Space Pioneers in Their Own Words
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Space Pioneers in Their Own Words
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Each month, a brief excerpt from a space pioneer's oral history will be featured on this page. This is the excerpt for December 2017:
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Each month, a brief excerpt from a space pioneer's oral history will be featured on this page. This is the excerpt for December 2017:
In last month's excerpt, Charles Deitrich talked about bringing Apollo 13 back after an explosion had crippled the service module 200,000 miles from Earth. This is a continuation of his description:

The other thing on [Apollo] 13 was that we had a radioactive cask on the LM which was used to power the ALSEP, the lunar surface experiments. It was a radioactive thermo generator, which generated electricity. With the AEC [Atomic Energy Commission] guys, there were always radiation concerns. There was a real concern about where this cask was going to go. Prior to flight, I don't know, it was just premonition or whatever, but they wanted to talk about how we were going to get rid of it. I guess because on Apollo 12 we had a LM cask, and they didn't have a plan. As you do more flights, you take care of more and more things. So we were starting to take care of more things, and one of them was what do you do with this cask if we have to let it reenter? It was a thing that would survive reentry no sweat, but they just didn't want it coming down in a populated area. So we got the guys who did the trajectory, and they told us what different L over Ds [lift over drag] the cask could have. I could change the value of L over D in the ground computer. So after the crew landed, I ran the aerodynamics and gave the AEC two places it might be. I actually also had done that long before we got back. They went out, and sniffed with their airplanes, and they didn't see it, but they did track something at one of the points we gave them. So it's probably in the Mariana Trench. We put it in deep, deep water.

When 13 successfully splashed down, there was a big celebration. In fact, somebody always sent cigars to the control center. So we all lit up cigars.




Unless otherwise attributed, all SpacePioneerWords.com content is © Loretta Hall, 2013-2017.
In last month's excerpt, Charles Deitrich talked about bringing Apollo 13 back after an explosion had crippled the service module 200,000 miles from Earth. This is a continuation of his description:

The other thing on [Apollo] 13 was that we had a radioactive cask on the LM which was used to power the ALSEP, the lunar surface experiments. It was a radioactive thermo generator, which generated electricity. With the AEC [Atomic Energy Commission] guys, there were always radiation concerns. There was a real concern about where this cask was going to go. Prior to flight, I don't know, it was just premonition or whatever, but they wanted to talk about how we were going to get rid of it. I guess because on Apollo 12 we had a LM cask, and they didn't have a plan. As you do more flights, you take care of more and more things. So we were starting to take care of more things, and one of them was what do you do with this cask if we have to let it reenter? It was a thing that would survive reentry no sweat, but they just didn't want it coming down in a populated area. So we got the guys who did the trajectory, and they told us what different L over Ds [lift over drag] the cask could have. I could change the value of L over D in the ground computer. So after the crew landed, I ran the aerodynamics and gave the AEC two places it might be. I actually also had done that long before we got back. They went out, and sniffed with their airplanes, and they didn't see it, but they did track something at one of the points we gave them. So it's probably in the Mariana Trench. We put it in deep, deep water.

When 13 successfully splashed down, there was a big celebration. In fact, somebody always sent cigars to the control center. So we all lit up cigars.
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