The Museum of Flight’s Apollo Command Module is the first production-line capsule delivered to NASA for testing and training. It was originally identical to spacecraft 012, in which astronauts Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee died in a fire on January 27, 1967.
After impact and acoustic testing the North American Plant in Downey, California, spacecraft 007 was delivered to NASA’s Manned Spaceflight Center on April 18, 1966 to be used for water impact and flotation tests in the Gulf of Mexico. It contained all recovery systems required during actual flight and the total configuration was that of a flight Command Module.
After the Block I tests were completed, spacecraft 007 was sent back to the manufacturer, which had become North American Rockwell, for modification to Block II configuration. It was designated 007A and returned to Houston for qualification tests on the new unified hatch mandated by the Apollo 1 accident review board.
Apollo crews also trained for extended recovery by remaining at sea for several days at a time in the Command Module. Such training prepared astronauts for the possibility of a splashdown far from the planned recovery site. Astronauts James Lovell, Stuart Roosa and Charles Duke participated in such a test in the Gulf of Mexico on April 5-7, 1968. The crew reported that while they did not “recommend the Apollo spacecraft for any extended sea voyages they encountered no serious habitability problems during the 48-hour test.”
In 1971, spacecraft 007A was transported to Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, where it was exposed to cold water and cold air during testing for the Skylab program and the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project. The Command Module survived these extremes only to end up in an equipment lot where it remained for at least 12 years. In 1988, the module was restored for the Museum by the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center.