If you were one of the hundreds of Honolulans who arose early this morning in hopes of seeing Apollo 9 pass overhead at 5:40, you were out of luck.
If you sighted a satellite at about that time, it wasn’t Apollo; it was the venerable Echo II balloon satellite.
Echo by coincidence crossed Island skies at about the time the Kokee, Kauai, tracking station had predicted that Apollo would be overhead.
Kokee’s prediction for Apollo’s final pass before its splashdown was made yesterday morning and was sharply revised later in the day.
APOLLO ACTUALLY streaked overhead on the way to its successful Atlantic landing at 6:31 this morning. By that time, skies were so bright that the capsule was not visible to the naked eye.
Virgil True, Kokee station manager, said that his erroneous forecast of yesterday was based on earlier tracking information.
The error in the forecast, he said, arose because Apollo 9 had performed so many space maneuvers that it was running behind its original schedule.
IT WAS NOT UNTIL late in the day yesterday that NASA’s computers in Houston fed the corrected timetable to Kokee.
True said that variations in manned satellite schedules are not unusual.
"I’m sorry we didn’t have a firm time for you yesterday morning," he said.