By Eric Hartwell - Last updated February 11, 2006
Getting an Angle (new)
Transposition and docking was filmed using the 16 mm Data Acquisition Camera looking through the CMP rendezvous window 2. The 18 mm lens used has a viewing angle of 24 x 32 degrees.
I've determined the actual orientation of the S-IVB/LM relative to the Earth by pasting together the movie frames from the pitch maneuver.
The resulting image, below, is a virtual 110° wide-angle view (the standard Hasseblad lens has a 38° field of view).
Since the pitch maneuver was performed at a constant rate, it's possible to measure the angles directly from the combined image. The center of the Earth is 70° down from the CSM / S-IVB/LM axis (this image is rotated sideways for convenience in viewing).
The Apollo Command Module had five windows. The image at left of Apollo 17's Command Module, America from frame AS17-145-22272 shows the location of all five windows. Windows 1 and 5 are approximately square panes and are flush with the CM surface. Windows 2 and 4 are the rendezvous windows and are recessed to allow them to face forward. Window 3 is circular (despite the squareish external appearance) and is built into the main hatch (NASA).
The normal seating plan has the Commander (Cernan) in the left seat, the Command Module Pilot (Evans) in the middle seat, and the Lunar Module pilot (Schmitt) in the right seat [yes, I fixed the Wikipedia entry]. However, right after the end of the earth departure burn, Evans moved to the left seat to control the Command/Service Module during transposition and docking with the Lunar Module. From inside the capsule, Evans was on the left and Schmitt on the right.
The internal size and shape of each window can be easily seen in this collection of Command Module window covers from Historic Space Systems. Made of aluminum and carefully machined to reduce weight, the window covers were used to darken the cabin interior. The outside is painted white, and a rubber seal prevents light leakage. (Credit: Historic Space Systems)
This NASA diagram shows the geometry of the view through the rendezvous windows 2 and 4.
Inside the Cabin
The cone-shaped Apollo CM spacecraft was divided into three compartments: forward, crew, and aft.
The forward compartment was at the cone's apex, the crew compartment was in the center, and the aft compartment was in the base, or blunt end, of the craft. The forward compartment contained the parachutes and recovery equipment.
The crew compartment had a volume of 210 cubic feet. It contained three couches for the crew during launch and landing.
The couches were arranged so that each astronaut faced the main instrument panel. During flight, the astronauts could fold-up the couches to make more room in the spacecraft.
Near the feet of the couches, in the lower equipment bay, there was enough room to stand up.
Needless to say, space inside the cabin was extremely limited, especially when the astronauts were wearing their bulky spacesuits.
The temporary stowage bags are used for temporary stowage of small items and permanent stowage of dry refuse or "trash". The waste bag, nicknamed the "VW" bag, is a two-pocket unit. The outer pocket is deep, about 3 feet by 1 foot by 3 inches and is held shut by a bar spring. The inner pocket is flat, about 1 by 1 foot and is held shut by a rubber bungee. The bags are attached to the girth shelf and LEB by snaps. The outer bag is for dry uncontaminated waste matter and the inner bag serves as temporary stowage for small items. There are three waste bags, one for each crewman. The Commander's bag attaches to the left girth shelf, the LM pilot's to the right girth shelf, and the CM pilot's, the LEB. They are stowed in a storage locker at launch and entry.
Incidentally, Apollo 17 tested two new food types - irradiated ham and a nutritional fruitcake.
Here are some excellent photos of Apollo 9's Command Module, courtesy of Stewart Bailey of the Michigan Space and Science Center. Enjoy the full set at apollosaturn.com:
The Command Module Pilot controls the Command and Service Module during transposition and initial docking with the Lunar Module. On return from the moon, the Lunar Module manoeuvres to complete the docking operation. In either case, a lighted reticule on the window helps the CM pilot check the lineup of the two vehicles by placing cross lines on the target just to the left of the lunar module’s docking cone.
Finally, here are more pictures of the hatch window (3), the right-hand side LM pilot's windows (4 and 5)., and an exterior view of Apollo 17's window (4).
After inflight systems checks during two Earth orbits lasting 3 hours, the S-IVB was fired a second time at 3:12 GET for 6 minutes, sending the spacecraft towards the moonat 35,555 ft/sec. At 3:42, the CSM was separated from the S-IVB stage, transposed, and docked at 3:57. The docked spacecraft were ejected from the S-IVB at 4:45. The S-IVB stage was fired for 80 seconds at 5:03 to start it on its separate trajectory to impact the Moon.
Unlike most of the major maneuvers performed during the course of the mission, Transposition, Docking and Extraction (TD&E) is flown almost entirely by hand. This is where the Command Module Pilot (CMP) gets to do some of that “Pilot Stuff”.
As the name implies, the process consists of three phases:
Once the two spacecraft are well clear, ground control points the S-IVB away from the direction of travel and fires its engine to send it on a separate trajectory to crash into the moon.
What the astronauts would see looking out the windows over the LM back towards the S-IVB and the Earth.
It's important to remember that the CSM was rolled approximately 45˚ left from the front of the LM. Many sources (including NASA) erroneously show the two spacecraft with their hatches in line. This orientation is most evident in the famous photo of the Apollo 9 CSM "Gumdrop" from the LM "Spider", AS9-20-3064.
In the closeup above, the image has been rotated so that David Scott is standing upright relative to the Command Module's open hatch. Note the relative orientation of the CM's hatch window and the LM's VHF antenna and RCS thrusters. These are reference marks that can be used to determine which window was used to take photos during Apollo 17's TD&E.
Although NASA doesn't attribute photos to any particular astronaut, it's possible to tell who took many of the pictures based on the mission timeline and the window that was used. During TD&E, Cernan was taking photos from the center position (windows 2,3,4) and Schmitt from the right-hand position (windows 4,5).
Using photos rotated so the top is "up" relative to the Command Module's -Z axis, it's possible to guess which window was used by comparing the relative angles of the LM's VHF antenna and RCS thrusters. From window 2 the antenna would have been almost in line with the RCS, while from window 3 it was well to the left. The VHF antenna would not have been visible from window 4, or the side windows 1 and 5.
From the 1971 Technical Debrief:
[Scott, from the 1971 Technical Debrief - "The evasive burn was a very slow, low thrust maneuver. We could see some of the propellant coming out. There was a very fine mist if you looked very carefully, and the S-IVB moved very slowly along its plus X-axis. I rather expected a burn there - some sort of impulsive Delta-V - but it, was a very slow thing. It wouldn't be any problem getting out of its way, if you were in its way."]
The astronauts were still in their suits during TD&E, so they couldn't easily change places. Evans was busy flying the CSM/LM spacecraft. Therefore,