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Workers clean Apollo 16 spacecraft ahead of 50th anniversary

Ed Stewart will use a brush and vacuum cleaner to clean the hatch of the Apollo 16 lunar spacecraft at the US Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama, on Tuesday, February 1, 2022. A pandemic of -19, the museum is preparing an antique spaceship before the event commemorating the 50th anniversary of the flight in 1972. Credits: AP Photo / Jay Reeves

Apollo 16 capsules have been dusty for decades after carrying three astronauts to the moon. The spider web is clinging to the spacecraft. Business cards, pencils, money, spoons, and even tubes of lip balm are scattered on the floor of a huge case that protects the museum’s antique space.


The COVID-19 pandemic meant a break in the normal routine of cleaning the ship’s display at the US Space Rocket Center near NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center. However, workers are preparing the spacecraft for the 50th anniversary of the flight in April 1972.

With careful use of microfiber towels, extension poles, brushes, dust catchers, and vacuum cleaners, the crew recently cleaned 6.5 tonnes, about 11 feet high. capsule I wiped the glass enclosure underneath the giant Saturn V rocket suspended from the ceiling. They removed dozens of items that people stuck in the cracks of the case.

In addition to overseeing cleaning, consulting curator Ed Stewart taught museum staff how to maintain capsules that have been lent by the Smithsonian Castle and have been on display in the “Rocket City” of Huntsville since the 1970s.

Stewart wiped dust off the sides of the capsule while wearing protective clothing, and the command module is “in pretty good condition” given its age and the time elapsed since the last cleaning about three years ago. Said.

Workers clean Apollo 16 spacecraft ahead of 50th anniversary

Gary Phillips is shown through a hatch window cleaning the exterior of the Apollo 16 spacecraft at the US Space Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama, on Tuesday, February 1, 2022. This pandemic museum prepares an antique spacecraft before the event commemorating the 50th anniversary of the flight in 1972. Credits: AP Photo / Jay Reeves

“… I’m glad to see that there’s no layer of heavy dust. I haven’t seen much insect debris, so I think it’s a very positive sign,” he said.

Richard Huber, a retired NASA astrobiologist who is a doctor at the museum, recalled decades ago when visitors were able to touch the spacecraft. He even said that some even picked off pieces of burnt heat shields to prevent the ship from burning out when it re-entered the Earth’s atmosphere.

“This is really a pretty tragedy because they don’t realize that this is a very important part of the history of the universe,” he said.

Preservationists have changed the process of protection as conservationists have realized that ships built to withstand the rigors of space travel, according to Stewart, cannot withstand the constant contact of tourists. Therefore, the case surrounding the capsule is sealed.

Workers clean Apollo 16 spacecraft ahead of 50th anniversary

Gary Philips will use brushes and vacuum cleaners to clean the Apollo 16 lunar spacecraft at the US Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama, on Tuesday, February 1, 2022. The museum is preparing an antique spacecraft before the event commemorating the 50th anniversary of the flight in 1972. Credits: AP Photo / Jay Reeves

“Lasting it for 1,000 years wasn’t on the list of engineer requirements to develop these to take astronauts to the moon and bring them back to safety,” he said.

Sitting on the column, the capsule called “Casper” is tilted during the flight, so visitors look inside the open hatch and astronauts Ken Mattingly, John Young, and Charlie. You can see the controls and metal frame seats that Duke returned on the moon.

Duke, as Mattingly walks the moon with Young while maneuvering the capsule, will attend this spring celebration to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the flight’s takeoff on April 16, 1972.

The capsule is washed, Hazardous Material Removed after the flight, but reminders of the trip to the moon remain inside. Leaning on the hatch to check for dust, Stewart pointed to some dark spots on his head.

  • Workers clean Apollo 16 spacecraft ahead of 50th anniversary

    Workers are surrounding the Apollo 16 lunar capsule while cleaning the case at the US Space Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama, on Tuesday, February 1, 2022. An antique spacecraft is being prepared before the event commemorating the 50th anniversary of the flight to the Moon in 1972. Credits: AP Photo / Jay Reeves

  • Workers clean Apollo 16 spacecraft ahead of 50th anniversary

    On Tuesday, February 1, 2022, a spider web is attached to the Apollo 16 lunar capsule at the US Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama. Museum workers are spruce after a regular maintenance interruption due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Before the event commemorating the 50th anniversary of the flight to the moon in 1972, we will pull up an antique spacecraft. Credits: AP Photo / Jay Reeves

  • Workers clean Apollo 16 spacecraft ahead of 50th anniversary

    Workers will open the glass case surrounding the Apollo 16 lunar capsule at the US Space Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama, on Tuesday, February 1, 2022. After regular maintenance was interrupted due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the museum will prepare an antique spacecraft before the event commemorating the 50th anniversary of its flight to the Moon in 1972. Credits: AP Photo / Jay Reeves

  • Workers clean Apollo 16 spacecraft ahead of 50th anniversary

    On Tuesday, February 1, 2022, a bug trapped in a spider web hangs from the bottom of the Apollo 16 lunar capsule at the US Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama. The Pandemic, Museum is cleaning an antique spacecraft in 1972 before an event commemorating the 50th anniversary of its flight to the Moon. Credits: AP Photo / Jay Reeves

“It’s the fingerprints and bills of the crew there,” he said.

Workers plan to further seal the capsule case to prevent visitors from depositing anything inside, but have been careful not to do too much with Apollo 16 itself. It’s easy to scrape a spacecraft with elbow grease, but it destroys the patina associated with history, Stewart said.

“I don’t want to lose it because it’s all part of the mission story. If you clean it, it’s gone. It means that when you make it, some extra texture of history is lost to ether. It’s a mistake. ”


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Quote: Workers clean the Apollo 16 spacecraft before the 50th anniversary (February 9, 2022). Obtained February 9, 2022 from https: //phys.org/news/2022-02-workers-apollo-spaceship-50th-anniversary.html.

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Workers clean Apollo 16 spacecraft ahead of 50th anniversary

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