Now you can see inside Apollo 11 This image provided by the Smithsonian Institution shows part of the interior of the Apollo 11 command module that shows graffiti left by astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins. (Smithsonian Institution via AP)
Now you can see inside Apollo 11
Lexile

They are bits of space graffiti, hidden from the public for decades: a crude calendar, scrawled lunar coordinates and markings warning of a locker containing "smelly waste."
 
Apollo 11 astronauts left those scribbles inside the spacecraft that took them on their historic mission to the moon in 1969. But now the public will get to see them for the first time.
 
National Air and Space Museum officials in Washington have presented a preview of a virtual 3-D model. It will allow the public a look inside the car-sized Apollo 11 command module. No longer will the public have to try to peer inside through one of the capsule's small windows or hatch.
 
The new model will allow anyone to examine the craft's controls and see writing left by its three astronauts. Those astronauts were Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins. Aldrin says he's pretty sure the calendar was Collins' handiwork.
 
Some of the markings left by the astronauts have to do with maneuvers they had to make to reach the moon. It was information that was easier to have written near the craft's instruments. Other writings are less technical. "Launch day urine bags" reads an inscription on one locker. On another: "smelly waste."
 
"They just wanted to warn themselves that this is probably a locker that they should probably leave closed until after the mission was over," said Allan Needell, a curator of space history at the Smithsonian. He oversees Apollo artifacts.
 
The Apollo 11 command module is called Columbia. It's been one of the star attractions at the National Air and Space Museum since its opening in 1976. But climbing inside has never been allowed. Even curators have been reluctant to go inside and risk damaging it.
 
The model is expected to be available online this summer. It will let the public maneuver around the craft themselves. Visitors can even print their own 3-D model of it. Eventually, a virtual reality experience will let visitors feel like they're sitting inside the capsule. To make the model, experts spent two weeks scanning the inside and outside of the craft with lasers. They also took thousands of pictures.
 
Needell has overseen study on the command module for almost 20 years.  He says even he saw new things during the model's creation. One piece of astronaut graffiti curators found written on a wall was a crude calendar of July 1969. It begins on the day the craft launched from Florida's Cape Canaveral, July 16, 1969.  It ends with the day the craft returned to Earth, July 24. It is the only day that is not crossed off. Needell says that in space, the astronauts wouldn't have sunrise and sunset to keep track of the day, so the calendar would have helped.
 
Needell said he called Apollo 11's two living astronauts, 85-year-old Michael Collins and 86-year-old Buzz Aldrin, to ask about the writings. Aldrin felt the calendar "sounds like something Mike would have done." But it is still "a puzzle," Needell said.
 
It was Collins who was alone in Columbia while Aldrin and Neil Armstrong, who died in 2012, descended to the moon's surface. There's nothing special written on July 20, the day Armstrong became the first man on the moon. On the capsule's calendar, it's just another day that's crossed out.

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Apollo 11 went to the moon in 1969. Why did the Smithsonian wait so long to provide this view inside?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (25)
  • Eric0221-YYCA
    2/24/2016 - 12:40 a.m.

    The people might have finally been able to take a look inside the Apollo 11 command module which people would be able to see what exactly looks like in the inside of the Apollo 11 command module to see what it had been like. The Apollo 11 command module had been used during their returning back to earth where people would only be able to look on the outside of the command module except for the inside. The people might have been waiting until they were now able to look at the inside of the Apollo 11 command module to see what it actually looks like in the inside. People might have really wanted to look in the inside if the people were careful enough to damage some parts of the command module which they wouldn't be able to look at it again.
    Critical Thinking Question: Apollo 11 went to the moon in 1969. Why did the Smithsonian wait so long to provide this view inside?
    Answer: Because the Smithsonian wanted nobody to be entering inside the command module for anybody to risk any damage to the command module.

  • sams1-ver
    2/24/2016 - 08:12 p.m.

    Why did we even go to space in the first place it seems kind of pointless like what were they expecting to see or find up there a wizard or something use his magical powers to make stars. Like when you look up at the sky all you see is light and blackness why would you want to go up there like what if they found GOD this GOD was like you’re not allowed up here then snaps their little ball of metal out of space then what I don`t know it`s just something to think about.

  • ben0424-yyca-byo
    2/24/2016 - 09:51 p.m.

    I think it is good that the public can have a virtual look into the Apollo 11. It would be better when we come with technology so we can go inside the actual Apollo 11 without damaging it. When we get better technology, like the virtual reality experience mentioned in the article, it will be good for everyone to see the actual inside. It would be great for people to actually go inside the Apollo 11.

  • tylerl-ver
    2/25/2016 - 07:14 p.m.

    They didn't want the ship damage by people touching it

  • ahnad-orv
    2/26/2016 - 08:31 a.m.

    Wow that's cool! It would be really cool to go and see that historical artifact. I wish this article talked a little about the journey and the landing not just about the ship. I had no clue that there was writing on the walls of the Apollo 11.

  • chadm-orv
    2/28/2016 - 08:37 p.m.

    they probably didn't want to damage Apollo 11 because it's the first space craft to go to the moon and back.

  • djj-edg
    2/29/2016 - 11:25 a.m.

    Why did we even go to space in the first place it seems kind of pointless like what were they expecting to see or find up there a wizard or something use his magical powers to make stars. Like when you look up at the sky all you see is light and blackness why would you want to go up there like what if they found GOD this GOD was like you’re not allowed up here then snaps their little ball of metal out of space then what I don`t know it`s just something to think about.

  • dennisc-edg
    2/29/2016 - 11:30 a.m.

    This story is very good because it tells a lot about the time in space and who went there so that is why its a good story

  • frashedc-edg
    2/29/2016 - 11:31 a.m.

    why did we even go to space in the first place it seems kind of pointless like what were they expecting to see or find up there a wizard or something use his magical powers to make stars .like when you look up at the sky all you see is light and blackness why would you want to go up there like if you found GOD and GOD was like your not allowed up here then snaps their little ball of metal out of space then i dont know its just something to think about.

  • piperb-ren
    2/29/2016 - 04:55 p.m.

    I think that making a 3-D model of Apollo 11 is a great idea. I say this because it allows us to see inside of a space craft that changed humanity by having men walk on the moon. It is also a fantastic idea because it allow other people to kind of feel what it was like to be inside of a space craft.

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