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Lunar landing artifacts on display at Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum

One of biggest collections at museum in Washington, DC

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Artifacts from the Apollo 11 mission can be seen across the country. One of the biggest collections is at the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum in Washington, D.C.

From the big to the small, the artifacts there tell the story of the daring first manned mission to the moon's surface.

Teasel Muir-Harmony is the curator of the Apollo Spacecraft Collection at the museum.

"The Apollo program is really unprecedented," Muir-Harmony said. "Humans traveled to the moon for the first time ever, about 240,000 miles."

The museum is displaying items from Apollo 11 that haven't been seen in years. 

"So this purse was designed to take care of miscellaneous things that were in the spacecraft," Muir-Harmony said. "It was an idea that Jim McDivitt from Apollo 9 came up with. So Armstrong ended up using it to put a few souvenirs from space, from his mission, in."

Items included the data acquisition camera that was mounted in the window of the lunar module and captured the moon landing. 

"We thought it was left on the moon, but turns out Armstrong brought it back with him to earth," Muir-Harmony said.

The exhibit also includes meals. 

"The most popular food item was bacon squares. That was actually part of the first meal on the moon," Muir-Harmony said. "They had sugar cookie cubes and coffee. It was more like a light snack than a meal before they went on the lunar surface." 

There are also items that explore the more personal side of the mission. For example: astronaut Michael Collins' toothbrush and razor. 

"The razor is a Gillette razor, and he had Old Spice shaving cream and a lot of these companies after the mission and leading up to it could promote these items because it was something the astronauts used in space," Muir-Harmony said.

Some of the larger items in the museum's collection reside at the Steven. F. Udvar-Hazy Center, just outside of Washington, D.C. 

"This is the mobile quarantine facility. You'll see that this is largely a converted Airstream trailer," said Margaret Wietekamp, the curator for the Space History Department for the National Air & Space Museum. 

Astronauts from two lunar landing missions were quarantined for 21 days to make sure they weren't bringing back any sort of contagion.

"It was planned for Apollo 13, but wasn't needed because they didn't land on the moon, and after Apollo 14, they realized they didn't really need this precaution, but it was good to have thought of it in the first place," Wietekamp said. 

You can also see the original floats used on Apollo 11. At the museum, they're attached to a training module.

"The purpose of the Apollo boilerplate command module was really to allow them to practice that ocean landing and how they were going to safely get out of the vehicle, so this is not the flown vehicle, but this is the actual practice vehicle," Wietekamp said.

Of course, you can see the nation's largest collection of spacesuits. 

"So the museum has a wonderful, best in the nation, collection of Apollo lunar suits," Wietekamp said. "They all really tell the story of innovation and engineering."