Sun.,Aug. 15, 1971 The Birmingham News
The lunar module sits resting on the rocky terrain of the moon's surface, Old Glory blowing in a slight breeze a few feet away, In the command module sit three Butler High: School students awaiting lift-off.
All this activity was the means used by the Alabama Space and Rocket Center Friday afternoon to announce a simulated lunar "flight"" of the Apollo 15 mission slated to blast off from Cape Kennedy Monday.
Paul Childs, Patrick Collins and Bill Klieber, all students at Butler, will spend 12 days at the Rocket Center-- the same length of time of the Apollo flight -- eating, sleeping and providing realistic flight simulation for tourists at the center,
Childs and Klieber will "separate" from the command modlule shortly into the "flight," walking over to the lunar module resting in the crater at the center on Governors Drive, leaving Astronaut Collins alone in the command module for three days.
The boys will eat space food cubes provided by the center, in addition to regular meals. "We have $35 to spend for food," Collins said, "but maybe somebody will cook us something."
They discovered their 12-day voyage plans only Wednesday. "We heard something about the Butler Air Force ROTC class looking for three volunteers," said Collins, "and we didn't hesitate one minute," The idea was conceived by Butler Air Force ROTC commander Col. Ralph Newman. who has been discussing the "flight" with rocket center officials. The idea was finally approved Wednesday, and the short-lived search for three "astronauts" was on.
The boys have known each other for more than three years, and forsee no difficulties living with one another for nearly two weeks. "We'll play cards, talk and read," Childs said, "I don't think we'll get bored."
They plan to follow the real flight to the pin, and have been studying the NASA flight plan intensely. In only one circumstance will they be forced to abandon the flight plan -- their module is not equipped with: NASA's waste disposal system. This will necessitate an occasional trip by the astronauts to Mission Control, located in a room at the center.
Each astronaut will be suited up in regulation space gear, provided by the center. And a local department store has donated an air conditioning system to keep internal atmospheric conditions at a bearable level.
When the "real" Apollo 15 astronauts descend from the lanar module to take their first steps on the moon, the Huntsville boys will follow in their steps. And at the time of the EVA (Extra Vehicular Activity) Friday -- when the LRV (Lunar Roving Vehicle) is reved up to roam the moon's surface, the Huntsvillians will man thier own LRV on the center's crater
It will all be somewhat of a "first" in Huntsville and most other communities across the country,
Visitors can peer into the lives of the Huntsville astronauts daily beginning Monday morning, and continuing through Aug. 7. Radio comunications with the modules will be constant, and closed-circuit television will heep visual track of the boys..
Was it difficult for them to peuade their parents to allow them to take part in the 12-day simulationtion?
"I think they were glad to get rid of me," said Childs.
When the three Apollo 15 astronauts blastoff from Cape Kennedy on Monday they will be joined, on the ground, by three Huntsville "astronauts" in Apollo 15B. Members of the Butler High School Aerospace Team have selected three youths to use special mock-ups of the Apollo spacecraft, and Lunar roving velucle at the Space and Rocket Center here to participate in a simulated version of the moon venture. Flight Director Frank Putman, a member of the Butler High team, says the primary Hutsville crew for the flight will be flight commander Paul Childs, command module pilot Patrick Collins and lunar module pilot Bill Klieber. The crewmen will simulate all phases of the Apollo 15 flight including liftoff, landing on the moon and lunar exploration by the special roving vehicle. A mission control center
will be located in the center's Spacecraft Tracking Station in the main lobby and manned by team personnel: assistant flight director John Meadows, flight medical officer David Shollenburger and launch communications director Terry May. The moon simulation sequence will be held on the center's moon crater exhibit using the lunar module model.
The high school crew members will take part in most of the planned activities of the Apollo 15 crew including sleeping and eating in the assorted spacecraft for the 12-day night. Other members of the Butler High Aerospace Team are: Janice Davidson, Mike Holmes. Carole Cozene, Robert Lawson, Douglas Edwards, Michael Provancha, Ronald Suerman, Gahan Breithaupt, Bentley Erwin, Marc Hawkins, Tommy Bruggeman, John Askins, Rickey Parker and Peggy Windsor. Air Force Colonel Ralph Newman serves as the faculty advisor and instructor to the team.
Monday morning at 8:34 Apollo 15 is scheduled to left off for the moon
on a cushion of flame. Apollo 15B with her crew of three will remain earthbound
at Huntsville's Space and Rocket Center, puppeting the movements of the
original capsule, mimicking the flight. Three boys from Butler High School's
Aerospace Team have been chosen to simulate the entire 12_day lunar mission,
using the command module, lunar excursion module and lunar roving vehicle
located at the center's Tranquility Base. THE BUTLER crew members are Flight
Commander Paul Childs, Command Module Pilot Patrick Collins, and Lunar
Module Pilot, Bill Klieber. Frank Putnam will be flight director aided
by his assistant John Meadows, Flight Medical Officer David Schollenburger
and Launch Comnunications DirectorTerry May. The command module to be used
served as a prop in the movie "Marooned,' as did the suits worn by the
crew. The capsule is constructed by plywood, but the control panel was
supplied by NASA and a hydraulic system will allow the crew to make inslight
maneuvers. The ground crew, made up of members from the Aerospace Team,
has already begun countdown as they work to connect the instruments in
the capsule, and to install additional
equipment. There will be a television set to allow the astronauts to see telecasts from their counter-parts, and a walkie-talkie for communications with ground control inside the space
center. A closed circuit television camera will monitor the entire Apollo 15B mission 24 hours a day. In preparation for their adventure, Childs, Collins and Klieber have been
studying official booklets and press kits from NASA "They are ready and eager to do this, and very enthusiastic," said Putman. The entire flight simulation will be as authentic as possible; controls will be attached to warning lights, the crew will carry out all maneuvers, and will spend the entire flight time in either the capsule, the LEM or the LRV. Air conditioners in the capsule and LEM will attatch to the suits of the crew. Certain concessions have been made, however. A hole will be left in the capsule to allow the monitor television
and visitors to the center to view the crew's actions. Hatches are removable to allow the astronauts to egress in cases of "necessity." Meals will be brought to the crew by members of the ground crew, although they will have space food for snacks. When the moment arrives for the LEM to separate from the command module, Childs and Klieber will climb out of the capsule, make the trek across the sidewalk and into the crater where the LEM mock-up is positioned. "We've got to get that dummy astronaut off the steps," said Klieber. "It's murder to get around him." The LEM is fitted with seats and a control panel similar to those in the
capsule. "We're going to rig up a radio antenna on the LEM to let them communicate with control," said Putman. Childs and Klieber will elress from their craft in unison with NASA's lunar team, exploring their landing sight and collecting moon rocks supplied by the ground crew. "We are hoping to get a LRV from NASA that is as authentic as possible," said Putman. "If that doesn't work out, there is a LRV in the space center we can use. They aren't going to go anywhere anyway." The idea for the simulation was Putman's. Child's volunteered for the mission, and the other crew members were chosen with compatability in
mind. "Everyone has been very co operative," said Putman. "The space center has done more than we could have asked."
The work in preparation of the pending flight was hurried at top speed once the capsule was procured from the Fox Movie Studios in Hollywood, California, where it was used in the movie, MAROONED. A calamity arose when the control panel dislodged from its position and thus removing much of the wiring which was replaced and rewired through the efforts of John Meadows, Greg Stuk and David Schollenburger,
The LEM also contained problems in that the control panel was different than the Astronauts had expected. Cooling for the LEM was solved thru the courtesy of the Sears-Roebuck Company,
Space suits and jumpsuits were used during the flight for the Lunar EVA (Extra Vehicular Activity) by Paul Childs and Bill Llieber and for Pat Colins space walk in which he initiated a film change outside the capsule,
Mr. Edward Buckbee deserves special credit for his position as head of the Space and Rocket Center. It was his job to coordinate the activities to include film and TV coverage and having NASA technicians check the equipment as being authentic as well as securing much additional space hardware.
The Ground Control was in charge of communications, activity control and foor preparation. The communications were established by the use of a radio which was manned by a young lady of the name of Lynn Windsor who was also the Public Relations Officer. Food was supplied by Burger King, Jack's Hamburgers, Shoney's Big Boy and Burgerons's Kentucky Fried Chicken.
Once on the Moon, the Astronauts conducted experiments such as a solar wind particle trap, a soil collection station, Laser reflector, Moonquake Recorder and the deployment of the American flag. A lunar 'Moon Buggy provided transportation to points of interest on the moon, the buggy was furnished through the courtesy of Marshall Space Flight Center.
As the members of the Aero Space Team must be congratulated and there is not enough space, we can only name a few of the outstanding members:
Col, Ralph A, Newman-Faculty Advisor
C/Col Frank Purnam-Project Head
C/Maj Paul Childs-Flight C.O.
C/Maj Bill Klieber-Lunar Module Pilot
C/2nd Lt Pat Colins-Conrmand Module Pilot
C/Maj Ricky Parker
C/TSgt Robert Lawson
C/SSgt Doug Edwards
Mr. John Meadows