|SMEAT Page 5|
|Senator George McGovern's Visit to MSC
At some point during the test, Senator McGovern visited MSC during his campaign for president against President Nixon. I favored McGovern in the election and got a lot of flack from the mostly conservative engineers I worked with, so I looked forward to something impressive from the visit. I was at the test director console and heard his discussion with Crippen who was speaking for the crew. The only part of the conversation that I remember went something like this:
McGovern – How long have you been in the chamber?
Crippen – We’ve completed 30 of the 56 days so we have 26 more days to go.
McGovern – Well, that’s something! How much longer will you be in there?
Crippen – Well, about 26 more days.
Those aren’t the exact words or number of days, but you get the idea. I got a lot more ribbing for supporting a candidate who couldn’t even keep up with a conversation!
Phone technology was not very advanced back then and we had made our own phone patch to allow a connection between the test chamber intercommunication system and a building phone. That made phone calls to and from the test crewmembers difficult sometimes. I remember that one crewmember wanted to call his grandmother in California. I had to call the long distance operating to get the call through, then explain to the grandmother what the call was about and ask her to wait until I could put the phone onto the intercom system interface. Then I had to call on the intercom and tell the crewmember that his grandmother was on a private intercom channel. However, when he checked the channel, his grandmother wasn’t there, so I had to go through the whole process again. I think that one time he said to just forget about it.
Crippen selected a model kit to build a large Rolls-Royce plastic model car. It had an engine to assemble, working steering and suspension, a very elaborate model. However, it was made of plastic and was highly flammable. He was allowed to use it, but had to work on a metal table and store all unused parts in metal boxes. An activity area was provided in the second level of the chamber. The work bench and storage boxes were made of aluminum and no flammable materials were allowed except for the car kit.
|The astronauts studied the Russian language as one of their off-duty activities. There was probably some planning being done for the Apollo-Soyuz project even then. The instructor was a pretty young woman who often wore mini-skirts as she sat on a stool in front of the camera. The management placed restrictions on who could work in the room when she was giving the lessons.|
| Flame retardant playing cards and a metal checkerboard and checkers set was provided. A flight cassette tape player was used for music. The tape we had for checkout purposes included selections by Pete Conrad. One was “In the Summertime” by Mungo Jerry. I really enjoyed that. I hadn’t heard it anywhere else, but I recently heard it on ‘Mary’s Millpond’ Web site.
Our audio expert purchased a ‘state-of-the-art’ automobile radio with automatic tuning and wired it into the chamber sound system so that the astronauts could operate it from inside the chamber.
|Dr Thornton wanted to build a miniature working steam engine. He ordered a kit and all the parts were rough cast. They had to be machined before they could be used. There was no way to do metal machining in the test chamber, so he located an old machnist in San Antonio who did the machining and assembly. (Engine Photo) Then it was disassembled for Dr. Thornton to reassemble in the chamber. It ran on compressed air, of course, since steam was not available.|
|Scenes Inside the Chamber During Test Buildup|
|This is the heading of our chapter of the final report.|
| This shows the heading of the facilities chapter of the report with the list of the names of those involved.
This was the same chamber that was used for the suit test in which I was the subject. After that a Gemini ‘boilerplate’ spacecraft was installed to be used from training astronauts with EVA Life Support Systems. Then we started to install a Block I Apollo test spacecraft, but it was removed after the Apollo fire down at the Cape. We ran a few other small tests in the chamber before installing the SMEAT test systems.
Photos of the inside of the chamber taken during the test buildup begin on the next page.