Apollo 11 Capsule Making Another Trip -- to Houston

Space Center Houston will the first of four stops of a new exhibit featuring the Apollo 11 command module, which will leave the Smithsonian on a national tour for the first time since 1971.

Houston will be the only location where guests can see the space capsules for both the first and last lunar landings.

The “Destination Moon: The Apollo 11 Mission” exhibit, on display Oct. 14-March 18, 2018 at Space Center Houston, is part of the nonprofit’s 25th anniversary. 

“Houston is associated with lunar exploration and our guests will be the first to trace the steps of the first voyage to the moon in this spectacular new exhibit, as well as the last voyage in our Apollo 17 capsule,” said William T. Harris, president and CEO of the science and space learning center. 

Opening just before the nonprofit celebrates its 25th anniversary on Oct. 16, the new exhibit dives into the rich history of the Apollo program. The Apollo 11 command module — the only portion of the historic spacecraft to safely return humans to Earth — will leave the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum for the first time in 46 years for the national tour.

This first stop of the national tour is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for people to see both command modules -- the Apollo 11 and the Apollo 17 -- as well as an array of original Apollo-era artifacts. The nonprofit Space Center Houston is the home of the Apollo 17 command module, the last mission to land men on the moon.

Completing the ultimate lunar experience, Space Center Houston’s extensive collection gives guests a close look at the largest collection of moon rocks on public display including one you can touch. It also has astronaut Pete Conrad’s moonwalking suit and the presidential podium from which John F. Kennedy delivered his speech imploring America to reach for the lunar surface.

Through original Apollo 11 flown artifacts, models, videos and interactives, guests will learn about the historic journey of the Apollo 11 crew — Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin. “Destination Moon” will include an interactive 3-D tour, created from high-resolution scans of Columbia performed at the Smithsonian. The interactives will allow guests to explore the entire craft including its intricate interior, one that has been inaccessible to the public until now.

On July 24, 1969, Apollo 11 met President John F. Kennedy’s 1961 challenge of “landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the Earth.” The permanent exhibition at the Smithsonian will explore what led the United States to accept this challenge and how the resulting 953,054-mile voyage to the moon and back was accomplished just eight years after the program was authorized. “Destination Moon” will examine the mission and shed a light on some of the more than 400,000 people employed in NASA programs who worked through the trials, tragedies and triumphs of the 20 missions from 1961 to 1969 before Apollo 11.

Before entering the Smithsonian’s collection, the command module traveled on a 50-state tour throughout 1970 and 1971 covering more than 26,000 miles. It then went on display in the Smithsonian’s Arts and Industries Building before the current National Air and Space Museum was built on the National Mall.

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