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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Apollo Moon Flight Transcripts: Behind the Scenes with the Astronauts

I was introduced to the Apollo Onboard Flight Transcriptions (once listed CONFIDENTIAL) by a friend at work who had discovered the Apollo 10 transcripts. The various flight transcripts reflect the nature of the men sent to the moon. Apollo 10's crew has some pretty raucous moments. These guys liked to laugh, to joke, to have escapades of sorts when they weren't in the world spotlight or speaking space-ese with the ground. Their discussion of a wayward turd (when you have to poop in 0 g for days with bags you tape to yourself ... sooner or later ... well, you'll see) made the news recently and that's probably where my friend found out about the transcripts. I particularly like the Apollo 10 crew. Their very professional communications with the ground, followed by the kinds of things you see here, remind me of growing up ... where your parents could be irritated with you one moment, then the phone rings, and they are entirely different with whomever they're talking to (not that WE of the next generation would ever do such a thing, oh no) ... you note as you take the opportunity to make yourself scarce. You can check out Apollo 10's transcriptions for yourself at:

CDR Commander Thomas P. Stafford
CMP Command module pilot John W. Young
LMP Lunar module pilot Eugene A. Cernan

O0 O0 44 45 CMP Okay, everything - looks alright. Okay, I've got
Mars in there now, son of a gun ...
O0 00 45 03 LMP What's our chances on ... into the water?
O0 O0 45 07 CMP Gene, how's this?
O000 45 09 CDR How - how come these bastards gave us this star chart with no (laughter) Velero?

05 13 29 44 CDR Oh - Who did it?
05 13 29 _6 CMP Who did what?
05.13 29 47 LMP What?
05 13 29 4_ CDR Who did it? (Laughter)
05 13 29 51 LMP Where did that come from?
05 13 29 52 CDR Give me a napkin quick. There's a turd floating
through the air.
05 13 29 55 CMP I didn't do it. It ain't one of mine.
05 13 29 57 LMP I don't think it's one of mine.
05 13 29 59 CDR Mine was a little more sticky than that. Throw
that away.
05 13 30 06 CMP God almighty.
05 lB 30 08 SC (Laughter)

Let's just say, there's a lot of material in the transcripts that never made it on the news ... and it's the kind of conversation you never hear in science fiction movies either. There are also sublime moments to be had. For instance, on pages 72-73 of the Apollo 11 transcript:

CDR Commander Nell A. Armstrong
CMP Command module pilot Michael Collins
 LMP Lunar module pilot Edwin E. Aldrin, Jr.

03 04 05 05 CMP Look at those craters in a row. You see them
right - going right out there?
03 04 05 07 CDR ...
03 04 05 08 CMP Look at that line of them.
03 0h 05 15 CMP Something really peppered that one. There's a lot
less variation in color than I would have thought,
you know, looking down?
03 0h 05 26 LMP Yes, but when you look down, you say it's brownish
03 0h 05 29 CMP Sure.
03 0h 05 32 LMP Oh, golly, let me have that camera back. There's
a huge, magnificent crater over here. I wish we
had the other lens on, but God, that's a big
beauty. You want to look at that guy, Neil?

And there's the approach in the LM to the lunar landing site:

03 10 54 01 CDR - - TPI approach. Man, this is really something;
you ought to look at this. You want to watch our
approach into the landing site; you got to watch
right through this window. We're coming over -
we Just passed Mount Marilyn. We're coming up on
Maskelyne series here - straight out ahead, coming
into the landing area.
03 l0 54 21 CMP Houston, we're holding inertial a little while to
study the approach to the landing zone.
03 l0 54 39 CDR See the monocular -
03 10 54 41 CMP I don't either, ...
03 l0 54 44 CDR Is there one?
03 l0 54 50 IMP Well, a crater - -
03 l0 54 51 CMP There go Sidewinder and Diamondback. God, if you
ever saw checkpoints in your life, those are it.
03 l0 54 56 CDR But ... we don't get to see them.
03 10 54 58 CMP You don't?
03 l0 54 59 CDR No, we roll over right here at this little - well,
you see Boot Hill coming up right here?
03 l0 55 06 CMP Yes, yes, yes.
03 l0 55 07 CDR And Just beyond it that's - that crater right on
track there, the big one?
03 l0 55 ll CMP That's Mount Marilyn? Psat Boot Hill?
03 l0 55 13 LMP No, Duke Hill.
03 l0 55 14 CMP Duke Hill?
03 l0 55 15 _ No, I'm sorry ... that's - -
03 l0 55 17 CDR Duke Island, Duke Island.
03 l0 55 20 CMP Oh God, look at that Moltke; he's my favorite ...
Look at that son of a bitch. You see all those
roads - triangular roads leading right past him?
03 l0 56 49 I24P Houston, this is Apollo LM in the Eagle - Apollo ll
in the Eagle, and I got a beautiful view of the
whole landing area,
03 l0 57 08 LMP Roger. I can see the entire landing area from the
position I'm in looking out the left window in the
03 10 57 20 CMP ...
03 l0 57 26 IMP That's right.
03 l0 58 05 _ Boy, that sure is eerie looking.
03 l0 58 G6 CDR Isn't that something?
03 10 58 08 MS ...
03 l0 58 l0 CMP ... enough of a shot down there, but you can't find
a single spot on the surface that doesn't look
... 1-degree sun angle, that's - that's Just a
lousy sun angle.
03 l0 58 28 CDR That's spectacular out there - Looks like you're
flying right into the side of a mountain, doesn't it?


Check it out for yourself at:

With these transcripts you get to go behind the scenes and ride along with the astronauts as they make history ... and share their thoughts, feelings, opinions, and more along the way.

For a related post, see:

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