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  Mercury, Gemini, Apollo astronaut transfer vans

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Author Topic:   Mercury, Gemini, Apollo astronaut transfer vans
astro-nut
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Posts: 1016
From: Washington, IL
Registered: Jan 2006

posted 06-18-2011 10:22 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for astro-nut   Click Here to Email astro-nut     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Can anyone share information about and/or photos of the astronaut transfer vehicles used for the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo eras?

I know that the space shuttle Astrovan/Airstream has been in service since STS-9 (1983).

Rusty B
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Posts: 239
From: Sacramento, CA
Registered: Oct 2004

posted 06-20-2011 09:24 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rusty B   Click Here to Email Rusty B     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Looking at old photos it appears that the Project Mercury astronaut transfer van was a semi-truck with a modified trailer.

Skylon
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posted 06-21-2011 06:26 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Skylon     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
When was the old van last used? I've seen pictures of it used for STS-1. I'd guess it remained in use for the other OFT missions, and maybe STS-5 and 6.

astro-nut
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From: Washington, IL
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posted 06-23-2011 05:24 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for astro-nut   Click Here to Email astro-nut     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Yes the Mercury transfer van was a semi with a modified trailer, but does anyone know what kind of semi and modified trailer it was and what has become of it? Any information on the Gemini crew transfer van would be helpful.

I know that the Apollo van was used from Apollo 7 until STS-6. STS-7 and STS-8 used an RV camper type of vehicle. The current Astrovan was used since STS-9.

It would of have been neat to see all the astronaut transfers vehicle in a museum lined up in order of their use.

Rusty B
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Posts: 239
From: Sacramento, CA
Registered: Oct 2004

posted 06-25-2011 11:21 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rusty B   Click Here to Email Rusty B     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This YouTube video has a sequence showing the Gemini 5 astronauts boarding the Gemini astronaut transfer van upon exiting the suiting trailer at LC-16, the van heading to LC-19 and the exiting the van at LC-19. This happens between 2:37 - 3:45 on the video.

Still photos of Gemini astronaut transfer vans (Gemini 8 and Gemini 11 appear to be different from earlier vans).

  • s65-27488: Gemini 4 exits LC-16 suiting trailer to board van
  • s65-29607: Gemini 4 exits LC-16 suiting trailer to board van
  • s65-27487: Gemini 4 exits van and on way to LC-19 elevator
  • s65-29660: Gemini 4 exits van and on way to LC-19 elevator
  • s65-28737: Gemini 5 exits van and on way to LC-19 elevator
  • s65-57962: Gemini 6 exits van and on way to LC-19 elevator
  • s66-24447: Gemini 8 exits different van (shape different) and on way to LC-19 elevator
  • s66-50780: Gemini 11 exits different van (shape different) and on way to LC-19 elevator

Rusty B
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Posts: 239
From: Sacramento, CA
Registered: Oct 2004

posted 06-28-2011 06:50 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rusty B   Click Here to Email Rusty B     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It appears that the Mercury chimps used the astronaut van before the astronauts did.
Chimpanzee "Ham" during preflight activity with one of his handlers prior to the Mercury-Redstone 2 test flight which was conducted on January 31, 1961. Here he is seen leaving suit trailer.

SpaceDust
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From: Louisville, KY
Registered: Mar 2006

posted 07-27-2011 07:35 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceDust     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It seems even after this vehicle became a museum piece the NASA logo on it changed.

This photo of the transfer van I took in May of 1990 at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. When it became a part of the Apollo/Saturn V Center, was it restored back to the meatball to look like it did during the Apollo program?

Skylon
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posted 07-27-2011 09:34 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Skylon     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by SpaceDust:
...was it restored back to the meatball to look like it did during the Apollo program?
Looks like it, as evidenced by this walkout photo from Apollo 10.

LM-12
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From: Ontario, Canada
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posted 01-15-2012 01:46 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Here is some British newsreel footage showing Cooper and the transfer van outside Hangar S and arriving at Pad 14.

There are also some great video clips of the Gemini transfer van and the suiting-up trailer at Pad 16 on this website.

tetrox
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Posts: 142
From: London England
Registered: Jan 2008

posted 01-15-2012 04:51 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for tetrox   Click Here to Email tetrox     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
What type of truck was used to tow the trailer shown in the clip?

I have tried Google and it looks similar to a "Consolidated 123" but I would be grateful if anyone could help me identify it.

LM-12
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Posts: 3547
From: Ontario, Canada
Registered: Oct 2010

posted 01-15-2012 05:46 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
There is another good view of the Mercury astronaut transfer van and truck at the 1:19 point of this Glenn newsreel clip.

astro-nut
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From: Washington, IL
Registered: Jan 2006

posted 10-28-2019 11:32 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for astro-nut   Click Here to Email astro-nut     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
What were the make and models of the vehicles used as Astronaut Transfer vehicles, including all from Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo?
  • I know Project Mercury used a Reo tractor trailer.

  • Project Gemini used two different vans during the program (one of the two vans was used for Apollo 1 crew, I believe)?

  • Project Apollo used the Clark-Cortez astrovan. The same vehicle was used for Skylab, ASTP and space shuttle missions STS-1 to STS-6.
Staring with STS-9 the 1983 Airstream Excella motorhome astrovan was used for all remaning shuttle flights.

Any updated information would be appreciated. Looking for make, models and years of the vehicles.

Gordon Eliot Reade
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Posts: 90
From: Palo Alto, Calif.
Registered: Jun 2015

posted 06-04-2021 12:14 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Gordon Eliot Reade   Click Here to Email Gordon Eliot Reade     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'm trying to find some information on the Apollo-era astronaut transfer van. Specifically what was the first mission it was used for? Also who built it?

Editor's note: Threads merged.

MOL
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Posts: 146
From: Los Angeles, CA
Registered: Oct 2004

posted 06-04-2021 12:44 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for MOL   Click Here to Email MOL     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It was a modified Clark Cortez motor home. First used for Apollo 7 in 1968 and last used on shuttle mission STS-6 in 1983.

Gordon Eliot Reade
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Posts: 90
From: Palo Alto, Calif.
Registered: Jun 2015

posted 06-04-2021 12:55 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Gordon Eliot Reade   Click Here to Email Gordon Eliot Reade     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thank you. I had never heard of Clark Cortez Motor Homes. Seems they went belly up in the late 1970's but they still enjoy a strong fan base.

astro-nut
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Posts: 1016
From: Washington, IL
Registered: Jan 2006

posted 07-28-2021 02:38 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for astro-nut   Click Here to Email astro-nut     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
From doing more research it looks like the Gemini 9 astronauts (Tom Stafford and Gene Cernan) and the follow-on Gemini missions used an International van as the astronaut transfer vehicle.

Still trying to figure out what type of vehicle/vans did the prior Gemini missions use. Gemini 3 to Gemini 7 used the same vehicle and Gemini 8 used a different type of vehicle. Any updated information would be greatly appreciated in this topic.

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