Apollo 8 Audio recorded at Honeysuckle Creek



Apollo 8 Audio recorded at Honeysuckle

Based on Honeysuckle days

Day 1 – Launch, TLI

Day 5 – Revs 8–10 & TEC day 1

Day 2 – TLC day 1

Day 6 – TEC day 2

Day 3 – TLC day 2

Day 7 – TEC day 3

Day 4 – LOI, Lunar Revs 1 & start 2

Day 8 – Re-entry

 

The ‘most authentic’ surviving recordings of the communications between Houston and Apollo 8
on the historic first voyage from the Earth to the Moon.

 

Where these tapes came from

All audio in this section was recorded at Honeysuckle Creek by Bernard Scrivener, who was the Department of Supply Administrative Officer at the station.

He had a reel to reel tape recorder set up near the speaker for the 112A intercom in the Station Director’s office. From there, he could monitor the PAO audio, as well as Net 1 (air/ground), Net 2, and other voice loops.

Bernard Scrivener at 112A

Bernard Scrivener in Station Director Tom Reid’s office during Apollo 8.

In front of him is the Western Electric 102C speaker connected to the 112A intercom station next to it. On the desk behind the telephone Bernard is using is the reel-to-reel tape recorder which made these recordings.

Photo from Goddard News, January 13 1969.

Preserved by Mike Dinn, scanned by Colin Mackellar, image enhancement by Bill Wood. 102C speaker ID thanks to Frank Sullens.

 

Mike Dinn was given Tape number 1 (covering the launch and TLI) by Bernard, and in August 2004, Bernard’s widow, Rosemary, gave Mike the remaining eight tapes.

In total, there are nine 900 foot tapes, most with two tracks recorded in each direction, giving four tracks. Duration of each track is a little over 90 minutes at 1 7/8 inches per second, making a total of 49 hours.

Mike used a Sony reel to reel machine to play the tapes and then digitise them as stereo files (with the left and right channels being the two tracks in that direction of the tape).

I separated these left and right channels into mono files and, with the help of the excellent Apollo 8 Flight Journal by David Woods and Frank O’Brien, was able to determine the Ground Elapsed Times. (As a further help, at the start of most audio tracks, Bernard announces the mission phase and Honeysuckle pass number. I have left these announcements on the files.)

Much of the audio is rather noisy, with long periods of no activity. As Mike Dinn points out, it sounds as if there is an amplifier with a long time constant AGC in series – noise gradually increases to a maximum during periods of no activity. It’s also possible to hear (and see, if you look at the files graphically) the change from one omni antenna to another as the spacecraft slowly turns in PTC (i.e. ‘barbecue’) mode.

 

What’s interesting and unique about these tapes

These tapes are from Honeysuckle passes (and sometimes the periods just before and after), and cover some of the crucial ‘firsts’, such as Trans Lunar Injection, Lunar Orbit Insertion, first emergence after LOI, and the first descriptions of the Moon from lunar orbit – as well as the reading from Genesis chapter 1 during lunar orbit 9.

(Note also that the Honeysuckle’s Wing station, Tidbinbilla, tracked the spacecraft, with the data being sent to Honeysuckle for processing and forwarding to Houston. On Monday December 23 1968, problems with the Honeysuckle feed cone meant that Tidbinbilla handled the tracking alone.)

With the exception of the commentary of the launch on tape 1, the recordings seem to be of Net 1 (Air / Ground) but have some snippets of various Manned Space Flight Network voice loops – with Honeysuckle, Carnarvon and Guam being heard briefly.

These recordings are what was heard on the Manned Space Flight Network circuits, rather than the Public Affairs (‘Voice of Apollo’) audio released at Houston. This means that they are probably the ‘most authentic’ surviving recordings of the communications between Houston and the spacecraft on the historic first voyage from the Earth to the Moon.

On most of these recordings the Quindar tones (tones triggered by the Capcom to key the tracking station transmitters on and off) have been filtered out – as was done on the uplink to the astronauts. (Contrary to popular belief, the astronauts did not usually hear the Quindar tones.)

The tapes also give a hint into the difficulty of communicating at lunar distances and the complexity of tracking station and network configurations.

The echo that is heard in some of these recordings is likely due to two audio loops being monitored at once – the direct audio from the downlink and the audio coming from Net 1 via Goddard.

I previously added some extracts from this audio to Hamish Lindsay’s wonderful Apollo 8 essay, but wanted to make all of the audio available (though only the most hard-core Apollo enthusiasts will listen to it all!). Where there are only one or two exchanges in a 90 minute segment (with noise for most of the time), just the highlights will be also available under the link to the complete file.

On some files, there’s not much to hear – but they will be there for your enjoyment nonetheless.

All told, the complete set of mp3 files adds up to around 520MB, so I suggest that you may want to download them (Windows: Right click, Mac: Control click, then Save as) rather than just listening and reloading them again later. (It will also help keep my bandwidth usage under control!)

– Colin Mackellar, December 2007.



Day 1

The Apollo 8 Flight Journal and Hamish Lindsay’s Apollo 8 essay are excellent references to have handy as you listen to these files.

For Day 1 of the mission, Honeysuckle saw Apollo 8 only briefly on Revolution 1. During Trans Lunar Coast and Trans Earth Coast, Honeysuckle tracked the spacecraft for up to 11 hours a day.

Honeysuckle Mission Day 1 – Saturday 21 December 1968

Tape Start GET Start AEST* Length Content / highlights

Tape 1 Part 1

3.1MB

-00:01:03

22:50 AEST

(06:50 US CST)

15'33"

Launch

Public Affairs audio (Jack King at KSC and Paul Haney at MCC-H provide commentary)
– Source switches to Net 1 at 5'50"
– ends just before LOS through Vanguard.
Capcom Mike Collins.

Tape 1 Part 2

2.0MB

000:52:09

23:43 AEST

(07:43 US CST)

11'35"

Revolution 1 – Carnarvon and Honeysuckle Creek.

6'20" HSK Ops Supervisor John Saxon and Deputy Stadir Mike Dinn.

Tape 1 Part 3

310KB

002:25:52

01:17 AEST
Dec 22

(09:17 US CST)

1'44"

Revolution 2 – Carnarvon.

Mike Collins informs the crew they are “Go for TLI”.

Tape 1 Part 4

2.4MB

002:45:36

01:41 AEST Dec 22

(09:41 US CST)

13'52"

TLI burn.

Clip starts 1'55" before S-IVB ignition.
Comms apparently through the tracking ship Mercury in the Pacific Ocean.
(Hawaii would have had AOS during the burn).

* AEST = Australian Eastern Standard Time. (Australia did not begin Daylight Saving until 1971.)



Day 2

Honeysuckle Mission Day 2 – Sunday 22 December 1968

Trans Lunar Coast Day 1
Track Duration 10h 59m
AOS: 10:34:00 AEST, LOS: 21:33:00 AEST

Tape Start GET Start AEST Length Content / highlights (times from start of segment)

Tape 1 Part 5

4.8MB

011:40:56

10:31 AEST approx.

(18:31 US CST Dec 21.)

41'47"

Trans Lunar Coast, Honeysuckle Pass 2

Mike Dinn announces Honeysuckle AOS, comms still through Goldstone at this point.
Ken Mattingly now Capcom.

Continuity breaks at 05'55", 14'53"and 16'30".

15'40" Call from Honeysuckle to Houston Commtech.
17'37" Start of Comm test. (Comm ‘unbelievably good’)

Tape 2
Track 1 Part 1

6.4MB

020:27

19:18 AEST

(03:18 US CST)

37'20"

Trans Lunar Coast, Honeysuckle Pass 2 (continued)
(only one exchange in this section)

30’18” Capcom Gerald (Jerry) Carr re battery charge and O2 purge.

Tape 2
Track 1 Part 1a

3.2MB

022:35

21:26 AEST

(05:26 US CST)

18'52"

Trans Lunar Coast, Honeysuckle Pass 2 (continued)
(only one exchange in this section)

05'55" Borman asks Capcom Mike Collins why lock was broken – there had been a handover from Honeysuckle to Madrid about a minute earlier.



Day 3

Problems with arcing in the the Honeysuckle feed cone meant that Honeysuckle’s wing site at Tidbinbilla handled the uplink and downlink for the full pass. As was normal, all the audio and data went to and from Tidbinbilla and Houston via Honeysuckle Creek.

These tapes cover almost the full 10 hours of the pass. The audio files for this day total 96.2MB.

Honeysuckle Mission Day 3 – Monday 23 December 1968

Trans Lunar Coast Day 2

Tape Start GET Start AEST Length Content / highlights (times from start of segment)

Tape 2 Track 1 part 2

6.9MB

036:15

11:06 AEST

(19:06 US CST Dec 22)

40'19"

Trans Lunar Coast, Honeysuckle Pass 3

00'00" Lovell using scanning telescope.
04'30" Anders: Comm is sure good.

17'30" Guam Commtech re A/G remoting test
(Guam M&O is Fred Goodwin, Guam CommTech is Charlie Plummer*).

34'40" Borman calls.
(40'40" Australian ringback tone and MFC on the line.)

* thanks to Brian Riehle and Al Fong for the names.

Tape 2 Track 2

16.6MB

036:58:20

11:58 AEST

(19:58 US CST Dec 22)

96’54”

Trans Lunar Coast, Honeysuckle Pass 3 (continued)

Apollo 8 now approx. 138,000 nautical miles (256,000 km) from the Earth.

through Hawaii
26'29" Discussions about trajectory.
55'43" About the handover to HSK (from HAW)

through Honeysuckle
58'28" Capcom Ken Mattingly calls through HSK.

77'50" Comms problem means Houston can hear Apollo 8, but Apollo 8 cannot hear Houston.
80"23" ?Ernie Randall (Network) calls Honeysuckle enquiring about the problem. Stadir Tom Reid calls Network at 81'50".
From the Honeysuckle Ops Console, Mike Dinn calls Apollo 8 to explain the situation.
Only the downlink portion of the conversation – from 81'09" is recorded here. (750kb excerpt)

Tape 2 Track 3

16.6MB

039:13

14:04 AEST

(22:04 US CST Dec 22)

97'43"

Trans Lunar Coast, Honeysuckle Pass 3 (continued)

09’17” Guam switch calls.
25’34” Borman: Comm check.

49’30” Jerry Carr reads up news and ball scores to Frank Borman as his colleagues sleep. (News: The USS Pueblo crew have been released).
58'28" Borman: “Boy, Jerry, that old Earth is sure looking small.” He is at 265,000 km.
60'00" Carr: “You looked great on TV today.”

94'20" Borman: just completed the canister change.

Tape 2 Track 4

16.6MB

040:55:52

15:46 AEST

(23:46 US CST Dec 22)

96’58”

Trans Lunar Coast, Honeysuckle Pass 3 (continued)

41'’57" is the first exchange on this tape – Handover to Guam in 2.5 minutes
(takes place at 44’25”)

through Guam
49'13" Jerry Carr with weather watch for splashdown sites.
62'34"Request to cycle cryo fans.

No exchanges from 71’39” to end of tape at 96’58”.

Tape 3 Track 1

22.5MB

042:40:45

17:31 AEST

(01:31 US CST)

98’25”

Trans Lunar Coast, Honeysuckle Pass 3 (continued)

Through Guam
03'25" Frank Borman asks about procedures to raise the temperature in the CM.
15'24" Mid-course correction 3 not needed.
24'10" Suggestions from Jerry Carr to Jim Lovell on warming the cabin.
47'40" Flight plan update for Jim Lovell.
56'04" Carr advises handover from Guam to HSK in 2.5 minutes.

Through Honeysuckle
58'00” Flight Director Glynn Lunney temporarily sits in as Capcom.
72'30" Jerry Carr returns to the Capcom position with some manoever PADs for Jim Lovell.

Long comm breaks in this section.
No exchanges between 30'25" – 47'44" and 61'20" – 72’30" and from 87'01" to the end of tape at 98'25".

Tape 3 Track 2

17MB

044:20:00

19:11 AEST

(03:11 US CST)

98’24”

Trans Lunar Coast, Honeysuckle Pass 3 (continued)

Apollo 8 now almost 155,000 nautical miles (287,000 km) from Earth.

No exchanges until 44'50". Jerry Carr is Capcom.

44'50" Jim Lovell on the cislunar NAV (045:14:50 GET).
46'00" Bill Anders calls after sleep period.
88'45" Waste water dump.
97'20" Fuel cell purge.

Tape ends at 046:31:15 GET.

Tape 3 Track 3 part 1

10.3MB

046:33

21:24 AEST

(05:24 US CST)

59’45”

Trans Lunar Coast, Honeysuckle Pass 3 (continued)

03'30" Discussing a state vector update
09'54" Still receiving good data from the omnis at the 30 foot sites.

(No transmissions from 16'15" – 20'50' and 25'20" – 36'43" though there is some crosstalk from the adjacent track on the tape.)

49'18" Carr: Command change from (says “to”) HSK (to MAD) in 2 minutes.
Anders to Honeysuckle: “Goodbye you chaps.”
52'27" Anders calls Houston – he will be quiet to allow the CDR to sleep.

Honeysuckle track ends at 22:15 AEST
Segment ends at 047:34:52 GET.



Day 4

In between tracks, this brief item was recorded from (possibly) Net 3.

Tape Start GET Start AEST Length Content / highlights (times from start of segment)

Tape 3 Track 3 part 2

1.4MB

057:53 08:44 AEST
08'06"

‘Apollo Network Control’ news bulletin – space related news, apparently read to the Network stations from Goddard.

6’37” Item of interest: Otto Womack, network identity and former Madrid Stadir is “alive and living on Guam”.

7’25” After the bulletin, NST calls Honeysuckle on Net 3. Initially answered by John Saxon(?), followed by Laurie Turner(?).

Poor quality recording – noise reduction thanks to Bill Wood.

 

This is the day that men from Earth enter orbit around the Moon for the first time.

These tapes cover more than 10 hours of the pass. The audio files for this day total 99MB.


Honeysuckle Mission Day 4 – Tuesday 24 December 1968

Trans Lunar Coast Day 3, Lunar Orbit insertion and Lunar Revolution 1 and start of 2.

Tape Start GET Start AEST Length Content / highlights (times from start of segment)

Tape 3 Track 3 part 3

4.6MB

060:07:10

10:58 AEST

(18:58 US CST Dec 23)

27'04"

Trans Lunar Coast, Honeysuckle Pass 4

00'12" Capcom Ken Mattingly finishes reading up a PAD, followed by discussion on reaction control thruster use to allow the crew to see out of a clear window once in lunar orbit.
14'30" Jim Lovell on problems with optically aligning the guidance system.

Tape 3 Track 4

16.9MB

060:35:20

11:26 AEST

(19:26 US CST Dec 23)

98’23”

Trans Lunar Coast, Honeysuckle Pass 4 (continued)

Note: There is some crosstalk on this tape. About 30 seconds of audio severely affected by print-through on the tape was edited out – no efect on the dialogue.

16'30" 8 minutes to the Midcourse Correction Maneuver 4.
24'38" Anders: “Burning.”
25'38" Lovell: Burn report.
34'25" Lovell: Crew status report
40'41" Lovell: Onboard calculations indicate 20,500 miles from the Moon.
52'03" Goddard Voice calls HSK, answered by Mike Dinn(?).
82'05" Mattingly: Handover to HSK on the hour.

through Honeysuckle
87'17" apparent time of handover.
88'05" Mattingly calls through Honeysuckle.
88'50" Mattingly with LOI tables updates for Jim Lovell.
97'54" Lovell asks for a french curve to help with his trajectory calculations.

Tape 4 Track 1

16.7MB

062:09

13:00 AEST

(21:00 US CST Dec 23)

97’12”

Trans Lunar Coast, Honeysuckle Pass 4 (continued)

Note: There is some crosstalk on this tape.

12'35" Run down on systems.
47'00" Anders asks about a sleeping pill.
50'55" Request for cryo stir.
60'35" Cyro fans cycled.
No further exhanges until 94'57" Comm check.

Tape 4 Track 2

16.7MB

064:02

14:53 AEST

(22:23 US CST Dec 23)

98"55"

Trans Lunar Coast, Honeysuckle Pass 4 (continued)

(Only three brief exchanges on this tape)

35'44" Frank Borman calls Jerry Carr for a radio check.
49'00" Frank Borman calls for a radio check on Omni C.
80'55" Jerry Carr calls for comm check. Jim Lovell answers.

Tape 4 Track 3

16.7MB

065:42

16:33 AEST

(00:33 US CST)

97'03"

Trans Lunar Coast, Honeysuckle Pass 4 (continued)

Note: There is some severe crosstalk on this tape (sorry!).

12'30" Jerry Carr calls with a Preliminary LOI-1 PAD.
59'32" Discussion re erasable dump and spacecraft attitude. (Crosstalk audible.)
89'08" Advised of a handover from Honeysuckle to Guam.

Tape 4 Track 4

16.2MB

067:22

18:13 AEST

(02:13 US CST)

97'48"

Trans Lunar Coast leading up to Lunar Orbit Insertion, Honeysuckle Pass 4

Note: There is some crosstalk on this tape, esp around 33’ in.

Through Guam
00'16"Jerry Carr reads up the TEC-1 maneouver PAD.
03’35” Shifting command to Honeysuckle.

Through Honeysuckle
11'28" Carr continues to read up TEI PADs.
21'47" Carr requests switch to Omni.
31'43" Carr requests down voice backup comm check
34'15" Lovell: “We have as yet to see the Moon.”
40'20" Carr: “At 68:04 you’re go for LOI.”
47'52" Borman: Cryos stirred. Brief conversation 52' and 57'.
61'22" Ground config or s/c antenna change? much more noise
66'27" Borman
69'08" Carr: “We’ve got our lunar map up [on the display] and ready to go.”
88'30" Carr: 5 minutes to LOS. “Roger, Frank, the custard’s in the oven at 350.”
[Apparently Frank Borman’s wife Susan asked Carr to send that message: it was a message of support – he would fly the mission and she would keep things going at home.]

91'29" Carr: 2 minutes to LOS.
92'28" Carr: “Apollo 8, Houston. One minute to LOS. All systems Go… safe journey guys.”
93'15" Carr: “Apollo 8, 10 seconds to go – you’re Go all the way.”

94'26" At Honeysuckle Creek: Bernard Scrivener announces “LOS: Rev. 1, Occultation.” onto the tape.

Tape 5 Track 1 part 1

15.1MB

069:24

20:15 AEST

(04:15 US CST)

87'47"

Lunar Revolution 1, Honeysuckle Pass 4

00'25" The recording starts well before AOS on revolution 1 in case of a no-burn.

08'28" Capcom Jerry Carr calls Apollo 8 – a little early in case of a no-burn. approx 069:32GET.
10'17" Jim Lovell begins a burn report.

12'50" High gain acquired –
followed by a burn report from Jim Lovell and instructions re the evaporators.
25'45" Jim Lovell reports passing over Langrenus.
27'05" Jerry Carr asks: “What does the old Moon look like from sixty miles?”
31'25" Jim Lovell describes the view over Messier and Pickering and approaching the terminator.

69'40" Go for Rev. 2
81'10" 4 minutes and 40 seconds from LOS.
82'06" Carr: Still Go for Rev 2.
84'45" Carr: One minute to LOS.
85'36" Ten seconds to LOS.

Tape 5 Track 1 part 2

1.7MB

71:38:13

22:29 AEST

(06:29 US CST)

9'52"

Lunar Revolution 2 – through Madrid

HSK had LOS at 21:47:39 AEST – MSFN is now tracking via MAD (who have a TV link to the outside world.).

2'27" Capcom Jerry Carr calls Apollo 8
2'47" Two way comms – “We see your TV”.
3'42" Anders: “We’re now approaching the craters See and Bassett.”
5'50" Borman asks Anders to describe the colour of the Moon.
9'16" Anders: “We’re now passing abeam of the crater ‘Houston’.”

 



Day 5

Final lunar orbits and TEI – with a Christmas message for all the people back on Earth. Beginning of Trans Earth Coast.

These tapes cover just over three hours. The audio files for this day total 32.5MB.

Honeysuckle Mission Day 5 – Wednesday 25 December 1968

Christmas Day, Australian time
Final Lunar Orbits, TEI, beginning of Trans Earth Coast.

Tape Start GET Start AEST Length Content / highlights (times from start of segment)

Tape 5 Track 2 Part 1

2.7MB

084:38:54

11:30 AEST

(19:30 US CST 24 Dec)

15’35”

end of Lunar Revolution 8

through Goldstone
03'13" Frank Borman asks, “Ken, how’s the MSFN tracking on this lunar orbit coming out?”

11'13" Mattingly – “We’re approaching 4 minutes to LOS. All systems are Go.”

No more exchanges on this rev. LOS at 15'14".

Tape 5 Track 2 Part 2

12.5MB

085:39

12:30 AEST

(20:30 US CST Dec 24)

72'40"

Lunar Revolution 9, Honeysuckle Pass 6

(slight echo on the recording)

03'54" Anders calls. The TV is on.
04'00" Mattingly – “We’ve got a picture, Apollo 8.”
04'26" Lovell – “Welcome from the Moon, Houston.”
04'57" Bill Anders begins commentary with the TV. “Houston, you’re seeing a view of the Earth...”
05'51" Borman – “This is Apollo 8, coming to you live from the Moon...”
07'18" Lovell – “The vast loneliness up here of the Moon is awe inspiring...”
14'25" After period of poor voice quality, it dramatically improves.

TV commentary continues.
24'29" Anders – “How’s your picture quality, Houston?” Mattingly: “This is phenomenal.”

27'14" Anders – “We are now approaching lunar sunrise, and for all the people back on Earth, the crew of Apollo 8 has a message that we would like to send to you.” – with the reading from Genesis chapter 1. (excerpt). (TV clip here.)

29'15" TV broadcast ends.
39'36" High Gain antenna breaks lock until 47’13”

72'30" LOS.

Tape 5 Track 2 Part 3

1.6MB

087:42

14:33 AEST

(22:33 US CST Dec 24)

9'06"

Lunar Revolution 10, Honeysuckle Pass 6

Ken Mattingly reads up Manoeuvre PADs for TEI-10 and 11.

Tape 5 Track 3 Part 1

9.7MB

087:55:33

14:46 AEST

(22:46 US CST Dec 24)

56'18"

Lunar Revolution 10, Honeysuckle Pass 6 (continued)

8'00" Mattingly – “You have a Go for TEI.”
14'10" Discussion on PTC attitude at 92 hours.
19'09" Brief discussion of Helium tank temps.
32'40" Mattingly requests DSE, cryo stir ahead.
35'47" About to manoeuvre to burn attitude – will lose High Gain.
36'06" TEI AOS expected to be 89:28:39.
37'33" Switch to omni?
54'52" Mattingly: “All systems are Go, Apollo 8.”
55'11" LOS

Tape 5 Track 3 Part 2

6MB

089:28:56

16:20 AEST

(00:20 US CST)

34'55"

Post Trans Earth Injection, Honeysuckle Pass 7 (as announced – must mean Pass 6 continued)

2'26" Mattingly calls Apollo 8 several times.
5'28" Jim Lovell responds, “Roger, please be informed there is a Santa Claus!” (excerpt)

16'52" Mattingly – “We’d like to try to have you manually acquire on High Gain.”
17'15" Mattingly – “Apollo 8, would you go to narrow beam on High Gain?” [Note the difference in comms quality when they do.]

25'05" Deke Slayton calls to wish the crew “a very Merry Christmas”. (excerpt)
Borman replies – “Thank everybody on the ground for us. It’s pretty clear we wouldn’t be anywhere if we didn’t have them doing it for helping us out here.”

[At Honeysuckle Creek, the audio from Apollo 8 is clearer than the audio from Houston.]

30’02” Jack Schmitt reads up a Christmas poem to the crew. (excerpt)




Day 6

Trans Earth Coast Day 2.

These tapes cover the entire pass (with breaks for tape changes) – starting before AOS.
Total duration of the tapes. 10 hours 50 minutes of the pass. The audio files for this day total 112MB.

Honeysuckle Mission Day 6 – Thursday 26 December 1968

Boxing Day, Australian time
Trans Earth Coast Day 2.

AOS: 12:10:35 AEST, LOS: 22:21:09 AEST
Track Duration 10h 11m 9s

Tape Start GET Start AEST Length Content / highlights (times from start of segment)

Tape 5 Track 4

16.7MB

108:30:44

11:22 AEST

(19:22 US CST 25 Dec)

97'15"

Trans Earth Coast, Honeysuckle Pass 8

Apollo 8 is around 156,000 nautical miles (270,000 km) from Earth.

(Presumably through Goldstone.)

00'13" Christmas music is being played up to the crew.
02'17" Bill Anders calls Capcom Mike Collins and asks for the music to be turned off.
11'32" Anders – “How are our temperatures looking across the Service Module?”
26'56" Discussion re Entry checklist.
32'39" Jim Lovell gives a weather report – “two tremendous storms down there”.
38'24" Mike Collins asks how much film they have exposed.
70'00" Ken Mattingly is now Capcom.

89'40" Bill Anders discusses a High Gain Reacquisition test as the spacecraft turns in PTC mode. From 92'30" we hear the noise increase and decrease as the HGA attempts to maintain lock. Tape ends at 97'’15"
Continued on the next tape.

Tape 6 Track 1

16.7MB

110:25:13

13:16 AEST

(21:16 US CST 25 Dec)

97'30"

Trans Earth Coast, Honeysuckle Pass 8 (continued)

11'00" Continued from the previous tape, Bill Anders has been running a High Gain Reacquisition test. Here he reports to Ken Mattingly that it “didn’t work as advertised”. Discussion follows.
25'59" Bill is concerned about the possibility of a mechanical failure of the HGA.
27'10" Mattingly advises a handover of stations coming up.

Through Honeysuckle
30'50" (at 110:56:03 GET) he calls – “Apollo 8, Houston through Honeysuckle.”
Soon after, loss of comms again due to problems with the High Gain antenna.
42'00" Bill Anders calls – “It did the same thing that time, Ken.”

50'53" Frank Borman asks Ken Mattingly how far they are from home. Answer: 148,550 (nautical miles or 275,000 km).
68'25" After discussion of Quad tank temperatures, Borman asks if anything exciting is happening. Answer: “everything is pretty calm, like it should be on Christmas”.

Tape 6 Track 2

16.7MB

112:06:40

14:57 AEST

(22:57 US CST 25 Dec)

97'13"

Trans Earth Coast, Honeysuckle Pass 8 (continued)

Apollo 8 is now half way home.

02'52" Continuing to look at the Flight Plan, and Borman advises the CM temperature is a little high.

35'45" Ken asks Frank to reinitialise the PTC attitude.
40'25" Borman passes on information on “anomalies” .
44'33" Borman comments on their re-entry plan and asks about landing site weather.
62'11" Brief exchange.

No other exchanges until 96'47".

Tape 6 Track 3

16.8MB

113:46:42

16:37 AEST

(00:37 US CST)

97'37

Trans Earth Coast, Honeysuckle Pass 8 (continued)

No exchanges until 32'37" when Ken Mattingly requests some tests on the Entry Monitoring System.

41'58" A Station handover has just occurred. (presumably from Honeysuckle to ??)
52'38" Capcom begins to run down the entry checklist with Frank Borman (including, at 53'49", talk about turning on the VHF system in plenty of time before re-entry).

Long discussion on the checklist.
93'45" Now 137,915 nautical miles (255,000 km) out.

Tape 6 Track 4

16.7MB

115:26:52

18:17 AEST

(02:17 US CST)

97'18"

Trans Earth Coast, Honeysuckle Pass 8 (continued)

11'40" Questions for Bill Anders about sleep.
18'07" Anders – “anytime you have your mike keyed, I can hear myself talk with about a 2 second time delay...”
25'30" Mattingly – “we’re cranking up some background music for you”.
28'05" Mattingly – “We can’t handle the omni switching for about thirty more minutes, till we get back to an 85 foot dish.”

34'30"– inflight entertainment starts. There is a configuration problem somewhere, and Bill can only hear the music when Ken calls. Ken cannot hear the spacecraft.
39'50" Comms restored, but Bill briefly hears his own voice echoed back.

50'55" Flight Director Milt Windler temporarily takes over as Capcom in Ken Mattingly’s absence. (excerpt)

Through Honeysuckle
57'50" Now through Honeysuckle.
81'45" This attempt with the music is more successful...

Tape 7 Track 1

16.7MB

117:11:36

20:02 AEST

(04:04 US CST)

97'23"

Trans Earth Coast, Honeysuckle Pass 8 (continued)

3'21" First exchange on this tape between Bill Anders and Ken Mattingly – about gimbal angles. Houston has been playing background music up to the spacecraft.
05'21" Discussion on biomed harness.

14'46" Music resumes at low level. Anders – “I can’t hear it, but it sounds like something I’d rather not hear anyway.” Nevertheless, the music continues.

65'04" Anders calls and Mattingly returns – “Hello, Apollo 8. We interrupt this program of music to bring you the late evening status report.”
Long discussion follows about correlating TV and film photography and also the events leading up to re-entry.
80'50" Anders – “Ken, is it my imagination, or have you got the music running?” (It isn’t running.)
83'55" Anders about the use of red-blue filter on the TV camera.

Last exchange for this tape section.

Tape 7 Track 2 part 1

11.6MB

18:56:17

21:47 AEST

(05:47 US CST)

67'21"

Trans Earth Coast, Honeysuckle Pass 8 (continued)

5'48" Bill Anders will delay the LiOH canister change for about 30 minutes to avoid waking the Commander.
08'00" Mattingly asks Anders to maneouver the spacecraft so as not to overheat Quad C.

48'34" Jerry Carr has just come on as Capcom. He announces a handover to Madrid in 15 seconds. Jim Lovell, who has just woken, responds.
48'54"apparent time of handover.

Tape ends 67'21". End of Honeysuckle Pass 8.




Day 7

Trans Earth Coast Day 3.

Apollo 8 is now picking up speed as it plunges towards Earth.

Approx 8.6 hours. 105.7MB.

Honeysuckle Mission Day 7 – Friday 27 December 1968

Trans Earth Coast Day 3.

Tape Start GET Start AEST Length Content / highlights (times from start of segment)

Tape 7 Track 2 part 2

5.2MB

?

?

30'15"

Trans Earth Coast, Honeysuckle Pass 9

There is no communications with the crew in this segment. (It’s included here for completeness. Will anyone listen to it?)

Tape 7 Track 3

16.7MB

134:26:26

13:17 AEST

(21:17 US CST 26 Dec)

97'25"

Trans Earth Coast, Honeysuckle Pass 9 (announced as 8)

Apollo 8 is 70,900 nautical miles (131,300 km)

10'27"–13'55" Capcom Mike Collins calls Bill Anders. Discussion on orientation for PTC mode.
40'37" Collins – Changing antennas in 3 minutes. (from ? to HSK?)

54'10" Collins asks for a switch to Omni C.
93'47" Anders – “Old gray eagle (Borman) has taken over the helm here.”
95'43" Collins – Computer’s erasable memory is fine.

Tape 7 Track 4

16.8MB

136:05:56

14:56 AEST

(22:56 US CST 26 Dec)

97'36"

Trans Earth Coast, Honeysuckle Pass 9 (announced as 8)

07'29" Collins asks for a different omni.
22'12" Collins advises Borman of a change of ground antenna in about a minute and a half. (This is a handover from Honeysuckle to Carnarvon.)
29'30" Borman – “Were you transferring from Honeysuckle, Mike?”

Through Carnarvon
30'55" Collins calls through Carnarvon.
Borman replies to Carnarvon – “Hey y’all in Australia, do you hear us?” ... (excerpt)
31'50" Borman – “Carnarvon, how do you read Apollo 8?”
Collins – “Apollo 8, this is Houston. Reading you loud and clear through Carnarvon.
...
32'44" Borman – “Ah was just listening to all the guys round the Net.”
Collins – “Can you hear them?”
Borman – “I could that time – all the way from Carnarvon to Texas! How’d they ever get an old Maintenance Officer on the midnight shift?
34'01" Collins – “Frank, you’re on GOSS Conference if you’d like to debrief. Over.”

(This seems to have been due to a misconfiguration, possibly at Goddard Voice. The complexity of the system was considerable and everyone was still learning.)

65'10" Borman reports the PTC is going well. (Last exchange on this tape track.)

Tape 8 Track 1

16.8MB

137:45:51

16:36 AEST

(00:36 US CST)

97'32"

Trans Earth Coast, Honeysuckle Pass 9 (announced as 8)

32'51" Radio check
35'31" Mike Collins informs Bill Anders of a handover from Carnarvon to Honeysuckle.

Through Honeysuckle
No exchanges until 81'47" when Mike Collins, on behalf of Flight Director Cliff Charlesworth’s Green Team, signs off for the last time on this mission.

92'25" Capcom Jerry Carr calls.

Tape 8 Track 2

16.7MB

 

139:27

18:18 AEST

(02:18 US CST)

97'32"

Trans Earth Coast, Honeysuckle Pass 9

Through Honeysuckle
00'55" Capcom Ken Mattingly asks the crew to activate the secondary Service Module RCS propellant.
02'55" New PTC attitude.
06'20" Lovell actives the secondary Service Module RCS propellant.

No further comms until 61'53".
61'53" Borman informed MCC-7 burn not needed.

68'00" Mattingly calls, no answer.
69'24" Mattingly – “in the event of a loss of comm, we don’t want you to burn MCC-7 – your present entry PAD is good. ... You’ll be within .06 degrees of your entry angle target line.”

79'10" Borman asks for their current range and velocity.
80'27" Mattingly – “At time 51 (i.e. 140:51 GET), your velocity will be 9,526 (feet / sec = 10,400 km/h),
altitude 42,946 (nautical miles = 79,500 km).”

No further exchanges on this tape track.

Tape 8 Track 3

16.8MB

 

141:06

19:57 AEST

(03:57 US CST)

97'45"

Trans Earth Coast, Honeysuckle Pass 9 (announced as 8)

Now 43,000 nautical miles (79,600 km) from Earth.

27'47" Jerry Carr asks if they called.
35'32" – 45'44" Carr: Weather and recovery forces status for the mid-Pacific.

54'38" Borman – turning on VHF A Simplex.
55'40" Anders – “We’re listening on VHF now too Ken.”
71'08" – 75'16" Discussion on procedures.

No further exchanges on this tape track.

Tape 8 Track 4

16.7MB

142:54:03

21:45 AEST

(05:45 US CST)

97'23"

Trans Earth Coast, Honeysuckle Pass 9 (announced as 8)

02'41" Anders calls re suit heat exchanger.
18'15" Mattingly at 143:12:41 – “Be making a handover from Carnarvon to Honeysuckle at 15.”
(20'32" Apparent time of handover.)

Through Honeysuckle
41'58" Mattingly reads up an entry PAD for the mid-Pacific. Read-back by Jim Lovell.

Apollo 8 is now 25,300 nautical miles (46,800 km) from Earth.

63'37" – 74'36" Discussion about potable water levels.

77'48" Under heavy noise: “Carnarvon M&O – Network, GOSS Conference, How do you read?” (repeated 78'00".) There are comms problems between Houston and Carnarvon. (excerpt – 7'41" duration, 1.3MB.)

78'14" Paul Oats(?), Carnarvon.
78'16" “Go ahead.” Australian voice – probably from the OTC satellite earth station 6km away.
78'20" Another American voice from Network.
78'35" Probably Geoff Williams, Carnarvon Comm Tech.

81'12" Network (sounds like Ernie Randall in Houston).
82'25" Goddard Voice calls on GOSS conference and asks Carnarvon to remote Air to Ground to ‘this Net’.

83'14" Mattingly calls Apollo 8. “We had a momentary loss of comm on the ground then. Read you loud and clear.”

84'42" Same voice as at 78'16".
“Voice Control, Carnarvon, 472, how do you read?”
(“472” is a reference to Net 1 (GOSS Conference) voice circuit GDA 58472. See this Apollo 11 NASCOM diagram.)

85'11" “Carnarvon, Voice Control, read you loud and clear.” (Geoff Williams?)


Apollo 8 now nearing 19,000 nautical miles (35,000 km).

96'56" Mattingly – “Apollo 8, Houston. You’re cleared (garbled) entry attitude at this time.”




Day 8

End of Trans Earth Coast – and Re-entry.

Tape 9 begins 30 minutes to midnight on Friday – with re-entry just 2 hours and 21 minutes away.

Honeysuckle Mission Day 8 – Saturday 28 December 1968

End of Trans Earth Coast – and Re-entry.

Tape Start GET Start AEST Length Content / highlights (times from start of segment)

Tape 9 Track 1

16.8MB

144:40:00

23:31 AEST

(07:31 US CST)

97'58"

End of Trans Earth Coast

16'50" Anders – “We’ve completed the checklist down to the 1 hour point...”

18'28" Network (Ernie Randall) calls Carnarvon on GOSS Conference for a voice check. (excerpt)
CRO Comm Tech (Geoff Williams?) – “Network, Carnarvon. Read you weak but clear.”
Network – “Roger, Carnarvon. I read you loud and clear.”
CRO Comm Tech – “You are loud and clear now. Thank you.”
Mattingly – “Apollo 8, Houston. Stand by for hand over to Carnarvon.”
Anders – “Roger.” (with fake British accent – It seems the above exchange has also gone up to the spacecraft.)

With the handover to Carnarvon, so comes the end of Honeysuckle’s last track of Apollo 8.

At Honeysuckle, the clock ticks over to Day 9, Saturday 29 December. Tape 9 Track 1 continued –

Through Carnarvon
30'50" Mattingly calls with minor updates to the entry PAD.
35'14" Lovell notices that Ken Mattingly has an open mike at the Capcom console.
51'50" Anders – ”Standing by for Go for Pyro Arm.”
61'20" Borman – “Houston, this is Apollo 8; How’s your tracking looking?”

Borman reports the Pyro circuits (for Service Module jettison) are now armed and ready.

61'33"Mattingly – “If you’re not doing anything else, how about let’s make a VHF check.”

Apollo 8 is now at 9,600 nautical miles (17,700 km).

71'06" Another VHF test.
72'00" Borman – “You were loud and clear, Ken.”
Mattingly – “We received you loud and clear on VHF through Carnarvon.”

76'50" Mattingly – “Apollo 8, Houston. Stand by for handover – Carnarvon to Guam on the hour. We should have continuous contact except for the blackout period, beginning at 146:51.”


Apollo 8 is now at 4,900 nautical miles (9,000 km) and falling towards Earth at 23,300 feet per second (26,600 km/h).

No further exchanges on this tape track.

Tape 9 Track 2

10.9MB

146:21:50

01:12 AEST

(09:12:50 US CST )

47’34”

Re-entry

Through Guam
4'30" Anders – “Houston, this is Apollo 8. We’re go for Pyro Arm.”
7'20" and 9’36” Mattingly suggests reservicing primary evaporator.
17'22" Eleven minutes from Entry Interface. Mattingly calls – “Looking good – both primary and secondary loops look good.”

Guam has had LOS and Apollo 8 is now in view of the tracking ship Redstone.

17'55" Mattingly – “Apollo 8, through the Redstone. You’re looking good – both primary and secondary loops are holding good.”
18'29" Mattingly repeats the call and is answered by Anders.

23’14” Mattingly – “Apollo 8, Houston – one minute to RRT.”
Apollo 8 now in blackout.

26’43” Unknown speaker – A8FJ transcript has it as Borman, though it could be Lovell.
27’14” Mattingly puts in a call.
27’52” Mattingly calls through the tracking ship Huntsville.
28’03” Huntsville Comm Tech – “Houston, Huntsville, we have not established contact with the spacecraft at this time.”
28”57 Huntsville Comm Tech – “Huntsville, AOS through S-Band.” (excerpt)
29’30” Mattingly calls through ARIA.
29’44” Borman? – “Houston, Apollo 8. Over.”
Mattingly – “Go ahead, Apollo 8. Read you broken and ?”
Borman – “This is a real fireball. It’s looking good.”
30’10” Borman – “We’re real good shape Houston.”

31’52” Mattingly asks for a DSKY reading before drogues.
32’05” Lovell responds (with apparent difficulty).
Should be on main chutes.

34’07” Borman – “This is Apollo 8, over.”

from 36’45” It appears the last few minutes of the tape seem to be monitoring a loop with no comms on it.

End of Apollo 8 audio recorded at Honeysuckle Creek.

 

Any corrections gladly received.

Audio processed by Colin Mackellar over several weeks in December 2007. Distribution, with attribution, is encouraged!

 



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