The History Colorado Center opened a small exhibit honoring the Apollo 11 space mission on the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, July 20, 2019. The exhibit is on the 2nd floor near the Stephen H. Hart Research Center entrance featuring two cases.
One case displays lunar rocks brought back from the Apollo 11 mission, on loan to History Colorado from the Colorado General Assembly. President Nixon gave the rocks to the State of Colorado with a small Colorado flag. And speaking of Colorado flags, the other case highlights one of History Colorado’s most recent acquisitions: a small pocket Colorado flag that Neil Armstrong carried with him on the Apollo 11 mission.
While Neil Armstrong wasn’t a resident of Colorado at the time of his mission, he did have an affinity for the West. During his time on the moon, he shared with his NASA colleagues back on Earth that “[The moon] has a stark beauty all its own. It's like much of the high desert of the United States. It's different, but it's very pretty out here.” (Apollo 11 Lunar Surface Journal 1995). Much later Armstrong and his wife moved to Telluride, Colorado and owned a home there for the last eleven years of his life. (Singer. 2012)
His move to Colorado is one small part of the larger role Colorado plays in the Aerospace industry. In the 1950s, Lockheed Martin moved to southwest Denver as the site for building the Titan class intercontinental ballistic missiles. Ball, the glass canning jar company, created Ball Aerospace as it realized that it’s technology was better suited for rocket controls. (Wirthman 2016) Over the years, more and more aerospsce industries moved to Colorado. Today, Colorado’s universities include nationally ranked aerospace engineering degrees with 130 space-related companies in Colorado (Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation 2019), all earning a total of $3.2 billion in 2013. (Wirthman 2016)
The recent acquisition of Neil Armstrong’s flag is one of many objects collected that reflect Colorado’s role in Space exploration. Other objects in the collection include Jack Swigert’s space suit from his Apollo 13 mission in 1970. The space suit is on view in the exhibit Zoom In: the Centennial State in 100 Objects and visitors can see through a window opposite the suit, into the Collections Management and Registration Processing Room. Other objects can be found using History Colorado’s online collections portal at h-CO.org/collections.
Come check out all newest exhibit Apollo at 50 at the Center and take time to explore the other exhibits and objects on view related to aerospace industries that make Colorado out of this world!
1995. Apollo 11 Lunar Surface Journal. Accessed July 12, 2019. https://www.hq.nasa.gov/alsj/a11/a11.step.html.
Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation. 2019. Aerospace. Accessed July 12, 2019. http://www.metrodenver.org/industries/aerospace/.
Singer., Katie. 2012. "Telluride Foundation Mourns Loss of Neil Armstrong ." Telluride Inside… and Out. Accessed July 12, 2019. https://www.tellurideinside.com/2012/08/telluride-foundation-mourns-loss-of-neil-armstrong.html.
Wirthman, Lisa. 2016. "Colorado Builds On History As Launchpad For Space Exploration." Forbes. May 13. Accessed July 12, 2019. https://www.forbes.com/sites/colorado/2016/05/13/colorado-builds-on-history-as-launchpad-for-space-exploration/#4d7252bb3f8e.