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Water Gun, Helmet Feedport, In-Suit Drink Bag, and Food Stick

Copyright 2005 by Eric M. Jones. All rights reserved.
Last revised 3 March 2010.
Apollo Water Gun

Apollo water gun, photographed at the London Science Museum by Mike Hyde.

Water Gun and Feedport

A suited subject, possibly Jim Irwin, gets a drink from the water gun (aka water dispenser) via the feedport mounted in his helmet. Stills from a 16-mm NASA film about the Apollo pressure suits, courtesy Ulrich Lotzmann.

Food Stick and Drink Nozzle

Gene Cernan resting during training with the foodstick and drink bag nozzle visible. Un-numbered Ed Dempsey photo.

Food Stick and Drink Nozzle

View from the back of the suit. NASA photo.


Water Gun

The LM water gun delivered cold, potable water for drinking, food preparation, or fire fighting. It was mounted on the side of the Suit Liquid Cooling Assembly closest to the Ascent Engine Cover, as indicated in a labeled detail from the Grumman Apollo News Reference, in a close-up photo of a LM Mission Simulator, and the Apollo 15 Mission Report.

All of the lunar surface crews drank deeply from the water gun before donning their helmets during EVA preparations.

Water Gun

Stowage location of the LM water dispenser/gun. Grumman Apollo News Reference.

Water Gun

Stowage location of the LM water dispenser/gun. LM Mission simulator close-up photographed at the Cradle of Aviation Museum by Frank O'Brien.

Water Gun

LM water dispenser/gun with bacterial filter installed. Figure 14-28, Apollo 15 Mission Report.


Feed/Drink Port

The feedport was included in the helmet design so that a suited astronaut could access water or food - presumably in liquid form - while fully suited. Although all the crews drank from the water gun prior to closing the Descent H20 valve and then donning their helmets, none of them used the Feed/Drink Port. In response to a 1999 question, Dave Scott said, "I doubt that the port was ever used -- to use it would break the pressure integrity of the seal and even though it would probably reseal OK, there would be no need to use the port in other than an emergency. The helmet was about the last item to don anyway, and we always took a long drink before donning."

Neil's drink port

Left lateral view of Neil Armstrong's flown helmet showing the feed port. Photographed by Ulli Lotzmann, Amanda Young, and Bill Ayrey at the National Air and Space Museum's Garber Facility, 10-11 April 2006.

 

drink port without cover

View of Amstrong's feed port from inside the helmet. Note that the flap opens inward and, in normal circumstances, would be held closed by the internal pressure of the suit.

 

drink port without cover

View of Amstrong's feed port from outside the helmet but without the cover.

 

external cover and feedport

Outside cover being installed on Armstrong's feedport.

 

external cover and feedport

Feed port with cover installed.

 

water gun in feedport

Suited subject with water gun inserted into the drink port.

 


Drink Bag

Section 2.3.5.7, Volume 1
Apollo Operations Handbook: Extravehicular Mobility Unit
Apollo 15-17
MSC-01372-1 / CSD-A-789-1. March 1971

In-suit Drinking Device (ISDD) - The insuit drinking device ( Figure 2-26, below ) provides approximately 32 ounces of potable water within the PGA during lunar surface extravehicular activities. The ISDD consists of a flexible film bag with an inlet valve for filling and an outlet tube and tilt valve for drinking. The bag is attached between the PGA bladder and liner at the neck ring by means of hook-and-pile Velcro. The bag is filled with potable water from the spacecraft water system by means of the water-dispenser/fire-extinguisher.
EMU Figure 2-26

Figure 2-26. Click on the image for a higher resolution version.

Before each of the Apollo 12 EVAs, Pete Conrad and Al Bean drank their fill from the LM water dispenser; and, although neither of them commented on being particuarly thirsty, during the second EVA, at about 133:13:20, Pete said, " Tell you one thing I'd go for is a good drink of ice water."

After that flight, a decision was made to give the astronauts in-suit drink bags. Journal Contributor John Pfannerstill points out that "during the fateful 'last' TV broadcast from Apollo 13, which concluded just minutes before the oxygen tank blew," Fred Haise demonstrated the drink bag for the audience on Earth." The Apollo 13 drink bags are described on pages 92 and 94 in the Apollo 13 Press Kit ( 6Mb PDF ).]

Shepard and Mitchell were the first to use drink bags on the Moon. The following is an extract from the Apollo 14 mission review done with Ed:

Jones - "Did the drink bags work reasonably well?"

Mitchell - "Reasonably well. They were pretty vital. I mean, you start to sweating out there and getting hot, you had to have some liquid. They weren't the best solution in the world but it was better than trying to poke something through a visor."

Jones - "And you had plain water in there?"

Mitchell - "Water with a little glucose, as I recall."

Jones - "And it worked throughout the EVA?"

Mitchell - "Yeah. I don't remember that I used it all that much but I did take a sip from time to time. It was welcome relief."

During Apollo 15, Jim Irwin was unable to get his drink bag to work during either the first or second EVA. In the interest of getting as long an EVA-3 as possible, Dave and Jim did not install the drink bags for EVA-3.
Irwin, from the 1971 Technical Debrief - "I might make one comment, Dave. You know, coming back to the LM in preparation for the ALSEP (deployment), I felt that I was thirsty and kind of hungry; and I tried to get some water out of the water bag as we were approaching the LM. Couldn't any water out of it, but the food stick was there and I gobbled that down. I think that was the thing that pulled me through and gave me the energy to get through the ALSEP deployment. That really perked me up. I felt great after that."

Scott, from the 1971 Technical Debrief - "That's a good point. I, too, when we got back to the LM, tried the water and the food stick; and my water worked fine. I got several gulps of water. It was very refreshing and I ate about half of the food stick at that time. That helped quite a bit. I think, in looking at it, the problems I had (later) with the water bag were related to tie-down to the neck ring with only Velcro. On the second EVA, that came loose and I could never get to the water bag because it was under my chin. I think, maybe, if we had snaps in there, or some firmer method of tying it down, it would have helped me. Can you sort out why you couldn't get to the thing?"

Irwin, from the 1971 Technical Debrief - "I could get to it. I just couldn't suck the water out. I just couldn't make the valve operate."

Scott, from the 1971 Technical Debrief - "I'll tell you, the water bag is really a valuable asset because one quick swish of water and it really refreshes you. I think, if you really got thirsty, you could stand there and drink the whole thing, if it worked right. There was no problem putting it in the suit, no problem donning the suit with the water bag full, or with the food stick."

The following discussion is taken from the Apollo 15 Mission Report:
"After satisfactory operation during the first extravehicular activity, the mouthpiece of the insuit drinking device was displaced and the Commander was not able to obtain water during the second extravehicular activity. The Lunar Module Pilot was not able to actuate the drink valve of the insuit drinking device during either the first or second extravehicular activities."

"After each extravehicular activity, the in-suit drinking device was removed from the suit and all of the water consumed, thus verifying proper operation of the in-suit drinking-device drink valve. The problem was associated with the positioning of the in-suit drinking device within the suit."

"Ground tests using suited subjects and other equipment configurations indicated that the existing equipment provides the optimum configuration. The tests also showed that personal experience is essential to obtaining optimum individual positioning. Crew training (will be modified) to include more crew experience in making the position adjustments required for the individual's needs."

"This anomaly is closed."

Whatever changes were made in training and/or equipment, the Apollo 16 and 17 crew members were generally able to get drinks when they wanted them - and, in Charlie Duke's case, sometimes when they didn't. The only exception was Apollo 16 EVA-1 when John Young was unable to reach his drink valve.


Food Sticks / Fruit Bars

A Satisfied Customer

Pages CDR-6 and CDR/LMP-7 of the Apollo 16 EVA-2 Cuff Checklists

"Food Sticks" and "Fruit Bars" were the same thing, flown first on Apollo 15.

During the review of preparations for Apollo 15 EVA-1, Dave Scott commented,

"We're getting the drink bags and the fruit bars for lunch, which was another innovation for this long duration mission, driven by the long-duration backpack which changed so many things. When you're in the suits for seven hours, you've got to have something to eat and drink. So, this step of doubling the time (that is, the length of the EVAs) did a lot of things in terms of how you live and work on the Moon. This is an example."
Gene Cernan said
"We were going to be locked in the suit for maybe nine hours and we had a little water bag that we suspended from the inside rim of the suit. The bag hung on your chest and had a little one-way valve on the top of it so that you could turn your head and take a drink. It was like sucking on a nipple. And then we also had one of these high protein or high calorie sticks shaped like a ruler. It was a soft stick and you could chew it. We had it inside a little bag, and it was probably about eight inches long. It, too, was Velcroed just inside the helmet ring and we could put our chin down and pull a little bit out with our teeth, take a bite, chew it for some energy. It was typical candy-tasting stuff. It was nice to be able to suck up a few ounces of water now and then and have something to chew on. That was it; I mean, we had no way of eating or drinking anything other than that. But having some water and a little candy was a real help; it really was. I remember that both the 15 and 16 crews had trouble with their drink systems. We didn't have any problems that I can remember; and I remember that, in training, it had to do a lot of times with the way you placed the bag. I don't think there were any great design changes; although, maybe, the one-way valve was worked over."
Charlie Duke said,
"That food stick was a thing that stuck inside the suit and it came up like this (on the right-hand side of the neckring) and, when you were out on the surface, you could just reach over (with your teeth) and pull it up and chop off a piece. And it was really high-energy stuff."
And, finally, we have the following from the review of the Apollo 15 ALSEP deployment at a point where Dave takes a momentary break from his drilling tasks. On the audio tape, we hear what sounds like Dave chewing.
Jones - "Are you eating a fruit bar?"

Scott - "I might have been eating a fruit bar. I really liked the fruit bars. Anytime that was break time was a good time to have the fruit bar and a drink of water."

Jones - "And take a look around the horizon."

Scott - "At this stage of the game, probably not looking at the horizon. At this stage of the game, probably trying to get this thing done."

Jones - "Have a little slice of fruit bar and think about what you might do?"

Scott - "Yeah."


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