Smithsonian Air and Space Museum
Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall
Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall

Apollo 11 Command Module "Columbia"

Apollo 11 Command Module <i>Columbia</i>
National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution

Milestone: First Manned Lunar Landing Mission

Date of Milestone: July 16-24, 1969
Spacecraft: Apollo 11 Command Module "Columbia"
Astronaut: Neil Armstrong, Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin, and Michael Collins
Aircraft Location:Smithsonian Institution, National Air and Space Museum, Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall

The Apollo 11 Command Module "Columbia" carried astronauts Neil Armstrong, Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin, and Michael Collins on their historic voyage to the Moon and back on July 16-24, 1969. This mission culminated in the first human steps on another world.

The Apollo 11 spacecraft had three parts: the Command Module, the Service Module, and the Lunar Module "Eagle". While astronauts Armstrong and Aldrin descended to the Moon in "Eagle", Michael Collins remained alone in "Columbia". For 28 hours he served as a communications link and photographed the lunar surface. After reclaiming Armstrong and Aldrin from the ascent stage of the Lunar Module, "Columbia" was the only part of the spacecraft to return to Earth.

Transferred from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

Design Features:

The blunt-end design for the Command Module was chosen to build upon experience gained with the similarly shaped Mercury and Gemini spacecraft. The spacecraft reentered the atmosphere with its protective heat shield facing forward. Layers of special "ablative" material on the shield were purposely allowed to burn away during reentry to help dissipate the extremely high temperatures caused by atmospheric friction.

Height: 3.2 m (10 ft 7 in)
Maximum Diameter: 3.9 m (12 ft 10 in)
Weight: 5,900 kg (13,000 lb)
Manufacturer: North American Rockwell for NASA
Launch Vehicle: Saturn V