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[b]Hatch opening of boilerplate finds that it is a different Apollo[/b]
The day was finally cool enough for the team of technicians from the Aerospace Legacy Foundation to make the attempt to go inside the capsule. Ladders were drawn up aside the old craft and they began their assault. The hatch, frozen for nearly 38 years refused to budge, so over 40 bolts had to be drilled out taking nearly five hours. Finally, late in the afternoon, the hatch on the Apollo command module was successfully lifted out. A musty smell from so many years of being closed drifted up. After a few moments, Gerald Blackburn, the president of the Aerospace Legacy Foundation hopped over the frame and went inside. He was met with a huge surprise: the interior layout was incorrect according to the historic drawings. Searching around, he soon found the identification plate, and again was surprised. It read "Boilerplate #12".
On four spots around the inside were found the I.D. plates that yielded the government numbers for the capsule, V 16-00012.
Apollo Boilerplate #12 (BP-12) was the first to fly atop the Little Joe II rocket on May 13, 1964 from White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. This early command module reached an altitude of 28,000 feet during the first test of the Apollo Launch Escape System under actual flight conditions. On that historic flight, one of the three parachutes separated from the module at deployment but the capsule still landed upright and suffered little damage (this may explain a slight indentation found on the inside bottom of the heat shield by the inspection team). Documents reveal that BP-12 was later "modified" into BP-12A and BP-12B configurations for rollover water impact testing at Downey, California. BP-12 remains the oldest known Apollo to fly, a mere six months after the first pad abort test.
When outer access hatches were opened it revealed that the capsule had faired well in the 44 years since it was built at Downey. The ID numbers on individual pieces retained their chrome green color and the numbers were clearly visible. Foam, which was likely applied when the craft was prepared for the later water tests, is browning but also in good condition. The only area yet to be examined is the parachute area, which retains a later "Block 1" apex cover, to be lifted off soon. There is some access to this compartment and it appears that some earthly critters were able to find nesting there.
Soon this Apollo will be joined by [URL=http://collectspace.com/ubb/Forum41/HTML/000056.html]Boilerplate #19[/URL], and both will be prepared as exhibits for the [URL=http://collectspace.com/ubb/Forum41/HTML/000023.html]Columbia Memorial Space Science Learning Center[/URL], which is being built in Downey, Ca and is slated to open next year.
The mystery remains: What happened to BP-6?
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