SC--She sure was a great ship.
The flimsy Aquarius, unshielded for return to Earth, would burn up in the atmosphere. Six hundred miles southeast of Samoa the carrier USS Iwo Jima awaited Odyssey. Rescue planes patrolled a bath-tub shaped expanse of blue Pacific 390 miles wide and stretching 460 miles up-range and 115 downrange of the target point. The spacecraft's speed rose dramatically as it angled Earthward above the Indian Ocean and across southern Australia: 22,085 feet per second . .. 25,693 . . . 31,141... 34,333... 35,837--more than 24,000 miles an hour--just before the plunge into the atmosphere at 400,000 feet.
CAPCOM--We've just had one last time around the room and everybody says you're looking great.
For three long minutes no word was heard from the spacecraft as friction with the air raised the heat shield to a fiery glow that blacked out radio communication. Then:
CAPCOM--Odyssey. . . Standing by.
SC--Okay . . .
CAPCOM--Okay, we read you, Jack.
SC--We got two drogues.
Odyssey's two small parachutes pulled out its three 85-foot orange-and-white main chutes. Through color TV cameras aboard the Iwo Jima and in a photo helicopter, the world watched the charred spacecraft drift down through broken clouds to a splashdown in moderate seas four miles from the ship at 1:08 p.m., 142 hours 54 minutes 41 seconds after launch.
Swimmers jumped from a helicopter, attached a flotation collar and rubber rafts, and opened the hatch. From the rafts the astronauts, in turn, were hoisted in a basket, shaped like half a bird cage, to the recovery helicopter.
RECOVERY--I have Astronaut Haise aboard, and his condition is excellent...