Apollo Expeditions to the Moon



The team also developed the techniques for flying the spacecraft and controlling its trajectory. It had the primary responsibility for developing the programs or logic used in the computers onboard the lunar module and the command and service module as well as those in the Control Center. Except for rendezvous maneuvers, the Control Center was the only source of maneuver targeting; that is, determining the exact magnitude, direction, and the time for executing each flight maneuver. Bill Tindall, a truly outstanding engineer, contributed significantly to this effort. Operations were planned in detail before a flight. Plans were based both on everything working properly and on the "what if" situations that might occur. The "what if" situations could not be carried to the point of actually reducing reliability by introducing confusion or complexity into the system. This was quite often a fine line to walk. Techniques also had to be developed for monitoring all essential systems during critical mission phases. The procedures, the techniques, the personnel, and an organization all had to be defined and developed, a task of no small magnitude. Each landing demonstrated how well the task was performed. Apollo 12 was a classic example, with an incredible pinpoint landing some 600 feet from the Surveyor spacecraft that had previously landed on the Ocean of Storms.

To conduct operations for the flights, four complete flight-control teams were organized and used for all Apollo missions. Each team was headed by a flight director; Gene Kranz, Cliff Charlesworth, Glynn Lunney, Gerry Griffin, Pete Frank, Milt Windler, Neil Hutchinson, Phil Shaffer, and Chuck Lewis were all assigned this responsibility during various phases of the program. To simplify the overall training program, each team was assigned different events or activities. The individuals on each team could thus devote their full attention and energy to developing proficiency in accomplishing a few things, as opposed to having to cover an impossible spectrum.

A photo of Apollo 15 astronauts,Irwin and Scott, standing at the rim of the Rio Grande gorge
Standing at the rim of the Rio Grande gorge near Taos, N. Mex., Apollo 15 astronauts Jim Irwin and Dave Scott see a landscape remarkably like the one they visited at the Hadley Rille landing site on the Moon. Each Astronaut team participated in a series of geology field trips to acquaint them with the kinds of field observation that would be most useful to lunar scientists, the types of rock specimen they should particularly try to sample, and the special problems in working with their equipment on the general terrain they would encounter.

The team was responsible for developing the mission plans to demonstrate the capability of the spacecraft, the systems, and the team to land a crew on the Moon. A series of unmanned developmental flights was planned with well defined objectives to be demonstrated on each flight. Apollo 7, the first manned flight, occurred in October 1968, and the first flight to the Moon, Apollo 8, occurred two months later. Even while Apollo 7 was flying, the Operations Team was performing simulations and training for the Apollo 8 mission. As Apollo 8 was flying, training and simulations were being conducted for Apollo 9, the first Earth-orbital flight of the LM and CSM in March 1969. The next step, Apollo 10 - a dress rehearsal for the first landing - was taken in May 1969. On this flight, on the far side of the Moon, a fuel cell was lost and taken off line. The team had trained for this contingency and reacted accordingly.

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