Jestersage

Lunar rescue plan?

39 posts in this topic

Question: Had NASA ever drawn up a situation where the one stay in Apollo gone crazy and head back to Earth by himself, leaving the two on Moon stranded and thus require rescue? I know they have a plan for Skylab in case they need to be rescued, but what about Apollo itself?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Just now, Jestersage said:

Question: Had NASA ever drawn up a situation where the one stay in Apollo gone crazy and head back to Earth by himself, leaving the two on Moon stranded and thus require rescue? I know they have a plan for Skylab in case they need to be rescued, but what about Apollo itself?

No, at least to my knowledge they didn't have one for Apollo 11, in the event something bad happened, and they were stranded, the President would give a speech, and NASA would keep contact with them until they ran out of air, or somehow committed suicide. However, if the command module was fine, that would return with 1 Astronaut instead of 3.

I haven't read up on it in awhile, and someone else can probably give you a better answer.

 

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Considering that Apollo crafts were never mass produced, and NASA never had a spare Saturn V\Apollo combo ready to start at moment's notice? I sincerely doubt anything could be done, aside from recording last words of stranded astronauts. Additionally, i very much doubt amount of oxygen and water onboard LM would keep two people alive for more than couple of days - so there most likely would be no time to send help from Earth, even if there would be a rocket ready.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't think so. But for a short time a lunar escape system was thought about. Basically 2 lawn chairs duct taped to some fuel tanks with an engine. It would have been used if the ascent module failed to launch.

Edited by munlander1
Autocorrect is useless!
6 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I know they actually considered the Gemini capsule as a lander rescue ship but the idea was scrapped because it was too heavy.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

They had "plans," yes. Did they act on them? Build any hardware? No and no.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Bill Phil said:

Did they act on them? Build any hardware?

Afaik, a Gemini capsule was originally discussed to be dropped on the Moon at the presumed landing site before the Apollo expedition - to be used as a vault to wait the rescue ship from the Earth. So, the hardware just was.
Not sure if they had a second Apollo ready to fly in two weeks.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
26 minutes ago, kerbiloid said:

Afaik, a Gemini capsule was originally discussed to be dropped on the Moon at the presumed landing site before the Apollo expedition - to be used as a vault to wait the rescue ship from the Earth. So, the hardware just was.
Not sure if they had a second Apollo ready to fly in two weeks.

Yeah. But they would've needed a landing stage. And some other stuff, I'd imagine.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The failure modes where the LM was stranded on the Moon were basically:

- Failure of the separation from the descent engine: There were explosive bolts and redundant pyro "guillotines" that would sever the umbilical connections when the ascent engine started. The result of this would have been a catastrophic LOC, so there was no contingency procedure.

- Failure to start the ascent engine: The general plan for that situation was to try to fix the engine until the end. The LM ascent engine was extremely simplified and accessible under a cover from the LM cabin for this very reason. With only a few a valves, there was only so much that could go wrong.There was no way to send a rescue mission, because the LM only had life support for a few days and it took months to prepare a new Saturn V stack. 

There were also rumors that astronauts were issued cyanide pills, in case they became stranded. This was an urban legend though. Astronauts were highly professional types, especially trained to never give up, and the actual behavior would have been to attempt everything they could to start that engine, including banging on it with a hammer, until they couldn't bang on it any longer.

Edited by Nibb31
5 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Nibb31 said:

There were also rumors that astronauts were issued cyanide pills, in case they became stranded. This was an urban legend though. Astronauts were highly professional types, especially trained to never give up, and the actual behavior would have been to attempt everything they could to start that engine, including banging on it with a hammer, until they couldn't bang on it any longer.

And if everything failed then cyanide wouldn't be necessary anyway. I can't remember where I read this but I'm pretty sure one of the Apollo astronauts was asked about cyanide pills and his response was basically 'why bother - there many other, more dignified, ways to kill yourself if it ever came to that.'

2 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As if a cyanide asphyxia would differ a lot from an opened helmet asphyxia...

Edited by kerbiloid
2 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, Nibb31 said:

The failure modes where the LM was stranded on the Moon were basically:

- Failure of the separation from the descent engine: There were explosive bolts and redundant pyro "guillotines" that would sever the umbilical connections when the ascent engine started. The result of this would have been a catastrophic LOC, so there was no contingency procedure.

- Failure to start the ascent engine: The general plan for that situation was to try to fix the engine until the end. The LM ascent engine was extremely simplified and accessible under a cover from the LM cabin for this very reason. With only a few a valves, there was only so much that could go wrong.There was no way to send a rescue mission, because the LM only had life support for a few days and it took months to prepare a new Saturn V stack. 

There were also rumors that astronauts were issued cyanide pills, in case they became stranded. This was an urban legend though. Astronauts were highly professional types, especially trained to never give up, and the actual behavior would have been to attempt everything they could to start that engine, including banging on it with a hammer, until they couldn't bang on it any longer.

Yes, upper stage not starting was very low chance. 
Simplify stuff was also why they used and separate upper stage. In KSP standard is to have legs on drop tanks and just one engine. 
It would also increase the chance of taking of after an rough landing,
however before out of fuel on first stage they would abort and burn upward then stage and abort to orbit   

Most other failure modes would result in an high speed impact making an rescue irrelevant. 
Most realistic fail scenario I see would be failure to dock the moon lander with the command module. Would it be possible to do an space walk between them? 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 minute ago, magnemoe said:

Most realistic fail scenario I see would be failure to dock the moon lander with the command module. Would it be possible to do an space walk between them? 

Yes, that was the contingency plan in case of a failure to dock or to open the hatch.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@Nibb31, yep spacewalking to them is possible. If I'm right, it was one of the test subjects. 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Would they try to transfer the moon samples if they had to Eva?

Edited by munlander1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
12 hours ago, munlander1 said:

Would they try to transfer the moon samples if they had to Eva?

As unlikely the lunar dirt was in open buckets, probably it depends on the oxygen remains and a long rope. Unlikely they had the second.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Didn't the commander take a sample shortly after stepping on to the surface in case they needed to preform an emergency lift off?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
21 minutes ago, munlander1 said:

Didn't the commander take a sample shortly after stepping on to the surface in case they needed to preform an emergency lift off?

Yes.

 

13 hours ago, munlander1 said:

Would they try to transfer the moon samples if they had to Eva?

They would probably take as much as they could without endangering themselves.

I can see it now.  Armstrong brings the LM close to the CSM.  Collins rolls to face the hatch towards the LM.  Aldrin and Collins open the hatches and Buzz starts tossing whatever he can get his hands on across the small gap into the CM hatch.

2 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, munlander1 said:

Didn't the commander take a sample shortly after stepping on to the surface in case they needed to preform an emergency lift off?

Yes.  I don't know offhand if it stayed in his suit pocket or was transferred to a sample container though.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 2/20/2017 at 1:46 AM, Nibb31 said:

the actual behavior would have been to attempt everything they could to start that engine, including banging on it with a hammer, until they couldn't bang on it any longer.

O.O

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 2/19/2017 at 6:52 PM, munlander1 said:

I don't think so. But for a short time a lunar escape system was thought about. Basically 2 lawn chairs duct taped to some fuel tanks with an engine. It would have been used if the ascent module failed to launch.

That's so... Kerbal.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now