Flown tool kits
To deal with possible contingencies during the flight various tools were carried on the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo missions. I only have limited information about these items so unfortunately I'm unable to go into a great deal of detail.
The National Air and Space Museum collection contains a pair of slip joint pliers that were carried by John Glenn on his historic Friendship 7 orbital flight in case emergency repairs were needed. These appear to be exactly the same model as carried by John Young some years later on Gemini X.
Without the aid of stowage lists it is difficult to determine exactly what tools were carried on the Gemini flights. However, a collection of items flown by John Young on Gemini X that was sold at auction in 2009 does shed some light on the issue.
Flat head screwdriver carried by John Young on Gemini X
This collection of flown items included the flat-head screwdriver shown on the right.
This 5¾" long screwdriver (weighing 0.14lb / 62g) has no visible manufacturer's mark but does have a NASA part and serial number marked on one side of the blade.
The other tool in the collection was a 6" long pair of Craftsman slip joint pliers (weighing 0.27lb / 123g) with an interesting story behind them. Young wanted to carry a pair of pliers on board the Gemini 10 mission as he had found that the switches in the Gemini spacecraft were sometimes very difficult to operate with space suit gloves on. However, NASA management were apparently not keen on the idea of an astronaut going at the spacecraft switches with a pair of pliers and Young's request was refused.
John Young carrying the pair of joke pliers presented by Gunther Wendt prior to the Gemini X launch
The actual pair of slip joint pliers smuggled by John
In reference to this story, pad leader Gunther Wendt presented Young with a giant pair of pliers (photo, left) as a joke as the astronauts arrived in the white room before the launch.
In fact it seems that Young had the last laugh. As related in Wendt's memoirs, Young revealed to Wendt years later that he actually smuggled a pair of pliers on board the flight in a suit pocket.
These are the pliers that were eventually sold at auction in 2009.
The Apollo stowage lists show that a tool set (consisting of various socket wrenches and screwdriver heads in a beta cloth pouch) was carried on each mission in a command module locker.
Tool Set entries from the Apollo 11-17 Stowage Lists. Note that on Apollo 16/17 the version number changed to -501
In addition, to the tool set, a pair of needle nosed pliers was shown stowed in the lunar module on Apollos 12 through 16.
Entries from the Apollo 12-16 Stowage Lists (stowage locations vary by mission)
Finally, on Apollo 17 the Commander also carried a small set of "LM Contingency Tools" in his strap-on suit pocket as shown in the stowage list entries below.
LM Contingency Tool entries from the Apollo 17 Stowage List.
Flat head screwdriver carried by John Young on Apollo 10
The only Apollo-flown tools I've seen sold at auction were part of a miscellaneous collection of items flown on Apollo 10 by John Young that was sold at auction in 2009 and later resold on eBay in 2011
Wrench carried by John Young on Apollo 10
This collection of flown items included two tools - the 4" long German-made flat-head screwdriver with a translucent yellow plastic handle shown above and the small (2¾") German-made adjustable-end wrench shown on the left.
Whether these two items were originally part of the Apollo 16 tool set assembly, or were 'smuggled' aboard by Young in a suit pocket as he did with the pliers on Gemini X, is not clear.
Notes for the collector: The only Apollo-flown toolkit items I've seen sold to-date are the screwdriver and wrench mentioned above.
|Footnotes : |
 Collection of items flown by John Young on Gemini X sold at Heritage Spring 2009 auction, April 1, 2009. Lot 41102.
 "The Unbroken Chain" by Gunther Wendt & Russell Still, Apogee Books, 2001
 Collection of items flown by John Young on Apollo 10 sold at Heritage Spring 2009 auction, April 1, 2009. Lot 41109 at $8,962.50
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