Quad-City Times from Davenport, Iowa on February 27, 1969 · 29
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Quad-City Times from Davenport, Iowa · 29

Davenport, Iowa
Issue Date:
Thursday, February 27, 1969
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FEBRUARY 27,1969 green Times-Democrat Davenport-Bettendorf If Something Goes Wrong . . , The Step That Means Success Or Failure Features . Amusements Television . Comics :-" r-, .J '-' Lunar Module makes the first successful landing on the moon in this artist's concept. Author John Glenn points out that this spacecraft is "the most unusual transportation dc- Born At West Point Of Thp Air Flying Is In By WILLIAM BARRY FURLONG World Book Science Service David Scott is a clean-limbed young man with prominent eyebrows, a high forehead, and an expressive wrinkle between the eyes. He helped conquer one of the most desperate emergencies in space and now, at the age of 36, he is going into space again on the upcoming Apollo 9 flight. Scheduled for blastoff in the near future, this 10-day argosy will be the first complete rehearsal of the moon landing mission. All parts of the Saturn 5 moon rocket and the Apollo spacecraft will be flown together for the first time. BUT THERE IS a counterpoint" to Scott's life that supplements his tasks in - space. "There's always something happening," he says. As a youth, for instance, he was so terribly plagued by allergies that he suffered severe cases of asthma. "I spent a week in an oxygen tent once," he says. He never completely conquered the problem because he didn't know everything he was allergic to, "and they didn't have all the exotic tests that they have now." But time took care of the problem. "I grew out of it and I haven't been bothered for years," he says. After he got out of Air Force flight school he was assigned to Europe. To sell his car, he went to an automobile dealer friend. "I thought, Gee, he's got a daughter. Maybe if I took his daughter out, it would help me.' So I took his daughter out a couple or three times." That was the practical man in David Scott, but the emotional man intervened." . The first thing he knew he'd fallen in love with Lurton Ott and was commuting back from Europe to date her. He solved that problem by marrying her and now they have two children, a boy and a girl. "Incidentally," says David, "her father did help me sell the car." Even David's abortive flight aboard Gemini 8, with Neil Armstrong, had an unlikely dimension. Gemini 8 started out in brilliant fashion. Armstrong and Scott quickly accomplished their first goal: to find, rendezvous with, and dock with an. unmanned Agena vehicle already in space. But 27 minutes after docking, the coupled vehicles began to roll and tumble. No matter what Armstrong and Scott did and they sent electronic orders into the system to correct the problem things got progressively worse. ' ON THE CILVNCE that there was something wrong with the Agena propulsion system, they decided to un-dock. That only caused them to spin faster. At one point they were whirling around 60 times a minute in their own spacecraft. The only way they could regain control was to use precious fuel from the system - .... f X ... I 1 X X "v V X 1 i I X ? ' intended to get them back to Earth safely. When that happened, the flight had to be ended: that was an inviolable rule of NASA. And so the flight came down without the walk in space scheduled for David Scott As it turned out, an electric short circuit caused a thruster in the spacecraft to begin firing at the wrong time and it wouldn't shut off. . -But. Scott didn't know that until he got down to the Pacific Ocean and began wondering if he'd improved his position much by going from space to sea. For there were five-foot swells at the Of Apollo 9 Part Three time and when a destroyer, the USS Macon, came alongside to rescue the astronauts the spacecraft began banging violently against its side. Getting from sea-level to deck-level began to look like the toughest part of the trip, for the destroyer did not have a hoist that could lift the spacecraft swiftly and swing it on board. "We'll throw a Jacob's ladder, down to ou," called somebody on deck. "Neil had been in the Navy, and he knew what this meant," says Scott "But. I'm not a sailor and had no idea what 'they were talking about." He knew the evacuation procedure of the mission dictated that he follow Armstrong. His job was to secure the right .hatch the one over his seat then climb over into the left seat and get out through the left hatch after Armstrong. Scott went about his duties. "By the time I got out the left hatch, Neil was already on deck and I didn't see how he'd done it," he recalls. As the waves and swells heaved the spacecraft up and the destroyer down occasionally in harmony it looked like it would be possible to leap for the deck. But David had no real taste for the chance of missing and getting caught between the spacecraft and destroyer. So he just stood there uncertainly, "looking, rather dumb about the whole thing, I'm1 afraid." Then he looked up and "saw the biggest hand I've ever seen." It belonged to a burly hosun's mate who was reaching vice ever conceived by man," and it must pass tests on the upcoming Apollo 9 flight before a lunar landing like this becomes a reality. Astronaut's Blood over the railing and saying, "I'll help you sir." They timed tnemselves for the moment when the two vehicles would heave enough to close the gap. "Then I grabbed his hand and that bosun's mate simply picked me off the spacecraft and set me on the deck all in one motion," says Scott He still considers this among the most disconcerting moments of the mission. FLYING IS IN THE tradition and blood of David Scott; his father was a pil-' ot in the Army Air Corps. The elder Scott gave up a career in the motion picture industry and signed up as a flight cadet one day after going to an airport and watching the buzzing biplanes of the era. "It was sort of a spur-of-the-moment thing," says David, "but he was never sorry for it. He really enjoyed flying." David was born at Randolph Field, Texas renowned as the "West Point ol the Air" on June 6, 1932. He grew up at air bases all around the country. It was . inevitable that he'd be in the air some day. Scott put in one year at the University of Michigan. Then he won an appointment to West Point and after earning his commission, transferred to the Air Force. It was inevitable that he would have close calls, but Dave was never overly aroused at the emergencies of flight One time a jet engine flamed out as he was landing and he managed to set the plane down on a golf course. "It was a very convenient golf course just short of the runway," Scott says. . Still another time he lost an engine while flying over the North Sea and just barely made it to the runway of an airport on the coast of Holland. "That was kind of interesting," he says laconically, "because there was no place else to go." Except for a very cold swin. THE COOL HE brings to emergencies is, perhaps, a reflection of the practical nature he exhibits in his personal as well as his professional life. When his tour of duty in Europe was over, he and his wife decided to take their last fling but not together. "She went to Vienna and I went to Athens," he says. "We figured it would be better to exchange stories about different cities rather than miss one city completely." Jn professional mattershe is not only practical but perceptive. To prepare for: the space walk that never took place on Gemini 8, he developed an exercise program that would help his heart and key body muscles work together efficiently "I used to run a couple of miles every morning and I did work on my arms and shoulders so I could spend a lot of (EDITOR'S NOTE In this exclusive story, John Glenn, first American to orbit the Earth, discusses the ulli-mate meaning of the coming flight of Apollo 9.) By COL. JOHN II. GLENN JR. World Book Science Service Perhaps the greatest hazard we face in our space program right now is the feeling that it's only a short step from going around the moon to landing on its surface. It's QUITE a step. . Some of the most difficult tasks still lie before us. And a mis-step could set back the lunar landing indefinitely. Let me give you an earthly analogy: Two years ago, I made a trip to Hong Kong a flight of 8,500 miles. Everything went perfectly except the last phase. After we landed, we started driving from the airport on Kowloon Peninsula to the hotel on Hong Kong island. But when we got to the water's edge, we found that the ferryboat over to the island wasn't working. We'd come 8,500 miles with practiced ease and then we couldn't go the last two miles to our objective because the last piece of transportation equipment wasn't in operation. IN MANY WAYS, that's where we stand now in the space program: We've come a long, long way but it will only mean a heightened sense of frustration if the last piece of the equipment doesn't work. That equipment, the lunar module or LM, is the most unusual transportation device ever conceived by man. It is the vehicle which two astronauts will use to take them from lunar orbit to the moon's surface, to launch them again, and to rendezvous with the mothership in orbit above the moon. It is the first piece of transportation equipment ever built to operate solely in-space. It was designed by men who were never there and never expect to get. there. It is the first vehicle in our space program designed specifically not to get back to Earth. Thus, for the first time we are going to put men in a spacecraft that, in case of emergency, cannot be returned. If it attempted to re-enter the time working in a space suit without getting tired," he says. IN IDS PERSONAL, as well as his' professional life, Scott tends to look ahead. He and his wife, bought all their furniture in Copenhagen, for instance before being transferred back to the United States. They fell in love with Danish Modern and they had it ready when they started building their home near Houston. In fact, they built the home around the furniture "around the furniture and among the trees," says David, gesturing towards the trees on the lot that were saved during construction. During his five years as an astronaut, David Scott has built a reputation as a superb pilot. That's why he's been assigned to Apollo 9, a mission which requires the most exacting space-flying to date. Scott will lay a key part in piloting the spacecraft during what he calls "the beautiful maneuver of transposition and docking." First, the astronauts separate the spacecraft they are in from the lunar Yff f If yV Z .... , . . H, ';'' s -A--.-ft ,' i y ' AO tr&, n ' ,s:;:.,7 JSi - tl jr w.- Douglas Scott, 5, places his cowboy hat on the head of his astronaut father, Dave Scott. Scott, command module pilot on the Apollo 9 mission, spent 11 hours in space on the Gemini flight in March, 1966. " , i j $ ' 1 JOHN GLENN We're Optimistic By Nature Earth's atmosphere at the customary speeds it would burn up. There is no way to protect the men inside it from the same fate: The only way they can get back safely is by getting to the command module and riding home in that vehicle. DURING APOLLO 9, the men in the LM Jim McDivitt and Russell Schweickart will be as much as 100 miles away from David Scott in the command module. That may not seem like much when we think of the 237,200 miles that Apollo 8 traveled in returning from the moon to the Earth, but you might get another perspective by remembering that on Friendship 7 the orbit 1 achieved had a perigee (low point) of 100 miles. So the crew in the LM will be as far from the command module of Apollo 9 as i was from Earth. I knew that I could get back to Earth safely within 15 or-20 minutes, module, which is in a protective metal sheath attached to the third stage of the rocket behind the spacecraft. They maneuver away, turn around, then case up to the lunar module. The vehicles nre docked nose-to-nose and the pilots pull the lunar module out of the open sheath and 'away from the, rocket stage. It's like opening a Crackerjack box and reaching in to take out the surprise. ON THE FIFTH day of the flight, astronauts James McDivitt and Russell Schweickart will crawl into the lunar module and separate from the mother-ship. At that point they become the first two astronauts to fly in a craft which cannot bring them back to Earth. They must rendezvous and redock .with the command module, just as the first two astro-, nauts who land on the moon must do on the first part of their return trip. If they cannot get to the command module, Scott must bring it to them, or they will perish. A big responsibility, but everyone has faith in Scott's cool temperament and proven flying skills. but McDivitt and Schweickart. will have to traverse 100 miles just to get back to the command module. That is why Apollo 9 is one of the most important and exacting flights in the whole series that will take us to the moon. Perhaps, by taking a longer perspective, we can share a sense of the importance and the difficulty of the flight. . First, we must appreciate the obvious: Apollo 9 is a key part of the long-planned series of flights that fit together as precisely as meshed gears. And the objective of those flights is to; Prove man's capability in space, and Develop a transportation system that will carry man to the lunar surface and safely back to Earth again. Apollo 9 is a test of a vital part of that transportation system of equipment so important that the moon landing cannot be accomplished without it. Its mission is to test all the systems and subsystems in Earth-orbit. A second test-on Apollo 10 will be made in lunar orbit. On this, the crew will make a simulated landing at a height of 50,000 feet to check the precision of our technique. All this points up the significance, and limitations, of what we've done so far. In effect, we've proved out a transportation system that can get us near the moon and back again. We've built .and tested the rockets and the command-and-service modules. Now we have to test the last phase of the transportation system. If the LM doesn't work, the moon flight won't work. MOREOVER, TIIE LM has no inherent stability during its descent to the moon and while hovering over the landing site. If its power fails, the LM will fall out of control. Every airplane has an inherent stability. If its engines fail, it can slow down and glide to a safe landing. Even the command module used in Apollo has an aerodynamic quality of a sort: It uses the force of the Earth's atmosphere to get "lift" during re-entry and to maintain a certain attitude as it descends through the atmosphere. But the LM cannot do that: its posture in space can be governed only by the most delicate and purposeful use of its power system. LM must work in an environment the moon that has only one-sixth the gravity of Earth. We haven't had any experience with this. The skills must be developed quickly and acutely. Every movement of the LM whether up, down or sideways: whether accelerating or slowing down must be made in a strange environment by a rocket system designed by a man who's never been there and activated by a man who's never been there. This is why a simulated moon landing on Apollo 10 is so necessary. The LM also must be capable of doing something on the moon at the command of the two-man crew that all other spacecraft have done only in the friendly environment of Earth with the help of thousands of technicians. It must be launched from the moon's surface. It carries its own launching pad with it: The bottom half of the LM that provides the landing platform is also the launching pad. It will be left on the moon as the top half fires its ascent rockets and moves upwards towards a rendezvous with the command module. On the whole, there is nothing in the prospect of this LM test that would lead anyone to believe that "It's all over but the shouting." We've seen two flying simulators designed to give pilots experience operating a LM-like vehicle in reduced gravity go out of control and crash. Though they were not in the least like the "ultimate LM," they suggested the difficulty and unpredictability of open ating that kind of machine, even in a friendly environment. . AS FAR AS THE LM itself is concerned, we sent one that was unmanned into orbit around the Earth about a year ago and encountered only one significant failure: an erratic programmer shut down the descent engine too soori But this is something which could have been easily handled had a man been aboard. Until we know that the LM works perfectly, we are not as close to the utlimate landing on the moon as we might like to believe. In a sense, we've-tended to be the victims of our own success. Being optimistic is in the American nature, and so we've basked in the glow of the last spectacular flight and allowed it to soften the stern realities of the next one. Certainly, the flight of Apollo 8 was an enormous human experience -and a great technical triumph. It satisfied man's most ancient urge to see the "other side of the moon." It gave man a fresh perspective on his own world so hot with contention when seen close up, so cool and blue when seen from the vast reaches of space. It also proved out a fantastic technical system. The navigation which, moved the spacecraft from one gravitational field to another was spectacular. The command of the flight which brought it to completion within seconds of the scheduled time was spectacular. The use of equipment such as on-board and on-ground computers, which did not' even exist a few years ago, was spectacular. But the magnitude of the challenge before us is as great as the success behind us.

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