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  History's American Restoration: 1964 Gemini AMU

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Author Topic:   History's American Restoration: 1964 Gemini AMU
Robert Pearlman
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Posts: 29764
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 01-21-2014 01:12 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Next on The History Channel's American Restoration ("Astro-nuts and Bolts"):
When a 1964 NASA Jet Pack signed by astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Gene Cernan blasts into the shop, Rick and his team prepare for an out-of-this-world restoration.

Premiere Date: Jan. 21, 2014: 10:00-10:31 p.m. EST

Upcoming Airings:

  • Jan. 22, 2014 - 02:01-02:32 a.m. EST
  • Jan. 28, 2014 - 11:02-11:32 p.m. EST
  • Jan. 29, 2014 - 03:03-03:33 a.m. EST
(This episode continues a storyline that began on "Pawn Stars" on Jan. 16.)

LM1
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From: New York, NY USA
Registered: Oct 2010

posted 01-21-2014 09:18 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM1   Click Here to Email LM1     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Congratulations Robert! You looked great on American Restoration.

DSeuss5490
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Posts: 262
From: Columbus, Ohio USA
Registered: Jan 2003

posted 01-21-2014 09:18 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for DSeuss5490   Click Here to Email DSeuss5490     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
So I fail to see why this item would need to be restored. It's not in bad condition. They are talking about replacing parts and decals to make it look like new. As a collector I would rather have the jet pack with all of its original components, not reproductions. And at a cost of $9,000 for the restore? Perhaps I am missing something. Oh wow — there's ROBERT! Great job and great advice!

Robert Pearlman
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From: Houston, TX
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posted 01-21-2014 10:00 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks! History Channel had me under a non-disclosure agreement such that I couldn't share that I was going to be on the show until after it aired.

It was fun to film — and as you can guess, there was a lot more that Rick and I discussed that didn't make it onto the show. I was glad to be able to help and from what I saw, they followed most of my recommendations (there was one detail that surprised me at the end, but obviously Andy was happy with the result).

Rick and his crew (and family) are great people, and it was clear they appreciated the history behind the AMU.

Constellation One
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Posts: 75
From: Lorain, Ohio, USA
Registered: Aug 2008

posted 01-21-2014 10:22 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Constellation One   Click Here to Email Constellation One     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Last time I was in Vegas, I stopped in to discuss a non-space related project.

All the folks treated me great. They really seem "down home".

I felt bad. Their dog sneaked up behind me and I didn't know it. I accidentally step on him!

Come to think of it, I still have heard about my project...

I haven't seen the episode yet. Looking forward to it!

LM1
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From: New York, NY USA
Registered: Oct 2010

posted 01-21-2014 10:56 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM1   Click Here to Email LM1     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
At the end of the restoration they didn't show what happened to the autographs of Aldrin and Cernan. Did they paint over them?

Robert Pearlman
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From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 01-21-2014 11:04 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I didn't see the final product in-person but my understanding is that the autographs were left intact.

KSCartist
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Posts: 2608
From: Titusville, FL USA
Registered: Feb 2005

posted 01-22-2014 02:36 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for KSCartist   Click Here to Email KSCartist     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I was thrilled to see you on the show Robert. Glad they called in an expert who knows what he's talking about.

Hope the leads to many more opportunities for you to consult.

LM1
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Posts: 463
From: New York, NY USA
Registered: Oct 2010

posted 01-22-2014 08:14 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM1   Click Here to Email LM1     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Did you meet the owner of the item? What value would you place on the item?

Robert Pearlman
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From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 01-22-2014 08:58 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I did not meet the owner, Andy, at the store; we filmed on separate days. That said, he is a long-time cS member.

Robert Pearlman
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From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 01-22-2014 09:52 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The full episode can now be watched online via the show's website.

I had brought with me to the shop a few photos and other reference material for Rick to use during the restoration. Before leaving, I asked he sign one of them for me:

randy
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Posts: 1427
From: West Jordan, Utah USA
Registered: Dec 1999

posted 01-22-2014 11:12 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for randy   Click Here to Email randy     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have also had the privelege of visiting Ricks Restorations and meeting Rick. He is as warm and friendly in person as he is on the show. He also autographed a T-shirt for free, which I take and display when I have my car in a car show.

PeterO
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Posts: 242
From: Rochester, NH
Registered: Mar 2002

posted 01-22-2014 02:26 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for PeterO   Click Here to Email PeterO     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Great job, Robert, and I'm glad to see they took your advice. Since the AMU only flew once, is this a flight spare, training unit, engineering mockup, or something else?

SpaceAholic
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Posts: 3216
From: Sierra Vista, Arizona
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 01-22-2014 02:29 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceAholic   Click Here to Email SpaceAholic     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The flight article burned to a cinder on reentry (it was jettisoned).

Robert Pearlman
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From: Houston, TX
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posted 01-22-2014 02:42 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The unit was identified as a flight prototype. It had ink stamps on numerous panels that read "DO NOT FLY."

Based on the basic schematics I had for the flight unit and my inspection of the AMU at Rick's shop, it appeared to have an intact and complete interior. When I recommended to Rick that he not try to further disassemble the AMU it was because of the complexity of the components.

By the way, with regards to the Gemini 9 flight unit, I only just heard this yesterday so I haven't had to time to research it, but I am told that the front pack continued to relay telemetry until very late in the reentry, allowing the ground to track it on its way down.

Ken Havekotte
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Posts: 1993
From: Merritt Island, Florida, Brevard
Registered: Mar 2001

posted 01-22-2014 02:54 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ken Havekotte   Click Here to Email Ken Havekotte     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'll look forward, Robert, in viewing the episode. A nice consulting job with lots of fun, it looks to be -- Way to go Robert! I've also got lots of similar photos of the Gemini-era AMU, including a series of close-up shots. Let me check my original GT-9 papers and files, if you don't mind, in researching the relay telemetry feature of the backpack in seeing what I can come up with. Hopefully something, huh?

JBoe
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From: Churchton, MD, USA
Registered: Oct 2012

posted 01-22-2014 06:42 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for JBoe   Click Here to Email JBoe     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I just watched it on my DVR, the restoration turned out great. Congrats Robert on your cameo and imparting your knowledge to the masses!

dabolton
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From: Minooka IL, US
Registered: Jan 2009

posted 01-22-2014 07:00 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dabolton   Click Here to Email dabolton     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Where was the AMU stored during launch?

Robert Pearlman
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Posts: 29764
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 01-22-2014 07:24 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
From the Gemini Astronaut Maneuvering Unit Ready Reference Handbook:
Because of the stowage limitations, the AMU backpack is carried aloft in the Gemini's equipment adapter section outside the crew compartment in the aft portion of the spacecraft.

The smaller chest pack is carried inside the crew compartment.

This photo shows a mock-up of the adapter equipment section as configured for Gemini 9.

Ronpur
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From: Brandon, Fl
Registered: May 2012

posted 01-22-2014 08:26 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ronpur   Click Here to Email Ronpur     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Very interesting program. It looks like a great restoration. I have never seen the show before. I wish they had spent more time showing the actual work, but I guess these shows like to show the "drama" going on in the workshop! LOL.

Too bad you didn't have a cS patch or shirt on. Or was the mention of cS not allowed?

Robert Pearlman
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Posts: 29764
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 01-22-2014 09:38 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
As is normal with television productions, it was requested I wear no logos. collectSPACE is however, thanked in the credits.

Ken Havekotte
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Posts: 1993
From: Merritt Island, Florida, Brevard
Registered: Mar 2001

posted 01-22-2014 10:52 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ken Havekotte   Click Here to Email Ken Havekotte     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
From a quick research check into my old Gemini files of handbooks, news releases and press reports, the U.S. Air Force Experiment D-12 was one of three AMUs produced by Ling-Temco-Vought, Inc., of Dallas, TX, for the Department of Defense (U.S. Air Force Systems Command).

If successfully test-flown by Cernan on GT-9A, the one-man backpack style "miniature spacecraft," would had became the first automatically stablized extravehicular manned excursion into space.

Unfortunately, though, I wasn't able to find anything pertaining to the AMU's Extravehicular Life Support System (ELSS) chest pack that was discarded by Cernan once a fly-around EVA had been ruled a "no go."

During Gemini 9A, the AMU's backpack was never released from the spacecraft's adapter equipment module, but I don't think the ELSS chest pack was equipped for telemetry tracking once it had been jettisoned away from Cernan.

I believe it was only the AMU backpack that contained the communications and telemetry subsystems, while the ELSS chest pack mainly contained the life support system hardware and emergency oxygen supply, but nothing telemetry related.

Robert Pearlman
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From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 01-22-2014 11:37 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Ken Havekotte:
During Gemini 9A, the AMU's backpack was never released from the spacecraft's adapter equipment module...
There's an interesting discrepancy between reports on the fate of the AMU.

In "The Last Man on the Moon," Cernan writes:

We jettisoned the AMU backpack before going to sleep to get rid of its package of explosive fuel, which was nothing less than a cache of live ammunition.
Captain John Donahue with Air Force Systems Command reports otherwise in his post-flight report on "Experiment D-12, Astronaut Maneuvering Unit":
The AMU was left in the adapter because of the unknowns associated with jettisoning it in a postdonning configuration. Tests had shown there was no potentially hazardous condition in the backpack, with the possible exception of the propulsion system. An unsafe condition would occur only if the pressure of the H2O2 [hydrogen peroxide] propellant increased significantly. Adequate instrumentation was available to detect an impending unsafe condition in the H2O2 (telemetry, cockpit gages, and cockpit warning light). Previous flight data had shown that the H2O2 was extremely stable. The H2O2 pressure rise from EVA through retrofire was no greater than expected, and it was not necessary to jettison the backpack.
Elsewhere in the same report, Donahue states it again:
The AMU remained in the adapter with the systems activated for flight until retrofire.
With regards to telemetry, Donahue wrote:
Although the AMU was transmitting telemetry data following power-up during the predonning activity, failure of the Gemini data recorder precluded quantitative analysis of AMU performance.

kr4mula
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Posts: 619
From: Cinci, OH
Registered: Mar 2006

posted 01-24-2014 12:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for kr4mula   Click Here to Email kr4mula     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Donahue's statements also appear in reports by Peter Van Schaik, who was the AMU development project engineer/manager for the Air Force Aero Propulsion Lab here. Actually, I'd venture to guess that Donahue was borrowing Van Schaik's language, as there are many similiarities. In any case, he also says in several places that the AMU was left aboard and there was little danger from the hydrogen peroxide propellant.

Greggy_D
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posted 01-24-2014 01:52 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Greggy_D   Click Here to Email Greggy_D     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Robert, how were you approached to appear on the show? Were the producers already aware of cS?

space1
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From: Danville, Ohio, USA
Registered: Dec 2002

posted 01-25-2014 04:54 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for space1   Click Here to Email space1     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The Gemini IX Mission Report, in section 8.1, gives lots of interesting details about the AMU. It notes that the AMU was kept inside the equipment adapter "until adapter separation." (I presume this means it was not separately jettisoned, but was still attached while the equipment adapter was jettisoned.) The report explains that there was concern that if the partially deployed AMU were jettisoned it might get caught inside the adapter. The activated AMU propulsion system could be monitored for any problems.

The ELSS (Extravehicular Life Support System) chest pack was essentially the same type of unit used from Gemini 8-12. It was stowed in an open-frame stowage structure between the two seats. I believe it was jettisoned on each flight in which it was used (Gemini 9-12) during a stand-up EVA. It would not need its own telemetry for any reason.

Robert Pearlman
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From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 01-25-2014 05:29 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Greggy_D:
Robert, how were you approached to appear on the show?
My initial contact with the producers was through a referral.

rjurek349
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posted 01-25-2014 05:21 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for rjurek349   Click Here to Email rjurek349     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Congratulations, Robert! This is absolutely fantastic. Well done.

jvertrees
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Posts: 104
From: Crestwood, MO
Registered: Mar 2009

posted 05-22-2014 04:22 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for jvertrees   Click Here to Email jvertrees     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I just saw the episode about a week ago. I was surprised to see you (Robert) walk on screen. In the show they said the collector was called by a junk dealer saying the AMU showed up in a junk yard for scrap metal. I cry foul on that story. Many of the astronauts and NASA employees have been scavengers from day one. NASA as an organization has always had a clear idea on the value of their artifacts for education and museum display. No way an AMU fell into a junk bin, especially with moonwalker signatures. It was already in a collection. Is there any chance the true story of where the AMU was really discovered will come out?

It was a very interesting show. Those items are so rare I don't have a problem at all with the way Rick restored it making it look new. Integrity of material was closely adhered to and the final product looked ready to fly. I think those items are so rare it's the owners call to restore or not restore. Only degrading the item or using different materials could lessen the financial value.

Robert Pearlman
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Posts: 29764
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 05-22-2014 04:45 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by jvertrees:
No way an AMU fell into a junk bin, especially with moonwalker signatures.
The AMU's owner, Andy, had the astronauts sign the panel. Otherwise, the story, while simplified for the sake of brevity, is true. The AMU was originally recovered from a scrapyard in Houston.

jvertrees
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From: Crestwood, MO
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posted 06-10-2014 04:46 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for jvertrees   Click Here to Email jvertrees     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
If you say so Robert I'll go with it. The AMU did at one time find it's way to a junk yard for scrap.

Seems unlikely but many more stranger things have happened. So glad someone was on the ball and got the unit back into circulation. It will make a great museum piece some day. Although personally I prefer it stay in private hands and be loaned to museums for special events.

All times are CT (US)

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