APOLLO 11 FLOWN COMMAND MODULE "COLUMBIA" BOOST COVER RELEASE PORT LABEL
FROM THE ACCESS HATCH OF APOLLO 11 COMMAND MODULE "COLUMBIA"
FLOWN Apollo 11 Boost Cover Release Port Label, recovered from the Crew Access Hatch of Command Module "Columbia" after recovery on July 24th, 1969, 123 x 106 mm, comprised of two layers, one of Kapton foil with gold side facing downwards, topped by second later bearing actual label. Burn-marks resulting from re-entry into Earth's atmosphere.
The Apollo 11 spacecraft was launched atop the Saturn V rocket on July 16th, 1969. It was made up of three parts: the Command Module, nicknamed the “Columbia,” and the Service Module (both manufactured by North American Aviation, later North American Rockwell); and the Lunar Module, nicknamed “Eagle” (manufactured by Grumman Aircraft Company). The Lunar Module itself was a two stage spacecraft, with a descent stage, used to land on the lunar surface, and a descent stage, used to re-ascend from the lunar surface and dock with the Command/Service Module.
The Command Module “Columbia” was the only part of the Apollo 11 spacecraft to return to Earth intact; the Service Module was jettisoned just prior to re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere, while the descent stage of the Lunar Module was left behind on the lunar surface, and the ascent stage of the Lunar Module was jettisoned in lunar orbit, left to crash back onto the lunar surface.
The whole world held its breath as “Columbia” re-entered the Earth’s atmosphere, and splashed down in the North Pacific Ocean on July 24th, 1969. The Command Module "Columbia", along with its crew, Mission Commander Neil Armstrong, Lunar Module Pilot Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin, and Command Module Pilot Michael Collins, were safely recovered by the USS Hornet. The “Columbia” was then offloaded from the recovery ship, and then taken to the deactivation/decontamination site. During the deactivation/decontamination phase, the “Columbia” was stripped of its protective Kapton foil and outer labels; after deactivation and decontamination, Command Module “Columbia” was sent on a tour around the United States before being transferred to the Smithsonian in 1972.
The Boost Cover Release Port Label was salvaged by Charles “Chuck” E. McKim, one of the Operational Team Leaders on the recovery and deactivation/decontamination teams from North American Aviation/Rockwell International.
The "Rescue Arrow", also salvaged from the Crew Hatch of "Columbia", sold at RR Auctions in 2017 for $147,572.
Images of the “Columbia” Crew Access Hatch can be seen on the Smithsonian website at: https://airandspace.si.edu/collection-objects/hatch-crew-apollo-11
Ex Charles "Chuck" E. McKim, Operational Team Leader on the recovery and deactivation/decontamination team at Rockwell International (formerly North American Aviation).