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  Location or disposition of spacecraft hatches

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Author Topic:   Location or disposition of spacecraft hatches
onesmallstep
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Posts: 873
From: Staten Island, New York USA
Registered: Nov 2007

posted 03-10-2015 12:24 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for onesmallstep   Click Here to Email onesmallstep     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
In looking through a gallery of photos posted by a cS member on a trip to Kennedy Space Center, I saw the Gemini 9A capsule without both of its hatches. It got me thinking: when a spacecraft on loan to a location by the Smithsonian ships it to its new "home," are the hatch(es) already removed and placed in storage at a Smithsonian site (e.g. Udvar-Hazy) if the host museum requests it being removed, or is it modified for display on-site at the location?

I would assume the National Air and Space museum keeps inventory of all "hatch on, hatch off" displays, and conservation done to removed hatches if they are ever reunited with their parent capsules. Looking at Gemini 9A, it seemed it was missing something unique and looked quite bare. I have an old postcard after its recovery on aboard the USS Wasp, and a neat display would be for it to look just like the card image, on deck with access steps with the ship's name and logo on them.

MarylandSpace
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Registered: Aug 2002

posted 03-10-2015 04:15 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for MarylandSpace   Click Here to Email MarylandSpace     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It seems to me that I once saw a Mercury hatch at the Virginia Science Center. It was mounted on a PVC model of a Mercury capsule.

Was there also a Mercury hatch in the Space Walk of Fame Museum when it was in a Titusville Mall? It may have come from a non-manned launch.

mikej
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Posts: 436
From: Germantown, WI USA
Registered: Jan 2004

posted 03-14-2015 08:56 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for mikej   Click Here to Email mikej     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I don't know who decides whether the hatches are removed or who performs the actual removal, but (at least in the case of Mercury and Gemini) hatch removal allows for easier inspection of the interior of the spacecraft.

It seems to be fairly common for Gemini spacecraft to be displayed with one hatch removed and one still in place (be it closed or open). If both hatches were still installed on a Gemini spacecraft, even with both of them open, it would be much more difficult to peek inside.

About the only way that displaying a Gemini spacecraft with both hatches installed without obstructing the interior view would be if the spacecraft were sitting vertical (like Gemini 7) or hanging upside down from the ceiling (like Gemini 5), but the Udvar-Hazy Center displays Gemini 7 with no hatches and Space Center Houston displays Gemini 5 with a single hatch.

For those cases where Gemini and Apollo spacecraft are displayed with the hatches attached but open, it would seem that the hatches would need to be either opened or reattached on-site, as shipping a spacecraft with an open hatch seems impractical and would increase the likelihood of damage.

I've also come across several hatches displayed at different museums than their spacecraft:

Even NASM itself displays hatches separately from the spacecraft: Apollo 11's hatch is displayed on the second level, near the SL-4 spacecraft, while Apollo 11 is in the Milestones of Flight Gallery. (I've not visited since the renovation started, so this may have changed since I last visited.)

Museums must have some latitude regarding hatch display, as the U.S. Space & Rocket Center once displayed Apollo 16's hatch separately, but has since reunited the hatch with its spacecraft when they were relocated to the Davidson Center building shortly after it opened.

Similarly, when SL-3 was displayed at Glenn Research Center, its hatch was displayed near the spacecraft but was reattached when the spacecraft was relocated to the Great Lakes Science Center.

space1
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Posts: 617
From: Danville, Ohio, USA
Registered: Dec 2002

posted 03-14-2015 12:09 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for space1   Click Here to Email space1     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The NASM displays the right hand Gemini IX hatch on its website. It is disassembled and apparently missing the white insulation blankets which would appear under the outer skin. Presumably other hatches are similarly in storage.

Gemini IX has the sad distinction of being the most stripped Gemini on display in my experience. It's missing the Pedestal control panel, attitude controller cover, seat back rests and egress kits, mirror assemblies, and many other parts.

pupnik
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Posts: 34
From: Maryland
Registered: Jan 2014

posted 03-14-2015 05:54 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for pupnik     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by mikej:
Gemini 4's hatch is displayed at the Cradle of Aviation Museum on Long Island
Gemini 4 at NASM has two closed hatches right now as the main gallery goes through renovation. I wonder where the "donor hatch" came from.

Joel Katzowitz
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Posts: 522
From: Marietta GA USA
Registered: Dec 1999

posted 03-14-2015 07:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Joel Katzowitz   Click Here to Email Joel Katzowitz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by MarylandSpace:
Was there also a Mercury hatch in the Space Walk of Fame Museum when it was in a Titusville Mall?
The Mercury hatch that is on display at the Space Walk of Fame is from MA-1. It was the first launch of a production Mercury spacecraft.

Unfortunately about 60 seconds into the flight there was a structural failure that resulted in the spacecraft crashing into the Atlantic and sinking. Most of the parts were recovered and re-constructed to determine the cause of the accident.

After the investigation the pieces were unceremoniously discarded in a junk yard. Some of the pieces were eventually discovered and retrieved including the hatch you saw.

schnappsicle
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Posts: 261
From: Houston, TX, USA
Registered: Jan 2012

posted 03-16-2015 06:43 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for schnappsicle   Click Here to Email schnappsicle     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Others with more knowledge than I can speak to this, but I know that Skylab used an old Gemini hatch. I'm not sure if the Skylab hatch was previously used or simply leftover from spare parts.

Also, Tom Stafford told me that part of the ATDA he was supposed to dock with during Gemini 9A was from his Gemini 6 spacecraft. Apparently, there was a lot of recycling at NASA.

Back in the early 70's, I lived 2 miles down the road from JSC. I'd walk over there almost every weekend just to hang around and watch the movie. I could be wrong, but I seem to remember seeing the Apollo 17 command module with its hatch in place back in those days. I clearly remember seeing a sign on the spacecraft that said "Do Not Touch", which I frequently ignored. I used to stick my head inside it just to look around. I even took a few photos of the inside of the spacecraft. I wish I knew where those photos were. They have since covered the spacecraft with a clear plastic covering to prevent people like me from doing the things I used to do to it. I can only imagine someone with a screwdriver reaching inside to get a souvenir. I wasn't one of those people, but I'll bet it happened more than once.

space1
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Posts: 617
From: Danville, Ohio, USA
Registered: Dec 2002

posted 03-16-2015 06:23 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for space1   Click Here to Email space1     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I do not know if the Skylab hatch was previously flown, but I doubt it was. At a minimum the design of the locking mechanism was modified. The window was also removed.

The ATDA apparently used the entire Reentry Control System (RCS) from Gemini VI, as an attitude control module. (Gemini VI currently mounts a RCS section from a trainer.) The outer skin plates were not black as with Gemini, but otherwise it looked very similar. You can see the module with its 16 thrusters in photos of the ATDA.

Lou Chinal
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Posts: 1154
From: Staten Island, NY
Registered: Jun 2007

posted 04-09-2015 12:24 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Lou Chinal   Click Here to Email Lou Chinal     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I seem to remember the hatch from Friendship 7 being on display at the Life and Science Center in North Carolina. The story goes that Sam Beddingfield glued the Velcro onto the hatch in place while sitting inside.
quote:
Originally posted by Joel Katzowitz:
Some of the pieces were eventually discovered and retrieved including the hatch you saw.
Good detective work Joel.

Joel Katzowitz
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Posts: 522
From: Marietta GA USA
Registered: Dec 1999

posted 04-09-2015 08:11 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Joel Katzowitz   Click Here to Email Joel Katzowitz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hey Lou, I just emailed you a newspaper article from 1983 detailing some of the MA-1 history. Enjoy.

MOL
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Posts: 27
From: Los Angeles, CA
Registered: Oct 2004

posted 04-10-2015 12:31 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for MOL   Click Here to Email MOL     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
To be clear, the Skylab hatch discussed here was the EVA airlock hatch. Since McDonnell Douglas was the prime for both Gemini and Skylab, it made a lot of sense to use an already qualified and space proven design. Given there was lots of leftover Gemini hardware with the cancellation of MOL, it was a fiscally sensible decision as well.

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