Apollo 11 Flotation Bag

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This object is on display in the Human Spaceflight at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, VA.

Human Spaceflight

When an Apollo command module landed in the ocean, it could settle into one of two stable positions: nose up or nose down. Landing nose down left its recovery antennas underwater and increased the possibility that the spacecraft might fill with sea water. To turn the command module upright, three inflatable bags were installed in the Command Module's forward (nose) compartment. Astronauts could right the spacecraft by activating air compressors in the aft (blunt) end of the spacecraft. The compressors were connected to the bags with tubing.

This is one of three flotation bags used on Apollo 11 at the end of its historic lunar landing mission on July 24, 1969. The astronauts deployed it after the command module settled nose down, enabling the spacecraft to right itself about six and half minutes after splashdown.

This item was transferred from NASA to the Smithsonian in 1973.