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Temporary Stowage Bag - McDivitt Purse

Photographed at Alan Bean's residence by Ulrich Lotzmann.
Last revised 2 September 2015.
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Flown Apollo 12 Purse. Photographer Ulli Lotzmann holds open the top of the flown Apollo 12 purse.

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During preparation for filming of some of live-action sequences for the Tom Hanks / Imax film Magnificent Desolation in January 2005, Dave Scott asked if I had a picture or description of the "purse" that was used by all the LM crews for temporary stowage of such things as purge valves. The prop crew working on the film wanted to make a realistic-looking purse for the in-cabin scenes.

Searching the ALSJ, I discovered that Al Bean had told me during the 1991 mission review, "The purse was a white, cloth bag that was up there under the computer DSKY that we just threw loose items in. In fact, I've still got it at home. It had a snap (closure) and you opened it up and threw stuff in and closed it. That's why we called it a purse. It was also shaped like a purse. It was made out of beta cloth."

Dave Scott wrote to Alan, who provided additional details:

"The McDivitt Purse was stowed during launch so it doesn't show up on closeout photos and things like that. I think we had one, that we unstowed when we activated the LM and attached it under the DSKY somehow. There is a pin on either end at the top of the purse ( more about this later) that looks like they might push into holes in the LM frame under the DSKY, but I'm not sure.

In 2015, in reply to a question, Jim McDivitt wrote: "I developed that now famous bag during training. There a lot of items that we took out to use and really didn't have time to store and unstore so we just put them in the bag until needed again."

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View of the top from the front. As Alan mentions, the pin at either end look like they might fit in holes under the DSKY.

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"If you look at the purse when you are standing in front of the DISKY, it looks like a rectangle of white beta cloth 9 inches high by 12.25 inches wide. If you look at it from either end, it looks like a pyramid with a base of 8 inches. All this is just Beta Cloth sewn together; so it's soft, except for the top which has a U-shaped metal frame sewn in to it.

Note added in December 2007: Ulli Lotzmann has provided a frame from a 16-mm film shot in the Apollo 17 LM during the flight. It shows the purse installed under Panel 5, which is in front of the Commander, to the left of the hatch. If the purse had been under the DSKY, it could well have interferred with hatch opening and closing and with egress and ingress.

Purse under Panel 5 on Apollo 17

Apollo 17 purse under Panel 5, which is to the left of the hatch.

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View of the front. The bag measures about 9 inches tall by 12.25 inches wide (23 cm by 31 cm).

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View of the end. The pin on the right is at the back of the bag, probably for attachment to the underside of the DSKY.

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"If we go back and look at it standing in front of the DISKY again, the top is closed with a metal frame that is sewn inside the front and back of the Beta Cloth, running the whole 12.25 inches across the top, and then down to the middle of the ends.

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View from the top of the hinge on the lefthand end and of the U-shaped stiffeners. The back of the bag is on the right.

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"If we look at it from the ends, we see that the metal frame goes about half way down the center of the pyramid and is hinged, and the two U-shaped frame members are hinged. So what we have is a inverted-U-shaped frame sewn into the top of the Beta Cloth when viewed from the front; and we've got a similar inverted-U-shaped frame sewn in the back. These two meet about half way down the 'pyramid' on each end. They are spring-loaded so that either Pete or I could reach over and pull the purse open, throw something in, let it go and it would spring shut.

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Close up of one of the hinges

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"Sorry we don't have a digital camera so I could draw you a diagram; but we don't. Call me if you want any other details."

Fortunately, Ulli Lotzmann visited Alan during early June 2005 and took digital photos of the flown Apollo 12 purse specifically for the ALSJ. Thanks, Ulli!

This flown Apollo 12 Temporary Stowage Bag had part number LDW 340-53444-1; S/N 0015. It was stowed during Earth launch in the lower pocket of the ISA (Interim Stowage Assembly) in the LM cabin and weighed 0.7 pounds (0.3 kg).

There is no mention of anything that could be the TSB during Apollo 10, probably because the LM crew never donned their PLSSs. During the lunar landing missions, the LM crews referred to what they all called, more simply, 'the purse'.

Finally, in a 13 July 2005 e-mail, Neil Armstrong says that the flown Apollo 12 purse " looks just the way I remember it - but it looks cleaner than the one on Apollo 11."


Additional photos of the A12 Flown Purse

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View of the back. The ring near the bottom may hold the bag up under the DSKY to keep it from interferring with the astronauts going out thru the hatch.

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Additional view of the back, showing the part number more clearly.

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View from the side with the bag lying on a table with the front down, showing that there is no stiffening below the hinge.

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