The Apollo 11 Command Capsule Digitization Story
To mark the 47th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon-landing mission, the Smithsonian has made available a high-resolution 3-D scan of the command module “Columbia,” the spacecraft that carried astronauts Neil Armstrong, Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin and Michael Collins to the moon. This highly detailed model allows anyone with an internet connection to explore the entire craft including its intricate interior, which is not possible when viewing the artifact in the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum. The Smithsonian is also making the data files of the model available for download so it can be 3-D printed or viewed with virtual-reality goggles.
The scanning allowed for the curatorial and collections team to get glimpses of the interior of the Command Module that they had not previously seen. Protective covering over the hatch opening of the Command Module has only been removed a handful of times since the artifact came into the collection in 1971. During the scanning they rediscovered a number of instances of “astronaut graffiti” not previously known to the museum. Seeing such details and studying the text have enabled curators to enhance their understanding of how the missions were conducted.
With current internet speeds the model we are able to deliver for viewing online represents only a fraction of the actual data we collected. Want to see more? You can download the medium resolution files model below and view them using a free version of ReMake software. We are also working to make higher resolution models and raw scan data available for download in the near future, please check back soon for updates. Also check out all of our latest 3D downloads at 3d.si.edu/browser.