Date: Wed, 15 Nov 89 13:35:23 EST
Subject: Re: Apollo 12 (Artificial lightning, RISKS-9.42)
An interesting sidelight is *why* Apollo 12 survived the lightning strikes.
The Apollo spacecraft's electronics got scrambled quite thoroughly, but the
independent computers running the Saturn V booster were unaffected. They were
in a much less exposed position, on top of the booster proper, underneath the
Apollo spacecraft assembly. (They may also perhaps have been better protected
against electrical upsets, although I don't know that for sure.)
Early in the Saturn program, there had been some discussion of the idea of
saving weight by having the spacecraft computers run the booster as well;
Wernher von Braun vetoed the idea and insisted on the booster having its own
control system. This was probably more because of potential problems with
changing payloads -- the Saturn V was meant to be NASA's heavy booster well
into the 1980s, launching much more than just Apollo -- but I seem to recall
that better protection for the electronics was mentioned as well.
Henry Spencer at U of Toronto Zoology