Voices from the Moon: Apollo Astronauts Describe Their Lunar Experiences

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9780670020782: Voices from the Moon: Apollo Astronauts Describe Their Lunar Experiences

The epic of the Apollo missions told in the astronauts' own words and gorgeously illustrated with their photographs

Andrew Chaikin's A Man on the Moon is considered the definitive history of the Apollo moon missions-arguably the pinnacle of human experience. Now, using never-before-published quotes taken from his in-depth interviews with twenty-three of the twenty-four Apollo lunar astronauts, Chaikin and his collaborator, Victoria Kohl, have created an extraordinary account of the lunar missions. In Voices from the Moon the astronauts vividly recount their experiences in intimate detail; their distinct personalities and remarkably varied perspectives emerge from their candid and deeply personal reflections. Carefully assembled into a narrative that reflects the entire arc of the lunar journey, Voices from the Moon captures the magnificence of the Apollo program like no other book. Paired with their own words are 160 images taken from NASA's new high-resolution scans of the photos the astronauts took during the missions. Many of the photos, which are reproduced with stunning and unprecedented detail, have rarely-if ever-been seen by the general public. Voices from the Moon is an utterly unique chronicle of these defining moments in human history.

"Sinopsis" puede pertenecer a otra edición de este libro.

About the Author:

Andrew Chaikin is the author of the acclaimed A Man on the Moon and several other books about space. He is a commentator for NPR’s Morning Edition and had appeared on Good Morning America, Nightline, Fresh Air, and Talk of the Nation.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

3

OUTWARD BOUND

You say, Hey, I'm out here 150 or 200 thousand miles away from home, goingin the other direction. It's not just home—it's not like you're on a trip fromHouston to California. I mean, you have really left society.

—GENE CERNAN

The Saturn V was such an enormous machine. And the size of theengines. You still wonder, when you see it on its side down there inHouston. It was an enormous thing. And I think I felt that more goingup the morning of the launch. Because it was so quiet, nobodyaround it... I don't want to say awe, a combination of admiration—yeah, maybe awe. Wonderment.

—FRANK BORMAN

It's a little different sitting in the rocket, rather than watching it... from the ground, and hearing the announcer, you know, dramaticallytalk about the countdown, and what's going on. Insidethe rocket, sitting there, waiting for the countdown, is a lot different,because you don't get that momentous buildup, that anxietybuildup. You're sitting there, and you just do certain things. And thelaunch is a little bit different too, because on the ground you getthat vibration in your stomach, whereas in the spacecraft itself, it'sa big rumble. You can hear those valves open up and all that fueldrop down those manifold valves. You know, the pipes are big. Youknow, you're burning fifteen tons per second. And so you really goto town, and you can hear that. And it's a big rumbling noise, andoff you go.

—JIM LOVELL

There's always the element of unreality in it because a launch is notreal until you lift off. And until you lift off, something could alwayshappen to call you back, to prevent the launch... So you don'tcommit yourself to the flight—totally—until you get ignition andyou're off the pad. And then, it's all or nothing. That's the gamble—it's either heads or tails. At that point, you're committed tothe flight. Whether you come back is not important at that point.Then, the flight is the important thing... I would say, at the instantof liftoff (snaps his fingers),—and you know they can't call you back,there's a momentary thing that says, This is for real. And then, trainingkind of takes over. And you go through things like you did inthe simulator.

—AL WORDEN

Above: Apollo 8's liftoff, viewed by a camera on the launch pad. Opposite: A trackingcamera view of Apollo 15.

There was a startling moment there, right at liftoff. Everybodygot quite startled. Because we had simulated the hell out of everything—aborts and everything—but nobody had ever been ona Saturn V... As we lifted off, you can imagine this rocket—it's agiant thing, but it's not bulky like an obelisk or like the WashingtonMonument; it's not rigid. It's more flexible. Not quite a whip antennaon your automobile, but somewhat like this... So we wereliterally being thrown around. I mean, "thrown around" is the bestway I can describe it. I felt like a rat in the jaws of a giant terrier. Imean, here we'd hardly started, and already we had something thatwe hadn't simulated.

—BILL ANDERS

I really wasn't sure the crazy thing was going to stay together. Evento read the gauges was almost a guess.

—RON EVANS

It was raining so goddamn hard—it was really a damn storm that morning.We wanted to launch, obviously. We delayed during the countdown,but we weren't about to crawl out of that goddamn thing and go back.We were ready to launch. And then we were running out of the [launch]window, and it looked like it was easing off some, and they fired our buttsright through that stuff.

—DICK GORDON

Apollo 12 lifts off into a rainstorm. Half a minute later, the ascending spacecraft was struck by lightning, knocking out the command module's electrical system.

No matter what single, double, or triple failure those guys [the simulation instructors] put into the electrical system, they never came up with anything that turned on every electrical warning light in the caution and warning system. Man, they all lit. I think there were eleven of them. And they all came on. Everything that had anything to do with the electrical system lit up on the caution and warning panel. Every one of those hummers was on. Every one! I couldn't believe it.

—PETE CONRAD

Pete called it right; he told [the ground] he thought we got struck bylightning, but neither Al nor I had a window to look out of, and we didn'tsee anything... There was a boost protective cover over us; duringlaunch, his is the only window ... until the [launch escape] tower goes andpulls the boost protective cover off.

—DICK GORDON

I thought the service module had somehow separated from the commandmodule. Because I didn't know any other way—I knew that no failure,or two failures, could do it. Because we'd had all the failures. So Iknew them. You know, I'd look at six lights; that's AC [bus] 1. You soonlearn the patterns and the numbers. And there were so many... I said,"They didn't bolt the command module right to the service module, andit slipped." Because, see, we lost three fuel cells. The only way you cando that is to kind of break it... So that's what went through my mind. Inever thought of a lightning bolt...

—ALAN BEAN

I never thought about aborting—at that point. Obviously, I did not wantto wind up with a dead spacecraft in orbit.

—PETE CONRAD

In retrospect, it could have been catastrophic. But it wasn't.

—DICK GORDON

Burning in the invisible flame of the Saturn V's second-stage engines, a connecting ring falls away following first-stage separation. An automatic camera aboard the unmanned Apollo 4 captured these views.

We had a lot of acceleration just prior to [first-stage] cutoff. Wewere really being squashed back... We were up to four and ahalf Gs or whatever it was. And, you know, your chest gets compresseddown. You're panting. Your arms feel real heavy, so you'renot moving around flipping any switches. And of course the fluid isall back here in your ears. But you get used to it. So you're kind ofsemiacclimated. And suddenly, you go from that, not only to zero Gas the engine cuts off, but there's little retrorockets that fire on thatengine to pull it back off, just before the second stage cuts in... .You know, you've seen those old movies like Captain from Castile,where they have a catapult that heaves the rock over the wall?I mean, I suddenly felt like I'd been sitting on a catapult and somebodycut the rope. Because I felt like I was going to go right throughthe instrument panel. Literally... And so I threw my arms up. Andjust as I got my hand up like that, the second stage cut in, and,clunk, the wrist ring hit my helmet. So I was a little embarrassed. Ofcourse there was this big cloud of fire around us, you know (laughs),it was a very spectacular part of the flight. And of course, I'd justgone through my first launch; then two minutes and forty secondslater, we're in the middle of this, and I thought, Boy, this is going tobe something. [It was] dull after that.

—BILL ANDERS

Having that whole mission in my hands when we lifted off—I hadthat T-handle, which could've shut that Saturn V down, abortedthe mission if I wanted to. I mean, I had that decision to make—anytime, I could've made it, good or bad. You almost wish you hada guidance failure at liftoff. Because I knew I could've flown that bigSaturn V into orbit goddamn near as good as the computer.

—GENE CERNAN

You know, in Earth orbit the horizon is barely curved. All of a suddenyou move out at 25,000 miles per hour, and the first few hours,things really happen... I mean, you can see yourself leave theEarth at a tremendous rate of speed. You can see the horizon beginto close in upon itself. You can begin to see the continents.You begin to see things from the top down. You begin to see andrealize after a period of time that the Earth's rotating, because thecontinents are beginning to change places. And the second day,now you've been looking at the Earth, it's become quite small andcontinues to get smaller, but very slowly does it continue to getsmaller. So it's pretty dynamic in those first twelve hours—that'swhen things really happen.

—GENE CERNAN

In spaceflight, when we orbited the Earth, we thought in terms ofcontinents. We were over the U.S.; now we're over a body of water.We're over Africa now; we're over Australia now. In the lunar flight,we thought in terms of bodies. The moon's here, the sun's there,the Earth is there.

—JIM LOVELL

I fancied myself as a guy who understood geography. And I lookedout there, I could not figure out what was up... I mean, everybodyknows that north is up, right? You sit in the classroom in fourthgrade, and you look up there, and the teacher has a globe. Therewere several things that came across later, and I thought, Jeez, Ishould have known that. One, the Earth is not divided up neatlyinto little colored countries. Okay? So you don't see a red America,and a green Chile, and a purple China (laughs)... I expected morevisual clues as to what I was looking at. Secondly, it's covered withclouds, so that obscures things. And God does not necessarily saythat when you look at it the first time that north is going to be up.And it took me like several minutes to finally realize that what wasup, was really Antarctica.

And I thought to myself, Now wait a minute. Let's go back. Whatdo you see? Well, you see a big white patch. Is that clouds? No, itlooks like ice. A big ice patch in the wintertime that you can see, it'sgot to be Antarctica. Antarctica up? Oh yeah, that could be, causewe're down. Well, then, we must be looking at it like this. So I actuallywent and looked at it like that [upside down]–Yeah, that's right!That's Antarctica! And then I said, Well, if that's Antarctica, let'sstart working from there. That thing here... , What could that be?My first thought was, That must be the horn of Africa. See, here'sthe horn, here's Cape Town. Well, if that's Cape Town, where'sSouth America? And what is this thing?" Then I got to realizing,That ain't the horn of Africa; that's the coast of Chile! Isthmus ofPanama, here's Florida. And here's Africa. Then it jelled.

—BILL ANDERS

An Apollo 12 view of Earth includes the Bahamas (turquoise spot at right of center).

The Earth is [fifty] times brighter than the moon, because of thereflection of the sun's rays on the clouds. But you don't get that onphotographs.

—JIM LOVELL

The other thing ... was that this little spot, the Bahamas lowland,was a turquoise jewel that you could see all the way to the moon.... It was like it was illuminated, like a piece of opal. And you couldsee that all the way. And I kept being amazed about that.

—BILL ANDERS

To me, it's crystalline. Crystalline being it has depth. I like to drawthe analogy with someone who has deep blue eyes... The Earthis deep blue. And especially when you get out a little ways, not toofar away, and you can look back at it, it's deep blue. It's got a three dimensionalfeel to it. A depth. And it's really beautiful... .

—DAVE SCOTT

I was just wishing I could spin it around and look at the rest of it.

—BILL ANDERS

You can see the whole Earth at about ten thousand miles. And youstart taking pictures. You take one at ten, and one at fifteen, andone at twenty, et cetera, et cetera. And of course, they're all thesame; it's just that the Earth takes less of the field of view of thecamera as you get further away. But you don't think that. You think,Oh, I wanna take another picture now. I wanna take another picturenow. It's spectacular. Oh, it's spectacular.

—DAVE SCOTT

It was kind of like, Yeah. The Earth's getting smaller. In fact, thiswas something that really surprised me. Here you are, watching theEarth shrink. And you know when it really dawned on me that we'rea long way from home is when you start picking up the delay inthe communications. Now, why looking out of the window seeingthe Earth shrink doesn't do it, but why the audio of the delay inthe communications does, [I don't know], but it did... When youwould call, "Hello, Houston," and then there would be, Mmmmmmmm"Go ahead, 14." And that was the first big realization that,hey, we're starting to get out here. More so than seeing the Earthshrink. And I don't know why. I just remember that.

—STU ROOSA

Aboard Apollo 8, Bill Anders does a weightless somersault.

I got out of my suit first, and I was flipping around, thinking, Isn't this fun! And then suddenly I thought, My God, if I do this about three more times, I'm going to embarrass myself. So I'm going to quit doing it... I didn't throw up, but I thought, I'd better be careful or I'm going to throw up... After about eight hours, I'd adapted. Reasonably.

—BILL ANDERS

I was really, really worried about [whether I'd get sick in zero G]. AndI remember the exhilaration the first time I released the lap belt, gotout of the couch, and I thought, Oh God, now we'll find out. Andit took about ten nanoseconds to recognize, I've been here all mylife. This is absolutely natural. And I never gave another thought toit... I must have beamed from ear to ear when I realized, Got itmade. This is perfect. I know exactly where everything is. Upsidedown, right side up, it looks perfect to me. It's beautiful. I can moveanywhere I want, I can do anything I want, and there aren't anyproblems associated with this business. And I remember what aeuphoric feeling that was.

—KEN MATTINGLY

We lit the [Service Propulsion System] engine to take us off thefree-return trajectory. So that's the first time that you light the SPSengine. And item number one on the SPS burn checklist is "Secureall lose items." Okay, so now, you've just spent a thousand hours inthe simulator, and you've gone through this how many hundreds oftimes? ... Okay, items secure. And then you go on down. And thenyou're into the nitty-gritty, you know, you get your fuel cells up, andyour gimbal motors on, and this check and that check, and you'reready to burn... It was a short burn, I think two or three seconds,or whatever... And so as soon as the engine lit, I was really surprised.Because it—Pow! And man, you went back [in your seat],and a checklist goes flying over your head here, and something elsegoes flying over there. After that, you paid more attention to itemone, "Secure all loose items."

—STU ROOSA

Zero G is a blessing and a curse. I mean, for keeping track of yourfilm, it's a curse, because the goddamn stuff, you put it down, whichis stupid to do. I always used to put it on the edge of the simulator,and it just stayed there, you know? (laughs)

And without thinking,I didn't stick it on the Velcro. Put it down here—where is it? I'd haveto go hunting for it, and that always puts you a few minutes behind.It's also a curse from the bodily functions. I mean, next time yougo to the latrine, imagine if you were in zero G. What does that...

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