Training At The Kennedy Space Center Florida

Training for the J-missions at KSC in Florida involved the 1-G trainer in a simulated crater and boulder field near the Operations and Checkout Building, as well as indoor training with the Deployment Trainer. The 1-G trainer was used for rover equipment configuration setup. Florida had no rocks even remotely resembling what might be encountered on the Moon that might be used in training, so Jerry Sevier in the Engineering Office of the Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston contacted Gordon

John Young (seated) and Charlie Duke train on an early Crew Station mockup during November 1970. The position of the mockup high-gain antenna, TV camera, low-gain antenna, and 16mm data acquisition camera are reversed in this photo. (NASA)

Swann at the USGS about obtaining an adequate quantity of suitable rocks to use in the training area at the Cape. With the help of Lee Silver, Swann arranged for a railroad gondola car to be loaded with anorthosite rocks from the San Gabriel Mountains near Pasadena, California, and two other gondola cars to be loaded with cinders from cinder cones in Flagstaff, all to be shipped to Kennedy Space Center. The crater and boulder field at KSC, nicknamed the "rock pile,'' was configured to facilitate sample taking and identification, as well as core sample drilling. The Cape has always been known for its exotic wildlife and snakes took considerable pleasure in hiding themselves among the rocks. Before training, personnel from KSC had to be sent out each day to check for snakes and remove any that had established residence there.

"We trained with the 1-G trainer down at the Cape,'' recalled John Young in an interview with this author. "We had a rock pile down there and a large place we could explore. The object was to go along and do the same kind of field stops that we would do on the Moon at about the same places, and pick up and examine the rocks.''

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John Young and Charlie Duke train with Grover at the U.S. Naval Ordnance test Range near Ridgecrest, California during a field training exercise in November 1971. Grover is shown without fenders since dust was much less of a problem on Earth than it would be on the Moon. (Courtesy NASA)

Prime and backup crews trained at the Cape during any given week, but not in the same locations at the same time.

''Backup crews trained on different days from the prime crews,'' said David Scott. ''We might spend one day out on the rock pile with the rover while the backup crew was in the simulators. It was how the support teams could best support us in the various exercises. Training with the 1-G trainer at KSC involved only procedural things. In other words, where you put the tools, how you align the antenna, that sort of thing. It wasn't to teach us how to drive. It taught us what instruments to look at, who does what with the tools, how to get on and off, turning the TV on and off -that sort of thing. It was really a procedures trainer rather than trying to teach us to drive.''

Crews also trained at KSC using the deployment trainer in the Flight Crew Training Building. The deployment trainer was fabricated from round aluminum tubing for the main chassis portions. The wheels used urethane foam over an aluminum form to give the wheel shape. The deployment trainer folded up like the actual LRV but the similarities ended there. It was of minimal construction and designed only to replicate the deployment sequence of the actual rover and attempt to duplicate movement as if in gravity. This trainer was deployed from a full-size mockup of the Lunar Module, which was also of minimal construction. Crews trained fully suited and their training included simulated problems of partial deployment and how to resolve those problems to complete deployment.

The 1-G trainer was also employed in the Flight Crew Training Building to go through the entire procedure of outfitting the LRV with all necessary equipment from the Lunar Module. Both the Commander and the Lunar Module Pilot worked together to outfit the 1-G trainer. This included installing the LCRU, High-Gain and Low-Gain Antennas, and the Color TV camera, and connecting the necessary cabling at the front of the trainer, as well as mounting the 16 mm Data Acquisition Camera, storing the 70 mm film canisters underneath the seats of the Crew Station, and installing the Aft Pallet Assembly with the Lunar Hand Tool Carrier and its related tools and equipment. The astronauts consulted their Cuff Check List on the left forearm of their suit as they went through this procedure.

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