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  Artifacts returned to Earth by Apollo crews

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Author Topic:   Artifacts returned to Earth by Apollo crews
holcombeyates
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Posts: 185
From: UK
Registered: Dec 2010

posted 02-17-2018 09:26 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for holcombeyates   Click Here to Email holcombeyates     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have heard it said that the total inventory of items recovered by Apollo crews from the lunar surface would fill a small suitcase. This is a neat way of putting these amazing artifacts into everyday context.

Can anyone elaborate? Is it personal items that they kept per NASA policy and is it just items recovered from the lunar surface? Thanks.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 38939
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 02-17-2018 03:47 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I think it would depend on what you consider to be a "small suitcase."

If you exclude the moon rocks and consider only what one astronaut, Neil Armstrong, returned from the lunar surface — a PPK, a flag kit and a McDivitt purse packed with odds and ends — and then realize that the astronauts on the later missions brought back even more, then twelve stashes might fill a good size bag.

SpaceAholic
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Posts: 4099
From: Sierra Vista, Arizona
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 02-18-2018 12:00 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceAholic   Click Here to Email SpaceAholic     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
A7L spacesuits might take up a wee bit more volume.

holcombeyates
Member

Posts: 185
From: UK
Registered: Dec 2010

posted 02-18-2018 04:23 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for holcombeyates   Click Here to Email holcombeyates     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Good point, I understand that there was only one McDivitt purse per two man crew. Also they were able to bring some hand controllers from the LM, not small items and Dave Scott brought back a 500mm telephoto lens for example.

This is just the equipment that they kept as personal momentos, not suits, etc.

So it's probably fair to say that all the items used and recovered from the surface would fill a large suitcase. Items recovered from EVA activities, yo-yos, drill bits, PLSS backpacks would definitely fill a much smaller bag.

All of this is subjective, but it does help set some context for people when flown Apollo artifacts are on display.

Larry McGlynn
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Posts: 1110
From: Boston, MA
Registered: Jul 2003

posted 02-18-2018 12:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Larry McGlynn   Click Here to Email Larry McGlynn     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Yes, I remember when that saying was first made and by whom. That was almost thirty years ago. I remember thinking how cool that was as an analogy. It was a sales pitch on how rare the lunar spacecraft objects were in order to justify the high prices charged at that time. Little did collectors know the prices would climb higher than charged back in the 1990's.

When it comes to spacecraft related objects and NOT from the PPK, it has been estimated that there is an average of 50 items brought from the lunar surface per mission. Which would mean approximately 300 spacecraft related items that landed on the Moon were brought back by the astronauts.

This takes into account the LM section of the Flight Data File and various pieces of the LM or the A7L suits used on the lunar surface. It is an average, since some crews brought back more and some crews brought back less.

It is not a lot of material, but based on size and to paraphrase the sheriff in the movie "Jaws," they were gonna need a bigger suitcase.

The major difference between the time of that original statement and today is accumulated knowledge. Space collectors have learned a lot about the astronaut collections over the pass two decades. Space collectors have done more research and become more particular about the provenance behind space or lunar flown artifacts. It is a credit to collectors and their shared accumulated knowledge that we can estimate with a good degree of accuracy how many objects came back from the Moon.

And woe be to the dealer or auction house that uses the term "Possibly Flown" ever again. The collectors are much more sophisticated now, since the pricing demands it.

randyc
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Posts: 725
From: Highlands Ranch, CO USA
Registered: May 2003

posted 02-18-2018 03:39 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for randyc   Click Here to Email randyc     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
And there are significantly less than 50 items per mission brought back from the lunar surface that were outside the LM and of those, only a few that actually touched lunar soil.

So it may be correct to say that the number of items brought back that were outside the LM and/or touched the lunar surface can fit in a "small" suitcase.

Larry McGlynn
Member

Posts: 1110
From: Boston, MA
Registered: Jul 2003

posted 02-18-2018 05:23 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Larry McGlynn   Click Here to Email Larry McGlynn     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Even just a carry on.

holcombeyates
Member

Posts: 185
From: UK
Registered: Dec 2010

posted 02-20-2018 06:43 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for holcombeyates   Click Here to Email holcombeyates     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks for this really useful info.

Things like Beta cloth patches and flags, is there an average number that were flown on each mission? This isn't my area of collecting but they appear numerous, about 100 or so per mission.

Rick Mulheirn
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Posts: 3755
From: England
Registered: Feb 2001

posted 02-20-2018 06:55 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rick Mulheirn   Click Here to Email Rick Mulheirn     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Numbers of such varied from one mission to another and there are members better placed than me to give you precise numbers.

But I do know that Apollo 14 flew 500 Beta cloth patches: 20 vacuum sealed packs each containing 25. As far as I am aware, all flown on Kitty Hawk and none on Antares.

holcombeyates
Member

Posts: 185
From: UK
Registered: Dec 2010

posted 02-20-2018 12:04 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for holcombeyates   Click Here to Email holcombeyates     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Is the same true for Robbins medallions, which as a minimum numbered about 70 or so on Apollo 17? Please correct me if I am inaccurate.

Again not my area of collecting but an interesting numbers comparison to the often unique artifacts that were used and recovered from the surface.

denali414
Member

Posts: 189
From: Raleigh, NC USA
Registered: Aug 2017

posted 02-20-2018 02:38 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for denali414   Click Here to Email denali414     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Robbins medallions are both flown and unflown for the Apollo missions. For example on Apollo 17, 80 were flown and 300 were unflown. A really good site for space flown artifact information (flags, Robbins medals etc.).

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