“Columbia,” the Apollo 11 command module, is viewed through the window of its crew hatch as exhibited from the Smithsonian exhibition”Destination Moon: The Apollo 11 Mission” currently in The Museum of Flight in Seattle for its airport 50th anniversary.

(Picture: © collectSPACE.com)

SEATTLE — Fifty years after splashing down in the Pacific Ocean, the spacecraft that completed the first astronauts to land on the moon has returned to the United States’ west coast.

“Columbia,” the Apollo 11 control module which flew Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins to and by the moon in July 1969, will spend the 50th anniversary of its own assignment in the Museum of Flight at Seattle. The capsule is now the star of the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service’s”Destination Moon: The Apollo 11 Mission,” which opens Saturday (April 13) through Sept. 2 at the Washington state museum.

“It is really an honor to have the Destination Moon exhibition here, the command module Columbia and the other artifacts from the moon landing, for the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11,” explained Geoff Nunn, adjunct curator for space history and display developer at The Museum of Flight, through a press preview on Thursday. “Mounting an exhibition such as Destination Moon for its 50th anniversary was truly a daunting undertaking.” 

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The Museum of Flight has expanded the Smithsonian's Destination Moon exhibition to highlight the roles that Washingtonians and regional companies played in making the first moon landing possible.

The Museum of Flight has expanded the Smithsonian’s Destination Moon exhibition to emphasize the functions which Washingtonians and regional businesses played in making the very first moon landing potential.

(Image: © collectSPACE.com)

Formerly on display in Houston, St. Louis and Pittsburgh, the Destination Moon exhibit was that the Smithsonian’s response about the best way best to keep Columbia on public opinion through the 50th anniversary of this Apollo 11 assignment as its permanent residence, the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC, experiences an broad, long-term renovation. Besides the command module, the exhibit features 20 artifacts from the first moon landing mission, such as the helmet and gloves visor assembly which Aldrin wore on the lunar surface.

“This is not the first time Columbia has traveled across the nation. Back in 1970, NASA organized a tour which took Columbia to all those 50 states,” explained Michael Neufeld, senior curator for distance history at the National Air and Space Museum. “Within the span of three rainy days, almost 45,000 Washingtonians watched the control module when it was on watch in Olympia in front of the State Capitol.”

In The Museum of Flight, Columbia is displayed within the former location of this museum’s “Apollo” display, which culminated in 2017. The museum eliminated a few of the previous display’s artifacts out to make way for Destination Moon, including a test control module, but augmented the objects of the Smithsonian with pieces of its \collection.

Apollo 11 artifacts on display under a mockup of an Apollo lunar module's ascent stage in Destination Moon at The Museum of Flight in Seattle.

Apollo 11 artifacts on display below a mockup of an Apollo lunar module’s ascent point in Destination Moon at the Museum of Flight in Seattle.

(Picture: © collectSPACE.com)

Visitors can still view a complete Saturn V F-1 rocket engine as well as the components from search motors which were recovered off the seafloor, as have been formerly a part of the Apollo gallery, but can now also find an F-1 injector plate which helped launch the Apollo 11 assignment as is a portion of their Destination Moon touring exhibition.

“I enjoy the thought you could inspire more kids today just the way that the lunar missions in the late 60s and early 70s motivated me as a kid,” said Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, whose family foundation underwrote the F-1 engine recovery and helped sponsor bringing the Destination Moon display to Seattle. “If we can inspire just a couple children to go off and invent the future, it is well worth it.”

Along with incorporating some of its own Apollo artifacts, The Museum of Flight has additionally used Destination Moon to emphasize the Seattle region’s role in creating the lunar landing potential.

“Seattle is very well-known as a plane city, but we have been really involved in exploring past the atmosphere since the first days of the space program,” said Nunn. “As we approached that this exhibitwe sought to capture the local story. Not merely the global achievement, but all the contributions that Washingtonians attracted to the distance race.”

To this end, the enlarged exhibition comprises a version of the lunar rover as was designed by The Boeing Company in nearby Kent, examples of the thrusters designed and built by Redmond-based Aerojet Rocketdyne and memorabilia from the 1962 World’s Fair, which included the debut of the now iconic Space Needle in Seattle.

The Apollo 11 command module

The Apollo 11 command module”Columbia” as noticed at Destination Moon: The Apollo 11 Mission in The Museum of Flight in Seattle.

(Image: © collectSPACE.com)

In conjunction with Destination Moon, heaps of Seattle businesses, restaurantsand attractions and organizations are planning to give space-themed products, special promotions and events observing the 50th anniversary of the moon landing below the banner of”Seattle’s Summer’s Space.” The Museum of Flight has additionally re-themed its own children’s play area since”Tranquility Base,” with kid-friendly mockups of their Apollo spacecraft and artwork featuring Snoopy, the Peanuts comic strip puppy , since the very first beagle on the moon.

“All around the nation at the moment, there are Apollo celebrations going on. It is going to be a big deal and you’re likely to feel the momentum build. And at these openings, in those exhibitions and celebrations, there are going to be people like me who can’t start off their speech with’I remember where I was on July 20, 1969,'” explained Matt Hayes, president and CEO of The Museum of Flight, who had been born in 1970.

“So why is this important to me and the billions of individuals like me that did not get to see Apollo unfold on TV? That’s one of the many questions we expect to explore with this display; that there’s a whole lot to be inspired about,” said Hayes. “And I would argue even more significance to the moon landings and that program today than there was 50 years past.”

Proceed to collectSPACE for additional photographs of Destination Moon: The Apollo 11 Mission at The Museum of Flight in Seattle.  

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