NAME: James B. Irwin
BIRTHPLACE AND DATE: Irwin was born March 17, 1930 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
EDUCATION: Bachelor of Science in naval science from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1951. Master of Science in aeronautical engineering and instrumentation engineering from the University of Michigan in 1957.
EXPERIENCE: Upon graduation from the Naval Academy, Irwin was commissioned in the U.S. Air Force and received his flight training at Hondo Air Force Base and Reese Air Force Base, Texas. He later assisted in development of the Mach-3 YF-12A interceptor, serving with the F-12 Test Force at Edwards Air Force Base, California, and with the AIM-47 Project Office at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. He was graduated from the Experimental Test Pilot School in 1961 and from the Aerospace Research Pilot School in 1963. He then became Chief of the Advanced Requirements Branch at Headquarters Air Defense Command.
NASA selected Irwin as an astronaut in April 1966. He was backup Lunar Module pilot for Apollo 12. He flew as Lunar Module Pilot on Apollo 15, launched on July 26, 1971,. Irwin and David R. Scott flew their Lunar Module to the moon's surface while Alfred M. Worden waited in the Command Module in lunar orbit. This was the first extended scientific expedition to the moon and the first to use the Lunar Rover. In three separate excursions over three days they explored the most spectacular Apollo landing site, a narrow valley hemmed in on three sides by the 4,500 m Apennine Mountains and on the fourth by a 2 km wide canyon, Hadley Rille. They returned with 77 kg of rocks, having left behind an ALSEP science station for continued monitoring of the lunar environment.
Irwin retired from NASA and from the Air Force, with the rank of colonel, in 1972. A very religious person, he founded the High Flight Foundation, a non-profit organisation devoted to sharing Irwin's faith in God through speaking engagements, publications and retreats. He made several trips to Turkey's Mount Ararat in an unsuccessful quest for Noah's Ark. Irwin served as chairman and president of the foundation until his death from a heart attack on August 8, 1991, in Glenwood Springs, Colorado.
Apollo 12 (AS-507)-with astronauts Charles Conrad, Jr., Richard F. Gordon, Jr., and Alan L. Bean as the crewmen-was launched from Pad A, Launch Complex 39, KSC, at 11:22 a.m. EST November 14. Lightning struck the space vehicle twice, at 36.5 seconds and 52 seconds into the mission. The first strike was visible to spectators at the launch site. No damage was done. Except for special attention given to verifying all spacecraft systems because of the lightning strikes, the activities during earth-orbit checkout, translunar injection, and translunar coast were similar to those of Apollo 10 and Apollo 11.
During the translunar coast astronauts Conrad and Bean transferred to the LM one-half hour earlier than planned in order to obtain full TV coverage through the Goldstone tracking station. The 56-minute TV transmission showed excellent color pictures of the CSM, the intravehicular transfer, the LM interior, the earth, and the moon.
At 10:47 p.m. EST, November 17, the spacecraft entered a lunar orbit of 312.6 x 115.9 kilometers. A second service propulsion system burn circularized the orbit with a 122.5-kilometer apolune and a 100.6-kilometer perilune. Conrad and Bean again transferred to the LM, where they perfomed housekeeping chores, a voice and telemetry test, and an oxygen purge system check. They then returned to the CM.
Conrad and Bean reentered the LM, checked out all systems, and at 10:17 p.m. EST on November 18 fired the reaction control system thrusters to separate the CSM 108 (the Yankee Clipper) from the LM-6 (the Intrepid). At 1:55 a.m. EST November 19, the Intrepid landed on the moon's Ocean of Storms, about 163 meters from the Surveyor III spacecraft that had landed April 19, 1967. Conrad, shorter than Neil Armstrong (first man on the moon, July 20), had a little difficulty negotiating the last step from the LM ladder to the lunar surface. When he touched the surface at 6:44 a.m. EST November 19, he exclaimed, "Whoopee! Man, that may have been a small step for Neil, but that's a long one for me."
Bean joined Conrad on the surface at 7:14 a.m. They collected a 1.9-kilogram contingency sample of lunar material and later a 14.8-kilogram selected sample. They also deployed an S-band antenna, solar wind composition experiment, and the American flag. An Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments Package with a SNAP-27 atomic generator was deployed about 182 meters from the LM. After 3 hours 56 minutes on the lunar surface, the two astronauts entered the Intrepid to rest and check plans for the next EVA.
The astronauts again left the LM at 10:55 p.m. EST November 19. During the second EVA, Conrad and Bean retrieved the lunar module TV camera for return to earth for a failure analysis, obtained photographic panoramas, core and trench samples, a lunar environment sample, and assorted rock, dirt, bedrock, and molten samples. The crew then examined and retrieved parts of Surveyor III, including the TV camera and soil scoop. After 3 hours 49 minutes on the lunar surface during the second EVA, the two crewmen entered the LM at 2:44 a.m. EST November 20. Meanwhile astronaut Gordon, orbiting the moon in the Yankee Clipper, had completed a lunar multispectral photography experiment and photographed proposed future landing sites.
At 9:26 a.m. EST November 20, after 31 hours 31 minutes on the moon, Intrepid successfully lifted off with 34.4 kilograms of lunar samples. Rendezvous maneuvers went as planned. The LM docked with the CSM at 12:58 p.m. November 20. The last 24 minutes of the rendezvous sequence was televised. After the crew transferred with the samples, equipment, and film to the Yankee Clipper, the Intrepid was jettisoned and intentionally crashed onto the lunar surface at 5:17 p.m. November 20, 72.2 kilometers southeast of Surveyor III. The crash produced reverberations that lasted about 30 minutes and were detected by the seismometer left on the moon.
At 3:49 p.m. EST November 21, the crew fired the service propulsion system engine, injecting the CSM into a transearth trajectory after 89 hours 2 minutes in lunar orbit. During the transearth coast, views of the receding moon and the interior of the spacecraft were televised, and a question and answer session with scientists and the press was conducted.
Parachute deployment and other reentry events occurred as planned. The CM splashed down in mid-Pacific at 3:58 p.m. EST November 24, 7.25 kilometers from the recovery ship, U.S.S. Hornet. The astronauts, wearing flight suits and biological face masks, were airlifted by helicopter from the CM to the recovery ship, where they entered the mobile quarantine facility. They would remain in this facility until arrival at the Lunar Receiving Laboratory, MSC. The Apollo 12 mission objectives were achieved and the experiments successfully accomplished.
Apollo 15 (AS-510) with astronauts David R. Scott, Alfred M. Worden, and James B. Irwin aboard was launched from Pad A, Launch Complex 39, KSC, at 9:34 a.m. EDT July 26. The spacecraft and S-IVB combination was placed in an earth parking orbit 11 minutes 44 seconds after liftoff. Activities during earth orbit and translunar injection (insertion into the trajectory for the moon) were similar to those of previous lunar landing missions. Translunar injection was at about 12:30 p.m., with separation of the CSM from the LM/S-IVB/IU at 12:56 p.m. At 1:08 p.m., onboard color TV showed the docking of the CSM with the LM.
S-IVB auxiliary propulsion system burns sent the S-IVB/IU stages toward the moon, where they impacted the lunar surface at 4:59 p.m. EDT July 29. The point of impact was 188 kilometers northeast of the Apollo 14 landing site and 355 kilometers northeast of the Apollo 12 site. The impact was detected by both the Apollo 12 and Apollo 14 seismometers, left on the moon in November 1969 and February 1971.
After the translunar coast, during which TV pictures of the CSM and LM interiors were shown and the LM communications and other systems were checked, Apollo 15 entered lunar orbit at 4:06 p.m. EDT July 29.
The LM-10 Falcon, with astronauts Scott and Irwin aboard, undocked and separated from the Endeavor (CSM 112) with astronaut Worden aboard. At 6:16 p.m. EDT July 30, the Falcon landed in the Hadley-Apennine region of the moon 600 meters north-northwest of the proposed target. About two hours later, following cabin depressurization, Scott performed a 33-minute standup EVA in the upper hatch of the LM, during which he described and photographed the landing site.
The first crew EVA on the lunar surface began at 9:04 a.m. July 31. The crew collected and stowed a contingency sample, unpacked the ALSEP and other experiments, and prepared the lunar roving vehicle (LRV) for operations. Some problems were encountered in the deployment and checkout of the LRV, used for the first time, but they were quickly resolved. The first EVA traverse was to the Apennine mountain front, after which the ALSEP was deployed and activated, and one probe of a Heat Flow experiment was emplaced. A second probe was not emplaced until EVA-2 because of drilling difficulties. The first EVA lasted 6 hours 33 minutes.
At 7:49 a.m. EDT August 1, the second EVA began. The astronauts made a maintenance check on the LRV and then began the second planned traverse of the mission. On completion of the traverse, Scott and Irwin completed the placement of heat flow experiment probes, collected a core sample, and deployed the American flag. They then stowed the sample container and the film in the LM, completing a second EVA of 7 hours 12 minutes.
The third EVA began at 4:52 a.m. August 2, included another traverse, and ended 4 hours 50 minutes later, for a total Apollo 15 lunar surface EVA time of 18 hours 35 minutes.
While the lunar module was on the moon, astronaut Worden completed 34 lunar orbits in the CSM operating scientific instrument module experiments and cameras to obtain data concerning the lunar surface and environment. X-ray spectrometer data indicated richer abundance of aluminum in the highlands, especially on the far side, but greater concentrations of magnesium in the maria.
Liftoff of the ascent stage of the LM, the first one to be televised, occurred at 1:11 p.m. EDT August 2. About two hours later the LM and CSM rendezvoused and docked, and film, equipment, and 77 kilograms of lunar samples were transferred from the LM to the CSM. The ascent stage was jettisoned and hit the lunar surface at 11:04 p.m. EDT August 2. Its impact was recorded by the Apollo 12, Apollo 14, and Apollo 15 seismometers, left on the moon during those missions. Before leaving the lunar orbit, the spacecraft deployed a subsatellite, at 4:13 p.m. August 4, in an orbit of 141.3 by 102 kilometers. The satellite would measure interplanetary and earth magnetic fields near the moon. It also carried charged-particle sensors and equipment to detect variations in lunar gravity caused by mascons (mass concentrations).
A transearth injection maneuver at 5:23 p.m. August 4 put the CSM on an earth trajectory. During the transearth coast, astronaut Worden performed an inflight EVA beginning at 11:32 a.m. August 5 and lasting for 38 minutes 12 seconds. He made three trips to the scientific instrument module (SIM) bay of the SM, twice to retrieve cassettes and once to observe the condition of the instruments in the SIM bay.
CM and SM separation, parachute deployment, and other reentry events went as planned, but one of the three main parachutes failed, causing a hard but safe landing. Splashdown - at 4:47 p.m. EDT August 7, after 12 days 7 hours 12 minutes from launch - was 530 kilometers north of Hawaii and 10 kilometers from the recovery ship U.S.S. Okinawa. The astronauts were carried to the ship by helicopter, and the CM was retrieved and placed on board. All primary mission objectives had been achieved.
Explored lunar surface near LM and deployed ALSEP unmanned scientific station equipment.
Drove in lunar rover to Hadley Delta.
Drove in lunar rover to Hadley Rille.
Threw excess equipment out of LM before lift-off.
Deep space retrieval of film cartridges from Service Module.