tv [untitled] February 22, 2012 11:00pm-11:30pm EST
it sings of the unselfish aims of a nation striding constantly for peace. directing all its power and persuasion toward the preservation of freedom. in its majesty and magnificence, this is the land. in all their historic greatness, these are the people. and the john glenn story is their story. it throbs with the nation's restless energy. it soars with the adventurous spirit of americans everywhere. across this vast spread land, in all its towns and cities, on all its far flung farms and ranches, deep in its reaches of forests and plains, of winding roads and rivers, majestic mountains and lakes and sea-lashed shores, people turn their eyes and hearts toward the high sky. sending their hopes and prayers riding through space.
we'll look at the future of the u.s. space program tomorrow afternoon on c-span2. starting at 5:30 p.m. eastern with florida senator marco rubio calling for renewed space exploration. at 5:40, ohio senator sherrod brown on the 50th anniversary of john glenn becoming the first american to orbit the earth. at 5:50, newt gingrich calls for a permanent u.s. colony on the moon. at 6:00 eastern, stewart powell of the "houston chronicle" on the obama administration's plans for nasa and what republican presidential candidates are saying about the space agency. and then at 6:40, nasa administrator charles bolden outlining the administration's budget proposal for his agency. our look at the future of u.s.
space policy begins at 5:30 p.m. eastern tomorrow on c-span2. coming up on c-span3, american history tv coverage of the history of the space program. in a few moments, an oral history interview with former nasa flight director gene kranz. in an hour and a half, the congressional gold medal ceremony honoring astronauts john glenn, neil armstrong, michael collins, and buzz aldrin. later, a 1963 nasa film biography of john glenn, the first american to orbit the earth. at the 1968 olympic games john carlos and tommy smith raised their fists in the black power salute. >> they said black power. they intimidated so many people. white people in particular by using that phrase. black power.
because when they use that word, or that phrase, black power, it made many people think that black power meant destruction. blowing up the statue of liberty or ground zero. destroying america. wasn't anything about destroying america. it was about rebuilding america and having america to have a new paradigm in terms of how we could truly be with each and every one of us who did the pledge who went to elementary school and junior high school about the land of the free and the home of the brave. we all want to be great americans, but as young africans we found that something was wrong. something was broke and we wanted to take our time to evaluate and then take our initiative to fix it. >> discover more about african-american history during black history month on book tv on c-span2 and online at the c-span video library. search and share from over 25 years of c-span programming at c-span.org/videolibrary.
john glenn piloted "friendship seven" into space. next, ron neil, a reporter who covered the american manned space program, interviews director gene kranz, who worked on "mercury," "gemini" and "apollo". as lead flight director of the "apollo 13" mission, he and his team lplayed a significant role in guiding astronauts back to earth. this is part two of an interview conducted for nasa's johnson space center. >> it was time to move on to "apollo 12." i can remember pete con regard, since you were talking, let's talk about another, who said to me, those guys landed on the moon, what do i do for an
encore? >> was there a similar feeling in mission control? >> no. i think, in fact, it didn't take a second for the program office to ratchet up the complexity of the objectives. once you landed on the moon, what are you going to do to top it? i'm going to land on the moon next to a surveyor satellite that was put up there a couple years. what we're going to do, at the time the crew is dedescending, we're going to give them an update to alter their trajectory so they can land there. and if they didn't do it. i think the entire "apollo 12" mission had this -- now for a change, i was sitting back, i was a spectator, so it was neat to watch other people do this thing that we had just done. the mission started off with a real bang literally. shortly after liftoff, the spacecraft was hit by a couple bolts of lightning and the navigation system, the platform
had started tumbling, the electrical system had dropped offline. they didn't -- mission control literally made no sense. and the young controller, john aaron, became a lend with the call that he made. jerry griffin was flight director. john aaron was just a few second of reflection calls up jerry griffin and says, flight have the crew take sce to ox. this was a recommendation no flight director had ever heard, no crew had ever heard, no cap com had ever heard. jerry said sce to ox? and cap com says sce to ox? all with question marks behind them. we voice this up to the crew. pete conrad in the voice tapes that we got after the mission onboard, he's talking to his crew members. he says, sce to ox? what the hell is that? we repeat this statement one more.
well al bean -- each one of the crew members in the spacecraft had a portion of the command module that they were responsible for. and down in the fourth switch in on the lower edge of the main display panel is a switch which is signal conditioning equipment power normal auxillary. so he flips this thing down to auxiliary. all of a sudden the data is restored properly in mission control. now the controllers can get back to work. well, what we had is we had a two-minute window of opportunity, because the concern at that time was, whatever happened onboard the spacecraft may have closed the reactant valve to the fuel cells. if this occurs the fuel cells will starve from oxygen and hydrogen in about two minutes and you can't restart them so it was extremely important to get data back and figure out what happened onboard the spacecraft real quickly. john aaron was the, again, one of these 26-year-olders in mission control.
and he proceeded to talk the crew through bringing the fuel cells back online, and then once they had gotten power restored normally onboard the spacecraft, then it was a question of another controller, buck willaby trying to establish what to do with this tumbling navigation platform, should they pull the circuit breakers, what should they do? but the bottom line is by the time that the crew got to orbit we had restored majority of the spacecraft's system and jerry griffin, in a very gutsy move, and with the help of his leadership, made the decision go to the moon. that day i was sitting in mission control and sig scholberg, the deputy, was very concerned about the impact of the spacecraft by this lightning strike, as was kraft. scholberg went down to the trench and started polling these controllers saying hey, whatever happened on the spacecraft, if
you don't have the confidence to send it out to the moon, i'll support you in that decision. i have a picture of chris kraft leaning over the console talking to jerry griffin giving him exactly the same coaching. and it was we don't have to go to the moon today, young man. and this immediately relieved the political pressure to achieve the missions to the point where this team had only the technical issues to work. and in the business of mission control, business of spaceflight, what you got to do is you have to make your decisions based on the technical data and that's this team's job to do. and it is up to the people that sit in the consoles behind the flight director to take the political heat from whatever decision had to be made. and this is the kind of inspired leadership that we had in the program that was capable of stepping up to the plate and buffering the outside world from the technical decisions these guys had to make. >> i guess, in part, that's because people like kraft had the same experiences that you
had, wouldn't you say? as a former flight director, he knew? >> i think kraft's name, christopher columbus, was entirely appropriate for this guy, because he was the pioneer in mission control. he launched each one of the "mercury" missions. but most important he was the mentor, the teacher, the tutor for this first generation of young people who became known as mission controllers. he set the mold for everything that would be done thereafter and in particular, he set the mode for the flight director and the flight director being able to take any action necessary for crew safety and mission success. chris had been there, he had been done that. the beauty of it was, even though he physically left the
console, he knew what these guys down here were doing, and he knew his job now was to give them the confidence to make the technical decisions and he was going to broker whatever political fallout might occur back there. spectacular man. >> he was the interface between top-level management and politics. >> yeah. i found that out in later years, because when kraft moved up to center director, i became the flight operations director, the broker, external interface for the sky lab and the shuttle program. so i had an opportunity to feel this political heat that comes down when somebody might want to land a shuttle down at the cape even though we don't think it should be landed at the cape with a fuel cell down or we made a call to a launch when maybe all the mission roles weren't satisfied or we used more propellant than we should have pursuing our mission objective. i managed to spend some time up at headquarters explaining the control team's decisions. >> and you actually walked in kraft's shoes. well, getting back, however, to
the fundamentals of the earlier flights -- because we're coming up on the one that really made you famous, most of all. even more than the lunar landing which you bossed. nonetheless, "apollo 13" was the story of gene kranz as much as it was jim lalune, fred haise. >> "13," again, was a mission where the basic maturity of this team continued to, i mean, just spread forth in almost a magnificent fashion. we had made the decision, missions earlier, that we would always have four mission control teams in place during the course of a mission. and this gave us several advantages because quite frequently the mission events don't fit neatly into eight-hour shifts. so a team might have to do what we call a whifferdill, show up a shift early or show up a shift late. and having the four teams in
position made that transition much easier, but it also was designated as a crisis team, that if we had any problems during the course of a mission, major problems, this team would try to find some way to work itself offline and the remaining three teams would have the -- would continue to work eight-hour shifts throughout the mission, whatever turned out to be. my team was designated as lead team and we were responsible -- our principle responsibilities during the mission, we were going to be doing the lunar orbit insertion and also the ascent from the moon and that's what we had been trained to do. during the course of a mission, it changed dramatically. the launch was normal and our crew members were ken mattingly, fred hayes, and mattingly and hayes were the experts in the
lunar module and they were scheduled to descend on the surface of the moon. ken mattingly was a command module pilot but very late in mission sequence he had been exposed to measles and he was replaced by jack swigert, a member of the backup crew. we trained with the backup crews in course of training for the mission. we had all the confidence we needed in jack so it was a question of getting a few extra training runs under his belt with the mission controllers, getting tuned up again and then getting him in to the mission assignment. the mission had been going very well. we had had a minor problem. we lost an engine on the second stage of powered flight. but mission control provided the crew the new engine shutdown times, remaining engines kept working like a champ and they got to orbit. made the decision to inject to the moon.
the injection went normal. transposition, docking, extraction went by the numbers. and as soon as that first sequence of mission events had been accomplished, my team pick up the console and we were following in the shift rotation where we would now take a look over the command service modules and we didn't see anything of significance in our first shift operation and basically used this time period in the mission to sort of look ahead at the mission and try to close out any open items that might have been left over from flight planning, mission roles, get the crew tuned up, et cetera. so the first mission went well. and then my team went into one of these whifferdills. basically we had to get into the sequencing where we would now be in the proper shift for the lunar orbit insertion.
my second shift then was in this new timing sequence. i basically came in eight hours later and during the course of the shift we had the lunar module -- the initial lunar module inspection where the crew would open up the hatch, they'd go into the lunar module and they also had a television broadcast, sort of a tv tour of the lunar module. the television broadcast was concluded and the final -- we were in the process of closing out the items on the shift prior for handing over to the other team. after the television broadcast was concluded, the families had been behind me in the viewing room and as we left we sort of waved, okay, et cetera, adios, they turned the lights off in the viewing room behind me. the final thing we had to do was get the crew to sleep.
and we have a very detailed pre-sleep checklist we go through. it's about five pages in length. we had gone through each one of these checklist items very meticulously because in mission control the greatest error that always lends to a lot of levity at the post-mission party is for some flight controller to miss something in this pre-sleep checklist that causes us to wake up the crew. and we have a series of awards we give out at the parties if this happens. it's not all the jollies. you get really ridden pretty hard. so we were really meticulously following through this checklist. we were down to the final item on the checklist. we're getting ready to close it out. now, earlier in the shift, we had had an anomaly, a problem with a communications antenna that did not seem to work properly.
we were in the process of troubleshooting this and we came to no answer and i hate to hanover incomplete problems to a next shift. the nature of the problem was, the antenna would not track the earth's signal properly. then all of a sudden after troubleshooting for about 20 minutes, all of a sudden it started tracking and we never figured out what caused this. in a similar fashion we had my ecom had a series of anomalies associated with tank pressures where they'd gone through some very rapid cycling in there and the tank pressure had been reading -- which is reading -- quantity -- reading 87% at that time, and all of a sudden failed and started reading 100%. so we'd had a series of funnies that we had to close out during the course of the shift. we were down to the final entry,
and the cryogenics, the fuels we use onboard the spacecraft are oxygen and hydrogen, it is a super dense, super cold liquid at launch at high news 300 degrees to minus 400 degrees packed in vacuum tanks. but by the time you're two days into the mission you've used some of these resources and these consumables have turned into a very thick soupy fog or a vapor in the tank. like fog on earth, it tends to stratify or develop in layers. so inside the tanks we have some fans we turn on to stir up this mixture and make it uniform so we can measure it. then we use some heaters to raise the pressure for the sleep period. well, we had asked the crew to do this. in the meantime, the next control team was reporting in for shift hand-over, so the noise level in the room was building up, and their flight director was the leader of the black team. we used colors to identify those teams. he was sitting next to me at the
console. he was reading my flight director's log. and we advised the crew that we wanted a cryo stern. jack swigert acknowledged our request and he looked behind him and coming through the tunnel from the lunar module is fred hayes. cy leber got it this time, who is my ecom. had now switched his attention to the current measurements that he had. the electric current measurem t measurements. swigert started the cryo and he was now taking a look at computing the time from the time's point, et cetera, et cetera. all of a sudden i get a series of calls from my controllers. my first one is from a guy who says, flight, we've had a computer restart. second controller says, antenna switch. third controller says main bus interval.
and from the spacecraft i hear, hey houston, we've had a problem. swigert called it. then there was a pause for about five seconds. then lovell comes onboard, hey, houston, we've got a problem. within mission control, literally nothing made sense in those first few second because the controller's data had gone static briefly and then when it was restored, many of the parameters just didn't indicate anything that we had ever seen before. down in the propulsion area, my controllers all of a sudden saw a lot of jet activities. jets were firing. we then see lovell -- this is all happening in seconds. we then see lovell take control of the spacecraft and fly into an attitude so he can keep communicating with us. and for about 60 seconds, literally the calls kept coming in but they made no sense, they
made no pattern, right on down the line, until finally the training that's giving the controllers kicked in. very meticulously they relayed the calls. lozmous' calls started recovering some of the functions that appeared to be lost in the spacecraft. i'd written the time of this event at 55 hours, 55 minutes, 4 seconds. i called over my communications guy and say, can you see if you can take a look at your data and see if anything else happened at the time of that event? he comes back and says, flight, that's when we also saw this antenna beam switch. all of a sudden i started a false track thinking, we had an antenna problem, glitch in the antenna. similar to one we experienced earlier in the shift.
and that shortly we'd resolve the problem and be back on track to the moon. in the meantime, however, most of the problems have been resolved. those that remain focus on a singer controller by the name of cy. cy has the system you need to stay alive in space. he has power, he's got pressure, he's got electrical, he's got heat, he's got water. basically everything you need to stay alive. none of the data cy is seeing from his standpoint is believable. very quickly it looks like we've lost one of our fuel cells and possibly a second one. cryo tank two, oxygen tank two is reading zero. quantity where previously had been reading 100% quantity, the temperatures instead of being minus 300-so degrees fahrenheit, they're now at a plu plus-17 degrees. i mean, that data doesn't make sense. another tank is starting to decrease in pressure. he's trying to put all these
pieces together in the back room. in the meantime a new problem is occurring because we're now approaching what we call gimbal lock. whatever happened is now pushing the spacecraft around and the crew's got manual control fighting it, but some of the valves apparently have been shocked close. so, again, we have to re-open the valves so the crew has the ability to control the spacecraft attitude. it's tough for me to work with the controllers because interspersed with that we get a call and have to interrupt the thought process and it has to be voiced up to the crew. and for probably about 60 to 90 seconds it's literally chaos in this place. and then it is amazing how this whole thing starts to take focus. we still don't have the slightest clue what's going on. well, this continues in an unresolved fashion until my cap com comes to me and he says, flight, is there anything that
we can do, is there anything that makes sense, is there anything they can trust? and he started acting as my conscience right now because we've been sort of scatter shooting in here. and i call the control team up, and this occurs just about the time the crew's calling down. we realized -- the crew used terms like they've had some kind of a jolt or some kind of a shock. and all of a sudden i start, instead of listening to every controller call and relaying it up, i start being much more selective in this process because i'm starting to get the feeling that this isn't a communications glitch. i'm about five minutes into this problem right now. it is something else. we don't understand it. so i proceed very meticulously. i call the controllers up to tell them, you guys, quit guessing. let's start working this problem.
then i used some words that sort of surprised me after the fact. i say we got a good main bus eight. don't do anything to screw it up and the lunar module is attached and we can use that as a lifeboat if we need to. now get me some backup people in here and get me more computing and communications resources. i had said these words but then i immediately went back to tracking this thing and it took about 20 minutes and it was really frustrating because the situation is becoming more and more and more and more desperate. we're still not at the bottom because now it looks like this oxygen tank is shot. the second oxygen tank, oxygen tank one, is now continuing to decrease. two of our fuel cells are offline and these are our principal power generation systems that we use. lieberman comes to me and he says, hey, flight, i want to shut down fuel cells one and three. i say, cy, let's think about this. he says, no, flight, i think that's the only thing that's going to stop the leaks. then i go back to him the third time and i say, cy -- he said,
yeah, flight -- it's time for our final option. and very reluctantly i agree to advise the crew that we're going to shut down fuel cells one and three. and about this time, kraft has come in. and we -- the crew then also realized, they feel very uncomfortable about shutting down these fuel cells. we go through a dialogue that lasts several minutes to crew until very reluctantly they agree to shut these fuel cells down. and i think this is probably the point in the mission where afternoon everybody has realized we have now moved into a survival mode. because with two of the three fuel cells shut down, we're not going to the moon anymore, we're just going to be damn lucky to
get home. kraft had come in, he was home showering. i had had lenny give him a call and then chris comes in, it's probably the only vernacular i've ever used that i'd probably use again, i said, chris, we're in deep shit. i think that sort of expressed it and chris went up to the console there and plugged in. and again, kraft's business -- his experience in the flight control business and as flight director, he got back up to console. he didn't bother bothering me. he was trying to let me extricate myself from whatever problems were occurring in here. by this time, a call came down indicating they're venting something and we've come to the conclusion that we had some type of explosion onboard the spacecraft. and our job now is to start an orderly evacuation from the command module into the lunar module. at the same time, i'm faced with a series of decisions that are all irreversible. at the time the explosion occurred, we're about 200,000 miles from earth, about 50,000 miles from the surface of e