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Did Commander Tom Stafford and Lunar Module Pilot Geve Cernan hear an alien space jam from Apollo 10? via Popular Science
One hundred and two hours and 12 minutes after leaving the Earth, the crew of Apollo 10 was on the far side of the Moon. Commander Tom Stafford and lunar module pilot Gene Cernan were in the lunar module Snoopy while command module pilot John Young was in his spacecraft, callsign Charlie Brown. During that orbit, the two spacecraft were traveling separately, preparing for the simulated lunar liftoff by firing the lunar module’s ascent stage like later crews would when launching from the Moon. As they plowed ahead with their flight plan and had a bit of a snack, all three men heard some “spacey music” coming in over their headsets.
About a half hour after the discussion of space music, it was time for Apollo 10 to “launch” from the lunar module’s descent stage, effectively practicing what later missions would do leaving the Moon. Almost immediately after stage separation, the LM ascent stage started spinning wildly, eliciting a hearty “son of a bitch” from Cernan, which I talked to him about the first time I met him. Post-flight analysis found that a single switch in the wrong position was the culprit. The spacecraft’s Abort Guidance System had two modes: “auto” had it hunt for the command module for docking and “attitude hold” would maintain the spacecraft’s current attitude. The switch was in auto, sending Snoopy spinning trying to find Charlie Brown on the other side of the Moon. But the crew reaction quickly and got the spacecraft under control.
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