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Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Apollo 1 Archive at Cosmosphere

For the first time ever, some of the most key historical documents regarding the failures and achievements of the early Apollo space program will be made public on July 10, 2009, via a cooperative effort of the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center and Fort Hays State University. Former Astronaut Charlie Duke, the Kansas Cosmosphere and Fort Hays State University will be holding a joint press conference at 4:15 p.m., Friday, July 10, at the Cosmosphere to unveil this previously unreleased archive to the public and discuss the cooperative efforts that led to the release of the digitized collection, in this 40th anniversary month of the Apollo moon landing

In January 1967, when the Apollo program was still trying to get its first manned spaceflight off the ground, three astronauts were killed in the tragic Apollo 1 fire. NASA and its contractors spent almost two years investigating the accident and redesigning the Apollo Command Module before its successful launch in October 1968. Many historians say that without those corrective actions to the Apollo spacecraft, the success of Apollo 11 in July 1969 would not have been possible.

The archived notes of Apollo 16 Moonwalker Charles ("Charlie") M. Duke, Jr. and Apollo 13 Astronaut Jack Swigert, from the Astronaut Office, concerning the post-accident investigation and redesign will be made public for the first time. The notes are held by the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center and, through a partnership with Forsyth Library and Fort Hays State University, Hays, Kansas, efforts to digitize this collection and house it on the web where it could be reviewed and studied by organizations and individuals around the world have been completed. The digitization process has taken nearly 5 years and the collection is now being made available via the web on this 40th anniversary year of the Apollo 11 moon landing. No other public documents provide such insight into the inner workings of the investigative and corrective process of the early space program.

Astronaut Charles M. Duke, Jr. donated these documents, after a recommendation from David Frohman, President of Peachstate Historical Consulting, Inc., who discovered the archive while cataloging and appraising Duke's personal collection. It has been nearly a decade since they first discussed where they should place this valuable collection. Frohman recommended the Cosmosphere as an ideal place for the intact collection and Duke generously agreed.

Astronaut and Moonwalker Charlie Duke will be at the Cosmosphere on July 10 for the official press announcement and opening of this digital archive. The Cosmosphere will hold a joint press conference with Fort Hays State University and astronaut Duke at 4:15 that afternoon at the Cosmosphere, 1100 North Plum in Hutchinson, KS. That evening at 6:30 he will attend an invitation-only reception for Premium Members of the Cosmosphere, and at 7:30 will offer a members only presentation. People can become members at www.cosmo.org or by calling 620-665-9310.

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