Apollo Navigation/Maneuvers

From: Brian Webb (102670.1206@compuserve.com)
Date: Sat Apr 29 2000 - 16:56:05 PDT

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    Hi:
    
    I know this thread is off-topic, but it's a great subject.
    
    If memory serve me right, the Command Module and Lunar Module both had
    optical sextants, inertial navigation units, and navigation/flight control
    computers. These were used together for navigation and executing
    engine/thruster firings. Trajectory information was obtained from both the
    crew's sextant observations and ground-based precision tracking data.
    
    I believe that most maneuvers were executed by the computer, but the crew
    could also do them manually by using their hand controllers and watching
    their flight instruments.
    
    When the Lunar Module lifted-off from the Moon, the computer probably did
    most of the work during the ascent burn (which wasn't that long...maybe a
    few minutes). When the LM's orbit brought it close to the CM, the Lunar
    Module stayed still and the Command Module Pilot would move in and perform
    the docking. There were numerous opportunities for the two vehicles to
    dock, so the chances of the returning moon walkers being stranded were not
    that great.
    
    The best information on how the Command and Service Module (including
    navigation) worked was the "Apollo Spacecraft Handbook" published by the
    Public Relations office at North American Aviation around 1968 (I used to
    have a copy of this superb book). There was probably a similar book
    published by Grumman for the Lunar Module.
    
    Regards,
    
    Brian Webb
    
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