Sunday, February 8, 2015

Postcards from Apollo 15


July 1970        Apollo 15
  • the first J series mission
  • first to use the lunar rover
  • provided a wealth of knowledge
  • broadcast on live television by a camera controlled from the Earth
If it wasn't cool enough to fly to and land on the moon, the lunar rover brought an amazing new dimension in not just transport, but by the "satcom" television broadcast, providing a perspective hereto not obtained.  






The glass had broken on this moving tape indicator, leaving the crew to try and find all the shards.

Landing site near Hadley Rille


The descent stage landed on a slope. Oops


They drove over 17 miles on the rover. 

The front steering did not work the first day, but was fine the next two days. 

The TV camera was controlled from the Earth, offering an independent perspective, which led to some helpful observations. 

The camera motor controls had some failings, but it was able to limp along.

My Father-in-law's good friend Claire Adriance was a manager on the rover project and I had a chance to listen to his recollections about its development. No specific stories linger, but it was a fun project working with the astronauts. Claire died a few years ago, sadly that generation is slipping away.


The genesis rock. 

A piece of original lunar crust. 

The drilling projects were very hard on the astronauts. Their gloves pushed on their fingernails, effectively ripping them loose. 

One hole took two days to drill.

Yes, astronauts trip and fall. 

Thankfully nothing broken.
The ride was bouncy, but the view was out of this world!

Lunar exploration! 

That's the shadow of the LM Falcon in the foreground

First stamp canceled off Earth. 

There was a controversy when it was revealed the astronauts carried stamps to sell when they returned.

The famous test to see if a hammer and a feather fall at the same rate in a vacuum. 

Galileo postulated this point. 

The TV image is poor. 

It is a falcon feather in honor of the LM.

Yup, they fell side by side

Artist rendition

The astronauts left a memorial to fallen astronauts and cosmonauts. 

The plaque listed the names, but mistakenly left out two Russians. 

The memorial was a secret until they returned.

They left a doll to represent the fallen space men. 

This proved to be further an issue when the artist started to sell copies.

Plot of the three days of lunar roving

The rover was parked not far from the LM so the TV camera could broadcast the ascent. 

Return to the cool green hills of Earth.

Liftoff of the ascent stage

Falcon is coming home!

The lunar base

Shadow of the ascent stage

Falcon docking approach

Just for comparison, here is Apollo 13 Aquarius just after it detached on their return, to burn up in the Earth atmosphere.   

Notice the descent stage is still attached.

Apollo 10 Ascent stage is out there still, the rest mostly fell into the moon.

Apollo 15 service module had a special instrument pack for lunar observation. 

The panel uncovered the instrument pack is the same that blew off Apollo 13 service module, but now by design. 

Some remarked the lunar recordings were the greatest accomplishment from the mission.

Apollo13 service module and blown out side

Apollo13 service module and blown out side

They even launched a satellite to stay in lunar orbit for a couple of years. 

A first time to launch a satellite this way.

Artist rendition. 

The first deep space walk, to retrieve film and such from the lunar observation instruments in the service module.

One main parachute did not deploy on the landing, but the design accounted for that, so...
...splashdown was fine. 

They did not have to go through quarantine for the first time.