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On the left are examples of a large flat nut. It’s no ordinary nut, however. It looks familiar, but… different somehow.
The edges are sharper with this nut because it was custom milled from solid stainless steel billet versus the more common production method of hot forging a nut from carbon or alloy steel. This jam nut is a bit lighter and more resistant to corrosion.
Next, we have the corresponding technical specification drawing of the nut. It’s a jam nut, meaning it’s a thinner locknut designed to “jam up” against another nut to keep the assembly from vibrating loose.
Below is the first technical sub-assembly drawing for the jam nut. An arrow points to the nut’s location in the drawing. This jam nut was part of the ejection system of the Radar Evaluatiton Pod (REP) from NASA’s 1965 Gemini 5 manned orbital mission. Scientists and engineers sometimes launch different pods/machines from spacecraft to conduct different experiments and tests. (When pods launch, they often use mini explosions!)
The drawing below is a close-up of the Radar Evaluation Pod (REP) itself. The ejection system is housed in the box on the back of the pod labeled on the drawing as “REP support assembly.”
The REP experiment was designed to test early radar and propulsion systems to see if a spacecraft could rendezvous and even dock with another spacecraft or space station. Today, spacecraft dock with each other regularly, but back in 1965, it had not been done before. The REP experiment was one of the first designed to see if spaceships could come together without crashing into each other.