The Stafford Air and Space Museum's newest addition is a full-scale museum quality Apollo Lunar Module replica. The Lunar Module (LM) was the spacecraft that carried American astronauts to the lunar surface.
Apollo 10 Commander, Tom Stafford, and fellow crew member, Gene Cernan, would be the first to fly the spidery-looking spacecraft into lunar orbit in 1969. Standing over 2-1/2 stories tall, the display is one of the largest items on display in the museum.
None of the flown LM's ever returned to the Earth intact, as they did not have a heat shield to withstand the fiery reentry back through the Earth's atmosphere. They either crashed into the lunar surface or burned up in the earth's atmosphere. The only exception is Stafford's Apollo 10 Lunar Module, Snoopy, that was put into an orbit around the sun. For this reason, the museum commissioned Global Effect, Inc. in California to build the replica. Two Academy Award winning prop production designers, lead the effort. Stafford Museum Director, Max Ary, spent more than two years researching thousands of photos and documents to assure the greatest accuracy of the replica.
The objective was to construct a Lunar Module so accurate, the astronauts that originally flew the missions could not tell the unit was a replica. The replica is so accurate that many of the parts are stamped with the original LM part numbers. Many of the original materials used on an actual lunar module were used on the replica, including 22-karate gold-flashed Kapton blankets that surround much of the Lunar Module lower decent stage.
The display includes two highly detailed replica Apollo suits: The gallery depicts Buzz Aldrin coming down the lunar module ladder and Neil Armstrong on the lunar surface. The gold-visor helmet attached to the suit of Neil Armstrong was worn by Ryan Gosling in last year's award-winning movie, "First Man." Global Effects produced many of the high-fidelity props for the movie.
It will take several more months for the Lunar Module display to be completed. A platform must be built under the elevated Lunar Module to reproduce a simulated lunar surface, and various other displays will be built to ring diorama.
The final major component of the Apollo gallery will be installing the Apollo Command and Service Module (CSM) Spacecraft. It will be elevated to the top of the 32' high gallery next to the LM. The Apollo CSM was the "mothership" of the Apollo mission, and would have been docked with the Lunar Module on the journey to the moon.
When finished, the Stafford Air and Space Museum will be one of the only museums in the world with full-scale representations of all three of the Apollo spacecraft modules; the Command, Service and Lunar Modules.