Collection Item Summary:
The Apollo Lunar Sample Return Container (ALSRC) was an aluminum box with a triple seal manufactured by the Nuclear Division of Union Carbide. It was used on Apollo lunar landing missions to preserve a lunar-like vacuum around the samples and protect them from the shock environment of the return flight to earth. An aluminum mesh liner helped absorb impacts. Prior to flight, each box was loaded with sample container bags and other sample containment devices. The "rock box" was then closed under vacuum so that it would not contain pressure greater than the lunar ambient pressure. On the moon, while samples were being loaded, the seals were protected by a Teflon film and a cloth cover which were removed just prior to closing the box. Two ALSRC's were used on each mission.
This ALSRC was used in July 1969 during Apollo 11, the first manned lunar landing mission, by astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin. The sample-laden container was opened under controlled conditions in the Lunar Receiving Laboratory at the Houston Manned Space Center. It carried 21.8 kg (47.7 lbs) of lunar material from the Sea of Tranquility.
It was transferred from NASA to the Smithsonian and placed on display in 1970, soon after its historic mission.