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  Mercury - Gemini - Apollo
  Color of post-flight Apollo command modules

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Author Topic:   Color of post-flight Apollo command modules
DeltaV
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posted 06-20-2009 05:22 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for DeltaV   Click Here to Email DeltaV     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'm curious about the material used in the manufacture of the exterior hull or heatshield of the Apollo Command Module.

On early flights after re-entry, what seems to be left is a white colored material as seen on Apollo 7, 8 and 9. Subsequent flights 10 through 17 are left with a seemingly copper colored hull.

Was there a modification made somewhere along the line between flights 9 and 10?

SpaceAholic
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From: Sierra Vista, Arizona
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 06-20-2009 06:00 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceAholic   Click Here to Email SpaceAholic     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Avcoat 5026-39HCG (same formulation) was used throughout the program. Protective mylar foil was applied on all the CMs as well. The ablation of that foil on reentry was not uniform.

Different reentry velocities (orbital vs. lunar return) and the attitude of the returning CM with respect to the reentry corridor resulted in much of the disparity in post flight visual appearance (Avcoat "cooking" occurs in different gradations of color depending on the amount of thermal ablation). The copper color is unablated AVCOAT.

dtemple
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From: Longview, Texas, USA
Registered: Apr 2000

posted 06-20-2009 10:01 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dtemple   Click Here to Email dtemple     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Block 1 Apollo CMs (CM-009 and CM-011 for certain) were given a white coating instead of the mylar. At least four CMs had a light blue-gray coating on their forward heatshield - CM-008, CM-012 (Apollo 1), CM-014 (canceled Apollo 2), and CM-020 (Apollo 6).

CM-012 and 014 each had what I assume to be test panels (circular in shape) of mylar attached in two areas. CM-017 (Apollo 4) was about half covered in mylar; the remainder was white.

ilbasso
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From: Greensboro, NC USA
Registered: Feb 2006

posted 06-21-2009 11:21 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for ilbasso   Click Here to Email ilbasso     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The Skylab CM's were also painted white on the side of the spacecraft that faced the Sun throughout the mission. That white paint was still visible after reentry.

MichaelD
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From: Troy Michigan USA
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posted 06-28-2009 07:29 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for MichaelD   Click Here to Email MichaelD     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
On the Mylar, I have seen it is patterns so it seems. In strips, layed on at different angles. Was there a specific pattern for the latter flights for the mylar to be layed down?

ilbasso
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From: Greensboro, NC USA
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posted 06-28-2009 08:52 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ilbasso   Click Here to Email ilbasso     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Yes, there was a definite pattern, several different areas of diagonal stripes and some longitudinal ones. This makes for tense times for the scale model builder who tries to cut the appropriate pieces out of "Bare Metal" foil!

You can see an example in a scale model here.

All times are CT (US)

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