April 26, 2020

APOLLO 11 TRACKER: the Pandemic Lockdown Edition for NASA Lovers like me.

Come with me in 2019, and follow in real-time (50 years ago) what is/was going on with the Apollo 11 Mission to the Moon. You can get these reference books today if you are a NASA fan like me. I also have my Buzz Aldrin NASA Ball Cap on. These books were news reference books published by NASA. They were in the hands of Walter Cronkite and his coworkers and they are great for nerds like me. 

This is the updated version of my Apollo 11 blog in real-time, last July 2019 recapturing the mission of Apollo 11. I have reposted this for anyone stuck at home during our COVID19 pandemic stay-at-home activities. 

I was about seven when I watched every moment on our black & white TV. Read the papers. Listened on the radio. Apollo missions and living on RCAF bases, plus Mr. Spock, got me interested in science. So, here is "The Science Rant Apollo-11 Tracker". Posted here in real-time, 50 years ago now today. Check this blog post as I updated it. We are heading towards Saturday, July 20th for a planned landing time at 20:15 GMT (8pm)  16:00 EST (4pm) 13:00 PST (1pm). Check out the audio and video links I will sprinkle in. Many were not broadcast in 1969. 

NASA image AS11-36-5401 - Taken by Apollo 11 crew just before the end of Day 3 (GMT time). Earth at about 336,000 km or 181,000 nautical miles. North is right. The Pacific Ocean dominates the view with the west coast of North America approaching the terminator. Image by LPI. Three hours later Apollo 11 will pass the Equigravisphere, where the Moon's gravitational pull will exceed that of the Earth.

Below you will find two main sections:
1) Summary of Progress
2) Detail Events by Day

I have included links to audio and video recordings and other information in the Detailed Events by Day section. 
Ken Mitton


The launch was on July 16th: Docking of the Lunar Module (LM) with the CSM (Command Module /Service Module) was completed as well as the slingshot maneuver to leave Earth orbit for the Moon. 
July 17th: a midcourse correction burn and the spacecraft is just en route. Television broadcasts from Apollo 11 crew happened very early in the morning. 
July 18th: the crew got to sleep and were talking with Houston for breakfast wake up call with views of Africa. Audio of these events is linked below. Apollo 11 talked with Houston for planning midcourse corrections and checking systems and consumables (oxygen, hydrogen, etc) at 20:40 GMT (16:40 EST, 4:40pm) Television broadcasting resumed after astronauts had some rest time. At 21:02:00 (17:02:00 EST, 5:02pm) Armstrong and Aldrin entered and inspected the LM. At 22:57 GMT - (18:57 EST - 15:57 PST) a realignment of the P52 program was run. This used two-star points to reset alignment of the CM/LM. Audio clip about that time and "Moon Cheese" is found below in day-log.  
July 19th: (after 3am GMT), the spacecraft passed the Equigravisphere where the gravitational pull of the Moon and Earth are equal. The gravitational pull from the Moon is now accelerating the spacecraft towards the Moon.  The distance to the Moon at this point is far less than the distance to the Earth because of Earth's larger mass. Audio from Mission Control at Equigravisphere is posted below. Lunar Orbit Insertion (LOI) engine burn was started just after the lunch hour (EST). Audio available below.
July 20thCDR (Armstrong) & LMP (Aldrin) entered the LM (Lunar Module) for the final decent preparation in the early morning (about 08:50am EST, 5:50am PST, 12:52pm GMT). About 2 hours later they started the LM system checks. The decent phase required undocking and use of the LM engine to slow its orbit and then transition to powered decent. Watch the "Full Landing to Lunar Decent" video link below.
From the NASA Apollo Mission New Reference Guide. Documents like this one were in the hands of Walter Cronkite at CBS News in 1969. This is my copy of the guide, which you can still purchase today from Amazon books. (Ken Mitton)

July 21st: One very long EVA (moon walk) began just after 10:30 PM EST on the 20th, and extending into Sunday morning (EST) on the 21st. This one walk was the only one Armstrong and Aldrin will do. Keep in mind this was the very first time a Human had to walk and move on the Lunar surface in Lunar gravity. The audio of Armstrong's first step and the move of the process is available in links below. After a single long EVA by the CDR and LMP, the LM ascent stage lifted off first into an elliptical orbit of 9 by 46 nautical miles, followed by a co-elliptic sequence initiation ("CSI" in audio) that brought the LM into a circular 46 nm orbit to match the CM. The LM tracked the CM for course correction burns to put its orbit on a controlled interception with the CM. The timing was set so the LM approached the CM on the dark side. The LM made small adjustments on near approach. The LM and CM will then docked. Just before midnight (GMT) the LM ascent stage was jettisoned. 
July 22nd: Transearth injection burn of the CS (Command Module/Service Module) took place about 5 hours later on July 22nd. 
July 23rd: Apollo 11 completed last third of travel back to Earth. 
July 24th: Apollo 11 reentry and splashdown start 12:35 PM EST. 


GMT = Greenwitch Mean Time
EST = Eastern Time Zone GMT minus 4 hours.
PST = Pacific Time Zone  GMT minus 7 hours.
CRD = Armstrong  LMP = Aldrin

July 16 LAUNCH   
NASA Video of Apollo 11 Launch(S-1C is 1st stage, S-II is 2nd stage, S-IVB is 3rd stage)

NBC Video Coverage of Launch
BBC Video Coverage of Launch
CBC Video Coverage of Launch

  GMT -       EST     -    PST -        EVENT
13:32:00 - 09:32:00 - 06:32:00-  Range zero (Full ignition)
13:32:00 - 09:32:00 - 06:32:00-  Umbilical disconnect (0.63 seconds)
13:32:13 - 09:32:13 - 06:32:13-  Pitch and roll maneuver started
13:33:06 - 09:33:06 - 06:33:06-  Mach 1
13:34:42 - 09:34:42  - 06:34:42 - S-IC maximum earth-fixed velocity. S-1C/S-II separation
13:35:12 - 09:35:12 - 06:35:12-  S-II aft interstage jettisoned
13:41:09 - 09:41:09 - 06:41:09-  S-II maximum earth-fixed velocity. S-II/S-IVB separation
13:43:39 - 09:43:39 - 06:43:39-  S-IVB 1st burn cut off maneuver horizontal
16:16:16 - 12:16:16 - 09:16:16-  S-IVB end burn start
16:22:03 - 12:22:03 - 09:22:03-  S-IVB burn cutoff
16:22:13 - 12:22:13 - 09:22:13-  Translunar injection (2hr 50m)
16:47:23 - 12:47:23 - 09:47:23-  CSM separated from S-IVB (3hr 15m)
16:54:09 - 12:54:09 - 09:54:09   AUDIO CLIPCSM/S-IVB Separation
16:56:03 - 12:56:03 - 09:56:03-  CSM docked with LM/S-IVB
17:49:03 - 13:49:03 - 10:49:03-  CSM/LM ejected from S-IVB
From my Apollo Spacecraft News Reference: The NAA Command/Service Module.  Book published by NASA's Manned Spacecraft Center. 1971. Reprinted 2011. Page 16. From my copy, K. Mitton

July 17 en route to the Moon
There was a TV transmission recorded at Goldstone and transmitted to Houston in the first hours of the morning at 12:04 am GMT (12 pm EST, 9 pm PST, on 16th). See the TV broadcast recording below.

- GMT -      EST        -    PST -        EVENT 00:00:04 - 20:00:04(16) 17:00:04    TV CLIP Youtube
16:16:58 - 12:16:58 -   09:16:58-  AUDIO CLIP Midcourse correction burn.
16:16:58 - 12:16:58 - 09:16:58-  Midcourse correction burn start (26h 44m)
16:17:01 - 12:17:01 - 09:17:01 -  Midcourse correction burn cutoff

    23:31:00 - 19:31:00 - 16:31:00 - Scheduled TV Transmission Youtube

    July 18 (GMT) en route to the Moon
    - GMT -      EST        -    PST -        EVENT
    00:07:00 - 20:07:00(17) 17:07:00 (17)  Ended TV Transmission 
    13:30:00 - 09:30:00  -  06:30:00  Breakfast over africa
    13:30:00 - 09:30:00  -  06:30:00  Audio breakfast time
    14:03:00 - 10:03:00  -  07:30:00 Audio Aldrin, Africa view
    20:40:00 - 16:40:00  -  13:40:00 TV on: Inspecting LM
    21:02:00 - 17:02:00  -  14:02:00 CDR LMP enter LM
    22:57:00 - 18:57:00  -  15:57:00 P52 Platform realignment "Moon Cheese audio"

    July 19 (GMT) Into Lunar orbit
    - GMT -      EST        -    PST -        EVENT
    03:11:55 - 23:11:55(18th) 17:07:00 (18th)  Equigravisphere mark.
    03:11:55 - Crew resting. Passing to Moon pull- Audio
    17:21:50 - 13:21:50 - 10:52:00   Start of LOI Burn - Audio
    19:52:00 - 15:52:00 - 12:52:00   TV transmission start.
    21:43:36 - 17:43:36 - 14:43:36   Lunar circulization burn
    22:42:00 - 18:42:00 - 15:42:00  LMP into CM for system checks

    July 20 (GMT) Decent and Landing Day
    - GMT -      EST      -    PST -        EVENT
    12:52:00 - 08:52:00 - 5:52:00    CDR/LMP in LM for preparation
    15:00:00 - 11:00:00 - 09:00:00   Start LM system checks 
    Full Decent to Landing Video    NASA audio and LM video view.
    20:17:39 - 16:17:39 - 13:17:39   LM: Actual Landing Time

    July 21 (GMT) Tranquility Base: EVA (Moon Walk)
    - GMT -      EST      -    PST -        EVENT
    02:39:33 - 10:39:33(20th) - 07:39:33  EVA hatch opened, EVA starts on the moon.
    02:56:15 - 10:56:15 (20th) - 07:56:15  
    Video at the step: TWO CAMs NASA: One small step
    17:54:00 - 13:54:00  - 10:54:00   Lunar ignition liftoff. 
    Ascent to Lunar Orbit LEM Window Movie
    18:51:35 - 14:51:35  - 11:51:35   Coeliptic engine burn will match LM's first orbit to the 46nM altitude of the CM: Audio
    21:35:00 - 17:35:00 - 14:35:00  Docking of LM to CM Audio

    A famous picture by Collins captures the four players: Earth, Moon, LM, and CM window edge.
    - GMT -      EST      -    PST -        EVENT
    23:41:31 - 19:41:31 - 14:41:31     LM ascent stage ejection

    July 22 (GMT) Transearth Injection
    - GMT -      EST      -    PST -        EVENT
    04:55:42 - 12:55:42 - 09:55:42(21st)   Transearth injection burn
    04:55:42 - 12:55:42 - 09:55:42(21st) Audio after completing TEI

    July 23 (GMT) En Route to Earth
    - GMT -      EST      -         PST -              EVENT
    01:08:00 - 19:08:00(21st) - 16:00:00(21st) TV: rocks food eating
    02:00:00 - 20:00:00(21st) - 17:00:00(21st)   1/3 way back to Earth
    20:00:00 - 16:00:00 - 13:00:00   Will be 1/2 way back to Earth.

    July 24 (GMT) Entry and Splashdown
    - GMT    -     EST     -     PST      -      EVENT Scheduled
    16:21:05 -  12:21:05 -  09:21:05  -     CM/SM separation
    16:35:05 -  12:35:05 -  09:35:05  -     Entry begins
    16:44:06 -  12:44:06 -  09:44:06  -     Drogue shoot deploys
    16:50:35 -  12:50:35 -  09:50:35  -     Splashdown Coverage 1969 CBS News

    The Apollo 11 Landing Site from Dawn to Dusk
    Taken by NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter


    Information Sources I have used for this article.

    Canadian software engineer Ben Feist produced such excellent hobby websites for other NASA missions, he was invited by NASA to come on board and help them recover over 11,000 hours of old audio data that NASA had saved from recording tape. They were in digital form now but sounded like old stretched and contracted, uneven, playback sounds and impossible to match up to specific timepoints. Ben found a background tone pattern from recording noise that was consistent in timing and wrote software to track that mark in the audio and comb through all 11,000 hours to fix the audio. His website is here: Apollo 11 in Real-Time. You can literally watch and listen and read about the entire mission in real-time on your own computer!
    Watch this CBC story on this NASA historical preparation for Apollo 11 and Ben Feist's cool NASA job: "Eureka! Canadian Helps Restore Audio from Apollo11 Mission Control"

    While I have settled into human genetics and developing a new drug to treat retinal vascular diseases in Humans, there was a time in high school when I was really aiming for aviation. I got my wings in the Royal Canadian Air Cadets and was a licensed pilot by age 17 for gliders and single-engine aircraft. I waited until I was 21 to get a car license. While a Ph.D. student, I volunteered and became a SAR navigator, SAR navigation instructor and learned how SAR Satellites and electronic locator transmitters (ELTs) were used to find missing planes, ships, and even lost persons. NASA got me interested in computers, and I have always had basic training in programming and using UNIX/OS-X command-lines. Aviation, SAR, and my career as a biochemist were all made possible by microchips and computer programs. Today it is bioinformatics analysis to help us sequence a patient's DNA to find the cause of conditions that threaten their vision starting in childhood. All of this technology mostly came from programs like Apollo. For the first 15 years of the memory chip industry, NASA and the Departments of Defence and Energy were responsible for buying most of those chips. Otherwise, those companies would not have survived their first 15 years until memory chips were in demand for commercial products. 

    It is fair to guess that any scientist and engineer who is 55 and over will say that Apollo brought their curiosity to science and engineering. Even field biologists, because the Earth is our fish tank, and Americans seeing the fragile Earth from afar understood just how important it is for us to take care of our air, water, and lands. Literally, for our very survival. So here we go, it is Apollo 11 time, back to the future, 1969. 

    A second log I use is found at NASA's website and was the loving effort of Eric M. Jones: The Apollo 11 Lunar Surface Journal. You can read about Eric's inspiration here: Who is Eric Jones?

    We all need to thank John Stoll, ACR Senior Technician at NASA Johnson, who provided audio clips for Eric to organize. 

    Ken Mitton
    Editor, The Science Rant

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