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Old 12-29-2015, 07:30 PM
dolphinboy dolphinboy is online now
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Apollo 11 Question

I'm sure this has been asked before, but I can't seem to find the answer.

If Armstrong and Aldrin and been marooned on the moon for some reason would Collins have had any problem getting back to Earth on his own? In other words, was the landing module, or the other 2 astronauts, needed to return the Command Module back to earth?
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Old 12-29-2015, 07:36 PM
JerrySTL JerrySTL is offline
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There is an article in my local newspaper today which talks about the 'Moon Disaster' speech that President Nixon had ready if they couldn't get off the Moon. It talked about the 'two men' on the Moon and not Michael Collins. Therefore they thought that Collins could return by himself.

http://www.bnd.com/living/liv-column...e52071105.html
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Old 12-29-2015, 08:09 PM
Siam Sam Siam Sam is offline
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Nah, Armstrong and Aldrin could have left that movie studio all on their own, no worries.

Erm, I mean, Collins had the ship and presumably could have rocketed back to Earth and reentered on his own. It wouldn't take three guys to do that, would it?

Last edited by Siam Sam; 12-29-2015 at 08:09 PM.
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Old 12-29-2015, 08:22 PM
Stranger On A Train Stranger On A Train is offline
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Collins could have returned. It would have certainly required a trajectory adjustment for the difference in mass (both that of the missing astronauts and the samples they brought back) and may have required trimming of the remaining mass in the capsule for reentry, but in all other respects it would have been no different than the nominal return. In fact, there was really no reason to have someone onboard the CSM at all; this was only a contingency in the case that the relay antenna wasn't able to track correctly or the LM was not able to dock with the CSM, requiring manual control in both cases. Plans for later, long duration Lunar missions, as well as missions to Mars, have assumed no continued crew presence on orbit while the landing mission is conducted.

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Old 12-29-2015, 08:38 PM
buckgully buckgully is offline
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This is an interesting article about Michael Collins' fears of just such an event:

http://www.theguardian.com/science/2...onaut-apollo11
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Old 12-29-2015, 08:42 PM
Leaffan Leaffan is online now
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So, now that that's been answered may I pose another question?

What technology was used to have the lunar module dock with the command module?

The command module was orbiting the moon (obviously) and the lunar module had to blast off and intercept it. How did the lunar module know when to blast off and how difficult was it to catch up to the command module and dock.

What if the lunar module didn't reach the right altitude: like if it ended up too low or too high? I think of these things while falling asleep at night. I'm not kidding.
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Old 12-29-2015, 10:03 PM
AK84 AK84 is online now
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The CSM could rescue the Lunar module if it got into a lower then expected orbit. IIRC the CSM could get as low as 4 miles from the Lunar surface.

They used this is the later missions; CSM's engine would prefrom the deorbit burn while attacked to the LM and get to a lower orbit before separating allowing for a much larger payload including the rover.
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Old 12-30-2015, 12:39 AM
Stranger On A Train Stranger On A Train is offline
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The ascent (or abort) rendezvous is a complicated operation, but basically the LM ascent would be initiated within a predetermined window, the LM would ascend along the same azimuth as the CSM orbit, and the LM radar would provide state data (distance and relative speed) which it fed into the guidance computer. If necessary, the approach could be done completely manually by the astronauts following a flight table which would give orientation and a recalculated burn sequence, and the astronauts would only have to perform the final rendezvous by eyeball, though for that kind of ascent the LM would get within a certain distance and the CSM would perform final maneuvers. Remember, the gravity of the Moon is only 1/6th of Earth, so everything is moving a lot slower and takes far less propellant.

One rejected ascent system (was proposed as a low tech alternative for a Gemini-based Lunar program or a backup to the Apollo system) was basically an open platform with a gimbaled engine, a handful of vernier engines for attitude and reaction control, and basically a complex bombsight for navigation.

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Old 12-30-2015, 01:33 AM
Leaffan Leaffan is online now
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Who determined the predetermined window? That's my question, I guess.
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Old 12-30-2015, 08:52 AM
dolphinboy dolphinboy is online now
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One more question that thankfully nobody had to deal with. If the two Apollo 11 astronauts on the Moon had become stranded and died, what were the plans to retrieve the bodies or bury them on the Moon? I assume there was no rescue mission possible, and I doubt they had extra room on Apollo 12 capsule to store two extra bodies for return to Earth.
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Old 12-30-2015, 09:33 AM
AK84 AK84 is online now
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One more question that thankfully nobody had to deal with. If the two Apollo 11 astronauts on the Moon had become stranded and died, what were the plans to retrieve the bodies or bury them on the Moon? I assume there was no rescue mission possible, and I doubt they had extra room on Apollo 12 capsule to store two extra bodies for return to Earth.
Maybe they would have used a later mission to get the bodies; though its doubtful.

NASA would probably have continued trying to get them home until they died. William Safire's famous speech was done by a politician; don't think it represented official NASA policy.
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Old 12-30-2015, 10:28 AM
Stranger On A Train Stranger On A Train is offline
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Who determined the predetermined window? That's my question, I guess.
With the orbital parameters of the CSM and location of the LM it would be almost trivial to calculate the launch window for a given total impulse. That was likely precalculated before the mission was launched with plug in numbers for the astronauts on the surface (as a contingency if they lost communications) or could be refined by JSC once tehy had actuals on orbit and position.

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One more question that thankfully nobody had to deal with. If the two Apollo 11 astronauts on the Moon had become stranded and died, what were the plans to retrieve the bodies or bury them on the Moon? I assume there was no rescue mission possible, and I doubt they had extra room on Apollo 12 capsule to store two extra bodies for return to Earth.
No rescue was possible, and I think it is unlikely that a mission would be launched strictly to recover or bury the bodies. There is a god chance, speeches notwithstanding, that the program may have been shut down or at least deferred after a failure. NASA was already being defunded by the time of Apollo XI and political support for an extended program was dwindling in the face of the economic recession, upcoming energy shortages, and the widening war in Viet Nam.

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  #13  
Old 12-30-2015, 12:25 PM
Earl Snake-Hips Tucker Earl Snake-Hips Tucker is online now
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^^Stranger just said '. . . there is a god. . . .'
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Old 12-30-2015, 12:26 PM
The Other Waldo Pepper The Other Waldo Pepper is online now
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Collins could have returned. It would have certainly required a trajectory adjustment for the difference in mass (both that of the missing astronauts and the samples they brought back) and may have required trimming of the remaining mass in the capsule for reentry, but in all other respects it would have been no different than the nominal return.
Would staying awake have been a problem?
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Old 12-30-2015, 12:29 PM
billfish678 billfish678 is offline
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IMO I think there is a fair chance there WOULD have been a mission to recover the bodies....assuming it was something simple the LEM wouldn't lift of and Neil and Buzz just sat there and
suffocated. As opposed to to something crashed/blew up/we don't know what happened.

The engineers woulda said it cost too much. The test pilot foiks woulda said shit happens why bother. The PUBLIC would have pushed hard to bring our boys home.

PS. There is an interesting bit of trivia about that.

Last edited by billfish678; 12-30-2015 at 12:33 PM.
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Old 12-30-2015, 12:31 PM
Chronos Chronos is online now
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Not only was no rescue possible, but everyone involved knew absolutely that no rescue was possible. All that NASA could have done would be to arrange for communication between the astronauts and their loved ones while they were waiting to die. Politicians might have demanded that they try anyway, but the only possible response to such a demand is "It cannot be done".

As for the bodies, it's not too different a situation from a shipwreck. The bodies would have been left on the Moon, and the place where they were left would have been designated as a burial site.
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Old 12-30-2015, 12:45 PM
Stranger On A Train Stranger On A Train is offline
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Would staying awake have been a problem?
Staying awake for what?

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Originally Posted by billfish678 View Post
IMO I think there is a fair chance there WOULD have been a mission to recover the bodies....assuming it was something simple the LEM wouldn't lift of and Neil and Buzz just sat there and
suffocated. As opposed to to something crashed/blew up/we don't know what happened.

The engineers woulda said it cost too much. The test pilot foiks woulda said shit happens why bother. The PUBLIC would have pushed hard to bring our boys home.
The "public" doesn't write the budget for NASA, and in any case I don't think the LM ascent stage even had the capacity to lift four astronauts. Nor was there any practical way to store bodies in the Apollo Command Module. The only way this could possibly be done would be by sending a crew of two to Lunar orbit and only one down to the surface in the LM to recover the bodies. Never mind the difficulty of trying to manuever corpses into and out of the LM; the violation of margins and safety provisions would not be acceptible. The first rule in rescue and recovery operations is for the operators to not compound the problem by having to be rescued themsevles.

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Old 12-30-2015, 12:53 PM
billfish678 billfish678 is offline
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Staying awake for what?

The "public" doesn't write the budget for NASA, r
I will defer to your opinion on the other technical difficulties of actually bringing four bodies back (or even three perhaps)...but that first point is bogus.

Last edited by billfish678; 12-30-2015 at 12:53 PM.
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Old 12-30-2015, 12:54 PM
The Other Waldo Pepper The Other Waldo Pepper is online now
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Staying awake for what?
For the solo flight back from the Moon to the Earth, with neither Aldrin nor Armstrong available to spell him at the controls. How long would he have to stay awake?
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Old 12-30-2015, 01:07 PM
billfish678 billfish678 is offline
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Okay.

Buzz beats the crap outa Neil (I've seen videos on the net) and then tries to live on LOX from the LEM and freeze dried Neil Jerky.

Can the next lunar mission bring him back alive?
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Old 12-30-2015, 02:43 PM
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For the solo flight back from the Moon to the Earth, with neither Aldrin nor Armstrong available to spell him at the controls. How long would he have to stay awake?
There is no need to have anyone "at the controls" except in the case of a problem or system failure. The astronauts had planned sleep periods where all three would sleep. Given the tiny size of the capsule (describing it as having the same room as a "mid-sized car" was generous even by the standards of the day) it would be impossible to have some crew sleeping while another performed work.

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Buzz beats the crap outa Neil (I've seen videos on the net) and then tries to live on LOX from the LEM and freeze dried Neil Jerky.

Can the next lunar mission bring him back alive?
It took around 45 days to integrate a Saturn V stack and the Apollo CSM. Even assuming that the systems were ready (Apollo XII launched four months later so it is possible) and ways were found to abbreviate the integration schedule there would be easily a month of time between some kind of incident. I don't have a reference on LM-5 hand but LM-10 and beyond had two CO2 scrubbers with capacities of 41 man-hours and 14 man-hours respectively. Eagle, which had a planned lunar surface time of less than a day, likely didn't carry more than one spare for each, which would give a single astronaut roughly five days of surface time. Even assuming generous operating margins and minimal respiration, I doubt the habitation time could be extended beyond two weeks as a maximum.

Also, while Aldrin had quite a temper, it was Armstrong who repeatedly demonstrated cool competence under pressure and a knack for doing the right thing to survive seemingly unsurvivable failures, so I put my money on Neil.

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Old 12-31-2015, 02:21 AM
Ranger Jeff Ranger Jeff is offline
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After leaving lunar orbit, there were only 2 mid course corrections planned, and only if necessary. Collins might of had to take some star sights through his sextant. And of course, jettison the Service Module for re-entry. And I bet in a safe somewhere in mission control, available only to the flight directors, was a sealed envelope with the data for Collins to enter into Columbia's computer to account for a reentry with only one human, one space suit, a few extra meals, and no geological samples.
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Old 12-31-2015, 05:35 AM
kaylasdad99 kaylasdad99 is offline
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Relevant xkcd.

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  #24  
Old 12-31-2015, 07:01 PM
Hail Ants Hail Ants is offline
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After leaving lunar orbit, there were only 2 mid course corrections planned, and only if necessary. Collins might of had to take some star sights through his sextant. And of course, jettison the Service Module for re-entry. And I bet in a safe somewhere in mission control, available only to the flight directors, was a sealed envelope with the data for Collins to enter into Columbia's computer to account for a reentry with only one human, one space suit, a few extra meals, and no geological samples.
I can almost guarantee you that not only were they NOT in a safe, but that NASA had the ground controllers actually rehearse, several times, that exact scenario. They just kept it quiet for obvious reasons. Gene Kranz, the chief flight director, has said many times in interviews that once the LM separated his thinking was, "Ok, there's only three things that are going to happen: Either we're going to land, we're going to abort, or we're going to crash..."
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Old 12-31-2015, 08:46 PM
Dana Scully Dana Scully is offline
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Hilarious!
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Old 01-01-2016, 03:01 AM
Ranger Jeff Ranger Jeff is offline
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In James Michener's "Space", an Apollo command module pilot has to return solo after the commander and lunar module pilot crash after attempting to launch from the moon. There was an unexpected very large solar flare while the latter two were some distance from the LM and needed to return via the Lunar Rover. They received massive doses of radiation.
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Old 01-01-2016, 09:11 AM
Leo Bloom Leo Bloom is online now
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I like that Collins was sextant-capable.

I wonder how many astronauts now are.
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Old 01-01-2016, 09:58 AM
billfish678 billfish678 is offline
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In James Michener's "Space", an Apollo command module pilot has to return solo after the commander and lunar module pilot crash after attempting to launch from the moon. There was an unexpected very large solar flare while the latter two were some distance from the LM and needed to return via the Lunar Rover. They received massive doses of radiation.
I haven't read the whole thing. But I've read the part about the when the disaster parts and things start to go to shit.

It is gut wrenching.

I have something in my eyes just thinking about it.
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Old 01-01-2016, 11:47 AM
JKellyMap JKellyMap is offline
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I like that Collins was sextant-capable.

I wonder how many astronauts now are.
Probably about as many as get on-site survival training directly from South American Indians nowadays (in case of a misplaced splashdown or landing).
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Old 01-01-2016, 03:38 PM
Ranger Jeff Ranger Jeff is offline
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I like that Collins was sextant-capable.

I wonder how many astronauts now are.
A sextant/telescope/periscope device was part of the Apollo Command Modules. ALL CMPs (Command Module Pilots) were trained to use it to take star sightings and enter them into the nav computer to calibrate the navigation platform. One of the reasons the middle couch folded away was so the CMP could man the navigation console as necessary.
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Old 01-01-2016, 05:09 PM
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I like that Collins was sextant-capable.

I wonder how many astronauts now are.
Huh-huh. You said "sex tent".
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Old 01-01-2016, 09:14 PM
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There's more than one way to fail a listen check
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Old 01-01-2016, 10:52 PM
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After leaving lunar orbit, there were only 2 mid course corrections planned, and only if necessary. Collins might of had to take some star sights through his sextant. And of course, jettison the Service Module for re-entry. And I bet in a safe somewhere in mission control, available only to the flight directors, was a sealed envelope with the data for Collins to enter into Columbia's computer to account for a reentry with only one human, one space suit, a few extra meals, and no geological samples.
Yeah, a spacecraft isn't like a car, you don't need to be constantly "driving" it -- you just get it pointed in the right direction and physics does the rest.

On the one hand, it would've been a lonely four-day trip home. OTOH, at least he could poop in privacy.

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The second-to-last one probably would've been the best-case scenario, given what happened afterward...
  #34  
Old 01-02-2016, 04:07 PM
Hail Ants Hail Ants is offline
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When I was a teenager and learned all the details of the Apollo mission profiles I couldn't help but wonder if Collins, ya know, while orbiting the Moon all alone, the most remote human ever in all of human history, if he, ah, spanked it.

Of course, zero G and all, ewwwww...
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Old 01-02-2016, 04:26 PM
billfish678 billfish678 is offline
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A real off the top of my head back of the envelope calculation.

You can probably get 2 hours of breathing air (20 percent oxygen) off an 80 cubic foot scuba tank at one atmosphere of pressure, 15psi. Partial pressure oxygen wise, that is about the same as breathing pure oxygen at 3 psi.

Lets say the scuba tank contains about 5 lbs of air (rough number, might be a bit high actually).

So, 5 pounds of air equals one pound of oxygen and gets you two hours.

One month equals 24 times 30. Make it a bit over a month and call that 30 times 30, which is 900.

900 divided by 2 equals 450 pounds of oxygen without any scrubbing.

The next biggest obstacle would probably be figuring out hot to not freeze to death while being in the lunar night.

I'm sure the LEM ascent stage carried more than that.

If an astronaut could McGyver the crap outa stuff and use that oxygen ( and get a source of water), they could have probably lasted until a rescue mission came along.

Last edited by billfish678; 01-02-2016 at 04:31 PM.
  #36  
Old 01-02-2016, 08:15 PM
Stranger On A Train Stranger On A Train is offline
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Adding oxygen from some source other than the LM ECLSS wouldn't help. As CO2 levels rise past the occupational maximum of 0.5% over an 8 hour period, the astronauts will suffer various dysfunctions, including dizziness, drowsiness, headache, and ultimate unconsciousness and asphyxiation as blood levels rise, imparing uptake of oxygen molecules. Without means to separate carbon dioxide from the air, the astronauts are doomed even in the strategy of trying to dilute cabin air with pure oxygen.

The LM Ascent Engine used hypergolic propellants (Aerozine 50 and nitrogen tetraoxide, I believe) which you wouldn't want astronauts to breathe. Also, while the two week lunar "night" would certainly be lethal without heating, the day would be just as bad if not worse; the LM was designed to insulate the cabin from radiant heat, but eventually the heat from unprotected areas would be conducted to the cabin, making it intolerably hot. The "MacGyver" your way out of a desperate situation makes for great drama but is rarely all that workable in real life for all but the most simple problems.

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Old 01-03-2016, 07:37 AM
Chronos Chronos is online now
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And before anyone makes the comparison to The Martian, remember that Watney was starting with a fully-functional habitat designed for long-term human occupancy, and he just had to make it a little longer-term.

And of course that's also fiction, albeit well-researched fiction.
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Old 01-03-2016, 12:03 PM
Leo Bloom Leo Bloom is online now
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Probably about as many as get on-site survival training directly from South American Indians nowadays (in case of a misplaced splashdown or landing).
You're citing training the Russians got? (Not necessarily from S. American Imdians themselves, but similar skills?) / not sarcasm
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Old 01-03-2016, 12:13 PM
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The "MacGyver" your way out of a desperate situation makes for great drama but is rarely all that workable in real life for all but the most simple problems.

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Well except for Apollo 13.

I'll try to address the other issues later.
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Old 01-03-2016, 02:49 PM
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In the history of manned spaceflight, I count something like seven incidents of circumstances outside of planned mission parameters. Out of those, "MacGyvering" has only once been successful. So, yeah, it's probably fair to call it "rarely all that workable".
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Old 01-03-2016, 03:01 PM
billfish678 billfish678 is offline
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In the history of manned spaceflight, I count something like seven incidents of circumstances outside of planned mission parameters. Out of those, "MacGyvering" has only once been successful. So, yeah, it's probably fair to call it "rarely all that workable".
So one outa seven is "rare"?

I'll leave the smarmy assed comments to the readers imagination.

Not to mention the Apollo 13 Gyvering wasn't some lame assed realign the deflector shields STNG stuff.

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Old 01-04-2016, 01:01 AM
Stranger On A Train Stranger On A Train is offline
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Well except for Apollo 13.

I'll try to address the other issues later.
Despite how it was portrayed in the Ron Howard directed film, the procedures for the use of thr LM as a "lifeboat" wasn't jury-rigged by Ken Mattingly and a lone engineer, or even a few guys around a table frantically taping stuff together, but had been long worked out in prior simulations. The lithium hydroxide adapter which allowed the LM to use the canisters made to fit the CM had been worked out during an Apollo VIII sim. The use of the LM descent engine as a backup propulsion system had been previously proposed, and hundreds of Grumman engineers and technicians returned to work unbidden to support the rescue effort instead of the one fat, sweatting bureaucrat worried about saving his job shown in the film. In fact, one of the persuasive arguments for the Lunar Orbit Rendezvous and using a separate lander was the redundant life support and propulsion capability it offered in just the sort of situation the was experienced during Apollo XIII. And still, with all that being said, Lovell, Haise, and Swigert were especially lucky that the failure occured when it did, after Aquarius was docked and before entering Lunar orbit and descending. Also, they were two and a half days into the mission and almost to the Moon, which minimized the amount of time that they were dependant upon the LM.

Relying on "MacGyvering" a solution to a failure that could kill a crew in minutes is just not a reliable plan for anything, much less space exploration. Hence why NASA spent hundreds of person-years planning for all kinds of contengencies for failures.

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Old 01-04-2016, 03:01 AM
JKellyMap JKellyMap is offline
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You're citing training the Russians got? (Not necessarily from S. American Imdians themselves, but similar skills?) / not sarcasm
No, it was Gemini/Apollo astronauts. I think they might have spent two or three days with the Embera Indians of the Darien jungle region of Panama -- something like that. Apollo 11's Michael Collins mentions this, and includes a photo, in his book Carrying the Fire.
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Old 01-04-2016, 06:35 PM
Siam Sam Siam Sam is offline
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No, it was Gemini/Apollo astronauts. I think they might have spent two or three days with the Embera Indians of the Darien jungle region of Panama -- something like that. Apollo 11's Michael Collins mentions this, and includes a photo, in his book Carrying the Fire.
Hardly a valid cite, but Howard in The Big Bang Theory undergoes similarly rigorous training before he's spent into space.
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Old 01-04-2016, 06:43 PM
Leo Bloom Leo Bloom is online now
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I responded to that by asking about "Russian" spaceflght to half cover my ass in case I was being whooshed, which I sensed in (mistakenly) reading as a joke an Apollo "misplaced splash landing" over a jungle.

I'm still not clear--it was for _only_ a scenario of an off-coast mislanding? But now that I think of it, could it/the Apollo astronauts survive a land landing? Water is more incompressible than a lot of land areas.

Last edited by Leo Bloom; 01-04-2016 at 06:44 PM.
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Old 01-04-2016, 07:13 PM
Stranger On A Train Stranger On A Train is offline
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The Apollo capsule could land on solid ground if necessary, albeit it would be a fairly hard landing with a significant potential for injury, as it had no retrorocket or energy absorption system. I believe terminal velocity just prior to impact was around 25 mph, so it would be approximately like being in a car crash into a wall at that speed (but facing backward). Water landings were selected for the Mercury/Gemini/Apollo programs not because they were low risk or less complex (not true in either case) but because the United States doesn't have large tracts of unoccupied flat land to provide a suitable landing site. As it turned out, the Gemini and Apollo capsule landings were quite precise and could have been directed toward a large salt flat like Edwards or Bonneville, but an overshoot could still be problematic, and the US had large naval fleets in both the Atlantic and Pacific to support recovery operations. The Soviets descended onto land for the opposite reasons; they have plenty of open space (and little concerns about the liability for crushing some Kazakhstani peasant's hovel) and don't have an extensive naval force suitable for recover operations.

Basic land survival training--which is still part of NASA Astronaut Candidate Training--is really more about providing confidence in dealing with uncomfortable situations and team building than an actual need to use those skills in a practical context. There is no likely case that astronauts, even if their spacecraft were to be badly off course, would have to survive without recovery or at least support more than overnight. During Apollo, recovery operations were performed by US Air Force Pararescue jumpers ("PJs"), the same guys who perform search and recover operations for downed pilots and soldiers trapped behind enemy lines.

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Old 01-04-2016, 07:47 PM
Leo Bloom Leo Bloom is online now
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Thanks.

But back to the physics (and I remember the brilliant bouncy inflatables of the Mars lander): 25 mph into seawater differs from 25 mph into a solid wall--how much?
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Old 01-04-2016, 08:07 PM
spifflog spifflog is online now
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Originally Posted by Leo Bloom View Post
Thanks.

But back to the physics (and I remember the brilliant bouncy inflatables of the Mars lander): 25 mph into seawater differs from 25 mph into a solid wall--how much?
Not sure what your question is getting to.

We know that 45 astronauts landed in the water in the CM. This isn't counting the Mercury and Gemini. And to my knowledge none of them were injured.

Would you rather do that, or drive into a concrete wall at 20-25 MPH? We know you can walk away from one of these!
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Old 01-04-2016, 10:00 PM
Colibri Colibri is online now
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Originally Posted by JKellyMap View Post
No, it was Gemini/Apollo astronauts. I think they might have spent two or three days with the Embera Indians of the Darien jungle region of Panama -- something like that. Apollo 11's Michael Collins mentions this, and includes a photo, in his book Carrying the Fire.
Basically correct, but the jungle training was held at Fort Sherman (site of the Jungle Operations Training Center) and Albrook Air Force Base in the Panama Canal Zone rather than in the Darien.

Last edited by Colibri; 01-04-2016 at 10:01 PM.
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Old 01-04-2016, 10:05 PM
drewder drewder is offline
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I'm sure this has been asked before, but I can't seem to find the answer.

If Armstrong and Aldrin and been marooned on the moon for some reason would Collins have had any problem getting back to Earth on his own? In other words, was the landing module, or the other 2 astronauts, needed to return the Command Module back to earth?
He would have made it just fine with a few calculations. I suspect the module could have been programed from NASA without any input from Collins in a pinch. When the first manned spaceshots happened the astronauts complained that everything was automated for them and they didn't actually do anything so they changed the design to allow the astronauts to participate in the experience.
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