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Apollo 10 - last instrument test before the manned landings

After the success of the flights of Apollo 8 and Apollo 9, there were those who thought of bringing forward the actual landing to the Apollo 10 flight, but after much hesitation, it was decided to make a general return on the Apollo 10 flight in preparation for the actual landing.

The Apollo 10 Landing Module (unmanned) after detaching from the Command and Service Module. Photo: NASA
The Apollo 10 Landing Module (unmanned) after detaching from the Command and Service Module. Photo: NASA

After the success of the flights of Apollo 8 and Apollo 9, there were those who thought of bringing forward the actual landing to the Apollo 10 flight, but after much hesitation, it was decided to make a general return on the Apollo 10 flight in preparation for the actual landing. Apollo 10 will enter orbit around the moon, the lander will disconnect from the command cabin and descend to an altitude of 15 km from it, return and connect to the command cabin. Additional tasks were assigned to the Apollo 10 pilots and they are:

  • A. Examine the possible landing areas to allow experts to definitively determine the Apollo 11 landing site.
  • B. The researchers noticed that mysterious concentrations of mass exist on the moon. These affected the orbits of spacecraft that orbited the moon. For example, the trajectory of the Apollo 8 flight was unstable. It was therefore necessary to check what those mass concentrations are.
  • third. Update the moon maps.

Even in this flight there was no lack of malfunctions before and after the launch. The main malfunction before the launch was a leak from the system that drains the unnecessary water from the oxygen system. This is the first time that astronauts ate most of their meals naturally instead of sucking porridge out of plastic pods. They also got real bread sandwiches. In addition to this, they were also allowed to shave, which was not done on previous flights. These natural actions became possible after the space scientists realized that all the devices are sealed against small particles that could penetrate them and damage them. During the flight, 11 television transmissions were made to Earth. To prevent overheating from the sun's radiation, the spacecraft rotated around itself throughout its flight.
May 18, 1969 - the first day of flight
The three Apollo 10 pilots Tom Stafford, John Young and Eugene Cernan were launched on May 18, 1969. 11 minutes and 49 seconds after launch, the spacecraft entered a circular orbit around the Earth at a distance of 185 km from it. At this height, the spacecraft circled the Earth two and a half times. During this period of time, the astronauts tested all the spacecraft's systems. When they were found to be in order, the spaceship detached itself from its terrestrial orbit and entered a flight path that would bring it to the moon. After connecting with the lander and launching the third stage of the launcher into orbit around the sun, a connection was made as in the Apollo 9 flight. In the first stage, the launcher covers were automatically removed, so that the nose of the lander was visible. In the second stage the lander detached from the third stage of the launcher, accelerated itself to a distance of 15 meters from it. Then, the third step towards docking, the astronauts turned the nose of the command cabin towards the lander that was flying behind it at the time. And while moving cautiously, the astronauts reset their spacecraft and attached it to the lander with the help of instruments and binoculars. After docking, the engine of the third stage of the launcher was activated and it was guided into a flight path around the sun. This maneuver was televised in its entirety. During all these maneuvers, the flight path was so precise that it was possible to forego correcting the course set for that day.
After the maneuver, the astronauts slept for 9 hours. At a distance of 42,000 km from the Earth, another TV broadcast was conducted and perfected the appearance of the Earth as it appears from space.
May 19 - the second day of the flight
At a distance of 120,000 km from the earth, a small correction was made to the flight path. The engine was activated for 7 seconds and returned the spacecraft to the correct path. Some time earlier the astronauts saw the moon for the first time. They reported two unidentified objects. A television broadcast was held for 27 minutes.
May 20 - the third day of the flight
The spacecraft flew at a speed of 7400 km/h and slowed it down to 4500 km/h. Towards May 21, when it entered lunar orbit, the health of the astronauts was checked. It turned out that from the day of the launch they suffered from gas accumulation in the stomach and had to be given tablets to relieve them. The reason for this was, the nitrogen and hydrogen dissolved in the drinking water and separated from the water in the weightless conditions floated in the spaceship. The astronauts had no complaints about the taste of the chlorinated water. Stafford told the researchers that the planners of the next flights must immediately address the problem of the many bubbles in the water.
The sound quality on the TV broadcast was poor. The source of the problem was the need to direct the antenna. After the broadcast they fell asleep for a few hours. This time, they were not bothered by the engine noise that bothered them on the first day of the flight.
On this day at an observatory in the Netherlands, mysterious twinkles were noticed 1000 km away from the intended landing site for Apollo 11.
May 21 - the fourth day of the flight
On this day the spacecraft reached the moon. The spacecraft entered orbit around the moon with the first of its orbits beginning on the far side of the moon. 36 minutes accompanied by anxious anticipation passed from the moment the spacecraft entered the hidden side of the moon until it was discovered on the visible side. The spacecraft carried out the maneuver that put it into orbit around the moon with vigorous precision and without errors. The route was circular and its distance from the ground is 111 km. 20 minutes after it entered orbit, a television broadcast was transmitted from the face of the moon. The astronauts described formations that looked like volcanoes and one of them was told that his inside was completely black and his lip was white. They also reported a formation that appears to be a groove and a cluster of hills parallel to each other and are similar to formations seen on Earth in areas of volcanic activity.
According to the telemetric data of the astronauts' heartbeats, it was found that when they entered orbit around the moon, they were excited similar to how they felt during the launch. All three of them had heart rates that increased significantly and they returned to normal a minute later. The spacecraft circled the moon at the equator 31 times in 62 hours. In the last few hours, a slight concern arose when it became clear that two of the three fuel cells overheated, but they operated as normal. That same day, Cernan entered the lander to check its systems and prepare it for the next day's maneuver.
May 22 - the fifth day of the flight
On this day, the main maneuver was performed which was the highlight of the flight - the separation of the lander from the spacecraft and its entry into orbit around the moon. A few hours before the experiment, Stafford and Cernan went to the lander to check if everything was working properly, and transferred the necessary equipment to it. An hour later Cernan announced that everything was working fine. They then returned to the command cabin and replaced the light spacesuits they were wearing with heavier suits, which allow breathing oxygen independently of the spacecraft and radio communication with the spacecraft.
Two hours before the disconnection, a malfunction was discovered in the sealing of the tunnel connecting the command cabin to the lander. In an attempt to fix the fault, the condition of the sealing rings changed by 3 degrees. In the control center, the astronauts were advised not to disconnect the lander if the condition of the sealing rings changed by an additional 3 degrees. Several bolts connecting the command cabin to the lander had loosened and it was feared that if the connections loosened further, the maneuvers would not be performed. When Stafford and Cernan were about to move to the lander, it was impossible to get the oxygen out of the tunnel connecting the command cabin to the lander. This problem was solved with the help of the control center. The malfunction delayed the disconnection of the lander from the command cabin by 5 minutes.
While repairing the malfunctions, Stafford and Cernan entered the lander and stayed there for 3 hours. On the 12th lap, the landing gear was cut off. To make sure everything was okay the lander surrounded the command cabin with Yang who stayed inside doing checks inside. Only then did they begin maneuvering. The lander circled the moon at a speed of 3200 km/h and twice came within 15 km of the surface (the height of the mountains on the surface of the moon reaches up to 9 km). To do this the lander had to brake itself and for this purpose the engine was turned on twice. The radar equipment and other devices were also tested. In addition to this, the astronauts surveyed an elliptical area measuring 16 km by 6.5 km in the calm sea intended for the Apollo 11 landing.
Stafford described the color of the moon as grayish brown dotted with white spots, which are the days of the moon. Lovell, the Apollo 8 pilot, described the surface of the moon as a vast expanse in black and white. Anders, also an Apollo 8 pilot, said the color was gray to whitish. On the other hand, there were no disagreements between the teams of the two spacecraft regarding the structure of the moon's surface, broken craters and desolate steppes. The lander pilots performed maneuvers related to the landing. They photographed the moon and especially the equatorial region up close and from every possible angle. The pictures of the moon were 70D. Stafford had trouble operating the XNUMXmm camera.
Even during this flight there was no lack of malfunctions. Moments of anxiety passed over the lander's pilots as it entered a wild spin. Because the navigation system was operating beyond the required time. The astronauts kept their cool and soon the lander stabilized. Once again the lander spun as the landing gear detached from it. The astronauts overcame that too. It turned out that one of the technicians forgot to move a certain switch. When the lander hovered over the Sea of ​​Tranquility. The main antenna was out of order and a backup antenna had to be used.
After 8 hours, the lander connected with the spacecraft again. Stafford and Cernan returned their equipment to the spacecraft and entered it and fell asleep. Yang continued to steer the spaceship. When they woke up, they continued to search for additional landing sites.
May 23 - the sixth day of the flight
The spacecraft performed another maneuver in which it detached itself from the lander and launched it into orbit around the sun. The television broadcast scheduled for that day was canceled due to the fatigue of the astronauts. They woke up 3 hours ahead of time without the help of the control center. On the 29th lap, the spacecraft passed over the landing pad that had been detached from it a few hours earlier. The spacecraft detached itself from the moon's gravity and began its journey back to Earth. This operation began on the hidden side of the moon, by turning on its engine. The hidden side was illuminated by the sun. This operation lasted two minutes and 21 seconds. After that, a TV broadcast was broadcast showing the hidden side of the moon. This film was shot by the landing party pilots. After disconnection, the astronauts fell asleep.
May 24 - the seventh day of the flight
This day was dedicated to rest and sleep.
May 25 - the eighth day of the flight
This is the last day of the journey. A planned route correction was cancelled. Several navigation exercises were conducted. Five hours before landing, a television broadcast was held. The landing was near the island of Samoa in the Pacific Ocean. The duration of the flight is 192 hours, 3 minutes and 25 seconds (35 seconds before the planned time).

Flight lessons

A. The lander is capable of operating near the moon.
B. The landing site chosen for landing astronauts is fairly flat for landing, but they will have to be very precise or they will run into the rocks and craters surrounding the site.
third. Humans are able to overcome malfunctions in space and save missions from failure, where automated devices fail.

The Apollo manned flight series

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