Navigating to the Moon Captain Refsmmat

The set of numbers that defined the desired orientation of the platform had their own peculiar abbreviation - the REFSMMAT, a remarkably simple concept couched in very opaque terms. Not only was this acronym extraordinary in its size, it was also ubiquitous, being peppered throughout the crews' conversation with the ground and their documentation. It stood for reference to a stable member matrix, an incomprehensible jumble of jargon; but it was simply a numerical definition of an orientation in space, one to which the platform could be aligned. Being an inertial orientation, it was defined with respect to the stars and therefore, the alignment of the platform was always carried out by taking sightings on the stars with the scanning telescope and sextant.

Ed Pavelka was one of the flight controllers who occupied the FIDO console in the Trench at mission control. As a way to cement the esprit de corps among the flight dynamics team, he invented a fictional character called Captain REFSMMAT who represented the ideal flight controller. Urged on by one of his bosses - the tough but sensitive Eugene Kranz - Pavelka imagined a figure of military stature with a radar in his helmet, and drew a series of posters depicting Captain REFSMMAT and his arch enemy, Victor Vector. During the Apollo years, people in the MOCR scribbled little comments on these posters, often sarcastic, to let off a little steam.

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