Description

    Grumman construction log for the Apollo 11 Lunar Module Eagle

    Apollo 11 Grumman Lunar Module Handwritten Construction and Testing Log Book. An October to December 1968 log, 8" by 11" pages in binder, detailing some demands of constructing LM-5 (Eagle), the first manned ship to land on the moon. The last entry in this volume, dated December 13, 1968, marks a week during which the final landing radar and electrical defects were being ironed out of LM-5, while the Apollo 8 capsule was being prepared for its famous Christmas orbit around the moon, only seven months ahead of the Apollo 11 landing. Written in the original hand of Nestor, Eidelheit, Notar, and other Apollo engineers, the log is one of Project Apollo's most unusual and fascinating time capsules. This volume is the original, and the only one in existence. It contains the actual, hand-written pages in red, black, and blue ink, and pencil - with (as in the Nov. 6 and 8 entries) occasional ink smudges and fingerprints of the engineers. The pages include sign-ins at the top, by the men who wrote each entry. A true museum piece - what an opportunity for the discerning collector/historian. Very fine.

    This is one of the logs consulted by Charles Pellegrino during the writing of Chariots for Apollo. The opening pages record key events surrounding the Landing Radar and the Bit Error Comparator (BEC), as described in Chapter 39, "A Tale of Woe and Intrigue." The BEC had a tendency to overload, while the newer, "better" landing radar (tending to lock onto its own signals) was a prime example of how, as test pilot Tommy Attridge observed (on page 128, Chariots for Apollo): "Better is the enemy of best." As recorded in a 10/18/68 entry: "Landing Radar Electric Assembly (LREA) burned out, i.e., pigtail wire coming out of LREA to vehicle melted, blowing out."

    Attridge noted that no one ever admitted who replaced the already tested and working G.E. system with the "better" RCA and Motorola system. In the log, these problems persist almost till Christmas - and on July 20, 1969, they would re-emerge and contribute to computer overload Master Alarm problems that came hair-trigger close to aborting the Apollo 11 landing during the final approach to Tranquility base.

    Other events: A 10/22/68 entry reads: "Awaiting arrival of engineers from Motorola and Cape [Kennedy]." 11/06/68: Too heavy a wire gage used: "(Help!)" Repeated wiring problems and burn-outs are consistent with LM Guidance and Control Engineer Ross Fleisig's observation that the LM was a completely battery-operated machine, built in an era when batteries and computer technology were "a black art." 11/09-11/68: New problems arise with Rendezvous Radar (RR), leading to new frustrations for Notar, who records, "RR has given up [for now]... will work right through [24 hrs] with or without day crew... [delays]; Eidelheit writes, "Guard finally shows up [with needed copies of a prior test] - Heaps abuse on Notar for no reason. Notar tells him where to go." 11/13/68: "Radar people [RCA] are still in trouble." On Nov. 26, Notar records, "Flight headsets (HDSTs) and connecting cables mistakenly taken by LM-6 [Apollo 12] people... writing TPS to get HDSTs and cables back from LM-6." 12/01/68: "Night shift completes steerable antenna fix and retest. Night shift is to be commended." 12/12/68: "Loss of Signal" during LM-5 communications tests, followed by tracking down and "patching" of an electrical glitch.

    The very last page is a copy of an evidently proudly inserted photo from the cover of Ross Fleisig's LM-5 Phase III Reliability Report, dated Nov. 20, 1968: "Reportable failures have gone down from (205 for) LM-3, to (74 for) LM-4, 57 (for) LM-5... Significantly improved vehicle... Low [says] this is very likely to be the LM to land on the moon - it should be." From the collection of scientist and author Charles Pellegrino.




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    Auction Dates
    November, 2013
    1st Friday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 3
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    We had a wonderful time in New York during the October 2013 Historical Manuscripts auction that featured my mother’s papers collected during her tenure as Martin Luther King, Jr.’s secretary. In fact, the entire experience from beginning to end has been a pleasure.
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