Apollo 11 was the famous NASA mission that put Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the Moon in 1969. Now, 46 years later, some treasures used in the historic landing have been found in a closet in Armstrong’s Ohio home.
The artifacts used by Armstrong and Aldrin when they guided the Lunar Module Eagle sat in Armstrong’s closet for many decades since they completed the unforgettable feat all those years ago. His widow, Carol, while looking through his things after he passed away from heart surgery complications in August of 2012, found them and notified the curators at the National Air and Space Museum.
Three museum curators descended upon Armstrong’s Ohio home and were warmly received by his widow, according to Allan Needell, a curator at the Space History Department. The team sorted through the items left by the space legend and selected those who would be appropriate for display at the museum. The family had donated other items to Armstrong Alma Mater, Purdue University.
A few weeks after the visit, Needell received an email from Carol Armstrong saying she had found some artifacts which looked like they belonged to a spacecraft in one of the Apollo 11 astronaut’s closets. She sent him the photo below and asked if the items would be of interest to the museum.
To say that the curator was excited to find out if these items indeed belonged to the Apollo 11 mission would be an understatement. Needell put together a team of experts who have dedicated their lives to documenting the Lunar Landing and the entire Apollo program in the blog Apollo Lunar Surface Journal (ALSJ).
The items found in Armstrong’s closet were stored in a white bag, known to astronauts as the McDivitt Purse — named after Apollo 9 Commander James McDivitt.
“The purse was a special container (officially called a Temporary Stowage Bag or TSB) stowed in the Lunar Module during launch, but specially fitted with pins that fit into sockets in front of the Commander’s station to the left of the Lunar Module hatch.”
After studying the items found in Armstrong’s closet, the team of experts was able to decide — with almost complete certainty — that they had been on the Lunar Module Eagle that made history with Apollo 11. Even though the bag was supposed to be left on the moon’s surface, there is evidence — as related in mission transcripts — that saving them was intentional.
Needell believes nobody knew of the existence of the Apollo 11 items, and Armstrong never discussed having them in his possession after the Eagle landed. Among the equipment found is the Apollo 11 16mm Data Acquisition Camera — mounted on the window of the Lunar Module to record the historic landing — which Michael Collins used to capture this incredible photo and others.
The other Apollo 11 notable equipment found in Armstrong’s closet is two waist tethers, which were to secure the astronauts if they had to do a spacewalk between the Lunar Module and Command Module. Museum curators are still working on cataloging the remaining items securely stowed in Neil Armstrong’s Ohio home.
[Image via Shutterstock]