When an Apollo command module landed in the ocean, it could settle into one of two stable positions: nose up or nose down. Landing nose down left its recovery antennas underwater and increased the possibility that the spacecraft might fill with sea water. To turn the command module upright, three inflatable bags were installed in the Command Module's forward (nose) compartment. Astronauts could right the spacecraft by activating air compressors in the aft (blunt) end of the spacecraft. The compressors were connected to the bags with tubing.
This is one of three flotation bags used on Apollo 11 at the end of its historic lunar landing mission on July 24, 1969. The astronauts deployed it after the command module settled nose down, enabling the spacecraft to right itself about six and half minutes after splashdown.
This artifact was transferred from NASA to the Smithsonian in 1973.
Transferred from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, through Rockwell International.
Manufacturer: North American Rockwell
Country of Origin: United States of America
Overall: 3 ft. 8 in. diameter (111.76cm)
Inventory number: A19740500000
This artifact is on display in the Human Spaceflight exhibit of the Udvar-Hazy Center.