Neil Armstrong Brought Back 'Purse' From the Moon

Full of 'odds and ends' from Apollo 11
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 9, 2015 7:32 AM CST
Neil Armstrong Brought Back 'Purse' From the Moon
This July 20, 1969, file photo provided by NASA shows Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong on the lunar surface.   (AP Photo/NASA, Buzz Aldrin, File)

After Neil Armstrong's death, his widow, Carol, found something unexpected in a closet: a white bag full of parts from the Apollo 11 Lunar Module Eagle. The spacecraft parts were originally thought to have been left on the moon during the Apollo 11 mission, the New York Daily News reports. Even the bag they were in is something special: a Temporary Stowage Bag or "McDivitt Purse," a container fitted with pins that attach to sockets on the Lunar Module that was used to temporarily keep items when there wasn't time to put them back in their permanent stowage locations, the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum explains in a blog post. There may even be lunar dust on the purse, says NASA in its own blog post. In the mission transcripts, after Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin went back into lunar orbit in the Lunar Module and then rejoined the Command Module, Armstrong is recorded as telling Michael Collins about the bag, revealing that he intended to save it all along.

"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," he said; the astronauts later further described the contents as "10 pounds of LM miscellaneous equipment." According to the Daily News, the bag was thought to have been ditched along with their life support backpacks and lunar overshoes; the Smithsonian acknowledges the contents of the bag "were formally scheduled to be left behind." Instead, they remained in Armstrong's closet, and he apparently never discussed them with or showed them to anyone in 45 years. The bag contained items such as the camera that was mounted in the Eagle's window to record the moon landing, as well as a waist tether Armstrong used to support him while resting on the moon, NASA says, noting the artifacts' "priceless historical value." Both are on temporary display at the Air & Space Museum. (In 2013, Armstrong's "moon heartbeat" went up for auction.)

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