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  Apollo command module apex cover recovery

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Author Topic:   Apollo command module apex cover recovery
kr4mula
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Posts: 619
From: Cinci, OH
Registered: Mar 2006

posted 08-21-2008 12:26 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for kr4mula   Click Here to Email kr4mula     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Does anyone know where the Apollo 15 apex cover is? This is the portion of the heat shield that covers up the parachutes, then is jettisoned when the chutes deploy.

The one for Apollo 15 was supposedly the only (?) one retrieved along with the capsule. The capsule itself is in the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force in Dayton, but I can say for sure it's not displayed with the cover. I don't know if they, NASA, the Smithsonian, or anyone still has it.

heng44
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Posts: 2678
From: Netherlands
Registered: Nov 2001

posted 08-22-2008 12:17 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for heng44   Click Here to Email heng44     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Don't have the answer to your question, but I believe I have a photo of the Apollo 4 apex cover being recovered... So apparently Apollo 15's wasn't the only one.

Jay Chladek
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From: Bellevue, NE, USA
Registered: Aug 2007

posted 08-27-2008 10:47 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Chladek   Click Here to Email Jay Chladek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have a feeling the apex cover recovery was due to one of the main chutes on Apollo 15 failing to open, so the capsule came down on just two chutes (which it was rated to do). As such, the cover probably got scrutinized pretty closely.

I also wonder what happened to the nose cover from Liberty Bell 7. There is footage of it being recovered after LB7 sank. It would have been nice to reunite it with the capsule when it got recovered about almost a decade ago.

Fra Mauro
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Posts: 1102
From: Bethpage, N.Y.
Registered: Jul 2002

posted 02-17-2012 09:19 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Fra Mauro   Click Here to Email Fra Mauro     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Just finished reading, Hornet Plus Three — highly recommended. It is stated that one of the landing goals was to recover the apex cover. Was one ever found?

Editor's note: Threads merged.

Michael Davis
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Posts: 390
From: Houston, Texas
Registered: Aug 2002

posted 02-17-2012 09:19 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Michael Davis   Click Here to Email Michael Davis     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The apex cover for Apollo 4 was recovered as shown in this photo.

It is also my understanding that the Apollo 15 cover was also recovered.

SpaceAholic
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Posts: 3187
From: Sierra Vista, Arizona
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 02-17-2012 05:53 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceAholic   Click Here to Email SpaceAholic     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
As evidenced in the below documentation obtained from the National Air and Space Museum during the course of researching the CM 117 Parachute, Charlie Brown's Apex cover was apparently recovered. The list only captures items which were relinquished by Johnson Space Center to the Smithsonian (and retained by NASM) and doesn't necessarily include all retrieved CM earth landing system artifacts.

SpaceAholic
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Posts: 3187
From: Sierra Vista, Arizona
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 02-18-2012 05:25 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceAholic   Click Here to Email SpaceAholic     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Michael Davis:
The apex cover for Apollo 4 was recovered as shown in this photo.
Better resolved image of S/C 017's apex:

SpaceAholic
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Posts: 3187
From: Sierra Vista, Arizona
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 02-18-2012 06:09 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceAholic   Click Here to Email SpaceAholic     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Notes in the affiliated Apollo Mission Reports also confirm successful retrieval of apex covers from Apollo 13 (Odyssey) and Apollo 17 (America).

moorouge
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Posts: 1750
From: U.K.
Registered: Jul 2009

posted 02-27-2012 02:26 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for moorouge   Click Here to Email moorouge     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Details of Apollo recovery operations relating to apex covers can be found within the pages of Apollo Recovery Operational Procedures MSC-01856 Revision C 21:6:71.

Meantime a listing includes -

  • AS-201 No mention of Apex Cover recovery.
  • AS-202 A portion of layered material was retrieved; however, this was possibly a portion of the forward heat shield.
  • Apollo 4 The Apex Cover with its parachute was also recovered.
  • Apollo 6 The apex cover was not sighted.
  • Apollo 7 The apex cover was not sighted; however, a piece of recovered insulation material was believed to be from this cover.
  • Apollo 8 No mention of Apex Cover recovery.
  • Apollo 9 The main parachutes were not recovered, but the apex cover was retrieved.
  • Apollo 10 No mention of Apex Cover recovery.
  • Apollo 11 No mention of Apex Cover recovery.
  • Apollo 12 No mention of Apex Cover recovery.
  • Apollo 13 Swimmers retrieved the apex cover, which as located upwind of the spacecraft.
  • Apollo 14 No mention of Apex Cover recovery.
  • Apollo 15 Swimmers secured a life raft to the forward heat shield. One main parachute and the heat shield were retrieved.
  • Apollo 16 No mention of Apex Cover recovery.
  • Apollo 17 In addition to the command module, all three main parachutes and the forward heat shield were recovered.
  • Skylab 2 No mention of Apex Cover recovery.
  • Skylab 3 No mention of Apex Cover recovery.
  • Skylab 4 No mention of Apex Cover recovery.
  • ASTP All three main parachutes and the forward heat shield (apex cover) were recovered.
All the above extracted from the relevant mission reports.

moorouge
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From: U.K.
Registered: Jul 2009

posted 02-27-2012 11:18 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for moorouge   Click Here to Email moorouge     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This, extracted from the manual mentioned in my previous post, may be of interest -
The forward heat shield, or apex cover, weighs about 300 pounds dry and 400 to 500 pounds wet, depending upon sea state and soak time. The apex cover is separated from the CM at an altitude of approximately 24,000 ft and descends on a white parachute at about 150 ft/sec. It will impact in the vicinity of the CM and will sink slowly as it soaks up water.

Recovery should not be attempted until notification has been made that the crew is in good condition and that the CM has been collared. After that time, a helicopter may proceed to the apex cover and attach one or more of the one-man life rafts provided in the grappling hook/one-man life raft packages. These life rafts are separately packaged. The rafts may be attached to the apex cover. The small separation parachute should be collapsed and secured in one of the rafts prior to recovery. Recovery may be accomplished by attaching the retrieval crane hook to a raft loop.

Also, has anyone else noticed the anomaly in the letter posted by Scott (SpaceAholic) and the mission report concerning Apollo 9. The former says a ringsail chute was recovered, the latter says no chutes were recovered. Curious.

FFrench
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Posts: 3098
From: San Diego
Registered: Feb 2002

posted 02-29-2012 05:38 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for FFrench     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by kr4mula:
Does anyone know where the Apollo 15 apex cover is?
I'd love to know the answer to the original question on this thread, too, if anyone knows. I did some research when working with Al Worden on his book, and saw film footage identified as the cover being recovered after splashdown.

But the only one I recall having ever seen is the Apollo 4 cover, which was still at the National Air and Space Museum's Suitland facility as of this summer, before their big move began.

Rick Mulheirn
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Posts: 2661
From: England
Registered: Feb 2001

posted 02-29-2012 06:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rick Mulheirn   Click Here to Email Rick Mulheirn     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I recall seeing online, a photo of the Apollo 17 apex in storage but cannot for the life of me remember where I saw it. Sorry.

FFrench
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Posts: 3098
From: San Diego
Registered: Feb 2002

posted 02-29-2012 06:48 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for FFrench     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Rick, I have seen that one too, now you mention it, at the Cosmosphere, in storage.

moorouge
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From: U.K.
Registered: Jul 2009

posted 03-01-2012 02:40 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for moorouge   Click Here to Email moorouge     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This may help. It comes from a private mail I received as a result of my investigations into the BP-1227 mystery.
I found a 1996 photo online of the Apollo 17 forward heat shield (Apex Cover) at the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center, but I couldn't confirm online on their website that it's still there. You have to believe that there are more Apex Covers in museums or wherever, but without access to artifact inventories, this would be difficult to determine.

I searched the Air and Space Museum collections inventory and no Command Module Apex Covers/Forward Heat Shields are listed. Also, NASA photo S-67-49856 shows the Apollo 4 Apex Cover during recovery operations.

moorouge
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Posts: 1750
From: U.K.
Registered: Jul 2009

posted 04-25-2014 01:18 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for moorouge   Click Here to Email moorouge     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
A bit more about Apollo 9. After landing a grappling hook was used to snag one of the main chutes. A seven man life raft was then attached to the hook to provide floatation. Unfortunately, the hook disengaged and the parachute sank.

As far as the apex cover is concerned they were taking no chances. Two seven man life rafts were attached as well as a one man raft. The whole arrangement was then towed by a motor powered whale boat to the Guadalcanal for recovery.

J.L
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Posts: 472
From: Bloomington, Illinois, USA
Registered: May 2005

posted 04-26-2014 10:09 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for J.L   Click Here to Email J.L     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by moorouge:
As far as the apex cover is concerned they were taking no chances.
There are a number of images of the apex cover after recovery on the Apollo 9 Retro Space Images disc.

All times are CT (US)

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