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Apollo Program

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Fri, January 19 2018

John W. Young, an Astronaut’s Astronaut (1930-2018)

As an astronaut, John Young (1930-2018) was one of a kind. He was the first person to fly in space six times, the first person to circle the Moon alone, the first Space Shuttle mission commander, and the first to command another Space Shuttle mission.

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Astronaut John Young, 1965
Mon, December 11 2017

"We Choose to go to the Moon:" JFK's Moon Shot

As the American space program once again looks toward the Moon, we revisit President John F. Kennedy’s 1961 challenge to land a man on the Moon and return him safely to the Earth.

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Apollo 11: Buzz Aldrin and the U.S. flag on the Moon
Wed, November 1 2017

Real Stories of LEGO's "Women of NASA"

A new generation of aspiring astronauts and researchers can find inspiration in the LEGO® “Women of NASA” set. These scientific pioneers are part of our collection here at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, too.

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The "Women of NASA" Lego collection.
Sat, October 14 2017

See Columbia in Your City or At Home

Today, the Apollo 11 Command Module Columbia will go on display at Space Center Houston, the first of four stops in the national tour Destination Moon: The Apollo 11 Mission. This is the first time the Command Module has left the nation’s capital since 1971. If you plan to see the Module in your city—the tour will travel to St. Louis, Pittsburgh, and Seattle over the next two years—we have an excellent way to prepare. Or if you’re looking to dive into Apollo history on the comfort of your own couch, we also have you covered.

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See Columbia in Your City or At Home

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Apollo 11 Command Module Columbia
Wed, April 26 2017

How to Replicate a Lunar Module on the Moon 

When the Museum’s Apollo Lunar Module (LM-2) moved to a prominent place in our Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall last year, it was an opportunity for us to examine the artifact in fine detail. We spared no effort to preserve, refurbish, and document the iconic object before it went on display in our central gallery in 2016. With careful research and close examination of photography from the Apollo 11 mission, we have been able to refine the accuracy of the external appearance of our LM-2 to more and more closely represent the appearance of LM-5 (Eagle) on the Moon.

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How to Replicate a Lunar Module on the Moon 

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Lunar Module 2 (LM-2)
Sat, February 25 2017

The Last Time the Command Module Columbia Toured

We announced that the Apollo 11 Command Module “Columbia” will be a part of a national tour starting in October. Did you know this isn’t the spacecraft’s first tour? In 1970-71, NASA executed an ambitious public tour of Apollo 11 artifacts to 49 state capitals, the District of Columbia, and Anchorage, Alaska. The Command Module traveled nearly 26,000 miles for the tour. We share more interesting details of the first tour including which state had the largest crowds.

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The Last Time the Command Module Columbia Toured

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Apollo 11 Tour in Missouri
Wed, February 22 2017

Preparing Columbia for a National Tour

The last time the Apollo 11 Command Module Columbia traveled the US was in 1970.  Almost 50 years later, the historic spacecraft that helped take us to the Moon and back is headed out on the road for a nationwide tour. Following the tour, the Command Module will be placed on permanent display in the exhibition Destination Moon, scheduled to open in 2020 at the Museum in Washington, DC. The Museum’s conservation team will spend the next six months preparing the artifact for travel and display. Conservator Lisa Young shares what the next few months will look like and what she’s most interested in finding out about Columbia.

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Preparing Columbia for a National Tour

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Apollo Command Module Columbia in the Restoration Hangar
Fri, January 27 2017

Learning from Tragedy: Apollo 1 Fire

Following the Apollo 1 fire, James Webb, the administrator of NASA, asked President Johnson to conduct an investigation of the tragedy. Johnson agreed and an independent review board was convened. Among the six factors found to contribute to the Apollo 1 fire, one was the lack of a quickly removable hatch. Curator Allan Needell uses hatches from the Museum’s collection to illustrate the changes that were made to the hatch system following Apollo 1 to improve safety.

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Unified Hatch
Thu, January 19 2017

Remembering A Hero for the Ages

Captain Eugene Andrew Cernan died Monday, surrounded by his family in Houston, Texas. He was 82 years old. For more than half his life, he was known as the Last Man on the Moon, but he was also a devoted father and husband, a naval aviator and advocate, and a great friend to many. He remains a hero for the ages.

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Gen. Dailey and Capt. Cernan
Tue, January 17 2017

Remembering Capt. Eugene Cernan

“Gene” Cernan will always be remembered as the “last man on the Moon”—at least until the next person walks there. As commander of Apollo 17, the final expedition of that program, he spent three days on the Moon with Harrison “Jack” Schmitt. Yet that is not all he accomplished in a storied astronaut career.

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Gene Cernan in Flight during the Apollo 17 Mission

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