Apollo 15
        Lunar Surface Journal


Journal Home Page Apollo 15 Journal


Apollo 15 Flag Deployment

by James Fincannon

Copyright © 2012 by Eric M. Jones
All rights reserved.
Last revised 21 April 2012.


Animation made
        from six LROC images of the A15 site

Animation made from seven LROC images of the Apollo 15 landing site, ordered from sunrise to sunset. LROC images courtesy NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University.

The Apollo 15 landing occurred on July 30, 1971, with the crew spending 67 hours on the lunar surface before returning to lunar orbit. 

Dave Scott and Jim Irwin deployed  the flag late in EVA-2, a delay due to various problems experienced with their drilling tasks at the ASEP site. Jim hammered the lower section of the staff a few inches into the ground.

Compare A15 and A17 Flag emplacement

Comparison of the Apollo 15 (left) and Apollo 17 flag emplacements.  The flag pole are believed to be identical and are shown at the same scale.  The Apollo 17 flag is one that flew in the Mission Operations Control Room (MOCR) during Apollo and is about 20 percent larger in both height and width than the other flags (3 by 5 feet = 1 by 1.5 m).  Note that the coupling sleeve near the bottom is closer to the ground in the Apollo 17 case.  However, the difference is only about one pole diameter, or about 1 inch (2.5 cm). (Click on the image for a larger version.)

Detail from PSR f5-52

Detail from Figure 5-52 in the Apollo 15 Preliminary Science Report, showing the flag about 11 meters from the center of the LM on an azimuth of about 30 degrees.  (Click on the image for the full figure.)

Scott photo of the way from VIP to LM

Detail from AS15-88-11928, taken by Dave Scott on his way back to the LM from the final LRV parking place. Jim Irwin is at the MESA.  The LM is 7 meters tall.

TV frame taken
        hours after liftoff

TV frame from a final panorama made hours after the ascent. The flag is on the right.  The image of the flag is approximately square compared to a true height/length ratio of  3/5, implying that the flag is pointing about 37 degrees north of the direction to the LRV.

DAC frame from the ascent film

Frame from the DAC film of the ascent.  Liftoff occurred at about 1711 UTC on 2 August 1971.  The solar azimuth/elevation were about 115.3/41.4.  Figure 5-52 from the Preliminary Science Report indicated that ALSEP array at the upper right is 125 m from the LM on an azimuth of 297. 

LROC image M175252641

Detail from LROC image M175252641, taken from an altitude of 25 km at 2103 UTC on 6 November 2011.  The solar azimuth and elevation were about 116.3/40.7, almost identical to the illumination of the DAC frame above.

From the post-ascent TV image we determined that the flag was pointing roughly 37 degrees north of the direction to the LRV.  From the flag, the azimuth of the LRV is about 103.  Therefore, the flag was pointing at an azimuth of roughly 67, which is about 49 degrees north of the solar azimuth.  The lack of a flag shadow in the DAC frame may be due to inadequate resolution.  The lack of flag shadows in the LROC images, particularly in the high-resolution November 2011 image, suggests that the Apollo 15 flag is either (1) poorly oriented to cast significant shadows, (2) there is inadequate resolution to view the shadows, or (3) that it fell over.

Seven LROC


Journal Home Page Apollo 15 Journal