Columbia Memorial Space Center History Lessons: Apollo Missions

Jr. Astronauts at the Barboza Space Center are studying space history as part of their training program.   We have spent the last four months at the Columbia Memorial Space Center learning as much as we can and uncover classic new documents.


Apollo Boilerplate-19 to ‘drop-in’ at Downey

Apollo Boilerplate-12 (BP-12) will not be alone at the new Columbia Memorial Space Science and Learning Center in Downey, California. Current plans show that when the center opens in 2008, the command module-shaped test capsule will be joined by another, Boilerplate-19 (BP-19), on exhibit in the center’s lobby. BP-19 was thought to be under the control of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles, according to A Field Guide to American Spacecraft.The two spacecraft will be dedicated to the legacy of all who worked at Downey to help America to be the first nation to allow mankind to walk on the Moon.

BP-19 was constructed in Downey, California by North American Aviation and accepted for use by NASA in 1963. It was used in parachute tests at Naval Air Station China Lake and was later configured as a Block II type vehicle. It has been on outside display in a gazebo for many years at the Apollo Park in Lancaster, CA. It is owned by the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, which has approved it moving to Downey. It is planned to be moved to its new home late this year.

BP-19. Credit: Rob Godwin, Apogee Books, used with permission

Thursday, April 12 will mark the groundbreaking of the new Columbia Memorial Space Science and Learning Center in Downey, CA at 4:30 p.m. The public is invited. The address is 12214 Lakewood Blvd., Downey, CA outside Downey Landing Studios.

E2M Lem Man
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The Smithsonian Apollo test article is coming home on July 16, 2008.The City of Downey, with assistance from the Aerospace Legacy Foundation and Industrial Reality Group (who now own the historic NASA/NAA Apollo production site) will receive a second Apollo command module boilerplate by truck on July 16. It will, after restoration, be exhibited in the new Columbia Memorial Space Center, which when open this winter, will tell the story of the history of the site while preparing youth to take trips into space in the future.

The Apollo boilerplate is on loan from the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum and will be trucked from Lancaster, CA.

The new Columbia Memorial Space Center and Aerospace Legacy offices will have limited access while we await the two spaceship test articles to be unloaded. Some veterans of Apollo and shuttle programs who worked at the site will be available for questions. Arrival time is expected within a three hour window between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.

The two Apollo boilerplate test articles are from the earliest periods of America’s lunar exploration program.

Apollo Boilerplate #12, which is already on the site, was flown and recovered on the first Apollo test flight on May 13, 1964. Thereafter, it was used on at least two impact tests at Downey before being given to the local union hall until it was recovered by Downey last year.

Apollo Boilerplate #19 was carried aloft at least nine times and used in parachute drop tests over El Centro Naval Station before it was given by NASA to the Smithsonian. It has for many years been on display in Lancaster.

Can’t attend on July 16? The City of Downey will be having a program and ceremony at a later date where city officials will have both test articles open for public inspection before they are prepared for display.


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