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The forgotten Apollo cuff checklist

Lunar surface cuff checklists are among the most sought after Apollo mission artifacts. Each of these small spiral bound booklets were designed to be worn over the cuff of the spacesuit and held in place with a 19" long Velcro strap. Their ingenious and still now unique design meant that each page when turned stayed securely open at that page. The cuff checklist detailed every minute of the planned lunar surface EVA and serves as a testament to the moon landing mission they came back from. 

Rarity has also played a part in their desirability. Some are on display in museums such as Jim Lovell's Apollo 13 CDR cuff checklist available to view on-line at the Adler Planetarium, Chicago.  Others were sold by the astronauts themselves such as Gene Cernan's Apollo 17 cuff checklist auction.

Cmdr James Lovell during lunar EVA-I rehearsals wearing the cuff checklist.

Given that any replica cuff checklist would not carry the cachet of something actually used on the moon, I looked closely at the checklist details themselves and found the one from Apollo 13 to be the most enthralling. In my opinion, a lot of misplaced interest has been given to checklists with charming cartoons and nudes, but I always thought that attention diverted from the science. Arguably unique among all the others, the itinerary within the Apollo 13 cuff checklist has a narrative most easily drawn from its pages. It was also the most visually attractive, with use of red ink for highlighting important steps and a clear sans-serif typeface.  

The Apollo 13 cuff checklist has three sections: EVA-1, EVA-2 and EMU malf[unctions].


Here is documented the lunar module egress procedure, antenna deployments, camera preparations, the flag and landing site panoramic shots and concluding with details on the deployment of ALSEP (Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments Package).

Page above from ALSEP Familiarization Course handout (not checklist).


Much of the EVA-1 section of the checklist is taken up with ALSEP. A central station provided command and communications between the experiments and scientists on Earth while a Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator (RTG) provided power to the experiments. The four ALSEP experiments are identified in the checklist by their initials:

  1. The Charged Particle Lunar Environment Experiment (CPLEE) designed to measure the flexes of charged particles.
  2. The Cold Cathode Gauge Experiment (CCGE) designed to measure the pressure of the lunar atmosphere.
  3. The Heat Flow Experiment (HFE) designed to make thermal measurements of the lunar subsurface - the HFE required the astronauts to drill 3 meters into the Moon’s surface to emplace the sensors.
  4. The Passive Seismic Experiment (PSE) designed to measure any moonquakes, either naturally occurring or caused by artificial means.


The second EVA was largely devoted to a geological sampling traverse toward Cone Crater. There is real pathos in that this exciting lunar EVA was never realized. This section starts with tote bag and shovel preparations required for the traverse, and then an explorer's map showing the circular route, taking samples and photographs along the way. The quality of the hand drawn map and diagrams sets this checklist apart. There is a double page spread each on tasks at station "e" (Outpost) and how take the trio of polarimetric analysis photographs. 

The alien terrain on the planned traverse for Apollo 13 EVA-2 as seen by crew of Apollo 14. The landing site was dotted with abundant craters on the deceptively undulating topography. Polarimetric analysis was intended on some of the numerous bolder fragments present on the Cone Crater ejecta blanket.


Double page spread on taking polarimetric photographs of lunar rocks.


EMU malfunctions

The sobering thought of something going dramatically wrong is brought home with these emergency procedures. What to do if the vent, pressure, oxygen and water alarm tones sounded or the pump falls silent? What should happen if the cooling or voice communication failed? 



You can purchase the replica Apollo 13 EVA cuff checklist here.

Apollo Cuff Checklist


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