Apollo Lunar Surface Journal


TV Troubles ALSEP Deployment


ALSEP Off-load

Corrected Transcript and Commentary Copyright © 1995 by Eric M. Jones.
All rights reserved.
MP3 audio clips by Ken Glover.
Scan credits in the Image Library
Last revised 24 March 2013.


MP3 Audio Clip (11 min 15 sec)

RealAudio File (24 min 20 sec)

116:30:09 Conrad: Where are you, Al?

116:30:10 Bean: I'm over here (at) the back bay. I'm ready to start the ALSEP off-loading for 'em.

116:30:16 Conrad: Okay. I got something for you and I'm coming around.

[As per checklist, Pete is bringing Al's saddlebag, a storage bag that Al will wear on his left hip. Al's saddlebag is shown reasonably well in AS12-46-6785, a picture Pete will take in just a few moments. The shadow cast by Pete's saddlebag is also visible. The Apollo 12 saddlebags can be seen in training photo KSC-69PC-0549.]
116:30:18 Bean: All right.

116:30:20 Conrad: Okay. Houston, I went back to Intermediate cooling.

116:30:26 Gibson: Roger. We copy that.

116:30:29 Bean: Good idea. Say, I've noticed when you get started moving down here, well, it's sometimes hard to stop.

116:30:37 Conrad: Yeah. Hold on to this (probably Pete's saddlebag) a second...

116:30:39 Bean: All right.

116:30:40 Gibson: Pete and Al, you're 1 plus 22 into the timeline, and you're running about 6 minutes behind nominal. We're monitoring PLSS feedwater 2 as a determining parameter.

[That is, Al's feedwater usage seems to be running a bit ahead of the anticipated use rate.]

[Bean - "I thought they couldn't monitor the quantity. I thought that was why we had to get in (earlier than he and Pete would have liked) at the end of the EVA; (that is, because) nobody knew how much feedwater was left. They might have had a computer program that somehow computed feedwater 2, but they couldn't really monitor it."]

[Conrad - "We had to weigh (the remaining feedwater) when we got back in."]

[Jones - "The surgeon had a monitor on your heart rates. There are plots in all the mission reports where they convert the heart rates to BTUs and I think that's what they're talking about."]

[Bean - "I do too. I think that's what they're doing there."]

116:30:55 Bean: Okay. Houston. We'll start catching up now. We've kind of gotten over the initial checkout on how to walk and move around; and maybe we won't have any problem with this hardware like we did with the TV...

116:31:10 Conrad: (Garbled) Here you go.

116:31:13 Bean: ...and the (S-band) antenna.

116:31:16 Gibson: Roger. And we're showing 2 plus 30 left in the EVA.

116:31:23 Bean: Okay. (Pause) Okay, Pete; your saddlebag's on.

116:31:31 Conrad: All right. Let's go.

[Conrad - "The saddlebags were supposed to be before we took the pictures. Now, somehow we got out of sequence with that, because we've taken the pictures and everything and here we're just hooking them up."]

[As Pete notes, he was supposed to have put Al's saddlebag on prior to taking the pans; and Al was supposed to have put Pete's saddlebag on right after the flag deployment. They got out of sequence because of the TV failure, but are getting everything done. None of these departures from the checklist compare in importance to the problems they had during the EVA prep.]

116:31:34 Bean: Okay. And we'll off-load the ALSEP. (Garbled).

116:31:39 Conrad: Nope. (Pause)

116:31:42 Bean: We ought to be able to move out with this thing.

116:31:44 Conrad: Okay.

116:31:48 Bean: The experiment bay looks real good.

116:31:49 Conrad: Yup.

[The ALSEP experiments are contained in two compact packages which, once Pete and Al remove them from the SEQ (Scientific Equipment) Bay on the southeast face of the LM, will be attached to the ends of a carry bar so that Al can take them out to the deployment site which, as indicated on page 4 of Pete's cuff checklist, was to be at least 300 feet from the LM. Details of the off-loading procedure are printed on a decal which is fixed to the back wall of the SEQ Bay. The information on the decal is reproduced on page Surface 47 of the checklist. As on Apollo 11, the pieces of equipment are mounted on booms and, once they have been extracted from the Bay, they are lowered to the ground with pulley-mounted lanyards. Pete will extract Package 1 and Al will extract Package 2, which contains the Radioisotope Thermal Generator (RTG), a small, plutonium-powered electrical generator. Al will fuel the RTG once it is on the ground. Note, also, that the Hand Tool Carrier, which they will take with them on the EVA-2 geology traverse, is stowed on the RTG pallet. In AS12-46-6783, the folded, silver-colored frame of the HTC is nearest Al's right hand, with the RTG below the HTC.]
116:31:50 Bean: The LM exterior looks beautiful the whole way around. Real good shape. Not a lot that doesn't look the way it did the day we launched it.

116:32:02 Conrad: (Possibly pulling a lanyard to open the SEQ bay doors) Light one. (Pause)

116:32:12 Bean: Okay. Here we go, Pete. Ohhhhh, up they go, babes. One ALSEP. (Pause)

[They have raised the two-section, horzontally-hinged door that covers the SEQ Bay where the ALSEP packages are stowed. There is also a small, vertically-hinged door on the left side of the SEQ Bay, which they opened first. Diagrams on page 58 of Scott Sullivan's Virtual LM illustrate the way the main door is hinged. Additonal details can be found on pages 38 to 47.]
116:32:22 Conrad: There it is.

116:32:24 Bean: There it is, is right. (Now we) just lay it on the lunar surface. (Pause) Better go to intermediate cooling, get good and chilled down. (Pause) Okay.

116:32:44 Conrad: Wait a minute. (Garbled) You've got to go easy.

116:32:48 Bean: Sure do. (Pause) Here it (probably the first package) comes.

116:32:53 Conrad: Coming right out.

116:32:54 Bean: And just about right. Riding right out on the boom, Houston. Sure looks pretty.

116:33:02 Gibson: (Making a mis-identification) Roger, Pete. We copy. (Long Pause)

116:33:36 Bean: (Wanting to take a picture) Look at me, Pete. (Pause) It's a good shot, babe. The LM and everything's reflecting in your visor. (Pause)

[Al's photos AS12-47-6913 and 6914 show Pete using a tape to guide the first of the ALSEP packages out of the SEQ Bay. Photo 6915 was probably taken late in the ALSEP off-load.]

[Bean - "I don't know if they ever tried to see if people could just pull the packages out and stand them on the ground. I think some of the things we did like this, where we had these nice, wonderful things that would deploy them and let them down, well, we didn't really need them. Now, I think one of the reasons they claimed we needed the rails and pulleys was, if you stroked the front gear, then it would be too high to reach in there. But I think the first thing a person ought to do when they're designing these things is see if - like taking stuff up the stairs (that is, the ladder) - if you can just grab it and do it. And then, if you can't come up with the most simplest thing in the world to do it. Nothing that's quite this fancy. Even if you had that high attitude, if you just had tabs pulled down, you could have pulled on the tabs and pulled it out and reach your hands up and got it. My comment would be to try to do it always the easy way first. And, if there's any way to do it the easy way, then don't build all that other stuff."]

[For Apollo 17, Cernan and Schmitt decided not to fly with the rails and pulleys and had no trouble getting the ALSEP packages out of the SEQ Bay.]

116:33:53 Bean: Lay her on the ground. Okay, I'll get mine out. (Long Pause) Right out on the boom, just like advertised.

116:34:13 Conrad: Wait until I get this (meaning the first ALSEP package) out of your way.

116:34:14 Bean: Okay. (Long Pause)

[Pete's picture 6783 shows Al removing ALSEP package 2. After taking that picture, Pete turns to take 6784 of the package (No. 1) that he (Pete) just moved out of the way. He then turns back to Al and takes 6785, showing package No. 2 on the ground. The dark fins on this package are radiators to cool the Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator (RTG) which will power the ALSEP experiments.]
116:34:44 Gibson: Yankee Clipper, Houston. Omni Charlie; Omni Charlie.

116:34:47 Gordon: (Garbled)

[Comm Break]

[There is a considerable amount of static on the comm circuit, possibly caused by interference from the Command Module. Gibson asks Dick Gordon to switch to omni directional antenna C, one of four. At 116:37:38, Gibson will give Gordon pointing angles for the high gain antenna. And, at 116:38:26, Gibson will tell Conrad and Bean that Houston is beginning to think that the interference - which the LM crew is also hearing - is originating somewhere in the comm downlink from the LM, rather than from the Command Module.]

[As per page 42 in the Apollo 12 Lunar Surface Operations Plan and his cuff checklist page 2, Al is probably removing the Hand Tool Carrier (ALHT or HTC) from ALSEP package 2, opening it up, removing two RTG fuel-element tools from package 2, and stowing the tools in the HTC. The two tools are the Dome Removal Tool (DRT) and the Fuel Transfer Tool (FTT).]

116:36:17 Conrad: It's going to look like...

116:36:19 Bean: Say again.

116:36:20 Conrad: Going to look like the back of the flight crew training building in a minute.

116:36:23 Bean: Uh-huh.

[Conrad - "It was where we practiced off-loading the ALSEP and deploying it."]

[Bean - "There was a lot of hardware hanging around. Well, look at it in the pictures. You can see it kind of starting to look stacked around there."]

[Jones - "And that was in Houston?"]

[Conrad - "No, at the Cape. It was also where the Surveyor (mock-up) was."]

116:36:25 Conrad: Okay. SEQ Bay door is coming closed. (Pause) Uh-oh. It's all right. Push that door...(Pause) What am I hung up on.

116:36:49 Bean: I don't know. (Long Pause)

116:37:13 Conrad: Hey, Al, (garbled). I have something (garbled)?

116:37:16 Bean: Let me look, Pete. (Pause) Here's one here. Let me get it off for you.

116:37:21 Conrad: Thank you. (Pause)

116:37:27 Bean: Okay, lift your left foot up and you're okay. (Pause) Okay.

[Evidently, Pete has gotten his foot caught, a common problem given the near impossibility of seeing one's own feet. He has probably gotten entangled with one of the SEQ Bay tapes seen in AS12-46-6783. ]
116:37:30 Conrad: Thank you. (Pause)

116:37:38 Gibson: Yankee Clipper, Houston. High Gain Antenna: Pitch, minus 13; Yaw, 225. (Long Pause, the comm improves noticeably)

116:38:08 Bean: Hey, Houston, do you hear this constant beeping in the background?

116:38:13 Gibson: That's affirmative. We've heard it now for about the past 45 minutes.

116:38:17 Bean: What is it? (Responding to the second half of Gibson's communication) That's right, so have we. What is it?

116:38:26 Gibson: (Static returns briefly) Intrepid, we've tried to isolate it. It appears it's something on the downlink coming from the LM. (Long Pause)

116:38:45 Conrad: Hey, Al.

116:38:46 Bean: Yes, sir. And there's the lunar tools all set up for you, fella.

116:38:50 Conrad: Okay.

[Al is about to fuel the RTG. To do so, he rotates the cask which contains the plutonium fuel element down 90 degrees to a horizontal position. He then removes a protective dome, and, finally, removes the element and inserts it into the RTG. Pete will hand him the appropriate tools. The fuel cask was designed to survive re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere just in case there was a launch accident. On Apollo 13, the LM was used to get the crew and their crippled Command Module back to Earth and was abandoned just prior to re-entry. The fuel cask survived the journey and currently resides at the bottom of the Tonga Trench in the western Pacific.]
116:38:53 Bean: This ALSEP's doing okay. (Pause; static has cleared) Old Chuck Weatherred will be happy to know we're throwing it up for him, here. That's all right.
[Journal Contributor Harald Kucharek notes that Chuck Weatherred is an honoree in the National Air & Space Museum Laureates Hall of Fame 1969. He worked in the Bendix Space Systems Div. and was "program manager for the EASEP and ALSEP scientific instrumentation stations deployed on the moon by the Apollo 11 and 12 crews."]
116:39:05 Conrad: Here you go. Now, what do you need of these?

116:39:10 Bean: I need anything you've got. (Garbled)...

116:39:11 Conrad: There you go.

116:39:12 Bean: ...that tool.

116:39:14 Conrad: How about this? You need that one?

116:39:17 Bean: How about the...Here, let me put that on. No, no. You put that in the package 2, and I'll pick that up later.

116:39:23 Conrad: It's already in package 2.

116:39:25 Bean: Then one must be yours.

116:39:29 Conrad: Okay. (Pause)

[The items in question may be the Universal Handling Tools, or UHT's, which are long-handled tools with which they will release the bolts holding the experiments onto the pallets that form the bases of the packages. Or, they may be discussing tools associated with the fueling operation. Package 2 is the RTG package.]
116:39:34 Bean: Okay. I put that there. (Pause) Excuse me, Pete, I'll move it (possibly the Hand Tool Carrier) over and plant it.

116:39:48 Conrad: Wait a minute.

116:39:49 Bean: All right.

116:39:51 Conrad: Got to put this together right. Where's the arrow? (Pause)

[Pete may be attaching ALSEP package number 1 to the carry bar, or he may be doing some assembly of the HTC.]
116:39:59 Bean: Shall I let down the cask while we wait?

[Al is asking if he should rotate the cask down to the horizontal position.]
116:40:01 Conrad: Wait a minute. Here you go.

116:40:04 Bean: Okay.

116:40:05 Conrad: (I want to) put this together. (Pause)

116:40:15 Bean: Houston, we're going to go ahead and pull down the fuel cask right now, and then I'll take the element out of it.

116:40:26 Gibson: Roger, Al. Copy. You're working with the fuel cask.

116:40:31 Conrad: (To Al) Wait. Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait! (Laughs)

116:40:35 Bean: I knew it. That's a bad place to put it (the HTC?), Pete.

116:40:38 Conrad: Huh?

116:40:39 Bean: That's a bad place to put it.

116:40:40 Conrad: Yeah. (Pause)

116:40:44 Bean: Fuel cask comes down beautifully. In position. Came down just right.

[Pete's photo of Al lowering the fuel cask to the horizontal position is AS12-46-6786.]
116:40:49 Conrad: Oh, I know what I have to do, Al. And I'm standing here not doing it.
[Pete is supposed to be removing the SIDE (Suprathermal Ion Detector Experiment) from package 2 - as per the ALSEP offload decal located on the back wall of the SEQ Bay - so that Al can fuel the RTG. Page 3 in Pete's cuff checklist does not list the procedures but does refer him to the decal.]
116:40:55 Bean: Okay, maybe I need to move the SIDE on.

116:40:57 Conrad: Yeah. (Pause)

MP3 Audio Clip (13 min 30 sec)

116:41:00 Bean: We're moving right along, Houston. We're catching up. (Long Pause)

116:41:25 Gibson: Yankee Clipper; Houston. Go to Wide Deadband.

[Journal Contributor Thomas Schwagmeier suggests that, when Ed releases his transmission 'key' at about 116:41:30, Dick can be heard saying " ...band." I'm not convinced but, of course, in March 2013 my hearing isn't as good as it once was.]
116:41:32 Conrad: Houston! You can log me for my first Boyd bolts on the Moon. (Pause)

[Bean - "A questionable honor."]

[Conrad - "Boyd bolts were a real pain in the ass."]

[The various experiment modules were attached to the two ALSEP packages by Boyd bolts. In order to remove the Boyd bolts holding down the SIDE, Pete inserted the head of the UHT into a guide sleeve that covered a bolt, engaged the bolt, and turned the UHT a quarter turn to release the bolt. Despite having the little alignment tubes to help guide them, the astronauts found that getting the UHTs properly positioned could be a major problem. The bolts were often in deep shadow and difficult to see. In addition, dust sometimes got into the sleeves and added to the difficulty.]

116:41:37 Bean: Hey, Houston.

116:41:39 Gibson: Pete, go ahead.

116:41:40 Bean: It's real interesting, as we put out this ALSEP right...(Hearing Gibson) There's one thing that's pretty obvious, as we're setting out the components of the ALSEP here. (And that) is: I just hope that these thermal coatings don't have to stay as white as they are right now, because there's just no way (of keeping them absolutely clean). With all this dust, there's just no possibility...

116:42:01 Conrad: (Garbled)

116:42:01 Bean: ...of not getting them a little bit dirty. And...

116:42:03 Conrad: Little bit dirty isn't the word for it.

116:42:05 Bean: I know it. This is going to be a real problem, I guess, if thermally they've got to maintain that (clean) coating. Because there's just no way you can do it. Everything that touches the ground picks it up. Your suit is about half dirty because the (LEC) strap landed on it. Uh-oh. It's a little dirty even on top of the fuel element, there. Okay.

[A perfectly clean, white covering will reflect most of the sunlight falling on it and keep the equipment inside relatively cool. A coating of dust will increase the amount of heat absorbed and, if the dust covering is heavy enough, will let the internal temperatures rise enough to cause damage.]
116:42:29 Conrad: Wait just a minute now before you get turned away.

116:42:34 Gibson: Al, we copy your comments.

116:42:39 Conrad: There. Okay.

116:42:40 Bean: I guess we'll just have to make allowances for things like that when we build them. They sure are going to get dirty. (Pause) Okay, I'm unlocking the cask dome, right now. It unlocked perfectly. Shaking it down, trying to get it off.

116:43:00 Conrad: There you go.

[Pete's photo of Al removing the dome is AS12-46-6787. Note the fuel-element extraction ("cask removal") tool sticking out of the HTC sample bag. Compare with 6790.]
116:43:02 Bean: It came off beautifully. (I'll) put the tool and the dome aside.
[Frame 6788 shows Al putting the dome and dome removal tool out of the way. Note the Teflon 'saddlebag' on his left hip.]
116:43:09 Conrad: Very nice.

116:43:10 Bean: Okay. I'll get out the cask removal tool. (Pause) Why don't you stand over there, Pete?

[Conrad - "I think you wanted me to move around so I could take a picture of you pulling the element straight out."]
116:43:22 Conrad: I've got to go back to Min cooling. I'm about to freeze to death. (Garbled)

116:43:27 Bean: Yeah. Okay. (Pause)

116:43:35 Conrad: Go ahead.

116:43:36 Bean: I am.

116:43:38 Conrad: Oh.

[Pete's pictures of Al removing the fuel element are AS12-46-6789 and 6790.]
116:43:39 Bean: Yeah; it's not...(Pause) There you go. (Pause) Sliding right in there. Okay, tighten up the lock (garbled). Hold it. (Long Pause) You got to be kidding.

116:44:10 Conrad: Make sure it (the removal tool)'s screwed all the way down. (Pause)

116:44:25 Bean: That could make a guy mad, you know it?

116:44:28 Conrad: Yup. (Pause)

116:44:32 Bean: Let me undo it a minute, and try it a different way.

116:44:34 Conrad: Yup. (Pause)

116:44:38 Bean: It can really get you mad.

[Conrad - "If I remember right, basically that cask had two steel rings inside it, that were imbedded in the carbon. That's a carbon cask. That's a re-entry cask. And there are two rings inside. And the plutonium rod fit in and seated in those two rings. Then it had a thing on the top that you screwed the tool in. And there was something on the top..."]

[Bean - "Like three jaws. You squeeze them in, supposedly. As you tightened it, something happened to them, and then you pulled it out. It sounds to me like right here I started to pull and we could see it isn't pulling and we started talking about 'it makes you mad'. Then we decided to unlock the tool and relock it. Because the tool had little bitty pins and we were afraid if we pulled, we'd break it and then we really would be sunk. So we took it off, put it in a different way and locked it down again to see if, somehow, it would work better. And it didn't work any better."]

116:44:41 Conrad: Houston, Al put the tool on, screwed it all the way down, and the fuel element would not come out of the cask. He's taking the tool off, and he's working her again.

116:44:54 Gibson: Roger. We copy. (Long Pause)

116:45:13 Conrad: (To Houston) (You) guys got any suggestions?

116:45:17 Bean: It really kind of surprises me. (Pause)

116:45:25 Conrad: (Garbled) come over and look.

116:45:27 Bean: I tell you what worries me, Pete. If I pull on it too hard, it's a very delicate lock mechanism. Maybe (I should) not push the pins in quite so far, and wiggle it a little. I just get the feeling that it's hot and swelled in there or something. Doesn't want to come out. I can sure feel the heat, though, on my hands. (Pause) Come out of there! Rascal. (Pause)

[Al has correctly diagnosed the problem just from feel.]

[Conrad - "Now, the problem turned out that they never calculated the amount of time the plutonium was in there. It heated those two rings to where they expanded and were just snug on there. I guess by tapping the hammer on it, I gave it just enough bounce that the load Al was putting on it would overcome the friction holding it. And he'd get it a little bit more and little bit more."]

116:45:55 Conrad: Suppose it outgassed or something? (Pause)

116:46:04 Bean: Say, Houston?

116:46:06 Gibson: Go ahead.

116:46:11 Bean: Okay. We've really got a problem, I guess. I've tried using different pins... You know, it's got a three-pin removal tool, so I tried using different pins in different holes. That doesn't appear to have any effect. You know, everything operates just exactly like it does in the training mock-ups and up at GE (General Electric Corporation). The only problem is, it just won't come out of the cask. I am suspicious that it's just swollen in there or something and friction's holding it in. But it's such a delicate tool, I really hate to pull on it too hard.

[Because Al was going to be the first person to fuel an RTG on the Moon, on 13 May 1969 he visited the GE Medical Systems facility at King of Prussia, Pennsylvania to get some familiarity with the fuel elements. Specifically, the Apollo 12 Crew Training Summary ( 4 Mb ) for that date lists "Fuel Trans GE - Bean" meaning that Al was going to learn about transferring the fuel element from the cask to the RTG. Presumably, the main purpose of the visit was to give him an appreciation of the care that had to be taken because of the high temperature of the element. GE had been awarded the Apollo RTG development contract by the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission in 1965.]
116:46:46 Bean: I think what we can do...

116:46:48 Conrad: Hey, I'll be with you.

116:46:50 Bean: ...go get that hammer and bang on the side of it.

116:46:52 Conrad: No. I got a better idea. Where's the hammer?

116:46:54 Bean: That's what I said.

116:46:55 Conrad: No, no. But I want to try and put the back end in under that lip there and pry her out. Let me go get the hammer. Be right back. Where did you put it?

116:47:06 Bean: Huh? What? Hammer's on the MESA.

116:47:08 Conrad: Okay. (Pause)

116:47:11 Bean: Let me get the tool off; it's starting to warm up.

116:47:14 Conrad: Okay. (Pause)

116:47:26 Bean: Can't figure that out. (Long Pause)

116:47:44 Gibson: Al, when you're working on that, try to make sure you've got the pins all the way in. Tighten up on it; then you can try pushing down on it a little, before you pull it out.

116:47:57 Bean: Okay. (To Pete) Don't touch these needles (the pins on the removal tool); if these break off, that's all she wrote.

116:48:01 Conrad: Yeah. I understand.

[If the pins break off the tool, they will have no chance of getting the fuel element out.]

[Conrad - "There was no problem with radiation. We weren't going to have it out that long."]

[Bean - "We had to use the tool because we didn't want it to touch anybody's suit."]

[Conrad - "Right. It was too (thermally) hot. It would burn your suit."]

116:48:02 Bean: And don't pound on anything (garbled).

116:48:03 Conrad: No, no. I'm not going to.

116:48:05 Bean: Okay. (Pause) We'll try again. Rotate and try it this way. (Pause) (The removal tool) drives in there just like it's going to do the job. Only it doesn't do the job.

[Conrad - "It was really stuck in there."]

[Bean - "Yes, but we didn't know it."]

[Conrad - "It didn't have to do with the latch."]

[Bean - "Which we said earlier. Everything seemed to operate, but it wouldn't come out."]

116:48:23 Conrad: Oh man, look at this dust fly. (Pause)

116:48:29 Bean: Just a minute. Just a minute. (Let me) get those pins in there again. (Pause)

116:48:38 Conrad: You're not getting those pins all the way in.

116:48:41 Bean: They're not in now because I'm lining them up. Just a damn minute. Now they are all the way in. They're all the way...Not quite. That bottom one down there's...(Pause) Now, my recommendation would be pound on the casket, then...you know.

[Pete begins hitting on the side of the cask with the flat of the hammer.]
116:48:56 Bean: Hey, that's doing it! Give it a few more pounds. (Pause) Got to beat harder than that. (Pause) Keep going. It's coming out. It's coming out! (Pause) Pound harder.

116:49:08 Conrad: Keep going.

116:49:10 Bean: (Laughs, cheering him on) Come on, Conrad!

116:49:14 Conrad: Keep going, baby.

116:49:15 Bean: That hammer's a universal tool.

116:49:17 Conrad: You better believe it...

116:49:18 Bean: There, you got it!

116:49:19 Conrad: Got it.

116:49:20 Bean: Got it, Houston. (Pete giggles) That's beautiful. That's too much.

116:49:24 Gibson: Well done, troops.

116:49:26 Conrad: I gotta go put the...

116:49:28 Bean: We got it, babe! It fits in the RTG real well! It's just the cask was holding it in on the side.

116:49:37 Gibson: Yankee Clipper, Houston. One minute to LOS.

116:49:40 Bean: Don't come to the Moon without a hammer. (Pause) That's it, Pete.

116:49:50 Conrad: (Laughing)

116:49:51 Bean: Outstanding!

116:49:52 Conrad: (Laughing; Pause)

[Conrad, from the 1969 Technical Debrief - "(When we started to off-load the ALSEP), the first thing we noted was that, as soon as we put the packages down on the surface, they began to accumulate dust. Everything went as advertised until Al screwed the cask removal tool on the cask (means the fuel element in the cask) and (it) would not budge. We got the normal fix-it: the hammer. While I beat the blazes out of the side of the container, Al managed to start the (element) out. He'd get a little notch of it every time I'd hit the container. And I really, I guess, started cracking the container. We finally got the element out and the generator fueled."]

[Bean, from the 1969 Technical Debrief - "It looked to me like the part that was sticking was about the first inch or so, because Pete would beat on it, and it would move out one-eighth inch or so until about an inch of it extended from the cask. Once the element was about an inch out, it suddenly came free and came all the way out, if that will be any aid to whoever is designing the equipment. Something was holding it that first inch."]

[The Apollo 12 Mission Report contains the following discussion about the fuel element removal problem. "Thermal tests and analyses show that dimensional tolerances can diminish with (increasing) temperature and result in binding between the latch fitting (C-ring) on the cask and the contact surface on the back plate of the capsule. The longitudinal contact distance for these two surfaces is approximately 0.6 inch, and extraction was easily accomplished once this distance was negotiated." For Apollo 13, the outer diameter of the 0.10 inch long contact surface was to be reduced by "as much as 0.005 inch for ease of capsule extraction." None of the later crews experienced any friction problems in removing the fuel element from the cask. See, also, Al's description of the extraction at 121:46:16.]

[Journal Contributor Ulli Lotzmann has created a comparison between AS12-46-6790, taken before they started banging on the cask with the hammer, and AS12-47-6961, a frame from Al's 6 o'clock pan taken at the end of the EVA. the latter image clearly shows marks on the cask from the hammering.]

[Journal Contributor Harald Kucharek reminds us that a related problem was encountered on 13 July 1945 during assembly of the first atomic bomb for the Trinity Test. The following is taken from Project Y: The Los Alamos Story by David Hawkins: "Only one difficulty was encountered that made the actual assembly anything more than a routine repetition of rehearsals. The desert heat, together with the heat generated by the active material, caused differential expansion among some of the (high-precision) parts. Some (other parts) of the assembly had been completed the night before on the high mesa of Los Alamos and (those parts of the device were) cold to the touch. A delay of a minute or two occurred while the hot material contacted the cold material, and then it cooled sufficiently to permit (assembly) as planned." Additional detail can be found in Richard Rhodes's The Making of the Atomic Bomb (page 658ff) and references therein.]

[Finally, Kucharek also calls our attention to the fact that Pete put a hammer to good use during his Skylab mission. See Chapter 5 in NASA publication SP-400, Skylab, Our First Space Station.]

116:49:57 Bean: Let's make our move (and carry the ALSEP out to the deployment site).

116:49:58 Conrad: I'm ready. (Pause)

116:50:05 Bean: That cask's going (in?). Okay, Houston. The fuel element is in the RTG. I can feel it radiate heat already! (To Pete) Put your hand over here.

116:50:13 Gibson: Copied that, Al.

116:50:16 Conrad: Wait a minute; don't move...No, wait a minute, Al. Have you got a strap around your boot? Let me look and see.

116:50:21 Bean: Okay.

116:50:23 Conrad: No. You're all right.

116:50:24 Bean: All right?

116:50:25 Conrad: Yeah.

116:50:26 Bean: Boy, this thermal coating doesn't mean a thing here (because it gets dirty so quickly).

116:50:29 Conrad: Uh-huh. That thing is really getting covered with dirt.

116:50:33 Bean: Gosh! I hope they made allowances for it.

116:50:36 Conrad: Me, too. Okay.

[The thermal coating that Al is referring to is the reflective, white-cloth covering on the packages. As mentioned previously, any dirt that gets on the covers will increase the amount of sunlight absorbed and, therefore, the internal temperatures of the various pieces of equipment. He is hoping that the designers took into account the possibility that the equipment would get dirty and would get hotter than if it stayed clean.]

[Next, Al attaches the ALSEP packages to the carry bar. Getting the packages properly locked onto the carrybar was always a problem and, on Apollo 16, one of Charlie Duke's packages came off the bar while he was carrying it. It fell four or five feet to the surface and bounced and rolled after it hit. There was, however, no apparent damage to the equipment.]

116:50:38 Conrad: Okay. You're in, pal.

116:50:41 Bean: It doesn't look like it (is properly attached). Let me look at that just a second.

116:50:44 Conrad: Okay.

116:50:45 Bean: It's the right way. (Pause)

116:50:52 Conrad: That's it.

[Bean - "The trouble was in lining it up. You had to line up the package perpendicular to the shaft to the nearest degree and you couldn't ever do it. That was a hard job to do. We needed a better alignment way to click those in. In fact, when I carried it out, it fell off once, didn't it? They had little over-center holders and you'd hit a bump and it would come right out. 'Cause the thing was (flexing and) bending. When I carried that baby out, it was like carrying springs. In training, we just carried makeshift ones and the pole was stiffer."]

[Each end of the carry bar has a flange with a diameter perhaps a centimeter greater than the diameter of the carry bar. In a comparison between details from AS12-46-6791 and 6792, we see in 6791 the end of the carry bar inserted in an opening just large enough to accomodate the flange and, in 6792, we see the bar raised into a slot with a diameter just larger than that of the bar and smaller than the diameter of the flange. Section 4.2 in the Apollo 16 Mission Report tells us that there was a latching pin to prevent the packages coming off the carry bar. "While the Lunar Module Pilot (Charlie Duke) was carrying the experiments package to the deployment site, subpackage 2 fell off the carry bar. The subpackage became detached because the latch pin had not locked. Lunar dirt in the subpackage socket had prevented the flanged end of the carry bar from sliding all the way into place so that the pin could lock. As a result, the package was free to rotate and vertical oscillations caused the detachment. The Lunar Module Pilot knocked the dirt out of the socket and re-attached the package. Dropping of the package caused no operational degradation."]

116:50:54 Bean: Hey, feel the heat off that machine. That's amazing.

116:50:59 Conrad: 1400 degrees (Fahrenheit or about 760 Celsius). (In a conspiratorial tone) Almost as hot as the Sun! (Chuckles)

[Conrad - "I must have taken this picture (AS12-46-6791) just about the time you hooked up the RTG. You've got your hand over the side and that's when you're talking about the heat, because your hand is right next to the radiator."]

[Pete also took 6792 about this time.]

116:51:06 Bean: Hey, do me a favor.
[Al is ready to start carrying the ALSEP and wants Pete's help in getting his hands properly positioned. The problem is one of not really being able to see something so low and close while, at the same time, trying to get low enough to grab the bar. On Apollo 16 and 17, Duke and Schmitt, respectively, generally bent forward to grab the bar and then, as they lifted the packages, ran forward to get it under control. Al may be trying to do a more controlled, static lift.]
116:51:07 Conrad: What do you need? No, go lower. There you go. You got it.

116:51:11 Bean: Okay.

116:51:14 Conrad: Okay; let me go scout...smoke over the area.

[Pete is saying that he'll go out west of the spacecraft and look over the potential deployment area. They need to be at least 300 feet from the LM to minimize the amount of dust blown onto the experiments during launch. The reason that they will do the deployment west of the LM is that, shortly after lift-off, the spacecraft will tilt toward the west - so that it can catch up with the orbiting Command Module - and, as a result, will blow most of the dust toward the east.]
116:51:17 Bean: Okay. Got everything you need?

116:51:22 Conrad: (Examining his cuff checklist entry at 1+36) All right, there's no TV, so I got the SIDE (subpallet) and the picker-uppers for the rocks (meaning the tongs)!

116:51:30 Bean: Okay.

[Had the TV still been working at this point, Pete would have now pointed it at the planned deployment site. Pete removed the SIDE experiment from the RTG package at 116:41:29 and will handcarry it out to the deployment site. This is the "subpallet" item on his checklist. The "picker-upper" is a pair of tongs that he got from the MESA at some time since they started the ALSEP off load.]
116:51:31 Conrad: Okay. Let's go right off to our little mound over there; how does that grab you?
[There are two conical mounds of dirt near the ALSEP deployment site. Evidently, they have already noticed the larger of the two. They did not, however, mention the mound during the site description they did prior to the EVA preps. Thomas Scwagmeier has created a composite from views out each of the windows and one of the maps that show the large mound.]
116:51:36 Bean: Okay. Now, something's wrong.

116:51:39 Conrad: What's the matter? (Long Pause, probably while they make sure the packages are secure on the carrybar)

116:51:49 Bean: Well, it's kinda...The thing doesn't...Well, let's try it.

116:51:57 Gibson: Pete, we copy. You've got the UHT, tongs, and (SIDE) subpallet.

116:52:07 Bean: We're making our move, Houston. I can tell this is going to be a workload. I'll take it easy.

116:52:16 Conrad: (To Houston) How long did you say our shadow was...(that is), the LM's shadow, 150 feet?

116:52:24 Gibson: Stand by, Pete.

116:52:26 Bean: No, that isn't any 150 feet. (Pause)

[If the shadow is 150 feet, they'll only have to go twice that far to get to the 300 foot minimum distance.]
116:52:34 Conrad: Take your time, Al; I'll just go on out...

116:52:36 Bean: That's what I'm doing. What's the hurry? We got it made.

116:52:38 Conrad: No, I'm just going out to scout the area, that's all.

116:52:40 Bean: Okay, I'm going to set it down and rest...

116:52:42 Conrad: Okay.

116:52:43 Bean: ...and go to intermediate cooling. (Garbled) (Pause)

[Al is carrying the ALSEP low, with his arms hanging down. See a detail from Pete's pan frame AS12-46-6806, which he takes at about 116:57:52.]

[Bean - "It was hard to carry that way; it kept bumping your knees. And then your knees would knock and it would rattle and jump."]

[Conrad - "Well, it weighed about 300 Earth pounds, so it had a lot of momentum."]

[Bean - "On Earth, when they gave us one that weighed like it did on the Moon (that is, a 50 pound mock-up), it had the momentum of the light masses. But you get up there with those big masses, even though it weighed the same, it wobbled different."]

[Ed Mitchell (Apollo 14) discovered that it was easier to carry the ALSEP with the carry bar cradled in the crook of his elbows. Jim Irwin (Apollo 15), Charlie Duke (Apollo 16), and Jack Schmitt (Apollo 17) also carried their ALSEP high, either on their hands at shoulder height or in the crook of the elbows and had less trouble than Al did.]

[Bean, from the 1969 Technical Debrief - "After we mated the ALSEP and got ready to carry it out, the workload carrying it out was about the same as I had guessed from working on Earth. The hard part is holding that weight in your hands. Even though it is not much (about 300 pounds on the Earth, but only 50 on the Moon), the combination of the weight, the fact that you're moving along, and the fact that your gloves don't want to stay closed (against the internal pressure of the suit) tends to make it a fairly difficult task. I would say that it would be acceptable to carry it this way for distances of up to 500 feet; but at distances greater than that, I don't think you want a hand carrier arrangement. You will want to have a strap that fits over your shoulder, or something like that. It's not your legs that get tired; it's a combination of your hands and arms, and it just makes you tired. Another thing that occurred that we hadn't seen on Earth is that, as you bounce along at one-sixth g, the RTG package tends to rotate. The c.g. (center of gravity) is not exactly lined up beneath the crossbar. It tended to rotate and unlock the two-piece crossbar. This was disturbing because I would have to stop once in a while and relock the crossbar. I would recommend that we definitely put some sort of snap lock on that cross piece so that, when you put it in position and it rotates to the carry position, it locks there. If it had opened up as we carried it, we might have dropped the gear and broken some of it on the lunar surface. It's funny that never showed up in any of our one-sixth g work in the airplane or anywhere else, but it was a continual problem on the lunar surface."]

[Apollo 13 photo KSC-70PC-15 shows Jim Lovell carrying the ALSEP packages during training. The RTG pallet is on Lovell's left. Note the locking mechanism with which the pallets are secured to the carrybar and, also, the Universal Handling Tool (UHT) attached to each of the pallets.]

[During the 1969 Technical Debrief, Pete and Al discussed the rest they could get by just standing still, arms hanging down and leaning forward to put their center of mass over their feet.]

[Conrad, from the 1969 Technical Debrief - "The position described is a very comfortable position. I never got tired. It's just a normal position to rest in. You can stand perfectly still in that position and rest. Did you (Al) feel the same way about resting? Did you just stand?"]

[Bean, from the 1969 Technical Debrief - "I never remember doing anything but standing there; and never seemed to get tired. As you said earlier, you could work 8 hours out there; if you got tired, you could probably stand against something or just stand there, cool off, and press on. At the end of the EVA, I was feeling as good, particularly in my legs, as I was at the start."]

116:52:55 Bean: You know, they ought to build this equipment for lunar operations some other color besides white.

116:52:59 Conrad: (Laughs; Pause) I'm going to go right up to the Head Crater, I guess.

116:53:14 Bean: Well, if you're going to do anything...(Pause) Okay; let me move another couple of...

116:53:24 Conrad: Got any direction you want me to go?

116:53:26 Bean: Well, it looks to me like either the direction you're headed is good, or the one a little bit more to the right. You're going to have to go far enough so we don't end up in one of the craters when we furthest south deploy.

116:53:41 Conrad: Okay. (Pause)

[They will deploy all of the experiments south of the Central Station and, hence, need to leave themselves enough room between the Central Station and Head Crater to get everything on level ground and in the proper relative position.]
116:53:44 Conrad: But I want to go 10 degrees off our takeoff angle; and I think I'm headed out about that way now.

116:53:50 Bean: Okay. (Pause)

[Presumably, they want to get far enough off the direct LM track to prevent any significant interactions with the engine exhaust.]


TV Troubles Apollo 12 Journal ALSEP Deployment