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Apollo 11 at SDASM

July 20, 2009

To commemorate one of humankind’s greatest achievements, the landing of people on the moon 40 years ago, we wanted to highlight some of the Apollo 11 artifacts here at the Museum. Some of the Apollo 11 items in  our space collection are a Apollo Lunar Sample Return Container, a pen used during the flight, and replicas of the Apollo 11 mission patch and spacesuit worn by Neil Armstrong while on the moon.

Apollo Lunar Sample Return Container

Apollo Lunar Sample Return Container

The Apollo Lunar Sample Return Container (ALSRC) in our collection at one point housed some of the precious moon rocks that Apollo 11 brought back from the moon. The engineers at Nuclear Division of Union Carbide used a triple seal to hold in the lunar vacuum and added a aluminum mesh liner inside to help protect the moon rocks on their journey back to earth.

Apollo 11 Space Pen

Apollo 11 Space Pen

This is one of the specially engineered pens that can write in space upside down and was actually used by the Apollo 11 astronauts during their 8 day journey to the moon and back. Just think of all the things it wrote like “Fuel Levels at Normal” and “Current Temperature at 70 degrees,” exciting! (I can’t verify if that is actually what they wrote but you get the gist of it.)

Apollo 11 Space Patch

Apollo 11 Space Patch

Astronauts for each space mission have the honor of designing their own space patch. Michael Collins (read a great Q&A with him here) designed the Apollo 11 patch. His original design had the eagle holding a olive branch in its beak. NASA did not care for the “warlike” talons and moved the olive branch to the eagle’s feet. The crew also decided to use the number 11 instead of the roman numerals XI so as not confuse people and to leave their names off of the patch so it would “be representative of everyone who had worked toward a lunar landing.”

Apollo 11 Spacesuit

Apollo 11 Spacesuit

There is no atmosphere on the moon and therefore no oxygen (and unfortunately no cheese), so the astronauts needed spacesuits to move around the lunar surface. This is a mockup of the spacesuit worn by Neil Armstrong. He needed to walk freely around and not be tethered to the LM so the suit had to provide him with everything he needed, like oxygen, hence the big backpack. It also kept him at a comfortable temperature because the temperature on the moon can vary greatly depending on where you are. With all that equipment the suit weighed about 190 pounds here on Earth but thankfully gravity on the moon is only 1/6 that of Earth’s and therefore the suit weighed a little over 30 pounds.

Another fun fact is that his gold colored visor was actually made of gold to protect him from the sun’s UV rays – a pair of sunglasses and sunscreen would just not cut it.

These are just a few of the Apollo 11 items in our collection so you will just have to come and visit the museum to see the others. We even have moon rocks for you to see!

You can also read a previouse post about our Apollo 9 command module, the same type of spacecraft used by Apollo 11, here.


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