Fun Is Wherever You Can Find It

Captain Conrad Unloading the ALSEP (2007)
Completed 2007, textured acrylic with moondust on aircraft plywood
12 1/2" x 10"
$19,675 -- SOLD

One of our primary objectives for the first moonwalk was to unload and deploy the Apollo Lunar Surface Experiment Package (ALSEP). These six experiments were stowed during flight inside a large compartment on the back side of the lunar module. For ease of unstowing and carrying to the deployment site, the experiments were mounted on one pallet. Their Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator was mounted on a second. Both fully loaded packages were fragile, bulky, and relatively heavy -- 420 earth pounds, 70 moon pounds.

As the lunar module rested on the surface, the ALSEP storage compartment was above normal shoulder height. Because of our limited dexterity in the space suit, a system was designed to unlock and move each package horizontally out of the storage compartment supported beneath a short boom using one strap and then using a second strap lower it to the ground.

I have painted Pete tugging on the black-and-white strap that was connected to a ratchet mechanism that allowed Pete to carefully lower the experments package. A few seconds earlier Pete had used the white strap in his left glove to pull the experiement package out of the storage compartment. The system operated perfectly but, as Pete said, "The first thing we noted was that as soon as we put the packages down on the surface, they began to accumulate dust." It was kind of ironic since during tests with the actual flight equipment here on Earth, we all had to wear dust-free white suits and gloves inside a super clean room. In spite of this, all the experiments operated properly, sending important scientific data to Earth well beyond the design lifetime.
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