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Joy of Museums

Museums, Art Galleries and Historical Sites

Apollo Lunar Module

Apollo Lunar Module

Apollo Lunar Module

The Apollo Lunar Module was the landing module of the Apollo spacecraft built for the Apollo program. Designed to carry a crew of two from lunar orbit to the surface and then back to the Command Module. It consisted of an ascent stage and descent stage and was carried to lunar orbit by its companion Command Module.

After completing its mission, the Lunar Module was discarded into space. The Lunar Module was the first human-crewed spacecraft vehicle to land on the Moon.

Six such craft successfully landed on the Moon between 1969 and 1972. A seventh provided propulsion and life support for the crew of Apollo 13 when their Command Module was disabled by an oxygen tank explosion on route to the Moon. The total cost of the Lunar Module for the development and the units produced was over $2.2B.

This Apollo Lunar Module that is on display at the National Air and Space Museum is LM-2, which was intended for the second uncrewed flight, but instead was used for ground testing. The landing gear was added for drop testing. It does not have optical alignment telescope and flight computer.

Apollo 11 Facts

  • The Saturn V rocket that propelled the Apollo 11 to the moon remains the tallest and heaviest rocket ever built.
  • Neil Armstrong’s first quote on the moon was meant to say: “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” He forgot the ‘a.’
  • The first drink on the moon? Wine, Buzz Aldrin, a Presbyterian Christian, took a mini communion kit with wine, without NASA knowing.
  • The moon has a smell. When Aldrin and Armstrong removed their spacesuits, they could smell the moon dust on their clothing. They described it as ‘spent gunpowder’ and ‘wet ashes.’
  • The television audience for the Moon Landing was an estimated 600 million and held the record for 12 years until the wedding of Princess Diana.
  • The US flag planted on the moon by the first astronauts was blown over by the thrusters of the lunar module upon takeoff.
  • Apollo 11 astronauts were quarantined for 21 days after returning from the moon for the possibility that they are harboring unknown lunar organisms that might endanger life on earth.
  • In the event of Moon Disaster, during the first moon landing, the first line in the announcement would have read: “Fate has ordained that the men who went to the moon to explore in peace will stay on the moon to rest in peace.”

Apollo 11 Goodwill Messages

When the Apollo 11 astronauts landed on the moon, they left behind a white pouch containing a silicon disc, inscribed with messages from 73 leaders of the different countries around the world, expressing wishes of goodwill and peace. Their words were photographed and reduced to 1/200 scale, ultra microfiche silicon etching. The disc rests in an aluminum case on the Moon’s Sea of Tranquility.

At the top of the disc is the inscription: “Goodwill messages from around the world brought to the Moon by the astronauts of Apollo 11.” Around the rim is the statement: “From Planet Earth — July 1969”. The disc also carried names of the leadership of the Congress, the committees of the House and Senate responsible for legislation related to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and NASA’s top management, including past administrators.

Some of the 73 leaders who contributed a message in 1969, were:

  • Australia – Rt. Hon. John Gorton – Prime Minister of Australia
  • Canada – Rt. Hon. Pierre Trudeau – Prime Minister of Canada
  • India – Indira Gandhi – Prime Minister of India
  • Iran – HIM Mohammad Reza Pahlavi – Shah of Iran
  • Philippines – President Ferdinand Marcos
  • United Kingdom – HM Elizabeth II – Queen of the United Kingdom
  • Vatican – City Pope Paul VI
  • Yugoslavia – President Josip Broz Tito

Space Exploration Facts

  • Year of first powered aircraft flight?  1903 by Wilbur and Orville Wright
  • Year of the first human in space?  1961 by Yuri Gagarin – 58 years after first aircraft flight
  • Year of the first human walking on the moon? 1969 by Neil Armstrong – 66 years after first aircraft flight
  • Predicted Date for the first human on Mars? The Mid-2030s – 60 + years after the Moon landing

Apollo Lunar Module

  • Title:                        Apollo Lunar Module (LM)
  • First launch:            1968
  • Last launch:            1972
  • Applications:           Human-crewed lunar landing
  • Design life:              75 hours
  • Launch mass:          33,500 pounds (15,200 kg)
  • Crew capacity:        2
  • Dimensions:           H: 23 feet 1 inch (7.04 m); W: 31 feet (9.4 m); D: 31 feet (9.4 m)
  • Power:                    Batteries
  • Number Built:        15; Launched 10
  • Museum:               National Air and Space Museum

Tour of the National Air and Space Museum

A Tour of Air and Space Museums

Science and Technology Museums

Military and War Museums and Memorials

A Tour of Washington, D.C. Museums

Reflections

  • What surprises you the most about the first landing on the moon?
  • What was the first drink consumed on the moon?
  • What goodwill message would you have put on the Apollo 11 disc of messages? And for whom?
  • How much has the world changed from the era of the leaders who in 1969, created their Goodwill Messages?
  • Apollo’s 50th Anniversary Moon Landing – what do you find the most fascinating about this event?

~~~

“Isn’t it astonishing that all these secrets have been preserved for so many years,
so that we could discover them!”

-Orville Wright

~~~


Photo Credit: 1)By Joyofmuseums (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons 

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