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NASA's Apollo DSE "Black Box" Transcripts - revealing the unscripted truth about the Moon
LunaCognita | September 26, 2009
In this examination into NASA's "black box" transcripts, we will look at just a few of the many interesting and revealing comments made by the astronauts throughout the Apollo program that were captured by the CSM's DSE system, as well as touch on some of the scripting protocols employed during the various TV broadcasts made from the CSM during the journey to and from the Moon and while in lunar orbit. Contrary to what many think, those TV broadcasts were in fact elegantly scripted affairs, designed to rigidly control the amount of data that we, the general public, would have available to analyze. Because of this, the DSE and DSEA internal crew conversation transcripts can provide us, in the astronauts own words, an unscripted and less-guarded insight into some of the incredible things they really witnessed during their journey to and from the Moon.
During the Apollo lunar landing program, NASA made use of two primary flight telemetry/voice recording systems aboard their spacecraft. One of these systems was inside the Command/Service Module, and the other was mounted within the Lunar Module. These two systems were known as the DSE (aboard the CSM) and the DSEA (aboard the LM). The "Data Storage Equipment" systems essentially served as Black Box cockpit voice recorders, designed to tape some of the internal conversations between the astronauts while they were out of radio contact with Mission Control in Houston. After contact was re-established during the flight, Mission Control could then dump (downlink) the recorded data from the CSM to Earth, where it would be analyzed.
Unfortunately, NASA today claims that the original DSE Black Box tapes from the Apollo missions are missing and are presumed lost. However, these DSE recordings were transcribed shortly after the contents of the tapes were originally dumped from the CSM to the Earth, and several years after the Apollo program ended, these transcripts finally were declassified and then released to the NASA archives.
In coming segments, we will examine many more impressive statements made by the NASA astronauts that were captured by the various cockpit voice recording systems utilized during not only the Apollo program, but during the earlier Gemini Earth-orbital flights as well. There is much more to come!
LunaCognita - One thing that I discuss a bit about in this above video was the idea of "scripting" protocols being employed during the Apollo program in order to allow the astronauts, when they were speaking over the public radio net, to appear as if they were providing extemporaneous descriptions of what they were really seeing, when in reality, the crews were merely parroting scripted words they had been told to say - statements that were designed to adhere to the "Dead Moon Dictum" and it's "Presumption of Naturality" requirements.
We can quickly take a look here at another example that can be used to help demonstrate the use of these scripting protocols during Apollo. In this case, we will look at a bit of evidence that shows that Apollo 12 astronauts Pete Conrad and Alan Bean were actually making use of a "cue card" script while they were conducting their lunar surface EVAs, allowing them to appear to be providing accurate, thorough descriptions over the public radio net that would sound very professional and scientific, but were in fact scripted comments designed to ensure the astronauts words were properly sanitized and would strictly adhere to the rules of the Dead Moon Dictum.
I attached a few images below. The evidence we are focusing on specifically here are a couple pages from Apollo 12 Commander Pete Conrad's "wrist cuff checklist" that he wore during his Apollo 12 mission while he was on the lunar surface. These pages were a part of the checklist notes for the EVA that were attached to the arm of Conrad's A7-L spacesuit. Firstly, here are a few generic pictures of the Apollo wrist cuff checklist, just so everyone is clear what I am talking about.
Now, obviously these checklists the astronauts were going to wear during their lunar surface moonwalk operations must have been written up and prepared for each crew member PRIOR to the flight, and it is just as obvious that at the time these checklists were being put together before the mission, no one was supposed to know for certain just what the astronauts were going to see and describe at their landing site at Statio Cognitium once they got out on the surface.
Because of this, you may find it rather "interesting" that in the back of Apollo 12 Commander Pete Conrad's wrist cuff checklist that he wore during his moonwalks are a pair of pages that were an obvious cue-card script providing him suggestions on how to describe the scene he was going to see within Surveyor crater - suggestions that were already sanitized so as to adhere to the Presumption of Naturality rulebook the Apollo crews were forced to follow. Here are those two pages below.
Here is a PDF showing photocopies of CDR Pete Conrad's full wrist cuff checklist for Apollo 12
What they did here was provide Conrad some already-sanitized selenologic cover-story language he could read out over the public airwaves. Conrad obviously had to say something to describe the scene publicly, so rather than having him need to try to come up with his own sanitized "Least Astonishment" descriptions all on his own, NASA instead provided him with hints on things to say over the public radio net that would sound very scientific and that already matched the official "Dead Moon" cover-story they knew beforehand that they are going to be forced to adhere to. By helping to plan his descriptions BEFORE the Apollo 12 flight even left Earth, these cue cards would aid in ensuring that when Conrad and Bean were out bouncing around the lurain, they would not slip up and accidentally verbally reveal things that were verboten to talk about.
The scripting protocols and verbal self-sanitizing methods employed by the Apollo crews to help control the flow of information they provided over the public airwaves during their missions were sadly very real and very effective at hiding the truth about what is really up there on the Moon.
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