Tag Archives: command module

Destination Moon Exhibit

The Museum of Flight has been holding a special exhibit this summer for the 50th anniversary of the first manned moon landing.  The museum has a number of interesting Apollo exhibits as it is but these were combined with some extra items specific to Apollo 11 and its crew.  The centerpiece of this was the command module, Columbia.  We actually waited until near the end of the exhibit before we visited but it was well worth the trip.  Columbia was in the center of the final room of the tour and you could walk all around it.

The hatch was separate from Columbia and set up so that you could look through the window of the hatch at the command module itself.  This was a nice idea but, since the exhibit was so popular, getting a moment when there wasn’t someone in the shot was unrealistic.  Other items on display included gloves worn on the surface by Buzz Aldrin (which had various checklists embroidered on patches attached to the gloves), a NASA jumpsuit worn by Neil but used for chores on his farm in later years and his Congressional Space Medal of Honor.

The display also included the recovered engines normally on display but with the addition of a part from one of the Apollo 11 F1 engines recovered by Jeff Bezos’s team.  The local Boeing connection to the project was well represented and a lunar rover was on display to highlight this too.  Even at the end of the exhibits time, there was a long line of people waiting to get in.  We had an early slot which turned out to be a good thing.  By the time we got out, the line had grown substantially.

Command Module

A day for compiling things from different locations.  The Apollo command modules in this post are a combination of shots from museums across the country.  Since the command module was the only part that made it back from the Apollo missions, it was the part that made it to display.  Even so, there are not too many Apollo missions so not too many command modules.  They do get supplemented though.  There were ground test articles and mockups that were used during the program and have also been preserved.

The thing that is most striking about the early NASA spaceships is the size.  (The current Russian Soyuz capsule is still pretty compact but you aren’t aiming to be in it for too long.) The Mercury capsule was tiny.  Gemini was so-called up but had two people so was still pretty bloody tight.  Apollo was home for three crew for a number of days so had to have a bit more room to play with.  The seating area was not big but there was space behind there to get to and moving around once weightless was a bit easier.

Even so, they are really tiny things in which to spend a lot of time with two other guys.  You were also in space so this little thing was the only hope you had of getting back alive.  You also had to deal with your fellow astronauts, some of whom got a bit ill on journeys.  Read the book on the Apollo 8 mission to learn the unpleasant details.  Those guys were really ready to take on the challenge head on.