Encyclopedia Astronautica
1971.08.02 - Apollo 15 departs lunar surface


Liftoff of the ascent stage of the LM, the first to be televised via the camera on the rover, occurred at 1:11 p.m. EDT. About two hours later the LM and CSM rendezvoused and docked, and film, equipment, and 77 kilograms of lunar samples were transferred from the LM to the CSM. The ascent stage was jettisoned and hit the lunar surface at 11:04 p.m. EDT. Its impact was recorded by the Apollo 12, Apollo 14, and Apollo 15 seismometers, left on the moon during those missions.

For three hours after the final EVA the crew of the Falcon were occupied with stowing equipment and sample containers and configuring the LM for takeoff. Then, while the television camera watched, Falcon's ascent stage shot up from the surface in a shower of fragments of insulation, visible for only a second or two. Flight controllers had intended to follow Falcon with the camera, but decided against it when problems developed in the camera's control system. The result contrasted sharply with the majestic rise of a Saturn V; with a "quick pop" and "a shower of sparks [that] looked more like something left over from the Fourth of July," as one columnist put it, Falcon quickly disappeared from the TV screen.

Falcon and Endeavour linked up an hour and 34 minutes later, and after jettisoning the lunar module the three astronauts settled in for two days of additional lunar-orbital data-gathering.

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