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Temporary Stowage Bag -
McDivitt Purse

Copyright © 2008 by the Editors of Working on the Moon.
Last revised 18 July 2012.


The purse was used primarily for stowage of the purge valves between the EVAs.  During EVA preps, the astronauts installed the purge valves well after they were suited and, had they dropped one of the valves, retrieving it from the floor would have bene relatively difficult.  Similarly, after each of the EVAs, they took the purge valves out of their connectors soon after re-pressurizing the cabin.  With the purse attached within easy reach to the front of Panel 5 at the CDR's station, it was easy to keep the purge valves out of harm's way.

The purse was made out of Beta cloth; was 23 cm tall and 31 cm wide; had a snap closure like some styles of ladies's handbags; and two pins for fastening it to the front of Panel 5.  The flown Apollo 12 purse is now in Alan Bean's collection.  He and Ulli Lotzmann have produced a detailed set of photos.

For unknown reasons, the purse was named for the Apollo 9 Commander, Jim McDivitt.  Because his crew was first to fly the LM, it is possible that the purse was devised for that flight.


The purse served its intended purpose well.   The purse was mounted far enough left that it couldn't interfere with opening and closing the hatch.  However, on a few occasions it got in the way of the Commander as he got into position to crawl backwards out the hatch, but the LMP had no trouble lifting it out of the way or directing the Commander how to move so the purse would no longer be in the way.

A17 Purse

The Apollo 17 purse shown hanging under the CDR station in the LM.

Apollo 13

Apollo 13 purse containing a DAC with side-mounted battery pack.

Side View

Side view of the flown Apollo 12 purse with the bottom fully open at top left.
The opening is at lower right.

Selected References to the Purse

Apollo 11

Buzz with purse
Neil took his picture of Buzz with the purse during the initial LM inspection.
109:16:34 Getting lined up to go out
In order to get into position, the CDR stands facing the back, outside corner of his station on the left side of the cabin and gets himself as close to kneeling as he can.  He moves his feet toward the hatch and, as he gets room, moves to his left toward the centerline of the cabin and bends his torso , eventually getting on hands and knees.  Here, Buzz tells him "Your back is up against the purse.  Forward and up (toward the back of the cabin and getting his back more vertical); now you are clear."

Apollo 12

Equipment prep for EVA-1
LM Lunar Surface checklist page Sur-26
"Remove TSB (Temprary Stowage Bag) from bottom pocket ISA (Interim Stowage Assembly). position on Panel 5."  Later on that same page, they "unstow CDR Lunar Boots, remove and stow purge valve in TSB". On Sur-27, they do the same for Al's boots and purge valve.  The Apollo 12 stowage list confirms that the purge valves had traveled out from Earth stowed in the lunar boots.  They install the purge valves starting at 114:36:01.
Pete gets "the feeling I'm stuck under something here" as he gets in position for egress
Al tells Pete he's bumping into the "McDivitt Purse."  Pete doesn't know it by that name. 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.  That's what Pete was hung up on, and I probably just lifted it up so that he could get out.
Post-EVA-1 purge valves to TSB
After doffing helmets and gloves, they remove the purge valves and stow them in the TSB.
Purge valve install for EVA-2
Pete gets the purge valves out of the TSB for installation.
Purge Valve put in TSB after EVA-2
As per Sur-92, after they get the cabin pressurized and the suits deflated, they put the purge valves in the TSB.  Al apparently tries to toss his in, but misses.
TSB stowed in RHSSC (RightHand Side Stowage Compartment
After the final jettison, as per they put the TSB in a now-empty stowage slot on Al's side of the cabin.  They are taking the purge valves back to orbit in case they need to do an EVA transfer to the CM using the OPSs.

Routine use of the TSB for stowage of the purge valves will not be included for the remaining missions

Apollo 14

Description of CDR egress
From 1992 ALSJ mission review done with Ed Mitchell.  There is no mention of the purse during Al's EVA-1 egress
EVA-2 CDR egress
Mitchell: "You're hung up on the purse.  There you go."

Apollo 15

Equip Prep for EVA-1
LM Lunar Surface checklist page 3-5
In preparation for suit  donning "Stow PGA (Pressure Garment Assembly) Gas Conn Plugs in Purse. Empty PGA Pockets into Purse" and, a few lines later, "Purge Valve to Purse". In the righthand column, "Stow EMU Maintenance Kit is Purse."  There is also an indication that the antifog treatment for the bubble helmets is in the purse, perhaps having been in a PGA pocket.
Equip Prep for EVA-1
LM Lunar Surface checklist page 3-6
"Remove Elect Dust Cap, Stow in Purse"  After the EVA, these are retrieved from the purse and re-installed.
Jim removed purse after his ingress
Irwin: I took it down, Dave.  I thought that was one of the things that I was hanging up on.
Mag bags fell out
These are probably protective bags for the film magazines which, apparently, were stowed in the purse. They are probably the bags listed for transfer from the CM to LM on page 75 in the Apollo 15 Stowage list.   They've  almost certainly just fallen out when Dave retrieved the purse.  Jim put it "behind" Dave, possibly on the midstep. Becasue the purge valves are quite dirty, Dave decides that they should take out of the purse any items that are currently clean and stow them somewhere where they can stay clean.  Dave comments that there ought to be a purse for items that need to stay clean and one for dirty items.

Apollo 16

stowing other items in the purse
During suit donning, John and Charlie stow the cuff checklists, LCG (Liquid Cooled Garment) plugs, and the PGA electrical connector caps in the purse as per page 3-8 in the LM Lunar Surface Checklist.
flashlight in purse
John needs the flashlight while trying to get his PLSS stowed on the wall behind his station.  Charlie tells him it's in the purse.
Purse stowage for launch
After EVA-2, CapCom Tony England gives them some checklist changes up to and including preparations for LM launch.  On LM Lunar Surface Checklist page 7-15, Charlie adds a line, "Stow Purse in ISA (Interim Stowage Assembly) bottom pocket. Stow ISA on aft engine cover."  These items were moved here from deleted sections of pages 7-13 and 7-14

Apollo 17

EVA-2 CDR Ingress
Schmitt: "Push.  There you go.  (Pause)  Keep your buttons close (to the floor).  You're good.  (Pause)  Beautiful.  Just float in. Hanging up a little on the purse, but that's all right.  There you go.
EVA-3 CDR Egress
Schmitt: "You need to go to your left a little to clear the purse and your (tool) harness.  There we go."

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