Space

Apollo 15 drill chuck that helped bore into lunar surface up for auction

A drill chuck, which flew on Apollo 15, is expected to fetch US$50,000 at auction
A drill chuck, which flew on Apollo 15, is expected to fetch US$50,000 at auction
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The drill assembly on the Moon
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The drill assembly on the Moon
Statement of provenance for the Apollo 15 chuck (2nd page)
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Statement of provenance for the Apollo 15 chuck (2nd page)
Statement of provenance for the Apollo 15 chuck
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Statement of provenance for the Apollo 15 chuck
Diagram of the Apollo drill assembly
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Diagram of the Apollo drill assembly
The chuck flew on the Apollo 15 mission
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The chuck flew on the Apollo 15 mission
The purpose of the drill was  set heat sensors and recover core samples
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The purpose of the drill was  set heat sensors and recover core samples
Interior detail of the Apollo 15 chuck
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Interior detail of the Apollo 15 chuck
A drill chuck, which flew on Apollo 15, is expected to fetch US$50,000 at auction
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A drill chuck, which flew on Apollo 15, is expected to fetch US$50,000 at auction
The chuck was used to secure drill sections to the Lunar Drill
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The chuck was used to secure drill sections to the Lunar Drill
Jim Irwin salutes the US flag on the Moon
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Jim Irwin salutes the US flag on the Moon

Such a tiny fraction of the massive Saturn V rocket returned home from each Apollo Moon mission that it's surprising what has survived over the years. One example is an odd artifact: the chuck used by Apollo 15 Mission Commander David Scott that was part of the Apollo Lunar Surface Drill used to burrow into the lunar soil to retrieve samples and place experiments. It's up for auction at RR Auction as part of its Autographs, Artifacts & Animation sale in Boston, Massachusetts, where it's expected to fetch US$50,000.

Built by Martin Marietta, the Apollo Surface Drill (PDF) was a major part of the 1971 Apollo 15 lunar EVA equipment package. The purpose of the one-man electric drill was to use tungsten carbide bits to cut 10 ft (3 m) deep into the lunar surface to place probes for the Heat Flow Experiment to measure the subsurface temperatures of the Moon at different times of day. In addition, it was used to take core samples for return to Earth for more detailed study by NASA's Lunar Lab.

According to Colonel Scott, the chuck was used to secure the bore stems and core tubes to the drill. Unfortunately, the design of the drill, which was intended to be used by astronauts in spacesuits for a limited time in 1/6th gravity and a vacuum, proved less than ideal as soil particles tended to ride up the drill helix and jam the mechanism, so extracting the drill from the ground was more difficult than expected. Despite this, it did manage to help scientists gain a better understanding of the Moon's composition and stratigraphy.

The chuck flew on the Apollo 15 mission
The chuck flew on the Apollo 15 mission

""It's an essential artifact related to some of the most substantial and important lunar surface findings of the Apollo program," says Robert Livingston, Executive VP at RR Auction.

Apollo 15 took off from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on July 26, 1971, with Mission Commander David R. Scott, Command Module Pilot Alfred M. Worden, and Lunar Module Pilot James B. Irwin. Its objective was to study the mountainous area of Hadley Rille on the shores of Mare Imbrium.

The mission was notable for the first use of the Lunar Rover vehicle to carry astronauts on the lunar surface, placing a small satellite in lunar orbit, and returning the Genesis Rock, which turned out to be the then-oldest known rock ever found with an age of at least four billion years. The astronauts also left behind a plaque with the names of 14 astronauts and cosmonauts who had died in the conquest of space.

The Autographs, Artifacts & Animation from RR Auction runs through December 7.

Source: RR Auction

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LyleDWaller
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