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Author Topic:   Fire-resistant paper used during Apollo

Posts: 237
From: Boston, Mass.
Registered: Jun 2005

posted 05-26-2013 07:32 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for NAAmodel#240   Click Here to Email NAAmodel#240     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
After the fire in January 1967 NASA redoubled efforts to eliminate items that would support combustion in the spacecraft. Since there were lots of checklists, maps, and reference materials made of paper did the space agency ever switch to flame retardant paper?


Posts: 689
From: Albuquerque, New Mexico
Registered: Jan 2003

posted 05-27-2013 08:45 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for davidcwagner   Click Here to Email davidcwagner     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Excellent question.

I have several flown checklist pages and maps. The maps appear to be plastic (Teflon?). The checklist pages feel like thin paper. Have not tested any with a match yet.


Posts: 217
From: Maryland, USA
Registered: Oct 2008

posted 05-28-2013 03:02 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for MadSci     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I seem to recall that the paper was treated to make it fire resistant. Can't recall the reference right now, but I believe that was the case.


Posts: 438
From: NSW, Australia
Registered: May 2005

posted 06-01-2013 12:51 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Obviousman   Click Here to Email Obviousman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It's probably Tyvek. We still use it for flight reference cards today.


Posts: 646
From: Salzburg, Austria
Registered: Jun 2003

posted 06-02-2013 11:52 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for cosmos-walter   Click Here to Email cosmos-walter     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Matthew I. Radnofsky from NASA Manned Spacecraft Center wrote an article (PDF) in Aviation Bulletin No. 388 in August 1971:

A cellulosic material, developed by the Scheufelen Paper Company of Germany and processed primarily as a paper, carbonizes in the presence of a flame but does not propagate the flame. This nonflammable characteristic is evident in both air and oxygen-enriched atmospheres. This paper lends itself well to printing and, with some minor exceptions, has physical properties that are comparable to conventional paper.

This paper can be processed into a continuous roll of 0.5-inch-thick foam, similar to papier-mache. When placed on a ceiling, for example, the foam has both the appearance and function of conventional acoustic tile and offers the additional advantage of nonflammability.

In addition to the paper, a process called Laminite which treats cellulose-base fiberboard with ammonium aluminum sulfate has been evolved.

The resultant material is minimally flammable in oxygen and nonflammable in air. It can be formed wet, coated, cemented, and Joined like a composite; yet it is lightweight and inexpensive.

This nonflammable paper from Scheufelen paper company was used during Apollo flights. For Space Shuttle and ISS there was no need for a nonflammable paper, since they did not use pure oxygen atmosphere any more.


Posts: 150
From: Burke, VA USA
Registered: Mar 2009

posted 06-02-2013 07:35 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for idrvball   Click Here to Email idrvball     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Here are some items I have found in my files relating to the Apollo Flame Resistant Paper.

The first photos is a letter written in 1971 from Papierfabrik Scheufelen to Hans Mueller mentioning the flame resistant paper they developed.

There is also a small booklet published by Papierfabrik Scheufelen in I believe 1970. The second photo shows the cover the next photo shows the inside with the fabrics, and the last photo shows the back cover.


Posts: 164
From: UK
Registered: Dec 2010

posted 01-05-2018 12:38 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for holcombeyates   Click Here to Email holcombeyates     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Can anyone provide info on the type of paper developed and used for preparing copies of flown cue cards and checklists for Apollo flights mindful of flammability constraints.

Were any changes made after the Apollo 1 fire? Thanks.

Editor's note: Threads merged.


Posts: 1022
From: Shepperton, United Kingdom
Registered: Mar 2012

posted 01-05-2018 12:40 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for rgarner   Click Here to Email rgarner     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have a few flown checklists in my collection and from observation the Gemini checklist (GT5) is made from a thick cardstock, the Apollo checklists I have (AP9) are made from a much thinner card, with the covers being slightly thicker. None seem flame resistant to me.


Posts: 252
From: Santa Monica, CA
Registered: Jun 2013

posted 01-08-2018 11:33 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for neo1022   Click Here to Email neo1022     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Maps and star charts were printed on a film-like material called chronopaque, developed by DuPont. Google it for more more info.

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