(Smithsonian) In Another Giant Leap, Apollo 11 Command Module Is 3D Digitized for Humankind

Mark Avino, National Air and Space Museum

The Apollo 11 Command Module Columbia being scanned. (Mark Avino, Air and Space Museum)

My article “Another Giant Leap, Apollo 11 Command Module Is 3D Digitized for Humankind” appears in Smithsonian magazine.

Here’s the lede:

On n a Tuesday morning, an hour before the National Air and Space Museum opened to the public, Adam Metallo, a 3D digitization program officer at the Smithsonian Institution, stood in front of the Apollo 11 command module Columbia.

For 40 years, a Plexiglas “skin” had protected the module—which on July 16, 1969 launched Neil Armstrong, Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, and Michael Collins to the moon—but now it was nakedly exposed to the air.

More than $1.5 million worth of equipment, from lasers to structured light scanners to high-end cameras, surrounded the module, whose rusty, grizzled surface evoked Andrew Wyeth’s watercolor palette.

“We were asked about scanning the Apollo command module both inside and outside, and we gave an emphatic ‘Maybe’ to that question,” Metallo says. “This is one of the most complicated objects we could possibly scan.”

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