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  Apollo 1: Duke, Swigert post-fire notes released

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Author Topic:   Apollo 1: Duke, Swigert post-fire notes released
Robert Pearlman
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Posts: 27328
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 07-10-2009 12:22 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Kansas Cosmosphere release
For the first time ever, some of the most key historical documents regarding the failures and achievements of the early Apollo space program will be made public on July 10, 2009, via a cooperative effort of the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center and Fort Hays State University. Former Astronaut Charlie Duke, the Kansas Cosmosphere and Fort Hays State University will be holding a joint press conference at 4:15 p.m., Friday, July 10, at the Cosmosphere to unveil this previously unreleased archive to the public and discuss the cooperative efforts that led to the release of the digitized collection, in this 40th anniversary month of the Apollo moon landing.

In January 1967, when the Apollo program was still trying to get its first manned spaceflight off the ground, three astronauts were killed in the tragic Apollo 1 fire. NASA and its contractors spent almost two years investigating the accident and redesigning the Apollo Command Module before its successful launch in October 1968. Many historians say that without those corrective actions to the Apollo spacecraft, the success of Apollo 11 in July 1969 would not have been possible.

The archived notes of Apollo 16 Moonwalker Charles ("Charlie") M. Duke, Jr. and Apollo 13 Astronaut Jack Swigert, from the Astronaut Office, concerning the post-accident investigation and redesign will be made public for the first time. The notes are held by the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center and, through a partnership with Forsyth Library and Fort Hays State University, Hays, Kansas, efforts to digitize this collection and house it on the web where it could be reviewed and studied by organizations and individuals around the world have been completed. The digitization process has taken nearly 5 years and the collection is now being made available via the web on this 40th anniversary year of the Apollo 11 moon landing. No other public documents provide such insight into the inner workings of the investigative and corrective process of the early space program.

Lou Chinal
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Posts: 946
From: Staten Island, NY
Registered: Jun 2007

posted 07-10-2009 01:21 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Lou Chinal   Click Here to Email Lou Chinal     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This should be a good read.

Machodoc
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Posts: 203
From: VA
Registered: Aug 2005

posted 07-10-2009 08:53 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Machodoc   Click Here to Email Machodoc     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This will be a good addition to the existing records, most of which are with the National Archives in Record Group 255. This is the complete file as it currently exists, and contains the entire photo file, including stuff that on first blush I thought should have been left private. I hate to take issue with the press release, but in fairness to the National Archives, their files are the mothership for anyone seeking to research the 204 accident.

Fra Mauro
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Posts: 1017
From: Maspeth, NY
Registered: Jul 2002

posted 07-11-2009 12:45 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Fra Mauro   Click Here to Email Fra Mauro     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I will assume that you can't access record Group 255 from the Internet. I shudder to think what photos the general public can see. I still disagree with the audio of the fire being available.

uk spacefan
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Posts: 96
From: London
Registered: Jan 2007

posted 07-11-2009 07:35 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for uk spacefan   Click Here to Email uk spacefan     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The document collection can be accessed via this link.

Fra Mauro
Member

Posts: 1017
From: Maspeth, NY
Registered: Jul 2002

posted 07-12-2009 12:55 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Fra Mauro   Click Here to Email Fra Mauro     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks -- I've seen the collection and it's great. I was wondering about the photos that Machodoc was referring to.

Machodoc
Member

Posts: 203
From: VA
Registered: Aug 2005

posted 07-12-2009 03:42 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Machodoc   Click Here to Email Machodoc     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Anyone who gets a researcher card at NARA can get the file on the fire. Getting a card is no big deal. RG 255 is the record group for NASA as a whole (NASA still has most of their own archives at the HQ in downtown DC.)

Most of what's available in the NASA archives held at College Park are NACA archives, and the Apollo 204 and Challenger accident reports. Once you have access to the archives, you can request any part of the fire file you want, even the most grim of grim, photos, which I have no interest in viewing.

spacecraft films
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Posts: 802
From: Columbus, OH USA
Registered: Jun 2002

posted 07-12-2009 04:11 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for spacecraft films   Click Here to Email spacecraft films     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Most of the photos available at the National Archives in College Park are on our Apollo 1 DVD set. A few hundred of them, documenting the spacecraft extensively.

The most "grim" are not available for access by researchers... unless you consider the spacecraft documentation "grim." I've been through all the Apollo 1 photos at College Park. I am assuming you're speaking of photos of the bodies, both in place and in autopsy. Those are not available to researchers.

College Park contains a good deal more than just NACA and Apollo 1 and Challenger. Most material from the late 80's and older is held at the archives, either in College Park or in other repositories around the country (notably in Atlanta and Fort Worth.) The Mercury and Gemini onboard original film is at College Park. The Apollo original film is still in Houston.

Machodoc
Member

Posts: 203
From: VA
Registered: Aug 2005

posted 07-12-2009 10:08 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Machodoc   Click Here to Email Machodoc     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I respect you all too much to argue in public, but I was there Wednesday (and several other days in the spring), and beg to differ, and note that my comments were restricted to the College Park archives. I respect your comments. My email address is available here and I'd really appreciate your perspectives.

spacecraft films
Member

Posts: 802
From: Columbus, OH USA
Registered: Jun 2002

posted 07-13-2009 09:54 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for spacecraft films   Click Here to Email spacecraft films     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I wasn't meaning to start an argument. Yes, you can request any part of the file you wish, but that doesn't mean that they will provide access for you.

I assume that since you said you didn't have a wish to view them that you had not seen these particular photos. While it has been last year since I last perused the Apollo 1 material, and it is possible that additional photos are now available, in the past the crew photos have been very well protected from release.

That having been said, I also (once) had something brought to me by mistake that was restricted. It wasn't nearly as big a deal as something such as the Apollo 1 crew photos, but the restriction was missed in processing the request.

I tend to spend much more time on the 4th floor in the film archives than in the photo archives. The NASA photo archives at College Park are not nearly as complete and extensive as the film holdings. However, there are extensive photo holdings at NARA Atlanta (From MSFC and KSC). There are some wonderful textual records in Fort Worth (from JSC).

Machodoc
Member

Posts: 203
From: VA
Registered: Aug 2005

posted 07-13-2009 10:51 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Machodoc   Click Here to Email Machodoc     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Just wanted to say that Mark and I had a very productive and friendly email discussion about the photos. He related to me that when he requested the same file a couple of years ago, the photos had been removed and replaced with the "restricted" notice. I mentioned that when I was there last week, I was surprised to see them listed in the finding aid and asked an archivist if they were really in the file. He said they were, so I just relied on his word instead of looking myself, as I had no desire to see them.

I will be back there in the fall, and I'm going to request the file myself just to see if they are actually in there or whether they are still restricted, as I really hope they are. I will report the results back here unless someone here beats me to it!

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