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Apollo Boilerplate BP-1102A

The Udvar-Hazy Center displays as otherwise-ordinary-looking boilerplate (identified by a sign as BP-1102A), but it is decked out with Apollo 11's uprighting bags and flotation collar. The Landing & Recovery Division's Website, dedicted to the recovery teams for the Gemini and Apollo Programs, has some information regarding BP-1102A noting that BP-1102A was used as a water egress trainer. It seems appropriate that a water egress training boilerplate would be decked out in uprighting bags and a flotation collar.

The LRD document linked above notes that the boilerplate was used throughout the Apollo program, including Skylab and ASTP. Training was performed both in a tank at the Manned Spacecraft Center (today Johnson Space Center) and in the Gulf of Mexico. The document also contained a list of photos of crews posing with BP-1102A (it was apparently painted silver until circa Apollo 14):

The LRD document described BP-1102A as having only the "operational mechanical and electronic subsystems required for post-splashdown testing," with "other subsystems in the boilerplate CM ... simulated by mockups such as equipment bays and display panel overlays." Wikipedia states that, after the investigation into the Apollo 13 accident, the spacecraft's interior was removed and reassembled into BP-1102A; perhaps this major refurbishment was also responsible for its exterior changing from silver to its current brown color. (The Wikipedia article also states that Apollo 13 was reunited with its interior in preparation for its display at the Cosmosphere.) Unfortunately, that portion of the Wikipedia article lacks citations and I was unable to locate any authoritative source for this.

When a command module would splash down during reentry, it would rest in one of two positions: Stable I ("pointy side up") or Stable II ("pointy side down"). Of course, for the astronauts strapped to the couches (who would be hanging upside down in Stable II) and to the frogmen attempting to open the hatch to recover the astronauts, Stable I was much preferred.

There were three "uprighting bags," inflatable spheres (looking somewhat like giant soccer balls) which would flip the command module from Stable II to Stable I.

For additional information on the uprighting bags, refer to Apollo Experience Report - Command Module Uprighting System.

I'm not sure if it's age, the museum's preparation to make the bags look inflated, or something else, but the uprighting bags have turned from an off-white color to an orangish-brown.

The boilerplate is NASM collections ID #A19800160000.

 
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