Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Mercury Friendship 7 Launch Crew Gold Pin 1 of 20

This is a Mercury Friendship 7 10k gold pin made by LGB, just for the launch crew of John Glenn's 1st US orbital mission. The pin measures 1" along the orbit path, it comes in the original box and it's in perfect condition.

The gentleman who I purchased this from, helped design and build the Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, Lunar Module and Space Shuttle life support and cryo systems. I have photos of him in front of Alan Shepards Freedom 7 spacecraft after it was ready for shipping to the Cape, along with other photos of him helping during tests and on launch days during the Mercury program.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

39 Vintage Resin Displays of Flown Apollo 7-17

Here's an incredible collection of vintage resin displays made up with a piece of flown kapton foil and ablator heatshield material from every manned Apollo spacecraft mission. These are from the collection of a North American Aviation engineer who inspected the inner pressure hull of every Apollo and space shuttle. These resin pieces were made by a friend of his at NAA in 1974 and according to this gentleman, there were only 3 of the complete sets on the wood and white plastic boards.

These displays were made with RTV for the molds and different sized light bulbs for the dome shape. Photographs of the mission logos were embedded in the resin after the foil & heatshield material was added, then the last clear layer was poured. A final white layer was added for the background and it took a lot of work to make these. The small white plastic display board resin pieces are 1" in diameter and the large Apollo 11 & 17 resin pieces are 5.5" in diameter. This is the 2nd largest collection of vintage resin pieces that I've been able to find.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Corporal Rocket Engine WOW !!!!!!!

Here's the latest addition to the collection, it's a very cool Corporal rocket engine, thanks to LtCDR Scott Schneewis,, for ID'ing the engine. The Corporal rocket was designed as a surface to surface tactical nuclear weapon delivery system. JPL was the prime contractor that developed this rocket with Firestone. It was deployed to Germany as a front line nuclear defense weapon, to defend against a Russian attack, against western europe.

As a side note, this engine is a direct decendant of the WW2 German V-2. This is a liquid fueled engine, that burns fuming red nitric acid and hydrazine, which we all know is REALLY bad stuff. The big problem was that the Corporal had a 46% success rate, it took a long time to prepare for launch and with the fuel toxicity issue, made it difficult to use in real world scenarios.

I purchased this rocket engine from the grandson of a gentleman who worked at JPL on the design of this rocket. This engine is dated 1960, it was the last upgraded motor before the project was cancelled in 1963 and I can't begin to tell you how cool this is. I want to strap it to my bike and ride around the neighborhood with CO2 shooting out of the back.

The engine is 5ft tall, the engine bell is 28" in diameter, it weighs approx 150lbs and it's the coolest piece of hardware I've found in a long time. Unfortunately my wife's reaction, wasn't the same as my sons or mine. She could be heard throughout the house, when seeing it for the first time, "what the hell is this and how long is it going to be in my kitchen" ?!?!?!?!?!? I guess it doesn't go with the decor and our styles of decorating differ slightly. She likes modern chic and I like early space program.

One of my friends suggested that I put a lamp shade on it, so she wouldn't notice what it was. After I stopped laughing, I started looking for a place to get it out of the house. Another good friend wrote, "you are sooooooo getting a divorce" !!!!!

The specs of this rocket are:

JPL/Firestone SSM-A-17/M2/MGM-5 Corporal

Data for M2/M2A1 (MGM-5A/B)

Length: 13.8 m (45 ft 4 in)
Finspan: 2.1 m (7 ft)
Diameter: .76 m (30 in)
Weight: 5000 kg (11000 lb)
Speed: 3500 kmh (2200 mph)
Ceiling: 40 km (25 miles)
Range Min: 48 km (30 miles); Max: 130 km (80 miles)
Propulsion: JPL liquid-fueled rocket motor 20000 lbs up to 64 sec
Warhead: W-7 nuclear fission (20 kT)

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Space Shuttle Flight Cabin Pressure Vessel Model

Here is a very rare scale model of the flight crew cabin pressure vessel for the space shuttle Columbia. This model shows where all of the welds are on the spacecraft, along with the dates (1974), when the model was built. This belonged to a gentleman who built all 5 of the space shuttles at the old NAA facility in Downey, Ca.
I've never seen anything like this model before and it was only used for a 3D reference when building the pressure vessel that comprised the crew cabin.

STS-1 Flown Flag

Here's a display that has an STS-1 flown flag glued to it and it's in mint condition.

The gentleman's name on the display worked at NAA in Downey, where he helped build the space shuttle pressure vessel flight cabin. He left NAA after the space shuttles were built and started his own aerospace company.

1963 Concept Model Lunar Module & Command Module Bell Labs

Here is an extremely rare model of the 1st concept for the Lunar Excursion Module (LEM) and the Apollo Service & Command module. These are large scale models that measure 24" for the CSM and 17" for the LM.

These models were made for Bell Labs in 1963 and they are among the rarest contractor models known. There were 2 other identical models with this one found in the garage of a NASA manager. According to the gentleman I bought this from, the paint was peeling, so he threw the other 2 in the garbage. thoughts exactly.

These models are made with a wood interior, an overlayer of hard plastic shell, then hand painted. The most interesting things about these is that there's no hatch for the LM for the crew to get out and the CM shows each astronaut sitting in different directions.
After talking with several well known collectors of contractor models, none had ever seen anything like these and one expert said he had heard about them, but never saw one before. This box for this model has 6 different colored dots, similar to the dot system that is commonly seen on NASA surplus and there's a tag on it that says "Apollo Model #3". I'm assuming that this model is #3 and that the other 2 which were thrown out, were models #1 & 2.

Apollo 11 Coin Minted with Flown Dies

This is an Apollo 11 coin, minted with the dies that flew on the Apollo 11 spacecraft, then used to make this coin. It's a rare piece that was primarily given to the astronauts, but other than that, I don't know the history behind it.

This particular coin was presented to a North American Aviation worker by Mike Collins after the Apollo 11 mission and it's in mint condition.