A new book uses 50 objects to tell the story of America’s greatest adventure.
During survival training in Reno, Nevada, astronauts (from left) Frank Borman, Neil Armstrong, John Young, and Deke Slayton fashioned protective clothing out of material—such as parachute fabric—that would be available in a crash landing.
Neil Armstrong brought pieces of the Wright Flyer with him aboard the lunar module Eagle, when he landed on the moon in July 1969. For Armstrong, bringing along these artifacts with his limited personal belongings honored pioneering aviators. It also bound together two events separated by many decades. Pieces of wood and fabric connected the first lunar landing with the first airplane flight, drawing a thread between two critical moments in aerospace history.
Like Armstrong, Apollo to the Moon: A History in 50 Objects recognizes the significance and power of artifacts. Tangible, real objects can connect the past to our present. Fifty years from the first lunar landing, the 50 objects in this book let us revisit a remarkable moment in American history, when grand ambitions overcame grand obstacles, and allow us to not only understand the moment anew but to make it part of our lives. They help tell the full story of spaceflight by revealing the tangle of technological, political, cultural, and social dimensions of the Apollo missions.
The material legacy of Apollo is immense. From capsules to space suits to the ephemera of life aboard a spacecraft, the Smithsonian Institution national collection comprises thousands of artifacts. This excerpt is from a carefully curated selection of 50 of these objects, which reveal how Project Apollo touched people’s lives, both within the space program and around the world.
Published in time for the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing, this 104-page volume packed with photos includes the 25 most dramatic moments of the Apollo program, the extraordinary people who made it possible, and how a new generation of explorers plans to return to the moon.
Graffiti by Michael Collins
Buckle Your Seat Belt
A Model for America’s Most Famous Space Fan
What Happened to the Whiskers?
Get Armstrong and Aldrin Back on Board? Check!
The Camera Left Behind
Adapted from Apollo to the Moon: A History in 50 Objects, by Teasel Muir-Harmony (Smithsonian Institution and National Geographic, 2018). Printed with permission of the publisher.