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SkyMan counts to three.

3 posts in this topic

As many of you know, I'm working on trying to get at least one FLOWN item from each of the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo (MGA) missions. There are 27 missions in total; 6, 10 and 11 respectively. As of the start of September I had flown artifacts from 4, 7 and 10 missions respectively. I've also been collecting non-flown items that are MGA related.


While I do not consider the 3 Skylab missions (extending from May, 1973 to February, 1974) to be part of the Apollo missions, they did use the Apollo command module/service module, so they are unquestionably an extension of the Apollo missions. Indeed, bureaucratically speaking they were designated the, "Apollo Applications" program.


I've gotten interested in Skylab because it was an offshoot of Apollo, and it really was the first attempt to spend long periods of time (up to 84 days) in space. Before Skylab the longest any humans had flown in space was the 23 day mission of Soyuz 11 (June, 1971), and that crew died (because of a mechanical malfunction) during re-entry, knocking the USSR out of Manned launches for over 2 years. To put things even more in perspective, we are almost FORTY years later in history, and yet Americans still only will spend about 6 months at a time per mission (e.g. ~ 180 days) in space, at the International Space Station (ISS).


At a recent auction I was able to win three UNFLOWN $1 bills, each signed by the complete crew of a Skylab mission. The first bill is signed by Charles (Pete) Conrad, Paul Weitz, and Joe Kerwin (it is also signed by "Rusty" Schweickart, the backup commander). The second bill is signed by Jack Lousma, Owen Garriott and Alan Bean. The third bill is signed by Ed Gibson, Jerry Carr, and Bill Pogue.




At the same auction I was able to fill in one more hole in my FLOWN MGA list. During the Gemini flights the crews would take with them "Fliteline" medallions. The facts about Fliteline medallions are rather obscure. Here's the best write-up of them that I know about:


Fliteline medallions


I was able to win a silver Gemini 5 Fliteline in the auction. One aspect of these medallions is that they were often given to NASA personnel who helped with the missions. A nice side benefit of this for collectors is that you can often get these people's signatures on their certificates of authenticity when they eventually sell the items. In this case the medallion was given to Joe Garino, the physical conditioning "coach" for the astronauts. Here's the Fliteline, with a nickel provided as a scale. One thing, for all the coin collectors out there, while it is nice to get a completely pristine medallion, that is essentially never the case, as almost all the ones I've seen have some issues (as in this case, noticeably on the reverse). The prime consideration for these pieces is that they flew, and that there is an uncontested provenance trail from their flight to the present.





For all of you that are just interested in numismatics, that's the end of the post. For those of you interested in the early space program here are some more things.


After getting the four flown patches (US Flag, Mission patch, NASA "meatball", and Personal Nametag) of Skylab II (7/28 - 9/25/73) crewmember Jack Lousma this summer, I got interested in Skylab II, and have gotten some more pieces having to do with the mission. This first item is an unflown thank you letter from the mission commander, Alan Bean (4th Man on the Moon), to Deke Slayton. Slayton was one of the original Mercury 7 astronauts, and became head of the astronaut office, in which capacity he was the person who picked the crews for each mission.




Here's an unflown daily menu of Alan Bean for the flight. The inscription proved to be of interest. It turns out that Charles Bourland worked for NASA for thirty years (beginning in 1969) developing food systems for space.




My favorite recent purchase was FLOWN, to the Lunar surface, on Apollo 16. I got this one via a private sale. It is called a Direct Ascent Chart (DAC). Direct Ascent means that the lunar module (LM) was able to rendezvous with the command module (CM) in one orbit. Direct Ascent was only done 4 times in lunar orbit, on Apollos 14 - 17. Of the 4 DACs, two are in museums, so only two will ever be in private hands, and obviously this is one of them. Aside from the historical significance of the chart, I also find it pleasing on the purely aesthetic level... I find it's concentric circles evocative of the "Pop Art" of the 1960's.


Computers were very much in their infancy in the 1960's and the astronauts had to write down some of the Delta V (change in velocity) information by hand (and enter it in the computer later) so that they would not overload the LM rendezvous computer with data. The scanner has given the chart a pinkish tinge, the page in reality is the consistency, and color, of a manila file folder.






Apollo 16 was the last Apollo flight I needed to get something flown from, so with this purchase I have now completed one "subset" of the MGA set that I'm trying to put together.


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