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  Online availiability of Apollo CM/LM stowage lists

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Author Topic:   Online availiability of Apollo CM/LM stowage lists
spaced out
Member

Posts: 2691
From: Paris, France
Registered: Aug 2003

posted 10-07-2005 07:51 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for spaced out   Click Here to Email spaced out     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Maybe this is a stupid question, but are the stowage lists for any mission other than Apollo 13 available online? And if not, why not?

Robert Pearlman
Editor

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From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 10-07-2005 09:47 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
To my knowledge, they are not. As to why not, I can only offer our own explanation as to why - having our own complete set of the documents - we have not presented them as digital copies on collectSPACE.

In a word: forgeries.

In a few more words: though the stowage lists do not present the complete serial and part number information for every item carried on-board the Apollo missions (for that, you would also need access to the ASHUR documents and even then, there are items left off both manifests), they would make it much easier for someone to misrepresent - or worse, mislabel - a flight back-up or out-right replica as having flown.

If you think that the chances of this happening are low, think again. Unbeknownst to them, Superior Stamp & Coin of Beverly Hills (not to be confused with Regency Superior Galleries of later years) sold at least one item as flown documented by an ASHUR document that had been professionally doctored (or at least, the ASHUR included with the lot was identical to the ASHUR in the Smithsonian's library with one exception: a single set of numbers changed to match a piece of hardware that the document accompanied).

Perhaps though, this is the hardware equivalent of the autograph enthusiasts who resist sharing specific methods of identifying authentic examples, less they create a better forger. That topic has been debated several times over here on collectSPACE, as well as elsewhere, and both sides to the discussion have merits. So what do others think about the case of the stowage lists?

spaced out
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Posts: 2691
From: Paris, France
Registered: Aug 2003

posted 10-07-2005 10:16 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for spaced out   Click Here to Email spaced out     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks for the detailed reply Robert.

I have to wonder then, have we seen a rash of Apollo 13 forged flown items as a result of the stowage list being freely-available online?

Ken Havekotte
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Posts: 1970
From: Merritt Island, Florida, Brevard
Registered: Mar 2001

posted 10-07-2005 01:03 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ken Havekotte   Click Here to Email Ken Havekotte     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Briefly, I would have to agree with Robert. I've worked with several flown Apollo artifacts throughout the 1980/90s with accompanied paperwork (i.e. flight stowage manuals, other related checklists, and so on). In many instances trying to accurately "tie" such a piece to any necessary background/documenting paperwork isn't always a easy task as many may think.

Serial numbers don't always match up, furthermore, it would seem to me that doctoring/alternating such documents to meet the requirements of a possible forger could rather easily occur. One instance that I can recall involved Pete Conrad in certifying one of his lunar surface artifacts that was later a cherished part of my Apollo lunar collections. The serial number on the actual artifact, while it did match up with other NASA paperwork. didn't match up to what Conrad himself reported.

Perhaps it might be best not to publically illustrate such papers. This was done in regards to the flown Sieger/Scott Apollo 15 lunar covers as there is a government document, that is quite detailed and fully accurate, that only some moon cover owners have. The same, as Robert pointed out, can apply to certain and various autograph styles and patterns in what to look out for when it comes to forgeries. The less a forger knows about a signature's characteristics, the better, huh?

spaced out
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From: Paris, France
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posted 10-07-2005 01:23 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for spaced out   Click Here to Email spaced out     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I agree to some extent but you're both talking from the point of view of people with access to the relevant documents/information yourselves.

You are able to use them to cross-check references in items you see or own against the information contained in the stowage lists. At the same time you're saying it would be dangerous for other to have access to this information.

What it means in the end is that the majority of collectors can be easily deceived by false references or faked extracts of the lists.

Those who misrepresent hardware as flown benefit directly from the fact that the majority of potential buyers are unable to access these documents.

SRB
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posted 10-07-2005 04:30 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SRB   Click Here to Email SRB     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I for one strongly disagree with the view that information like stowage lists should not be made available on line because of the fear of forgeries. Let me explain why.
  1. Stowage lists are available to anyone who has the time, patience and money to get them. I have an almost complete set of final Apollo stowage lists (Apollo 7, 8 and 9 are earlier drafts) that took about three years to put together. You can get them from time to time on ebay, at auction and in some government archieves (copies, not originals.) Accordingly, any serious forger could do the same.

  2. Not "publishing" this data online hurts the more casual collector or anyone who need quick access to information not in their collection. A forger has no need for quick access to information since they can take their time to do a good job if they wish.

  3. The information may be misused by someone or, more likely, misunderstood by a casual user since stowage lists are often hard to use to trace what was aboard at launch and what returned to Earth. However, this means we should educate people about our hobby, not that we should limit access to information.

  4. What our hobby lacks - at least for flown relics - is a body of publications and articles. For example, Howard Weinberger's short but terrific work on Robbins medallions gave great credibility to that field that it didn't have before. We need to make more information freely available to let interested collectors truly study the area and write about it.

  5. It's not only stowage lists that should be available. The old argument that the lists of items the astronauts took in their PPKs are private and personal has, to me, been made totally obsolete by the commercial activities of most of the Apollo astronauts. When an astronaut refuses to disclose his PPK list while selling flown flags and other flown items, this is a marketing strategy not a privacy issue. Could there be exceptions? Sure. Maybe there are some very personal items that were flown that need not be disclosed. However, keeping this information secret is now a commercially driven decision of the astronauts and their agents.

  6. Public knowledge is good for the hobby and history. Knowing what really flew on these missions will help prevent forgeries and other problems. Are there more than a few hundred items from each flight that are in private hands? Why not create a public data base of them? If we're worried about forgers, this may make their life harder not easier. We would all better off knowing that, say, one hundred American flags were flown on Apollo 11 when there seems to be two hundred in the market. (This is a made up example. Don't ask me how I know either number is correct. I don't.) This information would help collectors, not forgers.
In short, I'm for more public information and more scholarship. I think it will help our hobby and better preserve the history of these great achievements. So I say, put the stowage lists on the web. Put all the information we have on the web.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

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From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 10-07-2005 06:25 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Steve, you make some valid and reasonable points in favor of posting the stowage lists (and other documents) online. For the record, I agree with your stance on the PPK manifests (so long as the astronaut has actually sold anything from it; if not its no perogative of ours) but I doubt if you'll see any advancement on that subject (on the other hand, as you'll read in "First Man", Armstrong volunteered to Hansen the ability to publish his PPK manifest but then couldn't find it; a testament perhaps to how little he actually took to the Moon or cared about it today.)

Let me add another concern however, to the discussion. Publishing the stowage lists alone only offer half the picture - and perhaps not always an accurate one. At the least, I would think that both the stowage lists and the ASHUR documents should be presented together, at the same time. The earlier provides what NASA identified as being flown prior to the mission; the latter lists what was returned after each flight (and in some cases, its future disposition). I have an almost complete set of stowage lists but have no source for ASHUR files. Does anyone?

SRB
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posted 10-07-2005 07:28 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SRB   Click Here to Email SRB     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have never come across the ASHUR lists you refer to. But if I had any I would be glad to have them posted. What I have seen for some flights are other documents that show the specific S/N number for some or all of the spacesuit parts worn by the astronauts. For example, I have a photocopy of an "Astronaut Suiting Operations" report for Apollo 16 that shows the S/N numbers for each of the spacesuits and related parts worn by the three astronauts.

There must also be somewhere lists of everything that came back back to earth, regardless of whether they are shown on the stowage lists. For example, several Apollo astronauts brought back small pieces of the LM as souvenirs. After landing safely and leaving the capsule, the astronauts didn't take anything with them. The rescue team and whoever took care of the capsule cleaned everything out and must have (?) made a list of everything they removed. Days later the astronauts got back their PPKs and other items they wished to retain. Those lists would be great to have. I suspect that some day a lot of these important documents will come to light.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

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From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 10-07-2005 08:19 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
As they were explained to me, the ASHUR (Apollo Spacecraft Hardware Utilization Report) documents are the records of what was unstowed from the command module after a flight. However, and I may be wrong, I do not believe they list the LM parts returned by the astronauts or any of the other "garbage" that was never supposed to be return to Earth. If they list the PPKs (which I believe they do) they only list them by the kits' serial and part number. The contents inside were never serialized (other than on the astronauts' eyes-only manifest).

I have seen only a few ASHUR files, mostly among the files of National Air and Space Musuem curators. You can see one scanned example as part of John Fongheiser's 2004 article, The case of the missing Apollo 15 panels.

The stowage lists only identify items that were (logically) stowed. Spacecraft components (armrests, swithces, etc.) are not listed. Further, there were multiple editions of each mission's stowage list as items were swapped, added and removed prior to launch. I have seen where a few of the final lists include items that ultimately did not fly and vice versa (which is why I wrote they paint only half of the picture of what was flown).

SRB
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posted 10-08-2005 07:25 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SRB   Click Here to Email SRB     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The additional information about ASHUR reports is very interesting. If the title of the report is taken literally, it would cover only the hardware in the capsule and not anything else. Why would a hardware report list PPKs or other non-hardware items? Nevertheless, since I don't know of any other hardware reports, these are of great importance. However, these reports seem to be triggered by a removal of some piece of hardware, and are not an inventory of the CM parts. Moreover the CM had two million (?) parts and I guess there never was anything like a complete report for each Apollo capsule. It also seems that ASHUR reports were sometimes prepared years after the end of the mission. The ASHUR report shown in the article seems to have been prepared in December 1973 more than two years after the Apollo 15 mission.

As for the Stowage Reports, while there were many drafts of each report, the final release is stated to be "As-Flown Configuration". The date of the final release for the Apollo 12-17 stowage reports is after the launch of the mission, or even after its return. For Apollo 11 it is shortly before lift-off. They reflect everything that should have been done through the launch. While I'm sure you are correct that the stowage reports are not perfect, in my experience they are highly accurate. The may miss a few things, especially any "special" items the astronauts put on board like patches, notes and pictures, 99+% must be correct. Besides, what else is there to go by other than these stowage reports, ASHURs and the recollections of the astronauts?

The rest of the information is fragmented among other obscure reports held by collectors or buried in Government archives. That is why a central data base by flight of all this information would be so valuable. In time it would become clear what information is missing for each mission and, based on where this information is found for other missions, where we might look for it. This type of activity would involve many collectors, archivists and historians; and be useful to everyone.

Is this practical or just wishful thinking?

Matt T
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From: Chester, Cheshire, UK
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posted 10-09-2005 04:05 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Matt T   Click Here to Email Matt T     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
If the question is one of authentication it's important to draw a distinction between 'part' and 'serial' numbers. A part number distinguishes between design variants of the same item. Most Apollo hardware was undergoing constant revision throughout the program, and each change (or group of changes) yielded a new version of the item, requiring a new part number. A simple parallel would be software version numbers.

So knowing the part number tells us which version of the item flew - but not which one. A manufacturer may have made hundreds of items with identical part numbers. To find out which one flew we need to know it's serial number. Serial numbers are specific to a particular item, like car registration plates.

For example - the Apollo 13 stowage list gives the part number of the IVA gloves worn by both Haise and Lovell as A7L-103000-18/19 (18 and 19 refers to the left and right gloves). It also happens that the Apollo 12 crew, Stu Roosa and several other Apollo astronauts all wore the same A7L-103000-18/19 variant of the gloves on their missions. Doubtless many training suits were also fitted with these gloves. Without serial numbers it's fairly useless information in terms of verifying that a particular glove flew in space.

Stowage lists do not give serial numbers, only part numbers. For the full story you would need ASHUR lists, and as Robert says, these are very hard to come by.

davidcwagner
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From: Albuquerque, New Mexico
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posted 11-07-2012 11:42 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for davidcwagner   Click Here to Email davidcwagner     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Are there Apollo stowage lists online? Thanks.

Editor's note: Threads merged.

SpaceAholic
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From: Sierra Vista, Arizona
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posted 11-07-2012 01:39 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceAholic   Click Here to Email SpaceAholic     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Apollo Lunar Surface Journal: CM/LM/LRV Stowage Lists

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