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Full Coverage: Capsule heads for Hornet

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Space capsule arrives on the USS Hornet

June 16, 2004 -- Seven days after departing on flatbed truck from a Smithsonian storage facility in Virginia, the Apollo Command Module 011A arrived at its new home aboard the USS Hornet Museum in Alameda, California.

Click on thumbnails to enlarge

LEFT: Apollo Command Module 011A's arrival is captured on film by KRON4-TV; RIGHT: 011A is lifted off its cross-country transport;
LEFT: 011A is lowered onto the Hornet's elevator; RIGHT: Hornet personnel work to reattach the casters that support the capsule;

The spacecraft is on loan from the Smithsonian to the Hornet for 10 years. During that period, the museum will display the capsule while working to restore it to the condition it appeared following land impact tests in 1968.

Apollo capsule departs for aircraft carrier

June 9, 2004 -- In August 1966, the Navy aircraft carrier U.S.S. Hornet was deployed near Wake Island in the Pacific Ocean to rendezvous and recover an unmanned Apollo Command Module returning from an hour-and-a-half suborbital flight into space. Nearly 40 years later, the same spacecraft has departed on a cross country journey that will reunite it with its recovery vessel - now a sea, air and space museum in California.

The capsule, referred to by its production number 011A, was carefully loaded onto a flatbed truck this morning at the National Air and Space Museum's storage hangar at Washington Dulles International Airport in Chantilly, VA. Secured with chains and straps, wrapped in plastic and covered by a rubber tarp, 011A unceremoniously began its week-long road trip to Pier 3 at Alameda Point where the Hornet Museum is docked.

Upon arrival at the aircraft carrier, 011A will be hoisted on deck to join other Apollo-recovery related exhibits already onboard. The museum will debut the Command Module to the public during "Splashdown 2004", a festival coinciding with the 35th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon mission commemorating all NASA spacecraft recovery missions performed by the Navy.

Apollo Command Module 011A was launched to space aboard the third Saturn IB booster flight on August 25, 1966. Its one-hour, 33 minute suborbital mission tested a thinner and lighter weight heatshield than those earlier.

During the intervening years apart from the Hornet, 011A was used by NASA for drop tests that measured the durability of the instruments inside without the presence of a protective heatshield. The capsule displays a major crack on its side as a result of these tests.

After the end of the Apollo program, 011A was previously on display at Omniplex in Oklahoma.

Click on thumbnails to enlarge

LEFT: Apollo Command Module 011A awaits its ride wrapped in protective plastic; RIGHT: Smithsonian personnel work to remove the support cradle's casters for transport;
LEFT: Looking through the hatch of 011A by way of an opening in the plastic wrap; RIGHT: 17,600 pounds are lifted by two forklifts;
LEFT: 011A no longer has its flown heatshield attached; RIGHT: Chains and ratcheted straps secure the CM to the flatbed truck;
LEFT: 011A in position; RIGHT: A rubber tarp is draped over 011A to shield it from the natural elements and onlookers during its trip;
LEFT: Caution drivers - "Oversized Load"; RIGHT: 011A is packed and ready to depart for the USS Hornet Museum in California.

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