Apollo 11 relics among 10,000 memorabilia flying on the Artemis 1 lunar mission


A small lunar sample and a piece of the rocket that enabled its collection more than 50 years ago are set to be launched on NASA’s next return mission to the Moon.

Apollo 11 artifacts are part of the Official Artemis 1 Flight Kit (OFK) (opens in a new tab). These are just two elements of the OFK, which has been filled with nearly 10,000 flying memorabilia for NASA and its partners and contractors aboard the next lunar mission.

A practice that dates back to Apollo 17 – the last time NASA sent astronauts to the moon, in December 1972 – the OFK is a package of a specified size and weight used to carry memorial items and signs of gratitude for the people involved in the given mission. The OFK is the counterpart to the PPKs, or Personal Preference Kits, which are carried by astronauts along with small items for family and friends.

Artemis 1 flies without a crew, but the OFK still represents an important team. The mission is the first integrated test of NASA’s Orion spacecraft and Space Launch System (SLS) rocket (opens in a new tab), a precursor to flying astronauts on future missions to the moon. It took, and will take, thousands of people working on the ground to make this flight a success. For more than a month, Artemis 1 will travel farther in space than any previous human mission and enter a deep retrograde orbit before returning to Earth.

Related: NASA’s Artemis 1 Lunar Mission: Live Updates

From moon to moon

“Neil Armstrong brought very small pieces of the Wright Flyer to the moon on Apollo 11 and we have them in the collection, so it’s a tradition that we’re part of, flying things into space, especially given the opportunity to make these connections between the history of lunar exploration and what is being done now,” said Margaret Weitekamp, ​​chair of the space history department at Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, in an interview with collectSPACE.

While Apollo 11 lunar dust (a “lunar sample button”) flies on behalf of the NASA Communications Office, the “Apollo 11 F-1 engine part” is on loan from the Smithsonian.

The bolt from one of the five Saturn V F-1 engines that launched Apollo 11 in July 1969 is included in the Official Flight Kit (OFK) flying on Artemis I.

The bolt from one of the five Saturn V F-1 engines that launched Apollo 11 in July 1969 is included in the Official Flight Kit (OFK) flying on Artemis 1. (Image credit: Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum)

“When we say we’re flying part of the F-1 engine, it’s really a salvaged screw or bolt from the Apollo 11 F-1 engine,” Weitekamp said. “The ‘engine room’ of an F-1 makes it look much, much larger than it actually is, and out of necessity it had to be something small and very light. and inert.”

In 2013, a private expedition led by Amazon and Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos found and lifted several F-1 engines above the ocean floor. After being preserved, an engine identified as coming from the Saturn V rocket that launched Apollo 11 has been transferred by NASA to the National Air and Space Museum, where it is destined for debut as part of a new exhibition (opens in a new tab) in October. The nut, screw and washer are from this engine.

In addition to F-1 pieces, the museum also features a medallion commemorating Apollo 8’s first circumlunar flight in 1968 and an embroidered Apollo 17 crest.

“We searched the collection to find things that we thought were the right combination of being really meaningful and whose meaning would be enhanced by inclusion on this flight, but weren’t things that weren’t not as somewhat duplicated in the collection. We’re not flying things that we think are completely unique and therefore pose a great risk if put on something like a launch,” Weitekamp said.

The Apollo Program: How NASA Sent Astronauts to the Moon

Patches and pins and a pen tip

The vast majority of items on the Artemis 1 OFK are keepsake-type keepsakes intended for post-flight presentation to space program workers and VIPs. Of the more than 9,900 items contained in the kit, 2,790 are Artemis 1 Mission Fixes (opens in a new tab) only.

There are also pins, tags, and numerous flags — the latter flying for the United States, its individual states and territories, NASA’s military branches and programs, and the space agency’s international partners.

There are items to create even more commemorations after the mission is complete. The Orion, SLS, and Exploration Ground Systems (EGS) programs are each flying bags of metal shavings that were crafted during the manufacturing of their respective vehicles (the mobile launcher in the case of EGS).

Microchips engraved with the names of the nearly 30,000 people who worked on Artemis I are part of the mission's official flight kit.

Microchips engraved with the names of the nearly 30,000 people who worked on Artemis 1 are part of the mission’s official flight kit. (Image credit: NASA/University of Houston/Long Chang)

Like the Apollo 11 parts, however, the most notable elements of the OFK are those that connect the Artemis 1 mission to other aspects of humanity.

  • Four LEGO minifigures (opens in a new tab) and one Doll “Shaun the Sheep” (opens in a new tab) represent education outreach projects from NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA), respectively. Likewise, a pen nib from Charles Schulz’s studio wrapped in a space-themed “Peanuts” comic strip is on board, as is a Snoopy doll in a one-of-a-kind spacesuit (opens in a new tab). (The latter is not part of the OFK, but rather flies as the mission’s weightlessness indicator.)
  • NASA is also taking 90 Girl Scout Space Science Merit Badges to be awarded to winners of a “To the Moon and Back” essay contest.
  • There are five USB drives and 60 microchips containing names, poems, images, drawings or videos submitted by students, educators, employees who worked on Artemis 1 and members of the public, as collected by NASA, l ESA, DLR (German Aerospace Center) and ASI (Italian Space Agency).
  • The Israel Space Agency, which is part of the international team flying two instrumented torsos to study radiation exposure during the Artemis 1 mission, is also among organizations stealing tree seeds, including NASA, the The agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and Boeing.
  • Israel also sports a mezuza (a small scroll contained in a decorative case and inscribed with specific Hebrew verses) and a Dead Sea pebble. ESA has packaged a 3D-printed representation of the Greek goddess Artemis and a postcard of “Le Voyage Dans la Lun” (“A Trip to the Moon”), a 1902 historical short film directed by Georges Méliès.

Click to collect SPACE (opens in a new tab) to read the full Artemis 1 Official Flight Kit (OFK) manifesto.

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