Neil Armstrong became the first person to step on the surface of the moon when he took part in the Apollo 11 mission in 1969. When he died in 2012, he not only left a legacy and inspiration to the current and future generations but also a wealth of physical materials from his travel to the Earth's natural satellite.
Space historians revealed this week that several items that the late astronaut brought back to Earth after the historic lunar mission have been discovered. Carol Armstrong, the astronaut's widow, found them stashed in a closet.
Carol Armstrong called and told the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum's Apollo collection curator Allan Needell that she found a white cloth bag in the closet that appeared to be full of space stuff. Needell realized that the bag in question was the storage pouch that the astronauts on the historic Apollo 11 mission used to hold repair equipment and other items.
"After a close examination of detailed photographs taken when the objects were in the Armstrong family's possession and after they were shipped for cataloging and research to the National Air and Space Museum, the Apollo Lunar Surface Journal (ALSJ) experts were able to determine with almost complete certainty that all of the items were indeed from the Eagle," Needell wrote.
The items were flown on the mission's Lunar module called the Eagle, which the astronauts left behind when they returned to the Earth from the moon. It was later destroyed on impact with the moon.
Although the newly discovered bag and its contents are in essence a treasure trove from that historic moon landing, Armstrong interestingly once described the bag as a bunch of trash that they want to take back. No one has seen the items since the astronauts returned from their Apollo 11 mission.
The mementos include the bag astronauts call the McDivitt Purse because the need for such as bag was first suggested by Apollo 9 Commander James McDivitt. It was designed to be attached inside the Eagle and opens up like an old-time doctor's bag.
One of the bag's contents was a data acquisition camera (a 16-mm movie camera), which is believed to have filmed the Eagle's descent to the moon and Armstrong's first steps on the lunar surface in 1969. The bags other contents included a mirror, emergency wrench, waste management cover, netting, eyeguard assembly, lens shade, helmet tie down straps, waist tether, crewman optical alignment sight (COAS), light bulb assembly (spare for COAS), and utility bracket assembly. The purse and its contents are currently on loan to the Smithsonian.