Apollo 15 Lunar Surface Journal


Post-EVA-3 Activities Rendezvous and Docking (AFJ)


Return to Orbit

Corrected Transcript and Commentary Copyright © 1996 by Eric M. Jones.
All rights reserved.
Last revised 11 June 2013.


MP3 Audio Clip ( 20 min 11 sec ) by David Shaffer

170:37:01 Scott: Okay, Houston; Falcon.

170:37:04 Mitchell: Go ahead, Falcon.

170:37:09 Scott: Okay. In the rendezvous radar self-test and the Verb 63, I have no shaft variation on the Noun 72. The trunnion's going about a half a cycle per second, but the shaft seems to be at 220. Although the cross-pointers are moving.

170:37:27 Mitchell: Okay, we copy that. Stand by one. (Long Pause)

[The Rendezvous Radar Self Test starts on Surface 12-8. The Verb 63 procedure starts at the top of Surface 12-9.]
170:37:45 Mitchell: Dave, is there's any chance you can see the (antenna) shadow? The antenna is moving, is it not?

170:37:57 Scott: Yes, and it looks like it's moving in shaft; I can't really tell, but I...The shadow's moving and the cross-pointers are moving.

170:38:04 Mitchell: Okay. Thank you.

[Comm Break]
170:39:48 Scott: Okay, Houston, the designate seems to work okay. You...(lost under Mitchell)

170:39:51 Mitchell: That's affirm, Dave. We suspect you might have drifted into a stop.

170:40:00 Scott: Okay, it sounds reasonable. (Pause)

170:40:11 Mitchell: And, Falcon; Houston. Observe you starting your AGS load. (I'd) like to give you the PAD before you do that.

170:40:23 Irwin: Okay, I was wondering when you were going to send it up, Ed.

170:40:26 Mitchell: Been waiting for your call, Jim. Okay, I've got a direct PAD (that is, for the short, one orbit rendezvous), a co-elliptic PAD, and a CSI PAD for you.

170:40:37 Irwin: Okay, ready for the ascent PADs.

170:40:39 Mitchell: Okay, here comes the direct: 171:37:22.36; 5530.4; 0032.0; minus 000.4; plus 37742; plus 01722; plus 58516; plus 56943; plus 0032.0; plus 0149.6; TPI is 172:29:39.00; the LM weight, 10936; Tig (time-of-ignition) one Rev late, 173:35:34. Coelliptic Ascent PAD: 171:40:13.41; 5532.0, 0020.0, minus 000.5; plus 37742; plus 01722; plus 58550; plus 56943; plus 0020.0; the rest NA. Read back.

170:42:43 Irwin: Okay, for direct. Readback: 171:37:22.36; 5530.4; 0032.0; minus 000.4; plus 33742; plus 01722; plus 58516; plus 56943; plus 0032.0; plus 0149.6; 172:24:039.00; 10936. Tig for one rev late, 173:35:34. CSI...(correcting himself) coelliptic rather: 171:40:13.41; 5532.0; 0020.0; minus 000.5; plus 37742; plus 01722; plus 58550; plus 56943; plus 0020.0.

170:43:52 Mitchell: Okay, Jim. One error. On the direct, Noun 37, TPI time, it should be 172:29:39.00.

170:44:11 Irwin: Okay, 172:29:39.00.

170:44:15 Mitchell: That's affirm. Now the CSI PAD. (Pause) 172:35:08.00; 174:27, all zeros; 049.0; plus all zeros; 0155.1; 0267.0; plus 049.0; plus all zeros; plus 001.0.

170:45:04 Irwin: Okay. CSI PAD, 172:35:08.00; 174:27, all zips; plus 049.0; all zips; 0155.1; 0267.0; plus 049.0; plus all zips; plus 001.0.

170:45:27 Mitchell: That's a good readback, Jim. Be advised, we had a little comm problem with the command module before he went over the hill. We're going to be a little busy with him at AOS giving him some numbers and an uplink.

[Scott - "They're also setting Worden up to rescue us. So it's a double rendezvous. Both guys do it. Both the LM and the Command Module perform the rendezvous and, if the LM numbers are off, the Command Module executes the maneuvers. You have the ground tracking, the LM tracking, and the Command Module tracking. So you have three votes."]

[Jones - "So, basically, Al's got his finger on the button, ready to come get you if anything goes off nominal."]

[Scott - "And Mitchell has to deal with both of them."]

170:45:45 Mitchell: And we were wondering down here, did you get any food after you got back in? And the medics would also like your PRD readings from page 12-4.

170:46:00 Irwin: Stand by on that. (Long Pause)

170:46:38 Mitchell: Falcon, Houston, if you are having to dig the PRDs out, skip it for now, please.

170:46:45 Irwin: Okay, we will.

[Comm Break]
170:47:49 Scott: Okay, Houston. The RCS (Reaction Control System) hot-fire (on Surface 12-10 and 12-11) looks okay.

170:47:55 Mitchell: Okeydoke, Falcon.

[Comm Break]
170:49:11 Mitchell: And, Falcon; Houston. For your P57 (on Surface 12-11 and 12-12), we'd like to use star 5 (Polaris) , again, and you should find it in detent 3, at a cursor of 184 and a spiral of 282.

170:49:29 Scott: Okay, we already have those, Ed. Thank you.

170:49:31 Mitchell: Okay, I think I inverted them. It's a spiral of 282 and a cursor of 184.

170:49:39 Scott: Oh, that's okay; we'll find it. It's a good star.

[Long Comm Break]
Video Clip  4 min 44 sec ( 1.2 Mb RealVideo or 42 Mb MPG )

170:55:17 Irwin: And, Ed, I'm ready to copy an AGS K-factor (as per Surface 12-10) whenever you have it.

170:55:21 Mitchell: I'm trying to get it for you now, Jim. You beat me by about 15 or 20 seconds. (Long Pause) Falcon, Houston; your AGS K-factor 170:00:00.80.

170:56:12 Irwin: Roger; copy 170:00:00.80.

170:56:16 Mitchell: That's affirm.

[Comm Break. During this comm break, Dave and Jim complete the P57 gravity-vector measurement and star sightings for the alignment of the inertial platform on Surface 12-11 and 12-12.]
Video Clip  3 min 27 sec ( 0.9 Mb RealVideo or 30 Mb MPG )

170:58:33 Mitchell: Copied your angles.

170:58:39 Scott: Okay. Thank you.

170:58:42 Mitchell: And be advised, I have some new rendezvous radar angles for you, Dave. I'll explain them when we get there.

170:58:52 Scott: Okay Ed. Stand by one. (Long Pause) Okay, Ed; go with the radar angles.

170:59:18 Mitchell: Roger; 186 and 277. And the reason for this, Dave, is that the command module is a little bit more in an elliptic orbit than we're used to, and I'll have some more words about your TPI burn after we look at it a little more.

170:59:38 Scott: Okay, fine.

170:59:40 Mitchell: Rog; his orbit's 64 by 54, about a 10-mile difference in perilune and apolune.

170:59:49 Scott: All righty. (Long Pause)

[Jones - "Ed's statement that Al has 'a little bit more elliptical orbit than we're used to' is an amazing statement. You have been through this, dozens of times. Some nominal, some off-nominal."]

[Scott - "He's not perfectly nominal. And what I think he's really referring to is the nominal. But that's not a big deal. You just make certain adjustments. And the reason Ed tells me this is the numbers he's going to give me are going to be different from nominal, and he knows I would wonder why they were different from nominal."]

[Irwin, from the 1971 Technical Debrief - "We were really pressing now, with not much extra time. We had a change on angles here for the rendezvous radar that they voiced up real time. Why'd they come up with them real time?"]

[Worden, from the 1971 Technical Debrief - "I think it was probably because of the orbital change."]

[Scott, from the 1971 Technical Debrief - "I remember it being very busy throughout the timeline, but we were never behind. We were just about 5 minutes (ahead?) all the way. We had time to get everything stowed properly."]

171:00:52 Mitchell: 2, all zeros. We copy 47053.
[Mitchell is probably acknowledging transmission of the 047R and 053R values as called for on Surface 12-12.]
171:00:54 Irwin: Houston, I'm going to turn the Ascent Batts On (as per Surface 12-12). (Acknowledging Mitchell's transmission) Roger. Ascent Batts going On now, Ed.

171:01:02 Mitchell: Roger, and we copy. (Long Pause) And, Falcon, we will not uplink you at lift-off minus 35 (as had been planned on Surface 12-13). You can press on with your checklist.

Video Clip  2 min 47 sec ( 0.7 Mb RealVideo or 25 Mb MPG )

171:01:52 Irwin: Okay. Thank you.

[Comm Break. At the end of the comm break, the Command Module re-emerges from behind the Moon. Mitchell will now be CapCom for both vehicles on a single comm loop.]
171:03:57 Mitchell: Endeavour, Houston. Standing by.

171:04:03 Worden: Hello, Houston; Endeavour.

171:04:05 Mitchell: Okay, Al. Loud and clear.

171:04:11 Worden: Okay, Ed. I'm in REACQ (garbled) now.

171:04:15 Mitchell: Roger. And, Falcon, your 047 (and) 053 are okay. Al, did you get the TPI and lift-off time for the direct ascent before LOS? Over.

171:04:30 Worden: Affirmative.

Video Clip  2 min 38 sec ( 0.7 Mb RealVideo or 24 Mb MPG )

171:04:31 Mitchell: Okay. Let us have P00 and Accept, and we'll give you an uplink.

171:04:39 Worden: You have it.

171:04:40 Mitchell: Okay. Let me give you the coelliptic PAD, Al.

171:04:47 Worden: Go ahead.

171:04:48 Mitchell: Okay. Lift-off is 171:40:13.41. And GET (Ground Elapsed Time) of CSI, 172:35:08.00; and Noun 37, your Tig TPI, is 174:27, all zeros. Read back.

171:05:30 Worden: Okay. I understand on a direct ascent, it's lift-off, 171:37:22.36; TPI, 172:29:39.00; CSM weight, 35995; coelliptic lift-off, 171:40:13.41; CSI, 172:35:08.00; TPI, 174:27:00.00

171:05:59 Mitchell: Okay, Al. That's a good readback. (Pause) And, Al, let me advise you that, because of your orbit, the TPI is going to be non-nominal in angle. About the same Delta-V; however, a different angle. We'll have more words after insertion.

171:06:20 Worden: Okay. Do you want the gyro-torquing angles on that last P52?

171:06:24 Mitchell: That's affirm. I'm ready to copy.

171:06:29 Worden: Okay. Minus 4 balls 6, minus 00017, and minus 00017, and they were torqued out at 170:06.

171:06:43 Mitchell: Copy minus 4 balls 6, minus 3 balls 17, minus 3 balls 17, torqued at 170:06.

171:06:57 Worden: Roger.

Video Clip  2 min 58 sec ( 0.8 Mb RealVideo or 26 Mb MPG )

RealVideo Clip (2 min 58 sec)

171:06:58 Mitchell: And give us Auto on the High Gain. And, Al, we're not going to bother with your P27 PAD readup, unless you expressly want it.

171:07:13 Worden: Negative, Ed. (Long Pause)

171:07:57 Scott: And, Endeavour; Falcon. You're five square (meaning '5 by 5') to us on the relay. How do we sound?

171:08:04 Worden: Hello, Falcon; Endeavour. You're loud and clear.

171:08:10 Scott: Okay. We're all set. You ready to get us some warm chow?

171:08:16 Worden: Yes, sir.

171:08:23 Scott: Great. I'll tell you, cold tomato soup isn't too good. (Long Pause)

[Irwin, from the 1971 Technical Debrief - "We checked in with Al two or three times there on the surface,"]

[Scott, from the 1971 Technical Debrief - "Two times. Once each day. That worked pretty well. It was obvious they were keeping him informed of what we were doing. We knew pretty well what he was doing, so that played pretty well."]

[Irwin, from the 1971 Technical Debrief - "Did we mention that we ran out of food there in the LM? We could have used a little more food."]

171:08:59 Mitchell: Endeavour, (the) computer's yours.

171:09:04 Worden: Roger, Houston. (Long Pause)

171:09:23 Mitchell: Endeavour, Houston.

171:09:28 Worden: Go ahead, Houston.

171:09:29 Mitchell: Al, were you having any comm difficulties before LOS on your last pass. We lost you for about 20 to 25 minutes.

171:09:39 Worden: Sure didn't notice any, Ed. I was busy down in the LEB (Lower Equipment Bay), but I didn't get any signal in the headset indicating that we'd lost S-band lock, and I had the Squelch off.

Video Clip  5 min 45 sec ( 1.4 Mb RealVideo or 51 Mb MPG )

171:09:50 Mitchell: Okeydoke.

[Long Comm Break]

[On-board the LM, Dave and Jim are reconfiguring switches as per Surface 12-14 and 12-15. Prior to 171:20, they will don their helmets, gloves, and waist restraints and reconfigure the ECS as per 12-16.]

171:14:29 Mitchell: Endeavour, Houston. Omni(-directional antenna) Delta.

171:14:36 Worden: Omni Delta.

171:14:37 Mitchell: And, Falcon; Houston. I have some PIPA (Pulsed Integrating Pendulous Accelerometer) biases, when you'd like them.

171:14:49 Scott: Stand by, Ed.

[Comm Break]

[NASA's Public Affairs commentator tells the press that, because of the clutch problems in the Rover TV camera, Ed Fendell will not attempt to track the LM as it leaves the surface.]

Video Clip  2 min 21 sec ( 0.6 Mb RealVideo or 21 Mb MPG ) Clip starts at 171:15:25.

171:16:06 Mitchell: Falcon, Houston. Verify Slew. We're about to hand over.

171:16:15 Irwin: Okay, we're going Slew.

[The Moon is about to set at NASA's Australian tracking station at Honeysuckle Creek near Canberra. Communications during the next eight hours of the mission will be handled thru the tracking station in Spain. The change in stations means a difference in LM antenna pointing of a bit less than 1.9 degrees. In the Slew mode, the antenna will not attempt to re-aim itself during the handover. Once the handover is, complete, Jim will switch the antenna to the Auto Mode so that it can use signal strength to re-aim.]

[Scott, in a 1996 letter - "Honeysuckle Creek no longer exists - at all. It's gone!"]

[Comm Break]

171:17:26 Mitchell: Falcon, Houston. Handover complete. Verify Auto, please.

Video Clip  4 min 01 sec ( 1.0 Mb RealVideo or 36 Mb MPG )

171:17:37 Irwin: Roger. Going back to Auto.

[Long Comm Break]
Video Clip  6 min 16 sec ( 1.6 Mb RealVideo or 56 Mb MPG )

171:21:29 Mitchell: And, Falcon; Houston. I still have some PIPA biases I need to give you. (No answer)

[Long Comm Break]

[During this comm break, Dave and Jim are reconfiguring circuit breakers as per Surface 12-17, 18, and 19.]

171:26:06 Mitchell: Okay. Falcon, Houston. Observe you're doing Verb 83 at lift-off minus 12 (as per Surface 12-20). We're right on schedule. I have a couple of updates for you, please. (Long Pause) Falcon, Houston. Do you read? (Long Pause) Falcon, Houston. In the blind, while we're looking at our comm problem, your PIPA bias: Verb 21 Noun 01, Enter. Enter it...Put that in if you hear me. (Long Pause)
[The first part of Mitchell's transmission indicates that Houston is receiving telemetry from the LM. They are not, however, receiving voice. Houston wants Falcon to perform the Verb 21, Noun 01, Enter in part because, if Houston sees that action via telemetry, they know Mitchell is being heard in the LM.]
MP3 Audio Clip ( 19 min 56 sec ) by David Shaffer

Video Clip  3 min 01 sec ( 0.8 Mb RealVideo or 27 Mb MPG )

171:27:40 Scott: Houston, Falcon.

171:27:42 Mitchell: Okay, Falcon. There we have you. We had a little (communications) net problem. I have a PIPA bias update for you.

171:27:51 Scott: Well, standby. You ready to watch the APS pressurize?

171:27:57 Mitchell: Okay, let's let her come.

171:28:01 Scott: Okay, here comes tank one. (Pause) And we'll stand by for your call for tank two.

171:28:13 Mitchell: Roger. (Pause)

[Dave and Jim are opening valves to release high-pressure helium into the ascent propellant tanks. Both the crew and Houston are monitoring the tank pressures to ensure that they are getting the proper pressures and that they are not decaying as the result of leaks.]
171:28:21 Mitchell: Okay; go with tank two. (The pressure in tank one) looks good.

171:28:26 Scott: Okay; tank two coming now. (Pause)

171:28:34 Mitchell: Looks good down here.

171:28:39 Scott: Okay; thank you. Looks good up here.

[As indicated in the box on Surface 12-20, had they had a leak in the Ascent Propulsion System (APS) they would have launched immediately. Once in orbit, Al Worden would have maneuvered to perform the resulting off-nominal rendezvous.]
171:28:41 Mitchell: And, Dave, you're Go for the direct rendezvous. Both guidance systems look good. PGNS is your recommendation.

171:28:49 Scott: Roger. Go for direct on the PGNS. (Heavy Static; Long Pause)

[As per Surface 12-21, Dave and Jim will now switch from the Surface checklist to the APS Start Card and the LM Timeline Book.]
171:29:19 Mitchell: (Static fades) Falcon; you still with us?

171:29:23 Scott: Roger.

171:29:24 Mitchell: Okay. I have a copy of numbers I have to read for you, Dave, when you're ready.

171:29:35 Scott: Okay. Pencil's out. Go ahead.

171:29:39 Mitchell: Okay; PIPA bias is Y-PIPA. Verb 21; Noun 01. 1454 Enter. And the data is 04366 Enter. X-PIPA: Verb 21; Noun 01. Address 1452 Enter. Data 04672 Enter.

171:30:09 Irwin: Okay, here's the readback on that, Ed. Verb 21; Noun 01. 1454 Enter. 04366. And then Verb 21; Noun 01. 1452 Enter. 04672.

171:30:22 Mitchell: That's a good readback. And when you have your timeline book out, I'd like to change some range and range-rate numbers because of this ellipticity of the Command Module Orbit.

Video Clip  2 min 44 sec ( 0.7 Mb RealVideo or 24 Mb MPG )

171:30:36 Scott: Okay, Ed. Do you want those PIPA biases loaded now?

171:30:40 Mitchell: That's affirm.

171:30:44 Scott: All right. (Long Pause)

171:31:27 Irwin: Okay, Ed. What are the changes in the timeline book?

171:31:31 Mitchell: Okay; the range and range-rate at insertion. Range rate is 137; range, minus...(Correcting himself) Oh, sorry. Range is 137; range rate, minus 431. At plus five minutes: range, 117; range rate, minus 398. And at ten minutes: range is 98; range rate minus 355.

171:32:10 Irwin: Okay; I copied that data.

171:32:14 Mitchell: Good enough. (Long Pause)

[Jones - "With these numbers that Ed just gave you..."]

[Scott - "You could do the rendezvous, essentially, with a piece of paper, a pencil, and a stop watch. But we have back up charts to do all this for us. So if you are on a relatively nominal trajectory, then you can follow through with these range and range-rate gates. You adjust your range and range rate to meet these numbers. And you get there."]

171:32:29 Worden: Falcon; Endeavour on VHF. How do you read? (Long Pause)

171:32:47 Scott: Okay, Falcon; Endeavour. How do you read us now? (We read you) 5 by.

171:32:52 Mitchell: Loud and clear. (Long Pause)

Video Clip  2 min 52 sec ( 0.7 Mb RealVideo or 25 Mb MPG )

171:33:06 Mitchell: And Falcon, Houston. We'd like you to change your 053 number to plus 01722.

171:33:21 Irwin: Roger. Copied the 053 to plus 01722.

171:33:25 Mitchell: That's affirm. (Long Pause) Falcon; Houston. Can you make your VHF check so we can handover the network, please.

171:34:07 Scott: Rog. We tried (at 171:32:47) and got no response. And I'll stand by. We should be hot miked to the Endeavour. (Pause) Okay; Houston. We've had trouble on the VHF checks as he approached the mountains back there. We usually don't get him until he's almost overhead because of the...

171:34:35 Worden: Okay; Falcon. There you are. I've got you now.

171:34:38 Scott: Oh; okay.

171:34:41 Mitchell: Understand VHF check is good now.

171:34:41 Worden: (Lost under Mitchell) VHF there, Dave.

171:34:47 Scott: Rog. VHF check is Go, Ed. Falcon here.

171:34:53 Mitchell: Endeavour, Houston. We're going to hand you over now.

171:34:59 Worden: Endeavour, Roger. (Residual static ends; Long Pause)

171:35:28 Scott: Hey, Houston, Falcon. How do you read on VOX?

171:35:31 Mitchell: Okay, loud and clear, Dave, and you're Go for lift-off. And I assume you've taken your explorer hats off, and put on your pilot hats.

171:35:42 Scott: Yes sir! We sure have. We're ready to do some flying.

171:35:49 Irwin: Standing by for one minute.

171:35:50 Scott: Okay.

171:35:51 Irwin: Guidance steering is in.

Video Clip  4 min 12 sec ( 1.1 Mb RealVideo or 37 Mb MPG )

171:35:52 Scott: Okay. (Long Pause)

[Ulli Lotzmann and Ken Glover have created a two-frame animation showing the descent stage before and after the liftoff. In addition to changes in the orientation of the struts, note that there doesn't appear to have been much dust deposition on the TV lens. Note, also, the silvery object visible in the pre-launch frame along the line-of-sight from the TV to the minus-Z strut. The object is not at that location in AS15-88-11925, a frame Dave took from the VIP site late in EVA-3 before returning to the LM. Jim's 8-o'clock pan taken late in EVA-2 shows the LRRR pallet and thermal cover in the crater immediately east of LM. Undoubtedly, the RCS hot-fire check done at 170:47:49 blew the thermal cover eastward out of the crater. The ascent engine exhaust then blew it out of the TV field-of-view.]
171:36:22 Mitchell: Mark. One minute.

QuickTime Clip by Peter Dayton (1 min 21 sec)

171:36:25 Scott: Okay, one minute. Master Arm is On; I have 2 lights. (Long Pause) Average-g is On. (Pause) Abort Stage; Engine Arm to Ascent. 99 Pro(ceed).

[Ken Glover has used the 60 fps version of the TV record on the Spacecraft Films Apollo 15 DVD set (Disk 6) to capture 20 successive frames ending with the first spacecraft motion. The third and fourth frames show a red glow at the base of the ascent stage, while the fifth shows more extensive blue cloud in the same area. Both may be related to stage separation.]
16-mm film (7 min 55 sec; 127 Mb) MP4 Clip by Ken Glover from material provided courtesy Mark Gray.

171:37:25 Scott: Good lift-off.

[Music : Air Force Song]

[Jones - "I assume that you had a little tape recorder on board..."]

[Scott - "Al did. He wasn't supposed to start it until one minute after lift-off, but so be it. In fact, when we got back and had the big management briefing, there were a lot of people bent out of shape about that. And I said, 'That was part of the plan. So we missed it! So what?' There wasn't anything that it impaired, safety-wise. It was just that some people got surprised. But we had it all planned."]

[Jones - "A little pizzazz!"]

[In a note to AFJ editor David Woods in May 1999, Dave expanded his answer. "On the AF song -- yes, we did indeed know that Al was going to play it, and we had all three discussed the plan in some detail. However, it was supposed to begin at lift-off plus one minute so as not to interfere with the most critical part of the launch and ascent. For whatever reason - who cares, really? - it came on exactly at lift-off. Nobody in MCC was aware of our plan. They apparently bunched up for a few seconds trying to figure out the source. But no matter; at the end of the day it caused no problems -- except that I got chewed out by NASA management - although I could see the smile in their eyes! Was it a problem? Well, I guess we should say that next time a little later turn on would probably be better. But, again, no big deal. MCC figured it out in a matter of seconds. And of course, I should have let Gerry Griffin (our Flight Director) in on the plan before the mission. An oversight on my part; sorry Gerry, it won't happen again!"]

[Woods also asked Al Worden about this incident.]

[Woods, from 1999 correspondence with Worden - "Soon after Falcon lifted off the lunar surface, the 'Air Force Song' was heard on the air/ground. I have conflicting reports of the source of this. Was it yourself in Endeavour? I don't think the LM would have carried a tape player. It seems to express a certain confidence in the system to be playing music at this time. Was it a prearranged idea or something thought up ad hoc."]

[Worden from 1999 correspondence - "I must confess that I played the song during the lunar lift-off. I thought I was playing it only for Houston. But then I found out that someone had turned on the switch that relayed my voice to the Lunar Module. So, Dave and Jim had to perform the pre-launch checklist with the song playing in their ears. Dave was not too happy about that, but I didn't know at the time that Houston had turned the radio loop around on me. I actually had this in the back of my mind during the flight, and just went ahead and played it during the lunar ascent."]

[In the 16-mm ascent film shot out Jim's window, about 1.9 seconds after first spacecraft motion, a large piece of insulation - almost certainly a MESA blanket - flys off toward the ALSEP. It hits the surface about 11 meters north of the ALSEP Central Station (110 m from the LM) at 6.83 seconds, rises again, and finally comes to a rest about 180 meters from the LM. A discussion is linked here.]

171:37:26 Scott: Automatic. Yaw left. Pitch over. (Long Pause)

171:37:43 Scott: Stable about 306. (Pause)

171:37:53 Scott: Hey, good smooth ride, Ed.

171:37:56 Mitchell: Roger. Copy now.

171:38:05 Irwin: All looks good at 30 (seconds). (Long Pause)

[Jones - "Was it noisy in there when it was firing?"]

[Scott - "Nope. Hardly heard a thing. And you'll hear a comment when we get to that point; but one of the things I recall is that it sounded like the wind was blowing through a window. And we made a comment about that. I don't know what we expected, but nobody ever had mentioned that to us."]

[Jones - "It never occurred to me to ask anybody what the noise level was. Now, people were in helmets, admittedly, and suited."]

[Scott - "But, compared to (Earth) launch...Launch was noisy. This was very quiet. Very quiet. You heard a swishing sound. Shhhhhhhhh."]

[Jones - "Were you wearing helmets at Saturn V launch?"]

[Scott - "Oh yeah; you bet. Fully suited. We wore the suits on launch, but not on re-entry."]

["Our (lunar) ascent was right up the Rille. Nobody planned it that way, but it could not have been a better trajectory, because we went right up the rille. We turned the corner and flew up the rille. 'Where would you like to go when you're taking off from the Moon?' 'I'd like to fly up the rille!' Thank you very much, Floyd Bennett or whoever planned the trajectory. And you see that on the film. It's in the Apollo 15 movie. That's the only reason I've ever seen it."]

[After transcribing this, I looked at the sequence in the Apollo 15 movie and, indeed, it looks as though, when they got to the rille, they turned to the right and flew up the rille.]

[Scott - "It was also very low g. The pictures show the thing popping off the ground. Pop? I think we went from one-sixth g to maybe a half or whatever. You weren't being pushed hard. We were standing up and you would think, boy, all those g's standing up. Not really. You could hardly tell."]

171:38:17 Scott: (Garbled)

171:38:24 Mitchell: Falcon you're GO at...

171:38:25 Scott: (Garbled)

171:38:26 Mitchell: ...1 minute. Auto start; normal shutdown.

171:38:31 Scott: Roger. Auto start and normal shutdown.

171:38:33 Mitchell: Both guidance systems are good, Dave.

171:38:38 Scott: Okay, looks good up here. (Pause) It almost sounds like the wind whistling, doesn't it.

171:38:55 Irwin: Boy, what a view of the rille, huh? Boulder tracks coming down into it. (Long Pause)

[Music : "Air Force Song"]
171:39:25 Scott: Okay; (garbled) on the ball. (Long Pause)

Video Clip  2 min 09 sec ( 0.5 Mb RealVideo or 19 Mb MPG )

171:40:05 Irwin: Right on profile. (Pause)

[They have charts showing the expected velocity and altitude profiles and Jim is checking the computer readouts against those charts.]
171:40:19 Mitchell: Falcon, Houston. You're looking good at 3 minutes.

171:40:25 Scott: Okay. (Garbled) The only thing unusual I notice is the RCS Oxidizer manifold pressure oscillates every time the jets fire. That's backing up to the (garbled)

171:40:44 Mitchell: Copy. (Pause)

171:40:48 Scott: (Garbled) thirty. (Long Pause)

[They have just reached an altitude of 30,000 feet.]
171:41:26 Mitchell: Falcon, Houston. You're Go at 4 (minutes). (Long Pause)

Video Clip  3 min 24 sec ( 0.9 Mb RealVideo or 30 Mb MPG )

171:42:25 Scott: (Garbled) radar lockup.

171:42:26 Irwin: 5 minutes. Both (PGNS and AGS are) good. (Long Pause)

[As Dave tells Al Worden at 171:46:46, they have not acquired the Command Module with the rendezvous radar (LM-9 photo by Randy Attwood).]

[Jim's comment indicates that the PGNS and AGS agree with each other and with the expected profiles.]

171:42:53 Mitchell: Falcon, Houston. You're still looking good. Your PGNS is showing a slight radial error, but...It's a little bit lower than nominal. But everything's Go.

171:43:05 Scott: Rog. Understand. (Long Pause)

171:43:34 Irwin: (Garbled) rendezvous radar lock on, huh?.

171:43:37 Scott: Yup.

171:43:38 Irwin: A thousand (feet of horizontal velocity) to go. (Garbled) 500.

171:43:41 Scott: Okay. (Long Pause)

171:44:06 Mitchell: Falcon, Houston. Trim AGS.

171:44:11 Scott: Roger. Understand. Trim the AGS. (Garbled) connection.

171:44:19 Mitchell: Falcon, Houston. Trim in-plane only.

171:44:24 Scott: Roger, in-plane only on the AGS.

171:44:28 Irwin: (Garbled) go.

171:44:29 Scott: Engine Arm is Off. Okay. We'll shut down on the PGNS. Okay, Auto shut down. Trim the AGS; 500. (Pause) 502. (Pause) There's an alarm.

171:45:01 Irwin: AGS Master Alarm.

Video Clip  2 min 17 sec ( 0.6 Mb RealVideo or 22 Mb MPG )

171:45:06 Mitchell: Copy.

171:45:09 Scott: Hey, we got a Master Alarm on the AGS, but we trimmed the AGS.

171:45:17 Mitchell: Okay, is your...

171:45:18 Scott: Stand by for a tweak or a trim.

171:45:21 Mitchell: Okay.

171:45:23 Irwin: That's the self test. Okay. (Pause)

171:45:29 Scott: PGNS says it's in a 40.6 by 8.9 (nautical mile orbit). (Pause)

171:45:40 Mitchell: Roger, we copy. Guidance still looks good to us.

171:45:46 Scott: Okay.

171:45:57 Mitchell: Falcon, your AGS still looks good.

171:46:02 Irwin: Okay, we copy.

171:46:03 Scott: Okay. Understand. AGS still looks good. (Long Pause)

171:46:16 Mitchell: Falcon, Houston. No tweak (burn).

171:46:22 Scott: Roger, no tweak. Thank you. (Pause)

171:46:29 Worden: Okay, Falcon; Endeavour. I got you locked up on the VHF at 127.

171:46:36 Scott: Okay, I understand. 127, Al. (Pause) You reading?

171:46:43 Worden: Roger; Go ahead.

171:46:46 Scott: Okay; we're pitching up the radar-track attitude. We didn't get a lock on the way up. We'll give you a call as soon as we get locked up.

171:46:51 Worden: Okay; I was watching for that, and I'll let you know.

The following RealVideo clips are taken from the LRV TV tapes and, while the unchanging image is of relatively little interest, the audio portion takes the crew up to rendezvous between Falcon and Endeavour.

RealVideo Clip (4 min 07 sec)

RealVideo Clip (3 min 33 sec)

RealVideo Clip (4 min 27 sec)

The final clips show: A partial pan done by Fendell with the Rover TV;

RealVideo Clip (0 min 57 sec)

And an extended pan done at 211:24:15 that includes a wake-up call to the Earth-bound crew.

RealVideo Clip (10 min 18 sec)

RealVideo Clip (continued) (2 min 12 sec)

[Journal Contributor Larry Turoski - among with others - noted that there was a total solar eclipse (by Earth) on 6 August 1971. Using Starry Night, I estimate that, as seen from Hadley, the time of first contact would have been approximately 17:25 UT, totality would have started at 18:25 and ended at 21:00, and last contact would have been at about 21:57. The first of these times corresponds to a GET of about 267:51. The question of interest was if any eclipse observations were made with the Rover TV camera. Apollo Flight Journal Editor David Woods provides the following extract from the A15FJ.]
262:16:48 Allen: Endeavour, this is Houston with a final update concerning the trusty LCRU on the lunar surface. We turned it on yesterday, and it worked beautifully for about 13 minutes. We w...we were panning around, zooming in and out, got a few more good pictures of the - the surrounding mountains, and suddenly we lost the TM (telemetry) downlink. In fact, we lost everything in a very short time, about 1/60th of a second, almost as though someone had turned it off. We tried - we waited awhile and tried to reactivate it, and did such things as send signals back to it to pan around, while we looked carefully on the passive seismometer for evidence of motion. Apparently it was not responding to the signals. The temperatures were completely normal right before it went off the air. We're not exactly sure what happened. Over.

262:17:59 Scott: Gee, that's interesting, Joe. I guess it completely went off, and just didn't get hung up somewhere.

262:18:06 Allen: That's right, Dave. It wasn't a mechanical problem. We most likely popped a circuit breaker or something like that. It's a little difficult to sort out.

262:18:18 Scott: Would you like us to go back up and check it for you?

262:18:23 Allen: Knew you were going to ask.

[The following is a part of an extended discussion that Dave and I had just prior to the start of our Apollo 15 mission review. I had sent Dave an Apollo 15 summary, which Apollo 17 crew member Jack Schmitt had read previously. The draft that Dave read included a number of Jack's comments, many of which drew comments from Dave.]

[Scott - "What was created in this exercise (meaning the Apollo Program) was a methodology by which humans decided how to go exploring another planet; which, as we all learned is quite different from exploring this planet (Earth), because there are many other variables. And I think the value in this (Apollo Lunar Surface Journal) is to document, or memorialize, not only what happened - which is important - but how it happened and why it happened. And that's why, as I mentioned to you, I think there are a lot of other players in this game who can make a contribution to the Lunar Surface Journal. Because their perspective would be different from our perspective."]

["I think in the long run - which is probably going to be a long run, whatever number of years it takes for somebody to repeat this adventure - the Journal will be valuable for them - if they'll go read it, which I hope they do. It will be valuable for them to learn how this group of people - which was quite large - designed a methodology by which an exploration such as this can be accomplished, with all the tie-ins and the integration of the engineering with the operations and the science and whatever, which I think was a pretty outstanding exercise. I believe that they did a great job. I learned a lot."]

["I was an engineer/test pilot. I liked to fly airplanes. Somebody said 'geology' and, boy, I'd never even been a rockhound. Hardly anybody had. And that's why my perspective is probably a lot different from Jack's. Because Jack is, in my opinion, a superior geologist. From a completely different background, with a completely different culture, and a different outlook. So, it's a different perspective. But the bottom line is that the worth of this (Journal) is to chronicle something that was a method."]

["What was the method? I'm not sure what it was. But I think that, as you go through and get this all written, somebody can come back and say, 'Oh, this is not what they did, but how they did it and why they did it.' The nuts and bolts, I think, are interesting, but when I read some of these things, I recall why we did this, how we got to that point. What was the methodology? Even to the fundamentals of Jim and I...We had two people were working there (at a time). How did we get to two people? It goes way back. And there were a lot of decisions along the way. But it was a very good method."]

[Jones - "The best sessions I have had have been when people - Jack or Gene or whoever - have remembered things that they think are important to understanding what's going on and why. And then we stop and talk about it. Sometimes we can wander off into things which may not be particularly relevant to the thing that's happening at that point in the mission, but have a great deal to say about why Apollo worked, how the team functioned. I think all of that stuff is important to record, and each of you has a different perspective. That's why I think it's important to do all six missions, rather than just 17. Because 17 is a particular set of circumstances that illuminate part of the process. It was also the last of the six and built on the things that were learned in the prior ones, so that some things that were obvious to Jack and Gene and the people back in Houston were new when Neil and Buzz were up there - or you and Jim were up there."]

[Scott - "When (Captain James) Cook sat down and made his notes, he thought about what he was writing. When we spoke on the Moon, we didn't think about it. So you get a reflection in what Cook wrote - albeit, he didn't write much - but you don't get any reflection in what we said. Well, maybe a little bit here and there. But the transcripts are only mechanical. So what you're really doing is taking what Cook did during the day, and you're putting it into the notes in the evening."]

[Jones - "And my only regret is that this wasn't done twenty years ago."]

[Scott - "No, I think you're probably doing it at the right time. Twenty years ago was too soon. I think you need the historical perspective. And I find that my perspective has changed quite a bit in what was important then and what is important now. Twenty years ago was not too soon to do the nuts and bolts, the mechanics of it. And we should have done a lot more (documentation and debriefing). But I think it was too soon to reflect upon the methodology and what was accomplished and why was it accomplished. Historical perspective is very important, because the unimportant things tend to wash out, and the important things tend to rise to the surface, and that does not happen for years and years after the event."]

[Jones - "I was actually thinking along those lines this morning a little bit. There's a trade-off, of course. Memories have dimmed a bit after twenty years."]

[Scott - "That may be good. Memories are dim about things that were unimportant get washed out. The highlights never leave you, I don't think. I mean, I can see Hadley Rille, right now. But I can't remember when was the last time I dusted the Rover off. Relatively unimportant."]

[Jones - "Different people have remembered different aspects of it, and it's been fun watching real memories emerge after they'd been buried for twenty years."]

[Dave and I then discussed the various audiences who might be interested in the Journal. My target audience was - and is - the generation of engineers who will design the first permanent lunar base.]

[Scott - "The first time it will be used will be by the next generation - or whatever you want to call it - of people who go there to explore - long before the lunar base, in my opinion. Because you'll have to go back and, essentially, rejustify what's already been justified, because there'll be a new order of the guard making decisions. I think the lunar base engineer would use it, but I think the people who would find it most valuable are the people who are going to have to go do this again. And they're going to have to do it from scratch. We see that now. I mean, there's just no way that the country or the world could mount an expedition such as that in ten years, just because the drivers aren't there, the motivation isn't there, attitudes are different, and all that other philosophical stuff. But I think, once the human race gets back to doing something like this, it would be wise for them to review how this got done - not that they'll do it the same, because times will change. But at least, if you go on a voyage to the South Pacific, you probably should read Captain Cook's Journals. It might give you an insight into what to expect. So I think the value of this is the next iteration, if you will, of people who go back."]

[Jones - "One of the images I have had since before I got started, was of Amundsen, sailing in Fram toward the Bay of Whales with his little shelf filled with the journals of the prior expeditions - of which there had been perhaps a half a dozen. None of them had gone to the Antarctic as well prepared as Amundsen went and none of them left the Antarctic knowing as much as Amundsen knew before he even got there. But, still, he read them and he re-read them, on the ship and then again on the Ice during the winter before he went to the South Pole, because he wanted to make sure that he understood all of the things that he was going to have to deal with. And make sure that he had thought about them carefully."]

[Scott - "Good point. And that's why he made it, too."]

[Jones - "That's right. That's why he made it look so easy. Now, you guys went well prepared, too, because the whole team had thought about it. And, one of the things that I expect we'll be talking about is how that preparation was done and about those parts of the thought process that were apparent to the flight crew."]

[Scott - "I think that's the most important part."]

[Jones - "You and Jim did such and such. Not because you suddenly thought of it, but because there had been a fair bit of thought that went into the mission ahead of time. And because you'd done a lot of training."]

[Scott - "The government taught me everything I knew when I went to the Moon, and there wasn't anything that I learned that I didn't use on Apollo 15. I used everything I learned. I acquired a lot of knowledge. Some of it I resisted, fairly hard! But I was taught geology and somewhat of astronomy. We learned a lot of stars and Neil and I used to fly back and forth across the country during Gemini, doing the stars. We had an astronomer named Dunkleman, 'Dim-Light' Dunkleman. And I think astronomy is just fascinating, just haven't had enough time to address it. Anyway, all that stuff goes into a data bank that I have, so now what I do is try to apply that, because that's about all I really know. I've done some other things, but I find it's interesting to go back and use what I was taught, across the board, in the things that I can get involved in now. And I can get involved in some fairly interesting things."]

["I find that there's been a couple of generations skipped in the things that we learned. "We" is, maybe, a group of twelve guys or whatever. I mean, everybody had a similar background with the exception of Schmitt. His background was quite different from the rest of us. But we all had pretty much the same experience in Apollo, and I find that - not just from the group of twelve guys, but the people with whom we were associated engineering-wise, and operationally, and scientifically, and so forth - they're not around anymore. There's hardly anybody you can talk to. I mean, you can't even get them up to the level of having a quid pro quo conversation. Hardly anywhere. It's like I've got to start at Peter Rabbit. I'm serious. Even Congressmen. Not to digress but, in the old days, the journalists understood that there was blackout on Gemini when it came down. And people could understand it, and the Congressmen could understand it. That doesn't happen any more. So you go talk to Congressmen, as an example, and they glaze. They have no idea what's going on. And NASA goes in with their testimony. It's just blowing smoke. Because that general awareness of things which relate to space and exploration is gone, in just twenty years. And now it's hard to find somebody who even understands what you're talking about. So when I go talk about something like that, I don't get any reception because they don't have a hook. There's nothing back here for them to hang what I'm telling them. And it just slides off."]

["I'm not putting people down, because they're a lot smarter now than we were because they're a lot better educated; but they didn't get the benefit of the multi-disciplinary approach that we got, with all these people. I mean, Jack Schmitt was on our (Apollo 15) backup crew. So I had my own, personal, private geology professor twenty-four hours a day. Wherever we were, whatever we were doing, I could sit down with Jack and I could learn something - 'cause there he was. So I got a lot of that stuffed in my head. And, I'm afraid to say, there's just nothing out there any more, because those people have gone off into other things and other disciplines. Not that the ones who are there now any less qualified; they're probably better educated. They're probably smarter than we were. But they don't have this interdisciplinary approach or concept that we were surrounded by."]

["I didn't mean to digress on this subject, but there are a lot of things now, in the world of space exploration if you will, that I see need some attention from the people of the past, who are out doing all sorts of other things. And I keep telling the people I talk to - NASA and whatever - you got to bring in the guys who did it the first time. They'll help you. Because they're smart; and they learned it the hard way. Why re-invent the wheel? But NASA doesn't want to talk to anybody from the past. They want to do their own thing. And that's not surprising because, when I was at NASA, we all wanted to do our own thing, too. Except that we started with a blank piece of paper."]

["NASA is quite arrogant. I know; I was a part of it. Today, there are a lot of other people outside of NASA who have maybe even better qualifications for some of this stuff. It's sort of interesting to get into current technology and current things that people want to do, with the perspective that we have from how it got done in the Good Old Days. And I hate to bring up the Good Old Days, because I'm told that "it's different now". And that's true. Some things are different. But the methodology isn't different."]

[Jones - "And the problems aren't different, either."]

[Scott - "That's right. The physical reality. The world is a physical place. The problems are the same. So why not go back and get all these guys...If I were running NASA - which I wouldn't want to run, but if I were - I go gather up all the Lee Silvers and the Bill Tindalls and the Chris Krafts, all those guys. And I'd say, 'I need you guys for six months. I need you to tell me how to do this. How did you guys do this?' And I'd probably do it different, but at least I'd have the benefit of a Captain Cook's Journal. And a lot of them are alive now. We're losing them day by day, so you're losing the corporate memory which, if you don't document it, it'll be gone. Not that the next generations won't be able to do it, maybe even better than we did it, but it sure would be a lot easier for them."]


This concludes the Apollo 15 Lunar Surface Journal.


Post-EVA-3 Activities Apollo 15 Journal Rendezvous and Docking (AFJ)