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Apollo 13 Command Module Foil

Apollo 13 Command Module Foil

This specimen is an actual, mission-flown fragment of kapton foil from the Apollo 13 Command Module Odyssey. his material helped protect Apollo astronauts Jim Lovell, Jack Swigert, and Fred Haise during one of the most harrowing missions in the history of space exploration.

Kapton foil was used on both the Lunar Module (LM) and the Command Module (CM). NASA Technical Note D-7564 "Apollo experience report: Thermal protection subsystem " (1974), describes the usage in this way:

"This low ratio is achieved with a pressure-sensitive Kapton polyimide tape that is coated with aluminum and oxidized silicon monoxide and that is applied over the entire external surface of the ablator. The installation of a boost protective cover over the conical portion of the CM prevents contamination of the thermal-control coating and the CM windows by aerodynamic heating during boost and by the tower jettison engine plume." (See Page 5, Fig. 4)

Source: Acquired at auction, this particular sample comes from the personal collection of retired NASA Production Control Engineer William R. Whipkey. Among space collectors, Whipkey is considered the most reliable source for kapton foil because he oversaw the decommissioning of the Command Modules from multiple missions. He was also responsible for making most of the commemorative displays for astronauts, VIPs, and others who worked on the Apollo Program.

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