50 years ago


I did not know that the command module lay on it’s side after the splashdown. I also didn’t know that

[Due to bad weather] Rear Admiral Donald C. Davis, the commander of Manned Spaceflight Recovery Forces, Pacific, advised NASA to change the recovery area. This was done; a new one was designated, 215 nautical miles (398 km) northeast of the original.

This altered the flight plan. A different sequence of computer programs was used, one never before attempted. In a conventional entry, P64 was followed by P67. For a skip-out re-entry, P65 and P66 were employed to handle the exit and entry parts of the skip. In this case, because they were extending the re-entry but not actually skipping out, P66 was not invoked and instead P65 led directly to P67. The crew were also warned that they would not be in a full-lift (heads-down) attitude when they entered P67. The first program’s acceleration subjected the astronauts to 6.5 standard gravities (64 m/s2); the second, to 6.0 standard gravities (59 m/s2).


[At 16:50 UTC] Columbia struck the water forcefully […] During splashdown, Columbia landed upside down but was righted within ten minutes by flotation bags activated by the astronauts.

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