Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Today in Space
Launch and Loss of Liberty Bell 7

In 1961 Gus Grissom's sub-orbital MR-4 flight ended with the loss of the capsule as it became too heavy during retrieval while taking on water due to the blown hatch. It remained on the bottom of the ocean for 38 years until July 20th, 1999 (thought there was enough Today in Space for yesterday...). Liberty Bell 7 was recovered by Curt Newport (undersea salvager who worked on Challenger and Titanic recoveries) as a part of a Discovery series called Liberating the Liberty Bell.

The Discovery websites have been deleted - rather unfortunate because there were daily logs of the recovery process. I remember following it live - they found it, lost the undersea robot, then lost the capsule when getting a new robot (or retrieving it - don't remember) to the site, found the capsule again - and I was so excited when they finally succeeded at recovering it from three miles below. The Kansas Cosmosphere restored it, and made the recovery a travelling exhibit. It was hoped that the recovery would provide evidence of the source of the blown hatch - however, no conclusive findings were realized. The exhibit is currently at the Cosmosphere.

Lost Spacecraft Travelling Exhibition
Some images of recovery effort.
Some video of recovery.
Neat video with Liberty Bell 7 Recovery items with Chris Orwell from the Cosmosphere.
Recovery article from Underwater.com
CNN article on Recovery.
Space.com article - Gus didn't do it.

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