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NASA's Private Radio Loop

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NASA's Private Radio Loop

Post  Max Peck on Sun May 05, 2013 4:51 pm

Hello everyone,

In this thread we're going to take a closer look at the covert communications channel that was used by NASA during the Apollo program: the so-called "private radio loop". Using this secure channel, it was possible for Mission Control in Houston to talk to any astronauts in space (or on the Moon), without any of their conversations being heard or recorded on the public radio loop, which is the channel that was being broadcast "live" to the world. Most of you on the forum here will know about this, but I would like to remind our readers that the existence of this private loop is not a matter of debate. LunaCognita has some some excellent work on this in his video about Apollo 12's covert EVA (see here), and the two quotes he provided us with - both by Apollo 17 Commander Eugene Cernan - absolutely PROVE that this secret channel was real, and that it was used during at least one of the flights to the Moon:

Here, Cernan is describing the activities inside the LM after EVA-1 (Apollo 17):
"Stripped down to our liquid-cooled underwear, we had a quick dinner, debriefed with the guys on Earth via a private radio loop, and played with some of the rocks we had stowed in the cabin boxes."

Eugene Cernan in The Last Man on the Moon. (link)
Here, Cernan describes a private conversation he had with Deke Slayton after EVA-2:
"After we had had some chow and settled down, Deke told me on a private radio loop that everything was fine at home. 'I talked to Barbara [Cernan's wife] and she said that everything is okay' he said. 'Not a peep from Black September."

Eugene Cernan in The Last Man on the Moon.
For a complete explanation of these two quotes, I suggest you take a look at Luna's video; I'm just briefly mentioning them again here to introduce the topic. Evidence for the private radio loop is very fragmented and mostly in the form of quotes, and I'm starting a new thread in order to gather some of that evidence together. If anyone has something add or discuss that would be great, and in the meantime I will be posting my findings here.

study Cheers!
MP

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NASA's Private Radio Loop

Post  Max Peck on Sun May 05, 2013 5:20 pm

Part 1 - Books

Here are some more book quotes about the private loop that I have noticed; this first one is by Donald K. "Deke" Slayton. He was the Director of Flight Crew Operations - the same man who Gene Cernan just mentioned in the quote from Luna's video. In his own autobiography, titled Deke! (see also here), which is excellent, Slayton also talks about the private radio loop. What's interesting about this story, is that it occurred back in December of 1965, during the flight of Gemini 7.
"In orbit, Jim Lovell had shucked his pressure suit and was living in relative comfort. Frank [Borman] was still wearing his, and he didn't like it much. There were some problems keeping it cool inside GT-7. But flight rules dictated that one guy should be in a suit at all times. Frank privately asked Gene Cernan, who was capcom, to ask me about it. All I could do was get Jim to put his back on, so Frank could have a turn in his long johns."

Donald K. Slayton in Deke!, (link)
So there you have it. Unless you believe NASA stopped using the private loop between Gemini 7 in 1965 and Apollo 17 in 1972, this pretty much proves the case that LunaCognita was suggestively making, namely that the private radio loop was part of the standard operating procedures during all of these spaceflights. Another reason I think this quote is interesting, but this is just my opion, is that when you read this line, it looks like Deke is going out of his way to inform us that Gene Cernan was the capcom when this happened. He could just as easily have left that out, so maybe he wanted us to pay attention to that... pirat Thanks Deke!

Another interesting quote I came across is from Thomas J. Kelly's book called Moon Lander. Tom Kelly worked for Grumman Aircraft Engineering, and simply put, he was in charge of the team that designed and constructed the Apollo Lunar Modules. In this following story from the book, he has just described how the company had a set of flight consoles installed at the Grumman factory, so that they could receive communications and telemetry data right there in their own factory while the Apollo flights were ongoing ("on-site mission support"). Then a bit further on, he's talking about Apollo 13 (April 1970) when he says this:
"We did not know in Bethpage [where the Grumman factory was] until after the mission that Fred Haise was also very ill with a kidney infection. He was running a temperature of 104 degrees and at times was very groggy and unresponsive. Such personal details of the astronauts' health were always discussed by the CapCom using the guarded channel, which was not accessible over the mission-support network."

Thomas J. Kelly in Moon Lander, (link)
I think it's fairly obvious that Cernan, Slayton, and Kelly are all referring to the same thing (the private radio loop) but this last quote by Tom Kelly is very different from the other two. While Cernan and Slayton simply mention the private loop in a "casual" way, leaving them as nuggets for us to find, Tom Kelly consciously reports to his readers about this "guarded channel", and then immediately explains that it was used for "personal details of the astronaut's health". This talk about "personal details" appeared to me as an attempt to justify the secrecy to his readers - and in a way that's what it is - but when you really look at what he says, I think his choice of words is interesting. All he really does, is state that the guarded channel was used in private medical "situations". He doesn't say if it was used for other purposes or not, but he is certainly leaving the door open in the sense that he doesn't claim the guarded channel was used ONLY for private medical reasons.

Of course, we already know that the use of the private radio loop was certainly not limited to medical emergencies. Gene Cernan, at the top of this page, admitted that it was used for "debriefing" purposes, and the incident from Deke Slayton's book also shows that the private loop was used for pretty much everything that was not "by the book". What this last quote by Tom Kelly shows is that NASA had the capability to switch people in and out of the loop as they pleased, and that access to the "guarded channel" was limited and apparently on a need-to-know basis.

More to follow... Cool
MP

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NASA's Private Radio Loop

Post  Max Peck on Sun May 05, 2013 8:24 pm

Part 2 - Apollo 9 Flight Transcipt Evidence

Being able to use a private communications channel during spaceflights was no doubt a huge advantage to NASA, but because the Gemini and Apollo spacecraft were equipped with on-board voice recorders, using this secret channel also created a new problem for them (from a secrecy point of view). Because the DSE and DSEA "black boxes" recorded every word that was being said inside the spacecraft, this would include any and all conversations made via the private radio loop. So, in order to prevent the content of those private conversations from becoming public, there were basically two options. One was simply to have an astronaut manually switch off the on-board voice recorder before the conversation began, and the other option was to leave the recorder on and then sanitize the black box transcripts and audio tapes after the mission. My research indicates that NASA used both methods, and I will show you some examples of that right here.

Before I get to the transcript evidence though, I should point out that the only reason this private loop evidence is even present in the published transcripts at all, is because all of the situations in which it is mentioned, deal with private medical issues and astronauts becoming ill in space. I believe NASA is a little more comfortable with the private loop being mentioned in those situations, because when people start asking questions they can always throw the excuse of private medical reasons at it, like Tom Kelly did in his book. It's like "don't worry about it" you know, "it's not secret or anything; it's private." neener

So let's take a look. Most of the transcript evidence I will be discussing in this post is taken directly from NASA's Apollo 9 CM DSE onboard voice transcription (part 1), published in April of 1969. I have included links to all the relevant pages, but you can also download the document from JSC and take a look at it yourself.

Some quick general background information: Apollo 9 was flown March 3 to March 13, 1969. It was the third manned Apollo flight, and the first manned flight of a Lunar Module. In fact, the primary task for the crew during this mission, was to test-fly the LM in Earth orbit and evaluate its performance. Apollo 9 carried three astronauts: Commander James A. McDivitt ("Jim"), Command Module Pilot David R. Scott ("Dave"), and Lunar Module Pilot Russell L. Schweickart ("Rusty"). For more information see here.

The first appearance of the private radio loop is on page 240 of the DSE transcript. Keep in mind that while this conversation is going on, the CSM and LM are docked together in Earth orbit, but the access tunnel connecting the two spacecraft is closed. Apollo 9 CDR Jim McDivitt, and LMP Rusty Schweickart are both in the Lunar Module (callsign Spider), while CMP Dave Scott is alone in the Command Module (callsign Gumdrop). So even though the CSM and LM are docked together, we are still dealing with two individual spacecraft here, that are talking to each other, as well as to Mission Control in Houston, and vice versa. This can be very confusing, not only for us researchers who are trying to make sense of the transcripts, but also for the astronauts themselves back in 1969. We'll pick up the conversation here when the CapCom (CC) in Houston comes on and for some reason calls both spacecraft at the same time:


Dave Scott in the Command Module is the first to respond; he acknowledges the call from Houston and uses shorthand to indicate that he has good reception ("five by five"). At the same time, Jim McDivitt, who is in the LM, also responds to Mission Control, and he does so by saying that he wants to "go private" with them. Because Scott and McDivitt are broadcasting to Houston on the same channel, the CapCom can't hear what they are saying and comes back with "You are cutting eachother [out] - -". Following this brief exchange, and McDivitt's request to "go private", there is a gap in the time line of 1 hour and 40 minutes(!) The transcript then "continues" with some isolated remarks by McDivitt and Scott, and goes on to describe a discussion of the food quality onboard.

When the CapCom comes on to tell the astronauts that they are "cutting each other out", his sentence in the DSE transcript is unfinished and ends with two dashes (- -) NASA informs us that this has a specific meaning:
Two dashes (- -) are used to indicate an interruption by another speaker or a point at which a recording was abruptly terminated.
So it looks like the CM on-board voice recorder was suddenly switched off by Dave Scott - perhaps to prevent the upcoming private conversation with Houston from ending up on tape?

The idea that the DSE recorder was switched off is reinforced by the fact that the Apollo 9 technical air-to-ground transcript contains a little bit more of this conversation, on page 148:


NOTE that after the CapCom reports to McDivitt that Mission Control is "all configured for a private talk", it takes 10 minutes for the first person speak... on the public radio loop that is. The reason that it's taking so long is because the astronauts are busy talking via the private radio loop, and because the on-board DSE recorder was not operating at this time (or so we are led to believe) we have no way of knowing what was being discussed here. This just goes to show that NASA did have a way to actively withhold information from the public: the private radio loop!

A couple of hours after the above conversation, the private loop comes up again. What happened during the flight of Apollo 9 was that LMP Rusty Schweickart became ill and there were serious concerns about his safety if they were to press on with the mission as scheduled. For instance, getting sick inside a spacesuit during EVA can quickly become a life-threatening situation, so Mission Control in Houston wanted to know exactly what the situation was with Rusty. In this following conversation on page 257 of the DSE transcript we find the crew of Apollo 9 discussing the situation via the private radio loop:


First I should mention that we KNOW this exchange took place via the private radio loop because this is confirmed by the CapCom later on during the conversation - I will get to that. Looking at the above section first however, we pick up with LMP Rusty Schweickart who is in the process of transmitting some burn data values to Mission Control. The CapCom in Houston confirms they have received the data (the "residuals"), and then he asks Rusty to give them another data value: "request DELTA-Vc". As you can see in the transcript, Schweickart acknowledges the request from Houston with a brief "Roger", but he does not provide them with the DELTA Vc value they are asking for. Instead, we again see a short break in the time line (about 11 minutes), and after this break we miraculously re-join the astronauts in the middle of a completely different conversation. The first speaker after the break is CDR Jim McDivitt, who seems to be talking to Rusty when he says: "... You go ahead [and talk to Mission Control]"

When Rusty then starts talking to Houston, it gets even more interesting because from his words we can see that he is now talking to our old friend Deke Slayton! This is important, because Slayton was the Director of Flight Crew Operations and as such he was not among the regular CapComs. I have not been able to find out yet who the CapCom was at the beginning of this conversation, but I'm confident that it wasn't Deke Slayton. In other words: during this 11-minute break in the transcript there was a switch of CapComs, and the astronauts are now talking to a different person! And yet there is no trace of this CapCom change anywhere in the text. No hellos or goodbyes or anything like that; all we see is this break in the time line. What that means is that a chunk of the conversation has been removed from the transcript here, and because it took place via the private loop, this conversation is not listed anywhere in the air-to-ground transcript either. So just like the previous example, we end up with a situation where we have no way of knowing what was being discussed during these 11 minutes. They are simply missing.

What happened during this 11-minute break is anybody's guess, but based on the available information, the most likely scenario would go something like this: the CapCom change occurred early on during the break, either because the astronauts requested another "private" conversation, or because Deke wanted to talk to them. Whatever he discussed with the crew during the first ten minutes apparently was "too sensitive" for us civilians to know about, and so NASA removed that from the transcript, including any possible requests for a private conversation. It is only when LMP Rusty Schweickart begins to discuss his medical situation that we are allowed to re-join and see what's going on. It's okay for us to know about that because they've got this medical angle covered, remember. Or so they think. These discussions themselves may be innocent enough, but the missing chunks of time are telling aren't they.

Moving on to the next page (258):


Here we see Deke Slayton directly confirming that this very conversation took place via the private radio loop. It was recorded on the CM DSE on-board recorder, and while some pieces of this conversation were published in the transcript, other sections have been removed. Further evidence that this conversation took place via the private loop is the fact that it does not appear in the public air-to-ground transcript, like I just mentioned before, and that's exactly what you would expect with a private conversation like this.

The bottom line is that these transcripts are heavily censored, and it is NASA who decides what you do and don't get to see. If you don't believe me, take a good look at what Deke Slayton is telling the astronauts in the above quote. What did he tell them at the end there? "It is considered ..." ... It is considered what - Classified? Taken care of? Ridiculous? Just like the two dashes (- -) in the text which I explained previously, the three dots at the end of Slayton's sentence have a specific meaning. Says NASA:
In the text, a series of three dots (...) is used to designate those portions of the communications which could not be transcribed because of garbling.
Oh, really? If that last part of the sentence "could not be transcribed because of garbling", then why does Jim McDivitt come back with "Roger; I understand that" ? Laughing I do not buy this explanation for one second. The truth is that those three little dots are NASA's version of a black marker, and this is how the game is played. Go read the flight transcripts and you will see what I mean. By leaving out all the key words they can censor a conversation down to the point where you don't have a clue what they are talking about anymore.

Well, that's it for now, I hope you enjoyed it. One thing is for sure: the next time someone claims that NASA "makes everything public" you will be able to make a more objectively informed decision on that.

gsanta Cheers!
MP

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Re: NASA's Private Radio Loop

Post  easynow on Tue May 07, 2013 5:04 am

Wow ! ... Max this is outstanding research and beautifully presented as well !!

There's no doubt they used a private channel, you've proved that and of course that makes me wonder what else they used it for other than the medical reasons. From what I understand, the Space Shuttle also had a private-encrypted communication system and the ISS does too.

I'll be adding to this thread when possible and just wanted to say Thank You for posting this because it is much appreciated ! good
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Re: NASA's Private Radio Loop

Post  Max Peck on Thu May 09, 2013 7:32 pm

Thanks for the kind words easynow; I know that all this text may not look very attractive but it's well worth the read I think. I'm glad you like it! Very Happy
easynow wrote:From what I understand, the Space Shuttle also had a private-encrypted communication system and the ISS does too.
Of course they do! I have not looked into that but I would be very surprised if it isn't true. Good point, so thanks for mentioning that easynow.
easynow wrote:I'll be adding to this thread when possible
That would be great. The private loop is elusive in the sense that we all know it exists, but as far as actual evidence goes, there's not a lot to go on. The quotes and transcript sections I have shared here give absolute proof that the private loop was used VERY frequently, and with that in mind, what is much more telling here in my opinion is that when you look at flight transcripts of Apollo missions that actually went to the Moon, you will not find ANY references to the private radio loop AT ALL, and to me that's another clear indication it was used for much more besides private medical conversations. For the record I should say that there may be one ore two references left in there that I have missed; it's a lot of ground to cover and NASA has been known to "accidentally" misspell certain words, thereby making it more difficult for us researchers to find them using methods like key-word searching. I'm just saying it's possible. Wink

To explore this topic a little further, I would like to draw your attention to one of the quotes I mentioned earlier, from Deke Slayton's autobiography:
"In orbit, Jim Lovell had shucked his pressure suit and was living in relative comfort. Frank [Borman] was still wearing his, and he didn't like it much. There were some problems keeping it cool inside GT-7. But flight rules dictated that one guy should be in a suit at all times. Frank privately asked Gene Cernan, who was capcom, to ask me about it. All I could do was get Jim to put his back on, so Frank could have a turn in his long johns."

Donald K. Slayton in Deke!
To illustrate and back up this case, I have made a few selections from the Gemini VII Voice Communications transcript, part 1 (link). I didn't include this in my initial post because it's not direct evidence of the private loop, and the reason for that is because, unlike the Apollo flight transcripts which are documented separately, with early Gemini missions ALL the different communication channels were merged into a single flight transcript document. So that includes public air-to-ground communications, ground-to-air, on-board tape recordings and possibly some private loop conversations as well. The problem with that of course is that NASA is not going to specify any of that for us mrgreen and in fact it is only thanks to Deke Slayton's testimony that we know some of these discussions about Borman's suit took place via the private radio loop. It is still worth mentioning here though, because it backs up Deke's story and also provides some additional insight into NASA's box of tricks. So let's take look.

About 55 hours into the flight of Gemini 7, we see Commander (C) Frank Borman describing in his own words to the CapCom (CC) that he is beginning to feel uncomfortably warm in his flight suit, while Pilot (P) Jim Lovell is comfortable enough wearing only is long johns underwear:


When you take the time to read through the entire transcript, you will see that as the mission progresses Borman becomes increasingly uncomfortable and annoyed in his "hot" flight suit, and by the time they are 100 hours into the flight, he has finally had enough of it:


For readers who may not be familiar with these details, I should explain that the words COASTAL SENTRY QUEBEC at the top of this page are the designation of one of the many network tracking stations that were used to communicate with the Gemini spacecraft. Back in the early days of the Gemini Program, world-wide communications coverage was not yet available, and instead, the communications would move from one tracking station to the next as the spacecraft orbited the Earth. This is an important detail here, because it means that the Capsule Communicator (CapCom), who is always designated with "CC" in the transcript, is in fact a different person for each of the tracking stations. Keep that in mind when you examine what is being said.

After some joking around about the music the astronauts want to hear, on the full transcript page 296 above we see Frank Borman (C) asking the CapCom for "Mr. Kraft", and dropping the first hint that he wants to take off his flight suit. Chris Kraft was NASA's first flight director. The CapCom comes back with a brief "Roger", which is kind of surprising when you remember what Deke Slayton explained to us in his book: " But flight rules dictated that one guy should be in a suit at all times." That is why Jim Lovell (P) incredulously reacts to this by saying: "Okay. Just like that?"

Please NOTE that the conversation does not end there, but unfortunately for us, according to all the dots (...) on the page, the rest of this exchange between Borman and CSQ "could not be transcribed because of garbling". So here we go again and the reason I have included the full page here is to show you that I am not kidding about these three dots being NASA's version of a black marker. This is yet another example of a transmission becoming "garbled" at the exact moment where all the good stuff is being said, and to me this is just far too obvious to be believable. We can tell from the few words that remain on this page that Borman is detailing his reasons for wanting to take off the suit, and it just so happens that this key part of the conversation was "garbled"? I think you should ask yourself if this can really be another coincidence.

Anyway, getting back to the connection with Deke Slayton's book: in the next selection below from transcript page 299 we find Borman talking to the Guaymas CapCom, who asks him "if the request you made via the CSQ" (about wanting to take off his suit) should be taken to "the management level". Borman confirms, and advises the CapCom to "Ask him to call Deke tomorrow or something, and tell him that I was thinking about both of us might as well be comfortable." What Borman wants the Guaymas CapCom to do, is to relay his request to Mission Control in Houston - where Gene Cernan is CapCom - and ask him to call Deke.


On page 301, Borman is informed that they're working "quite hard" on his suit-request ygrin :


And finally in this last section below we find the conversation that leads up to what Deke Slayton told us in his book. You can see for yourself that Frank Borman is talking to Gene Cernan here, and what he tells him - "So don't make out like it's an emergency will you?", confirms that apparently it was Gene Cernan's job to take this up with Deke Slayton - and of course that's exactly what Deke told us in his book.


Cheers everyone, and please feel free to add or discuss. pirat
MP


Last edited by Max Peck on Thu May 09, 2013 7:36 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : correction of quoted text)
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Re: NASA's Private Radio Loop

Post  Pod on Sun May 12, 2013 5:04 pm


About an hour after starting his sleep shift, Borman requested clearance to take a Seconal sleeping pill. However, the pill had little effect. Borman eventually fell asleep but then awoke feeling ill. He vomited twice and had a bout of diarrhea that left the spacecraft full of small globules of vomit and feces that the crew cleaned up to the best of their ability. Borman initially decided that he did not want everyone to know about his medical problems, but Lovell and Anders wanted to inform Mission Control. The crew decided to use the Data Storage Equipment (DSE), which could tape voice recordings and telemetry and dump them to Mission Control at high speed. After recording a description of Borman's illness they requested that Mission Control check the recording, stating that they "would like an evaluation of the voice comments".[35]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apollo_8


Why didn't Apollo 8 use the private channel to tell Houston about Borman's space sickness? They had to use the dump tapes.

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Re: NASA's Private Radio Loop

Post  Max Peck on Sun May 12, 2013 6:18 pm

Hello Pod and welcome to the forum!

Thanks for the reply, it's nice to get some fresh input on this. Let me get to your question.
Why didn't Apollo 8 use the private channel to tell Houston about Borman's space sickness? They had to use the dump tapes.
It's not that they HAD to use the tape dump; Borman WANTED to use it. The private and public radio loops were available to them but like it says in the Wikipedia quote: "Borman initially decided that he did not want everyone to know about his medical problems". He didn't want to use the radio - period. Even on the private loop, there are many people listing in, and by using the DSE tape dump, Borman was trying to limit the "exposure" of the incident as much as he could. I mean here was the Mission Commander getting sick on the first manned flight to the Moon... imagine how embarrased he must have been. Thanks for bringing this up though; I will check it out just to be sure. Wink

One more thing: you were asking "why didn't they use the private loop" but with all due respect I think that is an assumption. Maybe they did use it, and simply didn't tell us about it. When you read through the documented evidence in this thread and others like this one here, you will see that there are chunks of time missing from the flight transcripts everywhere. One reason for that is because, whenever the astronauts used the private radio loop to discuss something, these conversations would usually have to be removed from the timeline, and that's why you won't find any evidence of these conversations in the transcripts. There is no trace of the private loop in transcripts of Apollo flights that actually went to the Moon, but does that mean they didn't use it? I think not. Suspect

Cheers,
MP

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Re: NASA's Private Radio Loop

Post  Pod on Sun May 12, 2013 6:49 pm

One more thing: you were asking "why didn't they use the private loop" but with all due respect I think that is an assumption. Maybe they did use it, and simply didn't tell us about it.

I actually thought this. I can imagine a scenario where this private channel is used, and then the dump tapes are latter offered, ex post, as an explanation for why doctors were involved, or why sick was stuck to the control panel, etc, without it having been on the public radio. Are the contents of those tapes archived somewhere and available for listening?

I actually found this discussion after seeing LunaCognita's youtube video regarding his theories on the Apollo 12 SEVA, which led to some other forum, which linked to here.

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Re: NASA's Private Radio Loop

Post  Max Peck on Mon May 13, 2013 4:19 pm

Hi there Pod,

Thanks again for bringing up this Apollo 8 incident with Frank Borman; I have had an interesting evening alien
I actually thought this. I can imagine a scenario where this private channel is used, and then the dump tapes are latter offered, ex post, as an explanation for why doctors were involved, or why sick was stuck to the control panel, etc, without it having been on the public radio.
It turns out that they don't offer us much of anything. Frank Borman got sick on the second day of the mission, but flight days 2, 5 and 6 are not even included in the Apollo 8 DSE transcript. Because we don't have the DSE audio tapes themselves either, we have nothing except what was said on the public radio channel. So, I took a look at the transcript of the public loop, and it contains enough references to piece this story together. I may post some of that when I have more time but my point is that the really detailed information on Wikipedia, and the Apollo Flight Journal it refers to, about vomiting and not wanting to reveal it to Houston is apparently for the most part based on astronaut quotes and books. Shocked

Are the contents of those tapes archived somewhere and available for listening?
That's a very good question, and the answer is basically no. They have made a little bit available: audio from the Apollo 9 Lunar Module DSEA tape can be downloaded from this page here, but as far as I know that's the only black box tape out there. NASA has not been very forthcoming in releasing these tapes and I suspect that this has everything to do with the private radio loop.

If you are looking to download some original Apollo audio then the Internet Archive is your friend, but I hope you have enough disk space. ygrin This collection is HUGE and they are still adding new files. It's awesome so make sure to check it out.

Internet Archive - Apollo Audio Collection

I actually found this discussion after seeing LunaCognita's youtube video regarding his theories on the Apollo 12 SEVA, which led to some other forum, which linked to here.
Hey, that's good to hear Very Happy I'm glad you are willing to consider the possibilities we are discussing here, Pod.

Cheers,
MP

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Re: NASA's Private Radio Loop

Post  Max Peck on Sat May 18, 2013 12:30 pm

@Pod: Did you get a chance to look at the Apollo 8 transcripts I linked to above? The reason I'm asking is because I think your initial suggestion was right on the money:
I can imagine a scenario where this private channel is used, and then the dump tapes are latter offered, ex post, as an explanation for why doctors were involved, or why sick was stuck to the control panel, etc, without it having been on the public radio.
I think that's exactly right. Frank Borman did become ill - that much is certain, but the transcript evidence suggests to me that the DSE-tape story is just a cover, designed to draw attention away from the fact that the private loop was used, and also to ensure that NASA wouldn't have to deal with the situation in public at the time this happened.

I was hoping to post some evidence on this over the weekend, but this situation with the Apollo 8 DSE on-board recorder is just leading me from one oddity to the next and I'm still working on it. Just like the private radio loop, the DSE on-board tape recorder could be used by the crew to record messages and dump them to Houston, and in doing so they could by-pass the public radio loop. Unless these on-board recorded messages are included in the DSE transcript, we have no way of knowing what they contained, and the thing is that, like I just mentioned in my previous post, at least half of the mission time line is missing from the Apollo 8 DSE transcript. Doesn't that strike anyone ass odd? Suspect

@all readers: There is more to follow on Apollo 8 but first I would like to redirect your attention to my earlier investigation on the Apollo 9 incident involving LMP Rusty Schweickart. I forgot to point out that he also actually vomited inside the spacecraft, just like Frank Borman did on Apollo 8. That's pretty gross I know, but what's interesting about both of these incidents is that when you actually go and look for these situations unfolding during the flight, you won't find very much. The reason for that is because the crew immediately switched to the private loop, and public communications were simply cut off.

This is a great example of how one thing can lead to the next: in thinking about all of the incidents mentioned in this post, on a hunch I decided to check Tom Kelly's book Moon Lander again. Apollo 8 didn't carry a LM, but I was curious to see if he said anything interesting about Apollo 9 that I might have missed. Remember how I said earlier that Tom Kelly's choice of words looked interesting and that he was "leaving the door open", so to speak? Well, it turns out that Mr. Kelly is a bonafide pirate pirat because his book includes a second direct reference to the private loop: it's hidden away in the notes section!

Tom Kelly on Apollo 9:
I was back to the SPAN Room [Spacecraft Analysis Room] early the next morning, listening to the crew puffing as they donned their spacesuits to enter the LM. The crew channel went dead. We did not learn until the postflight briefings that Schweickart had suddenly vomited (*). After some delay he entered the LM and flipped dozens of switches to activate its systems.

Thomas J. Kelly, Moon Lander (link)
From the chapter notes section:
(*) CapCom and the astronauts had a secure, guarded channel to which they switched whenever they needed privacy, which always included cases of crew sickness or other problems.
How does that grab you? I'm definitely going to check this one out as well and re-visit the Apollo 9 transcripts, but just like what happened on Apollo 8, without looking at other sources it's difficult to even pinpoint exactly when these incidents occurred during the mission. It will be interesting to try though. Meanwhile, I would like to suggest and recommend to any readers who are honestly curious about this, to invest a little time and read through the flight transcripts yourself. Check out the different links above. It's not difficult, and it's definitely not boring, okay, trust me. In some of these cases all you have to do is look, and you will be amazed.

It's writing up these reports that takes all the time, so if you're going to be lazy you will just have to wait. gsanta

Cheers everyone,
MP

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Re: NASA's Private Radio Loop

Post  Pod on Mon May 20, 2013 8:18 am

Max Peck wrote:@Pod: Did you get a chance to look at the Apollo 8 transcripts I linked to above? The reason I'm asking is because I think your initial suggestion was right on the money:

I did have a look. The only interesting thing I saw was them discussing who would read what part of the bible Razz But like you say, it's basically missing a lot! Shouldn't it contain everything in the public transcription + more? Or does it record things said on the internal loop only? According to wikipedia the sickness happens on the first day, 11 hours in. But I can't see anything around there.

They do talk about the sickness at '03 16 53 27', but that's pretty useless.


So let's look at some other documents...

Apollo 8 Mission Report (8.2MB PDF file) (I found this here, it's probably elsewhere as well).

PDF Page 177/252. 8.3 MEDICAL OBSERVATIONS.


Inflight illness. - After the Commander's symptoms of motion sickness
dissipated, he experienced additional symptoms of an inflight illness be-
lieved to be unrelated to motion sickness.

When the Commander was unable to fall asleep 2 hours into his initial
rest period at 11:00:00, he took a 100-mg sleeping tablet, which induced
approximately 5 hours of sleep described as "fitful." Upon awakening,
the Commander felt nauseated and had a moderate occiptal headache. He
took two 5-grain aspirin tablets and then went from the sleep station to
his couch to rest. The nausea, however, became progressively worse,
retching occurred, and vomiting happened twice. After termination of his
first sleep period, the Commander also became aware of some increased
gastrointestinal distress and was concerned that diarrhea might occur.

So 11+5 = 16:00:00. So 16:00:00 or so we should see this vomiting in the logs.


As the mission progressed, the medical flight controller had the im-
pression that the Commander was experiencing an acute viral gastroenter-
itis. This tentative diagnosis was based upon the delayed transmission
of a recorded voice report that the Commander had a headache, a sore
throat, loose bowels, and had vomited twice. A conversation between the
chief medical flight controller and the Commander verified that the pre-
vious report was correct, but that the Commander was feeling much better.

The Commander also stated that he had not taken any medication for his
illness, which he described as a "24h-hour intestinal flu." Just prior
to the Apollo 8 launch, an epidemic of acute viral gastroenteritis last-
ing 24 hours was present in the Cape Kennedy area.

emp mine.


Let's look at the public flight logs to try and find where this would have happened.
From the TEC. (Note, I can't copy + paste out of this very well, so a lot of it looks like cack that I've had to re-type. So the spacing is a bit out of whack as well).

CDR is chatting away until 00 11 32 44. So he's going to sleep at this point? It's close to wikipedia or the flight report's estimation of 11:00:00, but I guess that's when it was scheduled rather than happened? Wink

Then there's no more from him until

Code:

00 13 13 06  CDR  Roger.  We  have  one  request.  CDR  would  like  to
get  clearance  to  take  a  Seconal.

These are Boreman's last words before nap time. He's asking for the sleeping pill, as mentioned above/on wikipedia. I guess he's been trying to sleep since 00:11:xx:xx ish?

Code:

00 13 31 37  LMP  Houston,  this  is  Apollo  8.  We're  going  to  try  to
keep  the  conversation  down here  for  a  while  so
the  CDR  can  go  to  sleep.
...
00  13  38  59  CC  Okay.  Thank  you.  And we will  stay  off  the  loop
until  you  give  us a  call.
00 13 39 04    LMP Roger.  You  don't bother us, but our replies  make a  lot  of  noise.
00 13 39 13  cc  Okay.

Then there's basically silence until 00:16:00:27.

Code:

00 17 08 57  CC    Apollo 8, Houston.
00 17 09 15  CC    Apollo 8, Houston. Over.
00 17 10 29  CC    Apollo 8, Houston. Over.
00 17 13 33  CC    Apollo 8, Houston. Over.
00 17 13 36  CMP  Go ahead, Houston.  Apollo  8  here.

What were they busy with? Being sick? Smile Or they could just be taking their time doing the observations. (star visibility was scheduled at 16:55, according to 00 16 14 13). Or it could be bad radio -- seems to happen often in the transcripts. They then take their time to respond at 00 17 15 53. But once again they could just be busy doing the P23 like they claim.

Code:

00 17 27 30  CMP    Roger
00 17 49 25  LMP    Houston,  are  we  in low  bit  rate  now?
00 17 49 33  CC      Apollo  8,  Houston.  You're  in  high  bit  rate.
00 17 49 38  LMP    Roger.  We’d  like  to  record  you  this  P23  stuff.

I don't know what this means. They then go to low bit rate and Houston sends some commands? I can't see anything requesting the ground crew to listen to the DSE.

Code:

00 18 09 15  CC      Apollo 8, Houston.
00 18 09 20  CDR    Go ahead, Houston.
00 18 09 22  CC      Apollo 8, Houston. Do you want us to turn off your DSE for you? It's probably about half full. We're getting good high bit rate down.
00 18 09 31  CDR    Do you want to get the rest of this data?
00 18 09 34  CC      We're getting good high bit rate down.
00 18 09 39  CDR    Roger. Go ahead.


This is the first time CDR Boreman has spoken since going to sleep. It's not acknowledged by the ground crew. I don't know if that's normal. But they're talking about the dump tape, anyway.


Code:

00  18  43  54  LMP  Okay.  We're  going  to  have  two  of  us  hit  the  hay
now  and  one  man minding  the  store  so  you  might
have  everybody  keep  au  extra  sharp  eye  on  . . .

Smile


Code:

00 18 49 59  CDR  Go ahead,  Houston.
00 18 50 02  CC    Good morning, Frank. [+ more]

Maybe they didn't realise it was him speaking before? Either way, at some point during 00:11:00:00 and 00:18:50:02 we'd expect to see stuff in the tape log. But there's a giant gap there, from 00:11:01:56 to 00:17:53:25. I don't know if that's normal or not. Note that the tape logs have Boreman speak at 00:17:54:15, which is earlier than the first sighting on the air to ground logs. But Boreman appears to be awake to do this P23 stuff?



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Re: NASA's Private Radio Loop

Post  Max Peck on Sun May 26, 2013 7:15 am

Pod wrote:I did have a look.
Much appreciated!! good Thanks a lot for posting all this information, Pod. Basically, you just covered everything there is to find in the Apollo 8 DSE & TEC transcripts relating to Frank Borman's illness, and considering what happened, that's a strange thing to begin with isn't it?!


Pod wrote:But like you say, it's basically missing a lot! Shouldn't it contain everything in the public transcription + more? Or does it record things said on the internal loop only?
The DSE - when it was operating - would record both on-board direct conversations between different crew-members, as well as the calls they made on the public and private radio loops to Houston. So your reasoning is sound but keep in mind that the DSE was primarily a flight data recorder, and it was not used continuously throughout the flight. Its main function was to record flight telemetry data during critical phases of the mission, and during the lunar orbit phase when the crew would lose radio contact with Houston each time they went around the far side of the Moon. So it's normal that the DSE transcript doesn't contain the entire flight, but in my opinion, that answer alone is not enough to explain why literally almost half the flight is missing from that document. I think one other reason why so much time is missing, is that all information considered to be "private" has been removed. Apparently that's what happened with Borman's episode of vomiting as well: it has been "edited out", so to speak.


Pod wrote:They do talk about the sickness at '03 16 53 27'.
Very Happy Yes they do. In fact, this is the ONLY time we see Borman refer to his illness during the entire flight. His choice of words may turn out to be of some importance later on so I'm including this section from page 233 of the Apollo 8 DSE transcript (PDF p.236), which covers this conversation between CDR Frank Borman, CMP Jim Lovell, and LMP Bill Anders:



Pod wrote:So let's look at some other documents...
Very Happy The quote from the Apollo 8 Mission Report you included is excellent, because it tells us fairly exactly what happened:

When the Commander was unable to fall asleep 2 hours into his initial rest period at 11:00:00, he took a 100-mg sleeping tablet, which induced approximately 5 hours of sleep described as "fitful." Upon awakening, the Commander felt nauseated and had a moderate occiptal headache. He took two 5-grain aspirin tablets and then went from the sleep station to his couch to rest. The nausea, however, became progressively worse, retching occurred, and vomiting happened twice. After termination of his first sleep period, the Commander also became aware of some increased gastrointestinal distress and was concerned that diarrhea might occur.

So I think we can all agree on what happened now, right? The next challenge is to find out when this happened, and because the moment at which Borman began feeling unwell is directly related to the time he awoke from his sleep period, that's a good place to start looking in the transcripts.


Pod wrote:So 11+5 = 16:00:00. So 16:00:00 or so we should see this vomiting in the logs.
Very Happy Again that is clever thinking but don't forget the two hours Borman spent not being able to sleep. His rest period was scheduled to begin at 11:00 GET but because he couldn't sleep, he asked permission to take a sleeping tablet two hours later, at about 13:00 GET. After that he got "approximately 5 hours" of sleep, so that would put his wake-up time at around 18:00 GET (11+2+5=18). When we look at the air-to-ground conversations around that time we find CDR Frank Borman rejoining the conversation at 18:09:20. You were on to this as well Pod:

Code:
00 18 09 15 CC : Apollo 8, Houston.

00 18 09 20 CDR: Go ahead, Houston.

00 18 09 22 CC : Apollo 8, Houston. Do you want us to turn off your DSE for you? It's probably about half full. We're getting good high bit rate down.

00 18 09 31 CDR: Do you want to get the rest of this data?

00 18 09 34 CC : We're getting good high bit rate down.

00 18 09 39 CDR: Roger. Go ahead.
Source: Apollo 8 TEC transcript; tape 14, page 2 (PDF page 123).


Pod wrote:This is the first time CDR Boreman has spoken since going to sleep. It's not acknowledged by the ground crew. I don't know if that's normal.
Thank you!! ygrin I am no expert but that immediately struck me as odd. As you mentioned at the end of your post, the DSE recorder was briefly used by the crew around 18:00 GET, and we see that Borman's first on-board entry after his sleep period occurs even earlier, at 17:54:15 GET. From page 60 of the DSE transcript (PDF p.62):


In case anyone should be tempted to think that the designation "CDR" on this transcript page above is an error or typo - there are several more CDR entries in this 15-minute DSE recording, starting at 18:11:14 on page 63 (PDF page 65). The complete crew seems to be right in the middle of something when the DSE recorder was activated, and that would lead us to believe that Frank Borman awoke some time before 17:54 GET? And that at this point his episode of vomiting has already happened?? And that they have also already cleaned up the mess??? Question


If so, where is all the conversation relating to this?? Remember the Mission Report:
Upon awakening, the Commander felt nauseated and had a moderate occiptal headache. He took two 5-grain aspirin tablets and then went from the sleep station to his couch to rest.
No mention of this anywhere in the flight transcripts?!! Didn't Borman have to consult with Houston about feeling unwell and taking aspirin tablets??


To make the situation more confusing, here is the air-to-ground conversation between Frank Borman and Mission Control at 18:50 GET - that's about an hour (or more?) after he woke up from his sleep period:

Code:
00 18 49 52 CC: Apollo 8, this is Houston with some comments on navigation.

00 18 49 59 CDR: Go ahead, Houston.

00 18 50 02 CC: Good morning Frank. Apollo 8, this is Houston. We're wondering about your GDC backup align; we'd like your opinion on the possibility of doing this align using Sirius and Rigel rather than Navi, as it's in the north set at this time. Over.

00 18 51 31 CMP: Stand by one.
Source: Apollo 8 TEC transcript; tape 14, page 5 (PDF p.126).
Pod wrote:Maybe they didn't realise it was him speaking before?
Yeah....maybe. mrgreen There was no CapCom change or anything like that, so is it just my imagination that this doesn't look right?


Consider the following possibility: Frank Borman didn't actually wake up until this very moment (around 18:45 GET), and he began feeling unwell shortly after this conversation with Mission Control took place. It is speculation and just a thought but one thing that might support this idea, is the fact that there is a very large gap in the air-to-ground transcript between 19:30 and 21:00 GET - yes that's right, an hour and half is missing right there. Shocked


NASA claims there was "no conversation with the crew" during this time because Lovell and Anders were asleep, and Borman apparently had nothing to report. I'm not so sure if I want to believe that or not. I think in the end we will need more information to really figure this out, but Borman's sleep period is the key. Do the math on that and you will see that it can actually support a wake-up time of 18:45 GET, which I think is VERY suspicious. To demonstrate that, you have to go right back to the beginning of Frank's sleep period around 11:00 GET, and examine the timeline in detail. Pod, you have already covered some of that in your post above, and I will gladly share my results here as well, but for clarity reasons I think it's better to break this up and do that in a following post. If anyone has any ideas or suggestions (or information!), you're welcome to chip in of course, and even though the words "private radio loop" do not appear very often in this case, I think it certainly applies to the topic at hand. It's obvious enough that something fishy is going on here. Suspect

Cheers everyone, and thanks again for sharing, Pod! Very Happy
MP


@Pod: by the way, you were saying:
Pod wrote:From the TEC. (Note, I can't copy + paste out of this very well (...)
Same here. What is up with that PDF-file? scratch

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Re: NASA's Private Radio Loop

Post  Pod on Sun May 26, 2013 7:57 am

Max Peck wrote:
Pod wrote:So 11+5 = 16:00:00. So 16:00:00 or so we should see this vomiting in the logs.
Very Happy Again that is clever thinking but don't forget the two hours Borman spent not being able to sleep. His rest period was scheduled to begin at 11:00 GET but because he couldn't sleep, he asked permission to take a sleeping tablet two hours later, at about 13:00 GET. After that he got "approximately 5 hours" of sleep, so that would put his wake-up time at around 18:00 GET (11+2+5=18).
[/quote]

Oh yeah, I didn't properly factor in those extra 2 hours when I wrote that. But I did realise there was a delay in him getting to sleep.


Max Peck wrote:
If so, where is all the conversation relating to this?? Remember the Mission Report:
Upon awakening, the Commander felt nauseated and had a moderate occiptal headache. He took two 5-grain aspirin tablets and then went from the sleep station to his couch to rest.
No mention of this anywhere in the flight transcripts?!! Didn't Borman have to consult with Houston about feeling unwell and taking aspirin tablets??

Interesting! I didn't think about the fact he took extra medication without informing the flight surgeon. Would he have to, with Aspirin? I guess he would for anything, especially as something like (commercial) Aspirin has a dosage-per-hour limit. I'm not sure of the NASA rules on this. (Are they documented anywhere? Not that I feel like sifting through them Wink)


I think what's clear by now, not just from this Apollo 8 incident but from all the other mentioned things, especially in books from Astronauts, is that there was a private loop of some kind that seems to have been ommitted from the public record, and that all the NASA documents available to us have been edited and censored in some way. Though I'm not 100% certain.

Was this private loop encrypted in anyway? Could the USSR or a random person on HAM radio have easily intercepted it?

I wonder why they removed this info, though? I wouldn't have been surprised if NASA at the time had said "sure, we've got a private communication channel, deal with it". Maybe American tax payers would get miffed over it? Maybe there was a DOD guy on the other end asking questions that ultimately proved fruitless? (Or maybe they proved fruitful? Wink I know you guys like that sort of idea).


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Re: NASA's Private Radio Loop

Post  Max Peck on Sun May 26, 2013 9:29 am

Pod wrote:Interesting! I didn't think about the fact he took extra medication without informing the flight surgeon. Would he have to, with Aspirin? I guess he would for anything, especially as something like (commercial) Aspirin has a dosage-per-hour limit. I'm not sure of the NASA rules on this. (Are they documented anywhere? Not that I feel like sifting through them.
I'm not sure but I don't think you have to go through the rule books to see that the Flight Surgeon would be having a field day with all this stuff. Smile


(...) all the NASA documents available to us have been edited and censored in some way. Though I'm not 100% certain.
Well, not all of them, but about the flight transcripts I am 100% certain, because it's true and I've proven it myself many times. My old post about Apollo 12 and the "Indians" on the Moon contains some direct evidence of transcript censoring, for instance.


I wonder why they removed this info, though? I wouldn't have been surprised if NASA at the time had said "sure, we've got a private communication channel, deal with it". Maybe American tax payers would get miffed over it?
NASA was actually required by law to withold this kind of private information from the public. The Apollo DSE and DSEA black box transcripts were originally classified confidential, and as such they were not available for public inspection. You can see this on the document covers where it says that they are "downgraded at 8 year intervals" and eventually become unclassified. The Notice about NASA Policy Directive 1382.2 also deals with distribution (or not) of private personal information; you can look that up if you want. Wink Technically speaking this is also the reason why the DSE/DSEA tapes are not available: they contain classified information.

Check out these topics for more information:

NASA and the Disclosure of Extraterrestrial Life

NASA's Apollo DSE "Black Box" Transcripts

Aside from the legal requirements, there is a lot of very logical and good reasoning behind having a covert communications channel on-board your spaceship when you're going to the Moon - a place where at the time of Apollo 8 nobody had been, and it was still largely unknown. Just imagine you're the head of NASA and you've got to make the call on this. From a PR-perspective it would be nice to able to consult with the crew behind the scenes to ensure that everything is "running smoothly" and deal with any eventualities that might occur, and in the case of a very serious emergency or accident, you want to have the option of talking to your crew without having all of that on the public channel. In case that makes you wonder about Apollo 13 - I haven't checked so I don't know, but my reasoning makes sense doesn't it? From a secrecy point of view it's obviously a good a idea to have the private loop handy, and as I mentioned earlier there is also some evidence that shows the DSE tape recorder was used to record covert messages.

Was this private loop encrypted in anyway? Could the USSR or a random person on HAM radio have easily intercepted it?
Good question. I don't know if it was encrypted. Not that I've heard but it would make sense to do so I guess. If you want to know you'll have to go through the technical documents on the comms system; or ask somebody who knows. Wink This is such a huge topic that you really have to pick and decide what's worth investigating because it takes a lot of time. I'm sure it would be interesting to know how that works but anyway, about the private transmissions: there are rumors going around about HAM operators like you say, who allegedly received fragments of audio. And that's not just Apollo either - there are many stories, some of them quite gruesome, about so-called "ghost astronauts" and alleged secret missions that ended badly. The Wikipedia page called Lost Cosmonauts covers a lot of that. I've never seen anything substantial though, aside from the evidence in the astronauts' own books that I have posted here. It's interesting but I stick to what I can prove.

MP


Edit:
Pod wrote:I think what's clear by now, not just from this Apollo 8 incident but from all the other mentioned things, especially in books from Astronauts, is that there was a private loop of some kind that seems to have been ommitted from the public record.
Hey I almost forgot. Yes! Smile




Last edited by Max Peck on Sun May 26, 2013 9:36 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Addition)
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Re: NASA's Private Radio Loop

Post  Max Peck on Sun Nov 10, 2013 5:44 pm

Hello everyone,

I have some new information to share with you, but first I would like to ask: if there are any experts out there who know more about this Apollo 8 situation with Frank Borman, I would sure like to hear about it. I still have all my notes but I can only research one case at a time and this is a particularly complicated one. I suspect that NASA is lying about the duration of Borman's sleep period to account for the time where there was no public communication - because the crew was busy cleaning up the mess. The individual audio tape numbers are listed in the flight transcript and when you make a list of that and check the durations, you will find there are some chunks of time missing, possibly up to an hour and half, and it just so happens to be around the same time as when this incident occurred. NASA will no doubt claim that it's because there was "no communication" during the crew rest period, but we've all heard that one before haven't we. To be continued.


To very briefly summarize the topic at hand: NASA's rivate radio loop was used by the astronauts to communicate with Mission Control, without their conversations being broadcast or heard on the public "live" radio loop. In this thread we have already seen evidence that this covert channel was used on the flights of Apollo 17, Gemini 7, Apollo 9 and, very likely, Apollo 8 as well.

We can now add Apollo 7 and Apollo 14 to the list of confirmed missions - I have been re-reading Gene Cernan's book, The Last Man on the Moon, and among other things I realized that it contains two more references to NASA's private radio loop.



Apollo 7
This reference is very sneaky and easily missed. Cernan writes:
For eleven days they [the 7 crew] did two things extraordinarily well--successfully perform every test assigned and piss off just about everybody in the program, from grunt engineer to the flight director.
One of the things Apollo 7 has become known for, is this "mutiny" in space: as the flight progressed, all three astronauts became increasingly agitated and uncomfortable, and they began to argue with Mission Control about experiments and other things they were unhappy with. As Wikipedia puts it, they began "talking back" to the Capcom.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apollo_7

What's interesting though, is that according to Cernan:
Most of the dispute went out over the public airwaves.
Aha - gotcha! success 



Apollo 14
This reference is not sneaky at all and in fact it is quite the opposite - I don't know how I missed this but Cernan blatantly mentions the private loop when he recalls a practical joke from the time he was on the backup crew for Apollo 14. Referring to Apollo 14 Commander Alan Shepard, Cernan explains:
Every flight has a personalized crew patch, and Apollo 14 was no different, except for one thing--we were the first and only backup crew to have a mission patch too! This loony idea was a gotcha on Al, for it depicted a gray-bearded Wile E. "Three Rookies" Coyote coming up from Earth only to find a "First Team" Roadrunner already standing on the Moon, chirping his famous "Beep-beep!"

Every time we would give him a "beep-beep" jab, Shepard would shoot right back, "Beep, beep, your ass!"
The backup crew (Roadrunner) are depicted waiting on the Moon for the prime crew (Wile E. Coyote) to arrive. The Coyote has red fur for Roosa, a pot belly for Mitchell, and a grey beard for Shepard.

http://www.hq.nasa.gov/alsj/a14/a14beep-beep.html
But the joke didn't end there - Cernan and his backup crewmates took it one step further. Razz 
Ron [Evans], Joe [Engle] and I, as the backup crew, had final access to the spacecraft, and while we set the switches and checked the gauges, we also stuffed our Roadrunner patches into every nook and cranny, setting up a future mini-blizzard of "gotchas" for the Three Rookies. All the way to the Moon and back, even on the lunar surface, whenever the crew opened a box, bag or locker, out would float a First Team mission patch. Perhaps the most repeated phrase on the private radio loop during the flight of Apollo 14 was Shepard's annoyance when still another patch would suddenly appear. "Tell Cernan," he growled, "Beep-beep, his ass."

Eugene Cernan, in The Last Man on the Moon.
Cheers,
MP
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