A 'Project Apollo 21' science and humanities education program
In the very year of the fiftieth anniversary of America's greatest scientific expedition, two young space enthusiasts - students in the Altoona Area school district have discovered an actual NASA Apollo training capsule, abandoned in the weeds behind a barn on a farm in northwestern Pennsylvania.
The capsule had been used in the late 1960s, by NASA, to train our Moon astronauts alongside the U.S. Navy 'frogmen' designated to safely recover the Apollo command modules and their crews, as they returned from the Moon.
This very capsule was almost "lost to history" after it was sold to a Grove City, Pennsylvania man at a U.S. Government surplus-materials auction, conducted one hot Saturday afternoon in a parking lot in Maryland, in 1975.
With permission of the farmer, and with the help of their dad, the girls tracked down and examined the historic capsule, behind that barn, near the city of Sharon, Pennsylvania.
The Sharon-area real-estate developer who bought it at that auction in 1975 removed the capsule's hatch-cover and positioned the space relic in his suburban back yard.
For the next 34 years it functioned as a wonderful playhouse for his own two young daughters.
This full size capsule is exactly the size of the Apollo 11 command module, and it is massive.
Thirteen-feet wide, ten-and-one-half feet tall, and large enough inside to hold a tea party with all their young friends (and their teddy bears).
The girls eventually grew up, the family sold the house, and this capsule was trucked to a scrap metals pile on a nearby farm, to be "recycled."
Recently, Estella and Evie Koch traveled to Sharon with their father Mark, and located the scrap pile where the capsule now rests (rusts?)
All three became fascinated with this incredible relic and its convoluted history.
And, with Mark's help, and after much hand-wringing (and sincere "home-work promises" from the girls), these two young space researchers are now the capsule's new owners.
The girls intend to work with others to bring the capsule to a "workspace" in a community college, or high school near their home in order to restore this enormous, historic space artifact to "museum quality." They intend that this wonderful relic of American ingenuity should one day be the focus a "Project Apollo 21 Education Program."
With the guidance of some of former NASA engineers and others (including their father, of course) the girls hope to re-create the capsule's elaborate interior — including all the switches, gauges and toggles, with a large-screen TV inside (to watch movies like Apollo 13 while seated in the astronaut positions inside the capsule) in style of Apollo command modules.
Estella and Evie Koch would like to use the restoration of the capsule as the centerpiece of a science and arts education program - to inspire other young students to research the story of the American Moon missions and use that story as inspiration for future American scientists, writers and artists.