Space

Unassuming bag found in Neil Armstrong's closet yields priceless Apollo 11 artifacts

The Data Acquisition Camera was designed to capture footage of final approach, Neil Armstrong's descent from the LM, EVA, and ascent (Photo: National Air and Space Museum)
The Data Acquisition Camera was designed to capture footage of final approach, Neil Armstrong's descent from the LM, EVA, and ascent (Photo: National Air and Space Museum)
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Original image sent to the National Air and Space Museum by Carol Armstrong, with the bag itself featuring prominently on the left (Image: Carol Armstrong)
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Original image sent to the National Air and Space Museum by Carol Armstrong, with the bag itself featuring prominently on the left (Image: Carol Armstrong)
Image showing Buzz Aldrin holding the McDivitt Purse during a LM inspection 55 hours and 41 minutes into the mission (Photo: NASA)
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Image showing Buzz Aldrin holding the McDivitt Purse during a LM inspection 55 hours and 41 minutes into the mission (Photo: NASA)
A DAC power cable pictured in the LM plugged into the window facing camera (Photo: NASA)
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A DAC power cable pictured in the LM plugged into the window facing camera (Photo: NASA)
Utility light with Velcro fittings (Photo: National Air and Space Museum)
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Utility light with Velcro fittings (Photo: National Air and Space Museum)
Neil Armstrong in LM simulator with utility light positioned above (Photo: NASA)
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Neil Armstrong in LM simulator with utility light positioned above (Photo: NASA)
Image displaying two lights clamped via utility brackets to the Alignment Optical Telescope guard of the Apollo 11 training capsule (Photo: NASA)
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Image displaying two lights clamped via utility brackets to the Alignment Optical Telescope guard of the Apollo 11 training capsule (Photo: NASA)
Crewman Optical Alignment Sight, which during the mission was installed above Neil Armstrong's window (Photo: National Air and Space Museum)
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Crewman Optical Alignment Sight, which during the mission was installed above Neil Armstrong's window (Photo: National Air and Space Museum)
Image taken by Neil Armstrong showing the Crewman Optical Alignment Sight installed aboard the Apollo 11 spacecraft (Photo: NASA)
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Image taken by Neil Armstrong showing the Crewman Optical Alignment Sight installed aboard the Apollo 11 spacecraft (Photo: NASA)
Crewman Optical Alignment Sight Filter (Photo: National Air and Space Museum)
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Crewman Optical Alignment Sight Filter (Photo: National Air and Space Museum)
Spare light bulb assembly for the Crewman Optical Alignment Sight (Photo: National Air and Space Museum)
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Spare light bulb assembly for the Crewman Optical Alignment Sight (Photo: National Air and Space Museum)
One of the two Waist Teathers used by astronaut Neil Armstrong during his EVA from the LM (Photo: National Air and Space Museum)
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One of the two Waist Teathers used by astronaut Neil Armstrong during his EVA from the LM (Photo: National Air and Space Museum)
Astronaut Helmet Tie-down Strap (Photo: National Air and Space Museum)
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Astronaut Helmet Tie-down Strap (Photo: National Air and Space Museum)
The Data Acquisition Camera was designed to capture footage of final approach, Neil Armstrong's descent from the LM, EVA, and ascent (Photo: National Air and Space Museum)
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The Data Acquisition Camera was designed to capture footage of final approach, Neil Armstrong's descent from the LM, EVA, and ascent (Photo: National Air and Space Museum)
The Data Acquisition Camera was designed to capture footage of final approach, Neil Armstrong's descent from the LM, EVA, and ascent (Photo: National Air and Space Museum)
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The Data Acquisition Camera was designed to capture footage of final approach, Neil Armstrong's descent from the LM, EVA, and ascent (Photo: National Air and Space Museum)
The Data Acquisition Camera was designed to capture footage of final approach, Neil Armstrong's descent from the LM, EVA, and ascent (Photo: National Air and Space Museum)
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The Data Acquisition Camera was designed to capture footage of final approach, Neil Armstrong's descent from the LM, EVA, and ascent (Photo: National Air and Space Museum)
Right Angle Bracket for the Data Acquisition Camera (Photo: National Air and Space Museum)
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Right Angle Bracket for the Data Acquisition Camera (Photo: National Air and Space Museum)
Lense Shade for the Data Acquisition Camera (Photo: National Air and Space Museum)
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Lense Shade for the Data Acquisition Camera (Photo: National Air and Space Museum)
Apollo 11 Eyeguard Assembly (Photo: National Air and Space Museum)
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Apollo 11 Eyeguard Assembly (Photo: National Air and Space Museum)
Apollo 11 mirror, positioned to allow the Commander a view of the Crewman Optical Alignment Sight (Photo: NASA)
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Apollo 11 mirror, positioned to allow the Commander a view of the Crewman Optical Alignment Sight (Photo: NASA)
Apollo 11 Mirror (Photo: National Air and Space Museum)
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Apollo 11 Mirror (Photo: National Air and Space Museum)
Apollo 11 Mirror (Photo: National Air and Space Museum)
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Apollo 11 Mirror (Photo: National Air and Space Museum)
Apollo 11 Emergency Wrench (Photo: National Air and Space Museum)
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Apollo 11 Emergency Wrench (Photo: National Air and Space Museum)
Apollo 11 Waste Managment Cover (Photo: National Air and Space Museum)
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Apollo 11 Waste Managment Cover (Photo: National Air and Space Museum)
Netting was placed in various locations in the LM cabin to protect pipes, conduits, and other gear on the rear walls from flying objects (Photo: National Air and Space Museum)
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Netting was placed in various locations in the LM cabin to protect pipes, conduits, and other gear on the rear walls from flying objects (Photo: National Air and Space Museum)

With the death of Neil Armstrong back in August 2012, humanity lost one of its greatest heroes. Whilst his first steps on the Moon were driven by the United States out of competition with its terrestrial rival, the USSR, the words that accompanied his actions spoke of an achievement for all mankind. Upon his death, the Armstrong family donated many of the mementos that Neil had kept to Purdue University, Indiana (his alma mater) and to the National Air and Space Museum, Virginia. However, a bag full of Apollo 11 relics that traveled aboard the Eagle Lunar Module (LM) were unexpectedly discovered months later in an unassuming bag in his closet.

Transcripts from the historic mission confirm that the parts and the bag itself did indeed fly aboard the Apollo 11 spacecraft. In the hours following their ascent from the moon's surface, astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins transferred samples of moon rocks and other materials from the LM to the command module, being sure to notify mission control of each item as they did so.

This was a vital process, as mission operators on the ground had to know the exact weight of the command module including any extras from the LM in order to calculate the burns required to achieve a safe re-entry trajectory. During this process, the astronauts described using a bag to contain "just a bunch of trash that we want to take back – LM parts, odds and ends, and it won't stay closed by itself. We'll have to figure something out."

That something turned out to be the bag that was discovered in Neil Armstrong's closet months after his death. Known as a Temporary Stowage Bag (TSB), or more informally as a McDivitt Purse after Apollo 9 Commander James McDivett, the clasped container had been salvaged from the Eagle to serve as a holder for mementos for the crew of Apollo 11. Thus saving it from the fate consigned to the LM – being left on the surface of the Moon.

Image showing Buzz Aldrin holding the McDivitt Purse during a LM inspection 55 hours and 41 minutes into the mission (Photo: NASA)
Image showing Buzz Aldrin holding the McDivitt Purse during a LM inspection 55 hours and 41 minutes into the mission (Photo: NASA)

Aside from the bag itself, the haul turned up an array of spacecraft components, most notably the 16-mm Data Acquisition Camera that, when positioned at the window of the LM, was used to capture footage of Neil's first steps on the Moon.

Take a look through the image gallery for a description of each of the items that traveled aboard the Eagle Lunar Module. At the time each item served a simple, utilitarian function, but thanks to the actions of three astronauts in space, and an army of men and women back on Earth, each are now precious artifacts that remind us of one of humanity's greatest achievements.

Source: The National Air and Space Museum

10 comments
phissith
DOes this mean he stole it?
Erg
Epic!
Michael Wilson
lots of people take things home from work. Its almost like taking home a stapler, or a few book ends
Grunt
So, stealing, in other words, Michael Wilson........
Michael Wilson
wow. sarcasm is lost on this crowd
Paul Gracey
One slight correction. Part of the LM, the landing rocket and the base with legs remains on the moon. The Ascent module from which these items and the Moon rocks were transferred to the command module, was jettisoned in Lunar orbit. did it fall back on the moon in pieces? Is it now in some odd shaped orbit around the moon? From the recent robotic lunar missions have so far we have not been shown any signs of those vehicles on the surface areas they have scanned, so I for one would like to know what happened.
Robert Fallin
The big question is, "Why were these items not inventoried and accounted for, upon the return of Apollo 11? It is not as if NASA would have many suspects, if they had been reported missing.
Vaughn Amann
Several of the ascent modules were purposefully crashed into the moon so that geologists could examine the moon's seismic properties using geophones left on the surface by various missions. On Apollo 17, the last lunar mission, NASA tried to crash the ascent module into a hill near the TV camera left on the surface to visually record the impact, but unfortunately it was too difficult to aim the crash that precisely. Here's a summary of the disposition of the Apollo hardware: http://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/planetary/lunar/apolloloc.html
Stewart Mitchell
the descent module did not produce noise. I have to assume they used anti-gravity to land the eagle. The rocket engine was decoration.
Lumen
No bag from Neil Armstrong's closet should be considered unassuming.
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