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How BBQ Helped Save Apollo 13
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Boshizzle
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 08 14 9:34 am    Post subject: How BBQ Helped Save Apollo 13 Reply with quote

Mods: If this is the wrong place, please move to the correct place. Please bear with me as I learn the correct forum protocols. Thanks!

I have been a member here for a while but haven't posted much. But, I have decided that I should be a better forum member and participate more.

I have been cooking BBQ since the 1970's and really enjoy cooking and eating it and I have met a lot of good friends in my BBQ travels through the years. I am not a pro but I am a very committed BBQ buff. Smile

I am currently in the last stages of doing research for a book that I am writing. This account of the Apollo 13 crisis is something I ran across a couple of years ago in my research. It's not the right kind of info for my book but I thought that all of you would appreciate it too.


Apollo thirteen was supposed to be the third landing on the moon by American astronauts. Two days into the journey to the moon, an oxygen tank exploded crippling the spacecraft and seriously endangering the lives of the astronauts James Lovell, Mission Commander, Jack Swigert, Command Module pilot and Fred Haise, the Lunar Module Pilot. There is no doubt that the tireless and heroic efforts of the astronauts and the ground support crew saved Apollo thirteen and safely returned it to earth six days after embarking on their ill-fated mission. But, there is one other "hero" in all this that you probably never heard about: American barbecue.

The proper courses of action to resolve the many crises that arose during the Apollo thirteen mission were not always clear or without dispute. For example, one discussion among mission control personnel became particularly heated after Max Faget suggested that the crew perform a maneuver required to manage the temperature of the spacecraft by pointing out "That ship's had one side pointing to the sun and one pointing out to space for hours." The reply was "Do you have any idea what kind of pressure it's going to put on the crew to ask them to execute a PTC (passive thermal control) roll now?" Another chimed in "Or what kind of pressure it's going to put on the available power? I'm not sure we can afford to try something like that at the moment."

For several minutes there was a lively argument at the flight director's station as each person fiercely argued their position. Finally, Flight Director Gene Kranz stepped in saying, "Gentlemen, I thank you for your input. The next job for this crew will be to execute a passive thermal roll. After that, they will power down their spacecraft. And finally, they will get some sleep. A tired crew can get over fatigue, but if we damage this ship any further, we're not going to get over that."

Max Faget's original suggestion that caused all of that lively debate was

"That ship's had one side pointing to the sun and one pointing out to space for hours. If we don't get some kind of barbecue roll going soon, we're going to freeze half our systems and cook the other half."

Apollo spacecraft were protected first by a mylar foil coating that was applied to most surfaces. The second level of protection was the barbecue roll. This was a maneuver the spacecraft made as it coasted to and from the moon. It rotated slowly along its roll axis in order to disperse the heat from the sun so that it evenly and gently heated the spacecraft. The idea for this maneuver was inspired by watching barbecue cooks turning meat to prevent it from scorching.

When cooking barbecue over hot coals, it is important to flip the meat or spin it on a spit as it cooks. This does the same for barbecue that it did for the Apollo spacecraft. It evenly disperses heat so that there is no overheating or under heating. The temperature is even on all sides. The thought for Apollo spacecraft was, if it worked for barbecue, it will work for the Apollo spacecraft too. And, it did.

Apollo astronauts had to perform many tasks in order to successfully complete their missions. There were times when they had to tend to fuel cells and eliminate water in some systems. One of the most important tasks was making sure the thermal operation of the spacecraft was being done well. In the Apollo program, that mode of operation was called barbecue mode. The technical name of the
maneuver is the Passive Thermal Control (PTC) maneuver. During an Apollo 7 test in 1968, NASA learned "During translunar and transearth flight on future missions, it would be necessary to put the spacecraft into a slow “barbecue” roll to maintain an even external temperature." This maneuver, called "the barbecue roll," was first successfully tested twice on Apollo 7.

After Apollo, the barbecue roll was also employed by space shuttle crews too.

So, that's how barbecue helped save Apollo thirteen. The same principle that barbecue cooks use to barbecue a pig on a spit over coals to ensure that it doesn't scorch was also what was chosen by NASA to protect astronauts and the spacecraft in which they were traveling.
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BUGSnBBQ
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 08 14 9:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Pretty cool story. Thanks for sharing it! FWIW, I should point out that 'IMO', BBQ (for the most part) isn't really rotated over hot coals that much. Spit roasting is. Not being a d!ck (or not trying to be one Laughing ).

Edited slightly Laughing . I didn't give enough thought to my post Rolling Eyes
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Last edited by BUGSnBBQ on Sat Mar 08 14 11:55 am; edited 1 time in total
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Boshizzle
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 08 14 10:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

No offense taken, bro.

Actually, while not on a spit, old timers did rotate whole hogs and beef quarters often in the days when most BBQ was cooked directly over coals. I have the notes from an interview that the producer of the movie "Gone with the Wind" made when he interviewed a former slave who cooked BBQ in Georgia in the last half of the 19th century. He described how important it was to often turn the meat. One day, I will share the interview here. I have to dig it up from my notes.

In the old days, roasting meat meant sitting it beside the flames of the fire often on a spit. Barbecuing meat meant cooking it directly over coals, not flames. A spit or a gridiron (either iron or wooden sticks) was used depending on how much money the cook had. If they couldn't afford iron, they used hickory or some other hard wood sticks/saplings over the bed of coals (which is a barbacoa) or spit made of wood. Some Virginia barbecue cooks actually lashed whole hogs to hickory sticks and turned them from time to time throughout the cook. I have a photo of that practice of a former slave cooking barbecue like that lashed on hard wood sticks. The photo was taken around the year 1915.

Here is a hand drawn newspaper illustration of a Virginia BBQ from around the turn of the 20th century. The beef was on a spit doing the "barbecue roll."


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Mr Tony's BBQ
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 08 14 11:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Your Pic is almost exactly how I started obsessing about BBQ!! While camping, I would take the crank for my Fords truck jack, burn the paint/rust clean, slide a few whole chickens over it tying them in place with a couple metal coat hangers, and tend the makeshift rotisserie with a pair of Y branches [ just like the pic ] roasting for a couple beers....I mean hours, over the campfire- called it Ford truck jack chicken...Other folks in the campground would look at me like I was nuts, until I would pull a wing or leg off and hand it to them - they became immediate believers in "old school BBQ" !!
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Boshizzle
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 08 14 11:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow, awesome story, Mr Tony! I bet that chicken was very tasty!
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Mr Tony's BBQ
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 08 14 11:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Not as good a story as yours Boshizzle, I wish you well on your book !! Thanks for posting this excerpt!!! Cool
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Boshizzle
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 08 14 11:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks, bro! But, I love stories like yours. That's what BBQ is all about. The passion and love to just go for it and stick with it until you learn the craft. That, to me, is what BBQ is all about.
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Mr Tony's BBQ
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 08 14 11:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Between that truck jack and The Smoke Ring, I am an ex-bbq-loving remodeling contractor turned BBQ-lovin-pro BBQ guy....! I think their is a link to my website under my posts. WHen the economy started to tank, a customer asked me to BBQ for his retirement party, its been a heck of a ride ever since!
www.mrtonysbbq.com
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Boshizzle
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 08 14 11:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Congrats! Good for you! From what I've seen of the pics, I think you have a great product.
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 08 14 12:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mr T - Ford truck jack chicken..I love it! Laughing Aside from the fact that Ford makes the best vehicles (uh oh, here we go Laughing), that's an awesome name for a dish. I have some names for various things I make, but most aren't suited for a family-oriented forum Embarassed Laughing

Boshizzle - Is your book about BBQ? If so, when will it come out and where can I get a copy? It's kind of a funny coincidence that I'm reading a manuscript of my dad's latest book. He writes a lot of law books - Retired law professor. I don't understand half of it Laughing
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Boshizzle
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 09 14 2:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

BUGSnBBQ, yes it's about BBQ. It's a detailed study of how southern BBQ first developed in the 17th century and how it changed in the 18th century and finally became what we think of as barbecue today. There are quite a few surprises that I found and some go against conventional BBQ wisdom today. All of it documented with sources and citations.

It will be a while before the book is published. I'm still writing it and that's a time consuming process.
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 09 14 3:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sooooo.......Brunswick, GA or Brunswick, VA??? I see you're from VA, so you're probably slightly biased Laughing . I watched a show on PBS a few years ago that covered that debate. Was very interesting. What's your take on it?
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Boshizzle
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 09 14 4:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

He he he, VA. Very Happy I wrote a magazine article about the debate a while back and discussed the two documentaries too. I will PM a link to the online magazine version to you if you are interested in reading it.
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BigOrson
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 09 14 4:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Post it, please. He may not be the only one interested in reading it.
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 09 14 5:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

^^^^^ What he said Laughing ^^^^^
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Tony
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 09 14 5:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

BUGSnBBQ wrote:
^^^^^ What he said Laughing ^^^^^



X-3

Let's Get It On Exclamation Cool

Best Regards,

Tony Very Happy
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Justapod
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 09 14 6:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

X 4 post the link. I would like to read your article as well Boshizzle.
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Boshizzle
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 09 14 6:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here is the link to the online version -

Barbecue Stews - Part 1
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1buckie
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 09 14 8:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great stories !!!

Thanks !!!!!
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 09 14 6:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good story, but the pigtrip.com mentioned in one of the articles show up as a domain for sale...
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