Author Topic: Apollo 15 Rotational Hand Controller  (Read 2170 times)

Offline Nibb31

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Apollo 15 Rotational Hand Controller
« on: 05/07/2014 03:01 PM »
Hi, long time lurker, but first post here...

This auction is all over the news these days:
http://www.rrauction.com/Falcons-Rotational-Hand-Controller.html

How and why was this actually removed from the LM before it was jettisoned? It seems a bit strange that Apollo astronauts would go around removing pieces of the cockpit after docking, especially as this thing looks pretty heavy. Did they remove other parts of the LM?
« Last Edit: 05/07/2014 03:10 PM by Nibb31 »

Offline Proponent

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Re: Apollo 15 Rotational Hand Controller
« Reply #1 on: 05/07/2014 03:05 PM »
IIRC, in his book Lost Moon, Jim Lovell mentions taking some piece of the LM -- it might have been a piece of a telescope.  I vaguely recall him mentioning that it was standard practice.
« Last Edit: 05/07/2014 03:14 PM by Proponent »

Offline SWGlassPit

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Re: Apollo 15 Rotational Hand Controller
« Reply #2 on: 05/07/2014 03:11 PM »
Good lord, that site has a 22.5% buyer's premium?

Offline DMeader

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Re: Apollo 15 Rotational Hand Controller
« Reply #3 on: 05/07/2014 03:29 PM »
If it is authentic, that item belongs in a museum.
« Last Edit: 05/07/2014 03:29 PM by DMeader »

Offline SWGlassPit

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Re: Apollo 15 Rotational Hand Controller
« Reply #4 on: 05/07/2014 03:38 PM »
Agreed -- my feelings about all that stuff going up for auction are... well... less than positive.  The fact that you don't know who exactly is selling the artifacts doesn't help either.

Offline Nibb31

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Re: Apollo 15 Rotational Hand Controller
« Reply #5 on: 05/07/2014 04:18 PM »
It seems to be authentified by Dave Scott himself, and it can really only originate from 3 men in the world.

Did the astronauts smuggle these bits of the LM back to sell them? Why else would they actually go to the extent of vandalizing the cockpit? It seems dangerous to go around disconnecting electrical stuff on a live vehicle without following an approved procedure...

I also think that removing bits from the LM, which was federal property, and putting them on the market, would be even more serious than the infamous postage stamp incident for which they were reprimanded.

And I can understand smuggling postage stamps in their flight suits after splashdown, but large pieces like this must have stayed in the CM after they were winched aboard the Sea King. So whoever at NASA processed the CM after recovery must have been part of the deal.
« Last Edit: 05/07/2014 04:20 PM by Nibb31 »

Offline the_other_Doug

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Re: Apollo 15 Rotational Hand Controller
« Reply #6 on: 05/07/2014 04:22 PM »
I wonder if Dave Scott is going to run across any trouble for selling this.  I know other astronauts have done similar things and that there were some legal challenges.  (IIRC, Jim Lovell tried to sell off a number of mementos and had to withdraw some of the items from auction due to legal challenges from the government.)

My understanding is that while crew were allowed to remove pieces of the spacecraft as personal mementos, it was under the proviso that they were not to be sold for personal profit.  Other support items, like for example maps and cue cards, seem to be fair game because they had no real value to NASA or the government after the mission was completed.  However, any piece of hardware was designed, manufactured and paid for, which gives it an inherent value well above a map or a page from the flight plan.  I believe this has been the line that's been drawn in the past.

That said, the RHCs in the LM were actually fairly easily removable.  Instead of being hard-wired into the power and data lines, they used connectors at the end of cables leading from the RHCs.  Since the two RHCs in the LM were identical, I believe the concept was that if the CDR's RHC failed, you could swap it for the LMP's RHC.  This was preferable to having the crew switch places, and was definitely preferable to the CDRs over just handing over all the piloting tasks to the LMPs.

And as for needing an "accomplice" for pulling out somewhat larger items from CM after splashdown, even on the Apollo missions where the post-mission quarantine was in effect, the CM was attached via a plastic sheeting tunnel to the MQF and the astronauts were allowed to go in, remove flight plans and such needed for debriefings, etc.  So, the crew had access to the CM while on the carrier, and could remove anything they wished and stick it into their luggage (or just into a corner of the MQF) themselves.  Didn't require any "aiding and abetting," so to speak.

-Doug (with my shield, not yet upon it)
-Doug  (With my shield, not yet upon it)

Offline Jim

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Re: Apollo 15 Rotational Hand Controller
« Reply #7 on: 05/07/2014 04:25 PM »
NASA has ruled that it is ok for MGA astronauts to do this for some items. 

Not that hard to disconnect electric hardware, there were circuit breakers that would take such item offline.

This is the website for info on items such as this.  They have talked at length about astronauts selling keepsake hardware.

http://www.collectspace.com/cgi-bin/Ultimate.cgi
« Last Edit: 05/07/2014 04:26 PM by Jim »

Offline collectSPACE

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Re: Apollo 15 Rotational Hand Controller
« Reply #8 on: 05/09/2014 02:06 PM »
I wonder if Dave Scott is going to run across any trouble for selling this.

He won't. A law was passed in 2012 that granted the Apollo-era astronauts clear title to the spacecraft hardware they kept as mementos: http://www.collectspace.com/news/news-092612a.html

Quote
So, the crew had access to the CM while on the carrier, and could remove anything they wished and stick it into their luggage (or just into a corner of the MQF) themselves.  Didn't require any "aiding and abetting," so to speak.

The hardware and equipment that the astronauts were going to retain was agreed upon prior to launch* and as such, was removed from the command module and set aside by technicians, not by the astronauts themselves. For those who were in quarantine (Apollo 11, 12 and 14), the items were provided to them upon their exit.

*According to then-chief astronaut Deke Slayton, who also retained the only copy of such records.

Offline collectSPACE

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Re: Apollo 15 Rotational Hand Controller
« Reply #9 on: 05/09/2014 02:08 PM »
This is the website for info on items such as this.  They have talked at length about astronauts selling keepsake hardware.

Thanks Jim. The specific discussion of the Apollo 15 handle's auction can be found here.

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