Apollo Discussions > The Hoax Theory

Today I Found Out video about hoax

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Peter B:
It's a good question, even if the commenter's heart might be in the wrong place. (I'd also object to the idea the announcer was constantly talking - if you read the transcript there are long breaks between statements even within minutes of the launch.)

But yes, it makes sense to me that the announcer would have been reading from a script, but it was almost certainly one which got amended and updated on the run.

Consider, for example, the announcer occasionally mentions temperatures and wind speeds. If I were writing the script I'd leave blanks to be filled in when that data became available. By contrast, previously established information, such as biographical information about the astronauts, could easily be typed up days ahead of time.

Given the vast number of things happening simultaneously in the launch process, I imagine the announcer would have had a rich choice of items to choose from to mention in each update. As I read through the comments, and not knowing much about the systems of the spacecraft or the launcher, the things which do get mentioned seem a fairly random selection to me.

The other thing to consider is that the announcer would hardly have been working alone. I could well imagine he'd have a team of two or three gophers whose jobs would include listening in to the chat on the loops for anything unusual which might be of interest. For example, about an hour before lift-off the announcer mentions something about a problem with a valve in the third stage, and describes the planned solution. A couple of announcements later he says the problem has been fixed. I assume those comments would be scribbled down by the gophers and inserted into the script for the announcer to read.

A test for my theory is the hold in the count for the launch of Apollo 17. There, the announcer is, to me at least, very clearly having to improvise what to say, and what he says isn't nearly as smooth or interesting as the other comments, at least until he has further information to report.

Having said all that, it seems to me the announcer was also perfectly happy to edit things on the run. The transcript for the launch of Apollo 11 shows the announcer supposedly quoting Armstrong - "It's been a real smooth countdown" and "It feels good" - within the last minute before launch. Now, I assume the AFJ transcript is as complete as it can be in terms of what the crew said to Launch Control, yet there's no record of Armstrong saying either of those things. Collins says "Sure have been a nice smooth countdown, Skip", but I can't find any of the crew saying anything much like "It feels good."

Jeff Raven:
Appreciate the replies, and I agree that the PAO likely had things prepared both from a "I want to be accurate" perspective and, as you said, that there will be breaks, etc., and he would have to improvise.

I can see I wasn't as clear in my original comment as I meant to be. Let me clarify. I was entirely ignoring the original commenter's part about the script, as it felt like it might have been a subtle jab at the possibility of things being faked. I suppose I shouldn't have put that part in parentheses. The same for him speaking nonstop. The video the comment has a host who speaks rather rapidly with few breaks for breath. Many in that comment section asked some version of, "Why/How are you speaking so quickly?"

My primary question is about the apparent protocol of starting each statement with "This is Apollo Saturn Launch Control" and ending with "this is Kennedy Launch Control" or occasionally just "this is Launch Control."  Was there such a protocol, and if so what was the reason? It seemed very consistent, so I'm curious why it was done that way.

Again, apologies for not making my original post more clear.

Peter B:
Hey, nothing to apologise about! It was fun poking around the AFJ just in its own right - because if nothing else I've learned new stuff about Apollo.

To go to your main question - obviously I can't answer it. But it was really noticeable in the AFJ Apollo 17 launch page the way the announcer spoke the way you described: "This is Apollo Saturn Launch Control...[makes commentary]...this is Kennedy Launch Control." So noticeable that it really stood out when once he said "...this is Kennedy Test Control."

So I assumed this was some standard wording worked out by the announcer...then I checked the AFJ Apollo 15 launch page. And each comment was: "This is Kennedy Launch Control...[makes commentary]...this is Kennedy Launch Control."

So now I assume it was a personal sign-off scripted by the announcer (and I'm assuming there were different announcers for different missions).

Pretty much standard practice now for any launch to be accompanied by some prepared hyperbole that someone thought would read well in a press release or sound good on a news bulletin.

Given that mission timelines were written down with a high degree of precision it's not surprising that all the key events were written down to be read out. Anything ad libbed might sound scripted when done byby someone who knew what they were doing and was good at their job.

The 'This is Kennedy Launch control...' intro outro thing serves as both a snazzy piece of audio and also clearly marks out what is info for waiting journalists and so on from the chatter of mission control and astronauts.

In case it's any use, here's a transcript of the Apollo 11 launch I did back in 2006-2008.

Jack King, the Public Affairs Officer, certainly doesn't talk non-stop, except for the last minutes before launch. At times he was silent for many minutes. And in between 36 and 31 minutes in the countdown Houston PAO, Jack Riley, comments.

My own thoughts on hearing the PAO's comments since July 1969 are that they were incredibly professional, very knowledgeable and extremely valuable to we laypeople who needed their help.

Apollo 11 Voice Transcripts

16 to 24 July 1969

Compiled from three NASA documents
Apollo 11 Technical Air-To-Ground Voice Transcription (Goss Net 1)
Apollo 11 Onboard Voice Transcription
ApolIo 11 Spacecraft Commentary


Compiled and edited by
Doug Bennett, 61 Punga Street, Tangimoana, Manawatu 4822, New Zealand
December 2006 to June 2008

The original documents contain many errors and typos which, where known, have been corrected, but it is likely there are more,
so the accuracy of this document cannot be guaranteed and further research is advisable where accuracy is required.
The compiler would appreciate being advised of any errors and useful additions.

A series of three dots (...) is used to designate those portions of the communications that could not be transcribed because of garbling.

One dash (-) is used to indicate a speaker's pause or a self-interruption and subsequent speaker or a point at which a recording was terminated abruptly.

Two asterisks (**) are used to show the times of important events in the mission.

- 28:00:00   ** Terminal countdown started.

- 9:00:00   ** Scheduled 11-hour hold at T minus 9 hours.

- 9:00:00   ** Countdown resumed at T minus 9 hours.

- 3:30:00   ** Scheduled 1-hour 32-minute hold at T minus 3 hours 30 minutes.

- 3:30:00   ** Countdown resumed at T minus 3 hours 30 minutes.

- 2:40:40   PAO Launch Control (Jack King): This is Apollo/Saturn Launch Control. T minus 2 hours 40 minutes 40 seconds and counting. At this time the prime crew for Apollo 11 has boarded the high-speed elevator from inside the A level in the mobile launcher, which is the second level inside the launcher. This is a high-speed elevator, 600 feet per minute, which will carry them to the 320-foot level, the spacecraft level. Shortly we'll expect astronauts Neil Armstrong and Michael Collins to come across swing arm 9, the Apollo access arm, and proceed to the white room and stand by to board the spacecraft. The third member of the crew, astronaut Edwin Aldrin, will be the last one to board the spacecraft, will stand by in the elevator, seated in a chair, while his two comrades first board the spacecraft. Once Armstrong, who sits in the left-hand seat, and Collins, who will sit in the right-hand seat during liftoff, are aboard, then Aldrin will be called and he will take his seat, the middle seat in the spacecraft. The spacecraft Commander Neil Armstrong and the Command Module Pilot Michael Collins, now proceeding across the swing arm into the small white room that attaches at the spacecraft level. In the meantime, about a hundred feet below we have a technician, a team of technicians, working on a leaking valve which is a part of the ground support equipment, a part of the system that's used to replenish the fuel supply for the third stage of the Saturn V rocket. He is proceeding to tighten a series of bolts around this valve, in the hope that this will correct the leak. Once the technicians do depart the hydrogen will again be flowed through the system to ensure that the leak has been corrected. The spacecraft Commander Neil Armstrong and CMP, the Command Module Pilot, Mike Collins, now  standing by in the white room.

- 2:38:45   PAO (King): T minus 2 hours 38 minutes 45 seconds and counting.  This is Launch Control.

- 2:34:44   PAO (King): This is Apollo/Saturn Launch Control. T minus 2 hours 34 minutes 44 seconds and counting. The spacecraft Commander Neil Armstrong now aboard the Apollo 11 spacecraft at the 320-foot level at the pad. We have it logged having the commander go over the sill into the cabin at 6:54 a.m. Eastern Daylight. Since that time the commander has now been tied into the system and has checked in over the communication lines. He was wished a "Good morning," by the Spacecraft Test Conductor Skip Chauvin, and Armstrong, in return, said, "It looks like a good morning."

- 2:30:55   PAO (King): This is Apollo/Saturn Launch Control. T minus 2 hours 30 minutes 55 seconds and counting. Right on the hour the Command Module Pilot, astronaut Michael Collins, who will be sitting on the right-hand side of the spacecraft during liftoff, boarded the spacecraft. We had it logged at 7 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time.

- 2:23:46   PAO (King): This is Apollo/Saturn Launch Control. T minus 2 hours 23 minutes 46 seconds and counting. The third member of the Apollo 11 prime crew now aboard the spacecraft.  We had it logged at 7:07 a.m Eastern Daylight Time when astronaut Buzz Aldrin boarded the spacecraft.  He'll sit in the middle seat during liftoff.

- 1:30:55   PAO (King): This is Apollo/Saturn Launch Control. T minus 1 hour 30 minutes 55 seconds and counting. All elements are Go with the countdown at this time, the countdown aimed at landing two astronauts on the Moon. At this time the Spacecraft Test Conductor Skip Chauvin going through some checks with astronaut Mike Collins aboard the spacecraft. We're winding up this important emergency detection system test that Neil Armstrong has been participating in. Meanwhile, at the 320-foot level the closeout crew now placing the boost protective cover over the hatch now that we have completed the cabin purge and have the proper cabin environment inside the cabin. We have also performed leak checks to assure ourselves that the cabin atmosphere is valid. This boost protective cover is used during the early phases of a powered flight and it is jettisoned with the escape tower shortly after second stage ignition. Here in the firing room the launch vehicle test team's still keeping a close eye on the status of the propellants aboard the Saturn V launch vehicle. We're back to 100 percent supply with the liquid hydrogen fuel in the third stage.  We've actually bypassed the valve that we are maintaining our hydrogen supply aboard the vehicle. All aspects Go, the weather is very satisfactory this morning, a thin cloud cover about 15,000 feet, temperature at launch time expected to be about 85 degrees.

- 1:29:30   PAO (King): At T minus 1 hour, 29 minutes, 30 seconds and counting, this is Kennedy Launch Control.

- 1:20:55   PAO (King): This is Apollo/Saturn Launch Control. T minus 1 hour, 20 minutes, 55 seconds and counting. All is still Go with the countdown for Apollo 11 at this time. At this point in the countdown Spacecraft Commander Neil Armstrong once again appears to be the busiest worker in the spacecraft as he is performing a series of alignment checks associated with the guidance system in the spacecraft. He is working these checks with the spacecraft test conductor as the test conductor reads out the various procedures and Armstrong responds to them. The astronauts aboard the spacecraft also were informed by the spacecraft conductor a short while ago that the launch vehicle is Go at this time. The hydrogen problem that we did encounter earlier has been solved. That is real good news said Armstrong and then he went back to work shortly thereafter. We are now coming up on the 1 hour, 20 minute mark in the countdown. This is Kennedy Launch Control.

- 1:11:55   PAO (King): This is Apollo/Saturn Launch Control. T minus one hour, 11 minutes, 55 seconds and counting. The countdown for Apollo 11 still going very satisfactorily at this time. In most cases we're a matter of five or ten minutes ahead of the countdown procedures. The crew in the white room at the 10 and 20 foot level who have been aiding the astronauts up to this time are just in the process of finishing up their work. They've been advised by the spacecraft test conductor that they'll probably be able to move out in about three minutes or so. Once this is accomplished, once the close-out crew does depart, we'll be ready to move that swing arm back - swing arm 9. It will be moved 12 degrees away from the spacecraft hatch which is about five feet away from the hatch. Once this is accomplished, we will arm the pyrotechnic systems in the spacecraft so in the event of a possible catastrophic condition below them, the launch vehicle, while still on the pad, the astronauts could fire that escape rocket and separate from the rocket in difficulty. The close-out crew are about to depart at this time. That swing arm remains about 12 degrees away from the spacecraft hatch as mentioned - five feet or so until the 5-minute mark in the count when it's fully retracted to its fall-back position. The obvious reason here is in the event we do have to get the astronauts out in a hurry, the swing arm is in a stand-by position and could be moved rapidly back to the hatch - to the hatch level so the astronauts could depart in the event of an emergency.

- 1:10:20   PAO (King): We're coming up on T minus 1 hour, 10 minutes, and 20 seconds. This is Kennedy Launch Control.

- 1:07:25   PAO (King): This is Apollo/Saturn Launch Control at 1 hour 7 minutes 25 seconds and counting, countdown still proceeding satisfactorily. For those people who would like to synchronize their watches in relation to the count, we'll synchronize on 26 minutes past the hour, which is now about 65 seconds away. We'll count down the last five seconds to 26 minutes past the hour. We're now one minute away from 26 minutes past the hour. In the meantime, we do have information from the Civil Defense Agency in the area. The estimate is more than a million persons are in the immediate area in Brevard County to watch the launch. Now 40 seconds away from 26 minutes past the hour. Civil Defense Agency reports further, that there is extensive heavy traffic, a number of traffic jams, particularly in the area of Titusville and the U.S. 1 and Route 50. Countdown still progressing satisfactorily. 15 seconds away from 26 minutes. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 -

- 1:05:55   PAO (King): Mark. 8:26 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time. We're now 1 hour 5 minutes 55 seconds and counting as it was announced at that point. This is Kennedy Launch Control.

- 1:01:00   PAO (King): This is Apollo/Saturn launch control. T minus 61 minutes and counting - T minus 61 minutes on the Apollo 11 countdown, and all elements are Go at this time. Astronaut Neil Armstrong has just completed a series of checks on that big service propulsion system engine that sits below him in the stack. We want to assure ourselves before liftoff that that engine can respond to commands from inside the spacecraft. As Neil Armstrong moved his rotational hand controller we assured ourselves that the engine did respond by swiveling or gimballing. This is - course is important for maneuvers in space. The countdown is still proceeding very satisfactorily other than two minor problems essentially picked up the count at 11 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time last night, all has gone well. As we approach the one hour mark now, in the count of series of radio frequency and telemetry checks will be in progress with the launch vehicle. We'll also check out the tracking beacons in the instrument unit that travels as a guidance system for the Saturn V during the powered phase of the flight.  Now 59 minutes, 48 seconds and counting, this is Kennedy Launch Control.

- 0:56:00   PAO (King): This is Apollo/Saturn Launch Control. We have just passed the 56-minute mark in our countdown. We are still proceeding in an excellent manner at this time. All elements reporting in that all systems continuing to look good at this point. We are still aiming toward our planned liftoff at the start of the lunar window 9:32 a.m. Eastern Daylight. A short while ago, in fact the Spacecraft Test Conductor Skip Chauvin informed spacecraft Commander Neil Armstrong that we are doing quite well, in fact some 15 minutes ahead on some aspects of the preparation spacecraftwise. Armstrong replied that was fine just as long as we don't launch 15 minutes early. Obviously referring to the start of the window.

- 0:55:10   PAO (King): The countdown is still going well, T minus 55 minutes, 10 seconds and counting, this is Kennedy Launch Control.

- 0:51:00   PAO (King): This is Apollo/Saturn Launch Control. We have passed the 51 minute mark in our countdown. We're now T minus 50 minutes 51 seconds and counting. Apollo 11 countdown is still Go at this time, all elements reporting ready at this point in the countdown. The spacecraft - correction - the Test Supervisor Bill Schick has advised all hands here in the control center and spacecraft checkout people that in about 30 seconds that big swing arm that has been attached to the spacecraft up to now will be moved back to a parked position some five feet away from the spacecraft. We alert the astronauts because there is a little jolt when this arm is moved away. It will remain in that position some five feet away from the spacecraft until the five minute mark in the count when it's completely pulled away to its retracted position. It's coming up now in five seconds, the swing arm will come back. Mark. The swing arm now coming back from the spacecraft. Countdown proceeding satisfactorily. We've completed our telemetry checks with the launch vehicle and at this point with the swing arm back we arm the pyrotechnics so that escape tower atop the astronauts, atop their spacecraft, could be used if a catastrophic condition was going to occur under them with the launch vehicle from this point on down in the countdown. We have the high speed elevator located at the 320 foot level in the event the astronauts have to get out in a hurry. This is a special precaution. One of the members of the support team for Apollo 11, Astronaut Bill Pogue, is here in the firing room. He acts as Capsule Communication during the countdown. His call sign is Stoney. He controls that elevator. He now has it locked at the 320-foot level. These are special precautions for safety purposes during the final phase of the count.

- 0:49:00   PAO (King): Now coming up on the 49 minute in the countdown, this is Kennedy Launch Control.

- 0:46:00   PAO (King): This is Apollo/Saturn Launch Control. We've passed the 46-minute mark in our countdown. T minus 45 minutes, 52 seconds and counting. All elements still Go in the countdown at this time. The hard work on the spacecraft at this point in the countdown - Astronaut Buzz Aldrin in the middle seat. He's been working with the spacecraft test conductor on setting up proper switch settings in preparation for pressurizing the reaction control system. These are these big thrusters on the side of the service module. There's actually 16 of them in four quadrants around the service module. They are used for maneuvers in space. We pressurize that system before liftoff. That particular operation will be coming up in some five minutes or so. In preparation for it, Buzz Aldrin who has most of the switches in front of him, has been preparing for that particular event. The launch vehicle people keeping an eye on the status of the various propellants aboard the Saturn V launch vehicle. Just at liftoff, we will have the vehicle weighing close to 6-1/2 million pounds on the launch pad. There's more than a million gallons of propellants aboard the three stages of Saturn V. The reports here in the control center are the propellants are stable. They did look a little while ago at the RP 1, the high-grade kerosene fuel that's used in the first stage of the Saturn V to make sure it was at its top level. We keep an eye on these various aspects throughout the count, and use the aid of computers to keep an overall look on general status.

- 0:44:21   PAO (King): So now at T minus 44 minutes, 21 seconds and counting, this is Kennedy Launch Control.

- 0:41:00   PAO (King): This is Apollo/Saturn launch control. We've passed the 41 minute mark in our count. T minus 40 minutes, 53 seconds and counting. We are continuing, and we're continuing very excellently at this time. There are no problems that have been reported in as the countdown continues to click down. We're still aiming for the start of our window on this, the first flight to land man on the moon. Our - we're aiming toward our planned liftoff time of 9:32 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time. Coming up shortly will be a key test here in the firing room. As far as the launch vehicle people are concerned, it's a - some final checks of the destruct system aboard the three stages of the Saturn V launch vehicle. In the event during powered flight that the vehicle strayed rather violently off course, the range safety officer could take action to destroy the vehicle which obviously would occur after the astronauts were separated by their escape tower from the faulty vehicle. We'll make a check of the destruct system to assure that if the signal is required to get through that, in fact, it will. This is what is coming up here in the control center at this time.

- 0:39:47   PAO (King): All aspects of the mission still Go at T minus 39 minutes, 47 seconds and counting. This is Kennedy launch control.



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