Mar 29, 2013

Project Apollo

The View-Master packet Project Apollo (B658).


View-Master Project Apollo (B658), Packet Cover

Packet Cover

View-Master Project Apollo (B658), Booklet Cover

Booklet Cover


From the original packet cover:

High in a tiny compartment in the nose of a giant rocket, three men lay strapped in couches—waiting.

The world waited, too.

In a few tense seconds the rocket would rise on a column of flame, starting these astronauts on the first manned flight to the moon and back.

Ahead of them lay a week-long trip of half a million miles; a trip incredibly complex and difficult; a thousand deadly dangers, known and unknown.  Behind them lay long months of intensive training, backed by superb technology and the planning of science’s best minds.

The countdown was ending—the countdown that would send three men into history.

“Ten . . . nine . . . eight . . .”


From the 16-page booklet:


Tall as a 33-story office building, Saturn V stood in its umbilical tower, ready to write a flaming new chapter in history.

Project Apollo—the United States’ bold challenge to the frontier of space—was about to see the climax of years of preparation. In a few hours the big rocket would send three men into space, and during the course of a week-long, dangerous adventure, two of them—if all went well—would actually walk on the moon’s dusty surface.

Of the 360-foot-tall vehicle, only a tiny portion—the Command Module, a cone-shaped compartment in the nose bearing the astronauts—would come back to earth. The rest would be jettisoned, unit by unit, when no longer needed. In fact, 80% of Saturn’s height was taken up by three rocket-powered stages, or sections, that would be cast adrift, empty and smoking, within the first three hours of flight. These stages were huge because they were essentially storage tanks for the vast amount of fuel needed to blast Saturn free from earth’s gravity.

View-Master Project Apollo (B658), Saturn V image


Scene 1

View-Master Project Apollo (B658), Scene 1

Astronauts held final briefing on their mission.


From the 16-page booklet:


The three astronauts gathered at the flight-profile table for one final look at the simplified outline of the mission.

“On with the lecture, Doug,” urged Eric, the blond co-pilot. “I want a cup of earth-style coffee before we take off. They might not have any on the moon.”

“Knock it off, Eric,” said Paul, the balding systems engineer. “We haven’t much time.” He studied a sheaf of papers.

“We all know this by heart,” said dark-haired Doug, the commander, briskly, “but let’s run through it one last time. We lift off; we jettison Stage 1, the escape tower, and Stage 2; we go into a parking orbit around the earth until Houston gives us the ‘go,’ Then we turn around, dock, drop Stage 3, and start our three-day jaunt to the moon. When we reach it we go into orbit. Eric and I climb into the LEM and cut it loose; you, Paul, stay in the CM and keep orbiting while we go down to the moon. We touch down, spend a day exploring, launch, and rendezvous with you in orbit. We dock, jettison the LEM, and head for earth. Just before re-entry into the atmosphere, we jettison the SM. As soon as we’ve slowed enough in the lower atmosphere, we open the chutes and hit the Pacific. The Navy will pick us up.”

He pointed to Step 5, “Separation and Docking,” in the diagram. “This will be the most critical point. We’ll have to break the vehicle apart in space and turn around to connect the CM with the LEM. If anything goes wrong here, remember Plan B. Keep your fingers crossed—especially you, Eric!”

View-Master Project Apollo (B658), flight profile map


Scene 2

View-Master Project Apollo (B658), Scene 2

Mighty Saturn V awaited them on launching pad.


From the 16-page booklet:


In the pre-dawn darkness on Cape Kennedy, floodlights bathed Launch Com;ex 39. The tall service tower was being brought by a huge crawler to wrap its multiple arms around Saturn and complete the fueling process. Soon ice would coat the exterior of Saturn’s lower stages as the tanks filled with the incredibly cold liquid oxygen and hydrogen.

The top arm of the tower contained the “white room,” on a level with the Command Module. It was kept antiseptically clean, for the astronauts would enter the module from this room and must bring no disease germs on board with them.


Scene 3

View-Master Project Apollo (B658), Scene 3

The three men entered their space capsule.


From the 16-page booklet:


Three hours before liftoff, the astronauts rode the service tower elevator to the white room, where an attendant helped them into their spacesuits. “Good luck, sir,” he called to Doug as the commander started up the steps to the hatch.

Inside, the men strapped themselves into their couches and checked their instruments. The world held its breath.


Scene 4

View-Master Project Apollo (B658), Scene 4

“5-4-3-2-1-Ignition!” The rocket lifted off.


From the 16-page booklet:


“. . . Four . . . three . . . two . . . one . . . zero . . .ignition!”

A bright trickle of fire appeared beneath the Saturn. Three seconds later it became a raging inferno. Slowly the monstrous rocket began to rise on a lengthening column of flame, fighting earth’s gravity with a thrust of 7 1/2 million pounds, filling the air with thunder.

Faster and faster Saturn climbed. It was out of sight now, but a vast network of tracking stations and ships all around the world followed its progress by radio and radar.

Inside their cone, the astronauts were busily checking their instrument panels, calling off data to the earth. Acceleration pressed them down into their couches with the force of 4 1/2 gravities.


Scene 5

View-Master Project Apollo (B658), Scene 5

The burned-out first stage was jettisoned.


From the 16-page booklet:


Now it was 2 1/2 minutes after liftoff. The craft was 38 miles above the earth. The astronauts felt the sudden release from gravity as the engines of the big booster rocket stopped. Far below them, explosive bolts fired to cut the first stage of the rocket free. It tumbled away into space, and with a new roar the engines of the second stage came to life.


Scene 6

View-Master Project Apollo (B658), Scene 6

Next, the second stage was cast off.


From the 16-page booklet:


Nine minutes after liftoff, the spacecraft had reached a height of 110 miles. Stage 2 now cut its engines and broke away. The third stage’s single engine ignited briefly to push Apollo into a “parking orbit” around the earth, 115 miles high, and then fell silent. The time: 12 minutes.

Meanwhile, on earth, Apollo Control Center at Houston, Texas, was tensely analyzing computer data. Finally the astronauts heard the control center’s radio command: “Go!” Apollo’s engine cracked to life again, lifting them out of their earth orbit. They were on their way to the moon!

Life Aboard a Spacecraft

During their three-day flight between earth and moon, Doug, Eric, and Paul lived in a condition of weightlessness. This caused problems. Everything that wasn’t fastened down floated. Even food had to be squeezed out of tubes like toothpaste so that crumbs wouldn’t float around and damage equipment. The men breathed pure oxygen at low pressure.

Except for brief off-duty periods, they were constantly busy, each with his assigned tasks. They tested the various systems of their spacecraft; checked and corrected the flight path; and kept radio contact with earth.

During much of this time they were involved with a problem that made them wonder if they’d get to the moon at all.



Scene 7

View-Master Project Apollo (B658), Scene 7

Now came the critical docking operation.


From the 16-page booklet:


It began three hours after liftoff—the critical point in their mission to which Doug had referred in the briefing.

Between the Service Module and the third stage, out of sight beneath streamlined fairings, nestled the Lunar Excursion Module or LEM—the craft that would actually land on the moon. It was nicknamed the Bug because of its large, eye-like windows and the long legs on which it would land.

A blast loosened the fairings, which drifted away, exposing the LEM. Then Doug cut the LEM and its attached third stage free temporarily so the Command Module could be turned around and linked nose-first to the LEM. It would be a difficult maneuver conducted with both vehicles drifting in space.

Doug first tried “soft-docking” by bringing the CM close to the Bug, but there are no toeholds in space. He saw that he was wasting fuel as his rockets speeded, then slowed the CM without result. He was afraid a collision might damage the docking hatches.

He reported the problem to Houston. “We’ll have to try Plan B,” he said. “Eric will have to go out into space and run a winch line to the Bug.”

“Better wait until you get safely past the Van Allen belt,” the control center on earth advised. “You’re getting into a dangerous radiation zone now.”

Doug knew both vehicles would continue to coast along closely together, so he waited until they were nearer to the moon before giving the command: “OK, Eric, get going!”


Scene 8

View-Master Project Apollo (B658), Scene 8

Eric ventured out into the vacuum of Outer Space.


From the 16-page booklet:


Eric opened the hatch and swam outside into space. From the nose of the CM he uncoiled a long winch line. Carrying it, he headed for the drifting Bug, propelling himself along by spurts from the small gas jets in his backpack. Reaching the LEM at last, he connected the rope to its airlock. Now that the two vehicles were tied together, Doug could winch in the LEM gradually as though he were landing a huge fish.


Scene 9

View-Master Project Apollo (B658), Scene 9

He guided the two space vehicles together.


From the 16-page booklet:


Eric stayed with the Bug, giving hand signals to guide Doug, until the docking was completed without damage.

“Good work, Eric!” said Doug as Eric re-entered the CM. He flipped a switch, blasting free the empty third stage.

A few hours later they stared from the window ports at the moon as no man had ever before seen it; a huge, brown, crater-scarred globe barely 100 miles below them.

It was time to go into moon orbit. Paul took over the controls of the Apollo CM. He would remain in orbit at this height while Doug and Eric took the Bug down to the moon.

“Well, here we go,” said Doug to Paul. “Wish us luck!”


Scene 10

View-Master Project Apollo (B658), Scene 10

Doug and Eric rode the “bug” down onto the moon.


From the 16-page booklet:


With thumping hearts, Doug and Eric climbed into the LEM and cut it loose from the Apollo. They went into a steep orbit that would swing down to within 10 miles of the moon.

They headed for the Sea of Clouds, picked as the landing area from Project Ranger photos. The jagged, pock-marked landscape seemed to be rushing up to meet them.

Carefully, firing the Bug’s rocket to slow it, Doug let it down in the most difficult landing imaginable. No pilot had ever before tried to land a craft on a tail of fire, upon unknown terrain, under conditions of one-sixth earth gravity.

The rocket blast touched the dust of the moon’s surface, writing man’s signature of the ancient dead world. There was a shuddering impact; the Bug rocked, then was still.

“Well,” said Doug, “we made it!”


Scene 11

View-Master Project Apollo (B658), Scene 11

Commander Doug was first man to set foot on moon!


From the 16-page booklet:


“Only one of us can be outside at a time,” he added. “You know how dangerous this exploring mission will be. I’ll go first. If anything happens to me, blast the Bug back up into orbit, and you and Paul head for earth.”

Carrying a United States flag, Doug opened the hatch and climbed down a ladder to the ground, moving with strange lightness in the moon’s low gravity. He planted the flag in the dusty ground, saluted it, and turned. Walking with slow, giant steps, he moved away from the ship—leaving the first human footprints on the face of the moon!


Scene 12

View-Master Project Apollo (B658), Scene 12

Exploring, he discovered fluorescent moon rocks.


From the 16-page booklet:


In his spacesuit, Doug would have weighed 250 pounds on earth. Here he weighed slightly more than 40.

He was walking in a weird, soundless world; a world of sharp contrasts between light and shade. The sky was a startling black—the utter black of airless space. The stars burned with unwinking clarity. And the earth, hanging low on the horizon—Doug caught his breath at the sheer beauty of it: four times the diameter of the full moon as seen from earth, and 100 times as bright. Outlines of continents, oceans, and cloud masses were visible, even from this distance of 240,000 miles. Around its edge was a thin halo—its atmosphere.

Doug began a systematic exploration of the lunar terrain, taking pictures and testing the surface with a geologist’s pick.

About an hour later, in a rift in the rim of the small crater within which they had landed, his pick uncovered a bed of minerals that glowed with fluorescent colors!

Excitedly he radioed Eric.

“The sunlight here has a lot more ultraviolet in it than on earth,” Eric commented, “because the moon hasn’t any ozone layer like the earth’s to screen it out. This might make newly exposed minerals glow more strongly. Say, when are you coming back here? It’s my turn.”


Scene 13

View-Master Project Apollo (B658), Scene 13

Eric’s drill tapped a source of real moon water!


From the 16-page booklet:


When Doug returned to the LM, Eric eagerly announced: “I’m going out and strike oil!”

He took an electric core drill, powered by high-energy fuel cells, and set it up on the ground near the Bug. Then he looked around him and took a few steps in the low gravity. Exhilarated, he leaped 10 feet high, landing lightly.

View-Master Project Apollo (B658), Scene 109

“Ease off, Eric!” Dough commanded by radio. “If you tear your spacesuit, you’ll be dead in seconds. Don’t forget that you’re walking in a complete vacuum, where the temperature ranges from 212 in the sunlight to minus 270 in the shade!”

Soberly, Eric began drilling. Soon he felt a vibration in the nozzle of the drill—and up shot a small geyser of steam!


Scene 14

View-Master Project Apollo (B658), Scene 14

They launched the “bug” to rejoin Paul in orbit.


From the 16-page booklet:


Elated, the two men prepared to launch the LEM upward to rejoin Paul, who was still orbiting in the Apollo.

The Bug lifted easily, using its landing gear as a launching pad to be left behind. Also remaining on the moon as evidence of man’s visit were the flag and the drill.

Doug fondled the vial of moon water which Eric had collected. “You struck a stratum of ice below the surface.” he said. “The friction of drilling melted it. Eric, this is the most important discovery we could have made on the moon—water!”


Scene 15

View-Master Project Apollo (B658), Scene 15

The two spacecraft maneuvered to re-connect.


From the 16-page booklet:


Carefully, maintaining radio contact with Paul, Doug piloted the Bug upward. The rendezvous must occur without any trouble, for the LEM carried only enough fuel for one attempt.

Now they saw the Apollo slowly approaching them in its orbit. The two spacecraft, each steered by its translational rockets, drifted closer to each other and finally coupled. Doug and Eric hurried through the hatch to join Paul.


Scene 16

View-Master Project Apollo (B658), Scene 16

Reunited, the astronauts awaited the earth trip.


From the 16-page booklet:


The three lay strapped in their couches again, watching the instrument panels. It was nearly time to head back for earth, but first they must jettison the LEM.

Regretfully, Paul uncoupled it from the Apollo. The men watched the Bug begin to tumble slowly away. Doug waved a farewell to it.

View-Master Project Apollo (B658), Scene 150

“Wish we could have brought it down,” said Eric. “What a hit it would be at the Smithsonian!”

But they hadn’t enough fuel, and the Bug was not designed to withstand the heat of re-entry into the earth’s atmosphere. Earth gave the Apollo the “go” signal, and its rocket sent them on their homeward way.


Scene 17

View-Master Project Apollo (B658), Scene 17

Service Module was jettisoned to make ready for re-entry.


From the 16-page booklet:


The most dangerous part of their mission lay ahead: plunging through the barrier of the earth’s atmosphere. They would strike it at 25,000 miles an hour, and must enter at precisely the correct angle.

First, Doug made the final jettison. He cast the Service Module free, and now only the tiny Command Module was left.


Scene 18

View-Master Project Apollo (B658), Scene 18

Atmospheric friction heated the hull to 6,000 degrees.


From the 16-page booklet:


Doug turned the module around so it would present its broad base, covered with an insulating heat shield, to the atmosphere. Their momentum, meeting the resistance of air, caused a pressure of 10 gravities on them. Apollo skimmed the top of the atmosphere, bounced upward briefly, then began its plunge.

The next seven minutes were frightful. The temperature of the hull outside reached 6,000 degrees, and the men, even in their spacesuits, were almost unbearably hot. The flaming heat shield outside melted and flowed away. How long could the Apollo and its crew take this punishment?


Scene 19

View-Master Project Apollo (B658), Scene 19

Big parachutes set them down safely in the Pacific.


From the 16-page booklet:


At last the friction slowed the Apollo to manageable speed. The heat subsided, and Doug re-established radio contact with earth, which had been impossible while the craft was so hot. The broad Pacific Ocean lay 15,000 feet below, and a Navy helicopter was hurrying to rescue them. Doug released the Apollo’s stabilizing drogue chute, then three huge parachutes. The module slammed into the ocean, sizzling and steaming.


Scene 20

View-Master Project Apollo (B658), Scene 20

Rescue helicopter dropped a raft and sling.


From the 16-page booklet:


The helicopter was above them, dropping down a rubber raft and letting down a sling. The men opened the escape hatch, took off their helmets and joyfully breathed air for the first time in a week. Bringing their valuable moon samples and cameras, they scrambled into the raft, then one by one into the sling to be hauled up into the helicopter. The first spacemen to visit the moon had come home.


Scene 21

View-Master Project Apollo (B658), Scene 21

They presented the president with samples from moon.


From the 16-page booklet:


“The President will see you now,” said the secretary.

The spacemen walked into the President’s office in the west wing of the White House. The President greeted them warmly.

“Gentlemen, yours is the greatest achievement in the history of the United States and of the world,” he said.

“Mr. President,” said Doug, “here are some samples of moon minerals.” He handed them to the chief executive. “And here,” Doug added proudly, “is a vial of moon water!”

Paul handed the vial to the President.

“Mr. President,” said Eric, “I’m ready to begin my vacation now—but, after that, how soon do we start for Mars?”


from32d said...

Not an easy task coming and going from this globe.

JAM said...

View-Master sure did a great job with this story. It looks like they spared no expense. They showed us just how difficult a task it was. And this was produced five years before NASA did it for real!

Smeghead2068 said...

Fantastic! Wish you could post some stereo pairs, then I would be in heaven!

JAG said...

Thank you so much for posting this.