Small in size but giant in its historical stature, Columbia, the Apollo 11 command module, has taken center stage at Space Center Houston, where it is premiering on display as the star of the Smithsonian’s new “Destination Moon: The Apollo 11 Mission” traveling exhibit.
“It is wonderfully appropriate that we begin the national tour of ‘Destination Moon: The Apollo 11 Mission’ here, in Space City,” said Miriam Springier, director of the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES), at a press preview on Oct. 12. It is incredible that just next door is the heart of our nation’s human spaceflight programs, from the early Gemini and Apollo projects to today’s International Space Station.
The Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum is using the time that Columbia is away on tour to prepare a new gallery dedicated to the exploration of the moon to debut in 2021.
The traveling exhibition will be in Houston through March 18, 2018, and then will move onto three other museums and science centers in St. Louis, Pittsburgh and Seattle over the next two years. The 5,000-square-foot (465 square meters) exhibition traces the historic voyage of Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldine and Michael Collins through the equipment they used to reach and explore the moon. Destination Moon” also includes part of an F-1 rocket engine from the Saturn V rocket that launched Apollo 11, recovered from the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean in 2013 by a private expedition funded by Amazon.
Space Center Houston is the only place in the world where you are going to see the command module from the first and final Apollo missions to land humans on the moon,” said Harris. “We’ve actually had Apollo 17 since we opened in 1992. In fact, Monday [Oct. 16] is the 25th anniversary of Space Center Houston.