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The Launchbox, PoD 5: Christmas Catastrophe - the Disaster of Apollo 8

Alex Richards

She needs an artificial Mountain, not AV
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NASA was really quite amazingly lucky with some of the timings of these accidents- even one where the LM was operational could have been disastrous with an Apollo 13 style incident and a less experienced crew.


Testing Is Underway
That's an interesting potential to have a loss of crew on the flight of Apollo 8 and the kind of ensuing impact that would cause on the program, with it most definitely unlikely to be able to land a crew by the end of 1969, and more probably into 1970 or 1971.

One bit as well you might find interesting related to the article, was a prepared front page for Newsweek in the event of a disaster for the Apollo 8 crew:



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Well the tank that blew on Apollo 13 was initially on Apollo 10 - which still had a LM, but a much worse one, of the early overweight things. Not sure if Apollo 10 LM could have handled the emergency as well as the Apollo 13 one did. For a start they didn't filled the tanks completely, just in case.
Plus of course it would have thrown Apollo 11 into disarray, more exactly in a dress rehearsal for Apollo 12.

Lovell is one of the three men that flew to the Moon twice (with the Apollo 10 LM crew split between 16 and 17 - John Young and Eugene Cernan) yet is the only one that never got a moonwalk.


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I did consider doing it on the Apollo 10 mission with exactly the same tank (but wasn't it the dropping and rectification that caused it to be switched to 13 in the first place, anyway?), but I felt the Apollo 8 one was more impactful for a PoD. First flight after Apollo 7's return-to-flight mission, first deep space mission - and no contingency at all for such a disaster....


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Yup. Would have been a complete disaster. And on top of that, by delaying Apollo 8 and 11 it would make the Zond flybys great again. The last two Zonds in August 1969 and October 1970 worked pretty well.

So sometimes in May or June 1969, Alexey Leonov and a fellow cosmonaut become the first men (alive) around the Moon...