This hatch was part of the unmanned Apollo 4 Command Module (CM 017), which was launched on Nov. 9, 1967, the first flight of the giant Saturn V launch vehicle. The Apollo hatch had to provide a perfect seal for proper cabin pressurization, thermal protection during re-entry, and water-tight conditions during splashdown and recovery. The hatch is an example of the original Block I hatch design, later modified as a result of the fatal Apollo 204 fire in January 1967, after which rescue crews were unable to open the hatch quickly enough to have any chance of saving the astronauts’ lives.
North American Aviation made the hatch and it was transferred to the Smithsonian Institution with CM 017 by the NASA Johnson Space Center in 1974.
Transferred from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration