Lot #3098
Apollo Command Module Block I Rotational Hand Controller

Rare complete Apollo Block I rotational hand controller from 1964
This lot has closed

Estimate: $30000+


Rare complete Apollo Block I rotational hand controller from 1964

Apollo Command Module Block I Rotational Hand Controller (RHC) in its gray housing, measuring an overall 5.75″ x 9″ x 2.75″, with the original umbilical cable extending from the bottom of the unit. The housing retains its original Honeywell label, reading: "Control, Rotation, Mfg by Honeywell for NAA/S & ID, NAA/S & ID Control No. ME901-0172-0302, Contract or Order No. M3J7XA-406004, NAA/S & ID Inspect Serial No. 10028FSK 0006, Mfr Part No. DCG146E3," with date stamped below, "May 27, 1964." Complete with its spring-loaded hand controller joystick providing three-axis attitude control: the handle pivots at the palm for pitch up/down, swivels at the handle for yaw left/right, and sways side-to-side for roll left/right. Retains its locking pin at the base, designed to prevent inadvertent activation during nonoperating periods. A later red deaccession tag is attached to the umbilical cable. This was presumably an engineering test unit used by North American Aviation, the prime contractor for the Block I CSM.

In NASA's technical note on Spacecraft Hand Controller Development, the Block I RHC is described as 'a small, simple, compact, three-axis controller with three switches and a linear transformer output (rotary variable-differential transformer (RVDT)) in each axis. A quick-disconnect dovetail mounting bracket and a long cable permitted relocation of the controller within the spacecraft. The RHC, although designed for right-hand use only, could be transferred to the navigation station or to another crewman's couch. This handle was designed without spacecraft communications push-to-talk switches.' The Block II redesign improved upon the same basic design parameters, adding a push-to-talk switch and more internal precision switches.

While we have sold a few Block II rotational hand controllers, this is the first Block I example we have ever seen—it is a scarce and important piece of early Apollo hardware.

Auction Info

  • Auction Title: Space
  • Dates: #607 - Ended April 22, 2021