if I see something I don’t like." For the next 30 minutes or so he, rather than Neil, will make most of the important communications calls with Houston.
194:29:11 Evans: Roger.
194:29:16 Evans: And 11, Houston. The weather's still holding real fine in the recovery area.
194:29:22 Evans: Looks like it's about 1500 scattered, high scattered. And it's still 3- to 6-foot waves.
194:29:29 Collins: The air part of it sounds good.
194:29:33 Evans: Roger. [Long pause.]
194:30:00 Evans: 11, Houston, I'll give you another Mark at 33 minutes. Stand by.
194:30:07 Evans: Mark.
194:30:10 Collins: Roger that.
Comm break.
Download MP3 audio file. Left channel: clean air/ground. Right channel: air/ground with PAO commentary. Clip courtesy John Stoll, ACR Senior Technician at NASA Johnson.
194:32:37 Aldrin: Houston, Apollo 11. Do you have any recommended settings to catch the sunset? Over.
194:32:48 Evans: Roger. Well, the time is 36:41. And stand by for some settings.
194:32:59 Aldrin: Okay. I'll probably only be doing it maybe - part of it at six frames a second, some of it at one. So I can be changing settings as it goes through.
194:33:09 Evans: Roger. Copy. [Pause.]
194:33:19 Collins: And the horizon check passes. It's right on the money.
194:33:24 Evans: Hey, mighty fine. Sounds good.
Comm break.
194:35:07 Evans: Apollo 11, Houston. On the shooting at the Sun, f:16th at 1 over 250.
Meaning manually set camera at f:16 aperture and 1/250th of a second shutter speed.
194:35:18 Aldrin: Understand f:16 at 1 over 250.
194:35:22 Evans: Roger.
Comm break.
Apollo 11 passes into Earth's shadow at 194:36:41 and around that time, Buzz takes some 16-mm footage of a very thin crescent disappearing into black. That can be seen in the first part of the clip below – the remainder of the clip is discussed later, after 195:03:06.
194:37:05 Collins: And the Sun is going down on schedule. It's getting real dark in here.
194:37:11 Evans: Apollo 11. Houston. Copy.
Very long comm break.
Distance; 3,896 nautical miles [7,215 km]. Velocity; 24,915 feet per second [7,594 m/s].
And we're about 10 minutes away from the scheduled separation time now.
Download MP3 audio file. Left channel: clean air/ground. Right channel: air/ground with PAO commentary. Clip courtesy John Stoll, ACR Senior Technician at NASA Johnson.
Apollo 11's distance now is 3,000 nautical miles [5,556 km]. Velocity; 26,685 feet per second [8,134 m/s]. In the next 20 minutes, Apollo 11 will add almost 10,000 feet per second [3,000 m/s] to that figure.
According to the Entry PAD, another horizon check should be occurring at 194:46:06.
Download MP3 audio file. Left channel: clean air/ground. Right channel: air/ground with PAO commentary. Clip courtesy John Stoll, ACR Senior Technician at NASA Johnson.
Technical difficulties have interrupted the radio-TV news pool feed from the carrier USS Hornet, and also the newswriters' copy feed from that ship.
Download MP3 audio file. Left channel: clean air/ground. Right channel: air/ground with PAO commentary. Clip courtesy John Stoll, ACR Senior Technician at NASA Johnson.
Guidance Officer reports the Command Module computer looks good and the guidance and navigation system is Go aboard the spacecraft.
194:48:54 Evans: Apollo 11, Houston. We see you getting ready for Sep. Everything looks mighty fine down here.
194:48:59 Collins: Same here, Ron. Thank you.
Comm break.
We're awaiting confirmation of separation.
Jettison of the Service Module occurs at 194:49:12.7 according to the Apollo 11 Mission Report.
The jettison of the Service Module will safely sever the CM-SM interface and ensure that the Service Module is moved away from the Command Module. This is done with great care because the SM has been their primary source of power, oxygen and cooling throughout the mission. Inadvertently separating the two modules would have had disastrous consequences for the crew. Orchestrated by the SECS (Sequential Event Control System), umbilical deadfacing, CM-SM separation, and SM evasive manoeuvring is performed in just a few seconds. For the highest reliability, a carefully timed series of pyrotechnic devices are employed.
Two highlighted and guarded switches for separation of the Command Module and Service Module on panel 2, as photographed in the cabin of Odyssey, the Apollo 13 CM.
The separation is initiated by flipping one of the CM-SM Sep switches on panel 2, just below the DSKY. In order to avoid accidental operation, these are protected by metal covers to avoid inadvertent operation. The SECS takes over at this point, immediately starting the process of deadfacing the electrical, gaseous and fluid connections between the Command and Service Modules.
A command is sent to the Service Module Jettison Controller located in the Service Module. Upon reception, the controller starts a timer that will trigger the RCS jets on the SM to move the now derelict hardware away from the CM. Many of the systems on board the SM are left active to perform the separation. The fuel cells in particular continue to operate, for if there is a problem or delay in the separation, the crew would not become dependent on the limited capacity of the re-entry batteries. Electrical power is also needed by the Service Module after separation to power the jettison controller and the RCS solenoids, and to fire the pyros needed to sever the tie-down connections holding the CM and SM together.
Prior to pyrotechnic cutting of the electrical connections using a guillotine, they are first unplugged. To allow for this, they terminate deep inside the CM as familiar cannon-style plug and socket connectors. As the separation sequence begins, a small pyrotechnic charge fires and the resulting gas is used to actuate a series of cams and levers to, quite literally, 'unplug' the SM electrical connections from the CM. Reflecting the one-shot nature of this permanent disconnection, the plugs and sockets are then locked in place to prevent any possibility of recontacting each other.
Once the electrical connections are deadfaced within the CM, the hinged cover protecting the cabling between the CM and SM pivots away so as not to interfere with the CM as it separates. Pyrotechnic charges fire again, propelling guillotine blades through the cable bundles and plumbing that run between the two modules. Now isolated from the Command Module, the Service Module event controller fires three sets of two pyros, each set which is attached to one of the three tension ties which hold the Command Module securely to the Service Module. The Command Module rests on six support pads, which distribute the weight of the CM across the heat shield. Three of these supports contain the tension ties which pass through the base of the heat shield and connect to the CM internal structure. Once the tension ties are severed, springs underneath each of the support pads push the two modules apart.
The final event occurs moments after the separation sequence is initiated. The minus-X thrusters simultaneously fire to move the Service Modules away from the Command Module. The SM roll thrusters also fire for 7.5 seconds to stabilize the SM as it moves away. The minus-X thrusters will continue firing until either the fuel depletes or the fuel cells give up.
We confirm separation now from on-the-ground readings, from telemetry. We can confirm separation.
194:50:42 Evans: Apollo 11, Houston. You're still looking mighty fine here. You're cleared for landing.
194:50:47 Collins: We appreciate that, Ron. Thank you.
194:50:49 Aldrin: Rog. Gear's down and locked.
194:50:52 Evans: Roger.
Long comm break.
This quip about aircraft landing gear was made earlier by Apollo 7 Commander Wally Schirra as the glow of re-entry surrounded his Command Module.
Mike is discovering an effect of having the CM be cooled entirely by the evaporator (or boiler), now that the radiators have gone with the rest of the Service Module. The amount of cooling necessary means that a lot of water is being evaporated to lose the heat. This water leaves the CM as vapour via the steam vent which is below Buzz's window. The steam vent therefore acts as a weak thruster and since it is to the right as the crew look out, it imparts a motion to the left.
Collins, from the 1969 Technical debrief: "CM/SM Sep went normally. The water boiler was in operation during this period of time, which gave the spacecraft a left yaw. I was in Minimum Impulse a good percentage of this time, and thus it was quite noticeable. I yawed out 45 degrees left, jettisoned the Service Module, and yawed back in plane by yawing right. When I got a yaw rate started, the water boiler would fight me, the rate would reduce to near zero, and I would then have to make another input. Having gotten back to zero yaw after jettisoning the Service Module, I noticed there appeared to be something wrong with the yaw-left thruster at this time. It had worked normally for a little while, but after several minutes of operation, it did not. That was Command Module RCS thruster 16, yaw left. It appeared to be functioning improperly using the automatic coils. When you yawed left, it made some noise, but it did not give the proper response. It would work properly if you'd move the hand controller all the way over to the hard stops and use the direct coil. At this late stage of the game, I didn't want to devote any time to troubleshooting or talking about it. I probably should have brought the number 2 system on the line in that axis, but I didn't; and everything else seemed to be working normally. I'm just flagging that as a possible systems problem; somebody should look at that thruster and its associated wiring after the flight and see if there's anything wrong with it."
Altitude; 1,288 nautical miles [2,385 km]. Velocity; 31,232 feet per second [9,520 m/s].
And Flight Director Milt Windler has just informed recovery: Quote, "We're on final for the carrier."
Download MP3 audio file. Left channel: clean air/ground. Right channel: air/ground with PAO commentary. Clip courtesy John Stoll, ACR Senior Technician at NASA Johnson.
194:54:40 Aldrin: Houston, we got the Service Module going by. A little high and a little bit to the right.
194:54:49 Evans: Roger. Thank you.
194:54:53 Collins: And it's rotating just like it should be. Thrusters are firing.
194:55:00 Evans: Good. It's got a lot of gas there to burn out, too.
194:55:07 Aldrin: It's coming across now from right to left.
194:55:13 Evans: Houston. Roger.
Comm break.
Given that the Service Module was jettisoned to the aft of the CM (an aft that is facing the direction of travel), it is interesting that it is now visible through what are roughly forward facing windows. Early Apollo missions (Apollo 7 through 12) revealed an unexpected problem with the method used to take the Service Module away from the Command Module. At first glance, firing the translational thrusters to back the SM away, and using the roll thrusters to stabilize it would seen to be a perfectly adequate solution for this manoeuvre. However, there was some surprise that the SM had somehow 'boomeranged' around and was tumbling alongside the Command Module. After extensive analysis engineers discovered that the residual fuel and oxidizer in the Service Module sump tanks acted as a sort of 'spring', taking the energy imparted onto them from the RCS jets, and releasing it against the tank walls as it sloshed about.
In a paper (Prediction of Apollo Service Module Motion after Jettison [J. Spacecraft and Rocket, June 1971]), a chart implies that any minus-X burn longer than about 200 seconds will result in the SM changing direction. Now, the direction reversal is not due simply to propellant sloshing. Because the SM's mass is not symmetrical over it's axis, any translational/rotational firing will start it tumbling. Since it is still tumbling while the minus-X thrusters are firing, eventually it orients itself to where the minus-X thrusters now have a posigrade (towards the CM) component. This, combined with the propellant slosh, was sufficient to cause the SM to reverse direction and head in the direction of the CM.
800 nautical miles [1,500 km] high. Velocity; 33,000 feet per second [10,000 m/s].
Guidance reports Apollo 11 right down the middle of the corridor. 7 minutes away from entry.
194:57:07 Aldrin: Houston, Apollo 11. You going to turn on the tape recorder shortly?
194:57:19 Evans: 11, Houston. You can go ahead and turn it on.
194:57:24 Aldrin: Okay. I'll have to go to Command Reset to do that.
194:57:34 Evans: 11, Houston. That's negative. All you have to do is turn it on. That'll be fine.
194:57:44 Aldrin: I guess I don't know how to turn it on, then. I got PCM/Analog, Record, Forward, High bit rate and barber pole.
194:58:03 Evans: 11, Houston. We'll send the On command from down here, see if it works.
194:58:07 Aldrin: Okay. [Long pause.]
In the event, the recorder is not turned on and therefore no cabin recording exists that covers the re-entry phase.
Velocity; 34,630 feet per second [10,555 m/s].
194:58:56 Aldrin: Got our friend the Moon whipping by the field of view right now.
194:59:01 Evans: Roger. Copy.
Comm break.
Velocity coming up on 35,000 feet per second [10,700 m/s] now.
3 minutes to entry.
Apollo 11 in the proper attitude and...
Flight Plan, page 3-135.
195:00:32 Evans: 11, Houston. We'll have you for about 3 or 4 minutes through Redstone and then pick you up after blackout through ARIA.
195:00:41 Aldrin: Roger.
Comm break.
Apollo 11 lined up right down the middle of the entry corridor. Velocity's now 35,578 feet per second [10,844 km].
We're a minute and 45 seconds from entry. Blackout will begin 18 seconds after entry.
195:01:48 Aldrin: Houston, Apollo 11. I'm going to go to Command Reset and turn the tape on.
195:02:00 Evans: 11, Houston. Recommend negative on that. That'll put us in low bit rate. [Pause.]
195:02:12 Aldrin: Okay. I already put it to Command Reset, but I still have barber pole on the tape. And now my switch is high bit rate.
195:02:22 Evans: Okay. That'll be fine. On 225, there, if you can reach it, Buzz, the last two circuit breakers in the second row from the bottom. Punch those in. [Pause.]
Panel 225 showing the position of the two circuit breakers for the Data Storage Equipment.
Long comm break.
36,000 feet per second [10,970 m/s].
195:02:42 Evans: And 11, Houston, don't mess around with that 225 there.
195:02:48 Aldrin: Okay. [Long pause.]
195:03:01 Evans: And 11, Houston. You're going over the hill there shortly. You're looking mighty fine to us.
195:03:06 Armstrong: See you later.
Long comm break.
As Neil makes this utterance, Apollo 11 reaches Entry Interface, an arbitrary point where the flight path reaches an altitude of 400,000 feet or 121.92 metres. At this point, it makes an angle with the horizontal of 6.48°. At this time, the computer is in Program 63, holding their attitude and waiting for the accelerometers to indicate 0.05g.
Armstrong, from the 1969 Technical debrief: "We gave spacecraft control over to the computer after we passed all our pitch attitude cross-checks. We gave it to the computer shortly before 400,000 feet. I don't recall exactly when, but a matter of seconds before 400,000 feet. We stayed in CMC, Auto for the rest of the entry. The computer did its usual brilliant job at steering. We just sort of peered over its shoulder and made sure that the spacecraft was responding to the bank angles that the computer commanded, and that those bank angles made sense in light of what we saw on the EMS and through other bits and pieces of information."
Nine minutes of radio silence from Apollo 11 now follow, as the spacecraft is surrounded by ionised gases created by the heat of re-entry. Mission Control starts calling them after 4 minutes.
We're at entry time. Blackout very shortly. Range to go to splash 1,533 nautical miles [2,839 km].
There's blackout.
The period of radio blackout was estimated to begin about 17 seconds after EI. It is caused by the spacecraft being surrounded by a sheath of ionised gas. The conducting properties of this plasma cause it to attenuate the radio communications to and from the spacecraft.
Buzz films the re-entry through the right-hand rendezvous window with the 16-mm camera looking through a mirror. This version of that film has been flipped to restore the correct geometry. It is presented at 24 frames per second despite the fact that it was shot at either 6 or 12 frames per second. Therefore, the action in the film appears speeded up.
H.264 MOV video file.
At about 195:03:34, a deceleration of 0.05g is sensed and the entry proper begins. Two major events are triggered. First, the EMS begins to operate, decrementing its velocity counter and its range-to-go counter while also operating a scribe across a Mylar tape that carries a pattern. This tape moves according to the change in velocity, and the scribe moves up and down according to the g-force. Second, the computer moves to P64.
Program 64's task is to get the spacecraft below the velocity that would be required for a circular orbit, VCIRC. The program no longer holds the spacecraft's attitude because the spacecraft's natural aerodynamic stability will do so. Instead, it fires the pitch and yaw thrusters as necessary to damp out oscillations in those axes. P64 achieves its major task by repeatedly testing their flight path to see if VCIRC had been achieved, and it ramps the g-forces up beyond 6 g as it does so.
Collins, from the 1969 Technical debrief: "Along about .05 g, we started to get all these colors past the windows; Buzz took some movies, which we looked at last night. They don't really show what the human eye sees. Around the edge of the plasma sheath, there are all varieties of colors - lavenders, lightish bluish greens, little touches of violet, and great variations mostly of blues and greens. The central core has variations on a orange-yellow theme. It's sort of a combination of all the colors of the rainbow really. The central part looks like you would imagine a burning material might look. Orangeish, yellowish, whitish, and then completely surrounded by almost a rainbow of colors."
Aldrin, from the 1969 Technical debrief: "I thought there was a surprisingly small amount of material coming off."
Collins, from the 1969 Technical debrief: "That's right; there didn't seem to be any chunks as there were on Gemini."
Aldrin, from the 1969 Technical debrief: "That's right; there didn't seem to be any droplets or anything coming off. There was a small number of sparks going by; you could definitely see the flow pattern. Looking out the side window, you could get a very good indication of the angle of attack by the direction of motion of the particles. That didn't seem to change too much. When a thruster would fire, you could pick it up immediately, because it deflected the ion stream behind you. I am not sure whether that was because of a roll or whether it was actually changing the direction of the lift vector."
Download MP3 audio file. Left channel: clean air/ground. Right channel: air/ground with PAO commentary. Clip courtesy John Stoll, ACR Senior Technician at NASA Johnson.
195:03:36 - This blackout period should last for about 3 minutes, 45 seconds. At blackout we were showing velocity; 36,237 feet per second [11,045 m/s]. Range to go to splash; 1,510 nautical miles [2,797 km].
195:04:10 - The elapsed time for end of blackout; 195 hours, 7 minutes even.
195:04:42 - Drogue chute deployment time is 195 hours, 12 minutes, 8 seconds.
195:04:58 - And the Control Center will not attempt to communicate with Apollo 11 after drogue deploy time. It'll leave the airwaves clear for the recovery forces.
At about 195:05:19, the CM's velocity goes below VCIRC. Even if it were to fly out of the atmosphere completely, using its lift vector, it cannot go into orbit and is committed to an Earth landing.
Once VCIRC had been reached, the computer moves to Program 65 (Up control) where it aims the lift vector up to perform a small skip-out in order to extend the range. The peak of this skip is not high enough to invoke P66, a program that controls the spacecraft while it is outside the atmosphere during a skip. Instead, P65 hands over to P67 to control the final phase of the flown re-entry.
P67's task is to bring the CM to a point essentially above the landing site. It will do so up to the point when their Earth-based velocity is about 300 metres per second [1,000 feet per second]. Their altitude will then be about 20 km or 65,000 feet.
Armstrong, from the 1969 Technical debrief: "The computer did not fly the EMS the same way I would have flown the EMS. As soon as it got subcircular, it seemed to store up a lot more excess energy than I thought was reasonable. It was holding on to an approximate 250 [nautical] miles [460 km] downrange error. When the downrange distance to go was, say, 500 [nautical] miles, it would have about 750 [nautical] miles available at that particular g level we were seeing at the time. I thought this was probably a little excessive, but it hung on until very, very late in the game and then it decided all of a sudden to dump it. It sort of rolled over on its back and gave us a second peak pulse of 6 g's, getting rid of that excess energy. After that, everything was all cross-ranges and downranges, and everything made sense. It was essentially on zero error for the remainder of the run. Our first peak pulse was 6.5 [g] as nearly as you can read that thing, and the second one was 6.0."
195:06:03 - ARIA 3 reported a visual contact.
195:06:26 - We're at 3 minutes, 20 seconds since entry. Blackout should end about 3 minutes, 53 seconds after entry.
Blackout is predicted to end at about 195:06:57. Meanwhile, P67 continues to steer the spacecraft. If the spacecraft is going to land long, it is rolled around to a feet-down attitude. This puts the lift vector down and has the spacecraft dig into the thicker parts of the atmosphere to increase the deceleration and shorten the flight path. Conversely, if the computer thinks it is going to come up short, it put the lift vector up in order to stay in the thinner region of the atmosphere, reducing the rate of deceleration and lengthening the flight path. There is also scope to adjust for errors left and right, what Neil calls crossrange, by rolling up to 15 degrees to the side and using the left vector to correct the error.
195:06:59 - We're about 11 minutes away from landing.
195:07:07 - ARIA 3 would - is the up-range ARIA aircraft.
195:07:15 Evans: Apollo 11, Houston through ARIA. [No answer.]
195:07:37 Evans: Apollo 11, Houston through ARIA. [No answer.]
195:08:10 Evans: Apollo 11, Houston through ARIA 4. [No answer.]
195:08:47 - The Hornet reports Air Boss 1 has visual contact.
195:09:08 Evans: Apollo 11, Houston through ARIA. Standing by. Over. [No answer.]
195:09:45 Evans: Apollo 11, Houston in the blind. Air Boss has the visual contact. [No answer.]
195:09:58 - The Hornet now reports a visual contact. Visual contact from the recovery ship.
195:10:37 - Hornet reports momentary visual contact has now disappeared behind clouds.
195:10:49 - We're 7 minutes, 44 seconds from entry [meaning after entry began]. Drogue chute deployment scheduled for an elapsed time from entry of 9 minutes, 1 second.
Once P67 has brought them to the end of its regime, it stops firing thrusters and displays the range to go to the landing point as well as the spacecraft's current latitude and longitude on the DSKY.
195:11:18 Evans: Apollo 11, Houston. Standing by for your DSKY reading. Over. [No answer.]
195:11:22 - Hawaii Rescue 2 reports an S-band contact with the spacecraft.
195:11:49 Evans: Apollo 11, Houston. Stand by for your miss distance. Over. [No answer.]
What Evans refers to as the miss distance is the range to go to the landing point.
They are about 20 km up (65,000 feet) and plummeting almost vertically at 300 metres per second. At about this time, the Cabin Pressure Relief Valve is set to Entry. With this setting, once the outside pressure is greater than the cabin, Earth's air can flow into the spacecraft. The Sequential Events Control System is armed, ready to coordinate the pyrotechnics of the Earth Landing System.
195:12:04 Evans: Apollo 11, Houston. Standing by for your DSKY reading. Over. [No answer.]
Before the drogue chutes can be released, the forward heatshield has to be jettisoned. Also known as the apex cover or the ring (as described by Aldrin below), this exposed all the main devices for the landing; drogue and main parachutes, recovery antennae and the uprighting bags. The trigger for jettisoning the apex cover is a barometric switch that senses the rising air pressure. Once released, a small parachute helps to pull it away from the CM.
Still frames from 16-mm coverage of the apex cover being jettisoned on Apollo 15 and Apollo 17.
The mortars to deploy the drogues are fired 1.6 seconds later and according to the Mission Report, the drogues were deployed at 195:12:06.9, about a second earlier than predicted in the Entry PAD. By this time, the spacecraft's speed has dropped to about 150 metres per second.
195:12:09 Evans: Drogues. [Long pause.]
Aldrin, from the 1969 Technical debrief: "I could see the ring departing just a fraction of a second before I felt a small pulse. There wasn't much of a rotation as the drogue chutes deployed. They seemed too oscillate around a good bit, but did not transmit much of this oscillation to the spacecraft. The spacecraft seemed to stay on a pretty steady course."
195:12:22 Evans: Apollo 11, Houston. Your DSKY reading, please. Over.
195:12:31 Armstrong: Roger. We were aiming right on 13, 32 and 169, 17. [Long pause.]
Neil is reading out their position, 13.32° North and 167.17° West.
195:12:48 - Apollo 11 reports right on. We take that to mean that the drogues deployed on time.
195:12:53 Armstrong: Reading 13, 30; 169, 15.
Comm break.
195:13:22 - Apollo 11 should be on main chutes now.
The main parachutes are deployed at about 3 km (10,000 feet) altitude again, triggered by another barometric switch. For the first 10 seconds after deployment, they are reefed which means that a reefing line around the parachute risers prevents the canopies from fully inflating to their 25-metre diameter. After the 10 seconds has passed, the reefing line is cut and the chutes are allowed to fully inflate. The main parachutes bring their speed down to just 8.5 metres per second.
Aldrin, from the 1969 Technical debrief: "The main chute deployment again gave us a small jolt, but not one that would move you around in the seat appreciably or cause any concern. I can't say that I noticed the difference between first deployment and dereefing. It seemed to be one continuous operation."
Collins, from the 1969 Technical debrief: "It seemed to me there was quite a bit of delay before they dereefed. All three chutes were stable and all dereefed and they kept staying that way until I was just about the point where I was getting worried about whether they were ever going to dereef; then they did."
195:13:35 - Hornet reports a sonic boom a short time ago.
195:14:08 - We're just under 4 minutes to landing.
We will continue to monitor for any conversation between the spacecraft and recovery forces, but we will not initiate a call from now on to the spacecraft from the Control Center.
From now on, the conversation with the crew is picked up by the USS Hornet and the helicopter crews who are in the air, ready to effect a recovery.
Download MP3 audio file. Left channel: clean air/ground. Right channel: air/ground with PAO commentary. Clip courtesy John Stoll, ACR Senior Technician at NASA Johnson.
195:15:03 Hornet: Apollo 11, Apollo 11. This is Hornet. Hornet. Over.
195:15:07 Armstrong: Hello, Hornet. This is Apollo 11 reading you loud and clear. Our position 13, 30; 169, 15.
195:15:19 Hornet: 11, Hornet. Copy 13, 30; 167, 5. Any further data? Over.
195:15:24 Armstrong: 13, 30; 169, 15.
Neil is reading their position from the DSKY as 13.30° North and 169.15° West.
Hornet has voice contact. Aircraft reports visual with 3 full chutes.
195:15:31 Hornet: Do you have an error?
195:15:39 Hornet: We have that. And what is condition of the crew?
195:15:45 Hornet: 11, this is Hornet. What's your error of splashdown and condition of crew? Over.
195:15:52 Armstrong: The condition of crew [garble]. 4,000 - 3,500 feet, on the way down.
195:16:00 Hornet: 11, this is Hornet. Copy. 11, Hornet. What's your splashdown error? Over.
195:16:06 Armstrong: Okay. Our splashdown error is by latitude, longitude, 13, 30; 169, 15. That's [garble].
195:16:19 Hornet: Hornet. Roger, out. [Long pause.]
Hornet reports spacecraft right on target point.
195:16:44 Armstrong: Okay, Hornet. Apollo 11 is out.
195:16:48 Hornet: Roger. 2,500 on chutes. [Pause.]
195:17:00 Swim 1: Swim 1 has [garble] contact, bearing 150, holding [garble] 190.
195:17:13 Hornet: Hornet. Roger. Out.
195:17:19 Swim 1: [Garble] bearing 200.
195:17:24 Armstrong: Apollo 11 at 1,500 feet.
195:17:27 Hornet: Hornet. Roger. Copy. Out.
That's Neil Armstrong giving the position report.
195:17:32 Swim 1: Swim 1 has a visual. Dead ahead about a mile and a half? [Garble].
195:17:42 Hornet: Hornet. Roger.
195:17:44 Swim 1: We're in sight of the spacecraft.
195:17:48 Swim 1: Roger. This is Swim One, Apollo 11.
195:17:54 Armstrong: [Garble] 100 feet.
195:17:56 Swim 1: Roger. You're looking real good. [Long pause.]
195:18:18 Swim 1: Splashdown! Apollo has splashdown.
According to the Apollo 11 Mission Report, the moment of splashdown is given as 195:18:35. However, PAO will give an unofficial time of 195:18:21 GET.
The recovery carrier, USS Hornet, is now a museum in California. Museum historian, Bob Fish, has produced a web page with additional historic information.
Hornet: Hornet, copy. Understand splashdown.
Spacecraft: [Garble] splashdown. [Long pause.]
In the movie "In the Shadow of the Moon" (2006), Mike Collins recalled: "I can remember the beautiful water. We were out in the deep ocean in the Pacific. It was such a startling violet color. I remember looking at the ocean and admiring: 'nice ocean you've got here planet Earth'."
Unidentified speaker: [Garble].
Swim 1: This is Swim 1. The Command Module is at stable 2, stable 2. Over.
The Apollo Command Module has two possible stable attitudes when floating in the water. Stable 1 is fully upright and Stable 2 has the apex at water level, not quite upside down. This is how the Apollo 11 CM has ended up.
Helicopter 53, designated Swim 1, hovers over the inverted Command Module soon after splashdown. One of the main parachutes is visible still on the surface. Two of the uprighting bags are visible around the apex. When inverted, the heavy side of the spacecraft goes downward leaving the hatch facing up. The crew are upright but hanging forward in their harnesses at about 45°.
Hornet: Hornet, Roger.
Airboss: Okay, Hornet. This is Air Boss. Presently orbiting the CM at 1,000 feet. [Garble].
Hornet: Roger.
Stable 2 is upside down. The flotation bags will right the spacecraft.
Swim 1: This is Swim 1 in a hover beside the Command Module. The Command Module [garble] is in stable 2. The dye marker is deployed and functioning. The chutes appear to be detached and are downwind of the Command Module.
Hornet: Hornet, Roger.
Unidentified Speaker: [Garble].
Airboss: Roger, Tacan. 235 break 13, 235 break thirteen.
Swim 1: This is Swim 1. The Command Module is still in Stable 2. The - the dye marker is beginning to trail out to the - by the wind a bit. The main chutes are detached and streaming downwind.
Hornet: Hornet, copy. [Long pause.]
It normally takes 8 to 10 minutes for the flotation bags to right the spacecraft. Swim 1 is getting ready to deploy swimmers.
Air Boss: This is Air Boss, Recovery 1 and Photo 1, go to high frequency [garble].
Recovery: Roger, Recovery 1.
Recovery: Photo 1, Photo 1. Could you [garble]. Over.
Swim 1: This is Swim 1. We're deploying [garble] now.
Recovery: Photo 1.
Recovery: Hornet, copy. [Long pause.]
Recovery: Photo, are you going to pick up commentary?
Photo 1: This is Photo 1. Roger.
Hornet: (garbled) Air Boss 1, this is Hornet bridge. Request commentary if available, over.
Air Boss: Visible trailing [garble]. The wind is 060, 15 knots. [Garble] 30 degrees to the vertical toward the downwind side.
Air Boss: Recovery 1, the drogue chutes shall be clear of all aircraft.
Recovery: It's a few miles to the north.
Air Boss: This is Air Boss. We currently have 3 helos on the scene. The drogue chutes splashed down approximately 1,500 yards on a bearing of 240 from the Command Module.
Air Boss: And Hornet, this is Air Boss. Are you copying the commentary?
Recovery: This is Hornet, copy affirmative.
Photo 1: This is Photo One. The 3 [garble] is [garble] plus 20 feet and two flotation bags are visible at this time. The (garbled) to go to 4. (garbled) Module [garble] above the other [garble] of the vertical axis [garble].
Hornet: Hornet, I didn't copy Photo 1's full report. Understand 2 flotation bags deployed and in stable 1 now. Is that correct? Over.
Photo 1: [Garble] it is upright, but it isn't [garble] stable 2.
Air Boss: Understand still stable 2.
Photo 1: [Garble].
Apollo 11 reported still in stable 2, but gradually righting itself.
Recovery: Air Boss comment. I am not copying Photo 1. Would you relay. Over.
Air Boss: This is Air Boss 1. Photo 1 say - says that it is still in stable 2. The bags are inflating. It has - it has not absolutely inverted now, it's 70 - 70 degrees to the vertical axis. Still stable 2.
Photo 1: This is Photo 1. The module is now 90 degrees to the vertical axis.
Photo 1: This is Photo 1. The Command Module is stable 1, flotation bags are inflated.
Apollo 11 is stable 1 now, stable 1.
Photo 1: [Garble].
Hornet: Air Boss 1, this is Hornet Bridge. Say when it is stable 1. Over.
Air Boss: [Garble] stability above the vertical axis is approximately 30 degrees.
Hornet: Hornet,. Roger.
Hornet: Air Boss, Hornet. Recovery 1 is ready to deploy swimmers in 1 minute, Swim Two, Swim Two. [Garble, may be 'take position 45'].
Hornet: [Garble].
Hornet: Hornet, roger.
Recovery: [Garble] behind it has rolled [garble] has rolled forward.
Swimmers to deploy in about 1 minute.
Swim 2: Swim 2 is in position. [Garble] we are going to lower the first swimmer.
Air Boss: Roger, Swim 2 start recovery at once. You are cleared.
Recovery: Okay, commencing.
Swim 2: Swim 2 is commencing to put the first swimmer in the water.
Photo 1: The hatch of the capsule is now to the up-wind to the first swimmer. This is Photo 1. There are no dye markers in the water. The first swimmer.
Hornet: This is Hornet. Did Swim 2 drop his first swimmer?
Air Boss: That's affirmative. This is Air Boss. First swimmer is in the water.
Photo 1: The swimmer is in the water. He is connecting [garble] deployed.
Swim 1: Hornet, the sea anchor has been attached and is deployed.
Hornet: This is Hornet. Roger. I copy. Swim 1 now.
Swim 2: The sea anchor is deployed [garble].
Air Boss: Roger, copy.
The sea anchor has been deployed by the swimmer.
Spacecraft: Copy 1. Apollo 11.
Photo 1: This is Photo 1. The first swimmer has given a thumbs up. Swim 2 is standing [garble] for 2 swimmers and the floatation collar.
Air Boss: Apollo 11, Air Boss. Condition of the crew?
Spacecraft: Air Boss, Apollo 11. Everyone inside, our checklist is complete. We're awaiting swimmers.
Air Boss: Thank you, Apollo 11.
Swim 2: [Garble] for 2 swimmers and the flotation collar secured to the Command Module.
Hornet: Air Boss, Hornet. What's the condition?
Swim 2: The crew is excellent. Both checklists have been completed. They are ready to take on the swimmers.
Swim 2: [Garble, may be 'swimmers in'] the water.
3 swimmers in the water from Swim 2, Swim 2 Helo.
Swim 2: [Garble].
Air Boss: Apollo 11, this is Air Boss. Are you copying the narration or following the sequence of recovery operations?
Photo 1: This is Photo 1. The bungee [garble].
Armstrong: [Garble] just before that last call. We've just been picking up your Comm now.
Swim 2: [Garble] flotation collar half-way around the Command Module.
The crew has reported to Air Boss that they are in excellent condition. Flotation collar is about half way around the spacecraft now.
Swim 2: The Command Module [garble] quite well [garble] vertical axis of [garble] downwind [garble] 10 degrees. [Garble] the flotation collar [garble] to Photo 1. The uprighting bags. 2 are fully inflated, 1 is partially inflated.
Air boss: Air Boss. Are you copying?
Photo 1: Affirmative, roger.
Photo 1: The flotation collar has been attached [garble] flotation.
The flotation collar is attached now.
And the collar is inflated.
Photo 1: This is Photo 1. The swimmers have [garble] for the raft swim? [garble] commence his approach.
Air boss reporting the spacecraft riding very smoothly.
Hornet: Swan, this is Hornet. Bridge, request the tacan on top. Over.
Photo 1: This is Photo 1. The raft is in the water - 241-degree radial - nine miles.
Air boss: Stand - Stand by, Hornet.
Photo 1: The raft is inflated.
Photo 1: [Garble] Command Module.
Photo 1: Photo 1, I repeat very - from Hornet, 241-degree radial, 9 miles. Over.
Hornet: Hornet. Roger.
Photo 1: Photo 1, [Garble].
Air boss: Hornet. This is Air boss 1.
Photo 1: This is Photo 1. Swim 2 has commenced his approach to drop the second raft upwind.
Air Boss: Apollo 11 this is Air Boss 1. We have the Command Module on radar bearing of 244, [garble] 12 miles.
Photo 1: Second raft is in the water. Seventy five feet upwind [garble] Raft number 2 is inflated [garble] and number 2 is being tethered [garble].
Photo 1: Recovery 1 has moved into position. Standing by to deploy the swimmer.
Hornet: Roger.
Recovery 1 getting ready to deploy the swimmer with the biological isolation garments. The other swimmers...
Photo 1: This is Photo 1, the weather in the area [garble] 2,000 feet [garble] appear to be [garble] One swimmer is in raft number 1. One swimmer in raft number 2 [garble] deploy the sea anchor.
Unidentified speaker: [Garble] copy [garble] in position.
Photo 1: Recovery [garble] is commencing his approach to drop the...
Unidentified speaker: Alright, copy.
Unidentified speaker: [Garble].
Photo 1: The swimmer is in the water. [Garble].
Hornet: Hornet. Roger.
Photo 1: Swimmer is in the raft number 2. Recovery 1 is in position, standing by to lower the bag of BIGs.
Hornet: Hornet. Roger.
The swimmer with the Biological Isolation Garments is in the raft next to the spacecraft. That's Lt. Clancy Hatleberg of Chippawaw Falls, Wisconsin. He's also wearing a Biological Isolation Garment.
Photo 1: Recovery 1 is in position, lowering the bag of BIGs at this time.
Hornet: Roger.
And the helo is lowering the astronauts' BIGs, or Biological Isolation Garments, to Lt. Hatleberg.
Photo 1: The bag of BIGs is...
Hornet: Hornet. Roger.
And the report is that the bag of BIGs is in raft number 2.
Photo 1: The swimmers are unloading the net at this time.
Photo 1: This is Photo 1. The bag of BIGs and decontaminant are in raft number 2 - module is very stable, very stable. There's only [garble] about the vertical axis, a [garble].
Hornet: Roger.
Hornet: Air Boss, Hornet. What's the present condition of the astronauts?
Air Boss: Hornet, Air Boss [garble].
Hornet: Affirmative. Determine the present condition of the astronauts?
Air Boss: Hello. This is Air Boss 1 - [what is] your condition?
Collins: Our condition is all three excellent. We're just fine. Take your time.
Air Boss: All right. Okay.
That was Mike Collins reporting the crew was excellent.
Photo 1: This is Photo 1. The - One swimmer is [garble] trying to don [garble] one swimmer in raft No. 1. Full scuba.
Hornet: All right, we copy. BIG swimmer preparing to don BIG suit. One swimmer in raft 1 with full scuba. What are the other swimmers doing?.
Photo 1: This is Photo 1. The other two swimmers are [garble]. Over.
Lt. Hatleberg putting on his Biological Isolation Garment.
Photo 1: This is Photo 1. The visibility is greater than 15 miles.
Air Boss: Roger.
Air Boss: Photo 1, this is Air Boss. [Garble] sea state [garble].
Photo 1: This is Photo 1. The winds are from 065 or 060, 15 to 20 knots - 4 to 6 feet. Over.
Air Boss: Roger.
Photo 1: This is Photo 1. The BIG swimmer is making adjustments to his garment. He has his helmet on - raised to his shoulders. He's trying to zip it up at this time.
Hornet: Hornet. Roger.
The ship reports it is now 7 miles from the spacecraft.
Photo 1: This is Photo 1. The BIG swimmer is [garble] helmet at this time.
Air Boss: Copy.
Recovery: Photo [garble]. What is the position of the sea dye marker?
Swimmer 1: This is Swimmer 1, reported earlier there was no dye marker [garble] five minutes [garble].
Recovery: [Garble].
Photo 1: This is Photo 1. The [garble] has his mask [garble].
Recovery: [Garble].
Photo 1: This is Photo 1. The BIG swimmer has donned his garment and is now holding the Command Module.
Air Boss: Recovery 1, this is Air Boss [garble] report [garble].
Collins: This is Apollo 11. Tell everybody take your sweet time. We're doing just fine in here. It's not as stable as the Hornet, but almost.
Photo 1: This is Photo 1. Apollo 11 reports all is fine. Not as stable as the Hornet but almost. Over.
Recovery: Hornet, Roger.
Photo 1: This is Photo 1, Raft number 2 is within 10 feet of the Command Module at this time.
Air Boss: Roger.
Photo 1: Photo 1, my big trouble is trying to transport to raft number 2 to [garble] transfer the [garble].
Unofficial splash time: 195 hours, 18 minutes, 21 seconds.
Photo 1: [Garble] swimmer is [garble] number 1 at this time. We recovered [garble] Command Module [garble].
Photo 1: The three swimmers [garble].
Hornet reports the other swimmers are now up-wind of the Command Module leaving Lt. Hatleberg in his BIG and with the decontaminant that will be placed around the hatch and on the...
Photo 1: This is Photo 1. The BIG swimmer is securing [garble] BIGs and other equipement in the [garble].
Swimmer 1: This is Photo 1. The BIG swimmer has transferred the bag of BIGs [garble].
Lt. Hatleberg is now transferring the BIGs to the crew.
Photo 1: This is Photo 1. The [garble] close the hatch [garble].
The Hornet now estimates they are 4 and three-quarters miles away from the spacecraft.
Photo 1: The hatch is closed.
The BIGs are in the Command Module and the hatch has been closed again.
Swimmer 1: [Garble] This is Swimmer Team Leader. Radio check. Over.
Recovery: Loud and clear. Loud and clear.
Swimmer 1: Swim Team Leader. Read you the same. Over.
Recovery: Roger. Out.
Lt. Hatleberg is called the BIG swimmer.
Swimmer 1: This is Swimmer 1. The BIG swimmer is [garble, may include 'rinsing'] procedures [garble] Command Module.
The BIG swimmer is now spraying the hatch area and the top deck and around the hatch on the Command Module with the decontaminant.
Hornet: Apollo 11, this is Hornet. We're 4 miles out, making our approach.
Unidentified Speaker: They're donning BIGs at this time.
The Hornet advises the crew they're 4 miles away.
Photo 1: This is Photo 1. The BIG swimmer has [garble] the flotation collar and is now in raft number 1. [Garble]
Photo 1: This is Photo No. 1. The BIG swimmer is still in raft number 1.
Hornet: Photo 1, Hornet. Understand BIG swimmer has completed his decontamination of the Command Module, is that correct?
Swimmer 1: This is Swimmer 1. The [garble] and then he went back on the flotation collar.
Hornet: Roger.
Hornet: Photo 1, Hornet, I passed - from Pacific Chief, you are cutting out. You may be releasing your teeth too early on transmissions. Over.
Photo 1: This is Photo 1. Roger. Out.
Hornet reports it was 13 miles from the aim point at splash. The carrier was 13 miles from the aim point at splash.
Photo 1: Photo 1. Uh, earlier [garble] that he had made preparations to commence...
Recovery: Roger.
Photo 1: This is Photo 1, the BIG swimmer [garble].
The BIG swimmer has reported communicating with the astronauts by visual hand signals through the hatch window.
Swimmer: Photo 1, the crew [garble].
Swimmer: Photo 1. The astronauts have opened the hatch. The first astronaut - got out of the hatch. The first - astronaut, right.
Swimmer: Photo 1, the...
The first astronaut is now emerging.
Swimmer: [Garble] up wind.
Photo 1: This is - This is Photo 1. The position on the - position - on the first astronaut is afloat?
Hornet: Alrighty.
Photo 1: This is Photo 1. The...
Astronaut number 2 coming up the hatch now.
Hornet: Roger.
Swimmer: ...one [garble] is a [garble]. The third astronaut is out of the hatch.
And the third crewmen is out of the spacecraft now.
Swimmer: [Garble].
Hatch is closed and secured.
Swimmer: Every crewman [garble]. All the astronauts [garble].
Hornet: Roger.
Hornet now reports that the swimmer is having some difficulty securing the hatch and one of the astronauts is helping him.
Photo 1: [Garble] procedures are [longish garble]. This is Photo 1. Secure. All three astronauts are out. [Garble].
Hatch is now reported secure.
Swimmer: This is Photo 1 [garble].
Hornet now 1 and one-quarter miles from the spacecraft.
Swimmer: [Garble].
Swimmer: (Garble] Photo 1 [garble] decontaminant on the upper portion of the Command Module.
Hornet: Hornet. Roger.
Swimmer: [Garble].
And the Lt. Hatleberg spraying decontaminant around the hatch.
Swimmer: [Garble] have decontaminated [garble] spraying on the forward portion of the Command Module. [Garble].
Hornet: Hornet, Roger.
Swimmer: And now scrubbing [garble].
Hornet: Roger.
And the swimmer now scrubbing down the Command Module with the decontaminant.
Swimmer: [Garble] is Photo 1. The [garble] has completed the [garble] Command Module. [Garble] 1 [garble] Photo 1, he's [garble] the first ast - [garble]
The swimmer has now started scrubbing the astronauts' biological isolations garments with the decontaminate.
Swimmer: Photo 1. He's scrubbed the [garble] and he's now scrubbing the shoulders of the first astronaut.
Hornet estimates distance three-quarters of a mile now.
Swimmer: Photo 1, swimmer is scrubbing the arms and shoulders of the first astronaut.
Hornet: Hornet, Roger.
Swim 1: The first astronaut is now having his BIG put on him.
Hornet: Hornet, Roger.
Swim 1: The BIG swimmer has completed decontaminating the first astronaut.
Hornet: Hornet, over.
Swim 1: Coming to the [garble] for the second astronaut.
And the first astronaut has been scrubbed down and the swimmer has started the decontamination processes on the BIG of the second astronaut.
Swim 1: [Garble].
Hornet: Roger.
Swim 1: The swimmer has scrubbed the front side of the second astronaut. He is now in the BIG.
Hornet: Roger.
Swim 1: Swim 1. The swimmer has completed the [garble].
Hornet: Roger.
Scrub down on the second astronaut completed.
Hornet: Hornet, roger.
Swim 1: This is Swim 1. The swimmer is scrubbing the back of the third astronaut [garble].
Hornet: Hornet, Roger.
Swim 1: Swim 1. The swimmer is scrubbing the arms, shoulder and head of the third astronaut.
Hornet: Hornet. Hard to see, isn't it?
Hornet: Swim 1. Hornet. You cut out. Say again.
Air Boss: Hornet, this is Air Boss. He says stand by for a call from the recovery station.
Hornet: Roger.
Swim 1: This is Photo 1. The third astronaut has been scrubbed. The first and second astronauts [garble].
Hornet: Hornet, roger.
And the third astronaut has been scrubbed down, and now the astronauts are scrubbing down the swimmer.
Swim 1: The Swimmer 1 is ready and standing by for completion of the decontamination - decontamination procedure.
Hornet: Hornet, roger.
Photo 1: This is Photo One. The [garble]. Both in [garble] situation [garble].
Hornet: Roger.
Swim 1: Swim 1 and the astronaut 1 and 2 are still in the back side of the [garble].
Hornet: Hornet, Roger.
Swim 1: Swim One, the...
Hornet: Hornet, roger.
Swim 1: This is Swim 1. Decontamination of the BIG swimmer is complete. The BIG swimmer is now scrubbing and decontaminating raft number 1.
Hornet: Hornet, Roger.
Swim 1: The BIG swimmer has given the signal to the swimming team [garble] prepare to close the Command Module.
Hornet: Roger.
The other swimmers will now proceed to the Command Module. It has been decontaminated, and the swimmers will remain on their scuba air.
Hornet: Photo 1, Hornet. Request you reconfirm that they are decontaminating raft number 1.
Photo 1: All right. Photo 1, that is affirmative. Decontaminating raft number 1. The others [garble].
Hornet: This is Hornet. Roger, out.
Photo 1: This is Photo 1, raft number 2 is now closing the Command Module. All 3 swimmers are on full scuba.
Hornet: Photo, Roger.
Recovery 1: Recovery 1 is in position. Standing by.
Hornet: Recovery, Rog.
Columbia's hatch is closed with the three crew in the life raft along with Hatleberg.
Recovery 1: The raft number 2 is at the Command Module. The swimmers are taking their positions.
Hornet: Roger.
Recovery 1: Recovery 1 is commencing his approach.
Hornet: Hornet, copy.
Recovery 1: Raft number 1 is riding very smooth.
Hornet: Hornet, Roger.
Photo 1: Recovery 1. The astronauts are in a cheerful mood. They are waving at the photographers. [Garble].
Hornet: Photo 1, Hornet. Understand Recovery is making approach to pick up the first astronaut?
Photo 1: This is Photo 1. He's in position ready to commence recovery. Over.
Hornet: Hornet, Roger.
Photo 1: Hornet, this is Photo 1. Recovery 1 is commencing his first approach.
Hornet: Hornet, Roger.
And Recovery 1 going in now to pick up the first astronaut.
Photo 1: This is Photo 1. The net is being lowered.
Hornet: Roger.
Photo 1: This is Photo 1. The net is at the raft. The first astronaut is climbing into the net, and the first astronaut is in the net on the way up, clear of the Command Module. The first astronaut is half way up. The first astronaut is at the hatch.
Hornet: Roger.
Photo 1: The first astronaut is in the helicopter, the net is on its way down.
Hornet: Hornet, Roger.
Photo 1: Recovery 1 is commencing his second approach.
Hornet: Hornet, Roger.
Photo 1: The net is at the raft, the second astronaut is in the net, and the net is on its way up, clear of the Command Module.
Hornet: Hornet, Roger.
Photo 1: The net is at the hatch.
Hornet: Hornet, Roger.
Photo 1: The second astronaut is in the helicopter.
Hornet: Hornet, Roger.
Photo 1: The net is on its way down, Recovery 1 is making a third approach.
Hornet: Roger.
Photo 1: The net is at the raft, in, the third astronaut is climbing in the net, the third astronaut is in the net and on his way up, clear of the Command Module. The third astronaut is half way up.
Hornet: Hornet, Roger.
Photo 1: The third astronaut is in the hatch, he is climbing in the helicopter.
Hornet: Hornet, Roger.
Photo 1: All three astronauts are aboard.
Hornet: [Garble], Photo 1.
Photo 1: Roger, this is Photo 1. The hatch on the Recovery 1 is closed.
Hornet: Hornet, Roger.
Recovery 1: This is Recovery 1. I have three astronauts aboard. Switching power frequency, power frequency.
Journal reader Jodie Peeler suggests that this might be tower frequency. "This would make sense for a switch from the shared recovery force frequency, to the carrier's air traffic control frequency before approach and landing."
Swim 2: Swim 2 is in position.
Hornet: Roger. [Garble]. Thank you for the narration.
Swim 2: This is Swim 2 alongside the Command Module. The BIG swimmer's decontaminating the module at this time. The three swimmers are in the raft. They all appear to be [garble].
Mission Director George Hage has just thanked the flight controllers assembled here in the Control Center on behalf of himself and General Phillips for the way in which they conducted this mission.
Air Boss: Stand by Swim 1 and 3. This is Air Boss. I haven't seen any more of the 2 drogue chutes nor the apex chute.
No cigars being lit up here yet. We're waiting until the crew is on the carrier. A few are being wetted in anticipation of a match, but we don't see any lit yet.
Swim 2: This is Swim 2. [Garble].
Hornet: Hornet, Roger.
The elevator will take Recovery 1 down to the hangar deck and where the crew will enter the Mobile Quarantine Facility. And the flags are waving and the cigars are being lit up. And clear across the big board in front is President John F. Kennedy's message to Congress of May, 1961: I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to Earth. That has been accomplished.
Swim 2: This is Swim 2. The sea anchor is holding the Command Module very well. It's extremely stable.
The Apollo 11 plaque has been hung in the Mission Control Center - a replica of the crew patch.
Download MP3 audio file. Left channel: clean air/ground. Right channel: air/ground with PAO commentary. Clip courtesy John Stoll, ACR Senior Technician at NASA Johnson.
This Control Center becoming jammed with people as - people from the staff support rooms coming in here. We've never seen this many people in the Control Center at one time before.
Speaker: President Nixon waving to the astronauts. The curtains have been drawn. There they are in the rear window. President is receiving applause from the crowd. Astronauts gather in the window.
Television pictures show President Richard M. Nixon approaching the Mobile Quarantine Facility on the hangar deck of the USS Hornet, where he has been waiting to greet the astronauts. The crew, now without their Biological Isolation Garments and masks, appear at the window of the cabin, as a curtain is opened. They speak with the President by microphone.
Nixon: Neil, Buzz, and Mike. I want you to know that I think I'm the luckiest man in the world. And I say this not only because I have the honor to be President of the United States, but particularly because I have the privilege of speaking for so many in welcoming you back to Earth. I could tell you about all the messages we received in Washington. Over one hundred foreign governments, Emperors, and Presidents and Prime Ministers and Kings have sent the most warm messages that we've ever received. They represent over 2 billion people on this Earth. All of them who have had the opportunity through television to see what you have done. And then I also bring you messages from members of the Cabinet and members of the Senate and members of the House and the Space Agency. And in the streets of San Francisco where people stopped me a few days ago, and you all love that city, I know, as I do. But most important, I had a telephone call yesterday. The toll wasn't, incidentally, as great as the one I made to you fellows on the Moon. [Laughter] I made that collect, incidentally, in case you didn't know. But I called the three of, in my view, three of the greatest ladies and most courageous ladies in the whole world today, your wives. And from Jan and Joan and Pat, I bring their love and their congratulations. We think it's just wonderful that they could have participated, at least through television, in this return; we're only sorry they couldn't be here. And also, I've got to let you in on a little secret - I made a date with them. [Laughter] I invited them to dinner on the 13th of August, right after you come out of quarantine. It will be a state dinner held in Los Angeles. The governors of all the fifty States will be there, the ambassadors, others from around the world and in America. And they told me that you would come too. And all I want to know - will you come? We want to honor you then.
Armstrong: We'll do anything you say, Mr. President. Just anything.
President Richard Nixon recalls the recovery of Apollo 11 in his memoirs: "Because the mission's command module was named 'Columbia', I had asked the Navy band to play 'Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean' as the astronauts stepped from the helicopter onto the aircraft carrier Hornet's [italics] deck.
"When I talked with them through the window of their quarantine chamber, it was hard to contain my enthusiasm or my awe at the thought that the three men on the other side of that glass had just returned from the moon. I said impulsively, 'This is the greatest week in the history of the world since the Creation.' When I talked to Billy Graham a few days later, he said, 'Mr. President, I know exactly how you felt, and I understand exactly what you meant, but, even so, I think you may have been a little excessive.'" 'The Memoirs of Richard Nixon,' Arrow Books (Hutchinson Publishing Group), 1978, pages 429-430.
Nixon: One question, I think, all of us would like to ask. As we saw you bouncing around in that boat out there, I wonder if that wasn't the hardest part of the journey. Was that the only - Did any of you get seasick?
Armstrong: No, we didn't. And it was one of the harder parts, but it was one of the most pleasant, we can assure you.
Nixon: Yes, well, I just know that you can sense what we all sense. When you get back now - incidentally, have you been able to follow some of the things that happened when you've gone. Did you know about the All-Star game?
Armstrong: Yes, sir. The Capsule Communicators have been giving us daily news reports.
Collins: They keep you posted.
Nixon: Were you American League or National League?
Armstrong: I'm a National League man.
Aldrin: I'm non-partisan, sir.
Collins: That's right.
Nixon: There's the politician in the group, right.
Armstrong: We're sorry you missed that game.
Nixon: Yes, well - you knew that too.
Armstrong: We heard that...
Nixon: The rain...
Armstrong: The rain. Well, we haven't been able to control the weather yet, but that's something we can look forward to as tomorrow's challenge.
Nixon: Right, right. Well, I can only summarize it because I don't want to hold you now. You have so much more to do. And gee, you look great - do you feel as good as you look?
Armstrong: Oh, we feel just perfectly, Mr. President.
Nixon: Yeah, I understand your - Frank Borman says you're a little younger by reason of having going [sic] into space, is that right. Do you feel that way, a little younger?
Collins: We're a lot younger than Frank Borman, sir. [Laughter].
Nixon: There he is, over there. Come on over Frank, so they can see you. You going to take that lying down?
Frank Borman, commander of Apollo 8 whose crew were the first humans to orbit the Moon seven months earlier, had been assigned by NASA as adviser to the President during key moments of the mission. They had watched the moonwalk live together in the private office of the White House, before the President’s televised telephone call to the astronauts from the adjacent Oval Office. "The Memoirs of Richard Nixon," Arrow Books (Hutchinson Publishing Group), 1978, page 429.
Aldrin: It looks like he has aged in the last couple of days .
Nixon: Come on, Frank.
Borman: Mr. President, the one thing I wanted. You know we have a poet in Mike Collins and he really gave me a hard time for describing new words of fantastic and beautiful. And you were - I counted them, in three minutes up there you used four fantastics and two beautifuls. (Laughter).
Nixon: Well, just let me close off with this one thing. I was thinking as you know, as you came down and we knew it was a success, and it had only been eight days, just a week, a long week. But this is the greatest week in the history of the world since the creation. Because as a result of what happened in this week, the world is bigger infinitely. And also, as I'm going to find on this trip around the world, and as Secretary Rogers will find as he covers the other countries and Asia, as a result of what you've done the world's never been closer together before. And we just thank you for that. And I only hope that all of us in government, all of us in America, that as a result of what you've done, we can do our job a little better. We can reach for the stars, just as you have reached so far for the stars. We don't want to hold you any longer. Anybody have a last re... How about promotions, do you think we could arrange something? (Laughter)
Armstrong: We're just pleased to be back and very honored that you were so kind as to come out here and welcome us back, and we look forward to getting out of this quarantine...
Collins: Great.
Armstrong: ...and talking without having glass between us.
Nixon: And incidentally, the speeches that you have to make at this dinner can be very short. And if you want to say fantastic or beautiful, that's all right with us. Don't try to think of any new adjectives; they've all been said. And now, I think incidentally, that all of us who - the millions that are seeing us on television now, are seeing you, would feel as I do that in a sense our prayers have been answered, and I think it would be very appropriate if Chaplain Piirto, the Chaplain of this ship were to offer a prayer of thanksgiving. If he would step up now. Chaplain, thank you.
Lt. Comdr. John A. Piirto, USN Chaplain: Let us pray. Lord, God, our Heavenly Father. Our minds are staggered and our spirit exultant with the magnitude and precision of this entire Apollo 11 mission. We have spent the past week in communal anxiety and hope as our astronauts sped through the glories and dangers of the heavens. As we try to understand and analyze the scope of this achievement for human life, our reason is overwhelmed with abounding gratitude and joy, even as we realize the increasing challenges of the future. This magnificent event illustrates anew what man can accomplish when purpose is firm and intent corporate. A man on the Moon was promised in this decade. And, though some were unconvinced, the reality is with us this morning, in the persons of astronauts Armstrong, Aldrin, and Collins. We applaud their splendid exploits and we pour out our thanksgiving for their safe return to us, to their families, to all mankind. From our inmost beings, we sing humble, yet exuberant praise. May the great effort and commitment seen in this project, Apollo, inspire our lives to move similarly in other areas of need. May we the people by our enthusiasm and devotion and insight move to new landings in brotherhood, human concern, and mutual respect. May our country, afire with inventive leadership and backed by a committed followership, blaze new trails into all areas of human cares. See our enthusiasm and bless our joy with dedicated purpose for the many needs at hand. Link us in friendship with peoples throughout the world as we strive together to better the human condition. Grant us peace, beginning in our own hearts, and a mind attuned with good will towards our neighbor. All this we pray as our thanksgiving rings out to Thee. In the name of our Lord, amen.
Collins: Amen.
National anthem plays.
Speaker: The astronauts stood to attention.
This is Apollo Control. The participants in the post-recovery news conference have left the Control Center, and the post-recovery news conference will begin within the next few minutes in the MSC building 1 auditorium.
This concludes the Apollo 11 Flight Journal.
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