Boilerplate (spaceflight) | apollo boilerplates

Apollo boilerplates

NASA created a variety of Apollo boilerplates. A list of them can be found in Apollo section of A Field Guide to American Spacecraft.

Launch escape system tests (LES)

Apollo boilerplates were used in the launch escape system (LES) for tests of the jettison tower rockets and procedures:

  • BP-6 with Pad Abort Test-1 – LES pad abort test from launch pad; with photo.
  • BP-23A with Pad Abort Test-2 – LES pad abort test of near Block-I CM; with photo.
  • BP-23 with Mission A-002 Test Flight – LES test of canards, Oct.29-Nov.5, 1964.[9]
  • BP-27 with LES-015 – Dynamic tests.[10]

Boilerplate tests

  • BP-1 – Water impact tests[10]
  • BP-2 – Flotation tests storage[10]
  • BP-3 – Parachute tests[10]
  • BP-6,-6B, – PA-1, later parachute drop test vehicle,[10] and LES pad abort flight test to demonstrate launch escape system's pad-abort performance at White Sands Missile Range.[11]
  • BP-9 with mission AS-105 (SA-10) test flight, Micro Meteoroid Dynamic Test; not recovered.[10]
  • BP-12 with mission A-001 test flight, now at former NASA Facility, Downey, CA[9] to test the LES transonic abort flight performance at White Sands Missile Range.[11]
  • BP-13 with mission AS-101 (SA-6) test flight, not recovered.[10]
  • BP-14 with environmental control system tests, Oct. 22-29, 1964,[9] consisted of command module 14, service Mmodule 3, launch escape system 14, and Saturn launch adapters.[10]
  • BP-15 with mission AS-102 (SA-7) test flight, not recovered.[10]
  • BP-16 with mission AS-103 (SA-9) test flight, another Micro Meteoroid test, not recovered.[10]
  • BP-19A – VHF antenna, parachute drop tests;[10] now at the Columbia Memorial Space Center (former NASA Facility, Downey, CA)[12]
  • BP-22 with mission A-003 test flight; boilerplate on display at Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX[13]
  • BP-23 – LES high-dynamic-pressure abort flight performance tests at White Sands Missile Range.[11]
  • BP-23A – LES pad-abort flight performance tests with Canard, BPC, and major sequencing changes at White Sands Missile Range,[11] now displayed with SA-500D at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center, Huntsville, Alabama.[10]
BP-29 at Barringer Crater (used for flotation tests)

Specific Apollo BP units


BP-1101A was used in numerous tests to develop spacecraft recovery equipment and procedures. Specifically, 1101A tested the air bags as part of the uprighting procedure when the Apollo lands upside down in the water. The sequence of the bags inflating caused the capsule to roll and upright itself.[15]

This McDonnell boilerplate is now on loan to the Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum,[16] Denver, Colorado, from the Smithsonian. BP-1101A has an external painted marking of AP.5. Examination of the interior in 2006 revealed large heavy steel ingots.[17] After further research, a new paint scheme was applied in June 2007.


BP-1102 was used for water egress trainer for all Apollo flights, including by the crew of Apollo 11, the first lunar landing mission. It was also adapted for mock-up interior components and used by astronauts to practice routine and emergency exits from the spacecraft.

It was then modified again where the interior was set up to be configured either as Apollo/Soyuz or a proposed five-person Skylab Rescue vehicle. With these two conversions, astronauts could train for those special missions. It was finally transferred from NASA to the Smithsonian in 1977, and is displayed now at the Hazy Center with the flotation collar and bags that were attached to Columbia (the Apollo 11 Command Module) at the end of its historic mission.[18]



BP-1210 was used in landing and recovery training and to test flotation devices. It is on display outside the Stafford Air & Space Museum.

BP-1220/1228 Series

The purpose of this series design was to simulate the weight and other external physical characteristics of the Apollo command module. These prototypes were in the 9000 lb range for both laboratory water tanks and ocean tests. The experiments tested flotation collars, collar installations, and buoyancy characteristics. The Navy trained their recovery personnel for ocean collar installation and shipboard retrieval procedures. These boilerplates rarely had internal equipment.[19] See BP-1220 photo.


BP-1224 was a component-level flammability-test program to test for design decisions on selection and application of nonmetallic materials. Boilerplate configuration comparisons with command and service module 2TV-1 and 101 were performed by North American. The NASA review board decided on February 5, 1967, that the boilerplate configuration had determined a reasonable "worst case" configuration, after more than 1,000 tests were performed.[20]See BP-1224 photo set.


Details regarding this test capsule are not clear, but most likely it was lost at sea somewhere between the Azores and the Bay of Biscay in early 1969, and recovered in June 1969 off Gibraltar by the Soviet fishing trawler 'Apatit' (possibly a Soviet spy ship disguised as such, which was commonplace during the Cold War),[21][22][23] transferred to the port of Murmansk in the Soviet Union, and returned to the US in September 1970 by the USCGC Southwind (WAGB-280).[24] It is now located in Grand Rapids, Michigan as a time capsule.[25] See BP-1227 photo or Google Street View image. The only certainties about this capsule are that it was returned to the United States at Murmansk early in September 1970 during a visit by the USCG Southwind who returned it to the Naval Air Station, Norfolk, Virginia. There it remained until title was passed to the Smithsonian in April 1976 when it was passed on to Grand Rapids, Michigan to serve as a time capsule. Two official sources – the US Navy and the US Coastguard – both say that it was lost by an ARRS (Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron) unit training in recovery procedures. A contemporary account of its return quotes a NASA spokesman as saying, “ … as far as NASA can determine the object… the Navy lost two years ago.”. When BP-1227 was lost ranges from 1968 to 1970 depending on which account one reads. This uncertainty may be due to a Russian account that claims there is an agreement between the Russians and the US to keep details secret until 2021.

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