It appears from this question that Apollo missions carried Duct Tape and used it for in-flight fixups. Did they carry the other half of the "Universal Repair Kit" - WD40 (or similar)? If so, was it used?

Answers relating to other crewed space missions also welcome.

Universal Repair Kit: This page and many many other pages on the internet.

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    $\begingroup$ Using a WD40 spray in zero gravity within the very small capsule or lunar module in an atmosphere of pure oxygen without venting through an open window would be a severe risk. $\endgroup$
    – Uwe
    Sep 18 '19 at 9:09
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    $\begingroup$ @Uwe - The "pure oxygen" part is irrelevant - the partial pressure of oxygen (which is what controls how flammable things are) is the same as the air in my workshop - it's just that there is no nitrogen in a space craft. $\endgroup$ Sep 18 '19 at 9:14
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    $\begingroup$ @MartinBonner Your question makes me wonder if any aerosol products are used in space. I'm imagining in a microgravity environment that would be ill advised. $\endgroup$
    – Bob516
    Sep 18 '19 at 11:59
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    $\begingroup$ There are several mentions of aerosol spray in this question/answers/comments thread. I don't know if this changes any of this specific content or not, but as a follow up to @Bob516's question about aerosols in general, I think it's important to note that WD40 is not exclusively an aerosol product. It is also sold in one and five gallon cans, from which it's meant to be used as a liquid, as well as in sprays, meant to be used as an aerosol. $\endgroup$
    – dwizum
    Sep 18 '19 at 17:40
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    $\begingroup$ @MartinBonner: Using a WD40 spray in a very small space in microgravity with no way to open a window would be a Bad Idea even with an earthlike atmosphere. $\endgroup$
    – Vikki
    Sep 18 '19 at 21:14

It's hard to prove a negative, but the answer seems to be NO.

  • It's not in D-7434 Stowage and the Support Team Concept, which has tables by location of the typical inventory stowed in the cabin.

  • It's not in D-6737 Crew Provisions and Equipment Susbsystem, which describes in detail each of the items in the cabin.

  • It's not listed in the actual stowage manifests by mission.

I searched for the terms oil, wd, and lubrica*. There were plenty of false positives such as screWDriver and fWD. Apollo 17 did carry LUBRICANT,HAND in the commander's suit pocket, but that's not WD-40.

I would be highly surprised to find it onboard. Equipment was designed to avoid in-flight maintenance such as lubrication or waterproofing. An important part of WD-40 is a volatile hydrocarbon which evaporates after application; you don't want that in the cabin air. Also, WD-40 is quite flammable, and after the Apollo 1 fire NASA did everything to avoid combustibles inside the cabin.

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    $\begingroup$ I don't think any aerosol cans were carried on Shuttle either. $\endgroup$ Sep 18 '19 at 13:20
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    $\begingroup$ This is worth repeating: "after the Apollo 1 fire NASA did everything to avoid combustibles inside the cabin." I'd be shocked if the Apollo astronauts had been allowed to spray a flammable aerosol. $\endgroup$
    – user16338
    Sep 18 '19 at 14:47
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    $\begingroup$ @MartinBonner - "Lubricants are mostly about tackling or preventing corrosion", strange, I would have thought that lubricants are mostly about lubricating. $\endgroup$
    – Glen Yates
    Sep 18 '19 at 21:20
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    $\begingroup$ @GlenYates you're right that lubricants are for lubrication, but WD-40 ist not a lubricant, It's water displacer, which happens to lubricate - poorly $\endgroup$
    – Christian
    Sep 19 '19 at 10:45
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    $\begingroup$ @user16338 WD-40 is not always sold as an aerosol. Search for a gallon of WD-40 and you will see it sold as a non-pressurized liquid. $\endgroup$ Sep 19 '19 at 17:37

I agree it's unlikely that any space mission would have carried a can of WD-40.

However, WD-40 is a product of the space race itself and was originally used for rockets. The WD-40 was originally not intended as a lubricant, but as water-displacing agent for Atlas missiles. Painting a large rocket adds significant amount of weight, so these were coated with a layer of WD-40 instead, in order to prevent oxidization / rusting of the rocket body.

Atlas has been used also for crewed space missions, but also it seems they started painting the rocket at some point. As such, I can't tell if WD-40 coated rocket was used to bring, say, Project Mercury astronauts into orbit.

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    $\begingroup$ After your link the tanks were made of stainless steel, so no coating was necessary to prevent rusting. $\endgroup$
    – Uwe
    Sep 19 '19 at 12:46
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    $\begingroup$ @Uwe Stainless is to be taken with a grain of, er, rust. Higher carbon content (weren't the tanks made from type 301 which is higher on carbon?) in the steel improves some mechanical properties but reduces the resistance to corrosion. $\endgroup$ Sep 20 '19 at 13:45

In space, soft grease is safer than oil and liquid oil is safer than highly evaporative lubricants.

I suspect they had some very small amount of grease... but NOT for use externally, as the SciFi movie Destination Moon (1950) where the grease freezes solid, demonstrated the danger of that!

From Wikipedia's Destination_Moon_(film); Plot:

En route to the Moon they are forced to spacewalk outside. They stay firmly attached to Luna with magnetic boots so they can easily walk to and free up the frozen piloting radar antenna that the inexperienced Sweeney innocently greased before launch. In the process, Cargraves becomes untethered in free fall and is lost overboard. He is retrieved by Barnes who cleverly uses a large oxygen cylinder retrieved by General Thayer as an improvised propulsion unit to return them to Luna.

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    $\begingroup$ The kit for the EVA suits contained soft lubricant for the O-rings of the arms rotatory joints. $\endgroup$
    – Uwe
    Sep 19 '19 at 11:18
  • $\begingroup$ Yes. Likely the lubricants used by Nasa were more capable than those envisioned by 1950s Hollywood scriptwriters and have MUCH lower freezing points than the kinds found in the cars of the time. $\endgroup$ Oct 2 '19 at 18:23

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