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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.




Mercury-era

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.




Gemini-era

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[1] does shed some light on the issue.

Screwdriver carried by John Young on Gemini X

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, apparently after having had issues with the plug of an electrical extension cord used on board the spacecraft. [2] However, NASA management was apparently not keen on the idea of an astronaut using a pair of pliers on spacecraft hardware so Young's request was refused.

John Young carrying the pair of joke pliers presented by Gunther Wendt prior to the Gemini X launch

John Young carrying the pair of joke pliers presented by Gunther Wendt prior to the Gemini X launch

Pliers smuggled by John Young onto Gemini X

The actual pair of slip joint pliers smuggled by John
Young onto Gemini X in a pocket of his space suit

In reference to this story, when the astronauts arrived in the white room before the launch, pad leader Gunther Wendt presented Young with a giant pair of gag pliers (photo, left).

In fact it seems that Young had the last laugh. As related in Wendt's memoirs[3], Young revealed to Wendt years later that he actually went ahead and 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.




Apollo-era

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.

ITEM NUMBER PART NUMBER NOMENCLATURE STOWAGE LOCATION UNIT WEIGHT QTY/ SC
O 0308. V36-601135-201 TOOL SET ASSEMBLY A1 5.4 1

Tool Set entries from the Apollo 11-17 Stowage Lists. Note that on Apollo 16/17 the version number changed to -501

Skylab Command Module Toolkit

The Command Module tool set shown above is from the Skylab project but is likely very similar to that used on the Apollo missions.




In addition, to the tool set, a pair of needle nosed pliers was shown stowed in the lunar module on Apollos 12 through 16.

ITEM NUMBER PART NUMBER NOMENCLATURE STOWAGE LOCATION UNIT WEIGHT QTY/ SC
A 1039. SEB33100397-301 PLIERS,NEEDLE NOSE F7J .1 1

Entries from the Apollo 12-16 Stowage Lists (stowage locations vary by mission)

Needle-nosed pliers from Apollo 13

The needle-nosed pliers shown on the right were carried on Apollo 13 and presented after the flight to Joe Kerwin.

These were added to the inventory from Apollo 12 onwards as a direct result of the broken circuit breaker experienced in the Apollo 11 Lunar Module while on the lunar surface.

During that mission the circuit breaker was closed by inserting the end of a pen into the broken end but this solution was not ideal, and would not have helped in the event of a circuit breaker stuck in the closed position.




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.

ITEM NUMBER PART NUMBER NOMENCLATURE STOWAGE LOCATION UNIT WEIGHT QTY/ SC
A 0211. N/A BAG,BETA (LM CONTINGENCY
TOOLS)
IN CDR LOWER STRAP-
ON SUIT POCKET
.1 1
A 0212. N/A SCREWDRIVER,BLADE IN A0211 (IN CDR
SUIT POCKET)
.2 1
A 0213. N/A SCREWDRIVER,OFFSET
PHILLIPS
IN A0211 (IN CDR
SUIT POCKET)
.2 1
A 0214. N/A PLIERS IN CDR LOWER STRAP-
ON SUIT POCKET
.3 1

LM Contingency Tool entries from the Apollo 17 Stowage List.




Screwdriver carried by John Young on Apollo 10

Flat head screwdriver carried by John Young on Apollo 10

Among the few Apollo-flown tools I've seen sold at auction were two items that were part of a miscellaneous collection of items flown on Apollo 10 by John Young that was sold at auction in 2009.[4]

Wrench carried by John Young on Apollo 10

Wrench carried by John Young on Apollo 10

The collection of flown items from Apollo 10 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 10 tool set assembly, or were 'smuggled' aboard by Young in a suit pocket as he did with the pliers on Gemini 10, is not clear.

Footnotes :

[1] A collection of items flown by John Young on Gemini X sold at the Heritage Spring 2009 auction included a flat-head screwdriver and a pair of slip-joint Craftsman pliers.

[2] Gemini 10 Mission Commentary transcript [link]

[3] "The Unbroken Chain" by Gunther Wendt & Russell Still, Apogee Books, 2001

[4] 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
      Resold as eBay item no. 130520589880 sold May 18, 2011 at $3,116.66

Annex: Flown tools sold at auction or identified in private or museum collections

Mssn.AstronautStatusP/NSold viaSale DateLot no.PriceReference / Notes
GT10YoungFLOWNCraftsman PliersHeritage Apr 1 200941102Part of collection of flown items
GT10YoungFLOWNFlat-headed ScrewdriverHeritage Apr 1 200941102Part of collection of flown items
Astro-AuctionDec 11 2009n/a$1,490Screwdriver sold individually.
RRAuctionNov 20 2014138$6,072Auction listing 
AS10YoungFLOWNScrewdriver & mini-wrenchHeritage Apr 1 200941109$8,963Part of collection of flown items
eBayMay 18 2011130520589880$3,117Auction listing 
AS13n/aLM FLOWNNeedle-nosed pliersRRAuctionJun 20 20198306UNSOLDGifted to Kerwin post-flight.
RRAuctionOct 17 20192306UNSOLD
AS16YoungFLOWN3 screwdriversRRAuctionOct 20 20166408UNSOLD
Skylabn/aUNFLOWNCommand Module Tool SeteBayJun 6 2019163725324386$10,000Auction listing 

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