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  Apollo astronaut lunar geological hammers

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Author Topic:   Apollo astronaut lunar geological hammers
Ross Sackett
Member

Posts: 13
From: Memphis. TN, USA
Registered: Aug 2015

posted 08-03-2015 12:04 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ross Sackett   Click Here to Email Ross Sackett     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Sorry for the long post and pleading tone but I am hoping you can help. I am an anthropologist researching the Apollo lunar geological hammers, and I have gathered a collection source materials including EVA and training photographs, NASA technical documents, and photos of museum specimens, as well as EVA transcripts and astronaut commentary from the Apollo Lunar Surface Journal.

I posted a preview of this project in the Lunar Photo of the Day blog last summer. I now have considerably more information than provided in standard NASA reference works like Allton's Catalog of Apollo Lunar Surface Geological Sampling Tools and Containers so I am pretty encouraged about the ongoing project, but I have hit something of a brick wall in two important areas, and hoped members of this forum might be able to help.

First, I have found little information on their actual design and manufacturing process, other than a comment that they were made at the JSC. My internet search has found no engineering drawings or contemporary technical descriptions of the varieties of hammers produced for Apollo (at least four different variants flew, and several others appear in the photographic record as prototypes or training hammers). Does anyone have any information or advice on how I can tighten-up this part of the investigation?

Secondly, I am having difficulty locating museum specimens for close study. NASA transferred a collection of lunar training tools and prototypes including several hammers to the Smithsonian, who has apparently lent them to other institutions. I know of two on display: a training version of the Apollo 17 hammer at the Tellus Science Museum in Georgia and the Apollo 14 variant on display at the Musee de l'Air et de l'Espace outside Paris. I've heard rumor of an Apollo 11 and 12-style light hammer in the Chicago area but I have no specifics. There also might be an unfinished hammer on public display at the JSC in Houston. Does anyone know of these or other Apollo hammers on public display?

The only hammers in private hands that I know of are LMP Bean's flown hammer from Apollo 12 and a recently-auctioned light hammer head attached to a pipe handle, possibly an early mockup.

Ross Sackett, PhD
Anthropology
The University of Memphis

Jeff
Member

Posts: 410
From: Fayetteville, NC, USA
Registered: May 2009

posted 08-03-2015 12:42 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jeff   Click Here to Email Jeff     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Ross, not sure if this will help with your research but Michael Key, he's also on this forum, is a modeler who has made 3D replicas of two types of hammers. He may be a start on dimensions. Shot in the dark.

Ross Sackett
Member

Posts: 13
From: Memphis. TN, USA
Registered: Aug 2015

posted 08-03-2015 01:02 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ross Sackett   Click Here to Email Ross Sackett     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks for that lead; that's a good looking replica of the heavy hammer. I have photogrametrically constructed a set of drawings of the two most common variants and it will be interesting to compare them to what others have done.

Joel Katzowitz
Member

Posts: 752
From: Marietta GA USA
Registered: Dec 1999

posted 08-06-2015 08:17 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Joel Katzowitz   Click Here to Email Joel Katzowitz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I don't know if this helps at all but I live about 40 minutes away from the Tellus Museum. If you need photos of the hammer in their collection I'd be happy to drive over with my camera.

Let me know and good luck with your project.

Ross Sackett
Member

Posts: 13
From: Memphis. TN, USA
Registered: Aug 2015

posted 08-06-2015 08:38 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ross Sackett   Click Here to Email Ross Sackett     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Joel I'd hate to send you out of your way, but if you find yourself out there I'd greatly appreciate some pictures.

And thanks for the encouragement.

mode1charlie
Member

Posts: 1007
From: Honolulu, HI
Registered: Sep 2010

posted 06-18-2017 06:53 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mode1charlie   Click Here to Email mode1charlie     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Ross, are you still working on this project?

Ross Sackett
Member

Posts: 13
From: Memphis. TN, USA
Registered: Aug 2015

posted 06-19-2017 02:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ross Sackett   Click Here to Email Ross Sackett     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Yes, I am. I've completed a photogrammetric study of the several different kinds of hammers that Apollo astronauts trained with and used on the moon, an analysis of the motor habits of astronauts using the hammers in the lunar environment, a "hands off" study of the hammer in the Tellus Museum, and an interview with a moon walking astronaut.

I can report a couple of clear results. In contrast to NASA documents suggesting that two different styles of hammers were used, it is clear from the visual evidence that there were at least six variants, four of which were flown. Rather than a single redesign after Apollo 12 revealed problems with the early "light" hammer (as the story goes), it's clear that the hammer went through a continuous evolution over the course of the Apollo program, and it remained a work in progress even in the lead-up to Apollo 17.

The evidence I looked at also showed some consistent problems they were never able to solve, such as the ergonomic interference caused by the cables restraining the shoulder convolutes in the A7L and A7LB suits, and also the tendency of the hammer to rotate in the grip after every three or four strikes requiring the astronaut to pause and reposition the handle.

It was also clear from the EVA videos and transcripts that the astronauts found a number of uses for the hammers that were essentially "off schedule" and never made it into the NASA manuals, and one "official" function of the hammer that was NEVER actually used on the moon. According to the NASA manuals, the hammers were to be used as a hoe in trenching operations, attached to the standard extension handle. In fact, though press materials and tool manuals from the first to the last landing missions described this function astronauts never actually used the tool this way.

Philip
Member

Posts: 5651
From: Brussels, Belgium
Registered: Jan 2001

posted 06-24-2017 04:05 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Philip   Click Here to Email Philip     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
What was the weight of these geological hammers?

Ross Sackett
Member

Posts: 13
From: Memphis. TN, USA
Registered: Aug 2015

posted 06-24-2017 09:05 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ross Sackett   Click Here to Email Ross Sackett     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
860 g for the light hammer used in Apollos 11 and 12, 1300 g used for Apollos 15-17. The Apollo 14 hammer would have probably been close to that of the heavy hammer, a little more or less.

Charlie16
Member

Posts: 466
From: Italy
Registered: Dec 2010

posted 01-05-2018 05:27 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Charlie16   Click Here to Email Charlie16     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The metal hammer replica:
For all enthusiasts of the Apollo program, the faithful reproduction of the Apollo hammer, everything made by machine. Full aluminum, with the same knurling in the handle.

This is a heavier weight lunar hammer designed to chip a sample of rock off a larger rock or to drive core tubes into the lunar soil. When attached to an extension handle, the hammer was also used to dig surface furrows.

Hammers of this style were used on Apollo 14, 15, 16, and 17.

All times are CT (US)

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