Day 1: Launch and Ascent to Earth Orbit
Corrected Transcript and Commentary Copyright © 2002-2011 by W. David Woods and Frank O'Brien. All rights reserved.
Last updated 2018-03-27
KSC-68PC-148 - This image was taken from the roof of the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) looking down on AS-503 and the tower soon after it exited through one of the structure's massive doors.
KSC-68PC-147 - Taken from the same vantage point after the huge assemblage had progressed down the crawlerway.
KSC-68P-614 - The Apollo 8 crew head from the suiting-up room to catch a van that will take them to Pad A.
KSC-68PC-338 - Taken in the White Room next to the spacecraft. Bill Anders gets a hug from a member of the pad team before entering the Command Module. In the background and to the left can be seen the open outer hatch that is part of the Boost Protective Cover.
Diagram of the Apollo Command Module Main Display Console, panels 1, 2 and 3 and ancillary panels (from SA-510 Flight Manual)
This is Apollo Saturn Launch Control, T minus 1 hour, 30 minutes and counting. The Boost Protective Cover [BPC] was just placed atop the hatch on the Apollo 8 spacecraft just several minutes ago, and the crew in the White Room are now securing the White Room area. They've been alerted by the Spacecraft Test Conductor to secure the area in preparation for their departure. Once the crew does depart at a designated time the swing arm that is now attached to the spacecraft with the White Room at its tip will be moved some 3 feet, actually 12 degrees, from the spacecraft and it will remain in that standby position until the T minus 5-minute [point] in the countdown when the swing arm is retracted fully to the side of the umbilical tower at the pad. The purpose here is to have the White Room standing close by. In the event an emergency condition developed which would require the astronauts to depart the spacecraft, we could bring the White Room in just from 3 feet away. It is fully retracted at the 5-minute mark in the countdown. The astronauts aboard the spacecraft [are] now participating in this test of the stabilization and control system of the Apollo 8 spacecraft. As they move their hand controllers, which would provide maneuvers in space, we're checking the performance here on the ground. All aspects of the mission still are Go, weather is satisfactory, the various tracking elements all Go at this time. T minus 1 hour, 28 minutes, 20 seconds and counting, this is Launch Control.
This is Apollo Saturn Launch Control at T minus 1 hour, 21 minutes, 7 seconds and counting, our countdown continuing and still aiming toward the planned lift-off time at 7:51 am Eastern Standard Time. In fact, it's been going very well and some functions are actually ahead of the countdown procedures at this time. The prime crew for the Apollo 8 mission, astronauts Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and Bill Anders are aboard the spacecraft, the hatch has been closed, and the boost protective cover has been emplaced. The close-out crew at the 320-foot level at the pad above the launch base are now securing the White Room that's attached to the spacecraft. The White Room will later be removed in the countdown. Our countdown still going satisfactorily. At this point, Spacecraft Test Conductor Dick Proffitt, participating with the astronauts in some checks of the stabilization and control system of the spacecraft itself, During this test, the astronauts actually maneuver the hand controllers aboard the spacecraft. The hand controllers are used to maneuver the spacecraft in flight. This is Launch Control.
This is Apollo Saturn Launch Control at T minus 1 hour, 14 minutes and counting. The closeout crew at the 320-foot level - the spacecraft level at the launch pad now has departed from the White Room and countdown is still proceeding satisfactorily at this time. In progress here in the firing room are some major tracking checks in progress at this time. These are checks working with the Air Force Eastern Test Range checking out the tracking beacons and the instrument unit of the Saturn V launch vehicle. The crew here in the firing room are also performing some telemetry checks at this time and calibrations to ensure that the read-outs that we get from the launch vehicle in flight will actually be correct ones. Our countdown has been going very satisfactorily. Now at 1 hour, 13 minutes, 6 seconds and counting on the Apollo 8 mission. Still aiming for the planned lift-off at 7:51 am Eastern Standard Time on a flight direction of 72 degrees. This is Launch Control.
This is Apollo Saturn Launch Control. Our countdown for the Apollo 8 mission is proceeding satisfactorily at this time. At T minus 1 hour, 4 minutes, 52 seconds and counting. Just a matter of minutes ago the spacecraft commander Frank Borman asked spacecraft test conductor Dick Proffitt 'How's the weather out there?' and Proffitt reported that the weather looks real clear at this time. Our countdown is still proceeding satisfactorily. About 10 minutes from this time we expect we will pull back the swing arm that is still attached to the Apollo 8 spacecraft at this time. This is swing arm 9 and it's the top swing arm at the pad at this time at the 320-foot level, the White Room is attached to the tip of this swing arm. When the arm is pulled back it will first be taken back to a standby position some 3 feet from the spacecraft, actually 12 degrees from the spacecraft. The arm will be fully retracted at the T minus 5-minute mark in the count. In fact while we were making this announcement the spacecraft test conductor just advised Frank Borman that the arm, in fact, would come back about 10 minutes early in the count which would be at about the 55 minute mark. Check-outs of the various tracking systems in the Saturn V launch vehicle are continuing and coming up shortly will also be some command checks from the Mission Control Center in Houston. This is the system by which Mission Control Center, Houston can send real time commands to the launch vehicle during the powered phase of flight. We check out the systems to be sure that the signals can get through. We are now at T minus 1 hour, 3 minutes, 16 seconds and counting, still aiming toward our planned lift-off time at 7:51 a.m. Eastern Standard Time. This is Launch Control.
This is Apollo Saturn Launch Control, T-61 minutes and counting. Our countdown so far is proceeding satisfactorily. The Spacecraft Test Conductor has just been advised that area at Pad A is now cleared and we will be pulling back the spacecraft swing arm to its parked position about 5 minutes from this time. Tracking and telemetry checks still in progress in the Firing Room, and all is going well with the Apollo 8 countdown at this time, still aiming for our planned lift-off at 7:51 a.m. Eastern Standard Time on a flight azimuth, or direction, of 72 degrees. This is Launch Control.
This is Apollo Saturn Launch Control at T minus 56 minutes, 23 seconds and counting. The spacecraft swing arm, arm number 9, now has been retracted from the Apollo 8 spacecraft. It is being placed in its standby, or park, position and will be located some 3 to 5 feet away from the spacecraft hatch. Once this is accomplished, within a matter of minutes, we will arm the 155 [thousand] pound thrust Launch Escape Tower atop the Command Module. The swing arm has now been pulled to its standby position. It will be fully retracted at T minus 5 minutes in the count. The purpose, of course, is to have the White Room nearby in the event an emergency condition did occur that could require the astronauts to depart from the spacecraft. Once the arm is retracted, the escape tower is armed, in case of a catastrophic condition where an abort could be advised. Our countdown still proceeding satisfactorily at T minus 55 minutes, 18 seconds and counting. This is Launch Control.
This is Apollo Saturn Launch Control at T minus 48 minutes and counting, T minus 48 and we have Go for the Apollo 8 countdown at this time. The crew on the spacecraft still performing some final checks. Astronaut Frank Borman, the spacecraft commander, just a few minutes ago gave a weather report of his own when he reported that the three-man crew could barely see what looked like some pink clouds out the window, Borman had earlier asked for the weather report from spacecraft test conductor Proffitt. Meanwhile here in the firing room at the Launch Control Center some three and one half miles from the launch pad, the countdown is still progressing satisfactorily here and the crew gearing up for some final checks of the range safety command destruct system. These are the destruct elements aboard the various stages of the vehicle that would destroy the vehicle in flight if required, if vehicle went off its trajectory. Of course the astronauts would be aborted from the vehicle if such an event did occur. During this period working with the Air Force Eastern Test Range tracking elements we do check out the command safety receivers to insure if such a condition were required the abort system and the destruct system would actually be able to receive the signals and accomplish the job. The countdown is still proceeding, we still aiming toward 7:51 am Eastern Standard Time. This is Launch Control.
This is Apollo/Saturn Launch Control at T minus 39 minutes and counting, T minus 39, and we are Go for our countdown for the Apollo 8 mission to the Moon at this time. Just in progress, as this announcement came up, was another key milestone in our countdown preparations, the power transfer test. This is where we go from external power to the flight batteries aboard the Saturn V launch vehicle to assure that they are all working properly. Then in order to conserve these batteries we return again to external power. The final switch to internal power on the batteries occurs about the 50-second [mark] in the count. There are some 14 batteries in the Saturn V. The Apollo 8 crew of astronauts Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and Bill Anders standing by in the spacecraft as this test is in progress. T minus 38 minutes, 6 seconds and counting, this is Launch Control."
This is Apollo Saturn Launch Control at T minus 31 minutes and counting, T minus 30 and our countdown proceeding satisfactorily, still aiming our planned lift-off time of 7:51 a.m. Eastern Standard Time. The Apollo 8 crew, astronauts Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and Bill Anders standing by in their spacecraft, 320 feet above the launcher base at Pad A, Complex 39 here at the Kennedy Space Center. The astronauts are standing by for another major function that will be coming up shortly and that is pressurization of the propellant for the engines they will use in space. These are thrusters, so-called quad thrusters - there are 16 of them, located on the Service Module portion of the spacecraft. These are the thrusters that enable them to maneuver in space. We appear to have had a successful power transfer test with the launch vehicle, in which we went to internal power on the flight batteries, but then we returned to external power in order to conserve those batteries. Just a moment ago, astronaut Frank Borman asked his Spacecraft Test Conductor how the launch vehicle was doing and the report that came back was the launch vehicle is doing fine. The overall countdown doing fine at this time. We are Go for weather, all the tracking elements ready, as well as the launch vehicle and spacecraft, here at Pad 39. This is Launch Control.
This is Apollo Saturn Launch Control at T minus 26 minutes and counting. We are proceeding at this time. In progress at this time, we are pressurizing the propellant for the spacecraft engine systems that would be used in a space environment. Astronaut Jim Lovell, the man who sits in the middle seat and who is the Command Module Pilot, is reporting back to spacecraft test conductor Dick Proffitt on the status of the propellants. We pressurize these propellants with helium.
The countdown has been going very well since it was picked up at 10:51 pm Eastern Standard Time last night. Shortly before we resumed the count, the 9.8-million-pound [4,450-tonne] Mobile Service Structure was moved to its park position some 7,000 feet [2,100 metres] from the pad. About an hour later we began the propellant loading of the Saturn V launch vehicle. In some 4 and a half hours we loaded close to a million gallons [over 3½ million litres] total of liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen aboard the 3 stages of the Saturn V. We now have a vehicle standing 360 feet, 363 feet [110.6 metres] that is, and weighing 6.2 million pounds [2,800 tonnes] on the launch pad here at the Kennedy Space Center. We are continuing a top off [of] the liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen supplies because they must be maintained under extremely cold temperatures. They will continue to boil off and we will continue to replenish the supply down to the final minutes of the count.
S68-55415 - The MSS being pulled back from the Apollo 8 spacecraft
Astronauts Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and Bill Anders were awakened in their crew quarters this morning at 2.36 am Eastern Standard Time. They went down the hall from the crew quarters here at the Kennedy Space Center and took a physical examination, a brief launch day examination, and were declared physically fit by the 3 examining physicians, Dr. Allen Harter, Dr. Jerry Joiner, and Dr. Jack Teegan. The astronauts then sat down to breakfast. They had a menu of filet mignon, scrambled eggs, toast, coffee, and tea. Guests at the breakfast included George Low, Director, Apollo Program Director at the Manned Spacecraft Center; Donald K. Slayton who is Director of Flight Crew Operations at the Manned Spacecraft Center; two of the backup pilots for the Apollo 8 mission, Astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin. Astronaut Jack Schmitt also attended the breakfast. Following the breakfast, the astronauts went to the suit room where they donned their space suits.
The crew departed from the crew quarters at 4:32 am this morning, and began to board the spacecraft starting at 4:58 am at the 320-foot level. First over the sill was the commander, Astronaut Frank Borman. He was followed by the Lunar Module Pilot, Astronaut Bill Anders at 5:02 am, and finally the man who sits in the middle seat, Jim Lovell, came aboard at 5:07 am. The hatch on the Apollo 8 spacecraft was closed at 5:34 am. Since that time, our countdown has been progressing very satisfactorily. We are still Go for launch attempt at 7:51 am Eastern Standard Time. This is Launch Control.
This is Apollo Saturn Launch Control at T minus 21 minutes and counting and we are Go for the Apollo 8 mission at this time. We really have a beautiful morning for the flight to the Moon. The weather conditions are very satisfactory for a launch attempt. Surface winds in the area are from the north-west at 7 knots, the temperature is about 60 degrees. We appear to have some scattered clouds from 10 to 12,000 feet high. All aspects of the mission are Go at this time. Weather is also satisfactory in around-the-world tracks where the contingency areas will be located. Weather is satisfactory in both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. We are still aiming toward a planned lift-off time of 7:51 a.m. Eastern Standard Time. Coming up shortly will be a transfer to full internal power aboard the Apollo 8 spacecraft. This is going full on the fuel cells and removing an external power that had been sharing a load earlier. This is Launch Control.
This is Apollo Saturn Launch Control at T minus 16 minutes and counting. The Apollo 8 space vehicle is Go for our planned lift-off at this time. We have just completed our transfer to full internal power with the fuel cells for the Apollo 8 spacecraft. This was confirmed by spacecraft commander Frank Borman.
Final checks from the flight azimuth going on at this time and we're also synchronizing the clocks in the spacecraft with the Mission Control Center in Houston. Following are some of the highlights that will be coming up with the final phases of the count. We'll have a final status check at about 5 minutes and 30 seconds, and at the 5-minute mark the Apollo access arm, the top arm will be fully retracted to its fall back position. The countdown sequencer will be armed at 4 minutes and 30 seconds and we'll get a clearance for launch from the range at the 4 minutes mark in the count. The key event will come at 3 minutes and 6 seconds. It's identified in the procedures as the firing command and it's the start of an automatic sequence. It starts at 3 minutes, 6 seconds and leads up to the ignition of the five engines in the first stage of the Saturn V. Those engines, the sequence, the engine ignition, will start at 8.9 seconds. As we build up the thrust, we should get a commit that we have satisfactory thrust coming out of all five engines as it builds up a thrust level close to seven and a half million pounds of thrust required for this rocket. We should get a lift-off at zero. We are now T minus 14 minutes, 22 seconds and counting. All aspects of the mission [are] Go at this time. This is Launch Control.
s68-55416 - The Saturn V rocket for Apollo 8, probably taken in the evening twilight.
This is Apollo Saturn Launch Control at T minus 11 minutes and counting; T minus 11 and that count is still Go at this time. Coming up shortly, about 5 minutes from this time actually, we will retract [the White Room] to its full fallback position - the spacecraft access arm, which is at the 320-foot level at the spacecraft. The astronauts, astronauts Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and Bill Anders, going through some final communications checks with the crew here in the Control Center. These are checks of the VHF communication, the very high frequency communications that will be used at the lift-off. We want assure ourselves that they will be operating satisfactorily. Also coming up, the astronaut crew will be busy on some final checks of astrocomm circuit. This is a special circuit in which abort recommendations could be given to the astronauts if the indications were received as such here in the Control Center some 3½ miles from the launch pad. Also, Mission Control Center in Houston can send the same recommendation. We have now passed the 10-minute mark in our countdown. We are 9 minutes, 51 seconds and counting. All aspects of the mission [are] Go at this time. Still aiming for a launch time of 7:51 am Eastern Standard Time on a flight azimuth of 72 degrees. The flight azimuth has been verified in the instrument unit, the guidance system for the launch vehicle and we have also had an update to assure that we had the correct flight azimuth in the spacecraft. This has been confirmed by the crew and we are proceeding. T minus 9 minutes, 21 seconds and counting, this is Launch Control.
This is Apollo Saturn Launch Control T minus 7 minutes, 30 seconds and counting. Still aiming toward our planned lift-off time. The Spacecraft Test Conductor Dick Proffitt has just to complete a status check of all elements concerning the spacecraft operations. All reported Go and there were three particularly strong and loud Go's from the three astronauts in the spacecraft 320 feet above the base of the launcher at Complex 39. Jim Lovell reported just a few minutes ago that he could see a blue sky and it looked like the Sun is out. The Spacecraft Test Conductor reported that it's a very fine day. We are at T minus 6 minutes, 50 seconds and counting and we are proceeding at this time. This is Launch Control.
This is Apollo Saturn Launch Control at 5 minutes, 30 seconds and our count is still Go at this time. We just completed further status checks here in the Firing Room at the Control Center. Here in the Control Center, we have had our status checks and the range has given a Go as has the Launch Director Rocco Petrone. We are still counting and are Go coming up on the 5-minute mark in the count. Mark. T minus 5 minutes and counting, T minus 5. At this point, the Apollo access arm should be coming back and it is now moving back at the 320-foot level to its fully retracted position high atop the tower at Pad A. Our countdown still proceeding at this time. At the 4-minute mark in the countdown, the overall count will be turned over the Launch Vehicle Test Conductor, Ray Roberts. The Launch Vehicle Test Conductor, will conduct the final 4 minutes as all different aspects move over to the Launch Vehicle Test Conductor's channel. The automatic sequence, as reported, will come in at the 3-minute and 6-second mark in the countdown. We are standing by at 4 minutes, 16 seconds in counting. This is Launch Control. This is Launch Control coming up on 3 minutes and 30 seconds and counting. Mark. T minus 3 minutes and 30 seconds and counting. We have completed our communications checks with the Apollo 8 astronauts in the cabin and the communications are Go. Coming up shortly we'll be in the automatic sequence, where we have a completely automatic checkout of the launch vehicle from 3 minutes and 6 seconds down. We have firing command. The firing command is in, we are now in the automatic sequence. T minus 3 minutes and counting. During this period, Once we do get the firing command, the various tanks within the three stages or the Saturn V launch vehicle begin to pressurize. They must all be under pressure before ready to launch. We have a sequence status report here in the Control Room. It will give us read-outs on the overall status of the space vehicle as we reach the terminal phases in the countdown. Now 2 minutes and 32 seconds and counting. Our status report indicates that all aspects are ready. The Instrument Unit is ready, the spacecraft is ready - is ready. A final check of the Emergency Detection System, that ready light also on. First stage preparations are completed.
Two minutes, 15 seconds and counting, the tanks continuing to pressurize in the vehicle. Not as many reports coming now as we all stand by in the Launch Vehicle Test Conductor's channel. Coming up on the 2-minute mark in the Apollo 8 mission, Two minutes and counting. T minus 2 minutes and counting, we are still proceeding. We now have recorded that the first stage liquid oxygen tank has been pressurized and the pressure still building up. One minute, 45 seconds and counting, we have a vehicle weighing 6.2 million pounds on the pad. Interesting enough, some 1,200 pounds of that weight is just frost on the side of the vehicle created by the extremely low temperatures of the propellant. Coming up on 90 seconds. Mark. T minus 90 seconds and counting. The Apollo 8 crew standing by, spacecraft commander Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and Bill Anders. We now have a report that the liquid hydrogen tank in the first stage [probably means third stage] is pressurized.
One minute, 15 seconds, all third stage propellants pressurized at this time as we come up on the 60-second mark on a flight to the Moon. T minus 60 seconds and counting, the vehicle is now completely pressurized. We are coming up on power transfer shortly. T minus 50 seconds and counting. We have the power transfer and are now on the flight batteries within the launch vehicle. Forty-five seconds, final reports coming from Frank Borman at this time, a final look at the switch list aboard the spacecraft.
35 seconds and counting. We'll lead up to an ignition sequence start at 8.9 seconds, which will lead up as we build up the thrust to a lift-off, if all goes well, at zero. We just passed the 25 second mark in the count, 20 seconds, all aspects we are still Go at this time.
T minus 15, 14, 13, 12, 11, 10, 9, and we have ignition sequence start.
Diagram of an F-1 engine.
The engines are armed. 4.
Diagram showing how the thrust built up in each engine.
2, 1, 0.
KSC-71PC-543 - The vehicle on the pad as the engines build up to their full thrust. Note that the image of the crescent Moon has been artificially added to this photograph.
This photograph shows the panel of launch vehicle indicator lights as seen in the Apollo 13 Command Module Odyssey.
Below the launch vehicle indicator lights is the lift-off light which is embedded top-left in a cluster of critical switches (with safety covers) that are used to override the automatic abort sequences.
We have commit."
we have lift-off, lift-off at 7:51 a.m. Eastern Standard Time.
000:00:01 Borman: Lift off. The clock is running.
000:00:04 Collins: Roger. Clock. [Pause.]
KSC-68PC-327 - The rising Apollo 8 vehicle as seen from the southeast
S68-56002 - A view from the west some seconds later. A yaw motion is discernible by the leaning of the stack away from the tower. The vehicle is programmed to fly this 1.25° yaw maneuver, beginning one second into the flight, in case a gust of wind comes up that might tend to push the vehicle into the umbilical tower, or an access arm fails to properly retract.
We have cleared the tower. Tower clear at 13 seconds.
000:00:14 Borman: Roll and pitch program.
000:00:16 Collins: Roger.
000:00:18 Borman: How do you hear me, Houston?
000:00:19 Collins: Loud and clear. [Long pause.]
20 seconds now we get a loud and clear from Frank Borman.
32 seconds, Booster says the S-IC, the first stage, looks good.
000:00:42 Collins: Mark. Mode I Bravo, Apollo 8.
000:00:44 Borman: Mode IB. [Pause.]
The crew confirms their progress at 50 seconds into the flight.
000:00:58 Collins: Apollo 8, you're looking good.
000:01:01 Borman: Roger. [Long pause.]
One minute out and Mike Collins tells the crew, 'We're looking good.' One minute, 15 seconds, and we're a little more than half a mile into the sky and about - nearly 4 miles downrange.
This graph, redrawn from the AS-503 Flight Evaluation Report, illustrates the changes in the vehicle's Mach number, and the dynamic pressure the vehicle experiences as it rises through the appreciable atmosphere.
One minute, 40 seconds, all looks great. A mile and 6/10ths into the mission and Frank Borman has confirmed each event as it's been passed to him by Mike Collins at this point.
000:01:52 Collins: Mark. Mode 1 Charlie, Apollo 8.
000:01:54 Borman: Mode 1C. [Pause.]
000:02:07 Collins: Apollo 8, Houston. You are Go for staging. Over.
000:02:10 Borman: Roger. [Long pause.]
The crew has been given a Go for staging. Inboard [engine is] out on time, Frank Borman says. The inboard engines. 2 minutes, 25 seconds. We see an S-IC, the first stage cut-off.
Layout of launch vehicle lights
Staging. [Long pause.]
S-II has ignited, we can confirm, and the thrust looks good, all engines, all sources show the second stage is burning perfectly. 2 minutes, 51 seconds into the mission.
Diagram of an J-2 engine.
000:03:05 Borman: [Garble] second plane Sep.
000:03:08 Collins: Roger. Understand; Sep.
Roger. [Long pause.]
And at 3 minutes into the flight, the Range Safety console has been released at the Cape. 3 minutes into the flight, we are 50 [nautical] miles [93 km] high and about 10 miles [means 100 nautical miles (185 km)] down range.
3 minutes, 25 seconds, we have verified that the tower has jettisoned. The crew has verified the tower has jettisoned.
000:03:31 Borman: Houston, how do you read? Apollo 8.
000:03:34 Collins: We hear you loud and clear, Apollo 8.
000:03:35 Borman: Okay. The first stage was very smooth, and this one is smoother.
000:03:40 Collins: Understand; smooth and smoother. Looks good here.
Frank Borman says staging was smooth and the ride now is even smoother.
000:03:47 Collins: Apollo 8, Houston. Your trajectory and guidance are Go. Over.
000:03:51 Borman: Thank you, Houston. Apollo 8.
Coming up on 4 minutes into the flight and the communications thus far have been excellent. It's been a little sparse but it's been quite sharp and clear. 70 [nautical] miles [130 km] altitude and about 20 miles or more downrange. Correction, let's make that 200 [nautical] miles [370 km] downrange. Flight Director Cliff Charlesworth gets an enthusiastic Go from both Trajectory and Booster at 4 minutes, 50 seconds into the flight.
000:04:58 Collins: Apollo 8, Houston. Your trajectory and guidance are Go. Over.
Mark. 5 minutes and the crew is advised their trajectory and guidance are looking good.
000:05:02 Borman: Thank you, Michael.
000:05:04 Collins: Yes, you're looking real good, Frank.
000:05:05 Borman: Very good. [Long pause.]
And Frank Borman came back with a very chatty, 'Thank you, Michael.' He's talking to Michael Collins, who would be in the center seat today except for an operation several months ago. 5 minutes, 20 seconds into the flight. 300 [nautical] miles [556 km] downrange. We're nearly nearing 100 [nautical] miles [185 km] altitude, and everything looks just grand.
000:05:59 Collins: Apollo 8, Houston. Trajectory and guidance are Go.
000:06:02 Borman: Roger. Apollo 8. Go.
000:06:05 Collins: Mark.
000:06:06 Collins: You have S-IVB to orbit capability. Over.
000:06:09 Borman: Roger. Thank you. S-IVB to orbit. [Long pause.]
And Collins gives the crew another Go on trajectory and guidance, which at this point are the most critical elements. At 6 minutes, 10 seconds into the flight, our downrange distance now 400 [nautical] miles [740 km]. Our velocity in feet per second, nearly 15,000 feet per second [4,600 m/s]. We've achieved nearly 60 percent of the velocity required to make orbit. 57 percent right now, and we're 96.5 [nautical] miles [178.7 km] above the Earth. The SURGEON reports he likes everything he sees.
000:07:01 Collins: Apollo 8, Houston. Your trajectory and guidance are Go. Over.
000:07:05 Lovell: Apollo 8's Go.
000:07:09 Anders: Onboard chart confirmed.
000:07:10 Collins: Roger. Understand. [Long pause.]
Seven minutes into the flight, and we're nearing the second stage - nearing the point where we will drop off the second stage and light the third stage. That event is to come at about 8 minutes and 40 odd seconds into the flight, We have now achieved 70 percent of the velocity required to obtain orbit. Our present velocity is 18,600 feet per second [ m/s], and we're 100 [nautical] miles [185 km] above the Earth, 100 even. 625 [nautical] miles [1,158 km] downrange.
000:07:31 Lovell: Just tried to PU shift, I believe.
000:07:37 Collins: Roger. That's the correct time for it.
000:07:41 Lovell: Roger. [Long pause.]
Coming up on 8 minutes. Mark. 8 minutes. 20,400 feet per second [6,218 m/s], 101.7 [nautical] miles [188.3 km] above the Earth, 734 [nautical] miles [1,359 km] down range.
000:08:03 Collins: Apollo 8, Houston. Your trajectory and guidance are Go.
000:08:06 Borman: Roger. We're picking up a slight pogo at this point.
000:08:11 Collins: Understand; slight pogo. Thank you. [Long pause.]
000:08:30 Collins: Apollo 8, Houston. You have level sense time. Over.
000:08:32 Borman: Roger. Level sense, On.
000:08:35 Borman: The pogo's damping out.
000:08:37 Collins: Understand; pogo damping out.
000:08:42 Collins: Apollo 8, Houston. You look good for staging.
000:08:45 Borman: Staging?
And the crew is advised they look good for staging, and Borman says, 'Same here.' We've got S-II cut-off.
S-IVB ignition. [Pause.]
We've got S-IVB ignition. Borman confirmed S-IVB ignition.
000:08:59 Borman: Guidance Initiate. [Pause.]
And thrust looks good to us at 9 minutes into the flight.
000:09:06 Borman: Hey, Houston. How do you read? Apollo 8.
000:09:07 Collins: Apollo 8, reading you loud and clear.
000:09:09 Borman: Okay. We got Guidance Initiate.
000:09:12 Collins: Roger. Understand.
000:09:14 Collins: Trajectory and guidance are Go, Apollo 8.
000:09:17 Borman: Thank you. [Long pause.]
We now have 89 percent of the velocity required, we're 920 [nautical] miles [1,704 km] downrange, and we're 9 minutes, 20 seconds into the flight. Flight Dynamics Officer [FIDO] says our altitude is nominal, which is the great conservative word for very nearly a perfect mission - as nearly as we can observe at this point.
000:09:49 Collins: Mark. Mode IV, Apollo 8.
000:09:52 Borman: Mode IV. Roger.
Nine minutes, 50 seconds and we've just gone to what we call Mode IV. If any trouble should develop now we would go ahead and burn into orbit with our Service Propulsion engine.
000:09:57 Collins: Apollo 8, Houston. Your predicted cut-off, 11 plus 28. Over.
000:10:03 Borman: Understand; 11:28.
000:10:06 Collins: Roger. [Long pause.]
We're now at 10 minutes, 10 seconds. We are at 103.7 nautical miles [192.1 km] above the Earth. Our velocity is at an even 24,000 feet per second [7,315 m/s], which is very, very close to orbital velocity, that's 95 percent of it and we're 1,200 [nautical] miles [2,222 km] downrange, which would put us a little bit out of Bermuda.
000:10:44 Anders: How do you read, Houston?
000:10:46 Collins: Reading you loud and clear.
000:10:49 Collins: Go ahead, Apollo 8.
000:10:50 Collins: Apollo 8, this is Houston. Over.
000:10:54 Borman: Loud and clear, Houston. Loud and clear, Apollo 8.
000:10:57 Collins: Roger. You're looking good, Apollo 8. [Long pause.]
Ten minutes and 50 seconds and we've heard from Bill Anders for the first time, he simply said, 'How do you read, Houston?' He gets a 'looking good' comment from Mike Collins.
000:11:16 Lovell: HP is coming up...
000:11:21 Lovell: HP is plus... [Pause.]
Eleven minutes, 20 seconds and we're hearing a little something from Jim Lovell, a reading from one of his meter gauges.
000:11:30 Borman: ...and we have SECO (S-IVB Engine Cut-Off).
000:11:33 Collins: Roger. SECO. [Long pause.]
We have SECO says Frank Borman. SECO, and I would call it 11 minutes, 30 seconds - that will be an estimate - 11 minutes, 30 seconds. Our launch digital data shows our velocity now, 25,577 feet per second [7,796 m/s].
This diagram shows the profile of the planned ascent in a graph derived from the AS-503 Saturn V Flight Manual. The vertical axis is exaggerated by a factor of ten with respect to the horizontal axis. The major events (with actual times) are included.
This diagram is derived from the AS-503 Saturn V Flight Evaluation Report. It shows the g-forces experienced by the crew throughout the ascent.
000:11:58 Collins: Apollo 8, Houston. You are Go. Over.
000:12:01 Borman: Apollo 8 is Go. Thank you, Houston. [Pause.]
The data now has been reduced and we show an altitude of 102.5 [nautical miles, 189.8 km], and the crew has been given a Go for all but they responded enthusiastically that they too, in fact, were Go.