The Apollo Seventeen crew depends on many elements to ensure the success of its lunar mission.
The Apollo Seventeen crew depends on many elements to ensure the success of its lunar mission. The reliability of communications with the National Aeronautic and Space Agency (NASA) Manned Spacecraft Centre at Houston, Texas, is one critical aspect of each manned flight.
Specially modified USA E C-135 Transport aircraft have played a vital role in keeping communications open. These aircraft contain a mass of highly sophisticated electronic equipment, and, by means of a seven-foot (2.1 metre) aerial mounted on the nose, relay valuable information from the spacecraft to the ground.
This airborne relay station is especially important during the critical phases of the spacecraft's re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere. Where before communications were broken by interference in one spot, now the aircraft can be positioned where reception is clearer.
The aircraft is also equipped to provide communications and support for other missile and space programmes.
SYNOPSIS: At the United States Air Force Base in March, California, a specially equipped Air Force Transport aircraft prepares to take-off. Inside, technicians go through a routine of last-minute checks on the banks of highly sophisticated electronic equipment - a routine that could mean success or failure, to the astronauts circling around the moon in the Apollo Seventeen spacecraft....
... For this aircraft, and others like it, act as links between Apollo Seventeen and the Manned Spacecraft Control Centre at Houston. It is in effect a mobile airborne relay station, receiving messages from the Apollo astronauts, and passing them on to the ground.
Voice communications, medical information, computer reports - all most pass from the moon through this maze of electronics. Within these computers the radio-waves are amplified, and fed through the seven-foot aerial on the aircraft's nose, back to the ground below.