At about 135:24:38, late in the Apollo 14 EVA-2 close-out, Ed Mitchell was about to head up the ladder. Al Shepard was walking toward the ladder from the MESA with the rockbox, which he would hand to Ed once Ed was up on one of the lower rungs and had had a chance to stomp his boots to clean some of the dust off his legs. As Al moved toward the ladder, his foot caught under the TV cable and pulled it enough that the camera tipped forward and fell to the ground. As indicated below, this was at least the fifth instance during the close-out that the camera moved as a result of Al snagging the TV cable with his boot. An analysis of this sequence of cable tugs suggests that, cumulatively, they put the camera and cable in a much more vulnerable configuration than would have otherwise been the case.
Before detailing specific instances camera motions due to cable snags, let us consider the configuration of the camera and its cable.
Figure 1 is a detail from the 4 o'clock Hasselblad pan Al took early in the first EVA soon after 114:53:34. It shows Ed taking a TV pan.
The cable pulls and camera motions discussed here all occurred after about 135:01:56 when Al aimed the TV at the MESA so Houston could watch the close-out. A review of the available recordings show camera motions large enough to disturb the recorded image occuring at about 135:16:34, 135:19:06, 135:22:20, 135:22:56, and 135:24:38. Not surprisingly, at the time of each of these camera motions Al was moving away from the camera. Probably because Ed did almost all of his work on the ladder side of the MESA and MET, he doesn't not appear to have snagged the TV cable during this part of the mission. The MET is near the MESA but a few meters closer to the camera. In the TV view, the cable passes the MET on the left.
135:16:29 Shepard: (At the MET, on the left) No, we did not. TDS stuff's up there.
135:16:33 Mitchell: I've got it.
135:16:34 Shepard: Good.
[Al and Ed both go to the MESA, Al on the left and Ed on the right. Al catches the TV cable with his boot and the camera moves slightly. The first motion is image-down. Because Al was moving away from the TV, he reduced the amount of slack, possibly pulling one or more loops toward the LM and, presumably, over the tripod legs, causing the camera to rock backwards slightly. No cable motion is visible in the rather grainy TV recording.]135:16:39 Mitchell: Your feet are about to get tangled up in the TV cable again. Don't fall.
135:16:43 Shepard: Okay. (Long Pause)
[In this part of the TV recording, the cable can be seen faintly, running from the MESA to the lower left corner of the TV image, passing to the left of the MET and to the right of the S-band antenna.]135:18:41 Mitchell: (At the MESA on the right) All right. We need the Plus Z-27 bag, right?
135:18:46 Shepard: (At the MET on the left) Yeah. Either that, or else put that in the weigh bag, and take this up with it. 135:18:56 Mitchell: Okay, I'm getting you a bag for it (out of the MESA).
135:18:58 Shepard: Okay, we'll use that one, then. Here's your two weigh bags that go in the ETB. (Going to the MESA on the left) How are you fixed for (garbled), there?
[While moving toward the MESA, Al catches the TV cable again. There is a small, initial, image-down motion of the TV image; but then a much larger image-up motion. The first motion is presumably the result of of a loop catching on the tripod. Immediately after this first motion, the TV cable can be seen moving in a whip like motion, clearly under some tension, relatively taut, and off the ground in the near field. At the end of this incident, the cable probably ends up in a configuration somewhat like that suggeted in Figure 3, above.]
135:20:47 Haise: Stand by, Ed. (Pause)
135:20:58 Shepard: (Going to the MESA on the left) That do it...
135:20:59 Haise: Okay...
135:20:59 Shepard: (Garbled under Haise).
135:21:01 Mitchell: (Garbled under Haise)
135:21:01 Haise: ...we've got about 18 minutes, now (to cabin repress).
135:21:05 Mitchell: Oh, we've got lots of time. Okay. (To Al, who has turned toward the MET) Watch your feet again.
[Al has already realized that he's caught the cable and raises his right boot to free it.]135:21:09 Shepard: Yeah, I'm watching them. Okay. (Looking at his checklist) You have the...(The) ETB's stowed, right?
135:22:19 Haise: Okay, and did...
135:22:21 Shepard: (Joining Ed at the MESA) Okay. We'll just have these three weigh bags, then.
[As Al moves to the MESA, he catches the cable and pulls it enough that it jumps off the ground in a whipping motion, which flips the cable connector into the TV field-of-view. There is quite obviously very little slack remaining. The first image motion is of large amplitude and image-up.]
[In February 2007, Journal Contributor Harald Kucharek called attention to an object that appeared briefly at the lower left in the TV image at this point. Its appearance was so brief that the effects of the color-wheel technology can be seen in the image. Ken Glover produced a video clip ( 4.8 Mb ) showing the event in real time and then at 1/32 actual speed.]
[Over a twenty-four hour period following the alert from Kucharek , a group of Journal contributors - Kucharek, Ron Wells, Colin Mackellar, and Karl Dodenhoff, Eric Jones, and Ken Glover - had a vigorous e-mail discussion and concluded that the object was the cable connector that can be seen midway down the cable at the back of the camera in Figure 1. The lens cap was briefly considered, but the clear association of the object with the TV cable eliminated that possibility.]
135:22:30 Mitchell: That's affirmative; it's there.
135:22:36 Shepard: Okay. (Both back at the MET) Okay; we'll take those along.
135:22:47 Mitchell: Yeah. How're we going to handle them?
135:22:53 Shepard: (Both back at the MESA) I'll put them in here next trip
135:22:55 Mitchell: Okay. (Pause).
[Al snags the cable again; but the result is only minor camera motion. The first motion is image-up, an indication that the cable is relatively taut. No cable motion can be seen in the recorded TV image.]
135:24:08 Mitchell: Yeah.
135:24:09 Shepard: ...the SRC. I believe if you just stomp your feet on the way up, it'll be as effective as the brush was yesterday.
135:24:19 Mitchell: Okay. You're probably right.
135:24:22 Shepard: Okay.
135:24:23 Mitchell: (At the foot of the ladder) Did you...I saw you over here. Did you get a picture (of Earth)?
135:24:26 Shepard: I did. Of the LM in the foreground?
135:24:30 Mitchell: Yeah.
135:24:34 Shepard: Yep. Several.
135:24:35 Mitchell: Okay, you ready to go up?
135:24:37 Shepard: Sure!
135:24:38 Mitchell: All right, Fredo, I'm starting up the ladder.
135:24:40 Haise: Roger, Ed.
[Al heads toward the ladder from the MESA. He catches the TV cable and finally pulls it hard enough to pull the camera far enough forward over the tripod base that it falls to the ground, apparently without damage.]135:24:46 Mitchell: (Stomping his boots on the ladder) How's that doing?
135:24:47 Shepard: That's good. Shaking the heck out of the LM.
135:24:51 Mitchell: Huh?
135:24:52 Haise: Okay...
135:24:53 LM Crew: (Garbled)
135:24:53 Haise: ...someone must have got caught in the cable; we just saw the TV go over.
135:25:02 Shepard: Well, we finally did it to you; sorry.
[After handing Ed the rockbox, Al goes to the TV camera, sets it on its feet, brushes the lens, and leaves it in the configuration shown in Figure 2 (above).]
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