Apollo 8 Onboard Audio
dumped to Honeysuckle Creek

Each of the Apollo Command Modules carried an onboard tape recorder called the DSE (Data Storage Equipment).

It was a closed tape machine which recorded engineering data as well as onboard voice – especially when the spacecraft was behind the Moon, and out of contact with the Earth. The tape was periodically “dumped" (replayed) to the tracking stations, where the dump was recorded to 1-inch 14 track telemetry tapes and shipped back to Goddard with all the other tapes from each mission.

Transcripts of the onboard audio were made, and have been freely available since 1975 (6MB PDF file from The Apollo Lunar Surface Journal, or in text form at The Apollo 8 Flight Journal).

Most of the actual onboard audio does not appear to have been available. *

During the mission, it seems that key moments from the dump were sent direct to Houston over the network.

At the same time, in light of the historic nature of the mission, someone at Honeysuckle Creek recorded segments of the dumped audio – probably as they were being received – and made a highlights tape, covering –

  • LOS at Lunar Encounter,
  • the LOI-1 burn,
  • AOS on the first revolution,
  • the second half of TV transmission 4 (including the historic message for “all the people back on Earth”),
  • and preparations for, and some of, the TEI burn to leave lunar orbit.

The audio totals around 35 minutes.

The audio was on a 1/4 inch audio tape preserved by Hamish Lindsay, and it was discovered and digitised by Colin Mackellar in 2013. (I wonder if Honeysuckle’s Admin Officer, Bernard Scrivener, may have made the recording. He recorded Net 1 audio of most of Honeysuckle’s passes on behalf of Station Director Tom Reid.)

Here is the second half of the fourth television broadcast synchronised with the onboard audio (file number 10 below).

Thanks to Mark Gray and Dick Nafzger for the video files. Audio and video synchronised by Colin Mackellar.

The message “for all the people back on Earth” starts about 9 minutes from the beginning of the clip.

(The video file is downloadable from Vimeo, or from here as a 48MB mp4 file – right click on this link to download.)

See also –

Apollo 8 DSE Onboard Audio received at Honeysuckle Creek

The Apollo 8 Flight Journal is an excellent reference to have handy as you listen.

Click the underlined link in the GET column to open each mp3 audio clip in a new window.

File GET (from transcripts) Notes

LOS at Lunar Encounter and preparation for the initial LOI (Lunar Orbit Insertion) burn. This is the first time humans have been completely out of contact with Earth.

(Air/Ground recording at Honeysuckle Creek of the same event on Tape 4, Track 4 on this page.)

Preparation for LOI-1 burn.
Lead up to LOI-1 burn. Listen for burn starting at 01:42.
End of LOI burn. “Congratulations, gentlemen.”
Housekeeping after LOI burn.
Preparing to take photos.
Near sub-solar point.
Passing over Brand and then Tsiolkovsky.
AOS Honeysuckle Creek. Jerry Carr calls at 00:08. It takes a little while for the down voice to be configured through to Houston.

4th TV broadcast – on Revolution 9. From about 10 minutes into the TV. “For all the people back on Earth” starts at 08:00.

(See the Genesis Reading, as it was received and heard on Earth on this page.)

Preparing for the Trans Earth Injection burn to leave lunar orbit on the journey home.
10 minutes before the TEI burn.
6 minutes to TEI burn. Running through checklists.
2 minutes to the TEI burn.
TEI burn starts. “Looking real good.”
00:25 “We’re going home.” “We’re coming down the pike.” TEI burn ends at 01:26.


* – Mark Gray has the LOI-1 burn on his Spacecraft Films Apollo 8 set.

* Update: Apollo 8 audio, including much of the DSE audio, has now been retrieved from the National Archives and digitised at the Johnson Space Center. It has been posted at Archive.org. While the quality of the source tapes is variable, this is a welcome development. The Genesis reading is of poor audio quality. Thankfully, the Honeysuckle tape is quite good.

Back to the main Apollo 8 page.