Neil Armstrong meant to leave his gear on the moon

February 11, 2015 2:44 pm

meant to leave his gear on the moon. Photo / Nasa / Supplied
The bag full of power cables and utility clamps may not have looked
very interesting when Carol Armstrong found them stuffed in a closet in
her Ohio home.
Yet the items – which had lain hidden for more
than four decades – were actually priceless mementos from the most
famous mission of all, during which her husband became the first
person to walk on the Moon.

The bag found in Neil Armstrong's closet. Photo / Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum
The bag found in Neil Armstrong’s closet. Photo / Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum
The so-called “McDivitt purse” contained objects
carried in the Eagle lunar module during the historic Apollo 11 mission,
and included the camera that filmed Neil Armstrong’s descent on to the
Moon’s surface on July 20, 1969.
The objects, which were supposed
to be left on the Moon so as to not add extra weight to their capsule
on its launch off the lunar surface, will go on display at the
Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum alongside other artefacts from
the mission.

Experts said they were “of priceless historical value”.
Allan
Needell, curator in the space history department at the Smithsonian
National Air and Space Museum, said: “Seeing such things with one’s own
eyes helps us to appreciate that these accomplishments are not just
books or movies but involve real people and real things, and that they
involved an extraordinary amount of detailed engineering and planning.”
Ms
Armstrong found the bag after her husband’s death in 2012 and emailed
the curators saying it contained “assorted small items that looked like
they may have come from a spacecraft”.

The contents of a bag found in Neil Armstrong's closet. Photo / Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum
The contents of a bag found in Neil Armstrong’s closet. Photo / Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum
Mr Needell said: “For a curator of a collection of space artefacts, it is hard to imagine anything more exciting.”
Among the 18 objects were cables, netting, mirrors and the waist tether Armstrong used.
There
was also the 16mm camera which filmed the landing on the moon and the
planting of the US flag, alongside a bracket for the camera, a 10mm lens
and a lens shade.
They were put in the “purse” – named after
Apollo 9 commander Jim McDivitt, who first suggested taking a spare bag
to temporarily carry items – as there was no time to return them to
storage.

The tether used to secure Neil Armstrong to the lunar module. Photo / Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum
The tether used to secure Neil Armstrong to the lunar module. Photo / Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum
A picture still survives of the bag in Buzz Aldrin’s hands in 1969.
Mr
Needell said: “As far as we know, Neil has never discussed the
existence of these items and no one else has seen them in the 45 years
since he returned from the moon.”
Armstrong had not mentioned the items to his biographer James Hansen.

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