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  Apollo artifacts threatened by fire at Space & Rocket Center

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Author Topic:   Apollo artifacts threatened by fire at Space & Rocket Center
Robert Pearlman
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posted 05-07-2007 06:14 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
From The Associated Press:
quote:
Two artifacts at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center were destroyed Monday when a fire started in the building where they were being restored.

Spokesman Al Whitaker said the blaze began around 12:30 p.m. in the building where the center's fleet of tour buses is maintained. Huntsville firefighters quickly contained the fire, which caused no injuries and did not require evacuation of the museum.

The artifacts were to be moved into a new building this summer that is being built to house the Saturn V rocket.

"We were getting the drop test module and the instrument ring prepared for display, just cleaning it up and making it look like it's supposed to," Whitaker said. "It's certainly a loss. The (instrument ring) that we lost was actually a part of this particular rocket, the Saturn V, and there's no getting that back."

The fire is believed to have started when sparks from welding tools that workers were using ignited some of the maintenance building's insulation.

Officials made a wide perimeter around the building as a precaution because some of the chemicals that were stored there also caught fire. Tanks containing oxygen and other flammable gases used for welding work weren't affected, Whitaker said.

"It could have been much worse," he said.


LCDR Scott Schneeweis
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posted 05-07-2007 07:16 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for LCDR Scott Schneeweis   Click Here to Email LCDR Scott Schneeweis     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
They may have at least some spares literally in their back yard..these images, derived from Google Earth, show two abandoned IU's out in the woods...(the first picture shows the relative location to the museum)

http://www.spaceaholic.com/sadbuttrue/spacerocketcenteriu1.jpg

http://www.spaceaholic.com/sadbuttrue/spacerocketcenteriu2.jpg

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Scott Schneeweis

URL http://www.SPACEAHOLIC.com/

Robert Pearlman
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Posts: 27327
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 05-08-2007 06:08 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
From The Huntsville Times:
quote:
The capsule was a "drop test" model used to test the dynamics of splashdowns when the Apollo program was being developed, he said. The instrument unit, built by IBM, was the on-board computer system for the Saturn V launch system. The instrument unit is a 22-foot diameter ring that fits on an upper stage. It was to rejoin the reassembled horizontally displayed Saturn V inside the $17 million visitor entrance building that is now under construction.

"That was an actual part of the Saturn V that we have had. We can't replicate that, whereas the drop test module, we can build a duplicate," he said.

Whitaker expects museum officials will decide about moving an identical instrument unit from its display in the main museum to the horizontal rocket assembly in the new building.

"That (instrument unit) has always been a part of that rocket, which is complete all the way up to the capsule," Whitaker said.


Moonpaws
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posted 05-08-2007 07:28 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Moonpaws   Click Here to Email Moonpaws     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Inexcusable. On the ships I was stationed on, whenever a welder was performing their duties, a designated person(s) was required to be standing by with a fire extinguisher.

saturn1b
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posted 05-08-2007 07:39 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for saturn1b   Click Here to Email saturn1b     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have to agree with Moonpaws, there is no excuse to be welding anywhere near artifacts without using extreme caution. While it was stated that it could have been a lot worse...it should have never gotten to the point that it did.

snf13
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posted 05-08-2007 08:47 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for snf13   Click Here to Email snf13     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Leave it to Huntsville to refurbish valuable space artifacts in a bus barn...

DavidH
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From: Huntsville, AL, USA
Registered: Jun 2003

posted 05-08-2007 11:28 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for DavidH   Click Here to Email DavidH     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by LCDR Scott Schneeweis:
They may have at least some spares literally in their back yard...
I believe those photos are outdated, and one of those is the one that was destroyed.

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LCDR Scott Schneeweis
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posted 05-08-2007 11:43 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for LCDR Scott Schneeweis   Click Here to Email LCDR Scott Schneeweis     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Acknowledged..Google overhead imagery is time latent however as recently as several weeks ago the present curator (Irene) indicated an IU still resided out in the woods - that cued the Google search..

Though the circumstances of the fire seem inexcusible, one could imagine given the paucity of funding for facilities and staff how it came to pass that these artifacts have been stored in a bus barn and the woods.

LCDR Scott Schneeweis
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posted 05-08-2007 01:45 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for LCDR Scott Schneeweis   Click Here to Email LCDR Scott Schneeweis     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Good news... the damage was not as bad as initially reported:

Damage from space center fire not as severe as first thought
quote:
On Monday, Whitaker speculated that the museum may have lost an irreplaceable instruments unit built for the Saturn V program.

Today, he said heat appears to have bubbled the paint, but the unit is otherwise OK.

Whitaker said only a nose cone from the launch escape system for a Saturn V test unit was scorched. And it can be repaired and will likely be displayed when the museum's new building opens in January.


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