Apollo Program

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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

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

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
Fri, December 23 2016

Apollo 11 Command Module Moves to Virginia

This week the Apollo 11 Command Module, Columbia, which carried Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins on their historic trip to the Moon, moved to the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia. To many of us at the Museum, the move seemed to have miraculously happened overnight. In truth, the move took a team of experts and months of meticulous planning to pull off. “This is something that’s unlike anything, at least for me, that I’ve ever moved,” said Anthony Wallace, a museum specialist in the Museum’s collections processing unit. Wallace explained that the spacecraft was not as complicated to move as some of the Museum’s aircraft, but the historical significance of the object heightened everyone’s awareness.

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Columbia at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center
Tue, September 20 2016

Interview with Apollo 11 Astronaut Michael Collins

At the Museum we’re fortunate to host many of the nation’s aerospace icons. This was certainly the case earlier this year when Gemini 10 and Apollo 11 astronaut Michael Collins was on hand for our 2016 John H. Glenn Lecture, Spaceflight: Then, Now, Next.

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Interviewing Apollo Astronaut Michael Collins
Tue, September 6 2016

What’s that Smell? Conserving Apollo 16 Film Transport

The Museum periodically performs a thorough, physical check of all our objects. We open panels and cases and closely inspect each object for any sign of deterioration due to light, humidity, vibration, or just the march of time. We always hope there are no surprises. But when conservator Robin O’Hern, gallery inventory coordinator Erin Ober, and their colleagues opened a large chamber in the Apollo to the Moon gallery, they got a shock; an acrid chemical smell.

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Conservation of Apollo Camera
Mon, August 22 2016

Apollo Gems in the Archives

One of the joys of working with an archive is unearthing the unexpected. When an avowed space nerd like me gets the opportunity to spend time in archives as impressive as the Smithsonian, my journey down research road was a bit circuitous. More often than not, I was lured away from my original focus by fascinating finds. Here are a few of my favorites.

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Apollo 11 Moon Pin
Tue, August 16 2016

Food & Flight: Harrison Schmitt’s Chili

Harrison “Jack” Schmitt was the first and last geologist to visit the Moon. Below is his secret chili recipe, served best with a side of tortilla chips and some space history. We can’t help with the chips, but we can tell you a little about this chili-making astronaut.

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Man on the Moon