A lunar module, one of 12 built for Project Apollo (Photo: Smithsonian/Eric Long)
Project Apollo ranks among the most bold and challenging undertakings of the 20th century. Within less than a decade, the United States lept from suborbital spaceflight to landing humans on the moon and returning them safely back to Earth. Hundreds of thousands of people helped make these missions possible, while billions more around the world followed the flights.
The material legacy of these missions is immense—with thousands of artifacts from capsules to spacesuits to the ephemera of life aboard a spacecraft represented in the Smithsonian’s collections. Fifty years after the first lunar landing, Teasel Muir-Harmony, curator of Apollo spacecraft at the Air and Space Museum, reassesses the history of Project Apollo through the most evocative objects of the Space Age.
She examines artifacts that highlight how Project Apollo touched people’s lives, both within the space program and around the world. More than space hardware alone, the objects she features reflect the deep interconnection between Project Apollo and broader developments in American society and politics.
Muir-Harmony’s book, Apollo to the Moon: A History in 50 Objects (National Geographic) is available for sale and signing.
The December 1968 mission of Apollo 8 produced the unforgettable image of the Earth rising from the darkness of space. In an interview with Smithsonian.com, Teasel Muir-Harmony examines the significance of a photograph and a mission that awed the world during the closing days of a year of unprecedented tumult.