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Apollo 17: Blue Marble - Timeline

By Eric Hartwell - Last updated January 16, 2006

See also: The Apollo 17 Flight Journal


Sidebar: Lunar Mission Tutorial

Apollo Lunar Mission Tutorial: Transposition, Docking and Extraction

By John Dunn

This is where the CMP gets to do some of that “Pilot Stuff”. Unlike most of the major maneuvers performed during the course of the mission, TD&E is flown almost entirely by hand. As the name implies, the process consists of three phases:


The maneuver begins with separation of the CSM from the S-IVB (containing the Lunar Module), with the SLA panels tumbling away into space. 15 seconds after separation (distance approximately 5 meters) a pitch up maneuver is initiated, rotating the CSM 180˚ to face the LM/S-IVB. The reason a pitch up rather than pitch down or yaw maneuver is used is that it brings the target into the CMP’s field of view that much sooner. It is interesting to note that while the checklist calls for a 0.5˚ per second pitch rate - which would place the CSM some 60 meters or so from the LM/S-IVB at the completion of the maneuver – in many cases a much higher pitch rate was used. According to the Apollo 15 Flight Journal, CMP Al Worden used a 2˚/sec pitch rate – 4 times the rate specified in the checklist.


Following the 180˚ pitch maneuver, the CSM is translated with plus-X thrusters, closing the distance between the CSM and the LM/S-IVB at rate of approximately 1 ft/sec. The CSM is then rolled approximately 45˚ left to align the COAS (Crew Optical Alignment Sight - mounted to the #2 Left Rendezvous Window frame) with the docking target on the LM. Y and Z thrusters are also used to fine tune the approach. The final few feet are covered at a closure rate of approximately 0.1 ft/sec.

The procedure for executing this maneuver in Orbiter is fairly straight forward. However a soft touch with the thrusters is required to avoid over correcting. One thing that has caused me some trouble here is occasionally forgetting to shift between Translation mode and Rotation mode as necessary. My advice is to always glance up at the HUD indicator before initiating any maneuver.

Typically the docking probe on the nose of the CM will contact the drogue on the LM and slide to the center with the capture latches effecting a “soft dock”. The probe is then slowly retracted, aligning the docking rings on the CM and LM and damping any relative motion between the two vehicles. Once the retraction of the probe brings the two vehicles together, twelve automatic docking latches snap into place around the back surface of the docking flange to achieve a “hard dock”. Apollo 14 required six such docking attempts before the CSM was successfully docked with the LM. Examination of the docking probe afterward revealed no problems. It was therefore assumed that the capture-latch assembly must not have been in the locked configuration during the first five attempts.


After docking the cabin pressures of the two spacecraft are equalized and the CSM forward hatch removed to inspect the docking latches. Electrical umbilical cables are connected within the tunnel and the hatch reinstalled. After further systems checks the CSM/LM stack is then ejected from the S-IVB, followed by a 1 ft/sec separation maneuver.   


Trans Lunar Coast

Routine trans-lunar activities included various tasks such as conducting experiments, performing systems checks and photography. The CDR and LMP transfer to the LM for several hours of housekeeping and systems checks. One or two midcourse correction burns are performed, setting up the final lunar orbit insertion trajectory.

At various times during the trans-lunar coast, when a stable attitude is not necessary for platform realignment or other purposes, the spacecraft is placed into a slow continuous roll - typically 0.35° per second, or approximately 17 minutes to complete a full 360° roll. This is called the Passive Thermal Control maneuver, often referred to as "Barbecue'" mode. The purpose of this maneuver is to maintain an even heating and cooling of the CM heat shield, the SM RCS quads, SPS propellant tanks and structure, and the LM propellant and battery systems.

Apollo 17 Transposition, Docking and Extraction Timeline

Note: The Ground Elapsed Time (GET) below is from the flight plan; the crew was actually ahead of schedule for most of these operations.

Because of the delayed launch, the spacecraft would have arrived at the moon 2 hours 40 minutes later than originally planned. To restore the original timeline (and sun angles), they made a slightly longer translunar injection burn, getting the spacecraft to the Moon 2 hours 40 minutes sooner. This put the mission back on the planned timeline. The ground elapsed clock was moved ahead 2 hours, 40 minutes before arrival at the Moon.

Actual Times From Apollo by the Numbers (NASA)

  • After inflight systems checks, the 351.04-second translunar injection maneuver (second S-IVB firing) was performed at 003:12:36.60. The
    S-IVB engine shut down at 003:18:27.64 and translunar injection occurred ten seconds later at a velocity of 35,555.3 ft/sec after two Earth orbits lasting 3 hours 6 minutes 44.99 seconds.

  • At 003:42:27.6, the CSM was separated from the S-IVB stage, transposed, and docked at 003:57:10.7. During docking, there were indications of a ring latch malfunction. The LM was pressurized, the hatch removed, and troubleshooting revealed that the handles for latches 7, 9, and 10 were not locked. All were manually set and the docked spacecraft were ejected from the S-IVB at 004:45:02.3. A 79.9-second separation maneuver was performed at 005:03:01.1.

  • The S-IVB tanks were vented at 006:09:59.8, and the auxiliary propulsion system was fired for 98.2 seconds to target the S-IVB for a lunar impact. A second, 102.2-second maneuver was performed at 011:14:59.8. The S-IVB impacted the lunar surface at 086:59:42.3. The impact point was latitude 4.21° south and longitude 12.37° west, 84 n mi from the target point, 183 n mi from the Apollo 12 seismometer, 85 n mi from the Apollo 14 seismometer, 557 n mi from the Apollo 15 seismometer, and 459 n mi from the Apollo 16 seismometer. The impact was recorded by all four instruments. At impact, the S-IVB weighed 30,712 pounds and was traveling 8,366 ft/sec.

  • The 2-hour 40-minute launch delay caused ground controllers to modify Apollo 17’s trajectory so that it would arrive at the Moon at the originally scheduled time. They shortened the translunar coast time by having the crew make a 1.73-second 10.5 ft/sec midcourse correction at 035:29:59.91.

  • The commander and lunar module pilot transferred to the LM at 040:10. At ingress, it was discovered that #4 docking latch was not properly latched. The command module pilot moved the latch handle between 30° and 45°, disengaging the hook from the docking ring. After discussion with ground control, it was decided to curtail further action on the latch until the second LM activation. The remainder of the LM housekeeping was nominal and the LM was closed out at 042:11.

  • The second LM housekeeping session commenced at 059:59 and was completed at 062:16. All LM systems checks were nominal. During the LM housekeeping period, the command module pilot performed troubleshooting on the docking latch #4 problem experienced during the first session. Following instructions from the ground controllers, he stroked the latch handle and succeeded in cocking the latch. The latch was left in the cocked position for the CSM/LM rendezvous.

  • The SM scientific instrument module bay door was jettisoned at 081:32:40.

  • At 086:14:22.60, at an altitude of 76.8 n mi above the Moon, the service propulsion engine was fired for 393.16 seconds to insert the spacecraft into a lunar orbit of 170.0 by 52.6 n mi. The translunar coast had lasted 83 hours 2 minutes 18.11 seconds.

TLI, Transposition, and Docking

Source: Apollo 17 Spacecraft Commentary with the Command Module Only (PDF, 223 pages), part of Apollo 17 PAO Mission Commentary Transcript, (PDF, 1,964 pages)
GET / Flight Plan
03:12 TB6 3:11:41
03:16 GO/NO-GO for TLI
03:18 Omni C
03:22 TLI
03:26 Omni D
03:27 P00.  V66 set CSM S.V. into LM.S.V.
03:32 TLI burn status report
03:34 CDR - trans to center couch, CMP - left couch
03:36 Normal SC/Booster separations page L/3-1. Direct 02 vlv - OPEN, until cabin is 5.7 PSI, then close. V48 (11103)(01111)
03:42 S-IVB mnvrs to sep att
03:46 (002, 310, 041) Omni D
03:51 GO/NO-GO for transposition and docking. CSM separation prep page L/3-1
04:12 CSM/S-IVB sep EVANS (Apollo 17 Technical Debrief): As far as the separation from the SLA, it was nominal. There's a louder bang than I expected from pyros. This is the first time that I really noticed that in the plus-X translations, or in any translations as far as that goes, you get about c0.4 per second rates within the dead band. As opposed t o the simulator, it has about 0.1' per second on any of the translations maintaining attitude.


#90 AS17-148-22695
#91 AS17-148-22696
#92 AS17-148-22697
#93 AS17-148-22698
Note: Earth photos probably from same window (2?) as LM.

Formation flight was great. The S-IVB by itself was as steady as a rock out there. No problems. I couldn't tell it was dead banding or moving at all. I came in relatively slow, about 0.1 ft/sec, somewhere in that area.

Docking was nominal. As soon as he got capture on the thing, there were no rates. Everything was steady. I didn't have to handle the translation controls or null rates at all. We went directly to hard dock. There's more spacecraft movement during that period because I feel that the COAS and the docking target were off a little bit. And I don't say misaligned, but it's a little bit off. But, of course, it was in limits and was no problem.

[AS17-148-22697 Cernan: probably window 2]

  • --- APOLLO 17 MISSION COMMENTARY 12/7/72 CST4:06 GET 4:30 65/1 ---
  • SC Okay, Houston, 7 delta on the test meter is now reading 1.0. It jumped up to 2.6 and it is now back to 1.0.
  • CAPCOM Roger, we copy. That's good.
  • PAO This is Apollo Control at 4 hours 30 minutes. About 9 minutes from now the crew will be firing the pyrotechnic charges that separate the lunar module docked to the command module from the Saturn third stage, and springs will push the LM CSM back away from the launch vehicle at a rate of about 1 foot per second, and at ground elapsed time of 4 hours 52 minutes the launch vehicle will yaw to the proper attitude for an evasive manuever of about 10 feet per second to be performed at a ground elapsed time of about 5 hours 3 minutes. This will increase the separation difference to assure no chance of recontact between the booster and the spacecraft on route to the Moon. On removing the hatch between the LM, the CSM, allowing the crew to get a look inside the docking tunnel, they found that 3 of the 12 latches had not locked up, but on manually recocking them and activating them, they latched up properly, which indicates that there's nothing physically wrong with the system. We would expect that the next time the 2 vehicles come together to dock that the latches will function properly.
  • SC Pretty good (garble) service.
  • SC Okay, Bob. The hatch is back in.
  • CAPCOM Roger, team.
04:12 to 04:32 CM4-brkt (f22, monitor)
Visually inspect and photograph S-IVB and LM, mag (AA,MN)
04:15 CSM mnvr to dock att (298, 130, 319)
04:18 V48 (11102)(01111)
04:22 Dock
04:25 CM/LM pressure equalization (decal) page L/3-5
04:30 Tunnel hatch removal (decal)
Docking latch verification(decal)
04:35 LM umbilical connections (decal)
04:37 Hatch installation (decal)



GET / Flight Plan Transcript

Almost immediately after docking with the LM, Cernan got down into the short tunnel leading toward the lander and removed the covering CSM hatch to check the latches holding the two spacecraft together. He found that three of the ten were not fully set but was able to close them manually. He then got out of the tunnel and replaced the hatch. Apollo 17 Lunar Surface Journal

04:43 Pre LM sep  & ejection
  • AS17-148-22700
    Note: time gap between
    sets of Earth photos
    CAPCOM 15, Houston.
  • SC Go ahead, Houston.
  • CAPCOM Roger. We've got some new angles here for you.
  • SC Stand by a minute and let me find a place to copy them. What kind of angles are they, Bob?
  • CAPCOM They're your noun 22 attitude manuever for APS burn out of the hatch window. They're in the middle of the page L3-5.
  • SC Oh, okay.
  • CAPCOM Instead of 270 we want 274.
  • SC Wait one, we're not quite with you.
  • CAPCOM Okay.
  • SC Okay, I think I might see it, 3-7 go.
  • CAPCOM It's on 3-5, Jack, middle of the page there. Those noun 22's.
  • SC Okay, I take it back, 3-5, middle of  the page.
  • CAPCOM Okay, you notice there's 3 angles there,  270, make that 274.
  • SC Okay, now can we change?
  • CAPCOM And, no the next one, the 129-A, change that to 164, and 4.3 on the YAW, change that to 0, it's close enough, 0 on the yaw.
  • SC Okay, we got them 274 164 00.
  • CAPCOM Roger, and the high gain angles that you've got on the flight plan are close enough, and should do.
  • SC Very good.
  • PAO Telemetry data now shows the crew loading the information into the spacecraft digital auto pilot in preparation for separation from the Saturn third stage. That should be occurring in the next minute or so.
  • --- APOLLO 17 MISSION COMMENTARY 12/7/72 04:16 CST 4:40 GET MC66/2 ---
  • CAPCOM Okay, you are GO for power arm and GO for extraction.
  • SC Okay, GO for power arm, GO for power extraction. LM extraction.
  • SC Okay, hold on the old pyros. Pyro A, pyro B.
  • SC DVC servo power EC1.
  • SC Dredge control power is on.
  • SC Okay, both controllers are on.
  • SC Okay, I'll wait just a little bit on that. You missed it all. What the hell have you done?
  • SC Okay, you missed another one. Push right there. Yes.
  • SC Okay, my mark - the S-IVB LM SEP will come on.
  • SC Okay, and I'll back it off too - okay.
04:41 V48 (21101)( _1111)

GO/NO-GO for pyro arm (cue STDN)

Logic ON

Pyro ARM
05:01 P47 Thrust monitor
05:03 Photograph LM ejection, MAG (AA,NN)

They were now ready to pull the LM out and away from the S-IVB. Cernan fired the explosive bolts that held the LM in place, and then Evans fired the CSM thrusters to pull themselves away. Schmitt ran the movie cameras to record these events and, eighteen minutes later, once they were safely out of the way, Houston put the S-IVB on a trajectory toward a planned lunar impact at a point picked to maximize the scientific return from the Apollo 12, 14, 15, and 16 seismometers. Apollo 17 Lunar Surface Journal

4:45 actual time
05:07 CSM/LM ejection

05:09 P00, Y66 Set CSM S.V. into LN S.V.

Report: good ejection

  • SC Okay, on my mark. S-IVB LM SEP 3 2 1 mark it. Okay, we got it.
  • SC Oh ho! Did we.
  • SC Here she comes. Yes, LM came with us.
  • S C Okay, we're CMC AUTO. All right. We've got six tenths. It's all right. Okay, whoopee dee doo.
  • SC SEP's closed.
  • SC Okay, logic's off.
  • SC Fixed arm - breakers are open.
  • PAO This is Apollo Control,. America and Challenger are on their own. LM injection occurred at 4 hours 45 minutes - that's Ground Elapsed Time - at an altitude of 13 thousand nautical miles from earth.
05:12 V49 mnvr to view S-IVB in hatch window by 05:16


HGA P -1, Y 273

Report: GO for S-IVB yaw mnvr

Visually inspect S-IVB/IU thermal shroud
  • Probably window 2
    #97 AS17-148-22703
    #98 AS17-148-22704
    #99 AS17-148-22705
    Changed perspective:
    now hatch window?
    #100 AS17-148-22706
    #101 AS17-148-22707
    #102 AS17-148-22708
    SC Now we can go on and do the maneuver pretty quick. This will be so far away you can't see it.
  • SC Hey, ready to maneuver?
  • SC Okay, CMC in AUTO caged. Away we go.
  • SC That (garble) wasn't as bad as the original -
  • SC Yes
  • SC Came right out mapping camera and pan camera off.
  • SC Okay. Power's off.
  • SC Hey, Jack, hand me the Hasselblad.
  • SC I think we're going the right direction.
  • SC Yes, the Moon is -- the Earth is - that's  good.
  • SC (Garble) powers off (garble).
  • SC The Earth just fills up window 5.
  • SC What do you have, zero in there? Hey, I lost my watch. Turn ACC off. Yes. ACC is off. Whoo - What a beauty. What a beauty. Yes, the Earth.
  • SC I can't see the S-IVB. It's gone. Look at that.
  • SC Yes, Madagascar and Africa. Got to be. Yes, as soon as I - the S-IVB -
  • SC Hey, there's Antarctica. It's all full of snow. Okay, do you want to look?
  • --- APOLLO 17 MISSION COMMENTARY 12/7172 CST 4:26 GET 4:50 67/1 ---
  • SC Yes, oh there it goes, there.
  • SC Looks kind of empty down there, Bob, without the LM we're looking right up the dome of the S-IVB.
  • CAPCOM Roger. We copy that. We're standing by for your GO for yaw manuever.
  • SC We can give them a GO for yaw, can't we? We can see it.
  • SC Yes, you've got the GO on the yaw.
  • CAPCOM Roger, thank you, 17.
  • SC Looks like she came out of there clean as a whistle.
  • CAPCOM 17, Houston. The yaw manuever will be starting in about 4 plus 52, a little less than 2 minutes from now.
  • SC Okay.
  • CAPCOM Sounds like you are taking a picture of that old dome out there, huh?
  • SC (laughter) Where'd the empty -
  • SC Here, are you using this?

AS17-148-22704 S-IVB separation, looking back over LM - probably taken from window 2


Square highlights relative positions of LM's VHF antenna (lower left) and RCS thrusters (top right)

View of S-IVB separation, rotated so top is "up" relative to CSM and LM front.

First set (left): Probably window 2 based on angle of LM VHF antenna and RCS thrusters.

Second set (right): Almost certainly from the hatch window. Note different angle of LM VHF antenna and RCS thrusters.

CERNAN (Apollo 17 Technical Debrief) The attitudes given us were excellent; we were able t o watch the S-IVB maneuver. We were able t o see the S-IVB vent and it all went well and nominal.

SCHMITT (Apollo 17 Technical Debrief) It was very clean as far as any debris or anything coming out during the docking phase, and I could see a few little things that were bouncing around inside around the LM, particles of some kind. It was nothing like previous flights where they had a lot of debris. It was very clean.

05:20 S-IVB Yaw mnvr (ground command)
  • Same perspective
    - Cernan (hatch)
    #103 AS17-148-22709
    #104 AS17-148-22710
    #105 AS17-148-22711
    SC Hey, there it goes, look at the aft fire of the thing.
  • SC Yes, we can see it firing now.
  • CAPCOM Roger, 17. Yaw manuever started.
  • PAO The Saturn third stage now maneuvering into attitude for the APS evasive maneuver, a 10 foot per second burn using the auxiliary propulsion system that will assure -
  • SC [Schmitt] The flare wasn't dramatic, but it certainly did its job for us.
  • CAPCOM Roger, Jack. Preliminary data indicates that you are about as nominal as you can be.
  • SC That's the way we'd like to keep it, Bob.
  • CAPCOM You'd better believe it.
  • SC Okay, she's - as we're looking at it, she's pitching up, she was looking right at us, we were looking right at the dome and now she's pitching up. The shroud around the IU's seem to be totally intact. It looked like a super clean separation. I can't really see where there's any paint or anything externally chipped off the booster from here. We're beginning to pick up the (garble). It's really a shame you don't have this whole thing on TV, it's really quite a sight.
  • CAPCOM Roger, we concur with that.
  • SC The mylar and the gold coating on the inside of the shroud is now visible, it's also intact. It looks like you could use it again if you could get it back.
  • CAPCOM It's got a job to do when it hits the Moon yet.
  • SC Okay, Bob. We're almost looking at it broadside now.
  • CAPCOM Roger.
  • SC Okay, she's spitting a little, looks like the yaw maneuver may be complete.
05:22 Report: Go for S-IVB evasive burn
  • 250mm
    #106 AS17-148-22712
    #107  AS17-148-22713
    #108 AS17-148-22714
    #109 AS17-148-22715
    #110 AS17-148-22716
    SC [Cernan] We got a full view of the entire J2 from here, and no kidding, Bob, the whole bird, the shroud at the top, the IU, the separation plane down by the S2, from here looks just clean as a whistle, all the way.
  • CAPCOM Roger, Gene, if you're happy, we'd like a GO from you for the evasive burn.
  • SC [Cernan] Okay, you're going to burn on the boosters plus the X axis, is that right?
  • CAPCOM That's affirmative.
  • SC [Cernan] Let's just get a picture or 2 here yet, and then we'll give you a GO.
  • CAPCOM And Gene, it'll be about 7 minutes until the evasive burn, 5 plus 03.
  • SC [Cernan] Okay, you have a GO. And for your reference, it's frame 105, I started a few 250 millimeter pictures of the S-IVB.
    [Note: Frame count is +-1 due to the analog frame counter]
  • CAPCOM Roger, Gene.

  • #111 AS17-148-22717
    #112 AS17-148-22718
    #113 AS17-148-22719
    #114 AS17-148-22720
    #115 AS17-148-22721
    #116 AS17-148-22722
    SC [Cernan] And Bob, the entire sky, as far as I can make it out through the hatch window is completely filled with our twinkling flakes.
  • CAPCOM Roger, we copy that.
  • SC I saw a couple particles go by the window a while back, and it looked a little bit like insulation in that particular case, styrofoam insulation, but it's flat flakes.
  • --- APOLLO 17 MISSION COMMENTARY 12/7172 04:16 CST 4:40 GET MC66/1 ---
  • CAPCOM That should be occuring in the next minute or so.
  • SC Okay, we're 6 feet a second. Okay, what it cut in?
  • SC Range 1
  • SC Yes, I'll leave it at 10 feet (garble).
  • SC Okay, Mode 1 and set.
  • SC Because I had the 0180 O.
  • SC [Cernan] Stand by. We're aligning our GDC and the next thing you'll pick up will be sector arm circuit breakers. Well give you a call on the logic.
  • CAPCOM Roger, Gene.
  • SC [Schmitt] Okay, Bob, while we're waiting, balance on the -
  • SC I see what you mean.
  • SC [Schmitt] 2 and 02 flowing to fuel cell 3. Actually, in all 3 fuel cells look pretty good to you?
  • CAPCOM Jack, the flows look just right for the current.
  • SC [Schmitt] Okay. Used to seeing them more or less lined up and I hadn't calculated any farther than that.
  • CAPCOM Roger. SC 02 seemed a little higher H2, relatively speaking.
  • SC Okay, that's pretty close. Verifies extra Arm breakers are closed.
  • SC Okay, Houston, we're ready to come up with the logic.
  • SC Okay, Houston, logic 1 is coming on now and logic 2,
  • CAPCOM Roger.
  • SC And Houston, just to keep track of GMS mobias check - that time was - went from 1 hundred to 1 hundred point 7 in a hundred seconds.
  • CAPCOM 17, we'd like to just verify on that top line S-IVB LM sep circuit breakers. Both of them are closed?
  • SC Okay, we'll verify them again. We double checked them.
  • CAPCOM Okay, we just didn't hear your call and want to make sure of that. Didn't want to miss anything, here.
  • SC Okay, they are verified closed and Jack just checked them again.
  • --- APOLLO 17 MISSION COMMENTARY 12/7/72 05:00 GET 04:36 CST 68/1 ---
  • SC That was right after we separated from the S-IVB.
  • CAPCOM Roger.
  • SC CSM sep, CSM sep, Bob.
  • CAPCOM Roger, understand.
  • SC [Cernan?] Bob, I know we're not the first to discover this, but we'd like to confirm from the crew of America that the world is round.
  • CAPCOM Roger, that's a good data point. Have you gotten a good look at any of that weather down there on the Antarctic?
  • SC Ron's at window number 1, maybe he can tell you a little about it.
  • EVANS You know it's real funny there, at Antarctica the - you can see the snow but there isn't any weather at all. All of the weather's around it in the water.
  • CAPCOM Rog.
  • SC That's where the moisture is.
  • SC I don't know what to think of (garble).
  • SC Can't see the U.S. at all.
  • CAPCOM 17, Houston.
  • SC Go ahead.
  • CAPCOM Look's like you've got a super conservative CMP up there, we've run off some numbers, looks like you used about 40 pounds of RCS on the T and D and you've used about a total of 42 pounds RCS total, so we're hanging right in there, beautiful.
  • SC Very fine, glad to here that.
  • SC Still a little bit too much, but that's not bad. We'll be glad to leave all that extra, I hope, in the service module when we get home.
05:27 V48 (21111)(1111)

05:30 S-IVB APS evasive burn (ground command)
Actual times: burn started at 5:03:01 and ended at 5:04:21

  • Same perspective: Cernan, hatch window?
    (lens change)
    #117 AS17-148-22723
    #119  AS17-148-22725
    #120 AS17-148-22726
    #121 AS17-148-22727
    #122 AS17-148-22728
    SC It's in the Volkswagen pouch down there.
  • SC No, I'll change lens now.
  • CAPCOM 17, Houston, it's about 30 seconds from the Evasive Maneuver Burn. [5:02:40]
  • SC Okay. Here Jack, can you see it good?
    [Note: Did Cernan pass the camera to Schmitt for the 80mm photos?]
  • SC Check the lens now. I took an F-22 stop.
  • SC There it goes, Bob.
  • SC There it goes, finally.
  • CAPCOM Roger.
  • PAO This is Apollo Control at 5 hours 5 minutes.
    [Note: If this time is correct, it's at least half a minute after the end of the burn.]
  • CAPCOM EMB burn is complete and the LOX dump will be at 5 plus 24 plus 20.
  • SC Okay 5 plus 24 plus 20.
  • CAPCOM Roger.
  • SC It's going to be gone, I think, before we -
    [Note: The S-IVB was pointing up, left, and towards the back relative to the CM. After the burn, it would have been visible through window 1 after it could no longer be seen through the hatch window. They may have passed the camera to Evans so he could take a parting shot. The statement would then finish, "can get a picture". This would also explain why Evans reported the frame count a little later, below.]
  • SC And, Bob, you can tell Frank to forget the returning that phone call, I made to him a couple days ago.
  • CAPCOM Rog, understand.
  • SC All my questions are answered.
  • CAPCOM Think you've had enough booster briefings, huh?
  • SC Yep, I figure this is probably the best one of all.
  • CAPCOM Frank said he'd guarantee all those S-IVBs would be just as good as that one.
  • SC Okay, that's fair enough.
  • SC The S-IC and the S-II didn' t put on a bad show either.
  • CAPCOM That's right.
  • SC [Evans?] Houston, Magazine, November, November is on about 123 right now.
    [Note: Frame count is +-1 due to the analog frame counter]
  • CAPCOM Okay, Ron, magazine November November is on 123.

S72-54999: The seismometer readings from the impact made by the Apollo 17 Saturn S-IVB stage when it struck the lunar surface are viewed in the ALSEP Room in the Misson Control Center at Houston by Dr. Maurice Ewing, professor of geophysics of the Universtiy of Texas at Galveston. The seismic tracings are from sensings made by seismometers of Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments Packages left on the Moon during earlier Apollo lunar landing missions. (NASA/JSC)


Start Translunar Coast

GET / Flight Plan Transcript
05:32 Report: LM/CM ΔP
Install cabin fan filter (U2)
  • SC [Cernan] And, Bob we're on page 3-9 of the flight plan now, we'll check the LM-CM Delta P, get the cabin fan filter in we'll go over to check the systems checklist, get the primary EVAP and a few odds and ends and starts off in our PGAs, how's that sound?
  • CAPCOM Sounds like a winner, Gene.
  • SC Okay.
05:36 CSM systems checklist
05:38 Deactivate primary evap. page S/1-I6
  • SC [Schmitt] Okay, Houston, ready to deactivate the primary evaporator if you concur.
  • CAPCOM Roger. Jack we concur.
05:43 VHF A Simplex - OFF
Waste stowage vent valve - VENT (verify)
  • SC Okay, Bob. VHF simplex, ALFA's off.
  • CAPCOM Roger.
05:52 Doff PGA's

Transfer items out of PGA pockets

Transfer PRD to CWG

CMP & IMP Doff biomed harness

  • SC And we're gradually moving in to getting out of the suits.
  • CAPCOM Yeah, I bet you're looking forward to that.
  • SC Well, I'll tell you it's a different world without that old 1-G on you. The old suit's a little bit friendlier.
  • SC And, as you may have noticed, Bob, we've come to the end of the launch checklist.
  • CAPCOM That's affirmative, and we've put ours away for posterity. We also started with our TLI zero data that we worked so hard to generate.
  • 80mm note: time gap
    #123 AS17-148-22729
    #124 AS17-148-22730
    #125 AS17-148-22731
    #126 AS17-148-22732
    #127 AS17-148-22733
    SC [Schmitt] Well, I'm just happy - didn't - use it. That view of the earth for a rev there was something I was looking forward to and was not disappointed.
  • CAPCOM That's great, Jack.
  • SC Bob, you've got a pretty good size storm over the north. I guess the northwestern coast of India, where it starts to wrap up around to the west. It's around out on the horizon, so I can't make out exactly where it is too well.
  • CAPCOM Roger.
  • CAPCOM Could we get a readout on the LM, CM Delta P?
  • SC Plus .4.
  • CAPCOM Roger, we copy that.
  • --- APOLLO 17 MISSION COMMENTARY, 12/7172, CST 4:46 GET 5:10 69/1 ---
  • SC Okay.
  • SC I guess you saw that one, Houston. That had no caution or warning with it.
  • CAPCOM Roger, that master alarm?
  • SC Yes, sir.
  • CAPCOM How about the LEB?
  • SC [Schmitt] (Garble) Ha. You caught me. I forgot to look. Keep after us, we'll get you that data for you.
  • CAPCOM Roger, Jack.
  • SC [Schmitt] Gene's got his hands all over panel 2, which probably would have caused it.
  • CAPCOM Jack, we think that might have been a real one, due to the accumulator cycle with the 02 makeup flow going on there, held the 02 flow little higher for a - greater than 16 seconds.
  • SC [Schmitt?] Well, that's certainly a possibility. We didn't notice it looked upright at the time. But it- - sure that was the right time.
  • CAPCOM Well, we're kindly watching it here and (garble) feels it is.
  • SC [Schmitt] Gee, I can't argue with him.
  • -- APOLLO 17 MISSION COMMENTARY 12/7/72 5:20 GET 04:56 CST 70/1 --
  • SC Bob, Antarctica is what I would call effectively just a solid white cap down on the South Pole. There's definite contact between the continent and the water, but as Ron said most of the clouds seem to be very artistic, very picturesque, some in clockwise rotating fashion but appear to be very thin when you can for the most part kind of see through those clouds the blue water below.
  • CAPCOM Roger.
  • SC The continent itself is the same color as the clouds but of course, more dense in a striking difference than any of the other white background around, because you can definitely see that contact with the water and with the clouds over the water.
  • CAPCOM Rog, understand. There'll be a comm switch over to Madrid here shortly, may break lock here in a few minutes here. Or a few seconds, really.
  • CAPCOM And you might watch your accumulator's going to cycle in about 20 seconds here, see what happen with the master alarm.
  • CAPCOM 17, Houston, how do you read through Madrid?
  • SC You're loud and clear, Bob, and could you give us our distance from the Earth?
  • CAPCOM Rog, I'm looking at the board, I'd guess at about 19 000 miles, want me to get it exact?
  • SC Just approximate's good enough.
  • CAPCOM 18 100, Fido says.
  • SC Okay, and I suppose we're seeing as 100 per-cent full Earth as we'll ever see, certainly as I've ever seen, it appears to be it may be a little bit - a little bit of a terminator, way out to the well to the East out beyond Australia and beyond India, but beyond that it's about 99 percent pure.
  • SC [Cernan] Bob, it's these kind of views - these kind of views that stick with you forever.
  • CAPCOM Roger, Gene.
  • SC We've got a I guess probably the continent of Africa dominates the world right now, it's covering oh the upper third - upper western third of the world. We can see the Sinai, we can see up into the Mediterranean, we can see across the Mediterranean although we can't quite make out the countries up there, we can see across into India. I can catch a glimpse of Australia out in the far horizon. Got Zanzibar on the southern tip of Africa, the cape down there just almost directly below us. And, I don't know exactly how bit Antarctica is but I guess we can certainly see more than 50 percent of it. And - the rest of it is all ocean. The Indian Ocean out into the Pacific Ocean back into the Atlantic Ocean and for the most part relatively clear of clouds except in the Antarctica region, and up towards Europe which is - which is on the horizon, across the Mediterranean it looks like there might be some clouds back up in that way. I Probably - probably - well not probably I can make out the entire coast of Africa from Mediterranean around to the west on hack to the south back where it takes it's big dip to the east, back around the cape, back around up through the Suez Canal; almost perfectly.
  • CAPCOM Roger, we understand.
  • -- APOLLO 17 MISSION COMMENTARY 12/7172 5:20 GET 04:56 CST 70/2 --
  • SC And there's one batch of clouds that in northern Africa, just a small batch, it looks like it may be up near the - well no it's not near the mouth of the Nile it's quite a bit west of that, as a matter of fact, I can see the mouth of the Nile, I can see it running straight down towards us as it parallels the Suez and then sort of fades out into the central darker brown or darker green portions of Africa.
  • CAPCOM Roger, Gene. Sure would be nice to have that on TV wouldn't it?
  • SC Oh, I'd love to give it to you, any way I could.
  • SC You know, there's no strings holding it up either, it's out there all by itself.
  • CAPCOM Roger. I just was going through the 17 status report on the CSM systems and boy everything is absolutely nominal with the exception of as glitching master alarm that we're trying to still track down but every other system is just nominal, everything is great.
  • SC Okay, sounds good, that's the way they built it for us.
  • CAPCOM Gene, looking at our plot board, you're directly over the southern tip of Africa, or just slightly out in the Indian Ocean there according to our plot board which isn't exactly accurate at all times. But shortly you're gonna start going backwards on the Earth here and head back across the Atlantic, that ought to be some sort of a first; you cross the Atlantic twice, going from west to east, and now you're going to cross it going from east to west here shortly. All in a very short span of time.
  • SC Yeah, I guess that does sound like a first.
-- APOLLO 17 MISSION COMMENTARY, 1217/72, CST 5:06, GET 5:30, 71/1 --
PAO This is Apollo Control at 5 hours 30 minutes ground elapsed time.

The white team of flight controllers, headed by Gene Krantz, is in the process now, of handing over to the team headed by flight director Pete Frank. After 12 hours, the team came on about 3 hours prior to the scheduled launch time of 8:53 PM Central Standard Time. Of course, launch occurred 2 hours 40 minutes late at a ground elapsed time of 11, - of a Central Standard Time rather, 11:33 PM. As a result of the late launch-time the trans-lunar injection, that's up through translunar injection, also slipped 2 hours, 40 minutes.

We would expect that the translunar injection which is targeted to make up the difference will get us back on the nominal flight plan time by the time the spacecraft arrives at the Moon. In other words, arrival time at the Moon would be at the same Central Standard Time as called for in the Flight Plan at about 1:49 PM Central Standard Time, December 10. But, the Ground Elapsed Time would be about 2 hours, 40 minutes earlier than that provided for in the Flight Plan, the arrival being at about 86 hours, 14 minutes ground elapsed time. The 2 hour, 40 minute difference being accounted for in a speedier arrival time at the Moon, a translunar injection burn being targeted just slightly longer than would have been the case in a normal launch. The spacecraft getting to the Moon in a total elapsed time 2 hours 40 minutes less, in effect, making up for lost time from the late launch.

In order to get the flight plan back in agreement with the ground elapsed time the GET, or ground elapsed clock, will simply be moved ahead 2 hours, 40 minutes between now and the time spacecraft arrives at the Moon. So, that by the time Apollo 17 is inserted into Lunar Orbit, the GET will once again agree with the flight plan GET and of course, the Central Standard Time of arrival will be the same as was originally planned by virtue of a speedier trip time.

  As a result of the late liftoff it was not possible to program television coverage of the transposition and docking. This was because of a shift in the orbital ground track moving the ground track away from the needed Manned Spaceflight network coverage for television. We simply didn't have an adequate ground station to receive the television signal from the spacecraft.

There has been one recurring problem that is yet unexplained. That is in the displays and control system. The crew reported on several occasions that master alarm was occurring. The master alarm manifests itself in a form of a light that flashes in the Command Module. There are three of these lights and also a tone that comes on and a normal procedure is when the master alarm light comes on and the tone sounds, the crew then looks at another matrix of lights to determine precisely where the problem is. However, when looking at this matrix of lights none of them were lighted, indicating that some spurious signal had ignited or lighted the master alarm light and that there was in fact no problem in the systems. There is at this point no explanation for the problem. However, engineers here in the Control Center, are looking into the past history of panel 2, which is the panel on which a number of switches are located, which have triggered this master alarm to see if there is a history of panel 2 that would indicate a possibility of some momentary short in the caution and warning system, which could give a master alarm. Apollo at this point is an annoyance, but does not appear to be a serious problem.

All other spacecraft systems are performing normally, and the trajectory to the Moon is almost precisely as planned at this point.

We do not anticipate a change of shift press briefing. The white team will be coming back on at the regular Central Standard Time 4:00 PM tomorrow. And in light of this rather short turn around we're going to forego the change of shift press briefing.

At 5 hours, 36 minutes this is Apollo Control, Houston.


Jack's Planetary Weather Report

  • -- APOLLO 17 MISSION COMMENTARY 12/7/72 05:14 CST 5:38 GET MC72/1 --
  • SC Bob, this is Jack here. We've got a UCTA dump scheduled, is possible at 6 o'clock. There's nothing sacred about that time is there?
  • CAPCOM Nothing at all. When ever you are ready, just go ahead and dump.
  • SC Okay.
  • SC Bob, one of the things that we miss in our training is a good geography lesson and particularly on Antarctica. I got the binocular out and apparently the dark band that Gene - Ron mentioned and interfaced between the intercontinental water is that between the pack ice and the water and you can - by very subtle changes in the various movements of the ground probably make out where the actual continent begins and the pack ice ends. There are a few exposed ranges. I guess it's mid summer down there now and you can make out the snow free areas scattered at least in the northern portion of the continent.
  • 80mm note: time gap
    #128 AS17-148-22734
    CAPCOM Rog. Did you get any pictures of that, Jack?
  • SC [Schmitt] Oh yes. We got some pictures earlier. I'm going to get another one here in a minute. I'll tell you, if there ever was a fragile appearing piece of blue in space, it's the Earth right now.
  • CAPCOM Roger.
  • SC There, we got a master alarm.
  • CAPCOM Okay, we copy that.
  • SC And there's one in the LEB.
  • CAPCOM Okay, good data point.
  • SC And there are no caution lights.
  • CAPCOM It came right at an accumulator cycle along with the high 02 flow again.
  • SC Yes, I just checked the time and I think you are right on that one. But we gave you your LEB data point.
  • CAPCOM Yes, sir.
  • SC The problem with looking at the Earth - particularly Antarctica, is that it is too bright.
  • CAPCOM I understand.
  • SC And so I'm using my sunglasses through the binoculars, which is not the best viewing platform. I think I can see some of the areas of the Dry Valley but again I'm not too sure of my geography, Bob. There are clouds over the continent, I believe. But, of course, they are just as white as the snow and you only see differences in texture brought out by - probably by varying photometric return because of fairly low sun angles down there.
  • CAPCOM Roger.
  • SC But you can see patterns of, what I believe is, pack ice leading off from that sharp interface that was talked about earlier. And those patterns seem to merge directly with the patterns of the clouds as if the - at least near the continent - the oceananic currents are controlling the air currents up to a point along with the movement of the pack ice.
  • CAPCOM Roger.
  • SC I'm distinguishing the pack ice from clouds mainly by the angularity of the patterns within them. There is no good clear color or albedo distinction. So, I could be looking entirely at clouds but I suspect there are some pack ice patterns too. I'm not keeping you awake, am I, Bob?
  • CAPCOM No sir. Just keep talking. We're listening. I'm sure not much of the world is listening but  this will all be recorded and you can read it all when you get back. And think it through and tie it up with the pictures and I'm sure there's going to be people interested in this. And we're interested ourselves, so just keep talking.
  • SC All I want to do is read what I say.
  • CAPCOM Rog. If I had a little more geology training I'd be asking you some better questions. Right now, I can't think of any to ask you.
  • SC Well I can't - I really wish I knew geography. I don't Know - I wish I'd thought of bringing a good map of Anartica. Could somebody do a little researching for me and see if they could tell me if we're to have a little American view - say on the eastern edge of the continent?
  • CAPCOM Rog. We'll see if we can get some Antarctica geographers around.
  • SC Yes, I'd like to - and also whether or not they think the Dry Valley area - if this will do it. Could be - there's some people over there in Bill Petty's group I think have a little Antarctic experience, or used to. They might be able to help you out.
  • CAPCOM Okay. We'll see what we can track down on it.
  • SC Don't use up a lot of people's time on it but -
  • CAPCOM Roger. It's getting pretty empty around here. It's 5 in the morning.
  • SC Okay. There is a good strong northern hemisphere cyclone up near India. And I think Gene mentioned that. It, I think, was one I saw in some of the forecast sheets as a dissipating hurricane or typhoon. I'm not sure which it is there. I guess it is a typhoon. And I see something here that I noticed in Earth orbit, Bob. That as you approach the terminator - now I'm looking at the Eastern terminator. Have to keep all my directions straight here. Yes, eastern terminator. The clouds - those associated with the cyclone over India and one that's -- appears to be due south of there maybe 30 degrees of latitude have a gray appearance. Instead of the brilliant white of other clouds. As you approach the terminator those - at least the high level clouds are gray. Now, when we were going over them in orbit the lower level clouds were still white and I think I can see a head of that right now. That sun gives a strong light reflection off of the --
  • -- APOLLO 17 MISSION COMMENTARY 1217/72 CST 5:32 GET 5:56 73/1 --
  • 250mm
    SC The sun gives a strong light reflection off of the buildup in the low level clouds, whereas the high level and normally layered appearance, and maybe some of the intermediate level stratus get to look gray, because of grazing sun I suspect.
  • CAPCOM Roger. You mentioned several things on this orbit that kind of intrigued me, you mentioned seeing the rainbow, and we were trying to figure out how you saw a rainbow up there, and you were in orbit already at that time. Do you remember that?
  • SC Well, we were speaking of the merits of the sunrise.
  • CAPCOM Okay that's -
  • SC That's having a banded color appearance that varied as you approached the sunrise. I can't remember what we - I think we put some of that on tape, we were probably LOS at the time, but the banded character of the sunrise in the atmosphere was very very marked. There was a gray-blue upper layer that merged or graded into a brilliant blue intermediate zone that was just above the cloud level and within the clouds, you got an orange to yellow band getting more yellow as the sun rose, that was broken by the dark patterns of the buildup.
  • CAPCOM Roger. Good show.
  • SC The interesting thing was the continual glow on the horizon, we had even at night. On the darkside pass, and that glow was in the atmosphere because I could see stars rise over the horizon in it and then pass on through it.
  • CAPCOM Roger. You were talking, the air glow low I guess is the phenomenon most interesting thing before us. Kind of interesting.
  • SC Yes, that's right, it's I guess standard air glow, but it is very striking and it's a continuous thing even in the dark pass.
  • CAPCOM Roger.
  • SC I think I did see the eastern tip of South America now.
  • CAPCOM Roger, you're starting to backup now, coming the other way, so you're still over Africa according to our chart here, but you're backing up towards South
  • SC Yes, I can see the part on South America that Mercator thought that fit in with the bend in Africa some many decades ago and started people thinking about moving continents around on the crust.
  • CAPCOM Roger. Jack, how'd the PGA doffing go? Are you all out of the PGA's now?
  • SC That's been worked. We're taking it slow and easy up here, Bob.
  • CAPCOM Roger, understand.
  • SC I'll just be curious to see if they all fit in that bag.
  • SC I think you'll find that Ronald Evans will also be curious about that. He's already made comments.
  • CAPCOM Roger.
  • PAO This is Apollo Control at 6 hours. As Jack Schmitt gives the description of the earth, Apollo 17 is 22 868 nautical miles from earth velocity 12 520 feet per second.
  • SC We certainly do have a very clear intuitive impression although the evidence is hard to put together that the frontal drifts that move off the Anarctic continent do not take on any well defined characters until they get into the moist regions of the ocean, and when they do they seem to pick up an -
  • -- APOLLO 17 MISSION COMMENTARY 12/7172 06:00 GET 05:36 CST 74/1 --
  • SC - character until they get into the voice regions of the ocean and when they do, they seem to pick up an arculate circulation that in the view we have seem to get fairly spaced cyclones patterns that lie between the Cape of Good Hope and northern portion of Antarctica and these certain circulations of cyclones follows roughly an east/west pattern and the curve - the arcs of the fronts are more north/south than let's say northwest swinging around to the south.
  • CAPCOM Roger.
  • SC All of them - all of them very nicely defined as southern hemisphere cyclones. There are about 4 of those visible swinging around oh I guess that's latitude I'm having to guess here but I'd say latitude 50 to 60 South.
  • CAPCOM Okay, 50 or 60 South then huh?
  • SC Yeah, I'd have to look at the map here in a minute see if that puts me between Antarctica and the Cape.
  • CAPCOM Roger.
  • CAPCOM Well, the tip of Africa there is about 32 South.
  • SC Well, that sounds like a pretty good guess. It look like the intertropical convergence zone over Africa is starting to get more and more clouds in it now. I suspect as midday approaches, which is what we're seeing there, we can expect to see more and more moisture indications.
  • CAPCOM Rog, they're probably about noontime right there right now, it's 11:36 at the zero meridian at Greenwich so it's just a little bit before noon right in that area you're talking about.
  • SC Yeah, some of those masses of what I suspect are cumulus build ups, well not really, they don't look they're as concentrated and localized. More like just masses of fairly dense clouds that are developing in that band of green, that crosses the lower portion of Africa.
  • CAPCOM Roger.
  • SC Stay tuned for the next instalment on the Earth, I'll try and get out of this suit.
  • CAPCOM Okay, just take it easy Jack, and we'll be listening.
  • SC Man, I've never taken it so easy in my life, I'll tell you Bob, I. couldn't believe this would be an experience like it is now.
  • CAPCOM Roger.
  • SC Everytime you turn around there is something else to see and wonder what's causing it. Whether it's a particle zipping across the window or one zipping across the cabin or springs mechanics here in zero-g; there's always something going on.
  • CAPCOM Roger.
  • PAO This is Apollo Control at 6 hours 7 minutes No midcourse correction number 1 will be performed. The value of the maneuver that would be required is less than 3 feet per second and midcourse correction number 1 will not be performed by Apollo 17. The spacecraft is now 23 682 nautical miles from Earth, velocity 12 301 feet per second.
  • SC Bob, if I'm not waking you up an observer from another planet certainly - probably could decide that we have such things as clouds at least large thunder storms because right at the terminator you get a brightening of the Sun lit side and a long, long shadow out to the out to the east that is reminiscent of what we saw in the early days looking at the Moon at the terminator.
  • CAPCOM Roger.
  • 250mm - Note time gap
    -- APOLLO 17 MISSION COMMENTARY 12/7172 CST 5:46 GET 6:10 75/1 --
  • SC However, in the next pass around, I'll bet you wouldn't see them.
  • SC I've never been a big - well, I didn't grow up with the idea of drifting continents and sea floor spreading, but I tell you, when you look at the way the pieces of the northeastern portion of the African continent seem to fit together separated by a narrow gulf, you could almost make a believer of anybody.
  • CAPCOM Roger, it's beginning to look like the globe that you might buy down at the store, huh?
  • SC Oh, I don't think so Bob.
  • CAPCOM Okay.
  • SC I don't think we'd better put this one up for sale. Somewhere there might be somebody that would like to buy it.
  • CAPCOM Say, Jack. We noticed the 02 flow has dropped down now. We're wondering, did you all close the waste storage vent valve.
  • SC I don't think so, let me check on that. It might have gotten closed inadvertently in the game we were playing down in the LAB.
  • SC Ron says it's still on vent.
  • CAPCOM It's on vent, Roger.
  • CAPCOM Okay, we're noticing that the flow is coming back up slowly so something caused it to drop, and it's coming back up.
  • SC Okay.
  • CAPCOM 17, Houston.
  • SC Go ahead.
  • CAPCOM Jack, just to ease those words I said before, we looked at the schematics here a second and you've been dumping urine out of that same line as that waste vent, and that would probably cause the pressure to build up enough to slow the 02 flow, and we notice that the 02 flow is climbing back up to where it belongs.
  • SC Well, that's clever. Okay.
  • CAPCOM Didn't mean to worry you there, shouldn't have said it, I guess before we looked at the schematics.
  • SC Oh, I really hadn't started to worry about it yet, Bob, so no sweat.
  • -- APOLLO 17 MISSION COMMENTARY, 12/7/72, CST 5:06, GET 5:30, MC-75A/1 --
  • SC [Cernan] Bob, I can assume that from what you said there will probably not be a midcourse 1.
  • CAPCOM That's exactly what we're working towards, Gene. And I'm sorry I didn't convey that feeling to you a little earlier. There's no reason for midcourse 1 right now.
  • SC [Cernan] Okay, because we prefer to press on and get the suits off and hit the sack, rather than making them, unless we have to.
  • CAPCOM That's for sure. Roger. The earlier data showed us midcourse 1 would have been less on 3 feet per second and we wouldn't have done it. And the data's been fluctuating. And they're smoothing it out and it's still holding that way, so we won't be doing it probably.
  • SC [Cernan] Okay. Very good.
  • SC Bob, I'm looking over Gene's shoulder here at the Earth and it must be an awful clear day for the so called convergence zone across Africa. Gene I think indicated that when we crossed it earlier, most of Africa is clear. Only some, probably broken, scattered clouds cumulus in the east central portion that are running on the lines of north south lines.
  • CAPCOM Roger.
  • SC Looks like a major circulation system off the southern tip of Africa as Gene mentioned, plus one west of that, 20 or 30 degrees of longitude. Make that east of that.
  • CAPCOM Roger.
  • SC And, southwest of - make that south, southwest of the tip of Africa at Cape Good Hope, there looks like an insipient circulation system developing about half way between the Coast of Antarctica and Africa. If I had to guess, it's going to swing up north toward the Cape and then swing west. The whole pattern, looks like now a fairly equally spaced cyclones that are sort of circling around the Antarctic continent and we can see it now.
  • CAPCOM Roger, Jack.
  • SC I would guess that South Africa is going to have good weather for several more days at least. And if the pattern is apparent the clouds we see are correct the last disturbance I mentioned probably is going to pass down to the Cape also.
  • CAPCOM Roger. Understand.
  • SC As we were going over our daylight around the earth in our orbit, it was very clear looking at the various clouds, Bob, what were high clouds and what were low clouds, particularly when you have them together. High clouds carry very distinct shadow patterns on the lower ones and very commonly had entirely different orientations, pattern orientations. The low ones seem to be more associated with (garble) front patterns, whereas, the high clouds were generally transverse to that roughly north south directions. That's not completely general observation, but I noticed it several times.
  • CAPCOM Roger, understand.
  • APOLLO 17 MISSION COMMENTARY, 12/7/72, CST 5:06, GET 5:30, MC-75A/2
  • CAPCOM I just noticed on the blackboard here, it looks like you've come up on 20 000 miles out right about now.
  • SC It feels like about 20 000, Bob.
  • CAP Okay.
  • -- APOLLO 17 MISSION COMMENTARY 12/7/72 06:20 GET 05:56 CST 76/1 --
  • SC How'd the S-IVB work go, Bob?
  • CAPCOM It just finished the second burn and it's targeted right where they want it. Just working perfectly.
  • SC Where were they going to put that one, I guess I lost track of that?
  • CAPCOM Seven degrees south and 8 degrees west, Jack.
  • SC Say again, you cut out of the first.
  • CAPCOM Okay, 7 degrees south and 8 degrees west.
  • SC Okay.
  • SC That ought to be interesting.
  • PAO This is Apollo Control at 6 hours 24 minutes. The S-IVB maneuver that was just being discussed was performed with the auxiliary propulsion system; just completed Delta V of 13 feet per second to tune up the trajectory for S-IVB impact at the desired location on the lunar surface of 7 degrees south, 8 degrees west. That's approximately 200 kilometers of the Apollo 14 ALSEP site where the seismometer is located. That impact is expected to be picked up by the other seismometers on the Moon, the other Apollo lunar surface experiment seismometers. Booster systems engineer is now maneuvering the S-IVB stage, the third stage of the launch vehicle to a solar heat control attitude. This is to minimize the heat into the instrument unit. They will then track the stage for a considerable length of time and determine whether another corrective burn will be required. At 6 hours 25 minutes into the mission, this is Mission Control, Houston.
  • PAO This is Apollo Control at 6 hours 27 minutes. Booster systems engineer has just reported to the Flight Director that the S-IVB stage is in good shape, with 14 hours life time remaining. The limiting factor on the S-IVB is the battery life. Fourteen hours of battery life remaining on the S-IVB.
  • SC Hello, Houston, how do you read CDR?
  • CAPCOM Read you loud and clear, Gene.
  • S C Okay.
  • SC Bob, LMP's going off the air for a little while.
  • CAPCOM Roger, Jack.
  • SC It sounded like a kind of a sigh of relief.
  • CAPCOM No sir. Been enjoying listening to you, keep me awake down here.
  • SC You had a long day.
  • CAPCOM Not as long as you've had.
  • SC I've been lying around, floating around.
  • CAPCOM You make it sound so good.
  • SC Piece of cake. I'll talk to you in a little while.
  • CAPCOM Yes sir.
  • -- END OF TAPE -- next: 12/7/72, CST 6:06, GET 6:30, MC-77/1 --
PAO This is Apollo Control. It's 6 hours 49 minutes. Apollo 17 is 28 232 nautical miles from Earth; velocity 11 291 feet per second. We're continuing to operate at present on the normal GET of the flight plan, normal ground elapsed time. Under that schedule the crews rest period will begin about 9 hours and 15 minutes into the mission. If, however, the crew completes the activities that are scheduled in the flight plan early the rest period will probably begin earlyif they so desire. However, at the present time we are continuing to operate on the GET of the flight plan. At 6 hours 50 minutes, this is Mission Control, Houston.


Partial Apollo 17 Timeline
from Apollo by the Numbers





05 Dec 1972 12:53:00 -028:00:00 Terminal countdown started.
07 Dec 1972 02:50:13 -000:02:47 Terminal Countdown Sequencer (TCS) failed to issue the S-IVB LOX pressurization command.
02:52:30 -000:00:30 Unscheduled but automatic 1-hour 5-minute 11-second hold at T-30 seconds due to TCS failure.
03:57:41 -000:22:00 Countdown recycled to T-22 minutes.
04:11:41 -000:08:00 Unscheduled 1-hour 13-minute 19-second hold at T-8 minutes to resolve TCS corrective action.
05:25:00 -000:08:00 Countdown resumed at T-8 minutes.
05:32:43 -000:00:16.960 Guidance reference release.
05:32:51 -000:00:08.9 S-IC engine start command.
05:32:53 -000:00:06.9 S-IC engine ignition (#5).
05:32:58 -000:00:01.6 All S-IC engines thrust OK.
05:33:00 000:00:00.00 Range zero.
05:33:00 000:00:00.24 All holddown arms released (1st motion) (1.08 g).
05:33:00 000:00:00.63 Liftoff (umbilical disconnected).
05:33:01 000:00:01.7 Tower clearance yaw maneuver started.
05:33:09 000:00:09.7 Yaw maneuver ended.
05:33:12 000:00:12.9 Pitch and roll maneuver started.
05:33:14 000:00:14.3 Roll maneuver ended.
05:34:07 000:01:07.5 Mach 1 achieved.
05:34:19 000:01:19 Maximum bending moment (96,000,000 lbf-in).
05:34:22 000:01:22.5 Maximum dynamic pressure (701.75 lb/ft2).
05:35:19 000:02:19.30 S-IC center engine cutoff command.
05:35:40 000:02:40.1 Pitch maneuver ended.
05:35:41 000:02:41.20 S-IC outboard engine cutoff. Maximum total inertial acceleration (3.87 g).
05:35:42 000:02:42.0 S-IC maximum Earth-fixed velocity.
05:35:42 000:02:42.9 S-IC/S-II separation command.
05:35:43 000:02:43.6 S-II engine start command.
05:35:44 000:02:44.6 S-II ignition.
05:36:12 000:03:12.9 S-II aft interstage jettisoned.
05:36:19 000:03:19 Launch escape tower jettisoned (planned time, actual time not recorded).
05:36:24 000:03:24.1 Iterative guidance mode initiated.
05:37:33 000:04:33.689 S-IC apex.
05:40:41 000:07:41.21 S-II center engine cutoff. Maximum total inertial acceleration (1.74 g).
05:42:11 000:09:11.708 S-IC impact (theoretical).
05:42:19 000:09:19.66 S-II outboard engine cutoff.
05:42:20 000:09:20.6 S-II/S-IVB separation command. S-II maximum Earth-fixed velocity.
05:42:20 000:09:20.70 S-IVB 1st burn start command.
05:42:23 000:09:23.80 S-IVB 1st burn ignition.
05:42:32 000:09:32.4 S-IVB ullage case jettisoned.
05:42:34 000:09:34.527 S-II apex.
05:44:42 000:11:42.65 S-IVB 1st burn cutoff and maximum total inertial acceleration (0.67 g).
05:44:52 000:11:52.65 Earth orbit insertion.
05:44:52 000:11:52.7 S-IVB 1st burn maximum Earth-fixed velocity.
05:45:04 000:12:04.4 Maneuver to local horizontal attitude started.
05:52:56 000:19:56.947 S-II impact (theoretical).
08:35:58 003:02:58.60 S-IVB 2nd burn restart preparation.
08:45:28 003:12:28.60 S-IVB 2nd burn restart command.
08:45:36 003:12:36.60 S-IVB 2nd burn ignition.
08:51:27 003:18:27.64 S-IVB 2nd burn cutoff and maximum total inertial acceleration (1.41 g).
08:51:28 003:18:28.3 S-IVB safing procedure – CVS opened.
08:51:28 003:18:28.5 S-IVB 2nd burn maximum Earth-fixed velocity.
08:51:37 003:18:37.64 Translunar injection.
08:53:59 003:20:59.6 Maneuver to local horizontal attitude and orbital navigation started.
09:06:28 003:33:28.9 Maneuver to transposition and docking attitude started.
09:15:27 003:42:27.6 CSM separated from S-IVB.
09:23 003:50 TV transmission started.
09:30:10 003:57:10.7 CSM docked with LM/S-IVB.
09:43 004:10 TV transmission ended.
10:18:02 004:45:02.3 CSM/LM ejected from S-IVB.
10:36:01 005:03:01.1 S-IVB APS evasive maneuver ignition.
10:37:21 005:04:21.0 S-IVB APS evasive maneuver cutoff (estimated).
10:52:39 005:19:39.8 S-IVB lunar impact maneuver - CVS opened.
10:57:20 005:24:20.2 S-IVB lunar impact maneuver - LOX dump started.
10:57:40 005:24:40.0 S-IVB lunar impact maneuver - CVS closed.
10:58:07 005:25:07.9 S-IVB lunar impact maneuver - LOX dump ended.
11:35:15 006:02:15 Maneuver to attitude for 1st S-IVB APS lunar impact burn.
11:42:59 006:09:59.8 S-IVB lunar impact maneuver - 1st APS ignition command.
11:44:38 006:11:38.0 S-IVB lunar impact maneuver - 1st APS cutoff command.
11:50:44 006:17:44 Maneuver to S-IVB solar heating attitude.
16:35:40 011:02:40 Maneuver to attitude for 2nd S-IVB APS lunar impact burn.
16:47:59 011:14:59.8 S-IVB lunar impact maneuver - 2nd APS ignition command.
16:49:42 011:16:42.0 S-IVB lunar impact maneuver - 2nd APS cutoff command.
17:04:42 011:31:42 S-IVB 3-axis tumble mode initiated.
17:04:50 011:31:50 S-IVB passive thermal control maneuver.
17:05:12 011:32:12.5 Command to inhibit instrument unit flight control computer to leave the S-IVB in 3-axis tumble mode
08 Dec 1972 17:02:59 035:29:59.91 Midcourse correction ignition (SPS).
17:03:01 035:30:01.64 Midcourse correction cutoff.
20:38 039:05 Maneuver to LM checkout attitude.
20:53 039:20 Preparations for intravehicular transfer.
21:03 039:30 LM pressurization started.
21:43 040:10 CDR and LMP entered LM for housekeeping and communications check.
23:44 042:11 LM closeout.
09 Dec 1972 00:28 042:55 Heat flow and convection demonstration started.
01:18 043:45 Heat flow and convection demonstration ended.
02:53 045:20 Heat flow and convection demonstration started.
03:33 046:00 Heat flow and convection demonstration ended.
17:03 059:30 LM pressurization started.
17:32 059:59 CDR and LMP entered LM for telemetry checkout.
19:49 062:16 CDR and LMP entered CM.
22:33 065:00 Mission clock updated (002:40:00 added).
23:12 065:39 Apollo light flash phenomenon experiment started.
10 Dec 1972 00:12 066:39 Apollo light flash phenomenon experiment ended.
04:10:45 070:37:45 Equigravisphere.
15:05:40 081:32:40 Scientific instrument module door jettisoned.
16:59 083:26 Inflight science phase of mission initiated with turn-on of Far Ultraviolet Spectrometer.
18:23 084:50 Ultraviolet photography of dark Moon.
19:47:22 086:14:22.60 Lunar orbit insertion ignition (SPS).
19:53:55 086:20:55.76 Lunar orbit insertion cutoff.
20:32:42 086:59:42.3 S-IVB impact on lunar surface.


Sidebar: Apollo 17 Technical Debrief
Manned Spacecraft Center Document MSC-07631 -- 4 January 1973


CERNAN The TLI burn from the ground targeting point of view and targeting went just as written. We went down the checklist and cue card without any problems or any anomalies, without any changes except t o the manual. We had a change to all our manual angles to monitor the S-IVB burn because of the late lift-off. We wrote those down on our cue cards and were going to use those in case we had to take over during the burn. We had to change to the nominal and we rewrote both of those on our cue cards. That's the only basic change I think we had.

SCHMITT The communications all through Earth orbit were excellent, as I recall. There was no difficulty getting the pads up. They came up expeditiously and well read. We actually gained a little time because we didn't have television. But we didn't need it. We could have configured it for use.

If there's ever any attempt to do weather observing from Earth orbit , in the low orbit like that , you're going t o have to have a very clear plan of where you're looking at what time you're looking in order t o make reference as to where you are because you're moving so fast. You can't really keep track of where you are and specifically in terms of weather observation. Later on, once you get the whole globe in view, it's a relatively simple thing to pin down to within a few degrees of latitude and longitude where you are looking on the Earth.

CERNAN On all these lunar missions, we've never really done much in Earth orbit except get prepared for the TLI burn. Future Earth-orbit flights need this continual map update, you're right. You have to do that . As I think back to 3 days in Earth orbit , unless you continually follow a map and a map update as to your rev as you progress around the world, what part of that world you're looking at is very difficult to follow except the precise piece of real estate you're flying over.

SCHMITT The lunar orbital operation is somewhat different because you stay in the same groundtrack much longer I think.

CERNAN The S-IVB performance was outstanding. She lit off on time and burned for 5 minutes and some odd seconds as I recall. And we had shutdown on time. The residuals and the EMS on the spacecraft are written down somewhere, but they were all very nominal, very excellent. We stayed in IU. As the S-IVB maneuvered, we flew through a sunrise during TLI, which in itself was also very interesting, very spectacular. We had nominal S-IVB performance after shutdown; and maneuvering to the sep attitude , we went through checkout load NOUN 17 and NOUN 22. There was again no noticeable pogo. The S-IVB sounded and performed just like it did on the insertion phase burn and I'll let the CMP pick up the separation and the transposition and docking.

SCHMITT We all were very aware of PU shift.

CERNAN I guess I could have called that or I was looking forward to seeing it. It is on my checklist. It' s on my cue card and I've looked for it and I've seen it in the simulator.

SCHMITT It just didn't register in the simulators, I guess. And the other thing flying through that sunrise, it did to a small degree interfere with visibilit y in the cockpit.

CERNAN It didn't bother me from the standpoint of monitoring on my side at all.

EVANS As far as the separation from the SLA, it was nominal. There's a louder bang than I expected from pyros. This is the first time that I really noticed that in the plus-X translations, or in any translations as far as that goes, you get about c0.4 per second rates within the dead band. As opposed t o the simulator, it has about 0.1' per second on any of the translations maintaining attitude.

Formation flight was great. The S-IVB by itself was as steady as a rock out there. No problems. I couldn't tell it was dead banding or moving at all. I came in relatively slow, about 0.1ft/sec, somewhere in that area.

Docking was nominal. As soon as he got capture on the thing, there were no rates. Everything was steady. I didn't have to handle the translation controls or null rates at all. We went directly to hard dock. There's more spacecraft movement during that period because I feel that the COAS and the docking target were off a little bit. And I don't say misaligned, but it's a little bit off. But, of course, it was in limits and was no problem.

CERNAN When we went t o retract, we got our big ripple fire - bang on the latches, so we had a relatively good hard dock. We only got one gray indication on the talkbacks. The other one was barber pole.

SCHMITT There's a lot of descriptive material, I think, in the transcript on that. As I recall, we got two pulses in the ripple fire. It seemed like there was one or two latches and then the ripple fire.

CERNAN I just recall a woomph!

SCHMITT I think, if you look at the transcript, we said that there were two pulses t o it.

CERNAN Subsequent inspection of the latches showed that there were three latches which were not made entirely. One of them, as I recall, had t o be recocked. Anyway, it turned out that once we got those three latches (which at that time looked like they were operating properly) reset, we got two barber poles on the talkbacks. Ultimately, latch 4 was found t o be unseated on the ring, although, at that time, it looked nominal. The attitudes given us were excellent; we were able t o watch the S-IVB maneuver. We were able t o see the S-IVB vent and it all went well and nominal.

SCHMITT It was very clean as far as any debris or anything coming out during the docking phase, and I could see a few little things that were bouncing around inside around the LM, particles of some kind. It was nothing like previous flights where they had a lot of debris. It was very clean.

CERNAN As I recall, we undocked and separated just a little earlier than had tentatively been planned, but that was no problem because we were ready to do it.


EVANS The IMU realignment and optics calibration - We've mentioned the visibility of the stars in talking about the systems in the section on systems. Systems anomalies - We already hit that one. Heat flow demonstration - it worked great. There were no real problems on it. It was a real time operation with ground. Everything is recorded on the down-link.

SCHMITT There was some problem with the orientation of the experiment. As I recall, you reoriented it between the two experiments. I never quite understood why there was that problem. It was a checklist problem or something.

EVANS The problem was something about the orientation of the radial experiment with respect to the X-axis. I pointed the radial experiment along the X-axis. It was supposed t o be perpendicular to the X-axis, but it shouldn't have made any difference in the results anyhow.

PTC - We got it started and had no problem.

Cislunar navigation or navigational sightings - It's already mentioned in the systems part.

SCHMITT You mentioned apparently you had a very good Delta-H determination - horizon determination.

EVANS The P23s worked out great. The vehicle is heavy enough that you can control it quite easily with minimum impulse. I used the EMP on P23 so that once you had the star in the field of view and all lined up you could recycle through the program without getting all the maneuver data on the thing. While it was recycling, I could just watch the spacecraft and not let it drift too far out of field of view. When it came back in, I would maintain the star in the middle of the crosshairs of the sextant and maneuver the spacecraft so I could get the substellar point and maintain the substellar point. As it turns out, I guess the resulting Delta-H is within the limits that are recorded in the E-memory.

Midcourse correction - I think that's all recorded on the down-link. There should be nothing anomalous about that .

Photography - Jack, I guess you've taken most of the pictures on the translunar coast.

SCHMITT Most of the photography came to GET within a few minutes. It was almost a continuous effort at the beginning of the day and maybe in the middle and at the end with some irregularities - getting a continuous record of a very nice view of the Earth and the weather patterns. We had about three-quarters to two-thirds Earth through most of the translunar coast period. And that should be in the photographic logs on the ground.

SCHMITT High gain antenna performance - Through the whole mission, not just translunar coast when I was using it, it was perfectly nominal. The ground did most o f the calling on it. Between omis and high gain when they didn't call, it was easy enough to get the high gain t o peak up. Usually in MANUAL and WIDE and either AUTO or REACQ depending on the occasion, it seemed to work very well. I wasn't aware of any high gain anomalies.

EVANS Daylight IMU realign and star check - Again you can't see the stars through the telescope. Most of the time you can't see the stars through the telescope. However, if you have a good alignment and it shows up in the sextant, there's no problem.

ALFMED experiment - I think that's all recorded on the downlink. The one thing that I might add to that is that prior to this time I hadn't seen a light flash. So I put it on anyhow and sure enough the light flashes are there. And that's all recorded.

SCHMITT In the experiments notebook, where the LMP was taking notes on the ALFMED experiment comments, it was necessary in this translunar coast period because we were on omnis and PTC. It is very difficult,with two guys observing t o take notes if they both start seeing marks at the same time. Interestingly enough maybe even for the experiment the marks seem t o come in batches. There'd be periods of quiescence, then both of us would start seeing marks. So the notes are relatively incomplete and, hopefully, the DSE plus the down-link will fill in all the gaps. It's feasible to take notes but they will be incomplete compared to the verbal description.

EVANS CM/LM Delta-P - Nominal.

Orbital science photos - We really didn't have any on translunar coast.

SCHMITT Nothing was called out. We used about a half a mag on the Earth, maybe more.

EVANS More than that. We used a full mag before we got to the Moon.

LM and tunnel pressure was okay, no problems.

Removal of the probe and drogue - Went as advertised. Worked great.

Odors - Every time I got up in the tunnel after docking or anytime, there was always a musty burned odor or something. It's hard t o describe.

SCHMITT Like a powder burn.

EVANS Kind of like a powder burn, I guess. This was there both in lunar orbit docking and transearth docking. This was the second day we were out when we finally went up in the tunnel. Every time I opened up the tunnel, that' s what it smelled like.


AS17-154-23598: View of LM, Earth
from moon. Perspective seems
correct  for hatch window -
perhaps window was partially

We didn't mention the SIM door jett. I guess I never did see the door. You guys wouldn't let me up to the window.

SCHMITT Yes, we saw the door. I didn't get it right away. I was supposed t o be taking pictures out of the window.

CERNAN I saw it right away out of the hatch window. You should have been taking pictures out of the hatch because it wasn't immediately obvious out the window. It came off just as clean as a whistle, with almost no tumbling until it got 20 or 30 feet away from the spacecraft. Then you could see that there was just a little roll and a little pitch as it drifted on away, but very very little. Not a great deal of debris and garbage as I recall came off with it either. You could probably sum up all the pyro operations by saying there are absolutely no questions. They're just good, solid, hard thuds, including SIM door jett . Just a big solid bang, really not that much different than some of the other big bangs when you separate the spacecraft. They're just all big, hard, solid clunks.

SCHMITT I don't remember what Apollo 16 said about it. Apollo 15 was suited, and they commented they didn't even know it went.

CERNAN I'm surprised at that, even suited. It was a very definite jolt to the spacecraft when the door was jettisoned.

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