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An effort to create a 3D model of the inside of the Apollo 11 capsule on display at the National Air & Space Museum has revealed previously undocumented notes and scribbles that the astronauts put on the capsule’s walls.
Needell and his team also decided that they would provide access to the lower equipment bay, the area located below the astronauts’ seats, which housed the ship’s navigation sextant, telescope and computer. “No one from the Smithsonian, as far I knew — not as long as I’ve been the curator for 20 years, has ever been below there to document the conditions or any of the aspects of the lower equipment bay,” said Needell. “We’ve been able to sort of see above the seats, but that’s about all.”
So, for the first time, the curators removed from the lower bay the large bag that held the Apollo 11 crew’s pressure garment assemblies — in other words, their spacesuits — as well as several helmet bags and a checklist pocket that command module pilot Michael Collins used while orbiting the moon alone.
And then they saw it, the literal writing on the wall.
They have located at least one post-landing image that shows some of the writing, which indicates that in 1969 no one considered this important enough to note. Then the capsule was put on display, and no one was allowed in it for decades.