Friday, May 3, 2013

50 Years Ago: Apollo Drop Testing

Apollo era Test Capsule "Boilerplate 19A" a split picture before (left) and After (right) restoration work. Credit: Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center.

Fifty Years ago NASA performed the first parachute drop test for the Apollo program. The test was conducted by the Northrop Corporation for NASA, dropping the test capsule (nicknamed a "boilerplate" model) from a specially configured C-133 cargo plane. The three parachutes safely landed the test craft, helping engineers calculate the forces placed on the capsule (and eventually, astronauts) during descent and landing.

In the picture above, one of the many test capsules used by NASA was recently restored to its original condition by the talented workers at the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center. The work took about 8 weeks, and you can see the difference in the split view. Congratulations to the Center on some great restoration work!

My study of the boilerplate models make me think that the model used in the original test 50 years ago may have been BP-6, whereas the model above, BP-19 was used in later parachute tests. I've not yet found a picture of BP-6.

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