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Down the Ladder Loading the Rover


Rover Deployment

Corrected Transcript and Commentary Copyright © 1995 by Eric M. Jones.
All rights reserved.
Scan credits in the Image Library.
Video credits in the Video Library.
Audio clips by Dave Shaffer.
Last revised 18 November 2013.


[Commentary in the following section has been derived from a comparison of Apollo 17 dialog with the Rover Handbook, the checklists, and the video record of the Apollo 15 Rover deployment.]

[Cernan - "I've forgotten the details of how the Rover deployed, but it was a slick operation. It was all done manually but most of the steps just happened automatically as we pulled the tapes."]

[A film clip (8.6Mb) shows Charlie Duke and Bob Parker participating in a shirtsleeve demonstration of Rover deployment. Digitization by Gary Neff.]

[Don McMillan has provided an animation ( 0.7 Mb ) of his Virtual Rover unfolding during deployment.]

MP3 Audio Clip ( 13 min 11 sec )

117:24:49 Schmitt: Okay. The MESA's up. Let me know when you're ready to deploy.

117:24:55 Cernan: Okay. Babe, I am ready for you. Everything I can see looks pretty good. The walking hinges, you will be glad to know, are intact! They did not drop.

117:25:12 Parker: Roger! That's a first.

[The walking hinges are part of the Rover deployment hardware and support the LM-ward (forward) portion of the Rover center chassis section during the first part of the deployment. Don McMillan has provided a Virtual LRV animation of the hinges in action.]
117:25:14 Schmitt: You want me to go up there and do that, huh?

117:25:16 Cernan: Yes, sir. The beginning.

117:25:21 Schmitt: You ready for me to deploy?

[As per LMP-7, Jack will climb to the top of the ladder to pull a D-ring lanyard release which will unlock the Rover from its stowage position. The Rover chassis consists of a long center section and shorter fore and aft sections containing, among other things, the wheel assemblies. The fore and aft sections are folded back onto what will be the upper surface of the center section and the wheels, in turn, are folded onto those fore and aft sections. The entire assembly is mounted on the southwest quadrant of the LM, with the wheels inward toward the spacecraft, the bottom surface of the center chassis facing outward, with the aft chassis up. When Jack pulls the D-ring, the top of the Rover assembly will swing out by about four degrees.]
117:25:23 Cernan: Okay. Let me just double-check. (Reading quickly from his checklist, page CDR-7) "Drape, contingency, unstow aft deployment cable, verify walking hinge, forward and aft chassis parallel." They are.
[Gene has removed a thermal insulation blanket that loosely covered the Rover, unstowed the left-hand of two deployment tapes and draped it on the landing strut, removed a contingency tool from its storage position in the Rover compartment, readied the deployment cable, and checked that the Rover is properly seated in its deployment hinges. Once Jack releases the Rover and climbs down the ladder, Gene will begin pulling the right-hand tape. This action will, in turn, slowly unwind a cable attached to the center chassis-section, allowing the Rover to continue its outward and downward rotation around hinges attached to the fore end (stowed in the "down" position) of the center section. Jack, in the meanwhile, will keep the deployment cable taut, ready to apply force should the Rover hang up at any point during the deployment. After the Rover has rotated down by 15 degrees, the fore end of the center chassis will encounter the walking hinges which stick out a short distance from the LM. This will shift the point of rotation outward and allow the Rover assembly to lift itself out of the storage compartment.]
117:25:31 Schmitt: MESA insulation is not coming off as easy as in training.

117:25:35 Cernan: Okay. Outrigger cables are taut. Looking good to me. Yeah, Jack. You can go on up. Go on up.

117:25:46 Schmitt: Okay.

117:25:47 Cernan: I'm ready for you. God, that LM is a pretty sight. Challenger, you're a beauty!

117:25:55 Schmitt: Well, let's see how good I am (at getting up the ladder).

117:25:57 Cernan: (Probably to himself) Don't drop that. Let me get that thing again. (Pause) Yes, sir. (Jack laughs as he jumps to the first rung) Yes, sir. You're pretty agile there, twinkletoes.

[Gene is commenting Jack's agility as he jumps up to the first rung of the ladder. This is the first time that either of them has tried it on the Moon.]
117:26:14 Schmitt: You bet your (pause, searching for a polite phrase) life I am.

117:26:17 Cernan: (Laughing) All I asked you to do was pull that handle up there. (Pause) Man, anything you grab, Jack...I just grabbed this lanyard that was in the dust (and it) is really black. (Laughs)

117:26:27 Schmitt: You ready?

117:26:29 Cernan: Go. She fell, Houston. She's open.

[The Rover has released and the top of the package has swung out.]
117:26:33 Schmitt: Okay. You've got parallel chassis; the wheels look good on this side.

117:26:36 Cernan: Okay. They're good on this side. Get down and let's get it out. (Pause) I'll wait for you to get the deploy cable. I'll tell you, Jack, this place is not locally level.

117:26:51 Schmitt: You're right.

117:26:55 Cernan: Okay. There's not many places you could put the LM down and have it be zero, zero, zero (no pitch, no roll, no yaw). Okay. I'm ready if you are. (Pause)

[Because of the likelihood that at least one of the LM footpads would end up in a small crater, the Rover deployment hardware was designed to handle up to 14 degrees of either pitch or roll. Challenger is pitched up about 5.3 degrees and is rolled left about 2.6 degrees. John Young landed the Apollo 16 LM, Orion, with only 3 degrees of pitchup; but, on Apollo 15, Dave Scott landed Falcon with 9 degrees of pitchup and 6 degrees of left roll and, in the interest of caution, a trial deployment was run at the Marshall Spaceflight Center before the 15 crew began their first EVA. Both the test and the actual deployment were completed without difficulty.]
117:27:08 Schmitt: I don't know how much help I'm going to be.
[Jack will be on Gene's left as they face the Rover. Jack will back away from the LM, maintaining tension on the deployment cable while Gene backs away to the right of the Rover, pulling the right-hand tape and lowering the aft section of the Rover. Jack is still on checklist page LMP-7. Gene is at the top on page CDR-8. A set of See, also, a set of Grumman LRV Deployment Cartoons shows various stages of the process.]
117:27:10 Cernan: Well, I'm starting; you pull. It's coming. It's coming. It's coming, baby. How's your wheels on that side? Can you see them? Mine look good.

117:27:21 Schmitt: Wheels? They looked good a minute ago. I got the Sun, so I can't tell much...

117:27:26 Cernan: Okay. (Pause)

[Each of them is angling away from the Rover centerline at about ten degrees. Jack is not facing the Sun directly, but it is certainly in his field-of-view and is probably reflecting off of dust particles and scratches on his visor.]
117:27:36 Cernan: Eeee! The only way to do it.

117:27:38 Schmitt: I'm putting all my weight. (Laughs)

117:27:40 Cernan: Okay. Wait a minute. I'm coming down now. She's going to pop here.

117:27:43 Schmitt: Okay.

[At 45 degrees of rotation, a number of things happen in quick sequence: the forward chassis section rotates 45 degrees off of the center chassis, the aft chassis flops down and locks into place, parallel to the center chassis, and the rear wheels spring into position.]
117:27:44 Cernan: Wait a minute. Stand by.

117:27:46 Schmitt: I may pull a Jim Irwin here.

[At this point in the Apollo 15 deployment, Irwin stumbled and fell.]
117:27:47 Cernan: Wait a minute. Watch out. Here she goes!

117:27:49 Schmitt: Got her.

117:27:50 Cernan: Okay. Beautiful, Houston. The aft chassis's out.

117:27:53 Parker: Roger. Beautiful.

117:27:55 Schmitt: Beautiful. Whoa, whoa, wait, wait, wait, wait. Tried to get off the hinge there.

117:28:03 Cernan: Yeah, yeah. She's on, though. She's all in. She's in the walking hinges. I wish you could see it. Jack, those wheels did not lock all the way up though. We ought to pull them up before we...

117:28:14 Schmitt: (Garbled)

117:28:15 Cernan: Well, there it goes, by itself. Okay. Wait a minute. Wait a minute. Okay. Let me pull it until the outriggers cables get slack.

[Gene continues to pull the tape, lowering the aft wheels to the ground. At 73 degrees of center chassis rotation, the forward section, which is attached to the deployment hardware by a bracket called the "saddle" and, in turn, to a pair of telescoping tubes, starts unfolding again.]
117:28:27 Schmitt: Okay. Walk away from it; that's easier (than pulling the tape hand over hand).

117:28:35 Cernan: That tape up there on that reel...

117:28:37 Schmitt: Yeah, it's all...

117:28:38 Cernan: It's coming.

[Once the rear wheels are on the ground, Gene will continue to pull the tape. As the Rover moves out, away from the LM, the forward chassis will finish unfolding, and the forward wheels will lock into place.]
117:28:40 Schmitt: It's free reeling.

117:28:41 Cernan: Yeah. Let me...Let me...Don't pull it until I...Okay. Now I've got it. (Pause) Man, I'd fall into that crater (meaning Poppie) if I went to the end of this line.

117:28:59 Schmitt: Houston, I do think we've got a different...

117:29:02 Cernan: Well, we're deploying it at an angle. Okay. The outrigger cables are free, Jack.

[The forward wheels have locked into place. The Rover is now hanging at about a 30 degree angle to the ground with the rear wheels on the surface and the nose of the vehicle still attached to the telescoping tubes and saddle. Gene will now take the deployment cable while Jack uses the left-hand tape to lower the front wheels to the ground.]
117:29:06 Schmitt: Okay. (To Bob) Got a different breed of rock up here. The stuff's sticking through this thin regolith...Or regolith, period. I don't know whether it's thin or thick yet. Oop, oop, oop bo-doop-boop. Okay. Mine's free.

117:29:22 Cernan: Let me get all this cable out of the way. Otherwise I'll...Got enough of this stuff. I don't like all that over there. (Garbled).

117:29:35 Schmitt: A geologist's paradise, if I ever saw one. Boy, you certainly are changing the color of that cable, sir.

117:29:44 Cernan: Man. Just tried a John Young trick.

[On Apollo 16, John Young tripped over an electrical cable at the ALSEP site, tearing it loose from the Central Station. Here, Gene hasn't tripped over anything vital, but because of the RCU and the general bulk of the suit, seeing one's feet isn't easy.]
117:29:48 Schmitt: Did it work?

117:29:50 Cernan: Yeah. (Jack laughs)

117:29:51 Schmitt: You're getting dirty.

117:29:52 Cernan: But, I'm still getting my balance. I didn't touch the ground. Just got to get some of this cable out of here.

117:30:02 Schmitt: I'm not sure my pockets are going to be accessible. (Pause)

[Each of them has a large pocket strapped to his right shin and another on his left thigh. Although the camera and the general bulk of the suit prevents them from seeing their own pockets, with practice they learn how to use them. Gene's pockets are clearly visible in AS17-134- 20380, a tourist picture Jack will take at about 118:23.]
117:30:12 Cernan: Man, I'll tell you, I don't know how long this line to pull the Rover out is, but...(Pause) Well, I'll tell you, it sure is easy to get dusty, but that's nothing new to anybody. Okay, Babe, let me get...Whee!

117:30:31 Schmitt: I think it's safe to say this surface was not formed yesterday. There is a regolith; it looks classic. Seriate distribution of particles up to 3 or 4 centimeters, anyway. Then, you start to get maybe a selective distribution of large fragments.

[Schmitt -"In geology, 'seriate' is used to describe a population of objects in which successively smaller objects are more and more numerous."]

[At about this point, Jack pulls the left-hand pin to free the outrigger cable ( LMP-7 ) and Gene pulls the right-hand pin ( CDR-8 ).]

117:30:49 Schmitt: Got that cable?

117:30:51 Cernan: Yep.

117:30:52 Schmitt: Okay. I'm going to walk away with this one.

[On Apollo 15, Dave Scott stood next to the Rover and pulled the left-hand tape hand-over-hand. Jack will merely grasp the "LH reel tape" and back away from the LM. In a suit, using one's legs is a lot easier than using one's arms.]
117:30:54 Cernan: Okay; outrigger cable.

117:30:56 Schmitt: You ready?

117:30:57 Cernan: Okay. (Consulting CDR-8) "When forward wheels on surface"; okay. Let me pull (on the deployment cable to get things started). (Pause) Okay, Houston. She's continuing to come. (Pause)

117:31:14 Schmitt: (Backing away from the LM) Here's a couple of different-looking rocks. One's very white; one's quite dark. But we do have a general rock type, I think, in the area. (At least) of the big boulders.

[Schmitt - "A 'boulder' is anything about 20 cm or larger; loosely, anything you needed two hands for."]
117:31:24 Schmitt: Jesus, how much cable is there?

117:31:27 Cernan: There's a lot of it, Jack. Keep going. (Jack laughs) You're going to be a long way away. We're not there yet. Keep going. (Pause) Okay. We've got the front wheels on the surface, but keep going, I don't think you've got it up there.

117:31:48 Schmitt: I never thought I'd do geology this way.

[That is, pulling a deployment tape and describing rocks as he passes them.]
117:31:52 Cernan: Okay. I think you got it. Let me see.

117:31:58 Schmitt: Is it slack?

[As per LMP-7 Jack is supposed to pull the tape until " 45 degrees cable slack".]
117:32:00 Cernan: I'll get up there and take a look. (Pause) Okay. It's slack.
[The front wheels are on the ground and there is no tension on any of the cables. Next, they will free the Rover from the "saddle", which is part of the hardware with which the Rover is still attached to the spacecraft.]
117:32:10 Schmitt: Longest cable in the world.

117:32:12 Cernan: It's slack.

117:32:14 Parker: Wait till you get to the ALSEP package.

[Each of a dozen or so ALSEP experiments has a cable connecting it to the Central Station.]
117:32:16 Cernan: Okay. By golly, those wheels did lock.

117:32:19 Schmitt: (Laughing in response to Bob's ALSEP remark) I never knew that cable was that long, Bob. Oh, a glass-bottom crater with a little bench! Looks like one of the Flagstaff explosion craters except for the glass in it. Right out at 12 o'clock. That's the one I was talking about having a bright halo.

[Cernan - "Comparing things we were seeing on the Moon with things we had seen on Earth was the only way to go. The analogies may not have been perfect, but they gave people on the ground clear ideas of the important features of what we were looking at."]
117:32:40 Schmitt: I don't know whether it's easier to walk out there or to do what I did in training. (That I) said I wouldn't do on the Moon.
[Jack may be referring to the gait often referred to as the kangaroo-hop, which he had tried in training and decided wouldn't be efficient.]
117:32:52 Schmitt: (Referring to the cluster of deployment cables and tapes) Somebody's going to get tangled up with this thing.

117:32:55 Cernan: That's why I'd get it all under the LM somewhere. It took me 5 minutes to do and get it all out of the way. Okay, Bob, the front wheels locked in. I had to pull the rear wheels back to get them to lock in.

117:33:11 Parker: Okay. Copy that.

117:33:16 Cernan: At least no one let any air out of the tires.

[Gene is joking. The Rover has wire wheels.]
117:33:19 Cernan: Man, I look like I've been on the surface for a week already. Holy smoley. Okay. (Reading CDR-8) "Pull pins on deploy cable and fittings; move LRV from LM."
[There are fifteen pins attaching the deployment hardware to the Rover; all have to be pulled so that the hardware can be detached and discarded. Jack's part of the procedure is at the bottom of LMP-7.]
117:33:29 Schmitt: Wait a minute. I haven't let my ...

117:33:30 Cernan: Okay.

117:33:32 Schmitt: ...other pins. It's going to take awhile. Think we can avoid that cable?

117:33:37 Cernan: Why don't you set it there, pull this pin, and then you can go back and get it; that is, it's better to use the Rover contingency tool, because...

117:33:42 Schmitt: Yeah, but that's off over there on the ground now, somewhere or another.

117:33:44 Cernan: Okay. Pull that pin. See if you can get that saddle loose.

[Once they detach the saddle, the Rover no longer will be connected to the LM.]
117:33:52 Schmitt: It's loose.

117:33:53 Cernan: Ah, beautiful. Okay, we're going to have to move that line, Jack. You ready?

117:33:57 Schmitt: I'll move it.

117:33:58 Cernan: Okay. Let's find a...Back over here. See there?

117:34:02 Schmitt: Yeah.

[Gene and Jack are picking up the Rover and positioning it so that the nose isn't right under the storage bay. They will move the Rover out a few feet and then align it roughly east-west.]
117:34:05 Cernan: Oh, man. (Pause) Face a little more east, so I don't have to run into the rim (of a crater on the initial test drive). Okay, how about here?

117:34:18 Schmitt: You're the driver.

117:34:19 Cernan: Okay; right there.

117:34:20 Schmitt: You like it?

117:34:21 Cernan: Like it.

117:34:23 Schmitt: Okay. You got it.

[Gene and Jack will now configure the Rover, putting on the fenders, raising the seats, and so on. Jack turns to cuff checklist page LMP-8. He will start at the back of the Rover on the left-hand side, behind what will be Gene's seat. As per CDR-8, Gene will start at the right rear.]
117:34:24 Cernan: Now, Jack, you got some fenders and stuff for me...

117:34:26 Schmitt: (Only semi-seriously) I was going to get my cable (out of the way under the LM). I thought you said I could work on the cable.

117:34:28 Cernan: Ohh.

117:34:30 Schmitt: You're putting me farther and farther behind.

[They are actually OK.]
117:34:32 Cernan: Oop.

117:34:33 Schmitt: Don't forget your post.

117:34:35 Cernan: Okay.

[Each of the Rover fenders is a two-part assembly. A portion extending from a point over the axle toward the center of the chassis is fixed in place, while a second portion is mounted on rails over the fixed piece. Gene and Jack will pull these extensions fore and aft (for the front and rear wheels, respectively), sliding them along the rails until they lock in place. Jack will extend the fenders on the left side of the Rover (from a passenger's point of view), and Gene will extend the right-side fenders. The 'geopost' is an anchor for the scientific equipment rack - the geopallet - which Jack will shortly mount behind the seats. The post is stowed flat on the rear chassis, top to the left; Gene will raise it and lock it into place behind Jack's seat on the right side.]
117:34:38 Schmitt: Okay. Pull pins. I can see a little yellow (garbled).

117:34:46 Cernan: Okay. The post is up.

117:34:50 Schmitt: Hinge pins.

[These are latching pins at the connections of the fore and aft chassis sections with the center section. These need to be pushed to lock. They may show yellow if not locked.]
117:34:51 Cernan: Okay. Yours is in, but mine is not.

117:34:54 Schmitt: Well, neither's my outboard one.

117:34:57 Cernan: My outboard is in, but my inboard is not.

117:35:04 Schmitt: And my outboard isn't.

117:35:06 Cernan: Well.

117:35:09 Schmitt: That's supposed to do it. But it didn't.

117:35:13 Cernan: Let me get the contingency tool and try to push those things closed.

117:35:16 Schmitt: Okay. Be careful. (Pause)

[The pins would be difficult to reach by hand, and the contingency tool can be used to push them closed without bending over very far.]
117:35:27 Cernan: Here's a piece of glass I picked up. I'm going to set it right on the floor of the Rover. Jack, let me get that (contingency) tool. We got to get those pins in, I think. (Pause)

117:35:51 Cernan: Bob, you got any words on the yellow pins on the rear chassis?

117:35:55 Parker: Roger. The best way to put those in, if you've tried bouncing the chassis, would be to push them with the contingency tool. Which I think is what you're going to do.

117:36:06 Schmitt: That's affirm. Can you get that (tool), Geno? (Pause) Need some help?

[Gene is trying to pick the tool up off the ground and has fallen.]
117:36:23 Cernan: Nope. (Long Pause) Well, I found how to get up!

117:36:42 Schmitt: Did you fall down?

117:36:43 Cernan: (Breathing heavily) Well, this thing (the contingency tool) was in the mud down here. We'll find out in a minute.

[Cernan - "Even though the suit was stiff, and even though you weighed 300 Earth pounds with all that equipment, in one-sixth gravity you weighed 50 pounds and could get up pretty easily. If you wanted to be cautious about getting up, and you had a rock or something like the Rover to give you leverage, you could literally get to your knees, get one leg out and, then push or pull yourself up with your hand. However, even though you could get up, you didn't want to fall, particularly a hard fall, because you were always aware that you could puncture your suit."]

[There will be several "falls" during the mission and, by the end of the third EVA, both astronauts will become fairly proficient at getting up, even without having a rock for leverage.]

117:36:52 Cernan: Okay, Jack. Got an "out" one here, huh?

117:36:56 Schmitt: Yeah.

117:36:57 Cernan: Let me try to push it in. (Pause) Okay. Yours is in.

117:37:07 Schmitt: Good.

117:37:12 Cernan: See if I can get mine in. (Pause)

117:37:17 Schmitt: Want me to get it?

117:37:18 Cernan: Well, yeah. Can you reach it from there? Just a nice firm (push)...I'll hold it (the tool) on it (the pin). Almost. A little more. Wait a minute. Let me get it. Let me get it right. (Pause) Okay; push. It's in. It's in.

117:37:35 Schmitt: Very good. Why don't you put that (tool) between the seats?

117:37:39 Cernan: Okay. Bob, they're in.

117:37:40 Parker: Copy that.

117:37:44 Cernan: Okay. Now where was I (in the checklist)? (Reading the bottom of CDR-8) I got my fender, got the post, got to get the seat. (Probably leaning over to get the seat) Ahhh.

[The seats and seat backs are made of loose weave of wide strips of nylon, rather like a lightweight lawn chair. At this point, the seats are still folded flat onto the chassis, held down with Velcro, and have to be raised.]
117:37:54 Schmitt: Ready?

[Jack has probably finished raising the CDR seat and is waiting for Gene to help him with the Rover console, starting with the line "Pull T-handle" on LMP-8. Gene's role in the console tasks is at the top of CDR-9.]
MP3 Audio Clip ( 16 min 20 sec )

117:37:56 Cernan: I'm going to take it a little slower here in a minute.

117:37:58 Schmitt: Yeah.

117:38:01 Cernan: Just a little bit slower in a minute.

117:38:04 Schmitt: The blush is off the rose. Okay, your front pin is in. And both of mine are in.

117:38:12 Cernan: Okay. I'll look at them. (Pause)

[While waiting for Gene, Jack has checked the front hinge pins.]
117:38:25 Schmitt: Not quite as easy as in the training building.
[NASA Photo KSC-72P-212 shows Jack (left) and Gene deploying a simplified Rover mockup in the Crew Training Building at the Cape on 8 June 1972. Note the less-than-roadworthy tires. A tech can be seen at the right keeping Gene's hoses clear.]
117:38:28 Cernan: Well, it's a case of knowing how to play in one-sixth g, is what it amounts to. Okay. (Pause) Okay. I'm ready on the...

117:38:40 Schmitt: You locked? Yeah. It's locked.

117:38:43 Cernan: Let me get the seat down. Okay. I got the console.

117:38:47 Schmitt: Okay; and I got the handle.

117:38:50 Cernan: Okay; mine's pulled.

117:38:51 Schmitt: Mine's pulled.

117:38:52 Cernan: Come on down, baby. There it comes. Stiff, but come on.

117:38:56 Schmitt: There it is.

[The control console had been stowed at right-angles to the center chassis, pointing in toward the LM between the folded fore and aft sections. Gene has just rotated the console down to put it in good viewing position in front of the seats. The T-handles which Gene and Jack are positioning are inboard handholds which had been stowed in a "down" position alongside the console support.]
117:38:57 Cernan: Okay; make sure your T-(handle) locks.

117:38:58 Schmitt: I'm not...You're not all the way down yet, Gene.

117:39:00 Cernan: Yeah. I'm locked.

117:39:01 Schmitt: There you go.

117:39:03 Cernan: Okay.

117:39:04 Schmitt: Okay. I'm locked and secured. Okay. (Pause)

117:39:18 Cernan: Oh! Jack, I put a little piece of glass I picked up right by the Rover, here.

117:39:22 Schmitt: Yeah. Okay.

117:39:23 Cernan: Just a little piece. I'm going to leave it right behind your footstool. It just sparkled at me. I had to pick it up. See that?

[Somewhere in here, Gene and Jack raise their footrests at the front of the center chassis. Gene is now on CDR-9, Jack is configuring the Rover attitude indicator on the right side of the console and is pulling a pin to free a caution-and-warning indicator on the top of the console.]
117:39:28 Schmitt: Okay, that's yours: your sample for the day.

117:39:33 Cernan: I doubt that. Man, I tell you, zero g is a piece of cake if you - (correcting himself) or one-sixth g - if you'd play it right.

[Cernan - "Working in one-sixth g outside a spacecraft was head and shoulders over working outside in zero gravity, as I did on my Gemini IX flight. It's true that, in zero gravity you can float around and move around easily; but it gives you so many other problems. One-sixth g is just enough gravity to give you a 'down', but it's not so much gravity that it gives you the problems working in a heavy pressure suit that you'd have on Earth. It's just enough gravity to give you a reference and it's not enough to hurt you. Much better than zero gravity. I'm a one-sixth g supporter any day in the week. And, even in the spacecraft, when we were out of the suits, eating and working and talking, one-sixth gravity - by far - was much better than zero gravity. You could drink water out of a cup; and, if you set something down, it stayed down."]
117:39:45 Schmitt: Okay, Gene, you've got fenders; (verifying the front hinge pins) your pin was good. I checked that. I could see mine, too. Mine are okay, and you'll have to check your outside ones.

117:39:57 Cernan: Okay. My two pins are good here.

117:39:58 Schmitt: Yeah. And mine are good.

117:40:00 Cernan: This one isn't quite flush. Almost. It's good.

117:40:02 Schmitt: I'm going to pull your flags. Oops, I bent that one. And your attitude indicator is free.

[A roll and pitch indicator is mounted on the left side of the console. It had been locked in position with long pins. There is also a Caution & Warning Flag on the top of the console which Jack has just unpinned.]
117:40:17 Cernan: Man, look at that stuff go, will you? Went over that...(Stops to listen to Bob)
[Jack probably has just discarded the caution-and-warning locking pin. Because of the lack of an atmosphere and the low gravity, a flick of the wrist will send even flimsy objects flying long distances on seemingly flat trajectories; and, as the object flies away, there is none of the fluttering and rapid deceleration that air resistance can cause on Earth.]
117:40:18 Parker: And, Jack, this is Houston. Looks like your water temperature's getting pretty high. You might want to go to intermediate cooling or slow down or something. Looks like you're getting a little warm. (Pause)

117:40:38 Cernan: You hear them, Jack?

117:40:39 Schmitt: Yeah. I got it. Thank you, Bob.

[Because sublimation necessarily results in a loss of water from the open-loop supply, it is best to run the PLSS at minimum cooling as much as possible. When the astronauts are working hard, they sometimes have to run the cooling system at the intermediate setting for several minutes at a time. Maximum cooling tends to be very cold; it isn't used very often and then only for a few seconds.]
117:40:42 Cernan: Okay, Jack, get that (Rover deployment) cable, because I tripped over it coming back.

117:40:45 Schmitt: Yeah. I'll get it.

117:40:47 Cernan: Okay. Let's see. (Reading the bottom of CDR-8) Verify hinge pins and seal. Erect seat; seatbelt. (Turning to CDR-9) Armrest is lowered. Pull T-handle. Console's lowered. Tripod apex (part of the deployment hardware) is gone both sides. (Contingency) tool behind footrest; that's done. Front hinge pins are in. Erect footrest. Extend front fenders; they're down. (Pause) Verify batt(ery) covers are closed. They are closed. And let's keep them clean. Man, do these gloves fit good!

[The batteries and an assortment of Rover electronics are mounted on the front chassis section, forward of the footrests.]
117:41:21 Parker: Okay; and 17, you're right on schedule.

117:41:23 Cernan: Okay. (Pause) Thank you, Bob. (Pause) Did you tell Captain America (meaning Ron Evans) we're on the surface?

117:41:40 Parker: Roger. We broke the news to him a while ago.

117:41:47 Cernan: Okay; the next spacecraft (that is, the LRV) to power-up is going to commence right now. (Pause)

117:42:03 Schmitt: Okay. That takes care of that little job.

[Jack has probably gotten the deployment cable out of the way. Gene is about to do the LRV Checkout, starting at the bottom of CDR-9. The power-up procedures are on a decal afixed to the console.]
117:42:10 Schmitt: How's my cooling look now, Bob? Oops.

117:42:13 Parker: Rog. It's come down quite a bit. You were eighty-six (degrees F), and now it's down to seven five. Looks much better. We didn't want you to sweat.

117:42:20 Schmitt: Well, I'm just a hot geologist; that's all.

117:42:24 Parker: Or something. (Long Pause)

117:42:43 Schmitt: Somebody (that is, Jack himself) kicked dirt all over the MESA.

[As per LMP-9, Jack is at the MESA to get his camera so he can take a pan from the 4 o'clock position (NE) 30 feet out from the LM. This is the only time during the EVAs that he will use color film.]
117:42:47 Cernan: Let's see if there is any life in this here baby. (Burps; Long Pause) Okay. Getting up and on.
[Gene is mounting the Rover, climbing into the left-hand seat. He will fasten his seatbelt, turn on the Rover power, and take a test drive.]
117:43:13 Schmitt: Give me a yell when you start to go, and I'll try to be sure to be there with the camera.

117:43:16 Cernan: Okay. (Pause)

117:43:24 Schmitt: Big bag is deployed.

117:43:29 Parker: Copy that. (Pause)

[Jack has just done a task listed at the top of LMP-7 that he skipped when he got delayed by the MESA thermal blankets. He has hung the big bag on a hook on the inside of the ladder. The big bag - or Sample Return Bag (SRB) is a long version of the Sample Collection Bags (SCBs) they will wear during the geology traverses. The big bag will stay on the hook until the start of the third EVA when Gene and Jack will install it on the Rover gate so that they can put big rocks in it. At the end of the EVA, they will carry it up to the cabin with about 100 pounds of large samples in it. The best picture of the big bag is AS17-143- 21924, taken by Jack at the end of the EVA-3 traverse at about 169:12:28.]

[Gene's breathing can be heard as he climbs on the Rover and attaches his seat belt. His breathing can be heard primarily because he is leaning forward to get the belt. Getting on the Rover is a relatively simple matter of standing alongside and then jumping up and inward, aiming for the seat. A slight jump and a pull on the handhold does the trick.]

117:43:44 Cernan: Well, the seat belt fits perfect.

117:43:49 Schmitt: Shoot. I thought I was going to get to drive.

[Schmitt - "Although we did a little training with me sitting in Gene's Rover seat, there was never any anticipation that Gene would decide that he didn't want to drive."]
117:43:52 Cernan: Man, I got so much dust over my visor already, I got to wipe it off. Get that lens brush; I want you to dust me off a little later, Jack.

117:44:04 Schmitt: The lens brush!?

[Jack finds the suggestion incredulous; the lens brush is much too small for the job, being about an inch long and perhaps a half an inch wide. The bristles are very fine.]
117:44:05 Cernan: Well, I've got to dust my visor off with something.

117:44:08 Parker: Roger. Don't use your glove or the dustbrush.

[The dustbrush, to be used for sweeping dust off the battery covers and other large surfaces, is the size of a large house-paint brush, perhaps six inches across. The bristles, like Gene's dust impregnated gloves, would scratch the visor.]
117:44:09 Cernan: Okay; when I was bringing that...(Responding to Bob) No, we'll use the lens brush, Bob.

117:44:15 Parker: Roger.

[Cernan - "The dust was very difficult to work in and was a big hindrance. It obscured your vision if you let it get on your visor. It was almost like a dew or mist because it clung to everything. It got on every movable surface, it got in the suits, and when we got out of our suits in the spacecraft in between EVAs, it got in the pores of our skin and got under our fingernails. And it didn't just get on the outside parts of our nails and get them dirty but, literally, it got down between the skin and the nail. It took three months for lunar dust to grow out from under my nails. It infiltrates."]

["I describe lunar dust as being like very, very fine graphite. But graphite is a lubricating material; this is not. This is just the opposite; it's very abrasive. And it has a smell very few people, if any, have smelled on the Earth. It smells something like spent gunpowder; like you've just fired a shotgun or something and you can smell that powder. The dust made lunar operations half again more difficult than it would have been without the dust. It took time to dust ourselves off, to clean the equipment. I knocked a fender off and quickly found out that you can't operate in a Rover vehicle without a fender because you throw dust all over."]

[Schmitt - "I don't remember the dust creating an obscuration problem, except that, when you looked back into the Sun, the Sun would sparkle over it like a dirty windshield."]

117:44:17 Cernan: (Probably facing southeast) Okay. Let's try to see if I can read in this Sun, now.
[Gene is reading power-up instructions written on a decal affixed to the console.]
117:44:21 Cernan: (Talking to himself) Check handcontroller. Let's wipe it out a couple of times to make sure we got all the steering. She's wiped out.
[Schmitt - "'Wiping out' the controller is a hand motion a bit like wiping a table. It's an old pilot's term for what you do to the stick in an airplane to check that all your ailerons are working, and Gene was just transferring that expression to the Rover, checking all of the controller positions."]
117:45:00 Cernan: She goes forward and she goes reverse. She's back in forward; and she's wiped out, and she's in park. Reverse is down. Okay. (Pause) Here we go. Stand by for life. It ought to be on this one. There's life in this here baby. Beautiful.

117:45:10 Schmitt: I don't know who's responsible for packing this ETB, but I think it was me. You didn't by any chance pick up those scissors, did you?

117:45:19 Cernan: No, sir.

117:45:20 Schmitt: They're going to be hard to find, but I think we can do it.

[Schmitt - "The whole exercise had been put together on the assumption that we would have two pairs of scissors; but, because Ron had lost his and we had left him one of our pairs, we had to keep track of the one pair we had left. And, of course, they'd fallen out of the ETB as it was being lowered out of the LM. We took them out onto the surface just as a contingency tool, but we had to have them when we went back in the LM because otherwise we would have had a tough time opening the food containers."]
117:45:25 Cernan: Well, they were right down there (on the ground below the porch), unless you picked them up. That's exactly where the Rover tool was, too, and I picked it up, so they're probably there. I didn't see them though. Okay.

117:45:40 Schmitt: Okay. I got my camera.

117:45:42 Cernan: All the breakers closed except Nav.

117:45:47 Schmitt: The old 4 o'clock pan!

[Jack is going northeast of the LM - to the 4 o'clock position - to take a panoramic sequence of photographs and is now on cuff checklist page LMP-9. Gene is leaving the circuit breaker for the navigation electronics open and will not initialize the Rover navigation system until he is about to leave the ALSEP site at 121:41:37.]
117:45:50 Cernan: Okay, Houston. Amp-hours. I'm reading 115. Amps are 0. Volts are 82 and 82. Batteries are (pause to read the temperature gauges) 95 and 110. Forward Motors are off-scale low, off-scale low; and Rears are off-scale low, off-scale low. (Long Pause) Houston, you with us?

117:46:28 Parker: Roger. We copy that.

117:46:32 Cernan: Okay. (Pause) (Talking to himself as he reads the decal and sets the circuit breakers) Drive Enable, Forward is going Prime 1. Take it nice and easy. Rear going Prime 2. And that is Both; I know that. That's Secondary. Okay; Steering, go Forward to A...Boy, it's hard to see in that Sun...and Rear to D. Rear to D. Drive Power Forward going to A. Now, I didn't feel any Earth-shaking rumbles like I do in the trainer, but let's see what happens. (Pause) Okay, Jack. I'm going to find out in a minute.

117:47:33 Schmitt: Okay.

[The one-g training Rover used on Earth was a far more substantial vehicle.]
117:47:34 Cernan: Okay. Here we go. Okay. (Getting tongue-tied) The runt...the fright...the front wheels turn. I can't see the rear ones.

117:47:43 Schmitt: (Finishing the pan) I'll verify them in a minute.

[Jack's 4 o'clock pan consists of AS17-147- 22492 to 22521. Note that Gene is out of sight, seated on the Rover on the far side of the LM.]

[Frame 22493 shows Geophone Rock and the South Massif, among other features. Frame 22509 shows the small crater east of the LM that Gene thought might be Poppie. Note the trail Gene made when he walked and/or ran out to the crater to inspect it. Footprints visible in 22513 indicate that, after inspecting the small crater east of the LM, Gene went south of the LM to inspect Poppie. This frame also shows the footprints he made on the way back to the LM from Poppie.]

[The f-stop settings used relative to the direction of the Sun are shown on decals mounted on the tops of the film magazines. 'HBW' is High-Speed Black-and-White and 'HCEX' is High-Speed Color Exterior. ]

117:47:50 Cernan: Okay. I can't see the rear ones, but I know the front ones turn. And it does move. Hallelujah. Hallelujah, Houston! Challenger's baby is on the roll.

117:48:04 Parker: Roger. Copy that. Sounds great.

[Cernan - "While I don't remember the details, if the Rover hadn't worked, we were going to try and cover some of the same ground; but we wouldn't have gone nearly as far or have accomplished nearly as much as we did."]

[Schmitt - "It was my position that the probability of the Rover failing was small, so why waste our time in training or planning on walking traverses that you could put together fairly easily in real-time. You knew basically where you wanted to go and you just would have to see how well you were doing and how much energy it was going to take. We couldn't have taken all of the equipment, but we had the bags for samples. I'm not sure we could have mounted SCBs on both sides of the PLSSs - might only have had one apiece - but we could have put quite a bit of equipment in one SCB and samples in the other. It would have been awkward, but there would be no question that we would have gotten something done. The real question is how far we could have gone. And I suspect that on the first EVA we wouldn't have gone very far until we were use to it. But it is still my contention that, if you got up-to-speed striding, you could have gone as far as you did with the Rover. It just would have taken more energy and your walkback constraints would have changed. I'm sure the Flight Control people would have been very conservative with walkback, at least with the first two EVAs; we might have gotten the envelope opened up a little bit for the third. I doubt if they would have let us go to Nansen, because that was right at the edge of the Rover walkback envelope; but we probably could have gotten up the hillside to Station 6, simply by going sidehill rather than directly uphill like the Apollo 14 guys did. But I just couldn't imagine very many reasonable failures that would keep you from having the Rover. You had front and rear wheel drive so you could go either way; and you could lift it out of any hole it got into."]

117:48:08 Cernan: And judging from the way it's handling, I think the rear wheels are steering too.

117:48:19 Parker: That's a first.

[On both of the other Rover missions, steering problems occurred at power-up. On Apollo 15, Dave Scott had no front steering and, on Apollo 16, John Young had no rear steering. For unknown reasons, both Rovers later regained full steering - at the start of EVA-2 in the case of Apollo 15 and after Rover preps in the case of Apollo 16. Because the Rovers all had both front and rear steering, the losses were not of any particular concern.]
117:48:23 Cernan: What do you see, Jack?

117:48:26 Schmitt: Well, you're (at the) wrong angle. Yeah, they're turning!

[Gene is driving around the back (east side) of the LM, more or less toward Jack who is still northeast of the spacecraft. Jack's photos of the test drive are AS17-147- 22521 thru 22526. Photo 22523 shows Gene approaching from the south. Note that the TV camera, high-gain antenna, etc. have not yet been mounted on the Rover. Bear Mountain is the dark hill beyond the right front wheel. Frame 22526 is an excellent close-up of Gene on the Rover. Note the light plume of dust coming off the right-front wheel. The tires are made of a wire mesh which is strengthened by a chevron pattern of metal plates. Before taking 22527, Jack moved away from the LM to the east. This photo shows Gene continuing north past the east (minus-Z) strut with the South Massif in the background beyond the LM. Note that Gene is driving down into a shallow depression. The vertical post at the back of the Rover is the geopost on which Jack will mounted the geopallet. The boulder in the distance beyond the geopost is Geophone Rock. It is about 3-meters tall and is 200 meters west and slightly south of the LM.]
117:48:28 Cernan: How does that grab you?

117:48:30 Schmitt: They're turning.

117:48:32 Parker: How about that.

117:48:36 Schmitt: Come towards me, baby! Looks like it's moving.

117:48:40 Cernan: Oh, boy. (To the Rover) Keep moving. (Pause)

[Gene's tone of voice suggested that, just for a second, he thought something was wrong with the Rover.]
117:48:51 Schmitt: Don't run over me.

117:48:53 Cernan: Don't worry.

117:48:57 Schmitt: Man, if they don't like this...

117:48:59 Cernan: How's that?

117:49:00 Schmitt: Let me move back. Okay?

[Jack is trying to take a picture of Gene on the Rover with the Earth in the background. Earth is about 30 degrees south of west and at an elevation of 45 degrees.]
117:49:06 Cernan: How's the timeline, Bob?

117:49:11 Parker: As far as I can tell, you guys are right on within a minute or two.

117:49:17 Schmitt: The Earth's just a little high for me, Geno.

117:49:19 Cernan: Okay.

117:49:21 Schmitt: I'm not sure I can get it without getting way away.

117:49:23 Cernan: Okay. Don't worry.

[That is, Jack doesn't think he'll be able to get both Gene and the Earth in the camera's field-of-view without getting a long way away from the Rover. However, because the 70-mm camera's field-of-view is only about 40 degrees, even at a great distance Jack wouldn't be able to get both Gene and the Earth in a horizontal shot. The key to success, as they will discover during the flag deployment, is to get close, hold the camera at knee height, and shoot up at an angle.]
117:49:26 Schmitt: Somebody said it (Earth) was going to be just behind the South Massif. (Laughs)
[From the LM, Earth is at virtually the same azimuth as the 2300-m South Massif summit; however, the summit elevation is only about 11 degrees.]
117:49:29 Cernan: Okay. I'm going to take a little spin around here, and I'll meet you at the front end (of the LM next to the MESA).

117:49:32 Schmitt: Okay.

117:49:36 Cernan: Boy, there's a lot of static, though, every time I start driving. (Long Pause)

117:50:09 Cernan: I know what that was over there, I think. Let me see. Whee!

[Gene is still trying to figure out exactly where he landed, and may be driving east to take a close look at craters he thinks might be Poppie and Barjea.]
117:50:16 Schmitt: Okay, Houston. The basic material around the LM is just what I said: a fine-grained, medium-gray regolith-appearing material that has the standard seriate population. (Long Pause)

117:50:50 Schmitt: The craters, though, (that are) bigger than about a meter in diameter seem to get to (that is, excavate) rock fragments (pause) which I haven't yet learned how to pick up.

[Schmitt - "At this point, I was talking out loud, just getting a feel for what things looked like, transitioning from the theory and the experience of others to personal experience. We expected that craters bigger than some size would penetrate through the soil and bring up bedrock fragments; but I hadn't yet learned to distinguish between regolith breccia (soil compacted and partially fused in an impact, also known as 'instant rock') and actual basaltic rock fragments that would have come off the bedrock. The language I used often wasn't very precise at any point in the mission, but at this point I was just feeling my way about how I was going to talk about these things."]
117:51:05 Cernan: Okay, Jack. I'm going to give them our position here. I think I know exactly where we are now.

117:51:12 Schmitt: (To himself) Well, once you get them dirty, just like the boys say, it's hard to tell what they are.

[That is, it's difficult to classify dust-covered rocks.]
117:51:20 Cernan: Okay, Houston. I'm parked right next to Barjea. And we (that is, the LM) are, from Barjea, (at) 12 o'clock...Jack, how far...Oh, you can't see. You're looking at the Sun. I guess about 150 meters due west of Barjea. And that's why we looked so close to Trident. I'm coming right up on Poppie. No question about where I am now. I've got Trident, and when I get up there...We are abeam of Trident 1, just where I said we were. I'm right at Poppie. We're about, oh, 100 meters just about due west of Poppie, which is almost in line with Barjea, of course; but basically (the LM is) on the (north-south) line, I think, between Rudolph and Trident 1. And, as I look at it in cross section, about 100 meters north of Trident 1.

117:52:34 Schmitt: That's the landing point! (Pause)

[Gene may have driven out to an unnamed crater about 200 meters east of the LM but well short of Mariner and San Luis Rey.]

[Schmitt - "I wasn't going to worry about where we were exactly. We were close to the planned landing site and we certainly weren't going to have any trouble finding Camelot or any of the other places. (Changing topics) Somewhere, and possibly in here where Gene was describing the landing site, the cuff on my urine collection device was too tight. I needed to urinate but couldn't unless I really forced it. And that was very uncomfortable. Once we got back in after the EVA, I took the rest of the cuffs and stretched them over the handcontrollers in the LM."]

117:52:45 Schmitt: Sure get dirty fast.

117:52:47 Cernan: Jack, that is Trident right here that we walked over to.

[There is a very shallow depression ENE of Poppie which may be contributing to Gene's confusion.]
117:52:52 Schmitt: (Laughing, having fallen while trying to pick up a rock) I just got my first initiation to getting very dirty.

117:52:56 Cernan: You sure did. (Laughs)

117:52:59 Schmitt: Where are you? Are you ready to go?

117:53:02 Cernan: I'm coming right around the front now. Houston, did you get that position?

117:53:05 Parker: Roger. We copied that, Geno.

117:53:08 Cernan: And Bob, I'm...I'm...I'm very firm of that now. I'm almost positive, unless I'm awfully mistaken about Trident. I don't see how I could be from here.

117:53:22 Schmitt: At the sacrifice of my cleanliness, Houston, the basic light-colored rock type in the area looks very much like a cristobolite gabbros of the...I didn't see cristobolite, but it looks like the gabbros in the mare basalt suite. The coarse-grained clinopyroxene plagioclase rocks.

117:53:48 Parker: Okay. We have that.

[Schmitt - "I spent a lot of time in the Receiving Lab looking at samples from the other missions, and had in my own mind a grain-size classification and a variety of other classifications that I'd be using throughout all of this. I shouldn't really have used the term 'gabbro', but it had stuck in my mind as a way to distinguish a coarser-grained version of basalt. That is, if I could see distinct, clear crystals and make a guess at what they were, I think I consistently called it a 'gabbro'. However, by definition, basalt is fine-grained; gabbro has the same chemical composition but is coarse-grained, although more coarse-grained than anything we saw on the valley floor. So I probably confused a lot of people on the ground. But this was coarser-grained than a lot of things that I had seen in hand specimens from other missions. This had grains up to a millimeter or so across, whereas many of the samples (from other missions) were so fine grained that they were even glassy."]
117:53:50 Cernan: Jack, I'm going to park...How about alongside (the MESA)?...Am I gonna screw up that little crater with glass in it if I park there?

117:54:03 Schmitt: Well, we will eventually.

117:54:04 Cernan: Well, there's that one anyway. Let me park right here.

117:54:07 Schmitt: I'm sure we'll find some more.

117:54:10 Cernan: Yep. (Pause) (Looking at the dirt on Jack's suit) Where you been? (Laughs)

117:54:14 Schmitt: I fell down!

117:54:16 Cernan: Okay, that's about close enough. Isn't it?

117:54:19 Schmitt: Yeah.

117:54:20 Cernan: Okay, she (the brake) is locked. Here, let me get the 15-volt supply.

117:54:22 Schmitt: I think this camera is probably a little dirty on the lens.

117:54:27 Cernan: Okay, Houston. We're parked.

117:54:30 Schmitt: (Having taken the camera off) No. The lens is okay.

117:54:32 Cernan: When you uncover one of those lens brushes, I want to use it on my visor. Oh boy. (Sounding a little frustrated) It just takes a little getting used to the one-sixth g, Jack.

[Cernan - "Here, I was obviously getting out of the Rover. And it just took a little while to find out how to do it. With the gravity too low to really pull you down to the ground when you got out, you literally had to push yourself up and out. You quickly learned how to do things the easy way, because there is an easy way in one-sixth gravity."]
117:54:45 Schmitt: I want to put this camera over here right now, because it's pretty dirty to put back in that bag.
[Cuff checklist page LMP-9 calls for Jack to put his camera in the ETB; however, he is probably setting it on the MESA.]


Down the Ladder Apollo 17 Journal Loading the Rover