Friday, October 14, 2016

Space History in Transcript

Hard to not get a shiver of excitement when you read these...

Buzz Aldrin (LMP)
4 forward. 4 forward. Drifting to the right a little. Okay. Down a half.

Buzz Aldrin (LMP)
KEY MOMENTThe Eagle touches down on the lunar surface:CONTACT LIGHT.

Buzz Aldrin (LMP)

Buzz Aldrin (LMP)
ACA—out of DETENT.

Buzz Aldrin (LMP)

Charlie Duke (CAPCOM)
We copy you down, Eagle.

Neil Armstrong (CDR)
Houston, Tranquility Base here.

Neil Armstrong (CDR)
The Eagle has landed.

Spacelog is both fascinating and engrossing.  It's project (entirely volunteer) to capture the some two hundred + human spaceflights in transcripts of the conversations of those flight crews.  As of this writing, there are nine sets of transcripts on Spacelog - Vostok 1 (in Russian), Mercury 3, Mercury 4, Mercury 6, Mercury 7, Gemini 3, Apollo 8, Apollo 11, and Apollo 13.

Each transcript is broken down into phases...for instance, Mercury 3 - the first American crewed mission into space - has three phases:  Launch, Space, and Reentry.  Each has full transcripts of the radio conversations of those mission segments.

Each also will have a 'featured moment,' some statement of reknown that you can quick click to and read the transcript at that point in time - in Mercury 3's example, on May 5, 1961 at 2;41pm UTC (and the transcript gives you a historical datum of how long ago this was said - in this instance '55 years, 5 months ago'), Alan Shepard radios, "I'm on Fly by Wire.  Going to re-entry attitude."  You can load other moments as well...or just read the entire transcript for each phase.

You can also look at each phase on a timeline that shows levels of conversation activity - which is a great way to follow particular events in a phase - for instance I clicked the timeline for Apollo 11's Phase 5: Descent to the Moon and was quickly able to read the final approach and touchdown of the Eagle Lander.

There's also a very cool 'People' section for each mission - where there's short biographical data on the crews - both vehicle and mission control - that you are reading the conversations of.  In the example of Apollo 11 - there's bios (and more clickable transcript quotes) on Michael Collins,
Michael Collins
Edwin Aldrin, Jr.,
Edwin 'Buzz' Aldrin, Jr.
and Neil Armstrong
Neil Armstrong
as well as bios of notable people that were part of CAPCOM and other mission control positions for Apollo 11, such as Bruce McCandless II (back up pilot on first Skylab crew, two time Shuttle mission crew, first untethered spaceflight),
Bruce McCandless II
Donald "Deke" Slayton (Director of Flight Crew Operations '63-'72, member of Apollo-Soyuz crew, and oldest person in space at that time),
Deke Slayton
and James Lovell, Jr. (Gemini's 7 and 12, Apollo 8, and the infamous Apollo 13.)
James Lovell, Jr.

Lastly, Spacelog has a handy glossary of terms you might read, which really does help if you aren't sure what they're talking about in the transcripts (I mean, I didn't know that the ALSD was the Apollo Lunar Surface Drill - do they have that at Home Depot?)
Overall, it's wonderful way to sit back and read some of the greatest events in human history, and to get a small feeling but a big appreciation of just how thrilling these times were.  Totally worth a visit (or two).


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