Apollo 15

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Mission emblem
Mission emblem Apollo 15
Mission dates
Mission: Apollo 15
NSSDCA ID : 1971-063A
Command module: CM-112
Service module: SM-112
Lunar Module: LM-10
Call sign: CM: Endeavor
LM: Falcon
Launcher: Saturn V ,
serial number SA-510
Crew: 3
Begin: July 26, 1971, 13:34:00  UTC
JD : 2441159.0652778
Starting place: Kennedy Space Center , LC-39A
Number of EVA : 4th
Moon landing: July 30, 1971, 22:16:29 UTC
JD : 2441163.4281134
Landing site moon: Hadley
Groove 26 ° 7 '55.99 "  N , 3 ° 38' 1.9"  O
Length of the lunar EVAs: 18h 33m
Time on the moon: 2d 18h ​​54min 54s
Start from the moon: August 2, 1971, 17:11:23 UTC
JD : 2441166.2162384
Orbits of the moon: 74
Landing: August 7, 1971, 20:45:53 UTC
JD : 2441171.3651968
Landing place: Pacific
26 ° 8 ′  N , 158 ° 8 ′  W
Flight duration: 12d 7h 11min 53s
Salvage ship: USS Okinawa
Team photo
Apollo 15 - v.  l.  No.  David Scott, Alfred Worden, James Irwin
Apollo 15 - v. l. No. David Scott , Alfred Worden , James Irwin
◄ Before / After ►
Apollo 14
Apollo 16

Apollo 15 , originally named Apollo 16 or J-1 , was the ninth manned flight under the US Apollo program . It was the seventh manned flight to the moon and the fourth manned moon landing at the same time.


On March 26, 1970, shortly before the start of Apollo 13 , NASA announced the crew of the Apollo 15 mission. Commanding officer was David Scott , who carried out his third space flight after Gemini 8 and Apollo 9 . Alfred Worden was assigned to pilot the command module , and James Irwin was nominated for the lunar module . Both were new to space. All three astronauts were in the US Air Force .

Richard Gordon , who was already in space with Gemini 11 and Apollo 12 , became the substitute commander . Vance Brand and Jack Schmitt were assigned as replacement pilots for the command module and the lunar module . It was customary for the reserve crew of an Apollo flight to become the main crew three flights later. But since Apollo 18 was canceled in September 1970, Gordon, Brand and Schmitt had little hope of going to the moon.

The support crew consisted of Joseph Allen , Karl Henize and Robert Parker , all three of whom were science astronauts from NASA's sixth selection group.


At the beginning of January 1970, before the Apollo 15 crew was announced, the last planned flight to the moon, Apollo 20 , was canceled for financial reasons. In September, two more flights, the original Apollo 15 mission and Apollo 19, were canceled. The three remaining flights 16 to 18 were renumbered 15 to 17.

Thus, Apollo 15 became a Type J mission with an expanded scientific profile. The lunar module LM-10 had been greatly improved compared to Apollo 14 and allowed a longer stay on the moon. In addition, a moon car (LRV - Lunar Roving Vehicle) could be carried. The vehicle was folded up on the outside of the lunar module. Together with the improved life support systems (PLSS) of the spacesuits , the astronauts were able to stay longer in the vacuum and cover long distances on the moon. The service module had also been expanded to include scientific equipment and contained two cameras, magnetometers, gravimeters and devices for X-ray fluorescence analysis of the surface.

The lunar module LM-10 was named Falcon , the Apollo spacecraft CSM-112 was named after the ship of the explorer James Cook Endeavor . Even within NASA, the American notation Endeavor was used in addition to the British .

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

The geological training of the astronauts was much more intensive than earlier Apollo flights in order to meet the scientific requirements of the mission.

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

Liaison officers ( Capcom ) during the flight were the substitutes Gordon, Brand and Schmitt, the members of the support team (Allen, Henize and Parker), the Apollo 14 astronauts Alan Shepard and Edgar Mitchell , and Gordon Fullerton from the seventh astronaut group.

Like their predecessors, Scott, Irwin and Worden had to go through a pre-flight quarantine.

Flight history

David Scott A7L -Raumanzug

Start and outbound flight

The Saturn V with the number AS-510 took off on July 26, 1971 , 13:34 UTC from Kennedy Space Center, Florida and reached Earth orbit after 12 minutes. During the ascent, immediately after the first stage separation, the systems of the burnt-out S-IC failed, which could be attributed to the exhaust gas jet of the S-II. For this flight, the number of brake engines on the S-IC was reduced from 8 to 4 to save weight. In order to avoid a repetition of this dangerous approach, this change was reversed for the next flights.

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

On the moon

The Hadley Rille in the Apennine Mountains of the Moon was selected as the landing area . The landing took place on July 30 at 22:16:29 UTC with a relatively high rate of descent of 2.0 m / s. It was the hardest landing of the entire program, but the approach turned out to be easier than expected despite the mountainous terrain.

Scott's first extra-vehicular activity (EVA) was over after 33 minutes, it was a so-called stand-up EVA from the docking hatch, or as the astronauts said, a sightseeing tour . The images of the mountainous region, taken with the 500 mm telephoto lens that was brought along for the first time, were impressive.

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

When Scott walked on the moon he said:

"As I stand out here in the wonders of the unknown at Hadley, I sort of realize there's a fundamental truth to our nature: Man must explore!"

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

- David Scott

When the crew assembled the moon car, Scott discovered that the front steering was defective. But since the vehicle also had rear steering, it could still be used. They drove to the curvature of the Hadley Rille called the elbow , a 1 km wide and up to 300 m deep canyon of volcanic origin. The drive there was extremely uneven, so that at a sixth of the earth's gravity the vehicle jumps violently and sometimes only one wheel was on the ground. After the return, the measuring devices of the ALSEP (Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments Package) were set up about 200 m west-northwest of the lander. The duration of the EVA on that day was 6 hours 32 minutes.

EVA 2 was the longest at 7 h 12 min and took the astronauts to Mount Hadley, about 5 km away . An improved drill rig allowed them to take soil samples from over two meters deep, which proved to be cumbersome. The US flag was only erected at the end of this EVA.

EVA 3 went to Hadley Groove a second time to collect more soil samples. Towards the end of their stay, Scott demonstrated in front of the camera that a hammer and a spring fall at the same speed in the moon's vacuum. The crew ended the EVA after 4 hours 49 minutes and left the rover parked so that the television camera could film the lander.

The lunar module left the surface on August 2 at 17:11:23 UTC, but the transmission of the take-off to Earth with the rover's camera did not yet succeed as desired.

Falling astronaut

Dave Randolph Scott and Jim Irwin placed the artwork Fallen Astronaut by Belgian artist Paul Van Hoeydonck during the last EVA . It consists of a statuette about 8.4 centimeters tall , which symbolizes an injured spaceman , and an aluminum plaque on which the names of eight US astronauts and six Soviet cosmonauts are recorded. Seven of them were victims of space accidents, and six were victims of air or car accidents. One died as a result of an illness.

Return flight and landing

Artist's impression of Apollo 15 and the exposed sub - satellite PFS-1 .

After the rendezvous maneuver, Irwin experienced cardiac arrhythmias ( bigeminus ) while the rock samples and scientific records were being reloaded . During the return flight, his rhythm spontaneously returned to normal sinus rhythm .

Before leaving orbit , PFS-1 , a small satellite , was launched from the SIM Bay of the Apollo spacecraft . It was supposed to transmit data from gravitational and magnetic fields in the lunar orbit .

The return flight itself went off without any problems. Alfred Worden left the Endeavor command module during the flight for another 38-minute EVA to recover film material that had been exposed by the cameras on the service module. This was the first space exit from an Apollo command module since Apollo 9 and the first ever outside of Earth orbit.

On August 7, 1971 at 20:45 UTC, Apollo 15 landed safely in the Pacific . When the three main screens opened, only two unfolded. The redundancy in the parachute system of the Apollo command capsules was sufficient for such a disruption, since such a case had been taken into account in the planning and construction, which is why a safe ditching took place nonetheless . The recovery was carried out by the USS Okinawa . During this mission, the team brought 76.8 kg of lunar rock back 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 .


Hildegard Knef processed the return of the astronauts from Apollo 15 in the first line of text of her song "Ferienzeit" on her 1971 album What is it all about? :

"Today they came back from the moon ... a parachute did not open ..."

See also

Web links

Commons : Apollo 15  album with pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Deploying the Lunar Roving Vehicle. In: Apollo 15 Lunar Surface Journal. NASA, accessed April 15, 2009 .
  2. Apollo 15 Subsatellite in the NSSDCA Master Catalog , accessed on April 16, 2014 (English).