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    Re: Wired Mag on Gordon Cooper's virtuoso emergency navigation
    From: Paul Dolkas
    Date: 2012 Aug 28, 22:02 -0700

    An interesting sidebar (for those watch freaks among us) was that Cooper wore 
    two watches, one on each wrist. There was no NASA standard issue watch in the 
    early Mercury days (that would happen in 1964 for the upcoming Gemini 
    flights), so the astronauts wore whatever they wanted. 
    
    Cooper chose an Omega Speedmaster (a mechanical watch/stopwatch combination), 
    and the latest in technology for the day: an Bulova Accutron, the first 
    electronic (although not quartz) watch invented. It was standard issue to 
    X-15 pilots, as well as the A-12 (forerunner of the SR-71). It also happen to 
    be based on the same movement as the Mercury cockpit timer.
    
    As events transpired, it was a good thing he chose the Accutron. Mechanical 
    watches don't do well in high vibration environments, and the Omega had lost 
    time during launch. The Accutron was still keeping perfect time, so he 
    decided to use that one as a backup to Glenn's countdown, should the radio 
    fail as well. As it was, he was able to use the ground's count. The Mercury 
    designers had the foresight to scribe a mark on the window that he could use 
    to line up with the horizon to ensure the craft was in the correct 34 degree 
    pitch and zero roll angles. He also had memorized enough of the star map to 
    be able to pick out the correct "yaw star" to align to.
    
    -Paul
    
    p.s. Alas, but the vernable Accutron didn't win the "watch wars" as the 
    official astronaut watch, even though it had proven it's accuracy in space. 
    NASA needed a chronograph, not just a watch, and the Accutron lacked the 
    stopwatch function. The Omega went on to become NASA's official "moon watch", 
    something they remind us of to this very day (OK, I'll admit it, I want one 
    as well...)
    
    
    -----Original Message-----
    From: navlist-bounce@fer3.com [mailto:navlist-bounce@fer3.com] On Behalf Of Fred Hebard
    Sent: Tuesday, August 28, 2012 3:46 PM
    To: NavList@fer3.com
    Subject: [NavList] Re: Wired Mag on Gordon Cooper's virtuoso emergency navigation
    
    Oh, and this is not intended in any way to denigrate Cooper's performance 
    during the crisis.  It was outstanding.
    
    Fred
    
    
    
    On Aug 28, 2012, at 6:30 PM, Fred Hebard wrote:
    
    > I got curious about this and checked out Wikipedia's article on 
    "Mercury-Atlas 9," the mission designation, which indicates clearly that 
    Cooper had a lot of help from below for his landing.  Wikipedia says:
    > 
    > On the nineteenth orbit, the first sign of trouble appeared when the 
    spacecraft 0.05 g (0.5 m/s²) light came on. However, this turned out to be a 
    faulty indicator, and the spacecraft was not reentering. On the 20th orbit, 
    Cooper lost all attitude readings. The 21st orbit saw a short-circuit occur 
    in the bus bar serving the 250 volt main inverter. This left the automatic 
    stabilization and control system without electric power.
    > On the 21st orbit, John Glenn on board the Coastal Sentry Quebec near 
    Kyūshū, Japan, helped Cooper prepare a revised checklist for retrofire. Due 
    to the system malfunctions, many of the steps would have to be done manually. 
    Only Hawaii and Zanzibar were in radio range on this last orbit, but 
    communications were good. Cooper noted that the carbon dioxide level was 
    rising in the cabin and in his spacesuit. He told Carpenter as he passed over 
    Zanzibar, "Things are beginning to stack up a little." Throughout the 
    problems, Cooper remained cool, calm and collected.
    > At the end of the 21st orbit, Cooper again contacted Glenn on the Coastal 
    Sentry Quebec. He reported the spacecraft was in retro attitude and holding 
    manually. The checklist was complete. Glenn gave a ten-second countdown to 
    retrofire. Cooper kept the spacecraft aligned at a 34 degree pitchdown angle 
    and manually fired the retrorockets on "Mark!".
    > Fifteen minutes later Faith 7 landed just four miles (6 km) from the prime 
    recovery ship, the carrier USS Kearsarge. This was the most accurate landing 
    to date, despite the lack of automatic controls. Faith 7 landed 70 nautical 
    miles (130 km) southeast of Midway Island, in the Pacific Ocean.[2] This 
    would be near 27°30′N 176°15′W.  
    > 
    > 
    > Fred
    > 
    > 
    > 
    > On Aug 28, 2012, at 3:19 PM, Paul Saffo wrote:
    > 
    >> This from wired.com:
    >> 
    >> Cooper’s Landing
    >> 
    >> Astronaut Gordon Cooper, one of the original seven Mercury astronauts, 
    probably wins as the most clear-headed and fast-thinking space pilot of all 
    time. On the final manned Mercury mission in 1963, Cooper flew the Faith 7 
    spacecraft into orbit.
    >> 
    >> After nearly 20 successful trips around Earth, Faith 7 experienced a 
    life-threatening malfunction. Carbon dioxide levels in the vehicle began to 
    climb and the temperature jumped to over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Cool as a 
    cucumber, Cooper took manual control of the spaceship and estimated the angle 
    he needed to approach for re-entry. By using star patterns, drawing lines on 
    his window, and checking his wristwatch to keep time, Cooper calculated his 
    orientation and fired his rockets at just the right time to land almost 
    exactly by the ship waiting to pick him up.
    >> 
    >> Image: Gordon Cooper, badass. NASA
    >> 
    >> link: 
    >> http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2012/08/badass-spaceflight-history/
    >> ----------------------------------------------------------------
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    > 
    > 
    > 
    > 
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    

       
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