Fragile Apollo Artifacts in Need of Some Love: Photos
There are many precious Apollo artifacts at the Smithsonian that need a little tender, loving care.
On July 20 -- to celebrate the 46th anniversary of the moon landing -- the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum (NASM) asked the public to help them "reboot" the spacesuit worn by Neil Armstrong, who took those first steps. Within a few days, the institution
to prepare the suit for display once more in 2019, about 15 years after it was put into storage for conservation.
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NASM hopes to raise another $200,000 now to restore the suit of Al Shepard, the first American in space. But what other Apollo artifacts are going to need some restoration in the coming years? Discovery News spoke with Lisa Young, an NASM objects conservator. Click through the slideshow to see what else needs some tender, loving care.
This is the spacecraft that brought Armstrong and his crewmates, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins, safely from the moon's orbit and back to Earth. It's been
sitting under plexiglass in the NASM lobby
for roughly 40 years. But now, the plexiglass is removed and the museum is about to catalog the items inside the spacecraft for the first time. The aim is to do an inventory of the items, see what needs to be restored, and create a 3-D interactive tour of the interior for the public to see. Eventually, the spacecraft will move to a new "
" exhibit in 2020.
This lunar module was
originally slated for an uncrewed Earth-orbit test flight
, but remained on the ground after the first test went extremely well. It now sits at the extreme left side of the NASM. Its surfaces have been restored many times over the years; the museum is about to recover some of the gold and copper foils visible on the outside and restore the inside. Once that process is finished, next summer it will move to the entrance of the NASM -- right under the "
" aircraft that hosted Charles Lindbergh on the first solo flight across the Atlantic in 1927.
This lunar rover was
that was subject to severe stresses to make sure that the flight-ready lunar rovers could safely navigate the moon. It currently sits in a diorama in the "Apollo to the Moon" gallery, but it is in need of a complete cleaning and more documentation (it was transferred to the museum in 1975). Once that is finished, the rover will be displayed a little more prominently -- it's one of the more commented-on items in the museum, even though rovers were only used in three Apollo missions (15, 16 and 17).
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Neil Armstrong died due to complications of heart surgery in August 2012. Shortly after, his widow Carol got in touch with the museum saying that she had found this bag of items in one of Armstrong's closets. It turned out to be a Temporary Stowage Bag that was commonly used by astronauts on the moon to store tools and the like.
You can read more details about the items in a blog post here,
but some of the noteworthy items include a waist tether and a 16 mm camera. Some of these items will be put on display in 2020. Of note, there is an anecdotal story where crewmate Buzz Aldrin stepped on a piece of netting seen in this bag; curators did indeed find lunar dust embedded in the webbing.
Despite its odd blue appearance, this is
considered the first Apollo suit
because it was the prototype that the International Latex Company submitted to NASA for the competition to build the spacesuits. It has never been on display in the museum, but it will get its big debut in 2020 when it joins the Armstrong purse for display in the new "Destination Moon" gallery.