Tuesday, June 7, 2011

LTV Gemini Astronaut Maneuvering Unit (AMU) Model

Model of LTV Gemini Astronaut Maneuvering Unit (AMU) found at Bonhams Auction House website.

URL: http://www.bonhams.com/cgi-bin/public.sh/pubweb/publicSite.r?sContinent=USA&screen=lotdetailsNoFlash&iSaleItemNo=4565052&iSaleNo=17778&iSaleSectionNo=1

Seller's description:

Lot No: 1084

Model of the AMU made of metal, wood, and plastic in one quarter scale. Two arm control units extend 4 inches out from the 8 by 6 by 4 inch "back pack" unit. Details include small thruster jets, astronaut support strap, wire electrical connectors, two large tanks, and instrument gauge decals.

The US Air Force awarded a contract to Ling-Temco-Vought (LTV) Aerospace Corporation for development of a system to allow a space-suited astronaut to maneuver untethered in space, totally free from this spacecraft. The AMU consisted of 12 hydrogen peroxide reaction jets to allow three axis movement via hand controls which extended from the unit.

NASA carried the AMU on Gemini 9 during June 1966. Astronaut Gene Cernan performed a spacewalk on this mission traversing out from the crew cabin to the aft spacecraft adapter section and strapped himself into the AMU. This effort caused some fogging of his helmet visor due to heaving breathing which continued to get worse because of difficulty deploying the AMU's control arms. When he connected to the AMU's communications unit, broken and garbled sound was the result. Cernan was nearly blind by this time due to the visor fog which endangered his ability to return safely to the spacecraft cabin. The crew and Mission Control decided to cancel all AMU operations and allow the visor to clear. Cernan was then able to slowly get back to the crew cabin.

The AMU was then schedule to fly on Gemini 12 but NASA decided the risk and unknowns associated with the unit did not warrant the effort involved. Due to the limited flight use of the AMU during the Gemini Program, models of this system are extremely rare.

Estimate: $4,000 - 6,000

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