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Neil Armstrong's wife discovers Apollo 11 artifacts discovered in his closet

Neil Armstrong, the first man to set foot on the Moon, had kept a secret stash of personal mementos - hardware items from the 1969 Apollo 11 mission - which were supposed to be left behind on the Moon.

The artifacts discovered by Armstrong's widow, Carol, after his death in 2012, were objects flown in the Lunar Module Eagle during the Apollo 11 mission in 1969.

These include a camera that recorded the first Moon landing, a waist tether that Armstrong used to support his feet during a rest period on the Moon, utility lights and their brackets, equipment netting and an emergency wrench.

 Neil Armstrongs wife discovers Apollo 11 artifacts discovered in his closet

AP

"I received an email from Carol Armstrong that she had located in one of Neil's closets a white cloth bag filled with assorted small items that looked like they may have come from a spacecraft," Allan Needell, the Apollo curator at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC, said in a blog post.

After sharing information about the cloth bag in 2013, Carol snapped a picture of the items and sent it to Needell.

Needell then took help from experts who have put together the Apollo Lunar Surface Journal (ALSJ) website, which gives information about all aspects of the Apollo programme.

The team recognised the bag as something the astronauts referred to as a McDivitt Purse. The purse was a special container (officially called a Temporary Stowage Bag or TSB) stowed in the Lunar Module during launch.

After a close examination of the objects when they were shipped for cataloging and research to the National Air and Space Museum, ALSJ experts were able to determine with almost complete certainty that all of the items were indeed from the Eagle.

Although they were formally scheduled to be left behind - they were assembled in the Temporary Stowage Bag and saved from the fate that awaited Eagle's ascent stage and all of its contents: crashing into the lunar surface, Needell said.

Evidence that the items were intentionally preserved is found in the mission transcripts themselves, Needell said.

Mission transcripts record Armstrong talking to Michael Collins, command module pilot for Apollo 11, and referring to the bag as "a bunch of trash that we want to take back - LM parts, odds and ends, and it won't stay closed by itself.

We'll have to figure something out for it."

The crew members reported to mission control that they were bringing "10 pounds of LM miscellaneous equipment."

It is not known how the items came to be in Armstrong's possession after the mission.

"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," Needell said.

One of the items is already on display at the National Air and Space Museum - a 16mm movie camera with its 10mm lens.

The camera was mounted behind the right forward window of the lunar module and was used to film the final phase of the descent to the lunar surface, the landing, as well as Armstrong's and Buzz Aldrin's activities on the lunar surface including taking the first samples of lunar soil and planting the US flag.

PTI

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Updated Date: Feb 10, 2015 15:29:49 IST