Apollo 15

Apollo 15, named in the original plan, Apollo 16 or J -1, was a manned flight to the moon as part of the U.S. Apollo program.


On March 26, 1970, just before the launch of Apollo 13, NASA announced the crew of the Apollo 15 mission. Commander was David Scott, so 9 his third space flight carried out by Gemini 8 and Apollo. As a pilot of the command module Alfred Worden was divided, for the Lunar Module James Irwin was nominated. Both were space newbies. All three astronauts were members of the U.S. Air Force.

Replacement commander was Richard Gordon, who was already in space with Gemini 11 and Apollo 12. As a replacement pilot of the command module and the lunar module Vance Brand and Jack Schmitt were divided. It was customary that the backup crew of Apollo flight home team was three flights later. But since Apollo 18 was canceled in September 1970, so there was little hope of flying to the moon for Gordon, Brand and Schmitt.

The support team ( support crew ) consisted of Joseph Allen, Karl Henize and Robert Parker, all three were science astronauts from the sixth selection group of NASA.


Beginning in January 1970, even before the announcement of the crew of Apollo 15, the last scheduled flight to the moon, Apollo 20 was canceled for financial reasons. In September, two more flights, the original Apollo 15 mission, and Apollo 19, deleted. The three remaining flights 16 to 18 have been renumbered with 15 to 17.

Thus Apollo 15 was a mission of type J with extended scientific profile. The Lunar Module LM -10 was compared with Apollo 14 greatly improved, allowing a longer stay on the moon. In addition, a lunar rover (LRV - Lunar Roving Vehicle ) could be carried. Together with the improved life support systems ( PLSS ) of the space suits the astronauts were able to stay longer in a vacuum and travel great distances on the moon. The vehicle was folded on the outside of the lander space. The Service Module was also expanded to include a scientific equipment and contained two cameras, magnetometers, gravimeters and equipment for X-ray fluorescence analysis of the surface.

The lunar module was named Falcon ( falcon), the Apollo spacecraft CSM - 112 was named after the ship of the explorer James Cook Endeavour. Even within the NASA alongside the British and the American spelling Endeavor was used.

The Lunar Module LM -9 and the spacecraft CSM -111, which were intended for the canceled space flight, were not used for moon flights. LM -9 was later exhibited at the Kennedy Space Center, while CSM -111 was used in 1975 for the Apollo -Soyuz project.

The geological formation of the astronauts was more intense in order to meet the scientific requirements of the mission compared to previous Apollo flights.

The individual stages of the Saturn V rocket AS -510 were delivered from May to July 1970 at the Kennedy Space Center. On 11 May 1971, the rocket to the launch pad 39A could be rolled.

When connecting speakers ( Capcom ) during the flight were the replacements Gordon, Brand and Schmitt, the support team Allan, Henize and Parker, the Apollo 14 astronauts Alan Shepard and Edgar Mitchell, and Gordon Fullerton from the seventh astronaut group.

Like their predecessors had to go through a Vorflugquarantäne Scott, Irwin and Worden.

History of the flight

Start and Departure

The Saturn V with the number AS -510 was launched on July 26, 1971, 13:34 UTC from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, and reached a 12-minute orbit. During the ascent, it came immediately after the first stage separation failure of the systems of the burnt S- IC, which could be attributed to the exhaust plume of the S -II. For this flight we had to save weight reduces the number of braking thrusters on the S- IC from 8 to 4. To avoid a repetition of this dangerous approach, this change was reversed for the next flights.

After two orbits, the third stage was ignited a second time and brought Apollo 15 on the way to the moon.

On the Moon

As the Hadley Rille landing site was selected in the Apennine Mountains of the Moon. The landing took place on July 30 at 22:16:29 UTC at a relatively high sink rate of 2.0 m / s It was the hardest landing the entire program, by contrast, the approach out easier than expected, despite the mountainous terrain.

The first extra - vehicular activity (EVA ) by Scott was terminated after 33 min, it was a so-called stand-up EVA from the coupling of Luke, or how the astronauts felt a sightseeing tour. The captured images of the mountainous region, taken with the first time carried 500 - mm telephoto lens were impressive.

The first normal EVA was begun after a five- hour sleep break, during which the two astronauts were allowed to sleep for the first time in her underwear. ( The previous teams had to keep on the pressure suits. )

When Scott stepped on the moon, he said:

" When I stand here in the wonders of the unknown at Mount Hadley, I realize that there is a fundamental truth is the essence of man: Man must explore "

When the crew assembled the Lunar Car, Scott realized that the front steering was defective. However, since the vehicle also had a rear steering, but it could still be used. They drove to the curvature of the Hadley Rille, the so-called elbow. At this 1 km wide and up to 300 m deep canyon of volcanic origin, the instruments of the ALSEP (Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments Package) have been established. The drive there was very restless, so that when one sixth of the earth's gravity, the vehicle showed violent leaps, and sometimes only one wheel was on the floor. The duration of the EVA on this day was 6 h 32 min.

The EVA 2 was 7 h 12 min, the longest and led the astronauts to Mount Hadley about 5 km away. An improved drill allowed them there to take soil samples from about 2 meters deep, which proved to be troublesome. The U.S. flag was erected at the end of the EVA.

EVA 3 went a second time to Hadley Rille to gather more soil samples. Towards the end of their stay demonstrated Scott on camera that the vacuum of the moon, a hammer and a feather fall at the same speed. The crew finished the EVA after 4 h 49 min and let the Rover parked so that the television camera to film the lander.

The lunar module left the surface at 17:11:23 UTC on August 2, but the coverage of the launch to Earth with the camera of the Rovers managed not as desired.

Dave Randolph Scott and Jim Irwin presented during the last EVA the artwork Fallen Astronaut by Belgian artist Paul Van Hoeydonck on the landing area. The artwork "Fallen Astronaut " consists of a statuette of a spaceman (approx. 8.5 cm ), and an aluminum plate on which the names of the 14 who died by then spacemen are listed.

Return and landing

Before leaving the orbit a small satellite from the SIM bay of the Apollo spacecraft nor was suspended. He should provide data from gravitational and magnetic fields in the lunar orbit. The flight itself proceeded without problems. Alfred Worden left the command module Endeavour during flight nor for a further 38 minute EVA to retrieve film, which was exposed by the cameras on the service module. This was the first spacewalk of the Apollo spacecraft since Apollo 9

Sure on August 7, 1971 at 20:45 UTC Apollo 15 splashed down in the Pacific, although one of the three landing parachutes did not open. The rescue was carried out by the USS Okinawa. The team took on this mission with 76.8 kg of lunar rock to Earth, including the Genesis stone.

Whereabouts of the spacecraft

The command module is now on display at the National Museum of the United States Air Force at Wright - Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio.

The LRV in use

The command module of the Apollo 15 mission lands with only two open parachutes