Schmitt climbed in first and Cernan followed him into the cramped LM cabin, then closed and locked the hatch. The cabin re-pressurized and they could then depressurize their suits and remove their helmets and gloves. They had been inside Challenger about two hours when CapCom Joe Allen spoke with them about the planned repair to the LRV's fender.
"Troops, while you're in a listening mood up there, we're going to be coming at you with a number of items here. Not too many, but the first will be some surface block data,'' Allen informed them. "Then we're going to read up to you a LEVA (Lunar Extravehicular Visor Assembly) cleaning procedure which is fairly simple; a real short geology debrief; [and] a one-line change in the Lunar Surface Checklist. And then, we've been doing some thinking down here about how to fix the fender, and it's going to involve - we think, although we'll work on it while you guys are getting some rest - it's going to involve using utility clamps from inside your LM there, instead of tape, to fasten some sort of stiff material onto the rover in place of the missing fender. We'll go with either one of your cue cards, or possibly with part of the insulation that was the flame blanket protecting the rover during the landing. Or perhaps part of the packing material that was between the Rover wheels and is probably lying on the ground underneath the LM there.''
"Joe, you couldn't be reading our minds more,'' Cernan responded. "We were talking about that, and there is a piece of it right outside my window. I saw it after we got in here. Either that or back of a part of a data book or something. I hate like the devil to tear one of those other fenders off. And the reason tape won't stick is that everything's got a fine coating of dust. The only way I could finally get it to stick was to put tape on it (and then) rip the tape off . . . which took some of the dust off and then (another piece of) tape would tend to hold it. But it just won't hack it up here.'' "Roger, Gene,'' Allen agreed. "That's exactly what we're thinking and what we're
going to do is run through the fix in a pressure suit a few hours from now. If it looks like we can do it, and it won't cost you many more than say ten minutes, we're going to have you go through with it. If it takes longer than that, we're going to go back to the drawing board and see what else we can do here.''
"Well, you know John and Charlie can tell you just how bad it is,'' recalled Cernan. "I wouldn't have believed it and I guess I didn't believe it, or I would have worked a little harder to make sure that fender was going to stay on. But, man, just that short trip back from where we lost it, we were just covered. I couldn't even read parts of the panel on the rover, plus all the battery covers and everything.''
Cernan was relieved that Houston was right on the problem. He knew the gravity of the situation. If he and Schmitt had to constantly dust off the LRV's critical equipment, it would take them away from performing the exploration tasks that needed to be done. The broken fender had to be repaired, and it had to be a repair that would last for the next two EVAs. It also had to be a repair that could be implemented with their pressurized suits on. After Apollo 13, Cernan was fully confident there wasn't a problem that could not be solved by the resourceful crews on the ground in Houston and Huntsville.
The Apollo 17 Flight Crew Support Team was tackling the problem. Terry Neal was the Apollo 17 Lunar Module Crew Systems Engineer on the team, and he immediately went to work to see what could be used from the LM to fabricate a fix. Neal went to the area at Johnson Space Center where the mockup of the Lunar Module was kept, climbed inside the LM and looked around to see what might be used. He hit on the idea of using the stiff pages from the lunar surface maps, taping four of them together to create a curved fender surface big enough to do the job. Inside the LM, there were Alignment Optical Telescope (AOT) lamp clamps that could be removed and used to clamp the maps to the LRV's right rear fender. It looked like the idea might work, so he passed it on to the EVA procedures team, which was also part of the Apollo 17 Flight Crew Support Team. As Cernan and Schmitt slept, the procedures for fabricating the expedient fender and clamping it to the actual rover fender were being worked out with John Young and Charlie Duke.
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