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Author Topic:   Strategic Air Command & Aerospace Museum (NE)
Jay Chladek
Member

Posts: 2270
From: Bellevue, NE, USA
Registered: Aug 2007

posted 08-13-2007 05:01 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Chladek   Click Here to Email Jay Chladek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The Strategic Air Command and Aerospace Museum is located off Interstate 80 at exit 426, midway between Omaha and Lincoln, Nebraska. The museum first started life as the Strategic Air Command (SAC) museum in Bellevue, next to Offutt Air Force Base, but over 10 years ago it was moved to the current facility located just south of Ashland.

There isn't much civilian stuff on display yet, but they do have an extensive collection of aircraft and artifacts from the Cold War. Some of the more notable space related artifacts include:

  • A full size Atlas ICBM (replica built by Convair for SAC, but it looks real)
  • Thor IRBM
  • Blue Scout missile
  • B-52B Stratofortress
  • B-36
  • B-57 Canberra
  • B-1A
  • SR-71 Blackbird
  • Some reentry heat shields and nose cones for other ICBMs.
  • A couple satellites associated with detecting Soviet atomic bomb tests
  • Apollo block 1 capsule Spacecraft 009 (the first block 1 capsule to be launched suborbital on SA-201)
There are numerous other military and Cold War related aircraft and artifacts on display as well, but the above list showcases those that might have the most interest among space lovers.

This particular Apollo capsule that they have was used in a land landing drop test after SA-201, where it got a big crack at the base of the heat shield. The title of the capsule was signed over to the University of Nebraska in Lincoln in the early 1970s and as such it is one of the few space capsules that the Smithsonian has no jurisdiction over. Because of that, for years the capsule was displayed outdoors on the UNL grounds and the Nebraska winters were not kind to it.

At one time, a grass roots campaign tried to get the capsule traded to the Cosmosphere, but that was shot down by the university's board of regents. The capsule was locked away in a storage shed until about 1998 when an anonymous donor contributed the funds needed to restore it to something resembling its former glory. Shortly after the work was done, it was put on display in the SAC museum's current location.

Another space related exhibit will be starting up on Sept. 29, 2006, to celebrate the accomplishments of Nebraska's first astronaut and Ashland native, Clayton Anderson. The exhibit will run from September to March I believe and I am working on a shuttle model for the exhibit. Some NASA supplied artifacts will be on display with the exhibit, so it should be a nice crowd draw.

Choose2Go
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Posts: 73
From: Merritt Island, FL, USA
Registered: Feb 2004

posted 08-15-2007 10:20 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Choose2Go     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I've been to the old museum: I look forward to visiting the new one.

Sy Liebergot
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Posts: 500
From: Pearland, Texas USA
Registered: May 2003

posted 08-15-2007 03:56 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Sy Liebergot   Click Here to Email Sy Liebergot     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I had the pleasure to see AS-201 at the museum this past May, where I lectured. The AS-201 was my first mission as a flight controller. We ran 144 simulations of that 38 minute lob downrange. I tell about the "unscrub" in my book.

dtemple
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Posts: 683
From: Longview, Texas, USA
Registered: Apr 2000

posted 08-17-2007 12:07 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dtemple   Click Here to Email dtemple     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I don't believe this is CM 009 and I don't believe CM 011 is on the USS Hornet. Somehow their identifications have been reversed.

CM 009 had the narrow side windows while CM 011 had the square style windows as did all others from that point including block 2 CMs. I have photos of the recovery of 009 and it clearly has the narrow style windows. In fact, I read somewhere long ago that NASA had the windows made larger — wish I could remember what publication it was (old Aviation Week maybe).

Unless the two spacecraft have their parts mixed then their IDs are not correct. (Where is the serial number plate attached?)

Choose2Go
Member

Posts: 73
From: Merritt Island, FL, USA
Registered: Feb 2004

posted 08-18-2007 05:38 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Choose2Go     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Very interesting observation. This should be something that could be resolved with little more detective work.

Have you contacted either museum with this information? Do you mind if I do? (I don't want to push myself in on any ongoing work you are doing.)

dtemple
Member

Posts: 683
From: Longview, Texas, USA
Registered: Apr 2000

posted 08-18-2007 03:21 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dtemple   Click Here to Email dtemple     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Choose2Go:
Have you contacted either museum with this information?
I did contact the National Air and Space Museum a few years ago about my doubt but never received any reply.

One theory I had was that 009 and 011 had their parts mixed. The spacecraft were disassembled for post-flight inspection then reassembled and used (009 at least) for land impact tests. Perhaps the forward heat shield and inner pressure shell or cabin were combined from these two CMs but I doubt it. One would have the inner pressure shell with the square type windows while the outer shell or forward heat shield of the other would have the narrow openings and vice versa.

I don't know if there would be a fit problem associated with such a combination or not, nor do I really believe this happened. Something is absolutely amiss with these two CMs.

Take a look at these photos of this CM that is supposed to be 011. Note the narrow side windows (windows farthest from the hatch). This is a characteristic of CM 009 as well as CM 007 and CM 002. CM 008 had the larger side windows as did 012, 014, 017, 020, and all block 2 CMs.

Also, take a look at this image — it shows 011 awaiting recovery.

I have two original NASA-issued press photos showing the recovery of 009 and the CM has the small side windows. However, I have seen a photo that reportedly showed 009 at North American (pre-flight) but that CM had the large windows. My belief is that this one was mislabeled or was meant to be representative of 009.

As for the two window sizes, I believe the smaller ones were roughly (and I mean roughly) about five inches wide and eight inches high while the large type was about 10 by 10. I may be off substantially on these dimensions but they serve to illustrate exactly what my point is regarding these windows.

Jay Chladek
Member

Posts: 2270
From: Bellevue, NE, USA
Registered: Aug 2007

posted 08-19-2007 02:28 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Chladek   Click Here to Email Jay Chladek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
You guys aren't the first to bring this up. I noticed it as well when I began researching 009 several years ago in an attempt to restart the grassroots campaign to get UNL to give it up. On the same day I got copies of the literature mailed to me from the last guy who organized similar campaigns, the capsule got the funds to be restored.

I did discuss it with some colleagues of mine on the Space Modeling Yahoo group circa 1998 or so.

From what I know based on the Aviation Week articles I read (printed from microfiche and film records), 009 entered something of an uncontrolled tumble recovery, so the heat shield did get a bit scorched in spots on the sides. Given that it was also the first Apollo capsule to fly, I imagine that the outer shell heat shield was removed for analysis and replaced with one featuring the larger windows in order to do the land impact tests as that was more representative of the Block 2 configuration.

There is footage of it on one NASA documentary video as the thing did something of a front flip after initial impact, resulting in a crack on the backside of the heat shield when the thing landed hard on the second pass.

The biggest question mark though is if the inner pressure vessel on 009 had small side windows or larger ones as we know the heat shield used on the flight had the small windows (hence the debate). Spacecraft 011 certainly had larger windows, outer and inner based on the photos I saw of it during recovery. Today, 009 has larger side windows on the inner pressure vessel as well as the heat shield.

Those photos of 011 at Dulles are interesting to say the least. She is a lot more stripped down then 009 was based on the pictures I saw showing the simplified panel setup. I do admit there is something a bit strange about this.

I have no idea if a capsule might have been built with larger windows on the pressure module and small ones on the heat shield. Seeing footage of how they were constructed though, it doesn't look like such a configuration would be impossible as the different structures were built in parallel to one another.

The exterior I know didn't fly into space, but I am certain the interior did (either all or in part). But the only way to really trace that would be to have access to NAA records from that time and back check from serial numbers of components found on the capsule, or find records that show what changes might have been made post flight.

Given the meticulous paper trails that tended to be kept about stuff like this though (even in those days before the Apollo 1 fire) I do believe this is 009, or it has enough of 009's structure in it to still warrant being called 009 as the title signed over from NASA to UNL circa 1974 or so calls it as such.

The Strategic Air Command and Aerospace Museum has a copy of everything I had in their records, so as far as they know it is 009. Only way we will know for certain is to dig deeper into the past from before the time SACA and the Smithsonian got them.

dtemple
Member

Posts: 683
From: Longview, Texas, USA
Registered: Apr 2000

posted 08-19-2007 06:08 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dtemple   Click Here to Email dtemple     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
So what became of 009's forward heat shield? Where are the records? I would expect the detailed records of 009's history would be long lost by now.

My guess is that the forward heat shield may have been replaced with one from a canceled block 1 CM such as 015. I recall reading about some canceled command modules so perhaps some had already been partially fabricated. SM 015 was built (now part of the Saturn V display at Kennedy Space Center) so I assume there must have been a CM 015 planned especially since there was skip from 014 to 017.

Another possibility perhaps is the heat shield from 014 replaced the one from 009. It was dismantled for the Apollo 1 fire investigation and afterwards was sent back to NAA. Still another possible explanation is that the forward heat shield on 009 is that of 011 and vice versa.

Jay Chladek
Member

Posts: 2270
From: Bellevue, NE, USA
Registered: Aug 2007

posted 08-20-2007 02:57 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Chladek   Click Here to Email Jay Chladek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
One thing I know for certain is that the heat shield currently on 009 (be it the real 009 or a remarked 011) is not one that has flown in space. Reason I say that is I saw color pictures of the thing when it was moved from the storage shed at UNL to Duncan aviation.

In that shed was some fertilizer and the stuff played havoc with the white paint on the heat shield, wearing it down in several spots to where the epoxy resin coloring was visible and I saw no black stain markings characteristic of a reentry whatsoever. Today, the entire capsule has been painted in some sort of a white glossy paint (probably Imron or some other Polyurethane or Epoxy paint), so it is impossible to see the coloring underneath.

It is probably not the 014 heat shield since I believe the land impact test took place before the Apollo 1 fire and investigation.

As for records, I know NASA does still keep a lot of records that are still not considered public domain. The original paper records are probably gone, but many of them had been put on microfiche in the mid 1990s from guys I know who worked in record keeping.

What I meant to say in my original comment was that the paper trail was a lot better back in 1974 when the capsule ownership for 009 got transferred to UNL. So at the time the title was signed over, it was known as 009 and probably had documents to backup that it was indeed 009. I wish spacecraft had data plates on them like aircraft, as it makes tracking this stuff down so much easier.

Granted something indeed could have slipped through the cracks as it were, but I did come across one tidbit from a buddy several years ago on the Yahoo Space Modelers group that stated that it was 009 used for a land impact test, not 011. I don't have that email anymore, though.

It seems to me that when NAA and NASA had some actual capsules at their disposal, they began using them in tests similar to what the boilerplates were used for. But rather then using the capsule as a whole, equipment swap outs and changes for the tests were the order of the day, hence possible heat shield changes.

So to all space collectors out there, come to the Strategic Air Command and Aerospace Museum to see the most controversial capsule on display!

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 35921
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 09-12-2007 08:50 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
From the museum's website:
Clayton Anderson: Heartland Astronaut
Sept. 29, 2007- Jan. 6, 2008

Clayton Anderson - Heartland Astronaut tells the story of Nebraska's first astronaut. Born in Omaha and raised just minutes from the Strategic Air & Space Museum in Ashland, Anderson is assigned to the Expedition 15 crew and will spend 4-6 months onboard the International Space Station. He will launch to the station aboard Shuttle Atlantis with the crew of the STS-117, targeted for launch in June 2007, and will return to earth aboard Shuttle Discovery on mission STS-120.

From Ashland to outer-space, Anderson's story is an inspiration to all. The Clayton Anderson - Heartland Astronaut exhibit displays Anderson's early childhood through High School in Ashland including his involvement in athletics and music, and his love for family and space. Anderson's love for music and athletics continued as he went on to college at Hastings College in Hastings, Nebraska for his bachelor of science in physics, and on to Iowa State University where he received his master of science degree in Aerospace Engineering.

The exhibit chronicles Anderson's NASA career from working in the Mission Planning and Analysis Division through his selection and initial training in the Astronaut Program. Some highlights of Anderson's time at NASA include his Star City Training in Russia. His journals will be the resource and the underlying theme will focus on the international partnerships behind the space station. Another highlight will be his training aboard NEEMO, an acronym for NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations, a NASA program for studying human survival in the Aquarius underwater laboratory in preparation for future space exploration.

Visitors will learn all about the place Clayton Anderson will call home for 4- 6 months, the International Space Station (ISS). They will learn about the design and construction of the ISS, as well as the separate components of the station and how the project is planned. There are several interactive components of this exhibit, including one that will allow visitors to use a computer program to explore the space station and the opportunity to design their own space station.

dtemple
Member

Posts: 683
From: Longview, Texas, USA
Registered: Apr 2000

posted 09-19-2008 08:13 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dtemple   Click Here to Email dtemple     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I had the opportunity to visit the Strategic Air Command Museum in Ashland and took several photos of Apollo CM 009.

Photos of the spacecraft on the web appeared to show that the aft heat shield did not fit the forward heat shield or outer shell. My conclusion is that a fiberglass shell was fitted to "009," which explains why the aft heat shield does not fit.

The shell is roughly .75 to 1-inch thick and now has a few cracks forming in it. This also explains the discrepancy between recovery photos and current ones in which the side windows differ.

The interior cannot be viewed directly; however, placing my digital camera with the flash on against the hatch window provided some interesting results.

All times are CT (US)

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