By Joe Southern
Space Center Houston has brought the first and last Apollo spacecraft that took men to the moon together under one roof.
Destination Moon: The Apollo 11 Mission exhibit opened Oct. 14 at the space center, the first stop on a four-city journey for the historic spacecraft and related artifacts. The three-person capsule is on loan from the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum, where it has been on display continuously since completing a 50-state tour in 1971.
America, the Apollo 17 command module, also belongs to the Smithsonian but is on permanent display at Space Center Houston in the Starship Gallery.
“Space Center Houston is the only place in the world where you’re going to see the command modules from the first and final Apollo missions to land humans on the moon,” said William T. Harris, president and CEO of Space Center Houston.
The Destination Moon exhibit will be at the space center through March 18, 2018, before moving on to St. Louis, Pittsburgh and then to Seattle, where it will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the first moonwalk. From there it will return to Washington, D.C., as the centerpiece of a new exhibit detailing the history of man’s quest for the moon.
Guests will see more than 20 rare Apollo 11 mission artifacts, some of which flew on the historic mission. They includes astronaut Buzz Aldrin’s extravehicular visor and gloves, the spacecraft’s hatch, a lunar sample return container, astronaut Michael Collins’ Omega Speedmaster watch, a star chart, survival kit and more.
Also included in the exhibit is the broken switch and the pen Aldrin used in its place to ignite the rocket engine that took he and Neil Armstrong back to Columbia after completing their mission on the moon.
The exhibit is included with admission to the space center. Other events helping mark the 25th anniversary of the space center is the Mission Mars exhibit that opened earlier this year as well as the successful fundraising campaign to restore the historic Mission Control.
Space Center Houston is a nonprofit museum that serves as the visitor’s center for Johnson Space Center. Among the artifacts permanently displayed there are the Mercury 9 and Gemini V, and Apollo 17 capsules, moon rocks, a Saturn V rocket, spacesuits and much more, including a space shuttle mockup atop the Boeing 747 shuttle carrier.
Destination Moon: The Apollo 11 Mission is the culmination of Space Center Houston’s yearlong jubilee celebration of its 25th anniversary on Oct. 16. The exhibit is organized by the National Air and Space Museum and the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service. It is made possible by the support of Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos, Joe Clark, Bruce R. McCaw Family Foundation, the Charles and Lisa Simonyi Fund for Arts and Sciences, John and Susann Norton, and Gregory D. and Jennifer Walston Johnson. Transportation services for Destination Moon are provided by FedEx.
For more information, visit www.spacecenter.org.