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  Unknown Apollo capsule: boilerplate or mockup?

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Author Topic:   Unknown Apollo capsule: boilerplate or mockup?
jgirouard
New Member

Posts: 4
From: Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
Registered: Nov 2013

posted 11-10-2013 03:57 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for jgirouard   Click Here to Email jgirouard     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Trying to find if anyone has any information on this Apollo capsule. It was acquired in the late 70s from a salvage dealer who said it came from California.

It is believed to be one of two test capsules that was used for Apollo splashdown testing. Any information would be helpful.

space1
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Posts: 593
From: Danville, Ohio, USA
Registered: Dec 2002

posted 11-10-2013 07:48 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for space1   Click Here to Email space1     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I would say it is a mockup of the early Block I Apollo. It's interesting because the structural ribs around the crew compartment appear to be very similar to the actual flight vehicle ribs. The size of the hatchway appears to be right for Block I. The side window arrangement looks right, and the area at the window left of the hatchway (rendezvous window) looks right (with the exterior section removed). The aft heatshield is missing, so that either was never there and this is a crew compartment structural test mockup, or the aft heatshield was removed from a formerly complete Command Module test mockup.

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John Fongheiser
Historic Space Systems

SpaceAholic
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Posts: 3276
From: Sierra Vista, Arizona
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 11-10-2013 08:20 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceAholic   Click Here to Email SpaceAholic     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Located any data plates with a serial number (either internal or external)?

moorouge
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Posts: 1845
From: U.K.
Registered: Jul 2009

posted 11-11-2013 02:00 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for moorouge   Click Here to Email moorouge     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It would help if you could provide a location where the capsule was photographed.

jgirouard
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Posts: 4
From: Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
Registered: Nov 2013

posted 11-11-2013 04:22 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for jgirouard   Click Here to Email jgirouard     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks everyone for your assistance.

Unfortunately there is no identification or data plate with a serial number which we believe was lost many years ago. We could not find any markings whatsoever anywhere.

What is interesting is the structural ribs you mention. I could not find any other capsule currently on display made in this manner. I did find a photograph from 1963 which showed several being made with this design. Is it possible they only made a few of these?

Do you think it possible that this particular design was used only a few times and then abandoned since none of the other mockups or boilerplates I could find had them?

You mention that this particular capsule could have been used for crew compartment structural testing. Might you have any references as to the what these tests were or when and where they took place?

Currently the capsule is at a private residence in Las Vegas, Nevada.

space1
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Posts: 593
From: Danville, Ohio, USA
Registered: Dec 2002

posted 11-11-2013 04:47 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for space1   Click Here to Email space1     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I don't have any good information on actual testing. But the realism of the ribs makes me think this would have been a feature of its intended use. We have to keep in mind that many mockups would have been needed for developing the spacecraft, for structural tests, design of equipment layout, and even practice and verification of assembly methods. Some mockups would have detailed specific areas such as the recovery compartment. The boilerplates you mentioned were often used for recovery training, and included important exterior details related to recovery.

So I don't think this mockup represents an abandoned design, but rather it fulfilled its specific purpose with its own unique features.

Can you describe the interior?

moorouge
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Posts: 1845
From: U.K.
Registered: Jul 2009

posted 11-11-2013 05:39 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for moorouge   Click Here to Email moorouge     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Neither the Field Guide to American Spacecraft nor a NASA Disposal Document have any reference to either a test or boilerplate capsule being located in Nevada.

However, some capsules are listed as 'salvaged' rather than 'scrapped', so it might be one of these. Those with a question mark are all boilerplates, specifically BP 1208/09/13/14/16/17/22/26/28/29. It has to be said that these boilerplates came with just a hatch opening and no provision for windows.

One thing that strikes as odd is that a fresh hatch appears to have been cut rather than use the location of the original. The boilerplate hatches were opened after tests to occasionally find some unexpected items.

David Carey
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Registered: Mar 2009

posted 11-11-2013 10:53 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for David Carey   Click Here to Email David Carey     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Did you explore the QUIKCNECT marking as a possible lead for more information?

The name appears to be a trademark and/or product name from Pullrite trailer hitches in Indiana.

Perhaps Pullrite used it for business marketing purposes some time ago. A contact to the company's management might fill in some blanks around the item's heritage.

jgirouard
New Member

Posts: 4
From: Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
Registered: Nov 2013

posted 11-13-2013 02:16 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for jgirouard   Click Here to Email jgirouard     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks again for all your replies.

The interior contains shelving and various racks but there really isn't much left. There appears there might be some other original pieces such as seating but it is in poor shape and hard to tell what may have been added over the years.

However the overall condition of the actual capsule is very good.

The owner of the capsule said he got the capsule in the 70s from an individual who purchased it from a salvage dealer who said he got it from California. This may explain why it was not documented as being located in Nevada.

Also thanks for the lead of a company using it for marketing purposes. I tried looking into that but didn't have any luck. So I will try the company listed.

moorouge
Member

Posts: 1845
From: U.K.
Registered: Jul 2009

posted 11-13-2013 05:48 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for moorouge   Click Here to Email moorouge     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
There is one boilerplate - BP 14 - that is listed as having been sold to a scrap dealer. This was Kolar Inc. based at Tucson, Az. The firm is now defunct so what they did with it is unknown.

On edit - if it's a genuine boilerplate there ought to be a manufacturer's plate fixed somewhere on the inner wall of the capsule.

On further edit - according to a couple of NASA old-timers who worked with the Apollo boilerplates it is not one that would have been used by NASA. For one thing, even though the heat shield is missing, the base is totally unlike any flightware capsule. Their best guess is that it may have been built by a manufacturer as a mock-up for testing manufacturing processes and fit and function tests. It is just possible that it might be a 1-G Block 1 trainer mock-up.

Lou Chinal
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Posts: 1086
From: Staten Island, NY
Registered: Jun 2007

posted 12-14-2013 08:42 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Lou Chinal   Click Here to Email Lou Chinal     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The bottom of it tells me it was not used for recovery/drop testing. Crew layout is your best bet.

jgirouard
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Posts: 4
From: Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
Registered: Nov 2013

posted 12-24-2013 07:25 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for jgirouard   Click Here to Email jgirouard     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The owner of this Apollo capsule mockup is interested in selling it. Any suggestions or ideas on best method and valuation?

p51
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Posts: 1118
From: Olympia, WA, USA
Registered: Sep 2011

posted 12-29-2013 12:07 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for p51   Click Here to Email p51     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
More detailed photos would be a great place to start on that...

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