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About this collection

Welcome to the FHSU | Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center Digital Repository of Space Exploration. Forsyth Library and the Kansas Cosmosphere have the mission of providing access to rare, one-of-a-kind archives and artifacts related to the exploration of outer space.

The Digital Repository of Space Exploration project has the mission of creating a new and unique digital resource of primary source materials related to human space exploration that occurred between 1958 and 1975, the time period designated as the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. Also included will be collections related to V-1 and V-2 development and the early years of rocketry. The collaborative effort between Forsyth Library, the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center, and Fort Hays State University will also create educational opportunities for K-12 and post-secondary students as well as professional development opportunities for teachers.

The Space Race 1958 - 1975 Timeline Search, click on this link to the timelines and interfaces in the collection to try a different search experience.


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Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center

Founded in 1962, the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center is one of the country's premier space museums and educational complexes. An affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution since 1998, the Cosmosphere houses the largest space artifact collection outside the National Air and Space Museum and the largest collection of Soviet space artifacts in the Western World. The Cosmosphere was named an official project of Save America's Treasures by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the White House. Approximately 285,000 visitors from every state and foreign countries visit the Cosmosphere annually.

The Cosmosphere has restored more than 100 artifacts for the National Air and Space Museum, NASA, and other museums. In addition, the Cosmosphere has restored flown spacecraft such as the Liberty Bell 7 mercury capsule, the Gemini 6 and 10 spacecrafts, and the Apollo 13 command module. The Cosmosphere built 80 percent of the hardware used for the movie Apollo 13 and provided sets, props, and technical assistance for the HBO mini-series From the Earth to the Moon.
The KCSC Archive

The Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center maintains one of the most substantial archival collections documenting manned space exploration outside of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The intellectual content of the archive is of national importance. Overall, the archive contains hundreds of blueprints, technical manuals and maintenance documents, other documents, and photographs from the American and Soviet space programs.

As an example of the extent of the collection, the archive includes a complete set of contractor blueprints for the Apollo Command Module and original flow charts that detail the evolution of the Block I Apollo Spacecraft to the Block II Apollo Spacecraft. Documenting the evolutionary process of this spacecraft is historically important because NASA utilized the Block II version to take man to the Moon. The blueprints and flow charts detail one of the most complex machines ever developed. The archived paper collection also details mission success; scientific experiments conducted during missions and hardware development and utilization. To give an example of the value of the collection, the archive includes original Soviet manuals that detail the operation of the Soyuz spacecraft, cosmonaut photographs and Soviet newspapers. Photographs contained within the archive illustrate testing, training, flight preparation, launches, missions and lunar exploration. Therefore, the archives provide great value to the research community. Scholars, the general public and educational institutions that have an interest in manned space exploration will have access to manuals, diagrams, photos and video that details the development and evolution of the equipment used to take man into space and ultimately to the Moon. Very few organizations maintain an archive of this caliber that pertains to manned exploration of space.
KCSC Artifacts

Given a collection that includes more than 12,000 artifacts, the Cosmosphere houses one of the world's largest and most significant collections of artifacts related to space exploration. The artifact collections include national treasures as the Apollo 13 command module Odyssey, Gus Grissom's Liberty Bell 7 Mercury spacecraft, Ron Evans' flown Apollo 17 space suit and one-of-a-kind documents such as flight logs, handwritten checklists and personal items from astronauts from the Mercury program through today. Other artifacts in the Cosmosphere collection range from a German V-2 rocket launch key to a 3.2 billion-year-old Moon rock and include an SR-71 Blackbird, a Titan rocket, the most complete collection of space photography equipment in the world, Chuck Yeager's flight jacket that he wore when he broke the sound barrier, the world's largest collection of space suits, fine art and space memorabilia from popular culture. In addition, the Cosmosphere holds hundreds of items from the Soviet space program that include a flown Vostok spacecraft, flown space suits, a complete set of Vostok, Voskhod and Soyuz spacecraft, personal items from cosmonauts, Soviet space food and artifacts that belonged to key Soviet political figures. Forsyth Library at Fort Hays State University

The Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center’s
Apollo One Investigation Archive: Jack Swigert's Apollo Spacecraft Procedures Manual Archive

Apollo 1 Investigation Archives

-- Apollo Spacecraft Procedures Manual Archive / Developed and Authored by: Astronaut John L. Swigert, Circa 1967 – 1969

The documents shown in the Digital Repository of Space Exploration come from Apollo Spacecraft Procedures Manual Archive, which was developed and authored between 1967 and 1970 by astronaut John L. Swigert. The collection includes logical diagrams, flowcharts, and notes from the Apollo One Investigation.  Astronaut Swigert read pages from the Block I Apollo Operations Handbook while studying systems used in the AS-204 Command Module.  The digitized papers include handwritten remarks by Astronaut Swigert along with handwritten drawings of proposed operational flowcharts.


Each flowchart shown in the collection features a possible symptom that could affect the operation of a particular subsystem such as the Main Bus A in the electrical power system. [See example here ]  In turn, the flow charts also feature possible solutions for the designated problems.


The documents provide several layers of significance.  The significance of Mr. Swigert’s handwritten remarks includes not only his work on the review board but also work as an engineer, test pilot, and astronaut.  While best known for his role as a member of the Apollo 13 crew, Mr. Swigert worked as an engineering test pilot for North American Aviation and for Pratt and Whitney, and served as a pilot in the United States Air Force prior to his work at NASA.  Mr. Swigert was a member of the astronaut support crew for Apollo 7 and the backup crew for Apollo 13 before replacing Thomas Mattingly as Command Module Pilot.




Mr. Swigert’s comments and notes also serve as a bridge between the Apollo Block I and Block II spacecraft designs and provide insight into the processes that influenced the design of the spacecraft.  The Apollo Block 1 spacecraft had a limited production run and were to develop and qualify flight systems.  Initial unmanned missions involving Block 1 spacecraft confirmed the structural integrity of the spacecraft, the operations of spacecraft systems, and compatibility between the systems and between the spacecraft and the launch vehicle.


All Apollo manned missions utilized the Block II spacecraft.  The original redesign of the Block II spacecraft began as part of a 1964 program definition study and became further evaluated after the 1967 Apollo One tragedy.  As a result of the Apollo One fire, NASA and the contractors redesigned a new one-piece, easily opened crew access hatch, the elimination of flammable materials within the Command Module, and the elimination of the 100% oxygen atmosphere within the spacecraft.  Design changes occurred throughout the Apollo program because of studies and analyses and because of different hardware failures.


apollo timeline


The Apollo One Tragedy and Investigation

On January 27, 1967, astronauts Virgil I. “Gus” Grissom, Edward H. White II, and Roger B. Chaffee continued their training for the first manned Apollo flight.  Designated as Apollo/Saturn 204, the mission involved a 14-day spaceflight and a check-out of primary systems designed for a future flight to the moon.


At 1:00pm, the crew entered the Command Module to begin a “plugs-out” test that disconnected the spacecraft from all external power systems and tested the internal electrical power system.  The test occurred with the Command and Service Modules mounted on the Saturn IB booster at Pad 34.  Several minor problems delayed the tests.  A larger communications failure caused Mission Control to place a hold on the count until 5:40pm.


At 6:31pm, Roger Chaffee reported “Fire, I smell fire.”  Seconds later, Ed White exclaimed, “Fire in the Cockpit.”  Several other voice transmissions included “They’re fighting a bad fire—let’s get out.”  “Open’er up.”  “We’re burning up….”  The last transmission ended within 17 seconds after the first report of the fire.  Grissom, White, and Chaffee perished within 30 seconds due to smoke inhalation and burns.




The aftermath of the tragedy included an investigation that included teams of engineers, astronauts, and contractors who disassembled and studied the command module.  The following quotation from Colonel Al Worden’s NASA Oral History provides a personal overview of the investigation:


WORDEN: “Well…they assigned, after the fire…a team to basically reinvent the command module. …The fire was not caused by the hatch, but the hatch is what cost the three lives, because they couldn’t get [it] open. The fire was caused by an electric spark inside that touched off all the foam rubber they had inside in a pure oxygen environment. It’s like an explosive, and the guys didn’t have a chance.


So they put together a team headed by Frank Borman to reinvent, if you will, the spacecraft. We came up with the hatch that’s on it today, or that was it till they quit using it, that opened only outward. The original hatch, you had to pull the hatch inside, put it against the frame from the inside, and bolt it down. That provided the pressure seals. If you get in space, you [have] pressure inside the spacecraft, you [have] zero pressure on the outside, and that pressure inside is helping to maintain that seal.


The problem is if the pressure goes way out of sight inside, you can’t get that hatch open. …The pressure vessel on the spacecraft burst at about 32 psi, something like that. I mean, it was astronomical in terms of what it should have been. That had to be redesigned.


We looked at all the flammability, all the things inside that could be flammable. That’s when we switched to covering everything with beta cloth. We had to look at all that. We had to look at all the wiring. We had to look at all the malfunction procedures. I mean, it was a complete sweep of the whole thing. It was a monumental task, and Jack Swigert and I were out there every week for over a year, five days a week, working that problem. It took that much. “                 
NASA Oral History Project – Al Worden


apollo dismantled


Apollo Left - Right Diagram


Spacecraft Electrical Power Systems

All spacecraft have a variety of systems that control operations such as guidance, environmental control, and communications.  In turn, each of those systems relies on a stable electrical power supply.  While some spacecraft electrical power systems or EPS rely on the use of solar panels, others rely on fuel cells and batteries contained within the spacecraft.  The selection of a main energy source for spacecraft depends on the required power for the mission and the duration of the mission.  Regardless of the type of system, every spacecraft electrical power system employs power conditioning, distribution, and power management.


Electrical Power Subystem (EPS) for Apollo Command and Service Modules

As designed, the EPS for the Apollo spacecraft delivered a nominal 28 vdc.  The Apollo Block I and Block II command and service modules utilized an electrical power system that operated from any combination of seven dc sources.  Those sources included:

       Three fuel cells – 575 kilowatt-hours each

       Three silver-oxide entry batteries – 40 ampere-hours each

Inverters in the system derived three-phase 400 hz 115 vac for the operation of all the ac power required by the system. The major portion of the generated ac voltage powered the fuel cell pump motors.


After the failure of the cryogenic oxygen system during the Apollo 13 mission, a 400 ampere-hour battery was added to the service module. The battery could provide 12 kilowatt hours of emergency power through the command module main buses.


Primary Source

When considering the operation of the electrical power system in the Apollo spacecraft, the three fuel cells located in the service module provided the primary source of power.  Two of the three entry batteries located in the command module supplemented the fuel cells during high energy demand periods.


Basic Distribution System

The spacecraft used two redundant buses and a single point ground connected to the spacecraft structure for distribution.  Fuel cells energized two main dc buses designated as Main Bus A and Main Bus B and the entry and post landing A, B, and C batteries.  The respective entry and post landing batteries powered battery buses A and B.  Battery C connected to either or both buses during the failure of batteries A or B.


Both main dc buses energized the flight and post landing bus through diode pairs.  Pyrotechnic batteries powered the pyrotechnic A and B buses.  Both the pyrotechnic buses remained isolated from the main electrical buses by a normally-open switch.


In the Apollo spacecraft, one or two solid state inverters supplied ac power and produced 1250 volt-amps each.  Inverters 1 and 2 powered through Main Bus A and B while inverter 3 powered through either Main Bus A or Main Bus B.  Six motor switches operated as the ac control and either connected or disconnected the inverters from the ac buses.  This operation prevented the simultaneous connection of the inverters to the same ac bus.  Any over-voltage or overload condition resulted in the automatic disconnect of the inverters.


Apollo Spacecraft Full Image


Environmental Control System (ECS)

Guidance and Control / Guidance and Navigation (G&C/G&N)

Stabilization & Control System (SCS)

Lunar Module (LM)

The part of the space craft intended for Lunar landing.

The Mercury Mission Collection: 1959 - 1963 Photographs; 1999 Liberty Bell 7 Recovery and Restoration images


Mercury 2

Sea recovery of the Mercury Liberty Bell spacecraft, 1961.


Mercury 4

Recovery and restoration operations of Mercury Liberty Bell 7 spacecraft, 1999.



The Liberty Bell 7 Recovery operation: images of the Liberty Bell 7 Restoration after it was removed from the ocean bed in 1999.


Finding aid & Collection Guide:

Apollo Spacecraft Procedures Manual Archive / Developed and Authored by: Astronaut John L. Swigert, Circa 1967 – 1969 [in progress]

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