So we all know that Neil Armstrong was pretty much one of the coolest guys ever and, on July 20, 1969, achieved a level of awesomeness that will never be surpassed.* Sadly, the 82-year-old Armstrong passed away on Aug. 25, 2012 due to complications from surgery. But he left us with the memory of one of humankind’s most lofty achievements and gave face, voice, and heart to the unflagging need of our species to continually reach further and explore.
Now, it turns out that he even left a little bit more that that. After his passing, Neil’s wife Carol found a white cloth bag in one of his closets and contacted National Air and Space Museum curator Allan Needell about it. Called a TSB (Temporary Stowage Bag) or, more colloquially, a “McDivitt purse,” Neil’s bag was filled with various objects that had been used during the Apollo 11 mission and, thankfully, not left aboard the LM to crash into the lunar surface before the astronauts began their trip back home. For a curator of space artifacts this was a windfall – here were 18 flown items from the most famous spaceflight mission ever, collected and held on to for 43 years by the first man on the Moon!
“Evidence that the items were intentionally preserved is found in the mission transcripts themselves,” Needell wrote on the Air Space Blog. “The rescued items are referenced by the Apollo 11 crew soon after Neil and Buzz Aldrin rejoined Michael Collins in lunar orbit.
“Less than an hour before they were ready to jettison Eagle, mission transcripts record Armstrong saying to Collins…’You know, that — that one’s just 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.'”
One of the items in the found TSB was a 16mm Data Acquisition Camera (DAC), the very same one used by Armstrong to record his own first steps on the Moon.
The film footage captured by the DAC above can be seen below:
These amazing pieces of space history are on loan to the National Air and Space Museum by the Armstrong family.
“Seeing such things with one’s own eyes helps us to appreciate that these accomplishments are not just in history books or movies, but involved real people and real things, and that they involved an extraordinary amount of detailed engineering and planning.”
– Allan Needell, Air and Space Museum space history curator
Read more on the Air Space Blog by Allan Needell here, and see a full description of the items found in Neil’s McDivitt purse – some of which look straight out of Star Trek – here.
*Nope, not ever.