Getting to space, and landing, traveling, and researching on the Moon posed a unique challenge to humankind. With such an unparalleled mission at hand, astronauts had to use specialized tools and technology made for space. Find a sample of some of these items below.

Getting to the Moon

Spacecraft and rockets were essential tools in getting Apollo astronauts to the Moon. The manned Apollo missions were each launched aboard a Saturn V rocket and remains the United States largest and most powerful launch vehicle ever built. The Apollo spacecraft consisted of three components: a command module, a service module, and a lunar module. Together, this technology got Apollo astronauts to the Moon and returned them home safely. 

Five huge F-1 rocket engines were needed to lift the 30-story-tall Saturn V Moon rocket off the launchpad. In this image, one full engine and an engine that is cut in one quarter are reflected using mirrors to produce a view of the 5 engine cluster at the base of the Saturn V's first stage.
The Saturn V Moon Rocket

The Museum's collection has one of the Saturn V's game-changing F-1 rockets engines which propelled the entire launch vehicle towards space. The Saturn V consisted of three stages, each of which served a different function in sending astronauts to the Moon.

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Apollo 11 Command Module Columbia on temporary cradle.

Command Module

The command module served as the living quarters for the crew for most of the mission's duration. It is also the only part of the spacecraft which returned to Earth, landing in the ocean where the astronauts where then retrieved by a ship. This particular command module, Columbia, is from the Apollo 11 mission, which was the first Apollo mission to land humans on the Moon.

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LM 2 was built for a second unmanned Earth-orbit test flight. Because the test flight of LM 1, named Apollo 5, was so successful, a second mission was deemed unnecessary. 

Lunar Module

The Apollo lunar module was a two-stage vehicle used to ferry two astronauts from lunar orbit to the lunar surface and back. The upper ascent stage consisted of a pressurized crew compartment, equipment areas, and an ascent rocket engine. The lower descent stage had the landing gear and contained the descent rocket engine and lunar surface experiments. This particular lunar module, LM 2, was used during an unmanned test flight during the Apollo program, and therefore returned to Earth, rather than being purposefully destroyed either in the Earth's atmosphere or by crashing it into the lunar surface. It has been modified to look like the Apollo 11 lunar module, Eagle.

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Navigating and Traveling on the Moon


The Lunar Roving Vehicle

First used during the Apollo 15 mission, the lunar roving vehicle (LRV), allowed astronauts to travel much father from the lunar module than they could previously. It allowed astronauts to carry larger tools during extra-vehicular activities (EVAs), as well as increased carry capacity. Before the LRV, astronauts had to either carry tools on their person, or in the case of Apollo 14, use mobile equipment transporter which resembled a wheel barrow. 

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Maps, Lunar Surface, Apollo 11 Object Mobile Equipment Transporter, Lunar Surface Object Tool Carrier, Lunar Suface, Large Object Tool Carrier, Small, Apollo Object

Researching and Experimenting on the Moon

Once on the Moon, astronauts carried out various tasks related to research and experimentation. They collected lunar rock and soil samples to be returned to Earth, and conducted experiments on the Moon, such a measuring heat flow, which were carried as part of the Apollo Lunar Surface Experiment Package (ALSEP).

Many of the tools astronauts used were specially made for use in space, and in particular on the lunar surface. 

Penetrometer, Simple, Apollo Object Sample Container, Gas Analysis (GASC), Apollo Object Scongs, Prototype, Apollo Object Tongs, Long Object

Despite the creation of tools like specialized tongs for picking up Moon rocks, or a penetrometer used to penetrate the lunar surface, the Apollo astronauts also carried tools which were very similar to the ones we use regularly on Earth.

Hammer, Apollo Object End Wrench, Tool Set, Command Module, Apollo 11 Object Bag, Sample Collection Object Scoop, Small, Adjustable-Angle Object Apollo Lunar Surface Experiment Package

The Apollo Lunar Surface Experiment Package (ALSEP) was a collection of scientific instruments stowed on a pallet during transport to the lunar surface. During their first moon walk (EVA), the astronauts deployed the instruments on the lunar surface. Each experiment was electrically connected to the Central Station of the ALSEP. An antenna on the Central Station allowed communication with Earth. The ALSEP experiments varied for each Apollo mission. This particular assembly was used for Earth-based training in EVA procedures by Apollo 16 astronauts.

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ALSEP Experiment Example: Charged Particle Lunar Environment Experiment

This experiment is identical to one deployed on the lunar surface as part of the Apollo 14 ALSEP. It was designed to measure the numbers, velocities, and the directions of electrons and protons near the surface of the Moon as well as the ways these measurements change in time. Such data are valuable in the study of solar wind, the magnetosphere of the Earth and low-energy solar cosmic rays. Analysis of the Apollo 14 data revealed important information about all of these phenomena.

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Other Examples of Apollo Program Experiments

Magnetometer, Portable, Lunar Surface Object Gravimeter, Lunar Traverse, Apollo Object Passive Seismic Experiment, Apollo Object Experiment, Solar Wind Composition, Apollo Object