Apollo Recovery Ops


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Apollo CM Recovery: 

Apollo CM Recovery Selected Operations and Equipment

Slide 2: 

Responsible Organizations NASA Lyndon B. Johnson Manned Spacecraft Center (Landing & Recovery Division) DOD Commander, Manned Spacecraft Recovery Task Force - Atlantic (TF-140) Commander, Pacific Recovery Task Force (TF-130) Headquarters, Aerospace Rescue & Recovery Service (ARRS) Commander, Air Force Eastern Test Range (AFTER)

Slide 3: 

Earth Landing Sequence

CM Recovery Equipment- Block II: 

CM Recovery Equipment- Block II The CM forward compartment contained the majority of the recovery equipment. This included the two drogue parachutes, the three pilot and main parachutes, the parachute riser attachment mechanism (the “flower pot”), the CM up-righting floatation bags, VHF antennas, beacon light, hoist sling and the sea dye marker assembly. This forward compartment also included the negative pitch RCS engines, the four launch escape tower leg attach points and the crew transfer tunnel and its gussets. The crew manually deployed the beacon light, VHF antennas and if necessary, the sea dye marker and The CM up-righting floatation bags.

Slide 5: 

About these two Apollo 9 photos; Above, note the securing straps attached to the rear two LES tower leg attach points and the floatation collar. These straps were tensioned to pull the CM side hatch area well clear of the water. Also note the multi-faceted shape of the floatation collar. To the left is a photo of the Sea Recovery Tether Ring. This was added to Block II heat shields and secured the upper bungee of the collar as well as a 4.8 dia. foot sea anchor on a 20 ft. line which was used to control spacecraft drift after splashdown.

Floatation Collars - Mercury & Gemini: 

Floatation Collars - Mercury & Gemini The development of floatation collars begin late in Project Mercury (after the MR-3 mission) by the Underwater Demolitions teams (UD) and operationally were first used for the MA-7 mission (Scott Carpenter’s flight). The above photo is from the MA-9 mission, the collar has two stacked rings and is color banded with some UD-1 advertisement prominently displayed. To the right is the GT-8 recovery. The color banding allows the collar to be correctly deployed so that the vehicle support straps end up under the Spacecraft. Note the red and green attachment straps at the front of the Collar.

Apollo Floatation Collar: 

Apollo Floatation Collar The design of the Apollo collars are an out-growth from the earlier programs. The main difference is in how the vehicle was supported. For Apollo there was an upper and lower “bungee” cord arrangement to contain the spacecraft. The ends of the upper bungee were attached to the sea recovery ring while the lower ones were attached to each other. The collars could be either orange or yellow in color. In the lower photo the collar deployment bag is to the left and the two CO2 bottles which were attached to the rear of the collar are visible. These CO2 Bottles were used to inflate the collar.

UDT & Apollo Recovery Rafts: 

UDT & Apollo Recovery Rafts Early in the Apollo program, standard military style 7-man life rafts are used for astronaut recovery. From the Apollo 13 recovery on, a purpose-built Apollo recovery built raft comes into use. Apollo 10 to the left, Apollo 15 above.

“Billy Pugh” Net: 

“Billy Pugh” Net The Astronaut recovery devices are called “Billy Pugh” nets after their inventor. The Billy Pugh Company manufactures marine safety equipment and started with personnel safety and movement equipment specifically used by the off-shore drilling industry. Billy Pugh helicopter rescue nets have been used throughout the world. The company is based in Corpus Christi, Texas.

SARAH/Yagi Directional Antenna Installation: 

SARAH/Yagi Directional Antenna Installation Directional Yagi-type antenna were use with a SARA receiver (both antenna and receiver were NASA furnished & compatible with CM recovery & survival beacons). These antennas Were attached to both the left and right sponson supports and allowed the helo to home in on the CM. Usually these systems were installed on three of the four recovery helos. This Set-up is a carry-over from late in the Gemini program and first use of this particular antenna system appears on the Gemini 12 mission.

Helo Recovery Cameras: 

Helo Recovery Cameras While no real information was found on the camera set-ups used on the prime recovery helos a few basic deductions can be made. There appears to be three cameras in the set-up, a television camera, a 16 mm film camera and a 35mm still camera.

UDT Swim Teams: 

UDT Swim Teams Usually three teams of three swimmers each would be trained and deployed on the primary recovery ship for each mission. For the quarantine missions, (Apollo's 11,12 & 14) three teams of four swimmers were used. Other military swim assets were also on-call for recoveries, mainly USAF personnel. A prime example of their use was the recovery of the Gemini 8 crew.

AS-201 & 202: 

AS-201 & 202 AS-201 to the left and AS-202 to the right. The first practical use of recovery forces for Apollo were these two unmanned missions. Both of these missions were launched on Saturn IBs and the CSM hardware was of the Block I variety. No “Sea Recovery Tether Ring” set-up was used on the Block I CMs. Both ends of the floatation collar upper bungees were attached to each other and the sea anchor tether line was then attached to that connection. On the crew compartment heat shield, note small side outer window frames on CM-009 (AS-201).

Apollo 4: 

Apollo 4 Note that the Block II outer protective foil was tested on only the front half of this CM. Although rarely seen in photos all elements of the spacecraft including the parachutes and forward heat shield were recovered on most missions whenever possible. In the lower right-hand picture the floatation collar deployment bag can be seen dangling below the CM.

Apollo 6: 

Apollo 6 Both the Apollo 4 and 6 CM were hybrid vehicles, each having some Block I and Block II characteristics. Both had Block I structural crew compartments with Block II heat shields attached. The Apollo 4 CM tested the silver Mylar foil which would be used on the manned Flights. While the Apollo 6 CM included the Block II unified side hatch design developed after the Apollo 1 fire. Both Apollo 4 and 6 were unmanned missions launched On Saturn Vs.

Typical Recovery Forces Deployment - Primary Recovery Area: 

Typical Recovery Forces Deployment - Primary Recovery Area (ARIA) Apollo Range Instrumen tation Aircraft, usually EC-134N. ARIAs supply voice and data transmission prior and during re-entry. HC-130s are positioned 165 miles up and downrange of target point. HC-130s carry ARD-17 direction finding equipment and 3 para-rescuemen. H-3 Recovery 1 is 10 miles up-range and 15 miles north, call sign “Swim 1”. H-3 Recovery 2 is 5 mils south and abeam PRS, call sign “Swim 2”. H-3 Recovery 3 is 10 miles downrange, call sign “Recovery”.

H-3 Sea King Helo Markings: 

H-3 Sea King Helo Markings

Apollo 7: 

Apollo 7

Apollo 7: 

Apollo 7 October 22, 1968 Prime Recovery Helicopter SH-3A Bu. No. 149918 Squadron HS-5 “Nightdippers” Pilot: Cdr. E. A. Skube Prime Recovery Ship: U.S.S. Essex (CVS-9) Commanding Officer: Capt. J. A. Harkins Air Group: CVSG-54 Prime Recovery Unit: UDT-21

Apollo 7: 

Apollo 7 Note the yellow USAF rescue raft which was used as a part of this pickup. Also the extreme tensioning of the straps to position the hatch well above the ocean. This crew was recovered in their in-flight coveralls.

Apollo 8: 

Apollo 8

Apollo 8: 

Apollo 8 December 27, 1968 Prime Recovery Helicopter SH-3D Bu. No. 152711 Squadron HS-4 “Black Knights” Pilot: Cdr. D. S. Jones Prime Recovery Ship: U.S.S. Yorktown (CVS-10) Commanding Officer: Capt. J. G. Fifield Air Group: CVSG-55 Prime Recovery Unit: UDT-12 LTJG Dick Flanagan, STG3 Bob Coggin SFC Don Schawb

Apollo 8: 

Apollo 8 First pick-up for SH-3D, Bu. No. 152711 (side number “66” ), this helo picked up five crews during the Apollo program. “NU” tail code for CVSG-55. This crew was also recovered in their in-flight coveralls. Re-entry and the initial recovery efforts were just before dawn, so there was little photo coverage of that phase of recovery.

Apollo 9: 

Apollo 9

Apollo 9: 

Apollo 9 March 13, 1969 Prime Recovery Helicopter SH-3D Bu. No. 152695 Squadron HS-3 “Tridents” Pilot: Cdr. G. M. Rankin Prime Recovery Ship: U.S.S. Guadalcanal (LPH-7) Commanding Officer: Capt. R. M. Sudduth Air Group: CVSG-56 (Det) Prime Recovery Unit: UDT-22

Apollo 9: 

Apollo 9 Red squadron flash color, also no nose number. Note battle “efficiency” award. Crew recovered in their in-flight coveralls. This is the last mission to have rafts tied to collar with rope .

Apollo 10: 

Apollo 10

Apollo 10: 

Apollo 10 May 26, 1969 Prime Recovery Helicopter SH-3D Bu. No. 152711 Squadron HS-4 “Black Knights” Pilot: Cdr. C. B. Smiley Copilot: LT Scotty Walker Prime Recovery Ship: U.S.S. Princeton (LPH-5) Commanding Officer: Capt. C. M. Cruse Air Group: CVSG-59 (Det) Prime Recovery Unit, UDT-11: LTJG Wes Chesser QM3 Michael Mallory BM1 Louis Boisvert

Apollo 10: 

Apollo 10 Apparently no battle efficiency award yet for “66”. Air group code changed to “NT”, CVSG-59. “USS Princeton” stenciled on sponsons. The last crew to be recovered in their in-flight coveralls. For recovery, raft now attached to floatation collar with lanyards and hooks (perhaps also Velcro). “Hello der Charlie Brown” stenciled on the bottom of the H-3.

Apollo 11: 

Apollo 11

Apollo 11: 

Apollo 11 July 24, 1969 Prime Recovery Helicopter SH-3D Bu. No. 152711 Squadron HS-4 “Black Knights” Pilot: Cdr D. S. Jones Copilot: LT JG Bruce Johnson Crew Chiefs: CPO Norvel Wood CPO Stanley Robert NASA Flight Surgeon: Dr.William Carpentier Prime Recovery Ship: U.S.S. Hornet (CVS-12) Commanding Officer: Capt. C. J. Seiberlach Air Group: CVSG-59 Prime Recovery Units: UDT-11 & 13 LT Clancy Hatleberg LT JG Wes Chesser QM3 Michael Mallory Seaman John Wolfram

Apollo 11: 

Apollo 11 First mission that includes recovery “decals” on H-3. “USS HORNET” stenciled on sponsons. Battle Efficiency Award is beside mission decals. Still true blue fin flash. Extra swim team member added to recovery crews. Only one swim team member to interface with crew (BIGs swimmer). Crew also recovered in BIGs . “Hail Columbia” stenciled on bottom of H-3.

Apollo 12: 

Apollo 12

Apollo 12: 

Apollo 12 November 24, 1969 Prime Recovery Helicopter SH-3D Bu. No. 152711 Squadron HS-4 “Black Knights” Pilot: Cdr. W. E. Aut Prime Recovery Ship: U.S.S. Hornet (CVS-12) Commanding Officer: Capt. C. J. Seiberlach Air Group: CVSG-59 Prime Recovery Unit: UDT-13

Apollo 12: 

Apollo 12 “USS HORNET” and “CVSG-59” stenciled on sponson. Between Apollo 11 and 12, the Navy has gone to the three digit side number, but kept a version of the two digit number for “66”. Note smaller size of side number “66”. BIGs lasted only one mission. Crew recover d in military style flight Suits which were passed into CM. Also note swim team member in water with camera, this becomes more prevalent as missions progress. Again because of crew quarantine issues, only one swim team member will interface with crew.

Apollo 13: 

Apollo 13

Apollo 13: 

Apollo 13 These three photos scanned from SD Air & Space Museum library. Very few Hi-Res images of the port side of these recovery helos. Note replaced tail unit on Helo (lt. gull gray cheat line doesn’t match). The “66” is slightly smaller and/or located in a slightly different location than Apollo 12 pickup. Battle efficiency award now includes chevron indicating second year in a row award won. USS IWO JIMA” & “CVSG-59” on sponson.

Apollo 13: 

Apollo 13 April 17, 1970 Prime Recovery Helicopter SH-3D Bu. No. 152711 Squadron HS-4 “Black Knights” Pilot: Cdr. C. B. Smiley Prime Recovery Ship: U.S.S. Iwo Jima (LPH-2) Commanding Officer: Capt. L. E. Kirkemo Air Group: CVSG-59 (Det) Prime Recovery Unit: UDT-11

Apollo 13: 

Apollo 13 Note “frogman” graphic on Helo side door for UTD team involvement. Also note photo of SIMEX prior to splashdown but during deployment (note swim team member in “BP” net). Crew recovered in in-flight coveralls but change into military style flight suits in helo. Squadron fin flash color has changed to red. First use of Apollo ‘specific purpose use’ recovery raft, includes “lily pad” for “Billy Pugh” net. Although the CM landed in the “stable 1” position, the up-righting bags were still deployed after splashdown. Note the new style of life preserver in-use by the crew.

Apollo 14: 

Apollo 14

Apollo 14: 

Apollo 14 February 9, 1971 Prime Recovery Helicopter SH-3A Bu. No. 152121 Squadron HS-6 “Indians” Pilot: Cdr. W. E. Walker Prime Recovery Ship: U.S.S. New Orleans (LPH-11) Commanding Officer: Capt. R. E. Moore Air Group: CVSG-53 (Det) Prime Recovery Unit: UDT-11

Apollo 14: 

Apollo 14 Last use of anti-submarine squadron helos for pick-ups (HS-6 “Indians” or “Red Skins”). Squadron badge appears below crew cabin side window. Apparently a elliptical version of the “Underwater Demolition” badge appears on co-pilots lower side window. Tail code is NS for CVSG-53. Last crew to go into quarantine, therefore last of the four-man swim teams. Note both rafts are Apollo specific recovery rafts. From Apollo 14 on, CMs appear to be more prone to Kapton tape shedding. Crew appear to have had military style flight suits passed into CM.

Apollo 15: 

Apollo 15

Apollo 15: 

Apollo 15 August 17, 1971 Prime Recovery Helicopter SH-3A Bu. No. 148996 Squadron HC-1 Det 9 “Fleet Angels” Pilot: Cdr. S. A. Coakley Prime Recovery Ship: U.S.S. Okinawa (LPH-3) Commanding Officer: Capt. A. F. Huff Prime Recovery Unit: UDT-11

Apollo 15: 

Apollo 15 Last SH-3A or SH-3D used as prime recovery Helo. Note white rotor cap, engine accessory cover and no tail fin flash color. Red sponson flash with red “9” (DET number) Crew changes into military style flight suits in helo after recovery.

Apollo 16: 

Apollo 16

Apollo 16: 

Apollo 16 April 27, 1972 Prime Recovery Helicopter SH-3G Bu. No. 149930 Squadron HC-1 Det 8 “Fleet Angels” Pilot: Cdr. Arnie Fieser Prime Recovery Ship: U.S.S. Ticonderoga (CVS-14) Commanding Officer: Capt. E. A. Boyd Prime Recovery Unit: UDT-12

Apollo 16: 

Apollo 16 First SH-3G utility helo used in Apollo recovery (note FOD shield in front of engines). Looks like engine gray color on rotor cap. DET 8 on sponson. I think the sling emblem on H-3 door indicates pilot recoveries by the entire squadron (Vietnam conflict). Don’t know what the verbiage under the sling is.

Apollo 17: 

Apollo 17 Apollo 17

Apollo 17: 

Apollo 17 December 19, 1972 Prime Recovery Helicopter SH-3G Bu. No. 149930 Squadron HC-1 Det 3 “Fleet Angels” Pilot: Cdr. E. E. Dahill III Prime Recovery Ship: U.S.S. Ticonderoga (CVS-14) Commanding Officer: Capt. N. K. Green Prime Recovery Unit: UDT-11

Apollo 17: 

Apollo 17 Same helo as Apollo 16 pick-up. Configuration of “UP” group marking changed from Apollo 16. Light blue rotor and sponson flash (also the YAGI antennas). Red fin tip Don’t know what the small badge is above the “underwater demolition” badge on side door. Crew changes into military style flight suits in helo.

Selected Sources: 

Splashdown! NASA and the NAVY By Don Blair Turner Publishing Company 2004 ISBN 1-56311-985-4 Hornet Plus Three The Story of the Apollo 11 Recovery By Bob Fish 2009 ISBN 978-0-9749610-7-1 H-3 Sea King In Action By Al Adcock 1995 ISBN 0-89747-330-2 Apollo Recovery Operational Procedures Manual Department of Defense Manned Spacecraft Recovery Forces Nation Aeronautics and Space Administration Manned Spacecraft Center Landing and Recovery Division MSC-01856 Rev C June 21, 1971 Space and the United States Navy By Commander Ted Wilber Prepared by the editors of Naval Aviation News A publication of the Chief of Naval Operations November 1970 Internet Resources Kip Teague’s Project Apollo Archive Apollo Image Gallery http://www.apolloarchive.com/apollo_gallery.html Bob Andrepont’s Space Document PDF Site http:www.scribd,com/users/bandrepoint/documwnt_collections Apollo By The Numbers http://history.nasa.gov/SP-4029/SP-4029.htm Naval Aviation News http://www.history.navy.mil/nan/backissues/newbackissues.htm US Navy and Marine Corps Aircraft Serial and Bureau Numbers -1911 to present http://www.joebaugher,com/navy_serials/navyserials.html Selected Sources

Apollo Recovery Map: 

Apollo Recovery Map

Splashdown & Recovery Data: 

Splashdown & Recovery Data

Slide 55: 

I believe this image is from the ASTP Mission.