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Personal Preference Kits [PPKs]

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The concept of the Personal Preference Kit (PPK) was introduced by NASA to formalize the carrying of mementos by the astronauts on their missions. Before a flight the astronauts had to get the list of items they intended to take as souvenirs validated by NASA. The total allowed weight of the items was limited and the bulk restricted to what would fit in the small bag provided to contain them.

Although the exact contents of most of the PPKs will always remain unknown (since this was regarded as a private matter for the astronaut), the flown (now empty) PPK bags are themselves collectible items so it's interesting to see how many were carried on each flight. The sections below attempt to answer this question.




Gemini PPKs

Gemini PPK bag

During the Gemini project each astronaut was allowed to carry personal mementos in a small 6x7" grey nylon bag that could be closed with a drawstring. The strict weight limitations and cramped interior of the Gemini spacecraft meant that the astronauts were only able to carry a small amount of items with them as mementos, so only one PPK bag per crewmember was carried on each flight.

The only PPK manifest to have been made public over the years is that of Wally Schirra from the Gemini 6A mission, but this single list probably gives a good idea as to the number and kind of items typically carried on these flights.

The content of Schirra's Personal Preference Kit was listed as: Navy wings, 33rd Degree Masonic ring, 1950D coin, dime-sized momento, 5c-sized momento, miniature Gemini s/c, Fla. hunting license, 20 gold medals, 5 silver medals, various flags, and 15 GTA-6 patches.

FLOWN availability - With only one PPK per Gemini astronaut there are likely only twenty flown bags existing in total. Of these twenty I've seen four offered at auction. See the Annex below for details.

Unflown availability - Unflown Gemini PPK bags used in training are likely extremely rare.




Apollo PPKs

Standard Apollo PPK bag
P/N SEB12100018-202

Larger Apollo PPK bag
P/N SEB12100025-301

As on the Gemini project, the Apollo astronauts were authorized by NASA to carry a small amount of personal momentos on their missions in the form of a Personal Preference Kit. These items were packed into small beta cloth bags which were closed with a drawstring.

The standard PPK bags (with part no. SEB12100018-202) as shown on the left measured roughly 8" x 4" x 2". A larger size bag (with part no. SEB12100025-301) measuring roughly 10" x 10" x 2", as shown on the right, was also carried on some missions.

For Apollo 17 the Personal Preference Kits were replaced by Astronaut Preference Kits (with part no. APK/SEC 12100087-301) and the same bags were later used on the Skylab project.

In the sections below I have attempted to identify from the available stowage lists for Apollos 7, 8 and 11 through 17 how many PPKs were carried on each mission, where they were carried, and what weight of items they contained.

Although this sounds simple enough the resulting picture is actually far from clear, particularly in the later missions. In any case the details below at least provide a starting point for further study.

FLOWN availability - A significant number of Apollo flown PPK bags have been sold at auction over the years, with examples appearing in most major space auctions. See the Annex below for details.

Unflown availability - Unflown examples used in training are probably more scarce that flown examples.


Apollo 7

For Apollo 7 the stowage lists clearly identify 3 PPKs of 0.5lb (227g) each stowed at launch.

ITEM NUMBER PART NUMBER NOMENCLATURE UNIT WEIGHT QTY/ SC STOWAGE LOCATION
110 SEB12100018-202 PILOTS' PREFERENCE KIT .5 3 VOLUME A8

Apollo 7 Stowage List (Rev. D) - Personal Preference Kit entry


Apollo 8

As for Apollo 7, the Apollo 8 the stowage lists clearly identify 3 PPKs of 0.5lb (227g) each.

ITEM NUMBER PART NUMBER NOMENCLATURE UNIT WEIGHT QTY/ SC STOWAGE LOCATION
115 SEB12100018-202 PILOTS PREFERENCE KIT .5 3 VOLUME A8

Apollo 8 Stowage List (Rev.C) - Personal Preference Kit entry


Apollo 9

I have only seen extracts of the Apollo 9 stowage lists covering the PPKs stowed in the Command Module at launch, which shows that 7 PPKs of 0.5lb (227g) each were carried on the mission.

ITEM NUMBER PART NUMBER NOMENCLATURE UNIT WEIGHT QTY/ SC STOWAGE LOCATION
A 0114. SEB12100018-202 PILOTS PREFERENCE KIT .5 7 CM AT LAUNCH

Apollo 9 Stowage List - Personal Preference Kit entry for CM only

At this point in time I have no details of how many PPKs were carried in the Apollo 9 Lunar Module.


Apollo 10

For Apollo 10 the stowage lists identify 8 PPKs of 0.5lb (227g) each stowed in the Command Module plus 1 PPK of 0.5lb stowed in the Lunar Module at launch. There is no mention in the CM to LM transfer list, LM lunar launch stowage list, or in the LM to CM transfer list of the first set of PPKs so these would have stayed in place on the Command Module for the mission.

ITEM NUMBER PART NUMBER NOMENCLATURE UNIT WEIGHT QTY/ SC STOWAGE LOCATION
A 0112. SEB12100018-202 KIT, PILOTS PREFERENCE .5 8 CM AT LAUNCH
A 1007. SEB12100018-202 KIT, PILOTS PREFERENCE (PPK) .5 1 LM AT LAUNCH

Apollo 10 Stowage List - Personal Preference Kit entries compiled from Lists A, B and C

Interestingly, the number of PPKs listed for Apollo 10 exceeds that of the Apollo 11 mission, although only one PPK was carried on the Apollo 10 Lunar Module, as opposed to two on the Apollo 11 LM.


Apollo 11

For Apollo 11 the stowage lists clearly identify 3 PPKs of 0.5lb (227g) each stowed in the Command Module plus 2 PPKs also of 0.5lb each stowed in the Lunar Module at launch. There is no mention in the CM to LM transfer list, LM lunar launch stowage list, or in the LM to CM transfer list of the first set of PPKs so these would have stayed in place on the Command Module for the mission.

ITEM NUMBER PART NUMBER NOMENCLATURE UNIT WEIGHT QTY/ SC STOWAGE LOCATION
A 0112. SEB12100018-202 KIT, PILOTS PREFERENCE .5 3 CM AT LAUNCH
A 1007. SEB12100018-202 KIT, PILOTS PREFERENCE (PPK) .5 2 LM AT LAUNCH

Apollo 11 Stowage List - Personal Preference Kit entries compiled from Lists A, B and C

In some later flights the weight allowance for the CM PPKs was significantly higher. It should be noted that although the LM PPKs were ostensibly those of the CDR and LMP they carried items for the CMP in these LM PPKs.


Apollo 12

For Apollo 12 the stowage lists identify 8 PPKs of 0.5lb (227g) each stowed in the Command Module plus 1 PPK of 0.5lb stowed in the Lunar Module at launch. One of the 8 CM-stowed PPKs is on the CM to LM transfer list and subsequently the LM lunar launch and LM to CM transfer lists, so in fact two of the nine PPKs in total were carried to the lunar surface whilst seven stayed in the CM for the entire mission.

ITEM NUMBER PART NUMBER NOMENCLATURE UNIT WEIGHT QTY/ SC STOWAGE LOCATION
A 0112. SEB12100018-202 KIT, PILOTS PREFERENCE .5 7 CM AT LAUNCH
A 0112. SEB12100018-202 KIT, PILOTS PREFERENCE .5 1 CM AT LAUNCH T/SFER TO LM
A 1007. SEB12100018-202 KIT, PILOTS PREFERENCE (PPK) .5 1 LM AT LAUNCH

Apollo 12 Stowage List - Personal Preference Kit entries compiled from Lists A, B and C

It's not clear why one PPK is stowed on the CM at launch then transferred across to the LM. The end result in any case is that as with Apollo 11, two PPKs of 0.5lb each were carried to the lunar surface. The difference to Apollo 11 comes with the fact that there were now seven CM PPKs as opposed to just three. The logic behind the numbers may be that three of these were assigned to the CMP, and two each to the CDR and LMP, so that each crewmember had three PPKs in total.


Apollo 13

For Apollo 13 the stowage lists identify 11 PPKs of 0.5lb (227g) each stowed in the Command Module plus 3 PPKs of 0.5lb stowed in the Lunar Module at launch. Another CM PPK is identified but no weight is specified. The Part number indicates that this is the larger type of PPK bag, and indeed this may be the bag used to carry Apollo 13 beta cloth patches, sold by Jim Lovell at auction in 2008.

ITEM NUMBER PART NUMBER NOMENCLATURE UNIT WEIGHT QTY/ SC STOWAGE LOCATION
A 0112. SEB12100018-202 KIT, PILOTS PREFERENCE .5 11 CM AT LAUNCH
A 0112. 1 SEB12100025-201 KIT, PILOTS PREFERENCE 1 CM AT LAUNCH
A 1007. SEB12100018-202 KIT, PILOTS PREFERENCE (PPK) .5 3 LM AT LAUNCH

Apollo 13 Stowage List - Personal Preference Kit entries compiled from Lists A, B and C

Apollo 13 differs from the preceding two missions in that there are now three PPKs of 0.5lb each stowed in the LM, presumably one per crewmember. From this point on the CMP no longer had to rely on the generosity of his crewmates to have items carried to the lunar surface.

There are now also 11 standard PPKs of 0.5lb on the Command Module, up from 7 on Apollo 12 and 3 on Apollo 11. It's not clear how these were divided amongst the crew. If we start on the basis of three per crewmember we are still left with two CM PPKs unaccounted for.

Interestingly enough, a PPK bag sold at the 2009 Bonhams Space Auction by Fred Haise was labelled "SHAVE KIT" and marked "4 of 12". Haise noted in the accompanying LOA "Apollo Astronauts were allowed to carry a small number of personal mementos inside Beta cloth containers called PPKs. But since these bags were a convenient design to carry all sorts of crew personal equipment, some were used to store hygienic items such as this 'Shave Kit'."

This tells us that not all the PPKs in the Stowage Lists are actually being used to carry mementos.


Apollo 14

For Apollo 14 the stowage lists identify 14 PPKs of 0.5lb (227g) each stowed in the Command Module plus 3 PPKs of 0.9lb (408g) stowed in the Lunar Module at launch. As with Apollo 13, another larger CM PPK is identified but no weight is specified. This may be a PPK dedicated to carrying beta cloth patches but there's no way to know for sure.

ITEM NUMBER PART NUMBER NOMENCLATURE UNIT WEIGHT QTY/ SC STOWAGE LOCATION
A 0112. SEB12100018-202 KIT, PILOTS PREFERENCE .5 14 CM AT LAUNCH
A 0159. SEB12100025-201 KIT, PILOTS PREFERENCE 1 CM AT LAUNCH
A 1007. SEB12100018-202 KIT, PILOTS PREFERENCE (PPK) .9 3 LM AT LAUNCH

Apollo 14 Stowage List - Personal Preference Kit entries compiled from Lists A, B and C

Ignoring the larger bag, Apollo 14 continues with three PPKs stowed in the LM, presumably one per crewmember, but the weight of these have been boosted from 0.5lb to 0.9lb each. The Revision Notice section of the lists notes this as "WT. CHG FROM .5 02-09-71"

There are now also 14 PPKs of 0.5lb on the Command Module, up from 11 on Apollo 13. Again, it is not clear how these were divided amongst the crew but each must have had at least three or four PPKs. Apollo 14 set the record for the highest total weight of PPKs at 9.7lb (4.4kg).


Apollo 15

For Apollo 15 the stowage lists identify three PPKs of only 0.1lb (45g) each stowed in the Command Module plus just one PPK of 0.1lb stowed in the Lunar Module at launch. Two other CM PPKs are identified but no weight is specified for these.

ITEM NUMBER PART NUMBER NOMENCLATURE UNIT WEIGHT QTY/ SC STOWAGE LOCATION
A 0112. SEB12100018-202 KIT, PILOTS PREFERENCE .1 3 CM AT LAUNCH
A 0166. SEB12100018-204 KIT, PILOTS PREFERENCE 1 CM AT LAUNCH
A 0167. SEB12100018-205 KIT, PILOTS PREFERENCE 1 CM AT LAUNCH
A 1007. SEB12100018-205 KIT, PILOTS PREFERENCE (PPK) .1 1 LM AT LAUNCH

Apollo 15 Stowage List - Personal Preference Kit entries compiled from Lists A, B and C

Ignoring the odd items 0166 and 0167, Apollo 15 shows a dramatic reduction in PPKs from the previous flights. Instead of three PPKs of 0.5lb each in the Lunar Module there was apparently just one of 0.1lb. In fact it looks like the listing only gives the weight of the bag itself rather than the contents but it's impossible to know for sure. The single PPK bag may actually have contained the three PPKs of the astronauts. In any case it is worth noting that in his book "To Rule The Night", Apollo 15 LMP Jim Irwin states that the LM PPK was accidentally left behind on the Lunar Module during the mission. Read the extract here.

In place of the 14 PPKs of 0.5lb each carried on the Command Module of Apollo 14, we have just three PPKs (presumably one per crewmember) of 0.1lb each. Again, this seems like it might just be the weight of the bag itself so perhaps they did carry 0.5lb each on the CM.


Apollo 16

For Apollo 16 the stowage lists identify 12 PPKs of 0.1lb (45g) each stowed in the Command Module plus just one PPK of 0.1lb stowed in the Lunar Module at launch.

ITEM NUMBER PART NUMBER NOMENCLATURE UNIT WEIGHT QTY/ SC STOWAGE LOCATION
A 0112. SEB12100018-202 KIT, PILOTS PREFERENCE .1 12 CM AT LAUNCH
A 1007. SEB12100018-202 KIT, PILOTS PREFERENCE (PPK) .1 1 LM AT LAUNCH

Apollo 16 Stowage List - Personal Preference Kit entries compiled from Lists A, B and C

Apollo 16 follows the pattern set by Apollo 15 of listing just one PPK of 0.1lb in the Lunar Module. Again, this single bag likely contained the three PPks of the astronauts. Instead of Apollo 15s three CM PPKs of 0.1lb each, Apollo 16 has 12. As with Apollo 15 it appears as if only the weight of the empty bags is being given rather the weight of the loaded bags.


Apollo 17

For Apollo 17 the stowage lists identify three Astronaut Preference Kits of 0.5lb (227g) each, stowed in a single bag in the Command Module at launch but later transferred to the Lunar Module for the landing.

ITEM NUMBER PART NUMBER NOMENCLATURE UNIT WEIGHT QTY/ SC STOWAGE LOCATION
A 0181. SEC12100087-301 KIT, ASTRONAUT PREFERENCE (APK) (3 IN ONE BAG) 1.5 1 CM AT LAUNCH T/SFER TO LM

Apollo 17 Stowage List - Personal Preference Kit entries compiled from Lists A, B and C

The rules for Astronaut Preference Kits were re-written following the Apollo 15 unauthorized covers scandal and applied in time for the Apollo 17 mission. The rules specified that each astroanut had one APK (stowed in the Lunar Module) which could contain a maximum of 12 individual items and weigh 0.5lb at most.


Annex: NASA-issue PPK & AFK bags sold at auction or identified in private or museum collections

Mssn.AstronautStatusP/NS/NSold viaSale DateLot no.PriceReference / Notes
GT4McDivittFLOWNAstro-Auction$2,392
GT4WhiteFLOWNSwannApr 2 200566$3,910
GT4WhiteFLOWNSuperiorMay 15 1999402$3,450Marked "78 silver" (medallions)
SuperiorMay 18 1996201
GT4WhiteFLOWNSuperiorMay 15 1999403$7,015Marked "1 gold / 24 silver" (Medallions)
SuperiorOct 28 1995352
GT10YoungFLOWNCF 55053-1HeritageOct 8 200938$2,988Auction Listing 
GT11GordonFLOWNCF 55053-1AuroraApr 1 2006149A$2,644
RRAuctionNov 20 2014141$5,461Auction Listing 
AS7CunninghamFLOWNSwannMar 27 2004124$4,830
AS7CunninghamFLOWNOdyssey199593Unsold
AS7CunninghamFLOWNOdyssey1994147Unsold
AS8LovellFLOWNSEB 12100018-2021018HeritageApr 1 200954$5,676Auction Listing 
AS8LovellFLOWNSEB 12100018-2021013HeritageOct 7 200880$6,573Auction listing 
AS9McDivittFLOWNAstro-AuctionAug 4 2008$2,550Private collection.
AS9SchweickartFLOWNSEB 12100018-2021025HeritageNov 30 201140060$2,271Auction listing 
AS9SchweickartFLOWNSEB 12100018-2021032HeritageNov 30 201140061$1,673Auction listing 
AS9SchweickartFLOWNSEB 12100018-2021039HeritageNov 30 201140062$2,271Auction listing 
AS9McDivittFLOWNSEB 32100025-3011004AstronautCentral2012n/a$3,600Larger size 10"x11.5"
Cue card bag
AS10YoungFLOWNSEB 12100018-2021034HeritageApr 1 2009111$4,183Auction Listing 
AS11AldrinCM FLOWNSEB 12100018-2021057SuperiorMay 16 1998748D$3,220Marked "BUZZ CM A8"
RRAuctionJun 25 20155048$49,000Auction listing 
AS11AldrinCM FLOWNSEB 12100018-2021061SuperiorOct 26 1996306Marked "BUZZ CM R13"
AS11AldrinLM FLOWNSEB 12100018-2021085SuperiorFeb 25 1995327A$1,150Marked "ALDRIN-LM"
AS11CollinsCM FLOWNPart of Smithsonian collection, NASMNASM collection 
AS12ConradFLOWNSEB 12100018-2021054AuroraApr 24 2004535$2,820
AS12ConradFLOWNSEB 12100018-2021055Odyssey1995
AS12ConradCM FLOWNOdyssey1995145$805
AS12ConradCM FLOWNOdyssey1994216Unsold
AS12ConradLM FLOWNOdyssey1995150$1,725Marked "Shaving gear, Tapes"
AS12ConradLM FLOWNOdyssey1994217Unsold
AS13LovellFLOWNSEB 32100025-3011016RegencyJan 16 2010222TBDLarger size 10"x10"
RegencyApr 16 2009272Unsold
HeritageOct 7 2008104$8,575Auction listing 
AS13HaiseFLOWNSEB 12100018-2021075BonhamsJul 16 2009241UnsoldMarked "Shave kit, 4 of 12"
AS14MitchellCM FLOWNSEB 32100025-3011047HeritageNov 2 201240173$4,780Larger size 10"x11.5"
Auction listing  
AS14MitchellCM FLOWNSEB 12100018-2021112Nate D SandersApr 12 2011121$3,119Auction listing 
RRAuctionNov 29 2012500$3,319Auction listing 
AS14MitchellFLOWNSEB 12100018-2021113HeritageNov 30 201140153$8,365Auction listing 
AS14MitchellLM FLOWNSEB 12100018-2021114HeritageNov 2 201240172$3,884Auction listing 
AS14MitchellLM FLOWNSEB 12100018-2021099Spacerelics website 
AS15ScottCM FLOWNSEB 12100018-2041177RRAuctionOct 20 20166375UNSOLD
RRAuctionApr 20 20178335UNSOLD
AS15ScottCM FLOWNSEB 32100025-3011049RRAuctionDec 7 201651$4,447Auction listing 
AS15IrwinFLOWNSEB 12100018-2021130Odyssey1994228UnsoldFrom Irwin's estate
Odyssey1995181$1,725
RegencyDec 3 2005478$4,025
RegencyOct 11 2007480$2,645
RRAuctionApr 28 2015263UNSOLDAuction listing 
RRAuctionOct 23 20159405$2,512Auction listing 
AS15WordenCM FLOWNSEB 12100018-2021128SuperiorFeb 25 1995547$977
RRAuctionJun 25 20155080$6,738Auction listing 
AS16YoungFLOWNSEB 12100018-2021146HeritageOct 8 2009142UnsoldUnsold at $4,182.50 
HeritageApr 1 2009127UnsoldAuction listing 
RRAuctionJan 20 2011337$6,019Auction listing 
RRAuctionNov 21 2013677$6,211Auction listing 
AS16YoungFLOWNSEB 12100018-2021145HeritageOct 8 2009141UnsoldUnsold at $4,182.50 
HeritageApr 1 2009128UnsoldAuction listing 
AS16YoungFLOWNSEB 12100018-2021149HeritageApr 1 2009129$4,481Auction listing 
AS16DukeLM FLOWNSEB 12100018-2021150PeachstateSpacerelics website 
AS16DukeLM FLOWNOdyssey1995253Unsold
AS17CernanLM FLOWNAPK/SEC 12100087-3011007HeritageMar 25 200831$11,651Auction Listing 
RRAuctionApr 23 2015287$12,826Auction listing 
SLIICarrFLOWNAPK/SEC 12100087-3011088ASF AuctionAug 12 2006$2,400Auction Listing 
SLIILousmaFLOWNAPK/SEC 12100087-3011006HeritageJun 3 201141214$1,315Auction Listing 
Footnotes :

[1] Wally Schirra's Gemini 6A PPK manifest can be seen in the Resources section of CollectSpace.com.

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