NASA Johnson Space Center
Oral History Project
Edited Oral History Transcript
Interviewed by Doug Ward
Houston, Texas – 23 March 1999
Ward: This is our oral history interview
with Fred Haise. March 23rd, 1999. Fred, thanks for coming by. You
came to NASA from a background, if I read the biography correctly,
that had an aviation touch with the Navy, the Marine Corps, and the
Air Force. How did you happen to be involved with all of them?
Haise: Well, it—I went into the
Naval Aviation Cadet Program, is the way I entered the aviation business,
as an enlisted person, a cadet. And when you graduate and are commissioned
and receive your wings…, you’re given an honorable discharge
from the Navy. Then I served in the Marine Corps for a tour; and,
when I left the Marine Corps, I—in reserves, I went to the Air
National Guard. So I had a retirement from the US Marine Corps, an
honorable discharge. And then during 1961, I was recalled into the
Air Force in the Tactical Air Command from the Air National Guard
in Ohio for the Second Berlin Crisis. And after that 1-year assignment,
I again received [an honorable discharge] certificate from the Air
Ward: Okay. And of course that grew
in part, I’m sure, out of your educational background starting
in junior college but then on to the University of Oklahoma in Aeronautical
Haise: Well, the path was kind of devious.
I got interested in the newspaper business and worked on the high
school paper [as] sports editor, then the first 2 years of college
I was in Journalism and worked summers for the local paper in my hometown
in Mississippi, the Biloxi-Gulfport Daily Herald. And the Korean War
came along, and I wanted to enlist and serve.
And at the time, the only program I could get into that would lead
to a commission, which was my primary goal, was the Naval Aviation
Cadet Program. So—and accidentally I ended up in the flying
business, which I loved. And that changed my whole career path, because
at that—from there I went back to school to get an Engineering
degree to become a test pilot. And that put me back at the University
of Oklahoma for 3 years.
Ward: Oh okay. So did the—was
the exposure to flying kind of coincidental? Or was that some deep-seeded
desire that you’ve had since you were a kid?
Haise: No. It was purely accidental.
I had never—when at the time I signed up for the program, I
was 18 years old. I had graduated from high school at 16 and [had]
had 2 years of college at 18; and like most 18 year olds, I think
you jump into things without thinking ahead very much because I had
never been in an airplane—even in a commercial airliner. I had
never flown at all. I just wanted to be commissioned, to be a commissioned
officer; and I began to get a little worried in the preflight part
of the program, where many of the other people in the program talked
about their light aircraft, private flying experience and I didn’t
know the first thing about an airplane. But like I said, I took to
it and I really loved the experience.
Ward: Flying is sort of intuitive in
a sense, isn’t it? It’s not one of those things that you’re
necessarily better adept at doing simply because you’ve had
experience. But some people seem to have the knack for it and the
rest of us don’t.
Haise: Well I think there’s, there’s
certainly a hand-eye coordination facet that, you know, is true of
anything that requires some dexterity that way—be it sports
or flying. I guess there’s a physiological part of it that’s
a little different—that’s a different experience from
the standpoint of the g’s you might feel or the tumbling or
rolling or those kind of things that are a little different than most.
Ward: Yeah. What sorts of aircraft were
you initially involved with?
Haise: Well at the time I went into
flight training in 1952, I did the basic in the old Navy SNJ, which
is—the equivalent Air Force would be the Texan T-6.
Haise: And advanced training in those
days was the Hellcat, the Grumman F6F, the one that, you know, won
fame in the Pacific War.
Ward: Prop and radial engine.
Haise: Prop—radial. Both of them—both
of them prop aircraft that [I] had qualified…shipboard on two
occasions. And then to qualify in jets, it was a very short program
of, like, 20 hours’ conversion into the Navy TV1/TV2 series,
which was an Air Force T-33 Shooting Star trainer version. …Going
in the Marine Corps, [my] first squadron, was in Banshees, McDonnell
F2Hs. The squadron, before I left, had converted to Grumman F9-F8s,
the swept-wing Cougars.
Ward: So your associations with Grumman
began a long time ago.
Haise: Well, if you look at the whole
flying, I’ve flown about 80 types of aircraft. So I’ve
had an association with just about every aviation builder...
Ward: You also had, I think, about 7
years of experience with NASA before you came into the astronaut program
as a NASA research pilot. I guess (what?) starting at Lewis?
Haise: That’s correct. I had met
a fellow in the Oklahoma Air National Guard (in fact, my squadron
commander), Stanley Newman, who had earlier in his life had worked
as an engineer at Langley, and he was the one that put the thought
in my mind that I should become a NASA research pilot. So even before
I finished the University of Oklahoma, I was already scouting around,
made visits to Langley and Ames and Edwards, which were then at that
time the premier flight test centers of all the NASA centers. But
there simply were no openings, and there was a long waiting list.
So I ended up applying and being accepted at Lewis Research Center,
which had research programs but more catered to testing of systems
using aircraft as the vehicles to test new propulsion systems. We
carried aloft…Ram jets hung under airplanes. We had a zero-g
aircraft facility. In fact we had the second one in the country behind
the Air Force at Wright-Patterson, with an old Navy AJ2, where we
did early testing to fix the configuration of propellant tanks in
the Centaur rocket, where the screens would be, for instance.
Ward: So you were using it for engineering,
but later it became a very valuable tool for astronauts.
Haise: Oh yes. Absolutely. The one we
had, just the bomb bay we used for these experiments. [It] was too
small for the, really,—the purposes later I experienced when
I became an astronaut with the larger 707, where you had a much bigger
area to free float within.
Ward: Right. I was of the impression
that we didn’t happen on to the use of zero-g aircraft until
some time during the Gemini Program. But obviously it was for engineering
purposes, at least—it was well before that.
Haise: I think we inaugurated the AJ2
Program in 1960.
Ward: Well, as a NASA research pilot,
I’m sure that you had exposure to and knew a number of the astronauts
that were selected in groups before you. Let’s see: Neil [A.]
Armstrong would have been one of them ahead of you.
Haise: Yeah. Neil, in fact, followed
the same path through NASA that I had. Neil was about 2½, 3
years ahead of me. He started at Lewis Research Center then went to
NASA’s Flight Research Center (now Dryden Flight Research Center
at Edwards), and from there entered the astronaut program. And I just—I
followed literally the same route, but about 3 years behind Neil.
Ward: Did you find that made the transition
from becoming a research pilot to becoming an astronaut any smoother?
Was it—was that a particularly good route to go in your estimation?
Haise: Well, I think in the development—when
you’re in the portion of a program that’s the development
program, which it was—still was—when I entered Apollo
and certainly for my early years in Shuttle, I think having a background
as an experimental test pilot of any sort (be it a company pilot or
with NASA) helps in the sense of your being—having experience
to be part of… the design evolution of the vehicle. Because
that’s a role that you play. In the case of my NASA experience,
except for the Lifting Body Program I had some participation in, most
of it was for the design (if you will) and implementation of the experiments
or use of the aircraft, which often required modification.
Ward: Okay. Well, you were a member
of the fifth class. I think you guys dubbed yourselves “The
Original 19.” There were 19 of you. And—
Haise: That’s correct. Nineteen
Ward: —if I did the math right,
eight of you flew in Apollo—nine of you flew in Apollo, eight
of you went on to also stay with the Shuttle Program. You, of course,
did both. Did you reflect on how you happened to get one of those
coveted Apollo assignments out of that class?
Haise: No. I—it was—to me
it was a sort of a guarded secret of, frankly, how the crew selections
were made, how the mix was made. I assumed it was predominantly between
Deke [Donald K. “Deke” Slayton, Director, Flight Crew
Operations] and Al [Alan B. Shepard, Jr., Chief, Astronaut Office]
and their sense of who played well in the office environment and that
sort of thing. We did, at one time, I know did a self-grading. We
were asked to do a grading of our 19, with the exception of yourself.
But you know, it was—it’s really hard otherwise to define
any quantifiable means—it was never exposed if there was—of
how the mixes were chosen for the various missions.
I think Deke’s philosophy was that any astronaut was qualifiable
to fly any mission. And it was probably a truth if you look at the
backgrounds of the people in the program was pretty close, as I assume
a lot of them chosen today are.
Ward: Yeah, but you certainly—if
that were the—in fact the selection rationale, you would have
expected that it would be more of a seniority, random sort of thing.
But there did seem to be a pattern to the selections.
Haise: Well, there certainly was elsewhere
in NASA. My experience at Flight Research Center, I’d hoped
to fly the X-15, rocket ship; and clearly within that office, it was
on seniority. And when I left Flight Research Center to join the astronaut
program, I was still two people away from getting my turn to have
flown the X-15. It so happens, I’m glad I left because I would
have never made it by the time that program ended.
Ward: Yeah. The program would have run
out before you got through the seniority. I suspect that there was—that
all things being equal, seniority was a factor with Deke and with
Al, but I think there were clearly other elements that played in it.
Haise: Well, I could see, just from
the mixes that there also was some thought, I think, of the—call
it the personalities. Not in a true psychoanalysis sense, but just
their feeling of understanding and knowing the people of who would
play together well. Although I would say for the drive of the mission
and accomplishing the mission and the length of time of those missions,
you could’ve probably mixed any three people and—
Haise: —just that drive would’ve
pulled them together as a team.
Ward: How much do you think the technical
specialties, technical expertise, that each of the crewmembers brought
to it was a factor in how they were placed on the different crews?
Haise: That, I really can’t—I
don’t know. I know that the only selection I know that was a
differentiator was weight. You could not—if I recall, you could
not be a lunar module pilot and weigh more than 175 pounds. So that
was kind of an upper limit, as I recall, for that just because of
Haise: —of the performance of
the vehicle to accomplish the landing.
Ward: Well that’s right. They
were offering big bonuses to the Grumman employees who could come
up with ounces saved off the vehicle. So I guess you don’t want
to trade back a lot of ounces on the vehicle for a lot of pounds on
Ward: Do you recall in your group of
19, any of the members of that group who were particular standouts
in terms of leadership or played a role in leading the rest of the
Haise: Well it just by kind of the way
the structure was set up, Ed Mitchell being the most senior and oldest,
really, was the designated leader for our original 19. From there,
you know, as you said, there were specialties; and when we got initial
assignments, everybody kind of went to the winds a little bit in different
Like… Ken Mattingly was the space suit specialist. So Ken spent
a lot of time in that effort. Myself, Jerry Carr, Ed Mitchell, and,
by virtue of being the test crew for the LTA thermal test, Jim Irwin
and John Bull were pretty much assigned to follow the lunar module
in that work at Grumman. And, so you did get very segmented in those
kind of specialties during a portion of this early part of Apollo.
I mean, a way of putting it is, quite interestingly, Jack Swigert
[John “Jack” Swigert, Jr.], who was a North American test
pilot at the time he was chosen, spent most of his time with the command
and service module development and continued that in his assignments.
When he came into the lunar module, when we were airborne on Apollo
13, after he had shut down the command module, that was the first
time in his life he had ever been in a lunar module. So his first
experience in that spacecraft was in flight.
Ward: Yeah. Of course, we’ll get
into that a little bit. Swigert was a very late addition to that crew,
and that’s one of the areas I want to cover with you when we
get into the Apollo 13 part of your background. What was your reaction,
the reaction of your fellow classmates, when the next group of science
astronauts was brought onboard and then, later, the MOL astronauts,
both fairly late in the Apollo sequence when it was clear there were
not going to be enough flights to go around? How were they viewed?
And how did they get integrated into the astronaut corps?
Haise: Well certainly as far as a view,
I had no opinion one way or the other of the science group coming
in at that time. I did not look at it (maybe as you’re implying)
[as] a threat to positions and ensuing flights. As it turned out,
it did have an effect in one case. And the MOL astronauts, to me,
were later in the selection process, and frankly, some very good people—some
of which like Dick Truly, I was in—I went through Test Pilot
School with at Edwards, who I knew—were just unfortunately had
had a bad situation and losing—having a program disappear from
under them with the Manned Orbiting Laboratory Program, were likely
too late to fit into the Apollo Program.
Ward: As it turned out, they (I think)
all flew Shuttle. And yeah, I think they were all Shuttle astronauts.
Of course one of them, as you allude to, went on to—well, several
of them went on to high management positions: Dick Truly becoming
Ward: So they did very well for themselves.
As you came onboard in ’66, the Gemini Program was in its wrapping-up
stages. Did you have any direct involvement with Gemini? Or did you
go almost directly—
Haise: No, no.
Ward: —to Apollo activities?
Haise: Yeah. When I think, if I recall,
when I joined the program, they were about to have Gemini VIII, and
I had no involvement. We got to exercise some of the simulators, just
as part of—call it that first year of (quote) “Indoctrination,
the Docking Trainer. ” Those sorts of things. But [I had] really
no direct involvement at all.
Ward: As one of the earlier groups,
of course, you were going through all of the full gamut of training,
including all of the tropical survival, desert survival, things like
that, which were later, with the later groups, tended to get dropped.
What did that really contribute to your preparation to fly? Was it
really more of a team-building kind of an exercise, do you think?
Haise: Well, it was—survival training
is one of those things that you have for contingencies and, frankly,
hope you’ll never have to use. So, you know, that’s the
whole basis of—you don’t plan to be in a survival situation;
if we—if you plan right, you wouldn’t be. Certainly there
was team-building, but it’s pretty much within our original
19 group because that’s—as we went through it, for the
most part it was exclusively our group that went through this training.
So in a sense of a mission crew assignment basis, it really didn’t
play a role in that sense.
Ward: You—well, we touched a little
bit on the technical skills in your background with test flying. But
you did quite early on begin, as I recall, to focus on the lunar module
as an area of expertise. How did you end up in that assignment?
Haise: Oh I ended up as a member of
the Apollo 9 team under Jim McDivitt. I was a member of the support
crew, which we had in those days. And Jim was, I think, worried more
about the—getting the LM ready, so he assigned Ed Mitchell and
I to that task, to follow the LM through early testing to get them
ready to ship to the Cape and, ensuingly, testing that was done at
the Cape. And—so that was my exclusive responsibility, was to
make sure LM-2 was ready and then, of course, at a point we decided
LM-2 was too far afield with the mods [modifications], so we jumped
to LM-3 as the real vehicle that ended up flying Apollo 9.
Ward: At that point, was 8 still envisioned
as a lunar module mission?
Haise: When I—well, you mean,
when I was assigned to—
Haise: —it? When I was assigned
to Apollo 8, yes, it was a high-orbit rendezvous (I think 4,000 mile
apogee) with a lunar module. And we—I don’t remember how
long we were in that training (probably a month) when the decision
was made by NASA management to forget the lunar module (it wasn’t
going to be ready) and turned it into a lunar mission using only the
command and service module. This incidentally was the toughest training
cycle I went through of the four in Apollo as far as the time squeeze
to get ready.
Ward: Getting ready for a lunar mission
Haise: On 8. Yes.
Ward: That was an almost audacious decision,
looking back on it, in the standpoint of the NASA managers and engineers
who had to make that decision. How did you get involved in that? What—at
what point were you aware of what they were thinking about doing?
Haise: The only way I got involved in
the decision was providing some of the background material. I worked
with Charlie Mars, who was under Ted Sasseen and the test engineering
for the lunar module operations at NASA-Kennedy. And at that time,
LM-3… had arrived at Florida. …We made up a case, if you
will, which Charlie presented at a meeting in the Headquarters building
at Kennedy, of all the shortcomings in that vehicle, of the things
that weren’t flight-worthy that were a number of items…
in that vehicle.
So we didn’t even have it up to flight [status]… all the
components weren’t there that you needed to fly. And we were
involved in this testing to meet a schedule that was just impossible.
And so it was really just a little help [with] that background, the
information that was presented, that I think made it clear to NASA
management… that they either had to slip the schedule or go
to this alternate mission.
Ward: Was there any particular thing
that was holding the LM up? Or was it just a matter of a whole bunch
of things and getting it—getting all these systems developed
and integrated into a flying vehicle?
Haise: Well, it was a combination of
things, …problems with the deliveries of subassembly components,
of flight components. There were lots of problems in qual tests [qualification
tests]. There were lots of mods [modifications]. There were lots of
changes in the vehicle that were driven by, you know, engineering
and in conjunction with NASA Change Boards that we literally were
trying to test vehicles hot. They were live while people were in the
back of the vehicle cutting wires and soldering and making mods [modifications]
to wiring and other bundles you weren’t using in that test,
Ward: Testing was going on—
Haise: —so it was a very bizarre
environment at that time.
Ward: Was the problem that they were
having with the injectors for the ascent engine a particular factor
there? Or did that come along later?
Haise: No. The ascent engine instability
in the injectors and the erosion that was a problem was there. In
fact, there was an alternate program started [that] George Low set
in place with TRW to try to modify, really I guess, the descent to
engine, make it non-throttleable but use it as an ascent engine. So
there was [for] some time, … a parallel program that was going
on. [Recorder turned off.]
Ward: Okay. Fred, we were talking about
Apollo 8. You were a member of the backup crew on that mission. And
you mentioned that that was the most difficult training cycle that
you went through. I’d like to go into that a little more. What
was it that made that such a crunch of a mission as far as the crews
Haise: Well, it the primary reason was
the change in mission. We were on a different path than—as I
don’t recall how long we were on this path of a Earth orbital
mission, but I’m guessing probably a month to 6 weeks of the
total time. And in those time, flights were cycling at 6 months. So
all at once we had the whole new thing to go through. And believe
it or not, even though Apollo was ultimately meant to go and land
on the Moon, if you want to consider the detailed procedures and techniques,
very little had been worked out. You know, the trajectory schemes
and those kind of things for missions had been thought of and the
work on—and maybe some work on landing site, but actually the
checklist level of detail wasn’t there.
So we probably spent half the remaining training cycle not training,
but figuring out what we were going to do and how we were going to
do it. Mission Rules. Emergency procedures. Malfunction procedures.
Like for lost comm [communications]. Up to that time, you had a backup
in Earth orbit of the VHF ground stations that ring the Earth. Well
if you’re sitting out at the Moon, the VHF didn’t—doesn’t—
Ward: Doesn’t work.
Haise: —go that far. So if you
had S-band failures, what do you do with total loss of comm [communications],
you know, where you’re not going to be able to talk to anybody?
So there were exceptions to the rules from what we had worked out
to that time that just took up, like I said,—ate up probably
half the remaining training time. And then we finally got the procedures
roughly in place for what we were going to use, then we had to really
go double-time to get there.
With the schedule, if I recall, we followed we started out, I’ll
call it “somewhat leisurely” like 5-day scheduled training.
And generally you’d also have meetings on Saturday, normally
back here, with, like, Mission Rules and those kinds of things. And
then Sunday off. We, within a short time, went to 6 days a week scheduled.
And the last 2 months, we were at 7 days a week—
Haise: …Scheduled. And this is
like from, you know, 8:30—8 or 8:30 in the morning till the
last briefings maybe ending at 9 or 10 at night. In fact, it was interesting
on that—on the flight, there was somewhat a surprise of how
the crew slept after they got airborne. And the reason is, they were
just very—they were very tired. In fact, after this flight,
for about 2 weeks after the flight, I was waking up every morning
It was the only time in the whole program I gave up exercise because
I didn’t have time to run. I ran 3 to 6 miles a day, and [there]
wasn’t any time of day left to go running. So it was a real,
real tough one to get ready for. I really felt, myself, that probably
within 2 weeks of launch was the first time I felt (call it) “comfortable”
with [a] feeling I could accomplish what I would have to do should
I have to fly.
Ward: Of course, that was the first
mission—with the—a crew on the Saturn V, it was the first—only
the second flight with a crew on the Apollo spacecraft after its redesign
following the fire; and a tremendous number of firsts. So it’s
understandable how you would get into that situation where there was
so much development of the flight, in addition just to training for
Haise: That’s right. It was a
Ward: I know that even today, it becomes
a really insidious problem to control the amount of scheduled time
for crews. And they really guard that jealously, because they know
that whatever time they schedule, there’s going to be a lot
of unscheduled activity that’s got to get accommodated on top
of that. And if, as you say—if they push the crew too hard,
they don’t get time for the [physical]—to maintain their
physical conditioning, which can, as you know be a problem of its
own right. Did you find that the lack of physical conditioning was
a serious concern?
Haise: At—not so much from the
flights. What I appreciated was the reason you needed to be in (I
felt)—in good condition was for more [the] training cycle. Because
invariably, all the missions I was on (even though later, like Apollo
16, [with] a very stretched out schedule),—invariably the last
6 weeks to 2 months ended up again being very compressed. A lot of
things coming through that sieve to get to the launch point that had
to get done that literally drove you to 6- and 7-day weeks. So you’re
just so much—more mentally alert and active to be able to handle,
you know, 14-/16-hour days if you’re in good physical shape.
In a sense, other than the lunar surface workload on missions, the
missions are pretty—physically pretty easy.
Ward: How on 8, how much of a factor
was availability of simulators and availability of flight software?
Did that stuff come along early enough that you had a chance to train
with it before?
Haise: No, no. That was not as—probably
as much of a problem as it was in the early Shuttle mainly because
the type of computers we had, those were wire rope computers. So…
there had to be a freeze date to get the (quote) get the memory built
that gave you a—(call it) “a reasonable maturing time”
and time to work with the real software, if you will. In our simulators,
incidentally, in those days did not—as the Shuttle is today,
does not—did not use the real computers. It was all emulated.
But at least they had a baseline to get to early enough that you had
ample time to work with (call it) the real—“the real stuff.”
Ward: How well prepared did you think
the crew was when launch day rolled around for 8? Were they well prepared?
Haise: I frankly never felt that I would
have a problem with the handling what I had to do both in the normal
sense, which was [an] easier thing to consider, but also continuously,
at least the ones we could think of and train for. So I felt adequate
for every mission I prepared for.
Ward: Of course, Mike Collins was originally
a member of that Apollo 8 crew and, for a medical problem, was removed.
That created a cascading series of things that ultimately ended up
affecting your crew assignments, and moved Mike to Apollo 11. I think,
if I remember correctly, you were at one point on the 11 crew, were
Haise: Well, I—Mike had unfortunately
gotten well. [smiles] And by virtue of that, I moved to the Apollo
11 backup crew.
Haise: I was on the Apollo 8 backup
crew with Neil and Buzz [Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, Jr.]. And
they moved up to the prime crew. Mike rejoined the crew, if you will,
as prime; and I was on the backup then with Jim Lovell [James A. Lovell,
Jr.] initially with Bill Anders [William A. Anders]. After a very
short time, Bill decided to leave the program; and Ken Mattingly [Thomas
K. “Ken” Mattingly II ] was put in that place.
Ward: Okay. So that put you guys, then,
in line for Apollo 14,—
Ward: —which subsequently became
Haise: That’s correct.
Ward: And we’ll get into that
in a bit. One of the assignments that you were particularly notable
in, at least in my recollection, was a role in Mission Control as
a Capcom [Capsule Communicator]. And I just wondered what, from your
point of view, that contributed to your preparation to fly, your trust
in the ground when you were in orbit, and that sort of thing?
Haise: Well, I think the—that,
just being a part of a Mission Control team in that role, you’re
one of the players in the room under the flight director in the preparation—total
preparation through many hours of integrated simulations, preparing
for a flight. But likewise even as a crewman for the many cycles (I’ve
had two at least in Apollo 8 and 11), working through these integrated
simulations with the Mission Control there, the group called “SIM
Sup,” [Simulation Supervisor] which was a… group of rather
devious people that had been assembled to devise the skits for these
simulation scenarios to put in specific failures at specific times
in the—in their hopes they would make us fail.
But that conditioning, through all those hours, certainly made me
confident of the team that was there. And not just Mission Control.
Behind them they had the MER team I guess it was called then in building
Ward: The Mission Evaluation Room?
Haise: The mission evaluation that could
cascade through the whole contract or force, you know, across the
country for brain power if needed. That and then there [were]…
“some of the best” brains in the country… on the
program because of the challenge of going to the Moon.
Ward: Right. It was certainly accessible
to it even if they weren’t in the room.
Ward: One of the things that always
struck me in my observations of Mission Control was the extent to
which it—the simulations in particular were not only a training
tool but allowed you to develop the flight planning and the concept
for the mission.
Haise: Right. Each SIM [simulation]
we conducted, no matter how short—be it a launch SIM [simulation]
which didn’t run that long—we would stop and evaluate
what had happened, what had been done. And as you said, it often may
[have] changed the mission plan, but it—and probably in more
cases, it affected our procedures: How we changed the malfunction
procedures or our checklist. Those sorts of things. Because we didn’t
leave anything unanswered. If it couldn’t be answered in real
time following that mission—that simulation debrief, it would
be carried over and worked off line. But eventually if we didn’t
have a successful outcome in our mind of how we handled things, each
of those were eventually brought to a conclusion.
Ward: At the time you were functioning
as a member of the backup crew that was in line for Apollo 11, did
you guys realize or expect that 11 was the most likely lunar landing
mission? First lunar landing mission?
Haise: Well I don’t know if it
was the most likely, because of the probabilities of it being successful
or not. But we knew it was the first in line to at least make the
Ward: The attempt.
Haise: Whether it made it or not was,
you know, another question to be proven.
Ward: Yeah. What do you think the smart
money would’ve said at that time? Would you have guessed that
11 would be successful? Or would you have bet that maybe 12 or 13
was the most likely for a successful lunar landing?
Haise: No, I would’ve—I
had a high degree of confidence in the hardware at that time, and
I would’ve felt, you know, it was a good shot at 11 being the
Ward: About a month, if I remember correctly—about
a month after Apollo 11, you went through a personal situation that
was really quite difficult with the hurricane in your hometown area.
I wanted to diverge a little bit from the normal courses and get your
recollections of that, because that was, still I think, one of the—Hurricane
Camille, in ’69—
Ward: —was one of the worst hurricanes
ever to strike the Gulf Coast. And I know you had a lot of direct
involvement with that.
Haise: Well, I went back there afterwards.
I still had my mother, one sister, and several aunts that were—
Ward: That’s in Biloxi [Mississippi].
Haise: —resident then, and one
of my aunts lost her house. She was about a half a block off the beach,
and it just—the hurricane literally cleared almost the first
block off the beach. It just took things right off the foundations.
And you know, from a even worse standpoint from the beauty of the
coast, destroyed many of the beautiful old oak trees. Some had been—were
hundreds of years old that had been there.
Ward: Was this in the Biloxi area?
Haise: This was in Biloxi, Mississippi,
right. And my mother actually lost a car, was all. She was not harmed
although the water got almost up into the house, which is up on pillars,
about 3 feet or so. In fact, Biloxi was very lucky because, as I understand,
with the water, if it had risen another something like 5 or 6 feet,
it would have crested Biloxi, which is a peninsula, and probably just
cleared it off. So they were lucky it, you know,—it didn’t
get any higher than it had at the time. But I made a visit back then,
and again after the mission on a celebration parade. And like I said,
I knew of many of the families and had many friends there that had
lost homes and possessions.
Ward: Thirty years later, you can still
see the effects of that storm if you drive through there. The houses
that are gone. The foundations that are just sitting along the beach.
Haise: Right. There’s empty lots
with just the foundation with it not—either not chosen to sell
the property or rebuild, or no one chose to buy it and think about
Ward: Did that—did the timing
of that hurricane have a—work into advantage as far as your
training scheduling [was concerned]? Or did it come at a bad time
Haise: No, it actually had no effect
Ward: You were—
Haise: —what I had to do within
the—my involvement in 11 and subsequently into the 13 training.
Ward: It occurred after 11 was really
beyond you and then before you’d really picked up the—
Haise: Right. That’s correct.
Ward: —the load on 13. You mentioned
that your assignment had originally been to 14. That moved back to
13 when Al Shepard got back into the lineup after resolving his medical
problem. And as I remember that story, the managers in Washington
were concerned that Shepard would not be ready to fly 13 but Lovell’s
crew (you and Mattingly along with Jim Lovell) would be. And you were
asked if you would take that earlier assignment and let Shepard train
for the later one. Is that essentially a correct summation of it?
Haise: Pretty much, except the—what
had changed after the—Apollo 10 backup had lost two members.
So really the new assignments were Al, as the commander, and Stu Roosa,
[who] had never been through a training cycle, was also assigned to
that then Apollo 13 crew (would have been the Apollo 13 crew). So
they had all—Ed Mitchell was the only one who had been through
a training cycle. So, I—that wasn’t discussed with me.
It actually, I guess, was …[discussed with] Jim. I think Jim,
just as I and Ken Mattingly felt at the time, the quicker you get
to fly the better. So there was absolutely nothing wrong, in our minds,
with having made that change. We were happy to get Apollo 13. I’m
not superstitious, incidentally, so that part didn’t bother
Ward: What did that do to your training
cycle? Those flights at that time were going on 6-month centers. Did
that leave you adequate time to get ready for 13?
Haise: Oh yeah. We actually stretched—they
started the first stretch on Apollo 12. I’m trying to remember
if they had another month (I think a month or 6 weeks more) than the
6-month cycle, and then we bought another few months (2 to 3 months).
So it was a stretch in the schedule. And comparatively speaking to
both 8 and 11, 13 was leisurely. Although, again, it got compressed…
in that last 6 weeks to 2 months’ time. And we spent a lot more
time—probably [we were] the first crew that spent a lot of time
in geology training.
Ward: That was training for Fra Mauro.
Haise: Training for Fra Mauro. We were
the first crew to start the—kind of the scenario of training
where we enlisted Lee Silver from CalTech [California Institute of
Technology, Pasadena, California], really, through Jack Schmitt [Harrison
H. “Jack” Schmitt] who knew Lee very well. And Lee became
our tutor on a really an arduous exercise where we spent a week out
in the Orocopia Mountains camping out, living on cots, with Lee and
the backup crew, John Young [John W. Young ] and Charlie Duke [Charles
M. Duke, Jr.] and myself and Jim. Mainly to get Charlie—Jim
and more up to speed on geology, because they had jumped pretty early
into the flying business in Gemini and didn’t get the amount
of geology… that we got in our first year in the program.
So it was a press effort to get them to (call it)—to become
good, reasonable, good field geologists in a very short time. So we
[would] go through two exercises, two or three exercises a day, with
cameras, using Polaroids in that timeframe to record the events, and
get debriefs from Lee, and discuss geology around a campfire till
like 10 or 11 at night. So it was a real fast dose and startup of
what was kind of the ritual that followed with many of the ensuing
field trips. Although it got refined in a higher [fidelity] way with
equipment we used and more involvement with the back room people who
were going to be there during the mission.
Ward: Apollo 13, coming after two successful
lunar landings, really began to mark kind of a watershed in the—at
least in the public relations rationale for the missions, where the
shift was from accomplishing this national goal to doing useful science.
What was going to be the scientific return of that mission and that
particular lunar landing site at Fra Mauro?
Haise: Well it—half of the effort
we were going to do at the Moon was very similar to what had been
done in both 11 and 12. And that was to lay out a set of scientific
experiments involved in the ALSEP [Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments
Ward: That’s the lunar surface—
Haise: Lunar surface—
Ward: experiment package?
Haise: —right. The second part,
which was to be probably more involved in at least a hope of being
better field geologists to do a better sampling—was, the EVA
[Extra-Vehicular Activity], the second EVA. And, in our case, was
to explore the countryside, up a slope toward a feature called Cone
Crater in the Fra Mauro region of the Moon. And by strategically sampling
up toward the crater, you would be sampling material that at the out—that
outside ray of the crater would be the deepest material, where the
crater normally forms in the Moon—or on Earth for that matter.
If it’s due to an impact facet, it inverts—it’s
an inverted flap; so if you’re sampling up a ray, the farther-out
stuff is the deepest stuff within the crater. And as you get up near
the edge of the crater, you’re sampling literally at the surface.
Ward: And it really wasn’t known
at that point (was it?) whether that crater was caused by impact?
Or was it known to be an impact crater? Or was it still thought it
might be a volcanic feature?
Haise: No. It was—I think it was
pretty much ascertained that it was an impact crater. The whole area
was hypothesized as the—some of the erupted material that had
come out of the Imbrium Basin. That’s the—if you can envision
a face in the Moon, that’s the left eye in the Moon. And so
when that big meteorite hit impacted there, it caused splash material
(molten rock); and part of that splash formed the Fra Mauro hills,
which was south of that eye in the Moon.
Ward: And of course the early missions,
11 and 12, both had to land in relatively smooth areas because the
targeting was not that precise. By the later missions, you were getting
more confident in the landing procedures and willing to go into areas
that might have some of the highlands or at least crustal materials
in about them as opposed to the basalts.
Haise: Well, it was driven by confidence
in the capability of the LM [Lunar Module] landing capability and
steerage. But also if you’re going to properly sample the Moon,
at least in the committees that formed to look at the site selection,
you had to become more diverse in, you know, where you went to get
a proper sampling of the Moon.
Ward: Getting back to the crew assignments,
the crew positions. Just before flight, of course, you were on a crew
where a change was made in the last week when Ken Mattingly was exposed
to the measles, pulled off [the primary crew], and replaced by Jack
Swigert, who had been a member of the backup crew. And how confident
were you and Lovell that Swigert was going to be able to step in at
that late date and do a good job of command module pilot?
Haise: I certainly had no problem. If
you looked at Jack’s background, he was chosen for the program
as a test pilot at North American Aviation and working on the initial
design of the command and service module. So that was his background,
even when he became an astronaut. He was the astronaut assigned, because
he was the support crew of Apollo 7 ([it] as his first assignment),
to work with Mission Control people and Engineering to devise the
initial set of malfunction procedures that were to be used for the
command and service module should anything fail or go wrong. So Jack
was very versed on the technical aspects of a command and service
module and flying one. So I had no problem at all with Jack stepping
in from a technical (we call it), a “flight safety” standpoint.
Now it did change our practices for those last few days before launch.
Normally in that period, you would literally quit training, go off
to a beach house, which was an isolated area at Kennedy Space Center
with no phones, where we could go off and be isolated and sit around.
Generally you might read your checklist, that kind of thing, and go
a little fishing on the beach. But otherwise, kind of get rested up,
if you will, to for the launch and the subsequent mission. With that
change though, we did go back into the simulation mode through most
of (I’ll call it) “critical phases” of the flight;
like launch or lunar orbit insertion or transearth injection, leaving
lunar orbit, rendezvous. And more as a test that, even though prime
and backup use the same checklist and the same procedures: Was there
some verbal difference in how we translated calls back and forth?
So it was more an exercise… to make sure that the backup crew
hadn’t developed something different that way than we had.
I frankly felt—having been a backup on 8 and 11, later 16—that
I was—not as capable but maybe even a little more capable of
flying the mission than the prime person. Because the prime crew,
if you looked at it, they got off on to other tangents. They got taken
out of training to do press conferences, invent a patch, worry about
who’s coming to the launch, a personal preference kit. So all
of those times they were out of (call it) “the training mode,”
as a backup I was in a simulator or continuing training. So I think
if you looked at the records, you would see a backup crew generally
might get a few more hours’ training than the prime crew.
Ward: Yeah. Of course the one element
that might be missing when it happens late in the cycle like that
is this—and you alluded to it, is this element of teamwork.
The ability of building these people together as a tightly knit, almost—subconsciously
Haise: That’s absolutely true.
But in behind that, there obviously was an emotional effect of (call
it) “consideration” for those two people who had to transpose
roles, in particular, in a way unfair to both. The way you mentally
approach these things as a backup: Within several weeks of launch,
I mentally tried to convert my sense away from thinking I might fly
to not feeling so bad that I wasn’t going to get to fly. I’d
done all the work, I was capable of flying a mission, but I wasn’t
going to get to fly. So [inside I] sort of mentally pulled away in
a sense of, “I’m not going to really get to go. The prime
crew guy’s not going to get hurt, and he’s going to get
to fly it.”
And so that—there’s that mental transposition, I’m
sure, happened in the case of Jack Swigert. Whereas if you’re
the prime crew, within that last few weeks you really start getting—“This
is real.” I mean, “This is really going to happen when
we said it was. We’re going to launch.” And, occasionally,
you just sort of feel a few little butterflies here and there, during
the day or whenever you start thinking about it you look up at the
sky. And so you’re more in that “go” side of that
emotional train. And I think it was very difficult in that sense for
the two parties having to do that shift with 2 days to go.
Ward: I always had the sense that Mattingly
and perhaps you and Lovell as well somewhat resented the decision
to remove him from the crew, because he really didn’t feel that
he was going to get the measles. Was that—
Haise: Well—it wasn’t just
that. The meeting incidentally—was with Dr. Paine [Thomas O.
Paine, NASA Administrator]. It was in crew quarters at Kennedy Space
Center. It was Dr. Paine and Deke and Jim Lovell and myself. So that
was the meeting. Jim made a request to go ahead and fly, not so much
that he didn’t—wasn’t sure whether or not Ken would
get the measles; but on the basis that the timing of the exposure
to the incubation of where Ken would have an onset of measles, we
would have been well past the lunar activity. And so it was on that
basis that Jim said, and his sense was, you know, “If you’re
sick, well, there ain’t—there’s no nicer environment
to be in than zero gravity. It’s a comfortable environment,
just heading back home.” And—but that was not accepted.
Ward: Yeah. Just do the conservative
thing and make the change. Although that had risks of its own entailed
with it. Well, during the launch of Apollo 13, there was an anomaly
in the—I don’t know how apparent it was to you on the
flight crew. I’m sure you were very, very aware of it, when
the second stage center engine shut down early. Did you think that
you were going to make it into a safe orbit when that occurred, or
were you—was there some flutter that, you know, this may shut
us down and we may not make it into a safe orbit?
Haise: Yeah, there was a brief episode
that from where I was on the right side, at least, certainly you felt
the vibrations… for a few seconds, like the feel of maybe a
holding a jackhammer kind of an effect. And it went away. Then over
on the left side, of course, Jim and Jack could see the center engine
light come on that it had shut down and reported it. My main concern
then was not, “Could we reach Earth orbit?” But, “Would
we have enough fuel left to still commit to the lunar mission?”
Haise: —I thought we’d probably
end up in Earth orbit, flying an alternate mission, which we did have
in our plan.
Ward: Is that because with that engine
shut down, you were going to have to tap into some of the third-stage
propellant to make a safe orbit?
Ward: And that wouldn’t leave
you enough then to make the translunar —
Haise: Make the commit to leave Earth
orbit for the Moon.
Ward: I guess you did have to get into
that propellant a little bit to make orbit.
Haise: Yes, we did. We had the longest
insertion time of the program.
Ward: Yeah. But I think, as I recall,
it was (what?) normally about 8 or 9 minutes to—for a Saturn
V to put you in Earth orbit—
Haise: I don’t remember the exact
numbers, but I know it was the longest.
Ward: Yeah. But it—but the engine
did give you a physical sensation before it shut down that something
was not right?
Haise: Well, yes. It—what happened
was, there was a[n] instability in the feed to the engine called—an
effect called Pogo. And that varies the thrust level considerably;
and that variance in thrust, you know, resulted in a chug, if you
will… a vertical chug up the stack. That gave us this chatter,
and, as I understand it, pegged out the accelerometers on that center
engine, which is on a set of crossbeams. Later talking to Marshall
people, they were happy it did its shutdown when it did, when it hit
a low pressure point. Because much greater excursions in that g-level
may have caused structural damage to that crossbeam effect and, of
course, even more catastrophic effects.
Ward: Yeah. [Recorder turned off.]
Ward: Fred, we were talking about your
launch on Apollo 13 and the shutdown of that center engine on the
second stage. So you did, as it turns out, have adequate propellant
not only to make a safe orbit but to get you enroute to the Moon.
And, as I recall then, the early parts of your flight were really
very uneventful from that point up until the oxygen tank exploded
when you were about two-thirds of the way to the Moon.
Did you have any inclination when that first happened that you had
that kind of a serious problem when the tank exploded? Or was it still—was
it obviously a potential showstopper in your minds, or was this just
something that, “Hey, what was that?” And go about finding
out what kind of a problem you really had?
Haise: Well, I’ll speak from my
standpoint. I—at the time of the explosion, I was in the lunar
module. I was still buttoning up and putting away equipment from a
TV show we had completed, and really we—subsequently we were
going to get ready and go to sleep. I knew it was a real happening,
and I knew it was not normal and serious at—just at that instant.
I did not necessarily know that it was life-threatening. Obviously
I didn’t know what had caused it.
Within a very short time, though, I had drifted up into the command
and service module to my normal position on the right, which encompasses
a number of systems (the electrical system, cryogenics, fuel cells,
communication, environmental systems). And [then] I was just looking
at the array of warning lights (and there were quite a number on,
at the time, lit, these red and yellow lights and a caution warning
light matrix as well as a computer restart light and a master alarm
on). It was confusion in my mind because we had never had a single
credible failure that would have caused that number of lights on at
One thing, though, just looking over the instrument panel that became
very clear in short order was the fact that the pressure meter, the
temperature, and the quantity meter needles for one of the oxygen
tanks was down in the bottom of their gauges. These are different
sensors, so it was unlikely that this was false. So it effectively
told me we had lost one oxygen tank.
My emotions at that time went to just a sick feeling in the pit of
my stomach, because I knew by Mission Rules, without reference, that
that meant the cancellation of the lunar mission. We were in an abort
mode but still not life-threatening, because we had a second oxygen
tank, I thought, which looked to be still there. And we’d have
stayed fully powered-up and then just took an abort mode to come back
home in a—with everything fully powered.
It took some minutes to become obvious that there was, for whatever
reason,—that there was a leak that the explosion had caused
in the second oxygen tank. Either the tank or one of the lines. And—but
a small leak. And when that—when it became obvious it was dwindling
or losing oxygen, then the handwriting was on the wall that the command
module was going to die and have to be powered-down. Because without
fuel cells all that was left was three small batteries, 44 Amp-hours
each, that we were going to need to execute an entry when we got back.
So it was going to have to get turned off. So that’s kind of
the emotional cycle I went through in this period.
We probably failed to communicate properly in that early period to
the—to Mission Control to tell them about the—not just
the sound (the bang) but also about what we saw out the window. Because
even then, when I first got back into position in the command and
service module, out the window was a sea of debris around the vehicle.
And had we reported that, I think Mission Control in a much quicker
time would have gotten up to speed in the same way that: this was
real and not a false set of readings or instrumentation failure, which
I think they wrestled with for a—some 18 minutes if I recall.
Ward: You know if you go back and look
at the transcripts, there was obviously a period of time in the control
center where, at least in the minds of some of the controllers (if
not all of them), there was still a possibility of saving the lunar
mission. And yet, I think what you’re saying is that from the
crew’s point of view, that possibility had long since gone away.
Haise: Oh absolutely. Within probably
the first minute to 2 minutes, I knew we had lost the mission.
Ward: As the crew’s lunar module
expert, once it became apparent that you were going to have to use
the lunar module as a lifeboat (a role that it really was not designed
for), how confident were you that it could be used for that?
Haise: Well I was confident it would
power-up and provide the resources we needed for a time. What was
not clear to me just instantly was that it—we could make it
last as long as we had to make it last; namely, roughly 4 days. I
did have a point—at—after we had completed the first—the
activation and then the first maneuver using the landing engine to
get us back on a course that would take us around the Moon—to
do some back-of-the-envelope arithmetic on a—on a checklist
(which I still have that page at home), that I calculated the consumables
on a power-down I assumed. And I figured we would run out of—the
critical element (for me at that point was water) that we would run
out of about 5 hours before what was then the entry time in the plan
that had been conceived.
I felt safe with that because I also had data from LM-5 on Apollo
11, where we left that one in orbit. Before Neil and Buzz left it,
they turned off the water valve, deliberately, as an engineering test.
And the first major component in any system—one of the guidance
and nav [navigation] components failed at 8 hours.
Ward: Well this was because, without
water you can’t cool it and the temperature goes up and it shuts
Haise: You can’t cool it and it
never—right, and it would fail. And so, just based on that one
data point, at least, I figured we had maybe enough margin to make
it even in a case of running out of water 5 hours before entry interface.
Ward: So water ended up being the most
critical component or consumable on the spacecraft?
Haise: No. Actually the most critical
consumable I didn’t consider. That was the lithium cartridges.
It didn’t even occur to me that we had these cartridges. LiOH
or lithium cartridges were used to scrub carbon dioxide out of the
air, and I completely forgot about it. The only spares in the LM were
down on the MESA, a thing you would have deployed on the lunar surface.
And frankly, there wasn’t enough spares, as I recall, to have
sufficed anyway for 4 days. So that was the commodity we had the shortest
(quote) “supply of.” And the ground—the people on
the ground subsequently worked out the way of implementing the use
of the square, a different shape cartridge, from the command module,
which there were an abundance of, to deploy in in the lunar module.
Ward: Did you ever reach the point where
the buildup of carbon dioxide was becoming noticeable in the atmosphere
in the lunar module?
Haise: As I recall, we did break the
red line and got a master alarm on. But I never felt physically any
effects… at that level.
Ward: One of the things that I recall
there was quite a bit of debate about (I don’t remember how
long it went on) was whether or not to use all the available propulsion,
turn the spacecraft around, and head it back to Earth as quickly as
possible, or go on around the Moon, use the Moon’s gravity to
send the spacecraft back. A little bit longer, but it didn’t
require using the service module engine. Did you have any hope that
that service module engine would’ve worked if it had been needed?
Haise: Well we were not involved in
that set of arguments, again, and the choice made. I frankly would
only say now in a historical sense, I’m glad they didn’t
make that choice. What we saw when we separated the service module,
just before entry and took a lot of pictures [of] but also observed,
it looked like the high-gain antenna that protruded out near the rear
of the service module had been bent over and actually had impacted
the engine bell on that SPS (service propulsion system) engine. And
if—obviously, if it [had] either cracked it or dented it even
slightly, we would have probably had an instability in effecting the
use of that engine and it may have even exploded. So it was a good
Ward: Yeah. I think when people saw
the pictures that you brought back, they would have agreed with that.
So as it turned out, you ended up completing an orbit around the Moon
using the Moon’s gravity to head you back to Earth. And, what
was your recollection of the high points and the low points in that
transition back to Earth?
Haise: Well again, it’s—there
wasn’t too many high points. Probably the best, at least to
have that opportunity, was to view the Moon as we went by, which is
quite a different variety body than the Earth (it’s rather lifeless),
and to get to see the backside, which is quite different from the
front. Mountainous, very hilly, only a very few small mares or seas,
the so-called smooth areas. And that was exciting. Jack Swigert and
I both had cameras out and shot quite a number of pictures while we
passed by briefly.
The lows probably came as the ensuing days, when the cold—the
vehicle had gotten very cold. There was no temperature meter in the
lunar module, but I would suspect it’s 40—35 to 40 degrees
[Fahrenheit], somewhere in that range, because it froze the water
tanks in the command and service module. So I suspect with the little
equipment we were running, we were a little warmer than freezing but
not a lot. And that kind of wore on you after a while.
We did not have adequate clothing to handle that situation. We did
put on all our—all—every pair of underwear we had in the
vehicle. Jim Lovell and I wore our lunar boots, the boots we would
normally put over our spacesuit boots on the lunar surface.
But the material in the clothing we wore, the two-piece suits (the
pants and the shirts) because of the earlier loss of the crew in the
fire had been changed along with a lot of other materials in the vehicle
to a beta-cloth material, which tended to fray so it was coated with
Teflon to prevent fraying. And that Teflon just almost assumed the
temperature of the environment, so it was kind of like wearing a cold
coat or a cold pair of pants. With—without a—some—probably
some degree of insulation value, but not what you’d normally
have even if it had been plain cotton material.
Ward: How quickly after you got into
the lunar module and began to power things down did it start to get
Haise: From our power-down it probably
took almost a day to get, you know, all the way down. Because there
was lag, thermal lag, and—from where the vehicle set at (call
it) “normal” temperatures to lose that much heat transfer
without the compensating heat from all the equipment being on that
no longer was on.
Ward: But you were in a passive thermal
control mode, as I recall, rotating the vehicle so it got constant
exposure on all sides to the Sun. Did that help much?
Haise: We were, (I’ll call it)
in a “pseudo” passive control mode. We had great difficulty
manually setting it up as you would have done through the computer
in the command and service module. So it was continually rolling,
but not in a perfect alignment with the normal X axis of the one through
the center. So it was kind of cavorting in various directions. So
I’m not sure it was really getting an even heating all—in
Ward: How did the ground and the flight
crew work together during this period of time to handle this great
concern that I know everybody had about having to throw out 6 months’
worth of procedures and checklists and start from scratch? And was
that a big concern from the crew’s point of view?
Haise: There was a big concern from
my standpoint in with one respect, and that was just knowing that
for the situation we had—with the loss of the mother ship, of
the command and service module, and even though using the LM as a
lifeboat had been conceived—I knew there was no hard procedure
and no hard (say, hard) alternate flight plan that someone could go
grab off a shelf and say, “This is what we’re going to
use.” So I knew there had to be a lot of brain-power brought
to bear to invent this alternate plan in real time. And that some
of that real time started immediately.
For instance, the lunar module power-up: We used an activation checklist,
but that was quite lengthy, to be used in lunar orbit to prepare the
vehicle for landing. And we were time critical, so that was done totally
ad hoc with the live communication through the Capcom to those in—the
flight director and those in Mission Control to ascertain what we
would leave out of the power-up. What we would cut out. …As
I went through the pages, I had a Pentel pen [and] I would just "X"
through segments of that activation procedure. We just rapidly moved
It was interesting that when Jim Lovell and I, after the flight, went
just out of curiosity—went back into a lunar module simulator,
we could not replicate the time of that activation in… the nice,
calm conditions of a ground simulator that we had done in flight.
Ward: You couldn’t do it as quickly?
Haise: Couldn’t do it as quickly.
So I’m guessing, adrenaline does help.
Ward: Well of course one of the concerns
is that, with a complex vehicle that’s already crippled as this
one was, that if something is done out of sequence or a process isn’t
followed in precisely the right order, that some additional damage
may be done. And I recall that the flight directors at the time seemed
to be most concerned that, even though they had the situation under
control, that if a mistake were made that this narrow margin would
Haise: That’s absolutely correct.
I have to give my hats off to the crispness of response, as I said,
in this (call it) “ad hoc” mode. To me the two biggest
challenges and the times I felt the most pressure during the flight
was, number one, the lunar module activation and the haste at which
we had to do that. The second one was the power-up of the command
and service module, the mother ship, which Jack Swigert and I executed.
Because it was an—again, a very—well, a new, had to be
invented, procedure by people on the ground that we had never done
And anything of that nature, had we known we were going to do it before
flight, we’d have practiced it dozens of times in a simulator.
And here we could only read through it a few times, which we did,
and sort of walk through the switches and circuit breakers as to the
play of that power-up. But then [we] had to do it, again, in a fairly
Ward: Now was this when you were getting
ready to come back from the lunar module to the command module to
Haise: Come back to it to prepare it
for entry. Right.
Haise: And that was the second time
I felt a great deal of pressure. Because it—we were going to
have one shot at it and it had to be right.
Ward: Of course it was a real tribute
to that vehicle, that it withstood being powered down, frozen, inactive
for all that period of time and then came back to life and did its
mission, to get you back through the atmosphere.
Haise: Absolutely. I was—you could
say the case for both vehicles, the lunar module to the degree we
took the power-down and the temperatures that… violated every
redline specification on literally every system in that vehicle. And
similarly so in the command and service module, which obviously had
never planned to be shut down.
Ward: Were you aware at the time of
the intense worldwide interest that had developed over your plight
in getting back?
Haise: No. We were not. That was never
discussed on the airways, you know, what (quote) “the reception”
might be by people in the U.S. or around the world. In the back of
my mind I had a concern that it might be taken negatively. That, you
know, here we had failed. It was planned to be the third landing mission
and we weren’t going to accomplish it, and I could envision
the headlines of, you know: “NASA Wastes $100M” or something
on this mission that failed.
And it was the kind of thing that bothered me not from the standpoint
of I felt I was the cause of the failure, but being a part of the
team as a whole, you just didn’t want to be a part of, you know,
a mission that failed. And then frankly I worried that it may affect
the program in some way, or even halt the program, and I certainly
wouldn’t want that on my record, that I was involved in something
that, you know, caused that.
Ward: And of course the mission was
a failure, but it was not perceived that way. It’s viewed today
as one of NASA’s shining moments. Do you—?
Haise: Well, I think in—that for
whatever reason, I guess it was because we were human beings and people
saw us as in trouble and saw the work that had been done, and had
admiration and—the salvage operations, if you will, that enabled
us to get home. It reflected more on that human interest side of it
rather than the other side of, you know, what monetary side of it
and what wasn’t accomplished in the original intent of the mission,
which I’m very grateful for.
I think it—you know, clearly it offers a graphic example and
a very dramatic example, which is why it was chosen for a movie versus
other missions, which were more successful obviously. …It does
make it very clear, you know, what can happen if you do have…
the right people, the right skill mix, that are trained and they’re
assembled in this team and they work together under the right leadership.
You know, what a miracle can happen. And that’s what was the
case of Apollo 13.
Ward: Were you surprised at the time
by the outpouring of public sentiment worldwide after you had gotten
Haise: Yeah. Particularly worldwide.
I—you know, I figured that when I saw that, that was the thought
people had, I certainly felt [that in] the United States that would
be the case because, you know, it was predominately a United States
program at that point. But I was really surprised by that worldwide
effect. And as I saw that personally in visits—we made State
Department trips to various countries—and I saw that effect
as we went overseas.
Ward: You alluded to the fact that,
even though you didn’t get to conduct the lunar landing, you
did get a view that very few people have had, and that was a nice
close-up view of the Moon. Did you have much of a chance to see the
Moon as you were approaching it? Or was that time when you went behind
the Moon and started the free-return trajectory back to Earth the
only real close-up view you got of it?
Haise: No. That was the time we—as
we passed around the backside and came out was the only time we had
to really observe [it]. And as I said, we—Jack Swigert and I
at least got cameras out and took a lot of pictures. We had a maneuver,
another use of the LM landing engine, scheduled a couple of hours
after we passed the Moon the low point around the backside. And Jim
kind of cut short our touristing looking at the view to make sure
we got ready to execute that maneuver, which was a very critical part
of the plan because that cut our time short by, I think, 10 or 11
hours, which really made our consumables then pretty healthy.
Ward: Of course Lovell had been there
once before. So he—
Haise: Jim had been there. And I think
he was, again, having been there now twice, he was, I think, bothered
more at that point, maybe, by the fact he had lost a chance to land.
And of course he being the commander, I guess in that respect he’d
clearly feel more accountability for the total happenings than if
you’re the rookies like Jack and I, that for all we knew we
might—I might even get back.
Ward: One of the things that was, of
course, a concern was using the lunar module engine to do something
that it really—and the lunar module to do something it hadn’t
been designed to do, and that’s to propel the whole spacecraft
stack, docked with the command module. Would you have been confident
doing that if we hadn’t had the tests of that system in that
mode on Apollo 9?
Haise: Well, it—yeah. I was going
to—I was going to correct you that it had been thought of as
being used for really for the purpose of the failure of the service
propulsion system engine on the command and service module as you
entered lunar orbit. If it failed at certain times, you would use
the LM descent engine to do that. No, clearly it added a lot of validity
to that being an acceptable—not the—not from the standpoint
of the engine running but from the standpoint of control of the stack—the
guidance, nav [navigation], and control—to have had that done
on Jim McDivitt’s Apollo 9 mission. And that was the purpose,
[it] was to prove out that use of that engine for—in LM to handle
that abort mode.
Ward: You had one other technical problem
as I recall, and that was the ability to align the platform for that
important engine burn. You had to have an accurately aligned guidance
platform. Now what was involved in getting that done?
Haise: Well it—there were two
alignments that we had to deal with. The first one, frankly, was done
by—right after the LM powered up (if we’re backing up
to then) by taking the noun 20 or the gimbal angles’ readouts
from the command and service module, which had a good alignment, and
manually we had to convert those to the LM axes and account for the
misalignment in the tunnel.
We had marks in the tunnel. When you docked, you didn’t always
get zero-zero, so we had a yaw misalignment to deal with, which we
mathematically manually cranked in and keystroked those into the LM
computer, and that torqued the platform to that alignment. So that
was the way we devised the initial alignment of the lunar module platform,
which was normal—which was done in normal activation.
Ward: And that—at that point,
the command module was still a functioning vehicle?
Haise: Still a functioning vehicle.
And that frankly was also the time criticality of power-up, was to
get that alignment done. Because we knew we’d be in deep trouble
getting a good alignment if we had not executed that in time before
the command module died because of that sea of debris around us. We—you
couldn’t see stars. I mean, a little ways away from the spacecraft,
those charred pieces of the thermal blanket, shiny material, or the
frozen oxygen, they looked like stars.
Ward: Of course they just stayed right
on—right with you.
Haise: Stayed with us. So the second
alignment was done to do two manual burns. And that was done fairly
simplistic. And what was—the way that was done was there was
a sight in the commander’s window called a COAS [Crewman Optical
Alignment Sight] (sort of like a gun sight) and with that Jim Lovell
aligned roll on the—using the points of the cusp of the Earth.
It was a half-Earth. And with that alignment, he would pitch the vehicle
until I could pick up the Sun looking out the periscope, which was
an AOT [Alignment Optical Telescope ] in the LM; at the upper point
of that view was up about 60 degrees. So when the Sun first peered
in that, I’d tell Jim to “Freeze” and he’d
stop the maneuver and then I keystroked in a small, low-power backup
computer (a body axis freeze), which would give you crossed needles
on your eight ball.
And if you kept those centered, that would freeze at that attitude
we were at. So from that—with that for use for attitude control,
we executed two manual [maneuvers]. …One manual stop-start of
the descent engine, a very short burn (19 or 21 seconds, something
of that sort), and then a second maneuver later using that same alignment
protocol, using 4-jet, 100-pound rockets on the LM for again another
velocity change to effect our entry path.
Ward: This was to set you up on that
very entry—very narrow entry corridor that you had to have to
Haise: Right. That was to get aligned
for the entry corridor.
Ward: But the guidance platform had
been, as you pointed out, aligned early on. Was the concern that it
would have, in that amount of time, drifted off? You needed to assure
that it was still accurate before doing that course correction enroute
back to Earth?
Haise: That’s correct. Yeah that—well,
if you look at it, obviously every one of the maneuvers were important
and had to be reasonably accurate. Probably the two most paramount
would have been the one that first got us on the right path to go
around the Moon; and the second one, which reshaped the trajectory
to get the 10 hours’ relief on the return. The others were coarser
burns which, obviously, if they’d tracked a while and saw that
it didn’t turn out right, we could have repeated those. They
were very small maneuvers; tweaks, I guess is the terminology used.
We could have executed several of those.
Ward: Of course one of the things that
was significantly different about your entry into the Earth’s
atmosphere from previous Apollo missions is that you still had the
lunar module attached as you approached Earth and [you] had to get
rid of it. Was there any concern that the lunar module and command
module might collide as you were coming back into the atmosphere?
Haise: No. I didn’t worry because
that was again part of the plan that Mission Control had worked out.
We set up an attitude and pressurized the tunnel—between the
two vehicles. So when we separated the lunar module (and it was quite
a jolt), it actually projected [the lunar module] away from us out
to the side.
So it dramatically changed its path, so as, again, to lessen that
likelihood that we would have this collision.
Ward: But that is something that had
to be taken into account. But you just felt it was properly planned
Haise: Oh yeah. That was—it was
just part of that final set of steps that had to get done. Before
that even, the attitude at which we separated the service module in
a similar way to make sure it—we wouldn’t drift back into
it when we separated and shot the pictures to try to collect the—that
piece of data to support the accident investigation.
Ward: I would imagine after you had
gotten back in the command module [and] had its full power more or
less available to you that this cold situation took care of itself.
Things warmed up pretty rapidly at that point, didn’t they?
Haise: Yes, it did. And it—we
powered up some of the things on the LM earlier, too, so that—the
combine of the two when we knew we had adequate power left in the
lunar module, you know, it felt great. Because it did get pretty much
[get] back to the normal temperature by the time we hit entry interface.
Ward: Probably a very nice sight to
look out the window and see those parachutes above you.
Haise: That’s the time in Apollo
where you really knew you had it made, when you could see the final
deployment of the main chutes—at least two of the three. You
knew then that there was probably nothing else could go wrong till
you splashed down.
Ward: Well you mentioned that, in your mind and probably in Jack Swigert’s,
there might be other chances; and of course you were on backup crews
for other lunar missions. Were you pretty confident then that you
would get another chance to go back to the Moon?
Haise: Well yes, I was. I knew that
the program had been altered in the flow of the schedules because
they had injected Skylab in between what was then to be the ending
missions, which would be Apollo 18 and 19. Having cycled to Apollo
16 as the commander behind John Young, with an initial crew assignment
of Bill Pogue [William R. Pogue] as the command module pilot and Jerry
Carr [Gerald P. Carr] as the lunar module pilot, I did hope and expected
that I would get a chance to cycle through that backup assignment
and be—we would be the crew for Apollo 19, which at that time
was advertised as the last mission of the program.
Ward: Yeah. So it was a very good prospect
that you would have made an Apollo flight and had that opportunity
to walk on the Moon, until those last two flights got canceled.
Haise: Yeah. I don’t recall how
many—how long we were in that training cycle. Probably a couple
of months (2 or 3 months) where that eventuality did happen. 18 and
19 were canceled. Bill Pogue and Jerry Carr were cycled then into
the Skylab Program to give them an opportunity to fly. And I inherited
Stu Roosa [Stuart A. Roosa] and Ed Mitchell [Edgar D. Mitchell] off
of 14 to complete that deadhead backup assignment.
Ward: In a sense, ironically, the loss
of Apollo 13 and the near-loss of the crew on that mission was probably
a factor in the decision to cut short the remainder of the program.
Haise: I can’t—I cannot
really attest to—not having been involved in that decision-making,
what was the cause. I frankly surmised it was more one of budgeting.
And the hiatus of the—of trying to cycle through Skylab and
then get back in the (quote) “lunar mode” over a fair
number of years, it would [drag] that out. And the thought of the
Agency of getting on with the next program, whatever that may be.
I guess in those days there was probably still a buy-in between Space
Station or Shuttle (let’s call it (quote) “the next step”).
And so I think it was that concern of not having sufficient budget
to both continue as well as have sufficient budget to get the next
program under way.
Ward: And of course there wasn’t
much beyond that, that the Shuttle became a very serious consideration;
and the costs associated with—
Ward: —getting the Shuttle off
the ground were a big factor.
Haise: Yeah. And there was probably
a—certainly a feeling of risk versus gain. We were flying vehicles
that were, at best, redundant and two string. And, you know, rather
precarious sitting out at the Moon. So it probably was, you know,
from the landings that had been made or were already committed to
be made, there was probably in NASA’s management’s view
a risk versus gain of, you know, “Should we take this hiatus
from the program and then come back at it again and have that—face
the risk of eventually losing a crew?”
Ward: Of course in hindsight, you know
many of the people in the country today weren’t around when
Apollo flew, but it’s perceived as being the highpoint of NASA’s
career as a space agency. And yet, in reality, in addition to the
crew that we lost in the Apollo fire, there were a number of really
close calls in the Apollo Program.
Haise: Well, I think that the reason
it’s looked at that way are several. One is the mission. I mean,
there’s no question the thought of going to the Moon in those
days, you know, was paramount obviously, and obviously something people
could envision and there’s no question it was [an] exceptional
challenge. So that—just that picture of what you were having
accomplished in Apollo [made] it obviously… a major engineering
challenge. Probably in the 20th century, only—the only tougher
one or equal… was the Manhattan Project, driven in a similar
way on a time domain, too, that evolved the atomic weapons.
So clearly it stood out in that regard. Shuttle in its own right [was
a challenge], though, it’s unfortunate because the mission did
not have the same hype as going to the Moon. But there are facets
of the Shuttle and the Shuttle design that if you stick with the engineering
side were very tough problems. In fact, for instance, guidance, nav
[navigation], and control, particularly the control system evolution
in Shuttle [was] more difficult. It’s a more difficult problem
than the Apollo vehicles. The tile (the design of the tile), which
was key to having a reusable vehicle, was a big, difficult engineering
So there are facets of Shuttle that also, if you look at it from NASA
as a developer in new technology and pushing the frontier, it had
its own frontiers that it’s—it pushed. And frankly [has]
done exceptionally well.
Ward: Well of course, at the end of
Apollo you moved into a Shuttle management and flight test position.
And, is that the sequence that really precluded your flying in Skylab,
the fact that you were on one of the late crew assignments and then
moved into Shuttle?
Haise: No. The only choice I had in
that time period was to be a—I was asked by Chris if I would
consider being a member of the Apollo-Soyuz crew. And I—in my
discussion with Chris (I don’t remember the exact words), but
basically what I felt I could do the Agency better because of my past
experience and Edwards experience with… some degree with winged
reentry vehicles, that I could serve better by skipping that and going
on to Shuttle. And in fact, …to support the Shuttle management.
And so I actually… left the Astronaut Office for about 3½
years to work under Aaron Cohen in the Orbiter Project Office, to
work through that whole evolvement of early design of Shuttle.
Ward: And of course, in a lot of respects
the Shuttle was much more of a test pilot’s vehicle than any
of our previous spacecraft had been.
Haise: Certainly from—yeah. Certainly
from a stick and rudder, as we’d say, piloting role of view,
clearly it’s a winged vehicle. Certainly entry at least, entry
through landing. Going uphill it’s much the same vernacular
as previous, except the stack configuration’s different.
And the wings and the tail feathers of the fin [are] really an encumbrance
on ascent. You’d just as soon not have them. They’re kind
in the way. You got to worry about them not being overstressed. But
certainly for entry, landing, it’s a piloting machine.
Ward: And of course the Shuttle introduced
us, from an astronaut’s point of view, into a totally new regime
of having to come back through the atmosphere at hypersonic velocities
and then to begin to fly it at supersonic and land at subsonic with
a lot of new computer technology involved.
Haise: Well that I didn’t mention
it, but the—you mentioned it just now. Referring to computers.
That was the other technology jump, I would say, in Shuttle was to
get the sync [synchronized] set or redundant set of four computers
to work together and actually by data comparison to do voting of both
the sensors on the ends as well as the computational aspects of what
was going on within the computers. But clearly the control system
was the most complex that had been devised to that date because it
almost was—it was several control systems.
There was one control system for very early entry, where the air was
still very thin and you’re at a very high angle of attack, and
in some axes, more use of the rocket engines than aerodynamic surfaces.
Then a blending, in an intermediate range, of a combination of aerodynamic
surfaces and rocket engines were needed. And finally to a pure aerodynamic
stage, which probably didn’t truly happen to be [like] a normal
airplane, including the rudder even in the mix, to below Mach 5. So
from there on, it was reasonably conventional as we would think of
an airplane control system.
Ward: Of course you mentioned that you
were out of the Astronaut Office for 3 years as a manager. This was
the period of time, as I recall, when the approach and landing tests
were beginning to take shape under Deke Slayton. And from your vantage
point in management, I wonder what your perception was of Deke as
a manager, [who] previously had been your boss in the astronaut corps,
now he’s a colleague, manager over an important part of the
Haise: Well I frankly was very happy
with Deke to volunteer for that role, which is what he did, because
of his background. I mean, we had no one, in my mind, that was at
Johnson Space Center at the time that was better suited to take on
that role. And I think it was reflected in the way the program went.
We missed the first free-flight release from the 747 only 2 weeks
from a schedule that had been made several years before.
We completed the program (I forget), it was like 4 or 5 months earlier
than we’d planned—which is almost unheard of in a test
program, certainly something as complex as the Orbiter (even that
vintage Orbiter) was. And I think that was Deke’s leadership
in pulling together both the contingent of NASA, which involved a
lot of integration of Kennedy Space Center people and Dryden NASA
people, as well as the contractor Rockwell in that phase.
Ward: You know, certainly, it would
not—to the outside viewer—have been the norm of the Shuttle
Program, which was experiencing very highly—widely publicized
delays and schedule problems and budget problems. And yet as you point
out, the approach and landing test phase came through very nicely
in both those respects.
Haise: Now it was—to me it was
just remarkable. I mean, I’d been involved in the test business
before, and one example is: We did have a problem on Joe Engle [Joe
H. Engle] and Dick Truly’s [Richard H. Truly] second flight—second
free flight, where they had a leak in a hydrazine tank on the APU
[Auxiliary Power Unit] system, which did damage some wire bundles.
And they turned that around, if I recall, in 9 days’…
including weekends, which caused Gordo [Charles. G. Fullerton] and
I, we really, even for the simple kind of flight plan we had to fly,
we were pushed to be ready with the training to make that next flight.
Turn[ed] it around in 9 days flat.
Ward: You flew (what?) two of the captive
flight tests and three of the free flights?
Haise: Yeah. I flew a total of five
of the total eight flight program. …Again we cut the captive
short. We only did three; originally I think we had five of those
planned, but we got what we needed in three. And then we flew five
free flights. Gordo [Charles G.] Fullerton and I flew three of the
Ward: Right. And Fullerton was your
second in command on all of those?
Haise: That’s correct.
Ward: Did that require you getting back
into the Astronaut Office?
Haise: Oh yes. No, I’d cycled
back into the Astronaut Office probably about a year before that first
free flight. And in that role, we went back to the more traditional
role, even before flight, of being a participant in the testing of
the real hardware at Palmdale [California] (in that case), involvement
with the software development and the discrepancies that were showing
up in the loads, both through our simulation, which could accurately
work that because we had real IBM-101 computers that were being used
in the simulation of Shuttle.
So when the new software load came, the problems we saw in the simulator
were identical to what you would see in the real vehicle or in SAIL
[Shuttle Avionics Integration Laboratory], which is [an] avionics
test facility here at Johnson Space Center. So we had all those kind
of involvements working with Mission Control people again and in that
same timeframe, defining the flight plans, procedures; and with the
Test people at the NASA and the contractors, where the vehicles were
being put together.
Ward: While it’s not unusual in
an aircraft program, in a space—in the space program, it was
a bit of an anomaly to fly a vehicle manned for the first time. We’d
always done unmanned test flights. Was this any particular concern
or consideration from your point of view?
Haise: No. Certainly not for the approach
and landing test. It would have been very difficult to have devised
a scheme, in my view, to have flown that program unmanned. I guess
you could’ve used an RF link and really had a pilot on a stick
on the ground like they have flown some other programs. But to totally
mechanically program it to do that, and inherent within the vehicle,
would have been very difficult for that part of the program.
There was on the orbital program initially a planned unmanned flight.
Again it was of great complexity, and handling the myriad of potential
system problems you—would occur to automate that. One of—one
of the (call it) “vehicle shortcomings” that showed up
in approach and landing tests, things we missed, was in redundancy
management. So there was a lot of lessons learned… that were
put into improvements, if you will, into the orbital version. But
even with that, with a crew aboard, even though they might not be
aboard on the day of launch to fly the vehicle, to be there in a systems
diagnostic and be able to handle the multitude of things that you
could work around, just inherently made the success potential of a
flight a lot greater.
Ward: Was the astronaut corps, and particularly
Young [John W. Young] and Crippen [Robert L. Crippen] who were scheduled
to fly the first orbital mission, were they among the strong proponents
for doing it with a crew onboard at first flight?
Haise: Absolutely. And the Program Office
were all—Charlie Duke [Charles M. Duke, Jr.], at that time,
was working (I think) for Mr. Cheatham [Donald C. Cheatham]. And Charlie
set off on and did a study—on that manned versus unmanned with
the pros and cons. That was reviewed, you know, at least through Bob
Thompson [Robert F. Thompson] here at Johnson and I’m sure followed
up in Headquarters reviews. That kind of sold that as the baseline.
Ward: You had a chance to observe—I
don’t know how close you were—to the—or how much
knowledge you have of the Russian system, but on the surface at least,
the Russian Space Shuttle, the Buran, looks almost like a carbon copy
of NASA’s Orbiter.
Haise: Well I’m sure—again
I don’t know that much personally. In fact, I’ve never
been to Russia. But you’re right; it’s clear it’s
a carbon copy from the—pretty much the mold line aspects. Which
has great advantages. It’s obviously a vehicle configuration,
aerodynamically, you know would work. It eases a lot of their cost
and time for wind tunnel testing, to some degree, in considering variations
and things that you do in simulations (closed-loop simulations). So
it short-cut to a great degree of (call it) homework they might have
had to do from just the aerodynamics and control—guidance and
Now as far as the systems onboard [go], I have no idea how much they
replicated the guts of computing systems or environmental systems.
Probably have very little similarity to Shuttle for all I knew.
Ward: Yeah. And of course on the other
hand, too, the similarities in the mission or the role you have for
an intended vehicle will have a lot to do with shaping what it looks
Haise: Yes. We were driven on Shuttle
by—within the design phase—what were called design reference
missions. If I recall, there was five of them, and one of them had
an A and B variation. They had some resemblance to what you might
consider real missions, but the—but at the same time, some aspects
of design reference missions I’ll say [were] falsified to the
degree you’d probably never fly the mission that way. But were
meant to challenge the design, to make the design margins encompass
virtually—a mission set you might fly. And different designs
pushed different aspects of the design. And so by having this set
of them, you kind of covered the spectrum of what you might ultimately
have to face in flying the vehicle through (what I call) the “real”
Ward: Describe for us the way the free-flight
test off the back of the 747 worked and what the vehicle was like
to fly for the first time. How did it compare with the simulators
and so on?
Haise: The real flights on the back
of 747 were unusual in a couple of respects, one a real surprise.
When we first rode on top, you couldn’t see the 747, no matter
how, you know, you’d lean over and try to look out the side
window or—it just—you couldn’t view any part of
Ward: Not even a wingtip?
Haise: Not even a wingtip. So it was
kind of like a magic carpet ride, you know. You’re just moving
along the ground and then you take off. And something below you, you
knew it was there, but you couldn’t see what was taking you
aloft. It was also deceptive sitting up that high. Things always looked
like it was going slower than it was, for your taxiing and particularly
the first takeoff I really thought Fitz had rotated too early. It
didn’t look like we were going fast enough.
Haise: Fitz Fulton, who was flying—
Ward: —who was flying the 747.
Haise: Yeah, he was the 747 pilot at
that time. And when he rotated, I said [to myself], “We’re
not going fast enough to make it off the ground.” In other aspects,
airborne there was not too much unusual. The unusual thing we faced,
though, that we—I don’t think we thought of, frankly,
late in the program, approaching flight, was to have to do a taxi
test backwards from the way you would normally do it in an airplane.
In an airplane, you have a jet engine or a reciprocating engine, and
you normally approach flight test by first of all doing some taxi
tests around the ramp and then some runs down the runway, progressively
getting faster and faster. And finally you reach the day in the test
program you take off and start doing the flight test portion. Well
we had no way of doing taxi tests, because the Orbiter—our Orbiter,
Enterprise, had no engines.
And so we were going to have to face doing taxi tests from the upper
end of the speed spectrum backwards. In other words after we landed
at 190 knots or so, somewhere down that rollout we were going to do
taxi tests. And we did it by each flight—first flight starting
it at a very low speed. Didn’t touch anything till we got down
slow. The lakebed allowed that [with] a very wide expanse on the Rogers
dry lake at Edwards Air Force Base. And then each flight, step it
backwards up the speed spectrum to check out braking and nosewheel
steering at progressively higher speeds. So that’s the way,
a very unusual way, taxi tests were done on Enterprise.
The only other concern that I had, and it was because we did it differently
in terms of aircraft preparation, [was] flight tests. Normally you
do full loads on control surfaces in a flight aerodynamic load sense
to integrate the whole control system before you fly by using weights
and things [on the ground]. And here we’re going to we didn’t
have that luxury. But we did have the advantage of being on top of
the 747, so through very small control motion on top of the 747 we
were getting real air loads, although not through—we couldn’t
do it through full control sweeps. Structurally, the stanchions couldn’t
have stood that with the Orbiter on top. So we did that testing—part
of the testing a little bit different than the normal protocol in
an aircraft program.
Ward: Was that a cost factor?
Haise: No. I think it was just the ability
to productively do that within the facilities that we had at hand.
But as far as the handling, that question you asked: To me it handled,
even at the first flight, it was very clear it handled better in a
piloting sense, a piloting rating sense, than we had seen in any simulation—either
our mission simulators or the Shuttle training aircraft. The term
I use is: it was tighter. Crisper, in terms of control inputs and
selecting a new attitude in any axis, and being able to hold that
attitude, it was just a better-handling vehicle than we had seen in
the simulations, although they were close.
The landing also was a pleasant surprise from the standpoint of ground
effect. Ground effect is a phenomenon you run into… when you
get within one wingspan height of the ground, you start running into
air-cushioning effects, which can, depending on the vehicle’s
shape or configuration, it can be very different. In fact our variations
we had to consider in the Orbiter, looking at the worst-case aerodynamic
variations: on one side we called it the “vacuum sweep,”
where if you got down low it would actually tend to suck you into
the ground. And if you were at too high a sync rate when that happened,
you’d end up with a hard landing.
The other extreme was one that would “balloon” you. You’d
come down and get this cushioning, and it would actually balloon you
back up into the air, which of course was a different kind of problem.
Now you were sitting back up in the air with speed bleeding off, no
engine to compensate, and you’re likely to run out of airspeed
from a stall standpoint or sync rate standpoint before you could effect
a second attempt at a landing.
It turned out the Shuttle, in my view, was a perfect vehicle. …If
you get set up with the right sync rate, coasting along, you can literally
almost go hands-off, and it’ll settle on and land itself very
nicely. In fact the landing gear people were somewhat chagrined through
most of that test program because we were not landing hard enough
to get them good data for the instrumentation they had on the landing
gear struts. Although I solved their problem on the fifth flight (the
fifth landing flight) where I landed on the runway and bounced the
vehicle, and my second landing was about 5 or 6 foot a second. So
that gave them the data, and they were very happy with that—although
Ward: Would you say it performed more
like a heavy bomber-type aircraft or more like a high-performance
fighter in its reaction to the controls?
Haise: Well, to me the handling characteristics
were—they were certainly not as crisp as a fighter. Just [because
of] the inertias involved in the size of the vehicle. They’re
frankly better than a lot of transports, though the only bomber I’ve
flown was a B-57. But they were better than the (call it)—the
“average” 707-type of transport or certainly earlier versions
I’ve flown like a DC-3. So it’s kind of in between in
It had very large control surfaces, mainly driven by the requirements
for control uphill at high Mach—higher Mach. And in fact, if
you sized the surfaces only to do the landing part of the mission,
the elevons would’ve been much smaller. But—so they were
very effective in that speed regime because of their sizing.
Ward: Its one negative feature might
be that when the nosegear comes down and you touch down, the wings
are at what’s called a negative angle of attack. Tip downward.
I presume that’s because they couldn’t make the nosegear
longer for weight or whatever reason. Is that correct?
Haise: It was—it actually was
for weight. And it’s kind of funny the first time you de-rotate
or try to put the nose down. For a little bit you almost think you
don’t have a nosegear because it goes down so far. It does present
a problem more today—in today’s flight operation where
the vehicle’s heavier with actually [having to follow] a ritual
on de-rotating to get the nosegear on. I’ve never been on an
airplane that you actually had to worry about a sequence to do that
Because if you do de-rotate too fast, too early while you’re
still at high speed, the effect of the negative lift—putting
pressure down on the tires—can conceivably blow the tires. So
you have to go to a point in pitch to hold and wait till you get below
a certain speed to then continue the de-rotation to effectively get
the nosegear on the ground. And at the same time, you can’t
hold it off too long, while it’s still too high, or else you’ll
lose the ability to arrest the fall [through]. And if it—if
you kept it up too long, it would fall through and damage the nosegear
from the standpoint of hitting down too hard. So you’ve kind
of got to work in between [with] a scheme of getting the nosegear
on the runway.
Ward: Of course, you didn’t have
a feature that has since been added to the Orbiter; that being a drag
Haise: That’s correct. Yeah, we
had it—we had that on the original vehicle’s original
design in proposals received. And that fell out early when we got
into what we considered were serious weight problems, and we went
through (I recall) at least several weight scrubs. And the drag chute
was one of the things that gone thrown out early in the development
Ward: Before Skylab reentered Earth’s
atmosphere prematurely, you were scheduled to command a Shuttle mission
(as I recall) that would have rescued Skylab. Now, what happened with
all of that?
Haise: Yes. I was scheduled at that
point to fly the third orbital flight. (I was going to command it.)
Jack Lousma [Jack R. Lousma] was my crewmate at the time and, quite
appropriately, Jack [was] there because he had flown a Skylab mission.
And what happened obviously was the—there was a miscalculation,
I guess, on the solar effect on our atmosphere, which was raised,
causing more drag. So… the Skylab… [predicted time] for
reentering was moving to the left in schedule, and our flight schedule
(including the first flight) was going to the right. So at a point…,
they crossed and that mission went away. And from there it became
really a rescue team established [in] a control center to effectively
try to handle the demise of Skylab in as safe a way as possible. To
put it in[to] unoccupied ocean.
Jack and I were together, I don’t know how many months in that
training cycle. And really when that mission went away, which I was
very enamored with, and just seeing, you know, the younger team that
had come in of younger astronauts in 1978 that joined the force, considering
where I was in age and life, having that experience in the Orbiter
Office and an interest in getting into aerospace management, an opportunity
came along to join Grumman [Grumman Aerospace Corporation] that I
just felt it was the right time to start my next career. And so I
left the program in ’79 for that purpose.
Ward: Well you continued to have a close
association with NASA and the space program then with Grumman and
the International Space Station, although it was called Space Station
Freedom at that time.
Haise: Yes. I had several contracts
I worked with NASA on (as a contractor from Grumman) initially with
the Shuttle Processing Contract. I… headed the team, part of
the Lockheed initial team, to handle the ground turnaround of Shuttles
back in ’83, [when] we started on that contract. I then moved
in ’90—I’m sorry. ’80—about ’87…
I moved to Reston, Virginia… to head the integration contract
that Grumman had won on the Space Station Freedom at that time with
the NASA contingent that was stationed at Reston.
The only—the other major program that I was involved with is
under the service company I headed for Grumman, later Northrup-Grumman.
We had a contract here at Johnson Space Center for the institutional
computing systems, personal computers purchased with a COT software
[and] for a while the mainframes, although most of them departed to
Marshall at a point. Most of the networking around the Center. And
the telephone system. So that contract umbrella’d the institutional
site computing services.
Ward: Is the Space Station—[Recorder
Ward: Fred, I’d like to conclude
by getting some of your thoughts on the International Space Station.
You were closely involved with that program, as well as with the programs
that led up to it. Do you think we’re more or less on track
with that now after some really serious birth pangs?
Haise: Well I guess the you know, I
only follow it these days from what I read in the—in newspapers
or hear in the news. I guess the the critical thing still, as it has
been all along, is to execute the assembly process. It has, as you
said, had several turns in the way of the configuration and the design
of it, the basic vehicle, the fairly late addition of the Russian
components in the configuration, which is always added turmoil—in,
“How do you encompass that and integrate it into the whole vehicle?”
But it mainly it—in the process of the assembly, each time you’re
dependent on a—on a very success-oriented set of things that
have to happen where you’re bound by the limits of the Shuttle
lifetime on orbit. And I’m primarily, I guess, talking about
the mechanical aspects.
You certainly would like to not get hung up in the middle of mechanically
assembling the various components that go up on each flight, and have
to have it only partially completed or—particularly in the early
assembly segments, where it’s not a completed vehicle, not an
operational vehicle and the Shuttle has to leave it and come home
in the middle of some sort of problem like that. So I’m hoping
there’s a lot of contingency planning for how to, you know,
handle those kind of hiccups, which you hope won’t happen but
are possible to happen.
Now as it grows on up and you start having (call it) the “internal”
problems, which be it—may be in software [where] things quite
aren’t right, those I think you can cope with better. At least
if you have an operational vehicle and you have a crew there that
can be there reasonably full time, you can kind of work those problems
on an ongoing basis. But the real critical facet of those early flights
[is] to get it to the point it is self-sustaining to some degree,
where you’ve got the time and the crew there that [can] continue
there, working with the ground to continue to work problems that may
Ward: Of course once it—once it’s
been successfully completed on orbit, then do you see a path through
the Space Station, perhaps, to get us back to the sort of exploration
that we did on Apollo?
Haise: Well, I think, you know, the
follow-up to Station is frankly with any program of that scope and
scale, is highly dependent on national policy or (we follow it in
virtue of Space Station) international policy. What’s the drivers
that are going to make the United States, the Congress, the Administration,
want to foster the funding? Because clearly funding is behind doing
any of these things. Or on an international basis, that that coalition
of countries that are again going to partner in some way to provide
the funding to make those next steps.
I’m afraid I’m not a very good tea leaf reader to right
now, at least, see any clear-cut thing evolving that’s going
to say, beyond hopes, that, “Here’s the funding, and we’re
going to Mars” or “We’re going to Mars to set up
a permanent station.” I just don’t see that in full.
Ward: Do you think a successful Space
Station Program might engender public enthusiasm for further exploration?
Haise: I think it the hopes of that
being accomplished would be from the outcome of the various types
of experiments that are done. There are (call it) “breakthroughs”—be
it in medicine or other things that are going to be done—type
experiments on the—on Space Station that can be really almost
(I’ll say) headline-type of findings that are very clear to
the public at large that this has been very worthwhile in that sense.
That’s the kind of thing I think that would, you know, warrant
the consideration in the investment.
Ward: Would you like to see the country
set a next role of going on to Mars, or perhaps going back to the
Haise: Well that, I certainly would
like to see a continuation of the things that will provide us the
capability to move outward in technologies, if nothing else in the
interim, which also is at a fairly low ebb today.
You know, somewhat philosophically over the years, I’ve come
to think of the space program as really the means that (very, very
long term; it may be thousands of years, maybe a million years), it
is the mechanism to establish the human race elsewhere. We think we
live on a big object called the Earth, but it’s really a very
small object. It’s a single spacecraft. There is no—we
don’t have a backup for Earth that we all live on.
I couple that with a thought… you know—we uniquely were
given the capability of all the creatures I know, the Creator uniquely
gave us the capability to do this. And it just seemed almost divinely
ordained that we should use this capability to ultimately preserve
the race. That’s one of the things the Creator gave us [the
talent]—for that consideration. And it’s up to us to use—to
somehow focus and to use our talents in that vein, rather than a lot
of talent and resources we use in other veins that consume a lot of
Ward: Well I think on that philosophical
note, we’ll end it. And I thank you very much for coming by.
Haise: Thank you.