Spacecraft Stowage

Stowing equipment on the Apollo spacecraft grew more complicated with the lunar exploration missions. The SIM bay and the rover have been described. The modularized equipment storage assembly occupied another quadrant of the descent stage. These cargo pallets provided room for tools, the lunar communications relay unit, various cameras including the color television equipment, and other items to be mounted aboard the rover. Inside the command and lunar modules the astronauts required more of nearly all supplies: food, clothing, film, and life support items. During the latter missions the Manned Spacecraft Center placed a number of experiments aboard the command module, e.g., Apollo 16 carried 60 million microbial passengers in a small rectangular container, a light flash detector, a biostack,* and a Skylab food package.26

A15 equipment stowage


70 mm camera adapter

H2 gas separator in bag

5 tissue dispensers

2 penlights in bag

tool set

pressure garment O2 interconnect, 3 in bag

snag line in bag

2 probe stowage straps

3 temporary stowage bags


4 CO2 absorbers

fire extinguisher

acoustic tone booster in bag

remote control cable


2-speed interval timer

5 sleep restraint ropes

16mm camera sextant adapter

3 headrest pads


TV monitor, monitor cable, and mounting bracket

2 CO2 absorbers


3 pilot preference kits

inflight exerciser

2 tissue dispensers

3 constant wear garments

extravehicular mobility unit maintenance kits

3 light-weight headsets

relief receptacle assembly and strap

16mm camera with magazine, powerpack, and 2 film magazines in bag

10mm lens

decontamination bags

O2 umbilical interconnect

contingency lunar sample return container


data card kit


2 meter covers

floodlight glare shield

fuse (16mm camera)

6 flight data file clips

flight data file books

lunar module transfer data card kit and flight data file books


2 rucksack survival kits


2 sanitation stowage boxes

30 fecal collection assemblies

water panel coupling assembly

waste management system water panel, quick disconnect, power cable, and quick disconnect pressure cap


3 urine transfer systems

spare urine receiver assembly

roll-on cuff (red, white, blue)


4 cassettes, 4 batteries for tape recorders

10 x 40 monocular

intervalometer (Hasselblad)

250mm lens

The launch team stowed the spacecraft cabins on three separate occasions during the Apollo 16 operations: first, in the chambers prior to the astronauts' altitude runs, a second time for the crew compartment fit and function test; and finally the day before launch. KSC had dropped the practice of stowing the cabin for the countdown demonstration test; instead technicians placed empty lockers inside the command module to give the astronauts the appearance of a flight-ready cabin. A team of nine normally stowed the command module. Inside the cabin two technicians secured each item in its proper place. A KSC quality control representative observed their work. Outside, two technicians unpacked the flight articles. A North American quality representative and engineers from Houston, KSC, and North American completed the team. While the six "outside members" of the team found the white room of the mobile service structure confining, they preferred it to the occasional use of the ninth swing arm from the umbilical tower, which had to be used in changing flight articles when Swigert replaced Mattingly on Apollo 13. Carrying equipment across a catwalk a hundred meters above the ground unnerved some members of the group. During the countdown, stowage of the command module began about 24 hours before launch and ran for seven hours. If no problems arose, the team could finish with several hours to spare.

The stowage exercise culminated two weeks of intensive preparations for KSC's Anne Montgomery. Her group checked many of the flight articles such as cameras, communications equipment, and the lithium hydroxide canisters. The items were tested individually and then in conjunction with other flight articles and command module systems. Some items required special packaging; all were weighed and recorded by serial number. Every flight article received a detailed quality inspection and each mission disclosed a number of discrepancies.

James McKnight directed a similar activity for the lunar module, the final stowage of which began just before the start of the formal countdown. At T-55 hours Grumman technicians placed most of the articles aboard and checked out the lunar equipment conveyor. The astronauts relied on this moving clothesline to carry heavy items such as rocks inside the lunar module. The group completed stowage at T-30 hours. After placing a portable life support system on the cabin wall and another on the floor, the technicians took pictures of their work and then sealed the hatch.

Houston prepared the stowage plans for each mission; these took into consideration when and where the astronauts would use a particular flight article. Emergency items received first consideration. The Manned Spacecraft Center was also responsible for the contents of the crew preference kits, the bags in which astronauts carried their personal mementos. Following the incident with unauthorized postal covers on Apollo 15, NASA tightened its restrictions on what the astronauts could take to the moon.27

After a successful flight readiness test on 1 March, officials met for the launch readiness review. The session covered all major aspects of Apollo 16 operations - range safety, operations safety, base support, Eastern Test Range support, Goddard's communications network support, the central instrumentation facility, technical support, and the status of the space vehicle. Despite the problem with the reaction control system fuel talk, Apollo 16 had been KSC's smoothest Apollo operation yet.28

One month before the scheduled liftoff, John Young, Apollo 16 commander, and Charles M. Duke, lunar module pilot, briefed KSC employees on the upcoming mission. Although 1,500 attended the meeting, the crowd appeared insignificant inside the assembly building. Young and Duke discussed the problems they anticipated on landing in the high, rugged Descartes region. They outlined the goals of their extravehicular activities and explained the flight plan. After answering questions from the audience, Command Module Pilot Thomas K. Mattingly and Young circulated through the crowd, shaking hands and signing autographs. The briefing was one of the astronauts' last public appearances before the launch, as they began their three-week preflight quarantine on 26 March. This crew had special reason to appreciate the restriction; Mattingly's potential measles on Apollo 13 had prompted the quarantine and in January 1972 Duke had spent a week at the Patrick Air Force Base hospital with bacterial pneumonia.29

The last month of operations saw few hardware changes. The actual countdown went without a hitch. Liftoff came on a hot Sunday afternoon, 16 April, at 12:54.30

* NASA measured the effects of reduced oxygen, zero gravity, and solar ultraviolet irradiation on the microbes representing five strains of bacteria, fungi, and viruses. On one flight experiment a crewman donned an emulsion plate device or deflector while his mates wore eye shields. The purpose was to correlate light flashes, seen on each mission since Apollo 11, to cosmic rays. The biostack, a cylindrical aluminum container 10cm. high, contained live biological material that was exposed to high-energy heavy ions in cosmic radiation. The Skylab food package included some experimental snap-top cans with dried peaches, puddings, peanuts, and other items.

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