Pink Floyd's Career as a NASA Space Flight Report

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R J Dent's surreal short story, The Pink Floyd Story Considered as a NASA Space Flight Report .

Submitted: April 18, 2016

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Submitted: April 18, 2016

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Pink Floyd's Career Considered as a NASA Space Flight Report

by R J Dent

 

Precisely eight days and three minutes after their lunar launch on May 16, Pink Floyd (hereafter referred to as PF) crewmen Roger Waters, Nick Mason, Rick Wright and Syd Barrett landed PF at the recording studio in the Mohave Desert on the Eastern Seaboard, 399 miles east of American Samoa.

PF ventured closer to the moon than any craft has ever done, and the PF crew received the traditional hero's welcome from those who waited in the pre-dawn hours aboard the SS Arnold Layne for its re-entry. 

The mission's valuable cargo of musical, pictorial, electronic and human data, when developed, decoded, and released, will hopefully pave the way for a new PF lunar flight now scheduled for launch on July 16. 

The foundation was laid last Thursday when Roger Waters and Syd Barrett approached within 9.6 miles of the lunar surface to survey the prime target sites being considered for the first recording session of TPATGOD. 

PF made a perfect reconnaissance flight right on time, dispelling all fears that the new album will experience delays. 

PF circled the Earth one-and-a-half times before their trans-lunar injection, which began the group's 72-hour coast to the Moon. 

Shortly after TPATGOD, the four interstellar PF veterans made the first of several ‘fantastic’ sound transmissions of ASOS with the new sonar equipment designed for spaceflight. 

The world watched as Waters separated the ailing Syd Barrett from the second stage of PF, and utilizing David Gilmour, turned PF around and linked light, velocity, sound, colour and sonic texture on SFTFM.

 Then with U, AHM and M, they broke completely away from the spent third stage and, after testing their course with OBC, they continued smoothly on their trans-lunar course towards DSOTM. 

As testimony to the amazing accuracy of the session planning and track dubbing of TDSOTM, flight time was predicted six months ago within 35 seconds of actual completion, the entire sequencing session was completed within minutes of the recording schedule and only two out of several planned mid-course corrections by PF were deemed necessary. 

The first of these corrections, on the trans-lunar coast, involved a service propulsion system burn of seven seconds at about 2:30 on Monday afternoon. 

Increased pre-flight precautions left the PF crew in extremely good physical condition, the only complaint being some slightly unsettled, colour-sensitive minds from something in the drinking water. 

Tuesday was a relatively quiet day as PF continued with its DSOTM session, with both scheduled and unscheduled television along the way. 

Lunar orbit insertion was accomplished about 12:30 p.m. on Wednesday. 

The remainder of the afternoon was spent on lunar photography, systems checks and generally accustoming the mission personnel and crew to intermittent losses of communication. 

The mission's first obstacle was encountered shortly after 10 Thursday morning when Waters and Gilmour entered the control booth for the first time and were greeted by a feedback flaw in DSOFM sound. This caused friction and irritation between the crew, were also obscuring sounds on a 1/4-inch tape, which delayed the overdubbing process until the problem was partially resolved. Plans are already in the works for a change in PF direction before the next flight.

Tension rose again just before the schedule separation behind the moon when Waters shifted the PF module about 3 degrees, placing a slight strain on the docking mechanism. 

However, when PF reappeared, Wright was still in his 69-mile circular orbit and Gilmour was flying resolutely solo. 

The PF crew tackled dozens of tracking, photography and observation assignments on its low passes while Mason worked to keep communications open between the divided craft members and stood ready for any emergency. 

While communications, both vocal and high bit rate data, were minimal during the first low pass satisfactory linkage was apparently restored for PF's second dive. However, this is the type of anomaly that will undergo careful study before a go-ahead is given for WYWH. 

A more dramatic, but reportedly less dangerous, event occurred after the first pass just as Waters and Gilmour prepared to jettison PF's descent stage. 

As the vehicle burst apart – throwing the descent stage into lunar orbit as planned – the PF cabin was seized by a series of violent gyrations which sent the crew's heart rates soaring. Waters took over when the rolling began and stabilized the craft manually. 

The problem has been traced to a control switch, accidentally left in the wrong position. Flight controllers agree that the crew was in great danger during the shake-up. 

Eight hours and four revolutions after undocking, Waters fired his ascent engines and began to manoeuvre towards successful completion of the DSOTM flight. 

"Everyone says DSOTM was the best one we ever did," said Waters. 

Two hours after redocking, with equipment and data transferred to the studio, the PF crew was reunited. Then, the hatch was sealed and the craft was blasted into solar orbit. 

In their two low sweeps, Waters and Gilmour employed all but the final 12 minutes of the PF sound technique on WYWH. 

They conducted tests on the lunar landing radar which performed much better (65,000 units) than the expected (50,000 units). They took stereo pans on WYWH, as well as still photography and high resolution movies and made numerous observations on lunar geology from their unique vantage point. 

On A, computer data gained from the radar tests and various other tracking devices on old material helped the navigators determine how much the Moon's gravitational field affects subsequent flight paths.

The spent PF ascent section, left in lunar orbit, passed close to A several times Friday night and Saturday morning. TW caused some concern among the orbiting trio, even though the danger was fractional. Wright was last sighted on TW, somewhere in the 29th orbit. 

On the 31st orbit, at 5:25 Saturday morning, TFC, a one hour, 42 second trans-earth injection sent PF homeward after 61.5 hours in lunar rendezvous. 

The newly-unleashed reached the mid-way point between Earth and Moon at 4:40 Sunday evening and on Monday, entering at a speed of over 24,769 mph (fastest re-entry ever), PF splashed down at 11:53 a.m. Waters immediately jettisoned and Gilmour took over the PF controls and, after reinstating Wright, plotted new flights: specifically taking PF to AMLOR and TDB.

After Wright's post-orbital death, Gilmour and Mason undertook the final mission to TER, incorporating Wright's contributions in the PF flight plans. TER proved to be the last mission the remaining PF crew ever undertook.

 

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The Pink Floyd Story Considered as a NASA Space Flight Report

Copyright © R J Dent (2005 & 2016)

 

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