When the recovery helicopters arrived after an Apollo splashdown, one of the first tasks was for Navy divers to attach a flotation collar and sea anchor to the spacecraft. The flotation collar kept the capsule high enough out of the water so waves would not reach the hatch opening. The sea anchor kept the capsule from drifting as the helicopters worked to recover the crew and spacecraft.

I have yet to see diagrams or pictures showing how these items were attached to the command module. Where were the attachment points?

  • $\begingroup$ @Uwe: Perfect answer, accepted. $\endgroup$ – DrSheldon May 5 at 21:20

Work in progress!

There was no set of three or more attachment points.

Only a single attachment point below the hatch was needed to fix the sea anchor and both ends of the floatation collar, the sea anchor ring.

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Apollo 17 after recovery aboard the Ticonderoga, image S72-55886 from ALSJ. The sea anchor ring is inside the red circle (annotated by me) below the crew hatch.

The sea anchor was attached to the ring by the first rescue diver.

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Image source: http://www.collectspace.com/review/apollo-recovery-operational-procedures.pdf

Swimmer A fixes the red striped left end of the collar to the sea anchor ring.

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After inflation the collar is secured with two vertical straps on the rear side of the CM. But these straps do not take the buoyant forces of the collar.

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An image of the Apollo 11 flotation collar drying after recovery:

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Image source: https://www.nhahistoricalsociety.org/index.php/apollo-11-mission-and-recovery/

All the ropes attaching the collar to the Apollo capsule are to be seen. The upper rope ring above the water is marked with green arrows. The lower rope ring below the water and the CM heat shield is marked with blue arrows.

Note the red (port side, left) and green (starboard side, right) stripes on the floatation collar. The bow of this ocean going vessel is at the top of the image, the stern at the bottom. See Wikipedia.

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    $\begingroup$ Thanks! I could not see how the capsule was supported by the collar. The ropes underneath are the answer. $\endgroup$ – Organic Marble May 5 at 15:02

The attachment point is directly under the door:


Image sourced from Smithsonian: https://airandspace.si.edu/collection-objects/apollo-11-flotation-collar/nasm_A19780202000

Because of the conical shape:

Image Source: https://twitter.com/apollo_50th/status/1154117320047861760

no other point is needed:

Image Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/brostad/3548675310/

Once laid around and fastened, you do not need to fix it more often.

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  • $\begingroup$ The single rope around the cone alone could not fix the collar. The direction of forces would be wrong. $\endgroup$ – Uwe May 5 at 14:52
  • $\begingroup$ But the ropes under the heatshild are Not connected with the capsule, therefore I did not mention it answering a question about Attachments $\endgroup$ – CallMeTom May 5 at 15:18
  • $\begingroup$ The ropes under the heatshild are neccessary to transmit the forces from collar to the capsule, the single attachment point would not do. $\endgroup$ – Uwe May 5 at 15:24
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, of course. But as I mention: answering the question I did not want to explain the whole system. If the asker wants more details, thats okey. But I assumed this is enought to answer the question. $\endgroup$ – CallMeTom May 5 at 15:42

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