The Apollo 11 EVA
Flight Director's Loop
Transcribed by John Sarkissian

FD Loop provided by Robert L. Roberts of JSC in April 1999
Audio loops digitised by Andrew Hunt, CSIRO Parkes Observatory, November 2007


This audio was received in April 1999, during the course of my research into the CSIRO Parkes Observatory's support of the Apollo 11 mission. In April 1999, I contacted the Johnson Space Centre (JSC) in Houston requesting copies of the Flight Director's and Network Officer's audio loops. Robert Roberts of JSC, informed me that they did not have the Network Officer's loop but only the Air-Ground audio. I requested it be sent to me along with anything else they could find. A short time later, I received the A/G and FD loops of the start of the EVA.

This audio loop lasts a total of 46 minutes and covers the period from Neil Armstrong's descent of the LM ladder to when he deploys the TV camera a short distance from the LM. It begins when Neil is on the porch of the LM at the top of the ladder - four minutes before he swings open the MESA to reveal the TV camera. It ends when Neil has completed the deployment of the TV camera. This is the period from Ground Elapsed Time (GET) 109:16:44 to 110:02:44.

The Flight Director for the EVA was green team leader, Clifford E. Charlesworth.

The Apollo Lunar Surface Journal, edited by Eric Jones, and the A/G Audio should be consulted for the details of the EVA.

The times displayed below are the elapsed time on the audio loop and (in brackets below) the approximate GET.

Click here to see my report, "On Eagle's Wings: The Parkes Observatory's Support of the Apollo 11 Mission"
Time
( GET )
Dialogue
[ Author Comments ]
00:37
( 109:17:21 )

Eecom: Flight, Eecom
Flight: Go
Eecom: Weíre looking OK for LOS
Flight: Roger

[ This is referring to the imminent loss of signal of the orbiting CSM "Columbia", with Michael Collins on board. It will shortly slip behind the Moon and out of radio contact with Earth and the LM "Eagle". The Flight Director during the EVA was Clifford E. Charlesworth.]
00:56
( 109:40:00 )

Flight: EMU, Flight.
EMU: Go ahead Flight.
Flight: What is the reason for the differences in the LCG or inlet temperatures between the two?
EMU: Well, right now the LMPís in the max diverter valve position. Thatís why it took so long to get his sublimator going. Commander went to ... after the warning tone went off, (he) went up to intermediate. And itís a lower heat load to the sublimator.
Flight: OK.

[ For details of what is being discussed here, see the ALSJ at GET 108:36:48, 108:45:51, 108:56:22.

In Summary: Houston gets a modest amount of telemetry from the PLSS, including electrocardiogram readouts, suit pressure, carbon dioxide partial pressure, battery voltage and current, oxygen bottle pressure, temperatures at the inlet to the Liquid Cooled Garment (LCG) and the outlet to the PLSS sublimator, and a temperature difference between the LCG inlet and outlet. Houston does not have a direct indication of the status of the vent window - which shows a "P" warning when the oxygen flow is below about 5 cubic feet per minute.

The PLSS pump circulates water through a network of thin tubes woven into the Liquid Cooled Garment or LCG. This is a closed-loop water supply which carries excess body heat to the sublimator where the heat is transferred to a supply of feedwater which is subsequently evaporated to provide overall cooling.

The sublimator consists of a sandwich of honeycomb plates on which, when exposed to vacuum, the feedwater turns to ice and it is the sublimation of the ice layer that provides cooling. ]

02:45
( 109:19:29 )
Flight: LOS call Columbia , Capcom. All go.
[ The FD is reminding the Capcom, Bruce McCandless, to call the LOS of the CSM "Columbia". This is to alert the crew and the controllers of the imminent loss of the CSM signal. ]
04:23
( 109:21:07 )

Capcom: LOS Columbia
Flight: Rog

[ The CSM "Columbia" slipped behind the Moon and out of radio contact. ]
04:33
( 109:21:17 )

Telcom: Flight, Telcom. He should open ... turn the TV circuit breaker in.
Flight: TV circuit breaker in.

04:47
( 109:21:31 )

Flight: Capcom, Flight. Do you verify TV circuit breaker in?
Capcom: I mentioned it. Let me check.
Flight: Verify it.

[ This exchange was to verify that Buzz Aldrin had turned the TV camera on in preparation for Armstrong's descent of the LM ladder. This followed Armstrong's opening of the MESA. ]
05:46
( 109:22:30 )

Flight: FAO

10:36
( 109:27:20 )

Capcom: Flight, Capcom

10:41
( 109:27:25 )

Capcom: Flight, Capcom
Flight: Go
Capcom: Ah yeh, we show him getting the camera, ah, we havenít heard anything about the contingency sample. Suggest we standby for a minute or so here.

10:54
( 109:27:38 )

Flight: FAO, Flight
FAO: Go Flight
Flight: FAA, ah, FAO, EVA, Flight

11:03
( 109:27:47 )

FAO: Go ahead
Flight: Can we wait a minute or two ... he's inverted these or should we remind him now?
FAO: It wonít hurt anything except the science priority.

11:17
( 109:28:01 )

FAO: I wouldnít try and change it now Flight
Flight: OK.

[ Armstrong appears to have inverted the checklist operations here. He should have first collected the contingency sample before getting the Hasselblad camera down from the LM. Instead, he appears to be bringing the camera down first. Neil should have collected a sample of lunar soil, shortly after stepping onto the lunar surface, and placed it in his leg pocket in case there was an emergency departure. In this way, geologists would be guaranteed at least a small sample of lunar soil. The controllers are debating whether to wait for Neil to finish his current task or to remind him immediately of the contingency sample. Since everything is going well, they wait. ]
12:48
( 109:29:32 )

Flight:  Capcom, Flight
Capcom:  Go ahead, Flight
Flight:  As a reminder ... ah, checking with EVA and FAO, here, perhaps is ... Remind him as soon as he tethers the camera, contingency sample.
Capcom: Wilco.

[ The FD is concerned that Armstrong had still not collected the contingency sample. Neil eventually collected the sample about three minutes after this exchange. ]
13:22
( 109:30:06 )

Flight: Surgeon from Flight
Surgeon:  Go Flight
Flight: How you look?
Surgeon: Looking fine Flight. Dataís good and crews doing well.
Flight: Roger. EMU, Flight. How are you?

13:36
( 109:30:20 )

EMU: Go ahead Flight
Flight: You look OK?
EMU: We look real good, Flight
Flight: OK. Telcom
Telcom: Go Flight

[ The FD is polling the controllers, checking that all is OK. ]
14:02
( 109:30:46 )

Capcom: Itís going together now flight.

14:07
( 109:30:51 )

Flight: No, itís not either.
Network: Flight, Network. Thatís Parkes.
Flight: Roger. Capcom, reminder.

[ The Network Officer, Ernie Randall, is reporting that the TV pictures are now coming through the Parkes Radio Telescope in New South Wales, Australia. Prior to this switch, Houston was alternating between the TV signals being received through Goldstone and Honeysuckle Creek, searching for the best quality TV. The improved TV quality through Parkes prompted the FD to note that it was no longer being sourced from either station. The FD then insists Capcom remind Neil to collect the contingency sample. He's concerned that Neil hasn't collected the sample yet.]
15:06
( 109:31:50 )

Flight: Network, Flight
Network: Go ahead
Flight: We have uplink when weíre on Parkes donít we?
Network: Negative
Flight: Through ah .... 
Network: We have uplink but not through Parkes. Youíre through Goldstone uplink, Flight.
Flight: Capcom, Flight
Capcom: Go ahead Flight
Flight: Iím not sure he copied that.

[ In this exchange, the FD is enquiring as to the source of the radio uplink. He at first seems confused that it is through Parkes. However, Parkes does not have transmit capability (it's a radio telescope). The Network Officer corrects him, and it's immediately clear that the FD was aware of his mistake. To the author it seems that what the FD meant to ask was if the uplink was through Goldstone.

The FD asks Capcom to remind Neil to get the contingency sample since Neil may not have copied the previous reminder.]

15:41
( 109:32:25 )

Flight: Fair enough.

[ Following the previous exchange, Capcom asks Neil if he copied the request to collect the contingency sample. Neil replies that he will do that just as soon as he finishes taking the panorama pictures he's currently working on. The FD thinks that's fair enough. ]

ah ra (??unintelligible)

16:07
( 109:32:51 )
[ Could this have been a fragment from somewhere on the Network? Someone may have started to say , "Ah, Roger" then realised they were on the FD loop and quickly cut it off. ]
16:37
( 109:33:21 )

Calling(??), Flight

[ Could this have been another fragment? Say, the tale end of "Were you calling, Flight?" ]
20:18
( 109:37:02 )

EMU: Flight, EMU
Flight: Go.

20:27
( 109:37:11 )

Flight: Go EMU
EMU: Eskio(??? unintelligible), we want Flight. Thankyou.

[ It isn't clear what this exchange refers to. ]
22:13
( 109:38:57 )

Surgeon: Heís running about 1400 btu, Cliff
Flight: OK 

Surgeon: 125 heart rate
Flight: OK

22:22
( 109:39:06 )
[ From the GET, this exchange may be refering to Buzz Aldrin's vital signs as he begins his egress and descent of the LM ladder. ]
26:35
( 109:43:19 )

EMU: Flight, EMU
Flight: Go
EMU: Both PLSSís are running on nominal on consumables.
Flight: Roger.

[ All seems to be well with the consumables (air, water, power) in the astronauts' backpacks - the Portable Life Support Systems, PLSS. ]
28:26
( 109:45:10 )

EVA: Flight, EVA
Flight: Go
EVA: Ah, the commander ought to be getting the TV out while Aldrin is doing this activity.

[ Buzz is familiarising himself with the lunar environment as per the checklist. Eric Jones comment: The checklist confirms that Neil is supposed to be deploying the TV while Buzz does the Fam. ]
28:35
( 109:45:19 )

Flight: Roger. I donít see him. Has he moved that way?
EVA: I think heís kind of watching the LMP.

28:47
( 109:45:31 )

EVA: Which may be a good thing.

[ Eric Jones comment: Neil is watching Buzz testing the mobility of his suit. Controller, EVA, thinks it's a good idea for Neil to be watching Buzz, both for safety purposes, and to let him see what Buzz's movements look like. Buzz had the advantage of watching Neil out the LM window prior to his own egress. ]
30:26
( 109:47:10 )

Flight: Telcom, Flight
Telcom: Go Flight
Flight: Whatís your status
Telcom: Weíre looking real good Flight.
Flight: OK.

31:16
( 109:48:00 )

Flight: Capcom, Flight
Capcom: Go ahead Flight. Heís taking the cover off the MESA now for the TV camera.
Flight: OK.

[ Armstrong is about to change the lens on the TV camera which is still stowed in the MESA. ]
31:29
( 109:48:13 )

Capcom: And Network just inverted the picture too ... in preparation for removing it.

[ While the TV camera is stowed in the MESA it is upside-down and so are the images being transmitted to Earth. The images were inverted on Earth to show the pictures the right-way-up. When Armstrong removes the TV camera to deploy it on the lunar surface a short distance from the LM, it will be the right-way-up again, so the TV operators on Earth will re-invert the images to show the pictures the right-way-up. The Network Officer reported that the operator had inverted the picture in preparation for this. However, this initial inversion was prematurely performed by Dick Holl, the scan-converter operator in Paddington, Sydney. Dick thought the camera was being removed, when in fact it was just a lens change. He quickly re-inverted the picture to show the scene the right-way-up again. ]
31:43
( 109:48:27 )

Flight: EMU, Flight

31:54
( 109:48:38 )

EMU: Flight, EMU
Flight: How you doing?
EMU: Looks good. Weíre right on the money on the consumables and the cooling looks proper.
Flight: Buzz still in max flow?
EMU: Heís still in max. He must have really put in the heat during the preparation. I expect there to be a change any minute though.

[ The water, air and power supplies are looking good for the astronuats' backpacks. Buzz Aldrin still has the inverter valve on his PLSS set to maximum to cool his suit. Neil's was set to intermediate. ]
33:31
( 109:50:15 )

Experiments: Flight, Experminents. Could we get him to repeat that?
Flight: Say again?
Experiments: Could we get him to repeat that on his comment on the rock?
Flight: Didnít you get it copied?
Experiments: Negative.
Capcom: This is Capcom. It sounded me like he said he thought it was biotite, but heíd leave it for people to figure out (garbled).
Flight or Experiments: Roger.

[ Eric Jones comment: Buzz's mention of biotite caused quite a stir in the Science Backroom. It is a mineral within the mica group, all of which contain OH ions in their structure and necessarily form in the presence of water. If Buzz had really seen biotite, it would have been a major discovery and would have changed ideas about how the lunar mare formed. After the mission, Buzz was criticised for using the word "biotite", but geologist/moonwalker, Jack Schmitt, points out that it gave a good idea of the impression one gets from various sparkling minerals in the lunar rocks. ]
34:10
( 109:50:54 )

Capcom: roh...

[ Capcom begins to say "roger", but stops short when he realises he's still on the FD loop, and switches to the AG loop. A moment later, on the AG audio, Capcom is heard to say "Roger" in reply to the crew. ]
34:15
( 109:50:59 )

Capcom: Ahh Flight, Capcom. Itís been about 55 minutes since they started depress. Do you think we ought to give them a LM status report?
Flight: Ahh. Yeh, the next time you talk to him. Telcom, Flight.
Telcom: Go Flight
Flight: All looking good?
Telcom: Thatís affirmative.
Flight: OK. Control, how about you?
Control: Go Flight (softly)
Flight: Yeh, next time you talk to him Capcom.
Capcom: Roger.

[ The Capcom feels the crew should be informed about how well the LM systems are doing. After the FD polls the controllers, Capcom informs the crew at the next opportunity that the LM systems are all "go". ]
35:18
( 109:52:02 )

Capcom: There goes the plaque Flight.

[ The astronauts are unveiling the plaque. ]
39:14
( 109:55:58 )

Flight: FAO
FAO: Go Flight
Flight: Did you copy?
FAO: Roger. He wants assistance on the location. He got the sim.

[ Armstrong has removed the TV camera from the MESA and is moving it a short distance away from the LM. Neil is wanting to know where the best place is to deploy it. ]
39:36
( 109:56:20 )

EVA: Flight, EVA
Flight: Go
EVA: He ought to have it out 60 to 70 feet approximately 30 degrees from the minus Y toward the front of the spacecraft. 
Flight: minus Y or plus?
EVA: Sorry, plus Y
Capcom: I think what he was talking about was that after he gets the panorama, he wants aiming information.
Flight: Probably.

[ Armstrong is pointing the TV camera around the scene of the landing site, checking the focus etc. The controllers are discussing the best location to place the TV camera. The LM landed facing West. The +Y strut is the North strut and -Y is South. The controllers can see the TV pictures but Armstrong cannot. Armstrong needs instructions on where to point the camera. ]
41:20
( 109:58:04 )

Capcom: OK. I think the field-of-view is OK. We got to aim it to the right ...
Flight: Yeah.
Capcom: Donít you?
Flight: Yes. 

[ Capcom, Bruce McCandless, thinks the camera should point a little more to the right. The FD agrees. ]
41:45
( 109:58:29 )

Flight: A little too much

[ Neil pointed the camera a little too far to the right. In the AG loop, Capcom is heard to ask Neil to point it back to the left a little more. ]
41:52
( 109:58:36 )

Capcom: Look (????)

[ It sounds like Capcom, Bruce McCandless, started to say something and thought better of it. ]
42:11
( 109:58:55 )

Capcom: It looks good to me Flight. I donít know ... what does everybody else think ... 
Flight: It looks good to me. Heís out as far as he can get. I think thatís OK Capcom.

[ Because Armstrong cannot see the TV pictures, he's relying on the controllers to determine if the aiming of the camera is OK and if the scene fills the camera's field-of-view satisfactorily. The camera is out as far as the cables allow. The controllers are discussing the camera placement and scene. ]
42:47
( 109:59:31 )

Telcom: Flight, Telcom
Flight: Go
Telcom: Network is standing by for slow-scan if they choose to do it.
Flight: OK.

[ The Lunar TV Camera had two modes of operation. The normal mode displayed a 10 frames-per-second B/W TV picture with a resolution of 320 lines per frame. The camera was also capable of operating in a high resolution mode which was 5/8 frame-per-second with 1280 lines per frame. This mode was designed to transmit high resolution images in case the astronauts were not able to return to Earth with photographs. The camera had a switch located on the top surface that would allow the astronauts to operate it in either mode.

Neil begins to take a few panoramas with the TV camera. The Network Officer reported that he was ready to switch to this high resolution mode if they chose to do it. This would have been the time to take the high resolution pictures, but it was not used. ]
43:01
( 109:59:45 )

Flight: Beautiful!

[ It says it all. The FD is impressed with the panoramas Neil is taking. ]

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