Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Fun with an S-IVB stage

When not "studying" my astronomy books (more on that in later posts), I take my Apollo VII for a couple of orbits around the earth. It's a great opportunity to get familiar with the controls of this complex spacecraft, and get some practice at "flying" in space.

For example, last night (my local time) around 02:55 GET (time since liftoff) after the sunrise, I separated from the S-IVB stage (which brought me in orbit) and used the RCS (Reaction Control System) to rotate then translate in order to simulate a docking with it. Well ... in fact I did dock with it which is not realistic as the S-IVB stage doesn't have any hardware for docking ... oh well ... it's great for training anyway.

Here's a picture of the S-IVB, taken during the real mission. The docking practice target is visible:

I sadly didn't take any screenshots whiles performing the docking. However later on, after having undocked and flew around a bit, I took a few pictures (I had to scale them down obviously as I'm running Orbiter in 1280x1024):

CSM and S-IVB over the pacific

S-IVB view from the rendez-vous window

In the previous shot, you should have noticed the MFD (Multi-Functions Display) on the bottom-right, and probably you are thinking "that guy is cheating!" .... Well not really ... in a way ... You see, in real life the astronauts have the full support of MCC (Misson Control Center) which provides them with a lot of informations. In the case of docking, they were also carrying with them a rangefinder to help them calculating distance and delta with the S-IVB. So, in a way, using an MFD (and in this case the Docking MFD) isn't really cheating but rather making compromise ;-)

S-IVB in orbit

Altought the lighting isn't great the docking practice target is visible inside the S-IVB ... I really wish I took some picture when doing my first docking :-( ... oh well next time eh?

S-IVB view from the CM hatch window

S-IVB view from the rendez-vous window

It's kinda hard on a computer display to get an idea of how big the rendez-vous window was in reality. And in fact it appears that it was maybe smaller than we have it:

Anyhow .. I'm actually rather happy the two forward looking windows may be a bit bigger ... 'cause docking is hard enough already :D

(The two real images were taken from The Project Apollo Archive)


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