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Apollo 15 flown Command Module Rescue arrow up for auction
The Apollo 15 Command Module "Endeavour".

BOSTON, MASS.- This month RR Auction’s installment of its Space & Aviation series features an incredible array of space collectibles, highlighted by Apollo hardware, astronaut autographs, and mission-flown artifacts. The online offering contains more than 400 items with online bidding through April 18, 2019.

Among the highlights is an amazing flown bright yellow “Rescue” arrow from the hatch of the Apollo 15 Command Module ‘Endeavour,’ which was applied over the capsule’s exterior Kapton foil covering.

The arrow pointed to the panel used to gain access to the spacecraft’s cabin from the outside, which would have been used in case of emergency.

It has a distinctive and unique burn pattern due to the high temperature of re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere and is clearly photo-matched to the photos taken of the Command Module aboard the USS Okinawa after Pacific Ocean recovery on August 7, 1971.

"As one of the only immediately visually identifiable elements of the spacecraft’s exterior, this is a remarkable and displayable piece; such flown items are virtually unobtainable,” said Bobby Livingston, Executive VP at RR Auction.

The arrow is affixed to a scrapbook page beside a NASA 'meatball' sticker and a swatch of Kapton foil, which was presumably also recovered from the spacecraft.

Also includes a length of flown white parachute cord from the Apollo 15 CM, tied in a knot and measuring approximately 40″ long untied, recovered at the same time as the arrow. A second scrapbook page is included, featuring a larger NASA sticker, a small embroidered NASA patch, and an orange "Apollo 15 Team Member" sticker, as well as a separate official embroidered USS Okinawa Apollo 15 recovery patch.

Originates from the collection of a United States Marine who was stationed aboard the USS Okinawa recovery ship, and accompanied by a letter of provenance from his son.

(Estimate: $50,000+) The auction house sold an Apollo 11 Flown Command Module Columbia Rescue Arrow from Crew Hatch for $147,572, in 2017.

Also featured is an Apollo 14 Lunar Module Simulator Computer Display and Keyboard (DSKY) from MIT Instrumentation Laboratory.

The simulator was used by MIT to verify code that allowed Apollo 14 to land on the moon.

In the early morning hours of 5 February 1971, Apollo 14 astronauts Alan Shepard and Edgar Mitchell were orbiting the moon, preparing to land, when a loose ball of solder floating inside the abort switch of the Lunar Module Antares caused an intermittent short circuit, threatening to accidentally activate the switch and rocket the module back into orbit during its landing sequence.

In order to prevent that scenario, MIT computer programmer Don Eyles, a developer of the AGC's source code, was asked to hack his own software to find a workaround.

This represented the most dramatic moment for MIT's programmers throughout the entire Apollo program, as they had just three to four hours to work out a fix, test it, and relay it to the astronauts in time for Powered Descent Initiation (PDI).

Eyles accomplished his task in just two hours, developing a 26-command sequence to be entered into the DSKY that reprogrammed the AGC to ignore the abort button. The codes were relayed to Alan Shepard and Edgar Mitchell with ten minutes to spare, and the LM Antares successfully touched down on the lunar surface at 09:18:11 UTC on February 5, 1971.

The DSKY unit from the MIT Instrumentation Laboratory was used by Don Eyles and Sam Drake to verify the software patch needed to avoid an abort during the Apollo 14 lunar landing sequence.

The data entry and display device has 19 keys and an electroluminescent digital display.

Accompanied by a detailed letter of provenance from the present owner, who was employed at the MIT Instrumentation Laboratory to design, build, and maintain the Control Module and Lunar Module cockpit simulators. He retained the DSKY in 1978 when the Lunar Module cockpit simulator was dismantled and discarded.

The DSKY was the astronaut's interface to the Apollo Guidance Computer developed by MIT and was critical to every aspect of the mission.

Each program had a two-digit code and commands were entered as two-digit numbers in a verb-noun sequence. The device permitted the astronauts to collect and provide flight information necessary for the precise landings on the moon.

“As the MIT DSKY used to verify the code that saved the Apollo 14 mission, this is an exceptionally important piece of space history,” said Bobby Livingston, Executive VP at RR Auction.

Additional highlights include An Apollo Lunar Module control panel, Michael Collins's Apollo 11 flown Robbins medallion, Vance Brand's A7LB space suit TMG assembly, checklists carried on Apollo 15 from CDR Dave Scott's personal collection, and an exceptional variety of rare spacecraft models.

The Space & Aviation Auction from RR Auction will conclude on April 18.

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