Makes a great gift for any Space Enthusiast and collector.
SCE to AUX Component History:
On November 14, 1969, Apollo 12 successfully launched to the Moon. But it wasn’t without a little drama. The weather that day at Cape Canaveral in Florida was overcast with light rain and winds, but at 11:22 am EST, the spacecraft, carrying astronauts Pete Conrad, Dick Gordon, and Alan Bean, blasted off into the clouds. Thirty-seven seconds into launch, all hell broke loose.
“What the hell was that?” asked Gordon. Twenty seconds of confusion ensued, and then another disturbance occurred.
“Okay, we just lost the platform gang,” reported Conrad, “I don’t know what happened here. We had everything in the world drop out.”
The crew and Mission Control didn’t know what had happened, and only later determined the Saturn V rocket had been struck by lighting – twice.
Were it not for flight controller John Aaron, the mission might have been aborted. Aaron may be remembered more for being instrumental in helping to save Apollo 13, but the part he played in Apollo 12 was just as crucial.
When he saw the unusual telemetry readings from Apollo 12, he remembered a flight simulation that took place about a year earlier, where similar telemetry showed up. He recalled this simulated anomaly concerned an obscure system called Signal Conditioning Equipment (SCE), and remembered normal readings were restored by putting the SCE on its auxiliary setting, which meant that it would run even under low-voltage conditions.
So when he quickly called out the recommendation, “Flight, try SCE to ‘AUX'”, most of his mission control colleagues had no idea what he was talking about. Both the flight director and the CapCom asked him to repeat the recommendation. Pete Conrad’s response to the order was, “What the hell is that?”
Fortunately Alan Bean was familiar with the location of the SCE switch inside the capsule, and flipped it to auxiliary. Telemetry was immediately restored, allowing the mission to continue.
This was just one instance that earned Aaron the compliment of being called a “steely-eyed missile man,” the absolute highest of NASA compliments. And even today — among us geeks — the phrase “SCE to AUX” used to describe a situation where one narrowly averts a catastrophe by coming up with an ingenious plan.