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Apollo 9 in San Diego

March 18, 2009

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On March 13th, 1969, Apollo 9 re-entered Earth’s atmosphere and headed towards the Atlantic Ocean. The Apollo 9 Command Module “Gumdrop” splashed down about 180 miles east of the Bahamas. The USS Guadalcanal quickly scooped up Gumdrop and placed it on the deck. Afterwards the spacecraft went through some post-flight testing.

Gumdrop was displayed at the Michigan Space and Science Center, in the commander’s home state, for many years. However, in 2004 the science center sadly shut down and Gumdrop needed a new home. The San Diego Aerospace Museum (as the Museum was named then) came to its rescue. Southern California, which built the Apollo command modules, would finally get one back.

So in May of 2004, Gumdrop was placed into a huge custom-built Apollo box, originally built to move the Apollo 7 command module to Texas, loaded onto a flat bed truck, and began its long journey from Michigan to California. During its journey it could only travel from dusk to dawn, so it sat outside during the day guarded by only two dogs.  Luckily it would have been really difficult to steal an 11,000-pound command module.

After its weeklong journey, Gumdrop arrived at the Museum and was moved inside to be prepared for exhibition. After two months of preparations the Museum, along with Russell “Rusty” Schweickart who flew on Apollo 9, and fellow astronaut Wally Schirra unveiled Gumdrop to coincide with Apollo 11’s 35th anniversary.

40 years later after splashdown, Gumdrop now resides in the Museum’s rotunda for all to see. You can peer inside the space craft and marvel at all of the switches, look at the bottom of Gumdrop scarred by the fires of re-entry, and check out Gumdrop‘s hatch door which had spent years on display in Japan. Even after receiving a beating during re-entry, the 40-year-old Gumdrop still looks good.

You can read a much more in-depth article written by Francis French, Director of Education, about Gumdrop‘s move to the Museum at collectSPACE.

Now here is Adam Ant.


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