Apollo 11 spacecraft traveling exhibit lands at Space Center Houston|
|October 12, 2017
— A moon ship has landed in "Space City."
Small in size but giant in its historical stature, Columbia, the Apollo 11 command module, has taken center stage at Space Center Houston, where it is premiering on display as the star of the Smithsonian's new "Destination Moon: The Apollo 11 Mission" traveling exhibit. The capsule and more than 20 related artifacts open to the public on Saturday (Oct. 14) at the Smithsonian Affiliate and visitor center for NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.
"It is wonderfully appropriate that we begin the national tour of 'Destination Moon: The Apollo 11 Mission' here, in Space City," said Myriam Springuel, director of the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES), at a press preview on Thursday (Oct. 12). "It is incredible that just next door is the heart of our nation's human spaceflight programs, from the early Gemini and Apollo projects to today's International Space Station."
"Together with the Smithsonian, Space Center Houston has worked to bring this monumental exhibit here," William Harris, the president and CEO of Space Center Houston, said. "We are so excited to share this blockbuster exhibit with you."
The "Destination Moon" exhibit celebrates the upcoming 50th anniversary of the first moon landing. It marks the first time that the Apollo 11 spacecraft has been on display outside the Smithsonian since it arrived at the Washington, D.C. institution in 1971. The Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum is using the time that Columbia is away on tour to prepare a new gallery dedicated to the exploration of the moon to debut in 2021.
"While that work is being done, the Smithsonian is thrilled that as we approach the 50th anniversary of one of the greatest achievements of human history, we can share the iconic Apollo 11 command module Columbia and other key artifacts from that historic mission," said Springuel.
The traveling exhibition will be in Houston through March 18, 2018, and then will move onto three other museums and science centers in St. Louis, Pittsburgh and Seattle over the next two years.
The 5,000-square-foot (465-square-meter) exhibition traces the historic voyage of Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins through the equipment they used to reach and explore the moon. In addition to Columbia, the only part of the Apollo 11 spacecraft to return intact to Earth, the display also includes Aldrin's spacesuit helmet visor and gloves worn on the lunar surface, the wristwatch worn by Collins in orbit and the sample return container utilized by Armstrong and Aldrin to bring back the first moon rocks for study.
"Destination Moon" also includes part of an F-1 rocket engine from the Saturn V rocket that launched Apollo 11, recovered from the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean in 2013 by a private expedition funded by Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos. The injector plate, which regulated the flow of propellant, is making its public debut as a part of "Destination Moon."
"The exhibition celebrates the incredible successful [Apollo 11] mission, while also providing context to the question 'Why did we go to the moon?'" said Springuel. "From our long fascination with our closest neighbor to the political pressure of a growing Cold War, 'Destination Moon' examines the technological and scientific contributions of the space program."
"It looks at the birth of the American space program and sheds light on the more than 400,000 people who worked through the trials, tragedies and triumphs of the 20 missions across eight years that led to Apollo 11," she said.
At Space Center Houston, Columbia is displayed adjacent to an existing exhibit of an Apollo lunar module that was used to train astronauts, and in the same building as another flown-to-the-moon spacecraft.
"Space Center Houston is the only place in the world where you are going to see the command module from the first and final Apollo missions to land humans on the moon," said Harris. "We've actually had Apollo 17 since we opened in 1992. In fact, Monday [Oct. 16] is the 25th anniversary of Space Center Houston."
For more information about "Destination Moon: The Apollo 11 Mission," see Space Center Houston's website.
Photos credit: collectSPACE
"Destination Moon: The Apollo 11 Mission," the Smithsonian's new traveling exhibition, is ready to launch on Saturday (Oct. 14) at Space Center Houston, the official visitor center for NASA's Johnson Space Center in Texas and a Smithsonian Affiliate. (collectSPACE)
The title board for "Destination Moon: The Apollo 11 Mission" introduces the overall theme of the exhibit: "Why did the United States send astronauts to the moon? And how did we do it?" (collectSPACE)
The 5,000-square-foot (465-square-meter) exhibition includes more than 20 artifacts from Apollo 11, the first mission to land humans on the moon in July 1969. Many of the artifacts have not been seen outside the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. (collectSPACE)
The Apollo 11 command module is exhibited in "Destination Moon" with its crew access hatch. (collectSPACE)
Columbia's hatch served as the entry and exit point to the spacecraft on the launch pad and after landing. It could also have been used for an emergency transfer from the lunar module Eagle if docking failed. (collectSPACE)
Columbia is the only part of the Apollo 11 spacecraft to return intact to Earth. It carried the crew, equipment and lunar samples through a fiery re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere. (collectSPACE)
Columbia's display as part of "Destination Moon" marks the first time the command module has been exhibited outside of the Smithsonian in 46 years. The spacecraft is displayed without a cover, but within a perimeter just out of arm reach of the public. (collectSPACE)
A lunar module, LTA-8, used for astronaut training at Johnson Space Center has been on exhibit at Space Center Houston for 25 years. The elevated display offers a backdrop for Columbia in "Destination Moon." (collectSPACE)
Before leaving on tour, Columbia underwent a six-month conservation, including being meticulously cleaned. The work exposed details on the spacecraf's heat shield, such as pre-flight repairs, that were not as clearly visible as before. (collectSPACE)
The Apollo 11 medical kit included motion sickness and pain suppression injectors, first aid ointment, eye drops, nasal sprays, adhesive and compress bandages and an oral thermometer. Pills included antibiotics, anti-nausea, stimulants and painkillers. (collectSPACE)
Part of the first-stage engine from Apollo 11's Saturn V rocket, the injector plate, recovered from the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean in 2013, sprayed liquid oxygen and kerosene fuel into the combustion chamber and helped regulate the flow of the hot gases. (collectSPACE)
The F-1 engine injector plate is making its public display debut as part of "Destination Moon: The Apollo 11 Mission." (collectSPACE)
One of two Apollo 11 rucksacks that was filled with equipment to help the crew survive for up to 48 hours in the event of an emergency landing somewhere on Earth. The contents include three water containers, a radio beacon and spare battery, three pairs of sunglasses, six packages of desalting chemicals, a seawater desalter kit, two survival lights, a machete and two bottles of sunscreen. (collectSPACE)
This model shows the various production stages including substrate material, coatings, structure and curing of the Columbia's heat shield that protected the command module from the extreme heat of atmospheric re-entry. (collectSPACE)
Lunar sample 15058,188 (024) was collected by astronaut Jim Irwin during the Apollo 15 mission in July 1971. (collectSPACE)
The lunar sample return container, or "rock box," was one of two used by the Apollo 11 astronauts to bring back the first samples of the moon to Earth — 47.7 pounds (21.8 kilograms) of material from the Sea of Tranquility. (collectSPACE)
On loan from Apollo 11 lunar module pilot Buzz Aldrin, the Duro felt-tip pen that Aldrin used to actuate a circuit breaker aboard the lunar module Eagle after the circuit breaker's nib was accidentally broken off (the nib also on exhibit). Visible in the background, Michael Collins' Omega Speedmaster chronograph worn during the Apollo 11 mission and a star chart flown on the mission that shows the positions of the sun, moon and stars at the time Apollo 11 was scheduled to leave Earth orbit and head for the moon. (collectSPACE)
Buzz Aldrin wore this outer helmet (at left) while on the surface of the moon. It fit over his clear pressure-bubble helmet. (collectSPACE)
Buzz Aldrin's extravehicular gloves have an outer, cut-resistant shell of Chromel-R fabric across the hands to prevent fatal air leaks caused by handling sharp objects and gauntlets to protect against solar heating. The silicone rubber fingertips offered more sensitivity for touching. The display includes a magnifying glass for viewing the checklist on the gauntlet. (collectSPACE)
"Destination Moon: The Apollo 11 Mission" is on display at Space Center Houston from Oct. 14, 2017 through March 18, 2018. (collectSPACE)
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