Programs & Services

Apollo’s Golden Anniversary

At the New Mexico Museum of Space History

The Apollo Command Module boilerplate that sits in front of the New Mexico Museum of Space History was used by the Air Force and Navy to train on astronaut recovery in the ocean. Photograph courtesy of Jim Harris.

In the era of Apollo Moon missions, the design of everything was critical. From the aerodynamic lines of the Command Module to the unwieldy looking, lanky legs of the Lunar Module, every form derived from a function.

Inside the Command Module (CM), where the astronauts spent most of their time, the crew compartment took up most of the space, and furnishings consisted of three metal, foldable couches, side by side, with a sleeping bag mounted beneath the left and right couches. The sleeping bags actually attached to the structure of the CM and included restraints, giving the astronauts the option of sleeping either in or out of their space suits.

Bays lined the walls of the craft and that’s where food, water, clothing, waste management, and other equipment were stored. The balance of the CM’s interior was dedicated to equipment that would help the astronauts accomplish their mission and return safely back to Earth. The CM was actually the only part of the spacecraft recovered at the end of the mission.

To get an idea of how big the Apollo Command Modules were, visit the New Mexico Museum of Space History, where a capsule sits right outside the entrance. The Air Force and Navy used this particular capsule to train on astronaut recovery in the ocean. Inside the museum, see the suits astronauts (and cosmonauts) wore, the food they ate, and the equipment they used to go “where no man has gone before.”

Be on the lookout for special exhibitions about the Apollo program, such as the new Chrystal Jackson exhibit showcased on the museum’s second floor. Jackson was one of the original 47 artists chosen for the NASA Art Program. As an “eyewitness to space,” her unique watercolors brought the wonder of America’s early Space Age to life.

Stop by the museum and meet Gordodon — a new sail-backed reptile based on an incomplete skeleton found in Permian period (about 300 million years old) rocks near Alamogordo. Gordodon is on loan from the New Mexico Museum of Natural History & Science through fall. Prior to this discovery, such specialized plant eating was not known in reptiles older than about 200 million years.

The New Mexico Museum of Space History is a Smithsonian Affiliate. 

Monday and Wednesday–Saturday, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.; Sunday, Noon– 5 p.m. Closed Tuesdays. Admission $8 Adults, $6 Children (4–12); Senior (60+)/Military/NM Residents $7, free for children 3 & under. 

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