Author Topic: Loss of Apollo boilerplate capsule BP-1227  (Read 15693 times)

Offline deaville

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Loss of Apollo boilerplate capsule BP-1227
« on: 08/21/2011 07:58 PM »
First, what was lost? The Apollo series of boilerplate capsules were engineering models designed to facilitate tests on components and procedures for the Apollo missions. One of these procedures was the training of recovery forces world wide. The capsule in question would have had the same dimensions as the real thing and weighed roughly the same. To quote one source – In general it was metal, very well made from thick galvanised iron. …. Apparently the manufacturing technology was designed for a small series. … Even the heat shield was not simulated. According to experts from the CDBMB (the Soviet Central Design Bureau of Machine Building) who examined BP-1227 after its recovery, it had pieces missing, notably an optical glass lantern and its associated search light beacon.

The most likely scenario for the loss of the several recovery exercises employed by Apollo recovery forces would be one involving an ARRS unit. Once initial training had been given NASA left it to these units to arrange their own exercises under the direction of a lead diver.  Unfortunately, NASA did not record, nor keep records of which boilerplate was allocated to which unit for the purpose of practicing a recovery.

For an ARRS unit a "full-up" simulation required a ship with retrieval capability to take a BP out to sea. The BP would be equipped with a flashing light and electronic beacon. This equipment enabled the NASA engineers involved to train the DoD personnel in the operation of the SARAH device placed on support aircraft.  Once the BP was located (homing on the beacon signal) the aircraft and PJs began their preparation sequence for jumping. Since the Apollo had a fairly high drift rate the prep sequence was somewhat difficult requiring smoke signal drops, precise rafts and flotation collar drops. If not done precisely a PJ missing his target possibly would not be able to catch up to a drifting BP.  The PJs would gather the dropped equipment, install the collar and await the ship to return all to base.

So, who lost it? There are just two sources that might have some weight in answering this and both are in some agreement. The first is a letter from the Department of the Navy at Norfolk, Virginia to Grand Rapids Press written in December 1976. This states - … when the Airforce was using it to train their ARRS aircraft (Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Service.  The US Coast Guard is in broad agreement with this as its web site says - Apparently the U.S. Air Force Aerospace Rescue and Recovery personnel who were using the 9,500 pound capsule for training. The unit most likely to have been involved is the 67th ARRS (the Night Owls) as they were in the given area at the time of the loss. More of this later.

Another party alleged to have a hand in the loss is named in the Encyclopaedia Astronautica. It states - .. UK based naval units were training in recovery of an Apollo capsule … . Later in the article it says – W. David Edwards and Dwayne Allen Day then provided a final identification: The boilerplate CM lost by the Royal Navy  … . Attempts were made to contact both Day and the originator of the Astronautica article, Mark Wade, to confirm their statements and ascertain the source of the allegation. No replies were received. One now has to set the validity of these against the responses received under the FOI Act in the UK. The Royal Navy Historical Records Office in Portsmouth, UK both by email and in a long telephone conversation confirmed that they were unable to find any records of Royal Navy involvement. However, a query to the House of Commons Library did suggest that in April 1970 HM Government did offer assistance, should it be required, in the recovery of the returning Apollo 13 mission. Meanwhile, at Portsmouth, the naval historians reported that there were not even ‘Chinese Whispers’ about the loss of an Apollo capsule or of any Royal Navy involvement.
 
Now to where and when it was lost. Here the waters become very murky. Let’s deal with the two US sources first. The US Coast Guard web site says BP-1227 - … lost it at sea near the Azores in February, 1969. Elsewhere is a report that BP-1227 was eventually recovered in the Bay of Biscay. This was reported in the New York Times on 4th September 1970 as - ...the Soviet Government had informed the embassy about three weeks ago that fishermen from Murmansk, while working in the Bay of Biscay, off France, had found a capsule. But is this likely? One must consider two factors. First, the CDBMB report says that there were no signs of corrosion on the capsule. This does not necessarily rule out a long time in the water as the firm that reconditioned another boilerplate say that any corrosion for the length of time BP-1227 was in the water would likely be minimal. However, a second, opinion from a leading UK meteorologist who was consulted about the feasibility of a capsule drifting from the Azores to the Bay of Biscay would appear to eliminate the Azores. His response was that the prevailing ocean currents and winds made this very unlikely unless the incident took place well to the north of the Azores. Well to the north places the incident very close to the Bay of Biscay!

So, is the Bay of Biscay is also a strong candidate for where BP-1227 was lost? More of this later.

It is worth noting at this point that the only record of an Apollo recovery training exercise recorded in the NASA Chronologies is for the 26 – 29th January 1969. According to NASA, this was in support of the forthcoming Apollo 9 mission. However, there is a cover postmarked 26th January 1970 from one of the vessels taking part which indicates that it was for Apollo 10, while there is yet another suggestion that the exercise was training for the Apollo 11 flight. Unless, of course, there were three simultaneous exercises!

Now for the second US source, the letter from the Department of the Navy at Norfolk, Virginia. This very clearly states – They were operating off the coast of England when somehow during the exercise it was lost at sea. Two ‘official’ sources and two totally different locations for the loss of BP-1227. There is some reason to believe that ‘off the coast of England’ is actually somewhere in the North Sea. The problem is that apart from this very vague location there are very few other details to go on.

Some reports say that the loss occurred in fog and that it was early in 1970. January 1970 did have some foggy days. Meteorological records show that there was limited visibility from the 8th to the 15th, on the 18th and on the 29th. Fog is rare in February and March due to the prevailing conditions.  So, it is possible that we have a when with the proviso that the capsule actually was actually lost in the North Sea. To set against this one has to remember that there was another  boilerplate well within the reach of the North Sea. This was BP-1206 that was located at RAF Woodbridge.  This particular capsule has its own history and now can be seen at Patrick AFB in Florida.

It is possible we may have also a who. Both the Coast Guard and the US Navy say that those responsible for the loss were Air Force units. One unit, as has been mentioned previously, can be placed in the vicinity of both the Azores and the North Sea on dates when it is possible the capsule was lost – the 67th ARRS. Until early January 1970 the 67th was based at Moron AFB in Spain, well within range of the Azores. It then transferred to RAF Woodbridge in Suffolk, UK just a short hop to the North Sea.

With all this information available one would think that it would be possible to easily trace the details and circumstances surrounding the loss of BP-1227. But this is where one hits a total silence. Ramstein AFB in Germany was designated the European co-ordinating centre for Apollo recovery operations. When asked they said that they had no information in their records about Apollo exercises or operations. The Royal Navy’s lack of information has been mentioned previously. RAF Woodbridge was closed in September 2006 and is now home to the 23rd Engineer Regiment. An enquiry was made to the Commanding Officer about Apollo training exercises in the hope that base records would exist especially as Woodbridge was the home of another Apollo boilerplate capsule, BP-1206. No reply was received. There is a possible explanation for this. According to other military archivists consulted it is highly likely that the records relating to RAF Woodbridge were destroyed when the base was closed as an RAF station. This, it seems, is a fairly common practice in the military.

This leaves the people who ought to know what happened – NASA. Again, enquiries thus far have drawn a blank. When asked, Roger Launius, the chief NASA historian at the time, knew nothing about it. There do not appear to be any records of this incident in NASA records or perhaps any that they are prepared to admit to. Neither do records seem to exist in the ARRS units archives nor any of the US Navy sources questioned.

Before moving on to the Russian side of the story lets quash two further anomalies in Mark Wade’s account of this incident. He publishes a photo of the capsule aboard the USCGC Southwind which he claims was taken whilst the ship was in the Kara Sea. However, the same picture appears in the Coast Guard history of the Southwind with the caption that it was taken in November 1970 as the ship was in Baffin Bay. This calls into question another suggestion in the Encyclopedia Astronautica version of events. Since the Southwind docked at Baltimore at the end of its voyage on 17th November 1970 having called in at Norfolk to drop off the capsule, it is highly unlikely to have had the time to make a journey across the Atlantic to leave the capsule in the hands of the Royal Navy at Portsmouth. Besides, the way the history of the Southwind is written suggests that the visit to Portsmouth was before the hand over. As has been previously stated, the Royal Navy have no record of any such incident.

There are further curiosities about the Coast Guard records. According to the Southwind history, the ship was in Murmansk from the 4th to 7th September. Yet most accounts list the hand over of the missing capsule as the 8th September.

Another oddity is that there is no mention of the Southwind in another section of the Coast Guard web site that lists a Daily Chronology Coast Guard History. When asked about this omission, a Coast Guard Historian said that the site was continually updated but that they were concentrating on ships that were still on active service. Nevertheless, it does find the space to record that in November 1970 the captain of the Vigilant allowed Russians to board his ship to forcibly remove someone attempting to defect.

Which brings us to the Russian accounts of the story. According to the Russian Embassy in London, official records of this incident were due for release in 2001. However, when asked where these could be viewed no response was made. Nevertheless, two accounts were found that paint a very different story to that found elsewhere.

The first was written in 2005. It gives the location for the finding of BP-1227 as the Bay of Biscay and that it was handed back in an ‘arranged’ visit to the Southwind at Murmansk on the 8th September. At the hand over there were no media reporters present except for a Hungarian named Tamas Fiher. It was his photo that appeared in the Encyclopedia of Space Reaearch published in Budapest in 1981. Later, this was found by a Hungarian historian, Sandor Shuminski, who was responsible for breaking the story in the west.

The account claims that BP-1227 was lost in the fog by the Royal Navy during an exercise in the emergency recovery of a spaceship and picked up by a Russian trawler. [Could this be the source of the Astronautix article? If so, as has been shown, it is an unreliable basis for detailing the loss.] It goes on to suggest that this was not a chance event but the result of a specially conducted operation due to the interest of Russian intelligence in the Apollo programme. Having examined the capsule, its return was arranged as nothing could be learnt from it and it was considered to be a gesture of goodwill in the improving relationship between the Soviet Union and the United States.

This article has a sting in the tail. The surprise of the crew of the Southwind at being the recipients of an Apollo boilerplate capsule in Murmansk is put down to the fact that the Americans thought that the capsule had sunk and rested at the bottom of the Bay of Biscay. It goes on to claim that such was the scandal in Washington that it led, in part, to the resignation in September 1970 of Thomas O. Paine, the NASA Administrator at the time. Another reason given is that Paine was opposed to the Soviet-American co-operation in the planning of the joint ASTP mission. The article ends by saying that the documents relating to the loss are to be declassified in 2021 (c.f. what the Russian Embassy said), though it does add - unless it is decided to extend the ‘statute of limitations’.

The second Russian source has no date and is even more surprising, though it may be the reason, if true, for the secrecy surrounding the loss of BP-1227. It starts by suggesting that there was an agreement between the Russians and Americans to keep details of the events surrounding the loss secret. Perhaps it is not surprising when it is linked to the accident and eventual sinking of the Soviet nuclear submarine K-8 in the Bay of Biscay in early April 1970. The author suggests that whilst the Americans were on exercise with BP-1227 during preparations for the Apollo 13 mission the submarine got into trouble. This caused the Americans to rush of to the scene of the accident leaving the capsule floating by itself in the Bay of Biscay. Whilst they were away a Russian trawler/spy ship nipped in and stole it. As the article expresses it – While the Americans dropped the watch and went to climb into someone else’s garden, someone dug in their own. Once K-8 sank, the Americans returned and, not finding the capsule, assumed that it had sunk.

Both Russian accounts are in broad agreement as to when this happened. The most likely dates are the 11th and 12th April 1970. The weather at the time in the Bay of Biscay is described as squally with snow flurries. A check of the records for this location and dates puts the wind at between Force 6 and 7. Taking this as a distinct possibility for the loss, it would seem that there were US Navy units that might just have been in the vicinity. Certainly the USS New, the USS Forrest Royal and the USS William C. Lawe were all involved in Apollo recovery operations in the Atlantic.

If, and it’s a big IF, this is what actually happened it is no wonder that there has been built a wall of silence round the loss of BP-1227. It would explain the misinformation and the reluctance of the authorities to answer questions. But what a story!

Of course this is pure conjecture.  But then, with conflicting stories and in the absence of hard evidence from official sources, so are the other accounts of what happened. In the end, it seems the answer to exactly what the circumstances surrounding the loss of BP-1227 is as far away as ever. Perhaps one day the truth will out.

« Last Edit: 08/21/2011 09:12 PM by deaville »
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Offline dvsmith

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Re: Loss of Apollo boilerplate capsule BP-1227
« Reply #1 on: 08/22/2011 04:01 AM »
 ??? Um... okay.

I think this should have been a reply to this thread: http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=13528.15

Oh, and... sources? (Plus, why would it have been embarrassing to the U.S. to have attempted to respond to a significant accident and eventual sinking of a Soviet nuclear submarine off the Atlantic coast of France?)
« Last Edit: 08/22/2011 04:07 AM by dvsmith »

Offline deaville

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Re: Loss of Apollo boilerplate capsule BP-1227
« Reply #2 on: 08/22/2011 07:10 AM »

Oh, and... sources? (Plus, why would it have been embarrassing to the U.S. to have attempted to respond to a significant accident and eventual sinking of a Soviet nuclear submarine off the Atlantic coast of France?)

I would have thought that the sources were self evident from reading the article.
Why would this incident been embarrassing to the US? Who knows? What I can add is that a Russian source claims that BP-1227 was misplaced (!) at the time of a Russian naval exercise called 'Ocean-70'. This took place in April 1970 in the Bay of Biscay. The source goes on to suggest that it gave rise to concessions in trade, a relaxation of the arms race, agreement for the ASTP flight as well as help in the construction of the Kamaz car plant.
I do make the point that everything surrounding the circumstances of the loss of BP-1227 are pure conjecture. NO RELIABLE SOURCE for information seems to exist - again made clear in the original article. This is strange, especially as the incident of a boilerplate sunk by gunfire is fairly well documented. Hence the speculation that there might be a secrecy agreement between the Russian and US authorities about the loss. However, it is clear that previous accounts of the loss of BP-1227 are flawed at best.

I make clear that I don't have a definitive answer. Nevertheless, I continue to search.


On edit - details of Apollo hardware, including the boilerplates, can be found in NASA publication JSC-03600. However, be wary. This was published in March 1978 and contains some anomolies. For example, the capsule sunk by gunfire by the USS Phillip, though it was a 1200 series, is not mentioned. Neither is one reported to be located at Oyster River High School in Durham, New Hampshire.
« Last Edit: 08/22/2011 03:09 PM by deaville »
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Offline deaville

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Re: Loss of Apollo boilerplate capsule BP-1227
« Reply #3 on: 12/18/2011 06:31 PM »
Apollo boilerplate BP-1227 was a Block 2 capsule and allocated to the Atlantic Recovery Force CTF-140 in 1967 at the Naval Air Station, Norfolk, Virginia. Here it joined possibly another six boilerplates with CTF-140. These were –
·   BP-1204 which was used for sea retrieval tests and based at Rota, Spain
·   BP-1206 based at RAF Woodbridge in the UK
·   BP-1207 based at Patrick AFB in Florida
·   BP-1220 based at Norfolk, Virginia
·   BP-1223 based at Lajes in the Azores
·   BP-1233 based in Bermuda. This capsule might be the one used for the only exercise listed in the official NASA Chronology, it taking place January 26-29th 1969. [1]
Once allocated, the capsules came under the direct control of CTF-140 and it was they who would organise exercises and collaborate with other units needing a capsule to practice recovery techniques for a returning Apollo mission.

A recovery exercise would need a ship to place the boilerplate in the selected location and then stand-off at about twenty miles distance whilst an ARRS unit homed in on the capsule using a SARAH unit. There was also an optical system to aid visibility. If it was an "all-up" exercise to fully simulate an actual recovery the Pararescuemen would be riding in the ARRS search airplane and parachute to the BP. This was a complicated procedure taking into consideration the rapidly drifting BP and dropping men and equipment (smoke pots, rafts, collar etc) to the target.

Most of the support personnel - air crews and PJs - would have gone through this training once or several times. With that level of training behind them they probably could have gone through a less full exercise jumping to the located BP from a helicopter rather than parachuting from a fixed wing aircraft. Once found, the helicopter would drop divers to attach a floatation collar on the capsule and then wait for the ship to return and pick up the capsule. The boilerplates had a high drift rate because of their shape and this could cause difficulties when the divers were deployed. For periodic training they sometimes practiced in a local body of water placing a collar around a BP.

At some point BP-1227 was assigned by CTF-140 to an ARRS unit for such an exercise when, according to a 1976 letter from the Department of the Navy, it was lost off “.. the coast of England”. Dates for this mishap in other sources range from February 1969 off the Azores [2] to January 1970 in the North Sea [3] and January/April in the Bay of Biscay. The most quoted location for the loss is the Bay of Biscay in both American and Russian references. It is interesting to note a couple of coincidences that may or may not have a bearing on the loss. The January 1970 date is roughly the same as when the 67th ARRS moved from Moron, Spain to RAF Woodbridge in the UK and April 1970 coincides with an incident involving a Soviet nuclear submarine in this area.

The CTF-140 ships allocated to the recovery force during the time frame when BP-1227 was lost were –
Apollo 10 – USS Rich (DD820)      
Apollo 11 – USS New (DD818)
Apollo 12 – USS Austin (LPH38)   
                USS Hawkins (DD873)
Apollo 13 – USS New (DD818)                  
                USS Bordelon (881)
                USS Forest Royal (DD872)
                USS William C. Lane (DD763)

During or after the exercise when the capsule was lost, whenever it took place, BP-1227 was picked up by a Soviet vessel described as a fishing vessel (trawler or spy ship?). The next firm information we have about this particular boilerplate is on 7/8th September 1970 when it was handed to the USCG cutter ‘Southwind’ whilst this ship was on a visit to Murmansk, having been in the care of officials from the US Embassy for up to three weeks prior to the handover. A Soviet report says that the capsule showed little signs of corrosion but that according to experts from the CDBMB (the Soviet Central Design Bureau of Machine Building) who examined BP-1227 after its recovery, it had pieces missing, notably an optical glass lantern and its associated search light beacon. The ‘Southwind’ docked at Baltimore on 17th November 1970 having first called in at Norfolk, Virginia to deliver the boilerplate into the care of the Port Services Department.

The Port Services Department at Norfolk was responsible for the maintenance of the boilerplates assigned to CTF-140.  They would have been the unit that carried out any repairs necessary to BP-1227 before it was returned to service with the recovery force. These are likely to have been replacement of the location aids and possibly repairing the hatch. It is highly likely that the Russians opened it just to see if anything was hidden inside. [4]

Following the end of the Apollo flights (ASTP in July 1975), BP-1227 was returned to the Port Services Department where it was stored at the Naval Air Station. On 4th November 1976 title to the capsule was transferred from NASA to the National Air and Space Museum. The NASM almost immediately loaned the boilerplate to Grand Rapids, Michigan to serve as a time capsule. The boilerplate went straight from Norfolk, Virginia to its new home. Ownership of the capsule was transferred from NASM to the Grand Rapids Public Museum on 28th March 1986.

Much is known about the history of Apollo boilerplate capsule BP-1227 except the important bit. To date repeated FOIA requests to the Royal Navy, NASA, NARA, the Department of the Navy, the Department of Defence and the Department of State have failed to provide any answers. So for the moment, who, when, where and how it was lost remain a mystery.



[1] 1978 NASA disposition of spacecraft document. Unfortunately, for purposes of solving the loss of BP-1227, it places this capsule at Grand Rapids, Michigan.

[2]  Also, the Soviets returned an Apollo training capsule (BP-1227) that they had recovered at sea.  Apparently the U.S. Air Force Aerospace Rescue and Recovery personnel who were using the 9,500 pound capsule for training but lost it at sea near the Azores in February, 1969.  It was recovered by a Soviet fishing trawler.  [From USCG history site – note use of the word “Apparently”]

[3] In early 1970, UK-based naval units were training in recovery of an Apollo boilerplate capsule (BP-1227) as part of their assigned mission of rescuing Apollo spacecraft in the case of an emergency abort or return to earth. The capsule disappeared at sea. The circumstances of the loss of the capsule are still not clear. It is not known whether a Soviet 'fishing vessel' nearby was in fact a spy trawler and if the capsule was taken as part of an intelligence operation. [From Encyclopaedia Astronautix]
The boilerplate CM lost by the Royal Navy and recovered by the Soviet Union was SN BP-1227. [This bit, listed as being ‘final confirmation’ by Dwayne Day appears to have been edited out of the latest version of the entry in Encyclopaedia Astronautix. A FOIA request to the Royal Navy Archives failed to find any involvement with this episode. The only reference to the Apollo programme was an offer of help at the time of the Apollo 13 flight. Also, a link that was claimed to give more details no longer functions.]

[4] Things did get left inside boilerplate capsules that weren’t supposed to be there. Boilerplate CM009 was used in a sub-orbital test in February 1966. When opened, rolling around on the floor was a 12” clinical thermometer. Somehow it had survived unbroken for the duration of the flight.
« Last Edit: 12/18/2011 08:19 PM by deaville »
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Offline Jim

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Re: Loss of Apollo boilerplate capsule BP-1227
« Reply #4 on: 12/18/2011 11:07 PM »
Where are your sources?
Are your copying somebody and breaking copyrights?

And again, what is your point?  Who cares about a boilerplate?

Offline theonlyspace

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Re: Loss of Apollo boilerplate capsule BP-1227
« Reply #5 on: 12/19/2011 06:22 AM »
I for one..myself find all these different Apollo Capsules interesting.  There were so many boilerplates.Block 1 and Block 2 Capsules..Flights on Big Joe rockets..Launch Escape Tower tests with Capsules out in the desert they use have a few pictures in news...the Saturn 1...Saturn 1B..flights..before all the Saturn 5 and going to the moon. Any information that can be obtained is great as there was no internet then..and a lot of this information on each flights..each test was never really published in the detail that each Shuttle flight was.

Offline Jim

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Re: Loss of Apollo boilerplate capsule BP-1227
« Reply #6 on: 12/19/2011 07:35 AM »
Apollo boilerplate BP-1227 was a Block 2 capsule and allocated to the Atlantic Recovery Force CTF-140 in 1967 at the Naval Air Station, Norfolk,

Okay, here's a tip: The rest of us do not hear the voices in your brain that you're responding to.

If you want to be taken seriously, you have to start these insanely long posts with an introductory sentence. Responding to a thread that has been dead for four months without any introduction makes you look like a goofball.

Thanks for the helpful encouragement. Is it goofballish to want to try to solve a mystery? In that case I plead guilty. The fact of the matter is that NOBODY yet knows for certain how this capsule came to be in the hands of the Russians.

No, it is goofballish to make posts as you did.   You have no introduction and no lead in as to who did the research.   It is bad prose.   in the first post and intro like "In my research,....." and in your last post, " to continue,....."   The way it reads, it looks like you are cutting and pasting someone's work.

Offline Jim

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Re: Loss of Apollo boilerplate capsule BP-1227
« Reply #7 on: 12/19/2011 12:00 PM »
"The way it reads, it looks like you are cutting and pasting someone's work." Jim.

Yup - I did cut and paste your last comment. But - the original post is not cut and pasted, just plain, tedious research.

I find it strange and a little worrying that you condemn research into the backwaters of the space programme just because you appear to have little interest in it. Fortunately for me there are those who are interested, including several NASA old-timers who have been generous with both their time and help.

Then attribute to yourself and give yourself credit.

I did not condemn your research, just pointing out why nobody knows what happened to this boilerplate.

Offline Gene DiGennaro

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Re: Loss of Apollo boilerplate capsule BP-1227
« Reply #8 on: 12/19/2011 08:04 PM »
I have to ask a big question here. In 1970, would the Soviets really be that interested in an Apollo boilerplate capsule? The whole premise of Apollo was that it was to be conducted in the open, thus technical data on the shape, materials used, and avionics installed were made public knowledge. Wouldn't it have been easier to look at an Aviation Week or a Flight magazine cutaway from 1968 to glean the same knowedge?

Apollo was a demonstration of industrial/technical know how. Classification of its shape and systems would have negated the soft power projection that the lunar program sought to achieve. The Soviets knew about Apollo because we made it public by intention. I don't think there's some kind of Tom Clancy style espionage case in this incidence.

Offline deaville

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Re: Loss of Apollo boilerplate capsule BP-1227
« Reply #9 on: 12/21/2011 08:49 AM »
I don't think there's some kind of Tom Clancy style espionage case in this incidence.

I tend to agree with you. This said, there are some curiousities which need an explanation.
In the original 'Astronautix' entry there are quotes from the crew of the 'Southwind' about the visit to Murmansk. However, whilst they detail events of the handover and the visit in general, none give even a hint of any gossip about how the capsule came to be in the hands of the Russians. One can compare this with the loss of another boilerplate in the Pacific. The USS Phillip sank a loose capsule that broke a tow with two rounds from the ship's 5 inch gun. In this incident crew members talk quite freely about it.
Further, there is this (with apologies for a Google translation from the original Finnish) -
"All information related to the capsule was declared to be secret, and information on extreme case of Hungary, were leaking through the archives until twenty years later.  NASA tried to put the humor (archive claimed capsules for children, which opened in 100 years to get), but the capsule itself, and all information is destroyed / hidden."
This is taken from www.tiede.fi where one can find more posts about BP-1227. Note though that this is basically a repeat of information to be found in Russian sources and perhaps one should have a large supply of salt to hand when reading them!


« Last Edit: 12/21/2011 01:33 PM by deaville »
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Offline deaville

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Re: Loss of Apollo boilerplate capsule BP-1227
« Reply #10 on: 01/03/2012 08:37 AM »
I am able to offer some corrections and new information thanks to crew members of the USCG Southwind.
The date of the handover of BP-1227 in Murmansk was Sunday 6th September 1970, not as often quoted the 7th/8th. According to this extract from the personal log of one of the helicopter pilots on board it took place at 18.00 hrs -
"We took on board a practice NASA capsule that the Russians had found somewhere. It looked like a dummy Gemini capsule. The Russian TV news said that one of the reasons for coming here was to pick up the capsule."
On 24th September the 'Southwind' docked at Portsmouth, UK, arriving three days early on what was originally scheduled for a three day visit. She departed 30th and after visiting Thule, Greenland took part in naval exercises in the area. At some point BP-1227 began to break loose from the tie-downs during a storm and the photo of crew chipping ice from the deck was taken as they prepared to make the capsule more secure. The ship docked at New London CT on 13th November and the 'Southwind's Arctic cruise ended at her home port of Baltimore on 17th November.
This means that the 'Southwind' did not call at Norfolk, Va to drop off BP-1227. Though it is quite likely that the capsule was left at New London, it is not certain as one contact thinks that a photo with the boilerplate still in place was taken in Curtis Bay, Baltimore.
It is likely that BP-1227 was returned to Norfolk using the regular supply chain between naval establishments.
« Last Edit: 01/03/2012 09:51 AM by deaville »
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Offline deaville

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Re: Loss of Apollo boilerplate capsule BP-1227
« Reply #11 on: 10/04/2015 06:01 AM »
Is this the answer? That the date of the loss of BP-1227 might have occurred in early 1969 and thus have a possible connection with Apollo 9 is to be found in a recently uncovered series of articles in the Russian press. What follows is uncorroborated and must therefore be treated with some caution.

First, let’s turn to the activities of the USS Algol and its involvement with the Apollo 9 mission. On 14th February she completed loading of Apollo recovery equipment before setting off to her designated abort recovery station. This is referred to as Station 3. By the 26th the Algol was in position to conduct a SIMEX (simulation exercise) with RCCA (Recovery Control Centre Atlantic) and ARRS aircraft. Three days later she carried out what is referred to as an ‘in house’ SIMEX. It is worth noting that the CTF- 140 report records this as happening on the 29th February in what is clearly a typing error. Nevertheless, does this imply that the Algol had a boilerplate onboard? This would seem to tie in with a report in the London Times recording that according to a statement by NASA reported in September 1970 by the London Times that the capsule was washed overboard during a storm whilst in transit to an exercise off the coast of Spain. Later, on 3rd March, the Algol was released from its launch abort station to cover what is referred to as TP 13-2A and on 12th March was finally released from ship Station 3. In these manoeuvres the Algol steamed some 1650 miles. More to the point, the weather throughout was poor with high winds and seas. This is confirmed by contact with a crew member who recalls that the weather was just as bad and he remembers seas being between 20 to 25 feet with winds of 50 mph, just the conditions where a capsule might be washed overboard especially as he says also that the ship was being tossed about quite a bit. Strangely, he does not remember the recovery exercises that quite clearly took place.

In 2007 there was first published an account of the recovery of BP-1227 by the Russian trawler ‘Apatit(e). The memoirs of the chief engineer of this vessel – Alexander Andreev – were recorded by author Dmitry Ermolaev and printed in the Murmansk Komsomolskaya Pravda. The account was republished on 29th November 2014 in the Murmansk Gazette and for a third time on 28th February 2015 in the Murmansk Bulletin. The relevant passage from these articles reads, “Close to the device an orange container was floating, attached there by a steel cable”, says Alexander Andreev. “Our captain decided to take it on board. It was risky! The bow hoists can lift up to 3 tons and we didn’t know the weight of the floating structure. Fortunately, all went well, and the spacecraft boilerplate was fixed on the bow deck. In the container, which was attached to the boilerplate, we found a life raft, half-rotted blanket, and fishing gear. There was nothing inside of the boilerplate. Apparently, it served for rescue training operations of American astronauts and it was lost. We sent a cable to Murmansk about this unusual discovery” . Andreev goes on to claim that the captain of the Apatit, Ivan Shankov, was given a hunting rifle by the KGB as a reward for finding and recovering what the authorities said was “… interesting and important.” The date when this is alleged to have happened is June 1969 off the coast of Spain near Gibraltar.

There are several concerns about this revelation not least because of another article found of a website dedicated to the fishermen of Murmansk. Leaving a little to be desired in its translation it reads – “If the boilerplate was transported to Murmansk, then the Soviet Northern Fleet was involved. No fisherman would have lifted aboard this thing with NASA written on it without permission from Moscow. Moscow would never have left such cargo without a cover. It is a very convenient situation — well, fishermen found something there, they can't be blamed anyway... They pull the rabbit out of a hat — Northern Fleet. In those days USSR fleet activities were never taking place without radio reconnaissance ships. In the referred time there was a group of reconnaissance ships, based in Goriachie Kluchi (Hot Brooks) village. Ships had survey vessels cover and they went to sea as civilians. The crew was dressed in civilian clothes. The ships themselves were built in Poland and GDR, but they had forced diesel engines. Hull design is as a typical fisherman. I think it was them. At least this version explains the information void on our side.

There are questions that need to be addressed about this, but assuming that Alexander Andreev’s version of how the capsule was found is correct, does it provide a possible answer to the questions raised by an intriguing episode in the Apollo story? BP-1227 was washed overboard from the deck of the USS Algol to become a ‘hazard at sea’ in stormy conditions sometime towards the end of February 1969 whilst the vessel was on duty in support of the Apollo 9 mission. It remained adrift in the eastern Atlantic for three months, eventually finishing up off the Spanish coast near Gibraltar where it was spotted and recovered by the Apatit in June 1969. There is sufficient circumstantial evidence to make this a plausible solution but it does need some third party corroboration.

The full story about NASA boilerplate capsule BP-1227 can be found here –
http://home.comcast.net/~cmptj/LRD/stories/1227withpics.pdf

Light travels faster than sound, which is why some people appear bright until they speak.

Offline alk3997

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Re: Loss of Apollo boilerplate capsule BP-1227
« Reply #12 on: 10/05/2015 05:59 PM »
I know I'll regret asking this but is there a reason this webpage is considered incorrect?

http://www.americanspacecraft.com/pages/apollo/BP-1227.html

The photos and the story on the webpage seem valid to me.  The boilerplate (like many boilerplates) was not even the final shape - probably off in mass and total square footage, too.  So, I can't imagine how much good it would do anyone.  There are no electronics onboard.

It would have been cheaper to just wait a few years and go to the National Air and Space Museum than bother with recovering a boilerplate at sea.

Andy
« Last Edit: 10/05/2015 06:01 PM by alk3997 »

Offline Jim

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Re: Loss of Apollo boilerplate capsule BP-1227
« Reply #13 on: 10/05/2015 06:14 PM »
Is this the answer?

Again, answer to what?  Very bad prose.
« Last Edit: 10/05/2015 06:15 PM by Jim »

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Re: Loss of Apollo boilerplate capsule BP-1227
« Reply #14 on: 10/05/2015 06:41 PM »
The boiler Plate that was in Apollo Park near William J Fox Airfield(Rosamond Ca.) is now somewhere else. The Gazebo, and support footings are still in place, early 2015, I know I was there, and very disappointed. Why not go get this missing  BP-1227, throw a coat of paint on it, and replace the other now moved BP. The park would get a namesake display back, and continue to honor Apollo 1.

If we really know where it is, use the Dive teams(army/navy) in training and make a live training mission out of it all. The USAF could transport it inland as a training mission as well. Moving it by truck seems silly to me, but also acceptable as long as it gets there.

___ Retracted, OK we know where it is, leave it there.___ I still think we should put some kind of mockup at the Apollo park location, for posterity if nothing else.

« Last Edit: 10/05/2015 10:44 PM by Darren_Hensley »
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Offline deaville

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Re: Loss of Apollo boilerplate capsule BP-1227
« Reply #15 on: 10/05/2015 07:04 PM »
The answers as to where BP-1227 is currently and to why the Astronautix entry about the capsule is wrong please go to the link at the end of my last post and read the whole story.
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Offline alk3997

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Re: Loss of Apollo boilerplate capsule BP-1227
« Reply #16 on: 10/05/2015 07:15 PM »
I scanned through the pages.  You are certainly motivated but I really don't have the time to read all this for a small artifact from a program that last flew approximately 40 years ago.  Maybe you could provide a summary at the top?

I used to see a boilerplate at a children's playground in a nearby city.  They (the boilerplate - not the children) really are treated as painted scrap metal mostly, fittingly or not.  So, while I salute your effort (and large number of words), thanks but I think I'll pass.
« Last Edit: 10/05/2015 07:16 PM by alk3997 »

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Offline deaville

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Re: Loss of Apollo boilerplate capsule BP-1227
« Reply #18 on: 10/06/2015 10:32 AM »
don't forget this boiler plate

http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=30260.msg976673#msg976673

Somewhere either here or in 'another place' this particular capsule came up in its own right. Veterans from the Landing and Recovery Division of NASA have said that the base is wrong for it to be a boilerplate Apollo capsule. It is much more likely to be one made by one of the many sub-contrators in the Apollo programme and used to test fit components.
« Last Edit: 10/06/2015 10:33 AM by deaville »
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