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From Black Vault user Willease:


Two astronauts of Apollo 17 collect rock and soil samples and suddenly one of them gets really excited as he spots "something weird" flying over his head.


You probably need to watch the video a couple times as it happens very fast!!!


Normally NASA astronauts follow a "script" and they know exactly what and when to say.

This astronaut however was too shocked by something he had never seen before. He forgets his "lines" and no longer follows the script. Instead a long and not planned discussion and conversation starts. The astronaut is truly amazed. Unlike his colleague, who seems to be in charge. The astronaut asks what these objects were that flew over his head. Than it becomes hilarious. Flabbergasted, the second astronaut does also not know what to say! This was not planned and not in the script. He is however aware of the fact that they are being watched by NASA officials.


After a short period of silence he says that it was a blast coming from the dial shaped disc of the high gain antenna on the rover (vehicle). More objects start flying over and again we hear genuine excitement. Than the astronaut realizes that he had said something he should not have said in front of the cameras and NASA. He reluctantly accepts the vague explanation. He is really annoyed and you hear sarcasm and disbelief in the undertone of his voice.


NASA tries to save this unpleasant situation and intervenes as CAPCOM confirms that it was a blast from the antenna and that it happened before.


According to the astronaut who clearly is in charge, this blast from the antenna is just "routine".


This is an interesting video. Styrofoam blowing up? This has happened before? When this really would be the case, would they not have taken countermeasures? Space programs are planned with utmost precision and they do not take any risks with equipment and astronauts. So what do you think after having seen the footage? Was it a blast from the antenna? Exploding styrofoam? Or is someone not telling us the truth and these two astronauts had a couple "visitors" passing by.


Original video EVA-1 Close-out Journal Text: 123:27:46




Here is the official transcript, and explanation, from NASA:


123:28:18 Cernan: Okay. (Reading CDR-35) "Verify (good seal)...SRC (in) plus-Z pad..." What are those things going over? What is that, Jack? Hey, something just hit here!

[Beyond Jack's head, a piece of debris is visible moving north and away from the LM.]

123:28:30 Cernan: What blew? Hey, what is that?

123:28:33 Schmitt: Oh, your antenna...It's that Styrofoam off the high-gain antenna package.

123:28:41 Cernan: On the LM?

123:28:42 Schmitt: No, the one you deployed. The Rover high-gain antenna.

[Another piece of foam packing has exploded because of sunlight heating of trapped gas bubbles.]

123:28:47 Cernan: My God, it blew up!

123:28:49 Schmitt: Yeah.

[Fendell pans to Gene at Jack's seat; he is holding the dustbrush.]

123:28:51 Cernan: I thought we'd been hit by a...Look at that stuff just keeps flying over the top of our heads! I thought we were the closest witnesses to a lunar meteor impact. (Pause) I wonder if that's the same glass I picked up?

[Gene is beginning to realize that the piece of "brown glass" he picked up at the SEP site at 123:03:25 was actually a piece of foam.]

123:29:09 Schmitt: Oh, I don't know, (garbled). Weren't you kidding?

123:29:10 Parker: John (Young) says it blew up on his mission too, guys.

123:29:11 Cernan: Well...

123:29:12 Schmitt: (To Gene, not having heard Bob yet) Isn't that what you thought it was? Isn't that what you thought it was?

123:29:17 Cernan: Huh?

123:29:18 Schmitt: I thought you were kidding (about the "brown glass").

123:29:19 Cernan: No! I've never seen that before.

123:29:21 Schmitt: Oh, I'm sorry. I thought that was...

123:29:23 Cernan: Well, you saw that stuff coming. I didn't see that at all. Holy Smoley!

123:29:30 Parker: Roger, 17. And John says that it blew up on his mission, as well.

[Evidently, some of the interior voids in the Styrofoam were still filled with gas, despite many days of exposure to vacuum during the trip out from Earth. Alternatively, the voids may have been filling with gases released from the foam matrix during the six hours or so that it has been lying out in the sunlight. In either case, solar heating has raised the pressure of the trapped gases. The fact that several fragments can be seen - coupled with Gene's use of the word "exploded" and John Young's phrase "blew up" - indicates an explosive disintegration of a piece of foam. Such explosions would propel fragments over considerable distances. For example, if a piece was launched at a 45 degree angle at a speed of 15.6 meters per second, it would come down 150 meters from the LM after a 13.6 second flight. It is also possible that the piece Gene picked up at the SEP site got there in several hops, each the result of a separate explosion or of a non-explosive venting episode.]

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Case File Data
The Black Vault Owner/Operator
Starts: December 19th, 1972 9:09 AM
Ends: December 19th, 1972 9:09 AM
United States
Where did this happen?Space
CountryUnited States
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