I was sad to hear the news yesterday that Neil Armstrong had passed away.
Neil Armstrong in Apollo Lunar Module after his historic moonwalk in July 1969.
It was just last week that I had been talking about the Apollo missions to a group of Grade 3 students. It was my son's class and they had asked me to talk about life on Mars. They were studying the idea that over time, living things need to adapt in order to survive, and so they were thinking about what people would need to live on Mars one day.
As we spoke about things like the need for water and oxygen, along with the differences between Mars and Earth, I asked if they'd ever seen what happened when the astronauts walked on the Moon. The group, including my son, looked at me blankly and I realised that they had never heard of the famous Moon landings.
So we checked out the NASA clips of Apollo 11's landing and those great action shots of astronauts bouncing around on the Moon due to its weak gravity. The kids were astounded!
Photo of Apollo Lunar Module on the surface of the Moon with Armstrong's shadow in the foreground
Image: Neil Armstrong
I was born just as the Apollo missions were coming to an end. Even so, it was always a part of my world. The Apollo astronauts were amazing men and my tribute to Neil Armstrong will be to make sure that young generations know of the incredible things he and his fellow astronauts did. May they always be an inspiration to all.
Statement from Armstrong Family (via spaceinfo.com.au)
Objects in our collection don’t just go on display at our own museums. It’s also exciting to see them help other people’s exhibitions come to life. I’m particularly happy about seeing items from the space and astronomy collections being prepared for a new exhibition at ACMI called Star Voyager that will run from September this year through to January 2012. The objects being loaned include rare 19th century astronomical lantern slides, a historic surveying telescope and the gloves of a Soviet cosmonaut.
The cosmonaut glove was used by Vladimir Georgiyevich Titov on the Mir space station. Titov left Earth on Soyuz TM-4 on December 21 1987 and returned on Soyuz TM-6 on December 21 1988. He and fellow cosmonaut Musa Manarov had spent just over a whole year in space – a new record at the time. Titov, who had also been on one previous Soyuz mission, would go on to have two further trips to space on the Space Shuttle.
Photgraph of Sokol glove worn by cosmonaut Vladimir Titov.
Image: Marion Parker
Source: Museum Victoria
The glove is part of a Sokol KV-2 space suit. Each suit was custom made for a single cosmonaut, including individual moulding of the rubber part of the glove, shaped to the cosmonaut’s fingers. The Sokol suits were pressurised, and the gloves attached to the suits with an aluminium clip.
A lot of work went into making these gloves and there is also a lot of work involved in getting objects ready for display. Unfortunately, historic items like this aren’t always built to last. Museum conservator Marion Parker explains: “Modern materials like this will slowly degrade and we can't do much to stop this. What we can do is to control the conditions the objects are stored and displayed in to slow down these reactions.”
One of the nice things about getting objects out of the collection to show other people is that you get the chance to see them through new eyes and remember how exciting they can be. According to Sarah Tutton, curator at ACMI: “The opportunity to delve into the collection at Scienceworks has been invaluable and has led to some interesting tangents and avenues for exploration.”
I know what she means – it’s easy to get lost in the space collection!