Excellent site with real-time aspect covering Apollo 17 audio/visual cues as appropriate. Once you get into the simple interface, it's great - you can go backwards and forwards to follow the action as it happened. Highly recommended to check it out, that is, if you haven't already:
My favorite comment so far by CM pilot Ron Evans at 190:02:59 as the ascent stage of the LM was about to dock with the CSM after ascent from the Moon. He says (referring to the LM), "still looks kind of tinny to me." Obviously, no ship preference bias there!
At 118:22:21, Cernan and Schmitt become the last astronauts of the Apollo programme to deploy the American flag on the surface of the Moon in the formal ceremony to place this moment in 'world' history.
Found a couple of charming NASA animated presentations highlighting the pinpoint accuracy required to re-enter the earth's atmosphere after a typical Apollo mission to the Moon. Most movies, including Apollo 13, tend to trivialise these parts of the flight, although in fairness to the film, we saw Kevin Bacon (as CM pilot Jack Swigert) turn the crew to bacon when he fried them under very high 'g' in the 'sweat box' (simulator) scene seen early on. This film highlights the intellectual aspects of the problem quite informatively with the simple but clear animation graphics of the day. The film is broken into two parts. The narrator sounds rather like William Holden, although I recognise the voice from several such information films provided by NASA.
Grecchus wrote:Most movies, including Apollo 13, tend to trivialise these parts of the flight
Apollo 13 includes a short segment of one TV news anchor explaining the "marksmanship" of the aerobraking maneuver as hitting a target no thicker than a sheet of paper over a basketball from 14 feet away. The movie also detailed the concern that the ablative heat shield might have been damaged in the explosion. While the movie did not go into the detail of Lovell and Kluger's Lost Moon, it covered quite a bit—certainly not "trivializing."
I remember all of that, and it serves to play a nail-biting odds game with a largely on-the-ball audience. They re-enter, go through the blackout phase, then the CM appears 'lit up' with all chutes ballooned open. Phew!
The fact the re-entry software on the CM consisted of the biggest program to deal with the scenario shows that being in an atmosphere at any specific juncture was not as simple as coasting between two points in space.
When you get back from the Moon at something between 36 - 37,000ft per second the marshmallow toastie effect on negotiating earth's hot air is just the thing to cause an excessive bout of gulping.
When a rocket launches with constant thrust from the rocket engines, at some point the Max-Q situation develops. The way to deal with that is to throttle down some so the heat and pressure on the pointy end is lessened or reduced.
When you come back to earth you have a similar problem. It's okay at the upper reaches of the atmosphere, but when you get deeper and denser, you encounter a similar problem to Max-Q, but from the other side of the coin. To reduce stress on the heat shield you have to steer upwards to thinner air and let that continue the deceleration process with less air pressure enveloping the ship. What is so startling from those NASA movies is the limited window of time . . . 70 seconds, in which to do it. I assume that if a spacecraft came straight in without relieving the stress, then complete breakup is a distinct possibility. I was just wondering how a SpaceX BFS would perform that little stunt on arrival at earth . . . from Mars!