This fuel cell model, an miniaturized representation of one of the three fuel cells that generated electrical power for the Apollo spacecraft, was presented to Apollo 11 astronaut Michael Collins in 1969 by United Aircraft Corporation, a division of which (Pratt & Whitney) manufactured the fuel cells. Apollo fuel cells combined hydrogen and oxygen. This generated electrical power for the spacecraft and also water, which was used by the astronauts for drinking. The Apollo Service Modules carried three such fuel cells.
After Apollo 11, Collins, the command module pilot, and his two crewmates, the first moonwalkers Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, embarked on a 45-day world tour. Commemorative items like this one provided a tangible demonstration of the pride that organizations and individual felt for participating in the first Moon landing.
Collins, later the director of the National Air and Space Museum and as undersecretary of the Smithsonian Institution, gave the engraved fuel cell model to the National Collection in 1986.
Gift of Michael Collins